Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Self-critical examination

Earlier this year this blog has hammered on the free-falling political activists of our Order; and that we have need to examine if such positions are consonant with 1) Catholic Faith & 2) the mission of the Order. It seemed to this author that a look at what Vatican II called for, and if that is or is not what has been done, is called for.

Now I read a far more articulate writer's words on the subject, with much the same direction. He calls us to the same examination, for the same reason. That would be Pope Benedict XVI, in SPES SALVI

21. Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx's fundamental error also became evident. He showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order, but he did not say how matters should proceed thereafter. He simply presumed that with the expropriation of the ruling class, with the fall of political power and the socialization of means of production, the new Jerusalem would be realized. Then, indeed, all contradictions would be resolved, man and the world would finally sort themselves out. Then everything would be able to proceed by itself along the right path, because everything would belong to everyone and all would desire the best for one another. Thus, having accomplished the revolution, Lenin must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed. True, Marx had spoken of the interim phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessity which in time would automatically become redundant. This “intermediate phase” we know all too well, and we also know how it then developed, not ushering in a perfect world, but leaving behind a trail of appalling destruction. Marx not only omitted to work out how this new world would be organized—which should, of course, have been unnecessary. His silence on this matter follows logically from his chosen approach. His error lay deeper. He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.

22. Again, we find ourselves facing the question: what may we hope? A self-critique of modernity is needed in dialogue with Christianity and its concept of hope. In this dialogue Christians too, in the context of their knowledge and experience, must learn anew in what their hope truly consists, what they have to offer to the world and what they cannot offer. Flowing into this self-critique of the modern age there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding setting out from its roots. On this subject, all we can attempt here are a few brief observations. First we must ask ourselves: what does “progress” really mean; what does it promise and what does it not promise? In the nineteenth century, faith in progress was already subject to critique. In the twentieth century, Theodor W. Adorno formulated the problem of faith in progress quite drastically: he said that progress, seen accurately, is progress from the sling to the atom bomb. Now this is certainly an aspect of progress that must not be concealed. To put it another way: the ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil—possibilities that formerly did not exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.

and in case it needed more emphasis, Archbishop Vlazny makes it clear in the previously posted article, Let's not Confuse Ethics with Religion:

All issues are not equal. They do have different moral weight and urgency. But it is important to ask our candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these goals:
1) the pre-eminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst, namely, innocent unborn children;
2) how to keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems, including the violence of abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide;
3) defining the central institution of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman and providing better support for family life;
4) achieving comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and treats all people with respect and dignity;
5) helping families and children overcome poverty, particularly with respect to ensuring access to and choice in education as well as decent work and decent wages;
6) providing health care coverage for the growing number of our fellow citizens;
7) opposing policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination;
8) working together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good and care for creation;
9) establishing and complying with moral limits on the use of military force; and
10) joining with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty and advance economic justice in care of creation.

To this I would add that if you find the list upside down by your judgement, you might get off your head and stand on your feet instead. If that is too antogonistic for you, then consider that "God is Love" (deus caritas est) and you are drawn to a good, which is good, but to be drawn to a good at the expense of a greater good is the nature of disorder and sin. What I mean is that if #1 above is not your number one, you have placed a lesser good above a greater good, and willingness to sacrifice the greater for the lesser is the disorder which blindness has given.

And the prophecy of Isaias is fulfilled in them, who
saith: By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand:
and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive.

For the heart of this people is grown gross, and
with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their
eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with
their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Mt 13:14-5.

1 comment:

  1. The Holy Father has described in his recent encyclical the root problem from which all of the observable symptoms of the root poison have sprung over the last 150 years since Karl Marx set out his evil to the world in book form.

    Further, as you point out, not all moral issues are equal. Some issues are simply a moral evil at its root which involves the very nature of the transaction based upon natural and moral principles.

    It is immoral in its nature and injurious to others by its very nature and not dependent upon the state to recognize it. Of course these acts such as abortion, murder, and other heinous crimes are naturally evil.

    On the other hand, there are acts that are wrong because the state authority prohibits the act and is not dependent upon an inherent immorality or evil. These types of prohibited acts are more dependent upon politics.

    The problem with modern jurisprudence and politics, is that inherently evil act or acts have been elevated and are given constitutional or statutory protections. Much evil is done in the name of this sophistry.

    I still believe without a doubt, that if the issue of abortion and like issues of killing, slavery, violence are tackled by the state, but more importantly, by preaching in the Church, so much evil in this world would wane.

    It is the duty of the Church and certainly the Order to preach the truth in charity.

    I would like to see the Order tackle some of the questions raised by the Pope in paragraphs 21and 22 in his recent encyclical.

    John Keenan, OPL