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There must be Catholic internationalism based on an ecclesiology which is the same before and after Vatican Council II

Is There a Place for ‘Catholic 
Massimo Faggioli

June 29, 2016 -
Last week was an interesting time to be in Ireland
attending the Loyola Institute’s conference atTrinity College
Dublin, “The Role of the Church in a Pluralist Society: Good
Riddance or Good Influence?” Pope Francis was on a 
historic tripshowed up on the last day of the conference... 
The conference had international appeal and featured
 speakers from a number of different countries;
 among those present were 
Peter and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels.
The location was also notable, in that Ireland is geographically
 at the junction between continental Europe and North America,
 and is undergoing transition from a solidly and proudly Catholic
 country to one in which the role of religion and the church has
changed, and not only because of the sex abuse scandal. I left the
 conference with three distinct impressions of the current debate
on the role of the Catholic Church in modern society.
It is important to note that like the 
Irish Catholic bishops Massimo
 Faggioli interprets Vatican 
Council II with irrational 
Cushingism.He is aware that 
Vatican Council II can be 
interpreted with Feeneyism.
However this would be 
politically incorrect with
 the Left, for him.
So doctrine and truth in
 the Church is not a priority
 for him.Instead his
 politically affiliation with
 the Left decides how 
Vatican Council II must be 
The first was of the divide between European
 Catholicismand North American Catholicism
 on perceptions of secularmodernity. Many
 Americans, for instance, see as problematic
 the unproblematic acceptance of secularity
 in European Catholicism since the 
mid-20th century. But Europe is more
secular than the United States for a reason,
 with EuropeanCatholics viewing secularity
 and especially the secular state
 as a guarantee against the manipulation of religion for
political purposes and of the church by the state—authentic
concerns after fascism and Nazism. In the United States,
meanwhile, a kind of new political Augustinianism has
taken root, with radical orthodoxy and the recent shift
in the reception of Vatican II undoing the reframing of
the relationship between the temporal and the supernatural
 that the council, along with Gaudium et spes, had introduced.
 He is still referring to Vatican
 Council II interpreted with
 the new theology, the Cushingite
 theology, in which hypothetical
 cases are assumed to be 
physically known and visible.
Then it is concluded that
 these explicit cases ( of people 
in Heaven) are practical 
exceptions to the old 
ecclesiology and the dogma
 EENS (Feeneyite) .
The second impression concerns the ecclesiological
 consequences of two different visions of modernity.
There are two differnt 
 One is Feeneyite and the
 other is Cushingite.
A Feeneyite interpretation
 of EENS would be
 a rejection of Massimo Faggioli
 and the Commonweal 
interpretation of modernity 
and reality.
Some presenters spoke in favor of the possibility
 the Church could engage constructively with
 secular culture in a pluralist society. Hans Joas
 offered an analysis of pluralism (following
Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age) in which
 the Church has to work with, learning 
what “genuine pluralism” means, in 
the sense of taking others seriously.
 The Feeneyite interpretation
 of Vatican Council II would 
be saying that all non Catholics,
 including most immigrants,
 are on the way to Hell,
without 'faith and baptism'.
 This would be going
 back to the old ecclesiology 
on salvation.So in a pluralist
 society we would be 
saying that the Catholic
 Church teaches in Vatican
 Council II ( Feeneyite) that 
the ecclesiology of the 
Catholic Church 
is still exclusivist.
 (At the beginning of June, Joas gave a long
 interview to the most important cultural
weekly in Germany, Die Zeit, in which he
criticized the country’s generous policy
of welcoming immigrants but more
forcefully bemoaned the impossibility
 of honest debate on immigration
without being accused of
 nationalism or racism.)
Lionel: Die Zeit like other
 German publications 
interpret Vatican Council
 II with Cushingism.
 Patrick Riordan (Heythrop College) also
 advocated for engagement with
