Restoration

Restoration

Posted October 26, 2015 in The Pope's Corner:
Democracy Betrayed

by Pope John Paul II.

This excerpt from a 1995 encyclical appeared in Restoration before—in April 2008. We are reprinting it because, unfortunately, we are now much further along the path described.

Freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with truth.

When freedom, out of desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices, the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim….

This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority.

This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the strongest part.

In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism.

The state is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant state, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part.

The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy.

Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations.

How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discrimination practiced: some individuals are held to be deserving of defense and others are denied that dignity?

When that happens the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the state itself has already begun.

To claim the right to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.

Truly, truly I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8:34).

In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death," we cannot restrict ourselves to the perverse idea of freedom mentioned above.

We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and man, typical of a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism, which, with its ubiquitous tentacles, succeeds at times in putting Christian communities themselves to the test.

Those who allow themselves to be influenced by this climate easily fall into a sad and vicious circle: when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life.

—Excerpted from the encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) n. 19, 20 and 21.

 

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