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From Brexit to Pope Francis

February 24, 2019

The intellectual classes in Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia were corrupted by rejection of Christianity from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment. The “tribal” character of the nations in Europe was diminished as European monarchies transitioned into modern nation states and France, Germany, Italy and England lost their distinctive national character. Today “European” educated citizens have self-identified with a class of trans-national educated intellectuals. One of my colleagues calls them “Davos men.” They became citizens of the world, first, and European nationals, second.

The European Union has facilitated that trend which is why the rise of traditional national consciousness of the British is significant. With the assertion of Britain’s national identity in the Brexit movement–something rejected by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Macron–a signal was sent throughout Western, East and Central Europe, and as far away as the United States, that protecting one’s national borders is a nation’s first priority.

The Catholic Church was adversely affected by the seeds of disaffection of Catholics from their nations sowed in Encyclicals, first, by Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum on the “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” promulgated in1891 that introduced concepts that would have a profound effect on business and industry in relationship with workers and give support to rejection of the working of free markets. Forty years later, in 1931, Pope Pius XI issued the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno that went far beyond the ministrations of Pope Leo XIII. By giving prominence to the dictates of Social Justice, Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno inadvertently opened the door to the decline of Thomistic philosophy and its replacement by a theology of Social Justice.  That justified transfer of focus of Catholic scholars from the pursuit of knowledge and truth to the pursuit of political and economic action. A new theology of Social Justice had been granted Papal blessings.

That brings us to the closing address of Pope Francis at the “Sex Abuse Summit” held in the Vatican from February 21 to 24. Nowhere in the Pope’s address does he address the source of sexual abuses by Catholic religious–the acceptance of homosexuals into the Catholic priesthood.

The Protestant Reformation destroyed the unity of Christianity in one “Catholic” church and unleashed fragmentation of faithful Christians into a thousand different sects. The Roman Catholic Church today needs to address the sex abuse scandal in the context of a long history of lay rejection of the Church’s priestly caste. In addition to rejection of homosexuals into the priesthood, the Vatican needs to examine whether celibacy is essential for the administration of priestly orders–before lay Catholics take back their Church in ways more destructive than which occurred in the 16th century.




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