Mary, Queen of Europe: Towards a Marian Political Theology

LEST conference at the KU Leuven faculty of Theology: https://theo.kuleuven.be/en/lest/lest-xii/short-paper-sessions

Abstract

Discerning appropriate Church-state relationship has often been the focal point in the encounter between politics and theology. One could question the self-evident nature of this approach by problematizing the modern Westphalian state system itself, especially vis-à-vis ‘religion’ – as Cavanaugh has done – or see the modern state as an immanentization of the Church, an ‘earthly God’ – as Siep has done. If one pragmatically accepts it, one can theorize the relationship in a hierarchical frame reminiscent of the 19th century papal condemnations of their separation, or propose the benign distance and independence characteristic of the post-conciliar magisterium. This paper explores a third way, seeking to do justice to both a ‘sana laicità’, as well as an interrelatedness with God that is necessarily inherent in the political structures of our shared life. 

Leo XIII repeatedly used the soul-body relationship as an analogy for the Church-state relationship, but this arguably fails to do justice to the relative autonomy of the secular political realm, depriving it of its status as an actor, a person. Instead of metaphysical analogies or juridical models, this paper proposes the personal relationship between the trinitarian God on the one hand, and the created person most intimately related to Him on the other hand – Mary – as a fruitful way to discern appropriate Church-state relationships. A robust mariology can then safeguard both the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar concerns. As daughter, politics can recognize that the source of her life comes from elsewhere, since all authority comes from God. As bride, politics can freely consent to a higher common good that is neither statist nor theocratic. As mother, politics builds the structures of shared life as the womb that enables, but does not force, the conception and birth of the interrelatedness with God in the shared life of its citizens. The political and cultural remnants of this shared life in Europe were arguably the enabling conditions for the EU as a political project, but continue to crumble without that theological dimension.

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