Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering John Courtney Murray, SJ

50 years ago on December 12th, Time magazine featured Fr. John Courtney Murray (1904-1967) on its cover. America's James Martin remembers the occasion with a roundup of recommended reading:

If you've not heard of this great American Jesuit theologian, who was for a time prevented from writing on issues of church and state (his primary field of interest and the subject of his book We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition whose ideas were eventually incorporated into the Second Vatican Council's "Declaration on Religious Liberty," and who was later officially "rehabilitated" by Pope Paul VI during his concelebration with the pope at a public Mass, here are pieces in America by the Msgr. Robert McElroy ("He Held These Truths"), Gregory Kalscheur, S.J. ("American Catholics and the State"), John Coleman, S.J. on what was at stake in the debates over religious liberty during Vatican II ("Religious Liberty") and Fr. Murray himself, in an article that concisely maps out his position in 1963 ("On Religious Liberty.") The time of his "silencing" is covered in Robert Nugent's new book Silence Speaks: Teilhard de Chardin, Yves Congar, John Courtney Murray, and Thomas Merton  As McElroy, Kalscheur, Coleman show, his far-ranging ideas on church and state are particularly applicable today.  And, as Nugent shows, the church often ends up incorporating into her teaching the very ideas that she rejected not long before.  Finally, an excellent bio of Fr. Murray is here at the Murray Collection at the Woodstock Center in Georgetown.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Guy Fawkes Day

Don McClarey (The American Catholic reminds us:

The idiotic anti-Catholic celebration of Guy Fawkes Day , observed each November fifth, was effectively ended in America during the Revolution in large part due to George Washington. ... Catholics always had a friend in the Father of Our Country.

Joe Hargrave: "How John Locke influenced Catholic Social Teaching"

How John Locke influenced Catholic Social Teaching (Joe Hargrave, November 5, 2010):

It isn't often that John Locke is mentioned in discussions of Catholic social teaching, unless it is to set him up as an example of all that the Church supposedly rejects. After all, Locke is considered one of the founders of a liberal and individualist political tradition that was rejected by the papacy in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, a closer examination of both Locke's Two Treatises on Civil Government and the papal encyclical that set modern Catholic social teaching in motion, Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, reveals that Locke was not a pure "individualist" as many have assumed, nor was Rerum Novarum a categorical rejection of all things "individual." Rather, both Locke and Leo XIII craft their basic political arguments -- especially with respect to the right to private property -- based on the same assumptions about natural law, natural right, and Christian obligation.

Though it is evident from the texts themselves, the agreement between Locke and Leo is also a historical fact. In 2005, Manfred Spieker, a professor of Christian Social Thought at the Universität Osnabrück in Germany, cited the influence of Locke on three of the men who drafted the text of Rerum Novarum. ... [more]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Charles J. Chaput on "The Catholic Role in America After Virtue"

Exactly 70 years ago, in 1940, Rev. John Courtney Murray gave a series of three college talks. For his theme, he chose the "concept of a Christian culture." After his death, his Jesuit brothers fused the talks into a single essay called "The Construction of a Christian Culture." It's a modest word change. But that title -- the construction of a Christian culture -- is a good place to begin our thoughts.

Most people know Father Murray for his work on Vatican II's Decree on Religious Liberty. In his 1960 book We Hold These Truths -- which has never gone out of print -- Father Murray argued the classic Catholic case for America. Like any important thinker, his work has friends and critics. The critics respect Father Murray's character and intellect. But they also tend to see him as a victim of his own optimism and a voice of American boosterism. I understand why. Over the years, too many people have used Father Murray to justify too many strange versions of personal conscience and the roles of Church and state.

But for me, Father Murray's real genius is tucked inside his words from 1940. They're worth hearing again. Father Murray said that "a profound religious truth is at the basis of democratic theory and practice, namely the intrinsic dignity of human nature; the spiritual freedom of the human soul; its equality as a soul with others of its kind; and its superiority to all that does not share its spirituality."

He said that "the task of constructing a culture is essentially spiritual, for culture has its home in the soul." As a result, "All man's cultural effort is at bottom an effort at submission to the truth and the beauty and the good that is outside him, existing in an ordered harmony, whose pattern he must produce within his soul by conformity with it."

These are beautiful thoughts. They're also true. The trouble is, they bear little likeness to our real culture in 2010. ...

Life in the Late Republic: The Catholic Role in America After Virtue, by Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Inside September 27 2010.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Catholics and the State - Recommended Blogging

Joe Hargrave, blogger at (Non Nobis and fellow co-blogger at The American Catholic, has been exploring many topics with which this website has occupied itself. Readers may be interested in the following posts (and the ensuing conversations with readers):

Monday, May 10, 2010

What makes America exceptional? What kind of liberty is worth preserving?

For the reasons already stated, today’s liberals, such as Obama and his supporters in our cultural and intellectual elites, are not fully honest about their radical autonomism. For they either can’t or won’t acknowledge its internal incoherence and its disastrous consequences, which we see all around us in the breakdown of the family and the erosion of individual liberty at the hands of the state. But conservatives aren’t being fully honest either. The conservative “movement” in America has long been an uneasy alliance of classical liberals and religious conservatives, and it has never tried to resolve that tension. It is united only in its opposition to what has come, since the New-Deal era, to be called liberalism. But without a way of at least addressing the tension creatively, conservatives are doomed to fighting a long retreat, a rear-guard action against liberalism that never really takes on that enemy at its core.

