More on the Joint Declaration from Patriarch Sviatoslav

We recently quoted a statement by Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, on the Joint Declaration of the Holy Father and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. It seems that the full interview—or at least more of the interview—has been translated into English and made available. Of particular note, Patriarch Sviatoslav notes that:

It was officially reported that this document was the joint effort of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) from the Orthodox side and Cardinal Koch with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the Catholic side. For a document that was intended to be not theological, but essentially socio-political, it is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities. This was exploited by the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is, first of all, the instrument of diplomacy and external politics of the Moscow Patriarchate. I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.

(Emphasis supplied.) This is all hugely interesting and very important business, and, for our part, that Patriarch Sviatoslav is so clear and precise the situation.

Link Roundup: Feb. 14, 2016

Starting off with a classic from the archives, when Seamus Heaney died a few years back, Jesuit Fr. Joseph Koczera posted a lengthy, lovely piece about religious aspects in Heaney’s work. Given the slide away from Christ and Christ’s Church in Ireland even in recent years, we wonder ourselves what Heaney would have made of it.

In case you missed it, Elliot Milco had a lovely reflection on Antonin Scalia’s death at First Things.

A few weeks ago, Mark Shea had a really interesting piece about Bernie Sanders and the abortion question. (Which reminds us, we meant to write our own comment about the topic, but, as Mattie Ross might say, time just gets away from us.)

The Holy Father gave a very interesting speech to the Mexican bishops. Not as interesting from a tea-leaves standpoint (if some reports are to be believed, there’s only a month or so of tea leaves left), but interesting all the same as a window into how the Holy Father thinks more generally.

At New Liturgical Movement, Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., has made available a PDF of a Latin-English Dominican Rite hand missal, which apparently represents the Dominican Rite as of 1962. Interesting for study, at the very least, and if you’re lucky to live within driving distance of a Dominican Rite Mass, it might be helpful to print out bits to take with you.

Fr. John Hunwicke follows up on the Joint Declaration of the Holy Father and Patriarch Kirill with a piece from last fall about historical examples of communion between particular Orthodox churches and the Church of Rome. (Maybe we mentioned it at the time. We can’t recall.) An interesting piece which ought to be read carefully.

Scalia’s Death

It is hard to imagine America without Antonin Scalia. Hero to conservatives, bête noire to the left, Scalia was a judge unlike any other judge in the history of the Republic. And his death seems momentous in a way that other events in the life of the Republic in recent years have not. There will be more politicians, more elections, more crises, domestic and international, and more wars. (At least until the Lord returns and this world passes away.) But there will not be another Scalia. And we have lost something with his passing that we will not likely get back.

We recall, on June 26 last year, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, scrolling quickly past the majority opinion and Chief Justice John Roberts’s dissent to get to Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent. We assumed, given the indications of Justice Kennedy, that the majority decision would say that marriage extended to same-sex couples. We assumed that Chief Justice Roberts would deplore the way in which the decision was reached. And we didn’t really care. What we wanted to see was what Scalia had to say. And his dissent in Obergefell was a barn-burning attack on the reasoning (or lack thereof) of the majority opinion.

It was not the first time that we wanted to see what Scalia had to say first. And we were not alone in skipping the boring parts to see the fireworks. (Unfortunately, like the professor he was at heart, Scalia punished those of us who didn’t read the majority opinion by referring to it and quoting from it at length, requiring us to scroll back up repeatedly to see what he was talking about.)

It is unlikely that any other justice on the Supreme Court occupied the imagination of the public—lawyers and laymen alike—quite the way Scalia did. His public persona—blunt, witty, and brilliant—was balanced by stories of his devotion to Christ and Christ’s Church, his unlikely friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and his role as patriarch of a large family. Some of our acquaintances in the Washington area reported seeing Scalia regularly at the traditional Latin Mass offered at Mary Mother of God. But above all of this was his reputation as a writer: usually incisive, often witty, occasionally caustic, but always clear and always tightly reasoned. And we imagine that judges across the land, at every level, took a cue from Scalia and started expressing themselves and their views clearly and directly, too. (And some state courts we could name have, we think, very mightily struggled to avoid Scalia-style opinions. But even this is a testament to his influence.)

