Alexis de Tocqueville on Roman Catholicism and the United States well before Bryan and the Jasons:
At the present time, more than in any previous age, we find Catholics turning into unbelievers and Protestants turning Catholic. Catholicism seen from the inside seems to be losing, but seen from the outside, to be gaining. There is a reason for this.
Our contemporaries are naturally little disposed to belief, but once they accept religion at all, there is a hidden instinct within them which unconsciously urges them toward Catholicsm. Many of the doctrines and customs of the Roman Chuch astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its extraordinary unity attracts them.
If Catholicism could ultimately escape from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I am almost certain that that same spirit of the age which now seems so contrary to it would turn into a powerful ally and it would suddenly make great conquests.
George Will on Pope Francis:
Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission.
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.
I know lots of apologists are upset with Will. But when you think how archly conservative the papacy was at the time of the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and how much the bishops at Vatican 2 wanted to open up the church to the modern world, Will has a point. Maybe Pope Francis is right about modernity. But that’s not what Vatican 2 set out to do.