Should the U.S. be a Catholic Society?

At the close of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI noted that the Council had displayed an unparalleled desire “to know, to draw near to, to understand, to penetrate, serve and evangelize the society in which she lives.” That desire reflected a constant goal of the Church, to make her message effective by bringing it to men where they are. Modern man had become centered on himself, so perhaps the Church could reach him, and start the process that would eventually bring him to God, by joining in the concerns and movements of the day.

It’s been a bumpy ride, and some have suggested course corrections. The journey is not over, though, and to the extent the Church does reach and persuade people, they will become closer to her. As men are, so are their institutions, so ultimate success of the Second Vatican Council would mean that society and its institutions become Catholic. That should be no surprise, since the Council reaffirmed “traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”

But what would it mean for society and its institutions, including government, to become Catholic? The idea seems silly and wrong to many people. However things may have seemed fifty or a hundred years ago, it now seems ridiculous to speak of such a thing. Here in the West we’re losing whatever public influence we once had, and if we manage to stay legal while retaining our doctrines and something of our way of life we’ll be doing well for ourselves.

Beyond such immediate practicalities, many people have raised basic objections to the idea of a Catholic society. All societies are unjust, they say, so no society can be Christian. If a society claims to be Christian, then Christianity and power become entangled and Christianity becomes corrupted. Also, not everyone is Catholic, and that situation won’t change, so a Catholic public order would unjustly force a particular religion on those who disagree with it. And past societies that have called themselves Catholic have put most of their efforts into other and less lofty goals. So the idea is impractical, tyrannical, and hypocritical by its very nature. The Constantinian idea of a Catholic empire was a bad one, and good riddance to it.

But does any of that make sense? Bl. John Paul II, following Leo XIII and others, “repeat[ed] that there can be no genuine solution of the ‘social question’ apart from the Gospel.” According to much current thinking, he could not have meant the Gospel that is integrally tied to the Church. He must have meant some other gospel that the New York Times and the European Court of Human Rights could sign on to.

Such a view seems unlikely. The Gospel is the Gospel, and to mention it is implicitly to bring in whatever is necessarily connected to it—including the Church. With that in mind, the principled objections to a Catholic society don’t stand up to much thought. All men are unjust, except maybe a few saints, most actual Catholics put their main efforts into worldly goals, and harsh things could be said about the Church as a human institution. It is nonetheless right for believers to think of themselves and their communities and institutions as Catholic, even though there may be some less-than-saintly things about them.

Life must go on even though men are imperfect. Individuals and societies need some sort of guiding principle, and the guiding principle they accept helps define who they are. That remains true even when they abuse and fall short of their principles, as they quite generally do. A bad Catholic is a Catholic, he’s just a bad one, and if he calls himself Catholic and his commitment makes some difference to how he acts he’s doing as well as most of us. The same would be true of an imperfectly Catholic social order, which any social order calling itself Catholic would no doubt be.

Nor is there ever unity as to what principles should be held publicly or how they should be applied. Disagreement on basic matters is simply the human condition. In the actual world in which we live, the nature of a society is defined not by principles everyone agrees on, which don’t exist, but by those its leaders and decision makers feel entitled to appeal to as they carry on their activities. If those principles are liberal, so that judges feel free to rewrite the law in favor of abortion and “gay marriage,” politicians go along with them, and respected commentators mostly approve the result, then the society is liberal, even though some citizens think the changes don’t go far enough and others reject them with horror. Indeed, popular opposition to the direction of change is likely to be treated by social authorities as a disorder to be dealt with by firmness, education, and various formal and informal sanctions rather than as a reflection of legitimate concerns that call for respectful compromise.

Times are bad for Catholics now, but times change, other people have problems too, and we don’t know how things will look in fifty or a hundred years. Politics have not always been liberal, and won’t remain so forever. I’ve argued that the Catholic view is likely to be more enduring and resilient than the liberal one, simply because it’s more adequate to reality. If that’s right, and social leaders generally come to adopt more and more of the Catholic view and look to it as a way of understanding their jobs, society will stop being liberal and become Catholic. Why would that development be something for a Catholic to object to?

To say a society is Catholic is not to say it has no room for anything else. Catholicism is less a collection of rules than an understanding of what the world is like that helps us deal with it in ways that make sense. So if some people are not Catholic, others aren’t as good as they should be, and many concerns are much the same for Catholics and non-Catholics, it helps deal with that state of affairs as well.

