How Baptists and Catholics Joined Forces to Help Save Thousands of Marriages in Jacksonville, Florida
by W. Bradford Wilcox (@WilcoxNMP) and Alysse ElHage (@AlysseElHage) In 2017, something unprecedented took place in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Baptist Association and local Catholic Diocese joined forces to co-sponsor a large marriage education and enrichment program for the Duval County area. What inspired local Catholics and evangelicals to come together was a privately-funded community campaign to strengthen marriage. Over a three-year period, an organization called the Culture of Freedom Initiative (COFI) worked with about 50 Protestant and Catholic churches and over 40 local nonprofits to reach about 50,000 adults in Jacksonville. Tommy and Sondra Davis are one of the Jacksonville couples whose floundering marriage was saved as a result of the campaign. Tommy says he was “99% out of his marriage” when a counselor with Live the Life, COFI’s main nonprofit partner, convinced him and his wife to attend an intensive marriage enrichment event called Hope Weekend. “That Hope Weekend didn’t just save our marriage,” Sondra says. “It changed our lives.” Indeed, according to a new report conducted by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) and sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable, the marriage campaign may have had a similar impact on the marriages of thousands of Jacksonville residents. From 2016 to 2018, as the campaign was underway, the divorce rate in Duval County fell by more than 20%, a significantly bigger divorce decline than the one witnessed across the United States as a whole. Did the Culture of Freedom Initiative’s marriage campaign help drive down Jacksonville’s divorce rates? To answer that question, IFS conducted a series of statistical tests comparing Duval County’s divorce rate (since Jacksonville comprises most of the county) to the national divorce rate during the same time period. They also compared Duval’s rate to other similar counties across Florida and the US, including cities with large military bases like Jacksonville’s. Continue reading at Christianity Today . . .
Overcoming Flawed Educational Views of the Human Person
Although I have been a student or teacher since I started kindergarten, I only began to study philosophy of education in recent years in an attempt to engage with what seems to be a pressing question on so many college campuses: How is the knowledge being taught relevant to students’ personal identity? In searching for answers to this question over the past few years, I led reading groups, summer seminars, and regular classes precisely on philosophy of education. Here I will explore the relationship between truth-seeking and consciousness raising through the writing of three authors: Jacques Maritain, Paulo Freire, and Luigi Giussani. Writing in Brazil in 1968 about educating illiterate peasants, Freire’s basic argument is that what he calls the “banking model” of education subjects people to rote memorization of abstract knowledge that has no relationship to their personal experience. As Freire colorfully puts it, the banking model of education turns students into “containers” or “receptacles”; the teacher deposits information and the students “patiently receive, memorize, and repeat” that information (Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 72). Freire does not only critique the banking model of education for making students passive learners. Freire also aims to expose how the banking model of education emerges from an oppressive social and political system. Making students passive is not an accident. It is the design of the system to dehumanize people so they do not resist their oppression. The question for Freire is then: how can educators resist this dehumanizing form of education and liberate the oppressed? Freire describes a problem-solving model of education that would awaken people’s consciousness about their social and political situation and lead them to transform their context. Education that humanizes, according to Freire, would link reflection and action. In his model, abstract learning is replaced by critical thinking. Critical thinking leads to concrete action. Dehumanization is replaced by consciousness-raising. In this practice of education as liberation, the power dynamic between student and teacher should disappear, and a dynamic of fellowship and solidarity should emerge. Perhaps the scenario I have seen that most resembles a context of extreme poverty that Freire wrote about is rural Haiti. As part of my book Faith Makes Us Living: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora, I visited some of the most economically deprived regions in all of Western Hemisphere. I assisted in literacy training among Haitians both in Haiti and the Haitian refugee community of Miami, where I directly witnessing the kind of fatalism, passivity, and dehumanization that Freire talks about. Freire provides a colorful vocabulary to think about oppression, using words such as: alienation, domination, dependency, dehumanization, and cultural invasion. The praxis of liberation is described in equally colorful words: problem-posing, authenticity, humanization, critical thinking, consciousness raising, revolution, change, comrade, solidarity, and power. One of the main limitations to Freire’s approach—his collapsing of truth-seeking and consciousness raising—can be aptly illustrated by a relatively brief conversation I had with a young Latino man in Chicago a few years ago. I was on a work trip having lunch seated at a barstool in a local pub. After a few hours of burying my head in Pedagogy of the Oppressed and taking notes on a hotel notepad, a young Latino man who was washing dishes behind the bar asked me what I was reading. I explained Freire’s thesis about the banking model of education and described his alternative of consciousness raising about one’s oppression. The young man listened patiently, and then told me he was reading a good book: Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. After he graduated from high school, he had served in the Marines for five years as a helicopter mechanic and was now using the GI Bill to study aviation mechanics at a local Catholic college. His college required a core curriculum of all majors that included several humanities classes. In one of those classes, he had read about Chesterton and was fascinated by his conversion to Catholicism. This young man was fascinated at how Chesterton’s search for truth had ultimately led him to a kind of existential commitment—a kind of certainty about our final destiny that he himself desired to reach. Would dispensing with the banking model of education respond to this young man’s search for transcendent truth? The philosophical problem with Freire is that he has changed the end of education (therefore the end of truth-seeking) to political revolution. This young man had born arms on one side of a war—he had been deployed as a U.S. Marine two times to Afghanistan. He described how in his deployments he had witnessed the destructive power of evil. His life experiences of fighting a war had led him to question his Catholic faith. Without an a priori existential commitment to a notion of truth, one can fight a war but one cannot be certain one is fighting the right side of a war. If the end of education is to pose problems, raise our consciousness, and act towards political liberation, how do we educate people to think about perennial human questions such as: Is anything right or wrong, true or false, good or evil according to which our actions and experiences must be judged? Is all action morally equivalent? Another limitation of Freire’s approach is in how he describes the role of the teacher. Students to whom I have taught Freire have experienced something like the banking model of education. It is something they do not wish to replicate. But a question that comes up frequently, which Freire leaves unasked, is: Does the teacher bring any kind of authority or wisdom at all into the classroom? In all my years of teaching, I certainly tried to be open to listening to my students even when they disagree with me. The the longer you teach the same subjects, the more you think you know, and the harder it is to remain open to the perspectives of students. Yet, the idea that a teacher’s role is simply to give everyone a chance to share their personal experience of reality presupposes that every experience we have provides some sort of unmediated access to truth. To have the kind of dialogue that Freire wants, there must be some way to judge, integrate, accept or reject certain aspects of our experiences as untrue. If not, when, how or why would anyone ever change their way of thinking or acting? Freire draws on Marxist philosophy as his framework and exalts leaders who sought to put Marxism into practice. Freire’s framework for judging the truth is thus implicitly communicated by his praise of Lenin, Mao, Guevara, and Castro—all revolutionary thinkers and political actors who fought armed battles on the side of the oppressed and killed their oppressors. They did what was necessary for the liberation of their fellow citizens, including engaging in violence to overthrow capitalism. Freire sought to develop a system of education to support the true Marxist revolution. The title of his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed explains his objective: to educate the oppressed to reject their passivity and embrace their power to play a revolutionary role in history. Freire’s model works towards the end he desires if and when teachers pass on their Marxist commitment to students. If truth for Freire is equated with action that leads to a political revolution in this world, I would have no way to dialogue with the young Latino man who wants to explore his faith in God. I might, in fact, be obliged to find a way to show him that his questions about God are an impediment to fighting the revolution. While I disagree with many of Freire’s presuppositions and therefore his conclusions, I agree with Freire in this much: being educated is more