The Unreasonableness of Catholic Integralism
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Catholic integralism has reemerged as a radical critique of liberalism and as a potential source of justification for illiberal regimes. Integralists argue that liberalism is a relentless and destructive ideology. They claim that the only way to remedy its failures is for political society to recognize and be integrated with the Church. After providing some background in earlier antiliberal thought, focusing on Carl Schmitt’s political idea of Catholicism, we survey recent work on Catholic integralism and describe its influence in contemporary public discourse. We then argue that integralism is unreasonable, because it conflicts with treating citizens as free and equal participants in a fair system of social cooperation and with respecting the idea of reasonable pluralism. Working out the moral and epistemic content of these commitments, and applying them in the context of a well-known historical example (the case of Edgardo Mortara), helps explain why integralism is morally objectionable from a liberal perspective.