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The Church and Political Friendship with God

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Sep 21, 2012

In a very interesting essay in the October 2012 issue of First Things, Pierre Manent makes a thought-provoking argument about the importance of the Catholic Church to political life. Manent is the director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He argues as follows:

  1. The pressure to eliminate national differences and establish a world order is fueled by a religion of humanity which is doomed to disappoint because it does not take into account the essential actuation of the common good in real communities;
  2. This pressure and this trend is strikingly characterized by an absence of God;
  3. In contrast, the State of Israel has asserted its rights against this larger trend essentially by portraying its legitimacy in terms of the Shoah—man’s inhumanity to man—which in many ways is another instance of an argument from the absence of God;
  4. ”The religion of humanity and the religion of the Shoah are two versions, enemies and friends, of a religion of the absence of God that is currently destroying and demoralizing the West. The West will take courage only if it recovers faith in the goodness and friendship of God. The Catholic Church, mediatrix of the Mediator, has no other political task than making itself a convincing witness of the goodness of God.”

In fact, Manent argues that only the Catholic Church is capable of witnessing to this goodness and stimulating this friendship. The thesis is more striking coming from a European, in particular a Frenchmen, given the decline of Catholicism in Europe.

Manent’s 5,000 word essay is entitled “Human Unity Real and Imagined”, and should be available on the First Things website within a couple of months. We’re not allowed to post First Things articles here. The editors would prefer that you subscribe, which is actually an excellent idea. But even in its bold outlines, this is a provocative thesis, and very interesting indeed.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 22, 2012 8:50 AM ET USA

    The recent trend of returning to Catholic principles gives us reason for hope. The Gospel message put simply is that God loves us and that He wants to share His infinite love with us. Doing and saying the right things for the right reasons (reality orientation) is essential to an efficacious witness. "The West will take courage only if it recovers faith in the goodness and friendship of God." There is hope if this principled message of true love is shared with others in Christian charity.