than just memorizing facts. Being educated entails knowing how to make connections across a variety of facts and ideas. Freire’s model resonates with so many because being educated means having the space to ponder how the facts and ideas we learn have significance to our own lives. However, is all we need to do to call ourselves educated it to get in touch with our personal experiences? The dialogue I experienced in classrooms includes many facts that may not be a part of anyone’s personal experience—but they are part of the universal tradition of human experience that must enter into any education aimed at truth-seeking. The kind of dialogue Freire wants to see between teachers and students works best when teachers have clearly identified their own presuppositions about truth and accept their responsibility to be a guide to students. Students simply do not have the years, experience, and knowledge I do as a teacher to gain all the possible insights from the texts we read and experiences we share. Writing decades before the publication of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s 1942 book Education at the Crossroads is a critique of both pragmatist problem-posing trends in American educational policy and a critique of Nazi propaganda in education (as well as Soviet Marxist education). For Maritain, the problem with those kinds of education comes down to their flawed view of the human person. That problem remains with us today; the need for sound philosophical anthropology undergirding education is as strong as ever. For Maritain, “man is a person, who holds himself in his hand by his intelligence and his will. He does not merely exist as a physical being. There is in him a richer and nobler existence; he has spirited superexistence through knowledge and love” (Education at the Crossroads, 10). The true end of education is “to guide man in the evolving dynamism through which he shapes himself as a human person” (Education at the Crossroads, 10). All other ends of education—solving problems, making good citizens—must be understood as secondary to the primary end of education: to form the inner world of a human being, the conscience of the person, that can perceive and respond to a transcendent reality that is the source of all that exists. Maritain’s view of education rests on a notion of truth held to by Greek philosophers and the Judeo-Christian tradition that there is transcendent, non-material, reality that we can interact with. An educated person does not only know how to act and solve problems in this world; an educated person knows how to be open and receptive to transcendent reality. The highest good of the person, according to the French Catholic philosopher, is not one’s historical role in bringing about revolutionary action; the person’s highest good is communion with God, a communion that starts from the moment of our existence as physical beings and continues after our mortal life on earth is over. That conviction about the nature of the human person as body and soul is the basis for his concern not to reduce our spiritual nature or our intellect entirely into action, as pragmatist and consciousness raising visions of education do. Part of what educators must do, Maritain contends, is preserve the traditions that represent millennia of wisdom about who we are as human beings. Those traditions are necessary to prevent education from becoming merely a tool for intervention in the here and now—the tools of education be easily manipulated for evil purposes as happened historically under Marxist and communist educational systems in China, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Cuba, just to name few. Another author who understood well the central importance of the human soul in education is the Italian Catholic priest Luigi Giussani who founded the movement Communion and Liberation. In his book The Risk of Education: Discovering our Ultimate Destiny, which has been recently released with a new English translation and an introduction by Stanley Hauerwas, Giussani argues that any educational method must ponder how to educate what is truly human in us—and our human rationality is always open to the infinite. As described in the recently translated biography of Giussani by Alberto Savorana, Giussani developed his method precisely in response to Marxist student movements that denied the transcendent dimension of the human person. Giussani’s short book on education is packed with words whose meanings may intrigue students, but whose origin and significance may not be totally transparent to them. Those words include many words that do not appear in Freire, like mystery, risk, tradition, authority, faith, reason, provocation and verification. It also contains words that seem to overlap with Freire such as: critique and experience. Giussani may have agreed with Freire that knowledge that cannot be linked to human experience is abstract and not useful. Yet, Giussani’s vocabulary shows that his understanding of human experience includes mystery, faith, and existential commitment, not only action and change. Students find that Giussani’s method synthesizes what is good about the pragmatist, experiential, subjective understandings of education with the kind of philosophical anthropology that is open to the infinite. One important difference that emerges from this philosophical difference between Freire and Giussani is in how Giussani understands the role of the teacher. For Giussani, the teacher does not only pose problems and facilitate dialogue, the teacher shares with students an interpretive framework that is necessary precisely to go from personal experience to the kinds of moral judgements that influence actions. The authority of a teacher comes from both one’s own experience, an experience which (if true) would have led one to make a commitment to a particular tradition and a particular community that embodies that tradition. For Giussani, critique and provocation are not aimed at tearing down a framework just for the sake of it: teachers who engage in critique and provocation should be ready to be honest about where their reasoning has led them, including about their view of the person. Both Freire and Giussani have a priori commitments about the truth. Freire’s Marxism is every bit as much an existential commitment to truth as Giussani’s Catholicism. If one does not communicate some kind of existential commitment to students, one is actually failing in one’s role as a teacher: It is bitter to hear that this disorientation is intentionally provoked on purely methodological grounds, and even considered to be a crucial rite of passage, because people do not realize (or do not want to recognize) that simply being tossed into the fray inevitably produces skepticism in a young person . . . skepticism is absolutely not a rite of passage (Risk of Education, 38). A teacher, according to Giussani, needs to impart a method by which we judge our personal experience; tradition offers a starting point, or a testing ground, for personal experience. To claim to be educated, to claim to be a teacher, and to avoid making a commitment to a philosophical or religious tradition or something that proposes answers to the perennial human questions about truth and goodness is to avoid doing one of the most important things we do as humans. Giussani’s and Maritain’s view of the person does not line up with Freire’s, which leads to a different view of education. The end of education in Guissani and Maritain is coming to know ourselves in personal relation to God who created us for eternal communion with him. Knowing God is central to knowing how to live and act in this world, but knowing how to act in this world is not the only thing we need to know because humans have a soul that transcends this world. For Freire, the end of education is understanding one’s place in world history leading to the revolution against capitalism. Maritain and Giussani both warned that when educational systems embrace a notion of collective liberation but reject personal liberation through a relationship with God, it becomes all too easy to turn the collective into another kind of god that eradicates the value of the individual. If the banking model of education is just one form of technocratic manipulation towards particular ends that dehumanizes, Freire’s problem-solving model of education replaces one kind of dehumanizing manipulation with another. Students have commented that Giussani’s understanding of the human person as including the mysterious inner dwelling of the image of God may be precisely what makes possible the kind of community Freire dreamed would come. Students are seeking solidarity and communion that is much more complex and deeper than the solidarity of collective action to overthrow oppression. We long to accompany each other on our quest for the infinite. In my several decades in education, I have seen that students are seeking an education that is personal, that speaks to their experience, but they are also longing for communities grounded in tradition—they are longing for a living witness of a teacher who has existential commitments that guide their actions in a coherent way. The model of education I seek to practice is “catholic” in the sense that it is open to universal human experience. All forms of knowledge can help encounter a transcendent reality in which we all share. To ignore the fact that educational programs which ignore the transcendent dimension of the human person have gone horribly wrong is irresponsible. We need to judge, learn, and propose a new way for education, something for which Maritain and Giussani both provide guideposts that help us see the flaws in many contemporary approaches to education. Their writings have helped me as an educator, whether that be in the classroom of the Ivy League or a bar stool in Chicago, to remember that I have authority as a teacher. Accepting that authority means I accept my responsibility for the soul of the person in front of me who is asking questions about truth and goodness and wants to enter into not only dialogue but also communion with another human being and God.