A Catholic society could, for example, be liberal and democratic in many ways. Liberal goals and institutions are often good, but only up to a point and not as the highest standard. So the judiciary could be independent, accused persons could be tried by jury, high officials could be chosen by popular vote, and there could be extensive freedom of discussion and belief. The point is that pure choice would be limited by the public good, as it always is in one way or another, but the public good would be determined in a Catholic rather than techno-hedonistic sense. So actions and utterances at odds with Catholicism would likely be treated much as practices and utterances at odds with advanced liberalism are treated today. To pick an example, instead of worrying about hate speech the authorities might worry about gross impiety, and look for a sensible way to respond to it while respecting other concerns.

None of these speculations, of course, has immediate application. Earl Warren XII is not going to convert to Catholicism, get appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court, and start reading papal encyclicals into the Constitution any time soon. Nonetheless, Catholics need an understanding of what would make the most sense socially, if conditions were favorable and realization were possible, so they can remain oriented to ultimate goals in the confusion of daily life. And it is assuredly the belief of the Church that she is the bearer of a public revelation with implications for the whole of human life, including those having to do with politics. It follows that the ultimate goals of the Church necessarily include evangelization of public life and thus a Catholic society.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared June 3, 2013 in Catholic World Report and is reprinted with permission.

James Kalb


James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

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  • Steven Jonathan

    Catholicism, as it is intended to be, not the “social justice” version poisoning the ethos, is the best way to understand reality properly. It would certainly lead to a much better form of civilized society. We seem to be on a freight train rocketing away from that vision but who knows what the future holds?

    • TheodoreSeeber

      One cannot be pro-life without acknowledging the need for social justice. One cannot be a social justice Catholic while ignoring the plight of our younger than 0 brothers and sisters.

      • slainte

        One can be pro-life and care for the least among us by practicing the “corporal and spiritual works of mercy” as the Church has taught for millenia.

        Our culture has hijacked the term “social justice” and transformed its meaning to require centralized governmenal control a/k/a “socialism” as the sole solution to alleviating proverty and other chronic societal woes. The transformed meaning ignores notions of solidarity and subsidiarity and the place of local communities and families to respond to these problems.

        Time to recognize that when one practices the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, one is practicing “social justice” as such term was properly understood by the Catholic church.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          True Catholic Social Justice is the Corporal Works of Mercy. Pro-life is extending those corporal works, without discrimination, from conception until Natural Death.

          I’m not so sure about the spiritual works of mercy being “social justice” as they do not impact the material world very much. Doesn’t mean that I don’t practice them though. I find that the spiritual works of mercy are necessary to notice what needs doing in the corporal works of mercy.

          There’s no reason why we shouldn’t use government as a tool to achieve those ends- but you’re right, we need to keep solidarity and subsidiarity in balance with them. Cardinal Reinhard Marx provided me with an example from Germany; he started a series of food banks, and the money need to run them came from a grant from the government.

          • Steven Jonathan

            Maybe we don’t share definitions- a proper understanding of justice renders the word ‘social’ in front of it redundant. Joseph Pieper has a wonderful book on the cardinal virtues that will help to clear up the confusion. We might agree on the term “Catholic social teaching.”

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I’ll look that up, thanks.

            • slainte

              This conversation confirms that control of the “language”, by word redefinition, inevitably leads to an alteration of thoughts, then actions, and eventually to a transformation of the culture.
              Re-definition of the term “social justice” by the culture has caused great confusion among Catholics who believe themselves to be actively conforming to the faith while advocating for ideologies such as socialism.
              The Church must protect the laity from further subversion of the Faith.

              • Steven Jonathan

                Slainte, We agree, we need our fathers to protect us from these perversions. Good hearted people get tripped up because we don’t even here it from the pulpit.

              • Alecto

                The laity is part of the Church. We need to take responsibility for what we think and do in the name of the Church.

                • slainte

                  I agree Alecto, but not all laity perceive or understand the subtle intricacies of language manipulation and other political machinations as they are being implemented. Most of our brethren are just too busy providing for their families, putting food on the table, and paying the rent.
                  We need our pastors’ wisdom and guidance, and the assistance of intelligent lay Catholics to “say something when they see something”.

