Monday, 14 January 2019

EVANGELIUM 2019 AT STM



Dear Friends in Christ,

We are well into the new year now and so it is time to begin a new session of Evangelium for inquirers, for those preparing for reception and confirmation in the Catholic Church and for those who want to review aspects of the faith in a small discussion group setting.

Please contact me (pastor@stmtoronto.ca)  if you or anyone you know might be interested.  Our intention is to meet Sundays after Mass when I am celebrating (see attached calendar) and to conclude in the Easter Season.  

This information will be placed in the STM bulletin and website and social media.  Please share it widely.


God bless us all as we work together to build the Body of Christ.

JH

Friday, 11 January 2019

CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRACY: LIBERAL PRINCIPLES HAVE BROUGHT US TO A DEAD END



Yoram Hazony, in a recent FIRST THINGS article lays out the reasons for the decline of Western Civilization and the need for a new Conservative vision. Here are some excerpts from the article


FT January 2019

The present moment is one of growing discomfort, both in America and in Europe, with the regnant liberal political theory often described as liberal democracy. It is frequently said that the only genuine alternatives to liberal democracy are Marxism and Fascism, but I don’t believe this is true. I want to sketch an alternative viewpoint that I will call conservative democracy. This position is closer to the spirit of traditional constitutionalism in both America and Britain than the liberal political theories of our day. Moreover, it is far better equipped to maintain the free institutions of these nations than liberalism.

There are prominent scholars and public figures who are convinced that “things are getting better” in almost every way. As for me, I find it difficult not to see the Western nations disintegrating before our eyes. The most significant institutions that have characterized America and Britain for the last five centuries, giving these countries their internal coherence and stability—the Bible, public religion, the independent national state, and the traditional family—are not merely under assault. They have been, at least since World War II, in precipitous decline.

In the United States, for example, some 40 percent of children are today born outside of marriage. The overall fertility rate has fallen to 1.76 children per woman. American children for the most part receive twelve years of public schooling that is scrubbed clean of God and Scripture. And it is now possible to lose one’s livelihood or even to be prosecuted for maintaining traditional Christian or Jewish views on various subjects.

Add to this the fact that the principal project of European and American political elites for decades now has been the establishment of a “liberal international order” whose aim is to export American norms and values to other nations, and you have a stunning picture of what the United States has become—a picture that in certain respects resembles that of Napoleonic France: an ideologically anti-religious, anti-traditionalist universalist power seeking to bring its version of the Enlightenment to the nations of the world, if necessary by force.

The present revival of nationalist sentiment in Britain and America seeks, in one way or another, to resist this trajectory . . .   I know that some conservative intellectuals are inclined to see Brexit and the Trump movement as signs of the disease at least as much as harbingers of a coming recovery. Nonetheless, I think it is undeniable that a vast Christian public in these countries (as well as the great majority of Orthodox Jews) recognizes in the current nationalism an attempt to avert the complete collapse of the traditional Western order.

What we see before us, then, is a contest between two powerful movements—a “liberal” movement that has been dominant for some time, and a nationalist movement that openly seeks to resist it. In public discourse today, the existence of these two camps is seen clearly. But what they each stand for is not so clear. I will try to bring what is at issue between these rival camps into greater focus.

I take “liberalism” to refer to an Enlightenment political tradition descended from the principal political texts of rationalist political philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Rousseau, and Kant, and reprised in countless recent works of academic political theory elaborating these views. By “rationalist,” I mean that this kind of political thought is intended to imitate a mathematical system, which begins with axioms taken to be self-evident and proceeds by supposedly infallible deductions.

The three axioms on which the liberal system is founded are these:

1. Availability and Sufficiency of Reason. Human individuals are capable of exercising reason, which “teaches all mankind, who will but consult it” (as Locke puts it). By reasoning, they are able to discover universal truths that hold across all human societies and in every historical time frame.

2. The Free and Equal Individual. Human individuals are by nature “perfectly free” and “perfectly equal” (as Locke puts it).

3. Obligation Arises From Choice. Human indivi­duals have no obligations to political institutions until “by their own consents they make themselves members of some politic society” (as Locke puts it).

These three fundamental axioms are important not only for understanding a certain stream of early-modern political rationalism; the axioms of the liberal-rationalist system have continued to dominate discourse wherever liberalism has advanced in Europe and America up until our own day. Attempts to alter these foundations of liberalism are well known (consider Mill or Hayek). But they have ultimately been of little consequence. It is these Lockean assumptions that continue to characterize liberal discourse, and, if anything, they have only received an even greater emphasis in recent years.

Of course, one does not have to accept the liberal axiom system as a closed and complete system. I don’t doubt, for example, that many individuals have embraced some or all of these Lockean premises while at the same time believing in God, or in the binding character of Scripture, or in the sanctity of the family, or in the national state as the best form of political order, and so forth.

But the crucial point is that none of these things—God, the Bible, the family, and the independent national state—can be derived from liberal principles. That is, there is nothing in the liberal system that requires you, or even encourages you, to also adopt a commitment to God, the Bible, family, or nation. If one is committed to these things, it is for reasons that are entirely “external” to the liberal political system.


. . . . This is, implicitly, the strategy of those liberals who say that liberalism is “only a form of government designed to permit a broad sphere of individual freedom.” In this view, liberalism has no aim and no consequences other than to ensure that no one is coerced, for example, into becoming a Christian; or that no one is coerced into conducting his personal life within the framework of a traditional family. These things, it is said, can be relegated to a separate sphere of privacy and personal liberty—a sphere in which religious tradition, national cohesion, and the family will flourish, even as liberal premises are made the official governing doctrine of the state.

But I think that this proposal has by now been empirically refuted. Both in Europe and in America, the principles of liberalism have not brought the flourishing of religious tradition, national cohesion, and the family—but the opposite. Everywhere it has gone, the liberal system has brought about the dissolution of these fundamental traditional institutions.

Nor is the reason for this hard to find. For liberalism is not “only a form of government designed to permit a broad sphere of individual freedom.” In fact, liberalism is not a form of government at all. It is a system of beliefs taken to be axiomatic, from which a form of government can, supposedly, be deduced. In other words, it is a system of dogmas. About what? About the nature of human beings, reason, and the sources of the moral obligations that bind us.

This means that liberal dogmas concern many of the same subjects that are at the heart of biblical political thought. However, liberal dogma offers a very different view from that of, for instance, the Hebrew Bible: Whereas Hebrew Scripture depicts human reason as weak, capable only of local knowledge, and generally unreliable, liberalism depicts human reason as exceedingly powerful, offering universal knowledge, and accessible to anyone who will but consult it. Similarly, whereas the Bible depicts moral and political obligation as deriving from God and inherited by way of familial, national, and religious tradition, liberalism makes no mention of either God or inherited tradition, much less specific traditional institutions such as the family or nation. 

. . . .  there are no grounds for the claim that liberalism is merely a system of “neutral” rules, a “procedural” system that can make traditional political and religious structures work all the better while leaving them intact. Liberalism is a substantive belief system that provides an alternative foundation for our views concerning the nature of human beings, reason, and the sources of the moral obligations that bind us. This alternative foundation has not co-existed with earlier political tradition, rooted in the Bible, as we were told it would. It has rather cut this earlier tradition to ribbons.

For example, the liberal belief that reason is powerful, universal, and reliable has meant that there is, in principle, no need to consult with national and religious tradition, or even to accord such traditions honor and respect. Private individuals can toy with such things, if they so choose. But public life can be conducted perfectly well without them.

Similarly, the belief that political obligation derives only from the consent of the reasoning individual has meant that political and religious tradition has, in principle, no weight at all, or at least no weight that can be admitted as legitimate. Any political right or freedom that appears at a given moment to be the deliverance of public reason will, within a short time, overthrow any and every traditional institution.

But is there an alternative? As I observed at the outset, many of our most gifted writers and intellectuals are constantly trying to convince us that we have no choice but to be liberals. It’s either that or Marxism and Fascism. And since these alternatives are appalling—an assertion with which I myself concur—there is, by process of elimination, no alternative but to be a liberal.

Often I cannot tell whether this claim is simply the product of ignorance, or whether it is intended, by some, to be deliberately misleading. Whatever the case may be, this argument insists that there is no choice but to select one of three anti-religious, anti-traditionalist doctrines of the twentieth century, and that the only course open to us is to choose the least terrible of the three.

What is obviously suppressed by the constant repetition of this argument is the possibility that there were—until quite recently—conservative alternatives to liberalism that offered a different way of thinking about public life.

The word “conservative” is usually used as a synonym for “traditionalist”: A conservative is someone who strives to defend and build up the political and intellectual traditions of his or her own tribe or nation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a conservative needs to defend every last foolish thing that has ever been part of the tradition. Every political tradition undergoes adjustments over time. But if a change is going to be made, then a conservative would like to see such repairs made on the basis of principles internal to the existing order—and always with an eye to strengthening the unique structure of the political order as a whole.

This means that conservatism is not something like Marxism or liberalism—both of which are universal theories that propose a single answer to the question of the political good for all nations, everywhere on earth, and at all times in history. Unlike these universalist theories, there can be as many different conservatisms as there are national and tribal traditions. There are conservative traditions in China and India, Russia and Germany, that are radically different from ours—and maybe there are certain things that are attractive about each of them, or maybe not. But as a conservative I’m not committed to defending them all, nor should you be either.

What is of interest here is a particular conservative political tradition, the conservative tradition of English-speaking countries, which I will call Anglo-American conservatism. This is a tradition that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. But we may speak of a kind of classical period for this tradition that begins with John Fortescue in the 1470s, and continues with individuals such as Richard Hooker, Sir Edward Coke, John Selden, Edward Hyde (Earl of Clarendon), Sir Matthew Hale, Sir William Temple, Jonathan Swift, Sir William Blackstone, Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, John Dickinson, John Adams, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. Scottish philosophers such as David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and Thomas Reid contributed much to this tradition as well.

This Anglo-American tradition is described in a recent essay of mine, “What is Conservatism?,” written with Ofir Haivry for American Affairs. In it, we propose that the Anglo-American conservative tradition can be characterized as being built around five principles:

1. Historical Empiricism. The authority of government derives from constitutional traditions known, through the long historical experience of a given nation, to offer stability, well-being, and freedom. These are refined through trial and error over many centuries, with repairs and improvements being introduced where necessary, while seeking to maintain the integrity of the inherited national edifice as a whole. Such historical empiricism entails a skeptical standpoint with regard to the divine right of the rulers, the universal rights of man, and all other abstract, universal systems. Written documents express and consolidate the constitutional traditions of the nation, but they can neither capture nor define this political tradition in its entirety.

2. Nationalism. Human beings do not live as isolated individuals, but form national collectives characterized by bonds of mutual loyalty and unique inherited traditions. The diversity of national experiences means that different nations will have different constitutional and religious traditions. The Anglo-American tradition hearkens back to principles of a free and just national state—charting its own course without foreign interference—whose origin is in the Hebrew Bible. These include a conception of the nation as arising out of diverse tribes, its unity anchored in a common cultural inheritance, especially a traditional language, law, and religion. Such nationalism is not based on race, and is capable of embracing new members who declare that “Your people will be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

3. Religion. The state upholds and honors the biblical God and religious practices common to the nation. These are the centerpiece of the national heritage and indispensable for justice and public morals. At the same time, the state offers wide toleration of religious and social views that do not endanger the integrity and well-being of the nation as a whole.

