lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

Pope Francis at the UN

Augustine, Aquinas, or Kant? 
Pope Francis at the UN


One of the world’s worst-kept secrets is the Holy See’s high regard for the United Nations. Since Paul VI, popes have appeared before its General Assembly to express their “great esteem,” as Francis remarked in his recent UN address, for its work.

Not all Catholics entertain favorable views of the UN. They point, for instance, to its relentless efforts to promote gender theory nonsense and evils such as “reproductive rights.” The Holy See, however, maintains that, despite such faults, the UN is worth engaging. 

There are, I think, three reasons for this.

  • First, the Church teaches—and many Catholic natural law scholars hold—that the emergence of a “world community” as a distinct political community necessitates a corresponding “authority” (the precise parameters of which the Church has carefully avoided specifying). 
  • The second reason might be described as practical. Whether we like it or not, the argument goes, the UN exists. Hence it’s better for the Holy See to be involved, if only to help derail some truly bad ideas.
  • The third reason, however, is more problematic. It’s hardly original to submit that many Holy See diplomats have imbibed deeply of a continental Western European view of the world. Hence, like your average Brussels bureaucrat, they’re often influenced by ideas detailed in Immanuel Kant’s 1795 essay, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” but initially outlined by a French priest, the Abbé de Saint-Pierre. The latter’s 1713 Projet pour rendre la paix perpétuelle en Europe (A Project for Bringing about Perpetual Peace in Europe) was the first to make a systematic case for an international organization to promote and maintain universal peace.

In our time, analogous proposals can be found in the liberal internationalism associated with figures such as Woodrow Wilson. Structurally, they translate into an emphasis upon human rights and associated endeavors to concretize top-down transnational governance by people whose philosophical lodestones are invariably Kant’s secular liberal heirs, such as John Rawls. Today’s European Union and its political-bureaucratic class exemplify this outlook. The goal is to lock countries into structures that minimize conflict (at the cost of vast limitations upon nations’ freedom) and, above all, prevent war. War is effectively regarded as always the worst option—virtually unthinkable.


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