StStephenofHungary2StStephenofHungary1StStephenofHungaryBentonSt. Stephen of Hungary Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is among scores of recently closed or consolidated parishes in the Archdiocese of New York.

Its closing might be seen as a microcosm of the trajectory of the Catholic Church in America.

One-Hundred years ago, World War I was being fought with the U.S. and British governments intent on creating a new society — by replacing old world monarchies (including Austria-Hungary) with new world democracies. The result has been societies whose freedom and interests are often times at odds with, and in revolt against, the Creator and His Word. The faithful Catholic immigrants who came to the U.S. from the old world, and built churches in the so-called new world, soon found themselves in conflict with, and overrun by, the American march of progress. Rather than living His Word (transforming their societies and passing on the faith), many capitulated to false notions of newness and progress, apart from God, and in doing so sold their treasure for a bowl of lentils. The result has been the multiplication of toxic democracies and closed churches.

Artwork (bottom): Thomas Hart Benton