Recruit Priests, Sisters, Brothers

Want to attract devout Catholic men and women to your religious community?
Try our Come & See Vocation Promotion Program.
It’s a unique vocation promotion program that recruits men and women to religious and consecrated life.

Walk a spiritual path with the Visitandine Founders, Saints and Sisters. Visitation Spirit website
Free others from today's forms of captivity. Become a Mercedarian friar. Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy Philadelphia, PA
Consider a life of prayer and teaching. Sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary Washington, DC



Americanism – a heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII

Photo of Fr. Brankin. Go to Fr. Brankin's bio.July 23, 2013

Fr. Anthony Brankin

Just the other day we celebrated the Fourth of July. And I am sure all over the country it was a wonderful Celebration. Even the [Church’s] calendar for the feast days gets into the act and celebrates Independence Day for about 5 pages worth of prayers and prefaces and chant and options—almost as if it were a Holy Day of obligation.

I began to wonder if this excess might be the triumph of “Americanism” in our country and among our bishops. You say, “What is Americanism?” Well, you would be forgiven for asking because almost no American bishops or priests have mentioned the word “Americanism” or tried to define it, or tried to respond to it—in the more than a hundred years since Pope Leo XIII condemned it as heresy.

There is no “Mexicanism”

Now you say, “A heresy called ‘Americanism’”? Yes indeed. And it certainly must be special when you realize that there is no comparable heresy called “Mexicanism” or “Bohemianism” or “Irishism”. What possibly could the pope have meant by “Americanism?” Well, first of all we must know that a heresy is a false teaching about what we believe. For example a heresy would be the Protestant heresy that might say that there is no such thing as Purgatory, or that the Blessed Virgin was not a Virgin, or the sacraments do not give grace to help us get to heaven. There are Christological heresies as well. For example those statements that say that Jesus is not true God and true man are heresies.

A heresy is wrong. It is false. And it is a lie about what God wants us to believe or do in order to be saved.

How is “Americanism” a heresy? (Now remember by Americanism, I do not mean the patriotic love we must all have for the country of our birth.) No. “Americanism” as defined by Pope Leo XIII is the theory that somehow the United States of America is superior to all the other nations on earth and therefore can pretty much can do what it wants to do in the world with impunity. In other words, America is so superior that the rules that govern all the other nations apply to all nations—except America.

No superior nations

Pope Leo is clear. God loves all his people—all his nations equally. There are no necessary countries—there are no superior nations. We are all children of God and destined to be members of His Body—the Church. Every country—every government has the same duty—bring their people to Christ and then to heaven.

Every nation and every people have gifts—some more than others—some different—but all nations and all people are equally responsible before God and equal—in dignity before God.

The problem is that Americanism developes into something called “American exceptionalism”. American exceptionalism means that every nation except America must observe the rule of law.

Exempt from the rules

Amercanists believe that America is therefore exempt from following the rules that other nations have to follow. They derive this exceptionalism—this exemption—as a consequence of the unequalled brilliance of the American liberal democratic system.

Now if you are a Christian you get the added privilege of believing that America is exceptional—because this nation—they believe—was founded by God to be a light to the other nations. We were born to rule—born to lead—born to have others follow us. And nothing—No Church—No pope—no tradition—no set of beliefs— no other country can tell us what to do.

I am not making this up. This is actual political theory—believed and taught by the politicians and bureaucrats and professors of political science.

Sixteenth-century Protestant belief

How many times have we heard about America being the shining city on a hill—and every implication is that it is no less than God who created this shining city on a hill. And it is God’s presence and His approval that allows America to shine so superiorly. Every nation must follow our glow and glory. Of course this comes right out of 16th Century Puritanism—Calvinism—Congregationalism—Presbyterianism.

You can see how a certain idolatry can develop here. Not only is America approved by God—but it also issues forth from God; and somehow America becomes the embodiment of the actual will of God in the world.

America is almost a parallel incarnation—right along with the Incarnation of Jesus. How could anyone—any nation dare to go against the will of God? What do you think was the context of the Mexican-American War? We want it we take it! And so many of our wars of empire in the Nineteenth Century? Or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? What do think was the context of Barak Obama’s recent trip to Africa where he spent two weeks telling the African nations about sex and that they should accept homosexuality and same-sex marriage?

Take that garbage back

Of course they told him: “Take that garbage back to your own country. You can ruin your own culture—we will not let you ruin ours.” And you can imagine how disturbed that made our American President. Why America is the standard of reference in the world—we are the measure of all that is good—liberal democracy—sexual freedom— unlimited entertainment. It is our system—our culture—our beliefs—that the world needs to adopt.

And American politicians are always eager to tell other nations that if they don’t accept our condoms, our Planned Parenthood and pornography—if they don’t accept as their leaders the ones that we approve—we won’t give them our money. And if need be—we will send in the troops. And just to keep everyone in line— we will listen in on all your phone calls and internet messages. After all—we are America.

(To be continued next week.)

Comments are closed.