Editorial: A tidal change?
Perhaps contempt is the greatest of sins, especially contempt for other people? Anyone who has worked in marriage counselling, with battered women or in race relations, will tell you contempt is at the seat of the problems between men and women, and between different racial groups. Indeed, a recent Relationships Australia study found that nothing killed off marriage more quickly than contempt.
Cardinal Francis Stafford obviously thinks along similar lines. He has nominated growing hostility between men and women as one of the greatest challenges facing society.
Hate as well as love has always existed between men and women - this is the nature of our flawed humanity - but the cardinal thinks today’s hostilities have a distinctly modern cast to them.
He sees us living in a very secular world governed by a scientific mindset that takes no account of the fact that God created the world and what this might mean for us. He sees our bodies, as well as our minds, being colonised by such a view. And he has a point.
He is concerned with how the holy and sacramental has been taken out of sex, which is now viewed in a mechanistic way. And he is also concerned with how modern capitalist society tends to view people as economic units - producers and consumers - and how this, too, is dehumanising people.
It is interesting how the cardinal’s radical views correspond with some of the radical views espoused by those who protest about the effects of globalisation. Some radical feminists, too, are concerned about how exploitative sex has become, and particularly about how many women feel forced into abortions. Right to Life tells a similar story. Are we seeing a tidal change in opinion of which the Church is part?
The cardinal was handpicked by the Pope, despite having no curial experience, to head the Pontifical Council of the Laity, so his views are very much Rome’s views.
He seems to be pretty clued up about the hot issues of the day, particularly those that concern young people, so it is good to hear the Church’s view on these issues - through him.
The young have to deal with economic aggression in their daily working lives and worry about what this means for their future. They also worry about their personal lives and the fact that sex and humanity seems to have a price tag attached these days. Think of the current hot debate over embryos being bought and sold for stem cell research and, on a more personal level, of how some men trade in their first wives for younger ‘trophy wives’ when they have ‘worn out’.
Truly we live in an economic world and it is more than a little frightening.