Tag Archives: culture

Assessing false promises of ‘multi-culti’ education

If multiculturalists had kept their promises, school and college curricula would have been enriched by the inclusion of the literature, ideas, values, and history of societies relatively ignored in Western education. As Camille Paglia puts it, “Multiculturalism is in theory a noble cause that aims to broaden perspective in the U.S. which, because of its physical position between two oceans, can tend toward the smugly isolationist.”

Instead, of course, the multiculturalists have used their agenda not only to broaden our knowledge but to denigrate the texts and traditions that form Western civilization. The inclusion of ethnic content was not enough; schools required deep structural change. …

Multiculturalism is much more exclusionary and prejudicial than any form of education the West has ever known. Both curricula and pedagogy are being tailored to serve the political purposes of a bureaucratic elite. This elite, meanwhile, distracts students from noticing the education they are missing with loud protestations of concern for their psychological well-being.

When multiculturalism merged with the therapeutic, the demand arose for a new form of segregation, self-segregation. For example, the designation of “safe spaces” on college campuses, black-only or women-only college events, and lectures about “white privilege” and “toxic masculinity” at freshman orientations. It’s one thing for a grown-up to hear this nonsense being thrown around, but an 18-year-old can be easily intimidated into believing it. …

Those of us beyond those student days encounter these ideas packaged throughout the media from news reporting and political speech to our central forms of entertainment — television, movies, music, magazines, and books. Militant feminist, gay, lesbian, and transgender characters abound, rarely depicted as anything less than serenely happy, and far superior to white males and married women with children.

These duplicitous practices carry messages about morality, politics, traditions, religion, and our nation. Some messages are embedded; others are blatant. Once these messages gain traction, they give birth to what Socrates and Plato called “sophistry,” the reliance on fallacious arguments. …Socrates exposed the fallacies and moral shallowness of the prominent teachers of the 5th century BC. …But the [sophists] risked being publicly humiliated by an encounter with the “gadfly” of Athens.

[This] eventually sparked an outrage that put Socrates on trial for his life and convicted him. … When sophistry is unmasked, it becomes personal. The reaction is not “I see your point” or “I stand corrected” but rather an attack against the person who did the unmasking.

Excerpt taken from How to Keep from Losing Your Mind: Educating Yourself Classically to Survive Cultural Indoctrination, by Deal W. Hudson (TAN Books, 2019), from Chapter 10, “Exposing Untruth: Multiculturalism and the Therapeutic,” pp. 158-161.

DEAL HUDSON is president of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture, and former publisher and editor of Crisis magazine. He taught philosophy for 15 years at three major universities; published print and digital magazines for over 20 years; created the strategy to lead Catholic outreach in four national elections (three winning); and launched the 2015 radio show Church and Culture on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

The war on truth, the desire for peace

In so many of its forms, peace seems to be more elusive than ever in our fast-paced world. For many of us, our hectic lives hinder our efforts to seek peace, cultivate peace and ultimately achieve an interior peace of heart.

John Hunt

John Hunt

Jesus tells us in John’s gospel: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

Our secular culture is at war with Truth, and so it’s at war with the Catholic Church. As such, the culture is at war with us — you and me. It would be simple to conclude that living an authentic Christian life is an impossibility, but such is not the case because we are believers. We accept the fact that it falls to those who know Jesus Christ to be his ambassadors, to be other Christs, to be Christ himself.

The peace we seek, the peace that exceeds all other, is a product of living a faithful life — a life of prayer and mortification, temperance and perseverance, trust and fidelity. Because, you see, the anger and strife, the sinfulness and greed, appear to be winning in the marketplace, in the media and in the political arena. This apparent success could cause us to accept the triumph of evil. But be reminded that St. Augustine preached “the tranquility of order,” that peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.

As Legatus members, we understand our obligation to serve the Church, our families, our employees and the community. But this gift of service can be tenuous if we believe it to be of our own design, of our own diligence. The longer we live and the more we insert ourselves into the culture, we come to appreciate the fact that it’s all a gift — a gift of the Holy Spirit.

May we be comforted by Our Lord’s words through St. John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” His truly is an interior peace beyond all understanding.

JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Family as the foundation of culture

Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt’s address to this year’s Napa Institute . . .

Archibishop John Nienstedt

Archibishop John Nienstedt

Dear friends in Christ,

Since the beginning of man’s life on earth, the family has served as the cornerstone of society.  The integrity of the family set the standard for society from the beginning of time as the underpinning of our civilization, reflecting the beneficial differences between men and women and the complementarity of their hearts, minds, and bodies.  Aristotle argued that the natural progression of human beings flowed from the family via small communities out to the polis.  The state itself, then, as a natural extension of the family, mirrors this critical institution.  Inspired by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “man is by nature a social being since he stands in need of many vital things which he cannot come by through his own unaided effort.  Hence he is naturally part of a group by which assistance is given him that he may live well.  He needs this assistance with a view to life as well as to the good life.”[1]  And Pope Leo XIII develops Aquinas’ thought further, recognizing that “man’s natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties.”[2]  Indeed, just as our communities and the state itself imitate the structure of the family, our economy is also modeled after oikonomia—the Greek word for household management.

I. The Biblical Basis

In the Book of Genesis, we read the story of creation through God’s direct intervention. God breathed life into Adam and then removed one of his ribs to create a woman, Eve.  God did not take a piece of the man’s head so that woman would dominate him, nor did God take a bone from the man’s foot so that he should dominate her.  Rather He took a rib from man’s side, signifying that man would be an equal to woman and she to him.  “And Adam said: ‘This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.  Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.’”  Two become one: male and female God created them[3] together in His image and likeness, a reflection of the goodness of their Creator who blessed them with a command to increase and to multiply, filling every corner of the earth.[4]

II. The Sacramental Reality

Jesus Christ elevated marriage to the dignity of a sacrament and thereby reaffirmed the moral law, reminding us why he came into this world: to perfect that which was imperfect; to loosen our hardened hearts.

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.  For amen I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law, until all is accomplished.”[5]

The word “sacrament” comes from the Latin sacramentum, which itself is a translation of the Greek word mysterion, a word which signifies one of the seven central liturgical rites of the Church through which participants experience the Paschal Mystery of Christ and grow in the life of grace.  The Church herself is the mysterion, or sacrament of salvation, as she communicates God’s love, which, in turn, draws believers into greater levels of holiness.

The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal in the understanding, approach and practice of the celebration of sacraments within the total life of the Church.  The sacrament of marriage has benefited from this renewal by receiving a greater emphasis on the interpersonal life shared between a husband and wife, on how the spiritual life of the spouses grows from this interpersonal dynamic, and how these two factors both contribute in existential quality to the ongoing development of the marital relationship in a continual process of becoming.[6]  As the result of a sacramental marriage, a couple is truly married “in the Lord” and his redeeming grace penetrates their love and deepens their union.

The family, comprised of one man and one woman, is bound by their love in a lifelong commitment that is mutual, exclusive and open to new life.  Marital love between spouses transcends even each other as they enter into a triune relationship with God.  The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Love is triune or it dies… [w]hat binds lover and beloved together on earth is an ideal outside both. As it is impossible to have rain without the clouds, so it is impossible to understand love without God. ”[7]  As the author of marriage and love itself, God expresses love in the giving of self, never reserved only to the spouse and the home.  Certainly, it begins and ends there, but it is meant to be shared for the benefit of the common good,[8] making good use of the three theological virtues of hope, faith and charity, and holding an exclusive and preeminent fidelity modeled in Christ and His Church.

The modern world, however, speaks to us about self-fulfillment and self-gratification.  From its perspective, when other people enter into our lives they are said to give our lives meaning. Instead of looking to Christ as our true source of adoration and perfection, our neighbor becomes the source of meaning for our existence.  Yet no mere human being can be substituted for God’s magnificence or His undying love.  Only in Christ can we quench the longing found deep within our hearts.  When we try to find perfection in another person we are quickly disappointed.  Disappointment turns into divorce and divorce shatters families, leaving behind vulnerable children forced to survive the tragic circumstances of their parents’ separation.

Years ago, Fr. Patrick Peyton sounded the mantra that “the couple who prays together, stays together.”[9]  This is true because, if husband and wife are addressing God together in heartfelt adoration or petition, then the presence of the marital grace that rests in each spouse will be stimulated to new growth.  The married couple should together attend Sunday Mass and other Holy Days of obligation, so as to be nourished by the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist for the sake of their own marriage and in order to be a leaven in the world.

The love that Christ has for His Church provides the model for the complementary love of husband and wife.  As spouses and as parents, they are called to seek “first the kingdom of God and His justice,”[10] pledging to raise their children in the Catholic faith.  This permanent union between one man and one woman with its unitive and procreative properties, shares the joy of heaven with their offspring, their greatest treasures on the earth, gifts entrusted to parents by the love of God.

III. Two Views of Marriage

While our perspective on marriage and family life are radically influenced by our belief in God, his revelation in Jesus Christ as well as the natural moral law, nevertheless the proper use of reason can of itself teach us about the true meaning of marriage.

In a wonderful, recently published book entitled, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: a Defense, Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George carefully delineate and evaluate two distinct views of marriage that are prominent in our nation’s ongoing marriage debate.

The first they define is the conjugal view of marriage understood as a comprehensive union, that is to say, the joining of spouses in body as well as in mind, in an act that begins by consent and is then sealed by sexual intercourse.

Being consummated in an act of bodily union, it is especially apt for and deepened by procreation, which calls for the broad sharing of a domestic life uniquely fit for family life.  This all-encompassing act calls for the equally all-encompassing commitment of permanence and exclusivity.  Valuable as it is in itself, its link to the welfare of children make marriage a public good that the state ought to recognize and support.

The second view proposed is what the authors call a revisionist view of marriage.  Here the union is between two people who commit to a romantic partnership and a shared domestic life.  It is essentially an emotional union, merely enhanced by whatever sexual activity the partners find agreeable.  Such unions are seen as valuable as long as the emotion lasts.  The state should recognize them, it is said, because it has an interest in their stability as well as the well-being of any children they may choose to rear.[11]

The authors argue in favor of the conjugal view of marriage, admitting that like friendship, marriage is a type of bond between two persons.  But, they point out, marriage is a special kind of bond because it unites the spouses in body as well as in mind and heart in a way that is apt for and enriched by procreation and family life.  The spouses vow their whole selves for the whole of their lives.  Thus, its comprehensiveness puts the value of marriage in a class apart from the value of other relationships.[12]

The authors are also quite clear about what they see are the dangers of the revisionist view:

“If the law defines marriage to include same-sex partners, many will come to misunderstand marriage.  They will not see it as essentially comprehensive, or thus (among other things) as ordered to procreation and family life—but as essentially an emotional union . . . they will therefore tend not to understand or respect the objective norms of permanence or sexual exclusivity that shape it.  Nor, in the end, will they see why the terms of marriage should not depend altogether on the will of the parties, be they two or ten in number, as the terms of friendships and contracts do.  That is, to the extent that marriage is misunderstood, it will be harder to see the point of its norms, to live by them, and to urge them on others.  And this besides making any remaining restrictions on marriage arbitrary, will damage the many cultural and political goods that get the state involved in marriage in the first place.”[13]

One might assert here: As the understanding of marriage goes, so goes the way of the family and the culture it shapes and fosters.

If indeed marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the cornerstone of society, then it is essential to the progress of any civilization that the consequences of choosing between a conjugal view or a revisionist view of marriage be weighed carefully and thoughtfully, especially in regard to the other negative forces that are impinging on the social reality of family life.

IV. The family under attack

Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life.  Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization.  The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies.  Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on earth.

A. Contraception as a primary factor

Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, issued in 1968, reaffirmed the Church’s teaching regarding marital love and the rejection of most forms of birth control.  Promulgated just three years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, the encyclical rapidly became the most intensely debated Church document in centuries, perhaps more than any other solemn teaching of the Church in the entire history of Christendom.  Public dissent followed. Various scholars and proud public adversaries, then and many still today,[14] view fertility as a hindrance rather than a blessing, falsely arguing in favor of the “right” to enjoy unrestrained sex, within and outside the confines of Holy Matrimony, with no regard for the rights of God or the common good.[15]  

But Humanae Vitae proved itself a prophetic witness, by warning of what would happen should contraception gain widespread acceptance, namely:

1. Artificial methods of birth control would become the leading vehicle towards the lowering of moral standards for the young and a catalyst for marital infidelity.

2. The use of contraception would objectify and disrespect women, and wives in particular.

3. That in the hands of governments, contraception would become a powerful tool in forcing the use of contraceptives on individuals, as well as institutions.

With regard to the first point, statistics reveal that today only 3% of Catholic married women rely on natural family planning.  At the same time, 70% of unmarried Catholic women are sexually active by their early 20s.[16]

Secondly, few are aware of the World Health Organization’s listing of contraceptives as “group one carcinogens” for breast, liver, and cervical cancers.[17]  Mounting evidence also shows the link between birth control pills and women’s susceptibility to immune disorders such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Thirdly, Pope Paul VI’s prediction about government overreach has also found vindication in our current struggle over the Health and Human Services Mandate.  As you know, HHS will require employers to provide insurance coverage of prescription contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including sterilization procedures and abortion-causing drugs.  The mandate imposes contraception as a matter of public policy without any recourse to public debate, denying employers the right to follow the dictates of their own consciences and refusing public access to dispute the moral implications of contraceptive use.  Although the purpose of health care is to diagnose, prevent and cure illnesses, and health insurance is meant to lower the cost of treatment, contraception’s raison d’être is to prevent pregnancy, to separate reproduction from the sexual act solely for the private interest of sexual recreation.  Birth control, as G.K. Chesterton warned, “…does not control any birth. It only makes sure that there shall never be any birth to control.”[18]

B. Other challenges to marriage

Besides contraception, there are other forces at work today that challenge the intended reality of marriage as a lifelong, committed and procreative union between one man and one woman, such as:

1. Five of every ten marriages end in divorce[19]

2. Nearly one of every three Americans over the age of 15 has never been married, the highest level in a decade.[20]

3. The rate of cohabitation has accelerated from 450,000 couples in 1965 to well over 5 million couples today.[21]

4. The number of children under the age of 18 living with a single parent has risen from 6 million in 1960 to nearly 21 million in the year 2010.[22]

Between 1950 and 2011, according to calculations by the University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen, the marriage rate fell from 90 marriages a year per 1,000 unmarried women to just 31, a stunning 66 percent decline.  Equally disturbing, 43% of American children grow up in fatherless homes and the percentage of children born out of wedlock is now at a staggering 40.8%.[23]

A marginal—yet growing— opinion also suggests that parental differences are merely imaginary byproducts of social gender constructs.  Academic proponents supporting this thesis claim that men and women are essentially the same and are only different insofar as they are heavily influenced by child rearing, media, school, and other forms of cultural transmission.  According to their theory, child development is purposely directed by the social constructs of compulsory heterosexuality—that is to say, “the social reproduction of male power.”  What we need, they say, is to lift ourselves out of the “stone age” surrounding the male/female distinction.[24]  Proper child-rearing, from this perspective, does not depend on the contributions of both masculine and feminine influences, because their healthy development will occur regardless of gender.

A recent study conducted by New York University, however, claims fathers do play a decisive role in teenage sexual behavior.[25]  Teens whose fathers approved of adolescent sexual activity tended to start having sex earlier than teens whose fathers did not approve, affirming that “fathers may distinctly influence the sexual behavior of their adolescent children,” and fathers may indeed “parent in ways that differ from mothers.”[26]  A 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that consistent with the absence of fathers in the home, 47% of their high school sons or daughters have had intercourse, “leading to unwanted transmission of sexual disease and pregnancy.[27]

The fact remains that family structure works better for children because fathers and mothers do parent differently, in ways that complement one another and boost a child’s well-being and gender identity.  This understanding of the family structure gets to the heart of the same-sex “marriage” debate that many of us have engaged in recent years.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has the intention of altering the historical, traditional and natural concept of marriage between one man and one woman.  Five states retain a statuary ban on same-sex “marriage,” while twenty-eight have a ban en force.  However, the tide is shifting. 70% of Americans born after 1980 believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally, which is 20% higher than the population born between 1965 and 1979, and approximately 30% higher than the Baby Boomer generation.[28]

Unlike friendships or other close relationships, the public purpose of marriage is to unite men and women and the children they create.  Because the environment our children are raised in does play a significant role in their future contribution to and the overall welfare of society, government reasonably recognizes what studies have concluded: the best chance that children have for their future lives is to be raised in stable homes by their biological married parents.

Marriage is clearly a social justice issue as families are dependent upon it for their flourishing.  The differences between children who grow up in intact homes as opposed to those who grow up in broken homes are not inconsequential.  Children separated from their biological parents fare less well, on average, than children who grow up with both natural parents.

Studies suggest that children reared in intact homes do best on the following indices:

– Educational achievement: higher literacy and graduation rates.

– Emotional health: lower rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

– Familial and sexual development: stronger sense of identity, normal timing of onset of puberty, lower rates of teen and out-of-wedlock pregnancy and lower rates of sexual abuse.

– Child and adult behavior: lower rates of aggression, attention deficit disorder, delinquency and incarceration.[29]

Even a left-leaning research institution called Child Trends concurs with this assessment:

“[R]esearch clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.  Children in single parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in step-families or cohabitating relationships face higher risk of poor outcomes . . ..  There is this value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents . . ..  [I]t is not simply the presence of two parents . . . but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”[30]

Recent literature reviews conducted by the Brookings Institution, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the Institute for American Values all corroborate the critical importance of intact households for children.[31]

Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, argues that, all things being equal, good marriages provide strong benefits for the common good of society, while the fragmentation of the home is a leading indicator of what has happened since we’ve institutionalized broken homes through no-fault divorce and other legislation.  She states:

“Marriage is more than a private emotional relationship.  It is also a social good.  Not every person can or should marry.  And not every child raised outside of marriage is damaged as a result.  But communities where good-enough marriages are common have better outcomes for children, women and men than do communities that suffer from high rates of divorce, unmarried childbearing, and high-conflict or violent marriages.”[32]

St. John Chrysostom wrote:

“The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.  When harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends and relatives praise the result.  Great benefits, both for families and states, result.”[33]  

In the United States, marriage lowers the probability of child poverty by 82%,[34] married women are less likely to experience domestic violence than cohabitating and serially dating women, and marriage increases the likelihood that children enjoy warm, close relationships with parents.

V. Faithful citizenship and the family

As Americans we are abundantly blessed with constitutional freedoms that protect and allow us to participate in public life.  We are grateful to live in a nation that has bequeathed us with the latitude to engage in public discourse and contribute to policy decisions aimed at serving our families and the common welfare.  Catholics have enjoyed a unique relationship that has allowed a rich development and flourishing of our teaching and activities with regard to human life, marriage and family, justice and peace, and good stewardship.  The Church and her institutions, including the family, must be free to fulfill their mission and to collaborate with public authorities without pressure or sacrifice to Her fundamental teachings or moral principles.

Bound by the common destiny we share, obstacles to human flourishing are profoundly challenging for us precisely because they affect our moral being.  The Gospel compels us, as a people who hold fast to faith and reason, to bring the essential truths about human life to the public square and to practice charity for the benefit of those who have less.  There is no realm of worldly affairs that can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion.  Our obligation to teach the morals that shape the lives of every man, woman and child has been given to us by Jesus Christ.  The witness of the Church, therefore, is of Her nature public, and Her proposed rational arguments to shape policy decisions is a working model of the right for individual believers and religious bodies to participate and speak out without government interference or discrimination.

VI. The assault on reason

As the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger warned against allowing orthopraxis (right conduct) to command orthodoxy (right belief).  Ratzinger stressed how behavior is dictated by what we believe, and if we ignore first principles, if we avoid the search for the truth, we will exercise poor judgment and thus experience poor behavior.[35]  The family today has inherited a crisis of confidence in our institutions that is filling a void of proper catechesis and education with human intuition, lacking in any genuine appeal to truth or justice.[36]  This subjectivism has soiled the good, the true and the beautiful with a culture bent on incongruous attacks on reason itself.  Its violence lies in denying the reality of objective truths, thereby aiding and promoting the most intrinsic evils which undermine the meaning of relationships and, therefore, the very fabric of good social order.

To illustrate this attack on reason, one need go no further than the judicial intervention in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  In their plurality opinion, Justices Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter invoked a famous “mystery clause” to uphold the Court’s 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. One peculiar passage reads as follows:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

If, by right, one may freely define the meaning of existence without hindrance, the provisioning of law carries no weight whatsoever. Indeed, this “mystery clause” appears inspired by the influential Age of Enlightenment which celebrates a highly individualistic and subjective view of “freedom,” and, therefore, of “choice.”  It creates the impression that choice is, in and of itself, a moral act of human freedom and an ultimate expression of life and it rejects any objective criteria or moral participation in the shaping of social situations.  This view, incompatible with rational thought, is surely the work of Satan, in the words of Blessed John Paul, who lusted after this so-called “liberty” above all else.[37]

VII. The loss of a Catholic culture

Assimilation has played a significant part in diminishing our uniquely Catholic identity, which, in turn, contributed to the decline of the rich, past Catholic subculture historically embedded in our society.  The respectable author Russell Shaw documents how this previous subculture protected against the secularization of Catholic citizens and immigrants.  He writes,

“For a long time, the subculture of immigrant Catholicism more or less successfully shielded Catholics (“ghettoized” them, some would say).  But starting in the late 1950s and continuing through the 1960s and 1970s, American Catholics, instead of reforming and updating their subculture, dismantled this network of distinctively Catholic institutions and programs, organizations and movements that had served them well.”[38]

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, concurs.

“Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture.  We’ve compromised too cheaply.  We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in.  And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.”[39]

Shaw’s response to the growing secularization among Catholics is the recovery of a new Catholic subculture to restore the former communities of their immigrant forefathers, embedding themselves into what were once unique, thriving Catholic communities surrounded by parishes and the pastoral care of parishes; an organic community, distinguishable by common traits that differentiate them from society at large, which witnesses to its unique values and ideals through a deliberate way of life.  This also includes living in close proximity together for the sustainment and the proliferation of Catholic identity.

VIII. Conclusion

Politics cannot solve the cultural problems that the family faces today.  Clearly, the fundamental causes of the decline of the family are rooted in an erosion of spiritual development.[40]  Those who have been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith share in the Church’s mission of salvation and are called to make the Church present and active as salt and light to the world.  We cannot stand by and allow false ideologies to crumble the moral foundations of our civilization and the vital institution of the family.  

Indeed as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in December 2011 to the Pontifical Council for the Family, that the new evangelization will only succeed if the family is seen as a vital component of its exercise.  His words:

“The New Evangelization depends largely on the Domestic Church. …  Just as the eclipse of God and the crisis of the family are linked, so the new evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family.  The family is indeed the way of the Church because it is the “human space” of our encounter with Christ. …  The family founded on the Sacrament of Marriage is a particular realization of the Church, saved and saving, evangelized and evangelizing community.  Just like the Church, it is called to welcome, radiate, and show the world the love and presence of Christ.”[41]

As Christians, we must renew our commitment to present the truth of the Gospel to all, stepping out onto the public square, articulating a new evangelization for this secular age, submerging ourselves in the vigorous baths of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy; always displaying, as St. Paul urges, “the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”[42]

For my conclusion, I ask us prayerfully to call upon the intercession of the Holy Family.

Dear Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

Bless us and grant us the grace of loving the Church as we should,
above every other earthly thing, and whenever duty calls, of ever showing our love by courageous deeds in the defense and propagation of the Faith,
whether by word or by the sacrifice of our possessions or even our very lives.

Bless especially our efforts to build up a culture of family life that models the example of Your Holy Family so that after battling the challenges of this earthly life we may enjoy your everlasting companionship in heaven.


MOST REV. JOHN NIENSTEDT is the archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul. He delivered this address at the Napa Institute on Aug. 2. An abridged version of this address appeared in the September issue of Legatus magazine

[1] Thomas Aquinas, In Libros Ethicorum Aristotelis Expositio, Lib. I, lect. 1. “Man is by nature a social animal, since he stands in need of many vital things which he cannot come by through his own unaided effort (Avicenna). Hence he is naturally part of a group by which assistance is given him that he may live well. He needs this assistance with a view to life as well as to the good life.”
[2] Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, § 3 (1885).
[3] Genesis 1:27.
[4] Id. at 1:28.
[5] The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 5:17.
[6] John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, § 17 (1994).
[7] Fulton J. Sheen, Three to Get Married. New York: Scepter Publishers, 1996.
[8] John Paul II, Gratissimam Sane, § 25 (1981).
[9] Rev. Patrick Peyton, All For Her: The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., 1967.
[10] The Gospel According to Saint Luke 12: 31.
[11]. Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert George, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, (New York, Encounter Books, 2012), 1-4.
[12] Ibid., 37.
[13] Ibid., 7.
[14] Gary Gutting: “The immorality of birth control is no longer a teaching of the Catholic Church… the issue has been settled by the voice of the Catholic people.” opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15 (accessed June 28th).
[15] Leo XIII, Permoti Nos. (1895) “Catholics must urgently wish for and pursue only those goals which are seen quite truly to lead to the common good, in preference to their own personal opinions and interests.”
[16] RK Jones RK and J Dreweke, Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011.
[17] World Health Organization Statement, Carcinogenicity of combined hormonal contraceptives and combined menopausal treatment (2005).
[18] G.K. Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.
[19] Tejada-Vera B, Sutton PD. “Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional data for 2009. National vital statistics reports; vol 58, no 25. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports. Vol. 58 Nm. 25. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_25.pdf  (accessed May 29th, 2013).
[20] Id, at Table MS-1.
[21] Households and Families 2010, U.S. Census Bureau, Table 2. Households by Type: 2000 and 2010. http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-14.pdf (accessed July 1, 2013) 
[22] Id, at Table 2.
[23]Helen M. Alvaré, “Father-Absence, Social Equality and Social Progress,” Quinnipiac Law Review, vol. 29, No 1, 2011, pp. 123-163.
[24] Sandra Lipsitz Bem, “Dismantling Gender Polarization and Compulsory Heterosexuality: Should We Turn the Volume Down or Up?” The Journal of Sex Research. Vol. 32, No. 4, 1995.
[25] Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, “Paternal Influences on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors: A Structured Literature Review.” In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Originally published online, October 15, 2012 (accessed June 4th, 2013)
[26] Id.
[27] Key Graphics on Trends Among High School Students from CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 1991-2011. Centers for Diseas Control. http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2012/YRBS-Graphics2012.html (accessed June 24, 2013)
[28] 2013 May Survey, The Pew Poll Forum. 
[29] See Marriage and the Public Good Ten Principles (Princeton, N.J.: The Witherspoon Institute, 2008), 9-19.
[30] Kristin Anderson Moore, Susan M. Jekielek, and Carol Emig, “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do About It?”, Child Trends Research Brief (June 2002) 1-2, 6.
[31] W. Bradford Wilcox, William J. Doherty, Helen Fisher, et al., Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, 2nd ed. (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005), 6.
[32] Maggie Gallagher, “(How) Does Marriage Protect Child Well-Being?” 197-212, 199, in The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market and Morals eds. Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain (2006).
[33] The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople. ed. Rev. J. B. Morris. London: James Park and Co., 1879.
[34] Robert Rector, “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty” http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/marriage-americas-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty. (accessed May 29, 2013)
[35] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.
[36] Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. “This remains the mandate of the Church: she does not preach what the powerful want to hear. Her criterion is truth and justice, even if that garners no applause and collides with human power.” (Homily delivered in Frascati, Italy, on July 15, 2012).
[37] Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum, § 14 (1888).
[38] Russell Shaw, “Tending the New Catholic Subculture,” Catholicity.com. http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/rshaw/08871.html. (accessed June 22, 2013) Shaw also writes, “22 million ex-Catholics make up the third largest group in the United States identifiable in religious terms, after Catholics and Southern Baptists.”
[39] Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, “Young People Today Have Lost ‘Moral Vocabulary,” Catholic News Agency, October 16, 2010.
[40] Leo XIII, Inscrutabili Dei Consilio. (1871) ( “A religious error is the main root of all social and political evils.”
[41]Benedict XVI, Address to Participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, December 1, 2011.
[42] 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Is the Church obsessed with sex?

