Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Faith and reason

432. I am interested in the impact of Catholicism upon learning. Is not a Catholic hampered in his search for truth by his blind degrading acceptance of the dogmas of your infallible Church?

Firstly, a man is no more hampered by Catholic religious doctrines he already knows to be true, in his search for truth not yet known, than a scientist is hampered in his researches by the definite scientific truths already established by previous scientists. Secondly, a blind degrading acceptance of the dogmas of an infallible Church is not expected of any Catholic. A Catholic must have his eyes wide open to the solid rational grounds for faith in his Church. Granted the God-given commission of the Catholic Church to teach all nations the essential truths of religion, there is nothing degrading in the obedient acceptance of what she teaches. If the acceptance of truth on the authority of a qualified teacher is degrading, then ninety per cent of all education would have to be rejected as a degrading process. Thirdly, the obedience we owe to the infallible teaching-authority of the Catholic Church is limited to the field of religion and morals. In all other fields Catholics have as much intellectual liberty as anyone else. And even in the field of religion and morals, apart from the official teachings of the Church, there is ample scope for diversity of opinion. It simply means that those things which are certain are certain. There is no advantage in not knowing them to be certain; and knowledge of the definite truth, far from being blinding and degrading, is the very opposite. It is enlightening and ennobling.

433. In my opinion the Catholic Church, with her infallible dogmas is the greatest deterrent civilization has had to contend with.

That judgment is not in accordance with historical facts. It was the Catholic Church which lifted the Western world from pagan barbarism to Christian civilization. She is the mother of architecture, music, painting and sculpture; of ethics, philosophy and education. Her monks founded schools throughout Europe, preserving the literature of the past and inspiring the literature of the future. She established the great universities oil Europe, including Oxford and Cambridge. Professor Whitehead, a non-Catholic, says that the Middle Ages were "pre-eminently an epoch of orderly thought, rationalist through and through, forming one long training of the intellect of Western Europe in the sense of order." Your verdict ignores the evidence, evidence contained in countless documents in all the libraries of the world.

434. Professor A. Wolf, of the University of London, in his book A "An Outline of Modern Knowledge says that the general attitude of the Christian Church from the third to the sixth century was "decidedly hostile towards philosophy and science."

In that he was mistaken. Far from being hostile towards philosophy and science during the early centuries, the Christian Church manifested the keenest possible interest in those subjects. The Christian religion had to make headway against the pagan Greek and Roman philosophers; and the defenders of Christianity had not only to refute philosophical teachings which conflicted with faith and reason, but had to offer a sound constructive philosophy in their place. The great Christian philosophers made use of all that was best in Plato and Aristotle to refute the decadent pagan schools which claimed to be followers of those great men. To speak of a Christian era as hostile to philosophy and science which produced thinkers and writers like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lactantius, Athenagoras and many others right through to St. Augustine of Hippo, is to talk nonsense. These men devoted themselves to a vast range of philosophical speculation, and built up a profound synthesis of the best principles of the Greek and Roman masters with Christian thought.

435. He quotes as a fact that in 390 A.D. Bishop Theophilus destroyed one of the libraries of Alexandria.

That would prove his contention if the Bishop did so for the sake of destroying sources of knowledge. But he did nothing of the kind. Before his election as Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus was a teacher of great intellectual gifts, and deeply interested in philosophy. As Patriarch, he was called upon to defend the Church at Alexandria against pagan opposition, which indulged not only in philosophical argument but often in physical violence. In the year 390 Theophilus, with the consent of the Emperor Theodosius I, suppressed a pagan temple at Alexandria. A riot ensued and a number of Christians were slain. The Christians retaliated and destroyed the celebrated temple of Serapis, including its library; and a Christian Church was built on its ruins. To argue from this that Theophilus destroyed a library, therefore he was hostile to philosophy is not history. One might as well argue that Americans are vegetarians because when bombing a town in wartime they happened to destroy a butcher's shop, thereby proving their hostility to meat!

