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Provocative Catholic Web Site Launched

Monday, 09 Jun 2008 04:10 PM

By Phil Brennan

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The Catholic Thing, once an expression that embodied the historical reality of Catholicism, is now an exciting new Web site by leading Catholic scholar Dr. Robert Royal.

The site, http://www.thecatholicthing.org, made its debut on June 2.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax Dr. Royal explained what makes The Catholic Thing different from the many other Web sites dealing with Roman Catholicism. Rather than approaching issues from an ivory tower intellectual perspective, or from a purely political or social viewpoint, the Web site deals with everyday public issues in columns such as “The Real Lessons of the Hagee Case,” “Spanish Si, English No,” “A New Sexual Constitution,” and “The Adventure of Catholic Social Doctrine,” all written by Catholic scholars with vast experience in the pubic square.

He makes a case grounded in the fact that for the past 2000 years of its history, the catholic Church has been dealing with many of the same political and social issues that constitute today’s debate. The intellectuals and scholars contributing to The Catholic Thing are all well tutored and experienced in that two millennial tradition where the Church was never a mere bystander content to allow the secular point of view to dominate the public square.

Royal, President of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, past president of the Ethics and Public Policy Committee, and author of numerous books including his most recent “The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive Global History” (2000, Crossroad) tells Newsmax his new Web site will consist of daily columns by leading Catholic intellectuals experienced in dealing with politics and economics, culture and warfare, the temporal and the eternal, children and careers, and many other contemporary questions seen from the standpoint of The Catholic Thing.

Newsmax: Given the multiplicity of Web sites devoted to Catholicism why start another one?

Royal: We try to bring a little more depth to the Catholic tradition . . . to provide people with a quick look into what somebody with experience in dealing with Catholicism in public life thinks about some question.

Newsmax: Who are the contributors to The Catholic Thing?

Royal: We don’t have all of them lined up, but among the people who are going to be the regular columnists are people like Michael Novak, of the American Enterprise Institute, a very well known theologian for more than 50 years; Hadley Arkes, a professor at Amherst; Michael Uhlmann who teaches at Claremont Graduate School; people who have a lot of experience in public affairs and Catholic thought.

I don’t think that there’s any specifically Catholic Web site that has so many people with so much experience. Every day there’s a different column with a different topic.

Newsmax: Does The Catholic Thing approach issues from a conservative point of view?

Royal: This is not tending to be political. We’re not Republican, we’re not supporting any candidate, but we do look at pubic issues from a faithful Catholic standpoint, which in the United States means that we’re conservative on issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem-cell research.

A new column on immigration criticizes Republicans for being somewhat contemptuous of Hispanics. The overall orientation probably looks conservative to people on the outside, but it’s also got other elements in it.

The Catholic Thing is [a term] used by some of those old British converts like Chesterton, Hillaire Belloc and maybe even Evelyn Waugh to refer to the concrete reality of the Church.

We think that the Church is not simply on the sidelines, making comments about political and social issues, but it also inspires the culture in a broad sense not only in literature and music and other things, but the kind of world that we live in.

One of the reasons that I started The Catholic Thing is that people don’t know just where to turn. You think that there’s all this material on the Web but you have to find a way to cut though the volume of bad stuff — superficial stuff — and really bring something that comes from a deeper, broader, longer tradition, and that’s the Catholic tradition.

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