(NCRegister) - Fifty years ago — 10 years ago and, to some extent, even today — many Southerners regarded Catholics as unsaved and Catholicism as a non-Christian mystery religion.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The news stories keep coming in, one after another, reporting the same thing. The names and places are different, but the gist is the same. Catholicism is moving to the Southland of Dixie, and when it does, two phenomena happen. First, it takes on a staunchly conservative, orthodox and evangelistic character. Second, people in the South (mostly Baptists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals) are for the most part accepting and hospitable. The reasons for this are explained in the article above, and I really don't think I could do a better job re-explaining them. So instead I will expand upon the article.
But that day, everyone at the station greeted and welcomed the sisters. One woman even asked the nuns to pray for her injured nephew.
This acceptance marks a sea change in the Southern Baptist and evangelical Protestant-dominated South, where Catholics make up less than 10% of the population, compared with double-digit percentages in most northern states.
The Diocese of Charlotte, where the seminary will be located, is a prime example of Catholicism’s explosive growth in the South. Formed in 1972, the diocese had an initial 11,200 registered Catholic families.
By 2010, there were more than 63,000 registered families and an estimated 291,000 unregistered Catholics, including many of Hispanic origin. This brings the total Catholic population up from just 1.3% in 1972 to 9.7% today.
Much of the growth comes from immigration: northern Catholics following technology jobs southward and Catholics arriving from Spanish-speaking countries. But Catholics from the north can’t expect to find the pockets of cultural Catholicism typical of the ethnic enclaves of big cities, and Hispanic Catholics won’t find a village whose rhythm revolves around feast days.
Within hours of their arrival in the South, newcomers will be welcomed heartily by their Protestant neighbors — and invited to their church services.
“In such an environment,” wrote Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, S.C., in his website welcome to parishioners, “those who are casual cultural and cafeteria Catholics quickly become either ex-Catholics or evangelical Catholics, and that is paradoxically one of the reasons why our congregation and many other Southern parishes are flourishing: The unique challenge for Catholics seeking to live their Christian faith in the South leaves no room for spiritual mediocrity, doctrinal confusion, uncertain commitments or a lukewarm interior life.”
He is so fervent in this belief that he has composed what he calls the “Principles of Evangelical Catholicism.” In them, he promotes the ideas that “being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction” and that “all the baptized are sent in the Great Commission to be witnesses of Christ to others and must be equipped by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and deed.”
read full story here
I am going to say that right now North American Catholicism NEEDS the South, and in turn, the South NEEDS Catholicism. Here is why...
North American Catholicism needs the South (Dixie) because the strong Evangelical character of the South has two effects on Catholicism. First, it weeds out the chaff. Nominal Catholics are quickly picked off and proselytised into Evangelical churches. Second, it strengthens the strong, like iron sharpens iron, it makes good Catholics better Catholics, and in turn gives them a strong Evangelistic character. This vibrant, and staunchly orthodox, Catholicism in turn brings in converts, as Evangelicals become attracted to REAL CATHOLICISM, the way the Church was meant to be, not the watered-down liberal Catholicism that is so common in the North and West. North American Catholicism is in sore need of this. As liberal Catholicism breaks down in the North, and enclaves into little more than a cultural expression in the West; a vibrant orthodoxy meshed with aggressive evangelism, is a form of Catholicism North America hasn't seen in some 400 years! It has been sorely missed, and desperately needed.
