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What's behind the surge in anti-Catholicism?

Anti-Catholic prejudice in the U.S. -- and around the world, for that matter -- is an old problem.

BigotryHere is a description of that history from a Catholic point of view. And here is a description of it from a Wikipedia point of view.

This kind of bigotry should be condemned whenever it's seen. It is not, however, anti-Catholicism to acknowledge that you are an adherent of Christian beliefs and practices that may differ from Catholic beliefs. That's simply acknowledging the reality that the church universal is divided -- and has been in some ways almost from the start, though especially since the Great Schism of 1054 and the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s.

But true bigotry, no-doubt real anti-Catholicism, has reared its despicable head in recent times across the U.S., as this report from The Week reveals. As the publication's national correspondent Matthew Walther writes, "Catholic buildings are being burned and our sacred images destroyed for the not very complicated reason that we are increasingly the objects of suspicion and loathing in the United States and Western Europe, just as we have long been in the Middle East and parts of East and Southeast Asia.

"This has nothing to do with any protest movement, worthy or otherwise. It is about one thing: hatred of the Church, Her sacraments, Her immutable teachings, Her glorious saints, Her bishops and priests and religious brothers and sisters, and the faithful themselves."

Walther begins his article with a disheartening list of recent examples of anti-Catholic vandalism and other hateful acts. Read it and weep.

In some ways, I suppose, any hate of this sort is simply one more example of the tribalism that has afflicted humankind almost since the beginning. It's the old attitude that if you're not one of us you're against us and you need to be put down in some way. Which is just a sign of weakness and insecurity on the part of people holding such an attitude.

But what's especially disappointing about this kind of bigotry is that all the great world religions teach against it. In Christianity, for instance, followers of Jesus are obligated to see each person as a child of God who bears the image of God. The last thing anyone should want to do is to hate the person bearing that image. That doesn't mean you have to like someone or agree about everything.

But it does mean that there's no place for anti-Catholicism, Islamophobia, antisemitism or any other hatred with ties to religion. And it's up to each one of us to recognize whether we're furthering such hatred individually or in systemic ways. The time to check on that is today.

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The Barbecue Baptist Church in Texas, described in this RNS story, sounds like a great idea. And it looks as if that church is serving something close to the fabulous kind of barbecue we get in Kansas City, not that awful Carolina BBQ. Start such a church here and I'll participate at least once.

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P.S.: In this time of pandemic and civil unrest, a fair amount of attention has been paid to supporting Black-owned businesses. As we do that, let's also remember businesses owned and operated by people in the LGBTQ+ community. Many of them are struggling to survive financially, too. How to help? Here is a helpful national guide. If you have a similar guide or list of LGBTQ+ businesses in the Kansas City area, let me know and I'll put that link in a later post. Thanks.


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