4. Limited Executive Power. The powers of the king (or president) are limited by the laws of the nation, which he neither determines nor adjudicates. The powers of the king (or president) are limited by the representatives of the people, whose advice and consent he must obtain both respecting the laws and taxation.

5. Individual Freedoms. The security of the indivi­dual’s life and property is mandated by God as the basis for a society that is both peaceful and prosperous, and is to be protected against arbitrary actions of the state. The ability of the nation to seek truth and conduct sound policy depends on freedom of speech and debate. These and other fundamental rights and liberties are guaranteed by law, and may be infringed upon only by due process of law.

These principles can serve as a summary of the Anglo-American conservative tradition that was the basis for the restoration of the English constitution in 1689; and for the American restoration, which took place upon the ratification of the American Constitution of 1787, after twelve years of disarray. These same principles have continued to underpin subsequent conservative political tradition in Britain, America, and other nations down to our own time.

The crucial differences between this conservative tradition and liberalism thus can be understood in the following way: Liberalism, as has been said, is a political doctrine based on the assumption that reason is everywhere the same, and accessible, in principle, to all individuals; and that one need only consult reason to arrive at the one form of government that is everywhere the best, which has recently been given the name liberal democracy. This term was apparently first popularized in central Europe in the 1920s, and attained a dominant position in political discourse in the English-speaking world only in the 1990s.

What is meant by this term is a form of government that borrows certain principles from the earlier Anglo-­American conservative tradition, especially those limiting executive power and guaranteeing individual freedoms (Principles 4 and 5, above). But liberal democracy breaks with earlier Anglo-American political tradition in regarding these principles as having been derived from liberal axioms, and therefore detachable from the broader Anglo-American tradition in which they historically arose. Liberals thus tend to have few, if any, qualms about discarding the national and religious foundations of Anglo-American government (Principles 2 and 3), seeing these as unnecessary, if not simply contrary to universal reason.

In their campaign for universal “liberal democracy,” liberals have thus confused certain historical-­empirical principles of the traditional Anglo-American constitution, painstakingly developed and inculcated over centuries (Principle 1), for universal truths that are equally accessible to all human beings, regardless of historical or cultural circumstances.

This means that, like all rationalists, liberals are engaged in applying local truths, which hold good under certain conditions, to quite different situations and circumstances where they often go badly wrong. For conservatives, these failures—for example, the repeated collapse of liberal constitutions in places such as Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, and Iraq, among many others—suggest that the principles in question have been overextended, and should be regarded as true only within a narrower range of conditions. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to see such failures as resulting from “poor implementation,” leaving liberal democracy as a universal truth that is untouched by experience, and unassailable—no matter what actually happens.

This means that what is now called “liberal democracy” refers not to the traditional Anglo-­American constitution, but to a rationalist reconstruction of it that has been detached from Protestant religion and the Anglo-American nationalist tradition. Far from being a time-tested form of government, this liberal-democratic ideal is something new to both America and Britain, establishing itself as authoritative only in recent decades.

Traditionally, Americans referred to their form of government as republican government. Indeed, insofar as usage is concerned, the term “liberal democracy” does not become more common in public discussion than the traditional term “republican government” until the 1960s. And it does not achieve its present dominant position in discourse on forms of government (overwhelming even the expression “democratic government”) until the 1990s.

This shift in language is not arbitrary, but reflects a profound reconfiguration at the level of ideas as well: a reconfiguration of what kind of government is considered desirable and legitimate. Roughly speaking, the dominant position of the term “republican government” corresponds to the period in which the Anglo-American conservative tradition remained to some significant degree intact, and so was able to serve as a bulwark against too great a penetration of liberal axioms into public life.

What was a “republican government” in the traditional American conception? A republican government in America was, among other things, one that could see itself as reflecting and reinforcing the values of a “Christian people” (to use a famous phrase of the Supreme Court that continued to be reaffirmed through the 1930s). Indeed, in 1942, FDR was still speaking of the United States as a nation that “hold[s] to the old ideals of Christianity.”

But by 1948 we find, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court banning voluntary religious education in public schools that offer simultaneous Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish classes. Here, Justice Hugo Black writes that:

A state cannot, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, utilize its public school system to aid any or all religious faiths or sects in the dissemination of their doctrines and ideals.

Looking back, we can recognize that this was not an isolated decision. It was rather an early indication of the turn that would put an end to the old republican conception of the United States, establishing among its elites the alternative conception now known as “liberal democracy”—a form of regime that recognizes only liberal principles as the basis for the legitimacy of the state; and withdraws its concern and sanction from the religious, national, and historical-­empiricist principles that had for many centuries held such a prominent place in the Anglo-American constitutional tradition.

The claim that liberal-democratic regimes of this kind can be maintained for long without the conservative principles they have discarded is a hypothesis now being tested for the first time. Those who believe that a favorable outcome of this experiment is assured draw this conclusion not from historical or empirical evidence, for we have none. Rather, their confidence derives from the closed Lockean-­rationalist system that holds them captive, preventing them from being able to anticipate any of the other quite possible outcomes before us. 

There is, then, in recent Western tradition, at least one well-developed alternative to liberalism that is neither Marxist nor Fascist. This is the Anglo-American conservative tradition. I do not mean to endorse every evil that was tolerated under the old republicanism in the United States—the institutionalized abuse of the African-American minority being the most obvious example of something we should be very pleased to do without.

But I do believe that it is possible to think in terms of what might now be called a conservative democracy. Such a political model would reject the axioms of the liberal-rationalist system, and would instead be concerned to maintain a balance between the principles of limited government and individual liberties, on the one hand; and the principles of religion, nationalism, and historical empiricism that had maintained free government in Britain and America for centuries, on the other. 

