240 years later, the country has clearly changed its attitude toward the Catholic Church and, in particular, the papacy.
Whereas the colonists burned an effigy of the pope and kicked a football (soccer ball) made to look like his head every November 5th, the anniversary of a Catholic attempt to blow up the English parliament and its new king in 1605, today’s Americans have been glued to their television sets watching the election and presentation of a new pope with as much interest as in a US presidential election.
Unbelievably, there is no questioning Rome’s claims of its special status in the myriad world of Christianity, with its thousands of sects and denominations. A Catholic friend called me the day after the new pope was chosen and told me that his understanding has always been that the Catholic Church was the church founded by Jesus Christ and the reason why some people left the church in the sixteenth century was due to corruption within the church. Take away the corruption, therefore, and you have the pristine church that Jesus founded.
On February 28th, CBS, to its credit the only non-cable station carrying live coverage of the previous pope leaving the Vatican, had the following commentary as Benedict XVI’s helicopter took flight:
“Just as Jesus’ disciples watched Him ascend into the heavens, so his personal representative on earth ascends watched by his disciples today” (paraphrased).
Really, somebody should educate these journalists – none of them seem to know any history.
As I told my friend on the phone, the church Jesus Christ founded was very different from the Catholic Church. The early apostles went to church on Saturday and observed the annual holy days given to the Israelites at the time of Moses. They avoided the same meats the Jews avoided following the Old Testament instruction they had known since early childhood.
After the Jewish revolt in 66-70 AD anti-semitism throughout the empire led to persecution of the early Christians. When the church emerged from that dark period it was a very different church.
Two hundred years can make a very big difference. The dominant church two centuries after the Jewish revolt was totally different from the early church; just as American attitudes to the papacy today are the opposite of colonial attitudes in the eighteenth century.