Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Deus Caritas Est - Justice and the Ordering of a Just Society

The Pope now turns to the 19th century, where the idea of justice was challenged by Marxism. It claimed that in order for Justice to be enacted, the poor ought to be just let be and fend for themselves. They are a burden to those who work and thus if they want out of their situation of poverty they ought to do so by their own means. This is contrary to the teachings of the Church, because it is contrary to a person's dignity. Marxism, in the end, treats a person as a mere commodity who has only significance in the numbers, and thus if sacrifice is to be made, it is for the betterment of establishing a just society, thus having very utilitarian bends. This cannot be the case, each person has a dignity which surpasses utilitarian means, each person's best interests must always be accounted for. This is not justice.

Justice must be the pursuit of the state. The Church has no role in politics, which is emphasized in the Church's stance against liberation theology, in which it taught that the Church ought to form the state. Instead, it is the Church's role to propose the claims of truth which it believes, thus forming those who form society. The Church does not form society, it forms the people who form society. The Church is there to simply propose the claims of truth which are rooted in Jesus Christ.

The origins of politics are found in justice and the pursuit of a just society. It is constantly asking itself how justice can be enacted in the modern period of our lives. It must deal with ethical questions which are constantly posed. But, if politics is to pursue justice, one needs to understand what justice is. It is in the definition of Justice that faith and politics meet. Notice how he does not say religion and politics, and he has good reason for not using the word religion. It denotes a social construct that has based itself on such a vague meaning that it, in essence, has no value at all. Faith, however, is rooted in truth and love. One has faith because one encounters love. This is why faith and politics meet, because faith is an act of love in which justice is poured out, and since justice is the pursuit of politics, then politics must turn to faith in order to understand what it is that it is pursuing.

Here the Pope talks about the necessity of faith and reason. St Anselm once exclaimed, and rightly so, that I believe so that I may understand. In order for us to use our reason, we must have faith in reason and God so that we can properly form our reason. Faith liberates reason. Only through faith, through that ultimate act of love towards God, can we see the ground and purpose of our reason. Faith is constantly present and thus constantly gives us the ability to give an answer to what is justice in the the here and now.

No comments: