Culture

Judge Napolitano's Libertarian Catholicism

Reason TV has an interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano previewing Pope Francis’ forthcoming visit to the United States. Napolitano claims status as both a libertarian and a traditional Catholic.

Much of the interview focuses on Napolitano’s criticism of Pope Francis’ radical departures from Catholic tradition. These include the use of papal exhortation and similar channels to push Francis’ personal and non-theological views on issues like climate change.

Interviewer Matt Welch asks how Napolitano reconciles his political views with his religious views. The judge sees nothing to reconcile.

The essence of libertarianism is the primacy of the individual over the state, and – as far as is conceivable – absolute freedom of the individual to make his or her own choices. That’s actually also the teachings of Jesus Christ. “I have come to set you free.”

Now I know the devil can quote scriptures to suit his purposes. But the doctrine on religious freedom, the doctrine on free will, is such that free will is the greatest gift that God gave us. It is so perfect a gift that we are free to abuse it. And throughout history and the modern era is filled with examples of its abuse. So I see no inconsistency between the observation that the individual is greater than the state and the church’s teaching on free will at all.

The reference to scripture lacks some context. Jesus wasn’t referencing political freedom. But Napolitano’s overall sentiment still has merit.