                  • Micha_Elyi

                    Good points all, slainte. If our specially-schooled for years and years clergy are unable to point the way, to clearly describe the goal, and to teach us why we should strive to bring ourselves, our families, and our neighbors there; then they’re just sacrament-dispensers, aren’t they? And that’s not right.

                    • slainte

                      To bring Our Lord Jesus Christ into the lives of the faithful by consecrating the bread and wine into the Holy Eucharist and Precious Blood of Christ is the greatest miracle that a priest may share with his brethren.
                      To label any Roman Catholic priest who gifts us with this miracle as merely a “sacrament dispenser” is extraordinarily disrespectful.
                      Consider your actions called out as an unacceptable affront to the Catholic faith and an unwarranted attack on Chirst’s apostolic priesthood.
                      Not acceptable Micha_Elyi. Please reconsider your position.

    • Stephen

      THERE IS SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THERE IS “SOCIAL JUSTICE” After WWII made the world safe for communism and its pandemic naturalism, several important definitions fell under their spell. The real Catholic definition of Social Justice was hijacked by liberals masquerading as Catholics. But the real Social Justice was and is strongly set forth by Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum and Pius XI’s reiteration in Quadragesimo Anno. “Marriage: and “social justice” have been seriously re-defined and maligned to suit the Marxist liberal de-Christianizing agenda.


    A thought: what percentage of the Congress is Catholic? What percent the Supreme Court?

  • TheodoreSeeber

    We need to start the evangelization with our fellow Catholics in the pew who have never been evangelized.

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  • Alecto

    Catholics are hostile to free societies and always favored centralized authority. They eschew personal responsibility. I’m surprised Catholics don’t understand that the society we have is a direct result of their involvement in public life? Every entitlement scheme, every treasury-raiding program (and pogrom) can be connected to Catholicism and its obsession with establishing some earthy redistributive kingdom. I favor persuasion over coercion and I believe we’d do better to ban the current crop of “Catholics” from holding office, and all public life. Well, actually, I’d like to send them all to a re-education camp. Good God in heaven, just to get rid of Granny Pelosi, I’d do just about anything.

    Maybe Catholics would do better to try and imagine the reasons why the Founding Fathers were so distrustful of them? They were better men than any Catholic I can think of who has ever held public office. All I know is, the more Catholics entered the U.S. and became involved in public life, the more widespread moral turpitude became, the more we lost our liberty and prosperity and the more coercive government became. Why should I want more of that?

    • Latin Responder

      There may actually be some correct elements in your comment here. However, the fact that some Catholics engage in unethical misconduct cannot be laid at the door of the Catholic faith.
      But let’s be clear as to what is or is not misconduct as well. Why did the Founders distrust Catholics? Because the Founders were radical secularists who had no care for the Social Reign of Christ, and rightly saw Catholics at the time as a staunch impediment to their freemasonic machinations. Unlike today, unfortunately, when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between contemporary Catholic “teaching” on the church and state and freemasonic Jeffersonian constitutional “principles”. And since when are liberty and prosperity the central goals of human life or the prime purposes of government?
      You should want more of what Christ wants, not what you want.

      • Alecto

        The Founders were absolutely not radical secularists who had “no care for the Social Reign of Christ”. What a myth! Anyone who has read even one letter from any of the Founders, could never write that. I’m sick of the disparaging of great men with a wholly pure and virtuous intent in founding this country because they weren’t Catholic? Catholics do not have a monopoly on truth or goodness or virtue. For those of us who believe that God did indeed have a hand in its creation, I offer George Washington’s prayer at Valley Forge, and his farewell address; Jefferson’s words in the Notes on the State of Virginia, “…can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?” John Jay, Ben Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Rush, Alexander Hamilton, Noah Webster, etc… all understood the role of God’s divine action in helping establish this country, often wrote of their reliance on the Divine, and the benefits of belief in private and public life, of virtue that comes from God and our reliance upon Him. I suggest you familiarize yourself with their writings which repeatedly reference God, and give thanks to him.

        There is no salvation without liberty to pursue it. If Catholicism is nothing more than papist chains, which position I absolutely reject, it is already a tyranny. I assure you, Christ wants us to have the blessings of liberty, and he wants us to be prosperous and happy. I fear it is Catholics who don’t want Christ. They have replaced him with popes, and now worship them, not Him.

