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In Search of Catholic Leaders

Where have the Catholic leaders gone, long time passing? Sound familiar? It should. I’ve borrowed and adapted it from an old ballad by Peter, Paul and Mary, folk singers who had several hits in the 1960s.

The lyric came to me as I was recently reading a wonderful book on the life of the great Polish king and warrior Jan Sobieski. I highly recommend it: he was the man most responsible for saving Europe at the gates of Vienna from the hordes of the Ottoman Empire. If the Christian West had lost in that confrontation, we might today be under Islamic control, living at best under a form of sharia law.

Who can save what is left of the West today? Not the pope or cardinals or bishops or priests or pastors. Rather, it is lay people, and particularly Catholic statesmen. Consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the role of the laity:

898 By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. . . .It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be affected and grow according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer.

899 The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church: Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church.

So where are today’s Catholic leaders in the mold of the 20th-century’s de Gaulle of France or De Gasperi of Italy or Adenauer of post-war Germany, not to mention 17th-century Sobieski?

Out of curiosity, I Googled Catholic political leaders recently and found only the great Al Smith, the governor of New York who ran for president in 1928 (and lost, alas!). Happily the search did not turn up JFK – may he rest in peace, but he was certainly no model of a Catholic leader.

“Alexis de Tocqueville” by Théodore Chassériau, 1850
Alexis de Tocqueville by Théodore Chassériau, 1850

The United States has never been a Catholic country, of course, and today we are not even truly a Christian country, given the ongoing collapse of traditional Protestantism – graphically demonstrated by the legalization of abortion and the breakdown of marriage. In addition, there is the presence of pornography in the culture at all levels, degrading women and destroying families by the millions, not to speak of the pill, which both poisons the woman and prevents new life.

But do not be dismayed at this parade of horribles. It should energize you to either become a Catholic leader or support real Catholics who will bring the faith to the public square as legislators or congressional representatives or governors or members of the Supreme Court.

This is your job, not mine. My business is the care of souls.

There are currently twenty-six Catholics in the Senate, although many are Catholics in name only. The House of Representatives lists 142 members who claim to be Catholic – the greatest number in our history, and at a crucial period of moral peril. But where is their witness to natural law, religious freedom, and enduring moral truths?

Happily, several (faithful) Catholics are considering a run for the presidency. We should hope that would include both parties. What a wonderful moment it would be if our once-great country were to produce a number of great Catholic statesmen ready and able to confront the great crises, moral and civilizational, threatening our nation (and the world) today.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s shrewd observation about Americans in the first half of the 19th century applies just as well to our own times:

At the present time, more than in any preceding age, Roman Catholics are seen to lapse into infidelity, and Protestants to be converted to Roman Catholicism. If you consider Catholicism within its own organization, it seems to be losing; if you consider it from outside, it seems to be gaining. Nor is this difficult to expxplain. The men of our days are naturally little disposed to believe; but as soon as they have any religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent instinct that urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them. If Catholicism could at length withdraw itself from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I have hardly any doubt but that the same spirit of the age which appears to be so opposed to it would become so favorable as to admit of its great and sudden advancement.

The Church is interested in the application of truth based on natural law. It has little interest, as Tocqueville noted, in political parties. Pray and get involved. It’s up to you.

 

Fr. C. John McCloskey III

Fr. C. John McCloskey III

Fr. C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    Excellent article! It’s heartbreaking to watch Catholic leaders not only allowing the horrors we are seeing (abortion, contraception) to take hold, but actually fighting for them to become law and cheering when they succeed. We watched these take hold, with tentacles going so deep into society, they may never be removed or stopped. Now we are watching as assisted suicide is conquering one Country after another and unless we fight to elect good moral Catholic leaders we will also have this deadly law thrust upon us. I fear for America and I am noticing that the people are changing, polarizing. It’s more than a little frightening. Lord have Mercy! I wonder how long the Lord will tolerate this?

    • Burger Fan

      How long will WE tolerate it? It’s true laypeople do not make the decisions, but we can surely raise our voices in protest while we watch Nancy Pelosi and the other pro-abortion self-professed-Catholic accomplices to abortion in congress and the Senate parade up to communion every week. We are going to have to stop worrying what the newspaper prints about us and start following Christ and the rules of the church which are there for good reason but are being ignored on a widespread basis.

