Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stepping into St Patrick's

I was in the city this morning and decided to see if a mass was being held at the cathedral, St Patrick's. As it happens, I stepped inside just as the homily was being delivered (by, I believe, Archbishop Denis Hart).

I entered at a key point in his address, when he was advising his flock on how to live a good Christian life. As I sat down, he said "And it is important that you do not involve yourself with any isms, such as...."

I'll get back to the two isms he specifically warned against in a moment. First, I want to say how impressed I was by the mass itself. The cathedral is both beautiful and monumental (the largest church building in Australia, it took 81 years to complete). The music was uplifting and also beautiful; I have never heard better sacred music than that sung by the boys choir (which has an unusual history - the Vienna boys choir was touring Australia when WWII broke out and so remained in Melbourne for many years, leading to the formation of the cathedral choir).

The altar, St Patrick's Melbourne

Stained glass window, St Patrick's Melbourne

But back to the isms. The two that came into the archbishop's mind to specifically warn against were conservatism and fundamentalism.

The warning against conservatism made me think of just how much the Catholic church in Melbourne resembles the Anglican church of about 30 years ago - one seeking to comfortably identify with the liberal establishment.

But this is where the church is digging a hole for itself. If you want to be an establishment liberal, then, yes, the worst thing you can do is be "fundamentalist". But the way that liberals define the term fundamentalist nowadays is quite specific.

For a liberal, a fundamentalist is a person who rejects the liberal idea that there is nothing objectively right or wrong, as what is right is the subjective act of defining your own good and being tolerant and non-discriminatory in allowing others to do the same.

The problem is that the Catholic Church necessarily violates this belief. The church does, in fact, assert that some acts are objectively right or wrong (i.e. it judges, it discriminates). Furthermore, the church upholds beliefs about the existence of distinctions between men and women that also restrict the way that people might define their own good (e.g. a woman cannot choose to become a Catholic priest). That, in the liberal definition, is also fundamentalist.

The church cannot remain itself if it attempts to be a liberal institution following liberal concepts.


  1. This is what the church will become if it does not maintain its conservatism and distinctions between man and God, and between people.

    Swedish church removes crosses to make Muslim migrants feel welcome

  2. The Archbishop is correct in his assertion that the "isms" are wrong and to be rejected, as all are, without exception, expressions of various degrees of Marxism. The correct position of Catholics is to adhere to the Logos, the word of God, the Truth, which can simply be stated as Orthodoxy.

    Fundamentalism is a term used to describe Christians who belong to sects which adhere to predictions of apocalyptic scenarios and "ruptures" which are Satanic in origin. Conservativism is a term which embraces a spectrum of liberal ideologies from Neo- Conservativism to the milder forms of liberalism.

    The beliefs of the Church are not fundamentalist in any respect. They are Orthodox beliefs which adhere to Logos and the moral order. They are God given and not man made.
    Each of the isms is a man made ideology which seeks to subvert or overthrow the moral order.

    1. Anon, you are misunderstanding the Archbishop. The Archbishop in his homily said something along the lines of Catholicism not being an orthodoxy, not being held as a firm truth - he wanted to emphasise this side of things.

      BTW, Marxism stems developmentally from liberalism and not the other way around. Mainstream conservatism is not a form of Marxism but a form of liberalism (one stemming from nineteenth century classical liberalism - emphasis on markets).

    2. If the Archbishop said that Catholicism was not an orthodoxy and firm truth then he denied the Logos and Christianity itself. That is an extreme position and I would very much doubt that what was he said or meant.

      Classical liberalism is a historical phenomenon. All mainstream "Conservativism" today is Marxist. Dedication to the emerging totalitarian surveillance state, the promotion of homosexuality, destruction of the family and social order and growth of controlled and manipulated markets (there are no free markets) is Marxist.

  3. "I would very much doubt that what was he said or meant."

    Here in Canada I've heard priests say that sort of thing, particularly on the need to be more open to homosexuality.

    "All mainstream "Conservativism" today is Marxist."

    Your first comment seems to attach importance to the proper use of words. It would be more appropriate to say that most conservatives have unknowingly accepted ideas of far left origin (not necessarily Marxist). This is largely because those ideas have, over time, become incorporated into the majority culture. There is also the influence of the neo-cons, whose leaders were mostly Trotskyites in their younger days.