April 20, 2008


The Pope's Meaning Of Freedom (William A. Donohue 04.18.08, Forbes)

The pope also wasted no time speaking to an issue that is dear to him--the meaning of freedom. In his remarks at the White House, he said something that is profoundly counter-cultural from an American point of view: He stressed that "freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility toward the less fortunate." Not exactly music to the ears of those who mistake freedom for license.

In his joint presentation with President Bush, the Holy Father also made plain his ongoing concern that all religions must act responsibly when confronted with adversity. According to news reports, the pope and the president rejected "the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents." It should be obvious that this remark was aimed mostly at fanatics who kill in the name of Islam. Indeed, it is reminiscent of the pope's Regensburg address in 2006, which so many Muslims found offensive.

In that speech, the pope emphasized the need to conjoin faith to reason, and vice versa. When faith is disconnected from reason, it breeds religious fanaticism. When reason is disconnected from faith, it breeds radical secularism. Regarding the latter, the pope had in mind the professoriate, too many of whom have made a god out of reason. But reason alone does not liberate--it invites us to make moral decisions absent a larger good. And when that happens, people walk around willy-nilly, executing their own moral code. Historically, this has had monstrous consequences.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2008 9:21 AM
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