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More on Catholics and Muslims

A short piece by Scott Appleby and myself on the mosque controversy.....I see now that we've been thinking along similar lines as Mollie O. and Paul Moses.

About the Author

John T. McGreevy is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.



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While I agree with the sentiments expressed in this article, I do not believe that one can be an accommodationist when it comes to terrorism and terrorist groups like hamas. One cannot be seeking Peace and Respecting Religious Liberty while refusing to condemn terrorism, simultaneously.

From the folks @ Christianity Today --- Muslims the Enemy?Some activists argue that the proposed mosque in New York City should move because Muslims remind us of terrorists. Tobin Grant, posted 8/27/2010 (snip)" For whatever reason, liberals don't regard Islam, yet, as much of a threat. I'm not so sure they're accurate in that, but they don't think of it as the enemy. I think a lot of times they think of conservative Christianity as something we have got to clamp down on because rights come from the Creator according to these peoplealso according to the Declaration of Independenceand liberals like to have rights come from government, from them, said (Tom) Minnery.Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice said the problem is not a mosque per se. He said this building would be built by 'radical Islam.'I reject the argument that those against this mosque are anti-Islam or against religious freedom. We fight against this mosque because of what it represents. This is a $100 million dollar monument to radical Islam at the heart of Ground Zero, said Sekulow.And this lovely bit ---BreakPoint columnist Stan Guthrie called the building an insensitive religious response to a religiously motivated atrocity.In the name of tolerance, [Muslims] are demanding the right to build a monument to their faith on the site of the carnage, said Guthrie. He said just as Christians are judged by the Crusades, Muslims should be judged by 9-11 and other atrocities committed in the name of Islam.

Of course, I don't really understand why there was/is a "battle royale" within Catholicism in America, or within America regarding Catholicism, since there is no conflict in being a Catholic American who respects our fundamental Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that has been endowed to us from God.

John, that's a fine piece, very helpful in laying out the parallels. A question: I've lately been recalling an observation that Jose Casanova made in this vein, at a Fordham event on secularism organized by the Steinfels Dynamic Duo a couple years back. He noted, as you and Scott Appleby do, that Catholics in America, by becoming good Americans, in turn repatriated some of that thinking to an extent to Rome and helped promote the reforms of the 20th century. Of course, that was a battle royale within Catholicism in America, and with Rome, and that legacy is now much contested as some argue that American Catholics have become too accommodationist. But how much do you think the American experience and habituation of Catholics here affected the push for reform in the wider church? Murray is the most frequently-cited example, and I think that's not in dispute. Are there others ways? I'm not an expert in Vatican 2 and the movements leading up to it, but France's theological currents and leaders clearly had a major part -- which grew out of what? The experience of the Enlightenment, as the US experience? Anyway, this is an ambitious question. Obviously, I think the parallel with a possible similar reform within Islam is very interesting, but I wouldn't want to be too prescriptive. I'm always amused at pundits (usually Tom Friedman) who want Islam to have a Reformation and a Pope and an Enlightenment, without realizing how they can conflict, and how problematic all those movements/structures have been at various points.

Nancy --There was a battle royale between Catholics Americans and non-Catholics because, among other reasons, the teaching of Pius IX against modernism attacked the intellectual foundations of the Constitution of the U. S. that you and the rest of us value so highly. Many Americans assumed that the American Catholics would support Pius IX's teachings. Fortunately, they did not, even though many biased non-Catholics in effect persecuted them.. Specifically, Pius IX attacked the notion of the right to freedom of religion. Fortunately, as McGreevy and Appleby point out, the Americans by their support of both the Faith and the Constitution helped to reverse the teaching of the Vatican on that matter. Do read the article again. YEs, it's another example of the Vatican changing its teaching, this time by Vatican II's support of religious freedom.

John and Scott--thank you so much. This is but one example of how the History Department at ND is such a resource to the broader debate on religion and public life in the US.

Bravo! Wonder if TD has a subscription?

Cathy -- thanks!Peggy -- no idea!David: it's an interesting question. With the exception of the issue of religious freedom American Catholics were very minor players in the lead-up to Vatican II as theologians or major intellectual forces. But there were American versions of the liturgical movement, biblical scholarship and other shifts that presage the change in view and orientation evident at the Council. More generally, French Catholic intellectuals, in particular, but others as well, were deeply impressed with the piety and energy of American Catholics in the 1950s, the scope of the educational effort and the Mass attendance. This lended heft to the argument of the American bishops that Catholicism could thrive under a neutral State.

No doubt, Catholicism can thrive in a State that is One Nation under the capital G God.

Good article thanks. The Thomas Nast cartoon is telling of mainline opinion of those days.In addition to other good efforts by Catholics, (e.g. hospitals, schools, etc.) as US Catholics more or less proved their loyalty as good Americans with their military services (including Catholic chaplains) during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and WW-1 and WW-2, this helped the decline of anti-Catholicism as well. By 1960 when Kennedy was elected president, anti-Catholicism, while not gone, as compared to earlier decades, was very much on the wane.

I can't help but wonder if Islam should be encouraged to assimilate by empathetic Catholics, or whether it needs to slapped silly until it does.

Nancy --Do you think we should have a state religions? Do you think that Catholicism should be a privileged religion in the U. S.?

Michael: how long did it take Catholicism to assimilate in the US? If it hadn't been for WWII and the subsequent GI Bill, would we still be hoping for it to happen?

Nancy said: "I dont really understand why there was/is a battle royale within Catholicism in America, or within America regarding Catholicism."Do youself a favor and read "American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church" by Charles R. Morris. The Protestant establishment was given AMPLE reason to distrust Catholicism in the 1800s and early 1900s by the ecclesiastical triumphalism, duplicity, internecine Catholic wars, and outright lying by some of the premier Archbishops of the day.

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