Karl Keating says that, rather, it’s the world that is obsessed with sex  . . .

Karl Keating

Karl Keating

The Church has always shared her Master’s holy unpopularity. But never before the “Sexual Revolution” did her (and his) unpopularity center almost exclusively on sex.

In all eras and cultures, fallen man has never been very good at obeying any of God’s commandments. Man has always failed to practice what he preaches. But today he denies the preaching, the ideal itself… but only when it concerns sex.

A cross-section of popular movies and TV will reveal that most other areas of traditional morality are still assumed to be rightful and attainable ideals. But traditional sexual morality is almost always assumed to be unhealthy and unattainable — and the Church is usually portrayed as obsessed with sexual morality.

This obsession with sex is not the Church’s but the world’s — though the world often projects it onto the Church, its critic. We should not expect the Church’s teachings to coincide with “the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor 1:20) in any age or culture, for her teachings do not come from this world but from heaven, not from man but from God.

Man has gone off the track set for him by God, so God’s track has always appeared to fallen man as “a stone that will make men stumble” (1 Pet 2:8), just as Christ himself did. We should expect that. G.K. Chesterton said, “I don’t need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I already know I’m wrong; I need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I think I’m right.”

There are three things we need — holiness, happiness, and health — because there are three levels on which we live: spirit, soul, and body; our relationships with God, with ourselves and others, and with the material world.

Living according to God’s laws makes us holy, happy, and healthy. Violating them makes us unholy, unhappy, and unhealthy. This is as true of sex as of anything else.

First, sexual sin is sin and separates us from God. Second, since God loves us and wants our happiness, disobedience to his plan for us will necessarily bring us unhappiness. Worldly statistics confirm this heavenly logic: Adulterate sexual love brings with it a catalogue of miseries. Divorce, for example, means the destruction of society’s most indispensable foundation, the family, and it will inevitably stamp the same destructive marks on society at large as it already has on its immediate victims, millions of children.

Third, sexual sin has obvious and radical health effects. But the most notable physical effect of the Sexual Revolution is death. The human victims in just one generation of the abortion holocaust in most Western nations already vastly outnumber the victims of all the wars in their history. It’s high time to turn our attention to God’s alternative.

KARL KEATING is the founder of Catholic Answers. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “What Catholics Really Believe: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith” (Ignatius Press, 1995).

Catechism 101

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

Lust is disordered desire for — or inordinate enjoyment of — sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2337, 2351

The family is God’s work

Cultural confusion would end if we would model the Trinity’s self-giving love . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Have you ever noticed that many adults these days seem to be confused about a lot of things? Even people of faith seem confused about the direction our country is going, about our culture, and even about our faith.

Certain elements in our culture are working hard to feed that confusion by turning things we used to take for granted upside down. What was once right is now wrong. What was once acceptable is now taboo. What was once taboo is now in vogue. Not least among the things our culture has twisted are marriage and the family.

The modern understanding of the family as the “domestic church” developed during the Second Vatican Council. The council concluded that the smallest articulation of the church is not the parish, but the family. This is where the essential teachings in catechesis, prayer and morality should be lived out in order to impart the faith to our children.

This also means that the family is not just a sociological unit. Rather, God created the family to play a specific role in his plan of salvation — and to model Christ’s relationship with the Church. The family isn’t simply two adult persons who raise children in their own particular set of values (as our confused society would have you believe). God established marriage as the exclusive and permanent bonding of a man and a woman, the two becoming “one flesh” (Gen 2:22-24).

