Laudato Si 123: More on Relativism

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. I see where Pope Francis is going with this. I would certainly share his criticisms. I’m a skeptic on using “relativism” as a term when the malady seems more basic: selfishness, narcissism, blindness …

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labor on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests.

There is not a large step from the invisible hand of the market to organized crime. We know from the fallout of the Great Recession that many operators in fact go free in spite of criminal damage they’ve inflicted on others.

It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Laudato Si 123: More on Relativism

  1. Philip says:

    I see Cardinal Pell when addressing the Synod today has conveyed a similarly over-simplistic and distorted application of the concept of relativism.

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