Catholicism was originally founded between the years 27 AD- 36 AD. At this time there was no other Christian denominations. If you believed in Christ, you were simply a Catholic. Deriving from the Greek word katholikos, the definition of Catholic is “universal.” This held true until 1054 AD when the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church split due to the fall of the Roman Empire. Additionally, there was many differences separating the Eastern and Western Christians. Once again in 1517, Martin Luther write an article criticizing Catholicism, leading to the Reformation which ended in the creation of Protestantism.
As a result to all the dividing, we have Christianity as we know it today-many denominations and varying practices. However, all warped and taken from Catholicism. This raises many questions considering the fact that all Christians practice very similar beliefs, yet Catholics are the largest group facing religious persecution. With the Catholic Church constantly under fire and being demonized, these critizations and persecutions still hold firmly even today. But if all Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholics are Christian, then why is prejudice against Catholicism a great issue?
My proposal is that Catholics are wrongly portrayed and demonized in U.S. society. This should not be happening, especially considering that America is supposed to be tolerant and diverse. This should be studied because it has a major impact on political views, ideas of bigotry, and false accusations leading to the destruction of relationships among Americans. In addition to these, Catholics and other Christians are battling some of the worst persecution in Middle Eastern countries that they have in decades. This includes burning churches, houses, cars, and committing horrendous acts such as murder and robbery.
However this is rarely, if ever discussed, because many Americans are solely concerned with issues in America. Stated above is important to mention because it has effects on American Catholics and churches. These issues can range from giving up resources to support those in these conditions, offering housing to people suffering at the hands of arsonists, and requiring more money to be collected from church-goers to aid the financially unprivileged. Of course, as a Catholic-Christian this is expected even when affecting other religious groups such as displaced Muslim Americans. However, it creates problems when dividing money among the dioceses because American churches also must suffer.
I would like to do research specifically over why and when this propaganda started as it clearly has many consequences. More specifically, I would like to find out why this is still a problem to this day. I also would like to discuss what are some common misconceptions and lies spread about the faith and people of it. In order to do this research, I am going to use my own knowledge about the religion along with the aid of books, articles, and other sites containing anti-Catholic views that may help in leading to answers pertaining to my questions.
The first question that must be answered to even begin digging into the details is when did this start? Studying the time of when everything began to fall apart is key in getting other answers because I can explore possible reasons as to why it began in the first place. The first time that this became such a huge deal was in 1536 when Henry VIII crowned himself head of the church. However, he did everything a Catholic is not supposed to do.
His first act was to pass his own divorce, which is very taboo in the Catholic religion. Again ignoring the basic morals of a Catholic, he closed monasteries and robbed them. Anyone would understandably be furiated. Similarly, we as Americans have done this to Muslims after the attack on the Twin Towers. Responsively, many are speaking up and defending Muslims. Besides, one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. On the other hand, Catholics are still being persecuted, lied about, and threatened yet no one is defending them or speaking up. Why is this so after hundreds of years?
Another time in history that caused a huge uproar was in 776 AD when the Roman Empire fell. Catholics were blamed for it and were called dark, swindlers, and prisoners. Those attacking Catholics found it easiest to come after members such as: monks, nuns, and clergy, rather than those in authority. Because of the divide between the Eastern and Western Christians, blaming Catholics for the fall was incredibly easy and even believable.
Let us take a look at yet another issue we can relate to America today. Between 1840-1924, over 30 million Irish, Polish, and Sicily Catholics moved to America. They tried to assimilate, but were blamed for the country’s financial issues and lack of jobs. Similarly, when Mexicans move to America in 2018, they are called rapists, murderers, and drug dealers. These Mexicans are stripped of their humanity and accused of stealing jobs. At the border, they are robbed of a very important second-class relic: the Rosary. This is not only a prayer, but a sign of hope for many. This is just one more way that Catholic immigrants are dehumanized and disregarded.
Many may claim that this anti-Catholic agenda stopped when president John F. Kennedy was elected into office, but this simply is not true. From stealing Rosaries from immigrants to the extreme backlash and false reports after the recent report of sexual harassment in the church, anyone can see that this anti-Catholic propaganda is far from over.
Clearly, there have been many small reasons why some disinformation has come to be. However, this does not consider why it has lasted so long, why it is so violent, or why it continues. I am hoping that through my research I can answer these questions and make sense of the false accusations that still exist today.