Similarly, Christ is made “one body” with his bride, the Church (Eph 5:21-32). In doing so, God makes us his own. His love for the Church is fruitful, just as he established marriage to be fruitful.

Blessed John Paul II knew this very well. His parents modeled the Holy Family for him and his brother. In his 1960 book Love and Responsibility, he wrote: “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family — a domestic church.”

John Paul also understood that the devil, in his jealousy, seeks to obliterate anything that calls people to holiness —especially the family. “At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it,” he wrote in his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, “and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family” (#3).

And what is the Church’s plan for marriage and the family? We are called to model the self-giving, sacrificial love that Christ has for his Church. If we do that well, the confusion that plagues our society will evaporate as quickly as the sun dispels the morning fog.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

Civilization, culture and the free market

Ethikos president Dr. Paul J. Voss writes that the free marketwhich conforms to and upholds the dignity of the person and has created more wealth for more people than any other economic system in history — is not completely free. He contends that the free market depends on telling the truth; it depends on ethical behavior of the participants . . .

Paul J. Voss

More than ever, businesses lately find themselves in cost-containment mode. During these challenging economic times, companies must focus with laser-like precision on revenue, inventory, margins, employment, interest rates and other financial metrics. Indeed, in this environment, businesses tend necessarily to fixate on the bottom line — almost to the exclusion of everything else.

Such attention, of course, might display prudence (the queen of all virtues according to St. Thomas Aquinas), and prudent companies stand a better chance of surviving (and even flourishing) than imprudent ones. However, when properly considered, business has a higher function and nobler calling than mere numerical metrics can attest. Ultimately, business is fundamentally a human activity, conducted by humans for a human purpose and to fulfill a human need. Companies that ignore this human dimension of business — the ethics of business — do so at their own peril.

Fully appreciating this point rests upon the distinction between civilization and culture. Although many people use these terms interchangeably, the words mean different things. Clarity on this issue remains crucial for a Catholic understanding of business.

Civilization refers to those attributes that make life (and work) possible, including abundant supplies of drinking water, medicine and food, not to mention public sanitation, transportation, education and social harmony. In North America, this impressive civilization allows for a life expectancy of nearly 85 years for females and 78 years for males. Our civilization continues to provide new technological advances in medicine, communication, transportation and other aspects that make long, healthy lives possible.

Culture, on the other hand, consists of those things that make life (and work) worthwhile — including those products of the human imagination such as art, music, literature, baseball, architecture and more. Culture is not merely life-sustaining, it is life-edifying. Culture is not simply the production and distribution of food (more proper to the sphere of civilization), but rather the pleasures of Mexican, Chinese or Italian cuisine. Culture, derived from the Latin word cultus (meaning, among other things, “to cultivate”) requires hard work and attention. We create culture by how we think and relate with each other within a community. If civilization refers to the “what” we do, culture refers to the “how” we do it.

How does this apply to business and ethical behavior? Consider again the word “civilization.” In business, civilization is the “what” you sell, produce or market. Civilization is the end product. In most cases, we have little or no control over the civilization. Technology advances rapidly and we adapt to the changing civilization. Civilization is a given and widespread. Other people likely sell, produce or market the same things (the same what) that your company does. In other words, everything is becoming a commodity as intellectual capital becomes dispersed over the supply base.

Consequently, since the what is readily available for consumers (i.e., we have numerous choices for the goods and services we purchase) the only meaningful way to differentiate your business in a marketplace is to have a higher quality how. In fact, as we move forward, the what you sell, produce or market will matter less and less than how you sell, produce or market that good or service.

What connection does this distinction have on individual ethics, integrity and faith? Here’s the link: The how you sell, produce or market a product has a clear and conspicuous ethical dimension. The how you do something is the human side of business and we need to get the human side of business right.

Pope Benedict XVI discusses the distinction between civilization and culture in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate. He acknowledges that, at first glance, it’s not clear what the Church might have to say about business per se and that “the Church does not have technical solutions to offer” to individuals or states in the form of policy. In this sense, the Pope refers to the civilization of business — those activities most properly suited for engineers, managers and scientists (and not theologians). But he then explores in-depth the  human dimension of the market and the impact our thinking and relating has on culture and the Catholic Church. In other words, he examines the how of human business.

In working with clients, I advocate a conspicuously free-market approach to business. The free market, which conforms to and upholds the dignity of the person, has created more wealth for more people than any other economic system in history — allowing more families the opportunity to secure an education, own a home, take vacations and realize a secure future. But the free market is not free: The free market depends on telling the truth; it depends on ethical behavior of the participants. Plato wrote that “in order for us to live together in society, we must tell the truth to each other about basic matters.” Likewise, the Gospel says that “he who is faithful in little things is also faithful in much” (Lk 16:10).

Without truth and truth-tellers, the free market will fail. Thus, people of faith must conspicuously cultivate lives of honesty — both within their homes and their companies. If we cannot turn to men and women of faith to tell the truth about basic things, then the future of the free market is indeed uncertain.

Paul J. Voss, Ph.D., is president of Ethikos, a professional organization offering ethics training, and an associate professor of literature at Georgia State University.

Legates are good stewards

Legatus members’ interior life must be solid says executive director John Hunt . . .

John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt

As you receive this magazine, your fellow Legates are gathering in Dana Point, Calif., for the Annual Legatus Summit.

