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lunedì 27 agosto 2012

HUMANIST MANIFESTO - A commentary on the encyclical Caritas in veritate


HUMANIST MANIFESTO 

A commentary on the encyclical Caritas in veritate 

By their Communist Manifesto of 1848, Marx and Engels launched the modern socialist movement that drew the logical conclusion from the principles of the French Revolution and declared that “the private ownership of productive property is regarded as invalid and immoral, while ownership of consumers’ property is allowed” (E. Cahill, S.J., The Framework of a Christian State, p. 158). It would seem preposterous to draw a parallel between this atheistic document, cause of revolution, wars, murders, and sufferings without number, and the third encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, dated June 29, 2009. Yet an examination of the text demonstrates that it truly is a manifesto of humanism, drawing to their logical conclusion the principles of the French Revolution, rejecting all exclusive and private ownership of the Truth, by Catholics as by others, allowing it simply to be shared and communicated, that is consumed by all in equal fraternity and liberty. 

As Catholics, how could we not be outraged by such a comparison? After all, what seems more Catholic than the title “Charity in the truth,” which is clearly modified from the expression used by St. Paul, “that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive, but doing the truth in charity“ (Eph 4:14,15: note, however, the transformation)? What is more reassuring than the constant reminder that charity and the truth cannot be separated, for “truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the ‘economy‘ of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed, and practiced in the light of truth“ (§2)? What is more elevated than a new view of the social question that goes above and beyond the simple question of “justice” and “rights” mentioned by pre-conciliar Popes, for “charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine” (§2)? What is more consoling than the affirmation that “it is not a case of two typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar, differing from one another: on the contrary there is a single teaching…” (§12)! What is more necessary than the reminder that man needs God: “because integral human development … requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God” (§11). 
NEW CONCEPT OF CHARITY 

Yet the similarity with Catholic teaching goes no further than the words used, words whose meaning is radically changed. The first inkling of this is contained in the very title. The encyclical is not addressed uniquely to Catholics, but also to “all people of good will.” The understanding and acceptance of this document is not something that requires the Catholic Faith. This is also clearly apparent from the introduction, which does not pretend to outline the principles of a Catholic social order, but rather the principle for “integral human development” for all men, which is charity. There is, from the very beginning of this encyclical, a new concept of charity, which “is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity” (§1)! Clearly the Pope cannot be speaking of the supernatural and infused virtue of charity, for that would be to affirm that every man is in the state of sanctifying grace and that no man is in mortal sin! 

No, the “charity” of which he writes belongs to every man: “Because it is a gift received by everyone, charity in truth is a force that builds community, it brings all people together without imposing barriers or limits“ (§34). He is referring to the new concept of charity that he elaborated in his very first encyclical Deus caritas est. There he explained the Church’s “true humanism” (Deus caritas est, §§ 9, 30), pretending to teach man his humanity by rising above the distinction between a natural self-love and a divine self-sacrificing love, for “the more the two (eros and agape) find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized” (Ibid., §8). Love is consequently a “single reality” (ibid.). 

No longer ought we to speak of supernatural charity as such, but we must rather say that charity knows no such distinctions but embraces all human love. Hence the definition of charity in this present encyclical: “Charity can be recognized as an authentic expression of humanity, and as an element of fundamental importance in human relations” (§ 3). Charity belongs, then, to all mankind, and is characteristic of all good human relations. This is pure naturalism, which equates the natural and supernatural motives for charity by merging them into one. There is consequently no distinction to be made between the Church’s supernatural role with respect to her own members and a much more extensive, more universal, and higher role that she has with respect to all of humanity, and which the Pope proclaims to be her ultimate purpose. 

CHURCH’S HIGHER PURPOSE 

Basing himself upon Vatican II (Gaudium et spes) and the encyclicals of Pope Paul VI (Populorum progressio) and John Paul II (Sollicitudo rei socialis) on the same subject, he declares that henceforth the Church “is at the service of the world” –one wonders what happened to St. John‘s very non-humanistic declaration “If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him” (I Jn 2:15)—and that consequently in whatever she does (e.g. works of charity, divine worship) she “is engaged in promoting integral human development. She has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities: all the energy she brings to the advancement of humanity and of universal fraternity…” (§11). Her goal, that transcends and goes above and beyond her particular activities, must, therefore, be to further the principles of the French Revolution, following the ideal of Freemasonic naturalism. Hence her fundamental role in the process of globalization, as we shall see. 

