The European project and the catastrophic prudential judgements of the Second Vatican Council are derived from the same fundamental error: the Integral Humanism of Jacques Maritain. They are derived from Maritain’s theory not just logically but concretely and historically. Paul VI and Robert Schuman were directly inspired by Maritain and, in their key decisions and initiatives, were guided by his thought.
Dazzled by the success of the neo-pagan theologies of Teilhard de Chardin, Balthasar and Rahner in the conciliar and post-conciliar period and misled by the simultaneous eclipse of Thomism we often underestimate the degree to which Vatican II was Maritain’s Council. Unlike these pantheist theologies Maritain’s theory (as with all really dangerous errors) contains a great deal of truth. The foundation of Maritain’s theory is a basically sound observation about moral philosophy which Maritain called ‘moral philosophy adequately considered’.
Maritain’s point was that the first principle in moral reasoning is the last end but we cannot know our last end by reason alone. This is true in this order of providence because man has a supernatural end but it would be true in any order of providence because, if God can appoint an end to man other than that merely proportioned to his nature, then man is inherently incapable of knowing his end without revelation in any order of providence. Consequently, moral philosophy cannot attain the nature of a true science unless it is subalterned to divine revelation. This principle applies not just to ethics but also to politics.
Maritain’s second key claim (derived from the first) is that the knowledge that ‘every man is my neighbour’ is dependant upon this subalternation of moral reasoning to divine revelation. Maritain claims that essential elements in modern political life (specifically the ideas of inalienable human rights and universal franchise) are unjustifiable apart from this adequately considered moral philosophy and so apart from the Gospel.
All of this is (in my view) completely sound. The strange move is what Maritain says next. Maritain accepts that there is an obligation not just upon individuals but also upon the whole of society to accept the true religion and the one Church of Christ but he claims that because democracy and human rights imply the Gospel they implicitly fulfil the requirement for the state to recognise the Kingship of Christ. Nature alone generates individual states, super-nature creates a supranational order. A supra-national order committed to universal franchise and inalienable human rights would therefore constitute an anonymous Christendom.
The oft heard objection to the European project that ‘there is no European demos’ is precisely the point. The European Federation was not supposed to have a demos. The demos was supposed to be supplied (unofficially) by the Church. However, Maritain’s reasoning is inherently unsound. It is the straightforward fallacy of affirming the consequent (if x then y, y therefore x). Just because the affirmation of the Gospel entails that everyman is my neighbour does not mean that the assertion that everyman is my neighbour entails the Gospel. In fact the creation of “a European federation under the banner of liberty” did not create a new Christendom.
Making assertions unjustified without revelation but refusing to cite revelation as one’s source implies that the assertion is justified by reason. It implies that something which is the gift of grace is the property of nature. This is not the Gospel but the central claim of Lucifer in his rebellion against God. Accordingly the New Europe is not an anonymous Christendom but is rather Babylon. The ideas of the anonymous Christian and of an anonymous Christendom, though never asserted by the Council documents, were possibilities the supposed reality of which was assumed by many many council fathers and this assumption lay behind the catastrophic ecclesiastical policy initiated by the council which has now laid waste to the human element in the Church and to its creation Western Civilisation. St Gildas the Wise said that Britain is “poised in the divine balance which supports the whole world.” Britain has rejected the European project and may have mortally wounded it. May this mighty blow against the secular universalism of the post war period echo in the precincts of the Church and begin the task of reversing the imminent apostasy that has dragged so many souls to ruin in the post-conciliar wasteland.