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Archbishop's Desk

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  • On receiving the pallium

    On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I was blessed to receive from the hands of...

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Milestones

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  • Franciscan friars merge provinces

    ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – The Franciscan Friars at St. Paul Parish in Kensington took part in a little...

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Youth

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  • Youth event to focus on theme of ‘Working in the Vineyard’

    BLOOMFIELD – Applications are being accepted for the 2014 Catholic Youth Spectacular set for...

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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

August 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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05:15 PM
Savin Rock Conference Center, West Haven, West Haven Ct
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
06:00 PM
New Haven Green, New Haven, United States
NEW HAVEN – The New Haven Symphony Orchestra will present a free summer concert with the Brubeck [...]
Date :  August 02, 2014
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10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
11:30 AM
Wampanoag Country Club, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
WEST HARTFORD – The Mount St. Mary’s University alumni golf tournament will take place Aug. 5 at the [...]
Date :  August 05, 2014
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05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
Date :  August 07, 2014
8
05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
Date :  August 08, 2014
9
05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
05:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
06:15 PM
Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers, Waterbury, Waterbury, United States
WATERBURY – A “Family Dance for Life” is set for Aug. 9 at the Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers, 515 [...]
Date :  August 09, 2014
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12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
NEW HAVEN – The Catholic Biblical School and the Knights of Columbus Museum have teamed up to host an [...]
Date :  August 10, 2014
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07:00 PM
Assumption School, Manchester, Manchester, United States
 Valerie Mara, assistant superintendent of academics for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of [...]
10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 12, 2014
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12:00 AM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
"Successful Study Skills 4 Students" will be presented Aug. 13-15 at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol for junior high school students in the morning and for high school students in the [...]
Date :  August 13, 2014
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05:00 PM
Chili's, Wallingford , Wallingford, Conn., United States
BLOOMFIELD – Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from [...]
05:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
Date :  August 16, 2014
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10:00 AM
Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington, Farmington, United States
The 19th Annual Franciscan Golf Classic to benefit the Franciscan Life Center and Franciscan Home Care and Hospice Care, will take place Aug. 18 at Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington.  The $175 [...]
Date :  August 18, 2014
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10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 19, 2014
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21
12:00 PM
St. Joseph School, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Open House at St. Joseph School
Date :  August 21, 2014
22
06:30 PM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, United States
BRISTOL – St. Paul Catholic High School will have its fifth annual Falcon 5k event at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22. [...]
Date :  August 22, 2014
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