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The Sept. 9, 2006 editions of the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star, two newspapers having pretensions to cosmic significance, carried the same hard-hitting storyline: “Pope Slams Canada.”
BY DONALD DEMARCO
The Sept. 9, 2006
editions of the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star, two newspapers having
pretensions to cosmic significance, carried the same hard-hitting storyline:
“Pope Slams Canada.”
They were reporting on the
comments Pope Benedict XVI had made on the previous day to seven Ontario bishops.
Typical of secular newspapers,
being more concerned with words that startle, than with thoughts that nourish, these
circulars do not see any injustice in grossly misrepresenting the people they
Pope Benedict XVI is far too
civilized a human being to be “slamming” anyone, though this shock word does
resonate nicely with Canada’s
penchant for using images drawn from the world of hockey.
Nor did the Holy Father criticize Canada as much
as her Catholic politicians who gave their country abortion and same-sex
Predictably, secular critics
immediately misunderstood the Pope’s stance as violating the principle of the
separation of Church and state. Gilles Marchildon,
for example, executive director of Egale Canada, a
homosexual rights advocacy group, argues that Canadians of various faiths
should keep their personal beliefs out of the House of Commons.
The Pope speaks; the media
distorts; the populace misapprehends. This is a sad and sorry sequence. Pope
Benedict is hardly imposing personal beliefs. Nor is he forcing faith on people
who do not want it. He is simply reminding people, Canadian Catholics in the
main, and seven bishops from Ontario
in particular, about a common humanism that we compromise at our collective
“Democracy succeeds only to the
extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human
person,” he said. “Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on
In other words, Catholics should
act as human beings. Slaughtering the innocent is inhuman, and same-sex
“marriage” is contrary to nature. Benedict was returning to the theme of a
“true humanism” that he underscored in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est
(God Is Love, No. 30).
He is not so foolish as to think
that Canada is a dukedom of
But neither is he foolish enough to believe that Catholics have no place in a democratic
He states clearly in his
encyclical that, “the formation of just structures ... belongs to the world of
politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason,” while the Church
contributes indirectly by contributing “to the purification of reason and to
the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither
established nor prove effective in the long run.”
Properly formed Catholics provide
a corrective when reason gives way to trends, opinion polls, political correctness,
pressure groups, convenience and a peculiar form of relativism that claims to
be absolute (the “dictatorship of relativism).
The Holy Father alludes to the
fact that “relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights
than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past.” Yet relativism
itself, strictly speaking, can make no such claim since it purports that no
philosophy can be better than any other.
Robert George, Professor of
Jurisprudence at Princeton
University, has made the
observation that the Catholic Church is far more committed to reason and
rational discourse than is the world of secular politics. “It seems to me,” he
states, “that these people have it backward. The Church’s moral teachings are
in line with reason; secularist ideology is not.”
The plain truth, which secular
newspapers, in general, fail to grasp is that the
Catholic Church is an incomparably better witness to reason than is the secular
world. The Church is passionately interested in truth, nature, and objectivity
because she knows that they provide the indispensable framework for a true
humanism. Peace and justice cannot flower in a relativistic vacuum.
Imagine that a baseball game is
played between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, and that, unknown
to the fans, all the players are wearing their opponents’ uniforms.
As a result, Red Sox fans, not
knowing any better, would be cheering for the Yankees and vice-versa. The
uniforms would be transmitting the wrong message. The media has deftly switched
uniforms on an ignorant crowd of spectators, vesting the secular world in the
livery of reason, and the Catholic Church in the raiment of irrationality.
But the truth of
the matter, false advertising notwithstanding, remains the truth. And revealing the truth, the
“inside story,” should always be the objective of a good journalist.
Donald DeMarco is adjunct
professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.