Catholic Moments in American History

Father Koys treated us to a delightful PowerPoint presentation, complete with movie clips, to discuss Catholic themes throughout American history. Among other things, he touched on important aspects of our culture generally, including a distinctively Catholic worldview that partly inspired the principles on which our nation was founded. Among his many observations, Father Koys pointed out that, as an example of Papal disappointment with corrupt monarchs, the American Revolution was in a sense a form of ex-communication and an opportunity to start over with a proper regard for the divine and individual freedoms. Further, Father Koys quoted G.K Chesterton, noting that the concept of popular voting is sort of a “communion of saints.” G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” In addition, referring to President Lincoln’s debates with Stephen Douglas over the issue of slavery as Lincoln’s “Catholic moment,” Father Koys noted that Lincoln’s appeal to natural law as moral authority for ending the abhorrent practice was decidedly Catholic in that his argument recognized the personhood and thus the dignity of every human being. Father Koys also contrasted certain Catholic moments in history with seemingly Protestant-inspired events or trends, such as the taking of land from Native Americans and attempts at scripture-only conversion, and the taking of land from Mexico with the questionable authority of the divine right of kings. Referencing the book of Samuel, Father Koys also illustrated how people continued to desire a human, earthly king because they rejected God as their ultimate king. Even amidst Samuel’s warnings, they remained stubborn, insisting they have a king “like other nations.”