Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sacred Ambivalence: A Reflection on Remi Brague’s “Are Non-Theocratic Regimes Possible” by Thaddeus Kozinski

Yet, it is not clear that Christians can make complete peace with a thoroughly desacralized political order, though the Catholic Church has come a long way toward rapprochement from the time of Gregory XVI’s Mirari vos and Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors. The question still remains, however, as to the limits an integrally Christian worldview places on full reconciliation with secular modernity and liberal democracy. According to St. Thomas, men cannot adequately understand in theory, let alone fulfill in practice, the detailed precepts of the natural law without the help of its author, God, and its divinely appointed interpreter, the Roman Catholic Church. With regard to a non-sacral foundation for political order, Thomist Joseph May in the 1950s stated: “The only true doctrine is that civil society cannot prescind from the ultimate end [emphasis mine] both because the temporal welfare implies an ordering to the spiritual and supernatural, and because the individual citizens are directly and positively bound to tend to it” And even Dignitatis Humanae insists that it “leaves untouched the traditional Catholic doctrine about the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ” (Sec. 1). As Pope John Paul II often reiterated, the face of Jesus Christ is the only true mirror in which man can fully and accurately contemplate and comprehend his own nature and destiny; thus, only therein can he discern the moral values and goods most perfective of himself and the political order.

How is temporal welfare defined by May? The ultimate end imperfectly realized here in this world, or some good different from the ultimate end but ordered to it? (Is it the same as the intrinsic common good of creation?)

The political common good = living [well] with others --> loving them truly, and not being an obstacle to their attainment of the ultimate end.

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