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An American Catholic Theocracy: One Man's Blueprint

Dr. Taylor Marshall, a Ph.D.. from the University of Dallas and a convert to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church where he was a priest, has a political dream. It's not Martin Luther King's dream, either.I do know a couple of conservative Catholics who would be sympathetic to his dream--but who would say it goes too far. Catholicism, they would say, is not a religion of "either/or" but of "both/and": there is no reason, they would say, the White House can't have a basketball court and a Catholic chapel.Seriously, this has to be the position of only a tiny minority of Catholics. But why was the link bumped to broader attention of more people by the National Catholic Register? As far as I can tell, not to warn of its flaws.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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Believe me, this concept is held by more than just a few Catholics. I've heard and seen this idea supported by a decent number of people. They were willing to go out ring doorbells and send out e-messages, to sollicit support of it.It seems that the lessons of past history---of countries that had no separation of church and state---have gone over the heads of these Catholics.

Prof. Kaveny - you would have to review the past 20 years at Univ. of Dallas - the fights between the theology department and the religious studies institute; changes in leadership; etc.Unfortunately, Univ. of Dallas has a tendency to hire and espouse these types of fundamentalist and ideological stances = yes, either/or is the bottom line. It is a corrupted view of catholic tradition, theology, and faith. Examples of the tensions in the past - Peter Chan left Dallas; Janet Smith was one of their shining stars. Too often, the Univ. of Dallas approach is characterized by "apologetics"; not honest theological investigations.

My 3-year old niece wants to be a bat when she grows up; I think that her fantasy is made of stuff more sober than that of this putz.It really gets my Qubec up when people put Our Rights in scare quotes.

I thought it was parody at first, and I'm still not sure.This, however, is the REAL deal:http://www.theonion.com/articles/vatican-dispatches-elite-team-of-bishop... That some would take Dr. Taylor seriously is seriously odd -- does he have any platform now that he is out of the CIC in DC? Still on EWTN? A more common political fantasy, though I think just about as far-fateched, are the calls for a "Catholic" party like the Christian Democrats or Germany's old Catholic Center party.

Is this guy for real? More importantly, does the Church hierarchy support and of this nasty gibberish? This is about the scariest vision of America I have ever read. Mao's Little Red Book is more comforting as a vision of the future. Not to indulge such nonsense, but a few quick questions:1. Does the Catholic Church really believe there should be absolutely no separation between church and state? I wasn't aware of this.2. How exactly does Dr. Taylor and his imagined Catholic Taliban hope to find out if my wife and I decide to commit sodomy in our bedroom some night? Will we be required to copulate in front of a Telescreen?3. Does the Church really believe that fathers should provide a kid's academic education? Most dads I know have these little impediments called jobs. Not to mention, most dads I know are completely unqualified to provide education beyond maybe 6th grade in most subjects (assuming they had 50 extra hours a week to provide that education). Plus, hello!, what about mothers? Are they presumed to be too busy getting pregnant with their "large families" to teach any algebra? If I heard this guy on a tattered soapbox in Times Square I would pity him, maybe toss him a buck to help pay for his meds. That he is a professional CATHOLIC theologian teaching at a college is profoundly disturbing. Does he have real Church support?

Taylor:Of course, abused wives would be protected and assisted under law. Riiight.America would be known as a place where the dignity of women, especially motherhood, is celebrated. Would the dignity of men, especially fatherhood, be celebrated as well?-----Cathleen: But why was the link bumped to broader attention of more people by the National Catholic Register?For the same reason it was "bumped to broader attention of more people" right here on dotCommonweal?

Gerelyn: what do you think?

Too many bullets - this guy has thought about this WAY too hard.

I'm tempted to tip Gawker about this, because I think it could go viral for about 36 hours, at which point something new will hopefully appear.Also, the reason this is being discussed here is because hate reading is one of life's sweetest, sweetest pleasures.

I suppose I am afraid, given the current discussion, which is going where I never thought it would go, that we are going to see more of Dr. Taylor's position advocated as part of the "hermeneutic of continuity." I have a deep disagreement with Joe K. I'm more pessimistic than he is! He thinks this effort to read V2 consistent with the past won't necessarily affect Dignitatis Humanae. I can't see why it won't.

I understand about giving loonies a platform, but sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we have seen how such views can suddenly gain currency. Then everyone asks where they came from. Well...

Cathleen, I found Taylor's views repulsive in every way. Sad and scary.(The Freedom from Religion group ran a full-page ad in the NYT this morning urging Catholics to leave the Church, to stop enabling the oppression of women, etc. I think they should reprint Taylor's repulsive article in their next ad. It would make some/many Catholics realize just how far things have gone.)

I agree with David Gibson when he writes: "That some would take Dr. Taylor seriously is seriously odd." Is there another "Joe K" on this blog?

Odd don't make it not so.As I said, (Fr.) Joe K., you are a real optimist compared to me!

Given the historical position of the Catholic Church as insisting on theocratic government, is this an indication that the Protestant theocrats are hoping to find a theocratic home in the RCC? How welcoming would our bishops be?

