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Free Speech, Genocide, and Liberalism’s Failure

University presidents are under fire for allowing genocidal and anti-Semitic speech on their campuses. But what can they do? Theologian Chad Pecknold from Catholic University of America joins us for a discussion of the Catholic approach to free speech issues.


Cy Kellett:

Hello and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers Podcast for living, understanding, and defending your Catholic faith. I am Cy Kellett, your host, and defending our faith becomes more difficult it seems as the society becomes less and less attached to the values that have gotten it where it is now, as we become more and more morally innovative, I suppose is one way to say, it becomes harder and harder for the Christian to find a place and to know how to live the Christian vocation in that situation.

And one of the areas where we might struggle, as a matter of fact many of us do struggle, is the area of free speech, and especially the extreme liberal position that really the remedy for speech you don’t like is more free speech, not less free speech, but does that apply to the extremes of pornography, the extremes of political violence? So, where is the line to be drawn? We’ll try to get a Catholic perspective on that this time, and to help us do that, we have Dr. Chad Pecknold, associate professor of systematic theology at Catholic University of America, and he works… Well, in all that he does. He works in a variety of different areas, but in all that he does, he refers us back to the great work of St. Augustine. So, perhaps we’ll apply that a little bit this time as well. Dr. Pecknold, thank you for being with us.

Chad Pecknold:

Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure.

Cy Kellett:

We’re arguing over free speech in part these days because of what’s going on on college campuses and you’re on a college campus. So if I may, let me begin there. What do you make of what’s happening with the president of UPenn has lost her job, other presidents under pressure, students saying really outrageous things about genocide and whatnot on college campuses and the nation divided over it. Where do you come down on all this?

Chad Pecknold:

Well, we’ve been ramping up to this for a number of years where we… Cancel culture, I don’t think we quite grasp what was going on with cancel culture, but cancel culture was part of the ramp up where you saw one professor after another kind of getting vilified or you got cancellation attempts left and right. And now you have the presidents of the most elite universities in America, the most elite, defending students who are basically calling for intifada against Israel. They’re calling for the genocide of Jews, and recently the Republican congresswoman from New York, Elise Stefanik, asked President Liz Magill from Penn, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct?” Which should be a really easy thing to answer.

Cy Kellett:

One would think.

Chad Pecknold:

That should be very simple. You could say there’d be hard cases that you could find, but let’s just take an easy case. If I called for the genocide of Jews, would that violate your code of conduct at Penn? And Magill says, “Well, maybe, but maybe not. It’s context dependent,” she said, “It’s a context dependent thing. If the speech becomes conduct that is… So long as you call for genocide of Jews, but don’t actually perform the genocide, it’s okay.”

Cy Kellett:

Wow.

Chad Pecknold:

Now, that is just extraordinary. Now, she lost her job because of donor pushback at Penn and not because anyone really had problems with her defending these denunciations of students, but Claudine Gay at Harvard kept her job. In fact, the board doubled down and defended her precisely because Harvard actually only believes in certain kinds of free speech. Harvard actually agrees with Claudine Gay, that Claudine Gay also defended those students who were calling for the genocide of Jews and calling for intifada. She defended them and Harvard defended her. She kept her job. Why? Because Harvard doesn’t think that Claudine Gay said anything that was wrong.

Cy Kellett:

Wow.

Chad Pecknold:

They believe she is correct. She was hired precisely to defend the catechism of identity politics.

Cy Kellett:

And I’m playing devil’s advocate here a little bit, but isn’t this what we want, universities where anything can be discussed? Isn’t that what will be said in response to you… We can’t like everything that everybody says, but it’s the debate that matters.

Chad Pecknold:

The debate, and here I think there’s no debate. There’s no debate that is about truth or goodness, there’s only the slandering of Jewish students, the harassment of Jewish students in defense of Hamas. That’s not an area in which we have disagreements. We might disagree on tax policy, we might have legitimate disagreements about development of doctrine for, put it into Catholic terms, we might have disagreements as we currently have, I think, about development of doctrine, and there could be some free discussion as so long as you’re pursuing truth. This is not anything like the pursuit of truth. This is demonizing Jews in order to side politically with the minority, Hamas.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Chad Pecknold:

But Harvard doesn’t care about that. Harvard has a god, the trinity of diversity, equity, and inclusion, this idolatrous trinity and it’s a jealous god, which is siding with Hamas against Israel’s God. I just think it’s extraordinary. Harvard isn’t even hiding it. It’s sort of like when you’re Harvard, you can get away with it. They let you do it. That just tells us that Harvard doesn’t feel that it needs to make any apologies. It doesn’t need to appeal to liberal values. The Wall Street Journal, wonderful editorial page, but the editorial board almost naively asks why they have put identity politics ahead of liberal values, and the very easy answer is because they can.

Cy Kellett:

That’s right, because if there’s nobody there to say, “That’s so unacceptable,” that for example, “There’s no more federal funds going to go to you,” or, “Your license to operate as a nonprofit is revoked,” there’s no threat to them of any sort.

Chad Pecknold:

Well, now it’s interesting that you say that because my friend Senator J.D. Vance put forward a bill just this last week proposing a 35% tax on endowments, precisely to push back against this because I think you need to. If liberal values are no longer something that you can appeal to because they’re not actually committed to liberal values, and there might be good reasons for that, but the liberal values of toleration and neutrality are not going to sway them. You’re not going to say, “Hey, we need more viewpoint diversity.” They might be swayed on a 35% hit on their endowment. So, I think Senator Vance actually has a good idea to remove perverse incentive structures and to actually threaten what they do care about, which is-

Cy Kellett:

Money.

Chad Pecknold:

Money is at least as important as identity politics to them, and they’re actually correlated with each other.

Cy Kellett:

Well, I have to say it’s been the conservative side of the American political spectrum that has complained that there’s not enough free speech on college campuses when for example professors or instructors at all levels at the universities say one of them were to tweet out something like, I don’t know, “Humans are a sexually dimorphic species,” and now this would be hate speech of course, because we’re not a sexually dimorphic species. There’s an infinite number of genders that you could… You see what I’m saying?

Chad Pecknold:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

So, it seems like we who would like to say normal things have been defended by the conservative side as far as our speech rights go, so I feel like I’m at a confused point now. Do we want more or less free speech?

Chad Pecknold:

Well, it’s been a long held approach of liberalism, both left and right liberalism to appeal to more freedom is always the solution to some violation because liberalism is built on toleration, it’s built on this myth of neutrality. And I think the case of these three elite institutions really brings us to an inflection point because they show us that liberalism isn’t operational anymore. Liberalism is not operational anymore, so when say conservatives who have been in the long habit of appealing, especially libertarians have been in the long habit of appealing to having the solution to every conflict being more freedom, now when those who have power actually don’t honor that, don’t value that, they’re not going to give you more freedom, then you’re in this very, very new situation in which you can’t appeal to more liberty. You have to make a moral argument, you have to make theological arguments.

I think it’s not accidental that what has replaced the appeal to liberty for places like Harvard is an appeal to something like a woke political religion, the appeal to very ultimate values. They feel their cause is just when they are taking Hamas’ side and denouncing Jewish students. They feel their cause is religiously viable, and I think this is very much tied… It’s the flight of universities for a long time, the flight from God, the flight from a medieval Christian foundation for the university to this woke political religion as a kind of new foundation for a postliberal kind of university that has shunted both Christianity off and liberalism off and is now on this new trajectory to a brave new world, has conservatives kind of spinning in circles around this idea that the solution’s got to be more liberty. They don’t realize that liberalism is dead. What the Harvard case shows you is that liberalism no longer has power amongst so-called liberals.

Cy Kellett:

I see, so the institutions that have been long identified with liberalism in even turns of phrase or habits of speech that attended to a liberal bent of mind have now been entirely subsumed under a different kind of authoritarianism.

Chad Pecknold:

Right, the common conservative complaint is that they have a double standard, that they’re hypocrites, but actually they’re only hypocrites, they only have a double standard if they actually believe in liberal neutrality.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Chad Pecknold:

But they don’t believe in it. They have the power, they’re using it, and essentially their view of freedom has collapsed into their view of power. You have freedom if you have power and they have the power.

Cy Kellett:

Wow, I don’t mind playing devil’s advocate with you a little bit, but I do want to be cautious about one thing, and that is I don’t want to identify in any way with the attacks on Jews because this sense of antisemitism that actually has made Jewish citizens, particularly Jewish students on these campuses feel afraid, feel that they can’t function at liberty. They are not at liberty. That’s the opposite of the society that we want, and so go ahead.

Chad Pecknold:

No, agreed, and this is where I think actually the properly Catholic, that is a Catholic who’s not made a compromise with liberal approaches to free speech or religious liberty, a properly Catholic approach, say a Catholic college president could have a very different response and actually a response which aligns us and would defend the Jewish students. So, Harvard has detached from liberalism. So, is the answer then for the Catholic that we should be more committed to liberalism or does our Catholic faith have a better response than liberalism?

Cy Kellett:

Well, let me get you there by a little bit of a circuitous route then because I want to address exactly that question, but it does seem to me that there’s a debate among Catholics or there’s at least an uncertainty among Catholics about liberalism itself because Christianity as liberal governments dawned here in the United States, in Europe, and South America, Christianity did fine for a long time. Many Christians elected, Christian institutions flourish and all of that. And then we move now to what you would call a postliberalism or have called a postliberalism, and then some would say, “Well, look, we can do fine in a truly liberal state, but once you move into this postliberalism, the world is no longer safe for anybody who’s not just in with the group that exercises raw power.”

So here’s my question to you, were we always wrong to make an alliance with liberalism and now we’re just seeing the fruits of that? Or is there a way in which… And I want the listener to know when we talk about liberalism, I’m not talking about the current Democratic Party versus Republican Party, the form of government, were we always wrong to make an alliance with that? And then what happened is it collapsed into this ugly postliberalism we have or were we right, and it’s not necessary that it will collapse into this ugly postliberalism?

Chad Pecknold:

There’s a few questions in that. I think the Catholic Church in its encyclicals, in its papal teachings has always opposed liberalism. Liberalism meaning the social contract that put together a new unity between nations in contradistinction to Christendom, the medieval unity that the church provided for Catholic nations throughout Europe and the world, what the missions that founded many Catholic countries outside of Europe, the social contract of liberalism was a flight away from that. It was a flight away from that, and so the church always has condemned that. The church has sometimes given prudential license to make compromises with liberal orders.

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Chad Pecknold:

So, there’s two questions, to the extent that anyone made… Any Catholic, and there were liberal Catholics throughout history, throughout modernity who made commitments to liberalism, those were wrong. Not every prudential compromise with a false political order is wrong. Sometimes you have to make compromises.

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Chad Pecknold:

So, that’s one distinction. I think the other thing is to say liberalism has an intrinsic instability and it was going to collapse under any set of conditions because it’s intrinsically unstable and its principle instability is that it’s a flight away from the church.

Cy Kellett:

So, I actually think most Christians don’t know this story. As a matter of fact, many Christians think that the liberal order is the equivalent of the Christian order, that this is what it is-

Chad Pecknold:

It’s the equivalent of the Protestant order. So, liberalism arises out of the need to put together a new… Martin Luther calls the German princes to himself to separate from the pope and to align with Lutheran religion, and that replicates itself across Europe. And so, you get a new kind of Protestant unity, and that is the origins of early liberalism. Then you get the social contract theorists from Hobbes to Locke to Rousseau who developed liberalism into an understanding of governance that is much more like what we assume in modernity today, that is to some extent aligned with American and French revolutionary ideas, which were very much opposed to the Catholic Church. And so we have, I think, two things. We have the fact that liberalism in theory is always opposed to Catholicism, it’s a flight from Catholicism from the very beginning. It’s early on a Protestant order for the nations, but it quickly is a flight even from a Protestant organization of society to a secular.

