In his 1967 classic defense of the Catholic Faith against modern errors, Trojan Horse in the City of God, Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote: “With a religion the only question that can matter is whether or not it is true. The question of whether or not it fits into the mentality of an epoch cannot play any role in the acceptance or the rejection of a religion without betraying the very essence of religion.” He continues: “Even the earnest atheist recognizes this. He will not say that today we can no longer believe in God; he will say that God is and always was a mere illusion.”
Von Hildebrand reminds us that truth is eternal. It is discoverable by man in the natural order, and is revealed by God in the supernatural order. To know the truth is man’s vocation. To preach the truth is the Church’s mission.
This truth admits of no change. The Church’s understanding and exposition of truth will, by God’s grace, be deepened and faithfully developed over time. But that truth can never be cast aside and replaced by new “truths” that contradict the truth as taught by the Church. Von Hildebrand writes: “It is of the very nature of Catholic Christian faith to adhere to an unchanging divine revelation, to acknowledge that there is something in the Church that is above the ups and downs of cultures and the rhythm of history.”
The push by some in the Church to update the Faith, meaning to change the teachings of the Faith, is a disastrous fruit of a relativistic mentality. It is said that truth is not eternal, but rather subject to change. What was true once is no longer so in a new historical era. And, of course, the current era, in which these claims are being made, is a better era because it happily prompts us to see how the “former” teaching was wrong and in need of revision.
Von Hildebrand writes: “Enamored of our present epoch, blind to all its characteristic dangers, intoxicated with everything modern, there are many Catholics who no longer ask whether something is true, or whether it is good and beautiful, or whether it has intrinsic value: they ask only whether it is up-to-date, suitable to ‘modern man’ and the technological age, whether it is challenging, dynamic, audacious, progressive.”
This prophetic critique comes readily to mind when we consider the latest outrage by misguided churchmen that plainly is aimed at giving sanction to homosexual activity. The Pontifical Biblical Commission has published a book entitled What Is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology .
In this volume the topic of the Bible and homosexuality is treated, but in a corrosive way that is destructive of the truths taught by the Church concerning the inherent immorality of homosexual acts. The harm springs from the one-sided discussion of modern theories and opinions that reject the biblical teachings on homosexuality.
As reported at Life Site News , the book states that the:
anthropological approach of scripture, as understood and conveyed by the church in its normative aspects. . .is judged to be a reflection of an archaic, historically conditioned mentality. We know that various biblical affirmations, in the cosmological, biological and sociological spheres, have been gradually considered outdated with the progressive affirmation of the natural and human sciences; similarly – it is deduced by some – a new and more adequate understanding of the human person imposes a radical reservation on the exclusive value of heterosexual unions, in favor of a similar acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of the human being. What is more – it is sometimes argued – the Bible says little or nothing about this type of erotic relationship, which should therefore not be condemned, also because it is often unduly confused with other aberrant sexual behavior. It therefore seems necessary to examine the passages of Sacred Scripture in which the homosexual problem is the subject of homosexuality, in particular those in which it is denounced and criticized.
Notice the long list of criteria of judgment used against the Church’s traditional understanding of the Biblical teaching on homosexual activity: it is “archaic”, “historically conditioned”, “outdated”, lacking a “new and more adequate understanding of the human person.”
Officials of the Pontifical Biblical Commission have claimed that the text offers no opening for homosexual activity. But the modern justifications get considerable space; the traditional teachings only perfunctory mention. In effect, despite disclaimers, the text invites us to consider whether the truths taught by the Bible can change over time. Why? Because ecclesiastics honor modern errors conferring on them a patina of legitimacy, labeling these errors as current “science”.
We need to ask why is there no citation of schools of thought, grounded in scientific knowledge and serious philosophical reflection, that contradict the affirmations here cited, and defend the Church’s traditional understanding of the Biblical teaching as the most “adequate understanding of the human person.”
Since when is it the practice of the institution, founded by Pope Leo XIII to promote knowledge of the true meaning of the Sacred Scriptures, to cite widespread and grave errors without clearly condemning them? Should erroneous notions that would attempt to use the Bible to justify “homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of the human being” be offered to the faithful for a thoughtful consideration of their possible legitimacy? Should not such offensive impostures be refuted and anathematized?
To concede, as possibly legitimate, claims that God intends man to commit sodomy by citing those claims as being the respectable fruits of scientific progress is a repudiation of the Commission’s purpose. It is a cause for scandal and furthers the climate of confusion and doctrinal uncertainty in the Church.
In the face of this grave harm to the mission of the Church, we need to reaffirm our belief in the changeless truths of the Faith, rejecting all attempts to weaken and destroy what God has revealed and the Church has always taught.
*Image: Sodom and Gomorrah Afire by Jacob de Wet II, c. 1680 [Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany]