That something went wrong with the post-conciliar Church is a truism of both left and right Catholics. The right thinks it went too far and was too much “in the spirit of” anything goes. For the left it didn’t go far enough, or wasn’t interpreted enough “in the spirit of” anything goes. These debates are boring enough to drive away people in droves. They merely reflect, bow down to, the dominant political trends of this nation. The fact that former Catholics are the second largest religious group in the United States (practicing Catholics are the largest group at about 25% of the population) is both a sign of a post-Protestant America and a sign of American Catholicism’s inability to make much of its opening in the public square.
Doesn’t Catholicism have anything to offer in itself?
Czeslaw Milosz captures some of the reasons behind this abject failure:
And there was a holiday in Megalopolis.
Streets were closed to traffic, people walked in procession.
The statue of a god, slowly moved along:
A phallus four stories high
Surrounded by a crowd of priests and priestesses
Who tossed about in a whirling dance.
A service was also being celebrated in Christian churches
Where liturgy consisted of discussion
Under the guidance of a priest in Easter vestment
On whether we should believe in life after death,
Which the president then put to the vote . . .
The desperate attempt to be accepted also has its right-syncretist equivalent as a recent prayer distributed by the USCCB reminds us:
“O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be ‘one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
How the Church expects to survive by wrapping itself in the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge to the Flag is beyond me. Which brings me to the following choke by the Diocese of Brooklyn:
This is not a bad joke, as documented by the Millennial blog. In fact, such plagiarism is not new. It dates to way back before Vatican II. It is part of a long tradition, starting at least with John Courtney Murray, of bending the knee to the flag while breaking the back of Catholic universalism.
For example, do you remember this proud moment when American Catholics finally went mainstream?
Stephen L. Carter, in his God’s Name in Vain, documents what the statement, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all” really meant.
Kennedy was actually letting the electorate know he wasn’t going to follow the Vatican’s severe pressure on him to do more to fight racial segregation.
The context makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Sure, other countries do it, but here I’m talking exclusively about American idolatry and the American Church’s surrender. American Catholics really shouldn’t allow themselves to be stuck with this (caution: foul language):
Perhaps one ought to pray for another declaration of independence?