Members will hear a wide array of speakers addressing the Summit theme “Challenging the Culture.” These are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary actions from extraordinary people like all members of Legatus.

Legates are committed to spreading the faith in their business, professional and personal lives. We recognize our unique roles in influencing our families, employees and communities. We can only achieve the lofty goals that are a burden of leadership if we exhibit that leadership by service. We must be people of God, people of interior life, and people of prayer and sacrifice.

Our apostolate must be the overflow of our interior life. That can only be achieved to its fullest through a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, nourished by the sacraments as often as possible.

Through the fullness of the monthly Legatus chapter experience — rosary, Confession, Mass/Holy Communion, fellowship with fellow Legates, and the wisdom of sound speakers whose messages encourage our charity — we are prepared to live out Our Lord’s command to “go forth and teach all nations.”

The recent catastrophe in Haiti and other natural disasters are opportunities to lead by serving. Through our prayers and financial gifts we exhibit solidarity with the victims of such tragedies. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much” (Lk 12:48). May we always be open to God’s call in such crises. After all, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “all Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy … and of their neighbors in want” (CCC #952).

On another note, have you renewed your Legatus membership? If not, please prayerfully consider the value of Legatus in your life. Where else can Catholic executives and their spouses share their faith lives with other Catholic leaders who truly treasure being Catholic?

I invite you to continue your Legatus journey in the knowledge that “the world needs genuine witnesses to Christian ethics in the field of business, and the Church asks you to fulfill this role publicly with courage and perseverance.” Pope John Paul II’s address to Legatus, Nov. 2, 1988.

John Hunt is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Summit challenges the culture

John Hunt writes that the Feb. 4-6 event will be the highlight of the Legatus year . . .

John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt

You’re invited! The consummate Legatus experience of any year is our Annual Summit. In just three months, the next Summit will be held in Dana Point, Calif.

The Feb. 4-6 event promises to be the highlight of the Legatus year. If you’ve never experienced a summit, you haven’t enjoyed the full benefits of your membership. Legates who return from their first Summit are in awe of the entire experience, and they return again and again. Come and see for yourself.

The upcoming Summit’s lineup of speakers is an extraordinary sampling of the finest Catholic hierarchy — and lay men and women — who will inspire and motivate Legates to Challenge the Culture, the gathering’s theme.

The sight of our Legatus chaplains concelebrating Mass with Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and Bishop Tod Brown, Diocese of Orange, will be a moving representation of our quest to grow in the faith. Enjoy a breathtaking liturgy in the exquisite San Juan Capistrano Basilica, and revel in the Old Mission’s history.

2010-summit-250The Summit, however, is more than a spiritual event. You will be challenged to embrace your role as Catholic laity in a culture that seeks to minimize our faith, values and even human life itself. You will return home emboldened to defend life and all the tenets of our Catholic faith after hearing from Patricia Heaton, a pro-life Emmy Award-winning actress. You’ll hear reflections on the state of the economy from Thomas Donohue, president of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

All of this, coupled with the fellowship of Legates from across the United States and beyond, will give you an experience you’ll never forget.

PS: As you read this message, we approach that time of year when your Legatus membership is about to renew. I’m sure that the enjoyment of the monthly chapter experiences, enhanced by your growth in the faith is a gift to be treasured. Renew today to assure yourself another year of spiritual refreshment!

John Hunt is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

The future is in our hands

If I’ve learned anything from watching the past few election cycles, it’s that politics follows culture. Lawmakers tend to take their cues from the prevailing cultural wind. From their perspective, they stand a better chance of getting elected by following popular mores than sticking to their own convictions or to Judeo- Christian notions of right and wrong.

Every once in a while, the common folk take control of the culture and decide a key political issue. In just a few weeks, voters in California, Florida and Arizona will choose whether or not to amend their state constitutions to protect traditional marriage — the union of one man and one woman.

Twenty-seven states have constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex “marriage” — 11 approved by voters in 2004, when the issue became a central part of President Bush’s re-election, and seven more in 2006. Another 18 states have statutes on the books protecting traditional marriage, but those statutes tend to be overturned by activist judges. This happened in Massachusetts and California, the only states that recognize same-sex “marriages.” Homosexuals in those states have lobbied hard to redefine marriage to suit their misguided purpose.

The law is a great teacher. It sets norms for society and tells us what is right and what is wrong. When the law itself is wrong, however, the repercussions for society can be tragic. When the courts sought to redefine when human life is protected under law with Roe v. Wade in 1973, it opened the floodgates to the wholesale slaughter of unborn children.

By redefining marriage as something other than an exclusive life-long relationship between one man and one woman, the courts have begun to destabilize the fundamental building block of society: the family. If the three states with upcoming amendments fail to protect marriage, they will open the door for the courts to change fundamentally the definition of not only marriage, but of family.

Top science and sociological studies affirm that children are most likely to reach their potential when they live with their biological parents. Growing up with Mom and Dad can mean the difference between excelling in school and getting involved with crime, drugs or other illicit activity.

Even the left-leaning Center for Law and Social Policy, a child advocacy organization, reported in 2003: “Most researchers now agree that … on average, children do best when raised by their two married biological parents.” Did you catch that subtle detail? Homosexual couples can never become “biological” parents of their own child.

Some say the culture has already spoken. Same-sex marriage is a done deal. It’s a lost cause. But for those of us who struggle daily to live holy lives according to biblical principles guided by the Church, it’s not a done deal even if the culture says otherwise.

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine.