The Catholic News Agency is reporting that the Cardinal's new eBook, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty, was released on June 19.
The approval of embryonic research, the disregard for the institution of marriage, the federal contraception mandate, are just a few examples of the rampant disregard for religious faith and human dignity that the U.S. has been experiencing in the past few years.
“We can see that there is a loss here of a sense of truth and objective moral norms – rules of conduct that apply always, to everyone, everywhere,” he writes.
In place of the natural law, upon which Church teaching is founded, society has begun to substitute “pragmatism, utilitarianism, and consumerism,” all of which have no higher goal than the satisfaction of individuals' personal preferences.
“In the pragmatist’s world,” he observes, “interpersonal and international relations inevitably become questions of power and domination, instead of dignity and justice, and we risk going back to Thomas Hobbes’s state of nature—the ‘war of all against all.’”
These ideologies have tragic consequences, he explains, especially when applied to issues of human life and moral conscience.
For instance, in the archdiocese of New York, 40 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. “And any effort to curtail this unfettered access to abortion is turned back by a culture that places a greater value on 'what I want,' 'when I want,' 'because I want,' than it does on life itself.”
The book also contains a set of questions addressed to the country at large, as a kind of cultural and political “examination of conscience”
“Is genuine freedom the license to do what we ought or the ability to do whatever we want?" he asks.
"Is law tethered to objective truth, or is it ruled by a 'dictatorship of relativism'?”
“Should laws be tailored to suit changing wants, demands, or recently discovered 'rights'?” he asks. “Or should wants, demands, and novel rights be tempered by law to uphold the sacredness of life, the common good, and the objective moral law?”
It is in facing the answers to these questions that the issue of religious liberty becomes so important.
“Churches and people of faith – not exclusively Catholics and their bishops, although I would hope that we play a leading role – understand the inherent dignity of the human person and serve as a safeguard against attacks on that dignity,” the Cardinal writes.
“If we allow the human person to become a thing, and a human life to become a commodity that can be valued more or less depending on circumstance, political ideology, or current whims,” he warns, “then we have embarked on a perilous path.”
Click here to order your copy of True Freedom.
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