Category Archives: conservatives

Luther Vs. Lefebvre

from The Remnant:

..and I agree with Michael Matt wholeheartedly

The Church of Accompaniment: Luther vs. Lefebvre

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New From Remnant TV…

Francis says his new, non-judgmental Church is the ‘church of accompaniment’. Question is: accompaniment to where? Heaven? Hell? La-La Land? Not sure what Pope Francis is talking about anymore? Join the club.

Plus, Michael Matt announces he is standing with a much-maligned defender of the Church.  Which one? Watch this video to find out.

Review of Storck’s “From Christendom to Americanism and Beyond”

By Augustinus

Review of Thomas Storck’s “From Christendom to Americanism and Beyond: The long jagged trail to a postmodern void.” Angelico Press, Kettering OH, 2015.

Thomas Storck is a familiar name among hard identity Catholics. He has served as a contributing editor for Caelum et Terra from 1991 until the magazine closed in 1996 and the New Oxford Review from 1996 to 2006. Since 1998 he has been a member of the editorial board of The Chesterton Review. He is the author of three previous books, The Catholic Milieu (Christendom Press, 1987), Foundations of a Catholic Political Order (Four Faces Press, 1998) and Christendom and the West (Four Faces Press, 2000). The current book, under review here,”From Christendom to Americanism and Beyond” is a collection of previously published essays written for various Catholic journals over many years up to about 2015. You can read many of his excellent essays at www.thomasstorck.org

Any Catholic concerned about the current Church crisis should read Storck. In Storck you will find insights into everything from why Christendom has declined in Europe and then throughout the world; what happened at Vatican II, how Catholics should think of America; how to evaluate the 60s; Catholic social teaching, what to think of the catholic intellectual rennaissance of the early 20th century, the nature of modernity and post-modernity, the role of Church vis a vis culture, philosophy of history, political theory and what the relation should be between church and state. He is an astute observer of the political world and has a discerning eye for long term historical trends.

In “From Christendom…” we get essays on all these topics and so it is a must read for any Catholic seeking to rebuild the church and the surrounding decadent culture. In what follows I will summarize what I took away from reading these essays. My “take” on Storck’s ideas will necessarily over simplify his positions. The reader is advised to read Storck directly. But I need to summarize his positions and some of his insights so that the reader can gauge my critique of those positions. In fact I agree with most of what Storck says but will disagree on some key and very fundamental claims he makes concerning the root of the problem and the solution to the crisis.

So lets begin with Storck’s insights or claims: Storck agrees with many Catholic intellectuals who claim that the root source of modernity and the unremitting hostility to the Church in the modern period lies in nominalism or the idea of late medieval philosophers that universals do not exist, only particulars exist. If there are no universals, then there are no standards against which we can compare particulars. The loss of standards leads inevitably to a loss of intellectual rigor and ultimate truths. Similarly, if individuals or particulars or instances are the only realities then individuals should be free and unconstrained. The nominalists also overly valorized the will of God putting it before God’s other attributes (such as his logos). God’s will and power according to the nominalists has no limits—he is utterly unconstrained. This idea had the effect of portraying God as arbitrary and absolutely free. Freedom understood as no barriers became the primary value for an emerging modernity at the waning of the middle ages and the birth of the renaissance and enlightenment.

The nominalist rejection of standards and universals and its elevation of freedom as the primary characteristic of God had the effect of severing the link between reason and faith that the Church had labored to build over many centuries via the syntheses of Athens and Jerusalem by the early Church Fathers and in the work of Thomas Aquinas in the high middle ages.

Once reason was severed from faith a Luther could claim that faith was primary and that only scripture contained God’s word—not the logos inherent in reality. Sola scriptura meant that scriptures were interpreted not by the church but by the individual conscience and thus the individual conscience  (not the mystical body of Christ) was the route to God. Protestantism was born and largely facilitated the cultural conditions for modernity.

i will return to a critique of these claims below.

What should Catholics think of Church and state and America according to Storck? Storck sides with Aquinas who takes the common sense approach that some combination of monarchy, democracy and republicanism is probably best. Storck sees these elements in the American polity but argues America and every other political system needs to be guided by the Church. He holds up the 1922 Irish constitution as an example of a Church guided democratic republic with a strong executive. That Irish constitution outlawed divorce and abortion, explicitly placed itself under God’s protection, provided absolute protections for religious liberty and so forth.

In America the church, according to Storck never really influenced American government. The New Deal coalition was the height of Church influence on America as catholics were key to the coalition. It gave us all the presidents from FDR to Nixon and enacted a pro Vatican and Catholic policy internationally and all the great social legislation domestically…from social security to civil rights to environmental protections—all consistent with catholic social doctrine according to Storck. The peak of the New Deal influence culturally came in the 1950s. The New Deal coalition ended when the other groups in the coalition accepted abortion legislation in the early 70s. The catholics then gravitated to the republicans but the republicans were never effective defenders of catholic positions. Today Catholics are not included in any stable political coalition in America. the Church’s social positions on some issues such as immigration and the environment are “leftist” while its cultural positions are “rightist” and its international positions unclassifiable on a right left spectrum.

Storck takes his philosophy of history from the Bible seeing the incarnation as the key event in world history. He takes the line in revelation that the apostasy of the gentiles will signal the beginning of the end of history. He sees modernity as this beginning of the end of history.

Storck says that in order to reverse the decline in Church influence and to rebuild Christendom we need to recall Pope Leo XII political and social teachings. There is NO INHERENT RIGHT to error. Only the church can preserve a polity from error so the Church has a right and duty to be the preeminent leader in a culture and polity. That does not mean we have to have a theocracy as Islam proposes. But it does mean that we need to work for political conditions that obtained in countries such as the 1922 Ireland before its recent apostasy; Spain before its apostasy, the Latin American countries before their apostasy and so forth to serve as models.

There is much else in Storck’s essays than these few remarks convey. I strongly recommend this book to every concerned catholic. It is a must read in order to think clearly about the current crisis.

Now what are my criticisms of Storck? I do not agree with Storck and the many other Catholic intellectuals who argue that nominalism was the source of the intellectual errors of modernity. This vastly overstates nominalisms influence. While Protestantism and many of the modernist philosophers share some nominalist assumptions, it is just not accurate to think that nominalism shaped their entire philosophies or even major portions of their philosophies.

The sources of modernity are complex. I think Storck is on firmer ground when he argues that severance of the link between faith and reason was characteristic of Protestantism and Protestantism was the major cultural force that ushered in modernity.

When science came on the scene during later stages of the renaissance and the beginning stages of the reformation it encountered a Christendom that either exalted irrationality (Protestantism) or could present only a hackneyed version of Aristotle’s philosophy as a guide to investigation of reality. Science, in short, found no partner among official Christian circles when it was struggling to be born.

The enmity between science and Christendom was briefly relaxed when the Jesuit order emerged in the 1500s and produced some of the best scientists in the world. The counter-reformation church had re-seized the cultural leadership during this period but it was not to last. The Jesuits were suppressed by the Pope (under pressure from despotic monarchies) in 1750 right when the enlightenment was emerging. With the Jesuits out of the picture secular intellectuals in alliance with scientists (who had previously aligned with the Jesuits) now took center stage and they have yet to be challenged for cultural leadership.

In short, Storck, like most other Catholic intellectuals has not yet grappled with science as key to modernity. For the Church to recover its cultural leadership its needs to assimilate science and it needs to produce the best scientists in the world….just as it did with the early Jesuits.

 

 

Its not about Pope Francis

The conservative Catholics keep sounding the alarm about Pope Francis while the liberal Catholics keep celebrating his every utterance. Neither group sees the man or his office clearly. In this the conservatives and liberals do the Church a dis-service as what the Church needs is people who can see clearly in this time of acute crisis.

Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make huge mistakes and these mistake have and will damage the church. Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make some positive contributions to the Church and these contributions have and will advance the protection and growth of the Church in this time of crisis.

The Pope is a product of his years of training in a jesuit order that both benefited from the the post Vatican II changes and damaged by those changes. Similarly, the modern Church will continue to produce people like Pope Francis…people who combine the best and the worst of the modern intellectual landscape.

To save the church, the task is to learn to discern the times; to learn to identify the gold within the dross, to learn to nurture what is theologically sound from what is heretical and unsound. But there are very very few individuals who can do this. Most people in the church cannot see past “conservative” vs “liberal” labels and rush to identify themselves with those labels and then all too readily “agree” or consent or acquiesce to seeing the entire world through those labels. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy to do so.

In past ages, in past Church crises the people who saved the church were the great anti-heriesiarchs, the great doctors of the Church. They were not necessarily saints. in times like these it is necessary to strive NOT to be saintly but to see clearlyas you will have no chance of becoming a saint unless you can first see clearly.

I Think Francis DOES Understand The Danger!

brought to you from Reuters by Allan Gillis

cover_071115_issue

Three years on, pope leaves Catholic conservatives feeling marginalized

Pope and Patriarch, Justice Scalia and Gravitational Waves

By Augustinus

Three historically significant events took place this week: 1) the Pope had an in-person meet with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church; 2) Justice Antonin Scalia died (RIP) and 3) scientists experimentally detected gravitational waves. Scalia is a sore loss for the Catholic Church in America as he was a staunch defender of the Church’s religious freedom and of its basic positions in the culture wars. I will never forget reading his stinging dissent on the recent Obergfell decision where he upbraided the 5 court majority for hubris, arrogance and folly. He noted that these 5 justices felt that they knew more than all other previous supreme court justices not to mention thousands of years of previous intellectually and legal precedent on the definition of marriage. The speed with which an entire civilization is willing to cut its own throat astonished Scalia as it does me. The drastic decline in fertility rates across the Western world began before the legalization of same sex “marriage” but that legalization will surely only hasten the self-destruction of the west.