Even people who did not especially like Scalia were impressed by his incisive intellect. We had a very slight connection to him—to outline it would be a little gauche, so we’ll say it was on the order of a friend of a friend or something like that—and the impression we got was that he was blunt, witty, and brilliant, even as a young man. But the impressive thing is how many people, even his ideological adversaries, liked Scalia tremendously. There was something about his “Italian from Queens” style that was charming and disarming, even to his opponents.

And for all these reasons, as we noted above, Scalia’s death seems momentous in a way that other events in the recent life of the Republic have not. Perhaps coming very near the reason why, at First Things, Elliot Milco has a brief appreciation of Scalia. He writes,

Antonin Scalia was a hero to me, as he was to thousands, perhaps millions of conservative Americans. He was brilliant. He was morally engaged. His prose sparkled. He was the great champion of the Right, and he could not be silenced or voted out, no matter how much the press despised him. While his enemies pushed relentlessly to have their views enshrined as fundamental principles of free society, Scalia fought to keep the moral question open for debate, to maintain the possibility of reasonable dissent, because he believed that in a fair fight, we could still prevail. He was the mighty rearguard in our long and slow defeat.

The passing of Antonin Scalia is the passing of a great figure in American political life—a true jurist of the sort rarely seen in recent decades. For those of us on the Right, the death of this great man is devastating. In the past forty years the Supreme Court has been the site of so many crucial revisions of the fundamental law of our government. Who can say how his successor will affect the balance of power in this country, or for how long? Without him, or someone like him, we can guess what’s to come. More revision, more exclusion, more decay.

(Emphasis supplied.) This seems correct to us. It is unclear to us that anyone else could step into the breach and mount the thunderous defense of reason and justice that Scalia did for so long. Even when the forces of this world and the lord of this world won great victories—and they did win great victories, though only for a little while—Scalia could always drive them to paroxysms of fury with a turn of phrase or a careful dissection of a non-argument. They might have won, but they undoubtedly didn’t like how hard they had to work to do so when Scalia was watching. And, as we say, it is far from clear that anyone can fill that role quite like he did.

And, in all the memorials and remembrances, we think it is especially important to remember that Scalia was a champion of civil liberties, especially liberties that are important for criminal defendants. Scalia did much to save the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment from the constitutional dustheap, and he routinely voted in favor of robust Fourth Amendment protections. For him, these provisions were not impediments to effective police work, but necessary guarantees that protect citizens from police overreach. And he formed a remarkably durable coalition with liberal justices to provide much needed majorities to protect these rights. (We suspect that, very soon, the people thrilled today that their old nemesis is gone will miss him.)

Of your charity, pray for the repose of his soul.

The Joint Declaration

The Holy Father and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow have, in the wake of their historic meeting in Cuba, released a joint declaration, which is, to a great extent, in the words of Fr. John Hunwicke, is “better than good.” We confess, however, that we are simply not sufficiently versed in matters touching upon the eastern churches in communion with Rome to judge these paragraphs:

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Our background is, as you may have guessed, Latin rite all the way down. Thus, we lack the framework to weigh this declaration appropriately. However, we imagine that some of these formulations will be puzzling to a Latin-rite Catholic, since it sure looks like the Pope of Rome has essentially said “hands off” as far as Orthodox Christians are concerned. We are sure that there are good and important reasons for such statements, but given the Roman Church’s historic articulation of its primacy (and 1870 isn’t all that long ago, really), it seems strange to a Latin-rite Catholic to see statements like this subscribed to by the Supreme Pontiff.

And, for all we know, it may be strange to an Eastern-rite Catholic to read these statements. For example, Gabriel Sanchez, of Opus Publicum, who knows quite a bit more about eastern matters than we do, posted at his blog a translation of a statement by Sviatoslav, patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and All Rus. (Sviatoslav is the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.) Because it appears that Sanchez obtained special permission to reproduce the translation, we will not quote it here, but we will urge you to read the whole thing there. While nice, ecumenical statements are pleasant business in Rome and Moscow and elsewhere, we dare say that this is deadly business for Patriarch Sviatoslav, and his words ought to be weighed carefully.

The Ordinariate Office and the laity

David Clayton has a lengthy, excellent piece at New Liturgical Movement about the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham (that is, the English Ordinariate’s version of the Divine Office). He argues,

From what I have seen I am excited. I think it provides great possibilities for lay people especially to start praying the Office. The Anglican Office has a proven record not only in enabling laity as well as clergy to pray the Office, but also as a public celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. I heard recently from Mgr Andrew Burnham in England, who was instrumental in producing this, that this continues to this day. As he told me, the English Anglican cathedrals and choral foundations are in the midst of a golden age, as regards both attendance and music, and clearly meet a very deep need.”

