25 November 2011

The Americanist Heresy

Russell Shaw's analysis of Testem Benevolentiae is a must-read for any Catholic American.
"There's not a dime's worth of difference between Catholics and their fellow Americans now in moral outlook or religious practice. We fornicate at the same rate. We divorce at the same rate. We abort our children at the same rate. We are materially rich and so, in true chauvinistic fashion, we claim favored-nation status before the Lord." That unflattering judgment appears in a recent article on Americanism by Father Rory Conley, a Washington, DC priest and student of Church history. Writing in (winter 1993), he calls what has happened "the triumph of Americanism over the Roman Catholic Church in this country."
Catholics well-versed in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights might be surprised (horrified?) when they read that our past pontiffs have condemned rampant freedom of speech and of the press:
15. Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again?

16. The Church has always taken action to destroy the plague of bad books.
--Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari vos
[W]hile they rashly affirm this [freedom of speech], they do not think and consider that they are preaching "liberty of perdition."
--Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura
[T]he liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils....Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.
--Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei