Marcello Pera, the Italian philosopher and politician, has again spoken out in defense of the Church and the Holy Father in response to the excessive attacks over the sexual abuse crisis.
Last month, he wrote an open letter to the editor of Corriere della Sera, pointing out that these attacks are more to do with a “war” between secularism and Christianity than they are about pedophilia.
He did so again today, in an article for the Italian daily Il Tempo. He writes that “judicial ecclesiastical and civil reparation regarding pedophilia cases and priests is not the true interest” of those who are viciously attacking the Church. “If it really were,” he says, “then similar positions would have been taken on other cases, or the opportunity would have been taken to reflect on our increasingly permissive laws on ethical matters.”
He then poses a question: “Why is child abuse a horrendous crime and the killing of an embryo with a pill a ‘civil achievement’? Are they both crimes, or who makes the distinction between one and the other, not to refer to one as a crime in itself but as something else?”
Senator Pera, a self-proclaimed atheist who co-wrote the 2004 book ‘Without Roots’ with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, adds that Christians and Catholics have realized that the Pope is not the goal of this campaign. Benedict XVI, he says, is the “one person who has taken these scandals seriously and reported them”, and that his preaching and teaching shield him against “any denigration or insinuation.” The Pope, he says, is being subjected to a Calvary, but that even those who describe this crisis as “altargate” are unable to pin blame on him.
“It is the Church, and more precisely her preaching and Christian witness, that is disturbing [to the attackers],” he writes. “Rightly, Cardinal Sodano and others have highlighted the true goal: the campaign of secularists is against those who defend life, the person, marriage, ethics. This is the culture war that crosses all the West at this time of moral crisis.”
He then delineates two groups of secularists: “Those who preach freedom without responsibility, individual autonomy without constraints, relative values as the source of all value” and those who believe that “if ethics has no truth, then what’s good is just the pat on the back each person gives himself every time he has pursued his own interests and has acted frankly.”
“The contradiction that has taken hold of the West is dramatic and the spiral in which it is wound is perverse,” he continues. “You can exalt sexual freedom, forgive every offense, lower every guard, tolerate any transgression, exalt homosexuality to the point of wanting to introduce the crime of homophobia, and then be scandalized by pedophilia. If there is no sense of sin, that which is morally licit or illicit ends up under the general law of force.”
He says he is “sorry that these lessons have not been well understood by many of the laity” and that they “haven’t reacted before against such a blatantly anti-Christian campaign.” Senator Pera laments that the Church wouldn’t have been “dragged into this war” if people recalled “what Christianity has represented to our civilization, if there were a cultural awareness of the fundamental value it provides to the very values it bears to defend.”
He ends by stressing that this “war” with secularism, “which has been long declared, requires the union of all mature and conscious forces.”
“Non prevalebunt, certainly,” he says, referring to the words of Jesus to St. Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. “But there are dangers.”
Senator Pera makes some interesting points, but I would add that the strength of the anger on this issue is, in many cases, a positive sign for it shows that the Church’s critics, including perhaps subconsciously some secularists, recognize that she has a truly divine mission and is the supreme moral voice in the world. This therefore makes these crimes of a few priests even more heinous than those committed by other perpetrators elsewhere.