A Jealous Faith

a jealous faith

The excerpt below from a column by Francis Cardinal George is an indication of why, although he has often been a disappointment as an administrator, I will miss him when he is no longer at the helm of the Chicago Archdiocese:


Nonetheless, many Catholics in the American colonies thought their life might be better in the new country than under a regime whose ruling class had penalized and persecuted them since the mid-16th century. They made this new country their own and served her loyally. The social history was often contentious, but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.

There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”

The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Go here to read the rest.  Contemporary liberalism has morphed into a substitute religion and it is a jealous faith and woe betide those who do not worship at its altars of gender, race and identity politics.  Cardinal George has seen what is coming quite clearly, hence what I fear may be regarded as prophecy by him:

“Speaking a few years ago to a group of priests, entirely outside of the current political debate, I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring,” writes the Cardinal. “I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smart phone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world. I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’ What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

Sometimes being prophetic mostly involves taking off the wishful thinking glasses that too many of us have permanently affixed to our faces.


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  1. John 15:18-27
    18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

  2. Actually, the second paragraph explains my disappointment with Cardinal George. He, like many Catholics, sees America as a misguided, Enlightenment project. In his book, he can find nothing good to say about America for the first 60 pages or so. Then, we find that the only good thing he can make out is that it is multicultural. So the only good thing about America is that it is something else.

    He was also hook, line and sinker for Obamacare with the usual USCCB caveats. Now he finds that big government is not so nice. Hmmmm.

  3. Love him are hate him, Limbaugh often talks about the “Marketplace of Ideas.” We have freedom of speech in this country, and what has the bishops chosen to talk about?
    Well, in the 20 years I’ve been Catholic, it hasn’t been contraception, abortion, marriage or any non-negotiable. It’s been “the rich are bad,” “sexism is bad,” “discrimination against homosexuals and undocumented workers is bad,” and “Government support for this or that is good.”
    There is so much they could have done many moons ago to promote NFP, marriage, and real health care, but they choose instead to do Al Smith dinners, “pass the trash”, and look the other way as Georgetown, Fordham, and ND lost their way.
    Even now it is not too late to jump into that Marketplace and try to make the case for Christ. The US, for all her assaults on religious freedom, is not the Middle East, with Islam on the march.
    I have no confidence our bishops will engage that Marketplace with the “Non-Negotiable ideas” with any fervor.

  4. In modern American discourse, the ruling class knows it is “imposing its own form of morality,” but won’t own up to being a religion. Which is one reason why I’m skeptical that appeals to religious freedom will succeed, when only one side comes clean about its religious intent to form consciences, especially the consciences of children. And so it may be more useful to frame more of our arguments in terms of freedom of conscience, and conscience rights, appealing to all who dissent from the state religion.

  5. With all of their plethora of faults & nauseating abandonment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the peddling of government influence as a way to better society, the USCCB is the only current source of such writings/religious thought addressing the current shredding of our society’s fabric that I can find in the realm of American “Christianity.” In my experience, the Protestants leadership does not even understand the battle.

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