Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By way of complement to other postings of today on this site, it is important for the project of Catholic legal theory and Catholic citizenship to embrace the challenge of democracy: it is hard work, a toil involving love, dedication, determination, and fidelity. To borrow from Lord Acton, the freedom we cherish in this country—for the time being—is not to do that what we want to do but, rather, to do that what we ought to do.
In this context, the twice told theme proposed by Blessed John Paul II is wise guidance for the Catholic practitioner of democracy:
“As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into an open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” Centesimus Annus, N. 46, 1991
“[D]emocracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the ‘common home’ where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part.” Evangelium Vitae, N. 20, 1995; “No less critical in the formation of conscience is the recovery of the necessary link between freedom and truth. As I have frequently stated, when freedom is detached from objective truth it becomes impossible to establish personal rights on a firm rational basis; and the ground is laid for society to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority.” Evangelium Vitae, N. 96, 1995
Our duty is to demonstrate to our fellow citizens why this wisdom is the guidance not for what we want to do but for what we ought to do as fellow citizens of a great democracy faced with great challenges. With such sagacity directing our thoughts and actions, change for the common good is not only possible but probable.