Orwells recension av ”The Spirit of Catholicism”

A Kind of Compulsion, The Complete Works, vol. X, artikel 127, s. 246-8.

Recension av Karl Adams ”The Spirit of Catholicism”, New English Weekly, 9 juni 1932.

What distinguishes this book from the current drizzle of Catholic propaganda is that it is more or less non-controversial. Our English Catholic apologists are unrivalled masters of debate, but they are on their guard against saying anything genuinly informative. Few of them have any object beyond self-justification; their writings, therefore, are either a stream of cheery insult at biologists and Protestant historians, or an attempt to bluff the fundamental difficulties of faith out of existance.

[…]

The contrast between the Catholic who simply believes, and the convert who must for ever be justifying his conversion, is like the contrast between a Buddha and a performing fakir. Father Martindale [som Orwell jämför Karl Adam med], being committed to the statement faith is essentially reasonable, can neither stand up to his difficulties nor ignore them. Consequently he evades them, with considerable nimbleness. He sails over the theory of evolution in a sort of logical balloon-flight, with common sense flung overboard for ballast; he dodges past the problem of evil like a man dodging past his creditor’s doorway—and so on. Father Adam, who has started by saying that faith is not to be approached in the same spirit as ”the profane sciences,” has no need for these tricks. With a creed that is safe from ”profane” criticism, he is in a very strong position.

Orwell refererar därefter Adams tankar om den katolska gemenskapen och om hur varje medlem får del av den godhet som katoliker genom åren samlat; tankar som får Orwell att jämföra kyrkan med med ett gigantiskt familjeföretag som ger enorma utdelningar: ”The smallest shareholder draws his bonus on the profits made by Augustine or Aquinas.”

The point is missed if one forgets that the ”family” means the Church and the Church alone; the rest of humanity, stray saints apart, being so much negligible matter, for whom there can be nothing save a slightly rigid pity, for extra ecclesiam nulla salus, and ”dogmatic intolerance,” as Father Adam puts it, ”is a duty to the infinite truth.” Father Adam allows that non-Catholics of good will have been known to exist here and there; but these in reality are Catholics without knowing it, since any virtue that exist outside the Church must be held to have proceeded, ”invisibly,” from the Church. And apart from special mercies, which are by no means to be counted on, ”all pagans, Jews, heretics and shismatics have forfeited eternal life and are destined to everlasting fire.”

This is quite straightforward, and much more impressive than what we get from our English Catholic apologists. These, with their public-school methods of controversy, have given so strong an impression of not being in earnest that hardly a soul in England bothers to hit back at them. Nearly all our anti-clerical feeling is directed at the poor, unoffending old Church of England. If ever a word is raised against Rome, it is only some absurd tale about Jesuit intrigues or babies’ skeletons dug up from the floors of nunneries. Very few people, apart from the Catholics themselves, seem to have grasped that the Church is to be taken seriously.

(Not: den latinska frasen (”utom kyrkan ingen frälsning”)  kommer från Sankt Cyprianus. Orwell gick som barn på St Cyprian’s prep-school i Eastbourne.)

Projekt: The Complete Works of George Orwell

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