(#N) refers to paragraph numbers in "The Human Family...."
Update (15 December): After posting this
to the web,
The arrival of the Holy Father's New Year Day message came as an unexpected but welcome opportunity to put aside my efforts at decryption of the Spe salvi chapter of The Ratzinger Code. Nonetheless, there were a few insights gained from Spe salvi that will help to explain the present message.
No Christian can doubt the importance of the family as the building block of society and, consequently, an important part of any effort to bring peace to the world. But the Pope implies that if civil society provides the adequate necessities of family life—“a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all,” free from everything that “directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, [and] everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children”(#5)—then all families within that society will be building blocks of a peaceful nation and world. One doesn't have to look far to find examples of families quite dysfunctional in spite of their having all of these material needs met. Some suffer from a surplus of riches, a consequent boredom with the world, and the desire to relieve that boredom in antisocial ways. Others see the family or clan as a base of power, from which members gain political and economic power at the expense of fellow citizens, or from which they engage in criminal activities. Clearly, another dimension must be considered to understand what makes some families functional and others not.
The Conciliar Popes, including Pope Benedict, tend to limit reality to nature, ignoring the supernatural dimension traditionally associated with the Catholic Faith. This is consistent with their Modernism and their fascination with the Hegelian dialectic. The Modernism sees all religion as the sentiment of individuals, and the collective consensus of the sentiments of those in society at the moment (as psychology or sociology)—a consensus often dominated by those, religious or not, who are able to influence public opinion. The dialectic has been renamed “dialogue,” but the idea remains Hegel's—the beliefs (sentiments) of one faith group react with those of another faith group as thesis and antithesis to produce a synthesis, a new set of sentiments. This combination of Modernism and the dialectic has been particularly destructive in the case of Catholicism, for the true Church claims: that there are revealed truths; that the Church is the custodian and teacher of these truths; and that the truth is, in no way, subject to modification.
Since the Conciliar Church is open to dialogue with all of the other faith groups (except those which acknowledge unchanging truth), Pope Benedict must limit himself to seeking peace in the material dimension. It would be unthinkable for him to recall that vast numbers of people make all of their moral decisions under the handicap of original sin. Imagine the firestorm that mention of this reality would touch off among the non-baptized peoples of the world! It would make the Regensburg gaff with the Moslems appear trivial. It would be similarly unthinkable for him to remind the world that vast numbers of Christians live habitually under the handicap of actual sin: Protestants living without the graces of the Sacraments; Catholics without the guidance of a morally sound clergy, and perhaps Sacrament-less as well. One might conjure up the excuse that the Pope, being a man of peace, is simply being diplomatic. But that falsity of that excuse would be abundantly demonstrated by his ecumenical efforts to assure people that they have no need of the Catholic Faith, and by his glaring failure to correct the moral and Sacramental abuses in his own Conciliar Church.
Seeking peace without the Prince of Peace is, of course, folly. Yet one would expect those who do so, at least, to seek a correct material solution. But, those who are mired in Modernism and the dialectic—particularly churchmen, unaccustomed to managing the production of material goods, and used to reigning by fiat—tend to adopt the ideas of socialism and cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism lacks the military brutality found in the Russian or Chinese Marxisms, claiming to be “Marxism with a human face,” seeking to achieve its goals by influencing and even controlling the culture. The “politically correct” movement is a good example of such cultural control, with people being made afraid to speak the truth about a variety of evils. The Frankfurt School, perhaps the most visible organ of cultural Marxism in the modern world, received honorable mention in Spe salvi by name and by association (#42: “Frankfurt,” “Adorno”; #22“Adorno”). The encyclical also pleads ignorance of Marx' rather detailed plan for the period “after the revolution,.” given in the Communist Manifesto, and particularly in its Ten Planks.
For the Catholic there is a two-fold problem that makes “dialogue” with socialism and Marxism impossible. The two ideologies are more or less indistinguishable for economic purposes, and they simply do not work. They are peopled by those seeking handouts and by those seeking to control others by controlling the handouts. The first problem is that socialism (I will use the one word for both ideologies) lacks the market mechanism for determining what goods are required by society, reduces the incentive to work, destroys the desire and means to innovate and expand, and sucks large amounts of wealth from the productive economy to feed its bureaucracy and to curry favor with those receiving the handouts. Under socialism, while everyone may be employed, there will be fewer homes, less food and clothing and other consumer goods, a lower quality of medical care, and less access to meaningful education—remember well that even the most dictatorial regime cannot redistribute what has not been produced.
The second problem is that socialism does not offer moral alternatives, no matter how desperately the human conscience may require them. A government which has defined its existence around managing the economy will make decisions with that mission firmly in mind. If it is more expensive to raise a child to productive age than to contracept or abort; if it is more expensive to cure the elderly and the handicapped than to provide merely palliative care; if it is more expensive to keep the comatose warm and nourished than to “euthanize” them; if it is more expensive to close the factories on Sundays than to run them seven days a week; if it is more expensive to build churches for each denomination than to build and share multi-purpose meeting-concert-sports facilities; if it is more expensive to provide educational choices than to provide a standard state oriented curriculum; if it is more expensive to do any “this" rather than “that”; well guess what is going to happen—no matter what the moral choices ought to be. Socialist families will enjoy far fewer freedoms in raising their children and conducting their own affairs.
Redistribution of wealth requires brute force, and will do no good anyway—in years or even months it will be back in the hands of the resourceful, minus what is stolen by the criminal and the bureaucrat. Foreign aid is a special case, for it takes from those who have wealth and puts that wealth into the hands of bureaucrats who will deposit part of it into Swiss bank accounts, spend part to secure their military advantage over the nation, and spend part to ingratiate themselves with their supporters—perhaps they will sell a small part to the poor—foreign aid will inhibit the local formation of capital, and the development of local industry. Before the days of ecumenism and political correctness, the Church took a leading role in seeing to it that poorer peoples not only had the Gospel preached to them, but also began to rise from poverty through local industry and education. Unfortunately, “the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies” goes hand in hand with all socialism—by definition, socialism is the establishment of bureaucracies to manage inefficiently what private entrepreneurs would manage efficiently at no net cost to society. The law of profit is not inhumane, rather it is what motivates laborers and entrepreneurs and investors to put their time, efforts, and resources into producing the means by which mankind lives.
“Sustainable development” (#7) is a politically correct euphemism for anything from birth control, through abortion, on to “deep kill-backs” of the human species so that it consumes none of the resources that rightly belong to other species (like snail darters). Western civilization, and particularly its Christian component has already contracepted and NFPed to the point of not reproducing itself. It should scare the “dickens” out of every Catholic that the Pope of Rome is suggesting that we should turn over control of the world's population, economy, energy, and ecology to a “dialogue with experts and people of wisdom” (#7) Cultural Marxism has already seen to it that Western civilization must run according to “consensus science,” wherein “scientific truth” is determined not by the scientific method but by consensus of the “experts and people of wisdom.” Consider the utter lack of scientific evidence that has made the teaching of evolution mandatory, even though “mandatory scientific belief ” is an oxymoron—consider health care according to Hillary Clinton, economics according to Ted Kennedy, and ecology according to Nobel laureate Al Gore. No doubt there is a place also for Oprah Winfrey, G.W. Bush, and Chicken Little. In reality, government has no right to boast about its achievements in morality, efficiency, or ecology!
If there is anything more frightening than national socialism it is the global socialism with an armed United Nations which Pope Benedict and the Conciliar Church espouse (#13; CCC 1927, 2308, 2316; etc.). The Novus Ordo Missæ demands a Novus Ordo Mundi—a New World Order! What ever happened to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, with all actions being taken at the lowest possible level of society, where they can be crafted with individual concern rather than the enforced “one size fits all” mentality of the Brave New World?
If the Holy Father is sincere in his desire to support peace through strong families, he might have a look in his own backyard. A great deal would be done for families if the Conciliar Church returned to the traditional teaching on the primary end of matrimony, annulled marriages only for serious and canonical grounds, stopped preaching NFP as though it were a positive good which Catholics should seek, and got rid of its clergy who cannot abide the moral law (even before the civil government catches them). Establishing the global gulag is not the way!
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December AD 2007