Where is Richard Hofstadter when we need him: "...there is a style of mind that is far from new, and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style, simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind." Definitely not just right-wing!

I hate passive-aggressiveness, Joe. And my approach is just to call it out. So in response to your not-so-veiled insult, I'd say this: American religious history is marked by the periodic appearance of utopian and apocalyptic groups--there's no reason that American Catholics can't or won't be affected by this momentum. And history shows us that what initially appears to be a fringe group can gather real power. Not for all time--but for enough time. I'd suggest watching Ken Burn's series on Prohibition for an example of how what was initially perceived to be a fringe religiously motivated movement can rise to exert a political hold on society.So yes, I think Dr. Marshall is worth a blog post--since he has a Ph.D. from a reputable Catholic institution, and a perch on EWTN.

Sounds pretty good to me - :-)

I such a Catholic America, with holy days designated as official holidays, we would all have more (and hopefully paid) days off - nice!Daily mass before Congress starts would also be neat; it would leave less time for the politicians to make laws!:-)

There are already virtually-all-Catholic countries (at least virtually-all-nominally-Catholic). I don't think they look like Dr. Marshall's vision.Assuming that the US can get its religious-liberty compass pointing in the right direction, I don't know what more the Catholic Church can ask for than the environment that the US provides us. We're free to worship, to associate with one another, to evangelize, to participate in public life. We're free to build God's kingdom - which I don't think would look like Dr. Marshall's vision, but I could be wrong.

I think that contrary to fact pipe dreams like this serve little or no purpose...except to reinforce(like Ken) those who love"thought experiments" that satisfy their "wouldn't it be nice if everyone thought like me/'The bump up is a sop to the hard rigbt Catholic trads to happily consider.Already on line this morning, though, I've read two versions of how to take the Vatican's document on theologians, both along the divide of scripture/whole Church vs. magisterialists.Also on line, I read of the dismissal of Fr. Shea from BC for askingf or a real explanation of the rule vs. women's ordination, protests by students claiming BC is about being magisterially correct, etc.What I see is more and more of the divide and more and more scepticism about a Church divided that should be more interested in proclaiming the good news.I fear the "smaller purer Church" more and more run by extremes will come forth out of a growing divide.(I see Fr. Barron is off in Australia,for example, proclaiming the wonders and putting down the secular media -pleasing those who turned in Morris and probably alienating his defenders.)Having a 'Catholoc America" where most say they were Catholic would probably drive us to being more like Europe and not the pipe dream of the right here.Unfortinately, all they see is their own righteousness against change and progress and for the rest (like the many non folowers of HV Jim P. would cast aside) they don't really care.

I laughed out loud when I read Dr. Marshall's fantasy.

Regarding the Fr. Shea deal; he insisted on writing the AB OMalley that he sees no reason women cannot be ordained. He must have missed something, as both JP2 and now Benedict have thoroughly explained that matter. They question is not why the school dismissed him. The question should be; why would a Catholic college keep a theologian on staff in the (Catholic) School of Theology and Ministry who does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church? How could he possibly teach Catholic theology, when in fact he himself does not agree with it?

Okay, let's not go there, guys. This isn't a thread on Catholic theology departments.

Okay, Ken - and given Dr. Marshall's fantasy - why would a Catholic college (Univ. of Dallas) keep a theologian on staff in the school of theology who spouts this type of junk?

One thing that perturbs me (among many) in this vision is the implication that somehow the Church is being held back from performing the Corporeal Works of Mercy if a government performs them as well. Why should Catholics be offended if the state aims to help the poor, clothe the naked, and so forth? This seems like blatant pandering to small-government folk, without a grounding in moral reason. To my mind we should welcome secular as well as sacred attempts to show mercy.

INot a thread on theology departments, but since there seems to be some confusion, it probably should be noted that this guy is in the faculty of the College of St Thomas More, not UoD. CSTM has something like 80 students.

This (below, from Wikipedia) describes one Catholic country with which I am familiar, where they get some holy days off as national holidays. I once watched on Chilean TV, a military funeral for several officers and their wives who dies in a plane accident. Notably, the funeral mass servers were young military men from the three branches (air, navy and army). They were in formal dress military uniforms, white gloves and all. The priest was formally dressed as well, in black and white, and the president and senators were all in attendance. The priest was "in charge" for the moment (for the mass) with the military formally as his helpers; an interesting scene that I still recall well. I imagine other Catholic countries are similar in this respect.---------------------------------Main article: Religion in ChileIn the most recent census, 70 percent of the population over age 14 identified as Roman Catholic and 15.1 percent as evangelical. In the census, the term "evangelical" referred to all non-Catholic Christian churches with the exception of the Orthodox Church (Greek, Persian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Armenian), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors.Church and state are officially separate in Chile. However, the Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status and occasionally receives preferential treatment. Government officials routinely attend Catholic events as well as major Protestant and Jewish ceremonies.The Government-observed religious holidays include Christmas, Good Friday, the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Feast of the Assumption, All Saints' Day, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as national holidays.[143] The government has recently declared October 31, Reformation Day, a public national holiday, in honor of the Protestant churches of the country.[144][145]

I'm having trouble seeing what all the fuss is about. The gentleman is merely stating how he thinks things would look IF we Catholics lived holy lives and lovingly evangelized as we should. I can see why people might disagree, but why the thinly veiled contempt? He's not saying, so far as I see, this is how things should be now, irrespective of the consent of the governed. Is this much different than Augustine's City of God?

