Monday, January 28, 2013

The Worship of Catholic Celebrities is Nothing New

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

This is the KJV translation of Romans 16:17&18.  I have always liked the phrase "their own belly", which is often translated elsewhere as "their own appetites".  The image is clear - avoid those who worship not Jesus but their bellies - or the region a few inches below their bellies.

And if we need to paraphrase Paul, which sometimes helps, here is what he's saying ...

Please take note of those who cause divisions and "put obstacles in your way" (NIV) that are contrary to the true doctrine you have learned.  AVOID THEM.  They don't worship Christ, but they worship their own appetites (their greed, their hunger, their lust) - and their slick talk can fool the naive and simple.

In other words, be aware when either liberals or conservatives deny Christ and come up with theologies that suit their own desires - whether those theologies are rationalizing sins of lust, abortion, torture, lying, greed or anything that we really really want to feel good doing because our bellies are growling.

***

But, you know, none of this is new - not even the fawning idolatry of Catholic celebrities, about which Mark Shea writes in his inimitable manner over at Catholic and Enjoying It.

Mark mentions Fr. Corapi and Michael Voris.  I could mention others of the current day.

But take one example from long ago.

Back in the 1820's, the up and coming Elvis of conservative Catholic circles in Europe was Fr. Felicite de Lamennais.  He was the boy wonder of his day, and while a few were wary of his theology, which had a strong anti-rational streak, nevertheless Rome went so far as to give one of his books an imprimatur and

"Lamennais himself soon visited the Holy SeeLeo XII received him very kindly and at one time even thought of making him a cardinal, despite his excitable character and exaggerated ideas."  (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

In fact, Lamennais went  so far as to establish his own cult of personality.


"... he derived valuable assistance from a certain number of young men, ecclesiastics and laymen, who gradually formed a group of which he was the centre. Of these the best known are Gerbet, de Salinis, Lacordaire, Montalembert, Rohrbacher, Combalot,Maurice de Guérin, Charles de Sainte-Foy, Eugène and Léon Boré, de Hercé."

But not everybody went ga-ga over the rock star.  One of my heroes, Bl. Dominic Barberi, sounded early alarms among his Passionist brothers about Lamennais and his work, and was soundly excoriated by his fellow priests.  In fact, the General of the Passionists demanded that Barberi admit that his criticism of Lammenais was wrong and that he (Barberi) was prideful and arrogant (sound familiar? just look at any number of comboxes on this very blog).  Barberi obeyed his General to this extent: he gladly admitted his pride and arrogance, but refused to back down from the theological position he took criticizing Lamennais.


I have not done wrong, neither can I unsay anything that I have written or said.  To me, it is as clear as the noon-day sun that from the principles of De Lamennais flow conclusions pernicious both to the Church and to Society.

wrote Barberi.  He took quite a bit of heat for this and his reputation among the Passionists "was reduced to zero".

But about a decade later, in 1833, Rome (which always moves slowly, carefully and deliberately) condemned the errors of de Lamennais.

How did Fr. Lamennais react to this fraternal correction?  First, he renounced his priesthood.  The he left the Catholic Church.  Finally he renounced the Christian Faith entirely.  He died a maverick and a crank in 1854.

Numerous attempts were made to bring him back to religion and to repentance, but in vain. He died rejecting all religious ministration, and after requesting that his body "be carried to the cemetery, without being presented at any church".

So just because someone claims to be a super-Catholic, do yourself a favor and discern the spirits a bit.  His arguments may be very anti-Catholic indeed, and he may not reveal his true colors until much later.

***

To conclude, if your folk hero


  • causes divisions among the Faithful
  • puts up obstacles to Traditional teaching
  • uses slick words and ambiguous speech 
  • is serving his own belly - his own appetite - by rationalizing sin or bad behavior
  • reacts to criticism viciously and in a mean or petty spirit

do what St. Paul says and AVOID HIM.

And more than that, as Paul continues to admonish the Romans ...

be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  (Rom. 16:19)

The more you know about the Faith, and the more you strive to become holy, the more the Holy Spirit will grant you the wisdom about what is good, and the more you will be able to tell a good bit of business from a bad.