secular society in a paper that presented
 an interpretation of Augustine’s
ecclesiology as not necessarily hostile
to “the earthly city.” 
Lionel: Heytrop College is 
Cushingite .
So the interpretation of 
Augustine's ecclesiology 
would also be Cushingite.
Augustine can be intepreted 
with Feeneyism.He  was a
Similarly, Bryan Hehir—who could not be
 at the conference but whose paper, “Church
 State and Church World: The Narrative
Since Vatican II” was one of the best—
defended the intuitions of John Courtney
 Murray and Vatican II, and Gaudium et
 spes, which he believes is still valid
in facing the pluralism of today.
The narrative of John Courtney 
Murray was Cushingism. He was 
accompanied by Cardinal Richard 
Cushing in implementing the 
objective error in the second
 part of the Letter of the Holy
 Office 1949 to the Archbishop
 of Boston.
Related image
But the most impressive contribution
came from Cardinal Reinhard Marx
 (archbishop of Munich and Freising,
 president of the German bishops’
 conference, and member of the council
of nine cardinals created by Pope Francis
 in April 2013). Cardinal Marx said, among
 other things, that it “is not possible to
imagine the future of the church without
 reference to the history of freedom.” He
 stated that the encounter of the church
 with secularity is inevitable: “The state
 must be secular. Middle Eastern Christians
 tell us: the future is a secular state.” 
 With Vatican Council II ( Feeneyite)
 we are back to the old ecclesiology 
and the old interpretation of the
 dogma EENS. 
It was upon this old ecclesiology, 
that it was not postulated that all
 political laws must have as its 
center Jesus Christ as known in
 the Catholic Church. So there 
was no separation of Church and
With Vatican Council II
( Feeneyite) the narrative
 can change. We can call for
 a separation of secularism 
and State.
He emphasized that the debate on freedom
 and pluralism is passé: “In this world, the
present political challenge is not about
freedom, but identity and security.” The
 church cannot give up the effort to be a
 public church—it “cannot be like a castle
 looking at what the world is doing.”
The third impression is related to Brexit
 and concerns the historical-theological
trajectory of Catholicism. The simultaneity
 of the Dublin conference and Brexit made
 me think about the tight relationship
between development of Catholic theology
 (especially ecclesiology) in the 20th century
Lionels: He is referring to the
 new theology which emerged 
with the objective error 
made in the second part
 of the Letter of the Holy 
Office 1949 and the error being
 accepted by the magisterium.
 and the development of Catholicism
from multinational to truly
With Cushingism, the dogma 
EENS and the old ecclesiology
was made obsolete.
 Catholic support for the European project
 after World War II (from Pius XII to the
 most important politicians of the
Christian-Democratic parties governing
Europe after 1945) was part of the
transition from the nationalist, romantic
 roots of the theological ressourcement
between the mid-19th century and the
1920s and ’30s. At Vatican II, Catholic
theology internationalized what had
 been born as expressions of national
 movements during the previous century
 (adoption of the vernacular; the new
role of national bishops’ conferences;
anti- Curia sentiment; anti-capitalist,
anti-democratic, and anti-liberal
Catholic social movements, etc.).
 The new Catholic theology was
 based on hypothetical cases
 being objectively known. 
We can avoid this error. 
We are then back to the old
 The internationalist quality of Pacem in
 terris and Gaudium et spes was a turning
 point in doctrine concerning the state
and government in Catholic theology,
and also a response to the most powerful
 internationalism of the second half
 of the century, Communism. At Vatican
 II, Catholicism became an advocate
of globalization, which John XXIII had
called in the opening speech of the
council in 1962 “a new order of human relations.”
Lionel: Catholicism is still
 the same when the Cushingite 
mistake in theology 
is avoided today.
Now, it all depends what kind of globalization
we are talking about—that is, what kind of
relationship there is between the globalization
/modernization of the Catholic church at
 Vatican II and the technocratic globalization
 of capitalism that came after Vatican II.
 Vatican Council II ( Feeneyite)
 would be a king of Brexit. 
It would be calling for an 
exit from Vatican Council
 In this sense, Brexit can be seen as a subset
 of the debate on Vatican II and the post-Vatican
 II period, at least among Catholics. It’s no secret
 that Catholics and the Catholic bishops of Britain
 were deeply divided over Brexit, and that for
 many conservative Catholics in Britain
opposition to the EU and to Vatican II
 has similar roots.
 Catholic bishops in England
  interpet Vatican Council II 
and EENS with Cushingism.
This is their liberal position.
They support the Left.
 Traditionalist Catholics who today reject
 “the new order”—in terms of economic
and social exclusion, as well as of the
dominance of what Francis in Laudato
 si’ called “the technocratic paradigm”
—tend to put Vatican II and the EU
 together in one category of
 internationalization and globalization;
 This would be true only if
 Vatican Council II and EENS
 are interpreted with 
The traditionalists, and
 all Catholics, can affirm 
the exclusivist eccclesiolgy
 and also accept Vatican 
Council II and EENs.This is
 the Catholic Faith before
 and after Vatican Council II.
 They can live this traditional
 theology, traditional
 Catholicism, even in a 
new order.They can continue
 to work for the Social Reign
 of Christ the King based on
 Vatican Council II and EENS
 being Feeneyite.
 they choose a traditional, pre-global church
 and a nation-state (even though this fallback
 on the nation-state is for them theologically
 not unproblematic) 
 With Vatican Council II and
 EENS being Feeneyite there
 is no change inChurch 
ecclesiology before and
 after Vatican Council II.
as opposed to the larger framework of a
globalized ecclesial context and a European
political union.
 In the  'globalised ecclesial 
context' Catholics  would still
 be saying all non Catholics 
are on the way to Hell
( AG 7, LG 14) and outside 
the Church there is no 
salvation, as was taught by 
the 16th century missionaries.
 It is an opposition to a much more complex
world, politically and theologically, and to the
 modern, globalized attitudes toward
 vulnerable life, marriage, family, subsidiarity,
 immigration, war, and peace.
Lionel:It would be responding
 to the world with traditional
 Catholicsm,with no compromise
in theology and doctrines.
 It is an opposition that puts back into question
 the Catholic perception of political power, and
 in particular the church’s perception of the
 sovereignty of the nation-state and of
 international/supranational institutions.
 In a nation-state or/and with 
supranation institutions the 
ecclesiology of the Church 
would still support the Social
 Reign of Christ the King and
 the non separation of 
Church State in a nation
 state framework or a global
 poltical concept.This 
would be the theological
 understanding of Church
 with magisterial
 documents interpreted 
with Feeneyism
 and not Cushingism as 
a theology.
Brexit will have an impact on how European
Catholicism engages the European project.
(This is not so different from how American
 Catholics—at different levels, with different
 responsibilities—may or may not engage
with Donald Trump as the GOP’s probable
 presidential nominee.)
 Catholics could demand for an
 exit from the Leftist concept of
 Vatican Council II supported by 
Commonweal, since now they
 have a choice. The choice 
is a rational interpretation 
of Vatican Council II.
 The current crisis in the EU exposes a theological
 crisis within Catholicism, which not long
ago—between World War II and 
Vatican II—accepted and contributed
 significantly to the legitimacy of both
 the nation-state and of
 international/global institutions.
 The theological crisis began 
when a new innovative 
theology, based on philophical
 subjectivism was introduced
 into the Church by the 
It was then made the
 dominant reasoning
 in Vatican Council II.
There are passages 
in Vatican Council II which
 appear ambigous, 
since they are Cushingite
 We only have to interpret
 these Cushingite passages
 assuming hypothetical cases 
are no explicit exceptions
 to EENS( Feeneyite).
 We are then back to 
the old ecclesiology.
 Socialist-communist internationalism is 
dead, but it is not clear how Catholic 
internationalism will be able to challenge
 the globalism of the technocratic paradigm.
Catholic internationalism 
based upon an ecclesiology
 which is the same before
 and after Vatican Council II.
-Lionel Andrades

