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 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:
Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
“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?
Cosmos writes : “How the Church expects to survive by wrapping itself in the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge to the Flag is beyond me.”
The Church is not attempting to save itself, but as shepherd it is using what weapons it has available to defend its flock.
The Church has always used the various natural inclinations to right order in the indigenous people as a means of bringing the Faith to those same people.
Pledging liege to an indivisible propositional leviathan may be unnatural, but the inclination underlying the pledging of liege in the people is a natural inclination to form society and defend kith and kin. And it is the underlying that the Church appeals to.
In the abstract, the pledge is abhorrent, but in the concrete in the people it’s the mark of a natural inclination to the good. And it is that natural inclination to the good that the Church expects to use.
No, you’re right, most countries do it. But in the concrete it works best for those countries that are historical losers. And to make it even more concrete, as I’ve noted in the post, accommodating American nationalism hasn’t work so well for the Church here. The nationalism and party bickering has divided the American Church. One can only hope it hasn’t done so terminally.
Cosmos writes : “in the concrete it works best for those countries that are historical losers.”
On the surface it looks that way, but I suspect the reason is because the weaker states are less able to manifest their modernist disorder. Not because they are typically less disordered.
Nor do I think for the most part that it’s a matter of accommodating because I highly doubt that more than a few at most in authority have thought through the issue sufficiently to see it as accommodation.
Like the people, those in authority appear to have likewise been hoodwinked over the last 150 years into seeing the propositional as natural and so I doubt many see the underlying causes of recent strife and so their appeal is actually at the same natural level of the people.
Their appeal to nationalist tendencies is an appeal to the natural at an unnatural scale.
Most of those who object to draping Christ, or St. Mary in the federal government flag don’t object because they see federal government nationalism is disordered because they are also imbued with federal nationalism. What they instead object to is what the sign has been commonly is used to signify. For instance draping Christ in a federal battle flag is used to signify pox americana.
If draping Mary or Christ was the common symbol of humanitarian relief overseas at the expense and impoverishment of their local fellow citizens at home, most of those who are currently objecting to the images would be instead be carrying placards of those same images.
My objection is based upon the arguments of William T. Cavanaugh. The nation-state has been from its inception involved in a zero-sum game with Catholicism. I don’t see why anyone would want the saints draped in the colors of organizations that only copy the things the Church has always done.
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btw, I really like your quote from Czeslaw Milosz. And thank you for letting me comment on your blog.
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