Civiltà Cattolica Senses a Growing Anti-Clericalism

In an Article on Laicism and Secularism

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ROME, NOV. 22, 2004 ( An expert in ecclesial affairs cautions about a growing anti-clerical mentality and the conformism that it is producing.

Father Giandomenico Mucci writes about the trend in the latest edition of the review Civiltà Cattolica.

«Anti-clericalism is a political view,» he writes, borrowing a phrase from philosopher Richard Rorty. «It is the idea that ecclesiastical institutions, despite all the good they do, are dangerous for the health of democratic societies.»

Yet, in the face of this anti-clerical mentality, «in general, silence is kept,» says Father Mucci, an expert in ecclesial affairs.

Articles that appear in Civiltà Cattolica are reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State before publication.

In the article, Father Mucci states: «Laicism is a positive value, recognized by the Church when it means the autonomy of the civil and political sphere from the religious-ecclesiastical.» He justifies it with three principles: «the inseparable character between politics and morality; the separation between political society and religious community; and the exclusion of agnosticism or state atheism.»

«Laicism is profoundly linked with pluralism, which is the immediate consequence of freedom,» he explains.

«For its part, the only thing the Church does is to show its concern not to confuse the plurality of culturally and politically legitimate options, with pluralism on the question of moral principles or of substantial values in the Christian conscience,» the priest continues.

Father Mucci distinguishes between laicism and secularism, quoting intellectual Claudio Magris, who describes the latter as an intolerant current typical of bourgeois environments — middle or upper class — because of their religious beliefs or values on life.

The priests explains that laicism is not «monolithic» and acknowledges that there are many differences within it, mentioning for example the diverse secularist conceptions in France — an «interpretation that is based on an atheist and agnostic view of the world» — and in Italy «which scorns doctrines and opinions of the Catholic world.»

The article ends with a question: «Is there a new form of despotism at the door?»

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