Walking With, and Beyond, John Courtney Murray: Catholic Participation in Public Life

Citation: 
Pawlikowski, John T. "Walking With, and Beyond, John Courtney Murray: Catholic Participation in Public Life." New Theology Review 9 (August 1996): 20-40.
Abstract: 

John Courtney Murray drew on specifically American experiences of religious voluntarism and pluralism in constructing his own vision of the relation of religion to public life. This vision provided much of the content and impetus behind Vatican II's Dignitatis Humanae. Pawlikowski avers that several of Murray's emphases retain validity in this time. For example, his stress on the fundamental dignity of the individual person is of primary importance. Moreover, the Church must pay special attention to speaking the truth in a culture of justice. However, Pawlikowski points to several weaknesses in Murray's thought. The first is an overly rationalistic anthropological vision so typical of Western thought, and a dangerous liability when confronted with vitalistic manifestations in politics, such as National Socialism in Germany. Also, Murray had little appreciation for the popular aspects of public culture, and he neglects the consequences of stripping religious symbols from the public square. Lastly, churches must be prepared to play a prophetic role in society, including not only dialogue but also the exercise of other legitimate forms of power.

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