National Catholic Register

Commentary

Pope Slams Canada

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

October 8-14, 2006 Issue | Posted 10/4/06 at 11:00 AM

 

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 Toronto circulars do not see any injustice in grossly misrepresenting the people they cite.

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 “marriage.”

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 peril.

“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 this principle.”

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 the Vatican. But neither is he foolish enough to believe that Catholics have no place in a democratic society.

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.