The Green Conversion, the umpteenth Tentative to Reconcile with the World

Par l'abbé Claude Barthe

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Since the time catholics have been confronting to the world born of the Revolution, catholics have often implemented tentatives so called of “circumvention” or conciliation, consisting in adopting thematics belonging to lay ideologies and in “baptizing” them. Those who act in this way hope to disarm, any way they can, the hostility of the world and thus legitimize the message proper to the Church, at the risk of weakening this message. In the article “For a green Church,’, Father Perrot analyses one of the last tentative, pushing very far in the attenuation of the evangelic specificity.

Earlier on, John Paul II, had tried to turn Human Rights into something more Catholic. In a similar perspective, he had also presented a risky defense of the encyclical Humanæ vitæ, in line with Personalism theory, by developing a “theology of the body.”[1]

We could enumerate many more examples, dating back, like the priests and bishops – not necessarily the most progressive of the time[2] – who in 1848, animated by a pious illusion, were blessing trees of liberty, explaining with a confusing naivety that the republican motto “liberty, equality, fraternity” were, first of all, Christian.

The contemporary period though presents a characteristic which worsens considerably this phenomenon of conciliation: which has become a new being for catholicism. In fact, the founding texts of what has been called “the spirit of the Council”, that is to say, the declaration Dignitatis humanæ, on religious liberty, the decree Unitatis redintegratio, on ecumenism, and the declaration Nostra ætate, on non christian religions, let us believe that religious societies, other than the Church, benefit from a certain supernatural existence, eventually very imperfect, but real.

These conciliations are mortifying: this sacrifice to modern relativism (which though presented itself as “moderate”), came along, logically, with an internal relativism. By abandoning the “rigidity” of the formulation of the Creed to benefit the pastoral teaching, it is the same mode of thinking the faith which was shaken in its foundations. And, very naturally, from the religious liberty set as an ad extra principle, we came to the internal resurgence of what Leo XIII had condemned in the letter Testem benevolentiæ (1899), that is to say the introduction “of a certain liberty in the Church” on the model of “modern liberty”. Because by accepting as legitimate the base of modern society (“we ought to observe the general rule of full liberty in society, which recognizes to man the maximum liberty and restrict it only when necessary and when it is necessary,” Dignitatis humanæ n.7), the Church cannot refuse it to its members.

In fact, the modern indifference concerning the weight of truth was interiorized up to a certain point by catholicism. When speaking the language men want to hear, it ceases to speak the one which could save them. Actions are there to prove it: in the past, 27 october 1986, Assisi day, where all the religions of the world met on equal footing for peace; nowadays, 15 October 2020, the gathering in Rome of all the participants of a “world educative pact”, vague humanist enterprise, without reference to christianity, for “an education more open and more inclusive, capable of patiently listening, capable of a constructive dialog and a mutual comprehension,” all in order to form some people able to overcome the divisions and oppositions, and stitch together the fabric of social relation in preparation for a more fraternal humanity.” Humanism or verbal void?

Because, not only the history of these tentatives of “circumvention” has been a long history of failures, but also because it leads logically to banality, which could rejoice us if only the message of the Gospel was not rendered insignificant. 

Father Claude Barthe

[1] Laurent Jestin, “Tentative de conciliation. Les catéchèses sur la “théologie du corps” » (Tu es Petrus, Spring 2018, n. XVIII, pp. 3-10), who, among the difficulties raised by this tentative, note this sophism: “the instrumental anteriority (the carnal union resulting in procreation) is transformed in priority of value, of the end. Here again, the descriptive method shows its limits. It makes more difficult the definition of hierarchy of the end of marriage: engendering and education of the children (first end), mutual support of the spouses, and grace of the sacrament which allows the spouses to be done with the disordered movements of the flesh in its exercise (second end).

[2] The future Cardinal Pie, grand vicar of Chartres, called in to bless the tree of liberty of this city.