And that secularization, that flight away from the church leads to a flight away from God, a flight away from Christ. This is why it’s not accidental that you go from having New York buildings lit up with the cross in the ’50s to now having to deal with satanic temples in the Iowa Capitol. The trajectory of this thing is a flight away from. That doesn’t mean that there was never anything good within liberal orders, but it means that it’s constituentively built on ideas which flee from Catholic truth.

And I think that is right into the very idea of liberty itself, and this is I think what touches the free speech question and what touches the religious liberty question is the very false notion of liberty built into liberal orders. Liberal orders are predicated on an idea of liberty as license, that you’re free to do what you want. So even when we say, “How are we going to fix this free speech problem at Harvard?” We say, “Well, we’ll just give more free speech,” but that is the idea of liberty as license as Pope Leo XIII said in the 19th century, this is at the heart of the liberal problem. And he said that if you pursue this idea of liberty as license, just give more, and more, and more liberty, it will ruin your society, it will kill your society, and he was right.

Cy Kellett:

But they probably called him a reactionary and a nut job for saying something like that, but of course, 100 and what, 30 or 40 years later, that looks like prophecy, of course it was going to collapse.

Chad Pecknold:

He writes this in his encyclical Libertas, “There are many who imagine that the church is hostile to human liberty. Having a false and absurd notion as to what liberty is, either they pervert the very idea of freedom or they extend it at their pleasure to many things in respect of which man cannot rightly be regarded as free.” And he specifically focuses on religious liberty, that the modernist has an idea of religious liberty, which means that anybody can believe anything they want, but he says that’s not an area in which we are free because what we are free to understand is the truth. We’re free for truth, we’re not free for an indifference to the truth. And so, freedom isn’t license. That’s a basically Pelagian idea that Pelagius thought that our freedom was in our power to choose. And Augustine… You mentioned St. Augustine earlier, and so I mentioned him now, St. Augustine thinks that’s precisely the devil’s philosophy, that your freedom to choose whether or not to eat the fruit or not eat the fruit. No-

Cy Kellett:

Your freedom is in not eating the fruit.

Chad Pecknold:

Your freedom is in conformity to God. Your freedom is in conformity to truth-

Cy Kellett:

That’s un-American.

Chad Pecknold:

… To goodness.

Cy Kellett:

What you’re saying right now is un-American.

Chad Pecknold:

It’s certainly contrary to a liberal view of the American society, which I think there’s lots in our history which tells against that, but that is the liberal narrative of America. And I think the Catholic college president has a much better position to defend… This issue in particular, if you think about this issue, what should a Catholic college… Let’s say Harvard, it wasn’t Harvard, but it was… Well, I won’t embarrass any Catholic college, but let’s imagine a faithful Catholic college.

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Chad Pecknold:

And if this had happened on campus, well, for one thing, it would be a sign that some terrible moral deformation was happening with the students and that a Catholic college president would need to actually speak clearly about the issue at hand. Could the Catholic college president have a better answer? I think the Catholic college president, who knows the church’s teachings, knows Pope Leo’s teachings on the nature of liberty would have a really ready and excellent response to Congressman Stefanik’s questions, which is that… So, the Catholic response would be, “This is absolutely out of court. This is not free speech. This is disordered speech and we should suppress it, and we should punish those who speak slanderously and violently against their neighbor.”

These people are speaking contrary to the truth, and they’re speaking contrary to goodness, and therefore, because of our commitment to truth, we can restrict speech when it is actually wicked, and this is a clear case of wicked speech, genocide against Jews, that is wicked. And a college president should be able to say, “Yes, that is wicked, and in my capacities as president, we will punish these students, we will send a message that this is not a kind of speech that we regard as free, because in order for speech to actually be free, it must be ordered to truth, it must be ordered to goodness, and calling for the genocide of Jews is neither.”

Cy Kellett:

I think that the average college student will say, “Well, who are you to say what’s wicked and what’s not wicked? Why does your view of wickedness trump mine?”

Chad Pecknold:

Well, in a sense, because you actually can know that calling for violence towards your innocent neighbor is wicked.

