ORGAN OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM
|Editor: Msgr. John F. McCarthy, J.C.D., S.T.D.||Distributed several times a year to interested members.|
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Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, P.O. Box 13230, St. Louis, MO 63157, USA
|No. 91||Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program||January 2001|
by John F. McCarthy
The following address was presented at the International Wanderer Forum in Washington, D.C., on October 28, 2000
1. The spread of Communism foretold. As we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, or, perhaps more precisely, at the very end of the 20th century, it behooves us, as faithful members of the Catholic Church, to look back over the century that has come to an end and then to look forward to the century that is just beginning, in order to get an idea of where some major developments have been going and of where they might better go. Rather early in the 20th century, in 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children at Fatima to point out the dangers and trials that would have to be faced by devout people in the course of that century, including the effects of two world wars, the rise and diffusion of atheistic Communism, and the consequent suffering and martyrdom of many of the faithful. As the 20th century went on, we saw the rise and expansion of atheistic Communism and the terrifying martyrdom of millions because of their loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to his Church. Had Our Lady not warned of a dangerous weakness toward Communism even among Catholics, as became clear in the attitude of many Catholics toward the Communist takeover in Spain early in the 1930s and in Cuba in the 1950s? This weakness of attitude toward Communism became clear later as well with the emergence of the so-called "liberation theology," which was an unwise attempt to combine Catholic faith with Marxist social and political doctrine.
2. The menace of sexual impurity. At Fatima in 1917 Our Lady spoke also of the menace of sexual impurity, because of which, she said, "more souls go to Hell than for any other reason." In the United States of America the 20th century, while it witnessed an enormous increase in technological capabilities, did not experience a corresponding increase in moral practice and responsibility. Rather, there occurred a decline in moral behavior and especially in sexual morality. The United States has seen in the course of the 20th century a horrifying expansion of sexual impurity and eroticism, even in terms of its public endorsement and the legal protection of its worst fomenters. Underlying this decline lay the philosophy of secular humanism, promoted in private and in public by a multitude of operators. In an address to the Wanderer Forum in 1967, entitled "The Challenge of the Year of Faith," I noted that "Where God is not found, there is lacking also the supreme insight behind all thought, there is lacking the prime motive of morality, there is lacking the ultimate key to reality as a whole." It is the goal of secular humanism to separate every reference to Almighty God, to God the Creator, to God the Redeemer, from all sectors of public life and eventually even from every sector of private life. Secular humanists are rationalists: they "deplore" every effort to recognize interventions of God or "to look outside nature for salvation." They oppose any limitation of sexual orientation in obedience to the natural moral law. They "believe in enjoying life here and now," without sacrificing anything for the sake of the future life. They favor and promote what they call "reproductive freedom," that is, freedom to contracept natural sexual activity and to abort children from the womb.1 During the 20th century secular humanists managed to push a great distance toward their goal by means of state legislation, federal legislation, and court decisions. This has been an organized offensive against the Christian way of life, and its ultimate aim is to erase from civil law all of the norms of natural and Christian morality which underpin it and to substitute for these norms a bogus paradise of morally illicit but legally permitted erotic pleasure. It is important to realize the extent to which radical feminism and sexual libertinism have motivated the sexual revolution that took place in the United States during the 20th century, promoted constantly by secular humanists and represented especially by the increase of artificial contraception and abortion and by the advent of the homosexual culture.
