“What would happen when these populisms collide at the first Francis-Trump summit?” asks Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. “We may shudder at the thought, but if Catholicism and strident nationalism are indeed so opposed, we may be left waiting for another St. Augustine to resolve the tensions between the City of God and the City of Man.”
Augustine wrestled with the question of whether Christians can be good citizens and turned his attention to the vices of pagan Rome rather than trying to detail how Christians ought to practice politics. The example of the recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would seem to follow suit. A traditionalist in belief and practice, he rejected any sort of “Catholic” interpretation of the law and went so far as to deny the importance of natural law for judges. For Scalia, there was no contradiction between the US Constitution and Catholic morality, even in cases such as the death penalty, which he addressed in a First Things essay, “God’s Justice and Ours”. If he thought the Catholic Church demanded the abolition of capital punishment, he would have to recuse himself from such cases or resign in protest, but he would not pervert the law to fit his moral preferences.