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The Dictatorship Of Relativism Follows The Money

October 25, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Quick and without thinking about it — who was the greatest youth leader of the last 50 years?
If you’re Catholic and raised during this generation? Pope St. John Paul II (the Great) is hands down the top favorite, and for good reason. John Paul II didn’t tell us what the rest of the world was telling us to do — which was, in effect, to submit to the times.
Rather, John Paul II — best known as JP2 to the rest of us — told us to stand apart, not to be satisfied with mediocrity. “Do not be afraid to live the Gospel!” he thundered to hundreds of thousands gathered in Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.
To a generation ravaged by abortion, to hear a Pope stand up and fearlessly proclaim basic truths was as fresh a wind of change as those blowing across Eastern Europe in the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism. A new totalitarianism just as pernicious and evil as the one in the East was lurking inside the liberal democracies of the West. Just as dialectical materialism for society had governed the failed socialist governments, so too was dialectical materialism for the self-infecting of the so-called liberal democracies of the West.
Just 20 years later, we have seen what this dictatorship of relativism has wrought. America continues to have one of the most liberalized abortion regimes in the nation. Marriage — an institution that predates Christianity — has been redefined at a snap by the United States Supreme Court. Family, the bedrock of Christian society, is under siege not only by the secular authorities but even from within the Catholic Church itself.
Catholics here in the United States have — under tremendous pressure and duress from the progressive left — bravely martyred their own reputations for sexual morals, if for no other reason than the Magisterium of the Church instructed us to believe. Is this now up for grabs — as a parliament of bishops now decides what is and what is not “truth”?
Does anyone else feel as if the sand has completely shifted from under our feet?
“Thou art Peter, and on this Rock, I shall build my Church” (Matt. 16:18). This rock is for Catholics the singular assurance that the gates of Hell would never prevail against the Deposit of Truth and faith. Catholicism has survived Arians, Romans, Goths, Pelagians, Jansenists, Albigensians, Hussites, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Gallicanism, Gnosticism, the nouvelle theologie, and even a host of neo-heresies. We have survived scourges both political and spiritual, all with the core of our faith anchored, or rather nailed, to the cross.
If you are like me, you are perhaps tempted to wonder why we have devoted our entire lives to a Catholic Church whose truths — which we were instructed were immutable — can supposedly be muted and changed at the whim of those who, rather than instructed by holiness, see a network of institutions both financial and diplomatic at risk due to the emergence of sexual abuse scandals across Western Catholicism.
Today, the Holy See appreciates a global influence that it has not enjoyed since the days of Christendom. That global diplomatic power rests almost entirely on the influence and largess of the United States, not just from relatively wealthy Catholics in America, but also from the United States government as well. The U.S. State Department through USAID helps finance a disproportionate number of grants through organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, grants that at times force CRS (willingly or unwillingly) to compromise core Catholic values. This same network of relief agencies enables the United States to go places where it otherwise cannot, with Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa being two places of note.
The choice here is rather simple. Is the Holy See really going to trade all of this influence and power for the sake of intransigence on the question of homosexuality?
If one listens closely to the Catholic south (that being, south of the Equator), you hear a very similar pattern of complaint. The people need this aid, but inevitably such aid comes not with any development…but with condoms, abortifacients, and the insistence from Western governments that Africa adopt what has been termed in the past as a “colonialism of the mind” — shorthand for the acceptance of values friendly to the LGBTQ community.
Imagine this taking place here in America, with a soup kitchen or St. Vincent de Paul communities counseling, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, or doing any of the vast charitable works your own parish performs, such as bringing Christmas presents to the poor. Just before you hand those sparkling eyes a gift, they place their hands across their chest, extend a finger in the air and demand, “But are you in line with the LGBT agenda?”
This is the dictatorship of relativism, and the minders of the secular West are no different in degree or perniciousness than the political officers of the Soviet Union or the Gestapo of Nazi Germany.
Certain truths, or so we believe in America, are self-evident. Catholics should not have to kneel before the altar of relativism in order to perform charitable works or engage in diplomatic actions. But the sagging superstructure of the old twentieth-century Spellman-era Catholicism cannot and does not pay for itself.
As secular governments consume more and more of the private incomes of citizens to pay for a social welfare state — once the purview of the Church — it becomes harder and harder for the Church worldwide to assert her independence from the moods of the secular West, much less the world at large.
Consider for a moment that roughly 40 percent of the world’s GDP exists in Europe and America. China represents just 14.8 percent of that total; Russia a scant 3.6 percent. Africa’s GDP is just 3.7 percent — all of it.
The financial empire (if one can call it that) of the Holy See is a mere $350 million, with assets in the billions locked away in land and other holdings. Peter’s Pence — the annual U.S. contribution to the works of the Holy Father, total somewhere near $85 million. Caritas International operates with $7 billion; Catholic Relief Services with $3 billion.
Nice church. Be a shame if something happened to it . . . get my drift?
I don’t mention all of this things as the prelude to an excuse for this Youth Synod or the activities of Catholic charitable institutions who allowed themselves to be bullied (but in most instances, willingly allowed themselves to be compromised) by the Obama administration.
Nor does this excuse the institutional guardians of the Vatican’s finances for bending here, breaking there when it comes to magisterial “rigidity” and worldly practicalities.
But what I would offer are two things.
First and foremost, the Vatican as institution exists in the world and the world is a brutal place of realpolitik and selfish, egotistical souls who seek to leverage the moral authority of the Church for practical, worldly means. Cast aside any illusions that somehow our voice at the table makes things better; at a table of CEOs, the Vatican is one among thousands.
The second point is much more concerning. There are perhaps many good bishops and cardinals who are attempting to strike some sort of bargain here that will allow them to keep the post-Second World War Catholicism in good order.
I would submit that this is an impossibility — at least in our current form. Once one understands that the arrangement between American political power and Vatican diplomatic power was a temporary one, arrayed first against Nazi Germany and in turn against Soviet Communism, one has to make the decision to either continue to allow the eagle’s talons to sink deeper into the chest of Catholicism or to forcibly let go.
Will it do damage to our diplomatic reputation? Perhaps not. Will it disappoint a legion of bureaucrats who have made fantastic sums of money bartering Catholicism’s moral authority for temporary secular gains? Most certainly.
But if the barter puts what we hold most sacred on the table? If the exchange demands the indoctrination of our youth to a secular ideology? How is this not the clear warning of Pope Benedict XVI about the dictatorship of relativism? How is this not a repudiation of Pope St. John Paul II’s call to holiness? How and when will Pope Francis live up to the courage of Pope Paul VI’s bold call in Humanae Vitae just 50 years ago?
Will we repudiate it all? And for 30 pieces of condoms?

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Questions? Comments? Brilliant thoughts? Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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Fr. James Schall passed away today. A Jesuit priest & Georgetown professor, he served as mentor & model to a numberless many (including me). With penetrating insight & wit, he pointed us to Christ & those great Catholic minds we mustn't forget.

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