If America were a fully Catholic country, here is what it might look like…

As Catholics, we believe the principle of Saint Thomas Aquinas that grace perfects, heals, and elevates nature. The Catholic Church is the divinely appointed institution that gives the grace of Christ to the world. The State is a natural institution for the natural well-being of human society. The Church, then, should perfect the State just as grace perfects nature. 
So then, what if we Catholics lived holy lives and lovingly evangelized as we should? What would the United States look like?

Americans, conditioned by our history, are very concerned about “our rights.” So before looking at what a Catholic America might look like, let us establish that all human rights are given to us by the Creator. As our Declaration of Independence rightly explains: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

Human rights, then, are not arbitrary but conform to what God has given and allowed. The right to life is one such right. Freedom of speech is a right, but it is limited so as to exclude blasphemy of God. God does not give us a “right” to acts which are contrary to His nature. He gives us a free will and we can sin with it, but He does not give us the protected “right” to sin. Nobody on Judgment Day will protest, “But I had the RIGHT to curse you and commit mortal sins!”

So then, God does not give us the “right” to curse Him, the “right” to kill innocents, nor the “right” to commit sodomy. The rights given by the Creator always conform to the law of the Creator. 

With all this mind, what if America were a fully Catholic country, here is what it might look like…
  • The newly elected president would recite his oath of office, not only with his hand on the Holy Bible, but kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance held by the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC. within the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. In other words, the President would make his oath directly to Christ.
  • January 21, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, would be a perennial day of national penance.
  • Holy Matrimony would be honored and recognized as the most fundamental unit of American culture.
  • Large families would be encouraged and assisted through the US tax code.
  • The White House would no longer have a basketball court or bowling alley, but a glorious and beautiful chapel where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would be celebrated daily by a presidential Catholic chaplain.
  • Abortion, contraception, sodomy, euthanasia, and divorce would be illegal as these sins are contrary to the natural law. Of course, abused wives would be protected and assisted under law.
  • Public blasphemy and the abuse of the most holy name of Jesus would be forbidden in film, television, and music. Think about it: why is not okay to say the F-word on TV but actors are allowed to mock and blaspheme Jesus? Which is worse, abusing God’s name in vain or the F-word?
  • The United States would have the greatest foster care system in the world. 
  • The Catholic Church, not the State, would organize and perform the Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy (feeding the poor, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, etc.)
  • US courtrooms would have both the Ten Commandments and a Crucifix of Christ on the wall to proclaim the Justice of God and the Divine Mercy of God.
  • All Holy Days of Obligation would become federal holidays and Days of Obligation would not be transferred to Sundays since they would become holidays for all citizens. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday would also become nationally recognized holidays.
  • According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the natural law prescribes that parents, not the State, are primarily responsible for the education of children. Saint Paul says: “And you, fathers…educate your children in the discipline and correction of the Lord.” It is the job of fathers, not the State, to educate. This truth of Saint Paul would be recognized by law and encouraged through homeschooling, educational co-ops, parochial schools, and locally governed public schools on the pattern of subsidiarity. 
  • Mary under her title “Immaculate Conception” is currently the patroness of the United States. She would become featured on our national seal and on our currency.
  • Streets, landmarks, parks, national monument, and our currency would be marked by the names and images of great American saints (St Elizabeth Anne Seton, St Katherine Drexel, St John Neumann, St Francesca S. Cabrini, St Rose Philippine Duchesne, St Damien of Molokai).
  • American foreign policy would conform to Catholic teaching regarding just war and prohibiting global policing and so-called “preventive wars.”
  • A cross would be placed on top of the Washington Monument.
  • The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception would be a day in which the American bishops and all the faithful annually consecrated the nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, the United States would become known for its Marian devotion in a way that would rival medieval France and England.
  • The principle of subsidiarity would apply to our economic and political arrangement – which would include things like the encouragement of local natural food, local water, local governance, etc.
  • The sin of usury in form of credit cards, school loans, and other disadvantaging lending policies would be criminalized as contrary to natural law.
  • Our immigration policy would be firm, merciful and just by including a clear and regularized process for citizenship.
  • Pornography and even unwholesome advertisements and billboards would be outlawed.
  • America would be known as a place where the dignity of women, especially motherhood, is celebrated.
  • The bishops nationally or locally could ask civil leaders to appoint certain days as days of national thanksgiving or as days of penance or mourning.
  • The clergy (but especially our archbishops and bishops) would not live like royalty in mansions as in previous years but would live penitent and poor lives like great bishops of old such as St Martin of Tours, St Francis de Sales, St Augustine, and St Bonaventure.
  • The meetings of the Senate and Congress would begin with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and with prayers and benedictions from the clergy.
  • Red Masses invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit would be celebrated regularly to beg prudence for  judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, and government officials.
  • Those of different religions would be tolerated and by no means forced to convert to Catholicism. Conversion, as the Popes have taught, is an act of the will and people should not be forced through political coercion.
This is what I’m praying for and this is what I’m working for. Not by force, but by patience, penance, and kindness. As Saint Paul wrote:
Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
It’s not enough to be on defense. It’s not enough to “fix” the HHS debacle. It’s not even enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. We have to be like the early Christians. We have to think like Saint Paul who wanted to convert not only individual souls but the entire Roman Empire. As the Apostle once wrote: “To re-establish all things in Christ!” (Eph1:10), which much later became the motto of Pope Saint Pius X: Instaurare omnia in Christo!

