Francisco S. Tatad, Board Member, International Right to Life Federation
Prepared for the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 28- 29, 2010
(An abbreviated version was read at the Conference on Oct 29 to fit the time alloted to each speaker)
This has been a truly marvelous conference, and may all blessings be upon our gracious hosts, the men and women of Campaign Life Coalition. I wish to thank Jim Hughes and the organizing committee in particular for this distinct service to human life and the family.
A few months ago, in August, my wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. The Lord has been most kind, he has taken good care of our marriage. He has gifted us with seven wonderful children, three of whom are now married, with seven children of their own, six in Manila and one in the United States. He has also given us, my wife and myself, a pair of fairly good legs and knees, so we could travel to these big prolife and family conferences whenever we are needed.
We were in Rome a couple of weeks ago for the 5th World Prayer Congress for Life, and with the greatest joy we are here today, in this International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, to reaffirm with you our commitment, our covenant really, to build a global culture of life that will once and for all dispel the darkness that threatens to cover our planet with destruction and death.
Like everyone else, we in Asia have our hopes and fears. By purely human standards, the family and life situation in our region is not less wrenching than that obtaining on both sides of the Atlantic and everywhere else. The plague of contraception, sterilization, abortion, homosexuality, broken marriages, pedophilia, etc. ---happily we do not yet have to deal with euthanasia---continues to spread, borne on the crest of the moral depravity that threatens to sweep away the civilization which, in Sheed’s words, was built by looking at man while listening to God.
Abortion remains the biggest threat to that civilization. Although the research arm of the world’s biggest provider of abortion services reports a decline in the annual rate of induced abortions in the Asia Pacific and in the world ---from 26.8 million in 1995 to 25.9 million in 2003 for Asia, and from 46 million to 42 million during the same period worldwide---one in five pregnancies is still said to end in abortion, and Asia is said to account for nearly 50 percent of the total count.
The numbers remain alarming. But it is not a question of numbers alone. The killing of just one innocent and helpless unborn child in the hands of its own mother, with or without the collaboration of any other, is one brutal murder too many, in a society that knows, or ought to know, what the gift of life truly means. That phrase “gift of life” has long become part of our common speech, but its real meaning stretches far beyond than that which we ordinarily attach to it. It means much more than any other gift we have received and may yet receive.
For when God willed to give life to man, the first man that is, he was not yet there to receive it. He began to exist as a person only when God blew life into the clay that was to become his mortal corpus; he began to live only when he received God’s breath. In receiving the gift, therefore, man became the gift himself. The process is repeated each time a new human being is created inside a mother’s womb, except that God no longer acts alone; he allows his creature to participate, and the original act of creation becomes an act of procreation (co-creation, some would say). This transcendent gift is what abortion extinguishes.
Relativists and legal positivists classify abortion as either “legal” or illegal, “safe” or unsafe. It is “legal” when a law allows it even if it denies the natural moral law and is, therefore, unjust and void; illegal, when there is no law, even an unjust and void one, that purportedly “allows” it. And it is “safe” when performed as a regular medical procedure by a trained professional under standard hygienic conditions and the mother of the aborted child survives without any severe complications. It is unsafe when self-induced or performed as a clandestine operation by non-medical or even by medical personnel, under unhygienic conditions, and the mother dies or suffers severe complications.
But whether the abortion is “legal” or illegal, “safe” or unsafe, the unborn baby is invariably and irrevocably killed. In the rarest of cases, an intended victim may survive if it races out of its mother’s womb and arrives in the world before the abortionist is able to work on it. This is said to have happened in the case of the abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen, who has been talking about it on You Tube. But for the unborn victim, there is no such thing as a safe abortion. The total mortality rate is permanently and irrevocably fixed at 100 percent. In fact, were the sexual revisionists more honest in their language, they would be calling it genocide or infanticide, which is what it really is.
China, which maintains its one-child policy to this day, is said to account for 13 million abortions each year, followed by India’s 11 million a year. Yet both countries had begun to worry about the number of female children being aborted just because they are female; they now want their infanticide to be gender-blind. So they have criminalized sex-selective abortion, which has already produced a ratio of 120 boys for every 100 girls born, and by 2020, if the projections prove correct, is expected to give China a preponderance of at least 30 million males with no female counterparts.
Seventeen Asian countries allow abortion for all sorts of reasons, but they impose gestational limitations, with the exception of China, North Korea and Vietnam, which have different regulatory norms. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Burma allow abortion to save a woman’s life; Laos allows it for the same reason and to preserve physical health; Malaysia, for the same reasons as Laos and to preserve mental health; Thailand, for the same reasons as Malaysia and in case of rape or incest; Singapore and Vietnam, for all of the foregoing reasons, and in case of fetal impairment, economic and social reasons, and upon request.