In turn, Dixie needs Catholicism because of the outright cultural genocide that has taken place in the South ever since the Civil War. The Antebellum (pre-Civil-War) period, 1820's to 1850's, was the height of a European cultural renaissance in Dixie. The culture that developed during this era was staunchly Christian and moving toward a return to Christendom. This is an aspect of Antebellum Dixie that is often glossed over in the history books, as the slavery issue took centre stage in the years leading up to the Civil War. However, the Civil War was not a "civil war" in the classical sense, but rather a Civilisation War, as the culture that developed in the Northern states was entirely different; puritanical, industrialised, modernist, and Masonic -- a total product of the Enlightenment Age. The North and South had nothing in common at the time of the War, which tended to make the War even more savage and absolute. Of course, the period of occupation that followed the War (Reconstruction) further served to eradicate Dixie's culture, followed by decade after decade of federal policies designed to "remake" Dixie into the image of the North. The latest and final insult is twofold. First, liberal modernists have staged efforts throughout the South to ban all Southern symbols (especially the Confederate Battle Flag) as "racist" symbols of "hatred" and "intolerance." Of course this is completely untrue, as racists use all symbols that are convenient (including the American flag). All throughout the South, patriots have locked horns with liberals in a life or death legal battle that threatens the existence of all Dixie monuments, statues, artwork and flags. It is nothing short of a final effort by liberal modernists to wipe out what little there is left of Dixie's cultural heritage. Second, the United States federal government has adopted a policy of zero enforcement of the Union's immigration laws. While this most profoundly effects Southwestern states, which have been overrun by Latino immigrants (both legal and illegal), it has a growing effect on Southeastern states (Dixie) as well. Whether cultural elimination is the intent of this policy or not, that is exactly how it is being interpreted by the people of Dixie who have already suffered 150 years of cultural genocide at the hands of the federal government and Northern opportunists. Latino immigrants to Dixie bring with them Latino culture, which tends to replace Dixie culture in some places, but thankfully some of them are integrating and assimilating into Dixie culture at a much greater rate than in the West. So this type of immigration-assault on Dixie's culture has been only nominally successful for the time being, but Southerners (Dixians) worry how long they will be able to hold off this rising tide, especially with all the other assaults that continue on every front. So why does Dixie need Catholicism? Particularly Anglicised (English-style) Catholicism? Because the charm of Antebellum Southern culture was based on a dominant religion in Dixie's upper class prior to the War. That dominant culture was "high church" Episcopalianism (Anglicanism).
That's right, the dominant cultural religion in the South was not just Episcopalianism (Anglicanism), but "high church" Episcopalianism, or what eventually came to be called "Anglo-Catholicism." Virtually all of the South's major Civil War heroes were Episcopalians, from Jefferson Davis to Robert E. Lee. Not only were they just ordinary Episcopalians, but "high church" Episcopalians at that. The "high church" Episcopalian movement began in the United States between 1790 to 1820. It was an attempt by American Episcopalians to recover much of what had been lost from English Christianity after the Reformation period. This included the recovery of liturgy, vestments and sacraments. Granted, there wasn't necessarily much theological development behind these things initially. It was simply an attempt to get in touch with one's ancient Christian roots, and this accompanied the return of Romanesque architecture in the Old South. There was a general desire to distinguish American Anglicanism from British Anglicanism, especially after the American War for Independence and the War of 1812. This movement took deeper root in the South and was generally embraced by Irish immigrants and French colonists who were absorbed by the Louisiana Purchase. Gradually the dominant culture of the South began to reflect the liturgical religion of the South's higher class. It wasn't until later, during the middle 19th century, that the Church of England began to imitate the American "high church" movement in what eventually came to be called the Oxford Movement. The English contributed more to the intellectual side of Anglo-Catholicism, forming a deeper sacramental theology and ecumenical aspirations. Granted, Dixie wasn't totally Episcopalian. There has always been plenty of Baptists, Methodists and other Protestants. There has also always been a good smattering of Catholics too, especially in Louisiana, Florida and Richmond Virginia. Though this Catholic sub-culture had a tendency to compliment and augment the Episcopalian upper culture, as many Southern Episcopalians frequently sent their children to Catholic parochial schools.
During the 20th century, the influence of Episcopalianism over upper American culture began to wane. This was only in part because of the cultural genocide of the South. Other Protestant denominations (particularly the Baptists) gained dominance mainly due to the appeal of a simple and personable religion in the war-torn South. Elsewhere in the Union, an influx of German and Swedish immigrants gave rise to American Lutheranism, and in other places, the Pentecostal movement caused a large demographic shift from traditional Protestantism over to Pentecostal churches. However, the largest reason for the fall of Episcopalianism (and many other mainline Protestant denominations) was the rising influence of liberal modernism in the middle to late 20th century. As Protestant denominations became more liberal, congregations voted with their feet, and simply moved over to the more conservative Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations. Of all the mainline Protestant denominations embracing liberalism, it seemed The Episcopal Church was leading the charge. This trend of course was extremely distasteful to Southerners which explains why The Episcopal Church in the South ceased to grow with the Southern population. The "high church" Episcopalian culture of Dixie today is but a shell of what it had once been.