Such conservative democracy would be characterized by the following kinds of views:

1. Public Religion. Liberalism suggests that universal reason is the necessary and sufficient basis for just and moral government. This means that religious and national tradition, which had earlier been the basis for a public understanding of justice and right, can be replaced in public discourse by universal reason itself. A conservative-democratic view holds that none of this is true. Conservatives see human reason as producing a constant profusion of ever-changing views concerning justice and morals—a fact that is evident today in the constant assertion of new human rights. Conservatives hold that the only stable basis for national independence, justice, and public morals is a strong biblical tradition in government and public life. The liberal doctrine requiring a “wall of separation between church and state” at all levels of government is, as has been said, a product of the post–World War II period, and not an inherent feature of American political tradition. 

2. Law. Liberals regard the laws of a nation as emerging from the tension between positive law and the pronouncements of universal reason, as expressed by the courts. Conservatives reject the supposed universal reason of judges, which often amounts to little more than acceding to passing fashion. But conservatives also oppose an excessive regard for isolated written documents, which leads, for example, to the liberal mythology of America as a “creedal nation” (or a “propositional nation”), defined solely by certain abstractions found in the American Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address. Important though these documents are, they cannot substitute for the Anglo-American political tradition as a whole—with its roots in Scripture and the English common law—which alone offers a complete picture of the English and American legal inheritance.

3. Education. Liberals believe that schools should teach students to recognize liberty, equality, and consent as the universal aims of political order, and to see America’s founding political documents as having been designed by a process of free reasoning to achieve these aims. Conservatives believe education (whether for religious students or for their non-religious peers) should focus on the historical development and advantages of the Anglo-American constitutional and religious tradition with its roots in the Bible, as well as the way in which this tradition has given rise to a unique family of nations that has influenced all mankind. This must involve learning, as Burke says, to recognize good government as “fitted to unite private and public liberty with public force, with order, with peace, with justice, and, above all, with the institutions formed for bestowing permanence and stability through ages.”

4. Economy. Liberals regard the universal market economy, operating without regard to borders, as a dictate of universal reason and applicable equally to all nations. They therefore recognize no legitimate economic aims other than the creation of a “level playing field” on which all nations participate in accordance with universal, rational rules. Conservatives regard the market economy and free enterprise as indispensable for the advancement of the nation in its wealth and well-being. But they also recognize the corrosive effects of the market on traditional institutions based on mutual loyalty—including the family, the nation, and religious tradition. Moreover, conservatives see economic arrangements as inevitably varying from one country to another, reflecting the particular historical experiences and innovations of each nation as it competes to gain advantage for its people.

5. Immigration. Liberals believe that, since liberal principles are accessible to all, there is nothing to be feared in large-scale immigration from countries with national and religious traditions very different from our own. Conservatives see successful large-scale immigration as possible only where the immigrants are strongly motivated to integrate, and assisted in assimilating the national traditions of their new home country. In the absence of these conditions, the result will be chronic intercultural tension and violence.

6. Liberal Empire. Because liberalism is thought to be a dictate of universal reason, liberals tend to believe that any country not already governed as a liberal democracy should be pressed, and at times even coerced, to adopt this form of government. Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that different societies are held together and kept at peace in different ways, and that the universal application of liberal doctrines often brings collapse and chaos, doing more harm than good.

7. International Bodies. Similarly, liberals believe that since liberal principles are universal, there is little harm done in reassigning the powers of government to international bodies. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that such international organizations possess no sound governing traditions and no loyalty to particular national populations that might restrain their spurious theorizing about universal rights. They therefore see such bodies as inevitably tending toward arbitrariness and autocracy. 

In sketching these principles for conservative democracy, I have not proposed that changes should be made in any written constitutional documents. For the truth is that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the principal constitutional documents in Britain explicitly endorse liberal doctrines, and so it must be admitted that these documents are not the source of the troubles these nations are facing today.

The real problem is that American and British elites, like their European counterparts, are dogmatically committed to rationalist-liberal axioms as the sole legitimate basis for government, and have set about reconstructing public life in light of these beliefs—regardless of the actual contents of the Anglo-­American constitutional inheritance.

For example, there is nothing in the American Constitution that forbids teaching the Bible in schools. Even under the present liberal construction of the law, it is not now illegal to teach the Bible in American public schools. The Supreme Court seems to allow teaching the Bible as history, literature, or philosophy; yet most public schools offer no such courses. The problem is far less the law as it stands than the assumptions of an Enlightenment culture which is hostile to Bible education and does not want to see it in the schools. Indeed, this same culture is responsible for the fact that philosophically and theologically substantive courses in the Bible are largely avoided in the universities as well, even though no legal impediments stand in the way of offering or even requiring them. 

Similarly, the United States Supreme Court has, since 1992, permitted itself to make decisions on the basis of what it calls a “right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe” (in the words of Justices Kennedy, Souter, and O’Connor in Planned Parenthood v. Casey). In so doing, the court takes Jefferson’s assertion of a universal right to “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence and establishes it as a kind of ultimate standard against which all things in society are to be judged. Again, it is not the Constitution itself that is the problem, nor even, necessarily, the existence of such Enlightenment-rationalist phrases in the Declaration of Independence. The actual problem is the fact that many judges, interpreting the world from within the intellectual straitjacket of the liberal axiom system, are no longer capable of giving any real weight to the empirical reality of the American nation, with its historical commitments to the Bible, Christian religion, and the common law of England and America.

Perhaps democracy would be strengthened if its written constitutional documents were designed to protect the particularity of the nation and its traditions. But as these examples suggest, it is not primarily the written documents that make a democracy conservative.

The trauma of World War II persuaded America, Britain, and other nations to adopt a closed system of Enlightenment-rationalist principles—liberalism—as the sole foundation for public life and moral obligation. Eventually, the political traditions of these nations were even renamed “liberal democracy” as an indication that henceforth only Enlightenment-rationalist principles would be considered legitimate as the basis for political discourse.

