Moral Relativism & Radical Secularism

Claims Itself Fundamental to Democracy

Claims Itself Fundamental to Democracy

We Must Combat this ‘Dictatorship’

How can Everything & Nothing be True?

Removes Religion from Public View

Promotes Power by Manipulation

Enslaves Us

Pope St. John Paul II points out that at the heart of culture lay morality and at the heart morality lay religion. And, by insisting on a vibrant, publicly assertive moral-cultural order, the Holy Father throws down a gauntlet to the modern world and what he called “skeptical relativism”.

c.f. Centesimus Annus, 24 & 46 

What’s the Problem with Relativism?

Skeptical relativism basically holds that there is no such thing as objective truthThere’s just what I believe, you believe, a group, a nation believes, nothing is objectively true.

The Church Challenges This!

Authentic democracy is possible only in a state ruled by law on the basis of a correct view of the human person…Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life.

Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends.

It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 46)

“As Saint John XXIII wrote: ‘There is nothing human about a society based on relationships of power…it proves oppressive and restrictive.’”

Pope Francis, 8

Pope St. John Paul II demanded a dialogue with society unashamedly based on Catholic social teaching.

“The greatest challenge of our time is secularization”.

Pope Benedict XVI, 3

He went on to say that society creates an illusion that God does not exist or that God can be restricted to the realm of purely private affairs. He insisted that Christians cannot accept that attitude.

Freedom & Truth

Freedom…demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate”. (Pope Benedict XVI)

We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

He continued this theme: “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power…” (Caritas in Veritate, 5) “[F]idelity to the truth…alone is the guarantee of freedom and of the possibility of integral human development”. (Caritas in Veritate, 9)

The Dictatorship of Relativism

This theme is picked up and aggressively developed by Pope Benedict XVI who made our battle with what he called the “Dictatorship of Relativism”, a major theme of his pontificate.

Pope Benedict XVI went even further than Pope St. John Paul II when he said that “the marked presence in society of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. Within such a relativistic horizon an eclipse of the sublime goals of life occurs with a lowering of the standards of excellence, a timidity before the category of the good, and a relentless but senseless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom.” (Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Canada, 4)


When religion is excluded from the public square, “Public life is sapped of its motivation and politics takes on a domineering and aggressive character. Human rights risk being ignored”.

Pope Benedict XVI, 56

The Four Pathologies

The Church identifies four dangers or major ‘risks and problems’ eating away at the cultural, economic, and political systems and begins to identify how to cure them.


“The exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents man's growth as a human being and stands in opposition to his true grandeur.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 19) A person who is concerned solely or primarily with possessing and enjoying – who can no longer subordinate his instincts - cannot be free.

Environmental Degradation

Both our physical and human environment are at risk and the Church insists we ignore neither! “It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development." (Pope Benedict XVI, 51)


We are losing the “authentic meaning of life”! When we refuse to transcend ourselves “and to live the experience of self-giving". (Pope St. John Paul II, 41)  when society “is marked by a ‘globalization of indifference’ that makes us…closed in on ourselves.” (Pope Francis, 1)  both the individual and society are alienated.

Radical Secularism

“The greatest challenge of our time is secularization” (Pope Benedict XVI, 3) Why? Radical secularism holds that there is no such thing as an objective truth. But, “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5)

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