Talk:Catholicity/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

/temp page moved out of article namespace

A draft replacement para for the diatribe

  • As has been the case with several other major social institutions in recent years, Catholic churches in a number of nations around the globe have been rocked by sex scandals. In particular, these have centred on the sexual molestation of children by priests. The bulk of the evidence aired so far suggests that it been perpetrated by only a relatively small minority of clergymen, but that it had been both widespread and persistent. Like other churches, the Catholic church has faced a great deal of criticism; not so much for the actions of a small percentage of pedophile priests, but for relative inaction by their superiors who, according to critics, have frequently not taken accusations sufficiently seriously, and been neither sufficiently prompt not sufficiently firm in dealing with even well-attested cases of abuse. In several prominent instances, known offenders have been retained in the service of the church, usually in a different town, long after it became clear that offences had taken place.
  • These same issues have arisen in many social institutions in the late 20th century in response to changing social atitudes—other churches, schools, youth groups, and so on. The process of adapting to these new conditions has been especially difficult for the Catholic church, which has traditionally had a rigid authority structure and a heavy doctrinal emphasis on morality in general and sexual morality in particular.

Well, OK, that's two paras. But perhaps they can serve as the basis for dealing with this very difficult issue. It must be mentioned, for it is both important and relevant, and yet that mention must be brief (so as to maintain a proper balance with the many other topics that deserve equal weight in this top-level article), and must take care to set the problems within their social context. It is clearly unacceptable to ignore the whole thing as if it isn't happening, but it is equally unacceptable to rant on in great detail about it, meanwhile ignoring the fact that all sorts of churches and schools and youth groups all over the world are dealing with the same problems.

BTW, I don't expect that I'll take much or any further part in this entry - it's back to fauna articles for me - so feel free to hop into the above and edit it up as required. Tannin 16:51 23 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I think that an addition of a link afterward to Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal, would make this an acceptable compromise. As it is now, the link is all the way at the bottom where interested parties will never find it. I purpose that we start moving removed information to the Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal page, and all interested parties should discuss it on it's talk page. MB 18:57 23 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I agree that it should be followed by a link to the sex abuse scandal article. I don't understand what is meant by the second paragraph. What social conditions is the Catholic Church "having difficulty" adapting to? Or is this referring to changing social conditions to which the Catholic Church is refusing to adapt at all, such as the Pope's refusal to consider ordaining women as priests? The last half of the paragraph suggests to me that the church should adapt to these new conditions by changing to a less rigid authority structure, and should put less doctrinal empasis on sexual morality. I don't believe that's the intent, but I also can't tell what the intent actually is. As an aside, I think a saw a statistic that said the percentage of pedophile priests was comparable to the number of pedophile social workers? Does anyone else recall any statistics regarding social workers? Wesley 20:47 23 Jul 2003 (UTC)
The point of the 2nd para, Wesly, is that the whole western world has changed a great deal since, say, the 1950s and that the Catholic church, like many other bodies is having difficulty adapting to it. In 1950, if Brother Pedophile had a little naughtiness with a choirboy, (a) the choirboy was too scared to talk abut it, (b) if he did talk about it, no-one believed him, (c) any complaint would be likely to go to the church authorities, not the police, the child welfare department, the contingency-fee lawyers, or the local TV station, and (d) the emphasis on any action taken was not on the welfare of the child, but on the other factors: "Brother Pedo has done the wrong thing and needs a good talking to", says the bishop, "but he's done a wonderful job with the church roof appeal and we really can't spare him". That sort of thing. We (western societies) take that stuff a whole lot more seriously than we used to in the past. We are in many ways more egalitarian than we used to be (viz - people no longer think it is acceptable to deny ordination to that 50% of the population which happens to be female); we are much more permissive of some sexual behaviours (eg, sex outside marriage, masturbation) and much less permissive of other sexual behaviours (eg., fiddling with the choirboy). All the churches have had their difficulties. For the Catholic church, it's especially difficult as their rigid authority structure is slow to change. Now all of that is too much to squeeze into that 2nd para, but maybe someone might care to edit it up so that the meaning comes through. Tannin
Thank you, that answers my question. What do you think of this version?
  • These same issues have arisen in many social institutions (churches, schools, youth groups, etc.) in the late 20th century in response to changing social attitudes towards pedophilia. Victims are now more likely to publicize the crime than in the past, and the general public demands more severe punishment for offenders. Adapting to these new conditions has been especially difficult for the Catholic church; although it has had a heavy doctrinal emphasis on morality, particularly sexual morality, in the past it attempted to handle such offenses quietly and internally. Its rigid authority structure makes it slow to make any kind of change of this sort.

Wesley 14:23 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I like it, except that it plays down the issue a bit too much. MB 14:52 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)
"Attitudes towards pedophilia" should be "attitudes towards child sexual abuse". --Eloquence 15:00 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I think you have improved it, Wesley. It still needs a little tinkering (somehow it doesn't quite flow yet) but I think we have the gist of it.
Eloquence, I agree.
MB, I don't agree. I'm not 100% happy with Wesley's language (though it's better than my first draft was) but in the overall scheme of things - i.e., in the context of a top-level article about a 2000-year-old organisation which operates in just about every county on earth - that is about the right level of detail and (if anything) it makes too much of the issue. The church has dealt with far, far worse crises in its time (some of the medieval papacies were corrupt beyond belief, and then there was the "time of three popes", the Inquisition, Vatican II, and so on. Sure, this is headline news in the USA, and we had similar headlines in Australia not so long ago, and some other western countries too, but headlines last only a few days. And we need to remember that the vast majority of catholics don't live in the US or Australia or Ireland. Let's keep this in perspective. Tannin 15:29 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Combining versions

Alright, I've copied what I see as the three different versions to Catholicism/temp. I then compiled the 2 above versions into what I see as an ideal version for addition to the article. Other than simply copying them, I made some grammer fixes, and changed the wording in a few places where it seemed clumsy. I am not sure about the title I have chosen though, so I am interested in your thoughts on that. Also, some wikifying is needed. MB 17:41 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I thought we were putting a link to the Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal article in this section. I don't see it in any of the versions. Rmhermen 18:06 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)
My mistake, I almost forgot. I've fixed it now. MB 18:21 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)


