Sunday, July 03, 2016

Quotations on respectable American Catholicism and America's lost Catholic moment

The kind of thing we should ask ourselves in America every Independence Day. Of course we don't need to antagonize our Protestant neighbors all the time, but:
Here's the right question for Catholics who have made a cozy and comfortable compromise with the USA:
"It does look, to the superficial view, as though Catholicism will be able to do in America, and in the twentieth century, what has hitherto been impossible to it, and what Christ said was impossible. It looks superficially as though we Catholics could ride with the tide of Americanism, flourish and prosper, increase and multiply, and even gradually win the respect and conversion of our fellow citizens — all this without martyrdom, singularity, misunderstanding or ostracism. Indeed we seem already to have arrived at such a state. You will find Catholics prominent in almost every field now, working beside non-Catholics without discrimination, in factory, office and examination room, on wards and in laboratories. You will also find that these Catholics who have in such large numbers 'arrived' at respectability and comfort and country club membership, resent the 'radical' elements within the Church which disturb the neat compromise they have made. Are the 'radicals' really wrong? Are things going as nicely as they seem to be going?"
— Attributed to Carol Jackson Robinson, This Perverse Generation

The church established schools including colleges to educate the multitude of Catholics not just to prosper materially, but to hold fast to the faith and have that faith permeate society. Life magazine in 1960 commented that at the current rate of growth, America would be majority Catholic by 2000. Then along came Vatican II and the "respectable Catholicism" of JFK who virtually rejected his faith in order to win office.
Of course I like my country, my people, and the old American republic was serviceable for us, a relative good, not an absolute one, but we should have remained under our Christian king, the kind, maligned George III (Protestant but not our problem as colonies with different laws from England's).

It's easy to rally with the right around the sexual issues that before the 1930s were commonly Christian but now are seen as peculiar to us: objecting to abortion, contraception, and same-sex pseudo-marriage. We still share the first and third with evangelicals. To which some thinkers will add: don't forget our social teaching, or people and the common good come before making money and the individual; no to greed, materialism, and consumerism. (Response: it's not necessarily about greed; capitalism has produced the best average standard of living ever; planned economies, even Christian-intended, don't work.) We believe in an infallible church; true Christianity really is in part about community.

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