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Pluralism and the Confessional State

February 1, 2011

Humanities and philosophy professor Thaddeus Kozinski envisions a Catholic confessional state as the solution to the problem of political and religious pluralism. In an interview with Zenit, he explains how such a state could come about in the midst of the current plurality of competing, irreconcilable worldviews and why such a confessional state would succeed where the solutions offered by Rawls, Maritain, and MacIntyre are doomed to fail.

First, says Kozinski, there would need to be a consensus that the current pluralistic system isn’t the best way to run society. Second, a “minimal, provisional, natural-law consensus” would need to come about to set the groundwork for the “social reign of Christ the King.” Kozinski writes: “Politics should be about fostering the best social, legal, institutional, and cultural conditions for the communal discovery and consensual political establishment of the true religion, after it is has been recognized as such by the vast majority.” Third, with society now rooted in the natural law and aimed at the transcendent, the “state that desires the best for its citizens must privilege the freedom of the Catholic Church and formally cooperate with her mission, while also permitting and supporting the freedom of other religious communities insofar as they contribute to the common good and uphold public order.” In sum, “we are talking about a new Christendom.”

As a devout pluralist, I cannot get behind this new Christendom, and, just so we’re clear, I’d work against it if anyone seriously tried to implement it. It’s not that I think society shouldn’t be “cognizant of and obedient to the will of God,” but that any confessional state would at best be cognizant of and obedient to the interpretation of whoever (Catholic or otherwise) wields the most power. The state wouldn’t be ordered toward the divine will, but toward the dominant interpretation made official by the political-religious authority. That the dominant interpretation may at times correspond to the divine will is irrelevant: the exercise of political-religious power would be what establishes the interpretation as official and authoritative and dominant. The engine leading to the official interpretation would be fueled by a political process, not a scholarly one, not a free process of understanding and appropriately responding to a God who reveals. Power would decide the “best social, legal, institutional, and cultural conditions for the communal discovery and consensual political establishment of the true religion.”

I advocate pluralism not because it reconciles conceptions of the truth under a single system with which we can all live, but because the multiple ways we are cognizant of the truth cannot be reconciled into such a system. Ever. The state can never have a single conception of the truth to which it is ordered. It will always be fueled by debate and disagreement about what constitutes the good. No concept of justice reigns supreme in the holy of holies, out of reach of inquiry and critique. The state will always be disordered. The good will remain always a question. Consensus will always remain fluid. Pluralism isn’t, as I see it, a prescription for chaos and anarchy, but a commitment to keeping truth a matter of discernment, disclosure, and debate. A confessional state would, as I see it, make truth the product of political-religious power.

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109 Comments
  1. Ronald King permalink
    February 1, 2011 9:19 am

    I totally agree, Kyle. Political power is not the goal of Christianity. Kyle, can you explain to me briefly the essence of the concept of natural law as understood by the church?

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 1, 2011 11:21 am

      Basically, it’s the idea that moral norms and principles can be discerned through the exercise of reason reflecting on nature (as in human nature). If, for example, you argue that it is universally wrong to unjustly kill a human being because of what a human being is, your argument appeals to a natural law, a law written in nature, so to speak.

      It therefore also appeals to a particular metaphysics, and this is what makes consensus around natural law difficult to attain, as Rodak mentions below. To agree about a natural law, we’d have to agree on the basic philosophical meaning of human nature. Our age isn’t exactly marked by a shared metaphysical sense of what it means to be human.

      • Ronald King permalink
        February 1, 2011 11:50 am

        Thanks Kyle. I think that before we create a philosophy around human nature it is important to understand everything that contributes to what is defined as human nature and our predisposition to what we call moral or immoral.
        I have to leave quickly, but I want to state that we human beings are first instinctively animals because we share a common limbic brain with other mammals and consequently are primarily influenced with feelings, expectations and behaviors from this unconscious reactionary part of our brain. This forms the foundation of our socialization before we are even conscious of who we are. Plus, there is a whole genetic history that predisposes us to act instinctively within the social environment.
        It is critical that we compassionately understand the animal within and not suppress or condemn it before we develop an understanding of natural law and morality.
        Must go.

  2. February 1, 2011 9:38 am

    Even if I were to buy into his first premise, he would lose me right here: “a ‘minimal, provisional, natural-law consensus’ would need to come about…”
    So-called “natural law” is nothing more than pre-scientific speculation about why things are the way they appear (usually superficially) to be. Natural law is never going to be sold to even a plurality of an educated population as a basis for the practical management of society. (I’m not certain precisely what is meant here by either “minimal” or “provisional,” but I can’t imagine there being any contemporary “consensus” on such an archaic philosophical concept as “natural law.”

    • February 1, 2011 2:43 pm

      Personally, I am lost right at the top:

      “Thaddeus Kozinski envisions a Catholic confessional state as the solution to the problem of political and religious pluralism.”

      I have seen numerous cases where arguments were laid out for a confessional state (Cardinal Pole’s amusing attempt comes to mind) and all of them were thoroughly disconnected from history as well as present day realities.

      Every time I see this sort of thinking, I envision Notre Dame is in the big game with Army and we are all rooting for the Gipper to win it all for us.

      Tribalism. (Hairball)

      • Ronald King permalink
        February 1, 2011 3:26 pm

        Gisher, What you stated with tribalism is correct. This tribalism is the result of the primitive area of the brain called the limbic system and within that system is the amygdala. It is what we share in common with all animals. Tribalism is an outcome of the reactionary impulses of the amygdala which signals danger or safety in response to a new stimulus. The human intellect then forms belief and value systems to support these powerful primitive subjective responses.
        It is the tail wagging the dog, except, the human is much more dangerous than the dog because the dog instinctively knows its limitations. The human being loves to play god with his intellect without realizing his intellect has no free will as long as it is subjected to these primitive reactions.

        • February 1, 2011 4:28 pm

          Agreed. Bottom line is we need to learn a thing or two from those “crazy” Amish people and step up and shun anybody who is beating their drums on this matter.

          The best part of any religion is the attempt to elevate our behavior over that of the animals. The worst part is how a type of arrogance pops out of this attempt and gets people to start thinking that we are no longer animals.

          We are animals with condos, jet planes and very massive nuclear weapons.

          I prefer dogs.

        • Ronald King permalink
          February 1, 2011 5:14 pm

          I am paraphrasing a quote I read a long time ago, like 1974.
          “Love desires to awaken, fear desires to indoctrinate.”

      • Jimmy Mac permalink
        February 1, 2011 8:33 pm

        Think Ave Maria, FL.

        No, thanks.

  3. February 1, 2011 10:43 am

    Yawn.

    Really, this stuff is getting old. Archbishop Lefebvre and Co. have been saying this for years, and everyone (rightly) discounted them as quacks. The old intégrisme was embarassing then, and it is embarassing now. I think what is most interesting is how this zombie, reactionary Catholicism is gaining momentum: first the old Mass, then a call for a new Syllabus of Errors, then some canonist pointing out that permanent deacons ***on the books*** are supposed to be celibate (in the spirit of the teacher’s pet’s “teacher, you forgot to assign us homework”)… and now this. What next? A bishop standing by the door of churches measuring women’s hemlines? A new Index of Fordidden Books? Speed reading contests for priests to see who can get through the Breviary the quickest?

    These people don’t really know what the past was like, and really don’t care. All they know is that it’s a neat little toy they can bring out when it suits them.

    • February 1, 2011 2:57 pm

      “These people don’t really know what the past was like, and really don’t care. All they know is that it’s a neat little toy they can bring out when it suits them.”

      Now, is that’s the kind of charity that’s going to win over your opponents?

  4. Chris C. permalink
    February 1, 2011 11:30 am

    In order to properly consider Prof. Kozinski’s views on a Catholic confessional state, pluralism, and the natural law, it would seem one should read his book before forming an opinion rather than just an interview, which no doubt presents a perfunctory view at best. As I am far from an expert on any of these topics at this point I can only add that, as in so far as support for a Catholic confessional state has been within the Catholic mainstream during the histotry of our faith, and that the natural law theories of great Catholic minds such as that of Aquinas are still today in the Catholic mainstream; as his philosophy is consider preeminent by both papal decree and ecumenical council, it would be wise for us as well informed Catholics to address the questions raised by this article in the broad context of our faith history, and not just within context of our domestic political scene.
    For instance, one could ask how we as Catholics, obliged to seek the common good, can entrust our governments, state and federal, to aid us in that task, when our very conceptions of the common good; formed as they should be by teachings on solidarity and subsidiarity, are likely to be at variance with prevailing elite opinion and public opinion, which is shaped and formed by considerations far afield from Catholic moral and social teaching.
    At this time I have few answers but many quesitons and I am not prepared to dismiss the views of the professor without at first giving them a closer examination than a review of an interview will provide.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 1, 2011 4:26 pm

      I agree that an adequate response to Kozinski’s book would require reading the book; however, I’m not attempting to give that response.

  5. February 1, 2011 2:03 pm

    It seems to me that the more interesting upshot of Kazinski’s work involves *why* he, although deeply influenced by MacIntyre’s criticisms of both Rawls and (implicitly) Maritain, finally rejects MacIntyre’s utopian appeal for small, local communities as a plausible start towards a transformation of our social and political life. It is clear, both from the interview and from the book, that Kazinski never seriously questions the nation-state itself as a viable political entity. And if you refuse to question the viability of this entity, then you are perforce committed to a confessional state, of one sort or the other. (Contrary to Kyle Cupp’s assertion, there *are* no pluralist states, as his own formulation of the grounding principle behind his own pluralism makes clear. The pluralist state “confesses,” in its own manner and with its own forms of power, the belief in the unavailability of a synthetic acount of the true and the good.) Nation-states are not, in the short term at least, going anywhere, and so it may seem jejeune to point out the contingency of their importance for thinking “politically,” but the fact remains that, for the vast majority of human history, nothing remotely similar to a modern nation-state ever existed. And there will come a time in human history when these forms of political organization cease to exist, as least if the book of Ecclesiastes is right about things human, which I think it is.

    The upshot of all this is that Kazinski’s work is important not, per se, for its conclusion (which I do agree, with Kyle, is a non-starter), but for the manner in which it demonstrates that taking the nation-state as the unquestionable starting point for political refleciton necessitates one or another form of confessionalism. Of course, a thing’s being conceptually incoherent–the “pluralist” state of the late modern west, for example–does not entail its ceasing to exist, but neither does its continued existence mean that it is not, at bottom, intellectually bankrupt.

    • February 1, 2011 4:20 pm

      “Contrary to Kyle Cupp’s assertion, there *are* no pluralist states, as his own formulation of the grounding principle behind his own pluralism makes clear. The pluralist state “confesses,” in its own manner and with its own forms of power, the belief in the unavailability of a synthetic acount of the true and the good.)”

      This!

      I agree with your analysis of the nation-state, WJ. I don’t necessarily support a confessional state, but claiming that a modern pluralist state ISN’T also one is absurd.

      • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
        February 1, 2011 4:29 pm

        For the record, I never claimed the modern nation-state is, in fact, a pluralist state. I don’t think it is for reasons I give just below.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 1, 2011 4:21 pm

      I should clarify that I do not and would not describe the state as a pluralist state. The powers at play are not interested in a pluralism, but in seeing their side gain and maintain power and their policies implemented and made permanent. What we have in the U.S. is certainly not an example of pluralism, whatever nods to it are made in speeches.

      • February 1, 2011 8:48 pm

        Well then, a Catholic confessional state might at least be a lesser evil compared to whatever it is you think we currently have. Especially if your ideal “true” pluralist state is just sort of a pipe-dream that won’t be created this side of the Fall.

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 1, 2011 10:47 pm

          @A Sinner – I’m not really interested in establishing a “pluralist state,” ideal or otherwise. A pluralist society, maybe.

        • February 2, 2011 3:07 am

          That doesn’t really answer the question of whether you think a Catholic confessional State, if not ideal, still might not be better than what we have now?

  6. February 1, 2011 3:04 pm

    Kyle writes, “A confessional state would, as I see it, make truth the product of political-religious power.”

    I agree with WJ, that truth already is the product of political-religious power in the U.S. Our allegedly truth-neutral government has never been anything of the kind, and never will be. It has always imposed one version of the truth or another on its citizens. And the version of truth it imposes gains ascendancy through political influence.

    My mind is not made up, since I don’t claim to have thought through all the ramifications (it’s a work in progress). But on the face of it, a government that takes Catholic moral teaching for granted, is a lot more appealing than one that takes freedom to kill babies for granted.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 1, 2011 4:23 pm

      As I clarified above, I wouldn’t call our political power structure truth-neutral, or even truth hospitable. It has little to do with the pursuit of truth at all.

  7. February 1, 2011 4:29 pm

    I think it’s a great idea. Kind of like a Catholic Israel. Where would it be located? Would Internet access to the rest of the world be blocked entirely, or just partly? Would there be freedom of the press? Would staying home from Mass on Sunday be a criminal offense?

    • digbydolben permalink
      February 3, 2011 8:51 am

      You know, David, for the first time in a long time, I find myself on the “conservative” side of this discussion, because I, too, do not trust the “nation-state.”

      There’d be nothing the matter with a Catholic “confessional state,” either–even a Lefebvrevist one–so long as they agreed to go away and live on a desert island and leave the rest of us “liberals” alone.

      The world should be broken down into as many communal “affinity-groups,” living according to THEIR definition of “natural law,” as fast as it possibly can, nation-states should be recognised to be the dinosaurs they actually are rapidly becoming, and all issues of contention between the “communities” should be arbitrated by some kind of very weak “world government.”

  8. smf permalink
    February 1, 2011 6:31 pm

    Maybe we could talke the US into selling us a declining old urban area, its suburbs, and its exurbs and general surrounds, as a test plot for such an experiment, ideally with free migration both directions. That could be a win-win scenario, as it would make residency entirely a voluntary matter, and anyone not liking it could easily get out. At the same time it could revatalise some depressed location.

    After all, true believers in pluralism must in fact believe that a confessional state is a valid expression of pluralism, and thus along with various pluralistic states, there would ideally also be various non-pluralistic states, since this outcome provides the greatest global plurality.

    • smf permalink
      February 1, 2011 6:33 pm

      Come to think of it, this would also fit well with the American history. The Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom as any school kid could tell you, but they came here to gain the freedom to structure their entiere society, including its governance, in accord with their own religion.

  9. Ronald King permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:58 am

    I think Catholics would rebel against a confessional state because it would require too much sacrifice on their part to live in such a state. It would require giving more than we currently want to give and are asked to give. It would require totally honesty with oneself and with others. It would require loving one’s enemies and instead of bombing them we must feed and clothe them even more than we do now. It would mean that poverty and homelessness would no longer exist. It would mean loving those who are different rather than protesting against them. It would mean universal healthcare. It would mean the end of gluttony and the beginning of self-giving.
    Is that what catholics really want?

    • The_L permalink
      February 2, 2011 1:13 pm

      Ideally, that’s what we’d have. In practice, though, we’d probably end up with Inquisition 2.0 or something equally horrible, simply because human beings are fallible, and thus all human conceptions of What God Wants are also likely to be slightly flawed. If said individuals are corrupt, well, then their ideas of the Divine Will are deeply flawed.

      The good thing about a secular society is that it frees religious institutions from the political power that would so corrupt them (as the medieval Church was corrupted). The problem of corrupt religious leaders still exists regardless, but when politics are brought into the mix things tend to get dramatically worse.

  10. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    February 2, 2011 10:28 am

    A Sinner,

    In some ways a Catholic confessional state might be better than what we have now–if, as Ronald says just above, it actually put the Gospel into practice. I’m very doubtful, though, that it would actually succeed in maintaining a political order founded on the principles taught by Jesus. Furthermore, the Church itself would suffer tremendously from the temptations of uniting political and religious power. Imagine, for example, how a Catholic confessional state facing the corrupting influences of political power would handle cases of abuse by priests and cover-ups by bishops. In short, while I’ve no love for our current system, I prefer working to improve it to establishing a Catholic confessional state to take its place.

    • February 2, 2011 2:01 pm

      Well, let’s also keep in mind that there’s a difference between a theocracy and a State which is confessionally Catholic but institutionally separate from the Church.

      I mean, England has a State Church and England’s doing “okay” in terms of freedom and tolerance and such, politically at least. I mean, the Anglican church is collapsing, of course, but that’s because in that case the State comes first; ie, the church is a national entity, merely an organ of the State.

      But the Catholic Church is international, on the other hand, so no single Catholic state could dictate doctrinal changes to us or anything like that. We would not be merely an organ of any one State.

      To me, the biggest features that I might “like” to see be “Catholic” about the State would be (more trivially) Catholic ritual for State ceremonies; part of England’s greatness is its whimsy in maintaining all sorts of pseudo-medieval ostentation.

      But the real important part I’d think would be State FUNDING of the Church. So much of the Church’s current lack of “influence” (though it still has a lot given the situation!) I think is lack of money. When your money comes largely from voluntary donations…you’re just never going to be able to compete as an institution. A State “tithe” would help the Church do many charitable and pastoral things simply unfeasible now.

      Having public education be officially Catholic would also help shore up united belief, even if other beliefs were tolerated, in place of the current ideological fragmentation.

      Again, it’s all just a pipe-dream, but if it happened I wouldn’t foresee a disaster. A Catholic “England” could be just fine, I’d think.

      • digbydolben permalink
        February 3, 2011 8:55 am

        Have you ever seen decadent German Catholicism, Sinner?–Supported by the state, ignored by all but the elderly and bereft of communicants.

        • grega permalink
          February 3, 2011 10:06 am

          decadent?
          You must be kidding.

  11. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 2, 2011 3:17 pm

    Thanks for discussing the interview.

    Whatever political order best disposes the reception of and action in accordance with the Gospel is what I’d like Catholics to work for. Liberal pluralism might just be the worst in this regard.

    I am only following the Church in proposing as the ideal the Catholic confessional state. This ideal has never changed. When Benedict speaks of a politics opened up and ordered to the transcendent, this is nothing else that the confessional state. He’s letting us connects the dots.

    Fears of the politicization of the Church or some sysetmatic immanenetizing of the eschaton are always healthy fears, but the best way to prevent this is not some Catholic baptism of the liberal privatization of the good. The only alternative to liberalism hidden confessional state is an openly confessional political order. The question then becomes which confession, not whether it will be confessional. My main argument in the book is that all politics is confessional, pace Rawls and Maritain.

    If this is the case, then MacIntyre’s application of this in local, non-publicly authoritative, non-legally binding tradition-constituted communities of virtue is not political enough. The bottom line is that Leo XII’s political theology has never been refuted or changed. Thinking with the mind of the Church requires us to take Leo XII seriously. I do think, however, that the nation-state is not the perennial model, and when I say confessional “state” I just mean some sort of polis.

    The first step would be a large-scale movement to allow small-scale political orders (whatever their confession might be, as long as it is not an obviously wicked one), to “secede” from the liberal confessional nation-state–meaning not warring against it, but only having some level of political autonomy, perhaps just enough to ban contraceptives in a particular Florida town. Donald Livingstone is good on this point.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      February 2, 2011 4:00 pm

      Thank you for visiting and further explaining what you mean by a Catholic confessional state. You’ve given me more to think about.

      If establishing a Catholic confessional state were undertaken, how would you advise the founders of this state to respond to people of other religions undertaking the same sort of endeavor in the same place?

      • Ronald King permalink
        February 2, 2011 4:36 pm

        Isn’t a war already in existence with the hostility that is exchanged daily between the right and the left? Wouldn’t the establishment of this confessional state be the result of this unresolved hostility and wouldn’t it then be established in a state of sin? Would it then further weaken the Gospel of love that Jesus preached and create more of an us vs them mentality?
        In my opinion, those who would benefit from this and support this are those who would want to be isolated from the rest of the sinners in the world who do not commit the same sins as they.
        I see this as a theological rationalization to counteract unresolved feelings of helplessness and hostility with those in political power and dismissing the reality that Christ did not come here to gain political power and establish a nation or state.
        Wouldn’t establishing a confessional state be within the context of problem-solving in a materialistic world that conforms to the ways of fallen man’s thinking?

      • February 2, 2011 5:05 pm

        I deeply appreciate your post as well as your follow ups but I must beg of you, as for this line just above your comment:

        “having some level of political autonomy”

        More important than who makes these decisions for the rest of us and how do we actually achieve this state, is the question of what happens next?

        Once you have the snowball rolling, where does it go, and how big does it get? As I have already stated in this thread, we have been there before, and in some cases our Church is still apologizing for what was crushed by the rolling snowball.

        Maybe the people that start the ball rolling are really good people with everyone’s best interest in mind. But what about 100 years from now?

        I am not fond of where we are now either and we do in fact need a change, but I am more concerned about where we have been before. I know what happened, and so do you.

