There is this myth going around that a comprehensive pluralism is a good thing. It is, in fact, a strength according to certain people.
What I mean by pluralism here is defined by Merriam-Webster’s (in the fourth sense, a and b) as “a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization” and “a concept, doctrine, or policy advocating this state.”
What is being held up for particular scorn here is not the notion that ethnic and “racial” diversity can exist in a society; nor do I hold that different economic classes and social groups may coexist peacefully and even beneficially. My bête noire is the notion that it is good that there are other religions besides the one true one standing side-by-side in any society. The Catholic Church is the true religion. The others should not exist. They are wrong. They are bad. They are dangerous and unhealthy to men’s souls.
Radical, I know.
And the reason for the assertion is equally radical, as in “getting to the root” of the thing: There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Recently, an excellent sermon on this subject came to my attention:
(Hat tip to Tantumblogo.)
The good Father preaching here belongs to the Institute of Christ the King, so he is very much “a priest in good standing.” He begins his sermon by quoting the lengthy collect from the traditional rite “Votive Mass for the Propagation of the Faith,” which may be read here as the “Second Collect.”
From there, he launches into a wonderful sermon about why it is that we seek — or should seek — to propagate the Catholic Faith: simply because people need it to be saved. He says what we have said here so many times and in so many ways about the importance of purpose in any venture. When purpose is lost, all is lost. And that is why the missionary impulse is all but dead now, at least in most segments of the Church visible to our readership. Citing explicitly the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, which he calls a “dogma” and quotes in Latin with the benefit of a clear translation, the good canon very charitably and, in gentlemanly fashion (he is an Institute priest), slays a few sacred cows of modernity along the way, concluding his thoughts by quoting the prayer of Saint Francis Xavier, which may be read here (skip down to “Xavier’s Prayer for Unbelievers”).
Brother Francis used to tell a story about a man he met while doing our door-to-door missionary work. When Brother announced to the gentleman that we are working for a Catholic America, the man objected that such a thing would be boring because there would be no interesting diversity. Everyone would be alike, and since variety is the spice of life, a blandness would dominate the landscape of a Catholic America. (Never mind that Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Austria or Slovakia could ever have been described as bland or boring in their most Catholic of heydays.) Brother explained to the man that America would still have plenty of variety: Southerners, Yankees, Midwesterners, Californians, etc., would retain their distinctive accents, folkways, wholesome customs, foods, festivals, etc.; they would just be Catholic about it all. In the Ages of Faith there was a true E Pluribus Unum, because a healthy regionalism, localism (see also this), national literature, art, and architecture all stood alongside a shared Faith. In the West, different local languages stood alongside Latin as the language of worship (and learning). In the East, Greek, Syriac, (ancient) Armenian, and Old Church Slovonic united large swaths of the faithful liturgically. Politically, the principle of subsidiarity was preferred to centralized state gigantism.
At all levels of culture there was variety. Life was very spicy, even within the unity of one sheepfold.
(It is an aside, but if the Carlist Monarchy were running Spain, the movement for Catalonia’s secession from the Iberian nation would be less popular than it is. Why? Because her regional autonomy (fueros, in Spanish, local rule) would be respected and protected by the Crown. General Franco did much good fighting evil men, but highly centralizing Spain’s government and seeking to suppress Catalonia’s regional character by outlawing her language was wrongheaded. Franco should have listened to the Carlistas, whose outlook on politics and society is thoroughly traditional, counterrevolutionary, and Catholic.)
The alternative, a “pluralism” that does not see eye-to-eye on fundamental questions of right and wrong, makes social stability impossible. (It would seem we have arrived at that point, at least according to Justice Clarence Thomas and Pat Buchanan.) And how can we see eye-to-eye on fundamental matters of right and wrong when we make the natural and revealed Law of God optional, choosing instead for our political framework a positive law rooted in nothing in particular, or an elusive secularist consensus based on the shifting sands of public opinion? All this is an invitation to tyranny.
From social questions, let us return to purely religious ones, namely, the very politically incorrect things stated earlier about every non-Catholic religion. Concerning this, two things are in order. The first is that in today’s milieu, with so many people waiting to jump on “hate speech,” it needs to be affirmed that these things are not only matters of faith, but also of charity. We want people to abandon false religion for true religion because we want them to save their souls in the only way it is given to mankind to do so. That’s love, not hate. Even more importantly, out of the love of God, we desire that the Holy Trinity be given the belief, adoration, hope, and charity which are His due. It must be remembered that God does have rights and that we should be zealous for those, too.
The second consideration is this. When Sister Lucia asked Our Lord why there are five first Saturdays in the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, He replied thus on May 29, 1930:
My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
- Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception;
- Blasphemies against her virginity;
- Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men;
- Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother;
- Offenses of those who outrage her directly in her holy images.
There is not one Protestant sect innocent of all five of those offenses and blasphemies. If God wants reparation for these crimes, should we not also wish their complete cessation? Blasphemy is not, after all, a victimless crime.