But liberal principles provide no resources for maintaining institutions such as the national state, the family, and Christian or Jewish religion.Having displaced the older biblical worldview that had given these institutions life, liberalism has, in the course of a few generations, severely damaged all of them. The current political reality of disintegrating national states, ruined families, and eviscerated religious traditions is the direct consequence of the embrace of liberal dogma as a kind of universal salvation creed throughout much of the West. At this point, liberalism is widely accepted as a substitute for tradition, wisdom, and empiricism—which is another way of saying that it has replaced competent reasoning as well. 

Many can now see that the nations of the West are hurtling toward an abyss. I have offered a sketch of what it would mean to back away from it. I have suggested that there is no need for a revolutionary revision of the great constitutional documents of the Anglo-American political tradition. But the liberal axiom system must be set aside: We must cease to consider it the source of our political institutions. We must stop teaching it as a dogma to our children. And we must retrieve older traditions of Anglo-American political thought, which may yet be revived as a political model that can be called conservative democracy. 

Yoram Hazony is the author of The Virtue of Nationalism.

Monday, 7 January 2019

In praise of loose cannons . . . and great lights

Our estimable transatlantic art critic, classicist and, above all, faithful priest, Fr. Hunwicke, celebrates and compares two great  "lights" of the Ordinariates in a recent posting:


Bishop Graham Leonard:


I first published this in 2011, just as the Ordinariates were starting up. Bishop Leonard's portrait hangs in the study of Mgr Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham.

Bishop Graham departed this world on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2010. It is as if, grieved that the Feast of His Epiphany should have been expunged from the calendars of great swathes of the Latin Church, the Lord decided to grant Bishop Graham the Beatific Vision upon this great day. We hope and trust that his prayers avail for those who now seek to follow his lead into regularised canonical union with the See of Peter, and for all those who seek to enter more fully into the Theophany.

It is not for me to attempt to say, about Bishop Graham, things that others who knew him better than I did have said already and said rather better than I could. I would like to make just one point.

Our ecclesiastical culture, in a mirror image of its secular counterparts, abhors loose cannons; that is to say, those who disregard the unspoken conventions of The Club. In particular, there is lofty disapproval of those who, having been granted admission to 'management' status, pay insufficient attention to the overriding imperative of keeping cosily snuggled up to all the other Great Men.

Bishop Leonard certainly achieved 'status': he was Bishop of London, the second see in his province, and Dean of the Chapels Royal. But despite this he acceded to the request of a persecuted American group to give them pastoral support, in disregard of diocesan boundaries. 

By so doing, he broke every rule of the Top Chaps' Club. In this he was very strikingly like the Cardinal Ratzinger who ignored all the niceties of the Ecumenical Establishment, not to mention the Vatican's own dicasterial structures, to send a telegram of support to 'dissident' Anglicans meeting in America; and who, after being elected Pope, set up his Ordinariates with a cheerful and engagingly stylish disregard for vested interests ... interests which had assumed he would never dare to break ranks. Unclubable, by God!, the pair of them. Great men, the pair of them.

There are more important things in life than easing one's companionable buttocks on to the red leather of the club fender in the Athenaeum. Perhaps this is one important message which we Anglican Catholics, with our long and immensely proud history of being troublesome counter-cultural Loose Cannons, can contribute to the joyous Benedictine vision of renewing the youthful vigour of the Wider Latin Church.

A young man reflects on celebration of DIVINE WORSHIP - THE MISSAL



The following Facebook post was sent to STM Parish, Toronto.  It was sent by a young visitor who who reflects on the place of truth, beauty and goodness.

Attended the Anglican-use Ordinariate Mass in Toronto today. So very beautiful.

Unless you experience it, a lengthy essay would be needed to explain, but everything is perfectly laid out: the language, the intentions, the times to kneel, stand, sit: everything. Nothing is left unsaid. Everything is in it's right place.

Everything is properly disposed for the worship of God.

Today, the Mass was sung, and there was multiple pieces by composer William Byrd, a favourite of the Queen of his day because he created beautiful Anglican hymns for his sovereign by day, and excellent chant for his persecuted Catholic brothers and sisters with the rest of his time and talent.

In the last month I have attended Masses of the Ghanian and Syro-Malabar communities. It is a great benefit of living in such a diverse city to be able to goto Masses of many rites and languages. And everything done in these Masses are really good for these communities. But I have to say: my heart is with the Anglican-use liturgy.

And, I had this insight: how could this thing of great beauty and truth and goodness have survived so many cultural upheavals, starting with the vicious persecutions of the Church in England under Henry VIII and on?

Well, perhaps it is because of the many Holy men and and women who came before the martyrs and, of course, the incredible faith of the many martyrs of England and Wales which ensued.

All the very best things of Bede, Becket, Hugh of Lincoln, David, More and on and on and on... all the very best of their lives, their education, their formation, their blood, sweat, tears and prayers: all the very best of the way God loves us and wants us to love and honour Him back: it is all in the Anglican-use liturgy.

I hope you get a chance to visit one of their parishes around the world. Their communities are small and loving. According to my friends, they look out for their members Monday thru Saturday, and not just observe them on Sunday.

As the Church continues to be ripped asunder from the appalling leadership of most bishops in the Western world, as the courts and insurance companies wrestle away the secular treasures of the Church, from money to land. As these institutions sadly seem to be required to force justice into the behavioural norm of the chancelleries around the world, there will be these little enclaves of charity rooted in the first Commandment especially found in these Anglican Use parishes.

On the Feast Day of Mary,
our mother and our greatest patron in her maternal responsibilities with Jesus her son, may you have a 2019 that is full of peace, joy and the building of the Kingdom where ever you are.

Peace of Christ +++

Monday, 31 December 2018

Day of Obligation

Sung Mass at STM for

The Solemnity of 

Mary, Mother of God 

Tuesday, January 1 

at 12:30 noon 

263 Roncesvalles, Toronto, Ontario





Thursday, 27 December 2018

After Freedom: Catholic Political Theology In The Age Of Liberal Crisis by Ash Milton


Here is a great article from Palladium Magazine by one of our acolytes at STM Toronto.