Cy Kellett:

Can you? We’ve had abortion in the United States since 1972. Can you say that anymore?

Chad Pecknold:

Well, I think the Catholic college President should say that and has a duty to say that, and honestly, I think is in a far better position. So you think, well, what would be good for the country then, to have its universities run by Claudine Gay in this way, or would it be better to have someone who actually has moral arguments about what is actually good for people and what is actually evil for people? And the question is, what do we do when students call for the genocide of Jews? And one response is, “Give people more freedom to say more absurd things,” but I think the Catholic response can’t be that.

Cy Kellett:

No.

Chad Pecknold:

It can’t be, “You need more freedom of speech.” The response must be, “No, we believe in free speech, but we don’t believe in absolute free speech, we believe in conditional free speech. Free speech is conditional on its pursuit of truth and goodness. If your speech is ordered to truth and goodness, open to the fact that maybe you’re wrong about something, but that you’re pursuing what’s true and good, then within legitimate discourse you can have disagreements.” And certainly Pope Leo in Libertas allows for that. You can have disagreements about things, and there’s a legitimate freedom for that, but when you are calling for wicked things that cause all sorts of havoc for society at which call for vicious things which slander people… Cancel culture is nothing if not telling falsehoods about people habitually in order to ruin them.

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Chad Pecknold:

And that is what free speech gives you. Absolute free speech, built on the liberty of license, gives you the devil’s tools for actually wrecking all the social bonds, just tearing them apart.

Cy Kellett:

Well, if I may, I want to try two examples then and see if you can apply a Catholic standard to these for me, because honestly, this kind of speech is horrific, but I do think that in American jurisprudence, the most outrageous free speech defense is the defense of graphic pornography.

Chad Pecknold:

That’s right.

Cy Kellett:

We now have graphic pornography everywhere. We have thousands upon thousands, probably millions of children whose lives are, I won’t say irreparably, because God can heal anything, but profoundly damaged at six, seven, eight years old because adults cannot tell other adults, “Don’t put that on the internet,” because we say, “Look, people have a right to this.” I don’t agree with that. I believe that’s wrong, but I would like you to explain to me as a theologian, how is a Catholic to think about pornography as free speech, for example?

Chad Pecknold:

This is a great example because what is pornography? What drives pornography? Why does pornography exist? It exists for pure and simple reason of masturbation, self-abuse. At the heart, why does all this pornography exist? You could say, well, it’s technology, but that’s a kind of instrumental cause where at the heart of it’s the notion that we should be free to pursue any pleasure that we want.

Cy Kellett:

Yes, right.

Chad Pecknold:

A sexual licentiousness that we should be able to… And we will not like this idea, because everything in our society has told us that people should be free to do whatever they want in their bedrooms or people should be free to do whatever they want to do with their bodies, my body, my choice, but masturbation is self-abuse. It is the misuse of your freedom.

Cy Kellett:

Right, yes.

Chad Pecknold:

And so, pornography is built on that. It’s built on the misuse of freedom. It’s built on this misuse of freedom, and then what happens? It begins to degrade all the social bonds. It begins to degrade women, it degrades men, it begins to degrade the social bonds, it begins to touch our children. It used to be that the pornography was up on the top shelf in the shop, but now it’s in everybody’s pockets, and so your four-year-old can see it. And so, you see that this false view of liberty that has infected our view of sex then comes in and creates… This false view of liberty creates the demand for masturbation and for pornography, and breaks down the social bonds, and then we then try to view it through this other lens of liberty as license in the realm of speech, and it’s completely confusing to us. We think, “Well, is that free speech or isn’t it free speech?”

Cy Kellett:

Of course, it’s not free speech.

Chad Pecknold:

It’s not ordered to goodness, it’s not ordered to truth, so it can’t be counted as free speech, but then it’s also just a category mistake because it’s not speech. It’s actually the promotion of self-abuse and the promotion of self-abuse leads to the abuse of others, including the abuse of our families and our marriages. That’s my answer is that this is actually all tied to what Leo condemned as liberalism’s false notion of liberty, liberty as license, rather than liberty is ordered to truth.