      • Micha Elyi

        It’s true laypeople do not make the decisions, but we can surely raise
        our voices in protest while we watch Nancy Pelosi and the other
        pro-abortion self-professed-Catholic accomplices to abortion in congress
        and the Senate parade up to communion every week.
        –Burger Fan

        Yeah, truly if our bishops can support undocumented immigrants then they can support undocumented lay ministers who raise a commotion at Mass as they confront apostate Catholic politicians as they enter the Communion line. The souls of those politicians must be saved from serious sin!

    • standtall909

      Indeed we live in profoundly critical times inside the Church and out. The Lord will surely not allow His Church to disintegrate into oblivion. He has promised us that we will not. But it will shortly look like a very different and smaller Church. The handwriting is on the wall for even the most elementary to see plainly.

  • mortimer zilch

    you forgot – or neglected – to mention rampant homosexuality within the structural Church and among the laity as a cause of the lack of Catholic leadership. Religious life (both lay and clerical) has been enervated by the child sex abuse crisis, which has been shown to be largely homosexual in nature, both among male and female religious communities. So brave souls who would follow in Jesus’ footsteps in consecrated life are discouraged, and even driven out, of religious life. Society in general has also seen the “emasculation” of the Catholic laity. Fatherhood has been attacked on all sides…even in the marriage bed. Work as the means by which a MAN might sustain a family has all but evaporated, so that the WOMAN must also work, thus destroying her role as MOTHER, and reducing the coherence of the FAMILY from which strong Catholic leaders emerge. Transexuality and Homosexuality will not produce MEN and WOMEN of conviction, courage, moral integrity, and Faith.
    Please re-print a column about the SCOURGE of HOMOSEXUALITY. thank you.

  • Paul Roese

    besides calling for the repeal of Roe v Wade what else should be on the agenda for “Catholic” leaders? criminalizing homosexuality again? repealing the current no fault divorce laws? declaring war against Islam? what should their positions be on climate change? income inequality? healthcare? race? monetary and fiscal policy?

    • christomlin

      I presume your obvious question is meant to be rhetorical.
      Yes, yes, yes.
      And none, none, none, none, none and none.
      But what’s your point?
      Most often it is the anti-Catholics in contemporary society that suck ostensible Catholic leaders into secular, sometimes anti-Catholic positions on matters in which the Church, and often, especially the government, have NO proper place.
      As in the case of electing a secular leader, being a leader is seldom a matter of any particular position on any particular issue. Issues come and go. What matters is the goodness, strength, character and faithfulness of a would-be leader. If a leader has those, then he’s already prepared to deal with, and set an “agenda” through, future minefields of issues we haven’t even imagined yet.

  • Savonarola

    Father Charles John – Good points made. Our nominally Catholic politicians, from our vice-president on down, are not demonstrating their faith. But it must also be said that the teaching Church must teach. And there the bishops have largely failed. For example, Catholics are supporting abortion and homosexuality, and contracepting, at about the same rate as our non-Catholic confreres. In particular, the bishops are disagreeing among themselves with respect to the needed application of canon 915 concerning the reception of Holy Communion – one actually saying he did not feel “comfortable” in imposing canon 915.

  • Mickey’O

    The worst candidate to vote for is one claiming to be Catholic. Always and forever, that candidate is lying through his or her teeth. A ruse to get the votes of the uneducated rabble. Guaranteed to attack the Church when in office.
    When I vote (which is rare, given the dreck on the ballot), I always vote for 1) the atheist, or 2) the Protestant. Either type is pretty much what you see is what you get.
    p.s. politics will never bring souls to Christ. All politics does is serve as a roadblock.

  • Tony

    What should be on the docket for Catholic politicians?