For the point of our Faith is not the evil that the false teachers are spreading, but the good that our true teacher has given us.

42 comments:

Terry Nelson said...

This is great - I never heard of this guy, but it is a good lesson.

BTW - The photo of you in character with the round glasses never fails to crack me up. Reminds me of Christopher Guest.

Anonymous said...

Whilst reading this, Lennais and Bl.Dominic's reaction to him reminds me somehow of Anthony de Mello, don't know if you ever heard of him. When i was exposed to what he taught for some time, i felt this sort of itch that something was wrong with what he was saying; he never gave any direct faith towards Christ or even mentioned Him to his secular fans/followers in the past, but always based what he said on Eastern philosophy. Also when i looked up on what the Church has to say about him, there was this document written by then Cardinal Ratzinger to keep oneself at bay from his books, videos etc. A few weeks back one priest told me and friends that the Church says that de Mello's writings need to be explained when discussion comes up. Still can't shake off the feeling though that listening and reading his stuff can lead people into confusion. No mentioning 'grace' or anything like that.

Do you think that maybe there's a connection there? Can't say for certain that de mello was thinking of his 'own belly' at the time as you're stating on others, but from what i can remember there was more Buhdism in it than Catholicism.

D.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Here's a snippet from Wikipedia - 'In June 1998 the CDF condemned the writings of Indian Jesuit Fr Anthony de Mello S.J., finding them "incompatible with the Catholic faith" and a cause of "grave harm". De Mello, who died in 1987, was a teacher of meditation and writer of stories, who drew heavily on stories and concepts of eastern religions. The CDF issued a Notification that de Mello's writings exhibited a "progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith"; they were said to contain objectionable concepts about the unknowability and cosmic impersonality of God and about Jesus "as a master alongside others", a preference for "enlightenment", criticism of the church, and an excessive focus on this life rather than life after death. Bishops were ordered to ensure that the offending texts were withdrawn from sale and not reprinted.'

I think "bellies" still applies. Heterodoxy is always an attempt to rationalize a false view of the world so as to appease some sort of appetite. Another way of saying this is that we want our gods to approve of and allow for our twisted and inordinate desires.

The irony is the Holy Trinity does indeed satisfy, and in the One True God our best desires find fulfillment; but the stuff that is of us and not of God can only be satiated (or so we think) by Unreality, by idols.

From what little I've known of pop-Buddhists, the desire for order and the hope that "it's all good" can replace the painful reality of good vs. evil. This is the appetite being served. It is a healthy desire, as far as it goes, this desire for a cosmos that doesn't challenge and engage us - which is really what Buddhism, even the pop variety, comes down to. It's a desire for peace, but warped and made foremost above all other desires - which are to be denied. It turns into a kind of sloth, or a sin of acedia - and the false promise of the East, the somnolence of sleeping pills and anodynes, fills the "bellies" of some, the way a thick sugary warm milk would.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very very much Kevin!! I'm happy that, for once, my uneasiness has served me well and proved to be right this time :) Thousand times thank you!!!

D.

Seraph said...

Mark Shea's attack on Michael Voris was vile and despicable. There is no comparison between Fr. Corapi and Voris. Voris defends the Church and teaches the faith through his programs. Corapi's entire apostolate revolved around his cult of personality and money.

Paul Stilwell said...

Funny that De Mello should come up. I've found a great similarity between him and Christopher West.

ivan_the_mad said...

Thanks, Kevin, this is a timely piece, and a wise admonition towards discernment.

Anonymous said...

very very interesting.
was barberi rehabilitated?

Kevin O'Brien said...

Not sure what you mean. He was beatified and is officially "Blessed Dominic Barberi" if that helps. If you click on his name in the post, you'll see my performance as Barberi on EWTN's "The Journey Home".

Anonymous said...

thank you.
i meant, was his reputation restored in the order and did those who judged him acknowledge anything. i realize now that by saying 'rehabilitated' i was using a legal-sounding term.

Anonymous said...

https://www.facebook.com/StanForSainthood

I find the convergence of the previous post, this post, and the link I provided to be ironic.

