All too often, when we lose our sense of humility and launch a volley of vitriol at an assumed enemy, we later regret our hostility. We end up regretting the curses we hurled upon another.
The world seems to take delight in delivering what Merriam Webster defines as situational irony: “a striking reversal of what is expected or intended: a person sidesteps a pothole to avoid injury and in doing so steps into another pothole and injures themselves.”
Irony of this nature has blossomed into full view starting with an attack article authored by Franciscan Daniel Horan, published by the National Catholic Reporter, November 10, 2021.
In a strident tone, Horan accused Bishops and, in particular, Archbishop Gomez, of demonstrating “anti-intellectualism.”
Horan, in his article, made it clear that Archbishop Gomez failed to understand “signs of the times” … failed to “be a balanced and thoughtful person,” a person “of culture, intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning.”
The Prosecution, The Offense, The Crime
The hostile prosecutor’s screed was purportedly set off by comments made by Abp. Gomez when he opined on “the rise of new secular ideologies and movements for social change in the United States and the implications for the Church.”
The following statements, made by Abp. Gomez, are a few samples of the “anti-intellectualism” that Horan proposes to prosecute:
An elite leadership class has risen in our countries that has little interest in religion and no real attachments to the nations they live in or to local traditions or cultures.
In this elite worldview, there is no need for old-fashioned belief systems and religions. In fact, as they see it, religion, especially Christianity, only gets in the way of the society they hope to build.
I think history will look back and see that this pandemic did not change our societies as much as it accelerated trends and directions that were already at work. Social changes that might have taken decades to play out, are now moving more rapidly in the wake of this disease and our societies’ responses.
With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied.
What we might call the “woke” story goes something like this:
We cannot know where we came from, but we are aware that we have interests in common with those who share our skin color or our position in society. We are also painfully aware that our group is suffering and alienated, through no fault of our own. The cause of our unhappiness is that we are victims of oppression by other groups in society. We are liberated and find redemption through our constant struggle against our oppressors, by waging a battle for political and cultural power in the name of creating a society of equity.
Our Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI warned that the eclipse of God leads to the eclipse of the human person. Again and again he told us: when we forget God, we no longer see the image of God in our neighbor.
Today’s critical theories and ideologies are profoundly atheistic. They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness. They reduce what it means to be human to essentially physical qualities — the color of our skin, our sex, our notions of gender, our ethnic background, or our position in society.
In denying God, these new movements have lost the truth about the human person. This explains their extremism, and their harsh, uncompromising, and unforgiving approach to politics.
And from the standpoint of the Gospel, because these movements deny the human person, no matter how well-intentioned they are, they cannot promote authentic human flourishing. In fact, as we are witnessing in my country, these strictly secular movements are causing new forms of social division, discrimination, intolerance, and injustice.
But the world does not need a new secular religion to replace Christianity. It needs you and me to be better witnesses. Better Christians. Let us begin by forgiving, loving, sacrificing for others, putting away spiritual poisons like resentment and envy.
We need to live and proclaim the Gospel as the true path to liberation from every slavery and injustice, spiritual and material. In our preaching and practice, and especially in our love for our neighbors, we need to bear witness to God’s beautiful vision of our common humanity — our common origin and common destiny in God.
Excerpts from an Address delivered by video to
Congress of Catholics and Public Life
November 4, 2021
The Prosecution’s Case
In the next issue of Divine Collaboration we will look closer at Horan’s charges and seek a verdict. In the meanwhile, begin your assessment as a proxy jury member: Should Archbishop Gomez and other Bishops be found guilty for failing to bow to secular authority?
Recommended additional reading: Steve Kirsch’s newsletter.