The Dichotomy of American Exceptionalism and the Catholic Church

Non Sequitariat talks about America’s anti-Catholic history and how prominent Catholic politicians like Rick Santorum conform to this sentimentality that persists even today in politics. My favorite excerpt illustrates the opposing creeds of American exceptionalism and the global universality of the Roman Catholic Church:

the Republican Party, pushing the more severe form of American exceptionalism, favors the Christian sect that matured in America. The historic Catholic faith must seem too alien—born at an empty tomb outside Jerusalem, seated in Rome, developed throughout the Mediterranean, and practiced the world over.

Pope Benedict XVI recently highlighted American hostility towards Catholicism when he stated, “It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.” American Catholics must shed themselves of the naive idea that American exceptionalism is congruent with Catholicism. The idea that America has all the best ideas, the best culture, the best government and that every other culture and nation is therefore inferior to the United States is directly opposed to Catholic thought. We must accept that American Catholics represents only a small minority of the Catholics of the world and that to find true solidarity with our Catholic brothers and sisters worldwide we need to put our shared faith first and recognize our loyalty to the United States, a country that would so quickly demand we disregard our values (here, here, and here for example), as secondary.


Coalition for Clarity

“…I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances…”” Pope Benedict XVI

For a clear-cut Catholic take on torture and related issues the Coalition for Clarity has some very useful, regularly updated information. Description for the Coalition for Clarity below:

In the political climate in which we find ourselves at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Catholics are grappling with confusing messages as to the morality of torture. Lost in political and often partisan debates is the clear voice of the Church, who has called torture evil, and who teaches with conviction the truth that a captured enemy combatant, political prisoner, or other opponent does not lose his human dignity or his right to humane treatment.

The contributors and members of the Coalition for Clarity believe with the Church that torture is intrinsically evil, a violation of our Christian duty to treat all men as our neighbors and of their right to be treated humanely and with dignity regardless of their status. We hope by discussing this issue and providing links to resources supporting Church teaching that this blog will help to bring clarity to the issue of torture and to our duty as members of God’s family to oppose its use in all circumstances.

Because we seek the clarity of Church teaching on all issues, we also hope to discuss and reflect on any issue pertaining to human life and dignity, but especially those issues where the possibility that the Church’s teaching is not being presented clearly exists.

The War Against Peace

Christians protect praying Muslims in Cairo

I can’t help but feel that after 9/11 and a decade spent entrenched in the War on Terror that many Americans have become de-sensitized to the infinite value intrinsic to every human life. Too often I find myself arguing with people who are stuck in the mindset that American lives are innately more valuable than other lives and, well, as for the lives of muslims in the Middle East . . . these people treat their pet dog with more respect.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a case of life-is-valuable-only-when-its-convenient syndrome then please go here and re-sensitize yourself to humanity.

On June 23, 2006, Pope Benedict called for ‘serene and peaceful co-existence’ in the Middle East. Referring to Eastern Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, the Pope said

“the serious difficulties it is going through because of profound insecurity, lack of work, innumerable restrictions and consequent growing poverty, are a cause of pain for us all… I invite pastors, faithful, and everyone in positions of responsibility in the civil community, to favour mutual respect between cultures and religions, and to create as soon as possible the conditions for serene and peaceful coexistence throughout the Middle East.”

America has repeatedly ignored the Pope’s frequent messages of peace, however, instead inciting violence in the Middle East at almost every opportunity. If we want to see an end to the conflict in the Middle East we must first treat our Muslim brothers and sisters in Christ with the respect their humanity deserves or we will only push them towards greater and greater acts of retribution against us.

Ultranationalism is plaguing our country at the expense of true patriotism and as a result we have such odious political conglomerates as which purports that efforts to expand peace throughout the world are purely some leftist ploy to power. Peace is not like government; whereas big government results in such despotisms like corporatism, “big” or widespread peace is precisely what our Christian values demand we pursue. After all, the alternative to peace is war and who can possibly believe that serial war abroad is better than peace? Unfortunately this seems precisely the mindset of Rick Santorum unwittingly illustrated the absurdity of this mindset when he likened the Iraq war to fighting the supreme evil of Mordor. Really? Have we stooped so low as to characterize the Middle East in terms of analogies for Hell? Remember, this is the same Iraq war condemned as unjust by two separate popes.

Christian Iranians Praying

The political pundits of Big Peace are so enslaved to ultranationalism that even when common ground is discovered between Muslims and America’s conservative Christians they are quick to spin it as yet another imminent threat to the American way of life. In response to efforts to work with Muslims to stop abortion, Big Peace writer Diana West stated the following:

Making “common cause” with Muslim states to vote down pro-abortion law at the UN becomes dangerous if and when it means constructing a Trojan Horse by which proponents of sharia make their stealthy advance into regions of respectability in the West that would otherwise be closed to them as sworn enemies of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Apparently, maintaining ethnic purity within the United States is more important than the lives of 52 million children. Its no wonder that in a recent statement Pope Benedict XVI said that America is “increasingly hostile to Christianity.” Instead of valuing nationalism above all else we need to return to our Christian values of charity, self-denial, humility and peace, recognize the infinite value in every human life, promote cultural exchange, free trade, a strong diplomatic presence globally, and replace serial warfare abroad with a strong national defense at home. Only then can we expect to see progress in the Middle East and improve our own security – to say nothing of the restoration of the soul of America.