Faith and Culture: The 'Ratzingerian Marxists' and the 'Anthropological Emergency'
appears to us to be the most serious manifestation and at the same time the deepest root of the crisis of democracy. It germinates challenges that demand a new alliance between men and women, believers and nonbelievers, religion and politics."
The manifesto calls for a new definition of secularism, one that is less hostile to religious values, recognizes the important public role of the Catholic Church and other religious bodies, and suggests for a greater balance of both faith and reason in the public arena.
It suggests that the Church's social doctrine, which is founded on authentic human values, ought to be an inspiration to political parties, and can help bring some sort of commonality between all political parties so that debates are less polarizing.
While the manifesto recognizes the autonomy of the political sphere vis-ŕ-vis the Church, that autonomy should not be construed as hostile to religious values or amoral. The Church should be a partner in the development of society.
The manifesto proclaims the need to guard against the danger of the "radical culture" of an overemphasized individualism which appears heedless to the truths and the good of social institutions and relationships, and results in a sort of tyranny of uncontrolled desire and uncontrolled application of technology as the only good.
It stresses the need to reject ethical relativism and to recognize that there are some values that are simply non-negotiable.
The rejection of ethical relativism, the manifesto stresses, does not mean that the values of cultural pluralism need be rejected. What it does require, however, is the rejection of morally nihilistic visions of modernity espoused by a minority of radical intellectuals. Such moral nihilism can never be the basis for a democratic life.
Recognition of non-negotiable moral realities-one of which is the "freedom and dignity of the human person from the first moment of conception"-does not discriminate between believers and non-believers. The authors of the manifesto frankly concede that this is the most criticized passage of the letter, and yet they view it as among one of the most important.
"To this end," the manifesto concludes "we believe that the Democratic Party should promote a public dialogue with the Catholic Church and other religious denominations operating in Italy and which are "ethically sensible," to the end that it might attend more strictly to the actual risks of the Italian nation: the state of its unity, and the "ethical substance" of the democratic regime."
The manifesto, along with a fourteen separate essays commenting on the manifesto, has recently been published by the Italian publisher Guerini & Associates.
The authors of the manifesto have also announced a major conference that will include both Catholics and non-believers that will discuss the manifesto in 2013, and which will focus on the anthropological vision of Benedict XVI.
Perhaps Americans can learn from the "Anthropological Emergency" manifesto and the efforts of the "Ratzingerian Marxists" Barcellona and Paolo. God knows that our fractured society has lost the ability to communicate sensibly on those things which ought to guide our life in common and our political life. The right and the left seem to yell past each other.
Our society has become overly secularized and increasingly heedless to and even hostile to religious values. The government seems intent on limiting religious freedom to freedom of worship and seems hostile to a broader, traditional view of religious freedom as including not only worship, but also public works of mercy.
All too often, we have adopted relativistic view of life, where "whatever floats your boat" is to be allowed, and where there are no such things as non-negotiables. Our country would be better served if the Catholic Social Doctrine was better-known by our politicians, whether they be Catholic or not.
We have, moreover, trampled over some of those non-negotiables, most obviously that great non-negotiable that the "freedom and dignity of the human person from the first moment of conception" ought to be respected.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Ratzingerian Marxists, Pietro Barcellona, Paolo Sorbi, Anthropological Emergency, Andrew M. Greenwell
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