3. Erotic "Planned Parenthood." When, in 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary was calling upon people everywhere to practice the virtue of chastity, Margaret Sanger had just gotten started on her crusade of "sexual liberation for women." In open collaboration with far-left Socialists of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), and with the anarchist Emma Goldman, and inspired by Malthusian ideas that she had picked up on a visit to Paris in 1913, Margaret Sanger undertook in 1914 the cause of artificial contraception (for which she coined the name "birth control") and began the publication of a monthly magazine called Woman Rebel. To avoid imminent prosecution by the federal government for violation of the Comstock Act, an anti-obscenity law, she fled to England in November 1914, but returned early in 1916, after the government had dropped its charges, and she opened in October of that year in Brooklyn, New York, the first "birth control clinic" in the United States. A few weeks later the clinic was closed by the police and Margaret Sanger was sentenced to thirty days in jail. But, once out of jail, she went on with her endeavor and in 1921 organized the American Birth Control League, which later was renamed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. It was a foreseeable conclusion that Planned Parenthood would move on from simply counseling the use of contraceptives to counseling and promoting abortions. We all know the great amount of moral damage that Planned Parenthood has done and continues to do, but we may not all realize the extent to which the originator of Planned Parenthood saw artificial contraception, not only as an instrument of social control to reduce the numbers of what she considered to be unfit races and categories of people, but also and especially to promote what she saw to be "feminine sexual liberation." By teaching women the use of contraceptives, she aimed to liberate them for what she believed to be their erotic nature, what she called "the absolute, elemental, inner urge of womanhood," and "the intuitive forward urge within." In all of this she recognized her principal enemy to be the Catholic Church. And well she might have, for this inner erotic urge of womanhood was nothing other than unbridled concupiscence and uncontrolled self-love.2
4. Hedonistic "sex-education." Early in the 20th century a group of sexual hedonists in the United States undertook a program to bring to all children from the earliest possible age the knowledge and experience of erotic activity. They named this program "sex-education." These individuals aimed to turn the United States into a hedonistic state in which erotic pleasure obtained by whatever means would define the common good, and, to accomplish this, they concluded that all of the children would have to be corrupted from infancy and so trapped in sexual vices that they could no longer escape. Their plan involved transforming the meaning of the word "sex" from its original denotation of "what is distinctive of the male and the female" to the meaning of "sexual intercourse." "Having sex" would no longer retain its original meaning of "being male or female," but rather would come to mean "having sexual intercourse." As a result, "sex education" would not mean teaching boys and girls how to become morally mature men and women, but would rather come to mean teaching boys and girls about sexual intercourse. Pope Pius XI, on December 31, 1929, in his encyclical On the Christian Education of Youth (numbers 65-66), condemned this immoral program in the following words:
Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.
Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind (Rom 7:23); and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect, not so much of ignorance of intellect, as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions and unsupported by the means of grace.
The creators of this erotic method of instruction succeeded in convincing the public to adopt their program, to accept their terminology, and to introduce their idea of "sex-education" into the public schools of this nation as well as into the public school systems of many other nations. As a result, in the public school system, and in many private school systems, children are taught from the earliest possible age that they have sexual organs but they are not taught how they are morally obliged to control those organs; they are taught that the use of these organs gives pleasure, but they are not taught when this pleasure is morally licit and when it is morally illicit. Children are taught about unnatural as well as natural forms of sexual intercourse, and at an age at which they are not able to control this knowledge. They are taught to avoid venereal diseases by the use of condoms, but they are not taught to avoid venereal diseases and morally corrupting vices by the practice of continence and chastity. This accepted brand of sex-education has in many places turned the teaching profession into a child-corrupting profession. When the Second Vatican Council called for a "positive and prudent educatio sexualis," it intended education in sexual morality in accordance with Catholic tradition, and this was spelled out afterwards in documents of the Popes and of offices of the Holy See, but the name and method of "sex-education" had already been preempted by the secular humanists, so that much misunderstanding about this term and about what the Second Vatican Council and the Holy See have proposed regarding education in sexual morality has unfortunately persisted among Catholic parents and Catholic educators.3
