Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catholicism and complexity

Traditional Catholic social teaching recognised the complexity of human affairs. An approach not taught these days.

First case. A young man chortling about the intervention in Libya. ”Gaddafi’s a tyrant and we’ve got to get rid of him”. So simple!

Let's look at the just war criteria. They require a just objective, legitimate authority, a force proportionate to the objective, and a reasonable chance of success.

But the second Gulf War showed the insuperable problems in setting up shining new democracies in the Middle East. Whatever our dreams, there’s no reasonable chance of success in Libya and the adventure is immoral.

Second case. The youth spokeswoman in the Canberra-Goulburn archdiocese wants men to be jailed if they patronize prostitutes. This is on the basis of “gender equality”.

Does she also want to criminalize adultery? Or telling dirty jokes? Or taking the Lord’s name in vain?

They tried all this in Calvin’s Geneva. But for a Catholic perspective, turn to St Augustine, who concluded that - though prostitution is immoral - the State should not try and outlaw it.

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