by John Pacheco
There are many theories why our current western culture is in a state of deep moral and spiritual crisis. Some claim that poor and even heretical catechesis and the scandalous negligence of many bishops in using their authority to root out dissent and restore order in the church have helped precipitate the decline of the Church and western society as a whole. Others point to the sexual revolution and the western Churchs failure to combat its effects. The rejection of Pope Paul VI's prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae and the virtual whole scale capitulation to contraception by the western (and particularly the Canadian) Church all but sealed our fate.
There are many other reasons for the suicidal path our culture seems to be taking, of course. And while it is true that these and other issues are indeed part of the problem, they are not the source of it. In fact, they represent symptoms of a disease plaguing a culture which has turned in on itself; a culture which has refused to play the part of "brother's keeper".
Personal morality and relativism have shaped a culture that no longer is concerned about their neighbours objective well being. Because religion is no longer discussed in polite company, it has been relegated to a private affair to be exercised within the enclosed walls of a Church or home. With this entrapment of religion, morality, because of its inextricable attachment to faith, is also unwelcome in the secular world order. Subconsciously, this anti-religious sentiment seeps into the crevices of our resolve and weakens its foundation, rendering the Church tepid and soft.
The failure of Catholics to confront this attack has largely been a pastoral one, despite the endless doctrinal errors spread by dissident theologians. Parents, for instance, no longer put up any real resistance to their children marrying outside of the Faith. Human Rights Commissions, the new instruments of politically correct tyranny, target Christians and their businesses while the great majority of so-called Catholics shrug their shoulders and carry on with summer vacation plans. Bishops refuse to get serious about sexual immorality. They send out letters to premieres and prime ministers, but rarely do we see them exercising some discipline among these prominent pseudo-Catholics. The Faith means little to us. Why then should it mean much to them? In short, we all go along to get along.
Former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, of course, was the poster boy for the new private morality in Canada. His sexual détente of the State having no business in the bedrooms of the nation was a slick way of saying that we are not our brothers keeper. Trudeau and the generation of his day accepted the notion that morality - sexual morality in particular - was a private affair between two consenting adults. Today, of course, we are reaping what the sexual libertarians have wrought. In a supreme ironic twist, the gay marriage propagandists have crossed over to oppose even Trudeaus very liberal vision of society. With the passage of gay marriage legislation, it turns out that indeed the State has a role in the bedrooms of the nation after all. But it is the exact opposite role of what it should be. Instead of defending the natural law which is its duty, the States role has been manipulated into subverting the same natural law which is the basis for its existence.
And so, the great façade of this sexual détente has ended up in the dustbin of history - precisely where its political cousin of the Cold War did. There can be no compromise or accommodation with the culture of meaningless sex. It is a fight to the death and there can be only one victor. Either sex is a divine participation in the life of God which, in turn, sustains the human race, or it is a form of narcissistic nihilism, consigning us to a cheap orgasm and then an uneventful, early, and cruel death.
Canadian Catholics from Bishop to Layman bought the lie that immorality could be kept a private affair. We now know differently. We know that failing to be our brothers keeper in private means allowing his sin to become part of public policy. When the State told its citizens that whatever they did in the privacy of their own bedrooms was licit, it was only logical that various sexual interest groups would demand that the State extend that sanction to the public square. Why? Because man can have only one morality and not two despite what the liberal establishment have long maintained. There is no such thing as a private morality and a different public morality. Our human conscientiousness cannot sustain such a permanent contradiction. The passage of Bill-38, the same-sex marriage legislation, all but proves it.
The anecdote to our current malaise is to counter the indulgent vice which put us here with sacrificial virtue which can rescue us. When U.S. President George Bush visited Ottawa last year, he was met with the usual cabal of international socialists, anarchists, and the rest of the loony-left contingent. These people hold to the same typical leftist causes, but few of us know the real reason for their unanimity on social issues. What is the connection, for instance, between the lefts opposition to the war in Iraq and their support for abortion? In some respects, these positions are contradictory, but the left has no problem with internal contradictions as long as they serve their self-interest and self-preservation. The reason why the social left in this country is able to hold these seemingly contradictory positions is because of their collective abhorrence to sacrifice. A soldier laying down his life for his country or a woman accepting an unwanted pregnancy is anathema to these people. These two scenarios both involve individuals who sacrifice for a supreme good, yet they are rejected precisely because they put the other ahead of themselves.
