Religious Realism in Foreign Policy: Lessons from Vatican II
January 1, 2006
In The Review of Faith & International Affairs, Thomas Farr writes, "The Catholic Churchs Declaration on Religious Freedom can help American foreign policy out of its self-defeating privatization premise. There are at least two areas where the principles established in Dignitatis Humanae would repay study by the foreign affairs establishment. The first is the Declarations portrayal of the natural religious dimension of the human person, a dimension that is intimately tied to human flourishing and requires protection in the civil order precisely for that reason, and not because it is one among many private human choices. If Dignitatis Humanae is correct about human nature, it provides reasonable grounds for abandoning the thin privatization approach to religious liberty. If its arguments are compelling, it gives American foreign policy good reasons for integrating religion into its assumptions about human behavior and how to influence it. If the drive to discover religious truth is as universal and influential as the drive to political power and economic gain, then no one can rationally ignore its implications for political order. Religious freedom would then necessarily take its place as a key factor in any strategy to facilitate democratic institutions, and to tie the religious impulses of men to public purposes in a democratic society."