Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Regular MOJ readers probably recall that I think Prof. Massimo Faggioli (Villanova) tends to view matters through an overly ideological and/or partisan lens. This recent piece, in Commonweal, supports my view, I think. It's a dog's-breakfast, but the theme seems to be that the Catholic bishops in the United States should be saying more about election-related laws and, more important, saying things with which Prof. Faggioli agrees. (Their asserted failure to do so is seen as Trumpy, money-ish, etc.) The term "democracy" is used imprecisely, and tactically and, somehow, the concluding paragraph ends up with something about President Biden's pick for ambassador to the Holy See.
(Much) more interesting -- and Commonweal is the kind of venue that could do this -- would be informed discussion about what, exactly, "democracy" is, involves, and requires . . . and what Catholics committed to the Church's social teaching should think about it. For example: I am confident that Prof. Faggioli wants the (unelected) members of the Supreme Court of the United States to invalidate various legislative and executive decision. (So do I.) Is this "democratic"? I infer that he thinks some counter-majoritarian features of American constitutional democracy are icky (e.g., the Senate). Why? Various legislative measure that require, say, presenting legally valid identification before voting are analogized to "the anti-liberal turn in Hungary . . . " Really?
Then there's this, which is just silly:
The USCCB is an episcopate that is culturally and theologically a fruit of John Paul II’s pontificate, and, until the 1980s at least, it was receptive of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Church and politics. Now we have to wonder what remains of Vatican II’s impact on Church-state relations, religious liberty, and political participation.
The USCCB's proposals and statements on these latter matters are, entirely, consistent with Dignitatis humanae. What is not consistent with Vatican II is the emerging view, which Prof. Faggioli seems to endorse, that the Church should, in order to avoid being tarred as a "culture warrior", submit to unlawful regulation of her internal affairs.