Faithful Catholics will face increasing difficulties in American society as public life becomes more dominated by another “religion” that marginalizes the Church and imposes its own morality, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has written. “Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society,” Cardinal George wrote in his Sept. 7 column for Catholic New World, the newspaper of his local Church. “It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers.” He continued, “Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics.” “It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.” The cardinal's column, titled “A tale of two churches”, is so impactful that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia forewent his own Sept. 10 column, using Cardinal George's in its place. Cardinal George “is among the most articulate Catholic voices in the United States,” Archbishop Chaput wrote. “His column … deserves a very wide audience and serious discussion. I'm happy to give my own column space this week to the words of His Eminence, and I hope Philadelphia-area Catholics read and re-read his comments in the coming months.” The column chronicles the history of the Church in the United States: how it was long able to flourish with American society, and how that is coming to an end. Cardinal George said this marks a departure from the past of the United States, in which the Church initially found a country “that promised to respect all religions because the State would not be confessional; it would not try to play the role of a religion.” “The social history was often contentious,” he acknowledged, “but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.” The United States had never “officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what ‘values’ they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.” However, social and legislative approval has in recent years been given to “all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful’,” and the Church’s teaching is now seen as “evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes.” “What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval,” Cardinal George said. He charged that the American ruling class, with opinion makers in politics, education and entertainment, is “using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.” He noted the increasing insistence that there is “no difference between men and women” even in marriage itself. “Those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger,” he wrote, referring to a Huffington Post columnist who voiced “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen” following the Supreme Court decision on the Obama administration’s HHS mandate. The cardinal said that this attitude is “more sophisticated” than past expressions of anti-Catholicism in the United State such as nativism, the Know-Nothing Party, the American Protective Association, and the Ku Klux Klan. “This is, rather, the self-righteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as ‘progressive’ and 'enlightened.'” The result of this conflict, he said, “is a crisis of belief for many Catholics.” “Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god.” “It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to 'swim against the tide,' as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do.” Continuing his narration of the Church's history in the United States, Cardinal George concluded that “we don't know” how the tale ends. “The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.” “Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him.” “There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.