ivan lobay 3742 web Ivan Lobay, 103, and his daughter Maria, 70, relax at home in Orange. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

ORANGE – As a teenager in Ukraine, Ivan Lobay saw the words “keep smiling” in an English magazine. It became his motto for the rest of his life.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

ShipDay3 webSt. James School student Nicholas Guenther, who acted as a minister during the school’s fifth-grade ship day, receives his sailing papers (classwork) from captain Peyton Carpenter.

MANCHESTER – To immerse students in an important aspect of early American history, St. James School fifth-grade teachers Denise Wojtyna and Diane DiBenedetto transformed a classroom into an emigrant ship for a day.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

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HARTFORD – As Connecticut lawmakers began to consider proposed legislation that would make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the state, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference launched a media campaign to help “people get all the facts before making a rash decision on physician-assisted suicide.”

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

20150203cnsto0001 webPeople carry a banner of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 22, 2014. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed "in hatred of the faith" and not for purely political reasons.

stmary csw web

Anya Joseph, a second grader at St. Mary School in Milford, models the clothing and accessories she sported for the school’s Mismatch Day, one of a number of activities at the school in celebration of Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-31.

20150127cnsbr8170 webDan Nelson shows how Shockbox helmet sensors are attached to the inside of the crown of a football helmet with a piece of Velcro Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Joanne Fox, Catholic Globe)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

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Weigel_NEWDuring his homily at the Mass pro eligendo Romano Pontifice (for the election of the Roman Pontiff) on April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger cautioned his fellow cardinals that John Paul II’s successor would have to deal with an emerging "dictatorship of relativism" throughout the Western world: the use of coercive state power to impose an agenda of dramatic moral deconstruction on all of society.

Some Catholic commentators charged that Ratzinger’s warning was so over-the-top that he could never be elected pope. Others thought the formula "dictatorship of relativism" a neat summary of a grave threat to freedom and believed that a man with the courage to call things by their true names would make a fine pontiff.

Recent events throughout the Western world have fully vindicated the latter.

In Canada, evangelical pastors have been assessed heavy monetary fines for preaching the Gospel truth about the ethics of love and marriage. In Poland, the priest-editor of a major Catholic magazine was convicted of violating a complainant’s human rights and assessed a heavy fine because he described abortion for what it is: the willful taking of an innocent human life. In the United States, health care providers and others involved in the health care system (including employers and insurers) are threatened by the dictatorship of relativism in the guise of the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, as the bishops of the United States have warned.

And then there is Australia, which I recently visited on a 10-day lecture tour.

A summary of opinion polling published in the Australian edition of the secular newsweekly The Week suggests that Aussies are, well, distinctive. More Australians believe in "human-induced climate change" than believe in God; yet 20 percent more of the folks living Down Under believe in angels than believe in evolution. Go figure.

Amid the postmodern confusions, however, Australia is like the rest of the West in that the proponents of "marriage equality" are at the forefront of efforts to impose the dictatorship of relativism, in this instance from Perth to Sydney and at all points in between. Moreover, their rhetoric has become brazenly Orwellian. Thus, when Prime Minister Julia Gillard (an avowed atheist who makes Nancy Pelosi seem like Margaret Thatcher) nonetheless announced that a "gay marriage" proposal would get a "conscience vote" in the federal parliament, she was accused by her lefter-than-left opponents of being … undemocratic.

For those unfamiliar with Westminster systems, most parliamentary votes are, as the British say, subject to the party whip: that is, members are expected to vote with the party leadership and are subject to severe retribution (such as being "decertified" as a party-supported candidate at the next election) if they resist the whip. By contrast, a "conscience vote" is one in which parliamentarians may vote as they like (for reasons of conscience, or what they deem political expedience, or both). But according to Senator Gavin Marshall, chairman of the "Left federal parliamentary Labor Party caucus," writing in the Australian daily newspaper The Age, Gillard’s decision to allow a "conscience vote" on "gay marriage" is "not democratic," because it "exposes individual parliamentarians to powerful conservative lobby groups" and the retrograde opinions of those "stubbornly opposed to all social reforms."

Imagine that: defenseless "individual parliamentarians" having to contend with deeply held (and often religiously informed) moral convictions. What will those nasty, unscrupulous opponents of "social reform" think of next?

George Orwell – our great pathologist of debauched political speech – would have gagged at Senator Marshall’s op-ed piece. A coerced whip-line vote that imposes a radical and philosophically incoherent agenda on a country not at all sure it wants to go down that road is "democratic," whereas a free vote on whether the state can redefine a basic human institution at its whim is undemocratic? Please.

If Senator Marshall is right, then the word "democratic" means nothing but willfulness manifest through legislation. That the willfulness in question is based on a deeply confused relativism about right and wrong, and that it chooses to impose itself through coercive state power, only underscores the point Joseph Ratzinger was making in 2005.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

 

Events Calendar

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01:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center's ongoing centering prayer program will continue from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the center. Sister Carolyn Severino, ASCJ, [...]
04:00 PM
Our Lady of the Angels Convent, Enfield, Enfield, United States
The Felician Adult Day Center will have its annual Snowflake Raffle from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, 1315 Enfield St., Enfield. Baskets will be available for viewing from [...]
06:45 PM
Lauralton Hall, Milford CT, Milford, United States
MILFORD – Lauralton Hall will celebrate its ethnic heritage while raising funds on Feb. 28 at its annual Irish Night. The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation founded by [...]
Date :  February 28, 2015

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