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(The Catholic Thing) –The following is adapted from a speech given on September 15 to the Society of Catholic Social Scientists upon reception of their annual Pius XI Award for Building Up a True Social Science. The event was co-sponsored by the Catholic University of America’s Sociology Department and the CUA Institute for Human Ecology.

Thinking about what to share today, one sentence kept coming to mind by novelist extraordinaire Evelyn Waugh. It appeared in a disarmingly casual account that he gave to a newspaper in 1930, about the reasons for his conversion to the Catholic Church. Waugh summarized that momentous decision in twenty-eight neat words. He said, “In the present phase of European history the essential issue is no longer between Catholicism, on one side, and Protestantism, on the other, but between Christianity and Chaos.”

Christianity, or Chaos: In a sense, the choice between the two has been perpetual since the Resurrection. But to say that it’s ever thus, and to throw up our hands before the world, is a dodge – especially for Catholics, especially now, in a moment when many are tempted to do just that. We’re called to read the signs of the times, not to whine about them. So let’s start by staring this thing in the face, and setting out the distinctive characteristics of Chaos in this moment — our moment. What can we see?

The first thing we see is that we continue to live in the age spied by Matthew Arnold and Henri de Lubac and Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other religious clairvoyants, the modern age, whose drama consists of successive waves of secularization, encroaching ever more insistently on territories previously thought to be God’s, and God’s alone.

The second certainty, equally conspicuous, is that the forms of Chaos characteristic of our time are unlike those that preceded us in modern history. Compare this era, for example, with Evelyn Waugh’s. In 1930, the year he entered the Church, one World War was already behind humanity, even as another impended. In the lifetime of people like him, spanning roughly the first half of the twentieth century, Chaos had a different signature. It resided in war, dislocation, and stupendous carnage.

Despite that carnage, though, many social pillars still stood firm. Individual families were ravaged by the wars, but the institution of the family was not. Demonic Nazi anthropology had its day, as Communist anthropology would, too; but outside those malignant precincts, a Christian understanding of Creation and redemption and meaning still prevailed across the West, and within the Captive Nations of the East, and elsewhere on the globe.

The Catholic Church was steadfast as well. In 1930, Pius XI, the visionary for whom this award is named, was pope. He would go on to found Vatican Radio the very next year, “to proclaim the Gospel in the world,” as he said with jubilance. Though Chaos was starting to insinuate itself in novel forms into some Protestant churches, the Catholic Church appeared exempt – as Evelyn Waugh pointed out when he cited the “coherent and consistent” nature of Catholic teaching as the predominant reason for his conversion.

As even that short summary shows, although we are only 90 years removed from 1930, it feels more like 90 light-years. Consider a quick checklist of the scene today.

First, there is compounding family Chaos, brought on by a radical social experiment now six-plus decades in the making. Elemental human bonds have been frayed and cut, and the institution of the family has been weakened, on a scale never seen before.

Second, and symbiotic, there is also compounding psychic Chaos of all kinds. For decades, the rise in mental illness has been documented beyond dispute. Anxiety, depression, and other afflictions resulting from disconnection and loneliness have become endemic, especially among the youngest, and most frail. Irrationalism has come unbound.

Third, there is political chaos. Though its causes are many, the dissolution of clan and community leave their marks here, too. To put it rhetorically: how could the unattached and dispossessed people of our time produce anything but a disordered public language?

Fourth, there is anthropological chaos of a wholly new order. The Western world is gripped by an identity crisis. In its latest form, magical thinking about gender has escaped from the academy and now transforms society and law – magical thinking so preposterous that little children could call it out. In a shocking descent unlike any in recorded history, many people today no longer even know what little children know – namely, who they are. Once more, irrationalism is unbound.

Fifth, there is intellectual Chaos. Outside a few faithful institutions, American education, especially elite education, has been hiding in a postmodern cuckoo’s nest for decades. People who do not believe in truth now run institutions charged with discerning it. A little while ago, an atheist was elected Chief Chaplain at Harvard. Why not? If there is no truth, there are no contradictions. In much of the academy, irrationalism is not only unbound. It rules.

Sixth, and most consequential: there is Chaos of a new order and significance among Catholics across the Western world. It arises from people who want to transform Church teaching – and their animus against other people who hold to the truth of that teaching. It is excruciatingly visible in public life, as leaders proudly brandishing the Catholic label just as proudly defy the Catechism and key points of canon law, day in and day out. Magical thinking drives this kind of chaos, too. The label “pro-abortion Catholic” makes as much logical sense as “atheist chaplain” or “former man.” All participate in the same signature irrationalism. All demand that we cancel Aristotle – that we believe “A” and “Not-A” at once.

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PETITION UPDATE (9/3/21)

Following the US Supreme Court's decision to allow Texas' Heartbeat Law to go into effect, Joe Biden made the announcement that he would initiate a "whole-of-government" response against the new pro-life statute which could ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

This is yet another, outright confirmation of Biden's openly pro-abortion policies, policies which have the main objective of ensuring that women will continue to be able to kill their own children without impediment.

This anti-life, anti-Catholic stance needs to be urgently addressed and condemned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

For the good of the Church, for the good of pre-born babies, for the good of the faithful, and, indeed, for his own good, Joe Biden needs to be publicly rebuked by the bishops and excommunicated until such time as he repents from his pro-abortion policies.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition, which asks the bishops of the United States to act in unison to exclude Joe Biden from Holy Communion for his scandalous promotion of abortion - the murder of the innocent.

After signing, please take a moment to CONTACT the offices of the USCCB to politely, but firmly, encourage the Conference to take the necessary steps to exclude from Holy Communion public officials who continue to show blatant disregard for innocent human life and the Church's teaching.

The USCCB's Office phone number is: 202.541.3000

Thank you!

_____________________________________________________________________________

"No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." - Matthew 6:24

In the lead-up to their meeting in mid-June, we call on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to exclude Joe Biden and other “Catholic” politicians (like, Nancy Pelosi) from Holy Communion over their public, obstinate, and scandalous promotion of abortion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks the USCCB to act to stop the abuse of the reception of the Holy Eucharist by politicians who promote the murder of innocent pre-born babies.

We know that making a decision to exclude public figures from Holy Communion is not easy. But, sometimes, this is the only way to make them understand the error of their ways, and to preserve the Church from serious scandal.

Indeed, Canon Law (Canon 915) declares that those who persist in manifest, grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion

Beyond that, at this point, public excommunication appears as the only suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of promoting abortion.

In doing so, we do not hold ourselves up as judges over Joe Biden's eternal soul, but we encourage the bishops to make known one of the consequences of public and obstinate support of abortion by our 'Catholic' politicians.

The fact is, in terms of the manifest, grave sin of abortion, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be before the election.

Therefore, it is cold comfort that the USCCB is only preparing to discuss this issue only now.

But even now, if the USCCB publicly excommunicate Biden for his pro-abortion stance (as well as other pro-abortion politicians), the Conference could reclaim some of the moral authority which they lost by their largely silent assent to Biden's candidacy.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition, now.

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing orders and bills which facilitate the destruction of unborn human life.

  • In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.
  • Biden also signed (instead of vetoing) the COVID relief bill, which, for the first time in 44 years, contained funding for abortions in America, using taxpayer dollars.
  • Biden said that he wouldn't defend Hyde, and he hasn't.

And, if he and the Democratic Party get their way, a lot more of the same regarding abortion is on the way.

Strong action must be taken lest anyone, especially young people, be confused by the scandal of a "Catholic" in Biden's position aggressively promoting abortion, enabling the killing of innocent human beings.

American rank-and-file Catholics don't want any more compromise and equivocation from the Bishops Conference on this "pre-eminent" life-and-death issue.

We want clear action, not twenty more years of dithering and "dialoguing."

50 million babies have been lost to abortion in the U.S. since Roe!

So, we will NOT accept any more lives lost as a result of dithering and "dialoguing." [**Please see "Notes" below about how it has been reported that some senior U.S. clerics are trying to prevent this discussion from even taking place.]

And, we will especially NOT accept one life lost to abortion by politicians who claim the Catholic Faith, but who promote grave evil. God forbid!

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by not imposing public canonical penalties on a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

The bishops are now at a crossroads and must choose either God or mammon.

We call on them to choose God and choose Life!

And we also continue to encourage those brave, true and good bishops who have done well to warn Amercian Catholics about the perils to the unborn and the Faith resulting from Biden's promotion of abortion!

