2K Subsidiarity?

What’s good for society is not so much for the church.

Subsidiarity rejects all forms of tyranny. It makes hierarchy more a matter of enabling those in the middle and bottom to carry on their lives than giving those at the top the power to plan out what is wanted and see to its achievement. It rejects the conception of social justice most common today, which emphasizes equality and universality and thus a comprehensive system of supervision and control. Instead, it stands for the Catholic and classical conception of social justice, a state of affairs in which each part of the social order receives its due so it can carry out its proper function.

More generally, it rejects present-day liberalism, the attempt to turn the social order into a technically rational contrivance for maximum equal satisfaction of individual preferences. It opposes it not only in its leftist or progressive form, which emphasizes expertise and equality, and prefers to act through neutral bureaucracies and international authorities, but also in its rightist or conservative form, which emphasizes energy and efficiency, and prefers global markets and the exercise of national power. So it is ill at ease with both the politically-correct welfare state and such aspects of present-day capitalism as outsourcing, big box stores, the penetration of commercial relations into all aspects of life, and the bottom line as the final standard for business decisions.

It nonetheless accepts certain tendencies often identified as conservative or liberal. It generally favors family values, distributed powers, federalism, local control, and freedom of enterprise and association, all of which now count as conservative causes. It also favors causes that count as liberal, such as grassroots democracy, limitations on big business as well as big government, and certain kinds of unionism. It favors neighborliness and an active civil society, which everyone says he likes, and maintenance of borders and limits on globalization, which our major parties along with the whole of our ruling class now reject.

The life of the Church provides a concrete example of why subsidiarity makes sense and how it works. The point of the formal structure of the Church, her hierarchy, sacraments, disciplines, and subordinate bodies, is to help the faithful become what God intended them to be. That purpose can’t be legislated, administered, or forced on anyone, but it can be aided, and that is the point of what the Church does as an organized community. As the saying goes, salus animarum suprema lex (“the salvation of souls is the supreme law”).

To that end, the aspects of the life of the Church that normally matter most—parish life, the availability of the sacraments, and the religious life of the believer and his network of family and friends—are necessarily local.

I do not understand why papal supremacy and the centralization of church power in Rome fits neatly with such a subsidiarist outlook. The Reformation questioned the centralization of European church life. Protestants are inherently subsidiarist while Roman Catholics have to hedge.

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44 thoughts on “2K Subsidiarity?

  1. Further down in the article it says,

    “… It is also worth noting that biology and urban design theory tell us that resilient and adaptable systems need exactly the features that subsidiarity favors with its emphasis on local initiative and relative autonomy: diversity and redundancy, inter-connected networks, structures on all scales of size and complexity, and the capacity of the system and its components to self-adapt and self-organize. On that line of thought, subsidiarity is not so much a good idea as a necessity for any system and its components to self-adapt and self-organize …”

    These people been snooping around looking at the TKNY “organic” model?

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  2. So where in his essay does he make room for the local congregation to get rid of a priest who is abusive, failing to fulfill his sacramental functions, preaching error, etc.?

    This kind of thinking reminds me of a little discussion I had with a co-worker back in the 90’s. She was a life-long RC and I spent about 10 minutes explaining the structure of most protestant congregations and how, whether they were independent or affiliated with an overarching structure of some kind, had the power to vote locally to deal with pastoral error or ineffectiveness. In other words, the ability to hire and fire locally. At the end of that summary she remarked sarcastically, “Well, that certainly sounds democratic!” I slowly walked way, my head spinning from the irony…

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  3. George, good stuff. Makes me think of when I have discussed theology with RC coworkers, though I have no encounters that top that, worth reporting at this time. These things help keep in proper context all that we read out here on the interwebs.

    Take care.

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  4. Come on Darryl, give ’em some room. They’re busy pondering, denying, meditating upon, and developing. The poor trads, it’s been a rough start. No majoring in conservative social issues; abortion, sexuality, but an outright attack of conservative economic and social concerns; capitalism, and immigration. The SSPX has gotta be looking more and more attractive.

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  5. Darryl,

    “I do not understand why papal supremacy and the centralization of church power in Rome fits neatly with such a subsidiarist outlook.”