5. The formation of SIECUS. The active promotion of sex-education by various secular-humanist groups continued on with great energy until 1964, by which time they had strength enough to create SIECUS (the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), an organization which, under the leadership of Mary Calderone, massively increased the impact of organized sexual hedonism upon educational systems and upon governmental agencies. By 1999, the 35th anniversary of the founding of SIECUS, its current president, Debra Haffner, was able to boast of the enormous "change in the way America understands and affirms sexuality." In 1964, she said, contraceptives were more difficult to obtain, "sex-education was almost nonexistent," while "gays and lesbians were labeled as deviant," and sexually explicit literature was not available in respectable stores. But now, in 1999, she said, "90 percent of all couples use contraception" and "gays and lesbians live openly and proudly in their communities, workplaces, and religious institutions." She claimed that the "field of sexuality" had been "greatly enriched" over those thirty-five years by writers and researchers such as Masters and Johnson, the Boston Women's Health Collective, and the Alan Guttmacher Institute and such popular figures as Mary Calderone, Hugh Hefner, Magic Johnson, the singer Madonna, and Gloria Steinhem. But Debra Haffner was worried also about certain developments that had begun to take place on the American scene, deriving from growing opposition in every state to the content of sex-education as it was being presented. There had been, she said, more than seven hundred controversies over the kind of education that SIECUS was offering, and, as a result, she said, during the 1990s nineteen states had dropped the requirement of sex-education in their schools and five states had implemented programs featuring abstinence only until marriage.4 SIECUS is not for marriage or for the family; it is not for people. SIECUS is, in its ultimate aims, anti-marriage and anti-family. It is pro-homosexual, pro-adultery, pro-fornication, pro-masturbation, anti-nature, and anti-God. It is the quintessence of secular humanism. In face of this sexual revolution, the advice given by Our Lady to Lucy of Fatima was to keep our hearts pure, to pray for sinners, and to do our daily duty, a duty which would obviously include resisting the incursions of the sexual revolution and the sexual revolutionaries. Would that there had been, not just seven hundred but seven thousand public contestations to the immoral sex-education promoted by SIECUS and similar organizations. Great positive features of the final third of the 20th century have been the growth of home schooling to oppose the moral decadence of many public and private schools, the growing emphasis on formation in chastity in opposition to hedonistic sex-education, and the rise of pro-life activity in opposition to the abortionist "culture of death."
6. Homosexual perversion. Let this fact be realized: There is no basis in human nature for the idea of "homosexual rights," because homosexual acts are a perversion of human nature. Homosexual men and women are, indeed, human persons with natural human rights, but they do not have a natural right to commit homosexual acts or to impose such acts upon others. As a parallel example, thieves have rights as human persons, but they do not have a right to steal, and, if they do steal, they can forfeit thereby certain rights that they would otherwise have. Similarly, those who practice the vice of homosexual activity can thereby forfeit certain rights that they would otherwise have. Just as there is no such thing as a naturally born thief, so there is no such thing as a naturally born homosexual, although it is true that some persons are more prone to stealing than others and some persons are more prone to committing homosexual acts than are others. Where did the idea of homosexual acts come from originally? I think it came from diabolical suggestion. Satan and all his demons despise human beings for being composed of body and soul and for being sexual in their very nature. What greater contempt could these demons show for the good natural act of human procreation than by inducing human persons to engage in homosexual acts and thus to debase their human nature in the greatest possible way. Homosexual acts are disgusting acts to all healthy-minded persons. Certainly no healthy-minded parents should be careless enough to entrust the formation of their children to these morally sick individuals, whose religion consists in the pursuit of illicit pleasure.
7. Militant homosexuality. Pampering of the flesh and indulgence in impure thoughts are factors that can lead a person into the vice of homosexual acts, but the principal factor is a corrupt human environment. Where allurements to homosexual acts are present in the environment, a person is more likely to be pulled into the vice, 5 and homosexual men and women do provide many such allurements, as does hedonistic sex-education. The ultimate goal of such an environment is not the preparation of healthy families; it is rather the imposing of deviant sexual vices upon the whole of human society. What we are dealing with in this discussion is not the plight of persons who fall from weakness into homosexual practices, but with militant homosexuals and others who are actively and openly promoting an alleged equality of homosexual activity before the law and in the eyes of the public. For instance, they are claiming that openly practicing homosexuals have a right to be teachers of children, athletic coaches, scout masters, and other things of this sort, whether or not there is any guarantee that they will not lead the children into their vice of homosexuality. And many political figures, in their confusion, support the idea of such a right.
