Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 2, 2005
Benedict offers truth to the West
With the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978, the leaders of Soviet communism immediately became worried. They fretted how a Polish pope would affect their iron grip on power in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Their worries were much better grounded than even they believed at the time. Twelve years later, Eastern European communism was yesterday's bad news and democracies were beginning to bud across the region.
No similar hand-wringing appears to have affected the leaders of the Western world with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, despite his stated opposition the day before the conclave to a "dictatorship of relativism." We do not know if the new pope will transform the Western world the way the last pope transformed Eastern Europe. It's fair to say it will be a hard slog.
At least with Soviet communism there were readily identifiable centres of power. You could put faces to the enemy. As well, the people themselves knew they were being held hostage by a dictatorship.
None of this applies to the dictatorship of relativism that rules the Western world. The people of the Western world are, by and large, very much at home with the sleepy reign of "choice" and "tolerance" that keeps everyone comfortable. There is little awareness that the assumption that there is no final truth in morality holds us in bondage.
Further, we do not have a centrally controlled system of relativism. Changing the government won't change the media, the academic world, the advertising industry and other systems drenched in the belief that no truth can be final when a new model will be on the market next year.
In fact, you won't even get an argument. The death of Pope John Paul and the election of Pope Benedict gave rise to enormous amounts of fawning media coverage, interspersed with commentary about how the Church is slow to "get with it" in terms of women priests, condoms, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and other elements of the moral free-for-all that have enveloped the Western world.
The Globe and Mail headlined the election of new pope, "Benedict the strict."
That about sums up the prevailing view. Benedict will be treated as another member of the celebrity culture, albeit as a cranky old man who is out of touch with the times. He will be the eccentric uncle who people tolerate but whose views are not taken seriously under threat of family ridicule.
The argument will not be engaged. For to engage in dialogue will be to accept that there might be another form of thought other than militant irrationality and that that form of thought might hold the solution to the ills of the Western world.
Ills? What ills? To many, having more than 100,000 abortions a year in Canada is not an illness but a sign of the great freedom to choose that belongs to our citizens. Allowing for homosexual "marriage" is another sign of our tolerance, not an undermining of the family structure. To have one part of the world where it is accepted that families can have a home, a cottage, two cars and endless personal paraphernalia while in another part of the world a billion people live on less than $2 a day may be an uncomfortable fact, but surely not something we can do anything about.
We may have problems - like the sponsorship scandal -but surely they are not indicative of anything wrong with the abiding attitude of moral tolerance. Are they?
I will pray daily for Pope Benedict. He is the papa the Holy Spirit has given to us. I have no doubt that the message he will give us about recovering the splendour of truth is the one the Western world most needs to hear. And if we can convince our society to take its hands off its ears long enough to listen and carefully consider the Gospel message, it will be one large step forward for human dignity.
- Glen Argan
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