February 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – “Real Catholicism” and traditional liturgy are the best tools to bring Europe back to Christianity, a priest said last month at a Catholic conference in Ireland.
Fr. William Slattery, author of a highly acclaimed book on how priests built Western Civilization, pointed out that what held “so many men and women ‘captive” for 2,000 years in Catholicism was the “thing” we now call the Traditional Latin Mass and liturgy.”
The theme of the January 18 conference put on by the Roundtower Association in Galway City was “The Restoration of Europe: By the Liturgy and the Saints.”
The goal of the Roundtower Association, established in 2018, is to promote the study of the Church’s perennial teachings while focusing on the re-Christianization of Ireland. Beginning in the ninth century, round towers were built in Catholic Ireland. Experts explain that round towers allowed one of the monks, who otherwise lived in community, to withdraw and live as a hermit for a specific time, helping them to advance in the spiritual life.
Other speakers at the conference were Alan Fimister, assistant professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, and Alexander O’Hara, a research fellow at the National University of Ireland.
“Two thousand years of history have handed in their verdict. The Traditional Latin Mass and liturgy is where Catholic vanguards are born. Men and women with a clear sense of identity. The vast, deep, and lasting effects of the ancient Mass on Western Civilization’s movers and shakers over 2,000 years up as far as the 1960s’ cultural revolution proves that what it did once, it can do again,” Slattery emphasized in his talk.
He called for the restoration of Europe through “real Catholicism as distinct from fake Catholicism.”
Using numerous examples, he explained how for centuries there was a pattern of men and women who had left the faith returning to the Church on their deathbeds. “Clearly, even after their departure, something of her had remained inside them, whether as nostalgia or rancor or a mixture of both,” the priest said.
Research by historians and sociologists shows that conversions to Catholicism “all point to the powerful and decisive impact of the same thing: the traditional Latin Mass and liturgy,” Slattery said.
He also stressed that architects, sculptors, painters, composers, and members of many other professions were inspired in their work by the Traditional Latin Mass. It was the simple people who built the faith in Europe, including its monuments still admired today.
According to one remarkable episode recounted by Slattery that demonstrates the high regard for the Catholic Church even by sinners, historical records show how, in the middle ages, the bishop of Paris quietly accepted a gift from a guild of prostitutes for the new cathedral – “although only after consulting a moral theologian.”
In his first talk at the conference in Ireland, Slattery said Catholics today need to learn from their ancestors in the faith. Just as Catholics built Western Civilization in an age of “relative darkness,” they are called to do so again in our time.
The dark ages, as they are often called, actually saw many excellent bishops, Slattery said, referring to “some 9,000 place names in France, 4,500 in Spain, 2,500 in Italy” bearing witness to their influence.
“Only a civilization founded on the truths of Catholicism has the intellectual clarity and supernatural guts to confront, combat, and overcome the fatalist ideology of Hegelian-derived cultural Marxism with its revolutionary lie that truth is measured by the changing events of history, that the new is always the standard, and that Catholicism must be silenced,” the author of Heroism and Genius argued.
“Never, never, never, never forget that the Catholic by being truly Catholic changes himself, society, and civilization,” Slattery concluded his talk, which demonstrated how inspiring the study of Church history is.
Fimister focused on the Catholic roots of the European Union (EU). One of the founding fathers of the EU after World War II was Robert Schuman, a French politician, who was supported by Christian Democrats in various other European countries, including Konrad Adenauer in Germany and Alcide De Gasperi in Italy.
“Schuman’s real preoccupation, the subject of his maiden speech in the French Legislature in 1919, and the focus of his entire life was (to put it more frankly than he would have done then) the restoration of Christendom,” Fimister explained.
However, in his political philosophy, Schuman was heavily influenced by French thinker Jacques Maritain, which Fimister identified as the root problem of the EU.
“The fallacy at the heart of Maritain’s Integral Humanism has delivered the continent under whose name he sought to build his anonymous Christendom into the dominion and power of the evil one,” he said.
By simply allowing all men and women to vote and enshrining inalienable human rights, “one has already implicitly adhered to the Gospel and created an anonymously Christian civil order that is naturally harmonious with the Church without any need for the formal profession of the Gospel by the public law,” Fimister explained Maritain’s position of Integral Humanism.
“Because the Gospel would only be implied, not asserted, by the institutions of this secular Christendom, individuals of all creeds and none would be able to cooperate in and be united under its banner without having to repudiate their own convictions. But because only Christianity could afford a fully coherent account of the reason for these institutions the Church would flourish in the context of this new regime,” the theology professor added.
Fimister pointed out a logical fallacy in Maritain’s reasoning. “Just because the ideas of universal franchise and inviolable human rights follow from Christian revelation, this does not mean Christian revelation is implied by these political ideals,” he said.
The professor illustrated the fallacy by pointing to the history of the European Convention on Human Rights. The states that signed the convention in the 1950s practiced capital punishment and considered abortion and homosexuality illegal.
“Within half a century, not only were all these positions reversed, but it was being successfully argued that their reversal was a requirement of conformity to the convention itself,” Fimister told the audience.
O’Hara unfolded the connections between Columbanus, an Irish missionary who died in 615, and Schuman, who launched the EU project in the 20th century.
“Despite the vast chronological gap that separates both men, what connects them was their idea of Europe: Columbanus was one of the first to voice the idea of Europe as a distinct community, while Schuman sought to build a new supranational community in Europe after the Second World War that was inspired by the same heritage and thought that had motivated Columbanus,” O’Hara stated.
In 1950, just before embarking on the European project that developed into the EU, Schuman had invited politicians and members of the clergy to a conference on the Irish saint. He praised Columbanus as “the patron saint of all those who seek to construct a united Europe.”
O’Hara explained the importance of Columbanus for properly understanding Europe, even today.
“Columbanus transcended the petty factionalism and ethnic myopia of his environment by appealing to a supranational sense of unity grounded in scriptural authority: the message, most fully expressed by St. Paul, that we are all one in Christ,” the research fellow at the National University of Ireland said.