Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thomist vision of natural law is not acceptable

The current issue of The Tablet  carries an interview with Olivier Roy, who according to the blurb, is one of Europe's most original analysts of Islam and religion in the West. Starting in 2011, his team of researchers from around Europe began studying controversies about faith in the secular public sphere.

Below is an excerpt from The Tablet article.

"Today's secular culture is no longer founded on common values, neither with those of religion nor of Christian anthropology with its conception of the fmaily, life and freedom.

"The laws on same-sex marriage show we are in an anthropological change. The Thomist vision of a natural law that both believers and non-believers can accept is finished.

"The Irish referendum was a prime example of this. It was not only a reaction of the sexual-abuse scandal. That certainly played a part in the church's loss of credibility. But the majority of people who voted for same-sex marriage did so because they approve of the anthropological change. They don't see any problem with homosexual marriage.

"The fact that abortion remains quite restricted in Ireland does not contradict this trend. Abortion is not popular. It's a lesser evil, not a value. But same-sex marriage is seen as a value. This is what the church has not understood well. It's a cultural change and the Catholic Church is not in phase with the dominant culture."

Later on in the article Roy points out that the Catholic Church has always said faith should be rooted in culture.


Michael said...

In reality, bishops have always acted as though culture should be rooted in faith!

BTW, have you read the sour grapes edition of the Alive tabloid this month?

Thomas G McCarthy said...

There is a further insightful point too in this conversation between Olivier Roy and The Tablet. Tom Heneghan notes that Roy, in Holy Ignorance, argued that 'secularism fostered the emergence of shallow fundamentalisms in reaction to societies seen as pagan'. In my life as a Catholic preacher I have known clear-cut examples of this trend.

Francis Hunt said...

@ Tom: Simple identification with any ideology or faith, without an open exploration of the deeper roots of the faith/ideals- system, will always tend to lead to some kind of ignorant fundamentalism. Simple slogans, platitudes and solutions are taken on board and argued, without any conceptual foundation backing them up.

For me, as someone who would describe himself as having a secularist, non-theistic view of the world, discussions with many conservative Christians (particularly of the Catholic, scholastic variety) are often frustrating as they tend to take an idea of a basic 'natural law' as given. More, they are quite prepared to make all sort of assertions about specific consequences of that natural law - above all in the area of sexuality. It is difficult to rationally discuss with them, because their view of existence as being fundamentally defined by a (God-given) natural law - which is (for them) obviously reasonable - allows them no other level to find a common ground for discourse with someone who does not adhere to their basic position on natural law.

It must be nice to know you have such a direct line to absolute truth ... Personally (even as an Irishman!) I've always found Oliver Cromwell's appeal to the synod of the Church of Scotland in 1650 more attractive: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken." :-)

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