As I've pointed out many times on this blog, the word culture derives from the Latin word cultus meaning "religion." Culture is really nothing more or less than the way a religion interacts with various people in the places they live; affecting their arts, language, customs and manners. Case in point; nobody can argue with the fact that the Hindu culture of India is radically different from the Shinto culture of Japan. They are both essentially pagan cultures, but the form of paganism is different, and the people are different too, not to mention the geography and history. So these two pagan religions created to entirely different cultures. Almost nothing about them is the same, other than the fact that they worship many gods. Now let's look at two monotheistic religions -- Christianity and Islam. The differences are rather obvious, but even in the Middle East, where Christianity takes on a strikingly Arab form, there are still easily detectable differences between the culture of the Christians verses the culture of the Muslims. Now let's compare the differences in culture within a form of Christianity -- Catholicism. Nobody can argue with the fact that Catholic culture in Ireland is radically different from the Catholic culture in Mexico. How can this be? It's the exact same religion! The doctrines are identical. The beliefs are identical. The Catechism (teaching book) is the same, the hierarchy is the same, the sacraments are the same. They even have the same leader -- the pope! It's the exact same Church for heaven's sake! Yet, nobody can deny that Irish Catholics are different from Mexican Catholics. It's as plain as day. The music is different. The language is different. The customs and traditions are different. What's the deal? How is it, that a Southern Baptist from Dixie will find a much more kindred spirit with an Irish Catholic than with a Mexican Catholic -- even if the Mexican Catholic speaks perfect English! Again, it all comes back to culture. While the doctrines and sacraments of Catholicism are the same, wherever you go around the world, the Catholic Church teaches their missionaries to redeem the people and sanctify their cultures. It does not teach them to change their cultures into an exact clone of what you might find in Rome Italy. In other words, the Catholic Church recognises that people are different, and religion needs to work with them in a complementary way. So when Catholicism reached Mexico, it eventually adopted many Native American characteristics. These later became manifested in the arts and customs of the people. Meanwhile, when St. Patrick evangelised Ireland about a thousand years prior, he did the same thing, embracing the Irish people and adopting many Irish characteristics. These later became manifested in the arts and customs of the people. The same was true with St. Augustine of Canterbury when he evangelised England, and St. Regulus when he evangelised Scotland with the bones of St. Andrew the apostle. Of course, all of these men were evangelising the same British Isles. While the people of these various regions in the islands were different, they nevertheless possessed some very common features. Catholicism flourished in the British Isles for a thousand years, sharing the cultures of each region with the other, in what later became a nearly fluid super-culture in what eventually came to be called "Anglo-Celtic."
The history of the Protestant Refomation is complex, but in spite of the doctrinal split that occurred between Catholics and Protestants, it was the Anglo-Celtic culture that primarily settled the American Southeast (Dixie). In time it was only natural for many of these Anglo-Celtic people within The Episcopal Church to resurrect their Anglo-Catholic religion in the "high church" movement of the 1790s through 1820s. It is simply a tragic fate of history that this return to British-style Christendom was lost by the outbreak of a catastrophic war, followed by decades of occupation and a century and a half of repression. The whole affair can be described as nothing less than apocalyptic. A great civilisation was cut down in its youth only to be slowly exterminated over the course of 150 years. The Southern people of today have nearly forgotten who they were, and can scarcely imagine what they might have become.
Yet here in the early decades of the 21st century, a new beginning has emerged. This time, as Catholicism finds its way back into the South, through various different means, it is encountering a competitive force (Bible Belt Evangelicalism) that serves to purify it and strengthen it. The result is massive growth, at a rate that dwarfs the rest of North America and South America too. (It is only surpassed by Catholic growth in Africa and Asia.) However, just as saints Patrick, Augustine and Regulus embraced the cultures of the British Isles to sanctify them in the name of the Holy Trinity, so the Catholicism of the South today is embracing the culture of Dixie, and there she is finding a familiar face. The remnants of the Old South, though terribly weakened, still exist in some forms, and those remnants come from the influence of "high church" Episcopalianism nearly two centuries ago -- an Anglo-Celtic movement that sought to restore what had been lost of their Anglo-Catholic heritage. Herein we find old hymns of our Southern fathers, and the mannerisms of a people who recognised the dignity of their faith and virtues. The South of tomorrow may look a lot more Catholic than the South of yesterday, but the South of yesterday was learning how to look more "catholic" anyway, even if it was within a Protestant context. I see in the Southern Catholicism of today a yearning toward a return to Christendom, and this is nothing less than what Southern Episcopalianism yearned for nearly two centuries ago. It is a common cause, and though the religious brand may be different, the goal is the same. The rise of Catholicism in the South will bring about the rebirth of Southern culture. It's inevitable because that is the nature of Catholicism. Find a people with their established culture, sanctify them, and then help them both flourish. It is the Catholic way. Southern patriots who want to see the rebirth of Dixie as a great and dignified civilisation should not only welcome the arrival of Catholicism, but join with it, for in doing so, they will only accelerate the rebirth of our Antebellum culture (old Dixie). Deo Vindice!