Friday, May 27, 2016

Spiritual roots of hope for Mexico

Jean Ko Din writes about the spiritual roots of change in Mexico. Excerpts follow:

Mexico is ready for social change. The problem is that no one can agree on where to start, said Miguel Alvarez Gandara.
“All these explanations of the Mexican situation, in my opinion, all of them are part of the complete diagnosis of human rights,” said Gandara, an expert in peace meditation. “The problem is that in Mexico, every group is acting towards its own diagnosis.”

Earlier this month, Gandara visited Toronto to talk to the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice.

“Some say that the Mexican state is so corrupted with so much juridical fiction that it is not a state of law, it is not a state of justice. It’s just a general condition where the powerful benefit from the minority,” he said. “For another, this is a criminal state linked with organized crime. Some will call it a narco state.”

Others believe the main crisis in Mexico lies in security, with the Mexican army holding sway over local communities and local affairs.
Some believe the growing income gap has fuelled the growth of organized crime. 

Gandara said organized crime is so strongly linked with individuals in government and in communities it is very difficult to contain its spread . . . the Mexican people are frustrated, yet the government consistently denies the reality of the situation. 

In March, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission released a report that said Mexico is suffering a “serious crisis of violence and impunity.” The report said the Mexican government has systemically failed to investigate crimes that have led to torture and the disappearance and killings of more than 30,000 people as of 2015.

“(The Mexican government) is not accepting the fact of that explanation. They say that they did not generalize, instead they focused on the isolated incidents,” said Gandara. “The truth is that because of the violence of the war against crimes, we as a country have the surprise of receiving what is now the centralizing of all victims.”

Gandara said that in anticipation of the upcoming Three Amigos summit on June 29, when leaders from Canada, the United States and Mexico will meet, it is important that Canadians gain a better understanding of the crisis that Mexico is currently facing.
Gandara has more than 40 years of experience in peace mediation in Mexico. He is president of SERAPAZ (Service and Advising for Peace), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing peaceful resolutions to social struggles in Mexico.

He said that when Pope Francis visited Mexico in February, it was a phenomenon because everyone wanted the Holy Father to say something that supported their cause and their agenda.

“There was a preparation for the battle for the Pope,” said Gandara. “But he was so smart... He didn’t say the phrases that we were needing but he left us a package of wonders of hope. Now the media has forgotten the Pope, but the churches are working with the gift the Pope gave the Mexican people.”

Gandara is hopeful about the future. Social movements are rising up everywhere in the country and the people are letting it be known they are very aware of the corruption in the country.

Full article in the May 27 edition of THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

A Homily for the Feast of St. Philip Neri


Holy Family Parish, Toronto
May 26, 2016

“ Jesus said to his disciples: Let your loins be girt and you yourselves, like men who wait for their Lord.”    Luke 12: 35

As your guest this evening may I first thank Fr. Robinson and the Fathers of the Oratory very much for their kind invitation. 

The readings and prayers for this Feast of St. Philip Neri point us to two aspects of the universal Church’s teaching which we need so much to consider in the world today if we are to be like those who, as our text says, “wait for their lord”.  These two aspects of Christian life are expressed and highlighted in the worship of the universal Church.

The first is the gift of “Wisdom.”  We read on this feast from the Book of Wisdom:
“I called and the spirit of wisdom came upon me.”  Wisdom here means the gift of God to those who ask in prayer, not some worldly wisdom but rather what was called in the English spiritual tradition “ghostly wisdom.”

Secondly “Glory.” Glory is the context into which God has called St. Philip. That which is glorious is of eternal worth.  In the words of the Collect we pray:  “O God who didst exalt blessed Philip thy confessor  with thy saints in glory.”   And the Collect continues to ask that we may profit by the example of his virtues; one of which is, of course, the gift of wisdom.  Wisdom and glory are expressed in the various rites, languages and uses of the Catholic Church, perhaps in none more so than in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass we celebrate this evening.