Another Tale of Double Standards for Native American Children?
by Naomi Schaefer Riley (@NaomiSRiley) Last month, local media hailed what observers saw as a historic compact between the state of North Dakota and four of the Indian tribes that live within its borders. The agreement allows tribes to license foster homes not only on the reservations (as they have been doing for years), but also off the reservations. Because Indian children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system—they are 0.9 percent of the population but account for 2.1 percent of children placed outside their homes—finding foster placements for these kids is of particular concern. Moreover, as Dean Sturn, the foster care administrator with the North Dakota Department of Human Services, told me: There is also an “inverse disproportionality” when it comes to foster homes. The percentage of American Indian homes willing to take in kids is lower than their percentage in the population. This new agreement, says Sturn, “will hopefully produce more Native foster homes.” But this agreement should also raise concerns for anyone who has been paying attention to what’s going on in that part of Indian country. The Spirit Lake reservation, which is one of the tribes that is part of the agreement, has been plagued by years of child physical abuse, sexual abuse, and even a number of child murders in the past decade. In addition to these horrific crimes, there was also evidence that tribal authorities were failing to investigate and prosecute the individuals involved. In 2012, Michael R. Tilus, director of behavioral health at the Spirit Lake Health Center, e-mailed state and federal health officials about what he saw as the “epidemic” of abuse on the reservation. In July of that year, according to a report in The New York Times, a 2-month-old girl died there, after tribal officials had received warnings of child abuse, according to a federal official, and in May 2011, a 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother were sexually assaulted before being stabbed to death and left under a mattress. Their bloody bodies were discovered several days later. Tilus was actually reprimanded by his superiors for sending the e-mail. They accused him of “engaging in action and behavior of a dishonorable nature” because he had not gone through the proper channels to register his complaint. They rescinded his promotion and transferred him to another position. When the New York Times reported on this matter, Tilus’ punishment was rescinded. But in the years that followed, it became clear that the tribe was very slow to act on these problems. In 2014, Congress was moved to hold Congressional hearings to discuss the problems of oversight at Spirit Lake. Though a new tribal leader promised reform, a former tribal judge told PBS that “I have heard from our present chairman along with other tribal and federal officials that changes are being made…. However, I have not seen any action that reflects it.” Of course, it is possible that Spirit Lake has made great strides in the intervening years to combat the rampant child abuse on the reservation and the tribal government’s habit of placing children with dangerous adults. The federal government, too, has tried to put in some additional safety measures, requiring that “background checks to be conducted on all adults living in a potential foster home before a tribal court may place a child in that home.” But if another local entity with a long history of placing kids with dangerous adults wanted to expand its reach to license homes hundreds of miles away, state authorities would think twice. When it comes to Indian children, though, there is often a double standard. The Indian Child Welfare Act, for instance, asks states to take race into account when placing Indian children in foster care or adoptive homes; by contrast, considering race when placing any other foster children is actually illegal. The double standard is also visible in another context. While foster care agencies like Catholic Charities in Philadelphia and St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Michigan have been taken to court for discrimination for refusing to place children with or certify the foster homes of same-sex couples, tribes under this North Dakota agreement are free to discriminate, certifying only Indians, or only members of their own tribe. It is hard to imagine another foster agency saying they would only serve one race. The reasons that Native American kids are overrepresented in foster care are complicated—poverty, addiction, and broken families are all to blame. But we are not doing Indian children any favors by letting the dysfunctional and sometimes lawless entities that govern some tribes expand their reach. Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.
A Patron Saint of Evolution?
I mean that it is as strange that monkeys should be so like men with no historical connection between them, as the notion that there should be no course of history by which fossil bones got into rocks. —St. John Henry Cardinal Newman John Henry Newman, one of the most consequential Catholic theologians of modern times, was canonized in Rome on October 13. Newman was born in London in 1801 and raised in the Anglican faith. He studied at Oxford and was ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1825. Several years later, with a group of friends, he started what became known as the Oxford Movement, an attempt to bring the Anglican Church closer to its Catholic roots. The movement aroused fierce opposition but had great and lasting influence within both Anglicanism and the Catholic Church. Newman experienced many hardships, difficulties and disappointments and over time felt himself drawn more and more towards Catholicism. In 1845, after thorough study of the early Church’s history, he entered into full communion with the Catholic Church and two years later received priestly ordination in Rome. Newman said of his conversion, “it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.” In 1849, he founded the first Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham, where he remained, except for a brief period, until his death in 1890. In 1879, he was named Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. My first encounter with John Henry Newman was reading his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, a spiritual autobiography he wrote in 1865 as a defense against attacks upon his personal integrity and the sincerity of his religious beliefs. I found it as fascinating as St. Augustine’s Confessions. Both men, each in his particular circumstances, describe their intrepid search for the Truth and testify to God’s redemptive and merciful love. Newman’s search for God’s truth, light and guidance is also masterfully described in the poem “Lead Kindly Light,” which he wrote in 1833 and which became one of the world’s most beloved hymns. A few years after encountering the Apologia, I discovered Newman’s contributions to the dialogue between science and faith. John Henry Newman was a theologian and clergyman inside and out, but already as an undergraduate he developed an interest in the sciences. He carefully wrote out and kept his notes from a course in mineralogy—they are still at the Birmingham Oratory. He was less impressed by geology, even though that course was given by the same professor, Rev. William Buckland. In the early 1820’s Buckland defended the thesis that the earth had passed through several catastrophic geological events, the last being a global flood as described in Genesis. But by 1830 Buckland had abandoned this view and adopted the hypothesis of a great continental glaciation event. The idea that the earth was of vast antiquity had been proposed by James Hutton and others in the late 1700’s, and further developed by Charles Lyell. These ideas were well-known to Charles Darwin, who began his career as geologist, and played a role in his development of the theory of evolution. They also influenced Newman, who learned to consider scientific theories and innovations with a degree of caution. Truth Can’t Be Contrary to Truth Newman dedicated two of his lectures as rector of the Catholic University in Dublin in 1851/1852—later assembled in his book The Idea of a University—specifically to the relationship of theology and science. A certain tension between science and theology may lead some to wait for the day when science overthrows revealed truths. It may cause others, mainly the religious minds, to fear scientific progress, and, in Newman’s words, “to undervalue, to deny, to ridicule, to discourage, and almost to denounce, the labours of the physiological, astronomical, or geological investigator.” However, Newman explains why this fearful attitude is unjustified: The Physicist tells us of laws; the Theologian of the Author, Maintainer, and Controller of them; of their scope, of their suspension, if so be; of their beginning and their end. This is how the two schools stand related to each other, at that point where they approach the nearest; but for the most part they are absolutely divergent. Newman answers the question of truth with an impressive picture: distinct fields of inquiry form distinct “circles of knowledge,” distinct “worlds” of their own, though ultimately comprising one Truth. He compares this with God’s immensity. God is One, but: . . . any one of His attributes, considered by itself, is the object of an inexhaustible science: and the attempt to reconcile any two or three of them together—love, power, justice, sanctity, truth, wisdom—affords matter for an everlasting controversy. We can apprehend and receive each divine attribute in its elementary form, but still we are not able to accept them in their infinity, either in themselves or in union with each other. Yet we do not deny the first because it cannot be perfectly reconciled with the second, nor the second because it is in apparent contrariety with the first and the third. We may say with words written by Hans Urs von Balthasar around one hundred years later: “Truth is symphonic.” Newman tells Catholic scientists and theologians: If [we] have one maxim in our philosophy, it is, that truth cannot be contrary to truth; if we have a second, it is, that truth often seems contrary to truth; and, if a third, it is the practical conclusion, that we must be patient with such appearances, and not be hasty to pronounce them to be