Cardinal George warns US secularization is more serious than elections

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Cardinal Francis George at the Centennial Symposium for Our Sunday Visitor. Credit: OSV.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has said that the“secularizing” of American culture is a “much larger issue” than politicalcauses or the outcome of the presidential elections, warning against a rise ofanti-religious sentiment and restating his fears of a future persecution in theUnited States.

“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemedit inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only historythat finally matters,” Cardinal George said in his Oct. 21 column for theCatholic New World.

He said the 2012 political campaigns have brought to thesurface “anti-religious sentiment, much of it explicitly anti-Catholic, thathas been growing in this country for several decades.” Secularism, he said, isjust “communism’s better-scrubbed bedfellow.”

Cardinal George also touched on reports that he believesa successor of his will be martyred. Those stories came from his remarks to agroup of priests several years ago.

“I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to diein bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr inthe public square,” the cardinal wrote.

However, he said the reports left out his last phraseabout the bishop who succeeds a possible martyr: “His successor will pick upthe shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Churchhas done so often in human history.”

The cardinal said he was trying to express “in overlydramatic fashion” what the “complete secularization” of society could bring.

“What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force peopleto think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison bothprivate and public discourse.”

Cardinal George said his predecessor Cardinal GeorgeMundelein acted similarly in his 1937 criticisms of Adolph Hitler, whose Nazigovernment had dissolved Catholic youth groups, silenced the German bishops inthe media and tried to discredit the Church’s work through putting on trialpriests, 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.” AmericanCatholics’ 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 JohnLennon song “Imagine,” which imagines a world without religion.

“We don’t have to imagine such a world; the 20th centuryhas given us horrific examples of such worlds,” he said. He denounced theviolence of “the nation state gone bad” which claims an absolute power todecide 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 andrescued history.”

“Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, nomatter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie abouthim and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they arebringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing thechanges on the old human story of sin and oppression,” the cardinal concluded.

He encouraged Catholics to pray the Rosary in October sothat the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen the bishops at the Synod for theNew Evangelization presently gathered at the Vatican.

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