Pledging Allegiance: A Theological Reflection on the Kobasa Case (Cavanaugh, 2006)

Christians have a word for putting earthly things in the place of God: idolatry. Furthermore, the Church has not hesitated to identify the danger of idolatry attendant to the modern state. Pope Pius XI said that nationalism is “an ideology which clearly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state—a Statolatry which is not less in contrast with the natural rights of the family than it is in contradiction to the supernatural rights of the Church.” In its section on idolatry (2113), the Catechism makes clear that “idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith.” The Catechism continues, “Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God,” and includes “the state” in a list of examples. Elsewhere, the Catechism warns against the “idolatry of the nation” (57).

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