The Philippines alone has taken a different course. There, abortion is constitutionally banned and is a punishable crime. Reproductive health/rights groups, however, claim that precisely because it is banned, at least 1,000 poor Filipino women die each year from clandestine and “unsafe” abortion. Whether or not that figure is correct, we cannot say; it is de rigueur for pro-abortion propagandists to exaggerate maternal death figures to justify their call for the legalization of abortion where it remains illegal, and for increased access to abortion where it has been legalized. It was only recently that WHO finally adopted Lancet’s (the medical journal’s) figure of 340,00 as the worldwide total of annual maternal deaths, after putting forward 520,000 for sometime.
No one has been punished or prosecuted for abortion in the Philippines. But precisely because of the constitutional ban, no one has proposed its legalization either. One such proposal could come if and when the Constitution is revised or amended, and the ban is deleted altogether. That, however, has not prevented some compliance committee members of some UN treaty bodies from asking Philippine representatives, from time to time, to change their anti-abortion law.
What threatens to divide the country now is a reproductive health bill that seeks principally to establish a publicly funded program of universal contraception and sterilization and compulsory sex education for minors without parental consent. In principle, the bill grants health workers the right to refuse certain cases on the ground of conscience, but quickly takes away that same right by compelling the same health workers to refer such cases to other health workers who have no such problem of conscience or else face criminal prosecution. If ever enacted as drafted, the law may not be denounced as unjust, unwise or plain wrong, without courting a jail sentence---the most frightening provision not found in any existing law.
An old proposal that had failed to hurdle several past Congresses, the present bill was re-introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives with trumpets and drums after the new administration came into office in July this year and the Obama administration in the US had begun throwing money to promote reproductive health and abortion activities abroad. The bill is supported on economic and social grounds by “progressive” activists and foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and opposed on moral, constitutional and the same grounds invoked by its proponents by a wide range of Filipinos, including members of the Catholic Church, to whom the large majority of Filipinos belong.
The Church teaches that contraception, sterilization and abortion is evil, consistent with natural law and the good of man. Whether or not this is true can be fully ascertained by reason, even without the aid of revelation; it is not a confessional truth accessible and applicable to Catholics alone. It applies to man as man, and therefore applies equally to all men and women, Catholic or non-Catholic, believer and non-believer alike. One need not be a Catholic to be bound by it, but one cannot be a Catholic without being bound by it. Unless of course one has decided to drop out; in which case they would cause less confusion if they called themselves exactly what they are---“lapsed catholics.” Nonetheless, many of the bill’s proponents and supporters say they are Catholic; some try to wax nostalgic about their having been altar boys or Legion of Mary members. They obviously miss the point. One should not so loudly proclaim that he is Catholic while bragging that he is free to choose and pick which teaching of the Magisterium to accept or reject, any more than one should profess to be a good citizen while bragging that he is free not to pay taxes or obey any law he may find inconvenient.
In any case, there is no State prohibition against contraception and sterilization. Filipino women, including Catholic women, are free to contracept and get themselves ligated, and they have been doing so for years. The result is a national contraceptive acceptance rating of at least 50 percent (and rising). The Church, while asking Catholic men and women to be faithful, does not ask the State to become the official enforcer of its teachings and penalize users of contraceptives and sterilization agents. But neither does the Church expect the State, by legislation, executive or judicial fiat, to tell Catholics not to obey Church teaching and listen instead to what the government and the various anti-population campaigners are saying. The State does not have that right and would be usurping the right of the Church if it did.
However, those who want the State to flood the country with contraceptives and sterilization agents accuse the Church of political interference for proclaiming that contraception, sterilization and abortion are evil and should be avoided. They maintain that the State has the right and duty to enter the family bedroom and tell married couples how to perform the sexual act, and that in doing so, it should be free from any censurious remarks from the Church which should be allowed to teach the faithful about good and evil, right and wrong, only within places of worship but not on the public square.
They accuse the Church of pronouncing contraception, sterilization and abortion as evil, for reasons of her own, and will not grant that the Church says these things are wrong because they are, by their very nature, wrong and will continue to be wrong, even if the Church were silenced, even if the Church did not exist. They insist that, in a democracy, the rightness or wrongness of these acts is decided solely by consensus or by a majority vote, in parliament, congress, or an international body like the United Nations.