(Emphasis supplied.) He makes several points, and, for that reason, we urge you to read the whole thing at New Liturgical Movement. We have a few observations, though.

First, one of the key drawbacks of the Liturgia Horarum is the four-week psalter. While some may argue that the Roman Breviary of 1960 was essentially a transitional breviary, pointing the way toward the Liturgia Horarum—and, in many respects, they may be right—it must also be said that the 1960 Breviary preserved the one-week psalter, which had been the ancient custom of the Roman Church, going back all the way to St. Benedict’s Regula. The four-week psalter loses through dilution some key dimensions of the psalms, not the least of which is the all-important Christological dimension. It also, in our opinion, reduces the centrality of the psalter in favor of other aspects of the Office, especially the readings in the Office of Readings and the preces at Morning and Evening Prayer. (In fact, the four-week psalter is the primary reason why we do not regularly recite the Liturgia Horarum ourselves, notwithstanding some of its advantages over the 1960 Breviary.)

It appears, unfortunately, from Clayton’s description that the Ordinariate Office preserves a four-week psalter, though one that does not suffer from some of the omissions that the Pauline psalter does:

First, convenience and simplicity: the psalm cycle is designed such that it is possible to sing the whole Office with just two Offices in the day – the hybrid Morning and Evening Prayer which allow us, one might say, to sing four Offices as two, and to sing the whole psalter in the course of the monthly psalm cycle. This means that it really is the Office for those who do not have many hours in each day to devote to singing the psalms. However, for those who do have more time, and wish to add more Offices in the day from time to time, there are simple options to add Prime (yes Prime!), Terce, Sext, None and Compline.

(Emphasis supplied.) We do not know enough about Anglican liturgy to know for certain whether or not the four-week psalter is a part of the Anglican patrimony. Looking, however, at a website devoted to the so-called Book of Common Prayer, it seems that the Anglican psalter, or at least an early version of the Anglican psalter, did indeed use a monthly psalter.  So, on one hand, the four-week psalter may be consistent with the patrimony of the Ordinariate, but it is not especially consistent with the customary use of the Roman Church. And the Ordinariate Office, however good it may be, is still hobbled by a four-week psalter.

Second, it seems to us that Clayton’s argument essentially is that this version of the Office is one that may well get laity interested in the Office. (For the record, we agree with Clayton that a spirituality based upon Mass and the Divine Office has distinct advantages.) However, we do not think that the problem is so easily solved by another version of the Office.

There are plenty of versions of the Office available right now. An American Catholic who wanted to recite or sing the Office according to an approved version could recite the Liturgia Horarum in Latin or English, the 1960 Roman Breviary in Latin, the traditional Benedictine Office in Latin, or some other approved Office. (The Cistercian Office of Heiligenkreuz Abbey has always seemed hugely fascinating, if a little exotic.) Additionally, there are those who say the Roman Breviary or the traditional Benedictine Office in an English translation, though the extent to which those translations were approved is sometimes a matter of debate. Moreover, the English translation of the traditional Benedictine Office contained in the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal is reverent and hieratic. (And that’s before we get into Anglo-Catholic things like the so-called Anglican Breviary or the Lancelot Andrewes Press edition of the Monastic Diurnal.)

The problem is not that there aren’t enough options for Catholics. There are options, as we have noted, to suit almost every liturgical taste. The problem—as a comment at NLM notes—is that the Office has become something (apparently) reserved to clergy. The Liturgia Horarum, which seems designed to be recited all at once and in private, has contributed to that perception. A new option is not going to change it. (We would, of course, be very happy to be proved wrong on this point.)

Finally, we wonder if another comment at NLM doesn’t have a point: the Ordinariate liturgy—both the new (and by all accounts splendid) Divine Worship, or the Pope Francis Missal as Fr. John Hunwicke has called it, and the Office—is the product of a very specific need in the Church. It seems to us that one’s experience of the Ordinariate liturgy may well be richer and more meaningful if one has a deeper understanding of the Anglican patrimony that is part of the life of the Ordinariate. Obviously, such an understanding is not strictly required to recite or chant the Office meaningfully and prayerfully, but the fact is that many Catholics do not have much experience with some Anglican traditions, such as Evensong. (Indeed, as we have noted repeatedly, many Catholics do not have much experience with their own vespers.) How one would go about obtaining that understanding is, of course, a different story.