Before we continue to consider some aspects of the connection between wisdom and glory in the lives of St. Philip Neri and of Blessed John Henry Newman, I thought that I should, as a visitor, tell you two things about myself and my work.
A wedding at Holy Family
First, I am a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and I serve the small parish of St. Thomas More which came into being in 2012 under the provisions made in Anglicanorum Coetibus, that is the Apostolic Constitution promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI welcoming Anglicans, Protestants and others who affirm the Catholic Faith as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church into full communion with the Holy See.

Over the past four years, the people of STM have gathered for Sung Mass on Sundays and Solemnities at Sacré-Coeur Church in downtown Toronto thanks to the kind hospitality of Cardinal Collins. Many of us in the Ordinariate are former Anglican clergy and laity and, increasingly, we welcome Protestants of various traditions who have been, or are now, in the process of being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

In my case, like many priests of the Ordinariate, I was granted dispensation from the rule of celibacy by the Holy Father in order to be ordained Deacon by Cardinal Collins and later priest by Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa. 

Naturally, those of us at the parish of STM are very grateful to Pope Benedict whose vision and wisdom brought about this dramatic first movement for the healing of the Reformation rift.  “Groups of Anglicans” as the Apostolic Constitution calls us -- Anglicanorum Coetibus – are groups who have been received around the world along with our traditions of liturgy, choral music, pastoral care and patristic theology which are consonant with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. 

These aspects of patrimony are now beautifully expressed in the Ordinariate’s new missal entitled DIVINE WORSHIP recently approved for worldwide use by the Holy See, to the greater glory of God.  The DIVINE WORSHIP missal is commended to the Church for use as a part of the Latin Rite just as the Ordinary Form is and now again in recent years the more ancient usage of the Extraordinary Form, which we are privileged to celebrate this evening.

As we know, there are various forms of worship which seek to communicate the wisdom of God even as they reflect the divine glory.  The many Eastern Rite churches in full communion with Rome use various languages and distinctive ceremonial.  The Ordinariate Mass looks very similar to the ceremonial of the Solemn Mass we celebrate this evening, ad orientem or eastward facing and with the traditional ceremonial of the Western or Latin Rite of the Church. 

Secondly, I should tell you that I am a Catholic chaplain for the Princess Margaret, Toronto Western and and Sick Childrens’ hospitals in downtown Toronto where  I encounter and anoint many at all stages of life.

These two biographical notes may explain some of the language and idioms I employ this evening. So, we continue to consider together the wisdom and glory of God as expressed in the Catholic faith and as manifested in St. Philip Neri whose life of prayer, pastoral care, educational concerns and inspirational service to God and humanity reflect both the wisdom and the glory of God.

Wisdom and glory are central elements of the Catholic Faith so much so that the very words are spoken and sung repeatedly throughout the readings and prayers of the Church’s liturgy especially in these days following the Feast of the Ascension. Glory is the reflected wisdom of God; and wisdom is the glory of man fully alive to the love of God.

Wisdom and glory are in this sense welded together in the life of St. Philip Neri.  The Collect prayer for his feast has us pray: “O God, who didst exalt blessed Philip, Thy Confessor, with Thy saints in glory: mercifully grant that, we who rejoice in his festival may profit by the example of his virtues.”

Principle amongst St. Philip’s virtues was the gift of holy wisdom. Spiritual wisdom is the gift of God for discerning the ways of God and applying them to the salvation of souls. We might say that this is the wisdom at the very heart of human living in which the sacred Heart of Christ speaks to our hearts. This holy wisdom relates directly to the hope which is given to humanity in Jesus Christ, the incarnate wisdom of God who interprets the meaning of our human lives in and through our relationship with the divine glory of God. 

The Holy Ghost given to the Church after the Ascension of Christ is the power of wisdom guiding the corporate life of Christians into the unity for which Jesus prays: “That they all may be one.” Guided by the Holy Ghost the thoughts and actions of the truly wise, from the simple apostolic fishermen who followed Jesus to the luminous theologians like Pope Benedict XVI speak to the hearts of sincere Christians about how we are to live together before God.

