Europe's Christian Socialists

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Apr 13, 2007 10:34 AM

Townhall's Lindsay Boyd has filed another report from Grove City College's Center for Vision and Values conference ...

Good morning from Grove City College! Before getting down to business, I should mention that I was not-so-warmly greeted by snowflakes and freezing rain with my morning coffee. Whatever happened to global warming?

Once again, the auditorium was packed full of students, scholars, and anxious conservatives from across the world as we got the day's events underway. I shared a trolly over to the college this morning with a female doctor from England and a politically attuned couple from Germany. The Germans are well represented here as the first speaker, Dr. Guido Hulsmann, is German-born and Austrian-educated. All were excited to hear that the famous economist, Ludwig Von Misses' personal writings are preserved within the confines of the Grove City Library.

Dr. Hulsmann's lecture this morning revolved around the topic of "Misreading the Pope: Pope Pius IX and Europe's Christian Socialists". While I found the doctor's speech mind-blowingly intellectual and stimulating, I must say that my head is still spinning! This man is an academic power-house! The accent is a nice touch too...[# More #] 

To summate Dr. Hulsmann's thesis (as best I can), I should start by reiterating his belief that the Catholic Church is contributing to it's own demise within Europe by seemingly promoting socialist policies that contradict the premises of the Christian faith. Through an exhaustive historical analysis (and I recommend his work to anyone interested), Dr. Hulsmann finds that Catholics began to adopt a socialist agenda during the time of the classical liberal movement. Small sects of individuals supporting laissez-faire also promoted an anti-Christian approach to state and church relations. To combat this movement, small sects of Catholic Christians began to promote a stronger church presense within the social spectrum, that soon spread beyond the church and became what we like to refer to as "social engineering".

Apparently, some then misused the Pontiffs' encyclicals (namely, Pope Pius IX) to explain why Catholicism and laissez-faire weren't compatable. However, as Dr. Hulsmann showed, this was a dramatic misinterpretation of the Pope's texts and one that has been touted for far too long. In fact, he claims that the basic foundations of Catholic faith (natural rights, individual choice) are the same as those core principles explicit in laissez-faire. So by promoting socialist doctrines, the Catholic church is actually promoting the antithesis of it's own faith.

Wow. Exhausting. Stimulating. I think we're getting somewhere!