        • slainte

          What role did Freemasonry play in the formation of the U.S? We know that many of the men you mention, including Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, etc. were dedicated Freemasons.
          We also know what Pope Leo XIII (and many other popes) taught about Freemasonry. (see, Pope Leo XIII Encyclicals Humanum Genus, Rerum Novarum, etc.)

          The country was founded by Protestants groups not all of whom were Freemasons or members of secret societies. Many Protestant groups were vocal in their opposition to Freemasonry.

          Your perspective would be appreciated as I think many Catholics are confused by the influence of Freemasonry on the country’s Founders given Catholic teachings on this subject and the accompanying proscription against Catholics becoming Freemasons.

          • Alecto

            From Franklin’s Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion:

            That there is one God, Father of the Universe.
            That he is infinitely good, Powerful and wise.
            That he is omnipresent.
            That he ought to be worshipped, by Adoration, Prayer and Thanksgiving both in publick [sic] and private.
            That he loves his creatures as love and do good to others; and will reward them either in this World or the hereafter.
            That Men’s Minds do not die with their Bodies, but are made more happy or miserable after this life according to their actions.
            That Virtuous Men ought to league together to strengthen the interest of Virtue, in the World; and so strengthen themselves in Virtue.
            That Knowledge and Learning is to be cultivated, and Ignorance dissipated.
            That none but the Virtuous are Wise.
            That Man’s perfection is in Virtue.

            While not Catholic in origin, this comports not with Freemasonry, but with Christian ideals. Every single one of these men derived their ideas of “virtue” from the Bible. The notion that Founders were obsessed with Freemasonry or were radical Freemasons, is, upon further reading of their own writings, disputable.

            • slainte

              You quote Franklin as stating, “That there is one God, Father of the Universe….”

              Would it matter to you if the “one God and Father of the Universe” to which Franklin makes reference, and/or “Nature’s God” and the “Creator of the Universe” which Jefferson references in the Declaration of Independence were not the Christian Triune God (Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit)? What impact for the nation?

              Language matters, especially to skilled statesmen and lawyers capable of composing and assenting to the terms of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Why so vague on such an important point?

              • Alecto

                The vagueness isn’t mine, but Franklin’s. It doesn’t matter in any objective sense whether Jefferson or Franklin believed in a Catholic Trinity or another view of a Christian God. The facts are that being English colonists, they were all raised with Protestant concepts about God, probably learned to read from a King James Bible, and those ideas informed their ideas about what government should and should not do or be. Do I agree with their views on government? Yes, I do. Catholics look on what to me is a miracle, and see dreck because somewhere for once, someone didn’t kiss the papal ring.

                Instead of praising, cherishing and protecting God’s gift in the form of a government of, by and for the people, Catholics are in a snit because they can’t claim credit for something unique, fine and good in this world. It’s time to get over that.

        • Latin Responder

          Alecto, we should carefully and dispassionately examine the truth of the matter, instead of using mindless American sloganeering.

          – Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin did not believe in the Trinity.

          – Nowhere does the Constitution mention Christ or even a general reference to God. Nowhere does it even recognize established norms of the Natural Law as immutable fundamentals from which the land would be governed at the federal and state levels. And several attempts to amend the Constitution to declare the country a Christian land have all gone down to defeat.

          – The Treaty of Tripoli approved by President John Adams and ratified by the Senate declared “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

          – Please read Chris Ferrara’s “Liberty The God That Failed”, as he systemically and irrefutably deconsrtucts the Founders as the amoral anti-Catholic misfits that they were and the Revolution as a radical unprincipled Lockean experiment with little in the way of coherent metaphysical normative principles underlying it.

          • Alecto

            If you aren’t the reincarnation of Cold Standing, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. So now we’re judging the strength of virtue or integrity based on belief in the Trinity? The Constitution is a twenty-five page document which creates a structure for our federal government. The First Amendment guarantees every individual’s right to the free exercise of religion. The spheres of life over which government has sway under our Constitution are limited and enumerated, not limitless, but Catholics have done much to undermine the Constitution as conceived. Any survey of American history over the past century illustrates the encroachment of the state into areas never, ever conceived by the Founders.

            • slainte

              Are Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII both wrong in their express warnings against the ultimate goals of freemasonry?

              Please open your mind to the possibility that what you learned in school may not be all there is to know, Start by reading Pope Leo’s XIII’s encyclicals….Humanum Genus and Rerum Novarum.

