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Causes of Society's Ills

 

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Causes of Society's Ills

"The sole reason why society is perishing is because it has refused to hear the word of the Church, which is the word of life, the word of God. All plans for salvation will be sterile if the great word of the Catholic Church is not restored in all its fullness." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

"A religious error is the main root of all social and political evils." (Inscrutabili Dei Consilio, 1878)

"[M]any evils generally arise from ignorance of divine matters essential for salvation." (Pope Pius IX, "Quanto Conficiamur Moerore", 1863)

"What can be more fraught with danger for the world than the rejection of Christ?" (St. Hilary)

"The exile of God means the tyrannization of man." (Bishop Fulton Sheen)

"As with individuals, so with nations. These, too, must necessarily tend to ruin if they go astray from 'The Way.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus", 1900)

"But tear the very idea of God from the hearts of men, and they are necessarily urged by their passions to the most atrocious barbarity." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"Nevertheless, the struggle between good and evil remained in the world as a sad legacy of the original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter ever ceased to deceive mankind with false promises. It is on this account that one convulsion following upon another has marked the passage of the centuries, down to the revolution of our own days." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"[W]here love is absent, there reigns that malice which we men have brought about from the beginning of the human race." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758)

"The many sad aspects of our time and the unprecedented forms of violence that unfortunately mark it are ultimately explained by the closure of hearts to God's love." (Pope John Paul II, 1993)

"With the Christian religion either neglected or cruelly destroyed, morals, both public and private, clearly stray from the straight way, and, following the tortuous path of error, end miserably in vice." (Pope Pius XII, "Doctor Mellifluus", 1953)

"Where God is denied and people live as though he did not exist, or his commandments are not taken into account, the dignity of the human person and the inviolability of human life also end up being rejected or compromised." (Pope John Paul II)

"Take away God, and all respect for civil laws, all regard for even the most necessary institutions disappears; justice is scouted; the very liberty that belongs to the law of nature is trodden underfoot; and men go so far as to destroy the very structure of the family, which is the first and firmest foundation of the social structure." (Pope St. Pius X)

"There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in effecting this downgrade movement of society. These are - first, the distaste for a simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Probe Nostis", 1840)

"But who does not see and clearly perceive that human society, when set loose from the bonds of religion and true justice, can have, in truth, no other end than the purpose of obtaining and amassing wealth, and that (society under such circumstances) follows no other law in its actions, except the unchastened desire of ministering to its own pleasure and interests?" (Pope Pius IX, "Quanta Cura", 1864)

"Whoso turns his attention to the bitter strifes of these days and seeks a reason for the troubles that vex public and private life must come to the conclusion that a fruitful cause of the evils which now afflict, as well as those which threaten, us lies in this: that false conclusions concerning divine and human things, which originated in the schools of philosophy, have now crept into all the orders of the State, and have been accepted by the common consent of the masses." (Pope Leo XIII, "Aeterni Patris", 1879)

"We were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is - apostasy from God, than which in truth nothing is more allied with ruin, according to the word of the Prophet: 'For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish' (Ps. 1xxii., 17)." (Pope St. Pius X, "E Supremi", 1903)

"But it seems to Us, Venerable Brethren, that while we should not overlook other considerations, We are forced to agree with those who hold that the chief cause of the present indifference and, as it were, infirmity of soul, and the serious evils that result from it, is to be found above all in ignorance of things divine. This is fully in accord with what God Himself declared through the Prophet Osee: 'And there is no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing and lying and killing and theft and adultery have overflowed: and blood hath touched blood. Thereafter shall the land mourn, and everyone that dwelleth in it shall languish.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Acerbo Nimis", 1905)

"For, when men do not have the proper love for their Creator, from Whom comes everything they have, when they do not love one another, then, as often happens, they are separated from one another by hatred and deceit, and so quarrel bitterly among themselves. Now God is the most loving Father of us all, and we are all brethren in Christ, we whom he redeemed by shedding His precious Blood. Hence, as often as we fail to return God's love or to recognize His divine fatherhood with all due reverence, the bonds of brotherly love are unfortunately shattered and - as, alas, is so often evident, - discord, strife and enmity unhappily are the result, so much so as to undermine and destroy the very foundations of human society." (Pope Pius XII, "Doctor Mellifluus", 1953)

"But once holy religion is rejected, once the Divine Majesty, establishing what is good and evil, is ignored, it is plain that laws and public authority have little or no value. Then again, once hope and expectation of eternal reward are lost through these fallacious doctrines, men will greedily and without restraint seek the things of earth, vehemently covet their neighbor's goods, and even take them by force as often as occasion or opportunity is given. Hence hatred, envy, discord and rivalries arise among men; hence public and private life is perturbed; hence the very foundations of society which can scarcely be held together and maintained by the authority of government are gradually undermined; hence, deformation of morals by evil theatrical performances, books, periodicals and actual crime." (Pope Pius XII, "Fulgens Corona", 1953)