NEW CONCEPT OF TRUTH 

Truth is likewise redefined. It is no longer to be considered as the correspondence of the mind to exterior and objective reality, and consequently as something fixed, firm, absolute, and unchanging. To the contrary, truth is of its very nature a communication or sharing with others, to such an extent that a person who shuts himself up in his own “truth,” as objective as he might consider it to be, has really shut himself up in his subjective opinions, and cannot possibly attain truth, for the simple reason that he cannot dialogue or share opinions with others. Here is the Pope’s definition of truth, playing on the Greek expression for the Word (of God): “Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion.” Truth requires communication with others’ truth. The very next sentence explains what he means by communication, namely if a person is not willing to let go of his personal opinions, he cannot have the truth: “Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things” (§4). Without such a sharing with others there is no truth, for man is isolated in his “subjective opinions.” Note that there is no distinction between firmly held convictions of Catholic Faith and other firmly held opinions. In both cases, there cannot be truth without mutual sharing. 

It is for this reason that “the mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce,” by which he means that “the Church searches for truth” (§9); yes, the Church’s mission is to search for truth (and to proclaim and recognize it), not to teach “the” truth as something already acquired. Here is the explanation, given in the same paragraph, why it is humanism (=fidelity to man) that is the basis of the Church’s mission of truth: “Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth.” Hence the most extraordinary statement that “Truth frees charity from the constraints of … a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing space” (§3). Fideism, previously a term to indicate the heresy of those who deny the role of reason, is here used as a pejorative term to describe those whose personal convictions of Faith prevent them from indulging in dialogue, and who consequently cannot attain truth, for they do not have the human development necessary to share. 

EVOLUTION OF TRUTH 

The contradiction with the Church’s pre-Vatican II teaching is manifest and obvious, which is why the Pope feels the need to justify himself. Note that he does not deny that the pre-conciliar Popes say different things, but rather affirms that “there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new” (§12). He goes on to explain what he means by this apparent (and indeed real) contradiction—both new and old at the same time. It is the perfect justification of the liberal, who lives in objective contradiction with himself, incoherent with his own conclusions, finding the coherence elsewhere than in the objective truth. “Coherence does not mean a closed system [understand by this, a system of traditional teaching, closed to dialogue from without]: on the contrary, it means dynamic faithfulness to a light received.” The so-called continuity with the past is consequently not the teachings themselves, but the “unchanging light” that situates post-conciliar teachings “within the great current of Tradition” (ibid.). 

Here we find clearly declared the teaching of the evolution of truth and doctrine, so essential to the heresy of modernism and so clearly condemned by St. Pius X: “For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas, if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense…. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed” (Pascendi, §13). This is St. Pius X’s judgment on evolution of the truth, which must be applied also to this present encyclical: “They have reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion” (ibid.). 

GLOBALIZATION 

The novelty of this encyclical and its principal practical focus is without a doubt globalization, defined as “the explosion of worldwide interdependence” (§33). In itself, the Pope describes this phenomenon as “neither good nor bad” (§42). However, he encourages us to view it not just as a predetermined economic process, but rather to see it in a positive sense: “We should not be its victims, but rather its protagonists” (ibid.) You might wonder how this breaking down of borders, this formation of a Freemasonic one world governmental and economic system, how this destruction of the remainders of Christendom, with its religious and cultural identity, separated and distinct from paganism and false religions, could possibly be viewed in a positive sense. The answer is that, if embraced in a humanistic sense, this globalization is a real opportunity for the dialogue necessary for integral human development, for charity in truth. Globalization is, therefore, truth: “The truth of globalization as a process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards which is good. Hence a sustained commitment is needed so as to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence” (ibid.) 

Globalization of humanity is consequently necessary and good, something to “steer” and not condemn, provided that it is centered on the human person and his community, and allows some openness to God by religious liberty. Hence the encyclical’s preoccupation with the ethics of ecology and the environment, of energy use and population growth, of poverty and consumerism, of international aid and tourism, of democracy and religious liberty. 

DIALOGUE = HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 

However, above all these considerations lies the universal brotherhood of mankind, on account of which man will attain to his human development only inasmuch as he relates with diverse other men. Religion is essential in making known to man this reality that relationships with others are at the same time that which is most human in him, and that which is transcendent. All religions do this, but Christianity does it particularly well on account of its focus on love. Here is the text that at first might seem obscure, yet given what has gone beforehand it really is very clear: “The Christian revelation of the unity of the human race presupposes a metaphysical interpretation of the ‘humanum’ in which relationality is an essential element. Other cultures and religions teach brotherhood and peace and are therefore of enormous importance to integral human development (§ 55). 

Of course, the only Christian revelation concerning the unity of the human race is the universality of original sin, its wounds, and the three concupiscences that derive from it. Likewise, human nature is not defined by relationships with others at all but rather by having a body and an immortal soul capable of knowing and loving God, as He has revealed Himself by the Incarnation, and of eternal damnation by refusal of that revelation. 