Cy Kellett:

So, those are the two phrases that I can take. As a Catholic, am I determined to stay with this liberty as license idea or am I willing to embrace the Catholic teaching of liberty as ordered to truth? You are free. You really genuinely… For example, Mary, the mother of Jesus never sinned, but she’s a perfectly free person. You don’t need sin to be free. She gets all the choices that anyone ever had a right to, she’s free to make. So, I do think there’s some sense that people have that, well, if I’m not free for wickedness, then I’m not free at all.

Chad Pecknold:

I think that’s not the Church’s view. In fact, Leo himself condemns it. He condemns that view because he actually cites St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas as condemning that idea. He writes, “St. Augustine and others urged most admirably against the Pelagians that if the possibility of deflection from the good belonged to the essence or perfection of liberty,” that is liberty requires you to be free to do the wrong thing, “Then God, Jesus Christ, the angels, saints who have not this power would have no liberty at all.”

Cy Kellett:

Oh okay, very good. All right, well, let me give you one more example because I do think for people like me, the concrete examples help to take these what sound like abstract ideas and solidify them, and I want to use an example that you just gave because I don’t know how to answer this one, I’ll be quite honest with you, I don’t know how to answer the person who says, “Look, if you want to have the creche, you can have the creche up for Christmas, but if it’s on public property…” Or I don’t know, whatever the argument might be, “You’re going to also need to let the satanic temple put Baphomet greeting the children up as well,” Baphomet being the kind of symbol of the current forms of satanism.

And so you mentioned the Iowa State House… I did not know this, that the Iowa State House… Good Lord, Iowa of all places, the Iowa State House has a statue of Satan out front, Baphomet? So, what’s the answer to that? Not just a kind of pragmatic, how would an American lawyer lawyer this up, but what’s a solid Catholic answer to what should be allowed on the grounds of the state house?

Chad Pecknold:

You know that this failed Mississippi political candidate came and destroyed the Baphomet?

Cy Kellett:

I didn’t know any of this. I got to pay some more attention to Iowa. I didn’t know that. It’s so exciting.

Chad Pecknold:

Poor Iowa. What I find incredible about it is that… I’m sorry to say, there were even Catholics who wanted to defend having a satanic temple in the Iowa Capitol on grounds of religious liberty. Imagine defending a satanic temple. Unfortunately, there are some who are so committed to liberalism, even when liberalism itself isn’t committed to its principles anymore that Catholic might be the last liberal standing sometimes, but I think that… I mentioned earlier that Leo’s prime concern wasn’t freedom of speech, but the false view of religious liberty, and we have a duty to worship God, and we have a duty to worship the true God. And so, our freedom for religion is a freedom for the truth about religion and not the freedom for what is contrary to God, namely the devil.

Cy Kellett:

You just will not allow any freedom disconnected from truth. You seem to think the truth is very important, Dr. Pecknold.

Chad Pecknold:

I do, I really do. I don’t think you can have a free society apart from it. Pope Benedict actually taught this. You cannot have a free society apart from truth. If you dislodge liberty, if you decouple liberty from truth and goodness, then what’s going to take truth and goodness’ place is power. Whoever has the power to set up the satanic temple has the freedom to set up the satanic temple. The proper understanding of a religious liberty is that it must be intrinsically ordered to truth and goodness, and while I appreciate that, there might be some satanists who defend it is true and good and-

Cy Kellett:

Seems unlikely, but okay.

Chad Pecknold:

Seems unlikely. I think it’s easily ruled out in a civil society that at least has some sense that Israel’s God, that the God who comes to us in Christmas, the incarnate Lord is still Lord of the universe, that Israel’s God is still in command of the world. In so far as a society believes that, they have every incentive to set up laws which would exclude satanic temples in their state capitols or in their federal capitol. So, I think the arguments are fairly easy to make once you grasp the nettle of the thing, once you grasp that what we’re really involved in here is a religious battle about what is it the foundations of a society and what is a society ordered to. Is it ordered to God? Can it be said to be publicly oriented to God? Can it be publicly oriented to the truth? Can it be publicly oriented to goodness, or is it simply oriented to a license which will absolutely lead to self-destruction and kind of civilizational suicide, which is what we’re experiencing?

