Forget Chick-Fli-e could someone please silence Chicken Little.
From Catholic and non-Catholic sources alike, contrary to fact, apocalyptic histrionics reign. They talk as if the Church is in some horrible period of attack and decline.
If you look from the time of Vatican II until today the Catholic Population is holding steady around its average 25% of the US population and has been steadily growing. Particularly disturbing are those who say things like, "That's only because of Hispanic immigrants." as if they don't really count. Take a look at the Catholic population in the 19th century without the Italian, Irish, German immigrants. We have always been an immigrant church.
I bring this up because today we celebrate St. Lawrence who was murdered in the third century during the persecution of Valerian. Patron saint of cooks, he was burned to death. When I was a student in Rome, not that long ago, I remember African priests who had scars from the attacks they had suffered. For 21st century American Catholics to use the word persecution only shows how delicate we have become. For real anti-Catholicism in America we can go back to our "founding fathers" or ask the Irish who came here. Even when I was a Baptist child in Danville we were assured that Catholics were going to hell.
The truth is it has never been easier for a Catholic to practice their faith in the US. Catholic are now a majority of the Supreme Court. Virginia now has its second Catholic governor in a row. (Who would have thought?) Catholics are among the rich and the powerful.
Today as we celebrate one of the early martyrs of the Church, it is a time for us to stop whining and be thankful. It is a time for us to pray for Christians who still live in parts of the world where real persecution continues.
August 15 the next holy day of obligation who will stop Catholics in the US from going to mass? To paraphrase Cassius, the fault is not in our culture but in ourselves.