Speaking at a Canon Law symposium in Slovakia this week, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput gave voice to some sobering thoughts on what the future holds for Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, which he called “the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order.”
In his address, Chaput spoke of the dangers inherent in moral relativism, which inevitably results in such “foundational injustices” as abortion, which he called “the crucial issue of our age.”
He went on to make some eye-opening statements about human rights and the nature of government:
There is no inherently logical or utilitarian reason why society should respect the rights of the human person. There is even less reason for recognizing the rights of those whose lives impose burdens on others, as is the case with the child in the womb, the terminally ill, or the physically or mentally disabled.
If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian.
Chaput then points out that relativism will eventually lead to repression:
This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.
The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.
One could point out that in his address, Archbishop Chaput has not said anything that hasn’t been said before. But one could just as rightly point out that the observations and predictions he has publicly made here about the Church and the world are the type of thing that are very infrequently said by a bishop — which is precisely why his address is so worthy of our attention.