The Vatican’s America Problem – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“In 1892, Pope Leo XIII addressed a letter to the Catholics of France. For a century French politics had been divided between mostly Catholic monarchists and mostly anticlericalist republicans, and the church had championed royalists against the secular republic. But now the pope urged French Catholics to take a different approach — to rally to the republic, a strategy called “ralliement,” and work through republican institutions to protect the church’s liberties and promote the common good.

In European politics this was a novel gambit, but for American Catholics at the time it amounted to a tacit endorsement of what they were already doing. In the United States there was no ancien regime to imagine restoring, no plausible scenario in which the integration of church and state might be achieved — and Catholics had been trying to prove their patriotism in a largely Protestant country by rallying to the republic since the founding era.

So Leo’s letter began a long (and complicated) process of harmonization between America and Rome, sealed in the 1960s at the Second Vatican Council, in which the church’s political thought was tacitly Americanized. No more would the Vatican emphasize the necessity, for Catholics, of supporting an “integralist” relationship between their government and church. Instead the American way of doing religious politics — in which a secular political framework allowed a great deal of room for religiously inspired activism — was blessed and accepted as the Catholic way as well.”

Ouch. Ross, none of this makes any sense to me. I’m a simple environmentalist, and find this discussion untethered from the reality of the threat of the 6th extinction. Humans have grown from 2 billion to 7.5 billion in just about 100 years. According to EO Wilson of Harvard, scientists are predicting that in the next 100 years, we will see 80% of the species in the world diminish or disappear. These facts and forecasts make discussions like this one seem like pathetic nonsense. If there are important ideas here in this column beyond my comprehension, please link them to the real world today, or at least, important moments in history. Respectfully, DL

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