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Emile DoakC/O: The American Conservative

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) —Amid calls by Pope Francis for global government, a Catholic writer is rejecting such a political arrangement as absurd, even while embracing the universality of the Catholic faith.

In a Tuesday talk at NatCon 3, with the admittedly provocative title “There is no global common good,” Emile Doak, executive director of The American Conservative, argued that a global political common good is “impossibl[e],” — that is, the common good that “is the proper object of political life.”

A sense of the common good as applied to the political sphere “must emerge instead from the concrete relationships and traditions lived out in particular places,” according to Doak.

While his claim starkly repudiates Pope Francis’ calls for international “norms” to address what the Pontiff explicitly calls the “global common good” in Fratelli Tutti, Doak makes clear that this does not mean Catholicism is not a truly universal faith, and that it should not be promoted in public life.

In fact, “it matters which faith informs the public life of all nations,” stressed Doak, and it should be that of “the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

To illustrate the point, Doak sketched the hypothetical, if unlikely, scenario of a major national leader converting to the Catholic faith: “Can you [imagine if Xi Xinping converted to Catholicism? Not the fake Chinese Patriotic Church, but the actual Catholic Church. I imagine millions of souls would be saved.”

Even aside from the fact that by far the most forceful and serious calls for global government today do not include a call for Catholic moral underpinnings, Doak maintains that advancing the common good via politics must necessarily happen at the local or national level.

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Liberal bishops around the world continue promoting heterodox views on homosexuality, female priests, divorce, contraception, and more — advancing anti-Catholic positions that jeopardize the salvation of souls.

Such bishops often sideline, ignore and even persecute traditional Catholics who simply ask that the Faith be preserved and passed on to their children.

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There are countless examples of bishops working against Christ's Church in calling for divine law to be ignored in favor of sexual, doctrinal and liturgical deviancy, even trying to clamp down on Catholics who practise the Faith. 

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Doak conceded that “while goods are certainly universal — things like peace, prosperity, family,” “that is not the same thing as the singular, indivisible, communal, and limited common good that is the proper object of political life.”

This is in large part because the application of such universal goods as principles to concrete circumstances should vary according to those circumstances, but it also stems from the limited capacities of human beings.

Doak used the family as an example of the “nature of the common good and its limits,” pointing out, for instance, that we are not obliged to honor other fathers and mothers the way we have a duty to honor our own father and mother; likewise, a father seeks to live out his calling to provide for his family, but not other families. Obviously, he is free and even encouraged to help others when possible, but this is not an obligation.

While there are real spiritual ties and obligations inherent to the nuclear family, the limitations of those obligations also take into account the finite capacity and resources of man. Unlike God, human beings must prioritize attention to a relatively small group of people at the expense of others.

Politically speaking, attention must be devoted to a particular problem in particular circumstances, which differs in the nature of problem-solving best suited to another kind of problem in another location. This is implied in the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, that political matters should be handled at the lowest, most local level possible.

The reality of our world is that different geography, culture, language, tradition, etc. give rise to different sets of ideal laws and norms, particularly in matters of civil law. Even accounting for the fixed moral principles of the Catholic faith, subjective culpability — also a Catholic idea — comes into play in punishment doled out by the law.

Even within the Church, Doak noted that a local approach to authority has been practiced much longer than the novelty of bishops’ conferences, for example.

“I don’t think it’s an accident that the national bishops’ councils are a very modern phenomenon in the Catholic Church, but geographically based dioceses and parishes are not. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops was just formally organized in 2001 … The parochial model, however, in which the pastor is directly responsible for the souls of those within his more local parish boundaries, has a much older history within the Church,” Doak noted.

Doak pointed out that even at the national level the pursuit of the common good can be difficult, particularly in the United States, which is simply vast in size.

“The further we get away from concrete relationships lived out in specific, limited communities, the closer we get to the kind of abstractions and ideologies that seek to destroy lived traditions and distort the common good,” Doak said.

We live in a post-Babel, fallen, and now largely pagan world. Beyond the impracticality of global government, such a centralization of power is extremely dangerous, as the overwhelming bulk of political history shows us.

Until the world is truly ready to unite under the banner of the Kingship of Christ, we must vehemently resist all calls for global government, even from the Church hierarchy.


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