Occupy the Vatican

by Circle or Line

[T]he typical old anti-Catholic considered himself to be a custodian of the church-state separationist tradition advanced by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, best exemplified in these words authored by Jefferson: “Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

Because the old anti-Catholic embraced this Jeffersonian principle, he respected the rights of Catholics to exercise their religious liberty and develop their various academic, medical, and charitable institutions in order to practice and propagate what they understood to be the teachings of Christ and His Church. As long as the Catholic did not demand that the government extract money from the old anti-Catholic to underwrite these institutions, the latter was content in extending true tolerance to the Catholic and His Church, even though the typical old anti-Catholic regarded Catholicism as a false and repugnant faith.

The new anti-Catholicism not only rejects the Jeffersonian principle; it turns it on its head. Rather than demanding that the Catholic Church leave him alone, as the old anti-Catholic preached, the new anti-Catholic will not leave the Catholic Church alone. The Old Anti-Catholic would have thought it unseemly, and downright un-American, to use state coercion to force the Catholic to support and pay for things that his conscience requires that he not support or pay for. The new anti-Catholic wants to lead an Occupy the Vatican Movement.

Francis J. Beckwith

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