Yes, it is not only the progressives who wrongly conflate and join together politics and the faith, the state and the Church. There are those on "the right" who do so also.They (you) all are two sides of the same coin.

Mark, was my contempt thinly veiled? I'm disappointed in myself.

Abe--Ha ha, I know how you feel--apparently there was a not so thinly veiled insult that went right over my head. I must be slipping in my old age.

Bill deHaas,My Georgetown colleague Peter Phan rather than Chan, had left the University of Dallas.

"American religious history is marked by the periodic appearance of utopian and apocalyptic groupstheres no reason that American Catholics cant or wont be affected by this momentum. And history shows us that what initially appears to be a fringe group can gather real power. Not for all timebut for enough time." Thanks for this, Cathy, but not for thinking I was in need of this little history-lesson.I'm glad to know that you don't like passive-aggressiveness and like to call it out. I feel the same about what Hofstadter described: "the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." I know, I know, you're not paranoid. The "hermeneutic of continuity" really is after you.

Assuming that the US can get its religious-liberty compass pointing in the right direction, I dont know what more the Catholic Church can ask for than the environment that the US provides us. Were free to worship, to associate with one another, to evangelize, to participate in public life. Were free to build Gods kingdom which I dont think would look like Dr. Marshalls vision, but I could be wrong.

Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. We're free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one - and that's very much up in the air - it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people.

His vision sounds much like the Republic of Ireland circa 1950, and while it had its charms, there were some significant downsides too, ones the country is currently agonizing over.

Thanks, Alan.....fat fingers and not reviewing before submitting. Hope you both are doing well and that the CDF is leaving Rev. Phan to do his theology work.

Objection #2: 2) How is this different than Sharia Law of the MOHAMMADANS? Lordy, Miss Scarlet: from under WHAT rock did he crawl? Mohammadans ?????If this was the openly-stated position of the RCC when JFK was running for POTUS, no one would have voted for him at all. With very good reason.I'll bet this guy is the darling of such as Vasa, Bruskewitz, Marzini, Lori, Burke, ad nauseum.Claire said: "I laughed out loud when I read Dr. Marshalls fantasy."Well, I wept out loud when I read Dr. Marshall's nightmare.

David said: "Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. Were free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one and thats very much up in the air it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people."I just have to ask. Are you serious?

Well, Joe at least your insult isn't veiled any more, it is quite plain for all to see. Thank you.

Unagidon, I thought the 'catastropically vapid" thread might refer to david S,ith's (continuous) posts.BTW, another bravo, Cathy.

Why so down on this guy's vision Jimmy Mac? It does not sound so bad - at least it is not the horror you and some pretend it to be.

I agree with Claire. Marshall's views are laughable.

Thank you, Father K. Now, if you could only go to the "daily show" thread (http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=17733 ) and add a comment there saying that, in that thread as well, you agree with me when I said that Cathy did an amazing job at the Daily Show, then it would make me more comfortable.

Here is another blueprint, although maybe not as extreme: http://www.zenit.org/article-31584?l=english

Sorry, Claire--I missed the show, but I am quite prepared to believe that Cathy did an amazing job.

unagidon 03/09/2012 - 4:51 pm CONTRIBUTORDavid said: Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. Were free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one and thats very much up in the air it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people.I just have to ask. Are you serious?

Yes. The US constitution was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the justices. That's why there's such a political fight over every Supreme Court nomination, and why there's often so much uncertainty about how the justices are going to vote. Interpreting the US constitution is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Justices today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our judicial wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times.

I missed the show too but watched it later on http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=17733 where it can still be seen at any time. There are two videos, each a little short of 7 minutes long. The first time I tried my internet connection was flaky and the image kept freezing, but I tried again later with success.

"Yes. The US constitution was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the justices. Thats why theres such a political fight over every Supreme Court nomination, and why theres often so much uncertainty about how the justices are going to vote. Interpreting the US constitution is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Justices today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our judicial wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times."Yes. The New Testament was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the bishops. Thats why theres such a political fight over every Church pronouncement, and why theres often so much uncertainty about how the bishops are going to react. Interpreting The New Testament is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Bishops today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times.