The meeting between the Pope and the patriarch will likely not lead to any kind of real union between the eastern and western churches but it may lead to a more coordinated defense (by the two wings of the one church) of Christian minorities within the Muslim world and that is surely a good thing.

The experimental detection of gravitational waves is being heralded as a major scientific accomplishment and it undoubtedly is but it may also signal a slowing down of the ongoing investigations into the properties of quantum non-locality. We will see.

Review of “Phoenix From The Ashes” by H.J.A. Sire

By Augustinus

In “Phoenix From The Ashes: The making, unmaking and restoration of Catholic tradition” (Sire, Angelico Press, Keterring, OH 2015), the historian H.J.A Sire has produced a near masterpiece and exhaustive review of the sources of the crisis in the church today. If I am reading him correctly he traces those sources to 2 main events: the defeat of the Catholic cause during the religious wars of the 16th century and the rise of modernism which culminated in Vatican II in the 2oth century. The defeat of the Catholic cause during the 30 years war of the 16th century was engineered largely by a Catholic cardinal: Cardinal Richelieu in France who was a real servant of French royal power rather than the church. The passive Pope Urban VIII did little or nothing to help the Hapsburg Catholic power (centered in Spain and parts of Austria/Germany and other smaller nations in eastern Europe) so France in alliance with the protestant nations of Europe (the Nordic countries, Britain and parts of what is now Germany) devastated Germany, exhausted the Hapsburg power, enfeebled the Papacy and and set back the Catholic counter-reformation. What was left of the Catholic civilization which had flowered during the High Middle Ages exhibited a final cultural renaissance under Hapsburg rule in what remained of the Holy Roman Empire until its last emperor the saintly Charles was dethroned during the first world war.

Sire gives a negative account of Conciliarism as a phenomena supposedly inimical to Church tradition, although he himself shows how it helped to save the Church (along with St Catherine of Siena) during the crisis of the three popes. one does not have to endorse the view that councils have more authority than the Pope to see the virtues and the dangers of Concilarism. Obviously some sort of balance is required between the councils and the Popes to steer the Church rightly.

After Sire discusses the downfall of the Christian order in Europe (due to the 30 years war and the rise of capitalism wedded to a mechanical materialist version of science which he ties to protestant ideologies) he devotes the second half of his book to the dismantling of Catholic tradition. He provides a detailed review of the proceedings and documents of the Second Vatican Council and then devotes a separate chapter each to the destruction of the mass, the priesthood and the repudiation of the Kingdom of Christ. The destruction of the mass and priesthood was linked in Sire’s view to the protestant theological bias placed into Vat II documents by a cadre of cardinals and their advisors who were desperately devoted to their idea of ecumenism. For them ecumenism was to make catholicism more palatable to protestant theologians…so the mass was not a true sacrifice but instead a commemoration meal or a gathering of friends.  The Eucharist was not truly  the body and blood of our Lord as there was no real sacrifice. The priest was not overseeing a sacrifice but instead celebrating a meal with friends so his sacredness and role accordingly switched into being a presider or entertainer etc etc

Sire quotes Msr Bugnini who spearheaded implementation of the liturgical reforms after Vatican II as saying: “The Lord’s supper or the mass is the sacred assembly or gathering together of the people of God with a priest presiding to celebrate the memorial of the lord. for this reason…where two or three are gathered in my name I am there in their midst”(Art 7, original Gen Instruction, Novus Ordo).  Sire comments “We see here a compendium of modernist doctrines regarding the mass: the acceptance of the protestant notion of the Eucharist as the Lord’s supper…the spurious concept of the priest’s presiding at the mass instead of offering the the sacrifice by his priestly power in personae Christi, the presentation of the mass as a memorial instead of the reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ, the implication that the essence of the mass resides in the assembly of the people and not in its character as a sacrifice of Christ and worst of all the suggestion that Christ is present by virtue of the people’s gathering and not through his real presence in the Blessed sacrament” (p. 277)…One of the writes at this blog Stephen Shields OFS has argued that the crisis in the Church today can be traced to fall in belief in the real presence in the Blessed sacrament.

Sire also argues in the chapter on the Kingdom of Christ that Vatican II tended to adopt premises from modernist humanism and thus tended to the error that freedom of conscience protected outright error. There can be no right to belief in heresies but of course we have to beware using this principle to harm people with beliefs different from the Church. They are in error. There is no inherent human right to error but the Church needs humility and prudence to avoid persecution of others due to their errors.

There are many gems in this book and anyone wanting a fully argued case concerning the errors of Vatican II will find it in this book. Sire makes the interesting observation, for example, that the 60s did not produce Vatican II but Vatican II either produced the 60s or really contributed to some of its disorders. i did not know that the traditionalist Archbishop Lefevbre actually voted for most of the Vatican II documents including the one on Liturgy. It was the implementation of these documents that he at first was concerned with…I think Sire is too hard on John PaulI’s efforts to reach our to world religions but I understand the dangers in doing so. Sire’s assessment of Pope Benedict and Francis are mixed but I largely agree with them.