really of a more formidable character. Moreover, if we know our Catholic faith, this will provide us with a sense of security and a peace of mind: I say, then, he who believes Revelation with that absolute faith which is the prerogative of a Catholic, is not the nervous creature who startles at every sudden sound, and is fluttered by every strange or novel appearance which meets his eyes. He has no sort of apprehension, he laughs at the idea, that anything can be discovered by any other scientific method, which can contradict any one of the dogmas of his religion . . . He is sure, and nothing shall make him doubt, that, if anything seems to be proved by astronomer, or geologist, or chronologist, or antiquarian, or ethnologist, in contradiction to the dogmas of faith, that point will eventually turn out, first, not to be proved, or, secondly, not contradictory, or thirdly, not contradictory to anything really revealed, but to something which has been confused with revelation. The application of these principles had solved the case of the Copernican system and of Galileo Galilei to everyone’s satisfaction. But while Newman wrote these words, new trouble was brewing: Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Before we turn our attention to the theory of evolution, let us look at Newman’s views on “design” in Nature. I Believe in Design Because I Believe in God . . . Unduly melding science and theology while trying to find “intelligent design” in biology, and from there proceeding to the inference of an “Intelligent Designer,” was and remains to this day a great temptation not only for theologians, but also for believing scientists. In 1802, William Paley published the book Natural Theology: or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. In it, he proposed his famous watchmaker analogy: if a pocket watch is found in a field, it is most reasonable to assume that someone dropped it and that it was made by a Watchmaker; or, in other words, where we find design there must be a designer. This Design Argument for God’s existence (a version of the so-called Teleological Argument) became quite popular in Victorian England. The argument was further developed in the Bridgewater Treatises a series of books funded by the 8th Earl of Bridgewater and planned as a major work in natural theology to explore “the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.” Most of its authors—all established clergymen and theologians, some of them also scientists—explored Paley’s Design Argument in various scientific fields. It should be noted that in the English-speaking world, the Design Argument is sometimes confused with Thomas Aquinas’s version of the Teleological Argument. Paley finds design in what might be called the craftsmanship found in complex and purposeful structures, whereas the emphasis in St. Thomas was more upon a general directedness of natural things and processes towards “ends.” John Henry Newman felt deeply uncomfortable with William Paley’s Natural Theology for three main reasons: He saw it as reversing the order of understanding. He wrote in 1870: “I believe in design because I believe in God; not in God because I see design.” It leads to an incomplete notion of God. In the same 1870 letter, Newman argues, “Half the world knows nothing of the argument from design—and, when you have got it, you do not prove by it the moral attributes of God—except very faintly. Design teaches me power, skill, and goodness, not sanctity, not mercy, not a future judgment, which three are of the essence of religion.” In 1852, he said that the “God of Physical Theology [i.e. natural theology] may very easily become a mere idol” rather than the God of Christianity. Although Paley knew of grief and pain, his Natural Theology paints a happy world. Design, as he describes it, does not leave any space for natural evil, nor for moral evil in a world encompassing the reality of sin, and the need for redemption. We need revelation, says Newman, because the mystery of moral evil, the reality of our sins, can only be elucidated by the mystery of Christ’s Cross. Without revelation, theology would not be in a better shape than it was with the Greek philosophers: it would be unable to answer the question of theodicy. Furthermore, Charles Darwin had admired Paley’s book in his youth, but during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, he started to realize that nature was not “nice” at all, that there was a constant struggle for survival. In 1860, Darwin wrote: I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [parasitic wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.” He drifted more and more into agnostic views as he grew older. I would have liked it if Darwin could have read what Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’: Creating a world in need of development, God in some way sought to limit himself in such a way that many of the things we think of as evils, dangers or sources of suffering, are in reality part of the pains of childbirth which he uses to draw us into the act of cooperation with the Creator. God is intimately present to each being, without impinging on the autonomy of his creature, and this gives rise to the rightful autonomy of earthly affairs. His divine presence, which ensures the subsistence and growth of each being, “continues the work of creation.” The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge: “Nature is nothing other than a certain kind of art, namely God’s art, impressed upon things, whereby those things are moved to a determinate end. It is as if a shipbuilder were able to give timbers the wherewithal to move themselves to take the form of a ship” Evolution Isn’t Inconsistent with Divine Design… Charles Darwin pondered many years on the theory of evolution, fearing the repercussions of publication. Only when Alfred Wallace submitted a paper with very similar findings, did he decide to move quickly. The theory of evolution via natural selection was stated in 1858 in a joint paper of Darwin and Wallace and, in 1859, Darwin published The Origin of Species. Newman never analyzed Charles Darwin’s theory in depth, but it was “in the air,” and Newman responded when specifically asked about it. His answers were cautiously positive. And it seems that he was well prepared to discuss the topic. In his book On the Development of Doctrine, written fourteen years before Darwin’s Origin of Species, Newman referred favorably to the 18th century English theologian Joseph Butler. Butler had pointed out in The Analogy of Religion that God operates in the very same manner in the history of Nature as in the history of Christianity: The Author of Nature appears deliberate throughout His operations, accomplishing His natural ends by slow successive steps. And there is a plan of things beforehand laid out, which, from the nature of it, requires various systems of means, as well as length of time, in order to the carrying on its several parts into execution. Thus, in the daily course of natural providence, God operates in the very same manner as in the dispensation of Christianity, making one thing subservient to another; this, to somewhat farther; and so on, through a progressive series of means, which extend, both backward and forward, beyond our utmost view. Of this manner of operation, everything we see in the course of nature is as much an instance as any part of the Christian dispensation. When Newman used the word “design” it was not Paley’s notion of it, but what he called “divine design.” He sees “divine design” as God’s Wisdom “to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed.” He therefore considers that “Mr. Darwin's theory need not, then, be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill.” God’s action is permanently present, he works in and through his creation. Newman can therefore say that he did not think “that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.” Darwin was closer to Newman than to Paley on laws in nature and on secondary causation. He wrote, Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. Nonetheless, a key distinction between the two men’s thinking is that Darwin did not share Newman’s notion of a world under the providential care of a God to whom nothing is accidental, a conviction that was deeply engrained in Newman’s mind and soul. On the question whether Genesis and the theory of evolution would contradict each other, Newman considers the verse “All are of dust” (Eccles 3:20) and concludes: “yet we never were dust—we are from fathers. Why may not the same be the case with Adam? . . . I don’t know why Adam needs be immediately out of dust—Formavit Deus hominem de limo terrae [“God formed man from the dust of the earth” (Gen 2:7)]—i.e. out of what really was dust and mud in nature, before He made it what it was, living.” Newman was one of the first theologians (together with Rev. Charles Kingsley and Rev. Frederick Temple, both Anglicans) who were positive voices acknowledging that Darwin’s theory did not contradict the Christian faith. Newman’s view is still relevant today and may be well summarized with the words of Benedict XVI in his first homily as pope: Only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. Conclusion Saint John Henry Newman was truly a saint in his life as priest, pastor, and teacher. He was searching for the truth, no matter the costs and hardship it would entail. His wisdom deserves to be further explored. He lived in a society that was turning increasingly secularist, not unlike our own in the 21st century. If Newman had lived in our time, he probably would have appreciated the Society of Catholic Scientists. He knew about the challenges but also about the beauty to be witnesses of our faith in the scientific world. He would have exhorted us, as he did in his time: I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity . . . I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, [and] what are the bases and principles of Catholicism. EDITORIAL NOTE: This article is part of a collaboration with the Society of Catholic Scientists (click here to read about becoming a member). You can ask questions and join a wider discussion about this piece at the bottom of this page where the original version of this essay, “Saint John Henry Newman: A Co-Patron for Scientists?” is published. Those who wish to read more by Dr. Moritz may go to her blog Science Meets Faith and her Facebook page of the same name.
