The Church and the Liberal Society

By Emmet John Hughes | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE summer of 1943 has come and where great armies of the world are joined in battle the earth has hardened for the swifter rush of men and machines, surging forward to bring to final decision the greatest war which has come to pass since beings nobler than beasts came to live upon this planet. Instruments of mutual annihilation have become ever more refined and ingenious. The impact of war leaves no part of man's world to pursue the even tenor of its way. The battle lines flame with a conflagration that even twenty-five years ago would have seemed beyond belief or fear.

Yet, through all the riotous rush of change, the firm fact stands that the great issues now joined will be decided where they have ever been decided throughout man's history: in the minds of men. This is a fact, however, which brings little solace to men of the West, men fighting in the name of democracy. These men are troubled. Much more profoundly than by military adversity, or economic maladjustments, they are troubled by a disintegration of faith--not someone else's, but their own faith. Lack of sureness of purpose, absence of moral conviction, insistent sense of doubt, demoralizing lack of intellectual certitude--these afflict the mind of Western man.

What has happened to the Liberal Heritage? What has befallen the Liberal Society?

A study of Liberalism and Catholicism signifies a study of the dominant, life-giving creed of the Western world for the last five centuries--and that creed's most uncompromising and virile critic, also guardian and propagator of another faith: the Catholic Church. The nature of such a study almost automatically dictates certain emphases. It is necessary, on the one hand, to focus attention on the implicit social gospel of the Catholic faith and, on the other hand, to stress

-vii-

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