Noted Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain spearheaded a Catholic revival in France and the revival of philosophical Thomism in Europe and the United States. Although philosophically a traditionalist, he was one of the foremost proponents of Christian democracy in the twentieth century, and his work paved the way for the reforms of Vatican II. Christianity and Democracy consists of about one hundred pages, a preface and eight chapters. In his preface, Maritain identifies the theme of the work: A new understanding of democracy must arise in the light of the destruction of World War II. Maritain expresses great hope that such an understanding will develop.
The first chapter, entitled, “The End of an Age,” asserts that fascism and communism have completely poisoned the modern world, which he says was “born of Christendom and owed its deepest living strength to Christian tradition.” In the second chapter, Maritain argues that the democracies that emerged by 1942 are weak and not prepared to build a proper civilization. Even though the youth of these democracies have expressed great doubt about society, they have expended much energy on fighting totalitarianism. Democracies have given too much attention to economics and the concern for acquisition of material goods. According to Maritain, the greatest failure of modern democracies is that religion has been ignored.
In chapters titled “Three Remarks” and “Evangelical Inspiration and the Secular Conscience,” Maritain presents his understanding of the relationship between religion and democracy. Maritain asserts that “democracy is linked to Christianity” and that the democratic impulse has arisen because of Christianity. Christianity, Maritain argues, promotes an understanding of civic friendship because of its emphasis on brotherly love. This civic friendship will enable justice and peace to exist in political life. Maritain says that Christianity “has taught . . . the unity of the human race, the natural equality of all men ....
(The entire section is 827 words.)