Also on line, I read of the dismissal of Fr. Shea from BC for asking for a real explanation of the rule vs. womens ordinationBob Nunz, It may have been his earlier letter to the Cardinal about stepping aside from active ministry until woman are allowed to be ordained. Then there is BC's explanation that his adjunct job was changed to tenure-trackHard to know what it's all about. Last year Shea wrote directly to Cardinal Sean OMalley, telling him that he would step aside from active ministry until women are allowed to be ordained. Falcone says Shea has since paid a price for this position.I think the university, by any means necessary, is tying to avoid any kind of trouble or implication that the School of Theology and Ministry is not impeccably right wing orthodox, Falcone said.Recently, after Shea was told his contract would not be renewed, he wrote again to OMalley, and to other Catholic leaders across the country, asking why the church wont let women be priests.Boston College said Sheas contract was not renewed because his position was changed to a tenure-track job, a change the School of Theology and Ministry has sought for some time. But students in the program, including Paul Shoaf Kozak, are protesting his termination.http://www.wbur.org/2012/03/05/bc-professor-contract-ends

Folks, instead of trying to "sing a new church into being", why not just be honest and join the Episcopalians. Then you can have "SSA" priest/priestesses, and rainbow bishops, and reiki healing services, ad nauseum. They've taken the vanguard and shown the Roman Catholic Church what happens when you start chipping at 2,000 years of revealed truth, and replace it with the soup du jour. Quick, let's do one last verse of Kumbayah, just for old time's sake.

Folks, [...] why not just [...] join the Episcopalians. Anti-evangelization alert! It is not the Catholic way to thus try to push people out. You can put this remark down on your list for the next time you go to Confession.(I've given this response before, but I plan to repeat it as needed. Rob, this kind of remarks is not ok if you're Catholic.)

What Taylor Marshall speaks is the simple truth and he will be thanked for it, though it is simply his duty, by greater than you or I. I applaud Dr. Marshall for the faith, courage and conviction to speak the truth.For those who mock; you are yet another fine example of why the country is in the state that it is in.AMGDWill Hawthorne

If one considers that the salvation of souls is the highest law, then Dr. Marshall's piece becomes not only reasonable but attractive. Of course there are those for whom "getting along" is the highest law, but Dr. Marshall was writing not for them, but to encourage those who seek the salvation of souls before all else to live out their faith so that such a vision might actually be possible. If you find something distasteful about this vision, please stay away from St. Augustine's City of God.

While Dr. Marshall may seem "extreme" to some, the basic philosophy of allowing natural law and the kingship of Christ the King to rule society is not one that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church. In 1925, on the celebration of Feast of Christ the King, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical "Quas Primas", which said this:"In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. ... To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: 'His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.' Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. 'Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.' He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. 'For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?' If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. 'With God and Jesus Christ,' we said, 'excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.'" And again, this was in 1925.On the commute from my home to church, there are no less than a half-dozen billboards advertising strip clubs, adult bookstores, and other businesses that make their money by selling mortal sin. There is no way to avoid these constant visual attacks that corrupt the mind and temp the weak. Maybe that part isn't so crazy. Also, I cannot take Good Friday to attend the services and public praying of Stations of the Cross at my parish because my co-worker is taking the day off to attend the first home game of the major league baseball team in our town. To actually be given preference for days off from work due to religious celebrations to worship God and to spend time in prayer and contemplation would be quite nice.If you take a few moments to peruse Dr. Marshall's site (as I did), you will see that the content on his blog tends to lean towards education and catechesis of some of the lesser-known aspects of the Catholic culture that have faded since Vatican II (the blessing of the wine on the feast of St. John, for example, and Ember Days). His agenda for his site is normally not political but is in fact more geared towards exposing people to the richness of Catholic history so as to become closer to Jesus Christ through the traditions of the the Catholic Church. He also encourages devotion to the blessed virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His online ministry is definitely Christ-centric, and faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic church. I see his presence online as one that will enrich my faith rather than introduce scandal, anger and confusion to my spiritual life and jeopardize my relationship with Christ.

I thought Dr. Marshall's universal view of an American Catholic Theocracy was brilliant and closely resembled the vision of our founding fathers. In my opinion, the only problem with our founding fathers vision was that it was rooted in a Protestant view of Christianity. The view of Christianity not Universal but where each adherent is free to interpret and decide his own personal truth regarding faith, morals and societal good. The same view that has splintered the Protestant Church and produced tens of thousands of differing Protestant theologies and personal truths.I'm not blaming Protestantism for our country's problems, but clearly, a Catholic Theocracy would correct some fatal flaws. In an American Catholic Theocracy, human rights under the law would be re-established as those given us by the Creator for the good of all and not laws given and established by the Creator's disordered rebellious creatures for the perceived good of a disinterested few.In my view, it's the same vision of our founding fathers as established in the Constitution but more perfected.

If the only problem with Dr. Taylor's vision is the White House basketball court, I think that can be allowed if we get all of the other things.What people don't understand is that such a situation would only come about from a radical change of heart in a large proportion of the citizenry. When people bring up examples of corruption and oppression, they are not taking into account the radical conversion that must happen, in not only the average citizen, but also the clergy of the Church, in order for this vision to be realized. If we truly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives for the good, how can we be so cynical? If we truly believe that the Gospel is the Good News for the human race, and the Catholic Church is God's ordained instrument for salvation, how can we find it's ascendancy horrifying? If a person doesn't believe that, why are they Catholic?Fr. Robert Hugh Benson had a similar vision in his book _Dawn of All_ written about 100 years ago (available online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11626 ). I recommend it.Finally, while there may be problems in the implementation of some of the details of these visions, I fully support the idea that the Church and the Gospel are the true goods for our country rather than moral relativism and radical individualism.

