Catholicism Faces the Illiberal World Order

Issue 1905

18 April 2019

The Liberal World Order that grew up after the Second World War and matured after the European revolutions of 1989 is now in decline. Values like human rights, the rule of law, democracy, the free movement of peoples, religious and cultural pluralism, and free trade are under challenge.

The allure of internationalist liberalism began to fade in the last decade with the failure of the Arab Spring. Today, with the resurgence of ethno-nationalism across Europe and the United States, it seems to be gravely damaged.

This article examines the close, though not uncritical, relationship between Catholic Social Teaching, the Church’s social-pastoral strategies and the Liberal World Order over the last 70 years. It also inquires as to what the Church’s role will now be in an Illiberal World Order marked by electoral democracies led by autocratic rulers, where rampant xenophobia and ethno-nationalism are on the rise, where subversion of the rule of law has become normal, the abuse of human rights has lost its stigma and disdain for treaty obligations, international law and international organizations has become routine.

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