The debate over the Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan heats up. Over at Religion Dispatches, Kambiz GhaneaBassiri compares the current flap to 19th century paranoia about Catholicism. One Catholic, not to be outdone, decided to win back the coveted “most distrusted” award by arguing that only virtuous Catholics should be allowed to vote:
I’m sure that right now, Americans are looking at the Catholic churches being shut down because all the money is going into pedophilia lawsuits and thinking, “This is the organization I want running my country. What was the last big confessional Catholic country? Franco’s Spain? Yeah, gimme more of that.”
I know that the upper ranks of the Catholic hierarchy have had problems with Democracy for a couple of centuries now. We could talk about Pope Leo XIII and the error of “Americanism”, and we could talk about the tensions between John Coutney Murray and Alfredo Ottaviani.
We could also talk about Pope Pius IX and his Syllabus of Errors, which was a heavy broadside against the separation of Church and State, freedom of religion and democracy. But let’s be fair: Pope Pius IX was – and I say this with all due respect – batshit crazy. This was the man who had Edgardo Mortara kidnapped. He was not on speaking terms with sanity.
But I’ve always thought that these arguments were largely confined to the hierarchy and the academics. My impression had always been that the rank-and-file Catholic priests and the laity just ignored it. After Vatican II, I figured no one outside the ivory towers in Rome would be talking about it.
I know we’ve got a lot of lapsed Catholics in the audience. Is this sort of argument common?