A Catholic Lay-Driven Re-evangelization of Western Culture
A Catholic Lay-Driven Re-evangelization of Western Culture:Formation of a Comprehensive Catholic World View Apostolate
John P. Hubert Jr. MD FACS
It is apparent to all thoughtful orthodox Catholics that once Christian Western Culture has devolved into a virulent form of neo-pagan secularism. It is marked by moral relativism combined with utilitarianism, materialism including largely unregulated free-market capitalism, wild inequitable consumption of precious resources and the goods of production and a dangerous version of rabid personal "freedom" in which truth itself is sacrificed at the "alter" of the autonomous self which pursues various "preferences" in the name of "human rights."
These developments represent the logical extension of several atheistic post-Enlightenment philosophies which have finally made their way from the "elites" and academics into the secularist "pop-culture" of the West. They are predicated on a materialistic metaphysics in which no immaterial (spiritual) reality exists, an epistemology in which truth is either unknowable or non-existent, and a morality which denies in principle the possibility of moral absolutes (exceptionless moral norms). This is the milieu in which 21st century Catholics find themselves. The new paganism is much more virulent than the old paganism because it denies in principle that there is any truth, right or wrong and any spiritual realm. It maintains that these are practical matters which can be arrived at by consensus and dialogue, and then ultimately subjected to a vote. Hence the great interest in "democracy" as an "end" rather than as a means to some greater and noble end such as the ultimate good (virtue in this life and the beatific vision in the next). Such a circumstance gives rise to various tyranny's of the majority perhaps more dreadful than those of totalitarian making. A good example is legalized abortion.
Given that this is the situation in which by Divine providence we now find ourselves, the author has developed a proposal for how orthodox Catholic lay-persons might attempt to re-evangelize Western Culture in general and the United States in particular. The following represent some of the salient features of a Comprehensive Catholic World View Apostolate:
1.) Absolute and meticulous adherence to Catholic Magisterial teaching not that of various extra-Magisterial or so-called "Parallel Magisterial" imposters.
2.) Total conceptual separation of Catholic belief and practice from the political concepts of "right" and "left", conservative and liberal particularly in the presentation and dissemination of Catholic dogma and doctrine as well as faith and practice (praxis).
It is vital to underscore the fact that neither political party in the United States advocates policies that are completely compatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church on all relevant issues. In fact, both parties have significant portions of their platforms and public policy initiatives which are at direct variance with magisterial teaching. For prudential reasons, Catholics as individuals may belong to or associate from time to time with either political party when a particular initiative is advanced which is consistent with magisterial teaching as Pope John Paul II suggested on multiple occasions. However, blind acquiescence to the entire platform of either party will simply not be possible in good conscience.
3.) It is vital to recognize that at least 2 full generations of American Catholics have been subjected to inadequate catechesis. Many simply do not know what the Catholic Church actually teaches or why. Redressing this reality is complicated by the fact that there has been a generalized "dumbing-down" of education in general for at least 40 years particularly in the areas of logic and philosophy in general and metaphysics in particular. An appropriate vehicle must be found which contains the appropriate amount of pre-evangelization within it. The apostolate called for in this proposal provides it.
4.) Any attempt to reach the totally uncatechized or marginally catechized Catholic or non-Catholic is complicated by the fact that the Gospel message is completely contradictory to their experience of everyday life. Our neo-pagan culture now worships selfishness, greed, fame, physical beauty, worldly success etc. and deprecates virtue, sacrifice, and acts of charity which are unrecognized. The vehicle mentioned in # 3 above must recognize and deal effectively with this reality.
5.) There is presently no coordinated attempt in the United States (specifically targeted at re-evangelizing the neo-pagan West) to offer or organize an adult Catholic advanced apologetics/evangelization program which can prepare people to live their faith as properly formed adults and confidently present it to others. Most American Catholics have a "childlike" understanding of the faith at best and throughout their lives make no attempt at increasing their level of understanding. A way must be found to offer a credible vehicle which people can utilize as adults in whatever station they find themselves. At the present time, anyone so interested must "hunt and peck" from the internet, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, certain Catholic authors etc. The process is very inefficient and the results largely unpredictable.
