It was the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. who called anti-Catholicism, “the last acceptable prejudice.” Whispers of that prejudice were heard in the halls of the Senate recently when Trump 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett was being questioned by Democratic senators.
Barrett is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. Twenty years ago, as a third year law student, she wrote a piece about how a Catholic judge might act when considering a capital punishment case. This was the evidence Dianne Feinstein of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and others used to question Barrett’s ability to make judgments free of the confines of her Catholic faith.
Feinstein said to Barrett, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Yes, you read that correctly. Feinstein actually said that. The dogma lives loudly within you. Sounds like Senator Feinstein is concerned that the dogma that lives in Barrett reveals her as one sympathetic to Lord Vader and the dark side!
Dick Durbin, who doubtless fancies himself a Catholic of the progressive bent, having abandoned his pro-life principles long ago, questioned Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic” in one of her articles as a possible attack on those who don’t toe the Catholic line on matters such as abortion and capital punishment, even suggesting that the term targeted Catholics who support Pope Francis. Durbin asked Barrett point blank, “Are you an orthodox Catholic?” Barrett, who should have told Durbin that it was none of his damn business, felt obliged to declare her admiration for the pope.
This was not the first time politicians questioned the ability of Catholics to serve on our courts with objectivity. When Clarence Thomas was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to serve on the Supreme Court, then-governor of Virginia, Douglas Wilder, after hearing that Thomas was a devout Catholic, said, “The question is, ‘How much allegiance is there to the Pope?'” Wilder later offered one of those, “If they’re offended, I’m sorry…” non-apologies. (The funny thing is, at the time, Thomas was a former Catholic, having joined the Episcopal Church some time before. He later returned to his Catholic faith).
It was left to Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) to remind the senators that the United States does not have religious litmus tests for public servants.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.