    I’m confused. You’re aware there are dioceses and archdioceses and bishops stationed in those areas and in charge of each right? Just because they are in communion with Rome does not mean they do not have autonomy to address issues at the local/parish level – that’s their whole purpose. The bishops are in charge (collaborating with individual parish priests of course) of building up parishes in their area, filling pastoral spots/building vocations, spinning up relief/aid programs that address local needs rather than having Rome trying to control it, financing such construction or programs from existing parishes rather than pulling from some world-wide bank account, giving account for program/fiscal failures, etc. That’s subsidiarism. They are not just free-ranging doing their own thing – they do have to answer to Rome – but they have autonomy to figure out how to best address their local needs since they know the lay of the land in their area better than some guy overseas – it’s a balance just like your citation lays out.

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  6. CvD(are there any other tv show characters you like to go by?), They do have to answer to Rome – but they have autonomy

    Your church requires unswerving allegiance to your leader. Sounds like monarchalism to me. Here in the developed world, senators and congressman can disagree with the president. Your church doesn’t allow deviance, and hence, the Christian religion is divided. You church’s unswerving on this is what makes me think you are a medieval instituion. My church requires unswerving allegiance to the God-man, but not our pastor. This seems to be the proper biblical model of church government. You’re speaking to Darryl, but I just wanted to elaborate on why I found George’s comment helpful. Take care.

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  7. Andrew,

    “Your church doesn’t allow deviance, and hence, the Christian religion is divided….My church requires unswerving allegiance to the God-man, but not our pastor.”

    So if your pastor/elders started going off the deep-end, word wouldn’t get to your presbytery, synod, GA depending? Leithart and FV business was really about nothing? No, your pastors can’t just disagree with your confessions or your governing bodies like politicians can with the president; your pastors are accountable to others, as are RC priests (to bishop) and bishops/archbishops. But your pastors have autonomy dealing with their local congregations and communities.

    The church doesn’t allow deviance in some issues, sure, but not in others – cultural/local issues will inform how a particular church is operating – if it was some stagnant one-size-fits-all thing there’d be no diversity or ability to address local needs effectively.

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  8. Vic, vic, vicarino,

    But you are wooden, in that a church member’s doctrine must agree with your Pope. I don’t think you can’t build your ecclessiology from scripture, and I’m serious about that. Your buddy Stellman fights the same battle the same day I encountered him on green Baggins shortly after his resignation. His post with the disappearing man is the same thing he countered me with in summer of 2012.

    I’m not stupid, you have 1.2 billion, with many brains on your side of the aisle. I know there’s responses to these things. You’re not really addressing my serious charges in my post, and it’s ok if you don’t. I’m happy to go into how authority works in my church, the OPC, so ask specific questions if you like. Even my ordination was a bit sticky because of some of my views, so I have experienced some of these questions first hand. The most common response at this point is we are a marginal micro denomonation that no one cares about. Maybe true. But I care.

    By the way, my friend in the FBI (I’m a CPA and he went that route, after working together at the audit firm) was more into “The Killing,” a few months ago when we had lunch. The stories he told, gotta love have friends like that, even if he gave me a book of Mormon on his last day working together..

    Respond as you feel led, friend.

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  9. PS I understand the essentials/non-essentials piece (deviance is allowed in some areas, not in others). Ultimately, part of belonging to your church is allying with your pope. My pastor is a teacher, but tells me, when I become a member, to recite our vow that the Bible is the Word of God. That makes us distinct from many, that we require such from our members. So when I was 19, I was hit square against my liberal teaching. So we are wooden as well, but in my view, in the right area. You get no warrant (no pun intended) to ask members to ally with your leader as you do. Hence, to me, you are medieval, in serious need of reform. Your leader touched on some of this reform mojo, and it’s my contention that you and your buddies here at this website are better cleaning your own house than working on what you think Darryl, et. al. has wrong, but that’s just me. He likes your company, so dont mind me. I’ll do my best to stay out of the way, now, and let you ask your questions. Peace.

