Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"...democracies...which seem at times to have lost the ability to make decisions aimed at the common good."

In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus, No. 47, Pope John Paul II reminded us that: "Following the collapse of Communist totalitarianism and of many other totalitarian and 'national security' regimes, today we are witnessing a predominance, not without signs of opposition, of the democratic ideal, together with lively attention to and concern for human rights. But for this very reason it is necessary for peoples in the process of reforming their systems to give democracy an authentic and solid foundation through the explicit recognition of those rights. Among the most important of these rights, mention must be made of the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother's womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child's personality; the right to develop one's intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth; the right to share in the work which makes wise use of the earth's material resources, and to derive from that work the means to support oneself and one's dependents; and the right freely to establish a family, to have and to rear children through the responsible exercise of one's sexuality. In a certain sense, the source and synthesis of these rights is religious freedom, understood as the right to live in the truth of one's faith and in conformity with one's transcendent dignity as a person.

Even in countries with democratic forms of government, these rights are not always fully respected. Here we are referring not only to the scandal of abortion, but also to different aspects of a crisis within democracies themselves, which seem at times to have lost the ability to make decisions aimed at the common good. Certain demands which arise within society are sometimes not examined in accordance with criteria of justice and morality, but rather on the basis of the electoral or financial power of the groups promoting them. With time, such distortions of political conduct create distrust and apathy, with a subsequent decline in the political participation and civic spirit of the general population, which feels abused and disillusioned. As a result, there is a growing inability to situate particular interests within the framework of a coherent vision of the common good. The latter is not simply the sum total of particular interests; rather it involves an assessment and integration of those interests on the basis of a balanced hierarchy of values; ultimately, it demands a correct understanding of the dignity and the rights of the person."

Men have succeeded in using the courts to attain legal approval for many types of immoral conduct, including abortion and homosexuality, without any consideration for the common good. And this is precisely why America is deteriorating, it has succumbed to a moral cancer which will ruin it from within. In the words of English correspondent Ian Brodie: "The keys to this personality change [from God-fearing nation to pagan society] are a number of Supreme Court decisions which virtually outlaw censorship and decree that obscenity is not illegal...It is a curious irony that the Supreme Court, dedicated to preserving the freedom which is the foundation of American life, has confused it with license. In doing so it has given its seal of approval to the sick society which will undermine the United States from within." (Sir Arnold Lunn and Garth Lean, Christian Counter-Attack, London: Blandford Press, 1969, pp. 50-51).

Or as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so eloquently warned: "Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. This is considered to be part of freedom, and theoretically counterbalanced by the young peoples' right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil." ("A World Split Apart," Commencement Address at Harvard University, June 8, 1978, reprinted in National Review, July 7, 1978).

Where is all of this leading? Initially to a thinly disguised and then an eventually open totalitarianism. When man becomes God, as Gabriel Marcel noted, society becomes a termite colony and collapses from within. Enter the Man of Sin and the concentration camp. - for this is where atheistic humanism will lead us. To absolute despotism.

Related reading: The first Bishop of Worcester and the common good.


Ellen Wironken said...

John Paul hits the nail on the head: "Certain demands which arise within society are sometimes not examined in accordance with criteria of justice and morality, but rather on the basis of the electoral or financial power of the groups promoting them.."

The Fitchburg City Council hasn't viewed the question of Planned Parenthood coming to the city "in accordance with criteria of justice and morality" but rather on the financial power of Planned Parenthood and that of the federal government which supports this project with federal stimulus monies.

Eric Levan said...

Politics has become nothing but a raw exercise of power with various groups totally unconcerned with any question of the common good, only with dominating others. Locally the Fitchburg City Council has been trying to silence pro-life advocates, nationally Obama and certain Democrats want to dominate the conversation on health care and ram their agenda through.

And it's the ordinary folk who suffer.

St. Joe's Parishioner said...

The Council is playing games again:

They don't want pro-lifers to be part of this process obviously. Despicable.

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