Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ratzinger on Utopianism as a Threat to Law

This insightful post from Fumare highlighting the continuing idiocy of Constitutional Law scholar and Catholic, Douglas Kmiec, brought to mind some reflections of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1999. Entitled "Crises of Law," Ratzinger delievered this address upon the occasion of being conferred the degree of Doctor honoris causa by the Faculty of Juriprudence at Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta in Rome. In his address, Ratzinger speaks of two "current risks" to law: positivism and utopianism. His remarks on utopianism bear repeating, especially in light of the candidacy of Obama and the elite-driven aura of Messianism that surrounds him. It is also useful as an antidote to the muddled thinking of Prof. Kmiec and other Catholics like him who, as apologists for Obama, are, at best, acting with great imprudence.

Quoth Ratzinger in 1999:

There is also a second threat to law, which today seems to be less present than it was 10 years ago, but it can re-emerge at any moment and find a link with the theory of consensus. I am referring to the dissolution of law through the spirit of utopia, just as it assumed a systematic and practical form in Marxist thought. The point of departure was the conviction that the present world is evil--a world of oppression and lack of liberty; which must be substituted by a better way of planning and working. In this case, the real and ultimate source of law becomes the idea of the new society: which is moral, of juridical importance and useful to the advent of the future world. Based on this criteria, terrorism was articulated as a totally moral plan: killings and violence appeared like moral actions, because they were at the service of the great revolution, of the destruction of the present evil world and of the great ideal of the new society. Even here, the end of metaphysics is a given, whose place is taken in this case not by the consensus of contemporaries, but by the ideal model of the future world.

There is even a crypto-theological origin for this negation of law. Because of this, it can be understood why vast currents of theology--especially the various forms of liberation theology--were subject to these temptations. It is not possible for me to present these connections here because of their extent. I shall content myself with pointing out that a mistaken Pauline idea has rapidly given way to radical and even anarchic interpretations of Christianity. Not to speak of the Gnostic movements, in which these tendencies were initially developed, which together with the "no" to God the Creator included also a "no" to metaphysics, to a law of creatures and Natural Law.

Sounds like Ratzinger's warning about the "re-emergence" of this second threat to law has proved to be the candidacy of the Junior Senator from Illinois. If only Prof. Kmiec would recognize this.

Read the whole address here.

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