am i a catholic american or an american catholic?

my father always put out the american flag out. now i use that same flag on the same civic holidays.

when i was a kid on memorial day, i used to help dad sell the VFW’s buddy poppies on the corner of fourth and pine sts. downtown.

at emerson elementary, i learned the pledge of allegiance like all the other kids.

i used to watch john wayne in WWII movies kicking ass as a US soldier.

i applaud the veterans that stand up at seahawk games during intermission.

all of these actions helped shape me to be a good citizen of these united states of america. they reminded me where i live and the expected patriotism of me.

this week, after the mob attack on the capitol building in DC, i heard chuck shumer of NY say, “this temple to democracy has been desecrated.” indeed, american civil religion is alive and kicking. all groups want their members’ dedication, devotion, and commitment whether it is the church or a country the masons or military.

coopting religious imagery is not new. in comparing catholic symbolism with american civil religion: st. peters in rome = the white house ; the holy land = washington dc; marian statues = the washington monument and lincoln memorial; the cardinals = senators; the bible/catechism = the US constitution; the martyrs = those killed in US wars; all souls day = memorial day; the feast of the last supper = thanksgiving; etc…

am i a catholic american or an american catholic? who am i as subject; what is my adjective?

i do not think there is another country that i would rather live in; but to worship being an american over being a son of God as a catholic would be idolatrous; God is greater than any one country. i am a christian first; an american second— i live as a citizen in the USA as a catholic.

we hear the connection of being a citizen of the usa and a christian in the pledge of allegiance: “one nation under God…” indeed, i believe in liberty and justice for all. but my understanding of freedom and justice primarily come from my faith in God not my country. love is the origin and goal of my being.

the separation of church and state is for the church’s sake. patriotism can be very powerful for many people; religion can be co-opted for the benefit of the state. we can readily see how some of our evangelical brothers and sisters have fallen into this trap. catholics as well…

we continue to pray for our country in this time of transition of civic representation and leadership. we pray that the Spirit guide and lead all christians in our primary baptismal call to love, to help realize the Kingdom of God and to do God’s will.


  1. Well said, Fr. Art! Amen!


  2. Jose Sanchez says:

    I second that!


  3. Nora says:




    Liked by 1 person

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