Blessed John Henry Newman following the example of St. Philip Neri was, like St. Philip, concerned for the education of the whole person: spiritually, intellectually and socially.  This integrated approach to the education of individuals was, as they both clearly believed, for the glory of God and was dependent upon the virtue of wisdom which is a reflection of the will of God in the souls of the faithful.

Newman, since his days at Oxford had advocated the nurturing of students in faith and morals as well as in the pursuit of knowledge. The personal commitment of teachers to their students and devotion to the needs of each student as a whole person is highlighted in Newman’s work Idea of a University. Scholars have said Newman found these principles mirrored most fully and remarkably in the life and wisdom of St. Philip Neri.
Low Mass at Holy Family
In 1955 Professor Culler in his consideration of St. Philip and Blessed John Henry Newman pointed to the important truth that in St. Philip, Newman saw the realization of his own educational and pastoral ideal.  Both men were deeply ascetical with regard to the prayer and discipline of the Church, and were committed to the sacramental life, to the ministry of the confessional and to individual counsel and instruction in pursuit of wisdom.

All of these aspects of St. Philip’s life are seen in relation to and undergirded by a community of Catholic liturgical celebration and social intercourse, which was really  a dialogue with culture as we might say today.

True wisdom, in this sense, is in the discernment of what is valuable to the City of God in the midst of the Earthly City as St. Philip, the Apostle of Rome, so powerfully and joyfully exemplified in his pastoral encounters with people at all levels of society.

Newman, like St Philip, fused devotion with dogma.  The life of prayer and ascetical discipline was at one with the doctrine – the magisterial teaching of the Church. This wisdom was the model of faith and practice which St. Philip saluted, we are told, when he encountered students at the Venerable English College in Rome. Upon seeing these English seminarians coming out the gate across from his own residence he would shout to them:  “Hail the flower of the martyrs!”  This was, of course, in reference to the sacrifices for the Faith of the priests who faced great peril having gone to England to minister to faithful Catholics during the persecutions of the sixteenth century.

In hospital ministry, I have seen that the realities of “wisdom” and “glory” proclaimed and embodied by the Church as the Body of Christ, can be a focus for those struggling with the many questions that surround pain, suffering and the end of life in a way which gives meaning to life at all stages. 

The reality of divine wisdom as it relates to the glory of God has much to say to patients and families as they face the very intense life challenges that illness brings.  Indeed we need the gift of wisdom and the hope of glory particularly as those who are gravely ill, along with the rest of society, seek to address the current and extremely important issue of care at the end of life while we struggle to honour all human life under the spectre of legislation that proposes to endorse assisted suicide.

The Catholic Church speaks clearly and distinctly about the sanctity of all human life.  This is an expression of wisdom, the gift of the Holy Ghost, guiding the bishops of the Church in proclaiming the unchanging Gospel to a society which seems to be possessed by a spirit of narrow and corrosive individualism, the very antithesis of the holy wisdom and the hope of glory.

The Church must respond to the idiocy of rampant choice-obsessed individualism – and I use the term ‘idiocy’ advisedly: idiot meaning one fixated upon oneself and, we might add, fixated upon one’s own choices to the exclusion of others. 

The Church, by contrast, offers what R.R. Reno described recently (First Things, May 2016) as living communities of obligation and commitment. He said, and I quote: “We need to provide atomized people with non-optional solidarity . . .  revitalizing the mediating layers of society.”

This was the wise vision of St. Philip for the Church of Rome in a society which, like our own, had become idiocentric, obsessed with materialism and entertainment.  St. Philip wisely pointed people back to a community of obligation and commitment, a community of mercy, hope and glory – the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Bernard Longley described St Philip and Cardinal Newman, as: "Wise, joyful and prayerful priests."  Their lives give glory to God by the wise application of their talents and their openness to the direction of the Holy Ghost.

