The resignation of Pope Benedict XV1 has brought about various reactions around the world. There have been praise as well as criticism of the reign of Pope Benedict among honest observes as well as detractors. While the handling of child sexual abuse scandal, call for transparency related to Vatileaks, a proper management of the Roman Curia and the participation of women, show legitimate concern, but what particularly caught my attention is the continued debate about the role of the Church in the modern world where a certain segment of population in the West is calling for the church to move with modern times by supporting issues like gay marriage and abortion.
I believe such questions sound simplisitic because if one looks at the teaching and writings of Pope Benedict and his predecessor, they have been progressive on issues of social justice where the dignity of every human person is regarded as a cornerstone for economic models. Is this not a progressive assertion that shows a certain common understanding with the liberal progressives who desire social justice for all including gays. The desire for social justice is not merely a political, social, economic, or a cultural issue, but rather it derives its meaning from the transcendental value of human dignity that respects the life of Human Persons which include the unborn. What the church opposes is the tendency among secular proponents to promote behaviours that oppose the moral order and distort the nature of men and women to cater to extreme individualism that goes against the foundation of civilisation.The slogan of gay rights and women’s rights has been propagated to deny the truth about the purpose of human sexuality, the purpose of marriage and the role of man and woman that befits their dignity and nature. Human rights should not be used as a cover to deny foundational truths of human civilisation.
Therefore fundamental differences exist between the church and the secular world. In relativistic culture truth can be interpreted in a way that suits one’s interest, experience or indulge in a literal interpretation of scriptures. Priority is given to individualism instead of a sense of community. It is puzzling that the influential western media has not taken a balanced discourse on these issues.
The Church will lose its vigour and dynamism as a protector of truth if it gives in to these ideologies. The sense of community and purpose will lose its meaning due to fragmented interpretation of truths in the name of human rights and democracy, that reject the transcendental value of human dignity. Democracy and human rights have values only if they respect the moral order that does not distort nature. Catholics should always adhere to the truths of humanity that the church represents, because it spells a broad vision of human rights that proclaim the truth about human dignity.