The Growth of the U.S. Catholic Right
Christian Nationalism in America?
After liturgy on Sunday, a friend and I had several cups of coffee and a long conversation about the growth of the Catholic Right in the United States. He asked if I knew of some resources to help understand why the shift has occurred. The very best book I have seen so far is The Neo-Catholics by Betty Clermont.
The book examines how neo-conservatives linked-up with powerful right wing Catholics in a way that could change the face of institutional American Catholicism, the structuring of social policy in the United States, and the American agenda in the world. As I reminded my friend over our third cup of coffee, it is no coinicidence that the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican is a conservative American Cardinal and the head of the Vatican’s supreme court is another far to the right American Conservative (soon to be cardinal) whose battle cry is that President Obama is anti-life and anti-family. Levada and Burke are key players in a well-orchestrated power-shift that has Pope Benedict dancing in his red slippers.The book is highly recommended as well by two of our greatest observers of the American Catholic scene: Robert Blair Kaiser and Jason Berry.
“Betty Clermont helps us recall, in excruciating detail, a history of the U.S. Catholic right and its tremendous influence in the U.S. government since Ronald Reagan began forging ties with the Vatican. In vivid scene after scene, Ms. Clermont lets the documented facts tell the story, of how the American bishops diverted our money (not theirs) away from programs promoting social justice into political action that could only make Republicans smile. A darn well written study in the abuse of power by lordly bishops who rest assured because they rest assured.” ROBERT BLAIR KAISER covered Vatican II for Time magazine. He is the author of Cardinal Mahony: A Novel.
“Betty Clermont’s The Neo Catholics tracks the links of Republican politics, big money and Catholic ideologues with a muckraker’s zeal. Even those who do not share Clermont’s every position will be pulled along by her relentless scrutiny of how the pro-life agenda turned into a hothouse for war-mongering and the endless money-hunt.” JASON BERRY, Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II and Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children