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American Spirit: Catholic Heritage "Has a decline in religion led to a decline in America?"

Updated on August 31, 2014
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The decline in religion and morals with which is abhorrently present today is a departure from not only Christ's teachings but also from the American tradition as well. In conforming to the truths which God has given us through the teachings of His Son; we would be able to reclaim that spirit again. After-all to know our history is to know ourselves. To deny our Catholic heritage whether as Americans or Eurocentric or wherever it is that our ancestors first came from we will never be able to know where we have to go to get back on track.

I am not going to harp on the decline of our values here; it would take too long. I will say that the America today is a stark difference than that of what our forfathers may have thought it should be. We are bombarded by the media with Vice, Sex, and sin in general to the point where we have become immune to seeing it. We are no longer shocked by sin, we are not horrified by it. We openly encourage abortion, the murder of defensless unborns, homosexuality and the equation with a normal relationship. All these things have been deemed accceptable by legislation. However just because the legislation is made legal and binding on behalf of the government it does not make it right or God-given or inalienable for that matter since those things are contrary to God. I am not pointing out any particular group or intending on offending anyone whatsoever as well as I am not encouraging a revolution by no means but laws of this caliber are forms of tyranical perogatives. Civil disobedience of immoral laws is not a crime; rather an American tradition.

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The American Revolution did not affect our continuity with our European heritage; regardless of the fact that the protestant religious disunion preempted it. We still held certain Christian moral values and even continued to use the common laws of the lands our ancestors came from. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was not shy in refering to God. Jefferson relates the fact that we have God-given rights (life, liberty, pursuit of hapiness); that no man; regardless of social status can take away. Indeed it calls on God as the Supreme source of freedom and from which we receive our right to become soverign in the face of tyranny if no other recourse is available. Which at that time King George left us with no other recourse but to fight. He did not mean here the freedom to do whatever we wanted; but the freedom and obligation to freely do what is inherently right and to establish a government that would protect this freedom to do what is right and those rights which are God-given. The Constitution bears witness to our Christian influence by its use of the phrase "in the year of Our Lord"; a distinct way of relaying such fundamental basis of His supremacy as King of kings. The truths and principles in which this nation was founded on were of strictly Christian influence and were a direct legacy of a once completely Catholic Europe. These ideals permeated the social order and the lives of the majority of Americans. Partly thanks to the fact that King Henry VIII did not change anything in the Anglican religion except for carving out the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all English.

Have we lost our moral compass?

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The Catholic Church it's self has had a very significant influence of the American Revolution. Of the most important and forgotten aspect is that the monies used to finance the Revolution were advanced upon the request of the king of whatever country (France/Spain) by the Catholic Church. The men who fought in the Revolution were Catholic; right alongside protestant. Captain John Barry known as the "Father of the Navy" was Catholic. Washington's aide-de-camp Thomas Fitzsimons was Catholic. With the influx of Catholic immigrants, the Catholic Church was by it's very nature responsible for the spiritual care thereof than any other religious body. The Church at that time supported the Revolution and encouraged loyalty in spite of the intolerance on behalf of the protestants in power; all in the hopes of religious freedom.

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Pope Benedict XVI affirmed in his 2013 speech on a visit to the US that:

From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good

He continues to point out that religious beliefs were at the forefront of this struggle and were in effect the driving force and inspiration upon which this country was founded.This is not shocking coming from his Holiness. It just goes to show from a religious framework the truth of our heritage.

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Our nation was founded on Christian principles. Our nation has a strong Catholic heritage that is overlooked or pushed to the side. Our nation has had a decline in not only religion but morality. In light of this it still begs the question of whether or not the decline of religion in our culture has lead to a decline in America. I would say yes it has;without the upholding of religious moral fiber we have allowed ourselves to become susceptible to the virus of immorality. In effect we need to gather up our American spirit and our Catholic Heritage. I will close with a quote from Archbishop Chaput "I’m here as a Catholic Christian and an American citizen; in that order. Both of these identities are important. They don’t need to conflict. They are not, however, the same thing. No nation, not even the one I love, has a right to my allegiance, or my silence, in matters that belong to God or that undermine the dignity of the human persons He created."

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