Tuesday, April 29, 2008

B-16 on the US' Concept of Religious Freedom

Amplifying a comment I made to the effect that Benedict XVI's admiration for the US' 'religious freedom' practices, we find First Things essaying on the Pope's speech to the UN.

...the entire address should be considered a profound and extended type of Regensburg moment. On reflection, what Benedict called for, even if the awed diplomats in attendance may have missed it, was no less than the international application of the American concept of the separation of church and state, a concept that Benedict considers essential if the international community is to be predicated upon the inherent dignity of the human person. At the very deepest level, his apparently pro-U.N. speech turned out to be a stunning endorsement of the United States’ understanding of religion in the public sphere, and the need to apply that understanding to international dialogue. This is the case even though no news reports noticed; it is the case even though “America” or the “United States” does not appear once in the address.

In the past, Rome has looked askance at the American formulation, and had never come close to endorsing it. But B-16 noticed something: it works, and works very well. The formulation has served to keep 'religion' in the square, not to suppress it (albeit that there are challenges.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this ignores other parts of the Vatican's views. For instance, one can look at several of the Vatican's statements over the past decade in regard to Pentecostalism and such in South America and find the Vatican demanding government action. There are clearly parts he finds good in teh American model, but I think there is a dimension of nuance missing from the linked piece.