Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Language, Diologue, and the Problem of Calling Something Evil

Rob raises an important in his post Gay Marriage as an "Ideology of Evil," in which he  says "In today's culture, my fear is that such labels close off any further potential conversation on a key societal trend ...  as these labels produce headlines that support a caricature of the Church as an unthinking, anachronistic institution."  I agree with Rob that this presents a problem, but I suspect that those who want to support a caricature of the Church will be able to do so no matter what language is used because any sophisticated and nuanced argument will provide fodder for those who a) disagree and b) don't want to expend the time or the energy to engage in thoughtful dialog.

The Church (including the current pontiff) teaches that every person has a right to emigrate and that country's that can handle immigration should allow generous immigration.  Yet, in Laborem Excercens, Pope John Paul II suggests that "emigration is in some aspects an evil."  In what sense is it evil?  Is it a physical evil?  Is it a moral evil?  In all circumstances or only in some?  If it is a moral evil in at least some circumstances, what is the culpability of the emigrant in a given circumstance.  The use of the language is shocking for modern ears that think of evil in terms of the holocaust. 

With Rob, I would welcome more discussion on this issue of language.  How can the Church with its 2000 years of finely tuned language dialog with a culture that a) is often unfriendly to its message, b) is used to arguments being made in 30 second increments, c) and receives its information through the filter of a media quick to caricature (whether intentionally or out of ignorance), especially where the precise language doesn't resonate with modern common understanding of that language?   


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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