Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vatican archbishop preaches to 6 Supreme Court justices, emphasizes natural law

Preaching at the annual Red Mass in Washington before the beginning of the Supreme Court term, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, emphasized that natural law is the basis of positive law and democratic society. Six Supreme Court justices and Vice President Joe Biden were in attendance.

“Positive law rests on certain principles the knowledge of which constitutes nothing less than a participation in the divine law itself: the pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on,” Archbishop DiNoia said, adding:

The legal profession is entrusted with the discernment and administration of justice and the rule of law according to an objective measure—in effect, according to principles—not of our own making. A consensus about these principles inspired the founders of modern democracies, and although it was profoundly influenced by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (think of Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas), this consensus was understood to transcend religious and cultural differences. Thus, it follows that the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Red Mass is a prayer for light and guidance. Among the things for which we ardently pray is the wisdom to affirm and maintain those profound truths about human nature that are at the foundation of the common life we treasure in this great nation.

“Yet, as she invokes the guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit today, the erosion of this conviction is a source of deep concern for the Church,” he continued. “The alternative view—until recently more or less successfully resisted by democratic societies like ours—is the idea that man can find happiness and freedom only apart from God. This exclusive humanism has been exposed as an anti-humanism of the most radical kind.”

“Man without God is not more free but surely in greater danger,” he added. “The tragic history of the last century—as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have unceasingly reminded us—demonstrates that the eclipse of God leads not to greater human liberation but to the most dire human peril. That innocent human life is now so broadly under threat has seemed to many of us one of the many signs of this growing peril.”

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