Lately, I’ve taken some heat for daring to engage some of the, shall we say… doctrinally challenged things that Pope Francis has said over the last several months, but in this post I wish to highlight and applaud a very important teaching recently offered by the Holy Father.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis addressed the evil of relativism in his homily of October 11, 2013:
(Vatican Radio) Christians must always guard against the deceit of the devil, said Pope Francis at Friday’s morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The Pope underlined that Christians cannot follow the victory of Jesus over evil “halfway”, nor confuse or relativize truth in the battle against the devil … “Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me,” the Pope said. Jesus, he added, came to destroy the devil, “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us.” And, he cautioned, this is not “exaggerating.” “On this point,” he said, “there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation” of us all.
The Holy Father concluded with a very stern warning and exhortation, “Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”
One cannot overestimate the importance of the teaching offered here; it touches on the very same evil that Cardinal Ratzinger famously called the “dictatorship of relativism” in a homily delivered just days prior to his own elevation to the Chair of St. Peter.
Pope Francis’ exhortation is most certainly welcome given the fact that relativism is even more widespread today, some 8 years later.
For instance, the prevailing popular culture simply rejects the notion of a single vision of the good, which of course is nothing less than the rejection of God Himself; He who is made known to mankind without any trace of error through His Holy Catholic Church alone.
Relativists, by definition, tend to take a more personalized, autonomous approach to determining what is morally good and acceptable. Unfortunately, all indications are they are a growing breed.
Such people cavalierly presume that each of us has a vision of good and of evil, a proposition that precludes the necessity of relying upon the wisdom and guidance of Holy Mother Church, she who teaches in Our Blessed Lord’s name. The relativists, in other words, are content simply to encourage people to move towards what they think is good.
This, of course, is nothing more than “the primacy of conscience,” a modern day heresy that conveniently overlooks the indispensable necessity of proper formation. The relativists eschew this solemn duty that every man has toward, not just himself, but toward God first and foremost; insisting instead that everyone must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them.
Needless to say, there is little room in such a worldview for the voice of the Church who speaks in the name of the Lord, the singular good from which all that is good and true comes.
Yes, the “dictatorship of relativism” of which Cardinal Ratzinger warned is alive and well; actively deceiving people into believing that following the good and fighting evil as we ourselves conceive of them would somehow make the world a better place.
That is why I gladly offer, and kindly ask you to please share with others, this post lauding the incredibly important homily of Pope Francis dated 11 October 2013.
Viva il papa!