Dr. Eric

Tom Leith said...

Hmmmm. No comparison between Fr. Corapi and Michael Voris? One created a cult of personality and the other teaches the faith? I'm afraid I can't remember any public utterance of Fr. Corapi's wherein he led anyone away from the faith.

On the other hand, Michael Voris thinks a Lenten Carribbean Cruise is just as Catholic as can be. And you get Exclusive Michael Voris and Fr. Z Daily! But there's no hint of any sort of personality cult there, no siree. No, instead they're helping you to Mature Lenten Practice by taking you out on a cruise ship, surrounding you 24X7 with heaps of tasty food you've already paid for, and then telling you not to eat it except at mealtimes (naturally). It is all a spiritual exercise, Exclusively Yours for a low, low price beginning at $1,083.89 per person based on double occupancy, plus air fare of course.

Del Rayva said...

Paul Stilwell, you've just accused a faithful son of the Church, and the Best Man at my wedding, of heresy. You've cited no evidence for your accusation. Your statement doesn't even make sense, as Christopher almost never references Eastern thought or Buddhism. It comes across as though you were just looking for a random reason to commit the sin of calumny against Christopher. I caution you to be more cautious and more charitable both in your thoughts and your actions.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Del Rayva, Paul did not accuse Christopher West of heresy. He simply said he sees some similarities between him and De Mello.

However, now that you bring it up, West is a prime example of Catholic celebrity worship in action, the kind that lacks discernment.

As for the ever-present charge of calumny and slander and libel whenever one Catholic criticizes the theology of another - in this case a very public Catholic figure, who must be prepared to accept public criticism as well as public praise - well, when it comes to, "Criticize my guy and I accuse you of slander and I tell you to go to confession!" I've had about enough of that.

I'm glad Christopher West is your friend, and I'm sure he's a good man personally. I do not doubt his motives nor do I pretend to judge his position before God. But his interpretation of "theology of the body" is skewed and dangerous.

This is not a personal attack, nor is it any form of character assassination.

See my posts with the CHRISTOPHER WEST label. If you have evidence or can argue about what he's teaching without this kind of knee-jerk reaction, please feel free to engage me in debate. He's welcome to himself.

Good heavens, ladies and gentlemen, can we no longer argue rationally in this country?

Tom Leith said...

No, we can no longer argue rationally in this country. Because we are no longer rational.

Michael said...

Kevin, you wrote so fluidly and truthfully about pop-Buddhism...

thanks for putting into words so eloquently what my mind couldn't.

Now I can articulate why I've had a disturbing feeling whenever the topic arose.

"Seems off"/"it's wishy-washy" doesn't quite cut it.




As for West, I have the same feeling when he writes on sodomy.

It's wrong, and I think it has a lot to do with why artificial inseminaton/in-vitro is wrong.

In that a positive end is achieved yet by immoral even perverse means.

jvc said...

Angry Combox Comment on Christopher West Checklist

- Irrelevant personal anecdote involving Christopher West: CHECK

- Confound criticism of West with sedevacantism or opposition to John Paul II:

- Baseless accusation of a lack of evidence, despite numerous, readily available writings by the accused: CHECK

- Reference to a clergy or lay member who has endorsed West (i.e. argument based on authority):

- Calumnious suggestion of calumny: CHECK

- Excerpting something from another language, to demonstrate one's intelligence:

- Demand that the accused go to Confession:

- Sneering suggestion that the accused be charitable: CHECK

- Insincere Christian greeting/blessing (e.g. "God bless you."):

jvc said...

You know that website that produces insults based on press releases, etc., from North Korea? We need one of those for Christopher West statements and the statements of his followers.

Here is what I am referring to:

http://www.nk-news.net/extras/insult_generator.php

There are probably several different elements that one could put together to make a successful Christopher West defense generator: random references to clergy, heavily ellipsed quotes from JPII, ellipsed into oblivion quotes from the saints and scripture, statements from Carl Jung or Sigmund Fraud, random lyrics from the 80's...

Kevin O'Brien said...

JVC, this is brilliant.

I love your check list. It's funny because it's true.