About the Author

Massimo Faggioli is associate professor
 of theology at the University of St. 
Thomas. He will move to Villanova
 University in the summer of 2016.
 His most recent book is The 
Rising Laity. Ecclesial Movements
since Vatican II (Paulist Press, 2016).


d without UN approval. In the latter case, the terms were violated but obviously no controlling authority.
It has always been thus and will always be thus. Thucydides was basically correct, the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. That is the law of poltics and the state. For the moment the US is it but in another 500 years it will be some other empire. We can seek to change what we can in our corner of the planet (and I do). There is no global association that will change that all too much. But they help and should be supported. How is another question. Brexit is not a catastophre, it is simply a reconfiguring of our inter-related interests. No big deal. Just switch paradigms. For the Christian this should be easy. No Christian should have any attachment to any institution.
That is precisely why I confess Jesus as son of God because he overturned all of that.
 But it is the spirit of Christ that lives. The Spirit lives in conservatives, liberals, Remainers and Leavers. And that spirit needs to have communion. And it is here that the church as a fellowship and commmunity needs to bring together those who share in the spirt of Christ in order to worship in spirit and truth.
I am wholeheartedly a follower of Jesus Christ and can recite the Creed in complete honesty. The Creed does not require that I pledge allegiance to any temporal international organization. It requires that I publicly profess my faith in Christ.

Thucydides was basically correct, the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
I think the reason the crushing of Melos and the slavery of its survivors was so disturbing was because it was a departure from the way things were supposed to be and the way Athens had acted brfore, not an accepted MO.  Can't think of an example at the moment, but sometimes the strong help the weak, not take advantage.

Crystal: >  sometimes the strong helpthe weak, not take advantage
I should think the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Japan after WW II are examples.  Of course there were reasons of State involved, but both had widespread support from ordinary Americans exactly as help for those in need. 
Mark L.

Those instances were somewhat to the victor goes the spoils. Not saying that the US annexed them as being an empire has never been part of American history but it did begin a process of globalization led by the US. The most successful rebuilding projects were not led by international organizations but by one country.
That is my point. I don't have any objection to the UN but there is no way, ever, it will become a world government. It is instrumental in aid and has some benefits.
I just don't think internationalism has ever been part of Christianity. I find it interesting that the first divide in Christianity occurred well over 1000 years ago and the dividing line runs right between Yugoslavia, the Ukraine and what we refer to as Eastern and Western Europe.
And, Asian countries never really took to Catholicism and the reason may be related to the whole Chinese rites controversy but the problem is that Chrisianity had no problem taking on pagan Roman customs and giving them a Christian context. That then became reified and impervious to flexible change. 
It seems like a temptation that has been with the Church but not sure universality (Catholicity) needs to be institutional. It is primarily spiritual. I think Berdyaev was exactly correct on that
But the idea of unifying the Churches is essentially an insincere, a wrong idea. Both Orthodox and Catholics believe that Church is one, that it cannot be separated and therefore not united. Religious-ecclesiastical life is not a matter of politics; inside of this life there cannot be something like political blocs, treaties, mutual concessions, diplomatic tricks of all kind...In reality the unity and unification of the whole Christian world cannot be matter of ecclesiastical governments, of their negotiations and treaties, of insincere unias, -- it has to be realized in depth and not on the surface. This unity can be attained only in the mystic sphere, in the sphere of spiritual life and spiritual experience, not on the trappings of church politics. For Christian unity there is necessary the reducing of the importance of church politics which was always a source of all quarrels in Christianity, and it is necessary to suppress the sinful striving for power...Forced external unity, which does not correspond to an inner spiritual unity, is only of little worth. It requires a free and open association without any mistrust and without ulterior motives. I repeat yet again, the Holy Spirit will unify the Churches, when the hour for it has come, and which the Providence of God has determined. But Christian mankind must prepare the spiritual soil for this and create a favourable psychical atmosphere. Such a spiritual soil, such a psychical atmosphere can only be a spiritual unifying in love, mutual acquaintance, prayer for the other and a living in brotherhood in Christ. 

I just don't think internationalism has ever been part of Christianity. 
It is one strand in the tapestry of modern Catholic social teaching.  Some of it is pretty radical - not sure I agree with all of it.  I believe Commonweal has had articles in the past that describe some of the Catholic underpinnings of the founding of the UN.  I haven't been as attuned to the history of the EU, but I don't find it difficult to believe that faithful Catholics were behind it.
I don't think you have to be a theologian to have the instinct toward internationalism.  I think reflection on the meaning of "Body of Christ" might lead one in that direction.

