Saturday, August 21, 2021

The World is Traveling a Dangerous Path

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 21 August 2021 (NRom)

Encyclical on decisions being made by government and industry leaders around the world


The world is traveling along a dangerous path, guided by many troubling decisions and policies by government and industry leaders around the world, fueled by popular determination. Those decisions and policies are not led by God, but instead are induced by widespread public panic and other considerations that do not take into account the totality of public good. Indeed that very panic and fear was partly grown by government and other entities at the beginning of the pandemic, and partly was fueled by them like pouring gasoline on a bonfire. Earlier examples of leadership in both government and industry in previous pandemics did not stoke fear and impose such draconian restrictions on individual liberty, fueling a divided population and hatred very rarely seen – and with arguably no worse results in outcome. The degree of restrictions imposed, as well as already-underway mandates for essentially forced vaccination are, We are bound by Our teaching office to say, shortsighted. Such policies fail to take into account the potential long-term consequences of such actions, which can be very broad and diverse in scope. It appears the goal is to limit institutional liability and placate the panicked portion of the population (for indeed the entirety of the world population is not content to live in fear). However, We must caution against such actions, for they place the focus too narrowly and fail to take into account the totality of cost, both short-term and long-term, to both institutions and individuals. It saddens Us, though, for this is to be expected. Throughout the pandemic, government and many institutions around the world have consistently disregarded the true public good and the rights and benefits of individuals. The totality of health must not be pushed to the side to focus on one disease. The totality of public good likewise must not be trampled underfoot or put out of mind.

True public good is that which is defined by God, not by man. In democratic societies, such as those found across Europe and the Americas, good inevitably is defined for purposes of policy by popular vote – that is, it is defined by the people. Yet Christian people know better than this. Christian people know that what is good and what is bad cannot be determined by popular vote. If the leaders of a democratic nation, elected by majority vote, chooses a path that is wrong, the fact that they are supported by a majority does not, in the eyes of God, render that wrong decision to be right. Likewise, if the leaders of a nation or an institution are petitioned by vocal members of their constituents to take certain actions and travel down a particular path, the legitimacy of those actions are not determined by their popularity. Yet it is the clamoring voice of the majority that typically determines what elected leaders will do in a democratic society. Even if it is a determined minority that is pushing a certain action, it is in fact the will of the majority if the majority remains silent and does not oppose. Silence is a vote. Then, what is determined to be right in the eyes of the people is forced upon everyone, even quite often if it goes against their conscience, and even if it is truly wrong in the eyes of God. True freedom can never exist in a society that believes what is good and what is right may be determined by popular vote.

Today’s society believes itself so superior to previous societies, which it often considers oppressive and authoritarian. Yet, We see no true difference. It matters not the title of an office in government, but rather it matters what they do. Oppression and tyranny can easily happen, no matter the form of government. Oppression of the people by a tyrannical king is no different than oppression of the people by an elected official or by an angry mob.

It is Our duty to express this, Our sincerely-held religious belief that the world is traveling down an extremely dangerous path. This journey is led by government and industry leaders, but it is also the responsibility of popular determination. God controls life, not man, and humanity would do well to remember that rather than behaving with such hubris as it does now. Where this will end, we as mere humans cannot know. Let us all pray, though, that peace and freedom in Christ will prevail. This path is dangerous for the world, but so too it seems that speaking out in the love of Christ against the world going down this path is dangerous, for love of one’s fellow man is likewise a victim of the pandemic. May all Christians, then, receive Our Apostolic blessing to speak the truth of the Christian faith and proclaim the love of God in all things.