.- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has said that the “secularizing” of American culture is a “much larger issue” than political causes or the outcome of the presidential elections, warning against a rise of anti-religious sentiment and restating his fears of a future persecution in the United States.
“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters,” Cardinal George said in his Oct. 21 column for the Catholic New World.
He said the 2012 political campaigns have brought to the surface “anti-religious sentiment, much of it explicitly anti-Catholic, that has been growing in this country for several decades.” Secularism, he said, is just “communism’s better-scrubbed bedfellow.”
Cardinal George also touched on reports that he believes a successor of his will be martyred. Those stories came from his remarks to a group of priests several years ago.
“I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square,” the cardinal wrote.
However, he said the reports left out his last phrase about the bishop who succeeds a possible martyr: “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”
The cardinal said he was trying to express “in overly dramatic fashion” what the “complete secularization” of society could bring.
“What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”
Cardinal George said his predecessor Cardinal George Mundelein acted similarly in his 1937 criticisms of Adolph Hitler, whose Nazi government had dissolved Catholic youth groups, silenced the German bishops in the media and tried to discredit the Church’s work through putting on trial priests, monks and sisters accused of immorality.
Cardinal Mundelein had warned that there is no guarantee “that the battlefront may not stretch some day into our own land.” American Catholics’ silence could mean that “we too will be fighting alone.”
While Cardinal Mundelein never saw persecution at home, Cardinal George warned against trends that follow the example of the John Lennon song “Imagine,” which imagines a world without religion.
“We don’t have to imagine such a world; the 20th century has given us horrific examples of such worlds,” he said. He denounced the violence of “the nation state gone bad” which claims an absolute power to decide questions and make laws “beyond its own competence.”
Cardinal George closed by reminding Catholics that God “sustains the world, in good times and in bad.” Jesus Christ has “overcome and rescued history.”
“Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression,” the cardinal concluded.
He encouraged Catholics to pray the Rosary in October so that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen the bishops at the Synod for the New Evangelization presently gathered at the Vatican.