Americanism Caused Individualism and its Ills

Americanism Caused Individualism and its Ills May 15, 2013

Resolved:  The ills of individualism that grip the Catholic Church in America today are the fruit 19th century Americanism:  the efforts of the American episcopacy to establish a new modus vivendi for Catholics, one which respected Catholic identity while also embracing the American approach to religion and religious liberty.

A few weeks ago in First Things, Elizabeth Scalia reviewed Russell Shaw’s new book, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America.  She writes:

Shaw notes that for a long while, this made sense, and politically, economically, and socially it carried Catholics far. Yet the early Americanization of the Church, writes Shaw, “included not just (as is commonly said) the idea that American-style separation of church and state supplied a model for adoption by the Church everywhere, but also a subjective, individualistic approach to Church doctrine and discipline widely present among American Catholics now.” (boldface added)

Scalia goes on to use this to explain the disappointment expressed by some people when Pope Francis reaffirmed the judgment against the LCWR and the negative reaction to the new missal.

I am not sure I buy this argument, but clearly there is some tension between being American and being Catholic.  What say you?

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