    Repeal of Roe vs. Wade.
    Reinvigorating the principle of subsidiarity generally.
    Discontinuing federal involvement in what is essentially and necessarily local: education above all.
    At the state level: disentangling the public schools from the educational / accrediting / certifying octopus, so that each school board governs its own school, hiring as they see fit.
    Phasing out all federal disincentives to marriage.
    At the state level: repeal of the utterly unjust no-fault divorce laws.
    At the state level: cleanup of the Augean Stables known as “family law.” Return to clear and sane guidelines: the adulterous spouse does not receive custody of children.
    Putting teeth into the enforcement of obscenity laws now on the books.
    At the local level: return of parental authority over what goes on in the public schools.
    At all levels: Removal of all requirements that any doctor or nurse MUST participate in what is non-medical or even anti-medical in nature: unnecessary amputation, mutilation, abortion, euthanasia, and so forth.
    At the judicial level: Return to the people their legitimate authority over CULTURAL matters, which would include such things as prayer in school.
    At the state level: Development of policies specifically aimed at men, especially working class men, to assist them in gaining the talents they will need to support a family on a single salary.
    At the federal level: Phasing back in the connection between Social Security payments and the household, not the individual.
    At the state level: Promoting the vocational / technical schools for boys who may want to become electricians, welders, masons, and so forth.
    At the state level: Repeal of all state lotteries, the most regressive and socially destructive tax we have.
    At all levels: Return to the people their right of association.
    At the federal level: Enforce the immigration laws that are already on the books. Set immigration policy with current working-class Americans in mind, FIRST, second, and third.
    At the state level: Grant tax forgiveness to married mothers who stay home to take care of their children.
    There’s quite a lot, actually …

    • Paul Vander Voort

      Tony,
      Changing the hearts and minds of people, not the laws is the answer.

      • Tony

        But unjust laws should be revised or repealed because they are unjust. And laws that promote the common good should be enacted — since we must have laws, one way or another.

        I’m no great believer in what is left of the political arena. But somebody has to work in it, and the question was asked, “What should a Catholic politician do?”

        Also, as Robert George points out all the time, the law is a teacher. It too helps to mold hearts and minds. In fact it is very difficult to persuade people that something which is legal may be dreadfully evil, or that something which is illegal may be beautiful and good.

  • ABBonnet

    The Bergoglio-led Church is NOT interested in the application of truth based on natural law. Here’s why:

    “Evangelii Gaudium” mentions the natural law once, in passing, when commenting on how the Pope’s type of evangelism relates to scientific discoveries. According to his own lengthy omnium gatherum of a document, natural law plays no other role. Exit stage right, Natural Law!

    In the preparatory document for the 2014 Synod, Chapter 3 was dedicated to “The Gospel of the Family and the Natural Law”. Its approach to the natural law is “not so much the defense of an abstract philosophical concept as the necessary relation which the Gospel establishes with the human person in the variety of circumstances created by history and culture.” It goes on to present “Present-Day Problems with” and “Practical Objections” to the Natural Law. It recommends talking about Natural Law in more Biblical terms or ” the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy.” How to do that is never mentioned. Natural Law gets it in the neck in this document, big time.

    Given the recommendations from the preparatory document, you might have expected the Synod to have said something about the Natural Law. It is *never mentioned* in the final Relatio Synodi. So much for an important role in the Synod according to Pope Bergolio’s handpicked hierarchs.

    This Pontiff has little use for the past thinkers or saints of the Catholic Church. They were good for their time, but have little to say for us today. Thus he rejected the intellectual tradition of Thomism, calling it decadent and bankrupt, while acknowledging that St. Thomas Aquinas was brilliant. Indeed, Pope Bergoglio, in the 217 footnotes of the 224 pages of “Evangelii Gaudium”, has 3 references to St. Augustine and 9 references to Aquinas. Over 200 of the references are to documents published in the 20th or 21st century. Truly, he has no use for Natural Law.

  • Rick W.

    Fr. McClosky,

    The answer to the question, “Where have the Catholic leaders gone,” is this: They’ve been here all along; we Catholics simply haven’t chosen them.

    I am always agitated when we Catholics look for “politicians and statesmen” to save the day. Yes, your article encourages lay people to become leaders and statesmen, but I just don’t read the Gospel as encouraging politics as a means for solving society’s moral failings.

    Christ’s message was always to the person, to the individual soul. Relying on statesmen, as if they were a separate species, has been our motive for quite some time now, and to what effect?