8. Pornology among Catholic teachers. However, the dangers of our era have come, not only from outside the Church, but also from within the Church. In my address of 1967 to the Wanderer Forum I had already noted that "ideas and tendencies are growing in our midst which are capable of disintegrating the Church in her social structures, in her moral practices, and even in her fundamental adhesion to the truths of divine Revelation." For the past twenty-two years we have had the strong and enlightened leadership of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, but, in spite of this leadership, one can truly say that these insidious ideas and tendencies within the Church continue to wreak spiritual havoc in many crucial areas of life. In the United States of America, the rebellion in 1968 of many Catholic theologians and pastoral workers against the clear moral teaching of Pope Paul VI regarding the immorality of artificial contraception did great spiritual damage to Catholic family life, and this rebellion quickly extended itself into other areas of thought, climaxing with the publication in 1977 by the Catholic Theological Society of America of its nefarious report on sexuality, entitled Human Sexuality: new directions in American Catholic thought.6 This book announced in no uncertain terms the total rebellion of the Catholic Theological Society of America against all of the norms of the Catholic Church regarding sexual morality and changed the image of the CTSA from that of a true theological society into that of a pornological society. In a series of sixteen articles published in The Wanderer in 1978-1979, I pointed out thirty-five deeply immoral conclusions expounded and defended by the authors of this CTSA report, which I showed at length to be "morally irresponsible, shocking, and pastorally devastating," as well as "pornological, scandalous, and offensive to those who love God."7 Although heavily criticized by the Holy See, this CTSA report has been widely used as a textbook or as an authoritative reference work in seminaries, theological faculties, institutes, and workshops. And this shows the depths to which the great Catholic tradition of moral teaching has been sullied in many Catholic institutions of higher learning.
9. Radical pluralism. The debased reasoning of the CTSA Report can be traced partially to indulgence in impure thinking inspired by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. But it can be traced also to a spirit of contradiction that spread widely in the 1960s and to the philosophy of pluralism. When Our Lady of Fatima called upon her spiritual children to do their daily duty, she must also have had in mind the daily duty of Catholic priests, religious, and intellectuals to uphold the duties of their state in life. Yet, from the 1960s onward people everywhere began to witness the spectacle of Catholic priests working to destroy their state of celibacy and the very priesthood itself. People saw consecrated religious striving to abolish everything for which the religious state stands and even to phase out the religious state itself. And people everywhere saw Catholic theologians and other intellectuals furiously endeavoring to undermine and deny many of the truths of Catholic tradition. Our Lady had given warning of this sad spectacle in 1917, as had St. Peter and St. Paul much earlier in their canonical epistles. But, over and above this satanically inspired spirit of contradiction, which alienated many of the professional theologians, writers, and teachers from the true tradition of the Church, has been functioning the philosophy of pluralism. I do not mean that reasonable political or social pluralism which consists in an attitude of prudent tolerance of other beliefs for the sake of peaceful living and cooperation. I mean that radical pluralism which is the most anti-Christian of all philosophies, because it denies the unity of truth. Catholic pluralists are persons who retain Catholic doctrine on one side of their mind and anti-Catholic doctrine on the other. Thus, for instance, the pluralist authors of this nefarious CTSA Report professed to be Catholics on one side of their mind and yet published the most perverse of secular humanist, hedonistic, anti-Catholic doctrine coming from the other side of their mind. And this result is not surprising, because the sad truth about the pluralist mind is that the anti-Catholic doctrine tends to become ever stronger and the Catholic doctrine tends to become ever weaker. It cannot be otherwise, since Catholic believers have a solemn duty and obligation to resist and reject every suggestion of pluralism that comes before them, and, if they do not reject these temptations, their Catholic faith comes into doubt and is eventually lost.
10. Historical-criticism. A window through which pluralism has entered into the minds of many Catholic intellectuals is the field of biblical interpretation. In the 19th century there prospered among liberal Protestant scholars a method of interpretation, known first as "higher-criticism" and later as "historical-criticism," aimed basically at disproving the historical truth of Sacred Scripture by the use of what these scholars thought to be historical science. From about the last decade of the 19th century this method came more and more to be used by Catholic Scripture scholars, in spite of repeated warnings and censures in papal documents, in decisions of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and in judgments of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. The battle between the hierarchy and the historical-critical scholars went on until the Second Vatican Council, and more or less ended there in victory for the historical-critics, after the Council had admitted some ambiguous terminology into its constitution Dei Verbum on divine revelation. Since then, the historical-critical scholars have virtually taken control of the field of Catholic biblical interpretation. In fact, after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI reorganized the Pontifical Biblical Commission and changed its competence from that of an organ of the Magisterium of the Church to that of a group of biblical scholars who take positions on problems of Scriptural interpretation under the favorable eye of the hierarchy. The reconstituted Pontifical Biblical Commission, composed largely of historical-critical scholars, put what might be characterized as the "finishing touch" on their historic struggle against traditional Catholic exegesis with the publication in 1993 of a document entitled The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,8 a nonmagisterial document which not only presented the historical-critical method as the recognized and favored approach to the interpretation of Sacred Scripture by Catholic scholars, but also implicitly ruled out the traditional Catholic approach under the general heading of "fundamentalism."
