Monday, August 8, 2011

America’s Catholic Roots

Too many history books proclaim the beginning of modern America happened with the Pilgrim’s arriving on New England’s shores, but the truth is more Catholic and way before the Pilgrims came, as this article from Catholic Culture explains.

An excerpt.

“Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles has called upon Catholics to remember that the roots of America are “Hispanic-Catholic” as well as “Anglo-Protestant.”

“The story of the founding fathers and the truths they held to be self-evident is not the whole story about America,” he told participants at a conference sponsored by the Napa Institute. “The rest of the story starts more than a century before the pilgrims. It starts in the 1520s in Florida and in the 1540s here in California.”

“Long before the Boston Tea Party, Catholic missionaries were celebrating the holy Mass on the soil of this continent,” he continued. “Catholics founded America’s oldest settlement, in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Immigrant missionaries were naming this continent’s rivers and mountains and territories for saints, sacraments and articles of the faith.”

Archbishop Gomez added:

“When we forget our country’s roots in the Hispanic-Catholic mission to the new world, we end up with distorted ideas about our national identity. We end up with the idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited from our Anglo-Protestant forebears.

“When that has happened in the past it has led to those episodes in our history that we are least proud of — the mistreatment of Native Americans; slavery; the recurring outbreaks of nativism and anti-Catholicism; the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; the misadventures of “manifest destiny.”

“There are, of course, far more complicated causes behind these moments in our history. But at the root, I think we can see a common factor — a wrongheaded notion that “real Americans” are of some particular race, class, religion or ethnic background.”