One of the key myths of the American Catholic imagination is this: After 200 years of fighting against public prejudice, Catholics finally broke through into America’s mainstream with the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy as president. It’s a happy thought ... They’ve climbed, at long last, the Mt. Zion of social acceptance.These excerpts are from a long and substantial article by the Archbishop of Denver, and we cannot begin to do it justice here, but only offer these brief quotations as an invitation to read the entire piece. The discussion of Puritanism is interesting, as well as the evolution of the Catholic presence in public life, for better or worse.
So goes the tale. What this has actually meant for the direction of American life, however, is another matter....
... “I shop, therefore I am” is not a good premise for life in a democratic society like the United States. Our country depends for its survival on an engaged, literate electorate gathered around commonly held ideals.
... As Catholics, like so many other American Christians, we have too often made our country what it is through our appetite for success, our self-delusion, our eagerness to fit in, our vanity, our compromises, our self-absorption and our tepid faith.
... In the name of tolerance and pluralism, we have forgotten why and how we began as nation; and we have undermined our ability to ground our arguments in anything higher than our own sectarian opinions.
[Hat tip to J.M.]