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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Dec 07, 2021
Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org.
In a summary of Pope Francis’ warnings against a “retreat from democracy”, our news story yesterday on the papal trip to Greece reported the Pontiff’s concern about the threats of authoritarianism, populism, bureaucracy and “the distance of institutions”. There are threats in all these things, of course, and I know that democracy has historically been a Greek intellectual theme, but the Church ought to be essentially agnostic about particular forms of government.
The condemnation of authoritarianism presupposes a regime which lacks authentic authority. Populism, for its part, can mean many different things, some good and some bad, but it is uniformly regarded as evil by the elites which “populists” invariably oppose. For better or worse, Pope Francis typically uses the term in the manner prescribed by the ascendant “progressive” European culture today. Nonetheless, the “distance of institutions” and the enervation of “bureaucracy” are in many ways the chief problems associated with highly-developed and densely-populated modern states, in cultures which have learned to look to government for solutions to most problems. …
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