    I am a Lay Ecclesial Minister heavily involved in Respect-Life Ministry. It has always been my contention that I don’t need to “force my faith on others”; I simply need to persuade my fellow Catholics to adhere to Catholic teaching; most of whom do not even know what those teachings are.

    The demographics are such that if every Catholic in this representative democracy simply were to vote for pro-life candidates, abortion, for example, would have been abolished years ago. I no longer blame politicians who simply hold themselves out as candidates for office; I blame the voters (my Catholic family, friends, and neighbors) who failed to vote for candidates who support Catholic values.

    My experience in trying to persuade a duly and popularly elected official, (who campaigned on culture-of-death issues), to suddenly become pro-life, has been both ineffective and illogical. In this society built of, by, and for the People, we get the political office holders that we elect, and Catholics vote for culture-of-death candidates at about the same rate as non-Catholics.

    Clearly, we need new paradigm.

    May I suggest another tact: How about individual lay Catholics taking the Gospel message into their own heart and acting (and voting) accordingly. I think this would be closer to Christ’s chosen method.

    All else will flow from there. If we were to do so, truly Catholic statesmen and leaders would naturally arise from those of us with natural leadership abilities.

    I find that the most effective strategy in my own ministry is to inform my fellow Catholics of the actual teachings of our Faith. This is where the clerical hierarchy could certainly lend a hand by preaching the entire Gospel, not just those portions which may be “politically correct”.

  • Manfred

    Father, you have to look no further than Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke who is, and will be, the St. Athanasius of our day.
    Lay people? Judie Brown, the Matt Family (since 1867), Howard Walsh (Keep the Faith), Christopher Manion, Michael Voris, Robert Royal and all the good, solid Catholic people who labor in anonymity.

  • Dimitri

    Hi Father. Who are the faithful Catholics considering a run?

  • George Sim Johnston

    Was Tocqueville ever wrong about anything?

    Fr. McCloskey is right: Two unacknowledged heroes of the 20th century were Alcide de Gasperi and Conrad Adenauer, authors of the post-WWII economic “miracles” in Italy and Germany, respectively. Both men were steeped in Catholic social teaching, both understood the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. We could use politicians like that here in the USA.

  • Burger Fan

    Nobody’s perfect, but I think Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senators Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are good Catholic leaders.

  • Dave

    Great article, and good points in the combox. If I may, Savonarola, I don’t know that the laity need the bishops to do anything more. The Church’s teaching is perfectly clear on the great issues of the day; the only thing we laity might need from the bishops is prudential direction. Even so, the magisterial documents, the Catechism, the historical Cathechisms — and Holy Scripture, too — are clear as to the lines of arguments and even, when need be, specific doctrinal positions to hold. That some bishops won’t enforce Canon 915 has nothing to do with lay Catholics running for office. To Mr. Roese I would say that the agenda for a Catholic politician is the same for any politician — the people’s business — and that Catholic politicians have the same rights and duties to debate with others and to pass laws that affect us all. Is there a portion of civic life you would withhold from Catholic politicians just because they are Catholic? SnowCherryBlossoms, it may be the case that our bishops should have acted much more vigilantly back in the day — way back in the day, for if Casti Conubii had been taught and observed, Humanae Vitae would not have been necessary — but it was up to Catholic laity to tell their brothers and sisters running for office and defying Church teaching that they weren’t going to stand for it. The clergy are very, very careful about not rocking the boat (and the offering plates), if we all haven’t noticed. If we want bolder, clearer teaching and preaching, we must be bolder and clearer in living the teaching and preaching that has already been given us: else reception of the sacraments is in vain.

  • mary-ellen riedel

    Dear Father,
    My heart hurt when you asked that question, as if there were not great men doing great things in our country and the world. One of the greatest “men” I thought of is Mother Angelica, who has birthed so many great men who work for us every day: Marcus Grodi, Doug Keck, Raymond Arroyo, Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, so many just from the media, and the Knights of Columbus and so many good politicians who are stomped on and ridiculed by the press, and so many of whom are fathers of really large families.
    I cannot begin to remember the names of 100s or 1000s of people who are working for the faith and trying to change the world for Christ for and the salvation of souls. May God bless all of them, and besides Fr. McCloskey and Robert Royal and William Donavan OH Sooo Many. Thanks be to God.
    Pray for all these wonderful people.