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  10. Andrew,

    I’m confused on what point exactly you’re making. Are you saying the RCC is wooden because it won’t allow doctrinal reform? Given its claims, of course it couldn’t allow that – to want it to do that would be presupposing its claims are false. Or are you saying more of a moralistic and/or policy-type reform? Yes the bishops/priests respect and submit to the pope, but that does not mean some level of disagreement or calls for change cannot happen. Theologians can engage in questions/discussion on issues without openly or rabidly dissenting. And priests/bishops don’t have to necessarily agree that a pope’s secular policies or recommendations are the best way to achieve doctrinal goals. There are many RCs throughout history who have called for reform and even rebuked/scolded popes to an extent. So there is an “alliance” to some degree yes, but it’s not some absolute thing.

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  11. CvD,

    But there can be no meaningful accountability when somebody is convinced that they are the voice of God on earth. All you’re basically saying is “Correct the pope if he’s wrong, but he can’t possibly be wrong.”

    Which is why true Reform for Rome is impossible. The decentralization that Francis seems to be pursuing will be a good thing, but until you all can admit to ecclesiastical fallibility, you’ll just get another power-mad Roman bishop in the future. Your system necessarily leads to abuse and tyranny. It cannot but do otherwise.

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  12. CvD,

    You wrote:

    Are you saying the RCC is wooden because it won’t allow doctrinal reform? Given its claims, of course it couldn’t allow that

    I mean, yeah, this is a huge problem. I guess, I get told that the going is rough, as a protestant, given how many different factions there are on our side. But your side, I seriously can’t make heads or tails of. Is VatII binding on the RC member or no? Where is the list of infallible doctrines? All the usual stuff, CvD. You have your co-religionist Kenneth, coming from a traditionalist camp, who doesn’t sound like the RCs I sit around the lunch table with. True, there is of course variety among RCs. But our ecclesiology is what we see modeled in Scripture, and has sustained itself (by the most conservative readings of our history) for over 700 years, and that’s no small thing. The RC church is just odd to me, to say the least. We were raised in the traditions we find ourselves in, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone raised a fundie.

    For me, I am straight at odds with your anathemas of trent, namely justification. I found another great section here at Oldlife in addition to the forensics, it’s called The Hinge. Almost sounds like it could be a tv show..

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  13. Hello George – just a small quibble with what you wrote; as I understand the polity of my own Presbyterian denomination, a congregation has the right to call a minister but no right to remove him – he has tenure for life unless he accepts a call elsewhere, demits the charge, retires, or is removed by the Presbytery. Where relations between congregation & minister have become strained to a significant degree, the Presbytery often intervenes.

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  14. Cletus, those bishops’ power vanishes if they are not in communion with the Bishop of Rome. And who appointed them? The U.S. Conference? I don’t think so. The papacy is a monarchical institution and that’s what some high papalists love about it, even when popes proclaim subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is about decentralization. The papacy is not.

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  15. BTW, are KENLOSES and Clete on the payroll of Jason and the Callers? It seems curious that Jason and Bryan don’t come around anymore, but KENLOSES and Clete are like white on rice.

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  16. Ben Down Under – correction acknowledged and accepted. That’s why I used the expression “most protestant congregations.” I knew there were some who couldn’t remove a called pastor on their own, but I couldn’t get down into the details of which those were. The protestant congregation that prompted the discussion with this young lady was Lutheran, which definitely does have that local authority.

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  17. Well, while the prot-catholics continue to spin, here’s some more truth about how Rome really works;

    “Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, took over the Legion in 2010 and appointed a Vatican cardinal to govern it after investigators determined that the congregation itself needed to be “purified” of Maciel’s influence. In reality, the Vatican knew well of Maciel’s crimes for decades but turned a blind eye, impressed instead by his ability to bring millions of dollars and thousands of seminarians into the church.”

    Vocations and money. The whole story of the Legion and Marciel is sordid, but this nugget of truth drives about 90% of what you see going on within the magisterium and down to the parish. Never mind, the holy spirit, doctrinal clarity, HOC or high papalism or conciliarism. Rome is much more political than pastoral, it’s not even close.

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  18. 2K Subsidiarity?
    By D. G. HART | Published: DECEMBER 13, 2013
    What’s good for society is not so much for the church.

    Yes and no. First, what is subsidiarity?

    Subsidiarity
    December 09, 2013
    Why is this basic principle of Catholic social teaching praised more than it is practiced?
    James Kalb

    Subsidiarity is a basic principle of Catholic social teaching. Like other such principles, it is praised more than practiced, because it is at cross purposes with the outlook that now governs our public life.
    It springs from concern for man in all his dimensions. Each of us participates in the human nature that is common to all. Each of us also has his own will and destiny, and knows who he is through a social identity that includes local and particular connections. So we are at once universal, individual, and socially situated, and become what we are through active participation in a complex of networks and institutions.

