Friday, November 26, 2010

Some comments by Patrick S. O'Donnell to Patrick Deneen's In Defense of Culture:

The characterization of "liberalism" here is a complete caricature and well-worn strawman (much like that found in the work of Alasdair MacIntyre) and utterly unrecognizable to anyone who has deeply immersed themselves in its literature. It is Liberalism which is (and has historically proven to be) a prerequisite to individual flourishing and the equal freedom to flourish within and through cultures. "Ways of life" require political preconditions of toleration and mutual forbearance, and a legal system that sets the conditions for the equal recognition of rights and liberties, duties and obligations, the very sort of legal system legitimated and justified by works in the Liberal tradition of political philosophy, a tradition that draws upon ideas from Aristotle and the Stoics through Republican thought and even, in some measure, Christianity (especially the Natural Law tradition). Many of its foremost theorists and exponents were Christians (including Hobbes).
Because of its commitment to moral autonomy in the loosely Kantian sense, Liberals are not shy about reflecting upon those aspects of "culture" that may infringe upon or violate our equal liberties, our conceptions of human dignity, and our various cognitive, affective and practical capabilities, hence, culture is not immune or exempt from "critique," in other words, it is a conditional and not absolute good and subject to individual and collective rational appraisal and moral assessment. Indeed, were that not the case, women would not have the right to vote, slavery and segregation would still be with us, and workers would be mere instruments of capital and labor instead of flesh and blood human beings worthy of dignity and respect as minimally enshrined in the law.

The anxiety about "a globalized anti-cultural monoculture, a homogenous way of life that exists in profound contradiction to the basic elements of culture that were once the assumed way of life" should focus on the economic system that is the principal vehicle of globalization, namely, capitalism, be it turbo-capitalism, finance capitalism, post-Fordist capitalism, what have you, as well as the technological dynamic that is its very marrow. To be sure, "capitalist democracy" in some measure has the blessings of Liberalism yet Rawls, among others, has shown how democracy is importantly distinguishable from capitalism as an economic system and there are more than a few conceptual resources in the Liberal tradition that encourage us to imagine alternatives to the current socio-economic system, one that, after all, has veto power over the democratic poltiical system (via private investment decisions, the exercise of capital strikes, etc.). It is Liberalism that prompts us to be individually and collectively reflective about such matters.

Of course much more can be said, and so I hope to reply in more detail in the near future at either (or both) the Ratio Juris or (and) ReligiousLeftLaw blogs.

and

In addition to Holmes, cogent critiques of MacIntryre's philosophical and historical characterization of Liberalism are also made by Stephen Macedo and William Galston.

Incidentally, or not, MacIntyre rightly argues against moral relativism and for the possibility of the rational evaluation of traditions (at least in his later writings), while at the same time passionately claiming that moral reasoning can take place only within traditions. Perhaps the only way one might make coherent or consistent sense of the three arguments in toto is to appreciate the fact that it is philosophers within the Liberal tradition who provide us with the moral and conceptual resources against (moral) relativism and for the rational assessment (critique) of particular traditions.

and

While it is no doubt true that some forms of Liberalism, and perhaps most egregiously in its French incarnation (for peculiar historical reasons) are often seen as “privatizing” religious expression and identity, I don’t think this is an accurate description of what canonical Liberals from John Stuart Mill to John Rawls were up to. With regard to “neutrality” I would agree that its pretensions are often unavailing and its meaning too ambiguous to be helpful (in the case perhaps of both Dworkin and Nagel?) but at the same time I think precisely what this has meant in legal terms is not the same as its ambitious philosophical rendering. In any case, not all Liberals are committed to “neutrality,” as we see for instance in the case of Mill, who wrote in Considerations of Representative Government that “The first element of good government being the virtue and intelligence of the human beings composing the community, the most important point of excellence which any form of government can possess is to promote the virtue and intelligence of the people themselves” (for a pellucid discussion of Mill on this score see Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Ethics of Identity, 2005) The currents of “perfectionism” in the Liberal tradition (on which see Thomas Hurka’s book) while not always explicit, are certainly adverse to “neutralism,” and we see vigorous defenses of a “non-neutralist” account of Liberalism in the works of avowed Liberals like William Galston and George Sher. And I think Peter Berkowitz ‘s Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (1999) is sufficient evidence, by implication at least, that the more philosophically ambitious “neutralist” theories identified with Liberalism lack historical warrant.

