.- In his weekly column for L’Espresso Online, Vatican watcher Sandro Magister notes that although Pope John Paul II has temporarily lost his voice, “he speaks strongly and clearly” in his latest book, “Memory and Identity.” According to Magister, the Pope has not spoken so boldly against democracies that pass legislation in favor of abortion and against life and natural law since his 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.”
Magister says that coinciding at least partially with non-Christian writers who, nonetheless, recognize the role of natural law—such as philosopher Leo Strauss and scientist Leon Kass—“the ‘anti-modern’ John Paul II is anything but behind the times.”
“Memory and Identity” is a collection of conversations that took place in 1993 between John Paul II and two Polish philosopher friends, Josef Tischner, who died in 2000, and Krzysztof Michalski.
Ten years later, in 2003, the Pope decided to organize the subjects they discussed and add a conversation he held with his personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, which includes thoughts on the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, the spread of terrorist networks throughout the word, the attacks of 9/11 and the massacre of children at Beslan, Russia.
In the book Pope John Paul II acknowledges that democracy is the most natural form of government for man, but at the same time he points out that the democratic system cannot violate natural law. Thus he concludes that laws against life, such as those that legalize abortion, euthanasia or “homosexual” marriage completely lack all juridical validity.
In his article, Magister presents the opinions of two important Italian intellectuals regarding the Pope’s criticism of Western democracies. Giovanni Satori, Professor of the University of Florence and frequent critic of the Pope’s positions, acknowledges that the accusation that democracy can become tyranny when it violates natural law “has precedent even outside the Church, in secular thought.” He cites Jacob L. Talmon, author of “Totalitarian Democracy,” as an example.
Silvio Ferrari, Catholic and Professor of the University of Milan, warns of the problem of democracy becoming mere a formality behind which totalitarianism hides itself, but he acknowledges that there is no other viable alternative to democracy.
Magister’s complete article can be found at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y