Monday, July 26, 2010

"There are those who consider such relativism an essential condition of democracy.."

Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) tells us that, "Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil. But today the problem goes far beyond the the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights. ...These attacks go directly against respect for life and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights." (Evangelium Vitae, No. 18).

As documented over at Bryan Hehir Exposed, Father J. Bryan Hehir has been quoted as having said that, "If you think of the conscience clause protecting the professional, then you have to think about access to service [and here he is referring to access to abortion] on the part of clients of various kinds, patients, or clients of social service agencies."

What of this? In the same Encyclical Letter, Pope John Paul II teaches that, "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. ..."we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).' (Evangelium Vitae, n.73).

And again, "The passing of unjust laws often raises difficult problems of conscience for morally upright people with regard to the issue of cooperation, since they have a right to demand not to be forced to take part in morally evil actions. Sometimes the choices which have to be made are difficult; they may require the sacrifice of prestigious professional positions or the relinquishing of reasonable hopes of career advancement. ... In order to shed light on this difficult question, it is necessary to recall the general principles concerning cooperation in evil actions. Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law.' (Evangelium Vitae, No. 74).

And in No. 89 of Evangelium Vitae, the Holy Father says that, "A unique responsibility belongs to health care personnel: doctors, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, men and women religious, administrators and volunteers. Their profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life. ... Absolute respect for every innocent human life also requires the exercise of conscientious objection in relation to procured abortion and euthanasia.(Evangelium Vitae, n.89)

Father Hehir is really suggesting that we need to consider not only the right of the health care professional not to cooperate in practices wich are contrary to God's law, but the "right" of patients to have access to abortion. This is merely a variation of the "personally I'm opposed but..." argument. Some Catholics insist that while abortion is morally wrong it would also be wrong to allow personal religious convictions to prohibit access to abortion. This argument is, of course, rejected by the Church. Most notably by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae:

"...we have what appear to be two diametrically opposed tendencies. On the one hand, individuals claim for themselves in the moral sphere the most complete freedom of choice and demand that the State should not adopt or impose any ethical position but limit itself to guaranteeing maximum space for the freedom of each individual, with the sole limitation of not infringing on the freedom and rights of any other citizen. On the other hand, it is held that, in the exercise of public and professional duties, respect for other people's freedom of choice requires that each one should set aside his or her own convictions in order to satisfy every demand of the citizens which is recognized and guaranteed by law; in carrying out one's duties, the only moral criterion should be what is laid down by the law itself. Individual responsibility is thus turned over to the civil law, with a renouncing of personal conscience, at least in the public sphere...At the basis of all these tendencies lies the ethical relativism which characterizes much of present-day culture. There are those who consider such relativism an essential condition of democracy, inasmuch as it alone is held to guarantee tolerance, mutual respect between people and acceptance of the decisions of the majority, whereas moral norms considered to be objective and binding are held to lead to authoritarianism and intolerance." (Nos. 69-70).

The dictatorship of relativism seeks to impose its immoral agenda on Christians in the name of "tolerance." But this "tolerance" is a sham. It is simply an attempt to make an idol out of a false conception of freedom. Pope Benedict XVI explains that, "..what clearly stands behind the modern era's radical demand for freedom is the promise: You will be like God...The implicit goal of all modern freedom movements is, in the end, to be like a god, dependent on nothing and nobody, with one's own freedom not restricted by anyone else's...The primeval error of such a radically developed desire for freedom lies in the idea of a divinity that is conceived as being purely egotistical. The god thus conceived of is, not God, but an idol, indeed, the image of what the Christian tradition would call the devil, the anti-god, because therein lies the radical opposite of the true God: the true God is, of his own nature, being-for (Father), being-from (Son), and being-with (Holy Spirit). Yet man is in the image of God precisely because the being-for , from, and with constitute the basic anthropological shape. Whenever people try to free themselves from this, they are moving, not toward divinity, but toward dehumanizing, toward the destruction of being itself through the destruction of truth. The Jacobin variant of the idea of a rebellion against being human in itself, rebellion against truth, and that is why it leads people - as Sartre percipiently observed - into a self-contradictory existence that we call hell. It has thus become fairly clear that freedom is linked to a yardstick, the yardstick of reality - to truth. Freedom to destroy oneself or to destroy others is not freedom but a diabolical parody. The freedom of man is a shared freedom, freedom in a coexistence of other freedoms, which are mutually limiting and thus mutually supportive: freedom must be measured according to what I am, what we are - otherwise it abolishes itself."

And Father Hehir has been described as one of the world's "leading experts in ethics?"

Related reading here.


Marie Tremblay said...

This is absolutely sickening. It is nothing less than institutionalized apostasy from Christ. Dear Jesus save the Church in Boston!

Derek said...

This blog post leaves me just speechless. There is a diabolical disorientation in Boston as there is throughout the Church. But Boston appears to be imploding. The United States Bishops need to take action. Rome needs to take action.

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