I've been thinking about Americanism and its legacy, especially as described by Mr. Likoudis in the Wanderer article below this post.
I think we've reached an especially low point in the Catholic Church in America today. Never, thanks to the Scandal, has the Church been in less esteem than it is now, and this despite a concerted effort to make Catholicism seem just like Protestantism in every respect possible by some previous generations of Catholic leaders.
The Catholic Church in America remains a target of ridicule by politicians, comedians, and the general public; the Scandal has given her detractors a sad amount of terrible ammunition, and the fact that the lives, habits, practices, etc. of Catholics is virtually indistinguishable from that of anyone else in America, not excluding the atheist and the irreligious.
Meanwhile, forces on the left are actively pushing and promoting a definition of "Catholic" that means a person who rejects the Church's teachings especially in areas of sexual morality, including contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexual activity, premarital sex, the distribution of condoms to the third world, and so on. This definition of "Catholic" is wrong, and utterly meaningless, but to the world the only sort of Catholic who can be called good is the one who is willing to turn his or her back on the Church for reasons of political expediency, personal immorality, or some combination of the two.
Nevertheless, this is a time of great hope for Catholics in America.
Why? Because those who seek to be Catholic today are those who embrace the Church in her totality, not those who pick and choose among her teachings to satisfy their own desires. The young are rediscovering devotions and prayers an older generation tried to discard; as misguided 1970s architecture and music begin to fray at the edges and crumble, the faint glimmerings of a renaissance of Catholic art and music can be seen on the horizon. Perhaps it is a mirage, but it's been a long time since that horizon held any vista other than that of the heavy pall of an unfortunate felt banner, so it's not, perhaps, premature to be excited about the possibilities.
If one thing has become increasingly clear, it's that American Catholics are called to be both--to be Catholic, fully and authentically, and to be American in the light of that faith. We are not supposed to subjugate our faith and enervate it, under the mistaken impression that our American citizenship demands it; to do so is to be much less fully Catholic, but also much less authentically American, than our forbears who sometimes had a clearer notion of what it meant to be both.