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The Catholic Church may soon canonize an English writer who said “It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”



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Catholic admirers of G.K. Chesterton have long campaigned to have the English writer sainted. Now, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton has appointed Canon John Udris to investigate Chesterton’s cause for canonization.

Doyle made the appointment after he discovered that, while a cardinal in Argentina, Pope Francis had approved a prayer asking for Chesterton’s intercession.

One of the most accomplished Christian apologists of the last century, G.K. Chesterton eloquently defended the Christian faith in tracts like Heretics and Orthodoxy. In these books, Chesterton also detailed a complete – and decidedly libertarian – political philosophy.

Chesterton and his wife Francis.

Chesterton and his wife Francis.

Chesterton warned that, as society became increasingly secular, it was setting government on the altar previously occupied by God. Rather than seek after the perfection of heaven, Chesterton argued, the modern man was empowering rulers who promised to perfect humanity here on earth.

Chesterton admonished readers to turn back to God, to community, and to the family. He wrote “It may be said that this institution of the home is the one anarchist institution. That is to say, it is older than law, and stands outside the State.”

Chesterton is sometimes mischaracterized as a socialist because he is associated with an economic viewpoint called “distributism.” Yet in Chesterton’s day, the word “distribution” did not connote policies like those of President Obama. Instead, Chesterton’s stance was that we ought always to prefer more competition and localized economic activity.hound

Far from being a socialist, Chesterton was categorically distrustful of central governments. He taught that the Christian doctrine of original sin is a “logical negation of oligarchy.” Chesterton recognized that elected officials, just like the rest of us, are fallen human beings, by nature children of wrath.

Chesterton’s brother, Cecil Chesterton, summarized G.K.’s politics by saying that “he is a Tory of the seventeenth or early eighteenth century, born out of his due time. In the Cabinet of Bolingbroke he would have found quite a sympathetic atmosphere. He would have found men, by comparison with their opponents at any rate, sympathetic with the national aspirations of the Native Irish. He would have found men who disliked Imperialism and foreign complications, and held that our fleets and armies ought to confine their energies to the defence of the actual soil of England.”

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  • Alden Smith

    I really should read his books sometime. I believe we should keep the government out of our lives as much as possible.

    • Gustave

      ‘The Outline of Sanity’ is his biggest economical work, I believe. But he was not a Libertarian.

  • Great points here. As society turns away from God, government grows more powerful and bigger. The key to turning back the size of government in the next 10-20 years is to shift back to Christianity as a society. No easy task obviously, but it’s possible and it’s gotta be done.

    • Jason Hunt

      Well, humanity has to worship SOMEBODY!

      • I never said you had to worship a religion.

        • Jason Hunt

          I never said that you said that we have to worship a religion. ^_^

          What I was trying to communicate is that, without God to worship, mankind will end up worshiping himself, usually in the form of government.

  • infamouscrimes

    Ignorant religious faith is not important. Children grow out of Santa, time for people to grow out of Christianity.

    • Barbaric Yawwp

      You’re right we should all become mass murdering Communist Atheists instead. Good thinking.

      • infamouscrimes

        Not believing in something false has nothing to do with politics or economics.

        • Barbaric Yawwp

          Only Atheism is part of Communist and Socialist thought.

  • So maybe you’re not aware he believed Capitalism was just as wrong as Socialism? You might want to read The Outline of Sanity (for starters) before you claim him as a libertarian.

    • Ian Huyett

      He was opposed to oligarchy. He supported private property. This is really a semantic distinction.

      • Chesterton was afraid people would make that exact claim, so in The Outline of Sanity (which AGAIN I would advise everyone including you to read) he defines what he means by capitalism and comes out swinging against it.

        “When I say ‘Capitalism,’ I commonly mean something that may be stated thus: ‘That economic condition in which there is a class of capitalists, roughly recognizable and relatively small, in whose possession so much of the capital is concentrated as to necessitate a very large majority of the citizens serving those capitalists for a wage.'”

        • Mark

          If you haven’t noticed, libertarians are against the same thing, just usually calling it “corporatism” or “crony capitalism” because the capitalism Chesterton opposes is hardly the product of a free market.

  • Gustave

    Only a *very* selective reading of GKC renders him a libertarian. Subsidiarity does NOT equal libertarianism.

    • Ian Huyett

      Decentralization is libertarian.