But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
– Revelation 2:20
Almost a year ago now, I wrote an article discussing Pope Leo XIII's 1888 encyclical on freedom. Reading over my article I don't feel that I did justice to the words of our Holy Father. In light of the events of the past year I think it's time for me to revisit his words.
The encyclical "Libertas" is a profound document. It warns of the dangers of a liberal ideology that holds up freedom as a goddess to worship above all others. Today we are seeing the consequences of this ideology when put into practice. The secular humanists have taken up this cause from the 19th century liberals, and imposed this radical ideology on America through the media, the classrooms and the courts.
I could not possibly hope to cover all of "Libertas" in one short article. Instead I will highlight a few excerpts.
The road to tyranny
(16)For, once ascribe to human reason the only authority to decide what is true and what is good, and the real distinction between good and evil is destroyed; honor and dishonor differ not in their nature, but in the opinion and judgment of each one; pleasure is the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption. With reference also to public affairs: authority is severed from the true and natural principle whence it derives all its efficacy for the common good; and the law determining what it is right to do and avoid doing is at the mercy of a majority. Now, this is simply a road leading straight to tyranny. The empire of God over man and civil society once repudiated, it follows that religion, as a public institution, can have no claim to exist, and that everything that belongs to religion will be treated with complete indifference.Allow me to freely interpret this passage from Leo XIII.
1. Once we accept the principal that each person is free to decide for himself what is right and what is wrong, then we fall into moral relativism. (This is what Pope Benedict XVI calls "the dictatorship of relativism".)
2. If each individual bases his decisions on whatever "feels good" then we will fall as a society into decadence.
3. The rule of law will be undermined because there will be no moral absolutes upon which to base it. Instead it will be based purely on majority opinion which can be easily manipulated.
4. This will lead first to anarchy (mob rule) and then to dictatorship as a means of restoring order. (I'm reminded of the French Revolution which led to Napoleon becoming Emperor of France.)
5. Religious rights will be trampled upon. This follows directly from the rejection of God. If God is no longer viewed as the Supreme Ruler over society and Christian morality is no longer recognized as the basis of law, then this will ultimately lead to the persecution of Christians.
Although I'm sure that our 19th century Pope could not even have begun to imagine "homosexual marriage", it is just the sort of thing that he was warning us about. The implications that this has for religious freedom are becoming ever more clear. But Pope Leo XIII envisioned even more treacherous consequences. He warned us that a fanatical worship of "freedom" actually leads to chaos and eventually dictatorship.
Intolerance in the name of 'tolerance'
(35)And as to tolerance, it is surprising how far removed from the equity and prudence of the Church are those who profess what is called liberalism. For, in allowing that boundless license of which We have spoken, they exceed all limits, and end at last by making no apparent distinction between truth and error, honesty and dishonesty. And because the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, and the unerring teacher of morals, is forced utterly to reprobate and condemn tolerance of such an abandoned and criminal character, they calumniate her as being wanting in patience and gentleness, and thus fail to see that, in so doing, they impute to her as a fault what is in reality a matter for commendation. But, in spite of all this show of tolerance, it very often happens that, while they profess themselves ready to lavish liberty on all in the greatest profusion, they are utterly intolerant toward the Catholic Church, by refusing to allow her the liberty of being herself free.These words hardly need clarifying since we have so many living examples right before our eyes. The issues of 'tolerance' towards abortion and homosexuality are the most obvious. We are told to stop being judgmental. We are even told that Jesus did not condemn the sinner. Actually, He did. He was quite clear that the sinners would be thrown into the fire. He only offered his forgiveness to those who repented and showed sincere regret for their sins. And He commanded them to "sin no more". Our God is a god of infinite mercy, but also a god of harsh punishment for those who refuse to accept His love and bow down before Him.
Following in the footsteps of Lucifer
(14)If when men discuss the question of liberty they were careful to grasp its true and legitimate meaning, such as reason and reasoning have just explained, they would never venture to affix such a calumny on the Church as to assert that she is the foe of individual and public liberty. But many there are who follow in the footsteps of Lucifer, and adopt as their own his rebellious cry, "I will not serve"; and consequently substitute for true liberty what is sheer and most foolish license. Such, for instance, are the men belonging to that widely spread and powerful organization, who, usurping the name of liberty, style themselves liberals.In the introduction to "Rules for Radicals" Saul Alinsky wrote a dedication to "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer." Alinsky was a community organizer in Chicago. In fact he created the very concept of "community organizing". We now have a President who started off his political career as a community organizer in Chicago. Alinsky had passed away by the time Obama came to Chicago, but it is fair to say that Obama was following in the footsteps of Alinsky.