Courage and sacrifice are indeed the cure for our disease. They represent two essential ingredients required in order to renew our culture. Its where, as the expression goes, the rubber meets the road. Writing letters to the prime minister only goes so far, after all. Its safe and painless. Exposing oneself to public ridicule, possible loss of employment, and incrimination, on the other hand, separate those who merely preach about Christ from those who actually walk with Him. As I publicly told Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty during an all-candidates debate in the 2003 Ontario Election campaign: Mr. McGuinty, if you call yourself a Catholic, then its high time for you to walk the talk. The reaction to my challenge was, let us say, not warmly received by the majority of the audience.
We like to talk about the cross. Few actually volunteer to join our Lord in His crucifixion. As a Catholic activist, I am thoroughly convinced that unless these two qualities of courage and sacrifice manifest themselves in healthy measure soon, our recovery will be a long and arduous one. We need many Catholics to shake off the lethargy of complacency and comfort, and start to make the necessary sacrifices for the good of our country and to be our brothers keeper. We keep hoping for a new Spring time in the Church, but we fail to understand that we are required to get down on our hands and knees and actually do the seeding.
Back at the turn of the 20th century, David Goldstein, an American secular Jew who once championed the Marxist socialist movement, became disillusioned and horrified at the true anarchical and vicious aims of socialism. Goldstein began to realize that religion was the only way to counter this enormous threat to civilization. His study led him to convert to the Catholic faith the only force, he reasoned, that could truly counter the atheistic and immoral socialist philosophy then (and still) ravaging the world. Aided by Church authorities, Goldstein spent the rest of his adult life in the public square debating socialists, anti-Catholic Protestants, and former Catholics. He became one of the most brilliant defenders of the Catholic Faith in the twentieth century. Looking back on his travels, he once remarked about Catholics, The trouble is not with the other fellow, if Catholics were underlings, the cause will be found within themselves. Timidity is their sin, as a people. There is not a group of Americans to be found who are more timid when it comes to setting forth its claims and demanding its rights than the Catholic group. Obviously, David Goldstein had never met a Catholic north of the 49th parallel.
As a 36-year old husband and father of three young children, my family has had to make extraordinary sacrifices as I have attempted to turn the culture away from its suicidal path through various political and social activities. Whether it has been running for political office, organizing Parliament Hill rallies like the March for Marriage last April which drew 15,000-20,000 people, or co-founding a private Catholic elementary school (www.maryvaleacademy.ca), the sacrifices have been steep. Less time with my family and a lower paying job are two sacrifices which have been necessary. Physical, spiritual, mental exhaustion, rejection from family and friends, misunderstanding, slander, and few tangible results are the rewards of such ventures. But Our Lord never promised any differently to those thirst for what is right and just in this world.
More Catholics need a hunger to defend basic Christian morality and work to stop the social and moral destruction that is ruining so many lives in this culture. More Catholics also need to appreciate the consequences of abandoning their duty to be their brothers keeper. A few consequences come to mind: loss of religious freedom, severe persecution, and then martyrdom. We need to stop kidding ourselves that the current moral unraveling is coincidental. It is not. The forces of hell have been unleashed on the World, and they are looking to consume us. We need to fight back, and we need to do it right now not tomorrow or the next day but at this very instant. And we must be persistent and unyielding in our resolve because the other side is relentless in their attack. They wont stop until they destroy us. We need to have the faith of Abraham, a complete abandonment to the divine will, and willingness to put our whole selves on the line. Money, reputation, community status, family relationships everything. In our efforts, however, our generation must also consign ourselves to the fact that we may not see the victory here on earth, and therefore we must accept that our role is merely to hold the fort until the next generation becomes victorious in this particular battle. In other words, our hope is, ironically, in death the death of this perverse culture and the endurance and eventual rebirth of our own.
The Catholic Legate
September 30, 2006
This article originally appeared in Challenge Magazine.