Obviously if one believes in multiculturalism and wants it to work, one has to appeal to the goods that liberalism promotes and its theoretical justification (rights and an erroneous notion of equality). Still, a liberal can also admit that true multiculturalism, in which one culture conflicts with another (or liberalism's core values) is possible -- and that there must be a core that overrides the rest. So tolerance only goes so far, and other cultures that conflict with liberalism must inevitably be suppressed, in the name of "tolerance."

But the ideologically blind do not see the greater point being made about liberalism and its pretensions of being "rationally superior" and beyond tradition. It is not rationally superior -- it just has different starting points which may appeal to fallen (sinful) man more than the truth.

Ratio Jruis blog
Religious Left Law

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Zenit: Pope's Address on Romano Guardini

Pope's Address on Romano Guardini




"He Aspired to the Truth of God and to the Truth About Man"



VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address, which he gave last month upon receiving in audience members of the "Romano Guardini" Foundation of Berlin, who were in Rome for a congress dedicated to the memory of the theologian, who was a teacher of Joseph Ratzinger himself.

* * *

Excellencies,
Most Illustrious President Professor von Pufendorf,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is a joy for me to be able to welcome all of you here, in the Apostolic Palace, who have come to Rome on the occasion of the congress of the Guardini Foundation on the theme "Spiritual and Intellectual Heritage of Romano Guardini." In particular, I thank dear Professor von Pufendorf, for the cordial words he addressed to me at the beginning of this meeting, in which he expressed all the present "struggle" that unites us to Guardini and, at the same time, calls us to carry forward his life's work.

In the thanksgiving address on the occasion of the celebration of his 80th birthday, in February 1965, at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Guardini described his life's task, as he understood it, as a way "of questioning oneself, in a continuous spiritual exchange, which means a Christian Weltanschauung" (Stationen und Ruckblicke, S. 41). The view, this joint look over the world, for Guardini was not a look from outside as a mere object of research. Nor did he pretend to the perspective of the history of the spirit, which examines and ponders what others have said or written on the religious way of an age. All these points of view were insufficient according to Guardini.

In notes on his life, he said: "What interested me immediately was not what someone said about Christian truth but what is true" (Berichte uber mein Leben, S. 24). And it was this approach of his teaching which impressed us young people, because we did not want to know the "pyrotechnic spectacle" of existing opinions in and outside of Christianity: We wanted to know what "is". And here there was one who without fear and, at the same time, with all the seriousness of critical thought, posed this question and helped us to think together.

Guardini did not want to know one or many things. He aspired to the truth of God and to the truth about man. For him the instrument to approach this truth was the Weltanschauung -- as it was called at the time -- which takes place in a lively exchange with the world and with men. What is specifically Christian consists in the fact that man knows himself in a relationship with God who precedes him and from whom he cannot subtract himself. Our thinking is not the principle that establishes the measure of things, but God who surpasses our measure and who cannot be reduced to any entity created by us.

God reveals himself as the truth, but the latter is not abstract, but on the contrary, is found in the concrete-living, in fine, in the form of Jesus Christ. However, whoever wishes to see Jesus, the truth, must "reverse his direction," must come out of the autonomy of arbitrary thought to the disposition to listen, which accepts what is. And this reversal, which he carried out in his conversion, molded all his thought and life as a continuous going out of autonomy to listening, to receiving. However, even in a genuine relationship with God, man does not always understand what God says. He needs a corrective, and this consists in the exchange with others, which in the living Church of all times has found its reliable form, which unites all with one another.

Guardini was a man of dialogue. His works arose, almost without exception, from a conversation, at least interior. The lessons of the professor of the philosophy of religion and of Christian Weltanschauung at the University of Berlin in the 20s represented above all meetings with personalities of the history of thought. Guardini read the works of these authors, listened to them, learned how they saw the world and entered into dialogue with them to develop, in conversation with them, what he, in so far as Catholic thinker, had to say to their thought. He continued this custom in Munich, and, in fact, it was also the peculiarity of the style of his lessons, being in dialogue with the Thinkers. His key word was "look," because he wanted to lead us to "see" and he himself was in a common interior dialogue with his listeners.

This was the novelty in regard to the rhetoric of old times: that he, in fact, did not seek any rhetoric, but spoke in a totally simple way with us and, at the same time, spoke with truth and induced us to dialogue with truth. And this was a wide spectrum of "dialogues" with authors such as Socrates, Saint Augustine or Pascal, with Dante, Holderlin, Morike, Rilke and Dostoyevsky. In them he saw living mediators, who discover the present in one word of the past, enabling one to see and live it in a new way. These give us a strength which can lead us back to ourselves.

From man's opening to truth issues, for Guardini, an ethos, a base for our moral behavior towards our neighbor, as an exigency of our existence. Given that man can find God, he can also act well. True for him is this primacy of ontology over ethos, of the being, of the very being of God correctly understood and heard, from which follows correct action. He said: "A genuine praxis, that is, correct action, arises from truth and must fight for it" (Ibid., S. 111).

Such yearning for truth and the tending toward what is original and essential, Guardini observed, above all, in young people. In his talks with youth, particularly in Rothenfels Castle, which at the time, thanks to Guardini, had become a center of the Catholic youth movement, the priest and educator carried forward the ideals of the youth movement such as self-determination, personal responsibility and the interior disposition to truth: he purified and deepened them.

Liberty, yes, but only he is free -- he told us -- who is "completely what he must be according to his nature. [...] Liberty is truth" (Auf dem Wege, S. 20). For Guardini the truth of man is essentialness and conformity to being. The path leads to truth when man exercises "the obedience of our being in regard to the being of God" (Ibid., S. 21). This happens ultimately in adoration, which for Guardini belongs to the realm of thought.

In supporting youth, Guardini also sought a new access to the liturgy. The rediscovery of the liturgy was for him a rediscovery of the unity between spirit and body in the totality of the unique human being, as the liturgical act is always at the same time a corporal and spiritual act. Prayer is dilated through corporal and community action, and thus reveals the unity of the whole of reality. The liturgy is symbolic acting. The symbol as quintessence of the unity between the spiritual and the material is lost when both are separated, when the world is fragmented in a dualistic way in spirit and body, in subject and object. Guardini was profoundly convinced that man is spirit in body and body in spirit and that, therefore, the liturgy and the symbol lead him to the essence of himself, in a word, lead him through adoration to the truth.

Among the great themes of Guardini's life, the relationship between faith and the world is of permanent timeliness. Guardini saw above all in the University the place of the search for truth. The University can be so, however, only when it is free of all instrumentalization and advantages for political ends or of another type. Today, in a world of globalization and fragmentation, it is even more necessary to carry this proposal forward, a proposal that is very important for the Guardini Foundation, and for whose realization the Guardini chair has been created.

Again I express my cordial gratitude to all those present for having come. May appealing frequently to Guardini's work refine sensibility to the Christian foundations of our culture and society. I impart willingly to you all the apostolic blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Would it be inaccurate to say that Guardini had a big influence on Joseph Ratzinger?

Zenit: Archbishop Fisichella's Words on "Light of the World"

It isn't the first time that a curial official has held a press conference for the publication of a book by the pope. But how should we understand this? Is a book by the pope written by him as a private individual or theologian? Or as pope? (In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, it seems to be the expression of Joseph Ratzinger, the theologian?) Even if the interview is of the pope, are the opinions that he expresses "private" or "magisterial"? We have to look at the context and at the content to determine the level of authority? (See The Hermeneutic of Continuity: Molotov cocktail of planetary magnitude.)

Archbishop Fisichella's Words on "Light of the World"


"Condensed Here Is His Thought, His Preoccupations and Sufferings"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the statement made by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, at the press conference to present German journalist Peter Seewald's book-interview with Benedict XVI titled "Light of the World," which was released today in English by Ignatius Press.

* * *

Licht der Welt. Light of the world. The Pope's handwriting is unmistakable and to find it printed on the first page of the volume has a certain effect. He himself, with utmost probability, chose the title and this is significant. Assumed in an interview is that the one interviewed is entitled to the central role; however, in this case, it is not so. The title chosen does not allow one to pause on the person of the Pope, but goes beyond, to the one who still after 2,000 years illumines history, because he said he was the "light of the world." Protagonist of these pages, hence, appears immediately the Church. The many questions that make up the conversation, do no more than evidence the nature of the Church, her presence in history, the service that the Pope is called to carry out and, not something secondary, the mission that still today he must continue in order to be faithful to his Lord.