Addressing Some Objections:


1) This sounds medieval? Why go back? 
Well, it’s not nostalgia for the past. In fact, it is looking to the future. It’s a desire to see Christ the King recognized for what He truly is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” To think that a nation can be “not religious” is perhaps a case of modern naiveté. 
2) How is this different than Sharia Law of the Mohammadans? 
The difference is that the Church is distinct from the State. Islam does not have a concept of Church, but only the State. Moreover, Catholicism is the true religion and is most suited human flourishing. Islam is a false religion which does not embrace human dignity or recognize the goal of humanity in the Beatific Vision. Since Islam is based on a “master/slave” arrangement and not a “father/son” arrangement, it is politically dangerous and threatens the dignity of persons.
3) But what about separation of Church and State?
We must also affirm the public teaching of Pope Blessed Pius IX who condemned the separation of the Church from the State.  Pope Blessed Pius IX taught that the following statement as an error and contrary to the Catholic Faith:

CONDEMNED: “The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.” Syllabus of Errors, 55.

In other words, Catholics can not and should not believe in the so-called “separation of Church and State.” This would be like believing in the separation of grace and nature…or worse in the separation of Christ’s divine nature from His human nature. As Catholics, we long to see nature perfected by grace, not separated from grace.

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  • Becky

    Great article. I would LOVE to live in a Catholic country. If one existed I would jump ship right away.

  • Tom

    I see the State and I see an institution with a legal monopoly on the use of force. Does Aquinas or anyone else explain its necessity?
    There have been examples in history (pre-Norman Ireland, midieval Iceland) where a country’s residents were not bound to one geographically determined “state”, but rather had various states/chieftains compete for the residents’ “business”.

    • Tony

      I like this idea..and concur with your view of the State as essentially just a blunt instrument of force.

  • Regina

    Nothing is impossible with God. May this new America be in our future.

  • Tony

    WOW!!! Is this a great article and a phenomenal vision!! Every one of these ideas is wonderful.

    If I were ever elect President, the first thing I would want do is kneel before the Archbishop of Washington during Mass at the National Shrine, kiss his ring as a demonstration of my obedience to Christ and His Church, be blessed and formally inaugurated by him (*not* some federal judge) just to show that ALL earthly power derives from & is dependent upon God–not Caesar.

    Also, you noted elsewhere that Commonweal Magazine didn’t like this article. HA!! That’s a sure sign you’re on the right track. That ridiculous rag was on the racks of my HS library, and as a student I used to read it totally aghast at the avalanche of social-gospel stupidity emanating from its pages.

    • Teeno

      This will take place when God brings down the new heaven and the new earth, when swords will be made into plowshares, when a child will play with an asp, or the sheep will browse with the lion. I pray this takes place soon. However, to build a new house, one has to tear down the old. That is what, I believe, God will do, not only to America but to the whole world. And the signs are there!