May their prayers and example guide us in our lives.

“ Jesus said to his disciples: Let your loins be girt and you yourselves, like men who wait for their Lord.”   Luke 12: 35

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Michael Coren's latest plea for attention

In his most recent, and obviously hurriedly composed book (Epiphany), social commentator and former Catholic Michael Coren recounts once again the case for the social normalization of homosexual relationships and the re-definition of marriage. There is nothing new or perceptive here. 

Amidst half-truths about the Catholic Church, like the claim that the annulment of a marriage is really just Catholic divorce, Coren puts on full display his animus towards those who have taken his rejection of the Catholic faith seriously.

A long litany of the mean words written and spoken about him makes up the first third, at least, of the book. Coren seems to have forgotten the maxim that the least convincing defender of one’s actions is oneself. The actual issue of homosexual marriage seems to be something of a backdrop to the recounting of the wounds inflicted upon Coren who displays himself as a conscience-driven martyr to the cause.

Between the lines, however, one might read that Coren's career, his speaking engagements, etc., has not been going so well since he jumped ship.  There are plenty of “gay” advocates out there and they are in the ascendency at the moment.  An aging former archconservative (and a pretty vituperative one at that) who has “seen the light,” or at least something of the romantic evening glow, is not so much in demand on radio, T.V. and the lecture circuit. Surprised?

Perhaps Coren’s least convincing special pleading is seen in his attempt in this book to resurrect the canard about the close friendship between Blessed John Henry Newman and Fr. Ambrose St. John.  He ignores the distinguished scholarship of Ian Ker in his definitive biography John Henry Newman: A Biography as well as the conclusions of others including the often Catho-phobic John Cornwell.  The scholars have dealt with the evidence and concluded that the Newman/ St. John friendship was just that: friendship; Coren presumes to know better. 

Overlooking the Victorian context of close male friendships and without advancing any new evidence Coren simply asserts that since Newman and St. John were close friends in a celibate community they must have been in some kind of perhaps repressed sexual relationship. This comes after Coren has just spent pages complaining that the conjectures of others are unfair when they have presumed to speculate about his own sexual history. 

What this attack on Newman could possibly have to do with the sacrament of marriage leaves Catholics querulous and Coren looking like an increasingly desperate debater looking for a hook to hang his ideas on.

The Newman case along with Coren's use of gay jargon in recounting the stories of several disaffected and laicized priests offers nothing new. It's the same old narcissistic argument: I should be able to do what I want to do and society should conform to my choice. 

Coren argues his case for the redefinition of marriage in the same way in which he used to throw around right-wing cant.  There is nothing new and little of interest apart from self-interest coming from a journalist who has rejected what he recently claimed in one of his books: “Why Catholics are Right.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Science can neither prove nor disprove God - that is not its purpose