              At a minimum, you will begin to appreciate that “language” can be used to convey several meanings simultaneously, and that such “word play” is replete in documents like the Declaration and the Constitution.

              The Founders were not just Protestants; those who were also freemasons had a belief system shaped by “principles” alien to and antagonistic to the christian Divine Law.

              If you truly believe that Christianity played such a pivotal role in forming the Founding Fathers’ ideas, consider that the belief system that infoms Freemasonry likely played an equally important role.



              • Alecto

                Perhaps you ought to let go of the idea that popes are authorities on everything? The pope is not a divine source of knowledge or wisdom on every topic of importance or relevance in this world. If I want a defense of the dignity of life, or to better understand how my relationship to Christ has a direct bearing on my salvation or what transubstantiation is, I look to the Church for that understanding. I do not look to popes for insights into better government. Their opinions have no more validity than others in these areas, in fact, much less authority. I also have to wonder how it came to be that a Catholic signed the Declaration of Independence if it is so imbued with concepts that offend Catholic doctrine? I’m quite certain Mr. Carroll would never have done anything to jeopardize his soul.

                Let’s take a look at the religious affiliations of the 204 men who are considered the Founders, which includes signers of the Declaration of Independence, or signers of Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution, or first class of senators and representatives:

                Episcopalian/Anglican 88
                Presbyterian 30
                Congregationalist 27
                Quaker 7
                Dutch Reformed/German Reformed 6
                Lutheran 5
                Catholic 3
                Huguenot 3
                Unitarian 3
                Methodist 2
                Calvinist 1

                Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, evidence supporting membership in the Freemasons, can only be substantiated for 9-15 of them. Thomas Jefferson was not a Freemason. For these men, membership in this society did not necessarily supplant their beliefs in a Christian God, but like membership in ancillary civic institutions, helped them create a liberal society. In fact, a Roman Catholic, Daniel Carroll, brother of John Carroll and cousin to Charles, was a known Freemason. I do not know why Catholics continually overstate the role of Freemasonry in the founding of this country, but overstate its influence they do.

                These alien principles you reference…, would those include all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If Catholics honestly believe that the Declaration of Independence is antagonistic or alien to Divine Law, I disagree. I never will be able to understand nor do I care to understand why Catholics refuse to accept the gift of liberty, preferring instead to become slaves to some oppressive tyrant, and making others into slaves? That most “Catholic” attitude may explain why so many of them love Obama, our very own dictator in waiting.

            • HigherCalling

              “Ferrara is wrong.” — So you’ve read the book? Not saying you need to agree with Ferrara on a single thing, but since you so tersely disagree with him, clearly you can’t both be right. A refutation of his book seems in order.

              The reason our otherwise wonderful Constitution is failing as a limited structure for our federal government, the reason that the advance of State power has been relentless from the get-go, the reason unalienable liberties are now slowly being stripped, the reason violations of the natural law and universal truths are found acceptable and deemed lawful, is that our Godless Constitution neither recognizes nor allows a moral authority above itself — it grants liberty while deliberately rejecting the Truth that makes and keeps us free. It has been recognized by people far wiser than us, that Protestantism, carried to its logical conclusion, ends in atheism. To the extent that the Framers were religious, they were products of Protestantism. If America was founded on religious principles, those principles originated in philosophies borne of Protestantism. The growth of our increasingly atheistic State follows linearly from the source of America’s founding principles. Belief in the Trinity may not be the sole measure for judging the strength of virtue or integrity, but accepting the truth about the Triune Source of our liberty seems like a must for any nation that cherishes and seeks to sustain it.

              • Alecto

                The reason our otherwise wonderful Constitution is failing as a limiting structure for our federal government…is that our Godless Constitution neither recognizes nor allows a moral authority above itself — it grants liberty while deliberately rejecting the Truth that makes and keeps us free.

                This is the crux of my disagreement and why I believe Catholics here are wrong. The Constitution assumes as a condition precedent to it, a belief in the Truth, in God, and in the Divine grant of rights and duties that keep us free. That theme, that understanding is replete throughout the writings of the time by every patriot who expressly lauded religion and its importance as the underpinning of liberty, who warned that only a moral people are capable of self-government. There is nothing “Godless” about the American Revolution or its charter.