        The road to hell is always paved with the best of intentions. I do not have the stature you do so I sincerely hope you will use yours to speak for my concerns.

      • February 4, 2011 8:06 pm

        Thank you for the correction. I shall endeavor to restrain myself in the appropriate manner, Henceforth.

    • February 2, 2011 5:25 pm

      Hmm, I sympathize with what you’re saying, but talk of “banning contraceptives” starts to scare me and seem very authoritarian.

      The State funding the Church and vaguely supporting its institutional interests is one thing…but it’s never been the State’s job to enforce Catholic morality, and in the middle ages even brothels were tolerated and licensed (“to prevent rape” or something like that).

      At the very least, I see no problem with condoms (which, in the end, are morally neutral as mere items; just a latex tube closed at one end) being simply available.

      As Pope Benedict has even indicated recently…IF people are going to fornicate anyway (and even in some Catholic state, some would), I’d like to think at that point the use of a condom is the lesser evil compared to the the risks taken by not using it.

      I wouldn’t try to prevent adult access to pornography or other such things either (though children should be shielded). That starts to get into the realm of enforcing morality, which I don’t think was ever the point of a confessional state.

  12. February 3, 2011 7:07 am

    To paraphrase Chesterton, this sounds like an idea that was tried and found wanting, and not one that was found wanting and never tried. Two hundred years ago vast sections of the earth were confessional Catholic states. Heck, if you want to see the aftermath of the confessional state in the modern world, all you have to do is look at Spain and Portugal, that were both confessional states up to 1975. I would bet that a lot of atheists in Spain know more “traditional theology” than a lot of commenters here.

    Americans are very, very ignorant of cultures and histories that happen outside of their borders. They imagine the modern confessional state to be sort of like conservative America only with their type of people in it, with their “enemies” having disappeared miraculously or exiled to an island or something. The logic is that the Church is a divine institution and thus can do a better job governing the morals and well-being of society. I do not think the Holy Ghost has been given to the Church for social engineering purposes, and anyone who thinks the Church has not been as morally corrupt as the State hasn’t studied history. Some sort of hyper-ecclesiology isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, and if the Church looks good to us now compared to the “morally bankrupt” State, perhaps this is only due to the Church having been de-fanged and de-clawed in terms of secular power. Not so long ago, such zealous clericalism would not have been such a benign creature.

    • February 3, 2011 9:51 am

      These days, Americans are also ignorant of the history that has happened inside of their borders. They not only forget how dominated they were by Protestants, but they also forget why many came here in the first place; to escape confessional states.

      I cannot add much to your excellent comment except to say that I cannot recall Jesus ever setting up a political action committee. He had a much higher purpose for his flock beyond mere wrestling in the mud for the slop of political power.

      Collect your senses my brothers and join your true party. Witness for Christ, he never asked you to vote for him, or for you to lick his boots.

    • February 3, 2011 11:55 am

      TBM writes, “The logic is that the Church is a divine institution and thus can do a better job governing the morals and well-being of society. I do not think the Holy Ghost has been given to the Church for social engineering purposes, and anyone who thinks the Church has not been as morally corrupt as the State hasn’t studied history.”

      A million babies murdered every year tells me that secular government is worse than confessional government. If anything even close to that level of evil ever took place under a Catholic confessional state, I’d like to know what it is.

      • February 3, 2011 1:37 pm

        A highly emotional argument you make but if Catholics are doing the proper education in their own homes then we are not contributing to those “million murdered babies” you speak of. However in a confessional state, abortions would still be occurring, and perhaps at a much faster clip as there would most likely be no tolerance for birth control. As an added bonus, adults themselves might be contributing to the numbers of dead, every single time they spoke out against their most benevolent dictator.

        Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

        • smf permalink
          February 3, 2011 4:11 pm

          Yet Catholics do contribute to it, even if we try not to. By being loyal, tax paying citizens of a state that calls abortion a right, which is also to say it is called a moral good by the law, is to advance the cause of evil. I am not calling for any revolution, for I am yet of the opinion that such would bring greater ills than it would solve. Yet we must realize that if this were old testament times and our country were a neighbor of Israel, there is a very good chance one of those divine dooms would be pronounced against us, and rightly so.

        • February 3, 2011 4:23 pm

          I think my first (so far) response to the newer post on this matter: “If Not a Confessional State, Then What?” perhaps addresses your point more than adequately. I do hope you endeavor to read it.

        • The_L permalink
          February 4, 2011 6:15 am

          You forget that our rights include a lot of things which can be abused. We have the right to say what we want, even when what we say is wrong.

          The law is not to prevent all forms of immorality, else being moral people would not be a challenge and would be no credit to us.

          That, and what of an ectopic pregnancy? The tiny embryo is not yet developed enough to survive outside the mother it would unwittingly kill by remaining implanted in her Fallopian tube. Surely in such life-or-death cases one death through abortion is less cruel and sinful than TWO deaths through inaction? Where, in the entire Bible, does it say anything about abortion specifically?

          During medieval times, it was common for women to abort pharmaceutically using special preparations of herbs. The Catholic Church had no stance on abortion whatsoever until modern times, and to lump a blanket ban in with 2000 years of tradition is dishonest and in some rare cases, does more harm than bringing the child to term.

  13. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 3, 2011 3:35 pm

    I must say that many of the comments about the interview reveal great ignorance about the Church’s authoritative and infallible proncouncements on political theology. Many talk about this all important moral issue as if it were a mere accidential and unsettled minor philosophical or poltiical matter. The Church has spoken authoritatively on the issue of the ideal political order, and Catholics are not free to disagree with this, just as they are not free to deny the absolute moral imperative of a just wage. If you do read my book, I would suggest reading all the Encyclicals of Leo XIII on political matters, or perhaps just Libertas and Immortale Dei to start.

    • February 3, 2011 4:04 pm

      Thaddeus

      You are wrong on many instances. The Church in her recent decrees has made it clear that there is no one ideal political regime, that there are many possible systems of the state. Moreover, encyclicals, while important documents, do not end all questions. You would do well to read Sullivan’s works on authority within the Church not to bring up a false perception of ecclesial authority and theological questioning. The Church is not about limiting thought, but about leading us to the truth.

      • February 3, 2011 4:38 pm

        I agree with Henry, even if I’d like a Catholic “England”…these political questions are definitely NOT of the Deposit of Faith, but are prudential matters.

      • February 3, 2011 5:16 pm

        HK writes, “The Church is not about limiting thought, but about leading us to the truth.”

        Limiting myself to commenting on this statement alone: I don’t see how the Church could lead us to the truth without first knowing what the truth is, and then telling us. If the Church doesn’t know the truth, then it’s no more capable of leading us to it than we are of finding it out for ourselves. Similarly if it knows the truth but doesn’t tell us what it is.

        And the truth, once received, necessarily limits thought. Once you know the truth that 1+1=2, you are no longer free to speculate whether 1+1=3 or 1+1=1, but are limited to the belief that 1+1=2. Restrictive and rigid though that may seem.

        I don’t mean to say that Catholics are never to think things through for themselves — that would only be the case if the Church claimed to know everything, which it doesn’t — but that the Church’s job is not merely to lead us in thought exercises, but rather to teach us the truths of revelation.

        • February 3, 2011 5:27 pm

          Agellius:

          There are many issues, but first I would like to point out that even if 1+1=2, 1+1=10 as well.

          Now, back to my point. The Catholic Church’s dogmas must not be misunderstood, and one must not equate lower levels of teaching authority with higher levels of teaching authority. This is one of the basic problems behind the conversation. Lower, prudential level discussions are not discussions of truth, but wisdom trying to figure out the application of truth. And we can learn from our mistakes, and become wiser.

          Some people seem to follow classical Protestant strawmen of ecclesial authority. It is the fundamentalism often discussed and repudiated by many authors who write here on Vox Nova. What I see here is such fundamentalism, and what is being said is not being said by the Church (and it is quite similar a situation as with what Dr Peters claims about deacons; same assertions which run contrary to what the Church says and does).

          While the Church works to shape us and our thought processes, the structures are not made to be limiting but life-enhancing, to give us the room and place for thought. The problem is confusing and limiting truth to the practical wisdom some have developed from what aspects of truth they understand, and then demand this as being the truth. This is not the truth, and the Church does not limit us to assume such opinions are anything more than prudential attempts to grasp at the truth. This helps explain why Popes can later go against the wisdom of earlier Popes. And this is why one is free to question.

        • February 3, 2011 5:43 pm

          HK writes, “There are many issues, but first I would like to point out that even if 1+1=2, 1+1=10 as well.”

          I have no doubt that 1+1=10 in some esoteric sense which only a higher degree holder could comprehend. But for those of us who live in the real world, 1+1 equals 2 by definition.

          HK writes, “The Catholic Church’s dogmas must not be misunderstood, and one must not equate lower levels of teaching authority with higher levels of teaching authority.”

          I deliberately did not address this point (which I do address elsewhere on VN), hence my statement that I was limiting my comment to the specific statement of yours which I quoted. You made a broad, general statement about the Church which I contend is false, for the reasons given. I would love to know what magisterial document mentions such a thing as “shap[ing] our thought processes”.

        • The_L permalink
          February 4, 2011 6:00 am

          Your example, sadly, is lost on the poor fellow with whom you are conversing.

          After all, there are 10 types of people in the world–those who understand the binary number system, and those who don’t. ;)

    • February 3, 2011 4:13 pm

      I must respectfully say that your remarks about “having some level of political autonomy” appear to lack an understanding over where “having some level of political autonomy” have taken the Church and humanity over the last 2000 years.

      I must also respectfully mention that to implement a status where the RCC is “having some level of political autonomy” in the United States might require armed confrontation, as to achieve this goal (through political means only) seems highly unlikely, if not impossible otherwise. Are you prepared to call for an armed insurrection in the United States if it becomes necessary?

      The Church may have indeed spoken authoritatively on the issue of the ideal political order, and while true that Catholics are not free to disagree with this, I am unaware of any pronouncements made anywhere that prohibit any of us from discussing this matter in depth.

      If I am incorrect in my last statement, or any of my other comments please feel free to correct or clarify further.

  14. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 3, 2011 5:16 pm

    Did I say there was one ideal political “regime?” No, I said that there is one ideal political “order,” and that is the confessional state, whether that be a democratic or monarchical state, or a small polis governed by an aristocracy or by the middle class. It’s right there in Dignitatis Humanae, as I say in my interview. It is a settled issue. It’s called the Social Reign of Christ the King, and just as Christ must reign in the soul, He must reign in the political order. Now, how that reign is to manifest itself can change over centuries, but many of your readers are denying the need for the social reign itself. In short, these comments reveal liberalism and modernism and subjectivism, not Catholicism. Teh idea that dogmas “stop thinking” is textbook modernist.

    “Vatican II, in DH P1 taught: ‘It leave untouched the traditional Catholic doctrine about the moral duty of men and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ.’ This means,of course, an
    established Church. As we said, it would not imply repression of other churches. Even pagan Greece and Rome realized that the state as a state needs God’s help: hence the state as a state must worship God. We add: If God makes known which way He wills to be worshipped, of course we must follow it.” (this quote is from http://www.ewtn.com/library/doctrine/rellib.txt)

    • February 3, 2011 5:27 pm

      I ask again, if the confessional state cannot be achieved through peaceful means in the United States because of present political realities how do you propose that American Catholics should respond in order to achieve a confessional state against the will of Non-Catholics?

      • The_L permalink
        February 4, 2011 6:04 am

        *raises hand* Ooh! Ooh! I know! The Thirty Years’ War!

        That, or forced deportation, which I also doubt people would take very well. Especially not my kin, who are both Catholic and Protestant. In families where people convert back and forth, you’ve got the massive problem of staunch Catholics who are siblings of staunch Protestants. Will they revolt against a confessional state? Will they turn on each other? Which is worse, anarchy, or making war on your own brother in order to support the politicization of your faith

  15. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 3, 2011 5:28 pm

    Of course, we should discuss all this in depth! The prudential matter of applying the perennial ideal is what has changed in the Church’s teachings, but not the ideal itself, which is doctrine. The Church is calling for a natural-law based politics now, but this is only a step towards the ideal.

    And no one is calling for am armed insurrection! How about, for starters, just the freedom to have one’s town politics and laws reflect something of the conception of the good that the vast majority citizens of the town holds? And if the majority of citizens happen to be Catholic, then why not allow them to ban contraceptives, for example, in the local drugstore! “God forbid!–the next thing those confessional Catholics will want is an armed insurrection!” I don’t see the connection.

    • February 3, 2011 5:49 pm

      Thaddeus –

      How about, for starters, just the freedom to have one’s town politics and laws reflect something of the conception of the good that the vast majority citizens of the town holds? And if the majority of citizens happen to be Catholic, then why not allow them to ban contraceptives, for example, in the local drugstore!

      That’s one of those things that sounds fine in the abstract, but consider a counter-example: let’s say that there’s a town that is majority evangelical, and a tradition at the local high school before a home game is to pray that Catholics “repent of their errors” and be “converted” to “true Christianity.” (I’m making this up, but having traveled in the American South, it is extremely plausible.)

      This is the problem as I see it in a country as diverse as the United States (where Catholics, remember, are a minority).

    • February 3, 2011 5:49 pm

      Understanding history allows you to see the connection. You start in your hypothetical community by banning contraceptives, presuming our federal laws will allow that, I mean, after all you are talking about over ruling the 1st amendment on a local level.

      But presuming you get away with doing so, then what next? How far does this go? History is your guide for how far it has gone before. It goes as far as the one guy who is currently in power wants it to go. Neither you or I could control what the future might bring.

      In a vacuum your idea could be implemented, but in the U.S. only force will implement what you are proposing.

    • February 3, 2011 6:41 pm

      Let me add that right now, the 1st amendment allows me to practice my faith. I can be Catholic and I can follow my beliefs in my daily life.

      Nobody is allowed to prevent me from practicing my faith, which if you know history, has occurred before, with England being the most notable example.

      Flip side is I am not allowed by that same amendment to force a Jew or an Atheist to follow my rules. And as Catholics are not in the majority in this country it is impossible for us to overturn the 1st amendment.

      So the only way we can achieve what you desire is by force. And that sword can work both ways and one day be turned against us.

      Your move kind sir.

      • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
        February 3, 2011 9:50 pm

        Full freedom to practice my Faith means that I can live it out fully, which means ultimately as embodied politically. However, the pluralistic, American nation state (after Lincoln especially) does not permit this kind of publicly embodied religious activity even at the smallest, local level, as Tom Monaghan found out when he tried embodying Catholic moral teaching on sexuality legally. Thus there is an essential lack of religious freedom in America, ab initio.

        • February 3, 2011 10:57 pm

          If you are referring to the Tom Monaghan who tried to repeal gay rights you are talking about a Catholic who tried to force our beliefs upon Americans who were not Catholic, which is exactly what your Confessional State would do if it became a reality.

          This is exactly what I have been trying to get you to answer, and I am eager to hear your full explanation. How are we as Catholics supposed to employ a Confessional State in the United States when we are not allowed by the laws of this country to force non-Catholics to live by our laws?

          If you can work your way to explaining to me exactly how we can do this I am sure all of us reading this thread will instantly work to see to it that a Confessional State becomes a reality.

          I would also appreciate if you could provide me with supporting scripture where God the Father, or Jesus the Son demanded that we as Catholics forced non-believers to love and obey God the father. I eagerly await your response to my questions.

    • grega permalink
      February 3, 2011 11:19 pm

      “And if the majority of citizens happen to be Catholic, then why not allow them to ban contraceptives, for example, in the local drugstore!”
      LOL You are a wonderfully naive man- the majority of actual catholics use contraceptives just like the majority in society period.
      Besides being amused I find some of your concepts quite dangerous – take the innocent enough sounding:
      ” just the freedom to have one’s town politics and laws reflect something of the conception of the good that the vast majority citizens of the town holds? “‘
      I guess the sort of thing did cause the Civil War – but otherwise a ‘great idea. Just imagine the possibilities if we allowed majority to dictate the local laws – what a ‘fantastic’ concept

      • February 4, 2011 10:22 am

        Thaddeus is not alone in calling for a confessional state, he just happens to be slightly more artful in how he describes such a beast.

        Frankly it is time for the leadership of our church to further clarify their position on this matter of a Confessional state and either rein in proponents such as Thaddeus or flat out declare that they fully support the concept of a benevolent dictator. No matter what sort of pretty packaging you put around this concept, that ultimately is what Thaddeus is describing.

        This talk is quite possibly dangerous to life and limb which is most precious to Catholics and it is time to stop dancing around this issue while fires burn brighter everywhere in the world.

        It is past time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Where for art thou on this issue oh thy Vatican?

        [Edited by moderator]

  16. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 3, 2011 7:57 pm

    I am trying to take MacIntyre’s moral and political thought and connect the politically theological dots he doesn’t connect himself, for whatever reason. I think I am alone in doing this among MacIntyrean philosophers, although some theologians have done it, such as Tracey Rowland and Aidan Nichols.

    • February 3, 2011 8:20 pm

      Well kind sir, connect the dots and tell me where I go, here in America, as a faithful Catholic, trying to implement the Confessional State with the 1st amendment not only protecting me, but standing in the way of implementation.

  17. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:37 pm

    Gisher:

    If you are genuinely interested in an attempt at an answer to your question, that is, if you think you might have something to learn from me in this regard, I would ask you please to buy my book and read it.

    Best,

    Thaddeus

    • February 4, 2011 9:39 am

      From all of your attempts to answer(or avoid answering) my questions on this matter I can only come to the conclusion that you do not have any answers as to how Americans can legally, peacefully implement your ideal of a confessional state.

      Yet you have still advanced a concept that is highly dangerous in the hands of the poorly informed, at a time when the world is a veritable tender box, where other Catholics are already (quite publicly) calling for a “benevolent dictator” to come and save America.

      For you to demand that implementation is the will of the Church (as you have in this thread) would be irresponsible at any other time in our history, but right now, can only serve as couched support for the ill-informed to further incite possible violence.

      So you have actually put all of this into a book and it is now available at Amazon.com?

      Well I can find forgiveness for you Thaddeus, but that is only because my Lord Jesus demands this of me. I am not sure that any grand jury will feel the same way.

  18. digbydolben permalink
    February 4, 2011 1:06 am

    I think that the only practical and useful answer that the good professor can give us, gisher–and I’m trying to be fair to him, because I sympathize with ALL “small government” proposals of political devolution–is that we should join together and buy some island or archipelago. I don’t see any other alternative to the civil strife with the modern American “pseudo-confessional” State that the professor is not being intellectually honest enough to endorse.

  19. February 4, 2011 8:12 am

    I find it a little frustrating that people come to conclusions like this as if they had invented the wheel. So you read a little Rawls, Maritain, and MacIntyre, and have concluded (gasp!) that their systems don’t work. Maybe they are hanging out in the wrong part of the library, but a defense of the confessional state in the modern context is not all that original. It would be interesting to find out, for example, if any of these people have read Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s book, They Have Uncrowned Him, or the noted Argentine anti-Semite Pbo. Julio Meinvielle’s De Lammenais a Maritain, or the other noted anti-Semite’s Fr. Denis Fahey’s opera omnia. In other words, I question the intellectual sincerity of these sudden “Josiah moments” (to use another unfortunate phrase from recent polemics) as either being intellectually lazy (really, have you not figured out that people have made these arguments before?) or outright deceptive (just because you dress up things in modern academic-speak does not make the conclusions any less problematic).

    The other aspect of this problem is the Church teaching ideas that it can’t possibly enforce, and thus letting these laws sleep. Vix pervenit and usury. Mortalium Animos and Assisi ’86. Mediator Dei and the modern liturgy. And so on. Imagine what would happen in the Church tomorrow started leading with Quas Primas or the Syllabus of Errors at every opportunity. It isn’t going to happen, and it would be catastrophic to the Church. I know that there are Catholic who envy the Amish or the Russian Old Believers, and would have us pick up everything and move into theocratic communes. That is the problem of being in a small traditionalist ghetto in a church of over a billion people. You feel you can propose solutions that you find are the only ones, and dream that you can somehow impose them on the global church, and feel somehow justified in such an exercise. The only type of exercise this is is one in futility. The rest of the Church has moved on, and no one can pull it back.

  20. February 4, 2011 8:44 am

    In reply to Kozinski:

    One reason that MacIntyre doesn’t connect these dots is because he thinks that the nation-state *as such* is conducive neither to the natural nor supernatural good. A Christian nation-state would be something like a Christian brothel, or, perhaps worst, a Christian Wall Street firm.