A couple of minor NPOVs and factual corrections:

  • saying Catholicism is the biggest church in the Christian religion is confusing. Most people don't think of a Christian religion (singular) but Christian religions (plural). It makes more sense and is less open to confusion to say that Catholicism is the biggest church in christianity (which is linked in case someone doesn't know what christianity is). Plus '"Christian religion is POV by suggesting there is just one, a problematic assertion given that at least 1000 christian religions claim that they are the christian religion and the rest aren't really christian at all.
  • Catholicism is not the only christian church to have suffered a dramatic decline and though its decline is spectacular it is less steep than that experienced by Anglican and Protestant faiths (both the CofE and RC churches are in a serious decline in England, for example, but the C of E's is more steep, meaning that Catholicism is now England's biggest 'practicising' church. I have tweaked the wording to correct the impression that Catholicism and not mainstream christianity is in decline when they all are in the same boat.
  • Christianity and specifically RCism's decline is not worldwide as the article implied, but in the west. In Africa and in Asia christianity in general but RCism in particular is booming, a fact missing from the article.
  • The mention of the pope refusing to accept the Emperor's supremacy over ecclesiastical matters sounds POV, ie that the Emperor's claim was valid but the pope refused to accept it. A more neutral was of saying it is that he refused to accept the emperor's claim to supremacy in ecclesiastical matters in the East. That way, we appear to be avoiding judgment on the validity or otherwise of the claim for ecclesiastical supremacy and so not appearing to be endorsing either side.

I think that is all the changes I made but they were all tweaking at language and correcting minor factual inaccuracies rather than anything major. FearÉIREANN

Editing of this section of the article has moved to Catholicism/temp. Since you decided to ignore other peoples work there, and continue editing what is on the page, I have moved our current text to the main article, to try and avoid wasting of time. MB 01:10 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

MB, I think something's gone wrong here, you seem to have wiped out a huge section of text that wasn't about the disputed abuse stuff... I mean the stuff on general decline of numbers. Why was that removed? It's not part of the dispute, right? In fact, I don't think JT edited the disputed stuff at all. Evercat 01:13 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Don't be so pompous, MB. I didn't know about the temp page. As to what you moved in, you put it in a bad location, you lost valuable text and what you moved in needed strengthening to clean up some language.

  1. I have moved the text you should no not have deleted to the bottom of the page under the heading modern catholicism.
  1. I have moved the child sex abuse section there. That is where a current bit of news is put in an article, not at the top.
  1. The bit you moved was good but it missed some facts (eg, vatican's veto of US Bishops plans to tackle paedophilia, the excuses the bishops used and what the critics say. You also never mentioned canon law nor did you mention why moving someone from diocese to diocese made such a difference. (I put in a footnote to explain the reason for that and why it made such a disastrous difference) I have re-written the paragraphs to include all this information and tightened up the language a bit. If I had known there was a temp I would have worked on it there. I think the rewrite strengthens the paragraphs considerably. FearÉIREANN 02:00 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Before I make these comments, I'd like to clarify that I am of no faith, not an expert in religious history, and have never edited an article related to the sex abuse scandal. I'm just stating this to avert any suspicion that I'm an operative of the Catholic Church.

There should be two articles, one on the Roman Catholic Church and the other on the history of Catholicism. The contemporary sex abuse scandal would belong in the history article. This reminds me of the Communist state controversy, when one user refused to adhere to guidelines of proper placement and relevancy by continually posting content pertaining to communism in an article on a state structure.

The sex abuse scandal should be moved to another article. I recommend creating a history of Catholicism article where it could go. It's really irrelevant in a Catholicism article, which should be about the nature and structure of the Church. No other encyclopedia or sourcebook would chronicle the recent sex abuse scandal (which it basically something centuries old just getting publicized now) in an article on the nature and structure of the Church; it would be chronicled, however, under the history of the Church, but not with such great detail relative to the level of detail throughout the article. The Catholicism article should deal with the doctrinal basis of the Church structure and the structure (the laity, the religious communities, the priesthood, the regional councils of bishops, the college of bishops, College of Cardinals, up to the papacy); Canon Law; beliefs and faith; tradition; worship (including the liturgy, the sacraments, baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, para-liturgical devotions, such as the cult of the saints, etc.); activities (such as missions, orders and educational institutions); and perhaps end with a note on the Second Vatican Council.

As Jtdril mentioned earlier, Catholicism is one of the most important articles in any encyclopedia or sourcebook. Right now, chronicling the recent sex abuse scandal would just lead informed readers and experts to thinking that Wikipedians lack historical context. It's a very minor topic, frankly, when dealing one of the major factors in the cultural and historical development of Western civilization. 172

Ironically, Jtdril was the one who bloated the sex scandel part of this article again. A couple of contributors were working on a concise version at Catholicism/temp, but Jtdril took it upon himself to toally rewrite it and add a bunch of extra stuff to it. I agree, this part shouldn't be a huge part of the article, but I think the version on the temp page was short enough to not be repetative. MB 03:47 26 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Firstly I did not move stuff on child sex abuse on this page, YOU did. Secondly what was put here needed considerable rewriting because it managed to miss some crucial facts (eg the Vatican's veto of the US hierarchy's proposals for dealing with paedophile priests, etc). Efghij wrote about my rewrite Good job with the Catholicism stuff. The section should be at the bottom, and I think the current version does a good job of highlighting the important issues. Evercat said that my edit seems reasonable. It is amazing how you (and you alone) have a problem with a professionally rewritten section, whereas you were championing Nostrum's nutty nonsense that if written down in an exam would get an NG from an examiner. So much for any objectivity or neutrality on your part.
As to moving the content, I agree totally. It wasn't my choice to put it here. That was MB's action. I simply turned a competent but couple of paragraphs with rather serious gaps into a more comprehensive and reader-friendly version. I do think that the Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal is quite good but needs some work. (The title does bug me slightly. It isn't exactly the most reader-friendly title being a bit of a mouthful, though I can't think right now of a better one. I'll see if I can think of any shorter or more reader-friendly title.) FearÉIREANN 04:38 26 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Can we establish a list of contributors in favor of moving? So far I'm on it and I can assume, from the above comments, that so it Jtril. 172 04:58 26 Jul 2003 (UTC)
A long, in-depth, section on the sex abuse scandal is an improvement over a more "concise" version that's failing to meet encyclopedic standards. Since the consensus at the time was that the article should include coverage of the sex abuse scandal, Jtdril's edits were a necessary improvement. I'm just saying that over time we might want to consider removing the content if a history of Catholicism article is ever written. Right now, this article is a very broad umbrella for Catholicism and Catholic history and Jtdril's additions are very much needed. 172
We already have an entire article just on the sexual abuse: Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal. Rmhermen 04:03 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Then the content related to the sex abuse scandal in this article should be moved there, where it's not redundant. 172
I'm in favor of a brief mention of the sex abuse scandal in this article, with the more detailed multiple paragraph content going into the separate article. The same structural pattern is used for many articles all over wikipedia. Wesley 15:06 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I think that some discussion of the sex abuse scandal should remain here, but that what remains ought to reflect more on how Roman Catholic beliefs and practices impacted the situation. The hubristic notion of apostolic succession, the practice of priestly celibacy, and the belief in sacraments that only anointed priests can administer, and whose power and validity is not affected by the sins of the priest, thereby making the priests an extraordinarily valuable kind of human capital --- these factors had a direct impact on the scandal itself. -- IHCOYC 15:28 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Indeed. Should we also discuss how the Roman Catholic Church was singled out for prosecution from among all the different organizations that work with children for prosecution, even though their abuse rate is no higher than any other profession? Or about how their critics, from atheists to Protestants, are using the issue as a jumping-off point to attack Roman Catholicism itself, and not just their administrative handling of the offending priests? All of this is reasonable to discuss, of course, and maybe this article's one paragraph should mention on the many related topics that will be covered in the separate scandal article. I'm not trying to cut any of this. It's just... well for instance, would you want to copy in the bulk of the Spanish Inquisition article in here too, or the Crusades article?? Those things ought to be mentioned too, but their significant enough to have their own articles. Wesley 16:05 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)
First, what is the evidence that their abuse rate "is no higher" than that within other professions? I'm not saying that it is, but I'm also not saying that it isn't until I see specific data. Secondly, what is the evidence that the Catholic Church has been "singled out"? Don't you remember the kindergarden and school sexual abuse scandals of the 1990s (many of which turned out to be overblown or entirely the result of suggestive questioning)? It seems to me that what we have witnessed here is more the result of these cases being covered up for so long, so that eventually they inevitably exploded into a scandal. Thirdly, there is a significant difference between sexual abuse within the Church and sexual abuse within other institutions as to how children can be expected to cope with these acts.
Being abused by a priest who on the other hand tells you that sex is evil, sin, and must be controlled can have far more severe effects on a child's mind than "merely" being sexually fondled and told that it is alright and that all children are doing this (the typical pedophile routine). Children abused by clergy have been frequently found to blame themselves instead of blaming the clergy, because they had been told that they had "seduced" the priests, and some even were physically punished while they were abused. That this kind of abuse can have more severe effects is supported e.g. by the research of Rind & Bauserman who showed that sexual abuse does not necessarily leave long-lasting effects on a child's psyche -- it depends a lot on the circumstances and the way the abuse is handled.
As for the crusades and the Inquisition, as I pointed out earlier, this article definitely needs to go into some detail regarding the history of the church, with links to longer article. There need to be brief paragraphs about the persecution of pagans, the destruction of libraries and temples, the Dark Ages, iconoclasm, the crusades, medieval torture chambers, the forgery of documents by monks, instances of papal corruption, the Inquisition, book burnings and the persecution of scientists, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, modern blasphemy laws, Vatican support for Hitler, their involvement in the Holocaust and their profit from forced labor, Vatican involvement in the Ustase genocide, the Opus Dei scandals, Vatican opposition to contraception in the Third World, church participation in the Rwanda genocide... All with links to the respective larger articles. There's still a long way to go until this is a serious article about Catholicism.—Eloquence 16:32 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Regarding the statistic, I don't have a primary source, just something I heard from someone who heard or read it somewhere... of course I won't put it in the actual article without better documentation than that. Regarding the 1990s kindergarten scandals, yes I remember something about that, but I don't recall any lawsuits against the school systems or high level school officials being targeted... perhaps I just didn't follow the stories closely enough at the time. Is that scandal described in another wikipedia article? You have to admit that the press and the lawsuits of the last couple years have been focused on the Catholic church, for the most part ignoring other institutional offenders; there have also been all kinds of "suggestions" of how the Catholic Church should reform itself, coming from the outside. Speaking of suggestive questioning, has the question even been raised with the current crop of lawsuits against the priests? Finally, I can certainly see how abuse by a trusted authority figure could be especially damaging, and don't have any special reason to doubt the research in this respect. Other professions, including teachers, childcare center workers, and social workers should still be held similarly accountable, should they not? Wesley \
As far as the litany of crimes goes, it certainly merits covering, in a neutral fashion of course. I wonder whether it shouldn't be detailed in Criticism of the Catholic Church or some such article. That's how we wound up dealing with criticism of Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses, after all. That's also what was done with Christianity and anti-Semitism. Wesley 17:33 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)
The Criticism of the Catholic Church article strikes me as a good idea. It might need to be broken down into several articles. Much of the Great Apostasy article might be more at home in that article. -- IHCOYC 20:54, 29 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Putting all the dark/red spots in the history of the Catholic church in a criticism article is a horrible idea. It is in gross violation of NPOV and should not be done with any religion or subject. Articles on Wikipedia are written neutrally, with perspectives treated not according to their position on the subject (sympathetic/non-sympathetic), but according to the standing of their adherents. I will attend to these ill-conceived "criticism" pages for the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons ASAP. In the meantime, please do not create any new ones. If you want to write articles from a "sympathetic point of view", try Fred Bauder's Internet-Encyclopedia. —Eloquence 06:39, Jul 30, 2003 (UTC)

Eloquence, you are going to have to flesh out this standard you state above because it's too vague..."standing"? huh? Roughly, I think you are saying that an article about, say, Mormons (or Baptists or Catholics) should simply state the doctrine/practices, etc of the adherents without taking a position (being sympathetic/unsympathetic) on the truth/validity of the doctrine/practices. If this is what you mean, excluding the views of non-adherents is problematic. In the meantime Jtdirl moved over material from this article to a "criticism" type article on Catholicism's relationships with democracy and dictatorships despite your opposition to do so. I expect that interested wikipedians will continue to move in that direction and I suggest "Controversies of" rather than "Criticism of Catholicism" for the title of the article listing such because it seems somewhat less POV. B 16:46, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I think that as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I might feel a bit snubbed if the Great Apostasy stuff were moved to Criticism of the Catholic Church. ;-) Better to put that in Criticism of the Early Church or something; for the first ten centuries, for better or worse, we (Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic) were the same church. Since the Great Schism, we've sinned separately, but before that, and especially when it comes to "Great Apostasy" type allegations, we sinned together. As for breaking it down, there are already at least two related articles on the Inquisition, and probably several on the Crusades. Much of the work may just be summarizing articles like that and having one place that lists them all, or something. Wesley 21:31, 29 Jul 2003 (UTC)



Excellent work by Jtdril on Anglo-Catholicism. Until that point, I was going to urgently suggest that this entire article be redirected to Roman Catholicism. Now, the article's content finally matches its title. 172 04:18 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)


While the Catholic sex-abuse scandal is garnering headlines currently, there is no reason for it to take up so much space in an article about Catholicism. The religion is 2000 years old -- no matter how bad the scandal, it should be only a sentence or two (linked to a separate aricle about sex abuse in the church). Simply because something is topical does not necessarily mean it deserves a large discussion in an article, especially as we strive to make a good quality article.

There is no need for a litany of crimes of the Catholic church. Simply list them as they come up (inquisitions, sexual abuse, etc.) and make articles around them. The idea of having a list of crimes of the Catholic church is itself NPOV. While they must be discussed, they should be discussed dispassionately and not in the form of "they did this, then they did this, then they did this...".

MattH 03:00, 6 Aug 2003 (UTC)


I agree completely with MattH's posting. My reasons are posted above. We should move the content on the sex abuse scandal and have a link to an article specifically on the scandal under related articles. 172 09:56, 6 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I also agree. It was only written because there was a demand for it (and to keep one user from adding in a more POV rant in instead, as he was determined to get it in no matter how POV. But I am all for seeing it moved elsewhere. FearÉIREANN 10:40, 6 Aug 2003 (UTC)


What?! No article on Holy Day of Obligation?! What a dissappointment :( On another point, regarding the child sex abuse scandal...as a non-Catholic, Mormon, this is the first time I've looked at this article in awhile and the child sex abuse scandal seemed very much out of place in this article. Why not create a Controversies regarding Catholicism article similar to the Controversies regarding Mormonism article for material like that?... B 20:28, 15 Aug 2003 (UTC)

see discussion above. Mkmcconn 21:57, 15 Aug 2003 (UTC)



  • Pre-marital celibacy IS the correct term. It means no sex before marriage. Celibacy means no sex at all. Even the Catholic Church does not expect married people to be celibate.
    • Sorry JT, the OED disagrees. Being celibate means refraining from marriage, not refraining from sex. Therefore, pre-marital celibacy is not necessarily redundant, but a truism. Also, one who gets married who used to be celibate would certainly be considered a lapsed celibate.


  • Catholicism does not always mean Roman Catholicism. It normally does in most places, but in areas where Anglo-Catholicism is the largest faith, it is called Catholicism. So the usually added in is wrong, usually but not always is right qualifying term to use. FearÉIREANN 18:29, 21 Aug 2003 (UTC)
  • Pre-marital chastity is much better, whoever changed it. But I also added Celibacy of the ordained to that section, as there has been pressure to allow married priests in recent decades. MattH 06:01, 26 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Not sure that "pressure on doctrinal traditions" is the right way to label controversies over, say, clerical celibacy. The Roman church is in communion with Eastern traditions that continue to allow married priests; they would not be if it were a matter of "doctrine;" a "doctrine," more or less by definition, is a teaching of the essence of the faith. Not sure either that such things as the Roman church's teachings on birth control are "doctrines" either. Of course, one of the difficulties with the large claims made for the authority of the Pope is that it becomes hard to sift out which Papal decrees are at the heart of the faith and which ones are not, but I am fairly certain that celibacy and birth control are not "doctrines." -- IHCOYC 14:16, 26 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Catholicism and Nazis

Moved to talk:Pope Pius XII

I've moved the section on Catholicism and fascism to a new article. It is absurd and unworkable to have have it here. It is a large complicated topic and this article without it is already at 31K. It cannot be dealt with adequately without a very detailed article which simply cannot be accomodated here. It is also absurd to have this article jump from the reformation to twentieth century fascism. What about the French revolution, divine right of kings, Italian unification, Leo XIII and France, Pius X and France, Pius IX's encyclical on fascism which he died before issuing? You cannot just slot in something on fascism on its own, and you sure as hell can't slot it in before things like sacraments, without appearing to POV the article by suggesting an agenda through what is mentioned and where it is mentioned. We deal with clerical sex abuse in a linked article. I have done the same now with this topic. FearÉIREANN 00:45, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Hi JT, my intention in putting it there was to suggest to fellow wikipedians that, perhaps, there was a large amount of history missing from the article. I agree that a satisfactory treatment of the issue needs a seperate article, but it should also be mentioned and linked in the "History and Influence" section. -- Pde 01:11, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Fair point. But the article isn't meant to be a history of Catholicism article; that would take 500K+. The article is largely to do with (a) what is Catholicism? (b) what does it believe? (c) how is it structured. The article cannot possibly cover anything but the barest skim over a slight bit of history, because in a 2000 year old institution, there are vast numbers of must be in history topics. To us, the church and naxism and/or the Church and sex abuse is the big issue, just as to the late eighteenth century, the church and the French revolution is the big issue, the Church and the reformation to others in other time frames is the big issue, twelve hundred years ago, the East-West schism was the big issue. So either you cover them all (which just isn't possible on a page already at 31K) or you exclusively cover the big religious issues, the Schism and the Reformation (and even then in only minimal detail, as the main detail is elsewhere). Everything else, no matter how important it may seem to us now, simply cannot be accomodated on this page because to do them any justice you'd have to write a lot, but in terms of overall balance, if you give one small issue in 2000 years five paragraphs (no matter what the issue) then to avoid unbalancing the article, stuff on theology and the functioning of the institution, which are at the heart of the institution and run for most if not all the 2000 years, would have to be blown up considerably; you couldn't in an NPOV piece give stuff about 1848--50, 1930-40s or sex scandals in the 1990s the same space as 2000 year old sacramental traditions, etc. By definition that would have to be far far bigger. That's why there is a lot of history not touched on. Those topics are too complicated to be covered in a 32K article that is about all of catholicism, not its history. The stuff about the Church and its attitude towards governmental systems is, like the issue of clerical sex abuse, and many other matters, covered in the See Also section, which was the agreed approach when the article was being turned from a rather all over the place mess into a coherent encyclopædia article. FearÉIREANN 03:43, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)