"Furthermore, if anyone will diligently examine into the causes of the evils of our day, he will find that they arise from this, that as charity towards God has grown cold, the mutual charity of men among themselves has likewise cooled. Men have forgotten that they are children of God and brethren in Jesus Christ; they care for nothing except their own individual interests; the interests and the rights of others they not only make light of, but often attack and invade. Hence frequent disturbances and strifes between class and class: arrogance, oppression, fraud on the part of the more powerful: misery, envy, and turbulence among the poor. These are evils for which it is in vain to seek a remedy in legislation, in threats of penalties to be incurred, or in any other device of merely human prudence." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902)

"This is not now the time and place to inquire whether and how far the inertness and internal dissensions of Catholics have contributed to the present condition of things; but it is certain at least that the perverse-minded would exhibit less boldness, and would not have brought about such an accumulation of ills, if the faith 'which worketh by charity' had been generally more energetic and lively in the souls of men, and had there not been so universal a drifting away from the divinely established rule of morality throughout Christianity. May at least the lessons afforded by the memory of the past have the good result of leading to a wiser mode of acting in the future." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890)

"Why do frustrated vocations so abound? Whence come the multitude of unfinished saints, that lie all around us like the broken models of a sculptor's studio? Whence so little perseverance in the devout life, and such wearying and untying even of the vows and promises whereby men have bound themselves to God? Whence but from the lack of [holy] fear!" (Fr. Faber)

"We have good reason to deplore the public institutions in which the teaching of the sciences and arts is purposely so organized that the name of God is passed over in silence or visited with vituperation; to deplore the license - growing more shameless by the day - of the press in publishing whatever it pleases, and the license of speech in addressing any kind of insult to Christ our God and His Church. And We deplore no less the consequent laxity and apathy in the practice of the Catholic religion which if not quite open apostasy from the Faith, is certainly going to prove an easy road to it, since it is a manner of life having nothing in common with faith. Nobody who ponders this disorder and the surrender of the most fundamental principles will be astonished if afflicted nations everywhere are groaning under the heavy hand of God's vengeance and stand anxious and trembling in fear of worse calamities." (Pope Leo XIII, "Magnae Dei Matris", 1892)

"Furthermore, that kind of civilization which conflicts with the doctrines and laws of holy Church is nothing but a worthless imitation and meaningless name. Of this those peoples on whom the Gospel light has never shown afford ample proof, since in their mode of life a shadowy semblance only of civilization is discoverable, while its true and solid blessings have never been possessed. Undoubtedly, that cannot by any means be accounted the perfection of civilized life which sets all legitimate authority boldly at defiance; nor can that be regarded as liberty which, shamefully and by the vilest means, spreading false principles, and freely indulging the sensual gratification of lustful desires, claims impunity for all crime and misdemeanor, and thwarts the goodly influence of the worthiest citizens of whatsoever class. Delusive, perverse, and misleading as are these principles, they cannot possibly have any inherent power to perfect the human race and fill it with blessing, for 'sin maketh nations miserable.' Such principles, as a matter of course, must hurry nations, corrupted in mind and heart, into every kind of infamy, weaken all right order, and thus, sooner or later, bring the standing and peace of the State to the very brink of ruin." (Pope Leo XIII, "Inscrutabili Dei Consilio", 1878)

"Individual liberty, freed from all bonds and all laws, all objective and social values, is in reality only a death-dealing anarchy." (Pope Pius XII)

"But many there are who follow in the footsteps of Lucifer, and adopt as their own his rebellious cry, 'I will not serve'; and consequently substitute for true liberty what is sheer and most foolish license. Such, for instance, are the men belonging to that widely spread and powerful organization, who, usurping the name of liberty, style themselves liberals." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888)

"But it is easy to see at a glance the greatness of the evil which unhallowed marriages have brought, and ever will bring, on the whole of human society." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880)

"Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family." (St. Angela Merici)

"[J]ust as from a rotten stock are produced healthless branches or worthless fruits, so do the ravages of a pestilence which ruins the household spread wide their cruel infection to the hurt and injury of individual citizens." (Pope Leo XIII, "Inscrutabili Dei Consilio", 1878)

"[A]s history testifies, the prosperity of the State and the temporal happiness of its citizens cannot remain safe and sound where the foundation on which they are established, which is the moral order, is weakened and where the very fountainhead from which the State draws its life, namely, wedlock and the family, is obstructed by the vices of its citizens." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930)

"Oh! If only your country [America] had come to know from the experience of others rather than from examples at home of the accumulation of ills which derive from the plague of divorce; let reverence for religion, let fidelity towards the great American people counsel energetic action that this disease, alas so widespread, may be cured by extirpation. The consequences of this evil have been thus described by Pope Leo XIII, in words whose truth is incisive: 'Because of divorce, the nuptial contract becomes subject to fickle whim; affection is weakened; pernicious incentives are given to conjugal infidelity; the care and education of offspring are harmed; easy opportunity is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of discord are sown among families; the dignity of woman is lessened and brought down and she runs the risk of being deserted after she has served her husband as an instrument of pleasure. And since it is true that for the ruination of the family and the undermining of the State nothing is so powerful as the corruption of morals, it is easy to see that divorce is of the greatest harm to the prosperity of families and of states'." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939)

