Liberalism and the Politics of Theism (John F. Doherty, 12/17/23, Public Discourse)

Which kind of earthly politics best assists man’s path to God?

Not long ago, many theists thought the answer to this question was found in liberalism. At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church reaffirmed its longstanding respect for the dignity of the person and his freedom of belief, which are at liberalism’s core. Twentieth-century Italian Catholic philosopher Augusto Del Noce, in The Problem of Atheism, called liberalism “the modern world’s greatest truth.”

He said it presumes “a generically Christian theology.” Liberalism recognizes “a reality higher than man” to which man is subject—the absolute realm of truth, or God, expressed in terms of natural law and rights. It recognizes that the individual is the beginning and end of society, not its instrument, and that he must pursue truth freely. Finally, it recognizes that the scope of politics is limited—not just because man’s final end is God, rather than the state, but because fallen human nature cannot be corrected by temporal measures: the politician can minimize sin but not eliminate it.