Monday, May 11, 2009

Mencken, Benedict XVI, and Cdl. Burke

The Mencken quote from Limbaugh:

"Americans most admire those who are the biggest liars. They most despise those who try to tell the truth."

1) From an essay by Bp. Charles Chaput of Denver

Of course in all the developed, Western-style democracies, we’re allowed to believe in God, and even to pray and worship together. But we’re constantly lectured by the mass media to never impose our religious viewpoints on our neighbors. This curious idea is always framed as a reasonable and enlightened way to live. You’re free to believe what you want to believe; I’m free to believe what I want to believe; and the government agrees not to tell either of us what to believe or not to believe.

But things really aren’t as reasonable and enlightened as they seem. Here’s a recent example: Pope Benedict visited Africa in March. On the plane a reporter asked him about the AIDS epidemic and the Church’s disapproval of condom uses. Now, there aren’t many nations or organizations in the world today that have poured as much money and human effort into the fight against AIDS in Africa as the Catholic Church. ...So when the Pope answers a question like this he’s speaking, not just from theological opinion, but with real knowledge about conditions on the ground.

And Benedict said that promoting condom use doesn’t help. In fact it does just the opposite. Nobody listened to his answer beyond that point. It was all over the media for the next several days how this conservative pope was sacrificing millions of Africans with AIDS on the altar of the Church’s rigid moral dogma. ... And what’s astounding is the uniformity of the criticism—that the Pope and the Church are backward and medieval, and that Catholic beliefs are a threat to the public health.

What happened? The pope challenged one of the cultish little orthodoxies of our time, the cult of the condom, and the underlying ideology that sexual intercourse is a fundamental human “need” that can never be questioned—not even in situations where pursuing that need could cost you your life.

2) From Fr. J. Schall's review of Cdl. Burke's prayer breakfast address

...We forget that a life faithful to the truth is a strength, not a weakness, to the country. We should pray for the land. Yet, Burke is deeply "concerned for our nation." Many are afraid to say just how concerned they are at the new policies and movements of the present elected government. Too few have thought about what these extraordinary measures of government expansion really imply.

Not only is there concern about human life itself, but "those in power propose to force physicians and other healthcare professionals, in other words, those with a particular responsibility to promote and foster human life, to participate, contrary to what their conscience requires, in the destruction of unborn human lives, from their first embryonic stage of development to the moment of death." Strikingly, Burke consistently uses phrases like "those in power," not those who rule or govern legitimately (Aquinas' phrase). Burke understands his Machiavelli, with his "revolutionary" criterion of rule, namely, "to acquire and remain in power."

And that 'power' notion re-surfaces a bit later.

Burke, as I say, is blunt. Seldom do we like to hear the truth. "With unparalleled arrogance, our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation upon the faithful, indissoluble, and inherently procreative love of a man and a woman in marriage, and, in violation of what nature itself teaches, to replace it with a so-called marital relationship, according to the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society." Notice that phrase again, these "arrogant" proposals are based solely on "the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society." Power is not authority. It is coercion without reason

Aristotle was ahead of the curve:

The meaning of the "change" that was spoken of during the campaign is now quite clear. The "change" is the implementation by "those in power" of the most ruthless anti-life program in human history. This result is what the electors, if they now look back on their votes, freely chose. We must be sobered in reflecting on the insight of Aristotle whose understanding of a democratic liberty that meant whatever anyone wanted seems fulfilled in our very midst.

And the Burkes, Benedicts, and Limbaughs--even the bloggers such as McCain--are in the very same crosshairs, as foretold by John Paul II:

...the Church is not "imposing" its doctrine on others. It is exercising its duty and freedom simply to state the truth in public, whether agreed with or not. So-called "hate talk" legislation today seeks to prevent even this statement on the grounds that someone living or practicing or believing that abortion, same-sex marriages, euthanasia, and so forth are fine, has his "rights" violated if someone else states the reasons why such activities might be wrong. Therefore we seek to silence those who have reasons.

This silencing of free statements of truth is but one step closer to that "democratic tyranny" of which John Paul II spoke.

The ying-and-yang of American politics are laid out here:

The basis of our civilization is the Socratic principle, reaffirmed by Christ: "It is never right to do wrong." Recurrent within our tradition of political philosophy is a persistent effort to "free" the politician from the "restriction" of what is right. Thus, to remain and expand "power," he can do evil or good as he thinks fit or "prudent."

However, even those who promoted this latter view generally recognized that there was an evil and a good. We get the impression from those who currently "exercise power," that they have never confronted the issue of good and evil. But as Burke said, "what is always and everywhere evil cannot be called good for the sake of accomplishing some other good end." Lots of goods need to be promoted "but the concern for those goods can never justify the betrayal of the fundamental goods of life itself and the family."

It is not difficult to attract 'hate-postings;' merely run a paragraph from McCain which repeats exactly what Bp. Burke said in D.C. to get combox fireworks. It certainly wasn't difficult for Benedict XVI to become a victim of vicious assaults from the 'enlightened ones' after his fact-based remarks on rubbers in Africa.

"Power," indeed.


1 comment:

Dave said...

Cardinal Burke? I know he's all but certain to get his red hat, but...