    Concern with that aspect of human life puts Catholic social teaching at odds with the understandings of social life now dominant, which take equality and efficiency as their concern, and consequently want to reduce society to a sort of machine run from the top down for simple purposes. Such understandings make man less than he is, and end up treating him at bottom as an employee, voter, and consumer: someone who holds a position in a system of production and distribution designed and run by other people, periodically registers his assent to that system and how it is governed, and otherwise is free to amuse himself however he wants, as long as he doesn’t interfere with other people or the smooth operation of the system.

    Dissent from that vision puts Catholic social teaching at cross purposes with every other political ideal now prominent. Catholic teaching wants man to be an effective participant in his world, so it wants the center of gravity of social life to be within his reach. For that reason it insists, in the face of the modern tendency toward the industrialization of social relations, on making the business of society as local as reasonably possible. It therefore asserts the principle of subsidiarity, which insists that lower-level groups such as families and local communities are not tools in the hands of higher-ups but have their own life and integrity that must be respected.

    Subsidiarity rejects all forms of tyranny…

    Right on. As the Calvinistic-minded said back in revolutionary days, resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.

    And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.

    Secondly, what is “The Church”? For the early American Puritans/Calvinists, that referred to their community as much as any ecclesiological establishment.

    DGH writes: “I do not understand why papal supremacy and the centralization of church power in Rome fits neatly with such a subsidiarist outlook. The Reformation questioned the centralization of European church life. Protestants are inherently subsidiarist while Roman Catholics have to hedge.”

    Quite right in that Calvinists were the revolutionaries, no doubt an outgrowth of their anti-papism. Quite wrong in that the Catholic Church had been fighting the tyranny and hegemony of politics over every facet of life since at least the Middle Ages, say Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket.

    Yes, it is 2K in its way, but the problem is that politics has always tried to encroach on the City of God–and its inhabitants. Calvinist Resistance Theory realized that before the Catholic Church did, in no small part because the Calvinists were usually on the outside looking in, be it in Anglican England, Lutheran Germany or Catholic Spain, France and Italy. [When it did hold the upper hand in Calvin’s Geneva, it behaved pretty much as any human beings do.]

    The principle Kalb’s arguing in your linked article is that a legitimate Catholic response to politics is a resistance to its tyranny. The politics which best serves subsidiarity–which is liberty for the community, for the inhabitants of the City of God–is the way to go, that in this way resistance to tyranny is indeed obedience to God.

    As Barry Alan Shain argues in “The Myth of American Individualism,” for the Puritans liberty was living together as they chose, as a Christian community, not the modern concept of “radical individualism.” Since there’s no longer a New World to sail away to, fighting tyranny is a Christian community’s only means of self-defense.

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  19. Subsidiarity is not really just about decentraliztion or “smaller is better” or a strong bias towards the local. That is how some American conservative Catholics understand the principle. But the fact that they often have difficulties with Catholic social encyclicals suggests that they don’t fully understand this fundamental idea.

    Here is BXVI on subsidiarity: “Subsidiarity is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility.”

    The first introduction of this principle in an encyclical, I think, is the following: “The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts greatly. Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully, and effectively do all those things that belong to it alone because it alone can do them: directing, watching, urging, restraining, as occasion requires and necessity demands. Therefore, those in power should be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among the various associations, in observance of the principle of ‘subsidiary function,’ the stronger social authority and effectiveness will be the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State.”

    Here is JPII also emphasizing the notion of the subsidiary function of intermediate institutions, etc., rather than “smaller is better”: “Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”

    The subsidiary function of the bishops is not to be the principle of unity for the whole Catholic Church, which is what we believe to be one of the functions of the Bishop of Rome. So, I’m not sure that the principle as actually articulated in Catholic Social Teaching has much relevance here. And we should probably not apply political principles so directly to the Church in the first place. That is what the great Thomists taught us in the sixteenth century (like Cajetan). Wouldn’t such caution fit well with your general ecclesiology and political philosophy?

