By Paul D’AmbrosioThe United States has been accused of being a “Catholic nation” in its handling of the controversy over the alleged death of an American priest, who died of a drug overdose after attending a funeral in Canada.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Father Thomas J. McNamara, 76, who is of Irish descent, died in an apparent drug overdose on Saturday after attending St Francis of Assisi’s funeral in Niagara Falls, New York.
According to a letter published by the Times, McNamara was found dead on a couch in the apartment of a retired teacher in the city’s Niagara Falls neighbourhood.
The letter said he had been taking hydrocodone, a narcotic often used by American Catholics to treat pain and addiction.
The death of McNamara has drawn attention to a controversial issue in American Catholic-dominated society, which has long been plagued by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism, but is now also being discussed in the US.
Catholicism, which is largely based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, is generally seen as a peaceful and civil religion.
But in recent years it has been increasingly associated with racism, anti-Catholicism and xenophobia.
Some Catholic bishops have been calling for the exclusion of certain people from the Catholic church in recent decades, while others have tried to encourage people to leave the religion and instead join another.
The US is one of the few countries where Catholics are allowed to hold positions of public office.
However, in recent months some bishops have voiced concerns about the influence of the Catholic Church in American society.
On Sunday, a representative of the United Methodist Church, which claims more than two million members, said it was “deeply troubled” by the deaths of McNamaras and urged Americans to consider changing their beliefs about Christianity and religion.
The United Methodist church is among several Catholic organisations that have protested against the US bishops’ call for a “new generation” of Catholics to leave Catholicism.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the National Council of Churches, a network of Catholic groups, called for a national prayer to address the issue.
“It is time for all Americans to pray for Father McNamara’s family and ask God to allow the healing power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the suffering and death that have been caused by a drug addiction and the violent violence of the anti-Christian ideology that has led to the deaths,” the statement said.