I loved this book so much that, instead of reviewing it, I'm going to put some choice excerpts here. And yes, if these are "choice" excerpts, then you know the whole thing is really worth reading.
These are widely diverse and cover a bunch of topics, so don't be surprised at the seeming "randomness".
- " 'The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic book.'" (quoting J.R.R. Tolkien)
- " 'What is morally indefensible can never contribute to the good of the people.'"
- "We need to be more zealous in our faith, not more discreet; clearer in our convictions, not muddier; and more Catholic, not less."
- "We will never build God's kingdom here on earth. When people have messianic expectations of the state, when they ask politics to deliver more than it can, the story ends badly."
- From a section on Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence:
Unlike Adams and Jefferson, though, Carroll faces an added danger. Not only did he risk treason against the British Crown; he also broke Maryland law. By the laws of his own colony, it was illegal for him--because he was Catholic--to be political active at all. In fact, under Maryland law, Carroll could not earn a living as an attorney. He could not run for office. He could not even vote for others who could run for office--because his home colony, for whose freedom he was struggling, forbade it.
- "Freedom is 'not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.'"
- "As [George] Washington said in his Farewell Address: 'Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.'"
- "..[a] key reason the First Amendment barred any official federal religion was that various states already had tax-supported established churches and wanted to keep them."
- "[de Touqueville] noted that 'these Catholicsa re very loyal to the practice of their worship and full of zeal and ardor for their beliefs. Nevertheless, they form the most republican and democratic of all classes in the United States.'"
- "In practice, American freedom meant freedom for belief. Continental freedom implied freedom from religion."
- "Social progress was the real task for believers. Even the idea of limits seemed to fade. True, certain kinds of limits did gain ground: limits on growth, population, corporations, and government. But the idea that wisdom begins with mastering our own personal appetites seemed to lose power."
- "We should remember that all Christian churches held that contraception was morally wrong untill the Anglican Church approved it in 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, though only for certain circumstances, and only within marriage...The Washington Post editorialized at the time: 'Carried to its logical conclusion, the [Lambeth] committee's report, if carried into effect, would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality.'" (ME: Wow, what is the WaPo would say that NOW!)
- "Yet the Catholic faith does not hold, and Vatican II did not teach, that respect for conscience means that individuals have absolute sovereignty in determining their own truth, or that anyone's choice of beliefs is as good as any other. Even the secular order admits that some choices are good and others bad."
- "Common sense and daily experience suggest that any society that accepts all moral views as having equal weight is headed for trouble."
- "But when church leaders refrain from helping political leaders see their moral responsibilities, their lack of action implies that religion has nothing to say to the public square."
- "In [Cardinal] Newman's words, 'We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.'"
- "We live under that unjust law [abortions on demand], but we sin only if we give up the struggle to change it." (my emphasis)
- "People should come away from every encounter with every American catholic knowing that they have met a true Catholic." (Love this one!)
- "We can never allow ourselves to offer an abridged version of the Gospel. We can never let Catholic social doctrine become an end in iteself. The Catholic faith is much more than another public philosophy or useful set of social programs. The church is not an association of social workers. She is a community of believers and disciples."
- [Quoting Pope Liberius]: "The truth of faith is not lessened by the fact that I stand alone."
- VITALLY IMPORTANT: "Not all evil things can or should be illegal. Not all issues have the same gravity...deliberately killing the innocent is always, inexcusable wrong. It sets a pattern of contempt for every other aspect of human dignity."
- From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Living the Gospel of Life (1998)--their emphasis: "But being "right' in such matters [other social issues] can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of the positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community...All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundations."
- "The more truly we love God, the more truly we serve the world."