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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Secular Totalitarianism in Canada - Part II

Totalitarianism in Alberta - Part II
In my recent Pastoral Letter, I wrote that the Alberta Government Gender Guidelines issued on January 13 show no evidence of consultation with, or sensitivity to, the Catholic community. They breathe pure secularism. This approach and directive smack of the madness of relativism and the forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology.

If you are reading this piece in the hopes of discovering an apology and/or a retraction, you might as well stop reading right now. That's simply not going to happen.

I have received considerable support for what I said and the way in which I said it. Nevertheless, there were a few "nay-sayers" ­ some have called for my resignation, others have resorted to unpublishable name calling, and of course, there were several references to the famous catch-all these days, "Who are you to judge?" The later suggesting that I was espousing a teaching contrary to the openness of Pope Francis.

In point of fact, Pope Francis has said quite a bit about gender. "The acceptance of our bodies as God's gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the ­Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one's own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it" [Laudato Si 155].

Furthermore, in Sacred Scripture there are different but interrelated sets of texts about judgment. Without attempting to be exhaustive, there are at least three that are especially noteworthy:

1) Warnings about judgment: "Stop judging that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged...." This is not an injunction against judgment, but a warning that the judgment should be rendered with a good heart free from hypocrisy, arrogance, meanness of spirit, or hate. Consequently, "remove the beam from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." The principal purpose of a judgment is to help a brother or sister avoid debilitating actions and improve. The awesome burden of judging is the realization that we will be "judged as we have judged." Some cite the incident of the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus by those who would stone her as evidence that we should not judge others. Nothing could be further from the truth. The incident manifests God's mercy and loathing of hypocrisy, but he did judge her behavior as evidenced by his admonition: "Go and sin no more."

2) Instances of judgment abound: ­Peter to Simon the magician "...for your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours... for I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chain of wickedness" [Acts 8: 20-23]. Paul to Elymas, "you son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud. Will you not stop twisting the straight paths of the Lord?" [Acts 13:9-10]; and Paul to Peter, "But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he clearly was wrong" [Gal 2:11].

3) Cautions particularly to overseers or leaders about judgments: "Thus says the Lord: you, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me if I tell the wicked, 'oh, wicked one, you shall surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked one from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself" [Ezekiel 33: 7-9].
Paul's advice to Timothy is difficult for some of us: "Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil's snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will" [2 Tim 2: 23-26].

Only God can judge the state of the human soul but it is pure nonsense to suggest we cannot and should not judge human behaviour. Reluctance to judge moral behaviour is the inevitable consequence of moral relativism and moral subjectivism that has eroded confidence in the ability to determine objective moral truth on which sound judgment is based.

The last word on this subject belongs to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves ­ thrown from one extreme to the other.... Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error [cf Ephesians 4, 14].

Having a clear Faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labelled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires. However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an 'Adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties.

A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth" [Way of the Cross in 2005 for Good Friday].

✠ F. B. Henry
Bishop of Calgary

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