            • Latin Responder

              Catholics have done much to undermine the Constitution? No, we haven’t. That’s part of the problem, we’ve been too docile.

            • HigherCalling

              Maybe this will help to clarify the general thrust of what this article and those responding to you are trying to get across:


          • jacobhalo

            The forefathers used a minister to say a prayer before Congress convened. Geo. Washington put his hand on the bible to take the oath of office. John Adams said that democracy without the bible cannot exist. We put our hand on the bible in court. The Supreme Court has a carving of Moses holding the 10 commandments on its building,

        • TheWhiteLilyBlog

          But Alecto, these words deny your point that our nation is wonderfully religious because the founders prayed a lot! You wrote, quoting Jefferson:

          Jefferson’s words in the Notes on the State of Virginia, “…can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?”

          That is, Jefferson says ‘we have removed’ God. And they did! Whether or not men pray does not make the nation a religious state. A Catholic nation has a specific economic structure and a specific moral base coming from the Faith, not from all faiths, nor from the individual practices of its inhabitants. Please read Fanfani, Beyond Capitalism and Socialism, and The Thirteenth, the Greatest of Centuries. And in response to your tired old canard that Catholics worship the pope, you, sir, worship liberty. You have the chance to reject it, even up to the last second of your life, I hope you remember to do so.

    • slainte

      Alecto, you and your family are Catholic. Would you count yourself and your family among those who are “hostile to free societies and always favored centralized authority….eschewing personal responsibility”?
      No Catholic I knew when I grew up in very liberal NYC would accept “charity”. For those who had to accept welfare or food stamps because of unforeseen unemployment due to sickness etc., there was a sense of shame and a strong and urgent desire to take any job to remediate the situation and restore one’s self respect. When immigrants came to this country in the 1800s and 1900s, they came to work and contribute to society, not to sponge off the beneficience of others.
      Something has changed which has transformed society and the culture,and it is not Catholicism (not even Vatican II). Even the descendants of the most upright Protestants (Congregationalists and Presbyterians) who subscribed to the Protestant Work Ethic for hundreds of years no longer adhere to this principle.
      Our society needs to be fully imbued with virtue and its source, God. The Protestants are no longer able to provide this leadership. Catholicism, in the fullness of its tradition, can restore this nation by restoring Our Lord Jesus Christ to his rightful role as head.
      I am not suggesting a Catholic theocratic state as all must come to Catholicism by their own informed choice. There is a need for providential leadership, and as no other group has stepped forward to provide that leadership, the Catholic Church must do so while continuing to respect the plurality of all religions in the U.S.

      • Alecto

        Of course I don’t, but my family does not adhere to the common perversion embodied in social justice teaching. I do not agree that Protestants cannot lead and I believe Catholics need to seek common ground with Protestants, especially Evangelicals, where they can. Catholics marginalized themselves all by themselves, have damaged their valuable legacy, and it remains to be seen whether they can lead. Whatever moral authority existed in the Catholic Church was totally destroyed by scandal after scandal of leadership, betraying every single Catholic, just as Protestants have lost ability to lead, I respond, so have the Catholics. I don’t know what you mean by assuming providential leadership. No one wants Catholic traitors, or disingenuous Catholics who exploit the religion in public life. Are they checked at all by other Catholics? That remains to be seen. My senator, Tim Kaine, for example, claims to be Catholic, and most likely received many Catholics’ votes for office, yet I would never, ever, ever, ever, vote for him. Nor would I support many Catholics for office including anyone named “Kennedy” or virtually any Irish Catholic. And this tendency towards ambition, lust for power, corruption and greed is unique to them.

        I do not mean any disrespect to the faith of my fathers, but I do not find Catholics generally worthy to serve in public life. I do not trust them based on experience, not doctrine. Whatever leads them to seek office, they end up as arrogant, ignorant, deceitful, pretentious and self-righteous bullies. Sorry to be harsh, but had someone dealt harshly with Catholic politicians decades ago, we might still have the legacy you described in your post, slainte.