  • profling

    Father, saving our Latin heritage would be a good place to start. Many of us are tired of the kitsch liturgies we have had to endure.

  • John Whaley

    Political and Priestly vocations… we need them both for sure. Perhaps those with potential are opting for the later!

  • Walt Viola

    This is exactly why the United Catholic Lay Federation was created.

  • Peter O’Reilly

    Excellent article, Fr. McCloskey. I would add to your listing of 26 Catholic senators and 142 representatives that there are 6 supreme court justices supposedly Catholic and not one Protestant on the Supreme Court. It seems indeed that we Catholics are experiencing an ongoing collapse as well.

  • Godsaves70

    I wish we could have a great Catholic (or, even a moral Christian would do, too) leader, especially a true one who believes as a Catholic (or true Christian) should. I would support him greatly. Unfortunately, our liberal media is like a snake in the grass looking to crush and undermine anyone like this. They seem to have a knack of it, and of course, the people are apathetic and will back off if they do. We will be left with two useless party people who will bring down our country further. The elites who have been there before and the same people will wave their flags at them and vote for them. How disheartening. How can things change for the better, the true better, with this continuously going on in recent times? Please tell me. I feel at a lose right now for our (once great?) country.

  • Mary Carlton-Jones

    Thank you Fr. McCloskey for a wonderfull article. Being of Polish heritage, I appreciate your mentioning Jan Sobieski. As an immigrant to this great nation, I find that most people know very little of history. Our times are innundated with “progressivism,” which by definition only finds the future important and dissmisses the past. Funny how History repeats and peoples still repeat the same mistakes. As for leadership, that requires US to fight evil (not popular since the COEXIST movement prohibits speaking the truth). What we don’t have today is those who will stand for our beliefs, at ALL COST. At 56, I can honestly say that I WILL NOT BACK DOWN. Never have, never will, perhaps it is in my blood – my ancestors paid the price, whether in a gas chamber, a communist prison or the hoards of muslims invading, murdering, raping and pillaging.
    Friends, evil does not go away and play nice. It is easy to lament that our elected officials don’t do what is right or moral. The real question becomes what have we – we the “little people,” what have we done to combat and expose the little evils? If we can’t do that, then why do we expect anyone else to do so? How do we face a big evil? Two are on our horizon – communism (all “isms” be they progressivism, feminism, enviromentalism lead to Marxism/communism) and Islam. Currently they are working together – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If you think that the evil of communism is manageable or minor, think again and see the tyranny and opression that those under it’s boot feel. Remember that Marx wanted to be like Satan – that should be enough explanation on why the destruction of the Catholic Church and it’s teachings is paramount. So the way you do that is destroy the family relationships, promote unnatural relationships, divide peoples and control their offspring by ridiculing their parents and declaring that all of Christian history created oppression and should be “fixed.” We are already there.
    As for Islam, read the Quran, you know what to expect. Nothing has changed in that department since the crusades, I’m afraid. And still we think that when they say ” first we’ll come for the Saturday’s then the Sunday’s” that it is a joke. REALY?
    So back to leadership – Support those who ARE tying to turn this ship of state around and return to our Constitution. And I mean us – we individuals. We have more power than we think
    but we need to firmly stand by our principles, AT ALL COST and not waiver. Exposing fakers is always a good thing as well. We have been taught to be passive for so long that most find it hard to confront that which sorely needs it. Teach your children well!

  • Cjones1

    There are many Catholics in name only and a demon possessed man was found and cured by Jesus in the Caperneum Synagogue. One could conclude that many are possessed with thoughts that run counter to the Lord’s wishes.
    Finding a Catholic leader who can best avoid the temptations that exist in our midst and not be fooled by the influence of fallen angels would be beneficial to us all.