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  20. Matt, no applying political principles to the church might be okay if medieval popes hadn’t appealed to sacral monarchs (see Francis Oakley).

    Anyway, I’m not sure why what JPII said about higher orders (the Vatican) and internal life of a community of a lower order (parish or diocese) does not apply to the church. I mean, if you want to say that politics is different from ecclesiology, then what the hades is the head of the church doing talking about politics?

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  21. Well wrote, Matt. Pope Ratzinger was the intellectual muscle, as we see from the rigor of the quotes you cite. It’s not that Francis disagrees with him, but his softer style leads those who practice “conspicuous compassion” to mistake Catholic social science for mere Beatitudism.

    As for “conservative” misunderstandings of the Catholic/Thomistic position, although Max Weber and the “Protestant [Puritan*] Work Ethic” remain under fire, it’s hard to deny that the culturally Catholic countries of Southern Europe are the European economic basket cases

    PIIGS = Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain

    [as is South America], whereas Protestant Northern Europe and the USA pretty much invented modern prosperity.

    The Vatican continues to issue noises that sometimes seem to confuse the creation of wealth for the propagation of poverty–noises that that ring hollow to anyone whose “Puritan Work Ethic” has created wealth honorable and ethically, and who have helped, not exploited, the needy.

    See, Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is a study of nature, not an ideology. That a man works harder for himself and his immediate family is no different from the fact that “subsidiarity” knows that he will be kinder to the widow next door than to the bleeding crowd.

    Mere Beatitudism hates wealth and poverty equally and without distinction. To its credit, Catholic social science is not so slow and dull as some of its admirers who can hum the tune but know none of the words.

    ______
    *There are Calvinists around here. This Bud’s for you.

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  22. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
    Tom, why not freedom of the state against the overreach of the church?

    To your use of terms, D:

    1) I do not know what “freedom of the state” means. The very idea of the State being “free”—Hobbes?—scared the piss out of the Founders, scares the piss out of any sane man to this day.

    2) “The overreach of the church” phrase, sure. Fortunately for mankind–except presently in some of its Muslim corners–“the church” has proven delightfully ineffective at deterring murder, theft, intoxication and illicit humping–even when marginally effective at punishing it.

    Why is it only the state that needs to be resisted? Think Roman Inquisition.

    Time out for a personal note: how I treasure your every reply. It’s almost as though we’re exactly the same age from the exact same suburban home town or something. Uncanny, if true.

    Back to work:

    3) The state must be resisted because it’s relatively easy to resist the church. I like resistance, Darryl–especially Calvinist Resistance. I’m a rebel too, you know. I want to start a chain of 500 stores just to fight the

    http://lonelyconservative.com/2013/12/bullying-hobby-lobby-all-your-conscience-are-belong-to-us/

    4) Are you using “Roman Inquisition” as a grenade-toss or with historical rigor ala

    Quite separate was the Roman Inquisition, begun in 1542. It was the least active and most benign of the three variations.

    Among the subjects of this Inquisition were Franciscus Patricius, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella, Gerolamo Cardano, Cesare Cremonini, and Galileo Galilei. Of these, only Bruno was executed; Galileo died under house arrest, and Campanella was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. The miller Domenico Scandella was also burned at the stake on the orders of Pope Clement VIII in 1599 for his belief that God was created from chaos.

    [Bad show, that last one.] Not sure what you mean by “Roman” Inquisition. This? By historical standards rather tame. Pls advise.

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  23. Andrew
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
    Tom, you may enjoy noodling on this. When I read it this week, I couldn’t figure out if it was a thumbs up or not.

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/12/11099/

    Andrew, thx so much for actually reading what I wrote, then nailing it. And for the link!

    I kept an arm’s length from Max Weber’s “Puritan Work Ethic” because I never dug into his theological blahblah one way or the other.

    Still, the linked article admits it’s obvious that the Catholic countries [let’s exempt the rather weird French and Canadanadians here] of Southern and Eastern Europe fell way behind the Protestants of England, Germany and Scandinavia, not to mention our own USA.

    As a student of history, Calvinism impresses me most as the revolutionary force both theological and temporal–Lutheranism is cynically hijacked by the German princes to dispossess the Catholic Church, and as we know Anglicanism was Catholicism with a change of proprietor.