11. A better method of interpretation. However, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and ex officio President of the reconstituted Pontifical Biblical Commission, in his Preface to this same PBC document of 1993, made the observation that, while the historical-critical method was being promoted by this group of biblical scholars with the knowledge and approval of the Holy See, "there are also new attempts to recover patristic exegesis and to include renewed forms of a spiritual interpretation of Scripture," that is, the method of the Four Senses of Sacred Scripture, which is also recommended by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (numbers 115-119) as the proper way to interpret the sacred text. The method of the Four Senses begins from the awareness that there is a literal sense of the inspired text which needs to be defended as historically true, and that, behind the literal sense, there is a spiritual sense divided into three levels: first, the allegorical sense, containing the Allegory of Christ and of his Church; second, the tropological, or moral, sense, which represents the impact of the objective truth upon the subjectivity of the believer; and third, the anagogical, or final, sense, also called the eschatological sense, which presents the realities of faith in the light of eternity. The Allegory of Christ and of his Church is not an imaginary poetic construct; it is rather an extended metaphor according to which supernatural events and supernatural realities are represented and prefigured by natural events and natural realities. Since Protestant biblical scholars have typically ignored the spiritual sense of Sacred Scripture, it is easy to understand why the historical-critical method, as now inherited by Catholic biblical scholars, is blind to the spiritual sense. In fact, the historical-critical method does not begin from the viewpoint of Christian faith but rather from a point of view that is supposedly rational. Hence, it was fitting that Pope John Paul II, in his address of the 23rd of April 1993 to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, on the occasion of the presentation of this document of 1993 to which I have referred, pointed out that "The Catholic exegete does not entertain the individualist illusion leading to the belief that one can better understand the biblical texts outside the community of believers."9
12. Call for a new synthesis of biblical interpretation. Somewhat earlier Cardinal Ratzinger in a widely circulated article first published in 1989, made the observation that over the past hundred years biblical exegesis has made some great errors and that "these errors have virtually become academic dogmas." 10 The Cardinal traced these errors to the continuing influence of Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann, founders in the early 1920s of the form-criticism of the Gospels, whose "basic methodological orientations," he said, "determine to this day the methodology and course of modern exegesis." 11 Cardinal Ratzinger foresaw the urgent need to challenge the presuppositions of Dibelius and Bultmann, such as their transferring to biblical interpretation the evolutionist model of natural science. 12 In fact, in his article, Cardinal Ratzinger called for the preparation of a "new synthesis" of biblical interpretation, whose development would require, in his words, "the attentive and critical commitment of a whole generation." 13
13. Response to this call. The neo-patristic method of Scriptural interpretation is a little-known approach that fits the need described by Cardinal Ratzinger. It begins from the outlook of faith and profound erudition contained in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, as this outlook has been systematized especially by St. Thomas Aquinas, and utilized by other great Catholic commentators. It proceeds by way of a critical analysis of historical-critical conclusions to a systematic interpretation of the biblical text in terms of its Four Senses. While the historical-critical method assumes that the episodes reported in Sacred Scripture are mainly unhistorical and places the burden of proof upon those who would claim that these episodes are historical, the neo-patristic method assumes that the episodes reported in the Sacred Scriptures, and above all in the episodes reported in the Four Gospels, are historical and places the burden of proof upon the critics to prove that they are not. 14
14. Prayer for the conversion of Russia. In relation to the foregoing outline of certain developments that have taken place in the 20th century, there can be visualized some elements of a program of reform for the 21st century. One element of a program of reform should be a campaign of fervent prayer for the conversion of Russia and of all other countries to the truth of Christ and to love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady told Lucia of Fatima that Russia would be converted and that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph. These final developments we have not yet seen, but we did witness, in the early 1990s, the collapse from within of Communist regimes in Russia and in several other European countries, while, unfortunately, similar Communist regimes continue to exist in Mainland China, in North Korea, in Vietnam, in Cuba, and in some other places. There is every reason to hope that, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the third millennium will be a socially just millennium and a Catholic millennium such as has never been seen before. There is a beautiful prayer to St. Therese of Lisieux for the conversion of Russia that some have been reciting daily for the last forty or fifty years. The vast majority of people in Russia are unchurched or have only a remote and ineffective relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. Pope John Paul II, in his concern for all of the people in the world, justifiably wants the official dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church to continue in the hope of a great future reuniting of the whole Russian Orthodox Church with the See of Peter. Still, we should be aware at this point of history that there is no effective dialogue actually taking place with the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church; there is only maneuvering on their part to gain political advantage over the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church that exist in the former Russian Empire. We need to pray that this attitude will undergo a spiritual conversion. In the meanwhile, the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches as well as the Latin-rite jurisdictions deserve our full support and cooperation in those territories, where millions of Catholic and Orthodox faithful have sacrificed their security and their lives out of loyalty to their faith. They are the seeds of the future triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We do not know to what degree Russia will be converted, but we should be praying fervently to Our Lady that it happen as soon and as fully as possible.