    Second, Kozinski ideal of a Christian confessional political order is heavily, overwhelmingly, a Thomist one, insofar as it posits a relatively seamless transition from the natural end (and the politics proper to that end) and the supernatural end. But there are equally authoritative resources available for contesting this picture–Augustine most of all–and for maintaining the opposite view: politics is itself the greatest sign of our fallen nature, and Christians should not hope for any political “order” here that is not really a manifestation of the libido dominandi. The Chuch is the society of Christians, and it should not be confused with the political order: so long as we remain (relatively) free to worship and act as a Church, we shouldn’t get too bothered about what’s going on in the civitas terrena.

  21. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 4, 2011 1:27 pm

    The Church forbids the coercion of conscience, so obviously any confessional political order would have to be purely voluntary. What I am talking about is simply the right of any small community to govern itself by its own lights, in accordance with natural law, human rights, and Church teaching. Is this so radical?

    It’s very telling how just the mere mention of a community wanting to govern itself according to it’s lights, in this case, according to the very teachings of Jesus Christ Himself, evokes suggestions of legal action against such a mention, talk of inquisition, fanaticism, etc. Yet, I am only reiterating the political theology of the Church here. The bottom line is that we need a Eucharistic politics, whether that be working for this in the milieu of a nation-state with coercive power, or working towards a more non-coercive, organic, liturgical polis (as in Cavanaugh, whose work I love, and who has written a blurb on my book, along with Aidan Nichols and Tracey Rowland, who is one of the foremost Augustinian Thomists.)

    Those of you who accuse me of imposing a Lefebverite reading of Church teaching on all Catholics, go read Immortale Dei of Leo XIII. If you think Leo XIII is a fanatic, an inquisitor, Amish, a traditionalist, etc., well, then there’s not much I can say to you. It’s an encyclical, after all, and not one that is essentially now irrelevant just because it was written a while back.

    • February 4, 2011 1:32 pm

      What counts as “coercion” Thaddeus? In my example of a majority-evangelical crowd praying for the “conversion” of Catholics, that is not “coercive” as that word is usually used. I can’t imagine you would think that would be an acceptable development, though – right?

    • February 4, 2011 2:23 pm

      “The Church forbids the coercion of conscience, so obviously any confessional political order would have to be purely voluntary. What I am talking about is simply the right of any small community to govern itself by its own lights, in accordance with natural law, human rights, and Church teaching. Is this so radical?”

      Again a Confessional State is not something that can ever be achieved in the United States…

      a) Because there is no such thing to be found as a Catholic only community within the United States

      b) Without repealing the 1st amendment one can not legally impose Catholic Doctrine upon non-Catholics

      c) Catholics are not in the majority in the United States.

      This needs to stop now Thaddeus. Read my comments above that you have chosen to ignore. Your continued push for a Confessional State when implementation is an impossibility can only lead to confusion and uncertainty within the flock. As I stated above there are already public calls from within the flock for a benevolent dictator.

      It is time to accept the fact that your vision cannot become a reality in the United States and that it can only add fuel to a fire that all of us need to be working very hard to put out.

      You are beating a dead horse Thaddeus but your continued flailing at the corpse has the potential to cause collateral damage to the Church and even innocent humans.

      I ask you to publicly express your awareness of what I have just said, and if you refuse, I then call for the Church to do what you cannot. Hopefully well before anyone gets hurt.

      • February 4, 2011 6:44 pm

        Gisher writes, “Your continued push for a Confessional State when implementation is an impossibility can only lead to confusion and uncertainty within the flock.”

        On the contrary, your insistence that Catholics have no right to prefer and recommend a confessional state violates Vatican II:

        “In addition, it comes within the meaning of religious freedom that religious communities should not be prohibited from freely undertaking to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society and the inspiration of the whole of human activity.” DH 4.

        Dignitatis Humane ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html )

        • February 4, 2011 7:04 pm

          Good sir I am aware of what Vatican II infers and demands, but you sir are apparently unaware that the people of the United States control what happens in the their country. All of the people, not just Catholics.

          Catholics may prefer a confessional state and they may even insist that the United States implement a confessional state, but without having a majority of the votes required to repeal the 1st amendment and then in turn vote in a confessional state, all the hot air we can expel will not change the reality that the United States currently is a democracy, not a Theocracy.

          Right now the only way Catholics can achieve a confessional state is by force. I highly advise you sir to read the United States Constitution and Bill Of rights if you have any doubts.

          [Edited by moderator]

        • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
          February 4, 2011 7:56 pm

          @gisher – Please make your points without the snark. Thank you.

        • February 4, 2011 7:46 pm

          I might also add that this quote which you copied from Vatican II

          “In addition, it comes within the meaning of religious freedom that religious communities should not be prohibited from freely undertaking to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society and the inspiration of the whole of human activity.”

          this line:

          “to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society”

          does not infer any special power to any religious group (including Catholics) to forcibly impose their doctrine on peoples of other faiths.

          In English, this loosely means that anyone, from any faith, must be allowed to add their voice and concerns to the formulation of policy, within any given society or government.

    • February 4, 2011 3:29 pm

      Thaddeus (if I may),

      I was not myself accusing you of Lefebveritism–and I (I suspect) am more an ally than a combatant on this issue.

      In fact, in your above comment you seem to agree that the nation-state is not the appropriate political structure for developing a liturgical polis (as you elsewhere call your ideal, echoing Cavanaugh–a thinker whom I also admire) insofar as the nation-state is essentially coercive while the Church forbids the coercion of conscience: ergo a confessional Christian nation-state would be a contradiction in terms. So far as that goes, it appears we are in agreement. (Though I may still be misunderstanding you.)

      The deeper worry from my perspective is that from the perspective of a sufficiently robust Augustinianism–and is there really any other kind? ;)–this project seems to confuse what we should expect from the church with what we should expect from the polis. On this view, Cavanaugh’s notion of a liturgical polis is either just another name for the church or it is an unsightly hybrid of the civitas terrena and the pilgrim church. I’m led in these moments to consider the view that the further the church is from having any political influence the better it is for her.

  22. February 4, 2011 1:33 pm

    The L writes, “Your example, sadly, is lost on the poor fellow with whom you are conversing. After all, there are 10 types of people in the world–those who understand the binary number system, and those who don’t. ;)”

    If we agree that we’re talking binary numbers, that’s fine. (I didn’t realize we were playing word games.) In which case my argument becomes, 1+1=10, and not 1 or 20. The point is, 1+1 can only equal one number. That number is 2 in the standard numbering system, and 10 in the binary numbering system. You could also represent the same number using different figures in scientific notation. But whatever the system, it equals one number and not any other number. Switching numbering systems mid-argument doesn’t magically change it into a different number.

    • The_L permalink
      February 5, 2011 7:38 pm

      No, but it does change the symbols we use. 10 in binary is the same number as 2, but it looks different. Similarly, Jesus looks different from Krishna and Quan Yin, and the Mass is different from a Wiccan Sabbat or a Jewish temple meeting, but all these divine images and all these methods of worship are ultimately aimed at a better understanding of the Creator Who is eternal Wisdom, ultimate Truth, and infinite Love. Who are we, as fallible human beings, to legislate against those who approach the Divine in a different way? We’re not going to find out who’s right and who’s wrong this side of the grave–in fact, the Truth could be something no human has ever thought of.

      A confessional state essentially says, “I’m going to punish you, because MY perspective on God is right and YOURS is wrong!” I certainly wouldn’t want members of other faiths treating me that way.

  23. February 4, 2011 4:27 pm

    I have read the interview which is the subject of this post, and on that basis will presume to respond to certain criticisms of what Dr. Kozinski proposes. Since he’s greatly outnumbered I thought he could use a little help explaining himself — in his own words — for the benefit of those who may not have actually read the interview.

    The question has been asked repeatedly (paraphrased), “How would you propose to implement a confessional state in the midst of what is now a pluralistic state? Would you do it by violence?”

    First, what is the goal? He answers thus:

    “The real question is how any political order can be truly liberal, that is, how can it secure the true freedom of men as sons of God, and be grounded in the prescriptions and goods of natural law, the effective obedience to and securing of which are only attainable by the help of grace.”

    “The point of my book is that for any political order to promote the full-flourishing of human persons, which is what Benedict XVI is calling for and what liberal, pluralistic democracy boasts to have achieved, it must be cognizant of and obedient to the will of God.”

    This is based, at least in part, on the teachings of Leo XIII. For example, “Nature and reason, which command every individual devoutly to worship God in holiness, because we belong to Him and must return to Him, since from Him we came, bind also the civil community by a like law. For, men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose everbounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its teaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion — it is a public crime to act as though there were no God.” Immortale Dei, 6. ( http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13sta.htm )

    Dr. K writes, “Because God’s explicit will is authoritatively given through and recognized by the Catholic Church — the natural law, as well as the Divine law, is authoritatively interpreted by and articulated only through the Catholic Church — then any state that desires the *best* for its citizens must privilege the freedom of the Catholic Church and formally cooperate with her mission, while also permitting and supporting the freedom of other religious communities insofar as they contribute to the common good and uphold public order.”

    It is an objective truth that the *best* way — the ideal way — for a state to be “cognizant of and obedient to the will of God” is to formally cooperate with the Catholic Church, i.e. submit to its teachings.

    But does he advocate doing this by force? No.

    He explains in the interview how this might come about. He says, “The first step to any confessional political order, even on the smallest of scales, is for people to recognize that the secular, pluralistic, liberal nation-state is neither the only nor the best possible political order, that it is a historically contingent one, and thus is neither permanent nor inevitable. We need to open up our political imaginations.”

    The first step, then, is to recognize that secular, pluralistic, liberal nation-state is not our only choice, nor necessarily the best we can do.

    “Only when the tradition of liberalism loses its undeserved and destructive social and political authority among the citizenry could a truly deserving and salutary, publicly authoritative tradition be developed and *eventually* supplant it.”

    Thus he does not call for an overnight revolution, but for building a consensus that things need to change in the direction of a more “deserving and salutary” system.

    “Next, we need to see that what the consensus that Maritain called for in the 1950s, and that Benedict XVI is now calling for, one based upon the natural law opened up to the transcendent — but not explicitly upon Catholic doctrine and worship — is certainly good and necessary; we must rescue the West from the culture of death as quickly as possible! … If this minimal, provisional, natural-law consensus should come about, I think the next step would be that we work to orient this consensus to something more stable and profound.”

    The second step is to try to build a consensus that government of society should be based upon the natural law open to the transcendant, even if not specifically based upon Catholic doctrine.

