The American Prejudice and Catholic Freedom

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please join me in welcoming guest blogger Omar Gutierrez to the CV Blog.

In 1949 Paul Blanshard published American Freedom and Catholic Power. Its popularity in the U.S. re-opened a foul-smelling wound that our nation had seen many times before. Namely, Americans don’t trust Catholics to be Americans first and Catholics second.

The book, based on articles which Blanshard had written for The Nation, argues that Catholicism is fundamentally and diametrically incompatible with a free democratic society. According to the Church’s own teaching, he said, Catholics are in fact not free to vote according to what is best for the nation over and above what is considered best for the Church. As such, Catholics are a danger.

Blanshard then goes on to argue that the large influence of Catholics in the fields of medicine and education mean that the very freedoms of the American people are at risk since the prospect of even allowing Catholic alternatives to secular institutions is a recipe for Catholic dominance and thus the end of our republic.

His solution? Get Catholics out of running hospitals and schools and universities.

All of this came to mind as this entire HHS mandate business burst out onto the political spectrum. What surer way to get Catholics out of the business of healing and education than by forcing them to opt out of it. Would the nation suffer? Sure, but only in the short term. The endgame is getting Catholics and anyone else who dares to bare the Christian standard out of social services. That, says the contemporary secularist, is the purview of the State and the State alone. Catholics need not apply.

I am confident that the administration has overreached. I believe that the East Coast cocktail parties have addled the minds of those advising and those in the administration. They believe the time is ripe, that the nation is ready for this sort of challenge against the Church. The middle of the country, that soft and sweeping span between L.A. and New York will not struggle for long. But the administration is wrong.

So also I am confident in our episcopal leadership. We do not have a soft-spoken and diminutive man heading the U.S. Bishops, which is no insult to such men. Only their time is not now. Now we need the strong shepherd, the father who will hold our hand and see us through to the other side. Now we need the likes of Cardinal Dolan who is gregarious and all of the Catholic Church with every beaming smile and joke and serious choice for orthodoxy.

Whittaker Chambers, that defector from the Soviet system of spies, wrote to his children at the beginning of Witness that as he and they walked through the pine woods, “where it was darker lonelier and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening,” they would instinctively give him their hand. So too we, the children of a Cardinal who grew up in this middle of this country ask for his help to guide us through and offer him ours.

The hope is that, like Chambers’ children, we might, “if all goes aright, make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves.” There we will be at Golgotha. And there our Catholic Church in America will no longer be young and so willing to accept the promises of well-spoken men who assure us that all will be well and that we share a desire for social justice. Rather our Church will know that “life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when [we] know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth,” we will be all the wiser.

I’m honored to add my voice to the many at and share in the journey to wisdom about being Catholic and American. Long live Christ the King.



  • Davide

    Hi Omar and welcome

  • Dennis O’Donovan

    I agree we need the strong shephered, however, I think we are still looking for him. During this election year, and in every election year, in which issues of grave morality are in play politically, Bishops and Priests should address an issue each Sunday at the conclusion of Mass, but before dismissal. We are giving Catholics in general too much credit when we say they can figure it out for whom to vote themselves. If they could, we would not have Catholics going 50/50 when things like abortion, homosexual marriage, infringement on freedom of religion, and so on, are going on. Please don’t tell me about how overwhelmingly Catholics who attend Mass each Sunday vote in accord with Church teaching. Do the math. With a weekly attendence rate of 25%, it does not work out the way you would like to believe. If 100% of the Catholics who attend Mass weekly, vote properly, that would mean 81% of those who do no not attend Mass vote improperly and that would only work if they were all of a particular race, also, and they are not. Bishops and Priests have to be forceful and direct. In section 38 of Forming Consciences, it says that the way we vote may have an impact on our eternal salvation. How about an elaboration on that? Sounds like it may be important. Sounds like our eternatl salvation may be impacted by the way we vote. Are we all on the raod to perdition while our Bishops and Priests do not want to offend anyone?

  • Mary K

    To the percent of our population that is Catholic, faith is a gift; being Catholic is a choice that American citizens make. We are American, and we are Catholic. As such, we have the same rights as all other Americans.

    To a lasting impact to medicine/health care and education, the difference is as Catholics, we are driven by charity and giving, living and supporting life.

    Visiting a Catholic school to discern whether to move my child from public education (after 4 years there) into Catholic education, I was surprised that the overwhelming feeling I left with was freedom. Three years later, I can tell you that they’ve drawn out many extraordinary gifts that we would not have experienced otherwise.

    It is frightening to me as mother and citizen that anyone would think to undermine this. We have strong Catholic leaders, because there is value to this country that is born of our faith.

  • Robert

    Anti-Catholicism is the oldest and only acceptible prejudice left in this country…and so often, the worst fire bomb throwers are self-described “Catholics.” It has come to my conclusion that the Church does not have a conservative or a liberal wing–those are political terms(and mind you political in the American sense). The Church rather is either those who follow the Bride of Christ, or those that resent and attack her. Is there another way to clean shop?



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