SIGN and SHARE this petition, which asks the bishops of the United States to act in unison to exclude Joe Biden from Holy Communion for his scandalous promotion of abortion - the murder of the innocent.

After signing, please take a moment to CONTACT the offices of the USCCB to politely, but firmly, encourage the Conference to take the necessary steps to exclude from Holy Communion public officials who continue to show blatant disregard for innocent human life and the Church's teaching.

The USCCB's Office phone number is: 202.541.3000

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Biden administration has opened the way for ‘abortion by mail on a massive scale’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biden-administration-unleashed-by

‘Catholic’ Biden marks Roe v. Wade anniversary with pledge to make abortion available for ‘everyone’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-biden-marks-roe-v-wade-anniversary-with-pledge-to-make-abortion-available-for-everyone

BREAKING: DC archbishop affirms he will give Holy Communion to pro-abortion Joe Biden - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-dc-archbishop-affirms-he-will-give-holy-communion-to-pro-abortion-joe-biden

Vatican puts brakes on US bishops confronting problem of pro-abortion Biden receiving Holy Communion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-puts-brakes-on-us-bishops-confronting-problem-of-pro-abortion-biden-receiving-holy-communion

Abp. Aquila backs call for pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ Joe Biden to be denied Holy Communion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion

Cardinal Burke floats ‘excommunication’ for Biden over his ‘aggressive’ abortion promotion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-burke-floats-excommunication-for-biden-over-his-aggressive-promotion-of-abortion

Biden’s HHS is lying about Title X to push abortion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/bidens-hhs-is-lying-about-title-x-to-push-abortion

List of US bishops for and against denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians like Biden, Pelosi - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/list-of-us-bishops-for-and-against-denying-communion-to-pro-abortion-politicians-like-biden-pelosi

Notes about USCCB's June Meeting:

For nearly twenty years, the US bishops have been dithering about whether or not to excommunicate pro-abortion politicians by formally withholding Holy Communion from them.

Their indecision on this gravely scandalous matter is a scandal in itself, but one of the biggest obstacles has been internal opposition from senior U.S. bishops.

And, although the faces have changed in the last 20 years, their morally-and-intellectually-challenged arguments against excommunication have not changed.

Liberal bishops of the USCCB say that excommunicating Biden (for example) would divide the Church, divide the bishops, and would politicize the reception of Holy Communion.

Indeed, in the name of “unity,” it is reported that some senior U.S. clerics, including Cardinal Blase Cupich (Chicago), Cardinal Wilton Gregory (Washington, DC) and Cardinal O’Malley (Boston), have been working overtime to prevent any substantial discussion of so-called “Eucharist coherence” (that is, what qualifies as worthy reception of Holy Communion).

It is also reported that at least 57 other American bishops allegedly joined these Cardinals in a recent letter to the Head of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, to try to pressure him to drop the planned discussion at the full meeting of bishops in June.

And now, even the Vatican is getting involved, with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggesting that even more “dialogue” is needed.

These same clerics may mistakenly believe that any attempt to suppress the objective connection between a politician’s promotion of abortion and his unworthy reception of Holy Communion will fool anyone.

But, it will not.

Rank-and-file Catholics are not stupid and can smell compromise a mile away, and we’ve had enough.

With all due respect to the Cardinal, bishops, and the Vatican…those who fail to act diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by “dialoguing” with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition urging the bishops Conference to take action at their June meeting to exclude pro-abortion Joe Biden and other abortion-promoting “Catholic” politicians from Holy Communion.

***Photo Credit: Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

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Now, what can we discern today by staring into this void – the void whose existence has become an inescapable fact of everyday life and public life alike; the void that makes many anxious for our descendants, as American Catholics have never been anxious before?

We discern a truth that should stiffen our spines. In every one of these cases, Chaos has been whipped into catastrophic strength by secularization itself. In the time to come, however long the reckoning may take, this spells trouble for the secularized order – and capital-V vindication for the Church.

The rise in mental distress and the decline of organized religion, for example, are not randomly occurring phenomena. Social science confirms that people who have robust social bonds are more likely to thrive than people who don’t. Religious faith confers those bonds. Social science also shows that the fractured family and other forms of isolation increase the risks of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, loneliness, and other vexations. All have been exacerbated by the Western flight from God.

