20 January 2012

The Problem: A Culture "Increasingly Hostile to Christianity"; The Solution: "Convincing Witness in the Face of Radical Secularism"

Below are excerpts from the address of the Holy Father to the U.S. Bishops at their ad limina visit this month.

We have to pray that our shepherds will lead us all in giving this "convincing witness in the face of radical secularism."  Without throwing blame in any particular quarter--because recounting a litany of failure is not helpful-- we could all improve in this calling, could we not?

From L'Osservatore Romano, with a few of my own emphases:

...At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such

For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God. When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.

 With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning....

 In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life....

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society....

... respect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion...


Rachel said...

A great address. I love our Pope.

Anonymous said...

Dopes this do it for you regarding a convincing witness. If it does, forward it to every single bishop in the United States, the Nuncio, Cardinal Burke in Rome and the Pope:

I tried to post it at catholicmatch, under the article by Archbishop Sheenan "Cohabitation is not the Answer" but I do not belong to catholic match, for obvious reasons.

Can you help me out, PLEASE?

I promise you, this is NOT A PRANK. IT IS VERY REAL.


Cannot begin to understand Stephen's comment. It is TOTALLY unclear to me. I have read it 3 times.

As to this question:

Why do you believe the number of cohabitating couples is on the rise?

This answer is coming from a long ago divorced man who remains faithful to his vows because of our valid marriage; so I am something of a living anachronism.

Why would anyone, especially a man in America, since the large majority, around 70%, of divorces are sought by women and with "no-fault"(meaning you cannot defend a marriage civilly), marry?

It is nonsense. When you are divorced and you have kids, the children are used to destroy you(she usually, but not always, gets them) and you are simply a BANK for your ex-wife(for lack of a better term) to use as her lawyer can manipulate you, since you are broke and cannot defend yourself.

It is a very lonely existence, after divorce, when you have been abandoned, lost your children, are truly the "innocent" spouse and you believe your marriage is valid. Were it not, THANK GOD AND MY CHILDREN, for my close relationships with our kids(which was a lot of work to make happen, thanks to my dear wife) I would have committed suicide long ago. I was, in fact, planning on suicide(immediately after our phone conversation that day) when, unbeknownst to our oldest child at the time, that child told me how glad he/she was that I was available to her/him because I was needed.

After that conversation, I broke down and wept bitterly because I knew I could not betray this 12 year old by killing myself(and ending my agony which was and remains indescribably torturously painful) and that I had to continue living in hell, for the good of our children(which I had not seen in the overwhelming state of my ongoing hell). I am so grateful for that moment of grace. It saved my life and, likely, my soul.

I love our children, so very much and they know it, as do their children and as does their mother.

It is a shame that no priest or bishop will bother to work to heal this valid marriage. I have asked and been ignored, countless times. The Church was fast to try to find nullity, which I was able to fend off with the truth, although it took twelve years in the tribunal system before Rome agreed with me. I have asked the last two Popes as well, to no avail. The Church will act for nullity but not for reconciliation.

It is a heartbreaking scandal. This is the truth.

The Catholic Church needs to make an about face on marital issues, but refuses to listen to men and women who, at great sacrifice, have been faithful to their marriages and defended them. Why this is so, is beyond my understanding and seems completely contrary to the gospel.



Jane Chantal said...

Dear Karl,

I think that your witness will give many suffering fathers and children the courage to persevere – and food for thought to untold others. What a blessing you are to your family. Thank you, and please always remember that He gives not as the world gives.