6 comments

  1. Maybe it is true that Catholics attached to ideas of the common good and right order spend too much time pondering texts and penning blogs, but better they do that than to give in to the “romanticism of activism” by attaching themselves to practical causes which are devoid of substantial merit.

    What? No. You, G. Sanchez, personally and individually, spend too much time worrying about the philosophical underpinnings of a particular point at the expense of practical consideration. If I were a state legislator who advocated the removal of many unnecessary licensing restrictions for hairdressers and whatnot, you’d spend 0% of your time examining whether the suggestion was going to be useful, and 100% of the time scouring the text of my arguments for illicit libertarian-y sounding phrases.

    1. I think that’s 100% untrue. I am not insensitive to practical affairs and I certainly don’t think a piece of legislation or judicial ruling is bad because libertarians happen to agree with it. I can think of any number of concrete policy measures which libertarians champion (or at least don’t frown upon) which are entirely consistent with Catholic social principles. In fact, I have spelled some out on this blog (and in other circles) from time to time.

      Just because I have removed my libertarian headdress does not mean I am any less skeptical today of centralized regulation and artificial barriers to entry which are erected in the name of the amorphous end known as “the public interest.” Whatever quarrel you have with the simpleminded critique of libertarianism, where buzz words and names are more important than substance, it’ll find no dancing partner around these here parts.

      1. The libertarian thing was just an example — there’s also “the scientific method cannot prove itself!”. But really, we’ve had something like two years of Christ the King = Good, Liberalism – bad posts on this blog, and you can’t pull your head out of the ether for long enough to just go ahead and call for the reestablishment of the Holy Roman Emperor.

        1. I am not really persuaded by this either, mostly because it seems to carry with it an implicit call to just blithely accept certain things which aren’t true. That he scientific method cannot prove itself is a fundamental tension — some might say contradiction — within modern science itself; being cognizant of that problem doesn’t mean rejecting modern science, though. Rather, it means appreciating the limits of what modern science can, in fact, demonstrate. I never rejected modern science’s instrumental value.

  2. ” By engaging with ideas and, from there, promoting those ideas, such Catholics not only clarify proper social principles for the present generation, but raise important questions about the present liberal ordo which far too many of the faithful today accept as normative, even natural. ”

    I have not found clarity in the articulations in many (not all) people whom speak frequently on Catholic Social Teaching, I have found a lot of condescending remarks about common people (and support for chaos in the public order like Occupy Wall St), half truths, socialism, Jihadist sympathy, moral posturing, and these opinions have mostly come from people who have been teachers, lawyers or engage in some type of holistic occupation (organic farms, midwives etc).

    I find myself at odds with the idea that the grace of the present motive demands an intense study or discussion of Catholic Social Teaching, it seems to me that it should be pretty far down on the list of study for a Catholics continuing formation (though it should be included). It would be a good thing if people revisited a study of the 4th commandment, what it means in terms of duties to our country (and even affection for it) and obedience to the rule of law. It might preserve him from the bad conduct of many those who talk about Catholic Social teaching.

  3. ‘The Liberal concept of freedom, as implying a denial of the divine sovereignty, was indeed an ethical absurdity. And to this ethical nonsense the Church did not need to oppose some weighty authoritarian dogma, but a simple doctrine of conscience that made ethical sense. She was saying, in effect: “Man is not God, but man. Conscience is the voice of God, not God Himself. Freedom is an obedience to conscience, not an absolute self-sovereignty. The State has a true moral authority, but it is not the divine Majesty itself.” These were the principles underlying the Church’s case against Liberalism; and if the Liberals could have relaxed from their dogmatism long enough to consider them, they might have appeared quite reasonable.

    I should add here that the Liberal theory also involved a particularly dangerous brand of political nonsense, in its naive assumption that, provided the State were atheist in itself and neutral towards all religious groups, the freedom of conscience of its citizens would somehow automatically be insured. Actually, this theory amounted in the concrete to the imposition, by State authority, of the religion of secularism, through all sorts of legal and administrative action in many fields, notably in that of education. Furthermore, it gave free rein to a secularized institutional organization of society that inevitably victimized the consciences of its citizens under pressures from which they had a right to immunity. One sees a strain of this typically unreal social thinking even in a man like Thomas Jefferson, and in his famous dictum, beloved of all individualistic thinkers: “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” What the good Jefferson, like all the Liberals, overlooked was the simple fact that when error actually has the support of government, the truth has hardly a chance to survive at all, much less to influence the organization and the course of social life. This fact, I take it, has been overwhelmingly demonstrated in modern totalitarian regimes. And this fact is an integral part of the ethical theory that asserts the right of the citizen to have his government acknowledge the sovereignty of God and exhibit a positive patronage of religion and morality. The Liberal theory was condemned by the Church not least because of its flagrant violation of this right.’

    ‘And there is reason to fear that, while Catholics and Protestants are having a merry dispute, the secularists ànd totalitarians will move in and solve the problem in their own way—the secularists, by evacuating the concept of religious liberty of all ethical content; and the totalitarians, by forcibly destroying the concept itself, whatever its content. The differences between Catholics and Protestants are very real and important; no less real and important is the necessity of seeing that two common enemies of each do not triumph over both. There is a stand to be made against secularism, which makes freedom of religion mean freedom from religion, and which is particularly dangerous in its denial of the relevance of religion to social order and public life. And there is a stand to be made against totalitarianism, which destroys freedom of religion by destroying religion itself, through the imposition of the cult of the absolute State.’

    JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY, SJ.

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