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.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

So much for "extraterritorial" rights

I recalled the other day (here) Jacques Maritain's observation that "it was five hundred years ago that we began to die."  Maritain made that observation in 1927 (in Primaute Du Spirituel, which was published in English in 1930 under the title The Things That Are Not Caesar's), so by now it's been nearly six hundred years since the patient began to die.  Maritain promptly changed his tune from the one he sang in 1927, of course, and, without benefit of Tradition, defended throughout the rest of his long life a state no longer formed and united on the basis of  "a common profession of faith" but, instead, on the basis of a "minimal unity"  (Integral Humanism 262, 261 (1934-35; Eng. 1996)).  Maritain supposed that such a minimal principle of unity would be more than enough to protect the human person's "extraterritorial " rights and privileges, that is, those that correspond to the rights of God.  In 1966, however, reading the "signs of the times" (so to speak), Maritain cautioned that "the great reversal" of which he had been the advocate depended upon this: that "it is no longer the human which takes charge of defending the divine, but the divine which offers itself to defend the human (if the latter does not refuse the aid offered."  (The Peasant of the Garonne 4 (1966; Eng. 1968)).  Is it the divine defending the human that Pope Francis has in mind when he would have us genuflect before man (see here), while he himself does not genuflect or kneel before the Blessed Sacrament (at least not in public)?  Can humans who do not take charge of defending the divine right anticipate that the divine will succeed in offering aid to humans, whose existential freedom of choice remains intact, after all?  Even in 1934-35 Maritain recognized that "[t]he Christian knows that the State has duties to God and that it should collaborate with the Church."  (Integral Humanism, 265).  Does "the Christian" any longer "know[]" as much?  If not, what will become of those "extraterritorial" rights and privileges?  Well, just look around at how "the great reversal" is working out its own internal logic one issue (or several) at a time, more and more often in courts of law -- this "territory" at the expense of higher "territory."


Brennan, Patrick | Permalink