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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

American Catholic v. Catholic in America

Over at WDTPRS, Fr. Z has posted a piece by Dr. Ed Peters.  It is a wonderful piece and my take on it will follow Dr. Peters text:

In March 2010, I expressed the view that Nancy Pelosi’s protracted and public anti-life conduct, which she repeatedly justifies with (twisted takes on) the Catholic faith, sufficed, in my view, to bring about her debarment from the reception of holy Communion under Canon 915. If Pelosi’s “prolonged public conduct does not qualify as obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin,” I wrote two years ago, “then, in all sincerity, I must admit to not knowing what would constitute obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin.”
It’s now February of 2012, and nothing in Pelosi’s conduct over the last 23 months suggests any emendation of her attitudes toward killing unborn babies, etc., etc., etc. Indeed her recent call for Catholics qua Catholics to unite behind, of all things!, President Obama’s plan to impose immoral policies on private medical insurance plans—which call provoked this moving cri de coeur from Fr. Zuhlsdorf—suggests that Pelosi’s views, like Pharaoh’s heart, have only hardened with time.
Canon 915, as I and others have explained many times, is not about impositions on individual conscience, it’s about public consequences for public behavior. It’s about taking people at their word and acknowledging the character of their actions. It’s about not pretending that people don’t really mean what they repeatedly say and what they repeatedly do.
Nancy Pelosi obviously means exactly what she says, and she regularly backs up her words with deeds. She deserves to be taken seriously. Very seriously.
As a canon lawyer, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be deprived of holy Communion as the just consequence of her public actions; as her fellow Catholic, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be deprived of holy Communion to bring home to her and to the wider faith community the gravity of her conduct and the need to avoid such conduct altogether or, that failing, at least to repent of it. Quickly.

My comments:

I have long held that in this country we have a serious problem regarding Catholicism which goes back to the late 1800s and the heresy of Americanism.  This is a modern version of that heresy.  In the 1890s the heresy centered around the notion of separation of Church and State.  The same issues exist today.

Nancy Pelosi and those like her have "personal beliefs" which cannot be interfered with while running this country (yes, people like Pelosi, actually do run this country).  This is a clear example of the heresy.

Pope Leo XIII stated that an America where church and state are "dissevered and divorced," and wrote of his preference for a closer relationship between the Catholic Church and the State, along European lines.  I don't disagree with the mentality.  I'm not speaking of European lines of today, but rather, European lines of the late 19th century, when it was markedly more Catholic, not only in nature, but also in practice.

Walking hand in hand with Americanist heresy was the Modernist heresy.  Pope Leo recognized this when he said that the Church "would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority."

What we are seeing here friends is a two-fold resurrection.  We are seeing the Americanist heresy and the Modernist heresy re-invigorated.  To defeat Pelosi and those like her, we must get them (Catholic civil leaders) to rehabilitate from those two heresies.  The rehabilitation from Americanism starts with adhering to Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae and applying it in today's world.  The rehabilitation from Modernism starts with Pascendi Dominici gregis.

That is how it starts.  That is the only way it can start.  Until then, most opining is simply that, opining.  Action is the only way to combat heresy.  It is time for the Holy Father to put his tiara back on, start acting like the temporal ruler that he is (along with the spiritual ruler) and demand, as Popes Leo and Pius did, that Catholics act like Catholics.  The age of Modernist diplomacy failed.  Pray, yes...but put action behind the prayer.  This does fall on the Holy Father and it falls on his bishops in the USA.

We Catholics who understand the difference between Catholics in American and American Catholics are growing.  There is no such thing as an American Catholic.  There are only Catholics in America.  America can't save my soul.  Catholicism can.  I know which comes first.


  1. Agreed. The United States is a vile, wicked nation-state that has never concerned itself with real Truth or the Dignity of Man. Anyone who worships America, the US Constitution, democracy, et cetera cannot possibly worship the Lord. "Non potestis Deo servire et mammonae."

    Our only solution as Catholics in the New World: continue to follow Church teaching, regardless of what the heretical democratic/republican/whig/federalist despots sling in our faces, and pray that our shepherds will not only speak up, but actually act on their words (CIC-83 Can.915!!!). And pray and fast "for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our holy Mother the Church."

    I've never understood why so many traditional-leaning Catholics are infatuated with Americanism.

  2. When I entered the Roman Catholic Church at Easter Vigil in 2008, I was soon shocked to find that I had internally begun to self-identify as a Catholic first, and an American second. In all my years as a Protestant, my Americanism was at least equal to my identity as a Christian. In fact, I felt they were intertwined.

    I don't believe the United States is vile or wicked because of its Constitution, democracy, and so on. Good heavens, what brimstone must then be rained down upon socialism, corrupt monarchies and so on!

    A governmental system becomes wicked when it forsakes the laws of God and advocates for abortion, for instance.

    I do agree that there is a distinct Americanist heresy on the rise, and that it has enthralled many Catholics, goaded along by their bishops and priests. Wrap the heresy up in the secularist, modernist heresy and we have quite a package to deal with.

    On the ground in dioceses and parishes all over the United States, one sees these heresies in action through bishops who have shrunk from their duties to teach and exhort authentic Catholic teaching, and in the scattering of their flocks through contraception, abortion, non-attendance at mass, and so on. Look at the mess in the northeast, with dioceses closing and clustering parishes, all the while dioceses are raising millions for government-funded charities.

    At this point, it is as Bishop Fulton Sheen told an audience of Knights of Columbus in 1972, “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

    Sadly, I find very few fellow Catholics who are willing to take up the cross.

  3. Hi Gretchen,

    We're out there. You just need to keep looking. Ask questions. Don't worry about what your pastor or curate (associate pastor) thinks, ask questions, anyway. You'll find out quickly who has your best interest.

    I'm pretty sure by your post that you do that already, but I wanted to make sure...

    Your quote about His Excellency +Abp. Sheen is spot on. Christ promised us that there would always be a Church, He never promised that it would be large. It will fall on a few, as in Athanasius's time, to save Holy Mother Church. Stick with what the Church teaches and don't deviate.

    The Church is here for man. Not man for the Church.

  4. Andy,

    The internet has been a mental 'lifesaver', for one does get to see that there are more orthodox Catholics out there.

    Unfortunately, I reside in the Diocese of Rochester. You can imagine...