“It is perfectly clear and evident, Venerable Brothers, that the very notion of a civilization is a fiction of the brain if it rest not on the abiding principles of truth and the unchanging laws of virtue and justice, and if unfeigned love knit not together the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”

Catholics often hear that we intend to “impose our morality” upon our neighbors, and that this can’t be done in a truly free, that is to say thoroughly secular society.  Set aside the plain fact that all law imposes a moral vision, though it is seldom consistent or adequate, and it is sometimes perverse.

The fact is, morality admits no peculiar possessives.  If a morality is only mine, it isn’t morality but meaningless predilection.  Either a moral law exists, applying to everyone at all times, or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, there is no moral reason to prefer civilization to savagery; the latter can be a lot more fun.  But we won’t have that choice anyway, because we will lose civilization itself.  What we now call “civilization” and “culture,” Pope Leo calls “a fiction of the brain,” a vain idea, when the reality is gone.

That loss of morality understood as what we receive, not what we create; not what shackles us, but what sets us free to realize our human potential, implies already the loss of “unfeigned love” which should knit together “the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”  We must insist upon this connection.  I cannot give amoral love.  But human beings need love; they need the love that brings them deeper into the truth.

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1 Comment

  1. 1 John 4:7-21, the answer is Love!


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