Objections, responsibility & food for thought


I was disappointed to find Andrew Bacevich agreeing with Robert Imbelli (“History, Hope, & iPhones,” October 7, 2011) that the American Catholic Church should recover its supposedly lost integrity by taking a resolute stand against American culture. Bacevich has unfortunately accepted from theologian Michael Baxter a version of the American Catholic story that emphasizes “accommodation” to secular America. Versions of that story now dominate American Catholic discourse across the ideological spectrum, from Catholic Workers to centrists like Peter Steinfels to the bishops and lay leaders who attacked Notre Dame because it honored President Barack Obama.

No one seems to notice that this version of the story, with a variety of theological covers, calls into question the aspirations of immigrant Catholic families, past and present. It turns lay life, insofar as it is lay, into a contradiction of Christian discipleship, and makes most of what we do in Catholic higher education a facilitation of this dreaded secularization.

If those who hold to that story don’t opt for Baxter’s genuine Catholic Worker prophecy, complete with voluntary poverty and renunciation of politics, then they will turn American Catholicism into another denomination that prays prophetically on Sundays but goes back to work on Monday and never misses a meal. I fear that...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.