It occurs to me how out of place Del Rayva's comment was. Certainly, Paul was implying that West was heterodox, but the implication is far from calumnious - if anything it's intriguing.

For example, if someone had picked on one of my Catholic celebrity heroes - if Paul had said, "De Mello reminds me of Chesterton," my response would have been, "In what way? What on earth do you mean? How is Chesterton's writing New Age or Pop-Buddhist?"

But Del Rayva was not at all interested in what Paul meant - he just responded defensively and instinctively.

jvc said...

I am very glad you like it. I encourage anyone who is interested to use it and add to it where necessary.

On your second point, as I mentioned a number of posts back, it is interesting to me that West's supporters never realize how strident they are in defense of West above and beyond any other defense they could possibly have of another person.

To your Chesterton example... if a friend mentioned that he found the man a little dry, you would cheerful reply or think that he must be mistaken, and you would hope he would give Chesterton a second look. It is almost inconceivable that you would consider an attack on Chesterton to be a personal affront to you, or an attack on Christianity itself.

To be even more specific, I wonder what would happen if you were to even criticize something of JPII as of lesser quality writing than Benedict, or perhaps other JPII writings... would the average hysterical West supporter even flinch at a criticism of the Pope? He might, but I doubt he would froth at the mouth.

The following isn't a perfect analogy, but imagine walking into a Shakespeare class with Bill Shakespeare devotees and considering it blasphemy to suggest, hey, you know, Hamlet might've been a bit long. Why, you're against literary quality in and of itself!

Paul Stilwell said...

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that both immanentize what the Church teaches.

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that both employ a slick, ambiguous, off-the-cuff style of presentation.

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that they both tell stories that are clearly phony but flatter the reader or listener for his cleverness in seeing what the story is saying.

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that they both sow the seeds of irreverence, and pit their teachings against the straw man of stiff piety.

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that both teach that sin is really just ignorance or unawareness or skewed or stilted vision.

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West are similar in that both bereave one of the knowledge of the sacramental life and in its stead leave one with one's own autonomous fighting self - to attain one's own enlightenment.

I wonder if the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith are reading over Christopher West right now and deciding if his material is to be condemned.

Paul Stilwell said...

Perhaps most importantly:

Anthony De Mello and Christopher West appeal to the reader's/listener's ego by shaming him for not being alive enough/aware enough/desiring enough, and then they turn around on the reader/listener and define sin as just egocentricity.

They confuse you into imbibing their teachings. The reader/listener latches onto his ego and then is taught to regard it as just another level in the ascendency of enlightenment.

Tom Leith said...

Paul Stillwell said:

> both immanentize what the Church teaches.

There's that word again: immanent. It came up in Fides et Ratio and I never quite figured out what JPII was talking about -- "an immanentist habit of mind".

Which sense to you mean?

1) Both say what the Church teaches exists within and throughout the mind and the world; dwelling within and throughout all things, all time, etc.

2) Both say what the Church teaches is naturally within

3) Something else

Can you compare and contrast the sense you mean with Hebrews 10:15ff and/or Psalm 37:30&31.

t

Kevin O'Brien said...

Tom, this is a great question, and I'll take a shot at it, even though you asked it of Paul.

I think to "immanentize" means to claim that our ultimate end is here now. In the case of the two passages you cite, it is indeed true that the Holy Spirit dwells within us and that the law is written in our hearts and on our minds (as Hebrews says) and that a righteous man does not slip for the "law of God is in his heart" (as the Psalm says), but to claim, as many Protestants do, that therefore all of our judgments (say, on Scripture) are thereby infallible is an example of "immanentizing".

West does this most egregiously when he says that a man with "mature purity" may gaze on naked bodies without lust. Well, a saint in heaven certainly could, and perhaps an odd saint or two out of the billions of souls on earth - but this is only because "mature purity" is an eschatological condition - it blossoms with the fullness of Christ's second coming; it comes to the saints after death and purgatory; it hardly ever comes in this life, unless as an example of singular grace and heroic virtue, generally borne of lifelong suffering and mortification.