  • Dennis Larkin

    My experience is that it is the laity who have been sounding the alarms for a generation and it is the clergy who have been dismissing those alarms. It is not the Catholic plumbers and accountants who have brought us to this present pass, but bishops, university presidents, and religious. Consider John Jenkins and Notre Dame’s degree for the president. Consider the intellectual cover that Ted Hesburgh gave to Mario Cuoma. If the clergy and the episcopacy manage to stop doing harm, the laity can act. And if they stop interjecting themselves into political discussions, generally on the side of the left, the laity can better arrange political and social affairs. Belloc and Bloy wouldn’t stand a chance with today’s episcopacy and clergy. The episcopacy and clergy too often act as if they are the laity’s “minders.” We do not need “minders.

  • TCross

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for the article.

    As a layman I look to our pope, bishops and priests for support as I struggle in this present culture, but much is up to you, too. The teachings of the Catholic Faith have failed to be taught for a number of generations. I am 62 years old and I am sadden by where the Catholic Church is in living within God’s Kingdom here on earth. We are all at fault, but a priest has Orders, the laity do not. You want strong Catholic leaders in the world? There must first be strong Catholic religious LEADERS. Right now we have a little of both. But there is so much confusion within the Church, so much lukewarm teachings, it will be God’s mercy for His poor children that will save the US. If we are to be saved. The Church as a Family must support and protect it’s children as a good father supports and protects his family.

  • Savonarola

    Canon 915 (as to reception of Holy Communion) IS very relevant indeed, Dave, and the bishops do need to do more. The recent analysis in the Catholic Register demonstrated that a majority of “Catholic” congressmen are supporting abortion and homosexuality. They receive Communion. What’s the message to the laity? Church leadership appears confused when the teaching heavyweights (e.g., Pope Benedict and Cardinal Burke) urge implementation of Canon 915 but the go-with-the-secular-flow bishops waffle, resist, or hide under their desks.

  • Robert

    As we watch the world fall further into apostasy,I am beginning to realize is this not just the continuing narrative for end times as prophesied ? Were we not forewarned that Satan would be “loosed” for a little while at the end of history ??
    Therefore God is in control of this great cosmic drama, this is exactly how it must be for this period in our history.
    We are watching unfold before us the greatest spiritual battle the universe has ever seen since the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of his Holy Catholic Church on earth.
    WE must all look into our own hearts first and reconcile ourselves with God and then be ready to die as martyrs defending the faith. For I believe this generation will be called on to publicly witness their faith like no other time in history before us. Who of us are really ready to die for their faith ? I ponder this question a lot lately as I believe the test might be a lot closer than we expected.

  • Diane

    Fr. John, it is time for all faithful clergy from the top down to the bottom to all speak out at once loud and clear as to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic media must also, all at once, speak out to all who will listen, on TV the Radio through Catholic publications. We must stop this crisis in the Church. You tell us to get involved. I have written my Bishop and my pastor more that just once. I write every week to some or all of the Catholic media, but no one is listening. The Catholic media and the faithful priests and Bishops have the public pulpit. They must start today ‘BE NOT AFRAID’. We need to take our Church back from the secular demons that are destroying our Church.
    If the Synod results in change, then, it will no longer be the true Church. Where do faithful Catholics go to attend the true Mass and receive the true Eucharist? Why even wait for the Synod, it should be cancelled and the Pope should come out in no uncertain terms and shout out what the Church is.

  • Roderick Blyth

    It may be that, in Europe at least, the Catholic association with the pre-Revolutionary (1789), agrarian establishment has gradually undermined its power and influence. Social support, so dynamic a feature of the catholic system that pre-existed the welfare state, has been much over-shadowed by the secular provision of the welfare state, In his ‘Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945’, William Heinemann (2005), Tony Judt writes that, after the war, ‘even Conservative catholics in many countries often had no choice but to vote Christian Democrat, despite the reformist bent of Christian Democrat politicians and policies, because conventional right wing parties were either under a shadow or else banned outright’. The Petainist regime in Vichy was solidly based on a catholic and conservative point of view which, rightly or wrongly, saw the secularisation of France between 1918-1939 as directly responsible for the catastrophic defeat in 1940. One of the effects of the War, therefore, was to rob the public sphere in Europe of an expressly catholic voice, and the introduction of the welfare system, and the political arena which it has created, is of a kind which tends to the exclusion of the same express voice. I don’t know about de Gasperi, but de Gaulle and Adenauer, though catholics, were by no meand ‘identifiable’ as Catholic statesmen – any more than was John F.Kennedy. The main difficulty with the Catholic Church was – and perhaps still is – it’s over-identification with the aims and ideals that inspired the European Age of Reconstruction (1945-1989). Ecumenism has been the church equivalent of the European project: based on the conviction that division is a scandal, and that adherence to authority tends towards conflict, the emphasis has been on identifying the Church with ‘progressive’ social aims. Some of us now think that that process has compromised too many of the Church’s basic strengths, particularity as an ‘alternative’ to the materialistic wins and objects of the contemporary secular state. Such persons are likely to find themselves excluded not just from the political forum, but from the religious one as well.