    • TheWhiteLilyBlog

      Alecto is right! The charity and care for the poor was a part of every Catholic state. It was ‘paid for’ by the unpaid labor of the religious orders, which was essential. The restraints on profit-taking was legendary–no advertising was allowed, no interest paid, the guilds strictly regulated both production and wages. And one third of the calendar was a paid holiday–holy day; even the menu was regulated, the poor were guaranteed a generous share of meat and mead. The entire concept of a Commons comes from Catholicism. When the Catholic states were killed one by one, the transition to secularism was gradual, and the people did not know that a fundamental sea change had occurred, that the removal of the Faith from the center would cause a profound misalignment, as it has–this happened also in England during the protestant rebellion, so very many people were not even aware that they were suddenly in a new church and one in which their best interests were no longer protected. There are very many people to this day who think that Europe is still Catholic! And it is the same now among our social activists–they apply principles that can only be realized in a Catholic state, and with the help of religious orders, to secular states. And furthermore, what we know as communism/socialism/the gamut was and is a reaction to the death of the Catholic state, a necessary reaction to care for the poor in some way, since the old way was gone. Alecto is right also about the Pelosis et al–they are ruining us in their misapplication of Catholic principles without the Catholic structure–secularism churns out poor much faster than we can open soup kitchens or welfare offices. But Alecto’s correct identification of the source of the problem should not blind us to his incorrect general conclusion. We must have a return to the thoroughly socialist, thoroughly regulated, thoroughly just Catholic state (by the way, Pius XI recognized the identification–he said the economics of the Catholic state were indistinguishable from those of moderate socialism, Quadragessimo Anno, I have probably misspelled it but I have not misread it).

    • Andrew Patton

      They were distrustful of us without cause. Far from being subversive to true Americanism, I cannot conceive of true Americans existing outside the Catholic Church. In Catholicism alone is embodied the liberties our Constitution was established to protect, while the Protestants who wrote the Constitution systematically denied its protections to the Catholic and the alien, even engaging in systematic acts of genocide against the Native Tribes, violating the peace established with them by Treaty and denying them the independence from the United States guaranteed them by the Constitution.

  • David F. Dieteman

    Arguably, what Kalb envisions – a Catholic society – has already existed, and arguably still exists, but for the recent abortion law, in Ireland. It is explicitly Catholic in its constitution, unless I am mistaken.

  • RobW

    “The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes…she will lose many of her social privileges. As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.

    It will be hard-going fo…r the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain…But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

    And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”–Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

  • Bob Kendall

    I think what is in question here is a matter of evolution of society. I know I am idealistic, but it makes me a more faithful Catholic than I would otherwise be, so bear with me.
    It does not follow that if we Catholics succeeded in evangelizing and converting the whole world (which i do believe is our goal according to the directives of the Gospels) that there would need to be an overhaul of society as we know it into a more Catholic institution. For one thing, society would probably have changed in increments, just as a converted person does as they learn and grow into their new religion.
    But more importantly, because if we lived in a world that adhered to the Gospels–religiously, so to speak– that state of being would all but make organized government obsolete. In other words, and put more simply, if we all lived by the Law of God, the law of man would become redundant. Remember, God warned the Jews against crowning a king because He knew it would lead to all sorts of secular problems such as it has. If we are to create a Catholic society, we already have a King–the best King, a King who will never be deposed and never lose His Throne. Thus when (when, not if) we are eventually standing on the threshold of a Catholic Christian society, we will not need be concerned with anything but living according to the Gospels and all else will take care of itself.

  • Prof_Override

    Dead on the money. Process and unrelenting focus on the future state vision brings that vision into reality. We are where we are because liberals have been better at this fundamental over the past 50+ yrs.

  • Alecto

    For any Crisis posters/readers who live in Virginia, I hope the larger question of whether we ought to be a Catholic society translates into support for Ken Cuccinelli. Bob McDonnell was touted as a conservative, but Ken Cuccinelli is the real deal: a man with impeccable character, solid values, and someone who has already proven he supports Catholic principles. He is truly the kind of Catholic politician I support, and I hope you all will, too. Terry McAuliffe cannot win this election.

  • Stephen

    NATURALIZED CATHOLICS? We think too much in the natural. Consequently, naturalism triumphs. Rather, importantly, the Church Militant must regularly reaffirm the vital supernatural role of prayer. One million Catholics to diligently pray daily for a Chief Justice can only bear fruit. This is the preferred way as God gets the glory!

  • jacobhalo

    One of the problems with Vatican II was that they wanted to bring the church into the modern world. There goal should have been to bring the modern world into the church. If you throw a baby into a pig stye he or she will roll around the stye like the pigs.