15. Devotion to Jesus through Mary. Another element of a program of reform for the 21st century should then be a general upsurge of dogmatically sound devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, building upon the great and widespread devotion that has been manifested within the Church during the 20th century, together with a significant increase in understanding of the role of Mary in the Church, including the definition by Pope Pius XII in 1950 of the dogma of her Assumption into Heaven, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in its constitution on the Church, the proclamation by Pope Paul VI of Mary as the Mother of the Church, the Marian teachings of Pope John Paul II, and the many beautiful statements about Our Lady in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II saw the Marian Year of 1987 as a year of preparation for the coming millennium, which, he said, is "meant to promote a new and more careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church" (Mother of the Redeemer 48).
16. The Reevangelization of Christians. Another element of a program of reform for the 21st century, must be the re-evangelization of Christians throughout the world and the conversion of non-Christians, under the direction of the Hierarchy, as called for by Pope John Paul II. To accomplish this, Catholics will have to become more fully informed of their Catholic faith and be more zealous in giving vocal witness to their faith as well as in putting their faith into practice. It will entail dogmatically and morally correct catechesis and continuing adult religious education by means of properly conducted classes and enrollment in adult discussion groups which regularly take up timely questions and seek positive answers to these questions. A great phenomenon of our time is the rise of many new organizations of Catholics aiming to promote the one and only Catholic faith in all of its purity. We hope to see these organizations grow in themselves and network with other organizations of like mind. And Catholics need to be able to reach out also to non-Catholics by becoming informed of what various non-Catholic groups believe and by knowing how to defend their Catholic faith against criticism by non-Catholics. In this endeavor of re-evangelization and of going forth to teach all nations the whole truth about Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and about his Church, the aim of conversion must take priority over ecumenical dialogue. For instance, since the dialogue with the Anglicans began, the Anglican Communion has moved further away from Catholic belief and practice in such things as ordination of so-called women priests and bishops, acceptance of abortion, acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, and doctrinal chaos. On the other hand, the clear-cut exclusion of the possibility of women priests by Pope John Paul II produced the fruitful conversion to the Catholic Church of hundreds of Anglican ministers together with many members of their flocks. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its recent declaration Dominus Jesus, has reaffirmed the uniqueness of the one and only Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, while declaring that groups such as the Anglican Communion are not churches at all. This is a courageous statement, and it should encourage Catholics everywhere to be courageous during the 21st century in openly telling the whole truth about the one and only Church of Christ.