Apparently unacceptable to them is the principle, universally upheld, that what gives validity to any law is not merely the number of votes behind it, but above all the constitutive element of justice. Without justice, “the rule of the majority,” otherwise indispensable in a democracy, becomes mob rule, and can only produce the opposite of law, which is violence. Law is law properly understood, only if it is just. “A just law binds as much in a democracy as in a totalitarian state; an unjust law binds in neither,” writes one eminent scholar. (Cormac Burke, Authority and Freedom in the Church, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1988). For as Pope Benedict XVI points out, “there are things that are always wrong and can never be legalized,” just as “there are some things that absolutely always remain legally binding, things that precede every majority decision, things that majority decisions must respect” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Values in a Time of Upheaval, Ignatius Press, 2006).
That presupposes the rule of law, correctly understood. Where that is absent, democracy is replaced by an autocratic, if not totalitarian order, and truth and reason by the opinion of an ill-informed and therefore misguided majority, or the opinion of those who use their power as the sole criterion in deciding what is right and what is wrong. Human rights, and the rights of God, are set aside, having become completely dispensable. This is what we see in much of the world today, including those countries that had once championed the cause of truth and freedom against an atheistic and absolutist enslavement of consciences in the last century.
Under a genuine rule of law, our Constitution, our Catholic Christian culture, and international law (correctly understood) should suffice to protect Filipinos from the present reproductive health bill in Congress. For our Constitution fully recognizes: “the sanctity of human life; the family as the foundation of the nation; marriage as the foundation of the family and as an inviolable social institution; the right of spouses to found a family according to their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood; the right of the mother to bear a child and the right of the unborn to be born; the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children; the right of the youth and women to achieve their full potential as persons and as citizens; the right of the people to health and to a balanced environment in harmony with nature.”
The same principles we breathe from the social teachings of the Church, and from the text of international declarations, conventions and treaties that have accumulated over the years, including but not limited to, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women of 1981, the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1990, the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development of 1994, the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development of 1995, the Beijing Declaration of 1995, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998.
The Rome Statute for one restates verbatim a provision of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of Dec. 9, 1948 (adopted one day before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), which classifies as genocide “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial or religious group,” including but not limited to, a) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” and b) “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”
Genocide seems too harsh a word for our purpose. But what possible Newspeak or UNspeak could better describe the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn who are “unwanted” because their parents simply wanted the pleasure of sex without any responsibility, cost or consequence, and those in control of the affairs of the State do not want to see the poor threaten, by their sheer number, the property rights, privileges and personal comfort of the rich?
In the Nuremberg war trials of 1945-6, as John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has noted, the Nazis’ effort “to decrease the birth rate in occupied countries by sterilization, castration and abortion, by separating husband from wife and men from women and obstructing marriage” was condemned and punished as a crime against humanity. How could such a crime that had so revolted the human conscience in the last century be celebrated as a service to freedom and human rights in the present? Have we become so inverted that we must now walk on our heads and condemn that which is objectively and intrinsically good as evil, and celebrate that which is objectively and instrinsically evil as good?
The main provisions of the Philippine bill would transform the country into a totalitarian state. They provide the best arguments against its proposed passage. But what is truly frightening is the massive mobilization of forces, internal and external, to proclaim and promote its obvious defects as indispensable virtues and create through the conscript media, the manipulative pollsters and all sorts of fraudulent propagandists a false clamor for its “necessary enactment.” Even before the bill could advance to its next stage, some cities have already been dragooned into signing Memorandums of Agreement with foreign funding institutions to implement part of the highly outrageous reproductive health bill, which the cities do not have the constitutional authority to implement without a national law (even an unjust and void one) “authorizing “ it.
And in the course of his working visit to the United States last September, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III announced in San Francisco that he was ready to start distributing condoms and other contraceptives to Filipinos, after receiving a Millennium Development Goals (MDG)-related grant of $454 million from the US.
No one has found it necessary to ask whether or not Mr. Aquino’s readiness to flood the country with contraceptives and the unexpected US largesse are inter-related. But nobody believes the Philippine president is prepared to disappoint the Obama administration, which has started its vigorous funding of reproductive health and abortion activities in developing countries as its top foreign policy objective. Its aggressive funding of reproductive health outside the US, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says “includes access to abortion,” holds the surest promise that the attack on human life and the family in the Philippines will inexorably escalate.
