the imaginative conservative logo

pope-francis-barack-obama-standing-lgDuring the 1950s, the twin pillars of worldwide anti-communism were Dwight Eisenhower’s America and the Roman Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII.

During the 1980s, the last decade of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and the Polish pope, John Paul II, were the pillars of resistance.

When Pope Francis arrived in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, the country he entered was a very different one from Eisenhower’s America or Reagan’s America. And Catholics welcomed a new kind of pope.

In America 2015, homosexuality, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage—shameful crimes in Ike’s America, mortal sins in the catechism of Pius XII—have become constitutional rights.

These represent the values that define Barack Obama’s America, the values our officials defend at the United Nations, the values we preach to the world.

What Ike’s America saw as decadence, Obama’s America calls progress. And among its noisiest celebrants are our Catholic vice president, Joe Biden, and the Catholic leader of the Democratic Party in the House, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Since Eisenhower’s time, Christianity, the faith that created the West, has been purged from American public life. The Bible, prayer, and all Christian art, books and symbols have been expunged from the public schools as they were in Cuba when Fidel Castro took power.

Our cradle faith cannot be taught in our public schools.

catholicism in crisisAmerica is a different country today: a secular and post-Christian nation on its way to becoming anti-Christian. Some feel like strangers in their own land. And from the standpoint of traditional Catholicism, American culture is an open sewer. A vast volume of the traffic on the Internet is pornography.

Ironically, as all this unfolds in what was once “God’s country,” Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the basis of morality and law in Russia. And one reads in The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Xi Jinping is trying to reintroduce his Chinese Communist comrades to the teachings of Confucianism.

The world is turned upside down. Every civilization seems to recognize the necessity of faith except for the West, which has lost its faith and is shrinking and dying for lack of it.

In a New York Times article this month—“Are Western Values Losing Their Sway?”—Steven Erlanger writes: “In its rejection of Western liberal values of sexual equality and choice, conservative Russia finds common cause with many in Africa and with the religious teachings of Islam, the Vatican, fundamentalist Protestants and Orthodox Jews.”

Yet, what Erlanger describes as “conservative Russia” does seem to share values with America, only it is the America of 1955, another country from the America of 2015.

Which raises a question: Does moral truth change?

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

But is this true? A decade after his beer hall putsch failed in Munich, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party won the largest number of Germans ever to vote in a democratic election.

He had succeeded in the marketplace of ideas. Did that democratic ratification make Hitler’s ideas true?

Or, does truth exist independent of the marketplace?

Secular America, which has purged Christianity, preaches a new gospel to the world: liberal democracy as the salvation of mankind.

Yet did not Winston Churchill, icon of the democracy worshippers, tell us that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter?”

vaticanThe Catholic Church, too, faces a growing crisis of moral consistency and credibility.

The church of Pius XII and John Paul II taught that the truths of the Ten Commandments brought down from Sinai and the truths of the Sermon on the Mount are eternal. Those popes also taught that a valid marriage is indissoluble, that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral, that abortion is the killing of the innocent unborn, an abomination.

Yet one reads regularly of discussions inside the Vatican to alter what is infallible church teaching on these doctrines to make the church more appealing to those who have rejected them.

As the pope arrives in America, some Catholics are calling for an acceptance of contraception, the ordination of women and a new acceptance of homosexuality. Yet the Episcopalians, who have embraced all these “reforms” and more, appear to be going the way of James Fenimore Cooper’s Mohicans.

In Cuba, Pope Francis declined to address the repression of the Castro brothers. Will he also avoid America’s moral crisis to chatter on about income inequality and climate change and find common ground with Obama?

What has come out of the Vatican in the past two years is moral confusion; yet, as Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput reminds us, “confusion is of the devil.” It is also trifling with schism.

Having emerged victorious in the 70-year ideological struggle against one of the greatest enemies that mankind has ever known, Marxism-Leninism, are the United States and the Catholic Church heading for the same desuetude and disintegration?

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of Pat Buchanan (September, 2015). 

Print Friendly
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
10 replies to this post
  1. Our Holy Father has canonized the pope who promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “…taught that a valid marriage is indissoluble, that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral, that abortion is the killing of the innocent unborn, an abomination.”

    Hard to backtrack from a canonization, even if you are a pope.

