The Post-Secular Life

New article out on Italian Catholic Politics in America Magazine:

In recent months Catholic intellectuals in Italy have been engaged in an important conversation about the political responsibilities of Italian Catholics. The conversation took on a certain urgency last summer following a heated debate about whether Catholic organizations, communities and families ought to have participated in a Family Day march that was organized to protest the teaching of gender theory in Italian schools. It continued to boil over this week as upwards of one million participants joined another Family Day march in Rome to protest a pending vote in the Italian parliament to legalize civil unions. Il Foglio, an Italian newspaper, drew a connection between this conversation and the controversy in the United States following the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. In particular, Il Foglio wondered whether it would be appropriate to adopt the so-called Benedict option, as first described by Alasdair MacIntyre and popularized by Rod Dreher. Mr. MacIntyre’s suggestion was inspired by St. Benedict of Nursia, who left the business of Rome to pray in the woods, eventually creating a community that grew into the Benedictine order and the entire tradition of monasticism in the West. In the present Italian context, the Benedict option would seem to imply withdrawal from broader public involvement in order to create, in Mr. MacIntyre’s words, “new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained.”

As an American living in Rome, I must admit that the Benedict option has personal resonance for me. I have often been tempted to follow in St. Benedict’s footsteps from Rome to Subiaco to escape the din and chaos of the city, if not the spiritual wasteland it represented for him. But I cannot bring myself to endorse the Benedict option as our best hope for the salvation of church and society right now, neither in Italy nor in the United States. Like the Italian bishops’ conference, echoed by Julián Carrón in letters explaining why Communion and Liberation community’s decided to not officially endorse either of the two Family Day marches, I, too, believe that there are better models to imitate in this historical moment that are more firmly rooted in dialogue than the Benedict option appears to be…..keep reading article here