6.) In the United States there is no coordinated attempt to present or offer Catholic social justice issues or Catholic social action projects to the appropriate "audiences." For example, legislators hear from "liberal" or "neo-conservative" Catholics who are aligned with one party or the other, but not from those orthodox Catholics who wish to be faithful to the Magisterium in effecting changes and enacting public policy initiatives which reflect the thinking of the Catholic Church on relevant issues, such as Destructive Embryonic Stem Cell research, Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, Homosexual Marriage and the like.
Ideally, a third party of orthodox Catholics might arise in which its political positions would be selected in light of a Catholic understanding of morality and social justice rather than on the basis of secular concerns. Given the history of third parties in the United States however, this seems unlikely. It might be possible to build a fairly sizeable group of newly catechized orthodox Catholics who could progressively make their voices heard more and more loudly through the present two party system. Given the present geopolitical situation, such an orthodox group of Catholics should formulate relevant public policy positions on a variety of issues which reflect magisterial teaching including:
a) The need to aggressively address the problem of nuclear armaments not just from the perspective of controlling proliferation but from that of reducing the number of active warheads in existence throughout the world. There is at present virtually no active U.S. interest in the latter at least no coordinated social action among the populous. Recall that various Popes only accepted the concept of "mutually assured destruction" as a temporary situation along the way to staged reduction and eventual complete elimination, certainly not as a long term status quo reality.
b) The need to re-evaluate American foreign policy to be certain that it is not succumbing to imperialism through utilitarian and inherently unjust utilization of other nations and peoples as if they were objects rather than subjects who deserve consideration and treatment in-keeping with their human status and dignity. The present zeal to "install" democracy around the world because it is "in our interest" as if it were an "end" in itself rather than a means is overly simplistic and self-centered. It assumes that "majority rule" (irrespective of whether the majority is virtuous and whether it has a developed sense of civil law derived from Divine/Eternal law and the principles of the Natural law) is inherently somehow productive of social justice and individual human flourishing which in the West has not been the case. A quick review of the presence of Euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium, the high incidence there of divorce and unmarried co-habitating couples with children, the high incidence of abortion in the United States, Britain and Canada establishes this quite nicely. It is not even true that democracies tend less to make war given the recent history of the Nato (US) led war in the Balkans, the first Gulf War and the latest Iraq War. While Western nations claimed to have good and justifiable reasons for these, the Magisterium opposed all three.
It is laudable for the United States to offer its help and experience with self government to other nations who have a desire to move in that direction. However, it can never be justly accomplished through the externally imposed and violent overthrow of governments which are presently in-place even if those governments were guilty of human rights violations. To do so is to utilize an immoral means to accomplish a perceived just end in direct violation of Romans 3: 8 and reams of Catholic Magisterial teaching. It is vital that orthodox American Catholics help devise appropriate moral strategies for helping our nation assist other nations move toward just and lawful self-government.
c) There is very little inventive thinking being done on the domestic front by which Catholic social justice might be advanced. Democrats tend to favor policies which addict those who are the beneficiaries into a life of continued need and dependence. Republicans tend to see the economic aid issues as a zero sum game in which for them to retain their wealth, others must remain poor. This is not their stated position of course, but the fact that Republicans spend precious little time helping others become self sufficient indicates that they are not really committed to an entire country full of entrepreneurs with an equity share in the machinery of production. The issue is usually reduced to a dispute about the "just wage" in the form of a "minimum wage" debate in Congress which does nothing to bring more people into economic independence though greater participation in ownership/equity. While important, the minimum wage is a stop-gap measure largely addressed at entry level jobs not an overall answer to the just distribution of goods and services or equal access to raw materials which is required if the "common good" is to be served as well as the flourishing of each individual.
A group of committed orthodox Catholics could have much to contribute to discussions and policies regarding taxation, wages, access to capital for the formation of equity and ownership in order to broaden the base of people who participate in the so-called "ownership society" the free markets and capital formation.