    “But before such natural-law norms could ever be established culturally and politically as the first step to a new Christendom, the reality of the present tyrannical hegemony of the “tradition” of liberalism would need to be recognized by the populace.”

    Again, before we can build a consensus based on natural law, we first have to recognize the present tyrannical hegemony under which we are living.

    “Politics should be about fostering the best social, legal, institutional, and cultural conditions for the communal discovery and consensual political establishment of the true religion, *after* it is has been recognized as such by the vast majority.”

    First, build a consensus, *then* set about fostering the best conditions for the political establishment of the true faith, while at the same time “supporting the freedom of other religious communities” in accord with “Dignitatis Humane” (Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican II):

    “If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice.” DH 6.

    Thus, Vatican II does not forbid special civil recognition of “one religious community” — let alone of the Catholic Church!

    • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
      February 4, 2011 6:20 pm

      Thanks, Agellius. I appreciate your work, very generous and charitable of you. God bless you.

      • February 4, 2011 6:55 pm

        I take that to mean I didn’t screw it up. I’m glad. : )

        • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
          February 4, 2011 7:26 pm

          Far from it! It was a GREAT analysis and summary of my interview and my basic ideas. Thank you.

  24. David Parkhurst permalink
    February 5, 2011 12:13 am

    Weren’t we just bashing American Exceptionalism a few posts down? And now everyone’s coming to the defense of that core dogma of AE, religious pluralism? Am I missing something?

    • February 5, 2011 1:35 am

      Personally, I keep hearing that America is a “Christian country” and I also have noticed that the people saying this do not generally consider Catholics to be Christian.

      These same folks also refer to the Mormon religion as being a cult along with Scientology.

      As a Catholic I am able to practice my faith in this country even while sometimes feeling quite unwelcome to these folks who call America a “Christian country”.

      I have noticed that most of the other religions outside of the dominant Protestants are able to practice their faiths and that would include the Amish who I happen to live amongst.

      The Amish are also frequently labeled as being members of a cult as well. Oddly enough many of the same people who you frequently hear championing the idea of “American Exceptionalism” are also heard saying that America is a “Christian country”.

      I have a real hard time finding an association between religious pluralism and American Exceptionalism when I look over the religious landscape I have just described for you.

      Personally I think when people promote the idea of “American Exceptionalism” I really think the absolute last thing they are incorporating into the mix is religious pluralism because the majority of the people saying this consider America to be a “Christian country” (and that would be minus Catholics) and for the most part, anyone else who does not fit into that mold is merely tolerated.

      I think you would be far better off associating “free markets” or the “entrepreneurial spirit” with the concept of American Exceptionalism than you are associating it with religious pluralism.

      The day Mitt Romney wins the GOP primary races perhaps then you might be able to incorporate religious pluralism and American Exceptionalism.

      • David Parkhurst permalink
        February 5, 2011 11:15 pm

        Having been raised in conservative Evangelicalism, I am well aware of the version of American Exceptionalism you so abhor. That is not the only version of AE in circulation, however. The version I am often confronted with extols the virtues of “pluralism” and “tolerance” as America’s great contribution to the world. Exponents of this version of AE are quick to point out that they are in the best tradition of the Founding Fathers (“who were all Deists, didn’t you know”), and castigate conservatives for subverting and hijacking their uniquely American heritage. Is it any coincidence that the opposition to the Confessional State idea was referred to as “americanism?”

        Perhaps you have never met these people; maybe we run with different crowds. But I venture to guess that the reason so many are having such a visceral reaction to Prof. Kozinski’s thesis is that it is so . . . well . . . “Unamerican.”

        • February 6, 2011 1:58 am

          You are correct in that I have never met the AE brand you refer to and I have lived in Florida, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

          I have ongoing contacts and friendships with the Amish, liberal and Hasidic Jews, virtually every brand of Protestant they have ever created as well as Agnostics and Atheists, and I have never encountered the brand of AE that you speak of.

          I do trust that what you speak of is indeed out there because I have faith in your testimony.

          That said, I am glad that you understated that my disagreements with “American Exceptionalism” and my support for a healthy pluralism come from an entirely different direction and are in no way contradictory.

          I flat oppose the use by anyone of the phrase “American Exceptionalism” because I view all uses of it to be boastful and arrogant and the Catholic faith that I was taught offers no room for such displays.

          I have lived in a world where for the most part, I was only viewed as a Christian when I was in the presence of anyone other than a Protestant, and in a world where I have heard my Church referred to as a “cult” by some of the same people who only saw me as “just a Catholic”.

          You could say this has assisted greatly in shaping my view of the world, and more importantly, highlighted areas where humans need to shine a brighter light.

        • February 6, 2011 2:25 am

          I also want comment briefly on my reaction to Professor Kozinski’s thesis.

          I oppose it because as I have illustrated in comments below, his thesis is incomplete and does not offer a pathway to successfully implement a Confessional State in the United States.

          The concept of installing a Confessional state in the U.S. needs to head back to the laboratory, and remain there until someone develops a plausible method for implementing the ideal.

    • February 5, 2011 3:02 am

      I must apologize for having to add an addendum to my slightly less concise comments above but it has been a very long day.

      I neglected to mention those Americans of the Jewish faith in my first comment to you. While the video I am providing you a link to below does not represent the views all of those from the far right in America nor does it represent the views of all of the proponents of “American Exceptionalism” it does present the views of a large number of both of these groups.

      If the video does not provide you with an adequate understanding of just how divorced most of the proponents of “American Exceptionalism” are from the idea of a truly harmonious and thriving religious pluralism in America I may be able to persuade several Jewish Americans to comment on this thread.

      I am quite certain they will tell you their experience in this country has been one of constantly confronting the attitude you see displayed in the video.

      The bottom line is that for anyone to suggest that it is hypocritical to attack “American Exceptionalism” and simultaneously defend religious pluralism illustrates that one does not understand the real environment that we all live within in America today.

      The reality is that religious pluralism is about as closely associated with the concept of American Exceptionalism as a Pork rind is with nuclear fusion.

      • Ronald King permalink
        February 5, 2011 10:41 am

        Gisher, That was classic spiritual narcissism being expressed by a narcissistic personality with obvious histrionic traits indicated by the black dress she stole from “True Lies” and the history of desiring to be the center of attention, lacking any insight into her the manipulative nature of her presentation and the harmful nature of her comments, thus lacking any empathy.
        Being in a pluralistic society she can say what she wants and attempt to maninpulate in any way she desires.
        This gave me indigestion.

        • February 5, 2011 12:13 pm

          I apologize for opening the door that allowed you to feel such discomfort. I truly wish more of America could feel just as uncomfortable as you do right now. If that were the case we might be living in reality and fixing problems that we cloak deeply in denial now.

  25. David Parkhurst permalink
    February 5, 2011 12:16 am

    Prof. Kozinski,

    On a completely unrelated note, how are you enjoying my hometown of Lander, WY?

    • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
      February 5, 2011 3:45 pm

      I like it!

  26. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 5, 2011 1:47 pm

    It’s long for a comment on a blog post, but if you’d like to read the last section of the the book, here it is:

    Conclusion: From Overlapping to Confessional Consensus

    There is, therefore, only one science of human conduct which is authentic, complete, and capable of existing as such in gradu scientia practicae: it is that one which takes into account at once the essence and the state, the order of nature and the order of grace. All the great ethical systems which are ignorant of the ways of grace, however rich in partial truths they may be, are bound to be deficient.

    Without bad will, political philosophy cannot refuse to consider revelation’s insight into political things when politics does not solve its own problems in its own terms about its own subject matter.
    The primary weakness of MacIntyre’s thought is not peculiar to it, for it is attributable to any system of thought bearing on the moral and political order that prescinds from theological commitments and judgments. Although Maritain prescinds from particular theological commitments in his practical political prescription, he endorses their methodological necessity:
    Integral political science . . . is superior in kind to philosophy; to be truly complete it must have a reference to the domain of theology, and it is precisely as a theologian that St. Thomas wrote De regimine principum . . . the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being. . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account.
    What Maritain suggests here and what I have attempted to demonstrate in this book is that a theologically informed tradition-constituted political philosophy, all other things being equal, would be superior to a theologically uninformed one. Such a joint philosophical and theological enquiry could be vindicated against all rivals, and would serve as the first step to solving the political problem of religious pluralism. Providing a workable practical political model deriving from and justified by this philosophical-theological basis, as well as the political steps to eventually attaining it, would be the next step.
    To conclude, I shall attempt here only to outline very briefly and superficially what I think such a political prescription might look like and how it could be obtained. As MacIntyre has persuasively argued, that political order most conducive to human flourishing requires communal adherence to and practices based upon the Thomistic-Catholic tradition. MacIntyre provides no persuasive argument, however, for limiting the scope of this political order to small-scale communities of a non or, at least, less than fully political character. His rejection of not only a large-scale, tradition-constituted political order, but also a normative state-politics on any scale, is both inconsistent with his own theory and ultimately non-Thomistic and non-Catholic. There is no reason MacIntyre’s political pre-scription should not include a large-scale, Thomistic-Catholic constituted state analogous to the political order of medieval Christendom but fit for and attainable by citizens in modern nation-states. However, even if MacIntyre were to recommend such a thing, how could the religiously divided nation-states of today ever attain the unity in religious truth that such a political order would require?
    I do not have an answer to this question, but I think MacIntyre’s thought provides the best resources for answering it. As discussed earlier, MacIntyre’s theory posits the existence of tradition-transcendent norms, and these could provide a strong basis for a modus vivendi political order suitable for pluralistic nation-states not now unified in the Thomistic-Catholic tradition. They would only be provisional norms, but they would be explicitly, deliberately, culturally, and politically ordered in a teleological fashion through the institutional structure of the state and the myriad formative structures of the culture to the purpose of fostering the best social, legal, institutional, and cultural conditions for the communal discovery and consensual political establishment of the true tradition, recognized as such by the vast majority. Prior to this discovery and establishment, MacIntyrean tradition-constituted communities of diverse theological and philosophical traditions would be fostered and sustained by the state, and dialectically skilled representatives of these traditions, instead of the tradition-independent individuals of the old liberalism or the tradition-totalitarian pragmatists of the new liberalism, would serve as the main interlocutors in a dialectical, communal, and political search for the true tradition of rationality.
    The particular moral norms upon which this provisional political order would be based would not be characterized and advocated in a theologically neutral and nonfoundationalist manner in accord with Rawlsian “reasonableness,” for example, but would be endorsed, as in Maritain’s democratic charter, as true, universal, and moral values, inhering in a teleologically constituted human nature. These norms would serve as the minimally substantive values necessary for public order and civil discourse between rival traditions, such as the virtues of honesty, courage, generosity, and dialectical vulnerability. Such values could be worked out dialectically and consensually, instead of imposed upon the populous by the state; however, like the norms embodied in any tradition, they would be seen as possessing an authority not solely dependent upon and informed by majority consensus. In other words, they would be tradition-transcendent norms. But before such norms could be developed and established, and before they could ever become publicly authoritative, the reality of the present tyrannical hegemony of the tradition of liberalism over society would need to be recognized by the populous. Here, MacIntyre’s critique of liberalism as an established tradition is eminently helpful. Only when the tradition of liberalism loses its undeserved and destructive social and political authority among the citizenry could a truly deserving and salutary, publicly authoritative tradition develop and eventually supplant it wholesale, one now informed by and embodying MacIntyre’s theory of tradition-constituted rationality and the tradition-transcendent norms required for tradition-comparative inquiry. Such an authentic and morally robust public tradition could gain the rational and voluntary adherence of a tradition-divided populous since it would be based upon the commonly practiced norms and shared truths in each authentic tradition.
    Although differing traditions may be irreconcilable, they do have certain things in common. MacIntyre notes that rational traditions aspire to truth, or at least warranted assertibility; they believe to have achieved it in some part; and they seek greater comprehensiveness and logical coherence. All political philosophies, notwithstanding their significant differences, have an important attribute in common as well. All political philosophers who articulate prescriptions for an ideal political order have as their ultimate goal the political establishment, by whatever means logically and ethically permitted in their system, of their prescriptions in society-at-large. What else but this would motivate the political philosopher to publish his political philosophy in the first place? To enhance the public discussion? This is simply not enough. Indeed, a political philosopher prescribing a morally based political model should be seeking not merely the perpetuation and preservation of a justly ordered religious pluralism, as in Rawls; or the translation of an inexorable pluralism into a practical Christi-anity on the nation-state level without the need for integral, believing Christians, as in Maritain; but a communal consensus on the intrinsic political defectiveness of worldview pluralism, and the necessity of its eradication by means of teleologically-informed, communal dialectic oriented towards and aspiring toward the truth and embodying this truth on the large-scale level of the nation-state—and perhaps even beyond this. In contrast with Maritain’s democratic charter, this “anti-pluralism” consensus would not be seen as a good in itself, but only a provisional means to the securing of a large-scale political consensus on a particular tradition. And there is no reason why this tradition should not be given some form of official political recognition by the state to protect it and foster its de-velopment.
    Ultimately, MacIntyre’s project is inadequate as a blueprint for the last phase of this political project, determining what particular tradition should become politically hegemonic, because it is not explicitly informed by political theology derived from supernatural revelation. Rowland writes,
    MacIntyre’s work alone does not however provide a comprehensive post-modern Augustinian Thomist critique of the culture of modernity and under-standing of the role of culture in moral formation. For this it is necessary to venture beyond the boundaries of philosophy to the realm of theology. This is because the culture of modernity and its practices have been formed not only by the severance of the orders of faith and reason, but also, more fundamentally, by those of nature and grace . . . . Although MacIntyre has examined the failure of the Enlightenment’s attempt to construct a conception of human flourishing upon an allegedly theologically disengaged rationality, he has not examined the theological counterpoint to this project, namely, the attempted severance of the orders of nature and grace.
    If the deep problems MacIntyre identifies in modern political order stem from a theological error, namely, a false notion of the proper relationship between nature and grace, then these problems can only be solved through a correct notion of this relationship—and this notion can only come from revealed theology. This is the conclusion to which Thomistic-Catholic political philosophy should ultimately lead, and from which political theology must begin.
    If the ultimate moral and political good for man can be fully intelligible and attainable only from within a particular tradition of rationality, and if a tradition of rationality can be rationally evaluated according to the degree it allows its adherents to know and practice the good, then any just political order must not only be open to, but also specifically and deliberately ordered to public discussion and debate about the truth and goodness of diverse traditions. The political good requires above all the discovery of that moral and intellectual tradition most conducive to human flourishing, which is to say, the true one, for only upon and through it can one ground and secure political justice. The “fact of reasonable pluralism” can be interpreted in no other way. In sum, the purpose of any overlapping consensus or democratic charter is to create the conditions for the communal discovery of the true tradition. Only in the event of such a dis-covery could there be any real possibility of morally based political unity. Large-scale political unity in the truth is a good that must be sought, in spite of the great difficulty in attaining it. And, pace Rawls and Maritain, it is not an impossible goal.
    David Gallagher articulates with great clarity and succinctness the intrinsic desirability of a non-pluralistic, large-scale, religiously united po-litical order:
    It would be better, all things considered, to have unanimity among the body politic on the ultimate questions, and if there were such agreement, a number of matters consequent upon the shared comprehensive doctrine could enter political life. Public life would be richer, would produce more good for its citizens, if it included aspects of the transcendent. . . . The point here is that when we accept the unity of reason, then it seems a mistake to take the liberal approach to political life as in principle the best or the only adequate one. It may be the best here and now, but only because we are in a defective situation, that of widespread error concerning ultimate questions.
    David Schindler takes Gallagher one-step further, suggesting not only that a confessional political order is desirable, but also that it is inevitable:
    A nonconfessional state is not logically possible, in the one real order of history. The state cannot finally avoid affirming, in the matter of religion, a priority of either “freedom from” or “freedom for”—both of these priorities implying a theology.
    If the Thomist tradition is the true tradition, and if the ideal political order can only be described coherently and persuasively with the resources of both the philosophy and the theology of this tradition, what MacIntyre could provide, if he were only to put some theology into his intellectual arsenal, is an effective refutation of any non-Thomistic attempt to prescribe a model of the ideal political order. MacIntyre has made it clear that the ultimate reason for the superior strength of Thomistic philosophy is precisely its theological underpinnings: “What they have too rarely asked is how far the philosophical strengths of Thomism in secular debate with rival moral philosophers may not derive from the extent to which it succeeds in articulating in secular form what were originally distinctively theological, distinctively Christian preoccupations.” As MacIntyre states in his most recent book, a purely secular, purely philosophical understanding of the moral life of man is inevitably insufficient: “So that a purely secular understanding of the moral life is always inadequate and incomplete, both with regard to its end—the vision of God—the most that reason can show is that no finite object or state of affairs could be our final good—but also with regard to the kind of character that we need to have, if we are to become able to attain that end.”
    What a theologically informed, MacIntyrean-Thomist, ideal political order might actually look like, and how it could be effectively implemented in the present day, is a distinctly theological task. It is one that, I hope, Alasdair MacIntyre may one day attempt, for it is an urgent and necessary task, and if anyone is able to accomplish it, it is he!

  27. February 5, 2011 6:35 pm

    I have read your latest posting Thaddeus so let me highlight a few things. Right neat the top you make one of the most incriminating statements in this posting:

    “However, even if MacIntyre were to recommend such a thing, how could the religiously divided nation-states of today ever attain the unity in religious truth that such a political order would require?
    I do not have an answer to this question, but I think MacIntyre’s thought provides the best resources for answering it.”

    This line:

    “I do not have an answer to this question, but I think MacIntyre’s thought provides the best resources for answering it.”

    Clearly indicates that you do not have the answer but it may lie somewhere within MacIntyre’s thought.

    Further down this in this section:

    “Ultimately, MacIntyre’s project is inadequate as a blueprint for the last phase of this political project, determining what particular tradition should become politically hegemonic, because it is not explicitly informed by political theology derived from supernatural revelation.”

    This line:

    “Ultimately, MacIntyre’s project is inadequate as a blueprint for the last phase”

    It clearly indicates that you are missing a key link in the chain of thought that would complete implementation.

    Further down in this section:

    “If the Thomist tradition is the true tradition, and if the ideal political order can only be described coherently and persuasively with the resources of both the philosophy and the theology of this tradition, what MacIntyre could provide, if he were only to put some theology into his intellectual arsenal, is an effective refutation of any non-Thomistic attempt to prescribe a model of the ideal political order.”

    This line:

    “if he were only to put some theology into his intellectual arsenal,”

    It is quite obvious that MacIntyre has not provided you with the fully formed conclusion you need to complete implementation.

    The bottom line here is you still have not provided a way to implement a Confessional State in a pluralistic society.

    I have asked you repeatedly to tell me how Catholics, who are in the minority in the United States can implement a Confessional State, when we are confronted with the 1st amendment, which does not allow Catholics to impinge upon the religious freedoms of non-Catholic Americans.

    So far you have not been able to provide me with a blueprint for implementation within a simple hypothetical pluralistic society, let alone the far more complicated structure we confront now in the United States.

    Yet you have demanded in this very thread that we are obligated to install a Confessional state, and that to not do so would be a direct challenge to papal authority.

    This is the equivalent of demanding that Catholics build and complete a highway “right now” without telling us where the beginning and end of the highway should be located.

    Not only is this intellectually and logically corrupt, as I have stated to you repeatedly, this can only cause confusion and angst amongst my fellow Catholics. Catholics already hear voices within the Church calling for a benevolent dictator to come and save America. You are pouring fuel on a fire that desperately needs to be put out now.

    I urge all Catholics to repudiate your documents and comments and I call upon the Vatican to clarify their position on the matter of the implementation of a Confessional state.

    • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
      February 6, 2011 1:45 am

      Gisher:

      Articulating and promoting an ideal societal model peacefully, consensually, and non-coercively towards which Catholics should work is neither a crime nor a heresy, at least it wouldn’t be seen as such in a discussion among theologically and philosophically informed Catholics (are you a Catholic?) in a truly Catholic social, cultural, and political order.

      I must say that the fact that you suggest in an earlier post that I should be put in front of a grand jury for having said such things publicly, that is, for simply promoting the Church’s traditional teaching on the social reign of Christ, is quite telling. It is telling us precisely why we need a radical alternative to secular, liberal pluralism, whose thought-controlling-and-coercing dynamic is getting worse and worse every day, as your hysterical and threatening posts display.

      It’s ironic, to say the least, how you talk and talk about the First Amendment and about being a good American, yet you want to silence my views, and even have the Church excommunicate me, or set me up in front of a grand jury!