The late Fr Stanley Jaki OSB, was a world-ranking authority on science and religion. He was the author of more than 50 books and over 400 articles. 
The following is excerpted from a recent article by John Beaumont in the Catholic Herald. 
We start with his appreciation of the nature of science, by which Fr Jaki means exact science: physics, astronomy and chemistry.
“Science derives its exactness from measurements which is the application of quantities, or numbers. Numbers are the specifically exact notions among all notions the human mind is capable of forming. An action may be more or less emphatic, goodness admits grades and shades but, say, the number five cannot be more or less five. Herein lies the crux of all talks about science and religion, and even about science and any non-scientific field of inquiry.”
Exact science, then, is about quantities, nothing more and nothing less than just quantities. So, can the existence of God be proved by science understood in this sense? Of course not.
“Since a scientific proof must rest on measurements, the proof would imply that God can be sized up by callipers, weighed in balance, confined to a test tube, scanned by photon beams, pictured in holographs, and, for good measure, described in tensor equations.”
But whenever an assertion contains non-quantitative propositions, and it does so often, science becomes irrelevant. 
Exact science, then, is extremely limited in its applicability, although it is applicable everywhere where there is matter (and we must not forget the massive role that science plays in this area).
Here is the answer to the New Atheists, who are making the mistake of dealing with matters outside their field of exact science. It is essential, then, that they are relentlessly pressed whenever they bring science into connection with a non-scientific subject, such as God.
“Scientists should be viewed as acting in a most arbitrary manner when they touch on matters that are not quantitative. If scientists want to grasp the purpose of anything, they sin against the logic of science if they try to fathom purpose through science, unless they find a way to measure purpose. The question of free will is not something for science to handle. There are no quantitative units in which to measure free will. There are no two grams of purpose and five nanoseconds of free will.”
So the most fundamental rule which should govern all reasoned talk about the relation of science and religion is that quantities form one conceptual domain, and all other concepts another.
The question of origins can be dealt with in the same way. Coming into existence and going out of it would become a scientific topic only when a method of measuring the ‘nothing’ is invented. Thus, it is clear that science, so fruitful in its own field, can say nothing about many matters that are most important for man.
It follows, then, that neither can science disprove the existence of God. What it can do, and this is important in the present context, is to provide us with ever vaster amounts of quantitative data about specific things. It is for philosophy alone to provide the reasoning which shows that the specific nature of things as seen everywhere is tied to a coherent totality, just as specific, and that it can therefore be accounted for only by a primordial creative act of God.
Moving in this way from finite, contingent things to an infinite reality as the ground of the former’s existence is admittedly not a proof in the sense in which proofs are meant in science. It is rather something from which an inference may be drawn. Not a knock-down argument, then, but nevertheless a powerful process of reasoning.
It is inevitable that the topic of Darwin and Darwinism figures significantly in the media’s portrayal of this subject area. Some contributors go as far as to say that Darwin’s theory of evolution disproves the existence of God. It does nothing of the sort.
Again the key to understanding is to appreciate the nature of science and its relationship with other disciplines. The theory is a scientific one, because, in principle at least, its two main factors (that the offspring are always slightly different from the parents, and that the physical environment has a differential impact on the offspring) can be evaluated quantitatively. Quantities make a science exact. Anything else in it is philosophy.
So, this is the reason, according to Fr Jaki, why credit should be given to Darwin for putting evolutionary speculations on the road toward the status of exact science. Are there any weaknesses in Darwinism? 
He instances the fact that Darwin’s theory leaves no room for the mind, to say nothing of love. He points to the statement of another Darwinist, J.B.S. Haldane: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
The major factor in the present context is that when the New Atheists use Darwin’s theory as a stick with which to beat the religious viewpoint, as a means of showing that there is no purpose in the universe, they are using it not as a science, but as an ideology. In fact they are contravening the very principles of science. Once again, it is the non-quantitative matters that are being referred to and these are not amenable to the scientific method.
As Jaki points out, “For all its value as a scientific theory of evolution, Darwinism, if taken consistently, cannot say anything about existence, purpose, and mind.” But Darwinists will not grant this, precisely because for them the theory is also an ideology, and one that is, by definition, materialistic.
It is amusing here to note the remark made by A.N.Whitehead regarding the approach taken by Darwinists of the kind referred to here, namely that “those who devote themselves to the purpose of proving that there is no purpose constitute an interesting subject for study.” 
When Darwinism is taken as ideology, it cannot be reconciled with Christian belief, whereas the scientific theory can, because, by its very nature, it does not touch on the basics of that belief.

To Fr Jaki, the present problems faced by the Church were so serious that “one has only one choice: to fight”. He worked ardently to give Catholics the weapons with which to counter secular materialism and promote the Catholic faith.
For more details, see especially Stanley L Jaki’s books, Questions of Science and Religion (2004) and The Purpose of it All (2005), plus three of his booklets: Science and Religion: A Primer (2004), Evolution for Believers (2005) and Intelligent Design? (2006). All are published by Real View Books (see and

Faith and Particle Physics

The following is excerpted from the Catholic Herald article by Fr Andrew Pinsent, physicist and priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, UK. 
Fr Pinsent is Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University. He was formerly a particle physicist at CERN. 
Fr. Pinsent is co-founder, with Fr Marcus Holden, of the Evangelium Project, which is dedicated to improving the quality of Catholic education. See
Fr. Pinsent outlines the contributions made by individual Catholics to science and sets them in the context of Catholic teaching which has allowed for the development of Science and Western Culture which is only truly understood through the application of Faith and reason together.

