Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XVI!! Wow!

The excitement is contgious! Another strong voice for conviction and truth elevated to prominence and authority. Casting about the internet for the quote about relativism at Captain's Quarters I found several sites including this one: Priests for Life, and this, The Problem of Threats to Human Life, the text of a presentation by now Benedict XVI. And in a long paper this rather valuable pearl:

IV. Reasons for the opposition to life - the logic of death
But why is there this victory of legislation and antihuman practice precisely at the time when the idea of human rights seemed to have reached the point of universal and unconditional recognition? Why do even Christians, even persons of great moral formation, think that the norms regarding human life could and should be part of the compromises necessary to political life? Why do they fail to see the insuperable limits of any legislation worthy of the name - the point at which "right" becomes injustice and crime?
1. At the first stage of our reflection, I think I can point to two reasons, behind which others are probably hidden. One reason is reflected in the opinion of those who hold that there must be a separation between personal ethical convictions and the political sphere in which laws are formulated. Here, the only value to be respected would be the complete freedom of choice of each individual, depending on his own private opinions. In a world in which every moral conviction lacks a common reference to the truth, such a conviction has the value of a mere opinion. It would be an expression of intolerance to seek to impose that conviction on others through legislation, thus limiting their freedom. Social life, which cannot be established on any common, objective referent, should be thought of as the result of a compromise of interests, with a view to guaranteeing the maximum freedom possible for each one. In reality, however, wherever the decisive criterion for recognizing rights becomes that of the majority, wherever the right to express one's own freedom can prevail over the right of a voiceless minority, might has become the criterion of right.

Skipping down some, (this man is very thorough!):

2. A second reason which explains the extent of a mentality opposed to life appears to me to be connected with the very concept of morality that is widespread today. Often, a merely formal idea of conscience is joined to an individualistic view of freedom, understood as the absolute right to self-determination on the basis of personal convictions. This view is no longer rooted in the classical conception of the moral conscience, in which (as Vatican II said) a law resounds which man does not give himself, but which he must obey, a voice which ever summons him to love and to do what is good and to avoid what is evil, and which when it is necessary says clearly to his heart: do this, keep away from that (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 16). In this conception, which belongs to the entire Christian tradition, conscience is the capacity to be open to the call of truth that is objective, universal, and the same for all who can and must seek it. (skipping a bit again.)

On the other hand, in the new conception, clearly Kantian in origin, conscience is detached from its constitutive relationship with a content of moral truth and is reduced to a mere formal condition of morality. Its suggestion, "do good and avoid evil", would have no necessary and universal reference to the truth concerning the good, but would be linked only with the goodness of the subjective intention. Concrete actions, instead, would depend for their moral qualification on the self-understanding of the individual, which is always culturally and circumstantially determined. In this way, conscience becomes nothing but subjectivity elevated to being the ultimate criterion of action. The fundamental Christian idea that nothing can be opposed to conscience no longer has the original and inalienable meaning that truth can only be imposed in virtue of itself, i.e. in personal interiority. Instead, we have the divinization of subjectivity, the infallible oracle of which is conscience, never to be doubted by anyone or anything.

Benedict XVI- 99.
AP, Reuters, Guardian, Washpost, NY Times, LA-la Times, Star & Sickle, CNN,NPR, Amanpour, Matthews, and all rest of that sorry lot,-0.

And it's just the top of the first. Ha!

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