Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Massimo Faggioli on the dimensions of Catholic political culture



Dr Massimo Faggioli is a prominent Catholic historian and theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia. He is a prolific writer and editor, whose work can be found in publications like Commonweal, La Croix and America magazine.

As a historian, Massimo views developments in the Catholic Church with a much longer lens. In this episode, he shares insight into the conservative responses to Pope Francis and the papal shift toward a less abstract understanding of being Catholic. He also discusses the way that the two-party political system in the United States has permeated the Catholic Church there.

Finally, he explains why Vatican II is not just unfinished business but an orientation and method for doing things.

Soundcloud | iTunes


Fatima MeashamFatima Measham is a Eureka Street consulting editor. She co-hosts the ChatterSquare podcast, tweets as @foomeister and blogs on Medium.

Topic tags: Fatima Measham, Massimo Faggioli, Catholic, Church, politics, US



submit a comment

Existing comments

Faggioli's links to 'Commonweal' and 'America' should give the game away to anyone in the know, but why not be transparent and say that Faggioli is a "liberal" Catholic, just as the ABC sedulously introduces Gerard Henderson as a "right wing" commentator ?

HH | 14 August 2017  

With respect, HH, I don't think Faggioli is a liberal so much as a centrist, concerned to draw both liberal and conservative Catholic factions towards a middle position that he perceives the Pope as occupying. To compare him with Henderson, who is a relict from our DLP past, is somewhat stretching the point and lacks context, other than one that only makes sense in ideological terms. After all, the DLP have often been described as extremists of the centre, which would hardly make them right-wing, especially in view of their markedly illiberal social and economic policies of the past. As for Ms Measham, she asked some insightful questions and to be even more sedulous, one might humbly suggest she transpose her employment of the colloquial hesitant 'like' with quality conjunctives such as 'such as' or 'for example'. Thanks heaps for the broadcast.

Dr Michael Furtado | 15 August 2017  

Just to clarify, Dr M: I'm not saying Faggioli holds a line similar to that of Henderson. I'm saying that as Henderson is routinely introduced on the ABC as "right wing", people like Faggioli and other liberals should be introduced as liberals.

HH | 23 August 2017  

Gosh, HH! A liberal commentator featured in a left-leaning publication? Who would have guessed? Next you'll be pointing out that writers for AD2000 are all far right conservatives!

AURELIUS | 25 September 2017  

Any use of liberal, middle or conservative Catholics these days is past its use by date. I suggest there is no such thing, and should be no such thing as it simply does not work that way when it comes to faith and the Church. If we all check, we will find that there is some liberal and conservative in all of us depending on the issue. What's more, it continues to be a source of valid criticism from those who might otherwise embrace the faith and the Church, who see nothing but infighting, negativity and dissagreement by those who profess to be Christ's disciples. It is naive and childish and part of the them-and-us attitude. Its time for the Church as the People of God and as institution to grow up, sort out the structures, and acknowledge that God, who is above all human understanding is above all of this regardless of dogma and doctrine. Let theology and theologians of all varieties speak and guide us rather than the notion of so-called eternal truths. Theology 101 teaches that we must at all times be prepared to begin again whenever required, and throw out that which no longer draws us into the mystery that is God. This applies to the Church as well.

Anthony Amory | 25 September 2017  

Anthony, I agree with you and I also fail to see the relevance of this left/right wing labelling - and I'd extend that too politics too, going as far as saying it's the main reason for inertia in our government - "playing politics" rather than getting on with the urgent tasks at hand. But even in our Catholic Church I'm still confused at statements by bishops who, for example, state that it's their duty to oppose SSM, while in the same breath asserting that it's ultimately up to Catholics to decide yes/no for themselves. (I'm referring to Archbishop Mark Coleridge's statement in the media today). This suggests there is room for a spectrum of views. But if a bishop can allow Catholics the freedom to vote yes, why can't a bishop also vote yes? Is he simply being cautious and saving his own soul? Are we doomed to this good cop(Jesuits)/bad cop (bishops) style of moral leadership? And wouldn't it be great if our church was just as passionate about debating other moral issues - like poverty, world conflicts, etc?

AURELIUS | 26 September 2017  

Thank you for your interest in my post and for your valid points regarding politicians. If only they could focus on what is best for the Australian people and nation rather than on their party and careers! So too, as you point out, our bishops and Church leaders. Archbishop Mark’s comments on same-sex relationships in the media yesterday are appalling. I can understand his holding to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, which he is bound by Canon Law to do. But to suggest that same-sex relationships are the same as that with friends, or other members of the family, is on the one hand most amusing and naive, but on the other quite misguided and offensive. As a Catholic who is gay, I can assure him that my relationship with my partner of 33 years is nothing like that which I share with my friends. I have not and do not share the intimacy of love and affection, sexual or otherwise, with my friends as with my partner. Our ongoing love and care for each other in terms of fulfilment in life, health and wellbeing, peace and joy, and intimacy, is sacred. I would say our love is a gift from God. I care deeply about my friends and their wellbeing, and yes, I love them and they me. That love too is a gift from God, and is sacred. But the love I share with my partner is different to that of my friends. It is the same as that between two heterosexual persons, who may or may not have children. To me it is sacramental.

Anthony Amory | 27 September 2017  

Similar Articles

Andrew Zammit on sensible ways to think about terrorism

  • Podcast
  • 15 August 2017

Is there a way to think about terrorism without politics? Do counter-terrorism responses make us safer? What are sensible ways to sift through news reports about acts of terror? Andrew Zammit takes us through these and other questions. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne and has worked on terrorism-related research projects at Monash University and Victoria University.


ChatterSquare: Kate Galloway on lawyers in a tech-driven world

  • Podcast
  • 01 August 2017

What are the implications for the legal profession as blockchain technologies, smart contracts and apps shift our approach to matters of law? Where do lawyers fit into algorithm-driven decisions and digital access to information? Kate Galloway discusses how tech is disrupting the way we think about lawyering, and the ethical problems it poses.