Tag Archives: USA

The struggle for a Catholic America

By Augustinus

Although I do not think America is a democracy (where democracy = rule by the people), I think most American’s believe it is a flawed democracy. Most Americans furthermore very likely believe that democracy is the best possible political system. To the extent to which democracy unleashes the prodigious, manic, ever-changing, restless, searching, questing, striving, dynamic energies of ordinary people then I can endorse democracy. But I think the evidence will show that these energies of the people unleashed by democracy pale by comparison to those unleashed by the classical monarchies (not the absolutist monarchies that came into play after the protestant reformation and the rise of the state). In general, ordinary people fare better under monarchies than under republics or democracies.

The United States’ founding documents, the constitution, declaration of independence, the federalist papers and the bill of rights etc rightfully sought to produce a series of checks against popular mob rule and were influenced primarily by the English legal and  political systems. Thus the founding documents and mores of the USA are steeped in Anglican and Puritan-Calvinist background assumptions. How then can a Catholic endorse this kind of legacy?

The USA and America more broadly was created by far more than the English colonists on the east coast. Spanish colonists and Catholic missionaries explored and colonized vast tracks of lands in the south and southwest of what is now the USA. That Spanish colonial history is filled with thinkers and men of action every bit as wise as the men who are traditionally considered the founding fathers of the USA. For example, the Dominican friar, administrator and colonizer de las Casas (died 1566) created much of the institutional, philosophical and theologic bases for considering natives of the americas as full human beings who should be converted to catholicism and not slaughtered. Fr  Junipeiro Serra  (died 1784) is considered the founding father of California and most of the southwest states. He not only missionized all of these states and their natives, he also set up their institutional structures that set them on a posperous path for the next centuries.

French Catholic missionaries (including many Jesuits) explored and settled Canada and the mississippi river basin right down to New Orleans.  The great Catholic man of action Champlain established many of the cultural and political institutions for this vast region and of course for French Canada. There were many other great Catholic founders, organizers and intellectuals that contributed to the rise of the USA-none of whom are studied in the history books.

If we studied history correctly the USA would be considered a country founded by Catholics and Protestants -not just Protestants.