Saturday, September 24, 2011

A higher law.

The LD and I have been for some time absent from this web page, he being engaged with his family, his work and his ongoing e-dialogue with friends on topics of public concern, and I… well, I’ll tell you in a second. We were then planning to make a return of some weight, when it happened that Pope Benedict gave the speech just posted by the LD on “the foundations of a free state of law”.

Here we have it! we agreed. We should comment on this grand speech.

Funny, I had been away from the blog because all taken by bringing to completion a book I have been laboring on these last three years, and I found that Benedict confirmed what I had been writing in the conclusion of the book.

I won’t go here into the theme of the book. It’s enough to say that my concern was double: to account for the truth of Christianity, and to find thus a way of defending democracy.

Quite a hard thing to do, in a moment in which the meaning of democracy has restrained itself to sheer procedures to decide who should be in government, with the result that, whichever the majority pro tempore is, it makes the other party feel oppressed. The trouble is that the different parties are in disagreement precisely about what democracy is.

We boast about our democratic political regime by defining it as the rule of law. I always found this definition as being in contradiction with other things we equally maintain: that the laws are sovereignly made by the Parliament, and at the same time that defining the law rests entirely on the (supreme) courts. The so called “rule of law”, then, is nothing else than the rule of the legislative and/or the judiciary power.

Now, the Pope recalled for us what is required for a rule to be really of law: that the law makers and interpreters are subject to a higher law. He also remarked, though, that according to the tradition he represents such a law needs not be straightway divine, because it is nothing else than the law of reason – divine then only as far as human reason can be recognized such.

The recognition of a higher law through reason was made possible in Christianity by a “three-way encounter” that “has shaped the inner identity of Europe”: to say it with the name of three emblematic cities, of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome.

Thus the Pope ends his speech. Thus - si parva licet componere magnis - with this three-way encounter I open my book. The closing which held me these months is in the realization of how according to Christian teaching the biblical tradition stands someway apart from the other two, accounting for an event that allowed to recognize in them the rational truth everywhere represented in human affairs.


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