And that, in the last analysis, is why I’m uneasy about calling myself a conservative. Until conservatives can agree on the kind and meaning of the liberty that makes America exceptional, they won’t be able to agree on what’s worth conserving, and hence on an alternative to an ever-advancing but profoundly corrosive liberalism.

Michael Liccione, "What's Exceptional about Conservatism?" (Sacramentum Vitae May 9, 2010.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Q: Is the American experiment inherently anti-Catholic?

In a 'must read' post, "God Bless America?" (The American Catholic March 11, 2010), Joe Hargrave tackles the perception that America is inherently "anti-Catholic", a criticism shared by both Catholic 'traditionalists' and Catholic radicals.

(And here is Joe again with "Catholic Anti-Americanism" ( April 28, 2010).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thomas Woods vs. Thomas Storck on Capitalism, The Market and Catholic Social Teaching

  • Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( March 22, 2002). Delivered a the 8th Austrian Scholars Conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala. From the author:
    What follows is a discussion of Catholic social thought and the question of the just wage. I have nothing but the most profound respect for the nineteenth- and twentieth-century popes, who led the Church with courage and principle. As for the concept of the just wage, however, the time has come to acknowledge, with the late Scholastics, that the just wage is the market wage. As Fr. James Sadowsky of Fordham University has argued, if a business can "afford" to pay a just wage, market competition for labor will yield one. If it cannot, then it won't. In advocating socially desirable outcomes, it is essential to study how best they can be brought about.
  • Morality and Economic Law: Toward a Reconciliation, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( March 20, 2004) The Lou Church Memorial Lecture in Religion and Economics, Austrian Scholars Conference, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, March 20, 2004. | Audio
  • Economic Science and Catholic Social Teaching, by Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine June 17, 2004)
  • On the Actual Progress of Peoples, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( June 22, 2004)
  • The Difficulties of Thomas Woods, by Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine July 11, 2004)
  • Catholics and Capitalism, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( November 12, 2004)
  • Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy Revisited: A Reply to Thomas Storck, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( January 12, 20010). This paper appears in the current issue of the Catholic Social Science Review (vol. 14, 2009), under the heading “Symposium: The Implications of Catholic Social Teaching for Economic Science: An Exchange between Thomas Storck and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., with Responses.” [1] The Thomas Storck paper to which this one is a reply may be found here | Based on a panel discussion 03-14-09 at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama (Audio). Responses to the exchange:
  • Is Thomas Woods A Dissenter? A Further Reply, Pt. 1 (01-18-10) | Part 2 (01-20-10) | Part 3 (01-22-10) | Part 4 (01-25-10). By Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine)
  • Is Thomas Woods a Dissenter? (Response from Thomas Woods) Friday February 5, 2010.

On Thomas Woods' The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy

About the Authors

Thomas Storck has been intrigued with Catholic social thought since he first read Richard Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism in high school. This book began a life-long interest in the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Storck was received into the Church in 1978 and in 1983 began writing regularly on Catholic social teaching, Catholic culture, and other theological and philosophical topics. He is the author of three books, The Catholic Milieu (Christendom Press, 1987), Foundations of a Catholic Political Order (Four Faces Press, 1998) and Christendom and the West (Four Faces Press, 2000).

His work has appeared in numerous publications and websites in North America and Europe. He served as a contributing editor for Caelum et Terra from 1991 until the magazine closed in 1996 and the New Oxford Review from 1996 to 2006. Since 1998 he has been a member of the editorial board of The Chesterton Review.

Mr. Storck has taught history at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, and philosophy at Mt. Aloysius College in Cresson, Pennsylvania and Catonsville Community College in Catonsville, Maryland. He holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and an M.A. from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, with additional studies in history at Bluffton College and in economics at the USDA Graduate School in Washington, D.C. [Source]

* * *

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of nine books, including two New York Times bestsellers: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. His other books include Who Killed the Constitution?: The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush (with Kevin R.C. Gutzman), Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, and The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. His critically acclaimed 2004 book The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era was recently released in paperback by Columbia University Press. A collection of Woods’ essays, called W obronie zdrowego rozsadku, was released exclusively in Polish in 2007. Woods’ books have been translated into Italian, Spanish, Polish, French, German, Czech, Portuguese, Croatian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. [...]

For eleven years Woods served as associate editor of The Latin Mass magazine; he is presently a contributing editor of The American Conservative magazine. A contributor to six encyclopedias, Woods is co-editor of Exploring American History: From Colonial Times to 1877, an eleven-volume encyclopedia.

See also

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

Dr. Ralph McInerny died on Friday, at the age of 80. Zenit reports:

Ralph McInerny was a professor of philosophy and the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He held degrees from St. Paul Seminary, University of Minnesota and Laval University, and had taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1955. He directed the Jacques Maritain Center from 1979 to 2006.

He was an acknowledged expert on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and a prolific author. He penned over two dozen scholarly books, many more scholarly essays, and over 80 novels.

He wrote the popular book series Father Dowling Mysteries, which became a successful television program starring Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson. ...

In 1982, he co-founded Crisis Magazine with Michael Novak. The publication is now known as InsideCatholic.

In 2006, he published his autobiography titled I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life And Pastimes.

Perhaps it is fitting, that he should pass one day after the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

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