The Catholic Answer to Cancel Culture: “Be Not Afraid!”
This week, the Record published my article, The Church’s Answer to Cancel Culture: “Be Not Afraid!”
The article explains how, despite serious mistakes in the past, including its dreadful treatment of Galileo, Catholic thought has grown to a point where, instead of fear-filled repression, Catholic thinkers are encouraged to "be not afraid." We are encouraged to confront our adversaries, not with our own cancel culture, but with a higher and more robust truth.
Our heroes in this intellectual tradition are:
- St John Henry Newman, who responded to modernity, not by repressing other voices, but by mastering their “tools” and turning the weapons of those who assailed Catholic doctrine against them -- and to then use that learning to support our beliefs.
- St John Paul II, who declared that “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth.” https://www.vaticanobservatory.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/JPII-Truth-Cannot-Contradict-Truth.pdf
- The Jesuit Philosophy Professor, Fr Tom Daly, who defined truth as "that which stands up to persistent questions." That is, truth does not hide behind a cancel culture, but it stands out in the open. Truth is bold and confident.
John Paul also makes another important point (in Ex Corde Ecclesiae) . The Catholic tradition is not only committed to truth, but it is confident in "already knowing the fount of truth." In the article, I argue that too many secular people lack faith in "the fount of all truth" and, lacking confidence, they have to resort to cancelling.
I also mentioned very interesting research by Rachel Wahl, who "found that the evangelical students displayed a greater ability to listen to and learn from their peers across the political (and religious) divide than did their secular peers."
I'd like to throw down the gauntlet, first to radical secularists who seem so timid about their version of the truth that they have to resort to cancelling their opponents. But secondly, I'd like to also challenge my fellow-Catholics, or other people of faith, who similarly lack confidence in the truth and believe that we should be engaged in censorship and heresy hunts. That's not the best part of our tradition, and it never was.
For more reading:
Matthew Ogilvie, "The Church’s Answer to Cancel Culture: 'Be Not Afraid!"” The Record, 4 April 2022. https://therecord.com.au/news/the-record-magazine/the-churchs-answer-to-cancel-culture-be-not-afraid/
John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (English version). 15 August 1990, http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_15081990_ex-corde-ecclesiae.html
John Paul II, Truth Cannot Contradict Truth, 22 October, 1996 https://www.vaticanobservatory.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/JPII-Truth-Cannot-Contradict-Truth.pdf
, "Faith Commitments Fuel Dialogue Across Differences," Heterodox Academy Blog, August 4 2021
Cancel Culture, by August Meriwether, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:August_Meriwether