It is also necessary for such a group to make clear that "unbridled capitalism" (where the laws of supply and demand alone are allowed to determine all economic conditions irrespective of the potential inequities which might be resultant thereto), is often immoral as it denies to certain human beings the necessary goods required for human flourishing and robs from the "common good" that which is necessary to build an acceptable material realm. This creates an imbalance in the "Two Cities" (The City of God and the City of Man per St. Augustine) where some persons are deprived of sustenance in this world and through material depravity may be denied of vital knowledge which would otherwise advantage them for the next. We trust that God in HIS infinite wisdom, justice and mercy makes up for our shortcomings. However, we know that even if we are somehow absolved of our responsibility in the matter, Christ has made it clear that the degree to which we helped the needy, so shall it be apportioned to us. Such a group could help focus attention on the fact that rabid or unbridled capitalism can be just as immoral as communism in its economic effects. Similarly, democracy in the absence of virtue and the natural law can be productive of tyranny, something the Founders of the American experiment also understood.
The life and sexual issues now suffer from the traditionalists having lost the war over terminology. The public now has a completely false understanding of what embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for biomedical research really are. A similar problem exists in the area of homosexual marriage, abortion and euthanasia. Much of this problem relates to secularists having succeeded in foisting a totally false view of human anthropology (including a false Cartesian view of human personhood) on the unsuspecting masses.
7.) There is at present no coordinated group of orthodox lay Catholic "experts" and other interested individuals committed to the goal of re-evangelizing the West. Such a group should be assembled and targeted individuals actively pursued irrespective of how small the group may initially be. This is consistent with the teaching laid out in the great social justice encyclicals especially those of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI with regard to how one begins to address problems of social justice. It is apparent that the project of re-evangelizing the West is a multifaceted one which requires recognizing that Western civilization has gone virulently neo-pagan in direct opposition to orthodox Catholic teaching and the authentic Gospel message of Christ. Western Culture is in the process of rapidly imploding. It has reached that point along the curve, where the rate of descent is accelerating ever more quickly. If it is not already too late, a massive Catholic Christian re-evangelization of the West must be commenced.
One realizes how tragic it is that the West did not follow the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church in the 20th century including the advice found in Humani vitae and the concerns voiced by Pope Pius XII regarding the effects of instrumenting human sexuality such that the body became only an object to be utilized as if it were separate from the integrated total person. As a result, all sorts of calamities have befallen us as a civilization. His remarks should now be seen as prophetic. The demographic problems in Europe alone are a testament to just how accurate his warnings were.
Put more simply, the answer to 21st century cultural implosion is an orthodox Catholic conversion/re-conversion of the West. A conversion to generic Christianity would be helpful but not to the degree that the assumption of Catholic orthodoxy would. Generic Christianity simply lacks too many of the necessary doctrinal riches and centuries worth of praxis that only the Catholic Church in all it fullness has to offer. This of course is extremely controversial in an era of ecumenism. However, ecumenism is properly entered into from a position of strength, vigorous faith and confidence.
The practical dilemma we face in bringing Catholic orthodoxy to the West is that our neo-pagan culture has an absolute aversion to it and for good reason. The two cannot exist harmoniously in direct opposition and as competitors for cultural ascendancy (Worldview supremacy). They are fundamentally and irrevocably contradictory in all three important elements which serve to define "worldview"; epistemology, metaphysics and morality. The radical neo-pagan secularists are of course well aware of this. They presently control most of the media, academia, the entertainment industry and much of the political power apparatus.
Thus, Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular has become the only entity against which overt bigotry is allowed and fostered. A realistic conversion/reconversion of the West to orthodox Catholicism requires the existence of an entity guided by the concept/notion of a Comprehensive Catholic World View which can intellectually compete with the reigning materialist neo-pagan hedonistic paradigm now in the forefront of public awareness thanks to the media, entertainment and much of academia's constant support of same.
There are really only 2 worldviews of any consequence still vying for control in the West. One is hedonistic materialism (secular neo-paganism, or radical secularism). The other is Traditionalism which comes from the historical Judeo-Christian tradition of which orthodox Catholicism is the purest and most all-encompassing form. Any effective program to re-convert the West must be capable of articulating the fundamental and foundational differences between these 2 worldviews and be able to ably defend the supremacy of Catholic orthodoxy through excellent apologetics. For example, the present dilemma with respect to social security would be non-existent were the West to have followed the teaching of Pope Pius XII on the evils of artificial contraception. Many other social/sexual ills of contemporary society can be traced to this phenomenon alone. Orthodox Catholics could add much to the debate over how to "fix" social security not the least of which would be to articulate the economic and demographic advantages of having more children, to date a concept which has been totally absent from the discussion.
