4 comments

  1. This debate reminds me of the different points of view regarding the use of force and enforcement between George Will and Joseph Sobran. Neither men would be accused of being flaming liberals, yet they are miles apart as Will is a firm believer in that government requires a monopoly of force for the common good, whereas Sobran assumes that any such monopoly will ultimately by highjacked by the powerful and connected for their own purposes, and so the only recourse is individual and small group self-arming.

    So too in this debate it seems to me in part. Unless I have completely misunderstood CST, it assumes that society or the state or some ruling entity has both the moral mandate AND the intrinsic capability to regulate for the common good (a la Will); and the Sobran side less faith in that assumption, to say the least. But perhaps the Sobran side ascribes too much moral clarity to the individual, and is thereby no less weak than the Will types.

    Finally, CST itself might need some updating in terms of the degree to which it is based on the assumption that both the State/Society and the individual are somehow not as impervious to Christian notions of justice, mercy, force, etc nor to the input of the Church at any level as is modern day man and modern societies. Is that a legitimate and relevant request in your opinion, and if so, do you know where that conversation is happening?

    1. I am not really sure what you are asking in the last paragraph. Are you saying that CST needs updating because people today are apt to both ignore it and the principles it champions?

      1. My question is, if CST was crafted with the assumption that people were practicing Christians, and that governments were populated with the same to a reasonable degree, is not CST out of date inasmuch as most people are not practicing Christians and many in government are antagonistic to the Church? If so, would it not be appropriate to update CST to reflect these changes, and where is this conversation happening?

        For example, how many people in government specifically right now, and people in general, know what you and I mean when we use the term “natural law”? Or any number of memes that 19th century Europeans and Americans might have understood, but early 21st century citizens of the same have no clue about.

        How then, can we speak about the derivative concepts imbedded in CST, when few understand the first principles?

        1. I think it’s questionable whether or not CST developed on the assumption that people were practicing Christians. One could argue that CST began in response to the de-Christianization of the West, particularly in Europe, during the 19th C. Sure, most people in the West were still, to some extent, practicing Christians, but they had adopted a secularized political outlook which stripped Christ from the public square.

          Many of CST’s tenets are rooted in natural justice and right; they are not confession-bound. For instance, the requirement for employers to pay their workers just wages is, as Leo XIII observed in Rerum Novarum, rooted in natural justice.

          The “meta” problem you point out, namely the ignorance of natural law in the contemporary world, is probably beyond CST alone to tackle. But I don’t believe that CST needs to be modified or altered in the face of ignorance. If anything, it needs to be more forcefully affirmed and spelled out by not only the magisterium, but also faithful theologians. I find that one of the biggest problems facing CST is that it is under-theorized; there is a lack of reflection on how its principles can be applied in “the real world.” Unfortunately, so many theological, philosophical, legal, economic, and political minds have bought into secularism to a large degree. They are simply not concerned with what the Church has to say except, maybe, in passing.

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