The Invisible Catholic

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On December 12, Town and Country Magazine asked, “Where will Barron Trump Go to School in Washington, D.C.?”

When President-elect Donald Trump and his family move to D.C.—Melania and Barron are planning to stay in New York City through the end of the school year—Barron Trump will be the first First Son since John F. Kennedy, Jr. to live there.

Kennedy was the first, and last, Roman Catholic President of the United States. jfk-jrHis son, John Jr., was only 3 when his father was assassinated, so his schooling was not an issue -but would it have been?  When Kennedy ran for president, there was still a lot of suspicion about Roman Catholics among the predominantly white Protestant electorate. If his son had been of high school age, this might have been an interesting dilemma -would the president’s son go to a Catholic school in D.C. or to an Establishment Protestant school? Because, once upon a time, the two were different.  Joe Kennedy picked elite Protestant schools for his sons, Catholic schools for his daughters.

John Jr. ended up attending St. David’s, an independent Catholic boys school (Pre-K through 8) in New York after his father’s death, and then Collegiate, an elite Ivy League prep school in New York, for 9th and 10th grade. He finished his last two years of high school at Phillips Andover Academy, a classic New England establishment school.

The Town and Country article goes on to list several private schools in Washington where Barron might go. From the elite, Quaker Sidwell Friends School, which educated Chelsea Clinton and Barack Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, to the more “Republican friendly”  elite, Protestant Establishment school, St. Alban’s. But is there a Protestant Establishment anymore?

Since Kennedy’s presidency, Catholics in the U.S. have “come a long way, baby!” Currently, five Supreme Court Justices are Catholic by birth, and the late Justice Scalia was Catholic as well. The other three are Jewish.  There are currently no Supreme Court Justices descended from the Anglo-Protestant founding stock of this country.

Interestingly, not a single Catholic school in Washington is mentioned in the Town and Country article.

gonzaga
Interior: Gonzaga HS Chapel

Gonzaga High School, founded in 1821, is the alma mater of Patrick Buchanan, to name one of many famous alumni.  Other alumni run the political spectrum: from Republican “Virtue Czar” William Bennett to Democratic Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley, former Governor of Maryland. (Maryland was the only colony founded by English Catholics.) And Trump ran on Buchanan’s trade policy to some extent. Melania Trump, Barron’s mother, is a baptized Catholic.

Georgetown Prep is another elite D.C. area school, founded in 1789 as part of the vision of Bishop John Carroll that included Georgetown University. John Carroll was the first Catholic bishop in the United States, and the brother of Daniel Carroll who signed the

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Georgetown Prep

Constitution and sat in the first Congress. Interestingly, the Carrolls were prohibited from political activity in the colonies because they were Catholic (Samuel Adams, for example, was rabidly anti-Catholic). Charles Carroll, their cousin, was also, at the time of the Revolution, the richest man in America, and signed the Declaration of Independence.

Through the influence of George Washington the anti-Catholic rules were abolished.  Washington even forbade the celebration of the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes Day during the siege of Boston.

Washington, known as the most elegant and well-mannered man in the colonies, had little formal education. But from his Catholic friends, the Digges, across the Potomac who had gone to University in the Low Countries (where all exiled English Catholics had to go) he learned “civility”. (In colonial times, the most Americans with University degrees were Catholics who studied abroad).gw-rules-of-civility

By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. They clearly impacted the development of his whole being.

The Heights School, in Potomac, MD., where I went, was also not mentioned. The Heights has grown from a fledgling Catholic school in the 1970s under the spiritual direction of Opus Dei, which is a Catholic Personal Prelature focused on the sanctity of daily work and a reaction to pre-Vatican II “clericalism”.  [Opus Dei is often mistaken as “Conservative” even by its own members.]

heights
The Heights School

My father and uncle, both Catholics who had gone to Harvard -my father when Catholicism was still somewhat looked down upon, my uncle nine years later when it was “fine”- were the Headmasters who grew the school into one of the pre-eminent liberal arts high schools in the D.C. area.

While both Gonzaga and Georgetown Prep have establishment Republican and Democratic credentials, The Heights recently emerged as the more hardcore “Conservative” Catholic school in D.C. during the George W. Bush Administration. Senator Santorum, Senator Hagel, Louis Freeh (FBI), and Erik Prince (Blackwater) sent their sons there.

There are other excellent Catholic schools in the Washington, D.C. area, but it is interesting that Town and Country is blind to their existence and did not mention a single one.