"We really are in an age in which a new evangelization is needed; in which the one gospel has to be proclaimed both in its great, enduring rationality and in its power that transcends rationality, so that it can reenter our thinking and understanding in a new way. [...] It is important to understand this and so to conceive the Church, not as an organization that is supposed to perform every possible function -- the organization is part of the larger picture, but it has to remain limited -- but as a living organism that comes from Christ himself" (pp. 136-137).
In the light of this reference, it is easy to perceive the objective which marks these years of the pontificate, which tends to show what is decisive for the man of today to be able to accept the presence of God in his life to be able to respond in a free way -- this, in fact, entails the continuous stressing of rationality -- to the qualifying question on the meaning of one's existence. The course of action that this interview follows is vast, it seems that nothing escapes the curiosity of Seewald, who wants to enter the folds of the Pope's personal life, in the great questions that mark the theology of the present, the different political ups and downs that have forever accompanied the relations between different countries and, finally, the questions that often occupy a great part of the public debate.
We are before a Pope who does not exempt himself from any question, who wishes to clarify everything with simple language, but not because of this less profoundly, and who accepts with benevolence the provocations that so many questions pose. However, to reduce the whole interview to a phrase extrapolated from the whole of the thought of Benedict XVI would be an offense to the Pope's intelligence and a gratuitous instrumentalization of his words.

What emerges from the complex picture of these pages, instead, is the vision of a Church called to be light of the world, sign of unity of the whole human race -- to use a famous expression of the Second Vatican Council -- and instrument to understand the essentials of life. Even if it seems to our eyes a Church that gives scandal, which does not want to adapt herself to the behavior in vogue, which appears incomprehensible in her teachings and which, perhaps, lets one perceive possible internal conspiracies of men that darken her holiness. In any case, the teaching of the Master "light of the world," city placed on the mountain to be seen by all, sign of contradiction which has the mission to maintain alive in the course of the centuries faith in the Risen Lord until his return.

"We are looking ahead to the coming of Christ. That consequently the One who has come is also, even more so, the One who is to come and that, from this perspective, we should live out our faith toward the future" (p. 63).

Licht der Welt, obviously, is not a volume written by Benedict XVI; yet condensed here is his thought, his preoccupations and sufferings of these years, his pastoral program and his expectations for the future. The impression one gets is that of an optimistic Pope on the life of the Church, despite the difficulties she has always had.

"[The Church] is growing and thriving, she is quite dynamic. The number of new priests worldwide has increased in recent years, also the number of seminarians" (p. 12).

It's as if to say: the Church cannot be identified only in the fragment of a geographic area; she is a whole that founds, embraces and surpasses every part. A Church made up also of sinners; yet, without minimizing the evil, the Pope can rightly affirm that "It would lead to a collapse of entire sectors of social life if [the Church] were no longer there" (p. 31), because the good she does is before everyone's eyes, despite the frequent desire to turn one's gaze elsewhere.

Noted page after page is the patience of wishing to respond with clarity to every question that is posed. Benedict XVI opens the heart of his daily life, just as he expressed with the due "parresia" the problems that appear in the history of these years. If, on one hand, he seems to make one enter in his apartment, sharing with the reader the rhythms of his day, on the other he evokes images that describe well the state of mind of the past months.

"Yes, it is a great crisis, we have to say that. It was upsetting for all of us. Suddenly so much filth. It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything" (p. 23).

The simple tone of his answers is made forceful by the plasticity of the images that often appear, enabling one to understand fully the drama of some events. Yet, from the calm of the answers and the development of his argument, what emerges in a clear way is above all the spirituality that characterizes his life so much so as to make one fall silent.

"Even at the moment when it hit me, all I was able to say to the Lord was simply: 'What are you doing with me? Now the responsibility is yours. You must lead me! I can’t do it. If you wanted me, then you must also help me!'" (p. 4).