  2. If faith has been purged from the America public life, perhaps it is because in an effort to reduce the moral evil of our time to sexual sins, we’ve forgotten about our own economic system that is based on exploitation of both workers and the environment as well as our empire supported by our militarism.

  3. Mr. Buchanan has gone off the rails in the last few years. He sounds more like a Republican in this article, than a Catholic. And that is sad because he brings up several good points about the errors in America. As Curt Day points out, the evils that ravage our land are not limited to what some would call “Democrat pet issues” but also “Republic pet issues” that dissolve the moral fabric of our families, communities and states. Speaker Boehner is not much of a better example of Catholicism than is the sorry example that is Joe Biden.

    • Agree. Simple fact: Barack Obama did not appoint the majority of justices of the Supreme Court. Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan on did. Simple assertion: The issues are. more complicated than Mr. Buchanan thinks

  4. Sorry, Mr. Day, but it’s not free markets that are hurting folks, but rather a left wing secular agenda basically meant to undermine religious moral values. Kids are taught that it’s bad to mention God in school but hanging out condoms is okay. It’s no winder today’s children grow up to be morally confused adults.

    • Eric,
      Again, the externalization of evil is what the Pharisee from the parable of the two praying practiced. Quite simply, our economic makes the labor power of the worker into a commodity which, in turn, makes the worker a disposable object. And not only is the worker disposable, so are all that rely on the worker’s pay.

      If you want to study some of the ill-effects of today’s capitalism, look at how neoliberal capitalism was introduced in Chile and Argentina in the ’70s or how, in order to maintain its beginning, Yeltsin militarily dissolved Russia’s body of legislators or look into why India has suffered from hundreds of thousands of suicides among its farmers.

      Realize that in American history, how many people had to suffer because of business interests whether it was the multiple breaking of treaties with Native Americans once there was a financial gain in the violating those treaties or during slavery and the follow periods of Jim Crow I and, now, Jim Crow II. The latter sees businesses benefiting from prison labor.

      What I noticed among conservative Catholics and Lutherans, both of whom have Church documents which they regard as being infallible, there is a tendency among them to view the free market as being infallible as well.

      • Mr Day;

        That’s one problem with Marxism – it’s all about economics and material things and not about far more important things like morals. Note that the Sermon on the Mount begins with the phrase “Blessed are the poor **in spirit**” Note the latter emphasis. Jesus was ultimately far more interested in our spiritual health than in how much money people had.

        And, from personal hands on experience working in factories, I can assure you that what ails American workers isn’t financial but moral and spiritual. Broken families and multiple divorces are often the norm. Their children are given no guidance in sexual morality and often get pregnant out of wedlock. And the only answer from America’s left wing is an ever more militant defense of the abortion industry.

        • Eric,
          First, you can call me Curt, We’re peers here.

          Second, you don’t have to work to convince me that Marxism doesn’t have problems. Though I appreciate some of the insights that have come from it, I have significant disagreements with it as well.

          Third, your assessment of Marxism needs nuance. To a degree, Marx does reduce reality to materialism, but in a sense he doesn’t. When one looks at the utopian state Marx envisions for people, personal freedom is a primary part of that living. A just economy is what liberate people to reach a state.

          As to whether economics are important, those who are physically poor might have different views than those of us who are not. That doesn’t mean that Biblical spiritual concerns are not more important regardless, but it does point to the fact that how we frame issues depends much on our current place in life. And it is not biblical to neglect the physical needs of those who are poor simply because the Scriptures put a greater emphasis on spiritual issues. In fact, one barometer of our spiritual well-being, and even future, is partly measured by how we help the vulnerable, including the poor (see the parable of the sheep and the goats).

          Finally, though I agree that broken families and personal sexual ethics are not ailing America, what is hurting America cannot be reduced to that. For example, when employers exploit employees or regard them as being disposable objects, this hurts America both as a nation and in our families as well. Economic turmoil is a, not the, predictor in the breakup of families

  5. PS: apologies for typos in my above comment. My latest iPhone upgrade changed the keyboard and I’m still getting used to it.

  6. Seems like the meme of the week is for conservative pundits to criticize Pope Francis. At this point I’m weary of the criticism. Yes, pope Francis is not what I would call a conservative.

Leave a Reply