Sunday, 22 June 2014

Catechism for Business

Andrew Abela's subtitle for his book A Catechism for Business says it all: Tough Ethical Questions and Insights from Catholic Teaching. Catholic social doctrine has grown into a vast field, and this book finds its way through those questions that arise naturally in the course of a working day. It taps directly into the wisdom of the Church's magisterium. Only just over 140 pages, it is practical to use. Though it does not interweave social and spiritual teaching, it will be tremendously helpful to businessmen and theologians.

Friday, 13 June 2014


My new book is a summation of a lot of the work on social teaching I have done in the past ten years. The cover of the book, by Ducio, shows Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The extract from Ch. 49 of Christ the Eternal Tao begins to explain the meaning of the image:

The Master of the universe,
Showing us how to walk the way of humility,
Took a towel
And, bending down below his disciples,
Washed their feet.
Learn not from an angel, He said,
Not from man, nor from a book,
But from me—
From my indwelling,
From my illumination and action within you
For I am meek and humble in heart
And in thought and in spirit,
And your souls shall find rest from conflicts
And relief from thoughts.

The Trinity reveals the pattern of the cosmos, of reality itself—from the stars to the dust we kick around our feet. The same Trinity that meets in a kiss between two people is the Trinity that governs the swirl of leaves in autumn when they fall from the trees. There is nothing beyond the Trinity, nothing beyond the particles that all things are made of, nothing beyond these pieces of stardust.

There is no peace without justice, and no justice without goodness. The Ten Commandments are a search for justice, but the Commandments of justice are balanced by the Beatitudes, and the vision of Moses is balanced by the vision of Christ. According to Pope Francis a religion of money dominates our global civilization. Money and sex, therefore, and one more determining factor, technology, needs to be taken into account. We are living under the rule of the machine, and we are called to evangelize these three with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Not As the World Gives reaches from the Age of Money to the Age of the Machine. What emerges from this sequel to The Radiance of Being is not just a presentation of Catholic social doctrine, but a vision of integration and wholeness, of a society both divine and human, and of a humanism open to the absolute.

Friday, 21 February 2014


The next in our series of colloquia in which Christian and Islamic thinkers engage in a conversation about notions of society, the secular, and the human vocation takes place on Saturday afternoon 1st March at St Benet's Hall, Oxford (free admission). If “the greatest single antidote to violence is conversation” (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks), such initiatives may make a contribution to the development of a culture of peace. The first meeting took place at Blackfriars Hall on 29th July 2013 and was focused on "God's call to the creature" – in other words, creation and vocation. This time we take the discussion a stage further....

Saturday 1st March 2014 2:00 – 5:00 pm
2:00 – Crafts: Karim Lahham (Tabah Foundation)
2:30 – Architecture: Warwick Pethers (Gothic Design Practice)
3:00 – Teaching: Roy Peachey (Woldingham School and Cedars School, Croydon)
    and Dr Talal al-Azem (Oriental Institute and Pembroke College) 

4:00 – Discussion: chaired by Stratford Caldecott and Karim Lahham
Secularisation poses a challenge to religious believers in the practice of their professions, more so as the dominant view creates an environment hostile to traditional conceptions of morality and even social order. Are these conflicts inevitable? What kind of public engagement with these issues would be most fruitful?

FREE ADMISSION  For further information contact us at 

Friday, 3 January 2014

The science of economics?

An extract from John Medaille's article in Second Spring, issue 17 on The Economy. The journal is available from Thomas More College.

Far from being an “exact science,” economics resembles nothing so much as a war of ideologies, each proffering a different view of man. And this is how it should be; economics, like every other humane science, must begin with a view of the human person, and we must start comparing economic systems with a comparison of their view of the human person. Everything else depends on that. And it turns out that there really are only two views, albeit there are multiple variations of these views: man is ether a free contracting individual, or else he is a social being always enmeshed in a series of relationships and obligations.

The men of the 19th century, repelled by the messiness of humane considerations, looked with envy on the precision of the physicists, and attempted to emulate them. But this turned out to be a romantic quest, a heartfelt desire to resolve all things by a formula, and so get at the root of all things in a way no one could doubt. But this cannot be a realistic enterprise. For the humane sciences consist not in rejecting the complexity of human life, but in embracing it. At base, all our systems are moral systems, describing not only what we are doing, but what we ought to be doing.

In this science, the Roman Pontiffs are not interlopers but full participants, offering a realistic view of human relationships, a view upon which every other human science depends.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Unimaginative conservatism

Evangelii Gaudium is full of interesting passages. One of them concerns the "worldliness" that creeps into the Church, which has been one of the big themes of the pontificate to date. Para 94 summarizes the Pope's analysis using a number of long, technical words – though Francis carefully explains each term when he uses it. Each of the attitudes identified here as an obstacle to evangelization is a form of adulterated Christianity, a manifestation of anthropocentric immanentism, by which he means an obsession with man in this world rather than man as constitutively related to God.
"This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain