Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
August 25, 2002
PM deals with 'religion problem'
It's sorta nice to hear Prime Minister Jean Chretien say, "I'm Catholic and I'm praying." Nice, but one is left with the lingering sense that the prime minister takes neither his Catholicism nor his prayer seriously. For he goes on to say, "But I am the prime minister of Canada. When I'm prime minister I'm acting as the person responsible for the nation, and the problem of religion I deal with."
In other words, he gives God a few minutes of his day, but doesn't give him much consideration when dealing with something really important - being the prime minister of Canada.
One cannot help but think of Percy Bysshe Shelley's reflection about an inscription written on two legs of stone standing alone in the desert, the relic of a once-great monument to a long ago ruler: "'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Pope John Paul has said one of the greatest temptations facing lay people today is the separation of faith and life. If our lives are to be worth more than lone and level sands that stretch far away, we ought to be striving mightily to unite faith and life. We ought to strive to act in such a way that our actions have eternal significance. And we can only do that by uniting the great purposes of our lives with those of God.
Many will object that Church and state ought to be separated - that is, that the Church ought to shut up when matters of great significance are being debated. Oh, such folly! Is there no limit to the belief in human omnipotence - the belief that we can do it all ourselves without reference to the One who made us? Is there no limit to human pride?
Western society has achieved great wonders - cures for previously incurable diseases, computers, air conditioning, the Internet, smart bombs, and satellites that photograph every planet in the solar system close up. But woe to us if the electrical system breaks down!
Where do we go for the wisdom we need to make decisions affecting the very fabric of society? To lobbyists and pressure groups? To the fundamentalist belief that tolerating any evil brings enlightenment and social harmony?
Religious leaders are as fallible as the rest of us. But part of their job is to bring the wisdom of the ages to bear on the problems of today. Are we so vain as to believe that the musings of an age that deliberately fosters reduced attention spans are worth more than the prophets, philosophers and holy people of the last 4,000 years?
When the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asks Catholic politicians to "take account" of certain "ethical indications" and "moral duties" regarding proposals for same-sex "marriages," it is not imposing its private views on the public sphere. It is raising its voice on behalf of the natural law, on behalf of principles of morality and social organization that ought to apply to all peoples in all times. And it should not be surprising that leaders of other faiths have reached similar conclusions.
Ours is a society that has badly lost its way. We cannot figure out that marriage is "the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others" - an understanding our prime minister voted for in June 1999 but rejects today.
We do not see or care about the great burden with which we are saddling future generations because of our fiscal, environmental and social irresponsibility.
We underfund the educational system which has played a large role in creating our current prosperity.
We want everything today and tomorrow be damned.
Chretien says he is responsible for the nation and "the problem of religion" is something he will "deal with" in some other way.
Is this really the shallow, vacuous leadership Canadians want?
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