Rorate Caeli

A worthy commentary on Caritas in Veritate

Split in Consciousness: Split in Conscience:
“liberal” and “conservative” reactions to Caritas in Veritate

by Michael D. O’Brien
As Cardinal Josef Ratzinger pointed out more than 25 years ago, the political terms “liberal” and “conservative” are grossly misleading when applied to the Kingdom of God. They are especially so when applied to the ongoing evangelical mission of the Church, which is to draw all men to Christ, to work while the light lasts, to be a “light to the Gentiles.”

The most destructive aberrations in social and political thought of the post-war era have arisen from the application of these artificial constructs to the human community: left versus right, liberal versus conservative, neo-liberal versus neo-conservative, love versus truth, justice versus mercy, etc, etc. These adversarial templates present to us as fact certain images that function in the mind much the same way as does myth, faith systems, and symbols. But myths, if they are not based in reality, can create artificial dichotomies that derive from damage done to man’s concept of himself and his societies. They alter consciousness, the psychology of perception at its very roots. And thus they alter conscience. This in turn largely determines the choices we make and the actions that come from them.

While the templates may have a strictly limited value in their particular sphere of reference, they become destructive to the degree that they displace or negate “the whole truth about Man.” The slow mutation of the crucial templates since the end of the Cold War has not brought about the end of dehumanizing forces at work in the world. It is part of our current state of delusion to think that the fall of major Marxist regimes has ushered in a new era in which freedom largely reigns, and in which the spread of democracy has taken a leap forward in a determined historical process. The truth is that the errors inherent in all forms of Materialism, including Marxism, varieties of Socialism, and certain kinds of exploitive Capitalism, have now spread throughout the world as the great leveler and engine of societies. Theocratic tyrannies (radical Islamicism being the most obvious) are a different category, yet they and the Materialist societies have one thing in common, and it is a decisive thing, a most deadly thing: In their anthropology and practice, each in their way minimalize, where they do not negate altogether, the value of man—every man, any man from conception to natural death.
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Look out for Mr. O'Brien's filleting of the Canadian Bishops' Development & Peace arm: it is worthy of being quoted again and again...