"We must resist"
by Wlodzimierz Redzioch
Inside the Vatican/October 2000
Under the zealous guidance of John Paul II, the Church has entered the new millennium with renewed determination to evangelize the world. The perennial forces of apathy, indifference, materialism, relativism and bigotry, however, have not disappeared, and still make the Church's efforts painfully slow and dangerous. In addition, recent years have seen the beginnings of several new and ill-defined movements that could have an immense impact on the Church's task of evangelization and are causing concern among a number of Catholic thinkers.
Some of these new efforts have been packaged with inviting and appealing names to make them seem inseparable from efforts to achieve democracy, freedom, basic human rights and a prosperous world. But that linkage needs to be examined.
Perhaps the most spectacular of the new movements is the "globalized" economic approach that industrial and financial leaders have installed and praised. While everyone agrees that "globalization" has created great productivity and wealth, there are many who find it has had a profound negative impact on workers and on smaller nations and formerly isolated but vibrant cultures.
Then, in the labyrinthine corridors of the United Nations, as this magazine has noted, global policies and programs have been charted and promoted that directly conflict with the Church's teaching on marriage and right to life. These efforts have been so intense and so cleverly linked to "individual freedoms" and "quality of life" that it has been difficult for many to learn precisely what's behind them and what long-range impact they will have. In order to provide Inside the Vatican readers with a Catholic view on such developments, we talked with Monsignor Michel Schooyans about the moral implications of the UN's actions and the global economic policies of industrial leaders. (Msgr. Schooyans is a Vatican advisor on economics and political science and professor at Louvain-la-Neuve Catholic University in Belgium).
In the decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall, "globalization" under a "new world order" has proceeded apace. Is our world becoming more democratic and just as a result?
Michel Schooyans: In this new millennium, two fundamental Communist objectives are still being pursued: the destruction of nationalities and of the very idea of family.
Let's speak first of the idea of a world government. There have been attempts to create such a government from the beginning of the 20th century. But recently Willy Brandt (former socialist premier of Germany) and Jan Tinbergen (Dutch Nobel Prize recipient in economics) relaunched the idea of world "governance."
I am struck by the fact that the UN is evolving in that direction and that its agencies are taking on the features of ministries in a world State. Seen as an endeavor to do away with individual nationalities, cultures, political systems, etc., this is a disturbing phenomenon, as we would lose the rich variety of our world.
Communist ideology has survived the collapse of Communist regimes and, I believe, the plan to govern the world via the UN has inherited a number of features from the Communist "International."
One sign of this is the so-called "gender" issue now in great vogue at the UN. The gender issue has several roots, but one of these is indubitably Marxist. Marx's collaborator Friedrich Engels elaborated a theory of male-female relationships as prototypes of conflictual relations in the class struggle. Marx emphasized the struggle between master and slave, capitalist and worker. Engels, on the other hand, saw monogamous marriage as an example of men's oppression of women. According to him, the revolution should begin with the abolition of the family.
Tinbergen collaborated in the drafting of the UN's 1994 Annual Report on Development. In that document, he very explicitly wrote that without the creation of a world government, our planet will descend into chaos. The Tinbergen-Brandt theories somewhat echo those of the Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski. In 1969, Brzezinski published an important book entitled Between Two Ages. There he stated that unless the US takes world leadership into its own hands, using the UN to create a world government, turmoil and confusion, precipitated by the North-South conflict, will take over the world.
Along with this plan for a world government, there is the process of globalization, or economic interdependence. In the global economy, different countries take upon themselves different roles. Activities for creating added value are concentrated in the rich countries, while developing countries are to be first and foremost the providers of raw materials. Heavy, pollution-producing industry will, of course, be concentrated in the undeveloped countries. Globalization is dangerous because control of goods signifies control of workers.
How does the social doctrine of the Church relate to these materialist ideologies?
Michel Schooyans: The Gospels speak to us of the weak, the sick, and even of sinners, to whom Jesus gave back human dignity. This Christian morality is a contradiction of Marxist ethics and of today's neo-liberalism, which is based on the observation that nature is brutal and eliminates the weak. Marxism and neo-liberalism share the ideology of the "struggle," or, if you prefer, of the "selection process."