While coming directly from abroad, the attack will be carried out by local conscripts, according to the pattern prescribed by National Security Study Memorandum 200, otherwise known as the 1974 Kissinger Report, which counsels making the locals assume full responsibility for every foreign-initiated program or project. These could include the usual “progressives” who are ever-ready to shout anti-American slogans, burn the American flag if necessary, and call for the expulsion of the visiting US forces at the slightest excuse, but see nothing wrong in US and UN agencies entering the family bedroom and telling them how to have “a safe and satisfying sex life” as though the country’s greatest problem were the dull and dismal sex life of Filipinos. Also academic and religious groups who are involved in some foreign-funded reproductive health projects, and are eager to propose a “compromise” without disclosing their obvious conflict of interest.
Several things argue against it.
First, the Philippines is not a welfare state. The government has neither the duty nor the means to provide directly for all the people’s needs. Were it otherwise, its first duty would be to supply the people’s basic needs---food, water, clothing, shelter, education and health---but only those basic needs. In the area of health, it would have to provide free hospitalization and medical care to those suffering from the most common ailments, the leading killer diseases, and occasional epidemics, before it could think of throwing money at the prevention of pregnancy, which is not yet a disease.
Second, the Constitution provides that the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from the moment of conception. This is not just a ban on abortion, but also a ban on state-funded or state-run contraception and sterilization. For if the duty of the State is to protect the life of the unborn from conception, it cannot possibly have an equal and simultaneous duty, let alone right, to fund a program whose main, if not sole, purpose is to prevent women, or even one solitary woman, from conceiving a child. That would create an absurdity abhorred by all legislation.
Third, the latest state of research has shown that many, if not most, contraceptives are no longer just contraceptives but actual abortifacients. They do not just prevent conception but rather prevent the initial development of pregnancy even after fertilization. They either intercept the embryo before implantation in the uterus, thus they are called interceptives, or they eliminate the newly implanted embryo altogether, thus they are called contragestives.
Finally, there is as yet no law, even an unjust and void one, that “authorizes” the government to flood the country with contraceptives and sterilization agents. In the past, the Marcos government could distribute contraceptives without running afoul of any law, simply because the constitutional prohibition did not yet exist. But the 1987 prolife and profamily Constitution, promulgated after Cory Aquino succeeded Marcos, changed all that.
That the government, even under Cory Aquino, continued to appropriate public funds and receive foreign donations in cash and in kind for reproductive health, in utter disregard of the constitutional prohibition, is a grave abuse of power, or error at the very least. The new Aquino administration, consistent with its vow to stop all past corruption and abuses, is expected to end rather than perpetuate it.
This---rather than the present bill---is the real question before the Philippine Congress---what to do with the current reproductive health program under the Department of Health and the Population Commission, funded regularly under the General Appropriations Act, despite the constitutional provisions that render it void ab initio. The fact that the proponents of the bill are determined to ram it through, without striking down the unconstitutional program that is already in place and costing the taxpayers a lot of money, even though their bill is still seeking to legislate a policy, shows the vast constitutional disorder and moral disarray. They are determined to legislate against the Constitution and against the natural law.
The ultimate target is man, the family and God himself. The dictatorship of relativism, as Pope Benedict XVI calls it, seeks to empty our corporeal and spiritual lives of the first and last truth about God, man and the human family---the truth that is love---the truth that alone can make men free. The conceit of science and technological progress seeks to abolish man by redefining him into a pure ego, solely responsible for the achievements of technology, forgetting that it is an achievement of the spirit, which science and technology did not create; “a response to God’s command to till and to keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15)” (Caritas en Veritate). This has produced a fashionable madness for political correctness, which insists on the deconstruction of every objective reality and rejects the ethical principles and moral conventions that have since the beginning of time determined the rightness or wrongness of every human act. Emptied of such principles, man is reduced to a purely material and hedonistic being, not totally removed from animalia, something that Caritas en Veritate says he is not, “a lost atom in a random universe.” A self-made universe without transcendence and without God.
For this purpose, the Church as the first and last defender of human life, marriage and the family is systematically vilified. Her rights are routinely and mindlessly usurped; in the most “advanced” societies, those who insist on the public practice of their faith are harassed, prosecuted and penalized. Although the wars of religion that ended with the Treaty of Wesphalia in 1648 have not since recurred, the war on religion is raging everywhere. Not because Godless communism had won, but rather because hedonistic materialism had swallowed the great democracies after the collapse of the Soviet Union and replaced its dreaded venom with something even deadlier. In the rich and “advanced” societies, religion may no longer cast its shadow on the public square unless it be purely secular and promotes the worship of self, sex, the state, power, pleasure, and anything else but God.
What are we to do in the face of all this? The stronger the attack, the stronger too should be our faith. On my way to this conference, my wife and I were privileged to attend a “white mass” for people with “special needs,” offered by the new cardinal-designate, Archbishop Donald Wuerl at St. Matthew’s cathedral in Washington, D.C. These were people with various disabilities, many of whom followed the mass and sang with the choir, using sign language. It occurred to me then that we are all a people with special needs----and the first such need is to be faithful always to our Lord.
