Catholics in the 1950’s and 1960’s made a monumental, catastrophic blunder. They failed to heed the admonition to “be IN the world, but not OF the world.”
Historically, America has been a relatively hostile place to Catholicism. Catholics were expected to stay in their own neighborhoods and not disturb the WASPs who really ran American civil society. In those days, we were in many ways prevented from being IN the world at large and it chafed.
After WWII, many of the anti-Catholic barriers came down and catholics joined the mainstream of American life. In the exuberance of this opportunity, we forgot to be discerning, we forgot to refrain from becoming OF American culture first rather than catholics first. We didn’t raise our kids to guard themselves, to have filters that could catch and reject the harmful aspects of American culture. Kids grew up unaware of the unhealthy and immoral influences they imbibed from TV, public schools, peers and the general culture. Catholic cultural identity evaporated almost overnight and catholics somehow deluded themselves into thinking that mass one day a week and perhaps a CCDD class once a week for their kids would be enough to hold off the onslaught of 24/7 American culture. It’s not. Not remotely enough.
This is why we need to rebuild catholic culture in America. Authentically catholic schools (the whole curriculum and culture, not just a religion class tacked on), youth organizations, devotional societies, services clubs, fraternal organizations. These are crucial NOT so that we can avoid living IN the world (we all have jobs and neighborhoods, after all), but so that we can do so without becoming OF the world.
Beyond the USA, western civilization has fallen for a nefarious philosophy that says that humans are by nature good and that evil only enters via external influences (I’m a VICTIM!). Thus, it becomes easy to look at the horrors of history and blame religion for it rather than look deeper to find that those same flaws lie within us all. Scapegoats have always been a nice way to avoid unpleasant truths. It’s Christianity’s turn in the hot seat of history. Finding somebody else to blame is always nicer than admitting our own flaws (sins). It’s a fad that will burn out eventually. Scapegoaters always go overboard and discredit themselves in the long run. Guys like Dan Brown that make up absurd “facts” and publicize them will become more common before they collapse under the weight of their absurdity.