Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The cult of niceness

One of the more insidious aspects of contemporary culture is the idea that feelings are more important than principles, and that there is no greater crime than to hurt someone else's feelings, even (or especially) by telling them the truth.

Its most extreme manifestation is in things like the Canadian anti-discrimination laws which make even saying something like homosexuality is wrong a 'hate crime'. But it also lies behind the arguments for abortion, as Miss White has recently eloquently explained (and she's spruiking for visitors, hanging over the web hit counter, positively salivating over any newcomers, so I thought I'd better help out, being all neighbourly like).

Perhaps its most dangerous manifestation has been within the Church itself, leading, amongst other things, to the destruction of religious life.

The tide is however finally turning, at least as far as the Church's appreciation of the issue. Take these comments reported, in Zenit, by Cardinal Rodé to the annual course for Superior's of Religious Institutes. He noted:

"In the past the problem came from an authority primarily oriented toward the concern for works that risked neglecting persons. Today, however, the problem is with the excessive timidity over offending personal sensibilities, or from the fragmentation of specializations and responsibilities that weaken the convergence the common goal and hamstring the role of authority."

According to Zenit, "The cardinal said that he is very worried about internal secularization, which manifests itself with a "language that has lost religious content," the "diminishing of prayer time and common religious practices," the "loss of the visibility of the consecrated," "the decision for social activities to the detriment of ecclesial ones such as catechesis, preparation for the sacraments, etc.," and the "understanding of mission more as agent of social progress than evangelization."

We must intensify common prayer, the visibility of consecrated persons, the use of a language with more Christian references, we must emphasize the religious and pastoral dimension of our works, manifesting visible communion with the pastors of the Church," Cardinal Rodé said.

In regard to freedom, the cardinal criticized those who "emphatically focus on the freedom of individuals without presenting the obligations that come from freedom," and he added that "that person is free who constantly lives ready and attentive to see in every situation of life, and above all in every person with whom they live, a mediation of the Lord's will."

Good stuff!

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