I do like John Courtney Murray's take on pluralism and religious liberty ... sort of the opposite of the US Bishop's idea of religious freedom.
I think Eastern Christians are right too that governments need to be secular.  Of course, they mainly feel that way because they're living in countries where another religion is dominant, so that's to their benefit.
This reminds me of a discussion once between John Milbank and Stanley Hauerwas ... ...  They talked about a lot of stuff, but at almost the very end they talked about their different views of the church in the world.  Hauerwas said he just wanted the church to survive, because after all, it wasn't as if the church ever got being in control right.  But Milbank wanted the church to win and to transform the world.

George D, thank you for that quote from Nikolai Berdyaev, about universality being primarily spiritual rather than institutional. I had not thought of it that way before.

"I think reflection on the meaning of 'Body of Christ' might lead one in that direction."
It used to for me, less so now. There's no doubt that the Church in the early Middle Ages brought peace and stability to parts of Europe and had a hand in unifying nations that had been fragmented pagan tribes. And nations later looked to the Pope to settle some international disputes. But each nation retained its own political system, language, and customs, and liturgical rites. Then came the Reformation.
In some ways, the EU tries to be the arbiter that the papacy once was, and in some ways tries to share out wealth, peace, and prosperity along secular lines that are rooted in a common Catholic past. 
Given recent events, I'm not sure how well it's going to hold up. 

The first was of the divide between European Catholicism and North American Catholicism on perceptions of secular modernity. 
This is an interesting observation, but one which needs some further elucidation I think. If I am not mistaken, in the analysis of the American church's attitudes above I see the shadow of the American bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom" and the accompanying PR campaign. These could certainly be seen as symptomatic of a general discomfort with secularity. But that campaign does not enjoy the sympathy of rank and file Catholics even in the US, much less North America as a whole. Are American Catholics really romantically attached to the idea of a Catholic state? Someone like the late Cardinal George may have experienced nostalgia for such a world, but American Catholics in general?
Faggioli later points out Hans Joas's indebtedness to Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. Taylor is Canadian, thus a North American, and he is Catholic. If the constructive approach to the secular which he exemplifies is a North American phenomenon, I think this has to be factored into the analysis of what is happening in North America around the subject of secularity and religion. It could of course be observed that Taylor's thought has had more influence on broad publics than on the very specific thought world of the American Catholic bishops. The very fact that the Social Science Research Council named its blog on religion and secular thought after one of his concepts ("The Immanent Frame") would be an example of that broad influence. But again, the Church is more than its bishops...
Cardinal Marx's remark about "identity and security" as the issues of the day, rather than freedom and pluralism, certainly captures the stresses of the immigration crisis and global terrorism. But in the area of theology, the issues of pluralism are still "hot" precisely in relation to identity. One need look no further than the drive toward a "unitary expression of the Roman Rite" expressed by the 2001 Vatican instruction on liturgical translations, Liturgiam authenticam, to see that the Council's strategic movement toward a global church respectful of diversity is being viewed defensively. It's the case with respect to theologians too, witness the censuring of Roger Haight, Tissa Balasuriya, and now Michael Amaladoss. Maybe the Vatican is fighting the last war, but it certainly seems to be acting out of the assumption that identity is under threat from pluralism. 

Someone like the late Cardinal George may have experienced nostalgia for such a world, but American Catholics in general?
Since Cardinal George's name was invoked, I'll just mention that I know of no reason to suppose that he harbored any nostalgia for a Catholic state.  As a church administrator, he lived in the real world.  Which isn't to say that he wasn't cut from the old church hierarchical cloth in some ways.  And certainly, he supported the spirit of the Fortnight of Freedom, but that's not nostalgia for a Catholic state; it's an attempt to urge the secular state to get its self-understanding right.

