Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Catholic America

Archbishop José Horacio Gómez is the subject of Sandro Magister's article reminding us that "well before the Anglo-Protestant pilgrim fathers arrived on the east coast, a previous evangelization, Catholic and Hispanic, had made inroads into what is now part of the United States from the south and from the west, as early as the 16th century, leaving extensive traces in the place names themselves," and what it all means — The United States Rediscovers Its Mother Tongue: Latin.

"When we forget our country’s roots in the Hispanic-Catholic mission to the new world, we end up with distorted ideas about our national identity," says His Excellency. "We end up with an idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited from our Anglo-Protestant forebears."

One need not "forget our country’s roots in the Hispanic-Catholic mission to the new world" (or at least the Western part of it, which I'm not even sure I'm all that happy to recognize, being partial to the original thirteen colonies), to reject His Excellency's thesis as a gross oversimplification. My new home of Pittsford, New York, despite its being at the opposite end of the country and having only seven Hispanics (0.5% of the population), is 65.8% Catholic, almost identical to that of His Excellency's archdiocese, Los Angeles, California.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

There are notable traces of Spanish influence in American law -- in many instances where the basic legal approach in the US differs from that of England, it does so because it is following a Spanish legal custom that was in place in areas of the country that had at one time been under Spanish rule (Florida, Louisiana, Texas, the Southwest, California). Classic example: community property law. That comes from Spain, not England. States with a strong historic link to Spain (like California) retained community property law when they became part of the United States. And from there, the idea spread to states, like my own state of Washington, without such an historic link.

The history of America cannot be understood apart from its multiple origins: Anglo-Protestant, African, Ethnic European (Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish), Latino, Native American, Asian. Each of these groups contributed to the building blocks of our country.

September 15, 2011 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Francis-Xavier said...

His Excellency may be flattering himself when he writes that America's Spanish past is overlooked and under-appreciated; all educated Americans know it. As they know that Spain and its colonies had been horribly backward countries for centuries. As late as the 1970s less affluent Spaniards lived in caves. Perhaps it may be he who hasn't got the message.

Ironically, as the US becomes more Catholic, more Hispanic, poorer, and marked by increasingly unequal wealth distributions, Protestantism has been making HUGE inroads in South America, where blessed John Paul would silence theologians who protested crass differences between rich and poor and chronic human rights violations, but had his private secretary protect wonderful pedophiles like the Legion of Christ founder, an artful fundraiser.

September 15, 2011 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


There's no shame in living in a cave!

Unless, apparently, it's a Catholic cave.

September 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Archbishop Gomez writes : ":that Americans are descended from only white Europeans"

Actually we're also white on the Spanish side, (blond haired and blue eyed), and from Europe, Austurias Spain to be precise.

September 21, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Francis-Xavier said...

Enbrethiliel, you misrepresent the issue at hand, and probably willfully so.

The issue is not whether it's shameful to live in cave, but whether a country that serves some of its citizens so poorly that they have no choice but to live in a cave serves or served its citizens nearly as well as countries in which such habits are distant, and thankfully long-forgotten, memories. And whether someone who claims that such a backward civilization has been and should be an inspiration to us is lucid and belongs anywhere near a pulpit.

September 22, 2011 at 6:29 PM  

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