    It’s Calvinism that stirs the pot—shakes the tree. It’s Calvinism that bugs out of the Old World for the New, to start fresh, to build what they called a shining city upon a hill for all the world to behold–not to be envied but to be inspired by its Christian love and fortitude.

    That’s what “American exceptionalism” means, despite all those who sneer at the very idea. We have always known that our successes are attributable to the glory of God, our failures only of our own making.

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  24. TvD,

    “fell way behind the Protestants of England, Germany and Scandinavia”

    Are those countries still prospering without widespread Protestantism now?

    “It’s Calvinism that bugs out of the Old World for the New, to start fresh, to build what they called a shining city upon a hill for all the world to behold–not to be envied but to be inspired by its Christian love and fortitude. That’s what “American exceptionalism” means”

    Are you saying all of the foundational leaders/movements of America held to Calvinism or were somehow influenced by it which gave birth to its principles and documents?

    “We have always known that our successes are attributable to the glory of God, our failures only of our own making.”

    Hmm if all the great things about America were borne out of Calvinism (and only because of it), but then equally not-so-great things were happening at same time in same contexts (and also said to be to the glory of god by its practitioners), to say “well that part wasn’t really attributable to true Calvinism” seems ad hoc.

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  25. Tom, the founders didn’t have to fear the church because they didn’t recognize one.

    Roman Inquisition, as in the one active into the 19th century, the one that brought us Edgardo Mortara, the one directly under the papacy and its temporal power.

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  26. I didn’t say “no applying political principles.” I said that we shouldn’t do so too directly. And Jesus was, in certain important respects, a sacral monarch; that is part of Oakley’s argument. We can’t forget that claim; otherwise, his argument makes no sense. Also, I made the reference to sixteenth-century Thomists for a reason. They are critical of what lawyers had done to the theological meaning of the papacy. They need to be a part of your story.

    And I believe that a proper understanding of subsidiarity *should*, broadly speaking, be applied to the Church. As you know, I’ve defended the rights of bishops with some frequency. Vatican II and Pope Francis, if I’m not mistaken, also are pushing in this very direction. But the proper function of the Bishop of Rome in Catholic ecclesiology cannot be carried out by local bishops; therefore, the principle of subsidiarity, rightly understood, is no threat at all.

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  27. Matt, well, your assertion about the Bishop of Rome’s proper function begs the question. I don’t affirm apostolic succession the way you, the Anglicans, and the Orthodox do. But if I did, and if I believed that all bishops are successors (Vat II even teaches this), then what is it that Rome does that Lansing doesn’t? In some ways the question is obvious. But it is not so obvious to those who claim that Rome is the universal pastor. Okay, he’s a pastor. So is the Bp of Lansing. Rome’s jurisdiction is universal? Who says? The East doesn’t. And Rome’s claim of universality sure seems to be premised on resemblance to and aspiration for a certain empire that went by the name Rome and that had pontiffs even before the office became an ecclesiastical one.

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  28. Matt, and another thing.

    Why should I take into account 16th century Thomists? As a historian, maybe. But what standing do they have compared to the magisterium which is claiming supremacy and universal jurisdiction? Shouldn’t I really be complaining that the papacy ostracized Protestants but left the Thomists off the hook?

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  29. Cletus van Damme
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 4:06 am | Permalink
    TvD,

    “fell way behind the Protestants of England, Germany and Scandinavia”

    Are those countries still prospering without widespread Protestantism now?

    “It’s Calvinism that bugs out of the Old World for the New, to start fresh, to build what they called a shining city upon a hill for all the world to behold–not to be envied but to be inspired by its Christian love and fortitude. That’s what “American exceptionalism” means”

    Are you saying all of the foundational leaders/movements of America held to Calvinism or were somehow influenced by it which gave birth to its principles and documents?

    “We have always known that our successes are attributable to the glory of God, our failures only of our own making.”

    Hmm if all the great things about America were borne out of Calvinism (and only because of it)

    Thx for the reply, Cletus. Of course trying to box me into any absolutes such as ” borne out of Calvinism (and only because of it)” is not good faith.

    As for formerly Protestant Europe, we Spenglerians would maintain Europe is still running on the fumes of Christianity.