"Now, those who deny that marriage is holy, and who relegate it, striped of all holiness, among the class of common secular things, uproot thereby the foundations of nature, not only resisting the designs of Providence, but, so far as they can, destroying the order that God has ordained. No one, therefore, should wonder if from such insane and impious attempts there spring up a crop of evils pernicious in the highest degree both to the salvation of souls and to the safety of the commonwealth." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880)

"There exists not, indeed, in the projects and enactments of men any power to change the character and tendency which things have received from nature. Those men, therefore, show but little wisdom in the idea they have formed of the well-being of the commonwealth who think that the inherent character of marriage can be perverted with impunity; and who, disregarding the sanctity of religion and of the sacrament, seem to wish to degrade and dishonor marriage more basely than was done even by heathen laws. Indeed, if they do not change their views, not only private families, but all public society, will have unceasing cause to fear lest they should be miserably driven into that general confusion and overthrow of order which is even now the wicked aim of socialists and communists. Thus we see most clearly how foolish and senseless it is to expect any public good from divorce, when, on the contrary, it tends to the certain destruction of society." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880)

"Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life. Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly see these evils to be the more especially dangerous, because, divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier. These are truths that doubtlessly are all clear in themselves, but they will become clearer yet if we call to mind the teachings of experience. So soon as the road to divorce began to be made smooth by law, at once quarrels, jealousies, and judicial separations largely increased; and such shamelessness of life followed that men who had been in favor of these divorces repented of what they had done, and feared that, if they did not carefully seek a remedy by repealing the law, the State itself might come to ruin... For whenever at any time divorce was introduced, the abundance of misery that followed far exceeded all that the framers of the law could have foreseen." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880)

"In these latter times especially, a policy has been followed which has resulted in a sort of wall being raised between the Church and civil society. In the constitution and administration of States the authority of sacred and divine law is utterly disregarded, with a view to the exclusion of religion from having any constant part in public life. This policy almost tends to the removal of the Christian faith from our midst, and, if that were possible, of the banishment of God Himself from the earth. When men's minds are raised to such a height of insolent pride, what wonder is it that the greater part of the human race should have fallen into such disquiet of mind and be buffeted by waves so rough that no one is suffered to be free from anxiety and peril? When religion is once discarded it follows of necessity that the surest foundations of the public welfare must give way, whilst God, to inflict on His enemies the punishment they so richly deserve, has left them the prey of their own evil desires, so that they give themselves up to their passions and finally wear themselves out by excess of liberty." (Pope Leo XIII, "Annum Sacrum", 1899)

"The fundamental doctrine of rationalism is the supremacy of the human reason, which, refusing due submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence, and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth. Hence, these followers of liberalism deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, and proclaim that every man is the law to himself; from which arises that ethical system which they style independent morality, and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless license. The end of all this it is not difficult to foresee, especially when society is in question. For, when once man is firmly persuaded that he is subject to no one, it follows that the efficient cause of the unity of civil society is not to be sought in any principle external to man, or superior to him, but simply in the free will of individuals; that the authority in the State comes from the people only; and that, just as every man's individual reason is his only rule of life, so the collective reason of the community should be the supreme guide in the management of all public affairs. Hence the doctrine of the supremacy of the greater number, and that all right and all duty reside in the majority. But, from what has been said, it is clear that all this is in contradiction to reason. To refuse any bond of union between man and civil society, on the one hand, and God the Creator and consequently the supreme Law-giver, on the other, is plainly repugnant to the nature, not only of man, but of all created things; for, of necessity, all effects must in some proper way be connected with their cause" (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888)

"We must now consider briefly liberty of speech, and liberty of the press. It is hardly necessary to say that there can be no such right as this, if it be not used in moderation, and if it pass beyond the bounds and end of all true liberty. For right is a moral power which - as We have before said and must again and again repeat - it is absurd to suppose that nature has accorded indifferently to truth and falsehood, to justice and injustice. Men have a right freely and prudently to propagate throughout the State what things soever are true and honorable, so that as many as possible may possess them; but lying opinions, than which no mental plague is greater, and vices which corrupt the heart and moral life should be diligently repressed by public authority, lest they insidiously work the ruin of the State. The excesses of an unbridled intellect, which unfailingly end in the oppression of the untutored multitude, are no less rightly controlled by the authority of the law than are the injuries inflicted by violence upon the weak. And this all the more surely, because by far the greater part of the community is either absolutely unable, or able only with great difficulty, to escape from illusions and deceitful subtleties, especially such as flatter the passions. If unbridled license of speech and of writing be granted to all, nothing will remain sacred and inviolate; even the highest and truest mandates of natures, justly held to be the common and noblest heritage of the human race, will not be spared. Thus, truth being gradually obscured by darkness, pernicious and manifold error, as too often happens, will easily prevail. Thus, too, license will gain what liberty loses; for liberty will ever be more free and secure in proportion as license is kept in fuller restraint." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888)

"This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight under the banner of Christ the King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts who are bitter and estranged from Him, and would valiantly defend His rights." (Pope Pius XI, "Quas primas", December 11, 1925 A.D.)

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