Bishop Morlino Discusses the 'Dictatorship of Relativism'

July-August 2006

On April 7 the Third Annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast was held. Its list of sponsors includes Linda Chavez, Robert P. George, Mary Ann Glendon, Deal Hudson, Leonard Leo, Richard John Neuhaus, Robert Royal, Austin Ruse, George Weigel, et al. It's just another neoconservative front group.

Hudson was Chair of the Republican National Committee's Catholic Outreach. Since Hudson has become radioactive, he's been replaced by Leonard Leo (who is one of the five Board of Directors of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast).

At both the Second and Third Annual Catholic Prayer Breakfasts, President George W. Bush addressed the crowd. Announcements for the Third Prayer Breakfast said, "We expect more than 2,000 faithful Catholics from all over the country." According to Our Sunday Visitor (April 23), only 1,600 attended. It looks like Bush is becoming radioactive too.

The Keynote Address at the Third Prayer Breakfast was given by Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis. He attempted to "unpack" (i.e., give meaning to) the phrase, the "dictatorship of relativism." The day before Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, he uttered the now-famous phrase, the "dictatorship of relativism." It's hard to imagine what a "dictatorship of relativism" could be. There can be a dictatorship of absolutism. There can be an anarchy of relativism, a democracy of relativism, a liberty of relativism. But a "dictatorship of relativism" almost sounds oxymoronic. The destruction of Christian morality in the West is not the result of any "dictatorship of relativism." It's the result of a "democracy and liberty of relativism," for it has not been imposed by any dictator. Most democratic people support moral relativism or acquiesce to it.

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New Oxford Notes: July-August 2006

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The disagreement by New Oxford Notes with Bishop Morlino seems to be more for the sake of argument than substance. It is not hard to know what a "dictatorship of relativism" could be in Cardinal Ratzinger's homily, if one would read the phrase in the context of the homily. The dictatorship is nothing more than "one's own ego and one's own desires." Your argument confused the issue by equating the term with political dictatorships.

I agree with Bishop Morlino's statement "We all know that the mass media are generally accomplices to those who govern the Dictatorship of Relativism...they are generally also those who live their lives according to polling results." Organizations like the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS News, and ABC News shape public opinion and then report their own poll numbers to further shape public opinion by reporting what is "popular opinion." Promiscuity is popular because the media in print, film, television, and radio have made it popular. I think New Oxford Notes missed the point when they argued that political dictatorships don't do polling.

Bishop Molino was also right to say in a "true democracy," we "have to regain control of the use of language so as to point to the objective truth." The response, "May we remind Bishop Morlino that in a true democracy there is no objective truth. True democracies have freedom of speech, freedom of religion or no religion, a free marketplace of ideas, so you can believe whatever you want to. Ah, but there is objective truth (so-called) in a dictatorship. For example, in a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, there is the 'absolute truth' of Marxism-Leninism."

Consider the example of America’s "absolute truth" that 19 terrorist hijackers committed mass murder on September 11, 2001. This dogma is repeated by NOR without any proof whatsoever that the official version of "truth" is actually true. Persons accused of "suicide" by the state are automatically guilty of self-murder without any trial or evidence presented. The first U.S. Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal and Deputy White House counsel Vincent W. Foster are two notable examples. Anyone who dares to question these official truths will be condemned as a "conspiracy nut," the popular term for heresy against state doctrine.

There is a difference between the illusion of democracy, where truth is suppressed, and a true democracy, where the truth can emerge, from a genuine marketplace of ideas. It is a violation of a first principle of rational reasoning for dead people to be elected to the U.S. House and Senate but this did not prevent the election of Patsy Mink and Mel Carnahan. The public would prefer to shove these square pegs into round holes than admit they believe in something false. The public allowed non-existent candidates to, at the same time, be citizens and inhabitants of the state (as required by the Constitution) because the media reported the public went to the polls and voted theses dead people into office.

Bishop Molino has rightly pointed to the importance of objective truth. The truth is not unknowable as New Oxford Notes suggested. We can find the truth if we seek it. The difficulty is getting past those who shape public opinion and often lead the masses to believe what is false. This often causes individuals to unknowingly choose evil over good.
Posted by: thomist
July 23, 2006 04:16 PM EDT
I'm afraid you've also fallen into the "hermeneutic of rupture" in your erroneous interpretation of DH. As Benedict XVI has stated (12/22/2006 Speech to the Curia), "the human person has a right to religious freedom" does not imply a right to error, but a right to seek the Truth without compulsion. You're not in favor of forced conversion are you? The Church has never proposed that.

You have something in common with the liberals who hijack VII documents for their own agenda.
Posted by: mightyduk
July 28, 2006 10:40 AM EDT
I suspect that Pope Benedict XVI meant the use of his term 'dictatorship of relativism' to be oxymoronic. It's a bit on the same lines as saying 'anarchy rules.' Posted by: nortemp
July 27, 2006 10:28 AM EDT
I hasten to add that even in the so-called Confessional State (in reference to Catholicism), "the human person has a right to religious freedom." The Catholic application of the Confessional State is vastly different from that of its Muslim application. In Islamic Confessional States, worship is compulsory. In the Catholic state, not so. In Catholicism, if there is no free will, there is no charity, no love, no hope.
Posted by: nortemp
July 28, 2006 11:41 AM EDT
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