Same As It Ever Was

Alexis de Tocqueville on Roman Catholicism and the United States well before Bryan and the Jasons:

At the present time, more than in any previous age, we find Catholics turning into unbelievers and Protestants turning Catholic. Catholicism seen from the inside seems to be losing, but seen from the outside, to be gaining. There is a reason for this.

Our contemporaries are naturally little disposed to belief, but once they accept religion at all, there is a hidden instinct within them which unconsciously urges them toward Catholicsm. Many of the doctrines and customs of the Roman Chuch astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its extraordinary unity attracts them.

If Catholicism could ultimately escape from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I am almost certain that that same spirit of the age which now seems so contrary to it would turn into a powerful ally and it would suddenly make great conquests.

George Will on Pope Francis:

Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission.

He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

I know lots of apologists are upset with Will. But when you think how archly conservative the papacy was at the time of the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and how much the bishops at Vatican 2 wanted to open up the church to the modern world, Will has a point. Maybe Pope Francis is right about modernity. But that’s not what Vatican 2 set out to do.

#nocherrypicking

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19 thoughts on “Same As It Ever Was

  1. The ubiquity of Modernity demands a response from all Christian groups. As a Protestant, I am far more comfortable with Rome being exactly what it is – a conservative Medieval institution that claims to be the Church that Christ founded.

    I’d rather live with the anathemas of Trent, because they are at least an honest response from Rome as it tried to preserve itself from the Reformation, than deal with the hand waving of Vatican 2 that made us “separated brethren” without attempting to genuinely deal with Trent and what it meant and means for Rome today. Rome comes off as disingenuous to anyone who aspires to be a faithful son of the Reformation, hiding behind Papal supremacy and historical revisionism that finds its way even to their contemporary confessional/conciliar witness.

    Of course I’d rather see Rome confess the error that Trent truly was and rejoin the catholic church in its willingness to be reformed by the Word, but I am not holding my breath for a naked miracle that Rome seems to have no interest in.

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  2. I’m not sure y’all have this anathema business together.

    That’s why, for example, the Council of Trent said, “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema” (session VI, can. 9). This use of the term anathema has a very precise meaning: Let him be cut off from the Church, not let him be damned to hell. And this is done by the Church in her wisdom as a way of trying to bring the one in error to his senses – before it’s too late and he is damned to hell by virtue of his obstinacy.

    An anathema or excommunication is designed to remind the sinner of his eventual fate if he doesn’t repent.

    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/does-the-church-condemn-those-who-disagree-with-its-teachings

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  3. Since George Will is an atheist, what he thinks matters not a lot. Mostly, it’s the worldwide left who hate and hurt the Church [almost axiomatically], and this Barney the Christosaur Pope is getting them off its back. Good move by Rome, esp after the child abuse scandals. The stench is dissipating.

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  4. This is difficult because Francis’ Argentine versioin of Liberation theology finds it’s groundswell in ‘prophetic upheavel’ of lay charism and the religious(orders) revolution that Vat II brought forth. The policies may in fact be more medieval, in effect, than modernizing but the attempt to embrace modernity was the inspiration.

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  5. vd, t, right. The Crusades and Inquisition were just figments of Christian Scientists’ imagination.

    I know, the Vatican didn’t do this. Well, while the papacy had temporal power it did execute criminals. But where do you think the Spanish got the idea that heretics were a problem?

    Vd, t, you’re smarter than this.

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  6. I take back my inappropriate comparison between Chauncy Gardener and Pope Francis. Chauncy was wiser…

    The left-wing The Guardian celebrates: The Pope demanded justice for the weak and affirmed the rights of the environment on Friday in a forceful speech to the United Nations that warned against “a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity”. A day after making history by becoming the first pope to address Congress, Francis for the first time asserted that nature – as well as humanity – had rights. “It must be stated that a true ‘right of the environment’ does exist,” Francis said. An attack on the environment was an assault on the rights and living conditions of the most vulnerable, he said, warning that at its most extreme, environmental degradation threatened humanity’s survival.

    I guess the Pope can create natural “rights” for the environment like the Fed Chairman can create dollars for the economy — out of thin air…

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  7. D. G. Hart
    Posted September 24, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, right. The Crusades and Inquisition were just figments of Christian Scientists’ imagination.

    I know, the Vatican didn’t do this. Well, while the papacy had temporal power it did execute criminals. But where do you think the Spanish got the idea that heretics were a problem?

    Vd, t, you’re smarter than this.

    Dr. Hart, the Crusades? the Inquisition? Not only boring and simplistic, but they have absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote. I wish I could say you’re smarter than this, but I’m beginning to wonder.

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  8. In some ways, I can see the attraction of Roman Catholicism, especially if I were a social traditionalist. A day after the Pope left DC, the children of Machen descended on DC for the annual Values Voter Summit. Frankly, as much as I like this website, I’ll take the Pope and his Catholicism over Kim Davis and her non-mainline Protestantism.

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  9. This website hates ’em all. In fact the Warrior Children eat each other if they don’t have somebody else to attack. Piranha for Christ.

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  10. TVD
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
    This website hates ’em all. In fact the Warrior Children eat each other if they don’t have somebody else to attack. Piranha for Christ.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
    Bobby, right, Old Lifers have been all over defending Kim Davis. Not.

    But you know, the Roman Catholics here, vd,t and Mermaid, love her.

    Do you pay any attention? Has liberal Protestantism addled your brain?

    TVD
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:57 pm | Permalink
    Toldja.>>>>

    I love you, too, Brother Hart, and wish you would stand up for the unborn and for the Biblical morality you say you believe in.

    Just one little blog post defending the right to life would be nice. You don’t have to pray the Rosary in front of your local Planned Parenthood, but you could use the power of the metaphorical pen to let your voice be heard.

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