What this proposal advocates then is the formation of a Comprehensive Catholic World View Apostolate whose sole function is to re-evangelize and convert the West from secular neo-paganism to orthodox Catholicism that is, from radical secularism to the purest form of Traditionalism. This means being committed to engage in Worldview clash, the waging of a culture war in which multiple different disciplines will need to be represented and integrated so as to formulate and hone the very best data and apologetics arguments in favor of the superiority of orthodox Catholicism.
The "3" primary disciplines which require integration include; theology, philosophy and science.
Certain prudential questions arise regarding how such an apostolate would best be structured. Briefly; "3" basic services would need to be provided by such an entity.
3. Social Justice/Social Action/Public Policy Formation
There are "3" broad ways in which the work of the CCWVA might be carried out:
1. Broadcast/Print/Internet Media and Conferencing
2. Publishing of larger tracts, position papers and books
3. Targeted Outreach (Lobbying of Legislative and Executive Branches of government and Church, City and Regional area visits by invitation).
With respect to how such an enterprise might be started, numerous options are available including a physically fixed "Center of Operations" with its own free-standing "bricks and mortar" plant and necessary Real Estate all the way to a totally "Virtual" entity composed of as many committed persons of like mind as can be acquired. Such an entity could conceivably be started by only 2 such individuals.
The expert resources which would be required particularly in the "3" main areas of Theology, Philosophy and Science, could be initially acquired from presently retired volunteers who have the time and committed interest and who are willing to donate the work involved. Later on, some paid experts could be potentially brought aboard as funds allowed (obtained from proceeds of the apostolates work product including lectures, conferences, tapes, C.D.'s articles, books etc). Presumably, such an enterprise (CCWVA) would need to be structured as a 501c3 or other similar entity from the perspective of the Federal Government in order to avoid taxation on the proceeds of apostolate work product.
At this preliminary stage, it is important that a list of potential "experts" from the necessary disciplines be constructed who could then be approached and asked for their voluntary commitment. There may be very few who are free enough of political ties and other conflicts of interest to be able to actively participate in such an enterprise. Many who would be desirable will be unwilling to participate. It also seems prudent to inform the Vatican of the desire to form such an Apostolate and to request the permission and blessing of Pope Benedict XVI. His Holiness may even be able to assist the Apostolate in some way.
Time grows short. Given the present negative trajectory, in the next several decades we could see the disappearance of the Catholic Church in multiple Western nations, the imprisonment of Priests and other vocal Catholics who dare to teach, preach and disseminate the Gospel as understood in orthodox Catholicism and as promulgated by the magisterium. Now is the time for all committed Catholics to take up their Cross and engage the Culture War. With the grace of God, perhaps we can retake the West for Christ. Should we be unsuccessful, at least we will have been admirably occupying our time.
Dr. J.P.Hubert is a retired Cardio-Thoracic surgeon with a long interest in ethics particularly bio-medical ethics. As a "high-tech" heart surgeon he was frequently confronted with complex and difficult medical problems and resultant ethical decisions. Dr. Hubert has written extensively in the area of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for biomedical research including an extensive philosophical treatment entitled; "Justice and Freedom for the Human Embryo: The Philosophy of the Human Person, the Body/Soul issue and Ethics." He has also written on other ethical topics including Euthanasia and issues involving War/Peace and Suicide Terrorism. His other academic interests include the "Creation/Evolution" debate. Recently, he completed a work entitled; The Contemporary Origin's Debate in which he proposed a testable "Origin's model. Dr. Hubert has a special interest in Catholic apologetics particularly as it concerns the evangelization of non-believers with a background in the natural and biological sciences. He is a "revert" to orthodox Catholicism from scientific naturalism with an avid interest in the fusion of faith and reason. Dr. Hubert has become a regular contributor to Catholic Way
http://www.catholicway.org VA, US
Dr. John P Hubert, MD, FACS - Ethicist, 757 546-9580
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