9 comments

  1. Thanks for these reflections. It’s good to see this outline of contrasts and common. And I do hope that the “common ground” aspect proves to be the predominant feature as we try to spread our message and connect with folks like yourself.

  2. You raise some very helpful distinctions. I think your first distinction between the RadCath. preference for the Nouvelle Theologie on the one hand and the Integralist preference for Thomism/Scholasticism is more of a tendency than a categorical distinction. The Catholic Tradition which forms the basis of integralism spanned several centuries–sometimes Thomistic philosophy was in vogue, other times it was not. Thus the integralist need not be a strict Thomist (although he must necessarily recognize the excellence of this theology). It’s a more open question whether one can by an integralist while adhering to the Nouvelle Theologie (probably not, but I’d like to see someone try it).

    I think your other distinctions get closer to the heart of the matter. The RadCaths criticize many of the same things as integralists (capitalism, liberalism, etc.). However, their proposed solutions only seem to invoke a relatively vague and generalized understanding of the Church’s tradition. The RadCaths seem to want to reinvent the wheel based on general principles without considering the Church’s concrete and specific statements and positions on a variety of economic and political matters across the centuries. The integralist is willing to admit that the Church’s economic and political prescriptions from the 19th or 17th or 15th centuries might not necessarily be wise today. But the integralist (unlike most RadCaths) is at least willing to consider them.

    Another key distinction which I think you touch on in your third point is the significant levelling /egalitarian element among RadCaths. Perhaps this is not wrong per se, but it does mean that RadCaths are often unwilling to consider the Church’s Tradition to extent it emphasized social hierarchy based on a series of duties and responsibilities.

    1. I agree with you that integralism need not be Thomistic, or purely Thomistic. I think it would be beneficial if it were not or, rather, kept a wide gaze over the entire field of Catholic theology, East and West. Where Thomism becomes so important to the integralist project is on the level of drawing basic distinctions concerning the social order and articulating a three-dimensional image of the common good. Thomism, or a certain type of Thomism, supplies better tools for this project. And because of its rigor, there is a “natural conservatism” to Thomism which, in these days at least, is of great utility. I also think integralists tend to give a lot of (needful) deference to Leo XIII’s words in Aeterni Patris.

  3. ” … integralists seek to bolster their thinking with insights drawn from the medieval to the modern period while focusing as well on the sizable body of Catholic social thinking produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

    I infer from this, as a gross oversimplification on my part, that neither movement draws much from the Antique Era? Perhaps they do, in so far as the Fathers overlap with Antiquity?

    This jumps to mind because the modern Western social anomie and rootlessness seems akin to certain Ancient conditions. So also truly intercontinental economies, massive polities, constant migration, etc.

    I suppose a Scholastic would say that the Medievals already synthesized it all? Or is there a paucity of sources?

    Forgive the question if ignorant.

    1. I am probably using “medieval” here in too broad of a sense to basically mean the period following the fall of old Rome onward. I certainly don’t discount the Patristic period at all, even if we have to be careful at how we handle earlier theological speculations and inchoate doctrinal formulations. One of the unfortunate legacies created by certain strands of 20th C. theology is this idea that the Church Fathers, particularly the Greek Fathers, provide a way of doing an end-run around the received tradition. Yes, we do need to read the Fathers, but with fresh eyes that are interested in learning what they have to say, not how their words can be used to “build bridges” with (post)modernity.

  4. Modestimus,

    You’re a hypocrite. You stand speaking on Catholicism as an abstract reality and you refuse to face up the recent clownery of Francis, your Pope, who you’re preaching about submission. Why do you not come back to the reality to explain for us how a pope so tortuous as him can confirm your ideas about a papacy as model of orthodoxy and unity? How does he prove the Catholicism as superior to the Orthodox?

    Or is it painful to you? The reality hurts.

    1. What? I am sorry, you have obviously confused my blog for a paranoid schizophrenic support board.

    2. You may have something there, Primo.

      Over the weekend celebrity Orthodox Rod Dreher has been publicly celebrating the pain of his Orthodox reality here (well, sorry, that’s more about a personal project of his he’s promoting than Orthodoxy per se), here, where he makes reference to the fascinating phenomenon of “holiness shifts”,

      UPDATE: Now I’m back from the three-to-five shift, and I’ve thought a bit more on this. It’s holiness. Everything about Orthodox worship points to the majesty and sanctity of God, and the intense drama of participating in His life.

      like building Dodge trucks, I suppose, except out of prayer, and, here, where children can be made to stand in three-hour stretches, albeit without buckets of sand held in their skinny, outstretched arms.

      The whole thing sounds more to me like a devotee explaining BDSM without the sex or the safe words, but I’ll confess I’m not wise in the gnosis involved there. Perhaps you could illuminate me.

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