When the centre does not hold

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Safe Schools campaigners lead a counter-demonstration in front of the Sydney University Catholic Society stall on campus in 2017. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Gone are the times when marriage was solely a sacrament involving a woman and a man for the purpose of procreation, people dressed discreetly and modestly, TV shows like Married at First Sight were unheard of and children knew nothing about sexting or internet pornography.

We now live in a world saturated with radical gender and sexuality theory and what the Italian intellectual Augusto de Noce describes as “eroticism”.  Evidence includes sexually suggestive TV advertisements and sitcoms, pornography rampant on the internet, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Marxist-inspired gender bending programs like Safe Schools.

Safe Schools

A program that tells primary school children there is nothing normal or beneficial about marriage involving a woman and a man, that they can decide for themselves whether they are lesbian, gay, queer or in transition and that society is heteronormative, transphobic and misogynist.

One only has to look at Tasmania where the parliament is considering a bill to stop recording a baby’s gender at birth, to allow anyone over 16 to change their gender by simply signing a statutory declaration and where fines will be introduced to penalise ‘misgendering’ to realise how society has changed.

When detailing the rise of eroticism and sexual promiscuity across the Western world del Noce refers to Wilhelm Reich’s iconic book The Sexual Revolution.

Although published in 1930 Del Noce makes the point that Reich’s book was rediscovered during the 1960s cultural revolution and that it had – and continues to have – a profound effect.

The Sexual Revolution

The late 60s was a time of dramatic change and upheaval represented by Viet Nam moratoriums and demonstrations, sexual liberation and the ‘Pill’, a revolt against established authority including the church and the rise of identity politics and victimhood.

As noted by the Australian academic Michael Liccione the late 60s “was one of the most significant [periods] of the 20th century, at least in the Western world”.  The-then Cardinal Ratzinger makes a similar point when suggesting the 1960s cultural revolution, in particular, has had a profound impact on Christianity.

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The Ratzinger prism

Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) waves as he leaves his final general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this 27 February, 2013, file photo. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

Ratzinger writes the 60s generation of cultural-left intellects and activists “conceived the whole evolution of history, beginning with the triumph of Christianity, as an error and a failure.” As well as adversely affecting the Church’s teachings regarding marriage and sexuality, Ratzinger also notes the rise or relativism and the denial of objectivity and truth as a result of postmodern theory.

Today’s world, according to Ratzinger, is one where “we are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognise anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires”.

As a result, schools and universities now teach that wisdom, spirituality and truth are social constructs enforcing the power and hegemony of the capitalist ruling class and that the Bible is merely one text among many that has to be critiqued and deconstructed in terms of the new trinity of gender, ethnicity and class.

University academics across Australia are also eager to argue that the history of Western civilisation, especially Christianity, is one of violence, oppression, intimidation and colonial exploitation and that those who defend Western culture are guilty of advocating ‘white supremacy’ and ‘European essentialism’.

The consequences of the 60s Cultural Revolution and the type of sexual liberation advocated by Wilhelm Reich are clear to see.  As noted by Liccione, “What once seemed like divine commands securely rooted in human nature are now seen as irrational and arbitrary prejudices”.

The disappearance of a moral compass

Best illustrated by the slogan ‘love is love’ championed during the same-sex marriage debate we now live in a society where there are no absolutes or moral truths guiding how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with others.

Instead of serving the common good and seeking what Aristotle describes as the good life founded on virtues such as temperance, justice, prudence and courage, happiness and fulfilment are now defined in terms of ego and self-gratification.

Whereas only a short time ago society considered abortion as a medical procedure of last resort, state sanctioned killing was abhorred, having children outside marriage was shunned and gender was binary we are now in a world, to quote Y B Yeats, where “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

Ideas have consequences

While there is no doubt that Christianity, especially Catholicism, is suffering as a result of the evil and unforgiveable crime of child abuse it is vital to acknowledge that without spirituality and faith, society will only continue to deteriorate and people’s lives will remain empty and bereft of joy and hope.

The reality is that to be human is to yearn for a deeper and more lasting sense of meaning and transcendence than what is offered by today’s materialistic, self-centred culture where secular critics argue God is dead and religion is the opiate of the masses.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of How Political Correctness Is Destroying Education, published by Wilkinson.