Henry VIII and Hampton Court Vespers

Prof. Jack Scarisbrick, an expert on Henry VIII, has a piece at the Catholic Herald that begins,

How would King Henry VIII react to the news that Cardinal Vincent Nichols will preside at Catholic Vespers in the Chapel Royal of Hampton Court Palace on February 9? Not just by turning in his grave (which anyway might be difficult since it is possible, if not probable, that his daughter Mary, when she became queen, had his tomb opened and his embalmed body burnt). No, there would be seething, bewildered anger and ruthless revenge immediately planned.

He was hard on English cardinals anyway. Cardinal Wolsey, who built magnificent Hampton Court (too magnificent for Henry’s comfort), would probably have lost his head had he not died a natural death a few days before facing a rigged trial for high treason. When John Fisher was given a red hat on the eve of martyrdom, Henry famously vowed that the bishop would never have a head to put it on – and carried out his threat.

(Emphasis supplied.) Read the whole thing there. We won’t spoil it for you, except to say that Professor Scarisbrick demolishes the idea that Henry VIII was some sort of Catholic.


Update on Catholic Action

Updating our Link Roundup from yesterday, we note that, at The Josias today, “Petrus Hispanus” responds to Gabriel Sanchez. Notably, “Petrus Hispanus” argues,

Leo XIII and St. Pius X favored the strategy of Catholic Action because they came to believe, as a matter of strategy, that still-dominant Catholic majorities in many countries could be rallied under a single party in order to use democracy as a weapon against liberalism. The faithful majorities, it was hoped, would vote liberalism out of existence under the leadership of Catholic Action parties. From this miscalculation, possibly brought on by the success of German Catholics against Bismarck, would ultimately come that spectacle of progressive alignment of Catholic politicians with liberalism that was “Christian democracy.”

All of this, of course, is not to impugn on the many excellent things done by Catholic Action in many countries, or to judge the motives these saintly and venerable Popes had in favoring it. Indeed, under the circumstances they faced, it is difficult to imagine what alternative they had in most cases, seeing as the political links with the ancien régime had almost entirely vanished and a new way of “doing Catholic politics” needed to be implemented seriously, one to which the example of Germany and others gave true practical plausibility.  

(Emphasis supplied.) This is a fascinating debate, which we shall continue to follow with great interest.

Link Roundup: Feb. 7, 2016

First, Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., has been engaged at Sancrucensis in dialogue with an anonymous author who has, as the result of the author’s philosophical speculations, defected from the Christian faith. You need to read the comments, too, as the author, Pater Edmund, and Fr. Thomas Crean, O.P., have a very interesting, very complex discussion. (Of your charity, pray for the anonymous fellow.)

Then, over at The Josias, there was an interesting piece by Elliot Milco about liberal democracy and the crisis of pluralism. It drew an interesting response from “Petrus Hispanus,” covering Catholic Action and Carlism. The response drew its own response from Gabriel Sanchez at Opus Publicum, citing Pius X’s statements on Catholic Action.

Sanchez, a much keener observer of eastern matters than we are, also has a comment on the upcoming meeting between the Holy Father and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

Fr. John Hunwicke has a couple of interesting posts about the Requiem celebrated by the Cardinal Duke of York for his brother, Charles IX, in 1788, in which he observes, “Must have been a unique liturgical occasion, don’t you think, a reigning monarch being buried by his own brother, a Suburbicarian Cardinal Bishop, who had already succeeded de jure to his Three Crowns? (Italics in original.)

Fr. Joseph Koczera, S.J., has a couple of posts at his blog about Bernie Sanders and millennials. He concludes with this observation,

Given shifts in the American political landscape in the last four years and the fragmentation of the Republican primary field, it’s hard to know what has happened to the Millennials who backed the ‘Ron Paul Revolution’ the last time around; I’d love to see some pollsters ask young voters who backed Ron Paul in 2012 who they’re supporting in 2016 (at the very least, it seems safe to say that a lot of them have chosen not to back Rand Paul, who hasn’t achieved anything the near the level of support his father enjoyed four years ago). I look forward to finding out how securely the Pied Piper mantle rests on Bernie Sanders’ shoulders as the 2016 presidential primary season runs its course, but I look forward with even greater curiosity to seeing what becomes of this new youth movement in American politics in the years to come.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Finally, Edward Pentin has a lengthy interview with Velasio Cardinal de Paolis, the eminent canonist, Curial cardinal, and, perhaps more relevantly, one of the contributors to Remaining in the Truth of Christ, a book which Cardinal Baldissieri found all too convincing. It is a wide-ranging discussion, touching not only upon communion for bigamists but also the Holy Father’s apparent plan of synodality and decentralization.

