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March 15, 2017
Catholic Social Teaching (2)
When I first started investigating what was really going on in the Church, I was surprised to discover that our difficulties dated to well before the 1960s. I read such luminaries as Cardinal Newman writing in the 19th century against “liberalism.” It was a revelation that Catholic leaders had been warning for more than a hundred years against what I was seeing all around me. I was also surprised, given the habitual verbose opacity of modern prelates, to see how simple, forthright and understandable these pre-Conciliar popes were. It is some inspiring, and given our current troubles, comforting and encouraging stuff to read.
Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae is the letter from Pope Leo XIII to James Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, warning against what the pope called “Americanism,” and certain trends of thought that he feared would undermine Catholic confidence in the Church’s authority. It can be seen now that his fears were well founded, and can at least reassure us that our troubles are not new, and did not appear ex nihilo from Vatican II.
The fact that there were voices within the Catholic Church of the US in the late 19th century calling for the same things that we see Pope Francis and his pals actually installing today, shows you that we’re still on the same path, fighting the same war that has been going on for hundreds of years. And Pope Leo’s responses will give us weapons to fight.