    As for America, there is plenty of Thomism [Peter Lawler calls it an “accidental” Thomism but I’m not so sure], but the Reformation–specifically Calvinism–was necessary to break the authoritarian theo-political logjam. Although it was Jesuits Suarez and Bellarmine who first argued well against the Divine Right of Kings, it was the Calvinists who first cut off the head of one.

    America without the Reformation is, well, Louisiana, which come to think of it, is still more like Southern Europe than the North.

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  30. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink
    Tom, the founders didn’t have to fear the church because they didn’t recognize one.

    Roman Inquisition, as in the one active into the 19th century, the one that brought us Edgardo Mortara, the one directly under the papacy and its temporal power.

    Well, the English Crown didn’t fear the Church either because they confiscated it.

    I’m having trouble sorting out your argument against “Roman Inquisition” and now back to the Edgardo Mortara affair again. Perhaps it’ll sort out during your very interesting discussion with the very able Matt Gaetano, but surely you’re not saying Calvinists never executed anyone for heresy or never established themselves as an official state church.

    As for the Inquisition itself, students of history should not debate it on the cudgel level.

    “Now granting for the sake of argument, that all that is usually said of Catholic persecutions is true, the fact remains that Protestants, as such, have no right to denounce them, as if such deeds were characteristic of Catholics only. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones . . .

    “It is unquestionable . . . that the champions of Protestantism – Luther, Calvin, Beza, Knox, Cranmer and Ridley – advocated the right of the civil authorities to punish the `crime’ of heresy . . . Rousseau says truly:

    “`The Reformation was intolerant from its cradle, and its authors were universal persecutors’ . . .

    Auguste Comte also writes:

    “`The intolerance of Protestantism was certainly not less tyrannical than that with which Catholicism is so much reproached.’ (Philosophie Positive, vol.4, p.51).

    &c.

    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/protin.htm

    Like

  31. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
    Tom, try out Kertzer’s book.

    I’ve been reading your posts trying to make some great theo-political hay over this rather isolated affair but I think it barely moves the meter compared to the great historical earthquakes of Christendom.

    I don’t exactly know what your argument boils down to. Yes, they thought a child baptized Christian should be raised as a Christian*. No, they wouldn’t do that today. They wouldn’t burn Michael Servetus today either, but back in the day, they thought heretics should be prevented from corrupting other souls, by force if necessary. No, they wouldn’t do that today either.

    _____
    *Amazingly enough, he became a priest and remained uninterested in his birth family, which was Jewish. Under the belief that “there is no salvation outside the church,” raising him Catholic appears to have saved his soul and he’s now in heaven.

    Like

  32. Tom, right, the Mortara affair only had to do with the papacy losing the lands that Constantine “gave” it, or with Italy becoming a nation. I forgot, you’re an American exceptionalist. Other nations don’t matter.

    Like

  33. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink
    Tom, right, the Mortara affair only had to do with the papacy losing the lands that Constantine “gave” it, or with Italy becoming a nation. I forgot, you’re an American exceptionalist. Other nations don’t matter.

    That’s rather a Rube Goldberg argument, D.—Constantine, Montara, America. Not one person in a 1000 could explain your contraption in their own words, not even your fans here.

    They love you, but they have no idea what your point is, beyond Catholic = sucks.

    Dude.

    Like

  34. Tom, I literally have to read, re-read, rinse, and repeat. I still re-read my presbytery’s conference from 2009, which was the result of years of thought from the denom., starting in 2004. It does seem the more you get to know us, the more there is to like. That was my experience. I do think you should try one of our congregations someday, but understand if that’s asking to much. Later. I’m out.

    Like

  35. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink
    Tom, you have been so busy dismissing me, that you never paid attention to the series on Mortara. That’s your call.

    Of course I read your series, and repeated the details of the affair as a courtesy to show you I had–and indeed googled it further. I don’t dismiss you, although I often rebut you, or in this case sort through the fog in search of a thesis.

    Even your fans cannot state your argument intelligibly here. They just high five you anyway.

    Like

  36. Universal bishop, localize thyself:

    “As the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful,” he told his listeners.

    “In many quarters, we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a ‘grandmother,’ no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.”

    The pope said he wanted to offer a “hope and encouragement” by reliving the “ambitious political project” of the EU’s post-war founding fathers.

    Like

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