Faith Not Ideology

Hierarchical Catholicism in the United States does not always seem comfortable with Gaudium et Spes because it is a document that is not about power and authority but about salvation and liberation. The assonance between Gaudium et Spes and Pope Francis is not accidental. There is surely a problem of conflating faith with conservative ideology, but it is also more generally a problem of reception of the ecclesiology of Vatican II.

Massimo Faggioli, Catholicism & Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017), p. 114. ISBN: 978-0-8146-8426-8.

This quote comes from the fifth chapter of Faggioli’s book, a chapter entitled “An Interrupted Reception of Gaudium et Spes: The Church and the Modern World in American Catholicism”, and which, having read it, provides me with a greater understanding of why I have always considered the American iteration of the Catholic Church to be somewhat ‘different’ to much of the rest of the world.

Faggioli, though now teaching in the United States, is, as the name suggests, originally from Italy, and brings to his writing a particularly European understanding of many themes that impact on a contemporary ecclesiology. His fifth chapter in this book highlights the way in which Catholicism in the United States has, for many reasons, become a Catholic Americanism, and it is this subtle difference that makes the American iteration of Catholicism so prevalent to the ideological and cultural divide.

This fifth chapter alone makes this whole book worth reading.