Catholics for World War?

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On the first Saturday of every month, Catholics pray specifically for world peace. So it is unsettling, to say the least, to see so many prominent Catholics from both parties advocating more war: Gingrich, Santorum, Biden, Pelosi, Boehner, Panetta, et al.

It’s not new, unfortunately. Way back before the U.S. entered World War I, Pope Benedict XV asked American bishops to support his efforts to reach an early peace before the war spread worldwide. Instead, Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore supported American entry into the war, even though President Wilson had campaigned in 1916 against it.

Gibbons and his brother bishops were reacting to a virulent wave of anti-Catholicism. (Alas, they were also strongly suspicious of German Catholics in the U.S.) Several bigoted nativist newspapers had circulations larger than that of the New York Times. And although many today conveniently refuse to recall it,  the Ku Klux Klan was much more intently and intensely anti-Catholic than it was anti-Jew or anti-Negro.

The common accusation of all those anti-Catholics was that American Catholics were more loyal to Rome than to the American government. So Catholic bishops, longing to be accepted as “real Americans,” did not oppose U.S. entry into World War One even though most Catholics opposed it; Nor did they seek to dissuade FDR from maneuvering the U.S. into World War II — again, even though most Catholics opposed it.

So, has anything changed? Today the pope calls for peace, for respect for Muslims, and for rational discussion to dispel the collapse into ideology both in Islam and in the West. Meanwhile, our Catholic “leaders” long to march us off to war.

10:16 am on February 4, 2012