Skip to content
Catholic Online SHopping 20% off RE-Grand Opening SALE

RE-Grand Opening
FREE Shipping over $49 (lower 48)

The Foundations of Democracy

p>

According to Theologian Father Michael Hull

NEW YORK, SEPT. 1, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the text of an address Father Michael Hull of New York delivered at a theologians videoconference on race and culture June 27. The Congregation for Clergy organized the international videoconference.

* * *

"Democracy" is difficult to define, and its foundations are difficult to articulate, because the word is used in many and diverse ways, especially by special-interest groups including political parties, the media, and governments.

At its root, democracy means "rule by the people" (Greek: democratia).

Such is the foundation for all democratic thought, namely, that the ruled should participate in some capacity in their ruling; but the extent of that capacity, whether total or partial, and the means by which that capacity is exercised, whether by the people themselves or their representatives, are hardly standard or standardized.

In fact, the range of meaning ascribed, often speciously, to the word democracy is so wide as to make it almost meaningless.

Yet the root of the word expresses well its foundational principle: rule by the people.

A sincere desire for the people to have a voice in their government reflects knowledge of and respect for the fundamental dignity of the human person as a creature of God. Although such an understanding may be a crude one, as in the ancient Greek or Enlightenment understanding, unaided human reason can come to know God, the created order, and the natural law (see "Dei Filius" of Vatican Council I).

Such knowledge ought to lead to a profound respect for human persons and their dignity. Over 40 years ago, "Gaudium et spes" spoke of "a keener awareness of human dignity" as the catalyst "to establish a politico-juridical order in which the rights of the human person in public life will be better protected" (73).

That catalyst has been accelerated by revelation, wherein we see the sacrifice of Christ -- "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13) -- as the prism through which we see every human being: one for whom the Son suffered and died, one to whom eternal salvation is offered.

Thus, "the Church recognizes that while democracy is the best expression of the direct participation of citizens in political choices, it succeeds only to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life," no. 3).

The foundation of democratic thought -- that the ruled should participate in some capacity in their ruling -- assumes a weighty character when the ramifications of revelation are taken into consideration.

This character compels a recognition of the natural law described by St. Paul as "written" on human hearts (Romans 2:15) and defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as "nothing else than the rational creature's participation of the eternal law" (Summa theologiae, part I-II, q. 91, a. 2; cf. Pope John Paul II, "Veritatis splendor," no. 43).

Without the recognition of the primacy of natural law, democracies are condemned to little more than tyranny of the majority, not to mention a plethora of social and moral evils.

The single, clearest example of such evil is found with respect to every human being's right to life. Recall for a moment those millions upon millions of babies legally murdered in their mothers' wombs in so-called democracies like the United States and most European countries.

The foundation of democratic thought -- that the ruled should participate in some capacity in their ruling -- has failed the common good in this (and in many other areas).

Great care must be taken, as St. Augustine of Hippo so wonderfully reminds us in "De civitate Dei," to avoid mistaking the kingdom of men for the kingdom of God.

Winston Churchill may have been right when he remarked, "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

But we know for sure that something better is coming along at the end of time: the reign of Christ the King.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Democracy, Politics, Hull, Clergy, Freedom

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.