Saturday, January 11, 2014

Roman Catholics who are Anti-Americans

The Medieval Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition
From the University of St. Thomas:

Investigating heresy was the work of the medieval inquisition. But before going into the founding of the inquisition we need to ask what is meant by “heresy”? The word “heresy,” in its origins, means “choice.” Choice implies, therefore, different ways of thinking about a specific subject.

The following is written by a Roman Catholic writer, who concludes by saying:

In one of God’s little ironies, as Russell Kirk showed in The Roots of American Order, it was largely Protestants who championed the rights of Christians against the State, while Catholics endorsed old Roman, pagan conceptions of the State and its nearly limitless prerogatives. After the Reformation destroyed the Church’s political independence, popes saw little choice but to baptize, and try to morally inform, the absolutism of monarchs…

In the 20th century, the paternalist tumor metastasized. It grew into full-blown totalitarianism, as leaders like Hitler and Stalin (who scoffed at Enlightenment liberties) engineered genocides, ruthless wars of conquest, and the violent persecution of various believers. The clash of opposing paternalisms in World War II culminated in communist dictatorships controlling half the countries on earth…

Those same rumbles are being heard among Roman Catholics today, eager to throw off modern forms of human freedom because … why? “Catholicism minus the Enlightenment equals the Inquisition. Do I exaggerate?”

Catholics used to be open to the lessons of freedom from the American experience. Are we forgetting those lessons?

Let me start with a few vignettes. I was an eyewitness, or heard a detailed firsthand account, of each of these events, or else will provide a link to document it.

- Just after the Chinese government crushed the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square, a seminarian explained to me that he wished he “could have driven one of the tanks” that ran over the demonstrators and their makeshift Statue of Liberty. “Americanism is a far greater threat to the Church than communism,” he explained. He is now a priest — I saw him on the altar in October.

- It was a festive evening at the small Catholic college. A hearty dinner followed Mass for the feast of its patron saint. Now the students were gathered with the school’s faculty and leaders for a bonfire and robust songs. The high point of the night was the piñata, which the school’s director of student life hung from a hook. It was full of candy and shaped like a pig. Across it was written, “Americanism.” The student life director held up a bat, and told the students, “Okay, everybody, let’s SMASH Americanism!” The students lined up behind their teachers, their dean, and their college president, to smash whatever it was they thought was Americanism. (They had never been taught what Leo XIII actually meant by that word.) …

- That same dean, in a conversation with me, waved off the possibility of democratic reform in America. Moral reform, he explained to me, would only come in the form of a forcible coup d’état, by which “men of virtue” would impose their will “on the people, who will fall in line when they see that they have no choice.” That dean had previously criticized Franco’s Spain for being too lax.

- The historian at a large Catholic university gathered his friends and family on the day that the rest of us call “Thanksgiving.” But his clan called the holiday “Anathema Thursday,” and every year used it to mock the Protestant origins of America by hanging a Puritan in effigy. This same historian teaches those he mentors to call the Statue of Liberty “that Masonic bitch-goddess.” …

- At still another small Catholic college, one of the teachers whom I met at a conference spoke effusively of “loopholes” a scholar had purportedly found in Vatican II’s endorsement of religious freedom. It seems that Dignitatis Humanae only forbids the State from using physical force in matters of religion. The Church, this young scholar explained, is not so constrained. The Church may imprison any baptized person and punish him for heresy. “So that means the Pope has the right to throw any Lutheran in jail?”, I asked skeptically. “I know, right?” he said, beaming a smile. “This is really exciting.” …

In fact, there is something very serious going on in Catholic intellectual and educational circles, which — if it goes on unchecked — will threaten the pro-life cause, the Church’s influence in society, and the safety and freedom of individual Catholics in America. The growth of illiberal Catholicism will strengthen the power of the intolerant secular left, revive (and fully justify) the old anti-Catholicism that long pervaded America, and make Catholics in the United States as laughably marginal as they now are in countries like Spain and France — nations where the cause of the Church was linked for centuries to autocratic government and religious intolerance.

We are witnessing the collapse of a magnificent synthesis: the alliance of freedom and faith that American Catholics pioneered in the 19th century in the face of hostile Protestant neighbors and ill-considered, fallible papal statements that endorsed book burning, denounced religious liberty, and condemned the Catholics in Ireland and Poland for rising against their “legitimate” oppressors.

That synthesis reached its intellectual apex in the work of Rev. John Courtney Murray, S.J., and was reflected in the Vatican II constitution Dignitatis Humanae, which affirmed human liberty and denied that the State had the right to suppress even false religions. As the traditionalist scholar Michael Davies documented (disapprovingly), it was the influence of American bishops at Vatican II that assured the approval of this key constitution. …

Put more simply: the [Roman Catholic] Church inherited from pagan thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle a top-down philosophy of government, which centered on the “rights” of lawgivers and rulers to enforce their vision of the Good in citizens’ lives instead of the rights of citizens against the powers of the State. This authoritarian philosophy was expressed religiously in the form of the Inquisition. It showed itself politically in feudalism and serfdom. It worked economically through royal monopolies, price-fixing guilds, and the mercantilism that George III tried to impose on the American colonies, controlling their trade for the benefit of the government. This paternalism would emerge once again in various forms of socialism, including but not limited to Marxism. Such paternalism still prevails in most of the EU

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