17. The overcoming of radical pluralism. Another element of a program of reform for the 21st century must be the overcoming in Catholic thought of the philosophy of pluralism. This means the refutation of coexistence in Catholic minds of anti-Catholic principles deriving from wherever and it may require the work, not merely of one generation of thinkers, but, perhaps, of several generations, because it implies the refutation in detail of many false systems of thought, some of which have not been adequately criticized for centuries. Such systematic criticism of false ideas can result in a new synthesis of philosophy and theology, based especially upon the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. Just as the 20th century opened with the condemnation of modernism by Pope St. Pius X and progressed with the insidious growth of neo-modernism, so the 21st century must develop with the overcoming of neo-modernism and the trashing of the hedonistic psychologies of Freud, Jung, and others. With regard to Sacred Scripture, St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century not only provided a brilliant defense of the historical truth of the literal sense but he also brought out how this truth is situated in the context of the Four Senses of the inspired word. Nevertheless, unfortunately, as the centuries of the second millennium went on, ever more attention was paid by exegetes to the literal sense alone and ever less attention to the spiritual senses, with the result that the fuller context of the inspired word was lost sight of and even the meaning and force of the literal sense came to be largely and increasingly missed. Hence, a big task for the entering century and for the whole third millennium needs to be the development of a neo-patristic commentary on the entire Bible, verse by verse, from beginning to end, in the context of the Four Senses, refuting the false interpretations that are now in wide use and bringing out the fuller spiritual meaning of the sacred text. The prayers and moral support of many people are needed for the accomplishment of this task. This work must be done under the guidance of the Holy See and in service to the Pope, who at this time, unfortunately, does not have a sufficiency of traditional theology available for making his own decisions and, therefore, has to rely too much on the advice of liberal thinkers.
18. The overcoming of radical feminism. Another element in a program of reform for the 21st century needs to be the overcoming of radical feminism and the upholding of the institution of the family. By "radical feminism" I do not mean the promotion of the good of the female sex within society, a work laudably upheld by the Church. What I mean is the inordinate and self-seeking promotion of women first proposed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto for the purpose of destroying the natural role of women and the institution of the Christian family and which continues to be promoted today by foolish women within the Catholic Church, even by many consecrated women. 15 This mistaken kind of feminism distorts the word of Sacred Scripture and the traditional teaching of the Church, and its persuasive efforts have unfortunately found a hearing even among the clergy. So a great task of the century just beginning is the upholding of the true status of women and of the natural institution of marriage and of the family, and, above all, the promotion of the Christian family. It is not too much to hope that the secular humanist culture of the 20th century will be replaced by a Christian culture in the 21st century.
19. Proper moral education. Another element of a program of reform for the 21st century must be a return to the proper moral education of children and, therefore, the elimination of hedonistic sex-education from the schools. Children need models of the lifestyle that they are striving to achieve, and these models need to be true and proper heroes of Christianity, not pop figures of a secular-humanist culture. And, yes, Catholics are called upon to work for the building up of a new world order, not the secular-humanist New World Order nurtured by the United Nations Organization, but a world order based upon the Christian humanism advocated by Pope John Paul II. Down with the evil population control proposed in Cairo in 1994! Down with the evil concept of womanhood proposed in Beijing in 1995! And up with a "real and proper philosophy of the new man and the new world," as called for by Cardinal Ratzinger in a recent interview and the upholding of the institution of the family, which will require solid support by the hierarchy and by the whole Church for the home schooling of children, as earnestly requested by Pope Pius XI back in 1929 in his encyclical on The Christian Education of Youth (numbers 71-74).
20. A civil right to life for unborn babies. An important event occurred just three weeks ago, on Sunday, the eighth of October, as Pope John Paul II, together with about fifteen hundred Bishops gathered together with him in St. Peter's Basilica, pronounced an Act of Entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary, before her image brought from Fatima for the occasion, imploring the protection of the Mother of Christ on the Church and on the world at the beginning of the third millennium. Included in this great prayer is the entrustment of all unborn babies to the Maternal Heart of Mary, an act for which we have been hoping and praying for a long time. Here are the words of the Pope: "We entrust to you all people, beginning with the weakest: the babies yet unborn, and those born into poverty and suffering, the young in search of meaning, the unemployed, and those suffering hunger and disease." Hence, another element in a program of reform for the 21st century has to be the enactment of a civil right to life for unborn babies. As it is now, those who kill infants in the womb are certainly murderers before the tribunal of God, but before the civil law they cannot be accused of murder, for the unfortunate reason that children in the womb do not now have a recognized civil right to life. They have, indeed, a