  • Theodore Harvey

    As long as we’re fantasizing, why not do away with the Presidency entirely and establish a Catholic Monarchy, a vastly superior form of government? I nominate Archduke Imre of Austria-Hungary, a great-grandson of Blessed Emperor Karl, who married American Kathleen Walker in Washington DC in September 2012. (I’m an Anglican but since I don’t believe in Religious Liberty would willingly convert to Catholicism if ordered or encouraged to do so by a Catholic Monarch.)

    • Taylor

      That’s actually a great idea. I was wondering if there was someone who would be a good candidate to be a monarch in America. Blessed Karl of Austria pray for us! Viva Christo Rey!

  • E. Higgins

    NEVER HAPPEN !! Catholic Church is apostate religion and dogmatic and to ritualistic.

    • Teeno

      To an ignorant, may be. But to those who know his bible and his history, the Roman Catholic Church is the foundation and pillar of truth.

  • jt4

    As a fellow Texan, how about an independent Texas? America has to pay for its 57 million abortions. Texas is ending abortion as only a handful of abortion clinics remain open. God blessed Texas and we pray He blesses her again.

  • Essa

    I’ve got another one to add to the list: Americans would know that Christmas lasts for a couple of weeks and not just one day. :)

  • MariaGo

    I’m from the Philippines, amongst the most Catholic countries in the world and we arent doing many of the things you describe here.

    There are some that we have though. Maudy Thursday-Black Saturday are pulic holidays. Bishops and priests are present during Presidenial inagurations. Freedom of religion is respected; abortion, euthanasia, divorce and same-sex marriage are illegal. (Praying they stay illegal – Planned Parenthood International has been trying to influence himan rights organizations)

    Our Supreme Court recently nullified the compulsory and penalizing provisions of a Reproductive Health law providing contraception.

    We have laws against insulting other religion particularly in Churches, religious events etc.

    As a law student, what I find most interesting is that separation of Church and State is contrary to the Catholic faith? I understand that it started as a reaction to abuses by Spanish religious colonial powers. But does that make it necessarily wrong? Didnt Jesus say give unto Ceasar what is Ceasars. As long as the laws do not violate our faith, shouldn’t we obey them. I understand that this is a more delicate issue in the US because of your HHS mandate. I am not about to dispute what the Pope said I just never heard it before. And as a future lawyer, how can I avoid violating my faith when I’ll inevitably have to support this separation to a certain degree? I better read up on this.

  • Kinapari

    I’m Catholic and thank heaven we do not have a theocracy in the US, which is the reason why we found safe heaven here in Maryland in the early days. There are good theological grounds on which reasonable Catholics can disagree with you about each one of your positions. -Peace

  • Andrew of MO

    And…another person who makes me grateful I am no longer Catholic. This vision of Catholic America was in fact tried in the modern world, and Ireland is STILL trying to clean up from that debacle.

    And seriously, Mohammadans? REALLY?

  • cneal

    If America were a “fully Catholic country,” wouldn’t it look more like one of those other Catholic nations? As in, Argentina, the Philippines (as one comment noted), Ireland (another comment), or, perhaps more literally and accurately, the house of horrors that was 17th century France?

    The fact is, much of what is good about America come not from Catholicism but from traditional Protestantism. Our rights and liberties are based on ideas of decentralization that come from congregational forms of polity–something that will always be at least somewhat anathema to Catholicism. Our tradition of literacy and education (whatever shambles it may be in now) is based on sola Scriptura and the idea that every human being ought to be able to read the Bible for himself, not have it mediated through a priest. Our idea of the value of the individual comes from the idea that you will someday stand alone before God and be judged according to the relationship you have not with a corporate body in this world, but with Christ alone.
    Of course, you’re right to point out that being rooted in Protestant ideas means we get the bad as well–extreme individualism, lack of respect for tradition and authority, and a morality that is as varied as there are individual consciences (to name just a very few). But these bad aspects are inseparable from the good–and if we have seen the good being pursued in recent years by traditionally Catholic nations, it’s because they have seen them work well here, not because they are inherent outgrowths of Catholic doctrine. They want the worldly benefits of Protestant doctrine without the spiritual foundations, which will put them exactly where America is now–we want to keep the freedoms we enjoy without the worldview that traditionally shaped and grounded them.