Whoever reads this gives in. Either one accepts the vision of faith as a true surrender to God who takes one where he wishes, or one lets oneself follow the most fanciful interpretations that have often characterized clerical talk. However, the truth is in all those words. If one wishes to understand Benedict XVI, his life and his pontificate, it is necessary to return to this expression. Condensed here is the vocation to the priesthood as a call to follow; here one understands the why of a trajectory which cannot be modified in its vision of the world and of the action of the Church; here one gathers the prospect through which it is possible to enter into the depth of his thought and the interpretation of some of his actions.

There is a term in German that synthesizes all this: "Gelassenheit," namely confident abandonment "usque ad cadaver." This expresses the decisive choice of liberty as a radical emptying of self to let oneself be molded and led where the Lord wishes; in sum, the Pope identifies himself more than all the others as "a simple beggar before God" (p. 17). The Christocentric spirituality, which many times is recalled, nourished by a profound bond with the liturgy, enables one to understand the conduct of Benedict XVI. Moreover, he himself affirms it when, responding to the question on the power that a Pope possesses.

"Standing there as a glorious ruler is not part of being Pope, but rather giving witness to the One who was crucified and to the fact that he himself is ready also to exercise his office in this way, in union with him" (p. 9-10).
From this point of view, it becomes almost paradoxical to read the subsequent expression which seems to contradict what he just affirmed whereas, instead, he places it in his coherent horizon of understanding.

"That Christianity gives joy and breadth is also a thread that runs through my whole life" (p. 11).

In sum, a Pope who continues to be optimistic; not in the first place by the objective dynamism of the Church made evident by so many forces of spirituality, but above all in the strength of love which molds everything and conquers everything.

It is an interview which in many ways becomes a provocation to carry out a serious examination of conscience within and outside the Church to attain a genuine conversion of the heart and mind. The conditions of life, of society, of ecology, of sexuality, of economy and finance, of the Church herself are all topics that require a particular effort to verify the cultural direction of today's world and the prospects that open for the future. Benedict XVI does not let himself become fearful by the numbers of surveys, because the truth possesses well other criteria.

"Statistics do not suffice as a criterion for morality" (p. 146).

He is aware that we are before a "poisoning of thought, which in advance leads us into false perspectives" (p. 48), because of this he advocates undertaking the necessary path to truth, to be able to offer genuine progress to today's world. These pages, nevertheless, allow one to perceive with clarity the thought of the Pope and some will have to change their mind for the rash descriptions they gave in the past of the Pope being an obscurantist man and enemy of modernity.

"It is important for us to try to live Christianity and to think as Christians in such a way that it incorporates what is good and right about modernity" (p. 56).

[...]

"So there are by nature many issues in which, so to speak, morality suits modernity. The modern world, after all, is not built solely out of the negative. If that were the case, it could not exist for long. It bears within itself great moral values, which also come precisely from Christianity, which through Christianity first emerged as values in the consciousness of mankind. Where they are supported -- and they must be supported by the Pope -- there is agreement in broad areas" (p. 20).

These claims make one perceive why the Pope often thinks thus on the topic of the new evangelization to reach all those who are in the condition of being "children" of modernity, having taken only some aspects of the phenomenon -- not always the most positive -- while forgetting the necessary search for truth and, above all, the exigency to turn their life to a unitary vision and not the opposite. This turns out to be one of his programmatic tasks which we will be called to address.

"We must summon fresh energy for tackling the problem of how to announce the gospel anew in such a way that this world can receive it, and we must muster all of our energies to do this. This is one of the points of the program that I have received as my task" (p. 130).

Benedict XVI often returns in these pages to the relationship between modernity and Christianity. A relationship that cannot and must not be lived in parallel, but combining in a correct way faith and reason, individual rights and social responsibility. In a word, "That God is the first thing necessary" (p. 61) to contradict a great part of the culture of passed decades which has focused on demonstrating as superfluous the "God hypothesis" (p. 134).

This is the conversation that Benedict XVI asks of Christians and of all those who wish to hear his voice.

"I think that our major task now, after a few fundamental questions are clarified, is first of all to bring to light God's priority again. The important thing today is to see that God exists, that God matters to us, and that he answers us. And, conversely, that if he is omitted, everything else might be as clever as can be -- yet man then loses his dignity and his authentic humanity and, thus, the essential thing breaks down. That is why, I think, as a new emphasis we have to give priority to the question about God" (p. 65).

