In Europe, as I noted, important and increasingly powerful states had already loosed themselves from Catholic unity. Protestant England together with Holland and for a time Sweden became the chief loci within Europe aiming at the destruction of Catholic civilization.
Europe and the Faith by Hilaire Belloc, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
These became not only political and military rivals to Catholic powers, but erected an alternative model of Western cultural life, a model which has exerted a powerful intellectual appeal on many. Subsequently the United States became the foundation of this Protestant culture worldwide. The increasing industrial might and wealth of this model offered a kind of spurious argument in its favor, an argument summarized by Belloc as follows: The Catholic Church is false because nations of Catholic culture have declined steadily in temporal wealth and power as compared with the nations of an anti-Catholic culture, which, in this particular instance, means the Protestant culture.
In fact, part of the anti-Hispanic feeling that animates so many Anglo-Americans, even Catholics, has its roots in this feeling of the cultural superiority of Protestant civilization. Although in general Protestant civilization still exists as a power supporting I do not say Protestantism as a religion, but Protestant culture , today there is no Catholic power.
In fact, with the partial and weak exception of a few Latin American nations,  the Church and Catholic culture have no true political props today. In the late 19th century Pope Leo XIII and other far-sighted Catholic thinkers saw that the Church could no longer depend for her external support upon Catholic princes. In both the political and the cultural realms it was now the mass of the Catholic people, more and more living in democratic regimes and possessing some voice in their governments, who would be the external support for the Church, if anyone would be.
And at first this new arrangement seemed to work tolerably well. The last third of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries was one of the most brilliant periods in Catholic thought and letters, in philosophy, in the efforts of popes from Pius X to Pius XII to realize the liturgy's potential as a school for Christian living. Despite the interruptions of two world wars, Catholic thought exerted an influence on politics in more than one country; a number of official or unofficial Catholic political parties existed; and some few regimes were more or less consciously devoted to carrying out a Catholic program in their public policy, while even in Protestant countries popular Catholic life flourished in a great variety of associations and institutions, and Catholics exercised sometimes considerable influence on the political process.
Unfortunately, in the second half of the 20th century the Church deliberately, if uncomprehendingly, inflicted a grave wound on herself. Although apart from a few ambiguities the conciliar documents themselves are unproblematic, it does not seem to admit of reasonable disagreement that the conduct of the Second Vatican Council, and much more its aftermath and application, by and large have been a disaster for the Church, a disaster at once pastoral, intellectual and institutional. As a result of this disaster the popular Catholic life that had existed was in large part destroyed.
Although Catholic culture is much broader than simply the reception of the sacraments and catechesis, it depends upon such formal elements of Catholic life.
Without them it cannot last. It is thus hard to envisage any ready way out of our present situation, since both the formal and the popular sides of Catholic life have been affected. So how can we respond to that situation, in which the Church neither enjoys the patronage of any powerful government nor commands widespread enthusiasm and loyalty on the part of the Catholic people at-large?
In such circumstances how can the Church and Catholic life be maintained, nourished, and extended? Sadly, the measures that can be suggested to achieve this end seem woefully inadequate.
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Attention to a beautiful and historically rooted liturgy, deliberate cultivation of a consciousness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, including am emphatic stress on the Church's social teaching, new or restored Catholic schools at all levels, constant popular education through the media—these seem to me to be the chief means that are possible and that have some hope of success. None of them is easy to establish and of those that have been initiated many are already more than tainted by alien influences: e. That both forms of liberalism are rooted in the same errors is seemingly impossible for many to grasp.
I am not hopeful for the immediate future. About the long term there is no doubt and there should be no fear, for it is Jesus Christ who is head of the Church, his Mystical Body. How long this long term may be is hardly our concern—short or long it is not in our hands.
Meanwhile, success should not the norm of our activity, but simply faithfulness: faithfulness to the mandate given to the Church by her Founder to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. When Argentina observed March 25 as the Day of the Unborn Child for the first time, to symbolize its rejection of abortion, her President, Carlos Menem, wrote to the heads of state of all the Latin American countries, and of Spain, Portugal and the Philippines, inviting them to join in this observance.
This is an echo of the Hispanic world's former status as the geopolitical bulwark of Catholicism. Join as a member now and get a free copy of The Essential Ethika Politika. Plus, help make EP accessible for thousands of readers every day. And receive inbox updates, get access to members-only content, and interact with other EP readers and authors! Search: Keyword Author.
Faith and tolerance in a troubled Europe
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He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in , while retaining his French citizenship. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches.
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Europe and the Faith
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