1. Light and the cosmos
The Opus Maius (1267) of the Franciscan Roger Bacon (d 1292), written at the request of Pope Clement IV, largely initiated the tradition of optics in the Latin world. The first spectacles were invented in Italy around 1300, an application of lenses that developed later into telescopes and microscopes.
While many people think of Galileo (d 1642) being persecuted, they tend to forget the peculiar circumstances of these events, or the fact that he died in his bed and his daughter became a nun.
The Gregorian Calendar (1582), now used worldwide, is a fruit of work by Catholic astronomers, as is the development of astrophysics by the spectroscopy of Fr Angelo Secchi (d 1878).
Most remarkably, the most important theory of modern cosmology, the Big Bang, was invented by a Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître (d 1966, pictured), a historical fact that is almost never mentioned by the BBC or in popular science books.
2. Earth and nature
Catholic civilisation has made a remarkable contribution to the scientific investigation and mapping of the earth, producing great explorers such as Marco Polo (d 1324), Prince Henry the Navigator (d 1460), Bartolomeu Dias (d 1500), Christopher Columbus (d 1506) and Ferdinand Magellan
(d 1521). Far from believing that the world was flat (a black legend invented in the 19th century), the Catholic world produced the first modern scientific map: Diogo Ribeiro’s Padrón Real (1527). Fr Nicolas Steno (d 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata which is one of the principles of geology.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d 1829), a French Catholic, developed the first theory of evolution, including the notion of the transmutation of species and a genealogical tree. The Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel (d 1884, pictured) founded the science of genetics based on the meticulous study of the inherited characteristics of some 29,000 pea plants.
3. Philosophy and theology 
Catholicism regards philosophy as intrinsically good and was largely responsible for founding theology, the application of reason to what has been revealed supernaturally. Great Catholic philosophers include St Augustine (d 430), St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274), St Anselm (d 1109), Blessed Duns Scotus (d 1308), Suárez (d 1617) and Blaise Pascal (d 1662). Recent figures include St Edith Stein (d 1942, pictured), Elizabeth Anscombe (d 2001) and Alasdair MacIntyre. On the basis that God is a God of reason and love, Catholics have defended the irreducibility of the human person to matter, the principle that created beings can be genuine causes of their own actions, free will, the role of the virtues in happiness, objective good and evil, natural law and the principle of non-contradiction. These principles have had an incalculable influence on intellectual life and culture.
4. Education and the university system
Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system. Early Catholic universities include Bologna (1088); Paris (c 1150); Oxford (1167, pictured); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca (1218-1219); Padua (1222); Naples (1224) and Vercelli (1228). By the middle of the 15th-century (more than 70 years before the Reformation), there were over 50 universities in Europe.
Many of these universities, such as Oxford, still show signs of their Catholic foundation, such as quadrangles modelled on monastic cloisters, gothic architecture and numerous chapels. Starting from the sixth-century Catholic Europe also developed what were later called grammar schools and, in the 15th century, produced the movable type printing press system, with incalculable benefits for education. Today, it has been estimated that Church schools educate more than 50 million students worldwide.
5. Art and architecture
Faith in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh and the Sacrifice of the Mass have been the founding principles of extraordinary Catholic contributions to art and architecture. These contributions include: the great basilicas of ancient Rome; the work of Giotto (d 1337), who initiated a realism in painting the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, which helped to inspire three-dimensional art and drama; the invention of one-point linear perspective by Brunelleschi (d 1446) and the great works of the High Renaissance. The latter include the works of Blessed Fra Angelico (d 1455), today the patron saint of art, and the unrivalled work of Leonardo da Vinci (d 1519), Raphael (d 1520), Caravaggio (d 1610, pictured), Michelangelo (d 1564) and Bernini (d 1680). Many of the works of these artists, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, are considered among the greatest works of art of all time. Catholic civilisation also founded entire genres, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil and the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona show that the faith continues to be an inspiration for highly original art and architecture.