      Well, I don’t think Zenit would have published the interview supporting my book’s argument if I were promoting violence or doing something illegal or saying heretical things. And I don’t think Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, or Father James Schall, one of the most respected and prolific Catholic authors living today, both of whom have have written definitive books on the teachings of Pope Benedict, would have written a complementary blurb as well as the foreword for my book if it were the evil, violence inciting, heretical, and subversive fanaticism you suggest it is. My book is on the cutting edge of Catholic political thought, which is returning to a more traditional cast, but combining it with the great postmodern developments in thought and sensibility that have occurred within the Church’s mind since Leo XIII. I think Caritas in Veritate is a great example of this synthesis.

      I daresay your posts have only confirmed the problem of how Catholic thought and sentiment can be shaped perversely by today’s anti-Catholic, liberal regimes that are, in effect, liberal confessional states privatizing, marginalizing, sterilizing, and perverting all claims to truth except their own, namely the claim, made implicitly and by subterfuge, of course, that Christ cannot and must not reign socially, culturally, economically and politically–not even one little bit–for it He did, evil would ensue and men would no longer be free. This is the heresy you should be railing against!

      Well, I would suggest you read Caritas in Veritate closely and see if the Pope isn’t saying anything less than I am saying: freedom can only be present and active in men’s hearts and wills when truth and charity inform and order all aspects of human life, including politics. I am proposing just this.

      And then read Leo XIII, and see if you would also want that blessed man thrown in jail for his “anti-American” views.

  28. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 6, 2011 1:53 am

    “Yet you have demanded in this very thread that we are obligated to install a Confessional state, and that to not do so would be a direct challenge to papal authority.”

    Not “install,” but “work towards,” peacefully, prayerfully, and lovingly, just like we Catholics should all work towards the conversion of every living being to the Catholic Church. Conversion is the key in both cases, and conversion is, of course, a voluntary choice based upon God’s invitation. The Church only proposes, as JPII wisely said, as in a marriage proposal. Our job is just to proclaim and propose that invitation.

    My book is an envisioning of what it might look like if enough people in one political community, however small, accepted that invitation and expressed in fully in their lives.

    • February 6, 2011 11:44 am

      These are your own words Thaddeus, copied from directly above in this thread:

      “I must say that many of the comments about the interview reveal great ignorance about the Church’s authoritative and infallible proncouncements on political theology. Many talk about this all important moral issue as if it were a mere accidential and unsettled minor philosophical or poltiical matter. The Church has spoken authoritatively on the issue of the ideal political order, and Catholics are not free to disagree with this, just as they are not free to deny the absolute moral imperative of a just wage. If you do read my book, I would suggest reading all the Encyclicals of Leo XIII on political matters, or perhaps just Libertas and Immortale Dei to start.”

      You can walk it back and call it “work toward” but in the above quote you clearly label this as an imperative that we cannot challenge.

      A Confessional state is a political order that is ruled by one divine leader. That leader has the power to set law and enforce it, as you were clearly aware of when you made the remark:

      “perhaps just enough to ban contraceptives in a particular Florida town.”

      No matter how you sugarcoat this you are calling for a Confessional state for the United States. Work towards, implement, these words will not matter to a grand jury. Calling for supplanting the current democracy with a a political order that is ruled by one divine leader in the United States could be considered treason by our laws.

      As for what harm could be caused by your presenting this idea in an environment such as this, well then imagine a good Catholic, who has heard Michael Voris publicly call for a “benevolent dictator” who now sees you calling for what appears to be the exact same thing.

      Voris may just be a parishioner ( albeit one who is held on high by Catholic TV ) but you sir, have a much higher status within the Church as your comments about your book flap have clearly indicated.

      It then could appear to this good Catholic that Voris and his “benevolent dictator” have the full support of the Church from top to bottom.

      This is how insurrections start Thaddeus, and this is also how Inquisitions can start. Your words are not existing just inside some cerebral vacuum, no they are quite publicly available for all to see.

      You have laid out a goal Thaddeus with no clear way to reach that goal, but yet demanded that we strive toward it. That goal happens to conflict with the current laws of the United States, which is why I again call for the Vatican to clarify it’s position on the Confessional state as well as to the matter of their support for the term or ideal of a “benevolent dictator”.

      • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
        February 6, 2011 4:12 pm

        “Calling for supplanting the current democracy with a a political order that is ruled by one divine leader in the United States could be considered treason by our laws.”

        What the heck to you mean by “divine leader”? Christ is the only one I know of, and the age of theocracy is over. What’s more, Christ said His Kingdom is not of this world, so His reign is an indirect one, mediated by human, very human, leaders.

        You have a quite idiosyncratic definition of a confessional political order, one that is unrecognizable to me. A democratic Catholic polity in which there is as much communal participation and deliberation is certainly possible, and quite preferable to any thing else. Have you read MacIntyre?

        You obviously have not read the social encyclicals of the Popes on political matters, or else you have read them but haven’t learned what they have to teach. And you haven’t read my book, I don’t think. Instead, you read into my comments in the interview your own idiosyncratic and tendentious interpretations with which you threaten me and insinuate heresy and treason. Whose bringing about an inquisition here! I think it’s already started!

        • February 6, 2011 8:34 pm

          “democratic Catholic polity”.

          That is a wonderful concept. The problem is I have been pointing out to you repeatedly that the United States is not a Catholic country. We are not in the majority here. We are not allowed by law to force our “shared” beliefs upon others.

          As for your other statements in this section please refer to my comment below that last of your three.

      • Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
        February 6, 2011 4:18 pm

        I wonder what Father Schall, Tracey Rowland, and Aidan Nichols will say when I tell them they are accomplices to treason and are close to being excommunicated!

        “A sophisticated, cumulative case for the moral limitations and metaphysical bankruptcy of liberal political philosophy—even in its Catholic (Maritainian) form. Drawing on the much-discussed MacIntyre but going beyond him, the author shows why civil society, and the State, need a sacral keystone to complete the arch of a comprehensive human good. My only disappointment is that the book ended so soon, before displaying what a humane theopolitically legitimated State might look like: I await with eagerness a sequel where the author will do justice to his constructive as well as analytic gifts.”
        —Aidan Nichols OP, Blackfriars Cambridge

        “In this rigorously argued book, Thaddeus Kozinski suggests that critiques of liberalism must find their resolution in the idea of a confessional state. Those of us who disagree will be forced to offer equally rigorous defenses of a Christian politics that is neither liberal nor state-centered. Any contemporary vision of a theological politics must take this book’s stimulating and provocative argument into account.”
        —William T. Cavanaugh, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and DePaul University

        “Thaddeus Kozinski belongs to a new generation of Catholic scholars for whom the social consensus of the 1950s is something known only from oral history and old movies, and the Catholic social theory formulated within that context is woefully inadequate to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. This work brings the theories of John Rawls, Jacques Maritain and Alasdair MacIntyre into dialog and reaches the conclusion that there are problems within the realm of political theory that cannot be solved philosophically—solutions need to be found elsewhere. Kozinski’s book is on the cutting edge of a new generation of Catholic political theory and will be valuable for students of political theory everywhere regardless of their theological backgrounds.”
        — Tracey Rowland, John Paul II Institute

        • February 6, 2011 8:40 pm

          You are not alone Thaddeus in promoting a Confessional state. The list is much longer, and there are many more names that could be added to those you have listed above.

          Yet another reason why clarification on this matter needs be provided by the Vatican. You can see my comments below which hopefully will reinforce the need for such clarification.

  29. Ronald King permalink
    February 6, 2011 10:06 am

    Please correct me if I you think I am wrong. With over 30 years of work and study in intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships it is clear to me that human beings primary method of learning is observation and within that learning they are drawn to what appears familiar. However, each human being is wired to love and be loved which is revealed through the relatively new advances in the study of interpersonal neurobioloby.
    I must make this short. No amount of rational philosophical thought will change the core beliefs of the general population. What changes beliefs of observers are the behaviors of those who are being observed. Everything material and behavioral that represents the Church triggers in the observer the sense of a loving compassionate church or the sense of a rigid moralistic materialistic dictator.
    The world must “see” the Church a “poor in spirit” in order for conversion to be possible. The world must “see” love being lived out in a truly sacrificial way that is directly connected to the life of Christ in which modern man is able to observe those who would call themsevlves leaders of our faith exhibit the same actions of love for others that Christ did. This would require a radical change of thought and behavior in which grace would be seen as clear actions of love for those whose suffering is most obvious.
    The thinkers must become the actors. The greatest theologians must stop writing books that stimulate the pleasure centers of their brains and use their intelligence to lead movements of love for those who suffer. This is the only way that we will have a united faith and it is the only true evangelization that has any meaning. Jesus did the holy work, why can’t our present leaders do the same and get dirty in the process.

    • February 6, 2011 8:48 pm

      I just wanted to let you know that I love what you have said here, and would have been thrilled to make this point myself. Unfortunately, any deviation I might have made from my central point would have only diffused it.

      I was thrilled to see you bring this forward, and frankly, it is no less significant than the points I am making. We do not belong down in the mud. We do have a higher calling.

  30. Thaddeus Kozinski permalink
    February 6, 2011 4:02 pm

    Gisher:

    My ultimate loyalty is to Our Lord and His Church. If that’s treasonous, well, I’ll just have to prepare for martyrdom then. I’d rather be preparing for that than for the eternal consequences of denying Our Lord by giving wholehearted moral, intellectual, and spiritual support to an ideology of pluralistic, secularist, relativistic, totalitarian liberalism that rejects and works to prevent the social reign of Christ the King to any extent (even if just over one’s family), and even if it is worked towards peacefully.

    And by the way, I completely reject what the guy from Catholic Vortex is calling for politically. I don’t think his benevolent dictator idea, at least in the way he describes it, is in line with Catholic teaching on the legitimacy of a healthy secularism and freedom of conscience. It seems a truly reactionary position of the most simplistic sort.

    That ends my part in this discussion.

    • February 6, 2011 7:43 pm

      You reject what Voris calling for politically but yet you fail to see that you are in fact calling for, let me correct that, demanding something that is almost identical in nature. You simply use far less shall we say, intimating language to describe yours than Voris does his.

      Well I welcome and accept your rejection of what Voris is calling for and hope you will immediately join me in demanding that our Church responds rapidly to correct whatever damage Voris may potentially bring upon our Church.

      I also repeat my call for the Vatican to clarify it’s position on the matter of a Confessioanl state so that in particular, American Catholics have a clearer understanding of what is expected from them by the Church.

      I do not think for one instance that Mr.Vorris created his concept out of thin air, and strongly suspect that he was in fact misinterpreting documents or comments made by others within the Church hierarchy on the matter of a Confessional state.

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