Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Whither Catholicism?

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Whither Catholicism?

Article excerpt

Patrick Deneen thinks the media have it all wrong. They imagine the Church divided between liberals and conservatives. However, "liberal Catholicism, while well-represented in elite circles of the Democratic Party, qua Catholicism is finished." The "real battle" is taking place among orthodox Catholics.

On the one side are neoconservative Catholics like George Weigel, "who has inherited the mantle from Richard John Neuhaus," as well as Michael Novak, Robert George, Hadley Arkes, Robert Royal, and others. They hold the view that "there is no fundamental contradiction between liberal democracy and Catholicism." As a result, the neoconservative Catholics tend to be affirmative of both capitalism and American power.

Against them are ranged the "radical" Catholics such as David L. Schindler, William Cavanaugh, and Deneen himself. They hold that the founding philosophy of our nation is antithetical to Catholic social teaching, because it assumes "that human beings are essentially separate, sovereign selves." This view "is deeply critical of contemporary arrangements of market capitalism, is deeply suspicious of America's imperial ambitions, and wary of the basic premises of liberal democracy. …

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