In the changelog, User:Harris7 said: The "see also" list of links is completely arbitrary and way too short; for now, just alphabetized it. More later..

While I agree that that set of links is far from comprehensive, I don't think making it longer and longer is a good idea. Surely we should try to link to the key relevant articles from the text of Catholicism (or Roman Catholic Church, if someone manages to split them)? -- Pde 01:11, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Splitting siamese twins would be easier than splitting Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. It is in fact important. People on wiki could not even agree on when to say Roman Catholicism started!!! Putting them in See Also is the most NPOV solution. Catholicism is such a complex topic that even trying to work out what should be mentioned in the text would produce edit wars. Conservative catholics would want x and not y. Fundamentalist protestants y and not x, anti-catholic agnostics, z and y but not x, etc etc. You'd have edit wars over what to put, where to put it, how to word it, what emphasis to give it. Simply putting everything in as See Also is the only way to ensure than no-one is trying to push their agenda, because Catholicism is one of those topics where most people have POVs which they of course believe is NPOV but rarely is. And even adding in one line to introduce a link for each topic people think should be in would add another 10K to the article already 31K and that isn't an option, as many browsers can't deal with pages over 32K. FearÉIREANN 03:43, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I don't think it's impossible to split the two. The longest section of the article is about the structure of the Roman Catholic Church; it belongs at either Roman Catholicism or Roman Catholic Church. The section on "Contemporary Catholicism" is likewise about the Roman Catholic Church. The intro on the different flavours of Catholicism should stay here, but I don't see any real difficulty in figuring out which one goes where. If it's about the current institution headed by the Pope, it belongs in Roman. -- IHCOYC 17:10, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

If only it was that simple. Within Roman Catholicism and churches aligned to Catholicism there are fundamentally disagreements about everything from the basics to nuances. This article works because you can bring the various threads, theories and institutions who call themselves catholic and who subdivide on some issues together. Trying to separate them would be madness; it would be the equivalent of trying to unwind a carpet and turn each separate colour into its own carpet. There was a clear consensus to organise it this way because it is the only way to get the full and extremely complicated picture. And there was a clear consensus as to contents. FearÉIREANN 20:25, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Why not an article on History of Catholicism that includes both "good" and "bad" episodes in the Church's history? Summarise the article here, just as we do for articles on countries. Martin

Completely unworkable, Martin. (a) It would take a phenomenally big article to cover the history, probably 500K+, (b) some of the world's top historians have tried and failed to produce a history of catholicism. I don't see any evidence of anyone on wiki with the knowledge, factual information and skills to do a history of an institution that exists for 2000 years. Most of the attempts on wiki to cover catholicism have been POV from one side or another. Just think of the problems we have had trying to produce an article on the six year World War II, the rows over New Imperialism, the sixty years of the PROC, etc and they are tiny and easy topics compared to doing a 2000 history of catholicism. Every encyclopædia sees catholicism as the nightmare of nightmares to cover. They invariably go to the most senior academics available and they find it a struggle that takes years to get right, if they can get it right at all. A history of catholicism would produce edit wars of the sort that wiki has never experienced. Imagine trying to cover the relationship between Catholicism and the jews with RK and EoT fighting, then add in fifty or sixty similar battles simultaneously on everything from the great Schism to the Reformation, the English reformation to papal edits about Elizabeth I, the mediæval papacy and power elites, doctinal disputes and concepts of human rights, Napoleon and the papacy, the Avignon papacy, antipopes, etc., each guaranteed to face edit wars, and you'll have some idea of the scale of the problems involved. It is easily the single biggest and most difficult topic wiki could try to grabble with. FearÉIREANN 20:25, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Organization of this and related articles

In spite of Jtdirl's suggestion that this is impossible, we clearly need a History of Catholicism article. This article will, of course, not try to describe the entire history of catholicism in all its details. Instead, it will provide a structural overview with about 2-3 paragraphs about each major episode and links to detailed articles about the various eras. The Catholicism article itself should have a section of about 20 paragraphs concerning the most important historical events (rise to power, fight against paganism, consolidation of power, iconoclasm, crusades, schisms, fight against heretics, missionary activity, fight against reformation, fight against enlightenment, more fight against enlightenment, participation in genocides .. OK, I'm slightly biased) and linking again to the sections of the History of Catholicism article.

Controversies should be treated wherever they arise, that is, an article about the crusades will have to take all positions into account and not banish them into "controversy" articles. Events should obviously not be banished to the darker corners of Wikipedia just because they might tarnish the reputation of the Holy Church. Those trying to hide information which they do not like are in clear violation of our rules, so I do not see how any long winded edit wars should result.

The current solution -- to just treat every major historical event in the history of the church as a "See also" and to write "issue" articles like Roman Catholicism's links with democracy and dictatorships -- is a lazy one and at best temporary, because it will make it difficult to find information in its historical context, and to get a realistic picture of what happened when. The information in these articles will have to be moved into its proper locations within the articles about the history of the church.