It is well worth your time to read the entire article, link at bottom.  


Here are some excerpts:

The relationship between religious belief and the liberal order has always been complex. It has fluctuated between collaboration and strife. The Catholic relationship in particular has often experienced these side-by-side. Catholic emancipation in Britain came in living memory of the brutal war in the French Vendée. Post-war accommodation of American liberalism came shortly after Mexico’s Cristero war, during which an anti-clerical government judicially murdered thousands of its opponents and the Mexican priesthood shrank to nearly a tenth of its former size. U.S. oil interests pursued and gained that same government’s cooperation. Decades later, the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero similarly would be assassinated via the agents of a U.S.-backed regime. Between the Catholic and the liberal projects, the only constant factor has been uncertainty.
This tension has been reflected within Catholic political thought. The popes of the 19th century took a strong stand against the militant and revolutionary liberalism of their day. Those of the 20th century—as well as the ecumenical Second Vatican Council —attempted to seek areas of cooperation and common understanding. But decades of cultural conflicts and deepening reflection on the modern world by Catholic minds has seen the rise of a new, critical, and confrontational approach. Nor does this approach break the continuity of teaching. On the contrary, it is reflected in the teachings of successive popes, and not least in that of the first Supreme Pontiff from the Americas: Pope Francis. The global reshaping of the Catholic Church and the orientation of this teaching points toward an ever more direct and dramatic confrontation between the Catholic and liberal worlds.
The consequences are by no means restricted to practicing believers. The Catholic Church includes nearly 1.3 billion in its ranks, around a seventh of the human population. In those countries where it has long existed, it remains a powerful institutional force. In other regions, especially the global south, it is advancing via population growth and conversion. The signs are already there. There are Africa’s 200 million Catholics, many of whom travel to Europe not just as migrants but also as priests and monastics. Further east, the Vatican continues diplomatic efforts with China on behalf of a growing Catholic populace estimated at 12 million or more. Latin America continues to experience strong population growth. But while the Church’s makeup and centers of influence are fluctuating, they have done so many times. Its intellectual and social influence will ripple far beyond its membership. Such is the nature of an institution which has survived through the rise and fall of multiple civilizations.

The Birth And Death Of Fusionism

Megan McFadden/Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, United States
Much of the 20th century relationship between the Catholic and liberal worlds has been a product of Europe and the United States. The former is not only the home of the Roman See, but also the region where two world wars shaped Catholic concerns. The latter has been the seat of global liberal power since the close of those wars, and was also the major foe of global communism. Moreover, its large Catholic population became influential across American society, from its labor movement to its conservative intelligentsia. Meanwhile, Christian democratic parties in Europe appeared to harmonize the aims of Christian values and liberal politics.
The Second Vatican council, which ran from 1962 to 1965, was widely understood to have emphasized areas of common ground between Catholic teaching and liberal concerns, such as human dignity (with results considered bridge-building by advocates and betrayal by critics). Yet this period was, in many ways, a high point for those who favored cooperation. The cultural upheavals of the 1960s-70s saw turns toward moral norms which the Church could not abide. As a result, realignments occurred in the following decades along the lines of social issues, benefiting conservative parties. The rise of neoliberal economics also fueled the decline of the organized labor movement in which Catholics had been so present.
With the renewed anti-communism of Thatcher and Reagan, a coalition began to build around social conservatism and free market economics. A number of Catholic intellectuals and publications would contribute to this “fusionist” position, which was most prominent in the English-speaking countries. However, its last hurrah came within years of the 2008 U.S. election. Conservative positions in the culture war on marriage and secularism had been lost. Moreover, its “compassionate” capitalism had prevented neither the economic crisis of 2008-9, nor the stagnation faced by huge segments of the American electorate. With populism reshaping the global political spectrum, the fusionist experiment is widely viewed as a failure. The same has echoed throughout the Western world, with populist movements in Hungary, Poland, Italy, and other countries embracing a Catholic language on cultural and social issues combined with various programs of social support for families.

