Jesus came to show man how to live. When he left the earth, he gave his apostles the Catholic Church. Now, when man encountered the Truth, which was Christ ever present in the Eucharist and the Trinity, empowering man with the Holy Spirit, man no longer would be able to excuse himself from what was right. Yet, there would always be those who would choose another way, which would lead to perdition.
Jesus Christ is man’s salvation and way to the Father with the aid of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. Sin, however, is present in any setting and even in the Church. It is this very thing that the Anti-Catholic takes advantage of. In order to instill a hatred of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, the Anti-Catholic propagandist will point out the faults of Catholics of the past, especially the pope and the bishops. Their ultimate goal is nothing less than to show that the Catholic Church and her doctrines are tainted with falsehood and distortion. Yet, the Anti-Catholic is himself attempting to alter the picture of the Catholic Church as established by Christ.
Their purpose is malicious. The Anti-Catholic carries an agenda of telling the public lies about the Holy Eucharist, the clergy, the doctrines, and many other things. Many fall into the trap of believing this false message without considering the total picture of all of the good people in the Church. Now, even more than ever, it appears that many people latch on to Anti-Catholicism as an excuse to continue their relativistic lifestyle, abortion, premarital sex, euthanasia, permissiveness, and so forth—anything to blame the Catholic Church for not agreeing with their way of living.
The Anti-Catholic may or may not know God. The Anti-Catholic particularly likes to capitalize upon the facts of history regarding some of the bad popes and their immorality, especially Pope Alexander VI and the Borgia family. The fallacy is “What is true of one or some is true of the entire Church.” This is just not true. They do not show the good saints of the Catholic Church and all the good truths and teachings. And one must not forget, there are many types of anti-Catholics. Like Nero, who blamed the Christians for starting the fire in Rome, it is just much easier to blame the Catholic Church when one wants to have a scapegoat.
Where did this Anti-Catholic prejudice come from in the first place? Let us consider the early church. The pagans, with their false gods, persecuted the Christians. Then, there came the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. which gave Christians religious freedom. Up until the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, the Church and the State worked together somewhat. However, the Protestant Reformers destroyed this alliance. The state set up its own religions and made itself supreme in authority. Christianity split. Martin Luther began to speak against the Catholic Church and her authority, and to form his own kind of Christianity. Europe began a mass anti-Catholic campaign whereby Catholics were no longer free to worship.
These beginnings of anti-Catholicism are especially attributed to King Henry VIII and his later heirs, in that they established themselves as the lawful heads of the Church in England. Many Catholics were put to death for their faith. Europe was the seed bed for anti-Catholicism, with the Protestant Reformation and later, with the anti-clericalism of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
Onto the shores of America were imported the prejudices of these happenings in Europe. This disease has been present since the 19th century. The Da Vinci Code is a recent example. Not only music, but plays and movies, along with literature, include this “monster” attempting to wipe off the Catholic religion from the face of the earth. “Dead habits of the mind” is the message of the Tony-award winning play “Doubt”, which stresses the recent clergy sexual abuse scandal. Look what lies are thrown at the late Pope Pius XII, in accusing him of not doing enough to save Jews during the Holocaust. The History Channel greatly exaggerates the undertakings of the Inquisition. Showtime constantly belittles the Catholic Church. The Crusades have been used to demean the church. Many former Catholics have become anti-Catholic, being used by other anti-Catholics. When Pope John Paul II came to the United States in 1979, there was much fanfare but many Protestant anti-Catholic groups and others found ways of lambasting the “papal Roman head of the Catholic Church”.
Stopping at nothing less than willfully pursuing negative generalizations, made-up history, cruel stereotypes, hearkening to group bias and determined belittling of the precious doctrines and beliefs of the Catholic Faith, they use these instruments to instill hatred and ridicule of the Catholic Church into the minds and hearts of people who are just too gullible and unconcerned to investigate the facts. Promotion of a cause is the agenda of many Anti-Catholics.
This “monster” of Anti-Catholicism is even regarded as enlightened, and accepted as a standard in the press, magazines, books, and public speaking. It is more than bigotry and yet it is a disease that is rooted in the past. The legacy is evident in American culture from the time of the Reformation. When the Puritans in 1620 came to America, they were steeped in an anti-Catholic culture which sought to eliminate “popery” at every instance. In a new land that was supposed to be tolerant, even the laws of Catholic Maryland were overwhelmed with Protestant inhabitants who made them anti-Catholic. The colonies in general established anti-Catholic laws of discrimination, and even persecution and death were end results due to infractions.
Among other causes for the Revolutionary War, the Quebec Act of 1774 by the British, granting Catholics religious freedom was a sore spot among the American colonists. There was fear that Catholics would take over in America. Catholics supported the American colonial cause against Britain and were looked upon with much more favor (as one of the interludes of Anti-Catholic cooling) during and after the war. In 1834, the fabrication of Rebecca Reed escaping from the horrors of an Ursuline Charlestown convent aroused a mob who burned the convent. “Maria Monk” was a caricature of a young woman who was abused in convent life. This fraudulent book is still published in the U.S. Many, such as Samuel F.B. Morse instilled a fear into people that the pope would soon rule America from Rome. More than sixty anti-Catholic national weeklies were published, with millions being circulated. American politics is full of prejudice against Catholics. Abraham Lincoln was even said to be killed in a Catholic conspiracy. Paul Blanshard wrote “American Freedom and Catholic Power”, which stated that Catholics would be a dangerous menace to society and the political climate. The Know-Nothing Party was not only racist, but anti-Catholic. The Ku Klux Klan had a violent agenda against Blacks, Catholics, and foreigners. Many organizations promoted Anti-Catholicism, and continue to do so. Chick Publications is a horrendous publisher of comics, telling lies about the Catholic Church. As many wonderful websites that are dedicated to the Catholic faith, there are also as many crusading against the Church.
One area that the Anti-Catholics hit the Catholic Church hard with is public funds for education. The Catholics had to establish their own schools because of the many prejudices against them, and then to continue to fight for a share of public funds. The Protestants required that the King James Bible be read in the public schools. The curriculum was filled with lies about Catholics, in that there was unwanted corruption, conspiracies of Jesuits, and so forth. The textbooks are greatly lacking in rich Catholic heritage. The terrible Blaine amendments bar the use of public money for sectarian schools.
A dispute in 1844 over disagreement of reading the King James Bible in Philadelphia public schools erupted into violence, with 13 people killed, and blocks of buildings burned, including five Catholic Churches. When it came to “separation of church and state”, people’s thinking concentrated on the Catholic Church alone. The Establishment Clause of the 14th Amendment was applied directly against the Church in Everson v. Board of Education in 1947. During World War I, the American Protective Association, founded in 1887, was replaced by millions of Ku Klux Klan members, openly hostile to the Church. Al Smith, the first major Catholic presidential candidate in 1928, had no chance against this sea of hate. Finally, the Anti-Catholics aided the abortionist and contraceptive cause.
Why are there so many that disagree with the teachings of the Church? Perhaps it is due to those that hate the Catholic Church, making statements like “the Church is trying to control you,” “the Church is sexist against women’s rights,” “the Church is a foreigner holding antiquated and old-fashioned traditions and superstitions,” and the like.
How can we combat Anti-Catholicism? First of all, we can pray. Secondly, we need to study our faith more. There is so much to learn, so that we can better explain it to others and not fall prey to losing the faith. Thirdly, we need to be aware of the deep roots Anti-Catholicism has an import from Protestant Europe to America. This “monster” is ever present in other parts of the globe and right here at home.
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