Pontifex Minimus Blog: Presidential Reflections on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

By Dr. Michael W. Higgins, President and Vice-Chancellor of Corpus Christi-St. Marks at UBC

A few years ago a British weekly publication of established pedigree and impressive global influence highlighted the top 100 Catholics in the United Kingdom.  A bit unusual, admittedly, given that the criteria were not especially clear, but it was instructive seeing who made the list.

The top Catholic in Great Britain: Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England.

Now, this is especially interesting because Carney, former Governor of the Bank of Canada, is very much a Canadian and does not disguise that fact.  Indeed, following the recent Liberal Convention where he gave a keynote address, his Canadian credentials are front and centre.

But his Catholicism appears to matter more on the shores of Albion than on Turtle Island.

Can you imagine such a list appearing in any Canadian media outlet? There was a small collection of such notables that appeared in The Globe and Mail just prior to the arrival of Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the first of his three visits to the country—the reporter who compiled the list seemed to have a minimal connection with Catholic realities—but such lists are a rarity.  Just as rare as talking about one’s faith in a public forum or identifying explicitly with a religious tradition in a public or professional setting.   It is seen as indecorous, potentially divisive, unCanadian.  Not the done thing.

But it should be the done thing.  If one’s faith is at the heart of one’s self-understanding, a deep constituent of one’s journey through life, why should it remain in the shadows?

Carney doesn’t wear his Catholicism on his sleeve—as evidenced by his recent work on “values” and capitalism (the Reith Lectures on the BBC and his book Value(s): Building a Better World for All)—but it is there as his spiritual and intellectual substratum.

Something the Canadian public might like to know not because it speaks to his professional competence, or should be a determining factor in how the public perceives his capacity for national leadership, but because it helps to explain why he does what he does as seen in the context of his faith life.

Like Joe Biden.  We get to know him better


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