NY Times: At the Vatican, Exceptions Make the Rule

setembro 27, 2005 at 2:23 pm (matutando)

Ótimo artigo no NY Times de hoje, por John L. Allen Jr.: At the Vatican, Exceptions Make the Rule.

(…) Although this is a difficult point for many Anglo-Saxons to grasp, when
the Vatican makes statements like “no gays in the priesthood,” it doesn’t
actually mean “no gays in the priesthood.” It means, “As a general rule,
this is not a good idea, but we all know there will be exceptions.”

Understanding this distinction requires an appreciation of Italian
concepts of law, which hold sway throughout the thought world of the
Vatican. The law, according to such thinking, expresses an ideal. It
describes a perfect state of affairs from which many people will
inevitably fall short. This view is far removed from the typical
Anglo-Saxon approach, which expects the law to dictate what people
actually do.

While Italians grumble about lawlessness, fundamentally they believe in
subjectivity. Anyone who’s tried to negotiate the traffic in Italian
cities will appreciate the point. No law, most Italians believe, can
capture the infinite complexity of human situations, and it’s more
important for the law to describe a vision of the ideal community than for
it to be rigidly obeyed. Italians have tough laws, but their enforcement
is enormously forgiving. Not for nothing was their equivalent of the
attorney general’s office once known as the Ministry of Justice and Grace.

The British historian Christopher Dawson has described this as the
“erotic” spirit of cultures shaped by Roman Catholicism. Catholic cultures
are based on the passionate quest for spiritual perfection, Dawson writes,
unlike the “bourgeois” culture of the United States, which, shaped by
Protestantism and based on practical reason, gives priority to economic
concerns. As one senior Vatican official put it to me some time ago, “Law
describes the way things would work if men were angels.” (…)

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