Papal Teaching And Liberal Man: A Tale Of Two Anthropologies

Josh Applegate/Saint John XXIII Catholic Church, Fort Collins, United States
The question of Catholic political thought is not merely a sociological one—that is, Catholic thought is not reducible to the spectrum of beliefs among those who self-identify with the religion. Rather, it is shaped by the reflections and actions of a hierarchical organization which exercises teaching authority over the broader population of believers. This hierarchy exercises a power called the magisterium, a term which refers to the teaching authority of the Pope and bishops in interpreting the Catholic faith, its sacred tradition, and its application through the course of history. The highest expression of this authority is in the Pope’s role as supreme pastor and teacher of the Church—an ex cathedra dogmatic pronouncement on matters of faith and morals—or in the decrees of ecumenical councils. However, the daily public teaching of the Pope and bishops through encyclicals, letters, homilies, and the like also has a binding authority known as the ordinary magisterium. It is in the magisterium that the highest religious teaching authority is to be found, and it is here where the pattern and the continuity of meditation on liberalism and the modern world has the strongest implications for Catholics.
A survey of papal teaching on the question of liberalism reveals an increasingly sophisticated understanding of our current age. Moreover, it is ever more confrontational toward it, and this has developed through successive popes, confounding the categories of “conservative” and “liberal” Catholicism imposed by current political structures.
To understand this development, it’s important to return to an earlier age of the liberal project. In the early 19th century, liberalism remained a militant, secularist, and often anti-clerical force. The Church of this period had already been rocked by the events of the French revolution, and saw similar forces rising near its center in the guise of Italian nationalism. But beneath these events lay a political doctrine, and it was in this context that the Papal magisterium began to address this doctrine in detail. Pope Gregory XVI released the encyclical Mirari vos in 1832, condemning the notion that religious belief is irrelevant provided that one is moral (indifferentism), the liberties of conscience and of publishing without regard to truth, and the severing of religious and political authority by the separation of church and state, among others. A generation later, Pope Pius IX added his voice in a response to the forces of Risorgimento, which pursued a liberal Italian nation-state and targeted Rome itself. In 1864, he published the encyclical Quanta Curawhich included the well-known Syllabus of Errors. These documents were wider in scope and confronted a liberalism which was developed but also increasingly diverse.
In the modern context, the declarations of Mirari vos seem arbitrary. But it is in Quanta Cura and the Syllabus that the Papal magisterium began to discern and target fundamental differences between itself and the liberal doctrine. Unlike later rivals—Marxism, National Socialism, and the like—liberalism has never had a foundational text or unified doctrine, though certain themes have consistently reoccurred. The documents condemned a variety of propositions found in the literature of the day which were thought to be incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Most fundamentally, the encyclical and Syllabus targeted the idea that there existed a rational “secular truth” which could ignore the truths and values proclaimed by the Church. They countered this with the stance that human reason and conscience do not exist in an autonomous sphere divorced from the world. Religious claims could be true or false, but they cannot be relegated to the private sphere in favor of a neutral state. Affirming that the Church’s claims were true and bore consequences for social and political life, Quanta Cura and Syllabus defended it from demands of subjugation by secular powers. More particularly, they rejected the claim that either private reason or the public state could get away with disregarding these truths.
To the modern reader, this seems presumptuous, even arrogant. But it bears consideration that modern states and their citizens do not act differently. Both governments and individuals must make decisions, pass judgements, and set goals. In order to do this, one must have some kind of desirable end in mind. This in turn depends on a value system and a view of the world.
While some differences about the nature of reality can co-exist with each other, others cannot. Universities have faced internal battles on the teaching of evolutionary biology, first between scientists and religious objectors, and today between scientists and social constructionists. When governments fund university departments, they participate in this battle over truth. The same holds true for cultural mores. The definitions of marriage and gender are not merely arbitrary points of private opinion. Based on the progressive view, governments have legislated penaltiesagainst certain kinds of speech, schools promote a particular vision of morality and justice, and both public and corporate power fund the advance and popular celebration of these values. Many would not even consider this a real clash of moral worlds. These values are merely those things which all good and respectable people believe—despite being only a few years old. In reality, a certain pattern of belief and behavior has been normalized, and it socially and legally excludes those rival patterns which contradict it.
However, there is a key difference between the old order and the new. In the age of Pope Pius IX, the understanding of truth was explicit and formal. Currently, those with the power to shape the beliefs of society do so freed of any duty to affirm the source of their judgments. Moreover, the lack of any formal institutional approach allows for new factions to quickly arise and overthrow their predecessors. The radicals of the 1960s have become the worried centrists of the 2010s, and the classical liberals have taken to making podcasts rather than mounting barricades. But the arbitrariness of liberalism’s principles and taboos is merely the effect of its structure. Even in 1864, Pius IX sensed that when liberalism unleashed the individual from the spiritual, moral, and communal worlds, the main beneficiaries were the bearers of power:
And, since where religion has been removed from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine revelation repudiated, the genuine notion itself of justice and human right is darkened and lost, and the place of true justice and legitimate right is supplied by material force, thence it appears why it is that some, utterly neglecting and disregarding the surest principles of sound reason, dare to proclaim that “the people’s will, manifested by what is called public opinion or in some other way, constitutes a supreme law, free from all divine and human control; and that in the political order accomplished facts, from the very circumstance that they are accomplished, have the force of right.” But who, does not see and clearly perceive that human society, when set loose from the bonds of religion and true justice, can have, in truth, no other end than the purpose of obtaining and amassing wealth, and that (society under such circumstances) follows no other law in its actions, except the unchastened desire of ministering to its own pleasure and interests?
The rise of liberalism as a doctrine cannot be separated from the social mechanism of that rise: a bourgeois class which was increasingly influential, confident, and intent on removing the obstacles to its power. The values of individualism, meritocracy, and social liberation served specific goals. The tie between doctrine and power was not an observation specific to the Church. From a very different perspective, Karl Marx notedthe alignments of French revolutionary factions with class interests: legitimists with the landed gentry, Orleanists with the wealthy merchants, and social democracy as an alliance between the middle classes and the burgeoning urban proletariat. Two forces must be distinguished in this account of liberalism. The first is that of a class promoting a particular ideology. The second is that of the ideological belief system itself. If a particular class maintains its power, then ideologies can well change with the interests of that class. In the 20th century, concerns about socialism led some parts of the business class to see fascism as a lesser evil. Likewise, an ideology can be adopted by various classes sharing similar interests. Marxism has been the tool not only for Western urban workers, but Chinese and Cuban peasantry.
