Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two recent Popes on American independence

This post over at The American Catholic provides excerpts from statements by the current pope, Benedict XVI, and his immediate predecessor, Bl. John Paul II, on the American experiment in ordered liberty:  Pope Benedict XVI & John Paul II on America's Founding.  The popes stress the centrality of both freedom and moral order to the American Founding.  Well worth a read to get some insight to the significance that the Vatican places on the creation of the American Republic.


Tom Van Dyke said...

After Henry VIII executed Thomas More and took over the Church in England, it was the Catholic thinkers, Jesuits Francisco Suarez and Robert Cardinal Bellarmine who argued for religious freedom [in defense of persecuted Papists].

The Divine Right of Kings was argued most strongly 75 years later by James I, he of the "King James Version" Bible.

[Suarez'] teaching on the divine right of kings that earthly power is properly held by the body of men and that kingly power is derived from them so enraged James I of England that the king had Suárez's "De defensione fidei" burned by the hangman. This political doctrine, based on the Roman Catholic doctrine of the equality before God of all men, is a basis of subsequent Catholic teachings on democracy.

And of course, Bellarmine's attack on Divine Right was refudiated by King James hackman Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, which was in turn rebutted by Algernon Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government* and Locke's First Treatise of Government**.

The Romish were in the thick of this liberty thing, theologically.

* Sidney, Discourses:

"Tho the Schoolmen were corrupt, they were neither stupid nor unlearned: They could not but see that which all men saw, nor lay more approved foundations, than, that man is naturally free; that he cannot justly be deprived of that liberty without cause, and that he doth not resign it, or any part of it, unless it be in consideration of a greater good, which he proposes to himself."


Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, And His Followers, are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter is an Essay concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government

Mark D. said...

Indeed, Tom, it was most often the Jesuits -- both from the English Provence and from Spain -- who did the most work on the ideas of limited government, representative government and what we would now call free market capitalism. Alexandro Chaufin, an Argentine free market economist, wrote a book called Christians for Freedom, detailing the free market thought of the Jesuits of the School of Salamanca in Spain.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Pardon my Wiki:

Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, all scholars of natural law and of morality, founded a school of theologians and jurists who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems (morality, economics, jurisprudence, etc.)...

The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession...the first began with Francisco de Vitoria (1483–1546), and reached its high point with Domingo de Soto (1494–1560).

The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina (1535–1600), the aforementioned Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), and Giovanni Botero (1544–1617), who would continue the tradition in Italy.

The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).