Tuesday 21st November 2017

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Confusion Should Not Be A Source Of Pessimism

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By ALBERTO M. PIEDRA

(Editor’s Note: Alberto M. Piedra is the Donald E. Bently Professor of Political Economy, The Institute of Word Politics.)

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“Man is more himself; man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live” — G.K. Chesterton.

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Few well-versed people in Church matters would deny the ever-increasing confusion within the Church about her teachings on Holy Matrimony, Holy Communion, and the moral law.
His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke in a recent address, “Developing Lives of Peace After the Heart of Mary” — delivered at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum and published by The Wanderer on August 3 and 10, 2017 — expressed great concern about the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves at this moment in history. He reaffirmed once again the basic teachings of our Church in matters of faith and morals, as our faith teaches us to do.
Cardinal Burke goes as far as saying that “in a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church, so that she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture.”
His Eminence also cited the reaction of the president of Conference of Bishops of Germany to the June 30, 2017 decision of the German Parliament to accept so-called “same-sex marriage.”
This gentleman, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, claimed that the decision was not a major concern for the Church which, according to him, “. . . should be more concerned about intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction.”
Comments such as the above, by supporting the secular means of communication and the political lobbying of wealthy secularists, only serve to increase the confusion in the Church.
Let me remind all Catholics, insisted Cardinal Burke, that “the office of St. Peter has nothing to do with revolution, which is primarily political and mundane.” The Church’s main obligation is to maintain the purity of the Gospel, and he warned the Christian community about the dangers of using the Catholic faith for temporal political or economic ends.
It seems to me that, in spite of St. John Paul II’s condemnation of liberation theology at Puebla, Mexico in 1979, we are still hearing the voices of theologians both Catholic and Protestant who, in the past, have made major contributions to the development of liberation theology. In the case of the Germans, these would be Johann B. Metz, the late Rudolf Bultmann, and Jurgen Moltmann. Something similar can be said of the late Belgian priest Joseph Comblin, who studied at the Catholic University of Louvain.
Thus, contrary to popular opinion, the origins of liberation theology cannot be traced to Latin America but to Europe where many priests and nuns received their graduate education.
However, it must be recognized that proponents of liberation theology, such as, among others, the late Miguez-Bonino of Argentina, the late Juan Luis Segundo, SJ, of Uruguay, and Leonardo Boff of Brazil identify capitalism with unjust social structures and claim that salvation can only occur through revolution, thus opening the door to the “true kingdom” — revolutionary socialism. Christ is considered a true revolutionary.
This reminds me of how, quoting from the late sociologist Robert Nisbet: “During the French Revolution, ‘revolutionists’ such as Saint-Just and Babeuf were able to combine belief in the necessity of a period of catastrophic violence to usher in the golden age on earth with a philosophy of cumulative stage-by-stage progress from the past to the future.”
To add to the general ideological confusion we face, the superior general of the Jesuits made an outlandish statement early this year, criticized by Cardinal Burke last April. The Jesuits’ Sosa Abascal had suggested that we cannot know what Christ really said about any given matter, since we do not have recordings of his discourses. Apart from the absurdity of his statement, it gives the impression that there is no longer a constant teaching and practice of the faith as it has come down to us, in an unbroken line, from the time of Christ and the apostles.
Let me conclude this brief essay by stressing that, quoting from my book Natural Law: The Foundation of an Orderly Economic System: “In our opinion, there is ample reason to share the pessimism of many a prominent historian. But, a true Christian believer cannot fall into the trap of letting himself be carried away by the transient events of history. Pessimism must never stifle the virtue of hope and the joy of knowing that in the end the good always triumphs over evil.”
The confusion that prevails today even within the highest authorities of the Church should not be a source of pessimism. In the end the truth and the virtue of hope will give us joy and make us free.

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