Hi Jim,
I read an article by him, it was a few years back, in which he traced the woes of Europe and demise of Catholic civilization to the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy. I am sorry I was unable to find it again on line today. It gave me the distinct impression he harbored nostalgia for Catholic rule even if he didn't expect it to come back any time soon.
Cardinal George's dark view of secular society is well known:
The secularizing of our culture is a much larger issue than political causes or the outcome of the current electoral campaign, important though that is. ... I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring. ...
I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
This isn't about a dialogue or course correction, it's a fight to the death with the secular followed by a rescue of the human project after the secular forces have all but destroyed it.

Rita, thanks fo that quote, I had seen the bit before about "his successor will die a martyr", but I hadn't seen that surrounding explanation previously.  I guess I'd note that George's was a dark prediction of what the future may bring, if secularization of society as a whole proceeds unchecked. My response to your prior comment was specifically in regard to the possibility of the restoration of a Catholic state, which is quite different than the possibility of a fully-secularized society.
What your comment to which I had responded brought to mind was not that famous quote of George's, but rather a contratemps in the pages of Commonweal a number of years ago in which Cardinal George was accused of calling for the restoration of Christendom.  This article from 2005 either is the original article that touched off the dispute, or it may be a sort of re-write/recap of the dispute.  My recollection is that after the initial accusation was made in Commonweal, Cardinal George himself and a number of other attendees of the academic conference in question wrote letters to Commonweal, strongly refuting what is claimed in this article.  The issues of the magazine for that year (2005) are now tucked away in the magazine's web archive which one must pay a premium to access, so I'm not able to search further for more specifics.  If I get some time tonight, I might run over to our public library to see if I can find the back issues.  
The article itself does touch on some of the same topics that Professor Faggioli discusses in his post, and even discusses the EU, so it may be of interest.

To try to steer back to the main topic, it seems to me that the Catholic church's social thought can contribute to attempts to shape an "internationalist" order in the world (just as it seems to have contributed to the original formation of the EU, and to the founding spirit of the UN as instanced in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights) if the world is open to listening to Catholic thought.  
It also seems possible to me that there could be such a thing as "over-secularization" in which Catholic thought, and religious thought more generally, becomes so marginalized that it is not able to assume a place around the table of public discussion as a full-fledged partner and equal.  

May I add a comment to the Rita-Jim exchange.
It is useful, I think to distinguish between the secularization of the political society's legal system and the secularization of the socitey's culture. I find it rather unproblematic to support the secularization of the legal system. I consider it far more objectionable when there are organized campaigns to dismiss efforts to bring religious considerations to bear on extra-legal cultural matters that are of widespread concern. Examples of the latter are such issues as the teaching of history in our schools, the importance of family and neighborhood relationships, and the efforts to forge civic coalitions to deal with significant social problems.
I would not agree with CardinalGeorge's characterizations of our present American situation, but I would maintain that therre are secularizing pressures in our society that deserve to be resisted.

Jim, thank you for the link. The article I read was certainly, in George's own words, a presentation of the same ideas about Christendom discussed in the article to which you linked. It is a good illustration of Faggioli's point about Americans finding secularism in Europe problematic.
The exchange with George that generated a lot of discussion at Commonweal was, I thought, "How Liberalism Fails the Church" -- but maybe both of these did! Again, thanks for digging this up.

Bernard wrote:
I consider it far more objectionable when there are organized campaigns to dismiss efforts to bring religious considerations to bear on extra-legal cultural matters that are of widespread concern.
I agree that the legal and cultural realms are different and this is a useful distinction. 

