Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cardinal Pell on truth, freedom and the moral confusion of young Catholics


In his Pentecost message for this year, His Eminence The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney had the following observations on the ethics of young Catholics:

The young people at our consultations [for the preparation of the Pentecost message] were keen to participate and happy to be present. Without doubt they are among the best of the crop and the views they proposed were sound and decent. But many spoke as though they were relativists, often not supporting their personal beliefs in faith and morals by claims to the truth.
They vigorously espoused the advantages of tolerance, which is obviously a basic virtue in a pluralist democracy like Australia but they seemed to presume that those who believed in truths could not be tolerant.
Different speakers claimed that the truth depends on how we are brought up and that every person has a different point of view. Others claimed that truth should not be a dictatorship, because truth is only a perception, something in the eye of the beholder. How does one distinguish a terrorist from a freedom fighter they asked?
A significant group emphasized that they did not want to be claiming that other people are wrong, because they didn’t want to impose their views on others. “Live and let live” was the motto, because educated people do not see too much which is black or white. Is there any truth in these claims?
In an interesting aside Professor [Hayden] Ramsay remarked [at a Pentecost message preparation meeting] that Australians are not very good at telling others that they are wrong, because the truth can hurt and cause the truth teller to lose friends!
In 2007 a research report “The Spirit of Generation Y. Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia” claimed that 59% of young Catholics believed that morals are relative, while only 44% of young Anglicans thought in that way and the percentage of other Christians was even lower at 40%. As a consequence young Catholics were marginally less principles in their morals than the national average and not enormously better than young Australians without any religion.
Clearly there is much in there that is troubling, and it is a sad indictment of the failure of Catholic schools to give pupils a solid grounding in natural-law ethics.

As for Cardinal Pell, it is perplexing that someone who sees clearly that moral liberty can only have what is true, good and just as its object, entitling his Pentecost message “No Truth. No Freedom”, can also assert elsewhere things like

Nor is religious freedom simply a right to toleration … It is the fundamental right of religious organisations and individuals, as full participants in the wider society around them, to practise and manifest their beliefs freely in the services they provide.
But if religious freedom involves heretics disseminating their errors then how can it be anything other than a tolerance on the part of the State? Tolerance can have evil for its object, but true freedom can never have what is opposed to truth or goodness as its object. This strange schizophrenia has become rampant in the Church since Dignitatis Humanæ.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Columba, Abbot, A.D. 2009


Anonymous said...

I agree, Pole. Heretics certainly should not have the right to disseminate their beliefs.

Cardinal Pole said...

The whole present-day state of teaching on religious liberty is perplexing and very frustrating. As D.H.'s relatio noted, and as conservative supporters of D.H. are quick to point out, D.H. did not propose a moral right to error or its dissemination, yet somehow we are expected to think that error and its dissemination is supposed to be the object of 'as much freedom as possible, as little restriction as necessary', that is, a civil right limited by 'just public order'. Really, the slogan ought to be inverted to become

'as much restriction as possible, as little freedom as necessary'

And that's just to do with the third of the three relationships connected to the doctrine:

1. The relationship between the State and Christ the King.
2. The relationship between the State and Christ's Church.
3. The relationship between the State and non-Catholics.

I would be delighted if the S.S.P.X.-Vatican doctrinal discussions were to produce a clarification of 3. and a re-affirmation of 1. and 2. (both of which, 1. and 2., D.H. intended to leave 'untouched'); the confusion over 3. is bad enough, but most Catholics, including even most conservative clerics, would be ignorant of the true doctrine on 1. and 2.

Anonymous said...

'as much restriction as possible, as little freedom as necessary'

Well said, Pole.

You are right about 1 & 2, Pole, most Catholics would be unaware of these.

It was observing the secularists which made me realise that the State must be a moral person, since it always acts like one.

(Forgive me if I'm repeating myself).

Even most traddies would baulk at the notion of a Confessional State. Just shows how infected we are by the secularist heresy.

Just getting some Catholics to believe in the Holy Trinity is a big effort these days.