In Marxism we have the class struggle: the stronger middle class won out over the feudal nobility, and workers are to triumph over the bourgeoisie as their power increases. This process appears in liberal ideology as social Darwinism, for both individuals and nations. This concept of the survival of the strong and the destruction of the weak, inherited from Nietszche, goes beyond Malthus's ideas of natural sélection. Here, artificial selection is introduced: eugenics, or the selection of the "best" according to market demands. If we Christians proclaim the dignity of the weak, we are said to "act against nature." For that reason, the Gospels are considered an interference and an annoyance in today's world, now more than ever.
In Communism man does not count at all. It is the Party which counts, society, the State.
In Capitalism it is the market which decides; human beings have roles to play only when they produce and consume.
New Age influences, including holistic theories which perceive man as only a particle of the universe, are challenging Christian values of human dignity. According to these theories, man is a result of evolution, appearing al a certain moment in the world's development and destined to once more disappear. This transient being should, above all, respect nature and honor the Earth-Mother, Gaia.
In order to respect nature, in this view, human beings must limit the growth of the world's population. These views were expressed at many UN conferences. Linked to that world view is the so-called "natural morality," which holds that man is subservient to nature.
How does that vision of the world influence the globalization and internationalisation processes?
Michel Schooyans: I'll give you an example. Brazil has many natural resources, including its famous Amazon Forest. There are those who claim Brazilians are not capable of administering this valuable resource and they call for making the Amazon Forest a "world patrimony" under international control. The same claims are made against African and Asian countries, where once more attempts are made to limit population growth and national sovereignty in the name of new pantheist and monist philosophies.
Christianity believes that human beings should administer nature in a morally responsible way and with respect for future generations. But Christian doctrine would never hold that man is only a particle of nature.
Can we still speak of national independence when globalization is wiping out economic frontiers and international institutions are marginalizing national States?
Michel Schooyans: States are no longer independent, and the poorer the Stale the greater is its dependence. But even the smallest States should have the courage to say "No" to laws permitting abortion. Even in Belgium, King Baudouin was brave enough to refuse to sign such a law.
We should all realize that abortion is not "one of the problems," but rather "the problem." A society which accepts abortion decides against the innocent and the defenseless. First the unborn are eliminated, then the handicapped and retarded. And then, why not the old who are sick and in the way? We must decide: Do we wish to live in a society which respects God's commandment "Do not kill," or not? If not, then we are descending into barbarity. I live in a society where abortion has been legalized and where legalized euthanasia is on the political agenda. (in any case, euthanasia is already widely practiced.) If parents are permitted by law to kill their children, why should the children not be allowed to kill their parents as well?
It seems that in today's world one does not dare express opinions not in agreement with the dominant liberal-permissive mind-set.
Michel Schooyans: Here you are touching upon a crucial difficulty: a sort of brain-washing has attempted to impose the immoral ideas of a few on unsuspecting people who trust their leaders to be wise and honest. For instance, the belief that abortion and euthanasia are "basic human rights," that homosexual couples are to be considered the same as traditional marriages. The Church has always sided with the weak. Even now we must resist UN attempts to introduce such "new" human rights.
Pope John Paul II sometimes speaks of the "globalization of good." Do you think that the Church can have a positive influence on the process of globalization?
Michel Schooyans: That has been the role of the Church through the centuries. Jesus was concerned with the rejects of society. He gave them back their dignity. Throughout history, saints and normal Christians have imitated Jesus, recognizing the dignity of all human beings, and all of society's victims. In today's society, victims are blamed for their own situation and thus their elimination is justified. For example, an unborn child is guilty of complicating the life of his parents.
The Church must continue to defend innocent victims. Jesus himself was an innocent victim, the innocent Lamb of God. The Gospel message is completely opposed to natural violence in the world - whether violence of class, market, or gender. The role of the Church in our world today is to replace the logic of natural violence and brutal competition with the logic of love.
To download the text, clik here: "We must resist" (pdf file).