DENVER, August 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, delivered a dire yet hopeful message about the current state of society in an address at the 129th Knights of Columbus Convention Tuesday. 

“We are witnesses of a society in which, in many respects, morality has ceased to exist,” said Burke. “We are called ever more urgently to the new evangelization of our culture.”

Cardinal Burke pinpointed the problem as “moral relativism,” which he said “has even entered into the thinking of some theologians in the Church and which has provided an ideological foundation for a culture which is predominantly marked by violence and death.”

The Pope, said Cardinal Burke, “described a moral relativism, called proportionalism or consequentialism in contemporary moral theology, which has generated profound confusion and deadly error regarding the most fundamental truths of the moral order.”

He exemplified the erroneous thinking, saying:

We think, for instance, of the justification of the murder of the unborn child in the womb as the exercise of the right of the mother to choose, weighing other goods, whether to bring to term the baby she has conceived; the justification of the abhorrent practices of the artificial generation of human life and its destruction, at the embryonic stage of development, as the means to obtain supposed cures for crippling or deadly diseases; the justification of the so-called “mercy killing” of those who have the first title to our care, our brothers and sisters who have grown weak through advanced years, grave illness or special needs, as respect for the quality of their lives; and the justification of the sexual union of two persons of the same sex as tolerance of so-called alternative forms of human sexuality, as if there were a true form of human sexuality other than the form written in the human body and soul by God.

Effectively, according to Burke, the culture’s need for evangelization now is as dire as when the Church first began.

“Even as the first disciples faced a pagan world which had not even heard of our Lord Jesus Christ, so, we, too face a culture which is forgetful of God and hostile to His Law written upon every human heart,” he said.

The “program leading to freedom and happiness” for each of us, said Burke, is “the holiness of life in Christ, in accord with our state in life and with careful attention to our ‘time and culture’.”

Burke described a holiness that would courageously proclaim Christianity despite the many voices seeking to exclude faith from public life.

“Religious faith and practice is important for the life of every nation, specifically for the right formation of the conscience of her citizens,” he said. “ When reason is not purified by faith in the political realm, the powerful and influential of the time exercise a tyranny which violates the fundamental rights of the very people whom political leaders are called to serve.”

Bruke concluded: “Yes, we face a struggle with those who would falsely exclude the purifying and illuminating service of faith to reason, those who would insist that, when it comes to civic life, we must bracket our religious faith, even to the point of violating our own conscience.

“But we know the truth about the critical service which our faith brings to political reasoning, and, therefore, we must remain steadfast in giving witness to it, even in the face of indifference and hostility.”

See Burke’s complete talk to the KofC Convention here.