Father Barron on the Limitations of Democracy

Father Barron on Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” – YouTube (6:57)

Father Barron describes his view on Obama’s book, focusing on the issue of moral relativism.  That is, Barron sees moral relativism in the book’s argument for political discourse in a democracy to focus on moral ends as well as pragmatic means.  Barron counters that a democracy succeeds only when the moral ends (e.g. abortion) are already agreed upon by society and it is only the means that need to be negotiated.  He further argues that if a democracy tries to negotiate about moral ends, that it cannot in the end flourish.

Barron sees Obama coming around to moral absolutes, however, in the book’s discussion about civil rights.  Obama acknowledges that he and others have benefited from the sacrifices of abolitionists who would not waver on the immorality of human slavery.  Thus Barron sees Obama as contradicting himself, becoming a moral absolutist on this issue.  Barron insists that abortion falls into the same category as slavery, and he thinks Obama deep down believes this but continues to live with the contradiction between moral relativism and moral absolutism which exists within him.

My interest in this video (besides the engaging way that Father Barron always speaks) is the focus on democracy’s impotence in the face of a decaying moral order.  Only the standard of Jesus Christ Himself is able to save a people.  A better form of human government simply isn’t enough.

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