Nigerian bishop says ‘border wall’ would be good for Nigeria
YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – For decades Nigerian migrants have left their country – both legally and illegally – hoping to escape poverty, conflict, and corruption. Those traveling without proper documents faced several risks, including hunger and thirst, robbery, and the dangers of sea crossings into Europe. If caught, Nigerian migrants can be detained and eventually deported from their destination or transit countries. The Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, told Crux that migration is “the ultimate manifestation of our state of despair.” The bishop said the story of Africa is the story of a very irresponsible elite that has shown no commitment to redeeming its people. “It is difficult not to cover our faces in shame because we can find no explanation for the lack of commitment to ridding our people of hunger, illiteracy, destitution and despair. Our successive leaders have stashed our resources abroad and reduced us to the state we are in now,” he said. At the same time, while not commenting on the specifics of the United States, Kukah said a border wall – like that endorsed by President Donald Trump – would be a good idea for Nigeria. “For me as a Nigerian, I would gladly recommend walls especially for the northern parts of Nigeria where thousands of murderers, bandits and outlaws have invaded and claimed the lives of hundreds of citizens, destroyed hundreds of communities and so on,” the bishop told Crux. “To be sure, bridges are better than walls, but countries will have to make policies that protect their people. Walls may not necessarily mean that no one should come in, it is just that countries should be free to regulate immigration. In the process, human dignity must be guaranteed while the rights to immigrants are duly respected,” Kukah said. The following are excerpts of his conversation with Crux. Crux: In Europe, Africa is usually talked about in terms of people fleeing conflict, poverty, and poor governance to the so-called greener pastures in Europe and America, or other countries. Is there nothing positive about Africa to keep people home? Kukah: Well, it is not the duty of Africa to create an African narrative. One of the saddest things about us as Africans is that we have not been able to create our own positive image of ourselves. The titles of our novels – Cry the Beloved Country, The Famished Road, Things Fall Apart, House of Hunger, etc – all suggest that even we ourselves remain so thoroughly cynical about ourselves. The tragic story of Africa is the story of a very irresponsible elite that has shown no commitment to redeeming its people. It is difficult not to cover our faces in shame because we can find no explanation for the lack of commitment to ridding our people of hunger, illiteracy, destitution and despair. Our successive leaders have stashed our resources abroad and reduced us to the state we are in now. So, it is difficult to blame those seeking for greener pastures. For the average African fleeing, everywhere and anywhere is definitely better than their present homes. Whatever is positive about Africa has been consumed by the locusts and no matter how much we try; everything is there for the world to see. What do you think should be the right priorities when it comes to managing the phenomenon of migration? Should the focus be on saying people have a right to migrate and should be accommodated, or should focus be on creating the enabling environment for people to stay in their home countries? I think Cardinal Robert Sarah [the Guinean head of the Vatican’s liturgy department] made a comment about this, telling Africans not to be seduced by the trappings of Europe. I do not think that the issues are cut-and-dried because people are really suffering and they are visibly unsafe and living between life and death every day. No one can romanticize migration with all its dangers, but it is the ultimate manifestation of our state of despair. People will never stay in their own country. Movement is part of life. The colonialists did not stay in their countries; they came in search of something, including those who came to preach the word of God. On its own, migration was never necessarily a negative thing. The saddest thing for us in Africa is that we are migrating without a vision, unlike the Asians for example. Many countries are doing their best to ensure that things change, but our continent is riddled with so much corruption that our leaders, bureaucrats and public servants are stealing even from the mouths of the dying. It is sad and really heart-breaking because things should not be the way they are. Look at the unacceptable lifestyles of our leaders. In Nigeria for example, someone has done an analysis and concluded that just half of the salary of the 360 Members of the Federal House of Representatives in Nigeria – each receives 25 million Niara (nearly $70,000) a month – can create jobs for almost 50,000 people, pegging the salary at 92,000 Naira! This is in a country where the federal and state governments are still unwilling to pay the 30,000 Naira minimum wage! Do you think African leaders have been handling this phenomenon the right way? I don’t think so. Our very corrupt leaders must outsource the duties of feeding, employment and looking after their citizens to other nations. It is their selfish and divisive leadership styles that have made it impossible for even the most resource-endowed nations like Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and others to grow. They are not doing enough to protect their people and I wonder what they discuss when they have all these many meetings and conferences. The U.S. President, Donald Trump has made it a policy to build walls to stop the flow of migrants. Pope Francis says bridges should be built. Which, to your mind is the right policy option? I have no comment about the United States but for me as a Nigerian, I would gladly recommend walls especially for the northern parts of Nigeria where thousands of murderers, bandits and outlaws have invaded and claimed the lives of hundreds of citizens, destroyed hundreds of communities and so on. To be sure, bridges are better than walls, but countries will have to make policies that protect their people. Walls may not necessarily mean that no one should come in, it is just that countries should be free to regulate immigration. In the process, human dignity must be guaranteed while the rights of immigrants are duly respected.
Diocese of Fort Worth marks its 50th anniversary
NEW YORK — This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diocese of Fort Worth. The Catholic faith traces its roots in the region to more than 500 years ago. A new volume by veteran Texas journalist, Gerald Circelli, chronicles that history in a richly illustrated book, Beyond the Frontiers of Faith. Both Circelli and Bishop Michael Olson spoke with Crux about the storied past of missionaries and saints that have contributed to the path and laid the foundation for the future. Crux: Most people aren’t aware that the history of the diocese stretches back 500 years — given that it’s older than the founding of the United States. Tell me a bit about that history and how the diocese is seeking to keep it alive. Circelli: The more research I conducted for the book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Fort Worth, the deeper I delved into the lives of people who lived through milestone events in our history. Their commitment to Christ became so fascinating to me that I kept reaching further and further back in time. So, to deliver a more comprehensive history of our Catholic heritage, I took the story back to Cabeza de Vaca — the first Christian to set foot in Texas. The book begins with this shipwrecked soul who first brought the Word of God onto today’s Texas soil in 1528 and continues, step by step, to the events that led to the establishment of the Church in North Texas and the eventual creation of the Diocese of Fort Worth. What’s the history of mysticism in the region? Monsignor Joseph G. O’Donohoe, pastor of Fort Worth’s St. Patrick Catholic Church, and later St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, from 1940-1956, was a student of Catholic history. In remodeling and beautifying St. Patrick, the priest commissioned a moving painting of “The Lady in Blue,” which graces one of the arches over a vestibule entry to the cathedral. It reminds today’s faithful of the mysticism that was part of local Church history and illustrates the story of Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda. The Native Americans in Texas reported to missionaries and explorers in the early 1600s that the “Lady in Blue” had appeared to them, and they were eager to learn more about Christ and His teachings. Although the nun had never left Spain, the Native Americans described their encounters with her and she, in turn, had related her dealings with them. Eventually, the reported bilocation events led to the establishment of Mission San Clemente around present-day San Angelo. It was the first mission in Texas, bringing the Church ever closer to our present diocese. Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1665. In 2002, Marian groups renewed efforts to advance her cause for beatification. Texas was originally mission territory. How did its official institutional structure take shape over the years? As Texas was transformed from a Spanish colony to a part of Mexico in 1821 to independent republic in 1836, to the 28th state of the United States after annexation in 1845, the administration of the local Church changed with it. The area that eventually became the Diocese of Fort Worth was part of the Mexican Diocese of Linares-Monterrey in the early 1800s. It evolved to become the Diocese of New Orleans in 1838, Prefecture Apostolic of Texas in 1839, Vicariate Apostolic of Texas in 1842, the Diocese of Galveston in 1847, the Diocese of Dallas in 1890, the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth in 1953, and finally the Diocese of Fort Worth in 1969. What did you learn about the religious brothers, priests, and sisters of the diocese that inspired you on a personal level? In writing this book, I was inspired by Catholics who let nothing stand in their way to establish Christ’s Church in North Texas. They include: Father Peter Anthony Levy — This missionary priest was a former sharpshooter in the French army who rode a 1,000-mile circuit across North Texas from 1879-1886. He established several churches in the present Diocese of Fort Worth and had a reputation for standing up to outlaws and overcoming countless adversities. Father Levy was known for his roving confessional, which consisted of a chair tied to the back of his horse-and-wagon rig. The priest died in service to the Lord in a runaway horse and buggy accident. August, Emil and Anton Flusche — These enterprising brothers, all from Germany, established towns throughout the present Diocese of Fort Worth in the 1880s and 1890s. In all of their endeavors, it was important to the brothers that Catholic churches and schools be central to a town’s start-up. The official establishment of those municipalities was not marked by a formal ground-breaking ceremony, but the celebration of a Catholic Mass. Thriving cities and strong Catholic communities still exist in the regions these devout brothers settled. Bishop Claude M. Dubuis — The second bishop of Texas, Bishop Dubuis appointed the first priest to what is now the Diocese of Fort Worth when he named Father Thomas Loughrey as pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Bishop Dubuis, a French-born missionary priest, was a courageous and devout man of God. He possessed true grit and determination. The bishop survived shipwrecks and storms, overcame typhoid fever and cholera, batted tuberculosis, and lived to tell about four abductions by Native Americans. Bishop Dubuis brought law and order, hospitals, schools, churches and countless priests and sisters to Texas. If ever Hollywood were to portray the bold, fearless and rugged bishop, it would have to be a John Wayne-type actor to play his part. What led to Fort Worth being separated out into its own diocese–and are folks still divided over Pope Paul VI’s decision to do so? The creation of the Diocese of Fort Worth in 1969 took root 17 years earlier when forward-looking Bishop Thomas K. Gorman arrived in North Texas. Bishop Gorman was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Dallas in 1952 to take over administrative duties for an aging Bishop Joseph P. Lynch. It was the right place and the right time for a shepherd like Bishop Gorman, who had been raised in the dual Diocese of Monterrey-Los Angeles and later served in the dual Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego. The idea to combine the rapidly growing populations of Dallas and Fort Worth “came quite naturally” to the bishop, according to a 1980 interview with him by The Texas Catholic newspaper. Bishop Gorman recommenced, and the Vatican agreed, that a name change was due for the Diocese of Dallas, and that it should include mention of its growing Catholic base to the west. In 1953, the Diocese of Dallas was renamed the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth. Prior to his retirement in 1969, Bishop Gorman recognized that the time had come for the local church in North Texas to be divided into two distinct dioceses — Dallas and Fort Worth. On Aug. 9, 1969, Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Fort Worth. “I am very happy that the Holy See has accepted this view and created the Diocese of Fort Worth, and I am sure that it has a rich future,” Bishop Gorman said after the official creation of the diocese. In my research for “The Diocese of Fort Worth; Beyond the Frontiers of Faith,” I found no regrets, second thoughts, or reservations expressed over the separation of the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth into two distinct dioceses. Culturally, Fort Worth has long considered itself independent of Dallas, and Catholics are certainly among those sharing those sentiments. Before this death in 2011, Monsignor Charles King — who had been among 41 priests assigned to the new Diocese of Fort Worth — told the North Texas Catholic that the clergy had the option to serve, instead, for the Diocese of Dallas. “I don’t recall anyone deciding to do that,” Monsignor King said. The diocese recently had an opportunity to showcase its diversity by hosting the V Encuentro, a major celebration of Hispanic Catholics in this country. What are some of the best practices for integrating the diocese so that it’s truly “one, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”? Olson: As then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “The Church does not begin, therefore, as a club; rather she begins catholic. She speaks on her first day in all languages, in the languages of the planet. She is first universal before she brought forth local churches. The universal Church is not a federation of local churches but rather their mother. The universal Church gave birth to particular churches, and these can remain church only by continuously losing their particularity and passing into the whole.” The Encuentro V celebrated and experienced the Church’s diversity in the manner articulated by Cardinal Ratzinger in this quote. The diversity of the local church of Fort Worth is a diversity born of catholicity and not the other way around. Diversity is experienced as a gift of catholicity, catholicity is not forged by diversity because the Church is established by Christ not by human initiative and political convention. Encuentro V, in our preparation for hosting the gathering and in our hospitality as offered to our brothers and sisters, called us to recognize again this truth of the nature of the Church and not to settle for the dominant culture’s approach of unity as a political balance of competing and federated self-interests of different language groups held in an uneasy tolerance. Diversity is not a secular good that the Church lacks and only gains when secular influences graft it on the Church. Rather, the most inclusive and diverse community is also the most comprehensive community, which is the truly catholic and authentically Catholic Church. It is a work of the Church to teach the world — especially the secular world — what is true welcome and authentic communion established in charity and truth. Today, much is said of “intentional discipleship” as part of the New Evangelization. The “intentionality” of “intentional discipleship” is one of response and not of initiative. Intentionality in discipleship is always responsive to the truth that it is Christ who has chosen each of us and not each of us who have chosen Him. We must be conscious of not developing communities of Catholics who are formed intentionally in language groups or cultural comfort zones in our parish life. The wisdom of the structure of the Church’s governance is that the normal course of administration involves the establishment of parish communities based on geographical boundaries and not on the culture of the marketplace of consumer choice. Our challenge as a growing diocese is to eschew intentionally, as much as possible, the formation of parishes along the lines of consumer preferences of ministries or liturgies and instead intentionally serve and pray with the community into which we are given by proximity to our neighbor. In Spanish, “mi vecino es mi prójimo.” Liturgical practices should first remain faithful to the proper texts and rites in whatever language is given us by the Church. We should not use the multi-lingual experience of a diocese or parish as a presumption to form our own particular liturgy through a cobbled together or synthetic use of languages, in other words to write our own text. We also don’t have to repeat each part of the Mass in different languages; people can pray along quietly with the celebrant praying the collect of Mass if it’s in a second vernacular language than their primary language; this can be helped with a worship aid with the printed text of the other language not being spoken by the celebrant. I think that this is a reminder for each of us that both God and the Church are far objectively greater than the particular subjective experience of my own language or culture. Cultures are dynamic given time and place. The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas (or one America: north and south) might look and sound differently in Mexico than it might in the United States of America given the experience of a Spanish-speaking but multi-lingual and multi-generational community in the United States. Certain points of emphases might fade, and others develop in light of the immigrant experience of a Hispanic community in the United States but the Catholic integrity of the Liturgy is the starting point and end, not a synthesis. Follow Christopher White on Twitter: @cwwhite212 Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.
