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Monday, October 10, 2011


Chris Burgwald

I think David Schindler deserves to be on that list. *Probably* instead of Weigel, but I have a hard time bumping Weigel down all the same... hmm...


Good list. If I had one addition, it would be Isaac Hecker, the founder of the Paulists. His cause for sainthood was opened in 2008, and I think his ideas and influence on intellectuals like O. Brownson should not be overlooked. Hecker was ahead of his time in a lot of ways, particularly in his contentious belief in the compatibility between America and the Catholic faith.


Flannery O'Connor should be on the list. Even though she is perhaps more artist than intellectual, she was a top flight intellectual.

Tim Lacy

Weigel deserves to be bumped down due to his comments a year or so ago on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical on economic justice. Remember how Weigel tried to say that part of that document was forced on the Holy Father by liberal members of the Magisterium? - TL

Francis Beckwith

No Bill Buckley?

This list is, unfortunately, top heavy the First Things crowd. I love these guys, but there was a Catholic intellectual tradition in America before 1990.

Tim Lacy

Also, what about John Tracy Ellis? Or even Fulton Sheen?


Looking over the list I am struck, as I have been before, as to how weak America's intellectual output is relative to Europe's. Consider the following analogous list of European Catholic intellectuals (alphabetical by last name):

1. G.K. Chesterton,
2. Christopher Dawson,
3. Henri De Lubac,
4. Etienne Gilson,
5. Romano Guardini,
6. Jacques Maritain,
7. John Henry Newman,
8. Joseph Ratzinger,
9. Edith Stein, and
10. Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Carl E. Olson

Chris, Francis, and Tim: Agreed!

Dan: A fair point and a great list. But one factor (among many others) is demographics. Today, roughly 1/3 (or about 235,000,000) of Europe's population of 731,000,000 is Catholic; there are some 68-77 million Catholics in the U.S. (about 22% of the total population). And you know the numbers for Europe had to be higher in the early to mid-20th century, but probably lower in the U.S. during the same time. Again, just one of many factors, but a significant one.

Ed Peters

Further to Dan's point, the operative word being "is", when it should be, perhaps, "was". Also, if Europe was graced with some many luminaries, and it was, why is the Faith "over there" so much the more in tatters than here, at every level, in every conceivable demographic? I dare say, there are far more American's reading Dawson than there are, say, British doing so, and incomparably more Americans reading Ratzinger and Chesterton than there are Europeans.

As for the list itself, hmm.....

elaine owen

Thank you to The Gregorian Institute for recognizing John Senior for the great man and influential educator that he was. A colloquium was held in his honor last summer at Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma, attracting over 200 of his former students and admirers. It was titled "Restoring the Seven-Storied Tower: A Catholic Cultural Legacy". A former student and convert under Senior, Kirk Kramer, presented some letters which he discovered archived at Columbia University between John Senior and his mentor, Mark Van Doren. If I understand correctly, they will be published alongside a book about John Senior by Fr. Roarke Bethel, another former student-convert, now monk of Clear Creek. Both the book and letters, greatly anticipated, are sure to illuminate even more the mind and heart of this very poetic intellectual.

James Ignatius McAuley

With all due respect to the great Father Schall, the list is defective by including living people, as well as people who have been active in the last 40 years. Such a list done in 1980, 1960, or 1940 would have had a different list of luminaries. I would add Mary Perkins Ryan, the great translator (Fides psalms, for example)and one of the first to write extensively about what is now called the domestic church. Others deserving mention would be Gerald Ellard, SJ, or Virgil Michel, O.S.B., both great intellectual leaders of the liturgical movement -- and in 1970, in the spirit of that age,they probably would have included H.A. Reinhold. But yesterdays leaders are usually forgotten, like the latest fad. I daresay that Mr. Weigel too, will be forgotten in time, just as Mrs. Ryan has. However, Mrs. Ryan and Gerald Ellard truly deserves mention, but Weigel does not. When we look at how a list would have been made in the past, we cannot but help to realize that many of the names listed in Benedictine's College's list will fade away into green mounds of grass.

Ed Peters

If an age wants to honor its greats, fine by me. But, bottom line, these lists are a mix of pretentiousness and silliness. Just do your job, as best you can, and let God sort'em out.

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