Joseph A. KomonchakJune 17, 2004 - 6:00pm0 comments
Heart of the World, Center of the Church
Communio Ecclesiology, Liberalism, and Liberation
David L. Schindler
William B. Eerdmans, $37.50, 340 pp.
For some years now, David Schindler, Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., and editor of the English edition of the theological journal Communio, has been a sharp critic of efforts to argue for a fundamental compatibility between the philosophy that underlies the American political and economic experiment and the Catholic vision of things. The criticisms, which he has aimed principally at three neoconservative writers, Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and George Weigel, are repeated in this book where they are preceded by a critique of the earlier work of John Courtney Murray and followed by an argument that the same mistake underlies some statements of Theodore Hesburgh about the nature and purpose of a Catholic university.
Schindler’s argument is that all these writers stand in a broad liberal tradition which honors procedure more than substance and freedom more than truth. Liberalism claims that its own procedural assumptions, whether in politics, economics, or the university, imply no substantive assumptions or claims but simply permit a neutral arena in which questions about truth and value can be argued out under conditions of freedom. Thus for Murray, according to Schindler, freedom of religion is first of all an assertion of the rights of autonomous conscience over and against a neutral state; for the Catholic...