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June 13, 2016

If you hadn't noticed, the Church has lost the culture war. Not that it is losing, but that it has lost. It is likely to be a long time before the Church's values achieve a position of major influence in Western society.

A central Catholic principle is that of the common good. Perhaps, the common good was never the principle by which societies made crucial decisions. The logic of power is ever-present. However, since the rise of capitalism which claims "the greatest good" - whatever that might mean - is achieved through the pursuit of self-interest, the good of society as a whole has taken a back seat.

Closely tied to the common good is the notion of the family as the cornerstone on which society is built. To make the family - defined as an intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman - subordinate to the state or the advertising industry is to depersonalize the person and society. The person is treated as an object; intimate communion becomes an optional part of what it means to be human.

The Christian faith sees the person as created in God's image and likeness. He or she has a sacred dignity. The ultimate violation of that dignity is to take the life of a person for the sake of a supposed higher cause - economic expediency, preserving one's freedom from responsibility, the removal of suffering.

Moreover, the person does not inhabit a body; one's body, including his or her sexuality, is an intrinsic part of one's personhood. Separating gender from sex is one example of how the person is treated as a disembodied spirit controlling a body which is no more than a machine. However, mind and body are inseparable. The soul is enfleshed.

Nor are faith and reason completely separable. Faith cannot be reduced to a private belief. Science also seeks truth and the sciences have a legitimate freedom. But when scientific reason is seen as the key to all understanding, it oversteps its proper limits. Science, for example, cannot prove or disprove God's existence.

These are five types of values or truth which the Church proposes. All have been marginalized or tossed aside by a society that seeks to live without God and without a complete picture of the human person and human understanding. Society's jettisoning of these principles causes great peril for humanity.

The Church must continue to fight evils that arise while she also works on the long-term project of converting hearts and minds. It won't happen overnight, but for the sake of humanity, such conversion is essential.