This is the task that the Pope sets for his pontificate and, honestly, one cannot deny how arduous it seems.

"Now it is a matter of continuing this and grasping the drama of the time, holding fast in that drama to the Word of God as the decisive word -- and at the same time giving Christianity that simplicity and depth without which it cannot be effective" (p. 66).

Familiarity, confidences, irony, in some moments sarcasm but, above all, simplicity and truth are the characteristic traits of the conversation chosen by Benedict XVI to make the greater public share in his thought, in his way of being and his way of conceiving the mission that has been entrusted to him. An enterprise that is not easy in the age of communication that often tends to stress only some fragments and leaves globalism in the shade. A volume to be read or to be meditated to understand once again in what way the Church can be in the world herald of beautiful news that brings joy and serenity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chiesa: The Pope on the Pope. A Preview

Judaism

I must say that from the first day of my theological studies, the profound unity between the Old and New Testament, between the two parts of our Sacred Scripture, was somehow clear to me. I had realized that we could read the New Testament only together with what had preceded it, otherwise we would not understand it. Then naturally what happened in the Third Reich struck us as Germans, and drove us all the more to look at the people of Israel with humility, shame, and love.

In my theological formation, these things were interwoven, and marked the pathway of my theological thought. So it was clear to me – and here again in absolute continuity with John Paul II – that in my proclamation of the Christian faith there had to be a central place for this new interweaving, with love and understanding, of Israel and the Church, based on respect for each one's way of being and respective mission [. . .]

A change also seemed necessary to me in the ancient liturgy. In fact, the formula was such as to truly wound the Jews, and it certainly did not express in a positive way the great, profound unity between Old and New Testament. For this reason, I thought that a modification was necessary in the ancient liturgy, in particular in reference to our relationship with our Jewish friends. I modified it in such a way that it contained our faith, that Christ is salvation for all. That there do not exist two ways of salvation, and that therefore Christ is also the savior of the Jews, and not only of the pagans. But also in such a way that one did not pray directly for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense, but that the Lord might hasten the historic hour in which we will all be united. For this reason, the arguments used polemically against me by a series of theologians are rash, and do not do justice to what was done.

Rorate Caeli: Overlooked in the fray: the Pope on Judaism and the prayer for Jews
It ad Thomam: Pope Benedict's Confused Opinion on the Jews

Should the public prayer of the Church include a petition for the conversion of the Jews? What if it causes offense or is a scandal? Is it offensive to tell someone that they are wrong about who Jesus Christ is? Or that one can only be united with God through Christ? Why even mention the Jews then, why not group them with the rest of the non-Christians?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fr. Brian Harrison changes his mind regarding the state of the question about torture

From Mark Shea:

ADDENDUM (to Living Tradition, #119)

After the above article was published, Pope Benedict XVI, in a speech of 6 September 2007 on Catholic prisons ministry, personally endorsed a statement against torture found in the 2005 Vatican Compendium of the Church's Social Teaching. Citing article 404 of this document, the Holy Father said, "In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances'".

In the above article I have already cited and discussed, in my section A13 and endnote 27, this article 404 of the Compendium, which is a publication of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. I have pointed out that this and other statements authored by the Commission itself - as distinct from the statements of Popes and Councils which it cites abundantly throughout the Compendium - does not possess magisterial authority; for the various Vatican commissions, unlike the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, are not in themselves arms of the Church's magisterium (teaching authority). However, now that Pope Benedict himself has personally reiterated this particular statement of the Compendium, I wish to state that I accept the Holy Father's judgement on this matter, and so no longer hold that Catholics can ever legitimately defend the use of torture - not even in extreme circumstances to gain potentially life-saving information from known terrorists. Accordingly, the last sentence of the above article, regarding "the present status quaestionis" on torture, should now be taken as withdrawn.

If torture is the unjust attack on the person of another (for the sake of eliciting his cooperation), then the very fact that it is unjust would make it wrong. But if torture is defined as the punishment given for non-compliance, it would be different. I do not think torture, defined thusly, has been addressed. I still think that even if this form of punishment is licit, it may not be effective in obtaining the ultimate goal (getting cooperation, information, etc.).