Is there a time when our sexual desire perfectly reflects the love of God in the Trinity, when our Eros is free of concupiscence and expressive of True Charity? Yes, but not immanently here and now - there and then it will, by God's grace, happen - paid for by the Blood of Christ and earned (as it were) by us through a long road to sanctity.

I mean, you and I know lots of well-intentioned, serious and devout Catholics, Brother Tom, but how many of them have Immanently the graces that the saints do Ultimately? I certainly don't, and I see little evidence that others do either.

This is why West's claims are so bogus, and this is why they are similar to New Age and Eastern thought - where the God Within excuses the Louse Without.

"That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light," G. K. Chesterton

Kevin O'Brien said...

Paul, how much does West reference Freud or Jung? I know Jung quite well and Freud a bit. Jung is trouble, trouble, trouble. More so than Freud. Freud at least sees that some of our best acts have base motives; Jung says that even our worst acts have noble motives. Of the two errors, the latter is by far the more insidious. And the latter is, overall, what West seems to be peddling.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Sorry, that question should have been for JVC, who is the commenter who made a reference to West re. Freud and Jung.

Tom Leith said...

> I think to "immanentize" means to
> claim that our ultimate end is
> here now.

Are you trying to refer to CCC 676?

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.

Then it might make sense to read Mr. Stillwell as "West has a tendency to exaggerate the degree to which his Mature Purity may be this side of the eschaton adequately realized to permit the relaxation of one's guard with respect to sexual purity."

I quite agree with this, but I don't know whether it is what Mr. Stillwell meant.

Kevin O'Brien said...

I suspect it is, Tom, but before he replies, you can judge for yourself at his blog Spike is Best.  And you nailed it - Millenarianism.  I go into more detail in my latest - The Heresy of Our Day - Bad can Do Good.

Paul Stilwell said...

Yes, Tom, that is definitely what I meant. Thanks Kevin for explaining "immanentizing" - far better than anything I could say.

Tom Leith said...

Well, this is basically what I'm accused of whenever I suggest that distributive justice might be improved through reforms to economic institutions. People kindly inform me of the meaning of the word "utopia" and tell me I want Heaven on earth.

I'm attending Professor Feingold's lecture series on Typology -- the term he is using for what you called "ultimate end" is "antitype" -- the reality towards which a type points.

jvc said...

On Freud and Jung... I think it was Dawn Eden that revealed that the whole penis candle idea was one of Jung's archetypes, and I think West and Freud are one in the same in reducing everything to sexual motives.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Not quite. Freud reduced everything to a sexual motive. Jung said everything, including sex, had a spiritual motive. This is why he felt no shame in cheating on his wife or in sleeping with his own patients - his motives were pure.

Sound familiar?

jvc said...

Yes, very much so.

Anonymous said...

from Andrew Lomas,
Kevin O'Brien, I would like to take issue with your characterization of Lamennais (or La Mennais). Not that I am in anyway an expert, but I have read a number of times the long and fascinating chapters on him in Henri Daniel-Rops' "The Church in an Age of Revolution".

According to Daniel-Rops, Lamennais' "radical", "heterodox" ideas included: an increase in papal authority; abandonment of the temporal power of the Popes; the seperation of Church and State; acceptance by the Church of democracy and liberalism;the development of biblical studies; and attempting to end the exploitation of workers by employers. Yes, that's right: Lamennais "radical" ideas are pretty much the programme of the modern Church!

The campaign against Lamennais was in large part run by bishops appointed by the reactionary Metternich monarchies, and clerics whose salaries were paid by them. No doubt when some of Lamennais ideas were corrected by Gregory XVI, he should have submitted, adjusted his ideas, and continued to work for his causes; instead of which he seems to have been driven almost insane. Still, what Daniel-Rops calls "the tragedy of Lamennais" was also a tragedy for the Church. Since by rejecting such "progressive" ideas, and giving support to the oppressive monarchies for fear of the revolutionaries, they lost the support of the suffering working men of continental Europe, who came to regard the Church as their enemy. By the time the Church changed direction with "Rerum Novarum" it was too late.

