Restoring the Sacred

Monday, November 18, 2013

Words of Relevance: Two Popes and Relativism

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI began speaking out against what he called "The Dictatorship of Relativism" even before he was elected Pope on April 19, 2005.   He spoke of it often, and even Progressive Catholics understood what he meant even if they  did not agree with him on the severity of the problem.  During his papacy, he related how relativism tended toward political correctness and thereafter to intolerance.
Here's the quote:
“In recent years I find myself noting,” how the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends toward intolerance. Political correctness … seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It presents itself as the only way to think and speak — if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. … I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion.”
Pope Francis, on the other hand, has given unscripted interviews recently that have some members of the Church scratching their heads and wondering how the current pontiff feels about relativism.  There have been a number of interpretations rendered by various Catholic pundits on what the Pope actually meant when he said certain things, but what he actually said seems to indicate that he feels less inclined than his predecessor to encourage the faithful to guard against the cult of relativism so pervasive in our culture.  Those hoping for an acceptance by the Church of fundamental changes in Catholic doctrine, however, have been disappointed at every turn (so far) when Pope Francis confirms that doctrine at every opportunity.  They still, though, cling to certain utterances that give them hope.  Here's the quote:
"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem ... they're our brothers."
Apparently some of our brothers take the absence of the word "repentance," and the failure to mention what we've always been taught: "Love the sinner; hate the sin," as an encouraging sign that Pope Francis is dismissing any such admonishments.  They shouldn't do that.