Monday, April 04, 2005

Owning the Pope

It's amazing how many of the folks who are interviewed in the media feel an entitlement to John Paul's "endorsement" of their views on nearly everything. The problem is, neither Catholic teaching, nor this pope's representations of same, lend themselves to easy endorsement of any secular/social/political doctrine whatsoever. Being rooted in revealed truth, they give and they take away. The politicians must be very careful about how much they ride John Paul's coattails. It wouldn't hurt if more of us were even superficially familiar with his approach to the central points of the Church's ancient doctrines.

On the other hand, I believe that those who have somehow cast themselves in opposition to what seems to be John Paul's loving insistence that there is a Catholic insight into truth about how we should live are also in error. They miss the point. The late pope truly understood that there were dangerous ideologies in today's world. One of them is Communism--philosophical materialism that reduces humans to matter in a great historical, progressive sweep that aims at a perfected, concrete, earthly paradise of economic regimentation and sociological conformity. None of us likes that.

The other ideology is moral relativism, the theoretical ability to pick my truth, and in so doing create moral validity. This doctrine the average Westerner accepts without question today. It assumes that moral statements have no more substance than the decision to have pepperoni or anchovies on my pizza tonight, so no one needs to presume to tell me they're right and I'm wrong. Of course, such an idea is a self-contradiction. What is true is by its nature inconvenient and resistant to my rationalizations. The truth is exactly that which I don't like.

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