"Second, I will discuss why I believe it is not unfair to call contemporary liberal Catholicism an "exhausted project," even though some of my best friends are liberal Catholics."
To expand and drill down on the Jim-Rita discussion - the above quote can be found in George's article that is linked to.
Key points:
Consider that the fundamental change brought about in the church by Vatican II was, I think, in historical terms not in liturgy, but in the church’s relationship with the modern world, and in particular its stance toward the ideas of democracy and religious liberty. Peter Steinfels’s invocation of those words, "perfidious," "venomous," "pernicious," and "contaminating," as reflecting the church’s old attitude toward liberalism, tolerance, and democracy, reminds us of something that many of us Catholics don’t like to think about, that this transformation was hard-won and that it marked a very large break with the church’s preconciliar position, especially its position after the First Vatican Council.
This great transformation was inspired by the church’s dialogue with modernity. One of the most significant aspects of John Paul’s papacy is that he did not reverse this historic change. On the contrary, he confirmed it. If any idea has dominated his pontificate, it is the idea of the dignity of every human person. This notion has undergirded his campaign for human rights around the world. It has given substance to his campaign for social justice and the rights of workers, and to his battle for religious liberty. It impelled him to visit that Roman synagogue and to denounce anti-Semitism, a curse and a sin that afflicted so many in our church and at times, the institution itself.
Now, these are, I believe, fundamentally liberal achievements, or at least they are achievements of a Catholicism and a Christianity in dialogue with liberalism. They are rooted in an interpretation of the church’s traditions that would have been simply impossible absent the rise of liberalism and its influence on the church. You could say they might not have been possible had God not sent us John Courtney Murray, had John Courtney Murray not grown up in America, and had John Courtney Murray not persuaded Rome to take the church’s experience in our country seriously.
Cardinal George described very well the standard critique of a certain liberal interpretation of Vatican II as the belief that the world sets the agenda for the church. Certainly there were times when this seemed to be true. But I don’t think this is a fair view of what liberal Catholicism was, or, for that matter, what it still is. In fact, I think that in the broad terrain which one could describe as both liberal and left Catholic—and I appreciate Peter’s distinction between the two—it is often the case that the liberal Catholic stance toward the world is critical rather than overly accepting.
This liberalized Catholicism that we have today, if I may call it that, is destined to remain triumphant for the foreseeable future, not only because this decisive historical shift was confirmed by a pope who is seen as conservative (I think he’s more complicated than that), but because the historical situation of the church requires it.
Liberal Catholicism, as Peter reminded us, was also distinctive for its attitude toward modernity. It insisted, as he said, "on distinctions and nuance in evaluating modernity rather than sweeping condemnations." Is there any better description of the church’s relationship to modernity right now than that one? The church’s stance, you might say, is one of dialectical engagement.
But I want to underscore a point that Peter made, because I think it’s very important. He said he would argue that "insofar as we can humanly tell, liberal Catholicism is essential to the flourishing of the church in the United States, and, I believe, in the rest of the world."
The church, he goes on, if it’s to remain a healthy organism, needs the self-criticism, open inquiry, and spirit of dialogue that liberal Catholicism has provided. I believe that is true, and I am fearful of a tendency I see among some Catholics who call themselves traditional or orthodox to engage in what you might call planned shrinkage of the church, to insist that those of us who so strongly identify with its traditions, who are not grab-bag Catholics, who do worry about fidelity should be cast as people who are really Protestants and should go off and join the churches where we are told we belong by those who think the church should be smaller.  (think of the unfortunate quote from George above about dying in jail, etc.)

Catholicism can't inform the world with its values in the way the Universal Declaration on Human Rights does because the church doesn't subscribe to all those rights .... this is the church that won't let child rape victims in South America ger abortions, that won't bishops in every country to report child sex abuse to the civil authorities, that won't tell churchs in Africa ro stop killing people for being gay. 
"How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges" ...