In the terms of the nineteenth century, Lamennais was a "liberal Catholic". But we should remember that in the terms of the nineteenth century, we are all "liberal Catholics" today: you, me, and even Pope Benedict XVI! So perhaps we should have some sympathy for, and even gratitude to, the troubled pioneer Lamennais.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thank you, Andrew.

Your comment illustrates the fact that no one is ever entirely wrong, nor does the Church operate with pure motives all the time.

However, Bl. Dominic Barberi opposed Lamennais not because of his "liberal" social ideas, but because Lamennais was suggesting that reason could not lead to faith. It was the cult of the irrational, which is a core modernist principle, that Barberi opposed.

Somehow, when it comes to matters of Faith and Morals, the Holy Spirit manages to work through sinful men, in spite of their politics and worldly aspirations.

Anonymous said...

from Andrew Lomas,
Thank you for your kind response, Kevin, and I accept most of what you say. I still think you are being very harsh on Lamennais on the basis of very limited information, though. According to Daniel-Rops' account Lamennais was indeed a genius, but one with a fatal flaw of spiritual pride. As for Bl. Dominic's criticism of him: this point was referred to the Congregation of the Index, who declared him orthodox on this point--and they should know. Be that as it may, in 19th century France priests did not become "super-stars" on the basis of abstruse theological points, any more than they do today. Lamennais rose to fame for his socio-political views, and it was on the basis of them that he was pursued and condemned--and many of these "radical" views are considered completely orthodox today.

And I think this does introduce some complications into your rules for identifying false prophets. Beware of those who "cause divisions among the Faithful"? Well, I'm sure that Lamennais' championing of the French working people who were suffering under the rise of capitalism greatly upset the rich bourgeois Catholics who were getting rich out of it. But then I'm sure that your championing of distributism upsets many well-off American Catholics, causing divisions. Sometimes "the Faithful" need to be disturbed.

Then, beware of those who "put obstacles to Traditional teaching"? Ah, but which tradition? Lamennais certainly opposed the "Traditional teaching" of his day, which taught the union of Throne and Altar and, in effect, a preferential option for the rich. But the great tradition of the early Church was the independence of the Church fron the (Roman) State. And the great and wonderful tradition of the Church from its inception until after the Middle Ages was to side with the poor and the outcasts. This is the tradition we are trying to return to today, but at least on the political level it wasn't the "Traditional teaching" of Lamennais' day! Lamennais could have argued that he was attempting a return to the deeper and truer traditions of the Church.

Distinguishing between true and false teachers is indeed a very tricky business!

Kevin O'Brien said...

Andrew, you are confusing popular expressions of the faith with what I mean by "the Faithful". "The Faithful" are those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Deposit of Faith, as elucidated by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit on matters of Faith and Morals.

What this means is that "Tradition" doesn't change. There aren't two traditions or multiple traditions, as you seem to imply. If 19th Century Catholics were gung-ho for unrestrained Capitalism, they were as wrong then as they are now. It's not as if the early Church was on the side of the poor and the Church of France wasn't. There were no doubt early Christians who loved wealth and power and hated the poor as there have been in all ages and as there are today. But such Christians are acting against Church teaching. They are opposed to Christ. And if they try to rationalize what they do as being legitimately Catholic, they are thereby "causing divisions among the faithful".

So when I say, "beware of those who cause divisions among the faithful," I mean those who teach doctrine contrary to the Catholic doctrine that always was and always will be.

And you are right, I know almost nothing about Lamennais. But Catholics are not censured for their social or political beliefs, unless those beliefs contradict Christian faith or morals.

For example, on the (admittedly flimsy) authority of Wikipedia alone, Lamennais was censured not for his politics but for his "philosophical system" And, "From 1841 to 1846, he published the four-volumes of Esquisse d'une philosophie, a treatise on metaphysics, which detailed his departure from Christianity."

Andrew, on the surface, without knowing as much about this man as you do, I can tell you it's obvious that the picture you're painting is incorrect. Lamennais was not a bold but unbalanced social reformer who ticked off too many rich people, making the Church censure him - the Church really doesn't work like that (that's the way all human systems work, but the Church really doesn't work like that when it comes to doctrinal issues). He was obviously a bit of a crank and it was his philosophy and metaphysics that caused trouble, not his politics.