The point of this observation is that the transformation of society by a liberal political order was not only a matter of debates on truth. Social and economic life was in the thralls of the industrial revolution, which brought about both a new technological world and the poverty of mass dislocation. From this strife, liberalism began to confront the rising power of socialism. With members of all classes among its ranks, the Church likewise confronted the crisis.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII released the historic encyclical Rerum Novarum. It is generally known for its rejection of an unbridled market and its affirmation of labor unions as a method to secure social and economic dignity. It also called on employers to subject their economic interests to greater social and religious duties, such as time off on feast days. Written at the end of the 19th century, it promoted a notion of property tied to familial ownership, particularly of land. In the tradition of Aquinas, it affirmed that this property was subject to the good of both spiritual duty and the commonwealth, while the commonwealth likewise must respect the rights of the family according to natural law. It also called on states to recognize that while the rights of all must be respected, the duty of justice required a focus on those segments which made up the bulk of the commonwealth but lacked the private resources of wealthier classes.
While much can and has been written on the differences between the liberal and Catholic ideas of property, it is what underlies this difference which is of deeper concern. In Rerum Novarum, a distinctive ordering of life exists. Economic power is subject to the good of the commonwealth, which is safeguarded by the state. The political power itself is subject in faith and morals to the spiritual authority of the Church, which is (as we saw in the earlier encyclicals) the guardian of those truths which allow humans to realize their highest good. Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX had condemned a doctrine where religious authority was subject to political authority, with the latter warning against power divorced from truth. Pope Leo XIII was confronting the economic consequences of such a divorce.
Jace Grandinetti/Vatican City
Nevertheless, there is an optimism in Rerum Novarum which is hard to miss. At the time of its writing, a number of private associations had arisen for the benefit of workers. In addition to the growing power of organized labor, even employers and wealthy benefactors had, to an extent, embraced a culture of public responsibility. Charities, insurance associations, and workingman’s associations had begun to create a support structure to alleviate the excesses of the industrial revolution. The encyclical praises these and ends on a hopeful note that such developments will resolve the crisis of labor. In this sense, Rerum Novarum can perhaps be viewed as the beginning of a period where the Church began to see opportunities for cooperation, taking the best of liberal achievements and turning them toward Christian values. The coming decades would see two world wars eliminate most of the remaining Christian monarchies in Europe and the rise of ideologies hostile to Catholicism. Its post-war engagement was with a triumphant and vigorous liberal international order.
The Second Vatican Council is often viewed as the Church’s attempt to engage the modern world from its highest levels. While this is an over-simplification, elements within the council did desire rapprochement and an end to the battles of the past century. It is also true that a renewed witness and evangelization was front and center in the minds of the council fathers, and especially of the popes who oversaw it: John XXIII and Paul VI. The results of this council were of monumental significance. On the one hand, the council provided a renewed framework for addressing a host of theological and social concerns. On the other, it created conflict between “traditionalist” and “conciliar” factions within the Church. The former believed that a number of the council documents had sacrificed clarity for the sake of diplomacy, or worse, capitulation. The latter often adopted a similar reading of the council documents, but embraced and sought to accelerate what they considered to be the “spirit of Vatican II.” Liturgical reforms to the rites of the Mass became a battleground. Some sought to protect the ancient liturgy against what they saw as a new, stunted ritual, while others implemented changes far beyond anything which the council had sanctioned. Many of the splits and factions from this period last to the modern day.
For the moment, we’ll refrain from going down the rabbit-hole of post-conciliar politics. Rather, our interest is in the council’s approach to defining and contrasting the Church’s doctrine with those promoted by the world around it. The council fathers discerned that it was ever more vital for the Church to defend and champion its view of the human person as an integral being: material, social, political, religious. This commitment was not merely intellectual, but was born in the fire of war. It underpinned many anti-Hitlerist Catholic writings, such as those of the White Rose dissidents and Bishop Clemens von Galen of Münster. Likewise, Catholics underwent severe persecution along with Eastern Orthodox Christians under Soviet rule, particularly those of the eastern-rite Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Among the documents most positive toward the post-war political order was the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, entitled Gaudium et Spes. In this context, the council fathers began with a reaffirmation of the human person, its nature, its dignity, and its telos in the world. It begins in the beginning, reasserting the Christian understanding of man as bearing the divine image, as a being created for communion with others, and as a creature who finds himself in a fractured and darkened state:
Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God. Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, but their senseless minds were darkened and they served the creature rather than the Creator…Therefore man is split within himself. As a result, all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness.
While this doctrine might seem all-too-familiar, its implications for the Church’s role in the world are enormous. As a result of this belief, it can never accept a vision of man that separates him from his telos. The notion that human society can exist as something distinct from human nature is a contradiction in terms. Thus, it declares that modern minds have used freedom “perversely as a license for doing whatever pleases them, even if it is evil.” As it develops, the document squarely targets the moral construct of the sovereign and autonomous individual:
Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all His life and the means necessary to living it with dignity, so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus…As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of social unity, so also “it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness [Lumen Gentium].”
With this in mind, Gaudium et Spes condemns the division of the world into religious and irreligious spheres:
[They are] wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life. This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments. Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other.
Based on this foundation, the remainder of the document—and the other documents of the council—expand on the implications of such an anthropology for social, political, economic, and religious order.
The avenues of thought opened by the council have lasted to the modern day. The optimism, arguably, has not. The final arc of development takes place after the council and in the context of a Western culture increasingly hostile to religious life and values. The reason for this was simple: like Christianity, the liberal view of man in fact possessed a telos, a goal which it pursued for human societies. While the Christian anthropology called on humans to embrace God and neighbor, the liberal one oriented them towards liberation of the individual. The former required people and societies to embrace both religious commandments and social obligations. The latter increasingly saw these as coercive, even in the form of cultural norms rather than legal ones.
The liberal telos advanced across the political spectrum, eroding both institutions and values shaped by traditional social norms on the on hand and the economic left on the other. Those parties associated with the left abandoned the causes of labor and embraced those of social progressivism. Meanwhile, the right’s social traditionalism increasingly became merely a tool of coalition-building. Its real contributions to government and society became economic neoliberalism and internationalist neoconservatism. Decade by decade, more of the perceived shackles of social morality and economic solidarity were torn off. Yet the prediction of Pope Pius IX still held: behind the ideology of the free individual lay the reality of unbounded power.
Nevertheless, the Church now possessed both well over a century of meditation on liberalism as a doctrine. Moreover, it had increasingly developed an anthropology which perceived the fundamental divide between the Catholic and the liberal telos. Armed with these tools, it became possible for the magisterium to perceive a particular mode of being into which humanity was increasingly socialized. Moreover, it could explain why this mode of being subjected the human person to both spiritual and social violence, subverting the telos both of communion with God and with neighbor. This brings us to the encyclicals of three Popes: John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.

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