Some remarks on Kaveny and Neuhaus

A sharp young Catholic of our acquaintance has pointed us to an interesting exchange over the past couple of weeks. At Commonweal, Cathleen Kaveny argued that the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus sowed division in the Church by articulating a vision of conservative Catholics collaborating with evangelicals and Jews on points of agreement for political reasons. In Kaveny’s opinion, Neuhaus led conservative Catholics away from progressive Catholics for political reasons, and this fundamental rift has become more obvious since the Holy Father marked out a course in his reign not wholly consonant with the political views of these conservative Catholics. In other words, political expediency drew Neuhaus and his circle away from Catholics and toward protestants and Jews, laying the groundwork for the debates we see in the Church today.

This argument was, well, received as well as one would expect. At First Things, R.R. Reno responded with a thorough rebuttal, making the essential point that, in some respects, conservative Catholics do, in fact, have more in common with conservative protestants and Jews than they do with their progressive Catholic brethren. Robert George responded, a little haughtily, and suggested that Caveny was running at Neuhaus only because she could do so without fear of hearing back from Neuhaus. And, at the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters has responded a couple of times, first by sort of coming to the point that there’s division in the Church because the conservatives are no longer in good odor in Rome, and later by suggesting that progressive Catholics also made political deals that weren’t good for the unity of the Church. (Although how Neuhaus could have sown dissent is unclear, since the conservative faction of the Church was itself in good odor in Rome from October 1978 to March 2013. But we’ll pass over the anachronism.)

Read through the posts when you get a free minute. It’s practically a who’s-who of Catholic thought leaders.

For our part, it is really unclear what Kaveny thinks her argument is, since it seems to us that she has argued, more or less, that Neuhaus agreed with people he didn’t really agree with because they took similar political positions, and he turned his back on people he really agreed with because they took different political positions. But—and this is the problem—she compares apples and oranges to get there. As for her points of commonality between conservative and progressive Catholics, she looks toward the broadest possible points of agreement:

Does honoring Jesus as the Son of God count as a commonality? Like their conservative counterparts, progressive Roman Catholics acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ, and find the interpretive key to the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament. Orthodox Jews do not—indeed, must not—treat Jesus as the Messiah foretold in the Book of Isaiah. It would be blasphemous for them to do so.

Does living in the grace imparted by the sacraments count as a commonality? Both progressive and conservative Roman Catholics believe that God’s grace is channeled through the seven sacraments. Many Evangelical Protestants do not have the same view of grace or the sacraments; they often view the Eucharist as a memorial of a past event, not a way of being present with Christ here and now.

(Some of these things are exceptionally weird ways of expressing these commonalities, but we will pass over that quickly and assume that she means essentially what an orthodox Catholic would mean by these expressions.) But as for the points of agreement between conservative Catholics and conservative protestants and Jews, she looks to some very specific issues to find hidden disagreements.

Neuhaus’s defenders might say that he was concerned with commonalities among conservative Christians and Jews on hot-button issues: the ordination of women, contraception, same-sex marriage, and abortion.  But how deep are those commonalities? Many Evangelical Protestants, for example, believe that women should never exercise authority over men, especially but not exclusively in an ecclesiastical context. But the Catholic Church officially and vehemently denies that its exclusion of women from the priesthood is based on their inferiority to men—and points to the centuries old tradition of powerful, independent women religious as evidence. Orthodox Jews may oppose abortion—but not because they believe the fetus is an equally protectable human being. Under Jewish law, full protection for a new human person is triggered at birth. But in Catholic circles debates about abortion are usually about when a human life comes into being biologically.

