American Catholics: Time to Wake Up and Smell the Catastrophe

The prolific Father Dwight Longenecker is warning Catholics that they have given way to the prevailing attitudes of relativism, utilitarianism and sentimentalism – a combination that has lulled them to sleep and left them blind to the catastrophic realities forming around them.

Father Longenecker’s latest column appearing on Patheos is a wake-up call to U.S. Catholics to wake up before they boil to death like the proverbial “frog in a pan.”

He cites three main areas in which a modern way of viewing the world has undermined the Catholic world view.

First, is relativism, based on the belief that there’s no such thing as truth, and even if there is, one cannot impose it on others.

“Relativism relegates all truth claims to personal opinion,” he writes. “You have your truth. I have my truth. You say po-ta-to. I say po-tah-to. If all truth is relative than anything goes. Think it through. If all truth is relative then you may do what you please and I must tolerate it.”

The second way is the embrace of utilitarianism, the idea that what is good is only what is useful. “Suddenly a person’s worth is determined by how useful they are or what ‘quality of life’ they have or whether it is costing us a lot to keep them alive. Utilitarianism has infected the mindset of Catholics so that they choose worship style, marriage choices and most every other choice according to what is useful, economic or practical.”

Third, sentimentalism has poisoned modern Catholicism. “This is when people choose only according to what seems nice, compassionate or caring. We must, of course, be nice, compassionate and caring, but there are other criteria for choice as well, and if the only criteria for choice is to be compassionate, caring and nice, then what happens when it seems more “compassionate” to provide abortion for a poor woman or more “caring” to terminate the life of the aged or the infirm or the disabled? Sentimentalism combined with utilitarianism leads to death camps.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking this can’t happen here or in this day and age, he warns.

“Remember the Nazis did not start out with thugs in leather boots with swastikas and skulls on their uniforms. They started with legislation by an elected government–legislation put in place by professionals in white coats who quietly began to weed out the mentally disabled, the infirm and the unfit.”

If you think it can’t happen here, then “you’re a frog in the cooking pot . . .” he writes.

“We need to wake up and smell the catastrophe. We need to be aware that the temperature’s rising.”

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