Prejudice against the Catholics is "the deepest bias in the history of the American People" - Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
"Catholic baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals" - Conservative writer Peter Viereck
Anti-Catholicism is "the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history" - Historian John Higham
Discuss the relative truths revealed by these quotes.
I Google’d the first phrase, and don’t you know, this article from New Oxford Review came up, a review of the work “The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice”, by Philip Jenkins, Oxford University Press. Perhaps he wanted to pin me (and perhaps others) with a kind of “current manifestation” of the kind of “anti-Catholic bigotry” that “came to America with English colonists”:
Jenkins convincingly demonstrates that modern attempts to blacken the teaching and history of the Catholic Church are related to the contorted rantings of Swift and Foxe in the 1700s, now tricked out in new attire. Jenkins reveals how smears, at one time limited to the Ku Klux Klan’s attempts to play up American fears of “kikes, koons, and katholics,” have now become lucrative sources of revenue for ordinary individuals and companies.
That portion of the story is fleshed out with allusions to NY Governor Al Smith “digging under the Atlantic to Rome” and a 1960 book that “denounced John F. Kennedy, warning that voting a Catholic into the presidency would bring the pope to Washington and destroy American freedoms”.
But the real “anti-Catholicism” that has taken place since 1960 is the result of Vatican II progressives:
The author goes on to trace how Catholic solidarity, once powerful enough to prevent wholesale attacks on the Church in America from the 1930s to the 1960s, was shattered by widespread disagreement with Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reasserted the evils of contraception. Joined to this rejection was the struggle by neo-Modernist nuns and priests to liberalize Catholic life, who also wanted to change concepts about Jesus to line up with Protestant biblical studies. This conflict caused some 50,000 nuns to leave their orders between 1966-76 and some 100,000 by century’s end, while creating a horribly steep decline in priestly vocations. This decline was created in part by nuns and ex-nuns placed in charge of vocations offices who have choked off potential candidates who do not line up with their feminist ideas about the priesthood.
Jenkins demonstrates how this “Catholic Civil War” gave rise to a new phenomenon in America, where the chief instigators of Catholic hatred often remain nominal Catholics. They joined ideological terrorists -- homosexual, feminist, secular humanist, and even Christian fundamentalist -- with axes to grind, in questionable assaults on Catholic teachings at odds with modern assumptions about equality and democracy. These Catholics also accept distortions of Catholic history, dogma, and discipline taught as fact even in Catholic centers of higher education. Writes Jenkins, “Even Notre Dame, long the preeminent school of American Catholicism, became a haven for liberal dissidence.” That University and other Catholic educational institutions have demanded liberation from Catholic authority, refusing the obligation to teach orthodox Catholicism in the name of “academic freedom.”
It seems as if this “anti-Catholicism” is fueled by Roman Catholics themselves.
Roman Catholic apologists want it both ways: they want to be able to claim a “universal” “Church” to invite all men in. They want to claim “we’re the biggest”, and yet, they can’t persuade their own “members” that their teachings are correct.
The article makes one final comment about “anti-Catholicism” in the media.
Anti-Catholic polemical works, once thought of by most Americans as part of the lunatic fringe, are now being released by well-known publishers. The press, theatrical, cinematic, and televised productions all follow the same line. An example of this could be seen during Holy Week in the presentation of many questionable documentaries about Jesus, Mary, and the Twelve Apostles that appeared on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, A & E, the Learning Channel, and the Travel Channel, all of them unapologetically at odds with Catholic orthodoxy. All of these cable networks are owned and operated by the AOL-Time Warner Entertainment conglomerate. All of these documentaries are produced by the same parent corporation. All are heavily larded with the same "talking heads" -- liberal theologians, professors, and members of the Jesus Seminar, all of whom dismiss the certitude of most of the words of Jesus and the historicity of most events in the Gospels. Why the U.S. bishops refuse to produce programming for a Catholic Channel to offset such attacks is a mystery.
It seems to me that this is a totally different phenomenon, spawned by the remnants of the higher critical crowd, which, yes, is largely inhabited by the liberal anti-Catholic Roman Catholics of places like Notre Dame and “other Catholic educational institutions [that] have demanded liberation from Catholic authority” – among others.
But if Rome hadn’t adopted such legends as it did, as dogma, then Christianity as a whole might not be so sadly portrayed in the media as it is.