"For those who mock; you are yet another fine example of why the country is in the state that it is in"I know that I mocked earlier, but I've changed! I'm all for this now!I've even decided that whosit's list isn't strong enough, so I've thought of a few more bullet points:1.POTUS would ditch the limo for a popemobile.2. The Lunar Touchrock at the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum will be replaced by a holy relic, namely, a joint from the left pinky of the Venerable Michael McGivney (no touching!)3. Judges will stop wearing black robes, and start wearing lots and lots of lace. Lots!4. Uppity women? Branks. Branks and more branks.5. Uppity preschoolers? Ditch the time-out chair and bring in the Judas Cradle.6. Crown Heights will henceforth be known as Marrano-ville.7. Hey, AME Church! You can stay, but how about ditching gospel music for polyphony? No? Tough sh*t-- here's your Palestrina sheet music.8. Judges? Hell, everybody will wear lots of lace! EVERYBODY.C'mon, True Believers-- help me think of more!

There is nothing that would radically secularize the Church more and faster than to have it playing at government with morality turned into statutes enforced by a Catholic police force. But it's a moot point. If we ever see a theocracy in the United States, it will be a Protestant one.

Abe, I'd love to join you, but today I've put on my sermonizing persona. Reading you almost makes me wish I hadn't, but it's too late now!

Dr. Marshall has painted a picture of heaven on earth, and though its realization is a bit fantastical, the dream is a worthy one. I say fantastical, b/c the reality can only be achieved by a citizenry that is devout and desiring to live in acknowledment of the Creator/creature distinction and with the acquiesence to fulfill the Creator's purpose and design for His creation - thus a world were those in it acknowledge Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The repercussions of this are as he described: with relationships on all their levels fulfilling a loving intent for all involved. He is not describing the relationship of the Church in the Middle Ages with their respective crowns. Rather, and I quote:"The clergy (but especially our archbishops and bishops) would not live like royalty in mansions as in previous years but would live penitent and poor lives like great bishops of old such as St Martin of Tours, St Francis de Sales, St Augustine, and St Bonaventure."The relationship of church and state (note the lack of separation) must be characterized by service. We are so concerned in our modern society about what we are going to get and the preservation of our 'freedom' - even if it leads to our personal and corporate destruction. Has anyone of our dissenting commenters ever considered that there is tremendous freedom and safety under the law of God? Thank you, Fr. for your vision, and I pray along with your for the fulfillment of it!

One possible correction...I am uncertain as to whether or not Dr. Marshall is ordained in Church. He was an Episcopalian priest and converted to Catholicism. However, he may not have joined the Church as a married priest, though he would be a prime candidate for it.

It would also take eviscerating the First Amendment to the Constitution. I'll let Fr. Komonchak respond to the theological points if he wants to. Thanks for visiting!

His vision is GREAT!!! Overall, all true Catholics should pray for all to be converted-peacefully-to the Faith and that all governments acknowledge Christ as King! Remember: Catholic prayers used to pray for conversion of heart to Christ's Heart-government and people. These truths have not changed-People CANNOT CHANGE the Faith because it is "too hard", not comfortable, or not popular. Jesus on Earth was not popular and died for [it]. May Christ the King reign over us all!

1. Dr. Marshall was not ordained (unfortunately, in my opinion).2. His family, per his blog (cantuar.blogspot.com/), belongs to a traditional Roman Catholic church by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (www.fssp.com or .org). May I suggest enrolling in the Confraternity? (http://www.fssp.org/en/confraternite.htm).

As for an above comment on the Church vs the State handling corporal works of mercy, well, it's not to say that government workers, themselves, do not care about others, but that the state constantly shows it's bias towards evil,eg, abortion. The Church is the largest private org in US to help the poor. The US gov has taken funds away for the Church to help those of human trafficing because She refused to offer abortion services/transportation for these women once in the US. We see now the US gov attempting to force contraception/sterilization, and so forth on us (payment). Programs paying for Planned Parenthood/contraception/poor sexual hygeine/education programs. The US gov can give money to its citizens and so forth, but there is much more to these acts-and the Church has rights to them.

What kind of economic system would this Paradise on Earth have?

One assumes that it will be based on magic beans.

Dr. Marshall's dream sounds scarily Catholic. It seems to violate the separation of church and State. As such, I am sure it is heresy to the writers of Commonweal.

Even today there is no separation of Church and State. They operate in the same environment and constantly bump into each other.Also, this guy has a vision of what his utopia would look like. Why shouldnt he share it? That certainly falls under his freedom of speech.

Seems to me that the folks here have their panties in a huge wade over someone's personal ideas posted on his own Blog. I read Dr. Marshall's "offending" post the day it appeared on his blog. I smiled.

9. The eagle will be removed from the presidential seal, and replaced with an image of a woman clutching her pearls.10. All pornography (eg. Swank magazine, Hustler, Sears catalogues, VHS tapes of old Magic School Bus episodes) will be rounded up and handed over to church officials for intense, close studyespecially the Magic School Bus tapes.11. MPAA ratings replaced with CNS ratings. The Land Before Time: Littlefoot meets the Logos gets an A-I. Harold and Kumar Go to Confession? O.12. Harvard University to be renamed Notre Dame, Notre Dame to be renamed Gonzaga University, Gonzaga to be renamed The Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, Thomas More to be renamed Princeton, Princeton to be renamed Walmart. 13. Wanna ride the bus, ladies? Cover your hair.14. War on Drugs ended in favor of War on Gluten-Free hosts.15. Gideons Bibles in hotel drawers are replaced with Ignatius Bible; Book of Mormon in Marriott drawers replaced with cilice.

