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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, March 23, 2023

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at

Early in the 20th century, when British leaders were beginning to question whether they were prepared for a major European conflict, the War Secretary, Richard Haldane, was asked what kind of army he wanted. He answered: “a Hegelian army.”

As that remarkable answer reveals, Haldane was a student of philosophy, caught up in the world of ideas, not inclined to think about practical matters. Not surprisingly, when World War I broke, the British military was unprepared.

Haldane’s response—which gave so little information, and yet revealed so much—came to mind when I read what Sister Nathalie Becquart had said about preparations for the Synod on Synodality. Sister Becquart—who, as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, is one of the highest-ranking women ever in the Roman Curia—told an Australian audience: …

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