Monday, April 22, 2019

Cardinal Sarah: the tragic error

Cardinal Sarah continues to lead the way. When asked in an interview with Nicolas Diat about the collapse of the West he replied:
The spiritual collapse thus has a very Western character. In particular, I would like to emphasize the rejection of fatherhood. Our contemporaries are convinced that, in order to be free, one must not depend on anybody. There is a tragic error in this. Western people are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of human persons. But civilized man is fundamentally an heir, he receives a history, a culture, a language, a name, a family. This is what distinguishes him from the barbarian. To refuse to be inscribed within a network of dependence, heritage, and filiation condemns us to go back naked into the jungle of a competitive economy left to its own devices. Because he refuses to acknowledge himself as an heir, man is condemned to the hell of liberal globalization in which individual interests confront one another without any law to govern them besides profit at any price.

He is right in identifying the tragic error as being a false understanding of freedom. Liberals understand freedom as individual autonomy. If you want to maximise your autonomy you will downplay those aspects of life that you are born into rather than choosing for yourself. You will want to imagine yourself to be wholly self-created or self-authored. That's why those brought up in a liberal culture often reflexively reject the instinct to take pride in the achievements of their family, community or nation - they object because they didn't personally bring about the achievement as an individual.

Liberals imagine that they are being progressive in pushing forward such an individualistic view of man, but Cardinal Sarah rightly points out that higher civilisation is marked by complex forms of inheritance that the individual accepts as his patrimony but that he must then contribute to as his own legacy for future generations.

The following from Cardinal Sarah is also interesting:
I want to suggest to Western people that the real cause of this refusal to claim their inheritance and this refusal of fatherhood is the rejection of God. From Him we receive our nature as man and woman. This is intolerable to modern minds. Gender ideology is a Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God. Thus some rebel against God and pointlessly mutilate themselves in order to change their sex. But in reality they do not fundamentally change anything of their structure as man or woman. The West refuses to receive, and will accept only what it constructs for itself. Transhumanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement. Because it is a gift from God, human nature itself becomes unbearable for western man.

This revolt is spiritual at root. It is the revolt of Satan against the gift of grace. Fundamentally, I believe that Western man refuses to be saved by God’s mercy. He refuses to receive salvation, wanting to build it for himself. The “fundamental values” promoted by the UN are based on a rejection of God that I compare with the rich young man in the Gospel. God has looked upon the West and has loved it because it has done wonderful things. He invited it to go further, but the West turned back. It preferred the kind of riches that it owed only to itself.

Cardinal Sarah is suggesting here that the underlying source of the error plaguing Western societies is humanism in general and secular humanism in particular. I know the word "humanism" has nice connotations, sounding as if it means "being in support of humans". But as Cardinal Sarah argues, it is usually associated with ideas about humanity having a kind of telos (an ultimate end or purpose) that humans themselves bring about (sometimes in partnership with God, sometimes not). Cardinal Sarah is blaming a kind of hubris, by which some people are unable to accept what is given as part of a created nature or order, even if there is a goodness contained within it. Part of this hubris is an unwillingness to defer - a lack of "humility" in the best sense of this word.

Finally, Cardinal Sarah is right that the logical end point is transsexualism and transhumanism, as these represent the ultimate in asserting self-authorship. A case in point from my social media feed this morning:

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

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