The truth from the beginning thinkers are back here -yuk!

Ms Kaveny:It would appear from both your article and the comments above that the Roman Church is badly divided to the point that it is now two distinct religious sects each bearing the same title - or so I assume.. You appear to be a member of one of the distinct sects and Dr. Marshall the other. Just out of curiosity do you claim to be a Roman Catholic in full communion with the Bishop of Rome (and Dr. Marshall is not); or the other way around?Or perhaps it does not matter anymore?God blessRichard W Comerford

"If one considers that the salvation of souls is the highest law, then Dr. Marshalls piece becomes not only reasonable but attractive."Only faith in and following Jesus Christ saves souls. All human efforts, including those of any church body, are to no avail.

"The truth from the beginning thinkers are back here -yuk!"Double yuk - without sprinkles.

Mr. Comerford - would suggest that Dr. Marshall and too many of his fellow faculty at University of Dallas are part of a sect. If you watch EWTN; peruse websites such as Fr. Z, read the Wanderer, you find that there is a tiny segment of the catholic population which has decided that the church of the council of Trent enlightened by Vatican I was the end of all development, spirituality, and truth for the catholic church. It truly is less than 1% of all catholics (big tent and the essence of the meaning of "catholic"). The most recent "invention" is to state that Vatican II was merely a council that was pastoral and enforce the "hermeneutic of continuity" - it brought no doctrinal change and thus they try to either minimize or revise the history of that council to fit their viewpoint. Have seen an excellent paper by Fr. Ruff outlining that these folks need to be honest about the "First" spirit of VII and their approach which can be called the "Secoond" spirit of Vatican II. Others just push for reform of the reform as if VII was misguided or implemented wrongly.

Mr. Jimmy Mac:"Only faith in and following Jesus Christ saves souls. All human efforts, including those of any church body, are to no avail."So you reject its claim that the Roman Church is the mystical body of Christ, its head is the Vicar of Christ, its sacraments sources of grace?God bless Richard W Comerford

16. As a reward for good school work, boys get to serve at Mass and help the priest in the sacristy; girls have the honor of hand-washing the altar linen, cleaning the sacred vessels, and polishing the altar brass candles.17. Everyone is free to observe the religion of their choosing, however only Catholics may hold government jobs or be elected officials.18. The IRS is in charge of keeping track of tithing.19. Prisons pair up with dioceses who help rehabilitate prisoners by providing them opportunities to serve and perform needed maintenance tasks in churches and on church grounds.20. Each Catholic has an electronic ID card that they sweep whenever they go to Mass, receive communion, or go to confession. The FBI keeps track of it to guarantee that no sacrilege is committed by letting people who have not fulfilled their Sunday obligation receive communion without first going to confession.21. In addition to sodomy, divorce, sexual relations outside marriage, etc., masturbation will also be outlawed. There will be no sexual activity whatsoever during Lent. 22. Marriage vows are updated so that the woman now promises obedience to her husband, according to Scripture. Civil marriage no longer exists. Non-Catholics can always go abroad to get married.

Mr Bill deHaas:"would suggest that Dr. Marshall and too many of his fellow faculty at University of Dallas are part of a sect."Well clearly there are at least two distinct religions sects at work here. Dr. Marshall appears to be in one sect. Ms. Kaveny in another. "there is a tiny segment of the catholic population which has decided that the church of the council of Trent enlightened by Vatican I was the end of all development"That may be true. I would not know. But would not Rome formally advise them of their errors?"It truly is less than 1% of all catholics"It may be; but in Christian history, all too often, have not the few been proven right?"(big tent and the essence of the meaning of catholic)."Is there an accepted definition of what it means to be catholic? "The most recent invention is to state that Vatican II was merely a council that was pastoral and enforce the hermeneutic of continuity. "I thought the phase hermeneutic of continuity was coined by the current Bishop of Rome Benedict XVI? Are you saying that Dr. Marshall and Benedict are in the 1% sect and Ms. Kaveny in another sect? "need to be honest about the First spirit of VII and their approach which can be called the Secoond spirit of Vatican II"So there are 2-seperate and contentious interpretations of the Second Vatican Council? Dr. Marshall and Benedict hold to one and Ms. Kaveny another? "Others just push for reform of the reform as if VII was misguided or implemented wrongly."It does appear then that the Roman Church is badly divided into two separate and opposing sects. Thank you for explaining.God blessRichard W Comerford

Mr. Comerford - will let Prof. Kaveny respond to your long list.In terms of the "hermeneutic" - my comments and reference come from an Advent address by B16. In that address (best explained by Fr. J. Komonchak), B16 used the phrase "hermeneutic of reform" and he went on to explain this hermeneutic as both continuity and change. But, in a footnote of the later, printed talk in Italian and then into latin, the latin appears to have used continuity and this was picked up and run with by many groups. Some argue that this is a mis-interpretation of what B16 means when he says the "hermeneutic of reform".Again, I may have garbled that without my notes before me but others and JAK can address your comments more comprehensively.