Barberi, for what it's worth, was a huge servant of the poor and was anything but a monarchist or a Capitalist. Barberi wanted to do the work of Christ. His opposition to Lamennais was based on the fundamental mistakes in his philosophy - and these were the mistakes that ultimately separated Lamennais from the Church.

Tom Leith said...

Without disparaging in any way the Wikipedia entry, there are many articles concerning Lamennais in the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent. You can easily see exactly which aspects of his philosophy were condemned.

Anonymous said...

from Andrew Lomas,
I would like to thank Tom Leith for directing me to the New Advent article on Lammenais, which I finally found time to read today. The article confirms the story as Daniel-Rops tells it with admirable brevity and clarity--though its verdict on Lamennais is rather more favourable than that of Daniel-Rops. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to find out more about Lamennais.

According to the New Advent article, Lamennais was finally condemned by Gregory XVI for proposing ideas such as: the liberty of the press; liberty of conscience; and revolt against princes. To put this in context, amongst the "revolt against princes" being condemned was the revolt of the Catholic Polish people against the oppressive Orthodox monarch of Russia,and the revolt of the Catholic Irish people against the anti-Catholic rule of the English throne. Pope Gregory was in a very difficult and weak position politically, and he was fighting to preserve the papacy. Still...

On the issue of "how the Church works" on these matters, I would remind Kevin O'Brien of the trial and condemnation of Saint Joan of Arc. Saint Joan was found guilty of heresy and burnt for wearing men's clothing, contrary to some obscure rule. But clearly this was just a pretext on the part of the English rulers and English clerics to get rid of her. Obviously this is an extreme case. But referring an opponent to Rome as a way of silencing him, a silence desired on quite other grounds, was not so uncommon. Perhaps this is one reason recent Popes have abandoned such proceedings.

On the social teaching of the Church in the 19th century with the rise of capitalism, I refer Kevin O'Brien to Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Deus est Caritas", sections 26 and 27: "Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization of society in the nineteenth century...It must be admitted that the Church's leadership was slow to realize that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way...Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed." I think Lamennais can be counted amongst the pioneers who contributed to this development of doctrine.

Just finally, I would quote the ultimate verdict of the New Advent article on Lamennais: "Despite his justly blamable excesses, we must trace to him that reconciliation between Catholicism on the one hand and popular liberty and the masses of people on the other."

Tom Leith said...

The obscure rule used against St. Jeanne d'Arc is Deuteronomy 22:5. It was abused at her trial, quite arguably wasn't even a rule of the New Dispensation, and she was manipulated into wearing men's clothing after being ordered not to. But I wouldn't count the acts of a corrupt bishop an example of "how the Church works". She, like Lamennais were declared innocent when "the Church" finally became involved.

The Church has always been anti-revolutionary, and to be fair to Pope Gregory and Pope Pius IX, the memories of the French Revolution were still vivid, as well as the invasion of the Papal States by Piedmont and the new ideas of Marx and Engels about "history" and "revolution". More blood and more apostacy were all the Popes could see. And I think the history of the 20th century (especially the first half) shows how right they were.

John C. Hathaway said...

Don't know if it's relevant, but Lacordaire was something of a clericist. There is an anecdote in one of the OCDS formation books that JPII recounted in his general audience of September 13, 1978.
Lacordaire had been the professor, spiritual director and friend of Frederick Ozanam, who founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Lacordaire famously lamented that Ozanam married, that his hopes for Ozanam to become a priest or even a bishop were squashed: "Poor Ozanam! He too has fallen into the trap!"
Somehow, that lament reached the ears of the Holy Father. The next time Lacordaire was in Rome and had an audience with Pope Pius IX, the Holy Father said, "I have always heard that Jesus established seven sacraments. Now you come along and change everything. You tell me that He established six sacraments and a trap!"

Zoni Jesus said...

I have read your article and liked it a lot!! I am also thinking that in Hollywood industry catholic celebrities have different looks and personalities. What is your opinion?