In a previous comment spurred by something that Rita had written, I provided a link to this 2005 Commonweal article by William D Wood, claiming among other things that Cardinal George wished for a restoration of Christendom.  I also mentioned that  I recalled that Commonweal had published some responses, by George and some other attendees of the academic conference that was the occasion for George's talk which in turn provided the basis for Wood's critique; but I wasn't able to find those responses.
I've now located those responses, via Google rather than Commonweal's search facility (probably because of my lack of skill with the latter).  It is here.  In addition to George's response, it includes responses from Paul Griffiths and Edward Oakes SJ, a reply by Wood to those responses, and an additional response from MIchael Johnson that is supportive of Wood.  It seems to me that it is all pertinent to the topics raised by Massimo Faggioli's post above.
Thanks, too, to Rita for providing a link to Cardinal George's Commonweal articlefrom roughly the same time period defending his (in?)famous characterization, several years earlier, of liberal Catholicism as "parasitical" upon a church whose characteristics no longer exist.  The paper holds up very well - in fact, I found it to be very well done.  It does serve as a fuller treatment by George of some of these same topics we're discussing here.  Well worth a read.
I have to say that I think it refutes, in a number of passages, any contention that George wished to restore a medieval Christendom.  Cardinal George was, in essence, a Catholic of our time.  Here is one passage that may help to illustrate that:
Just as liberal Catholicism is frequently uneasy with the church’s understanding of the gift of human sexuality when her teaching runs up against the popular Freudianism of the sexual revolution, conservative Catholicism is often uneasy with the church’s understanding of a just society when her social teaching draws conclusions about social services and the distribution of wealth from the premise of universal human solidarity.
The neuralgic point, therefore, is the human person. Both conservatism and liberalism, in religion and other fields in America, tend to look on the person as a bundle of desires or dreams, animal impulses and higher aspirations, which are synthesized individually by choice and controlled socially by law. Law, therefore, is always an imposition, an imposition gladly internalized in some areas by liberals and in others by conservatives. In religion, liberal pastoring means assuring people that the unconditional love of God means putting aside even moral laws when they get in the way of personal fulfillment; conservative pastoring means insisting on law without linking it clearly to the truths that Christ reveals about the dignity and freedom of the human person. The human person is the way of the church, but her understanding of what it means to be human is taken from her belief in who Christ is, a belief born of our living together, in ecclesial communion, Christ’s own life.

 Sorry, Jim.....posted another Commonweal response to George's liberalism is exhausted project.  IMO, George failed as a cardinal for these reasons:
- he will go down in history as a *company man* who paid his dues to his curia buddies by selling out the US Church in terms of liturgy, translations, ruining any number of careers, etc. in the name of his own ambition and hubris.  His responsibility was to work with the USCCB as a national episcopal conference in deciding, per VII's SC, what liturgically makes best sense and best practice for the US.  He, rather, sold out to the curia and sold out the USCCB.  He had no specific liturgical skills but still let his bias determine the outcome by threatening, etc.  Thus, instead of the 1988 translation passed by over 14 english speaking national conferences, we wound up with the curial jokes.  Note - currently, the German, French, Spanish, and Italian episcopal conferences are refusing to repeat the George mistake.
Second, really, in 10 or 20 years what will be left of George - a footnote in some graduate school classes.  He caused the USCCB and nuncio to continue to appoint mediocre bishops who were reactive to VII, conservative in a negative sense of the word, etc.  It will take a generation to overcome his support in too many episcopal appointments.
Third, same goes for his Barron experiment.  Think about the excellent social justice history of the Chicago archdiocese (housing, tolerance, unions, welcoming immigrants, against discrimination in all of its forms, etc.)  George was not on the forefront of this nor was Barron.  Instead, they both worked to implant a bygone era in terms of seminary training; pastoral decisions and pastor choices.  Did Mundelein ever shine in terms of social justice issues?  Rather, it focused on issues such as Forenight for Freedom, passing judgment via Benny style statements; etc.Unlike the serious impact and implementation of social statements of the national bishops' conference in the 1970s and 80s, what did George support?  Did he really make any effort to have the USCCB influence US society, politics, etc.  Or, rather, was his voice more along the lines of condemnation, judgments, etc.  (you quote that the human person is the center from George's thinking - and yet, George's announcements rarely reflected that approach.  From gay rights to housing to issues such as guns, immigrants, etc. George did not start with the human person - he started from his ideological stance.
Finally, he was wrong about the threat of secularism; he was wrong about the *exhausted liberal project*; he was wrong about many things e.g. clerical sexual abusers.  Think that history will not be kind to the likes of George or the USCCB that he impacted.

Hi, Bill - I'm sure the discussion of Cardinal George's successes and failings could go on and on.  As it applies to the topic of the original post, though, I don't think anyone is looking to medieval Christendom as a model to realize a contemporary Catholic version of international cooperation, and I don't think Cardinal George would have supported a Christendom restoration, either.  
That said - the contents of the various articles from him we've been discussing here sugest that he did have a point of view regarding European history from the Enlightenment period onward, which he apparently shared (or at least believed he shared) with both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  So these articles may be on-topic from that point of view.

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