16 comments

  1. Your example using the “so-called Islamic State” makes it sound like your primary point of contention is simply that they aren’t Catholic. Your definition of Catholic would include, presumably, a critique of their various actions that so horrify the world (not least the Muslim and Arab worlds). However, by not enunciating what you mean by its “erroneous and evil principles” puts more stress on “its heinous persecution of Christian and other innocent populations” as its primary sin. This plays directly into the hands of those who see integralism as little more than a Catholic form of strict to light theocracy, and a throwback to violent, heavy handed, autocratic, ‘reactionary’ Catholic governments of the past, especially vis a vis their treatment of dissenters within the Catholic church, Christians not in communion with Rome, and non-Christians.

    I’m sure you go into discussions of the place of non-Catholics in your other writings, but its lack of even passing mention here tends to make your thoughts on the subject rather pie in the sky. Maybe you didn’t leave ‘LARPing’ behind after all when you left the Orthodox church. :)

    1. I don’t think that’s true. I mention IS simply because of their current visibility on the world stage; any number of small, but more obscure, movements could have been slotted in there (and, in fact, were briefly noted when I referred to other movements which embrace any number of evil ideas, such as racism).

      To be honest, I don’t think, writing on a web-log aimed primarily at Catholics and read mostly by Catholics, I need to lay out what principles of IS are evil and erroneous. Had I spoken of “certain positive elements” of IS or “points of convergence” with IS, then I think there would be a pretty substantial burden shift to where I might want to lay out, in detail, what I mean by such statements. First, I think most would read them as being counter-intuitive and, second, such claims would engender more confusion than anything else given the radical gulf which exists between IS-style Islam and orthodox Catholicism.

      Additionally, I took pains to include “other innocent populations” to ensure that my point which not interpreted in a tribalistic manner. IS has attacked other Muslims and at least one other religious minority in the areas where they operate; such acts cannot be justified on any level, and they deserve equal condemnation from Catholics. However, the IS persecution of Christians, as best as I can tell, remains their most visible legacy thus far, hence why it warrants particular mention.

      1. There are enough Catholics uncomfortable with Catholicism’s own history with integralism and its various less savory incarnations, not to mention what such integralism would do today to Catholics on the wrong side of the camp that takes power, that it’s probably worth noting.

  2. Hasn’t the SSPX and its fellow travellers provided a more gracious welcome to Catholic Integralism than anyone else these past 50 years? If so, care to speculate on the rationale of the connection?

    1. Stephen,

      The SSPX has, though so, too, have other traditional Catholic outlets. I am not quite sure what you’re driving at here.

      1. Yes, most traditional Catholic outlets did (I lumped them all as SSPX fellow travellers), but nobody else, it seems. And it seemed so dominant, like the appreciation for St. Thomas Aquinas. One more thing very quickly jettisoned by that generation. As much as folks talk about what happened these past 50 years, there’s much more light to be shed to understand why that generation dispensed with so much so quickly – the speed and totality were just amazing. And if one judges the shedding as net-net a bad thing (which not everybody does of course), then figuring out the why is the best path to make sure it doesn’t happen again elsewhere. (by the same token, if you judge it a good thing, you’re less inclined to worry about the why and remain just glad that it happened).

        1. “The speed and totality were just amazing.”
          I rather think it had been a long time coming. As Maurice Blondel wrote in 1907, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite in-compatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.”
          In answer to a survey, he wrote, of the “present crisis” as “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth”
          One senses that most 20th century tehologians, Bouyer, Chenu, Congar, Lubac and Daniélou shared his assessment and that the Council and its aftermath were the result of it.

            1. Value Judgement? Not really, but I can offer a glance at the wider causes within Catholicism.

              Contemporaries pointed to the malaise. Jacques Maritain observed of the middle class (bourgeoisie) that it “had among its most solid members a number of practical atheists, more or less brought up on Voltaire and Béranger. They called themselves Catholic, though in all their principles of conduct they denied God, Christ and the Gospel, and upheld religion for merely temporal and political reasons – preserving social order and prosperity in business, consolidating their economic power, and keeping the lower classes in obedience by means of a virtuous rigor sanctioned from on high.”

              Blondel, too, spoke of “A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

  3. What is interesting to watch is how Protestants, for all the bluster about being “true conservatives” will almost always side modernity against Catholicism. If anything we need more Catholic tribalism. Ecumenical “Holy Alliances” against liberalism always get subsumed into the liberal project anyway (see First Things and now the Orthosphere).

    1. First Things was subsumed in the liberal project from the beginning, which makes it a different case. Incidentially, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see several integralist articles being linked from their blog.

      My great hope for the Orthosphere was that we would someday start being attacked by First Things. Once they recognized an school of thought to the right of them, even if the attention was purely negative, then we could really start influencing conversations. Despite what I thought were some good articles by various contributors, we never acheived that, and mainstream religious conservative discourse remained trapped in liberal categories.

      Now that FT writers are reading the integralists, they’re going to realize what a threat you are to Neuhausian Catholic liberalism. If they’re going to maintain any sort of coherent vision, they must either attack you or make themselves your students. Either way, illiberal Catholicism becomes a live proposition again.

      1. I am increasingly skeptical that FT even has a unified vision in the way it did under Neuahus’s custodianship. I think they have diversified their talent pool enough to where you are now seeing a lot of positions represented over there (either in print or online) which wouldn’t have been aired a decade ago in that forum.

        Also, things have changed. The (in my estimation foolish) optimism of the 90s-00s neoconservative consensus has crumbled. What we are seeing now are Catholics — many of them young — trying to find another way forward. But there are a lot of different voices out there, some more aligned with the truth than others. I think the difficulty facing most of us today is how to get your views out there and, in a sense, “out-compete” some of the other voices which want to see Catholicism once again subsumed into the liberal project.

        1. Amen. Seeing this play out right now in my own parish, which is being torn apart by a rather shattering recent event. At an extremely acrimonious church meeting the other night, I realized for the first time how deeply polarized we are. It really is a battle between two competing visions.

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