  • Brian Mershon

    So it is the laymen’s realm to build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But why do you suppose so many current legislatures are filled with “Catholics in name only?”
    Perhaps the ongoing, mind-numbing assault of the “doctrine” of religious liberty for the past 50 years? Perhaps those Catholics are living exactly according to the level of catechesis they experienced in their parish churches for the past 50 years? Is it entirely THEIR fault they are “Catholics in name only?”
    Who is responsible for their formation?
    Even your article refers to the destructive “religious freedom” doctrine. As if THAT is a solution? Please…
    We have the fruits of 50 years of post-Conciliar babble and mocking God in the liturgy and his sacraments as if they are “the work of human hands” instead of a gift from God. You will know a tree by its fruits. We are reaping the fruits of the post-Conciliar debacle. Pure and simple.

    • Tom

      They are big boys and girls. They can read, listen to Catholic radio, and most importantly they know what the basic foundations of the Church are. Yes my generation and many others were the mst poorly Catichised since the last generation to be poorly Catichised but what aout thier parents? we have a n individual responsiblity and more importantly men, yes men, as fathers have a familial role in the catachises of ourselves and our families

  • douglas kraeger

    I would like to suggest a poster be placed in Churches:

    The Catholic Church’s doctrine is that only repentant sinners, in the state of grace, having confessed all known mortal sins, who are in full communion with Christ’s Holy Catholic Church and therefore accept and believe all that the Catholic Church officially teaches with the Authority of Jesus Christ, may receive Holy Communion without incurring a sin, perhaps a mortal sin. All others are strongly encouraged to Please Jesus (not just gratify their wants) by making a “spiritual” communion by praying the Name, “JESUS” (CCC 2666: “Jesus is the only Name that makes present what it represents”) and asking Jesus Christ into their hearts more and more, every minute of every day, until you are in a position for the unmeritable privilege to receive Him in Holy Communion, Who is true God and true Man; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

    Some may ask if such a sign/poster is really necessary. My response is that some of those ministers who are entrusted, by God, with the unimaginable obligation to do all they can to assist the worthy reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion may not feel comfortable taking the time, at every Mass, to audibly repeat such teaching, or maybe would see it as a distraction, and therefore they do less than they could and therefore less than they should since they do truly have an obligation to do all they can. Such a poster would reaffirm, in a non-judgemental way, the sure teaching of Christ’s Church (which is in many misselettes) that each person should approach the sacrament with utmost care and reverence.

    As all priests have such a terrible obligation to try and ensure the reception of Our Lord in as worthy a manner as possible, so also do the laity have a similar obligation to do whatever they can to assist priests, Bishops, and even the Pope to do all they can. Therefore, I ask lay Catholics to pass this on in the hope that it can be improved and/or put into action as is. Thank you.

  • Micha Elyi

    Woe be to the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! said the LORD.
    Jeremiah 23:1

    Too many bishops and priests behave as if the Democrat Party is America’s Catholic party. They refuse to publicly call the lost sheep back to the flock after their public acts of apostasy. The bishops and priests act as if they fear preaching the Christian faith to Catholic politicians will make the Democrat Party look bad and might convince the Catholic faithful to forgo voting Democrat a time or two.

    I had high hopes for the Fortnight for Freedom proclaimed by the US bishops and was disappointed when it turned out to be little more than mere lip service. And mostly hushed lips, at that.

    A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a
    shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves
    the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.
    John 10:11-12