"Having lived through the fifties, and having read the other thoughtful comments, allow me a personal postscript. The Church was changing in the fifties, because the position of Catholics in society was changing rapidly. Until then, Catholics were a mental minority. A remark by FDR - as reported in Michael Beschloss's "The Conquerors' is revealing:
Just after Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt lunched with Margenthau and Leo Crowley, a Catholic who was Custodian of Alien Property. As Morgenthau later recorded, the President told them, "You know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance." Roosevelt went on to say that it was therefore "up to you" to "go along with anything I want".
This was the attitude and atmosphere of the times. Perhaps it's the reason that the Church WAS close-knit and defensive. A sea-change occured in the fifties: the JFK phenomenon was just a result of this change in American attitudes.
In any event, the Church - and its members - were effectively given first class citizenship. And so loyalties began to shift from religion to society. And the shift continues today."
-Charles on Amy's blog