Cy Kellett:

Well, that’s what I just wanted to end on that point actually, because it does sound like what you’re saying is that Leo is saying that a society disconnected from the truth, when the conception of freedom is disconnected from truth is not a viable society, it will not last. If that is the case, then the choice-

Chad Pecknold:

He says that it will insidiously work the ruin of the state, his exact words, this will lead to insidiously work, the ruin of the state. It’s 100 years ago.

Cy Kellett:

Who can argue with him now? But this seems to me that there is at root… Because I don’t believe that the United States is going to refound itself on this basis. I don’t believe that it has that within it, so that means the United States will fail.

Chad Pecknold:

We could hit rock bottom before we ascend back up.

Cy Kellett:

Even that is more hopeful than I… You actually have more hope than I do. This seems to me that ill-founded ill fortune.

Chad Pecknold:

This geographical space will continue to exist until the end of the world.

Cy Kellett:

That’s comforting.

Chad Pecknold:

So, what happens with that is, I think-

Cy Kellett:

Oh, I see.

Chad Pecknold:

What happens with our geographical space is a question I don’t think that we can predict, actually.

Cy Kellett:

Fair enough. That’s fair.

Chad Pecknold:

I don’t think we can predict our future. I think humans are very, very bad at prediction. Prophets are very good, but prophets are very good at prediction because it’s not actually prediction, it’s God dictating something.

Cy Kellett:

Exactly, that’s right.

Chad Pecknold:

But we’re very, very bad at prediction. What I do think is that Leo is right, is that this view of liberty has led to our ruin, and the question is after liberalism, after we look at the ruins and say, “What have we done?” Where do we go? Is any better order possible for our kids? I actually think the Catholic has a duty to actually do that imaginative work to actually for the sake of his neighbor, for the sake of his children, what am I supposed to tell my 20-year-old son? Sorry, there’s no future for you here. Find a different country. What am I supposed to tell my two-year-old twins when they’re able to know what is the future for them in this country? You don’t have a country anymore?

I think as a Catholic, I have to say our citizenship is in heaven, and we have a much better city with which we can bring wisdom as Catholics to reorder our own time and place to bring something of the salt and light of heaven into the world that we live in, and I think we actually have to work, hopefully, and Leo absolutely believed this, that the Catholic absolutely has to, even the liberal Third Republic, which was completely anti-Catholic and anti-clerical Leo had hope for. So, we can change this thing. We can move this thing towards God.

Cy Kellett:

I was with you until you made the French our hope.

Chad Pecknold:

I’m giving them as an example of being aligned with the satanic temple, but Leo said, even in the worst regimes which are ordered against the church, the Catholic still has to stand up for right order.

Cy Kellett:

[inaudible 00:42:28].

Chad Pecknold:

You can’t throw your hands up in the air simply because that would be a failure of charity to your neighbor.

Cy Kellett:

Dr. Chad Pecknold has been our guest. I love these conversations. I’m so grateful that you do them with us.

Chad Pecknold:

Thank you.

Cy Kellett:

Thank you for taking the time with us.

Chad Pecknold:

Always a pleasure. I love talking to you, Cy.

Cy Kellett:

And thanks to our listeners, if you want to get in touch with us, you can always send us an email… No, no, send it to focus@catholic.com, either one, radio@catholic.com, focus@catholic.com. Here’s a little secret, they both go to me, so whatever, either way is fine. And if you’d like to support us financially, especially as we approach the end of the year, perhaps you’re making those kinds of considerations, you can throw us a few bucks at givecatholic.com, givecatholic.com. There is a $1 million limit, so please don’t go over that, givecatholic.com and wherever you’re listening, if you give us five stars and a few nice words that will help to grow the podcast and we are grateful for any help you can give us, I am Cy Kellett, your host. We’ll see you next time, God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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