Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Death of Western Catholicism

I do not agree that the demise of Christendom is a reason to celebrate because *now* people will be able to enjoy a "pure Catholicism." Like imperfect contrition in the confessional, people living in a Catholic culture could enjoy the benefits of that civilization even when they were not living a devout life. For instance, there were orders of nuns to look after fallen women and their children. Now the children are aborted. And people being chaste from worldly motives is still a better lifestyle than sleeping around. But according to Aleteia:
In these pre-modern and not-fully-modern societies you had, then, many motives for being Catholic, utilitarian, worldly motives. You had strong motives for Catholicism even if you totally lacked "pure" Catholic motives. But in the fully modernized countries of today’s world, you and your children and grandchildren won't be able to hold on to your Catholicism if your motives are merely utilitarian, merely worldly. For we live in a world of economic prosperity, modern medicine, democratic sanctions for political authority, non-religious bases for social consensus, and a scientific view of the world that tends to undermine all superstitions. Catholicism is no longer needed for these things.

But this frees people up to be Catholic for purely Catholic reasons. Take chastity, for example. It is a great Catholic virtue. In the old days premarital chastity - or in any case, premarital abstention from sex - was embraced by young women (and some young men) for a largely utilitarian motive: it was a way of avoiding pregnancy. Nowadays you don't need to be chaste (or sexually abstemious) to avoid pregnancy; instead you simply use contraception. If a fully modern Catholic living in a fully modern society opts for chastity, this choice can now be from purely Catholic motives. That is, the person will choose chastity, not for any utilitarian reason, but because he or she recognizes it, and embraces it, as a great Catholic virtue, quite apart from any worldly consequences. (Read more.)

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