The United States and the Catholic Church share some intriguing similarities: both are global in reach, exert significant influence over hundreds of millions of people, and (perhaps most interestingly) make serious teleological claims. Such claims have not necessarily clashed, for they appeal to different social and moral aspects of humanity. At their best, they can be complementary empires of promise.
On February 11,comedian Stephen Colbert asked historian Garry Wills if he was in favor of the next pope being not John Paul III or Benedict XVII but “Nobody the First.” Wills smiled and said, “Ah, very good idea.”
For some Catholics, this idea is more than a joke.
The White House’s novel online system for allowing citizens to petition the administration on any number of causes has led to such efforts as these: petitions to secede from the U.S.; a petition for Vice President Joe Biden to star in a reality show; and a petition for the government to disclose its secret archives on extraterrestrials.
John F. Kennedy's famous
Houston speech on church and state during
the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum
misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about
limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he
is right to find the speech theologically lame.
Candidate John F. Kennedy: If
the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely
possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or
violate the national interest, then I would resign the office.
In his apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (1994), Pope John Paul II called upon Roman Catholics to prepare for the new millennium through an examination of conscience, an honest review of how Catholic Christians have betrayed the gospel and have caused harm even when acting in the name of Jesus Christ.