5 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 3)

  1. Phillip says:

    I think the Catechism deals with the question of patriotism vs. what you call “My Country Right or Wrong abuse of patriotism”. The Catechism would call the latter nationalism. Patriotism itself is seen as a reflection of the virtue of justice as as such a proper duty for each person.

  2. Tim Shipe says:

    No argument there. Patriotism is a good thing, but is soured when it begins the process of excusing/overlooking/or outright supporting moral evils or lackings in a given nation. I use the term patriotism more than nationalism because most Americans are unfamiliar with the term nationalism to describe things here in the U.S., and find it convenient to hide behind the term- patriotism- as if you couldn’t go wrong being patriotic even to the extreme. What is that old saying- patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels- or something like that. I see this sort of thing in the drumbeat to war- in the debate on how best to “Support the Troops”. I will write a future article on my own decision to join the military in the early 80’s, and how my thinking goes today. Patriotism is something that we can all relate to, and it is a great discussion to have among serious Catholics. We don’t want to fall into the Zealots camp anymore than we want to become likened to the Pharisees- both missed Jesus bigtime!

  3. Elaine Krewer says:

    C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” discusses the various types of love of country. To summarize what he said — which I have found very helpful — patriotism exists on several levels.

    At its most basic it is simply an attachment to your home and culture, to the things you grew up with (food, music, holidays, landscape, etc.) This type of patriotism, Lewis says, is usually not at all aggressive, but simply wants to be left alone, and respects other people’s right to enjoy their “homes” equally. I suspect that for many Americans, this kind of patriotism attaches to their home state or city as well as to their country.

    Another type of patriotism is pride in the legendary or iconic deeds and words of the country’s heroes and founders (e.g. the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, Washington chopping down the cherry tree, Old West cowboys). Lewis says there is nothing wrong with this kind of patriotism or pride in one’s country, but it should NOT be confused with the actual, factual history of one’s country, which has to include the bad as well as the good.

    The last and potentially most dangerous form of patriotism is the belief that one’s country is inherently superior to all others. Attempting to remake other countries in the image of one’s own can be done aggressively through war, or commercially through colonization, or in more subtle ways. It is this kind of patriotism that corresponds most closely with “nationalism” in the sense that the Catechism uses.

  4. Tim Shipe says:

    Right on elaine- I have absorbed a lot of C.S. Lewis over the years- I really like the above description- thanks

  5. Phillip says:


    Back from Father’s Day weekend. It may be that Americans may confuse the term but perhaps that is that it has not been used with them. Given that we are seeking to form the basis of the conversation for understanding political community it would also be good to start with proper terms. I agree with Elaine that C.S. Lewis has good insight to this though again it would be good to distinguish the terms. I find most Americans capable of learning this even given the status of Public Education. As for the Zeolots/Pharisees and Nationalism see:


    Since we are trying to understand the political community I would also say that we do not think of Jesus in terms of “revolution.” Such a term has political implications all its own. Redemption is I believe a better Catholic starting point.

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