436. He adds: "To crown it all, the Emperor Justinian had all schools of philosophy closed in 529 A.D."

That is not true. The Emperor Justinian closed the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy at Athens because it was propagating, not philosophy, but pagan religious ideas and trying to re-introduce the worship of the ancient Greek gods. Justinian was opposed, not to philosophy and science, but to the revival of heathen religion. Gibbon, Bury, and Westbury-Jones agree that Justinian brought the later empire to its highest point of development. He was a brilliant man, devoted to culture in all its forms, leaving behind him a legacy of engineering and architecture, and a Code of Laws which has influenced the legal institutions of the civilized world to this day.

437. Professor Wolf then says: "The first great period in the history of human thought thus came to an end, leaving the West to darkness and to the Church."

The era of pagan Greek and Roman thought then came to an end, but not because the Church was hostile to philosophy and science. By the end of the fourth century a host of Christian writers had arisen, profoundly versed in philosophy and science in its then stage of development. Darkness came down upon the West with the continuous invasions of barbarians from the North. Goths and Vandals and Huns overran Europe, decimating the Christian population and devastating cities and institutions. The real dark ages of Europe came with the fifth century and lasted till the ninth century. And the Catholic Church had to set to work to convert these barbarians and re-establish Christian civilization. It was the Catholic Church which re-instated philosophy and science, and dotted Europe with schools and universities, until in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the main topic of conversation and discussion amongst all educated men was philosophy and science! The hostility of the Catholic Church towards philosophy and science is a myth.

438. You must know that there are serious philosophical objections to certain religious doctrines.

If the religious doctrines in question were defined dogmas of the Catholic Church, then the intellectual supporter of them, just as any other Catholic, would know quite well that they are true with all the certainty of divine revelation. He would be equally aware that there could be no valid philosophical objections to them. If anyone proposed philosophical difficulties concerning them, then the intellectual believer, were he interested enough to do so, could devote the required time to showing either that the difficulties arose from an unsound philosophy; or else, granted the validity of the philosophical system employed, that the difficulties arose from a lack of logic in the objector. If, on the other hand, difficulties arose for himself, from his own philosophical thinking, he would, as a philosopher, want to solve those if possible. But even if he failed to do so, his conviction of the truth of doctrines known to be divinely revealed would not be shaken. He would know quite well that one's faith as a Catholic does not stand or fall with one's capacity or incapacity as a philosopher!

439. In his book, "Fall of the Idols," Dean Inge said that the Roman Catholic Church has been captured by the Thomistic Philosophy.

That sounds pretty sinister! But a Church is not captured by the; philosophy it produces. Nor does Thomistic philosophy, as Dean Inge seems to imply, enslave the mind. It liberates the mind from the shackles; of error and skepticism. What Modernists do not like about Thomistic philosophy is that it insists on the permanent value of truth, and will not let you contradict yourself. Modernists want whatever they may happen to think for the moment to be true, and they do not want to be tied down to consistency.

440. Would you please explain to us what is the Thomistic Philosophy of which he speaks?

It is the philosophy which derives its name from St. Thomas Aquinas, ! who died in 1274 A.D. St. Thomas Aquinas brought the philosophy taught in the European Christian Universities of the Middle Ages to its highest development. In general, the philosophy of these Christian Universities or "Schools" is known as "Scholasticism." _ To understand Scholasticism, we must realize that Christians, besides knowing a great body of truth in the merely natural order, to be discovered from a study of this world, have received from God by revelation the knowledge of many truths belonging to the supernatural order which natural reason could not discover for itself. Of these revealed truths, therefore, pagan philosophers were necessarily ignorant. Now Christian philosophers knew that, since God is the Author of all truth, whether of natural truth to be discovered by men from a study of the world He created, or of supernatural truth made known to us by revelation, nothing that is really true can ever contradict anything else that is really true. They set to work, therefore, to unify and to harmonize both natural and supernatural truth. They studied the philosophy of the pagan Greeks, of Plato and Aristotle, of the Stoics and Epicureans and others; they sifted the philosophies of the ancient Romans, and of the more recent Arabians; whatever of natural truth they found in these philosophies they accepted, rejecting what was false in them. Reason and logic were their guides; but they never lost sight of the additional supernatural truths made known to mankind by divine revelation. They therefore labored to build up a rational system of both philosophy and theology which did justice to every phase of truth whether known to us by reason or by revelation. No one succeeded in the Middle Ages in this work so well as St. Thomas Aquinas, and the philosophical side of Scholasticism at its best is known as the Thomistic Philosophy. The Protestant reformers not only rejected the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in the realm of faith, but also Thomistic philosophy in the realm of reason; and the result has been both doctrinal and philosophical confusion.