Mr. Bill deHaas: "B16 used the phrase hermeneutic of reform and he went on to explain this hermeneutic as both continuity and change"I understand that this strange word "hermeneutics" means the study of the theory and practice of interpretation? I thought that Rome held that God, the "deposit of faith", morality and truth are changeless? Are you and Prof. Kaveny and others of the anti-Dr. Marshall group holding that God, the "deposit of faith", morality and truth are not changeless; but that the Second Vatican Council changed them? God blessRichard W Comerford

23. Ecclesiastical honors in Rome will be recognized in the US by festivities, monument-lighting, etc.

Governor Cuomo Announces "Timothy Cardinal Dolan Week" in New York StateOfficial Governor's Proclamation Pays Tribute to Cardinal DolanOne World Trade Center Will Be Lit Red throughout the Week in Honor of Cardinal Dolanhttp://www.governor.ny.gov/press/03122012Cardinal-DolanDr. Marshall must be happy.

It's hard to have a discussion with Mr. Comerford, because his argument contains two fallacies.The first is his contention that the Church is divided into two sects. It isn't. What he is actually saying is an artifact of his belief that there is an orthodox "sect" that he supports and another consisting of everyone else. There is no reason to believe that the left or the right or liberals or conservatives in the Church have a system of beliefs cohesive enough where one could characterize any of them as a sect.But even if the Church was divided into two sects, his second fallacy rests in his assumption that if he can prove one "sect" to be unorthodox, it must follow that the other sect is orthodox. Or to put it another way, he is arguing that if one is truly an orthodox Catholic, one must necessarily agree with Dr. Marshall. In fact, Dr. Marshall's fantasy falls all on its own. We tried a Catholic theocracy in the form of the Papal States. That theocracy has the advantage of a mostly Roman Catholic population existing mostly in a time that was far less "secular" than our own. The Papal States were a failure that corrupted the Church. There is no reason whatsoever to think that a Catholic theocracy could work in the United States. Using a belief that it could or should as some sort of litmus test of being a Catholic is illegitimate.

The Holy Gospel says,"Make disciples of all nations,..teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I has commanded you". If enough people are converted to the faith, changes will take place in that nation. Changes that will, in due time, effect the politics of that nation. Good changes, such as stopping the practise of abortion, divorce, drunkeness, etc. Jesus demanded these things of the members of the Church, not the government. The government can only enforce what the people believe when enough people believe it. Most of the people commenting here seem to believe in a social gospel, namely the government takes over the functions of the church. Sorry folks, the gospel is about believing Jesus is God in the flesh, that he died for our sins, and that he was raised from the dead to give us eternal life. The secular government can only enforce what people already believe. It can't regenerate the souls of the population. Only the preaching of the true gospel can do that. So what Dr Marshall says is correct. A society that is converted to the Catholic faith will reflect that faith in its laws and customs. Why can't Commonweal readers figure that out?

If everyone converted to an orthodox Catholicism why exactly would we need a government?

Mr unagidon:"Its hard to have a discussion with Mr. Comerford"Sorry."The first is his contention that the Church is divided into two sects"Well, I did not make that contention. But if asked I would opine that there are a number of different sects all identifying themselves as "Catholic"."What he is actually saying is an artifact of his belief that there is an orthodox sect that he supports and another consisting of everyone else"No. Rome is divided into many different official Rites all with their own approach to theology, philosophy, art, music and theology. All are Orthodox. And there are many sects"There is no reason to believe that the left or the right or liberals or conservatives in the Church have a system of beliefs cohesive enough where one could characterize any of them as a sect."Of course there have: "A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs"(wiki) or "In the classical Latin tongue secta signified the mode of thought, the manner of life and, in a more specific sense, designated the political party to which one had sworn allegiance, or the philosophical school whose tenets he had embraced." (Catholic Encyclopedia) There may be dozens of sects, operating within different Rites, all perhaps Orthodox in the Catholic Church today."his second fallacy rests in his assumption that if he can prove one sect to be unorthodox, it must follow that the other sect is orthodox"I alone cannot prove that one sect is unorthodox. Even if true, another differing sect, may also be unorthodox. And, as stated above, there appear to be many sects in the Roman Church today - some identifying themselves with the political left or right. Today, IMO, the most withering criticism of the Papacy comes from self identified conservative traditionalists. "The Papal States were a failure that corrupted the Church."The Church, which has all too human men and women members, has always in a sense been corrupt since Judas and will always be until the Second Coming. The Papal States were a great success in terms of protecting the Pope from being carted off to Avignon, or prison, or being starved or beaten to death. The Papal States were also a tremendous success in terms of protecting the liberties and prosperity of peasant families. "There is no reason whatsoever to think that a Catholic theocracy could work in the United States."If you mean by a theocracy a government in which God is recognized as its head and its laws are based on the commandments of God then we have had a theocracy in North America since 1620 AD.God blessRichard W Comerford

"A society that is converted to the Catholic faith will reflect that faith in its laws and customs. Why cant Commonweal readers figure that out?"Yeah, but you see, I think that would be a really, really, really awful thing to have happen to a country like America, if not any country.

