Nathan Shields’s essay on the misguided review in First Things of a book on the Mortara affair brilliantly places not only the affair itself but also the recent controversy about it in a larger and exceptionally helpful perspective. Others, especially my colleague Kevin Madigan, have amply demonstrated the grave flaws, even from the vantage point of Catholic doctrine, of Father Romanus Cessario’s apparent attempt in his review to justify the seizure of young Edgardo Mortara from his Jewish family. For his part, Shields explores our own cultural situation in a way that complicates the discussion and suggests that both a defense of the review’s evident anti-liberalism and a univocal condemnation of it can be misleading.
Comparing (and Contrasting) Catholic and Jewish Reactions to the Modern Liberal Order
For traditional Jews and Catholics alike, liberalism has presented parallel but different dangers; so has anti-liberalism.