The relationship between the Catholic Church and the state in the United States of America is characterized by the absolute acceptance of the separation of these two domains by the Church as an “ideal condition” for all such countries. Catholics of the United States are entirely sincere in their acceptance of this allegedly “democratic” tenet of faith. The result, however, of noncooperation in the educational domain (the public schools themselves give no instruction in the Catholic or any other religion) has caused the Church the loss of millions and millions of souls. There ought to be somewhere around thirty-five million Catholics in the states, but there are actually only twenty-three, and this leakage continues.

In Central Europe children of religiously indifferent parents received, twice a week, from the age of six to the age of eighteen, compulsory, denominational religious instruction. But the National Socialists in their great admiration for secular tendencies have done their best to abolish all religious instruction of the young. The continuous leakage in the United States is going to render the percentage of Catholics smaller and smaller. Today the proportion is one to six, but tomorrow it may be one to seven or one to eight. Catholics live predominantly in the large cities of the Northeast, and though they try heroically to keep the number of their children from declining, they have great difficulties in competing with the high birth rate of the rural, Protestant South. The Catholic rural movement is therefore of cardinal importance.

Another obstacle under the present inevitable arrangement of separation of Church and state lies in the frequent preoccupation of priests with the raising and administration of money and funds. The whole European clergy, Catholics as well as Protestants, received a salary from the state (which, after all, should be nothing else than the organized community). Bishops in the United States necessarily have to spend much time with the problems of financial administration, and the refusal of the states to subsidize Catholic schools (as even Anglican England does it) adds not only a great financial burden to the expenses of the Catholics, who have to pay taxes for the state schools as well, but increases the material responsibilities of the Church. The generosity of American Catholics is therefore something really impressive and almost without parallel in the annals of the Church. Their share in the Peter’s Pence and in the upkeep of the Catholic missions is more than praiseworthy. And yet it must be emphasized that the separation of Church and state does not lie in the tradition of Catholicism which is concerned with a Catholic culture. The express condemnation of the abstract principle by Pope Pius IX is understood to have no application in countries like England and the United States.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)


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