6. Law and jurisprudence
The reforms of Pope Gregory VII (d 1085, pictured) gave impetus to forming the laws of the Church and states of Europe. The subsequent application of philosophy to law, together with the great works of monks like the 12th-century Gratian, produced the first complete, systematic bodies of law, in which all parts are viewed as interacting to form a whole. This revolution also led to the founding of law schools, starting in Bologna (1088), from which the legal profession emerged, and concepts such as “corporate personality”, the legal basis of a wide range of bodies today such as universities, corporations and trust funds. Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilisation and jurisprudence.
7. Language 
The centrality of Greek and Latin to Catholicism has greatly facilitated popular literacy, since true alphabets are far easier to learn than the symbols of logographic languages, such as Chinese. Spread by Catholic missions and exploration, the Latin alphabet is now the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Catholics also developed the Armenian, Georgian and Cyrillic alphabets and standard scripts, such as Carolingian minuscule from the ninth to 12th centuries, and Gothic miniscule (from the 12th). Catholicism also provided the cultural framework for the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), the Cantar de Mio Cid (“The Song of my Lord”) and La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland), vernacular works that greatly influenced the development of Italian, Spanish and French respectively. The Catholic Hymn of Cædmon in the seventh century is arguably the oldest extant text of Old English. Valentin Haüy (d 1822), brother of the Abbé Haüy (the priest who invented crystallography), founded the first school for the blind. The most famous student of this school, Louis Braille (d 1852), developed the worldwide system of writing for the blind that today bears his name.
8. Music 
Catholic civilisation virtually invented the western musical tradition, drawing on Jewish antecedents in early liturgical music. Monophonic Gregorian chant developed from the sixth century. Methods for recording chant led to the invention of musical notion (staff notation), of incalculable benefit for the recording of music, and the ut-re-mi (“do-re-mi”) mnemonic device of Guido of Arezzo (d 1003). From the 10th century cathedral schools developed polyphonic music, extended later to as many as 40 voices (Tallis, Spem in Alium) and even 60 voices (Striggio, Missa Sopra Ecco).
Musical genres that largely or wholly originated with Catholic civilisation include the hymn, the oratorio and the opera. Haydn (d 1809), a devout Catholic, strongly shaped the development of the symphony and string quartet. Church patronage and liturgical forms shaped many works by Monteverdi (d 1643), Vivaldi (d 1741), Mozart (d 1791, pictured) and Beethoven (d 1827). The great Symphony No 8 of Mahler (d 1911) takes as its principal theme the ancient hymn of Pentecost, Veni creator spiritus.
9. The status of women
Contrary to popular prejudice, extraordinary and influential women have been one of the hallmarks of Catholic civilisation. The faith has honoured many women saints, including recent Doctors of the Church, and nurtured great nuns, such as St Hilda (d 680, pictured) (after whom St Hilda’s College, Oxford, is named) and Blessed Hildegard von Bingen (d 1179), abbess and polymath. Pioneering Catholic women in political life include Empress Matilda (d 1167), Eleanor of Aquitaine (d 1204) and the first Queen of England, Mary Tudor (d 1558).
Catholic civilisation also produced many of the first women scientists and professors: Trotula of Salerno in the 11th century, Dorotea Bucca (d 1436), who held a chair in medicine at the University of Bologna, Elena Lucrezia Piscopia (d 1684), the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1678) and Maria Agnesi (d 1799), the first woman to become professor of mathematics, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XIV as early as 1750.