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From ........ CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL
11. The lessons for [Roman] Catholics are several. For many decades in the first 175 years of the republic, [Roman] Catholics struggled against bitter religious discrimination. That began to dissipate only after the election of John XXIII as pope and John F. Kennedy as president, and the "opening to the world" which the Second Vatican Council initiated.
These events created many positive opportunities in American Catholic life. But [Roman] Catholics have paid a very high price for entry into the American mainstream.
12. The old Protestant dominance of American society has disappeared.
Unfortunately, the "culture of skepticism" which has replaced it is even less friendly to [Roman] Catholic faith. Today, the [Roman] Catholic hunger to "fit in" comfortably with American culture, to escape the ghetto separatism of the past, often masks the temptation to forget our religious identity.
Too frequently, [Roman] Catholics forget that they best live their duty of good citizenship by offering to the public a clear, vocal witness of their faith in Christ. We need to be a leaven of Gospel truth in civil society. Private beliefs which have no public consequences are little more than empty promises to God. As St. James wrote, 'faith without works is dead faith.' [James 2:17].
At the same time, however, we should remember that, as C.S. Lewis once observed, nations and civil structures don't have immortal souls - but persons do. Ultimately, saving souls is the task to which the Gospel calls us.
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