Note that in this entirely naturalistic context, “integral human development,” which consists in dialogue with others, has replaced eternal salvation as the goal of religion. It is hardly any wonder that the same paragraph (55) condemns “some religious and cultural traditions ... which ossify society in rigid social groupings,” and likewise it condemns “religious fundamentalism,” not because it is doctrinally wrong but because it “hinders an encounter between persons and their collaboration for the progress of humanity” (§ 56). Clearly, he intends to include in this condemnation traditional Catholicism, with its separation from the spirit of the world and refusal to dialogue with error, heresy, and paganism. If a further proof of this were required, it is found immediately afterwards. After stating that “reason always stands in need of being purified by faith”—which is certainly true, for without the true Faith, reason customarily falls into error—he then goes on to draw the following horrendous and shocking parallel: “For its part, religion always needs to be purified by reason in order to show its authentically human face. Any breach in this dialogue comes only at an enormous price to human development” (§ 56). For us, it is inconceivable and blasphemous to affirm that the divine truth of revealed religion can be corrected by fallible human reason. But if truth is dialogue and religion is but a means to integral human development, then the conclusion follows logically. But where does that leave the true Faith and the Catholic religion? As one amongst many personal opinions. 

Let us follow the Pope’s logic one step further. The end result of the redefinition of faith as dialogue and religion as human development is the worship of man, who becomes himself the ultimate goal of faith and reason, of “charity” and religion. All those, consequently, who work for the good of man “correspond to the divine plan” whether they be believers or not! “Fruitful dialogue between faith and reason … constitutes the most appropriate framework for promoting fraternal collaboration between believers and non-believers in their shared commitment for justice and the peace of the human family.… This is what gives rise to the duty of believers to unite their efforts with those of all men and women of good will (If they were of good will, why do they refuse to believe in divine revelation?), with the followers of other religions and with non-believers, so that this world of ours may effectively correspond to the divine plan” (§ 57). 

Hence the morality of international aid is not just because it is a corporal work of mercy but because “it offers a wonderful opportunity for encounter between cultures and peoples” (§ 59). Likewise that of international tourism “that has the ability to promote genuine mutual understanding.… Tourism of this kind needs to increase” (§ 61). 

ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT 

The most shocking and long-reaching conclusion of this positive promotion of globalization on a human and cultural as well as economic level is the call for an international authority to impose it legally, to enforce in an obligatory manner the dialogue between economies, cultures, religions, and peoples as promoted by this integral humanism. The Pope in fact calls “for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth, … to arrive at a political, juridical, and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all people in solidarity… there is urgent need of a true world political authority (which) would need to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all…” (§ 67). This means the loss of national sovereignty and any possibility of union between Church and State. It means the establishment of the one world order that Freemasonry has long fought to achieve. Pope Leo XIII described and condemned very clearly the “ultimate purpose” of Freemasonry, “namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere ‘Naturalism’” (Humanum genus, §10).

The religious justification for a new world order, based upon human dignity, fraternity, and equality, and brought about by universal democracy, is of course not a new one. It was precisely the humanitarian dream of the Sillon movement, condemned by St. Pius X in 1910, for its embracing of the principles of the French Revolution. 

“We fear that worse is to come: the end result of this developing promiscuousness (understand, dialogue), the beneficiary of this cosmopolitan social action, can only be a Democracy which will be neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish. It will be a religion … more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men to become brothers and comrades at last in the ‘Kingdom of God.’ ‘We do not work for the Church; we work for mankind.’… We ask ourselves, venerable Brethren, what has become of the Catholicism of the Sillon? … [It] is no more than a miserable affluent of the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy; neither discipline for the mind nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world … the reign of legalized cunning and force…” (Our Apostolic Mandate, § 40). 

Can our judgment of Pope Benedict XVI’s self-proclaimed humanism be any different? If only it could be. If only his humanism that does not exclude God could be less of a humanism and more of a true God-centered religion. However, it is not the case. If the Pope condemns “a humanism which excludes God [as] ... an inhuman humanism” (§ 78) then his “humanism open to the Absolute” is a human humanism—that is, a philosophy of how man can develop the full potential of his human nature without the supernatural order of revelation, grace, obedience, and submission to authority. It is for that reason that a bad conscience is not defined as that which refuses to discern God’s will and admit the guilt of disobeying it. It is, rather, “a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human” (§ 75), a most logical consequence if you believe that revelation is when “God reveals man to himself” (ibid.). 

One cannot but wonder if Pope Leo XIII had had some premonition of this time when he wrote, in the original version of his exorcism prayer to St. Michael the Archangel: “Where the See of Blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth have been set up for the light of the gentiles, there they have placed the throne of the abomination of their wickedness, so that, the Pastor having been struck, they may also be able to scatter the flock. Therefore, O thou unconquerable Leader, be present with the people of God against the spiritual wickednesses which are bursting in upon them; and bring them the victory.” 

Surely prayer and penance, the love of the Cross and of sacrifice, the Rosary and the Sacraments, truly supernatural means that they are, can be the only response to such a public manifesto of humanism, to such a radical application of the principles of egalitarianism and fraternity as to make truth exclude the personal and private possession of the truth, as to make charity include necessarily the authentic expression of humanity and the universal brotherhood of man. 

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