Consider once more that the most un-churched generation in America, the “Nones,” is also the most mentally afflicted. Again, the loss of the capital-F Father, and the contemporary loss of so many earthly fathers, are joined at the root.

Secularization is also behind today’s family Chaos. In embracing divorce, fatherlessness, and abortion, humanity has inflicted wounds on itself whose measure has only begun to be taken. We are only beginning to grasp that what starts at home doesn’t stay at home. The feral children of family Chaos now pour into the streets, frantically trying to substitute identity politics for the primordial bonds of which they’ve been deprived. Identity politics is a pitiful attempt at emotional alchemy by souls desperate for connection. It signals tacit vindication for the Magisterium’s uncompromising teachings about why we really are here, and what really is best for us.

As for the Chaos besetting the Church, this, too, has roots in secularization. It has become standard to speak of “conservative” Catholics and “liberal” Catholics. But political labels deceive. The real Catholic divide in our time is between people who try to stand as signs of contradiction in this world, and people who capitulate. It is between Catholics who want powerful secular trends to influence and transform the Church, and Catholics who don’t. It is between souls who believe the Catechism is true – and souls who want to edit it with a red pen, supplied by a disapproving secularism. The real divide is between Catholics who want temporal demands to trump the Cross – and Catholics who know that the Cross cannot be trumped.

The point here is not religious triumphalism. (I wish we could engage in some religious triumphalism, but as the kids say, too soon.) It’s that secularization is exacting costs in one realm after another – and secularized tastemakers, inside or outside the Church, refuse to acknowledge that fact. And so it falls to others, including the scholars present today, to illuminate that record instead. Your work is vital in this moment for two reasons: first, because today’s Chaos causes multiple forms of suffering that might be ameliorated, if only we can understand their true origins. Second, because today’s Chaos amounts to inadvertent proof that Christianity, and the Judaism from which it drank, get humanity right.

There is a truth amid today’s confusions that has gone too long unsaid. Our secularizing culture is not just any culture. No, our secularizing culture is an inferior culture. It is small of heart. It defines suffering down. It regards the victims of its social experiments not as victims, but as acceptable collateral damage justified by those experiments.

This is secularism’s unspoken secret. It is also secularism’s greatest vulnerability.

This mission to define suffering down can be seen, for example, in efforts that would recast the horrors of prostitution as anodyne “sex work.” It drives the attempts to normalize pornography, ignoring the calamitous costs to men and women and romance. It powers the push to shut down emergency pregnancy centers and adoption agencies, indifferent to whether babies and children and poor people need them. It whitewashes data about suicide rates, eating disorders, substance abuse, and other indices of mental distress among the transgender population — and about other populations where acknowledging human damage might jeopardize political agendas.

Again: the Chaos unleashed on the West has spread acute forms of misery across society. But the architects and defenders of an a-Christian, and increasingly anti-Christian, social order turn a blind eye. It falls to faithful scholars to tell the truth about the costs of secularization – because scholars who are part of the Chaos can’t or won’t.

In closing, one more quotation helps to summarize the importance of your collective missions in academia. Historian Christopher Dawson opened an essay on “Christianity and Western Culture,” with this sentence: “The survival of a civilization depends on the continuity of its educational tradition.”

This is where the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and the rest of the fellowship represented here today come in. The secularized academy has abdicated its vocation. It repudiates continuity. It makes a mockery of the Western patrimony. In the struggle to hold fast to the Cross amid today’s Chaos, countercultural scholars are the first line of defense. This is true not only for those who need your work now, but also for those to come – those who will read the record of 2021 in the future.

Scholars of tomorrow will look back in astonishment, and perhaps pity, at today’s magical thinking. They will need facts, figures, arguments, and evidence, especially about the human costs of today’s experiment in secularization. They will find that library in your collective work.

Someday, a re-evangelized civilization will contemplate the beginning of the twenty-first century, and try to take the measure of its Chaos. Those people of the future will understand, as many today do not, that you are speaking truth into the void of this time, and giving voice to the voiceless in a defiant moment. It is an honor to stand with you today, and ever, in that same mission.

Reprinted with permission from The Catholic Thing

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