natural right to life, which demands to be respected before God and before all morally just persons, but infants in the womb do not have a civil right to life that is clearly defined in civil legislation. This is an injustice, a travesty of legal interpretation, that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. The natural right to life of unborn children, which was taken for granted in the common law of the past, now needs to be expressed in the letter of the civil law. To work for such legislation is an urgent task of the 21st century. So, in the course of the 21st century, we want to see in the United States of America and in every nation of the world, a civilly defined right to life for every human life in the womb, with human life legally defined as beginning from the first moment of conception. Those of legal background who would not respect such a definition simply should not be appointed as judges, because what they are doing is undermining and destroying the ethic of natural moral law upon which all good society stands. And those many secular-humanist legislators and other public officials who would not work for such a definition, and who would not respect such a definition, simply need to be voted out of office. This can be brought about by convincing believing Christians and other upholders of the natural moral law not to vote secular-humanist candidates into public office. The ending of the public promotion of contraception, abortion, fornication, adultery, and the homosexual lifestyle can be brought about by means of a great ongoing crusade to convince these people that, when they step into the voting booth, they must not vote for candidates whose platform advocates the undermining of natural morality and of the family. Here there is no room for compromise, for this is not just one issue among others; it is the decisive issue, because the sexual revolutionaries have turned the whole political scene into an attack on the natural moral law. The only answer to this problem is to vote out of office any public official or any candidate for public office who supports the culture of death or the culture of homosexual perversion. As regards the culture of death, all voting citizens have a responsibility before God. Whoever sends a killer to kill is responsible for the killing that follows. And whoever protects a killer while he is doing his killing is also responsible for the killing. Whoever helps to vote into office a person who has promised, if elected, to send these killers to do their killing, or to protect these killers while they are doing their killing, or to finance their killing, shares the responsibility for the killing that follows. This is why all Christians have a moral obligation to vote such candidates out of office. This is not just one political issue that may be pushed into the background by other issues. The culture of death and the culture of homosexuality are overwhelming issues that should be decisive for political elections. The economy is secondary; jobs are secondary; welfare is secondary; health care is secondary, prosperity is secondary. What is primary is the abominable fact that millions of unborn Americans are being slaughtered before they ever have had a chance to see the light of day and, in addition, millions of born children are being systematically corrupted in the schools. The time has come for citizens to use their God-given moral conscience to clean up civil legislation, to clean up public education, and to establish once again moral limits on the media. Now is the time and this is the century to let secular humanists know that they are no longer in charge. A great movement is arising among us, a movement which rejects the pluralism of good and evil, a movement which respects the demands of the natural moral law, a movement which respects the law of Christ. It is called Christian humanism, and it needs to become the character of America in the 21st century. May God grant us this achievement in the grace of Jesus Christ and in the love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
1. Cf. Council for Secular Humanism, The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles, at Web page http://www.secularhumanism.org/intro/affirmations.html.
2. For this information on the activities of Margaret Sanger see David M. Kennedy, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (1970).
3. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis; Congregation for Catholic Education, Educational Guidance in Human Love, and Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (The Wanderer Press, 1996: with commentaries by Alfonso Card. Lopez Trujillo and Msgr. John F. McCarthy).
4. Cf. Debra W. Haffner, "The First 35 Years: A History of SIECUS," found in October 2000 at Internet web-page http://www.siecus.org/pubs/srpt/srpt0020.html.
5. Even honest behaviorists admit that the social environment is the main origin of homosexual behavior. Cf. Wainright Churchill, M.D., Homosexual Behavior Among Males: A Cross-Cultural and Cross-Species Investigation (Hawthorn Books: New York, 1967), p. 120.
6. Human Sexuality (Paulist Press: Paramus, New Jersey, 1977.
7. These sixteen articles were reprinted in booklet form in 1979 by The Wanderer Press under the title "Human Sexuality": Theology or Pornology? The words quoted above are taken from the final conclusion of these articles.
8. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993).
9. Pope John Paul II, Address of 23 April 1993, printed with the document of the PBC referred to in note 8 above.
10. Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Italian translation, "L'interpretazione della Bibbia in conflitto," in Ignace de la Potterie, ed., L'esegesi cristiana oggi (Casale Monferrato, Italy: PIEMME, 1991) p. 123.
11. Ratzinger, ibid., p. 104.
12. Ratzinger, ibid., p. 106.
13. Ratzinger, ibid., p. 113.
14. For information about the neo-patristic method of interpretation of Sacred Scripture see the many apposite articles and lessons on the Web site of the Roman Theological Forum at
15. Cf. Donna Steichen, Ungodly Rage (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991).