Pope Francis is coming to America this week and will be addressing the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner. Pope Francis starts his visit to America on Tuesday, September 22nd and plans to stop in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.
Indications are that Pope Francis will be talking about several issues including climate change and the refugee crisis in the Middle East. But there is one topic Pope Francis may not be talking about – spiritual matters important to American Catholics.
Perhaps Pope Francis should be using this opportunity to address how to stop the decline and fall of the Catholic Church in America?
In his seminal five volume work History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published in 1782, Edward Gibbon, Esq. wrote:
After a diligent inquiry, I can discern four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and nature. II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.
The Roman Empire has gone with the wind. Will the Catholic Church in America suffer the same fate?
Let us look at each of these four principal causes of the ruin of Rome and compare them to the Vatican and American Catholics.
I. The art of man is able to construct monuments far more permanent than the narrow span of his own existence; yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail; and in the boundless annals of time, his life and his labors must equally be measured as a fleeting moment.
The Catholic Church is witnessing a reduction of its monuments in the United States.
According to the non-profit Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, in 1990 there were 19,620 parishes in the U.S. In 2014 there were 17,483 parishes or a loss of nearly 11%. As parishes closed so did other Catholic monuments: churches, schools and hospitals. In 1965 there were 10,667 Catholic Elementary Schools, in 2014 that number was 5,368 (a 50% loss of Catholic Elementary Schools). Catholic Secondary Secondary Schools went from a high of 1,986 in 1970 to 1,200 in 2014 (a 40% loss). Even Catholic Colleges and Universities declined from 305 in 1965 to 225 in 2014 (a 26% loss).
Time and nature has taken its toll on Catholic Churches in the U.S. As the Catholic population ages, parishes close. CARA notes, “As the largest religion in the U.S., Catholicism has the largest number of former members (some later return as reverts). Catholicism has a higher retention rate than most other religions in the U.S. (including all Protestant denominations).
It is the institutions that must survive to carry on the word of the Gospel. As the institutions decline so does the Catholic Church in America.
II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians.
Today the hostile attacks are coming from the “new Barbarians”: Collectivists, Marxists, the Communist Party USA, atheists, the pro-choice movement, the feminist movement, homosexuals and government. Today it is the followers of Mohammed who are attacking the people of the Cross globally and in America.
There is a coalition within America that is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic. Their tactics and strategy are to diminish the role of religion by removing God from the public square. As that has happened in America we now have Collectivists, atheists, abortionists, homosexuals (some of whom are practicing witchcraft) and the U.S. government taking positions and implementing policies which are anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic.
As Sandy Ikeda in his article “Progressivism Is Illiberal” writes, “Progressivism [Collectivists] today goes beyond the liberal position that, for example, same-sex marriage should have the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, to the belief that the state should threaten physical violence against anyone who refuses to associate or do business with same-sex couples.”
In the Middle East Catholic Churches are being burned to the ground, Christians slaughtered, Christian children sold into sex slavery and Christians crucified as was done in ancient Rome.
The attacks against Catholicism are real and palpable. Daily news reports tell us that a unholy war is being conducted against the Catholic church.
III. The use and abuse of the materials.
Materialism is the God of many in America. The quest for power and riches outweigh the need for God and redemption. Collectivists demand submission to the state as does Islam, which literally translated means “to submit.” Government becomes God and by doing so restricts what the individual can and cannot do.
As Ayn Rand wrote, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” In a short 19 page paper Rand wrote:
“A great many people today hold the childish notion that society can do anything it pleases; that principles are unnecessary, rights are only an illusion and expediency is the practical guide to action.
It is true that society can abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat any time he chooses. But a man cannot do this if he wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist.”
In America corn is used to produce Ethanol, a gasoline additive. Over 50% of the corn produced in America goes toward the production of Ethanol. According to the World Food Programme, “Some 795 million people (1 in 9) in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.”
Using food for fuel is immoral.
The use and abuse of materials and the people is the greatest threat to Catholics and the Church. For whenever the individual is diminished so to is the role of the Catholic Church. Jesus was an individualist who fought government. Many question why won’t the Catholic Church follow in Jesus’ footsteps and fight against government and defend individual rights including religious liberty.
IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.
The United States was founded on Judeo/Christian beliefs and values. Today the various Christian denominations are quarreling amongst themselves about social and political issues. This quarreling is occurring while all Christian and Jewish organizations are under attack from the new barbarians and the followers of Mohammed (see item II above).
Perhaps it is time for pastors, priests and rabbis to unite in one cause – to preserve their belief in God and the Judeo/Christian way of life.
The American way of life has led to great happiness and prosperity both in the homeland and throughout the Western world. A way of life that insures life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by United States Constitution. A way of life that celebrates life over death. A way of life that insures salvation and the return of the Kingdom of God to this earth.
There are lessons to be learned, for if we forget the history of the decline and fall of Rome, we are doomed to repeat it.
Perhaps Pope Francis would better serve the Church if he addressed Catholic persecution by the new barbarians and Muslims in America?