Similarly, both parties continue to take the Catholic vote for granted.  Republicans take the pro-life vote for granted, and therefore will never resolve the issue so that they can continue to run on it. And Democrats take the social justice Catholic vote, rooted in the FDR alliance with unions and the working class, for granted.  This was reflected the fact that Robby Mook and the Hillary campaign, with high level Notre Dame alumni on staff,  ignored this essential Catholic demographic -despite Bill Clinton’s warnings.  How could Notre Dame Catholics ignore their own people? That is what universities like Notre Dame exist for -to turn American Catholics into “white people” -consumers and workers without rooted identity and without sacred community, except football.

In the election post-mortem and hand-wringing among pollsters, pundits, and prognosticators, many factors will be identified as contributing to Donald Trump’s decisive victory, including race, class, and gender. But one other factor that deserves more attention is religion. In spite of reports indicating that Trump was having “problems” with the Catholic vote, exit polling indicates that he won Catholics by 52% to 45%. This marks a substantial change from the previous two presidential elections when Catholics voted for Obama by margins of 9% in 2008 and 2% in 2012.

Fortune Magazine

Since FDR, Catholics have been “ethnically” Democratic, but since the Sexual Revolution and Roe v. Wade, Republicans have picked up Catholic votes by being “pro-life”.  Though no federal action has done anything about abortion, and the traditionally un-Catholic Republican party has often disappointed pro-lifers in its judicial picks.

So the Catholic vote is split between two post-Protestant parties.  Some Catholics became Republican because of abortion, and their kids became Capitalists because they were Republicans. Some Catholics stayed Democratic because of economic justice and worker issues, and their kids became Cultural Marxists.  But you cannot be a Capitalist and a Catholic just as you cannot be for abortion and be Catholic.

There are fours sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance.

There are particular mortal sins that are so evil that they are said to be sins that cry to heaven for vengeance: murder (Gn 4:10), sodomy (Gn 17:20-21), oppression of the poor (Ex 2:23), and defrauding workers of their just wages (Jas 5:4).

The first two seem to be the Democratic bailiwick, while the second two are Republican strong points.  But both parties have converged in recent years as usurious oligarchs.

Wikileaks revealed the contempt that even fellow Catholic John Podesta had for Catholic voters, and Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer laughed when the Catholic Question was proposed to him: “Catholics are now just a denomination of suburban spirituality, they are not a threat to anything.”

As Hillaire Belloc said: Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe. I agree with Spencer that America is “European”, but I am also disappointed that the Faith that once compelled an emperor to crawl on his knees to Canossa, is no “longer a threat”.  Catholics have “arrived” in America.  We have reached the levels of those who condescended to us, but have adopted a shallow life of status-seeking and consumption.

Trump won by flipping traditional ethnic-Catholic, working class Democratic strongholds. Even though Trump’s rhetoric was aimed at the Catholic ethnics of the rust belt, a prominent Catholic, Deal Hudson, still had to convince him to do specific outreach. Trump listened to the guy, did the outreach, and won the Catholic swing states he needed.

It nearly didn’t happen. Trump’s outreach people were tone-deaf about Catholic voters. They were putting their eggs in baskets marked Evangelicals, African-Americans and Hispanics. Catholics were of secondary importance.

But one Catholic leader, Deal Hudson, didn’t believe this, and he single-handedly organized a big-name Catholic Advisory Committee, a conference call with state campaign directors, a conference call between Trump and Catholic leaders, a tweet and video from Trump when Mother Teresa was canonized and an interview with Trump on the Catholic EWTN television network.

Meanwhile, the liberal press ran stories about how Catholics hated Trump and bishops condemned Trump’s immigration rhetoric. As for the Catholic intellectuals, they mostly went full-bore NeverTrump

It’s as though Catholics don’t realize their political power could make a 21st Century America that transcends the narcissism of either side of identity politics.  Catholics have access to the endowment of the civilization in which we live -the scientific method, Universities, guilds, social justice, a fair wage, etc.  And yet we are satisfied to assimilate to the lesser culture, the post-Christian consumerist culture.  We Catholics became suburban whites, and we lost our agency because we lost our culture, our processions, our feast days, our “otherness”. We remain essential, though ignored.

Both the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and Town and Country Magazine revealed in this last year that the Invisible Catholic is not worthy of consideration. America will fade away one day, but the parishes will still be here. The “Establishment” ignores us -our schools, our achievements, our electoral power over and over. We accept their bourgeois definitions of success. I say we stop. Consider the riches of your Catholic and human heritage and invite your fellow countrymen to partake and Make America more human and humane.  Or there will be no America…

john-carroll
Bishop John Carroll

 

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