We in the Philippines are often compelled to say our country is the last holdout in the global assault of the culture of death. For us “death” is the acronym for divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total fertility control and homosexual union. None of these individual components of death had been legalized, and hopefully none will be. The faith remains vibrant, and on his last visit to the country in 1995, Blessed John Paul II called the Philippines “the light of Asia and the world.”
Christianity first came to the country in 1521 when Magellan completed the circumnavigation of the globe. Thus the faith of the Filipinos came from, or at least through, Europe. With the increasing dechristianization and paganization of Europe today, it is inevitable and certain that as “the last man standing” we would now emerge as the final target of attack. The Philippine Church, however, is determined to mark the approaching 500th year of our Christianization as a strong and vibrant Church. This is why the whole Philippine Church---clergy, laity and religious---stands as one in the defense of human life, the family, marriage and the faith.
Around the world today, there is an unmistakable campaign to terrorize the Church into silence on the all-important issues of life, marriage, the family and the faith. This is obvious from the recent tendency of the media to present certain cases of sexual misconduct within the clergy, as though all priests, rather than just one or two sick ones, were involved, and that the Church authorities were not doing anything at all, even though the guilty ones had been disciplined and the Pope himself had sought out the victims for their healing and forgiveness. Ironically, the over-sensationalization of these cases usually appear in public organs that openly endorse the homosexual agenda, which includes same-sex marriage, and other perversions such as pedophilia. Against these are vast numbers of worse cases in various circles and layers of society which are never reported in the media. The enemies of the Church are determined to use the sins of some of her priests to shame the Church into silence on the most important issues of human existence. But the Lord himself has assured us that the power of darkness shall not prevail against his Church.
My friend Mario from Croatia once told an international family conference in Rome that in most battles, we cannot predict the outcome. But in the war between the culture of life and the anti-culture of death, we know that we have already won, except that we must still fight some more before we complete our victory. For we are fighting God’s battle, and “God never loses any battle,” as St. Josemaria tells us. This is a “crisis of saints,” and God wants a handful of men “of his own” to fight his daily battle for human life, marriage and the family. May we be not wholly unworthy to be counted among such men.
Towards the end of our five-day congress in Rome, Cardinal-designate Raymond Leo Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis, and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura dwelt on the same point. He said:
“The fundamental presupposition is the victory of life, which Our Lord Jesus Christ has already won. Christ animates the Church in time with the grace of His victory over sin and death, until the victory reaches its consummation, at His Final Coming, in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the grave situation in our world of the attack on innocent and defenseless human life and on the integrity of marriage as the union of man and woman in a bond of lifelong, faithful and procreative love, there remains a strong voice in defense of our littlest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters without boundary or exception, and the truth about the marital union as it was constituted by God at the Creation. The Christian voice, the voice of Christ transmitted by the Apostles, remains strong in our world. The voice of men and women of goodwill, who recognize and obey the law of God written upon their hearts, remains strong in our world.” (Raymond Leo Burke, Catholic Orthodoxy: Antidote Against The Culture of Death, Istituto Patristico “Augustinianum”, Rome, 9 October 2010)
How will the family, the domestic church and basic cell of society, fare against all the attacks?
Michael O’Brien, the Canadian artist, author and mystic, writes:
“The Church may go on to the third millennium and convert the world, or it may shrink to a small remnant of believers. We do not know. Only Christ knows. But of this we can be sure: the family will remain what it is----an oak flourishing in winter. The family will continue, as it always has, to make the seeds of the second spring that is coming after this present winter. When the tyrants and the propagandists and the experimenters have all gone, when the hatred and hopelessness has exhausted itself, the earth will grieve and be born again. The Church and the family will remain.” (Michael O’Brien, The Family and the New Totalitarianism, 28 April 2005)
The final words on the future of Christ’s Church I leave to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the leading moral and intellectual guide of our time. He writes:
“Today, the future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demand upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. To put this more positively: the future of the Church once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality…
“…the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by a psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the sidelines, watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of men, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future.
“…From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge----a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession…But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true center and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject of liturgical scholarship.
“The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism of the eve of the French Revolution----when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain----to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
“And so it seems to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult , which is dead already with Gobel (the archbishop of Paris, who supported the idea of a constitutional national Church during the French Revolution, but later abandoned his priesthood; under Robespierre he was guillotined as an atheist) but the Church of the faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, Ignatius Press, 2009).