The fact that most encyclopedias do a fairly bad job at providing such a history has as much to do with politics as it has with feasibility. For example, after the Britannica was taken over by the Americans, articles about the church were revised with a strong apologetic tone [1], from the previous, more critical (but still often incomplete or distorting) perspective. Wikipedia is not the subject of any vested interests where church agents try to subtly introduce POV into articles, so we should have a much easier time arriving at reasonably satisfying results.

Wikipedia has created more than 150,000 articles in less than 3 years. To say that we cannot organize a proper history of the church because others have failed at doing so is to give up before even trying. This is not the Wikipedia spirit. We have a larger potential than any similar project before us because we can harness the intellectual contributions of thousands. We can and we will succeed.—Eloquence 21:25, Aug 28, 2003 (UTC)

Well said! Applause from here! Rednblu 22:33, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Such niavety is almost comic. We have a few people with a reasonable grasp of mediæval history, but the best historians of the period on wiki all quit because of the attacks of one particular user on them. Our knowledge of Catholic theology is very poor. What we do have is a lot of people with a slight grasp of information on Catholicism and a lot of POVs; at least Eloquence is open about his, but his grasp of facts as opposed to opinion is very weak. As to the creation of daughter articles, that is the only workable way to try to deal with topics. The idea that that is burying information is paranoia gone mad. It isn't, it is beginning the process of working on segments which can eventually when there are enough of them be pulled together as a unit. But it is an absolute impossibility to do 'a' page on the history of Catholicism. It would take 20 to 30 articles at 32K each to cover even half the topics of an institution with a 2000 year history. You only have to look at our page on World War II, where trying to create a narrative for a six year war that fits under 32K has proved a nightmare, even at a most superficial level, because any of the necessary factual information that goes beyond superficiality pushes the page well past 40k+.

The bottom line is, as every single encyclopædia on the planet openly admits, that Catholicism because of the range of topics and enormous timeframe involved, is a nightmare topic, requiring the largest range of specialist skills, from mediaeval historiography to Aquinan theories, political theory to in depth theology, doxology to revolutionary theory, expertise in primary source documentation in latin and greek or knowledge of political elite developments, knowledge of government in each state and nation in Europe over 2000 years to in depth knowledge of the religious belief of catholicism, lutheranism, high church anglicanism and low church anglicanism, the various orthodox faiths to fundamentalist christianity, an in depth knowledge of the various reformation, reform movements, non-christian churches, liturgical knowledge, a knowledge of the writings of the Fathers of the Church, of the major religious orders over millennia.

It took one historian who did a study of the papacy 10 years to cover what is only one part of the history of catholicism and his final text, on what was only part of the history of catholicism, ran to 400,000 words. An accurate account of Pius XII and Germany alone would take nearly 32K, Pius IX's encyclicals another 32K. And there are at least 15 different fault lines where you are guaranteed to have major edit wars. If Erik could put aside his own openly anti-catholic agenda for one minute and look objectively at the issue and see how an NPOV approach can be taken, as opposed to some of laughably simplistic attempts that we had, he would see just how difficult the topic is to deal with. And if you don't believe me, ask professional historians 172 and Boots, or Wesley who has done great on religious topics on wiki. What you are talking about is the encyclopædic version of climbing Everest without understanding the full magnitude of the undertaking or even having the full range of skills needed to produce a proper encyclopædic article on what is universally agreed to be the single biggest and most difficult topic to be tackled. Yes it needs to be done, but it should be done right, but right now I don't see enough people with the range of skills necessary to put together such a massive text, which will easily exceed 500K. Hopefully as wiki grows, more people with the very specialist knowledge needed in some of the areas will join. In the meantime, some areas can be worked on as units. Even if everyone on wiki worked together it would take weeks of round the clock work to put together the article. With the handful of people with enough expertise to do bits they know about right now, you would be talking about months of work even without constant edit wars. FearÉIREANN 22:29, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I can agree that History of Catholicism would be a lot of work, and possibly very difficult - perhaps on a par with the Israel-Palestine conflict? Jtdirl thinks harder still, which is mildly scary... I think we can cope with it, though - the same way we cope in Israel vs Palestine. Neutrality dispute headers everywhere. Vast sections that are hopelessly POV. Spikes of detail in all kinds of weird directions (Rachel Corrie? ;-)) together with vast swathes left totally uncovered. Semi-junk stuff that ain't going to get into Wikipedia 1.0 any time soon.
But, it does slowly get better, over time. There are more spikes of detail than there were when I joined. Some articles are starting to come together. Odd areas, here and there, emerge like small islands from a sea of chaos. So I think we should see these topic areas as challenges, not threats. Yep, I'm naive. Martin 22:53, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Heh. Martin, believe me, the Israel-Palestine conflict is easy-peasy compared to the history of Catholicism. I'm not joking. It is a topic that university professors with 40 years experience gulp before teaching, or pull a 'sickie' to avoid. In terms of scale, imagine Israel-Palestine Conflict and all pages on the top, New Imperialism, PROC, communism and both world wars merged, then multiply by 5 and you have some idea of the scale of the undertaking. I'm not saying don't do it. What I'm saying is that as a professional historian who has taught the topic for a term (when a senior lecturer pulled a 'sickie' to avoid teaching the topic and left me stuck with it!), and as someone 500 pages into an 1100 page book about part of Catholicism, my advice is to be cautious with the topic now. Wiki's membership is growing and it is likely that more people with some of the skills needed to tackle the topic will join. But now, there aren't that many who could tackle such a horrendously difficult topic. If you had 10 Wesleys, 10 172s, 10 Boots, etc it could be done perhaps in a month or two. But we have few mediaevalists, very few theologians, a limited number of historians, a small number of people with the sort of in depth info this topic needs. In encyclopædic terms, this topic is the 'biggie', so don't just drift into a belief that 'of course we can do it', which seems to be Erik's attitude. Realise just how big it is and just how much work is involved. This is on a scale like nothing wiki has done so far. Don't start it unless you are prepared to be still possibly working on it at Christmas, to be facing edit wars like New Imperialism, to have rows on the wiki-list, to be prepared to discuss Aquinas and St. Augustine, Pius IV and Leo X, the French revolution and the writings of Luther, Papal infallibility and the Great Schism, Divine Right of Kings and Transubstantiation, the Council of Trent and Vatican II, the Lateran Treaty and Pinochet, etc etc. You see the sheer scale, the wide range of topics to be touched on, and that is the tip of the iceburg. lol FearÉIREANN 23:35, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)


