...fifty years of work by sociology professors has assured us of the assimilation of Catholics, and two hundred years of polished epigrams from Enlightenment-style philosophes have informed us that religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, belong to the childhood of mankind. [...]
And yet, the nation has need of something, which—almost by default—Catholicism is providing. This is Toqueville’s kind of thesis, of course, about the American experience, but it feels right. The United States has always required some source of moral imagination in the public square that does not derive from either the politics of democracy or the economics of capitalism. For a long time, the mainline Protestant churches remained that source, even though they were often as sprawling and as envenomed as American Catholicism now is. And when, for a number of fascinating reasons, those mainline churches collapsed, the nation was left with Catholicism.
See Mr. Bottum's article in The Weekly Standard for how this is playing out in the Alito Supreme Court nomination.
*Richard John Neuhaus fans will get the allusion, I trust.