In 1792 the Catholic Bishops of the United States began issuing joint pastoral letters at periodic intervals, intending the letters to be missives directed to validating patriotism and gathering the support of the faithful. Today the U.S. bishops continue to issue such letters, which, along with the letters that preceded them, explain the historic conditions confronting American Catholics. Public Witness: The Pastoral Letters of the American Catholic Bishops allows readers to learn of the highlights and obscure portions of the letters without reading through several volumes of Victorian prose. While viewing the letters as a stable genre that evolves to accommodate change in form and purpose, Kari provides historical background, a summary, and a rhetorical analysis of the pastoral letters. The origin of the practice, the production of the letters, and the reception of the letters by the public and press are explained. Well-documented and accessible, Public Witness is suited for the scholar and the general audience.