I would appreciate it very much if you could omit any and all insults in future comments, and I take "his grasp of facts as opposed to opinion is very weak" as an insult and in violation of Wikiquette.
(cutting in) It is demonstrably true, as you prove in your comments below. FearÉIREANN 23:35, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Further insults will be collected and reported if necessary. Your problem is that you assume that our coverage of Catholicism will have to go into every last little detail of theological exegesis and historical analysis -- this is, of course, not the case. As an encyclopedia, our primary goal is not to write specialized history, but to give a reliable account of the most important events therein. Details can be added as the process goes on. An article which lacks these details may be incomplete, and may inspire you to hitherto unknown levels of tirades and comments about how horrible this or that article or paragraph is, but as long as it does not miss the important aspects of church history, it will be useful and relevant for most readers. History these days is a highly specialized field, and most historians do not even attempt to write overviews -- unlike historians of the 18th and 19th century like Gibbon, White and Mommsen. This more reflects the tendency to avoid controversies than a real impossibility of describing key events, causes and effects.
As medievalist Norman Cantor has described in detail in his work Inventing the Middle Ages, the 20th century has seen an organized effort by Catholics to usurp history, and much of current historical thought is directly and heavily influenced by the Church. As Cantor notes, in the 20th century, "rigid codes readily emerged for the way Catholic scholars were supposed to interpret the Middle Ages. It had to be a very defensive approach to the church's role. An extremely positive view of the continuity of a benignly arrayed papal power was prescribed." The trend towards specialization is at its core a trend to avoid controversy -- no historian wants to be the target of a well-funded campaign to discredit him as an "anti-Catholic crusader", so it's more interesting to write about the various theological and structural developments within the churches.
bs. Thats just more opinion-based paranoia.

FearÉIREANN 23:35, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

From a global, historical perspective these are, however, of little relevance. What is of relevance and primary interest is who is in power, which media exist, who controls them, and how the power is used. An overview which focuses on these aspects which are most important to determine what the actual effects of Catholicism were, is absolutely within the realm of feasibility -- Deschner has done an excellent job at describing the influence and development of the church in his multi-volume history of Christianity, for example. Remember that Wikipedia is a work not for your colleagues, but for average readers who want to know about subjects like Catholicism. Wikipedians have already spent unhealthy amounts of time reproducing hagiographies with little or no critical remarks, it is time to get serious about describing the very real history of Catholicism which has affected millions and millions of lives, often negatively.
As usual, you have your agenda which you want wiki to reproduce, and you have just expressed it plainly. Sorry but Wiki is about NPOV, not EPOV.
Doing so on ghettoized "see also" backpages which isolate unsavory aspects of Catholic history is hardly neutral, and highly ineffective.—Eloquence 23:03, Aug 28, 2003 (UTC)

It is funny how you specialise in insulting everyone else's work, yet take offence is anyone dares to suggest that your contributions on the topic are way off NPOV. See Also is used in thousands of articles. It is hardly ghettoising things to go into them in detail. You are just annoyed that you can't rewrite articles to express your own prejudices, because whatever about your personal agendas, some people on wiki believe in professional historywriting, not simplistic paranoia. And how is turning a paragraph in an article into a link twenty times the size of the original article isolating it? What was on this article on fascism was weak and poorly written. The broader article will be covering everything from catholicism's links with the French ancien regime to its support for Pinochet, its links with Franco to its interventions in 19th and 20th century French politics, including its anti-semitism and attacks on Dreyfus. Some cover-up. Just as clerical sex abuse is now covered in a professionally written large text that links to web pages on the scandals, covers some of the cases and gives a professional NPOV text, in place of a paragraph of drivel which was how it was originally put in here at the very beginning. You may think wiki's job is to produce polemics against your pet hates but if that is so, go off to join Fred's POV encyclopaedia. FearÉIREANN 23:35, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

It may have escaped your attention that this is a discussion page, where non-neutral statements are entirely appropriate. If you allege that my actual contributions to articles at some point were not neutral, then the onus is on you. I will gladly discuss individual edits and in some cases, I will concede that I was wrong and a more neutral phrasing was possible. I try to be open and honest, both about my opinions and my actions. And I try to make only NPOV-compliant additions to articles.
This discussion is about structure, not about content and not about me. I have refuted the argument that it is impossible to structure the history of the church chronologically instead of topically. I think we both agree that a complete chronological history would be preferable, although you contend that such a history is impossible to create on wiki. Be that as it may, I consider it a reasonable and perfectly neutral course of action to integrate the content of Roman Catholicism's links with democracy and dictatorships into a larger historical overview in the near future. As a matter of fact, this will happen more or less automatically and transparently as the individual sections of that article become too large to be combined. At that point, it will be possible to refer to the different sub sections both in a chronological and in a topical fashion, so that both structures can be freely experimented with.—Eloquence 00:02, Aug 29, 2003 (UTC)

A mortifying prospect

I was invited to this latest controversy on this page. Frankly, Eloquence's idea is a mortifying prospect. The idea of fitting a contentious (understatement?) topic on one of the major factors in the cultural and historical development of Western civilization in a 32 K article, and the huge disputes that it will involve, is chilling. This article will require months of collaborative effort and will require the contributions of historians and theologians with expertise in a huge array of subjects. Frankly, I'm not qualified. I'm by no means an expert on religious history, although I've done some work on the Counter-Reformation since it was an opportunity to work on something far removed from topics that I research. I totally concur with all of JT's strong words of caution.

