Back in 2017, when Amy Coney Barrett was undergoing confirmation hearings for her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed concern about Judge Barrett’s devotion to her Catholic faith. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. Two years later, Brian Buescher, a nominee to the federal bench in Ohio, faced criticism from Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono for his membership in the Knights of Columbus. Then, an article in the Atlantic magazine argued that the Catholic rosary symbolized religious radicalism and had become a “weapon” for those dangerous white Christian nationalists. The author of the article, Daniel Panneton, wrote that “rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture.” Most recently, a former FBI special agent produced an internal memo from the FBI’s Richmond office that characterized as a domestic threat “Radical Traditionalist Catholic ideology.” The memo even created a new acronym for this threat group — RTC (Radical Traditional Catholics). To paraphrase Martin Niemoller, they are coming for traditional Catholics.
Traditional Roman Catholic Church teaching does not fit in well with modern progressive wokeism. The Church teaches, for example, that marriage is between a man and a woman; that men and women are defined by biology, not choice; that unborn children are human persons who should be protected by law; and that there are only two genders — male and female. The Church’s positions on these matters were once considered mainstream, but no more. The woke agenda seeks to ban traditional Catholics from the public square. It says to traditional Catholics: quietly practice your faith, but leave your faith at the church door when you discuss public issues and enter the public arena.
Woke progressivism will tolerate “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” as long as they limit themselves to wholly church activities. But beyond the church doors, beyond the Mass (Latin or otherwise), beyond private worship of Jesus Christ, Radical Traditionalist Catholics must conform to wokeism or suffer the consequences of adhering to their faith and acting on their beliefs. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade (which woke progressives attributed to the “extremist Catholics” on the Court) brought to the surface the anti-Catholicism of woke progressives that lay dormant as long as traditional Catholics remained quiescent.
As Casey Chalk pointed out in Crisis Magazine, anti-Catholicism is always acceptable in modern America because modern American culture is dominated by a woke progressivism that worships not God but science, reason, unlimited sexual freedom, and secular humanism. Indeed, the only Catholics that woke progressives admire are those who disagree with the teachings of their faith — like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and so many other progressive Catholic Democrats.
The great Joseph Sobran once noted that the progressive attempt to “liberalize” Christianity served only to “enfeeble the sense of the sacred” by manufacturing a nonjudgmental God. And if God is nonjudgmental, to paraphrase Dostoyevsky, “everything is permitted.” Sobran understood that progressivism, like Catholicism, is a faith — in a sense a counter-faith to Christianity. It is a faith that promotes vice as virtue, preaches tolerance as the greatest morality, portrays pornography as art, disguises killing of the unborn as a “right” and fundamental “freedom,” seeks to normalize the abnormal, worships human self-indulgence as the highest good, and, as Whittaker Chambers wrote, places man, not God, at the center of the universe.
Traditional Catholics should neither fear nor be deterred by the anti-Catholicism of our progressive culture. Instead, they should take inspiration and comfort from Jesus’ words: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”