In our conversation, Schindler argued that Jesuit Fr. John Courtney Murray, the American theologian who was a driving force behind the decree Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which recognized a strong distinction between church and state, in some ways muddled the waters.
In effect, Schindler said, Murray wanted to argue that the principle of human dignity means the state must remain neutral before competing value systems, allowing each person to choose, without acknowledging that basing all this upon human dignity is already a claim about values.
"The question is, did the church make its peace with the juridical state?" he said, meaning a state conceived basically in terms of free choice, regulated only by the rule of law. "That's left unresolved in Dignitatis Humanae, but I don't think Benedict XVI accepts it."
In other words, Schindler said, the pope believes that some values are so primordial that they can't legitimately be the object of free choice, and the state can't be neutral on them -- for example, the right to life.
"There aren't two ends to the human being," Schindler said, "as if there are two orders of existence. Politics has to be subordinated to the single ultimate end of human life."
Friday, May 19, 2006
Schindler on Murray
Excerpt from John Allen's Word from Rome (19 May 2006)