Perhaps the article on the History of Catholicism could be, at least temporarily, a broad, succinct executive summary with links to already existing daughter articles. I think that we already have enough articles already to at least fill in most of the important gaps. 172 00:55, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I'm just going through some articles that could be daughters in a series. This is just a start, and they're in no particular order: Crusades, Council of Trent, Protestant Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Spanish Inquisition, Roman Catholicism's links with democracy and dictatorships (the title sounds more like a dissertation than an encyclopedia article), Second Vatican Council. I'm going to look for more. 172 01:04, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)

It can, for obvious reasons, be no more than an executive summary. The idea was always to organize specific historical periods in linked daughter articles (which do, however, have to be structured in such a way that long periods of time are not combined into single articles).—Eloquence 01:04, Aug 29, 2003 (UTC)
What if we had timeline of Catholicism? Martin 08:27, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)
That could be an interesting approach. Problematical but possible. But even the thought of covering a topic as daunting as 2000 years of complex history is enough to give one a headache! :-) FearÉIREANN 17:51, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Problematical is right. This idea is promising, but is still giving me nightmares. 172 03:44, 30 Aug 2003 (UTC)

What current Wikipedia articles illustrate an approach?

I just scanned several articles looking for encyclopedia-writing techniques we might use in constructing a History of catholicism article. So, what might a history laid out as a timeline look like?

Possibly the History of catholicism laid out as a timeline would look like the World War II article. That is, the statements in the timeline would be at the descriptive level of the World War II article. But each statement would have to represent a much larger segment of time--because the History of catholicism would span over 2000 years rather than six years. Hence, we would have to prioritize the statements that would represent the portions of the 2000 years.

To get a perspective on promising approaches for constructing a History of catholicism page, we might consider what statements we would save from the World War II article if we wanted to scale-up the World War II article to construct a timeline article on the History of armed force since the birth of Christ. That is, to keep the scope of the History of armed force article manageable, we would have to select only the most significant statements from the World War II article to represent the time period 1939 to 1945 within the 2000 year scope of the entire article.

To fix ideas, I give an example of what I am saying by referring to a "statement" from the World War II article.

Italy, facing opposition to its wars in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) from the League of Nations, forged an alliance with Nazi Germany, which had withdrawn from the League in 1933.

Let that statement be Statement A.

Whether we would include Statement A in a History of armed force article would turn on the relative importance, in our estimation, of all the other statements in the World War II article for representing the timeframe 1939-1945.

Accordingly using the World War II article as a template, I suggest text of 750 lines followed by Additional links and References, as in the World War II article. With that proportion, we would need one line of statement text for each 250 years. And, as in the World War II article, we would leave most of the theology and philosophy to other daughter articles. Also, most of the reasoning and strategy of the actors would be explained in daughter articles.

What do you think? What would you propose for alternatives? Rednblu 19:04, 1 Sep 2003 (UTC)

The problem is that with an extremely long time line, many areas exist as categories through certain massive periods in RC history. So simply sticking to timeline alone I don't think is workable. It is workable in a war that covers a tiny period in world history. But for example, beliefs in the eucharist, RC ecclesiastical power structures, attitudes towards governance, theories of sexuality, concepts of the diety, concepts on christianity and ecumenism run over millenia. Timelining in such a circumstances is not workable, because you would end up mentioning something that happened in the 870s and which did not arise again until the 1140s, shaped attitudes in the 14th century, etc. Something else in the 600s arose again in the 830s, again in the 1200s, etc. In Catholicism, numerous different strands operated in tandem; theological concepts, governance of the Papal States, relationships with governmental elites, and about thirty other ideas. The only way I can see they being covered is as separate studies. The timeline is just too complicated and too long to be covered purely by time. FearÉIREANN 19:51, 1 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Is there any way that we can feasibly split the timeline into a few segments? Many of the 30 or so strands you cite will weave them together, but it seems, from my naive perspective, that the history of the early church is simply very different to the history of the counter-reformation era church, which again is very different to the history of Roman Catholicism since Marx and Darwin.
Having a few such timelines will give us a little more room to cross-reference satisfactorily. -- Pde 00:39, 2 Sep 2003 (UTC)
And to add my 2 cents worth: I think that the introductory paragraphs of the top-level article should introduce the reader to the problem of understanding catholicism: that the RCC has been amongst the planet's most influential organisations for much of the last 2,000 years, that its history is vast, far-reaching and controversial, etc. The extensive & detailed material on the precise scope and meaning of the word, covering the various forms of catholicism, should probably be in a seperate article too. -- Pde
Yes. The perhaps unique institutional longevity of the RCC came to me again as I searched for an institutional or conceptual comparator: communism, capitalism, democracy, language, science, metaphysics, law, commerce, British Empire, . . . . I could think of no institutional or conceptual comparator with the longevity and international influence comparable to the RCC. Rednblu 12:59, 2 Sep 2003 (UTC)
I can think of no Institution with the longevity and international influence of the RCC since it was formed by Constantine the Great... Definitely one of the most influential institutions extant, and having been extant within the past 2000 years... However, I must also classify Catholicism as one of the greatest examples of the failure of Mankind to overcome memetic viruses. It was and still is, in my opinion, the HIV of memes. By far the worst virus ever to manifest these past 2000 years. It has been responsible, both directly and indirectly, for so many hundreds of millions of deaths and so many unjustified and brutal papal reigns that the very few redeeming characters from its clergy (such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) cannot even begin to make up for the absolute malignancy and general insanity to arise from this religion. It can be blamed, directly or indirectly, for the Purge of Constantine, the Crusades, the Witch-Burnings, the Nazi Movement, the Fascist Movement, The Massacre of 1,000,000 Serbs during WWII, the dehumanising brainwashing and herding of millions upon millions of human beings, the laundering of charities given as tithes and offerings by members of the church, the funding of dictators and brutal kings like Vlad the Impaler, and lists upon lists of other unmentioned destructive, maniacal, genocidal and just generally unethhical practises.
Well, I'm no fan of Catholicism, but I think your reasoning may be erroneous. You need to identify what it is about the Catholic meme (or memes) which is problematic. Because Catholicism has been so powerful, it has commited many of the greatest evils. But many of these are likely to have been caused by politics, rather than Catholicism per se.
And really, it's ridiculous to blame the RCC for Nazism, unless you can show that the church had a determinative role in creating the conditions that allowed it flourish. -- Pde