Against the instrumentalizing of the church

Much of the criticism of Schmitt's political theology therefore centered on his treatment of the church. Ferocious critics like Waldemar Gurian considered Schmitt no better than a German version of Charles Maurras, the French nationalist and founder of the reactionary movement Action Française. Maurras' atheism had not kept him from enthusiastically supporting the Catholic Church. Already in a 1926 letter to Peterson, Gurian compared the two: "How similar is Maurras to Schmitt; but Maurras is more honorable; he doesn't pretend to look like a Catholic! He is a pagan and the Church a prop for Order! Similar anxiety over theologians as external authority, similar mixture of precisionism, diligence, and bohemianism, similar relation to people. Uncanny!" (Nichtweiß 1992: 729 n. 63). The juridical fixation of Schmitt's conception of the church was a particular problem. The Catholic socialist Ernst Michel objected to treating the church as merely a higher type of politics and ignoring its character as "the sacrament of love" that spoke for the un-represented part of society: "If the Church is as Carl Schmitt renders it, then . . . the Grand Inquisitor is right and Christ is wrong" (Lönne 1994: 28). Seeing the church primarily as "representation" reduced it to being the conservator of the world as it is, either directly as judge or as underwriter of the political form of the state. The church became a last-ditch defense against social chaos and breakdown, "the ark of Noah in a flood of sin," reflecting Schmitt's despair of the church's future in a pluralistic and secularizing world. The Concept of the Political's pessimistic picture of human nature after the Fall was attacked as inconsistent with tridentine orthodoxy (Wacker 1994a: 287-90; 1994c: 137).

Schmitt's instrumentalization of Christianity was the most extreme example of an apologetic strategy quite common among Weimar era Catholics who stressed what the church could do for German society (Ruster 1994: 3 77-85). All such strategies run the risk of diluting principle for utility, and there is no doubt that Schmitt's political theology crossed the line in this respect. While we should reject Gurian's accusation of dishonesty, there is ample reason for thinking that Schmitt's religious faith was more polemical and "dramaturgical" than substantive in its relationship with the political order; even if that faith revived after the war, it was still "a Lefèbvrism avant la lettre" (Faber 1994: 278; Wacker 1994c: 136-7; Lönne 1994: 15; Lauermann 1994: 300). Many of his friends believed that he thought the church of Vatican II had gone mad and had squandered what he most valued in Roman Catholicism (Wacker 1994a: 293).

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