In other words, Kaveny’s argument is that conservative and progressive Catholics agree on the broadest possible issues about Christ and his Church, but conservative Catholics reach the same conclusions as conservative protestants and Jews for different reasons. (So what?) She does not contend—and could not contend—that all progressive Catholics are on the same page as conservative Catholics about women’s ordination, contraception, marriage, and abortion. They are manifestly not in many instances. That they might agree about broad issues does not change those disagreements. (However, those disagreements cast real doubt on whether the broad areas of consensus are as they appear, even though we said we’d pass over that issue briefly.) So, Neuhaus collaborated, according to Kaveny, with people he agreed with on specific issues instead of people he agreed with on the broadest issues.

Apples and oranges. (Like we said.) And, accordingly, R.R. Reno has the better argument when he notes that a doctrinally conservative Catholic may, in fact, have more in common, especially in terms of outlook and approach, with a doctrinally conservative protestant or Jew, notwithstanding some serious differences, than he does with a progressive Catholic, who, often as not, holds Modernist and indifferentist views.

But the reason why Kaveny has to compare apples and oranges is because she won’t make the (easier) argument that the traditional social teaching of the Church is actually more consistent with some things that progressives are fond of. For example, both Leo XIII in Rerum novarum and Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno express real reservations about economic liberalism and unrestrained capitalism. And Pius XII affirmed in the strongest language—particularly in La solennità della Pentecoste, his 1941 radio address commemorating Rerum novarum, and Exsul Familia Nazarethana, his lengthy apostolic constitution on migrants—the right of individuals to migrate between countries and the positive effects of such migration. Certainly economic justice and immigration have consistently been traditional concerns of the Church and progressives in the Church tend to be more in tune with the Church’s traditional teaching on these points.

In fact, this point has come up a few times in the context of the Holy Father’s contemporary social teaching. Rorate Caeli ran a piece, almost two years ago, noting that the Holy Father was not far from the traditional social teaching of the Church. (Whether “New Catholic” would make the same argument after Laudato si’ is not clear to us.) And Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., has argued that Laudato si’ contains echoes of Pius IX’s monumental Quanta cura and its annexed Syllabus errorum in the Holy Father’s devastating critique of the individualist-technocratic rot at the heart of modernity. (He later pointed out that other authors made the same connection between Laudato si’ and Syllabus, though they didn’t understand what praise they were heaping on the encyclical and may even have thought that comparisons to Syllabus were negative.) But we digress.

In other words, Kaveny could have argued that Neuhaus ought to have cooperated with socially progressive Catholics because their views (generally) are actually fairly close to what the Church has traditionally taught about income inequality, poorly restrained markets, and the social obligations of capital. (But even this argument is essentially the seamless-garment argument articulated by John Cardinal Dearden, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, and other progressive Catholics, which has not met with uniform success. Or any success.) But she didn’t. Instead, she argued that, because conservative and progressive Catholics have some broad things in common, Neuhaus and the First Things set shouldn’t have cooperated with protestants and Jews on specific points that they have common with conservative Catholics (even if they have different reasons for having them in common).

And that sounds political.

Everything stays down where it’s wounded

The Holy Father today (yesterday?) in Rome gave a brief catechesis at his general audience on the subject of mercy and justice. It is in Italian, but excerpts have been translated by the VIS. (You can obtain a machine translation of the whole thing from the usual sources.) One bit in particular might catch the attention of those who like to read tea leaves:

The Bible, he explained, proposes a different form of justice, in which the victim invites the guilty party to convert, helping him to understand the harm he has done and appealing to his conscience. “In this way, recognising his blame, he can open up to the forgiveness that the injured party offers. … This is the way of resolving conflicts within families, in relations between spouses and between parents and children, in which the injured party loves the guilty and does not wish to lose the bond between them. It is certainly a difficult path: it demands that the victim be disposed to forgive and wishes for the salvation and the good of the perpetrator of the damage. But only in this way can justice triumph, as if the guilty party acknowledges the harm he has done and ceases to do so, the evil no longer exists and the unjust becomes just, as he has been forgiven and helped to find the way of good“.

“God treats us sinners, in the same way. He continually offers us His forgiveness, He helps us to welcome Him and to be aware of our evil so as to free ourselves of it. God does not seek our condemnation, only our salvation. God does not wish to condemn anyone! … The Lord of Mercy wishes to save everyone. … The problem is letting Him enter into our heart. All the words of the prophets are an impassioned and love-filled plea for our conversion”.

(Emphasis supplied.)