A Manifesto for 2021
Wouldn’t it be nice if someday historians were to look back at 2020 as one of the worst years of the 21st century? That would be a lot better than our descendants’ comparing it to, say, 1914 or 1939 — the beginning of years of global chaos, death, and destruction. Perhaps such a hope is naïve, given the trends facing the nation and the Church.
No doubt, the coronavirus was the pre-eminent story of the year. It killed more than 350,000 Americans and wreaked terrible damage on our economy, our families, and our mental health. Adding to that distemper were increased racial tensions, which reached heights not seen in the United States since 1968, as protestors and rioters filled the streets, demanding justice not only in particular cases of alleged police brutality, but in reference to the “institutional racism” that allegedly pervades American society. The final act of 2020 was one of the most bitterly contested elections in our nation’s history as Donald Trump and his supporters claimed the presidency was stolen from them by an unholy alliance of election officials, the Democratic Party, and Left-leaning legacy media, casting doubt (or trying to) on the legitimacy of a Joe Biden presidency.
All these events had serious effects on the Catholic Church and ordinary American Catholics. In response to the pandemic, many states and local jurisdictions enacted regulations that unfairly burdened religious institutions: Nevada’s capacity limits were harsher on churches than casinos, for example, while Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone successfully protested San Francisco’s draconian measures against places of worship. Meanwhile, “anti-racist” agitators turned their rage against the Church, desecrating statues of saints such as Junípero Serra and Thérèse of Lisieux, as well as statues of “white” Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and even defacing and torching church buildings. Conscientious Catholics wondered what truth there was to claims of “institutional racism” in the Church, and, if valid, what should be done about it.
The major events of concern to Catholics don’t end there. On January 20, 2021, the United States will have, in Joe Biden, its first Catholic president in more than half a century. The Democratic Party and the mainstream media exerted great effort in portraying Biden as a “devout Catholic” to the American electorate. There was an appreciable irony in this: They lauded Biden’s Catholic faith for its influence on various Left-leaning policies — such as immigration, health care, and, well, just common decency — while alternately assuring Left-leaning voters that Catholic teachings on abortion and family life would definitely not influence his platform. Roughly half of Catholic voters lent their support to “decent man” Joe Biden.
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