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The Dogma of Pluralism

by Christopher A. Ferrara

A report on remarks by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, considered one of the most conservative American prelates, reveals just how deep the crisis in civilization has become.

According to Zenit news (May 29, 2005) at the recent National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Chaput complained that "A ‘public square’ that excludes people of faith is unhealthy … Rather, everyone should have a voice in the life of a nation's public life, he insisted when he addressed the recent National Catholic Prayer Breakfast … ‘That's the way it should be. That's what the founders of our country intended,’ he said."

Notice the implicit concession to the evil spirit of pluralism and "freedom of conscience" that has slowly but surely destroyed Christendom and public morality since the revolt of Martin Luther: everyone must "have a voice" in public, both believer and non-believer alike, both the proponents of good and the promoters of evil, because that’s what "the founders intended." According to this notion of society  —  the pluralist notion  —  the Church asks only for Her own equal opportunity to participate in public life along with the Church’s worst enemies. As Chaput added: "Democracy and pluralism depend on people of conviction fighting for what they believe through public debate  —  peacefully, legally, charitably and justly; but also vigorously and without excuses."

In other words, under the pluralist conception of society, public life is an interminable "debate" between the holders of any and all "points of view," all of whom have the right to be heard along with the Church. Well, that may be what "the founders" intended, but what did Our Lord Jesus Christ intend? As the Church teaches, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man not only to redeem us, but to teach us the Truth without which we cannot be saved.

All men are objectively obliged to adhere to that truth, and they have the absolute right to possess it unhindered by others. Our Lord, then, intended that men and nations submit to His social Kingship, which means a society in which only the truth has the right to be heard and spread abroad in society, for only in truth is there liberty: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," says Our Lord.

In keeping with the will of Christ, therefore, public authority, guided by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, has a positive duty not to allow public "debate" on fundamental questions of morality which are simply not subject to debate.

As Pope Leo XIII, summarizing the Church’s entire teaching on this point, declared in his encyclical Libertas: "Men have a right freely and prudently to propagate throughout the State what things soever are true and honorable, so that as many as possible may possess them; but lying opinions, than which no mental plague is greater, and vices which corrupt the heart and moral life should be diligently repressed by public authority, lest they insidiously work the ruin of the State. The excesses of an unbridled intellect, which unfailingly end in the oppression of the untutored multitude, are no less rightly controlled by the authority of the law than are the injuries inflicted by violence upon the weak…"

Now, what happens when a State allows "debate" in the public square on such matters as whether children may be murdered in the womb? What happens when the Church, in the course of this "debate," is viewed by society as (at best) nothing more than one of the debaters? What happens is that evil prevails, because the State refuses to work in submission to the Church to check the progress of evil.

As Leo warned: "If unbridled license of speech and of writing be granted to all, nothing will remain sacred and inviolate; even the highest and truest mandates of natures, justly held to be the common and noblest heritage of the human race, will not be spared. Thus, truth being gradually obscured by darkness, pernicious and manifold error, as too often happens, will easily prevail." That is what has happened in the American public square. And the result has been the slaughter of 35 million innocent lives in this country alone.

Archbishop Chaput is a good man and is no doubt well-intentioned in his approach to the rights of the Church in America. But, with all due respect, the Archbishop got it only half right when he told the gathering at the prayer breakfast that "Belief in God has profoundly shaped what Americans believe about human dignity; the law; the common good; and justice. To cut God out of the public square is to cut the head and heart from our public life."

This is only half the truth, because public authority must not only refrain from cutting God out of public life, it must also not hesitate to exclude from public life the voices of those who oppose God and his eternal law and thereby insidiously work for the ruin of the state, the death of innocents, and the destruction of all that is good and holy, as our American experience confirms.

Many modern churchmen seem to have lost sight of the obvious: that it does no good to insist that the voice of God be just one of many voices in the public square, for to insist on this is implicitly to deny His supreme authority. This is what the modern prelate fails to recognize as he, along with the rest of the Western world, falls prey to the dogma of pluralism.

After forty years of confusion and drift in the Church, accompanied by a near-total collapse of public morality throughout the West, it is long past time for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to rediscover and advance with all vigor the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. For as Pius XI warned the Church in Quas Primas:

The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior.

It was indeed the Kingship of Christ that the Mother of God came to proclaim and secure at Fatima. The restoration of the Social Kingship is precisely what the Consecration of Russia entails. That Consecration will be obtained infallibly, because God has decreed it. Until then, however, the human elements of the Church remain enthralled by the dogma of pluralism  —  perhaps the Adversary’s greatest tactical success (however temporary) in his long war against Christ and His Church.

by Christopher A. Ferrara