No need to reply to R. W. Comerford. We don't do inquisitions on this blog.

Mr. Grant Gallicho:"No need to reply to R. W. Comerford."Always a good foreign policy."We dont do inquisitions on this blog."Actually you are. Failure to discuss and clarify the intent and objectives of the instant article raises the question that it is really meant to identify, vilify and segregate Catholics who hold views contrary to the editorial policy of Commonweal. If this is the case then the article has certainly been successful in dividing an already deeply divided and indeed splintered Roman Church. Or you could just be too lazy to reply. God blessRichard W Comerford

Mr. Comerford,"If you mean by a theocracy a government in which God is recognized as its head and its laws are based on the commandments of God then we have had a theocracy in North America since 1620 AD."I don't mean this. But more importantly you don't mean it either. If we were a theocracy now there would be no need for Dr. Marshall's "vision". And since our Republic was founded by Protestants, there would especially be no particular need for a Catholic theocracy."The Papal States were also a tremendous success in terms of protecting the liberties and prosperity of peasant families. "And I'm sure that the peasant families of the former Papal States pray each night for the restoration of feudalism and Papal rule."The Church, which has all too human men and women members, has always in a sense been corrupt since Judas and will always be until the Second Coming."But isn't that the point about the State? Do Christians need to control the state? Which Christians? Yes, it would be nice if the whole world were Catholic. But if that were the case, my question still stands; why would we necessarily need a government?

Mr unagidon:"But more importantly you dont mean it either...there would especially be no particular need for there would especially be no particular need for a Catholic theocracy.."How do you know what I mean? Prior to contact with our European brothers our people numbered about 200,000. Now there are a thousand. A Protestant theocracy was indeed established. And as our people made the strategic mistake of converting to Rome we were on the receiving end of a theocratic inquisition which lasted until (at least we are assured by our government that it has ended) to 1976. [See. Mr. Google for a link regarding "Breeding better Vermonters adn teh eugenic wars against the Abernaki/French Canadians.] A government respecting the rights and liberties of Catholics would have been just fine by us."And Im sure that the peasant families of the former Papal States pray each night for the restoration of feudalism and Papal rule."Sorry no peasants allowed in our modern world. But actually there is a tradition in the old Papal States of reserving a chair or even an entire room in the home to honor the Pope when he returns. "Do Christians need to control the state?"You would rather have Hitler, Stalin Pol Pot or Mao? I am told by Chinese Christian refugees that some of our ultra cheap consumer goods are made in China by Christian slaves; and then when their slave bodies are too worn to work they are dismembered for parts which are sold on the world market. "Which Christians?"Indeed which Christians; and that seems to be the point of Prof. Kaveny article: namely that Dr. Marshall and company are not real Christians or Catholics and cannot be trusted or taken seriously. "why would we necessarily need a government?"We live in a fallen world. Every Christian Saint led a most imperfect life. A Saint is a person of heroic virtue - not someone who was right all the time and on every issue. (Think of that most wonderful Servant of God Dorothy Day who was very reluctant to see the USA go to war with Hitler.) Every Christian is a sinner who requires government to survive in community.God blessRichard W Comerford

Richard: You are not entitled to conduct your ugly little inquisition here. Find another venue.

Why the hissy fits Grant?

Ken: We do not provide a venue for theological interrogation. I know a lot of people get a great deal of self-satisfaction from pointing out and calling out the insufficient orthodoxy of others. They'll have to find that pleasure elsewhere.

Maybe I'm missing something, but is Dr. Taylor aware that there are many Americans who are not Christian (and many more not Catholic)? What exactly would become of all the Jews and Muslims and agnostics and Buddhists when we become a Catholic theocracy? The millions and millions of non-catholic Americans (many of whom have served the country, pay taxes, raise their families etc) might be a bit taken aback that their free country has become a Catholic theocracy. What would we do with them? Forced conversion, like in medieval Spain? Forced exportation, like in Russia or Cuba? Or maybe just the straightforward, no-nonsense German approach (ovens etc)? Either way, it could get expensive. Maintaining this pure Catholic utopia might make us broke, and greatly reduced the population. Is it worth it?

Mr. Cassey. I am sure Dr Taylor is aware of that and as what would happen to those members of other false religions they would be left unmolested while being restrained from publicly publicising their false religion and as to the "forced conversions" of the great Spain, I must mention that the then Catholic Country was ruled by Canon Law but, for instance, the Messiah-deniers were exempt from it.And as for Germany and ovens, as the redoubtable Mr. Henry Crocker III noted, had Germany the Inquisition, then the mendacious and malign Hitler would never have come to power; that is, Hitler was one of the, many, blessings of democracy and one man one vote.And let us not neglect Russia, whose democracy preceded Communism and the murders of scores of millions of Christians in whose memory, I am sure, there will soon be erected monuments and memorials in Washington

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