Letters from the Synod 2019: October, 16
Reports and Commentary, from Rome and Elsewhere, on the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region: “New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”
St Thérèse of Lisieux, Patroness of the Missions
Pope Pius X1 declared St Thérèse the Universal Patroness of the Missions in 1927, ‘equal to St Francis Xavier, with all the rights and privileges that went with this title.’ How was this humble Carmelite, who died at twenty-four and who never left the enclosure of her Carmel, put on a par with Francis Xavier, renowned as the greatest missionary after St Paul? We find the answer in Pope Francis’ letter, Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World, announcing this year’s Extraordinary Month of Mission in October. He writes, ‘I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptised man and woman is a mission.’ Mission is not primarily about what we do, but who we are; not so much about feet as about heart, and we know from Thérèse’s writings and life that she possessed a passionate missionary heart. Her missionary heart awakened with her Christmas ‘conversion’ in 1886. Like the stirring of dormant baptismal grace, she had a new awareness of being baptised and sent. A great sea change came over her: ‘He made me a fisher of men… I felt charity enter into my soul…’ (1) Seeing a picture of the Crucified, she exclaimed: ‘The cry of Jesus on the Cross sounded continually in my heart: ‘I thirst!’ These words ignited within me an unknown and very living fire. I wanted to give my Beloved to drink and I felt myself consumed with a thirst for souls.’ Years later in Carmel, we see that living missionary fire consuming her more powerfully than the deadly ‘consumption’ that was ravishing her young body. Tormented with desire to share her treasure, she longed to prove her love for Jesus in a thousand ways, by being all vocations at once. Among them, she exclaims: ‘I have the vocation of the Apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach Your Name and to plant Your glorious Cross on infidel soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.’ Her desires caused her ‘a veritable martyrdom’. How to reconcile them with the growing sense of her littleness? She found the answer in St Paul’s description of the Mystical Body. (1 Cor 12): ‘I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was BURNING WITH LOVE. I understood it was Love alone that made the Church’s members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood. I understood that LOVE COMPRISED ALL VOCATIONS, THAT LOVE WAS EVERYTHING, THAT IT EMBRACED ALL TIMES AND PLACES … IN A WORD, THAT IT WAS ETERNAL! At last I have found it … MY VOCATION IS LOVE! … in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be LOVE.’ Astounding works are forbidden her, but she can love! Her life will be consumed by love, proved by works. We shouldn’t be put off by Thérèse’s deceptively childish language. She is eminently practical and seizes on the little opportunities that come the way of us all but which we often let slip by. Thérèse’s ardent love knows how to mint on them, ‘…not allowing one little sacrifice to escape, not one look, one word. Profiting by all the smallest things and doing them through love. I desire to suffer for love and even to rejoice through love; and in this way I shall strew flowers before Your throne. I shall not come upon one without unpetalling it for You. While I am strewing my flowers, I shall sing…’ Recalling the saying of St John of the Cross: ‘…the smallest act of PURE LOVE is of more value to the Church than all other works together,’ Thérèse questions herself: ‘But is PURE LOVE in my heart? How can a soul as imperfect as mine aspire to the possession of the plenitude of Love? O Jesus, my first and only Friend, You whom I Love UNIQUELY, explain this mystery to me!’ Experiencing the darkest night of spirit, Thérèse, the great lover, scraped on the lintel of her cell door, her personal ‘shema’, ‘Jesus est mon unique amour’ – a powerful confession of pure love. Towards the end of her Autobiography, Thérèse attests; ‘Your Love has gone before me, and it has grown with me, and now it is an abyss whose depths I cannot fathom. Love attracts love, and, my Jesus, my love leaps towards yours; it would like to fill the abyss which attracts it, but alas! it is not even like a drop of dew lost in the ocean! For me to love You as You love me, I would have to borrow Your own Love, and then only would I be at rest.’ Draw me! – a prayer burning with the fire of love – will now be her prayer, the simple means of accomplishing her mission. Eyes fixed on Jesus, she will draw all souls along with her. ‘Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the ocean of your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses. I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of his love, to unite me so closely to him that he lives and acts in me…’ This love impels her to go forth in mercy, like Mary, to the ends of the earth. Thérèse reflects that the great saints who filled the world with the light of the Gospel understood this ‘divine science.’ She volunteers for Carmel in Hanoi, Vietnam, but becomes too ill. She ‘befriends’ the young Norman missionary, Théophane Vénard, martyred in Hanoi, whose picture she pinned to the curtain of her deathbed. Forgetting her own dreadful suffering, through encouraging letters, she lavishes tender care upon her missionary brothers, especially Maurice Bellière. She playfully tells Adolphe Roulland, that she is only a little zero which by itself has no value, but alongside one becomes potent, provided it is put on the proper side! Zero Thérèse will follow him by prayer and sacrifice. She burns to share her Little Way of confidence and love with ‘a legion of little souls.’ On the brink of death, she feels her mission is about to begin, ‘of making God loved as I love Him,’ of ‘spending my heaven doing good on earth, until all souls are saved…’ Within a few years, her Story of a Soul sweeps the world and her ’shower of roses’ falls on all five continents. She who so loved the snow miraculously intervenes and overnight makes fertile the sterile OMI mission among the Eskimo Inuits of Artic Canada. Another OMI priest recognises himself as the weary missionary for whom Thérèse had offered up her painful steps. Later, as Bishop Breynat, with his OMI confreres he spearheaded the move to have Thérèse declared Patroness of the Missions. The response was enthusiastic from apostolic vicars worldwide, who had experienced clear signs of Thérèse’s intercession. Pope Pius XI, the ‘Pope of the Missions,’ examined the evidence with delight. In a daring gesture, he declared Thérèse Patroness of the Mission, only two years after her canonisation. She is a mission, always: Thérèse’s Mission continue: now her sacred relics encircle the world; they have even been taken into outer space! Baptised and sent, may we, like Thérèse, feel the call of an Apostle… NOTE 1 The following quotation will help to clarify the significance of italics and capitals in the quotations from St Thérèse in this article: ‘Following the wishes of her superiors, Thérèse herself had written out the story of her brief life in ink and pencil, with few emendations, at odd moments as her health declined, on whatever paper was available (often of poor quality), and with no thought of eventual publication. Not surprisingly, as the facsimile edition reveals, the autograph is sometimes difficult to read, and shows countless variations in capitalisations, underlinings, the size, position, and slant of the letters, and so on (with some occasional corrections in a later hand). Because these variations could not be reproduced on a typeset page, Fr Francois- Marie* chose to represent all these indications of emphasis with italics, while capitalising those words the Saint had underlined two or three times.’ Story of A Soul, (Study Edition, translated by John Clarke OCD and prepared by Marc Foley OCD), Introduction. [*Critical text established by Fr Francois-Marie de Chassey in the 1956 facsimile edition of Manuscrits autobiographiques]. Sr Mary Brigeen Wilson OCD,Kilmacud Carmel, Dublin Download this page here: October Intercom 2019_featured article
What the police chief’s resignation tells us about the Vatican power struggle
It has become apparent over the past couple of weeks that there is a major power struggle underway in the Vatican
A ‘New’ Normal? An Updated Look at Fertility Trends Across the Globe
