Writing for the April 2 issue of America Magazine, Fr. Rosica addressed Trudeau’s position on the Canada Summer Jobs “attestation.” Photo courtesy of DOD News/EJ Hersom

Fr. Raymond J. De Souza: Rosica pulls back curtain on ‘a new dictatorship’

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  • April 3, 2018

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation, published a blistering assessment of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the pages of a Jesuit magazine, identifying in practice what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger memorably called the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Rosica makes the case that Justin Trudeau is that dictator.

Writing for the April 2 issue of America Magazine, Rosica addressed Trudeau’s position on the Canada Summer Jobs “attestation.”

“We will not be bullied into the appearance of collusion on this most divisive issue,” Rosica wrote. “We cannot simply ‘check the box’ and get on with life in order to benefit from the grants. By firmly saying no to Mr. Trudeau and his cohort, we also say no to any attempt to infringe on the freedoms of conscience and religion, of thought and belief, and of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by the Charter itself.

“Mr. Trudeau and his colleagues have lost their moorings,” Rosica continued. “They tout their liberal doctrine of diversity but in reality are agents of a new dictatorship of imposed ideologies.”

Strong words, condemning a Liberal prime minister for being an ideological dictator. And to do so in America, an internationally read Catholic periodical of the theological and political left, adds to the sting. 

Strong words, but true. 

Cardinal Ratzinger, preaching to the College of Cardinals the day before his election as pope in 2005, explained how, to use Rosica’s words, a “liberal doctrine of diversity” can become a dictatorship.

“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism,” Ratzinger said. “Whereas relativism…  seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

At first it might seem that relativism — you have your truth, I have my truth, but there is no objective truth — should be the opposite of dictatorship. If there is no truth, then there can be no standard to force upon anyone. We just all do our own thing.

That relativism cannot last for long. If there are disagreements, one view has to prevail over another in practical arrangements. And if there is no objective standard to determine which view prevails, it comes down to power. The person or judge or party in power gets to decide. In democracy that can be tolerable, as the procedures for determining who holds power are agreed upon and assented to as fair. 

But given that persuasion is not always possible in a relativistic world — on what objective grounds could you persuade someone? — the temptation is to force people to assent in case of disagreement. If there is no truth, why not use my power to see that my view prevails? That temptation can be resisted, but increasingly is not. Ratzinger saw the danger in general. Rosica has judged that Trudeau is guilty of it.

In the same issue of America, the editor, Fr. Matt Malone, also refers back to Ratzinger in light of the commentary by Rosica.

“By ‘dictatorship of relativism’ I take Cardinal Ratzinger to mean a sociopolitical movement that refuses to recognize an ultimate objective reality called ‘the truth’, ” writes Malone. “It seems that the battles being waged in the public square are not so much about whether ultimate truths exist, but which absolute ‘truths’ will govern public affairs. In that sense, Pope Francis’ warnings about the dangers of ideology and ‘ideological colonization’ appear more relevant.”

Indeed, St. John Paul II saw the same phenomenon at work as early as 1991.

“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,” John Paul wrote in Centesimus Annus. “As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

Whether it is called a “dictatorship of relativism” or “ideological colonization” or “thinly disguised totalitarianism,” it is easily recognized as spreading in Canada today. Fr. Rosica did a service by calling it out by name. 

In 2001, political journalist Jeffrey Simpson wrote a book about the dominance of Jean Chretien called The Friendly Dictator. Today that dictatorship in intact, but it is not so friendly anymore.

(Fr. de Souza is the editor-in-chief of Convivum.ca and a pastor in the Archdiocese of Kingston.)

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