Thursday, December 4, 2008

H.H. The Pope on liberalism and multiculturalism

Via today’s CathNews I found a Zenit news article containing some interesting thoughts from H.H. The Pope on what he considers to be the foundations of liberalism and the internal contradiction of multiculturalism. The source for these thoughts was a letter from His Holiness to an Italian philosopher regarding a book published by the latter on these topics. Here are the key parts:

At the heart of liberalism is the Christian image of God, and rediscovering that is the key to overcoming the current crisis of ethics in Europe and the world, says Benedict XVI.

[…] [The book’s author shows] that rooted in the heart of liberalism is the Christian image of God [said His Holiness].

“With irreproachable logic, you show how liberalism loses its base and destroys itself if it abandons this foundation," [His Holiness] added.

The Pope also expressed his admiration for Pera's analysis of liberty, and the concept of multiculturalism, in which he "shows the internal contradiction of this concept and, therefore, its political and cultural impossibility."

[…] "You show that liberalism, without failing to be liberalism -- rather, to be faithful to itself -- can refer to a doctrine of the good, in particular the Christian, which is familiar to it, thus truly offering a contribution to overcome the crisis," he continued.

[…]If one opts for anti-Christianity, what the Pope calls "the apostasy of Christianity," added Pera [the book’s author], "we lose the very virtues, the very foundations of those liberties and rights on which are liberal States are founded."
His Holiness’s apparent endorsement of the book’s ideas on liberalism seems rather curious. Usually one would conceive of liberalism as an individualistic way of organising society and one based on the idea of society as a contract (an idea condemned by the Church) rather than the traditional understanding of it as being a creature of God because it arises from man’s God-given social nature. Another important feature of liberalism is the ‘harm principle’, the notion that the State should regulate its subjects’ behaviour only to the extent that it infringes on other subjects’ behaviour. Thus liberalism also departs from Catholic social teaching by changing the purpose of the State from the building-up of the common good to the mere maintenance of public order. So liberalism tends to violate the Catholic social doctrine principles of solidarity and the common good, and accordingly it is hard to see how it can be reconciled with Social Reign of Christ.

As for multiculturalism, I can readily agree that it is internally contradictory, and I regard it as being detrimental to the Social Reign of Christ. For one thing, culture means that which surrounds the cult, and so the natural tendency of an authentically Christian society ought to be towards monoculturalism. Surely a nation should strive to cultivate as noble and excellent a culture as it can, rather than merely ‘celebrating diversity’ as though it were an end in itself? Speaking of which, one of the other problems with multiculturalism is that one’s tastes or preferences are an important factor in one’s support for or opposition to it. Some people have a taste for diversity. Fair enough. But I have a taste for homogeneity. Why is my preference any less valid than the other?

As for the relationship between liberalism and multiculturalism, there is at least one apparent tension between the two. One of the fundamental principles of the art of politics is that the more diverse the base from which the compound (the nation) is to be moulded, the greater the weight of authority that must be applied, all else equal. Hence a State that pursues the slogan of ‘many different cultures, one community’ is going to have be less liberal, all else equal, than a monocultural one. But what really tends to happen is that there end up being as many communities as there are cultures. This is what has happened in Australia’s capital cities, and it shows just how unworkable, just how self-defeating and internally contradictory, the policy of multiculturalism is.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.


Louise said...

His Holiness’s apparent endorsement of the book’s ideas on liberalism seems rather curious.

I guess it depends how you look at it. Certainly The Gospel is the best thing for ensuring true liberty.

I think the word "liberal" has just changes its meaning.

Woody said...

I agree totally with your article Your Emminence.

The only thing I would say, which I'm sure you are familiar with, is the non traditional ( the poser known as 'neo-conservative' ie American) which has its on understanding of what it means to be 'liberal'. The neo-conservatives in the USA and sadly within the Church there are supporters of Americanism; and as regards even basic employee and union rights consider even these to be 'liberal'. They err your Emminence and are hostile to the Roman/European Catholic social doctrine.

Louise said...

OT - Pole, what is your opinion?

Suppose, Australia were blessed with 95% of the population as practicing Catholics. Would it be more likely to increase the number of souls ultimately saved, if Australia became a confessional State?

To put it differently, would a confessional State tend to increase the success of the Church's mission?

Cardinal Pole said...


you are right to remind us of the other dimension of liberalism, namely the economic dimension. It is unsurprising that, having rejected the nineteenth-century Popes' warnings against political liberalism, some Catholics are now even rejecting the nineteenth-century Popes' warnings against economic liberalism.

Cardinal Pole said...


regarding your first comment, I suppose we can only wait till a translation of the original book appears.

Regarding you second one:

"Would it be more likely to increase the number of souls ultimately saved, if Australia became a confessional State?"

This is a delicate question, since it involves both theology and social doctrine. In one sense we can say 'no', since the number of the Elect is a given. I would probably put it this way: the proportion of those souls going to Heaven is likely to be higher under a Confessional State than under a 'neutral' State, all else equal.

Certainly I can agree that all else equal, "a confessional State tend[s] to increase the success of the Church's mission".

Michael said...

Thankyou Your Emminence,

You are a true traditionalist.
I hope you consider joining the DLP.