Friday, January 02, 2015

Catholicism in New York City: an interview with Fr. George Rutler

The question is, how many will we make Catholic? Our job is not to just serve ethnic communities with large concentrations of Catholics, but to fulfill the great evangelical commission of Christ: make disciples of all nations. He didn’t tell us to just go out into the Catholic neighborhoods.

In some of our schools we’re covering up our religious symbols so we can receive money from the state.

Yes, Andrew Cuomo’s comments are alarming, but I’d find it more alarming if government officials who are promoting evil are happy with the Church. One positive aspect of this Cuomo is that he doesn’t pretend his position is Catholic. Mario Cuomo, his father who previously served as governor, did.
Government officials and secularist liberals generally: the problem with Pope Francis making the cover of Rolling Stone.
Only once every three or four centuries do you get a pope with an intellect like Pope Benedict’s. I miss his clarity.

Catholic World Report: You’ve spent half your life as a Roman Catholic and half in the Episcopalian church. ... How has the Episcopalian church changed over your lifetime?

Fr. Rutler: It’s changed very significantly. It is vanishing. A few generations ago, it was the unofficial official church of the United States. It was a visible presence in the national order. It was prosperous and effective in many ways.

That’s all gone now. It doesn’t exist anymore. The remnant you see is post-Christian. It is a vivid but tragic example of what happens when you abandon a serious commitment to the teachings of Christ. Demographically, the Church of England will not exist in 20 years. Other Anglican groups outside England have been ordaining women as priests and bishops in recent years, and the result has not only been theologically chaotic but a demographic catastrophe.

CWR: More Roman Catholics in England go to Mass than Anglicans in England.

Fr. Rutler: Yes. And, more Muslims are going to mosques there.
The real significant change was long before I or Fr. Rutler were born. As a kid I took the Episcopal Church's high-church trappings (actually rather recent) at face value, that either we were already Catholic or about to come back to Rome, so I was actually hurt to find out it wasn't so. (Learning about the Thirty-Nine Articles, Bishop Spong, and women's ordination were like three punches in one beating.) It turns out the abandonment Fr. Rutler describes has been going on for a long time. Of course Catholicism believes England got the ball rolling by becoming Protestant. Many Anglicans lost their faith at the "Enlightenment," like many of their English Calvinist offshoot, the Congregationalists, many of whom in America became the Unitarians. Unbelieving Anglicans included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. The Sixties only made it more obvious. The Episcopal Church was an obvious substitute for the Church of England in government "civic religion" in which we followed the mother country's model. That and America's top class belonged to it, making it America's richest denomination. But it never was big in America nor a cross-section of the country. The secular world has taken its values and turned them into secular humanism (like Anglicanism, a Christian heresy), leaving it behind. It becomes more liberal to try to get people to come back but that doesn't work.
The World Trade Center was not destroyed by Presbyterians. Western socialists or progressives are hostile to Judeo-Christian civilization and see Muslims as an effective force against it. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Our Catholic education system is a disaster, from kindergarten to the university level. I am continually appalled by the ignorance of Catholic college graduates I meet. They know nothing at all about the Faith or Western culture. We’ve returned to the period of 800-1200, with the Church the repository of learning in the midst of the total dearth of the life of the mind.

We have a generation of parents who did not receive the Faith from the previous generation. Fifty years ago, parents had some sense of their obligations to God and tried to pass them on to their children. But today, many parents are a blank slate when it comes to religion.
In 50 years the American Catholic Church will still be, because it used to be so huge, especially in places like New York, and it will be sound again, because the remaining Massgoers are conservative, but it will be much smaller.


  1. Last night I heard a recording of his speech at the Congress of St. Louis. It was insightful and entertaining. I'm guessing he crossed the Tiber shortly thereafter.

  2. He became a Catholic in 1979.


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