by Lyman Stone (@lymanstoneky) By now most readers are aware that U.S. birth rates have fallen to all-time lows. Early data for 2019 suggest that this slide is likely to continue. Those interested in demography more generally may also be aware that birth rates are falling in other countries. Most recently, reports of Finland’s baby bust have made headlines. Why are birth rates plummeting across so many countries? Before the “why” question can be answered, it’s important to get a handle on the scope and scale of the decline. Where is fertility falling? Is the decline more severe in some places than in others? To answer that question, I’ve put together the most up-to-date database of fertility statistics available anywhere, covering 61 countries for recent years. Major sources like the World Bank and the United Nations are only updated through 2017; I have updated through 2018 where data is available, and where year-to-date 2019 data is available, I’ve estimated what 2019 fertility rates are likely to be. The data shows that very low fertility rates are becoming increasingly normal across the globe. Current declines are probably not just cyclical, but likely reflect a “new normal” with most countries having birth rates between 1.4 and 1.9 children per woman. Presenting 61 countries’ fertility rates in a single graph is not feasible. Instead, below I show the average annual change in each country’s birth rate from 2007 to the latest data (2017, 2018, or 2019) for a variety of countries, grouped by various regional or historic ties. The groups are arranged from left to right, with the highest fertility region as of 2007 (the Middle East and North Africa) at the left, and the lowest-fertility region as of 2007 (East Asia) at the right. As the figure shows, fertility fell the most in the highest-fertility regions, and it rose somewhat in lower-fertility regions. Put in statistical terms, the amount of variation among these 61 countries declined by half between 2007 and 2019. This was not only because of fertility declines among very-high-fertility countries, what demographers call “demographic transition,” but also because of modest fertility increases in low-fertility countries, and declines in medium-fertility countries. The graph below illustrates this even more clearly, with the change in fertility rates since 2007 compared to actual fertility in 2007. Basically, countries with birth rates above 1.6 or 1.7 children per woman experienced fertility declines. Countries with birth rates below that saw more stability or even increases. What we appear to be seeing is a global convergence around fertility rates of 1.6 or 1.7 children. This is not just a rich-world phenomenon. Birth rates in Mexico are around 1.9 to 2 kids per woman, so below the rate needed to sustain Mexico’s current population levels. Brazil’s birth rate is even lower, at 1.75, similar to Colombia’s at 1.77. Costa Rica is even lower, at 1.66. El Salvador, Argentina, and Venezuela are all just barely “breaking even” demographically. Other countries like Guatemala are higher but falling fast. Across the Pacific, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India are all around 2 or 2.2 kids per woman, while Malaysia has fallen to about 1.8. Thailand is even lower, at 1.5 kids per woman. Even Muslim countries like Turkey (2), Iran (1.8), and Tunisia (2.1) have near-replacement fertility, with speedy declines still ongoing. Data for Africa is not sufficiently recent or high-quality to speak to very recent declines, but the trend there is also one of extremely rapid fertility decline, as I’ve written previously for IFS. Thus, while recent fertility declines are not globally shared, they nonetheless point to an emerging norm of below-replacement fertility. We should not expect that the future will be one of growing populations, but rather one where most countries face serious demographic challenges. Why is this happening? A few specific country examples may help point the way to an explanation. Asian Tigers? Asian Pandas. Many commentators use “Japan” as a by-word for demographic decline. But while Japan does face demographic challenges, it appears to be rising to meet them. Today, Japan actually has the highest fertility rate in East Asia, once we exclude the hermit kingdom of North Korea and the post-Soviet nomads of Mongolia. Japan’s birth rates have been rising for some time. But beyond this rise, Japan has been getting creative to encourage births at all levels of society and is also successfully opening its doors to immigration. The perception of Japan as an ultra-low fertility, unfriendly-to-families, closed-to-immigration country is increasingly outdated. On the other hand, Korea’s birth rate has plummeted to astonishingly low levels. If current trends hold, 2019 will report birth rates of around 0.92 expected children per woman, one of the lowest numbers ever reported by any country. Korea is trying to boost fertility rates, but their efforts are misguided and failing. Without serious labor reforms aimed at de-prioritizing “workist” career-competitiveness, Korea’s birth rate will continue to fall. Korea’s case is unique, but the forces driving it, especially the unchecked power of the labor market over peoples’ lives, are shared with many countries. The Mongol Horde The universality of the forces reducing fertility is sometimes obscured by impressive-looking short-term fluctuations. And indeed, elsewhere in Asia, there’s a baby boom. Mongolians averaged 7.3 kids per woman in 1974: a figure that fell to 2.5 by 1993, and below 2 by 2005. But then, something happened. Since 2005, Mongolian birth rates have rocketed upwards and now stand at around three children per woman. The consequences of this baby boom on school crowding, the challenges it poses for children’s health in Mongolia’s highly polluted capital, and the role played by improving rural maternal health services, have all been featured in international media. More generally, Mongolia’s economic boom driven by growing global, and especially Chinese, investment almost certainly had a role to play. Meanwhile, this fertility gain has not come at the expense of gender equality, as Mongolian women remain better educated than Mongolian men, and are making more and more inroads into traditionally male-dominated fields. But while Mongolia’s case appears unique for Asia, offering some cause for hope, that optimism would be misplaced. Mongolia’s true peers are not other Asian countries, but other post-Soviet countries. Many former Soviet countries had a “baby bust” just like Mongolia did during the 1990s due to the chaos and disruption of the fall of communism. And many of those countries are now enjoying a recovery to fertility rates nearer their 1980s levels, just as Mongolia is. These recoveries probably will not last forever, and indeed may already be fizzling out. In time, despite its currently-impressive fertility trends, it is most likely that Mongolia’s “Soviet recovery boom” will fade, and the gradual forces of economic modernization will push its birth rates down to similar levels seen in other countries. Modern Greenland Economic modernization is a funny thing. Sometimes it comes naturally, sometimes, it’s forced. One of the most striking cases of “engineered modernity” comes not from the Soviet Union, but from Greenland, a constituent part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Denmark had owned and colonized Greenland for a long time when, starting in 1950, the government embarked on an ambitious project to modernize the people of Greenland: economically of course, but also, perhaps especially, culturally. Notably, this was despite a 1946 decision by Greenland’s native leaders to reject modernization. The first step of modernity was to introduce the sale of alcohol into Greenland, with predictably deleterious effects. Then, from 1952 to 1968, the Danish government embarked on a massive campaign of housing and infrastructure expansion designed to encourage Greenlanders to move out of small, traditional villages, into a few urban centers, where public services could be more easily delivered. The most infamous of these new housing developments was Blok P, an enormous and notorious public housing project that eventually housed nearly 1% of the total population of Greenland, but few of them happily. During the modernization period, education was also switched to Danish. Political modernity arrived as well, with the usual democratic, socialist, liberal, and rightist parties forming during the 1970s. Overall, Denmark’s aggressive modernization campaign provoked anti-colonial resistance and helped lead to the movement for Greenlandic home rule in 1979, self-government in 2009, and perhaps someday independence. But that wasn’t all. Fatefully, in 1967, the Danish government began a major campaign to promote IUDs. The results of aggressive modernization, intentional cultural disruption, and aggressive contraceptive campaigns were as might be expected. In the span of just eight years from 1966 to 1974, fertility rates fell abruptly from 7 children per woman to 2.3. This is the fastest fertility transition in human history. Of course, Greenland’s fertility did not fall to extremely low levels and remains near replacement rate today, although it is gradually declining. But the country is an example of the striking influence that can be exerted by a determined government. A full-court-press of political reform, urbanization, healthcare, education, and industrial transformation radically altered Greenlandic fertility. Not even China’s one-child policy was so dramatically successful at reaching its goals and, certainly, no pro-natal initiative has ever been so successful. People of the Promise So, if a government can engineer a cultural change to reduce fertility, can it do the opposite? In any discussion of fertility, one country comes up a lot: Israel. Virtually alone among rich countries, Israel has a fertility rate of around 3 children per woman. And this is not just thanks to a minority group within Israel, like Muslims. The majority-population of Israeli Jews have birth rates around 3 kids per woman. While the ultra-Orthodox Jews have the most children, even secular Jews have above-replacement-rate fertility in Israel. This also cannot be solely attributed to the general policy environment. While Israel does encourage births, many previously very-high-fertility groups in Israel, like the Druze, now have near-replacement-rate fertility. Rather, Israel’s high birth rates appear to be in some sense a product of cultural norms within the Israeli Jewish community. However, if early data for 2019 is to be believed, Israeli Jewish fertility is now falling as well. If even Israel’s pro-family culture and aggressively pro-natal policies can’t stave off fertility declines, what can? Looking Forward Birth rates are falling. Around the world, it seems like fertility rates are likely to reach stability between 1.4 and 1.9 kids per woman, and most plausibly around 1.6 to 1.7. This is considerably below the assumptions of most population forecasting bodies like the United Nations, which typically assumes stable fertility rates of between 1.8 and 2.1. In other words, the ongoing global fertility slump suggests that the future human population will be smaller than expected. Lyman Stone is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and an Adjunct Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.