But sadly, the kind of extremism that motivates someone to desecrate a Jewish cemetery, to march with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, or to shoot dozens of unarmed worshipers in a New Zealand mosque is on the rise in the United States and around the world….
Whether it’s called white nationalism or the alt-right, Cohen told Our Sunday Visitor that an ideology that manifests itself in hatred for ethnic and religious minorities, particularly against Jews and Muslims, is incompatible with the Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person and the common spiritual patrimony shared by the world’s three great monotheistic religions….
Robert Christian, a graduate fellow at The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, told OSV that Catholic social teaching is “the perfect antidote to the toxic ideologies” infecting the modern world.
“Against racism and xenophobia, the Church teaches universal brotherhood and sisterhood, that each person is made in the image of God, and that racism is an intrinsic evil that violates human dignity,” said Christian, who is editor of Millennial, an online Catholic journal.
“Against anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic bigotry, Church teaching endorses religious freedom and a culture of encounter. Against chauvinistic nationalism, the Church promotes the global common good. Against radical individualism, the Church calls for solidarity and genuine community. Against the call for strongman dictatorships, the Church teaches that each person has a right to participate in their government,” he said.
While the U.S. Catholic bishops and others, including Pope Francis, have denounced bigotry and white nationalism, Christian said the overall Catholic response to the rise of the alt-right, the resurgence of neo-fascism in Europe and the creation of “an alt-Catholic alternative magisterium that attempts to sanctify bigotry, sexism, nationalism and dictatorship,” has been “wholly inadequate.”
“Pope Francis has the strongest record of nearly any Catholic leader, denouncing these ideologies and holding up great Christian Democratic leaders from the middle of the 20th century as positive alternatives,” Christian said. “Nevertheless, addressing neo-fascism, white nationalism, and alt-Catholicism would be the perfect subject for his next social encyclical.”