The image of the pre-conciliar Catholic Church in the United States as catechetically effective and politically potent can be hard to square with the long-term damage done to Catholicism’s role in American public life by that very pre-Vatican II Catholic, John F. Kennedy.
The statement challenges the national drift toward concentrations of political and economic power while affirming the importance for a healthy democracy of natural associations (the traditional family) and the free associations of civil society (including the Church) — and thereby underscores the third foundational principle of the social doctrine, subsidiarity.
Defending Roe’s abortion license has become imperative for the Democratic Party. And because of that, far too many Catholic politicians, including the Democratic presidential candidates in 2004 and 2020, have put a canine fealty to a shabby judicial diktat above the truth of science (the product of human conception is a unique human being) and the moral truth we can know by reason (in a just society, innocent human life is protected in law).
Three U.S. Navy officers look out at me from a small, black-and-white snapshot, taken in Sasebo, Japan, on September 26, 1945: three and a half weeks after the Japanese Empire’s formal surrender aboard USS Missouri. These young Americans, assigned to an amphibious flotilla of landing craft, had spent the previous months on Okinawa, preparing to invade Dai Nippon.
The loss of the Papal States was a great boon to the papacy and to the Church’s evangelical mission, and for several reasons. Civil governance of a considerable territory by a clerical caste had, over time, proven an obstacle to Catholicism’s evangelical, catechetical, and sanctifying missions.
When the choirs of angels led Father Paul Mankowski, S.J., into the Father’s House on Sept. 3, I hope the seraphic choirmaster chose music appropriate to the occasion. Had I been asked, I would have suggested the Latin antiphon Ecce sacerdos magnus as arranged by Anton Bruckner.
Those who point out that the 2020 Democratic platform has the most radical pro-abortion plank in American history, and that the same platform promises to hollow out religious freedom in service to lifestyle libertinism, risk being labeled “culture warriors.” Well, so be it.
Conversations with Father Robert Imbelli have been a great blessing in recent years. I have rarely met a more even-tempered and gracious man: a true churchman who, in retirement after years of teaching theology at Boston College, tries diligently to keep the often-fratricidal subtribes of American Catholicism in some sort of conversation (if only through his e-mail account!).
It’s hard, verging on impossible, to imagine the president-to-be-inaugurated next January summoning the country to national unity through magnanimity because our political culture has become so coarsened that it cannot cast up presidential candidates capable of credibly making that kind of appeal. How did we get here?
The dumbing down of the theology of symbols has, however, led to the unhappy situation in which perhaps a majority of Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is what the Lord Jesus said he was giving us: himself, fully and unambiguously.