441. Do all Catholic priests have to study Thomistic philosophy?

Yes; although we should rather call it Neo-Thomistic philosophy. The past 700 years since the time of St. Thomas have naturally brought to light much information in the fields of science and of history of which he knew nothing. Where corrections have had to be made, they have been made; but the basic principles of the philosophy of St. Thomas, principles of what we call "philosophical realism," are permanently sound; and any departure from them leads to imaginative and often fantastic theories scarcely worthy of the name of philosophy. Students for the priesthood have to make a comparative study of these other and rival philosophies in order to be familiar with other people's ways of thinking and speaking in such matters. But the Neo-T'homistic philosophy, a philosophy of strict logic and common-sense, is the one upon which their own training is based.

442. You speak of a pagan philosophy and a Christian philosophy. But is not philosophy just philosophy and nothing more? Is it right, for example, to speak of the Christian philosophy of a St. Thomas Aquinas?

It is true that philosophy, as the wisdom attainable by human reason, exists in its own right and should be the same for all men, whether Christians or not. From that point of view the expression "Christian philosophy" might seem as strange as if we were to speak of a "Christian botany" or of a "Christian, chemistry." But, still, the cases are not quite the same, for there is a difference between a science which deals with things, and a science which deals with the value, significance, purpose and ultimate reasons of things. Owing to its limitations in itself and in the amount of information at its disposal human reason can here easily go astray; and the Christian revelation does provide additional knowledge which at least supplies a corrective for our human thinking. It can therefore make a difference to a man's philosophy whether he is a Christian or not. We may, then, say that St. Thomas Aquinas taught philosophy with all the soundness to which only a Christian mind can attain.

443. Will you explain the reconciliation of pagan and Christian philosophies within the synthesis constructed by Aquinas?

That is too big a question for adequate treatment here. All I can say is that St. Thomas Aquinas, although a first-class original thinker, was one who -could appreciate truth wherever it might be found. He therefore studied the pagan Greek philosophies, made his own the natural truths their unaided reason had discovered, corrected their errors, supplied for their deficiencies, and developed their theories wherever they were sound. Above all, he had to correct and perfect their teachings on the validity of knowledge itself, on the nature of the Supreme Cause of the Universe, on the immortality and personality of human souls, and in the fields of natural ethics.

444. Did the Catholic Church expressly appoint Aquinas to sift the philosophies of previous ages and proclaim a workable compromise?

No. In the course of events he merely became a university professor of philosophy and theology. He felt it his duty to refute attacks on Christianity being made by the Arab philosophers who were using inaccurate translations of Aristotle for their purpose. St. Thomas took up the study of Aristotle, refuting the Arabs from the genuine text of the great Greek philosopher. Eventually St. Thomas built up a most remarkable and valuable synthesis of all that was best in philosophy in the light of both reason and faith; though he very clearly safeguarded the distinction between reason and faith, as well as their proper relationship to each other. But his synthesis cannot rightly be called a "workable compromise." The word "compromise" suggests concessions both at the expense of philosophy and at the expense of Christian revelation. St. Thomas would have none of that. In the light of Christian revelation, which he maintained inviolate, he adopted those natural truths which pagan philosophers had discoveretli and eliminated their errors.

445. Has the teaching of St. Thomas the official sanction of you Church today?

I presume you are speaking of his philosophical teachings. The primary concern of the Catholic Church is, of course, with revealed doctrines which are the object of faith. She does not claim to be able to impose with divine authority the acceptance of any system of philosophy as such. But she approves and sanctions the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, holding it to be the soundest and highest attainment of human reason enlightened by the possession of Christian truth. She agrees, of course, that it must be progressively adapted to all further knowledge in every field accumulated since the time of St. Thomas himself. But she urges all men to study the basic principles of Thomistic philosophy and makes them a compulsory part of the training of all her priests. It can be said that the philosophy of St. Thomas has the highest authorization the Church can bestow in that field of learning.



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