I recently ran across something called “The Catholic and Royal Army of America” on Facebook. It states as its purpose: “The goal of the CRAA (http://www.joanandtherese.com/) is to establish a Catholic Monarchy for the United States and to support Catholic Monarchies around the world, notably the restoration of the Kingdom of Catholic France.”
The whole feel of the thing is a sort of tribal Catholicism, with an emphasis on French Catholic traditionalism.
But a Catholic monarchy in the United States? Really? Are you serious?
And a “Catholic Army”? Huh? What is this, Christian jihad?
A disclaimer: I once, for about 15 minutes, described myself as a monarchist. This was about an hour after I had called myself a communist, 45 minutes after I was an anarchist, and 15 minutes after a fling with Buddhism. When I was young I was philosophically promiscuous; I would try on worldviews like spectacles with different colored glass, see how the world looked, and when I detected a flaw in the glass or saw a prettier color of lenses off they would come.
Returning to the Catholic Church in my late twenties did a lot to stabilize me, but as you know, within Catholicism there is a bewildering variety of visions, almost like there are many different Catholicisms. So briefly I was a monarchist; it was a contrarian position, in keeping with my temperament.
But it didn’t last long; after all there is history to contend with. Even the densest romantic can’t deny that human imperfection means that any sort of “Catholic kingdom” is bound to disappoint and, indeed, scandalize. All political orders are bound to do the same, but isn’t it better to be disillusioned with a secular order than one that proclaims itself “Catholic”?
Catholic monarchism’s heritage is an understandable anticlericalism. And justifiable revolution.
In fact, it is better for the Church and for the world for the Church to be an outsider, not affiliated with worldly power.
And this is the gift of Pope Francis: he speaks of a Church of the poor, and eschews the trappings of aristocracy. His vision of the Church is one of a Love big enough to embrace humanity, a Catholicism that is universal, not tribal.
When one looks at the words and example of Christ, the One Who turned everything upside down and inside out, who can doubt that this vision is the one that most reflects the Gospel?
For there is only one King, and it is Christ. And He said “My kingdom is not of this world”, however much Christians, almost since the beginning, have striven to make it so.
But our King is a king of paradox, and He is crowned with thorns.