Andrew Klusman's Blog

On being Catholic and American

This post is an adaptation of something I wrote elsewhere.
For some reason, it is nowadays trendy and hip among Catholic circles to just start hatin’ on America because it’s not a monarchy, it’s not trad, the gov’t is going to pot, it’s Masonic, it’s not run by the resurrected body of Pope St Pius X, or whatever other goofy reason.
What gives?  If this country was so God-awful, why would our country have dioceses?  Why would the Popes not condemn these United States?  Why would millions upon millions of Catholic faithful flee their homes in “Catholic” Europe only to join up with the anti-Church and anti-God Freemasonic country to destroy the world?
Well, I’m guessing they wouldn’t have.  So there must have been something redeemable in the USA for Catholics to, in good conscience, flock here.
While I intend to have a greater discussion on this, I must note at least two passages from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Longinqua oceani (“Wide expanse of the ocean”):

“Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

 …

13. Another consideration claims our earnest attention. All intelligent men are agreed, and We Ourselves have with pleasure intimated it above, that America seems destined for greater things. Now, it is Our wish that the Catholic Church should not only share in, but help to bring about, this prospective greatness. We deem it right and proper that she should, by availing herself of the opportunities daily presented to her, keep equal step with the Republic in the march of improvement, at the same time striving to the utmost, by her virtue and her institutions, to aid in the rapid growth of the States. Now, she will attain both these objects the more easily and abundantly, in proportion to the degree in which the future shall find her constitution perfected. But what is the meaning of the legation of which we are speaking, or what is its ultimate aim except to bring it about that the constitution of the Church shall be strengthened, her discipline better fortified? Wherefore, We ardently desire that this truth should sink day by day more deeply into the minds of Catholics-namely, that they can in no better way safeguard their own individual interests and the common good than by yielding a hearty submission and obedience to the Church. Your faithful people, however, are scarcely in need of exhortation on this point; for they are accustomed to adhere to the institutions of Catholicity with willing souls and a constancy worthy of all praise.

To the first passage, one notes the happy and cheerful tone with which Pope Leo XIII approaches the Republic and the esteem in which he holds George Washington.  One also sees how the Pope is optimistic in how the USA can be “conjoined in concord and amity” with the Catholic Church!  This, from the Pope of Humanum Genus!  He who harshly condemned Freemasonry and its errors.  If a man such as Pope Leo XIII could see some grand future of the Catholic Church and the USA, we ought to take note!
To the second passage, Leo clearly, as in the first, sees a future of greatness for the USA and the Catholic Church.  Leo goes one further though, and says it is “Our wish that the Catholic Church should not only share in, but help to bring about, this prospective greatness”!  The Church cannot stand idly by as the “Freemasonic Republic destroys good Catholics”.  No, the Church must help bring ABOUT this change, this grand development, this greater future.
Is this country perfect?  No.  Was it ever?  Far from it.  (But, at least we didn’t massacre priests like “Catholic” France and “Catholic” Mexico did….)  But that doesn’t stop the Church and it shouldn’t stop us.  Catholics came here, spread the Faith, and “while the different classes exerted their best energies, you were enabled to erect unnumbered religious and useful institutions, sacred edifices, schools for the instruction of youth, colleges for the higher branches, homes for the poor, hospitals for the sick, and convents and monasteries. As for what more closely touches spiritual interests, which are based upon the exercise of Christian virtues, many facts have been brought to Our notice, whereby We are animated with hope and filled with joy, namely, that the numbers of the secular and regular clergy are steadily augmenting, that pious sodalities and confraternities are held in esteem, that the Catholic parochial schools, the Sunday-schools for imparting Christian doctrine, and summer schools are in a flourishing condition; moreover, associations for mutual aid, for the relief of the indigent, for the promotion of temperate living, add to all this the many evidences of popular piety”, as Pope Leo XIII put it in his encyclical.
As two final notes (and some more reading!), please see the two snippets below, one from the Catholic Encyclopedia and the other from Catholicism.org.  They both have a very clear and coherent approach to how Catholics ought to approach their homeland, in particular when it is not the best homeland it can be.
Look at the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Civil Allegiance“:
From the time of Our Lord to the present, no accusation has been more persistently made against Catholics than that they cannot be good Catholics and good citizens at the same time. They owe, it is said, a divided allegiance. On the one hand they are bound to obey an infallible pope, who is the sole judge of what comes within his sphere of authority, and who may be a foreigner; and on the other they must satisfy the claims of the State to the loyalty and obedience of its subjects.
(emphases mine – but there’s more good food for thought at the entry)

And here, Br Andre Marie wrote last year in his article entitled “Catholic and Patriotic“:
Patriotism is a great virtue. To be a patriot is to love one’s fatherland. This means that it is to love the land of the people that sired you. Patriotism is a natural overflow of the virtue of piety — that is, the virtue of the home. As piety would have us rendering what is due in justice to parents and other family members, patriotism would have us render the same to our nation, its government, and our fellow citizens. Both of these are a matter of justice, for the virtues of piety and patriotism are parts of that cardinal virtue.

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