Click here to listen to WQPH 89.3

Catholic Radio serving Shirley-Fitchburg MA and the world.

Gilbert: basis of trust

April 22, 2021

Overarching the debate about the vaccines and the ethical problems of how they were produced, America faces a more fundamental question: what is the greater good that we are striving for here?

It must be said that America is a post-Christian society (Fulton Sheen remarked as much decades ago), and the good that comes about in our culture must also be seen through that lens. Particularly, we must examine courageously how the Personhood of the Truth is considered today, if at all.

If we are Christian, we believe that the Truth is Jesus 1, and that our faith in him illuminates the world 2, and orders all good towards him 3.

If we are not Christian, truth may be instead some litany of facts of holding itself to be self-evident, such as systemic analysis of a database of test results.

Faith, as Pope Benedict XVI described it 4, is a system of trust. But trust is relational to the personhood of God. If the personhood of truth is lost, reconciliation is also a dehumanizing prospect. Will we go to the Confessional to admit our derivation from conventional wisdom? No. Confession is about reconciling the mystery of the personhood of the creature who is made in the very image of his creator.

One thing everyone can still agree on is that everyone loves something. And most people love someone. For this reason alone; for the reason of our nature as loving creatures, not biological robots, we must therefore, see that truth itself, if it is worthy of anyone’s respect, cannot be less worthy than love of neighbor. It cannot be of a lesser love than the person’s love for another person, and therefore, the truth must be a person if it is to be directive in our hearts. But this notion is not within the day-to-day reality of American culture. There simply does not exist anymore in the American mind the idea that truth is someone seeking a personal relationship.

On the other hand, we have Materialism, in which a person essentially relates to himself as commodified dust, and the good of this world is also as dust in that it is its own end. Put another way, good becomes totally unrelated, for each person to pursue according to his own heart 5. Dust ordered toward dust.

And this is the unfortunate setting in which the debate about public health is being hosted. The public, which has no common understanding of a greater good, is swept up in a thousand efforts to bring it about with every invention of science. And this situation predates COVID-19.

Before people were worried about death-by-virus, death-by-climate was paramount, and colossal bills were proposed to solve earth’s environmental problems, and the solutions always seem to call for a reduction of people living on it. Strange models for understanding God’s creation are put forth as fact, and laws are passed according to those models, laws with no relation to the personhood of man, but as homage instead to these modeled idols. Ideas of external holiness settle like smog on cities where sainthood is likely to be awarded to the life with the smallest carbon footprint. Concepts of justice have become epidermal and sized to height; while a full-grown man is evidently a person, a child in the womb (or barely outside it) or an elderly child of God, has a much less evident value in a commercial world.

Which brings us to the virus and its prescribed cures.

There are, of course, the ethical questions about how the vaccines are produced. Not even a few years ago, stories of trafficking of baby parts somehow escaped the iron blanket of suffocating news coverage. Those reports eventually had their day in court and were verified.

But we are to believe that our vaccines are securely walled-off from this grim reality.

It is also evident, for anyone willing to see it, that materials from aborted fetuses are used in a variety of products one might buy in bulk at Costco.

But we are to believe that our vaccines are wholly aloft from this red tide of materialism.

Before the pandemic hit, weekly church attendance was around 25%, and the vast majority of the supposed best-formed consciences were essentially indistinguishable from pagan points of view.

But we are to believe that the men making our cures have the grace to do good the right way.

The good of our-formerly Christian institutions, be they universities, research facilities, hospitals, or even so many of our parishes, has passed away because their good was their Christianity, and as faith in Jesus goes, so goes the basis of trust for every institution which was inspired by the image of God’s own institution but is no longer so inspired.

The ancient adage is, as goes the Church, so goes the world. Does it not apply today? And what is the state of the Church today, during the rollout of these pandemic panaceas?

We see two bishops in white. We see bishop fighting bishop. We see pagan rituals at Saint Peters. We see multi-religion gatherings under the banner of human fraternity. We see private Masses being forbidden in Rome. We see serial abusers in high diplomatic positions. We see secret deals being struck with atheistic regimes in countries where bishops are crying out of injustices.

We must read the signs of our times 6, and the signs aren’t good.

But, more to the point and closer to home, we see the familiar problem of people of conscience being harassed for going against what is understood as the common good (aka Persecution).

The pressure to receive a vaccine is growing. On the home-front, children, siblings, and parents are turning against each 7 other to apply pressure to vaccinate in order to “return to normal”, which means, perhaps, the blindness before we could see the spiritual poverty we are now living in? What is the object of this pressure which seeks to overturn so many consciences? For what greater good are we yielding our convictions of right and wrong?

Those conscientious objectors who continue courageously to put forth a Dubia of ethical questions about the production of the vaccine are being maligned as misinformants and malefactors. But in what condition are the consciences of their critics? What truth do these scolds kneel before? Is it the actual truth that we know to be Jesus? Or is it the idol of human-fraternity? More to the point, can any critic of these ethical inquirers deny themselves enough to be transparent with us? Can they shoulder the burden of asking the moral questions which may inconvenience the body’s desire for security from harm? Or is their greater good simply the shelf-life of the body?

We are souls. Our health is a matter of body and spirit, whereas the practice of medicine has today a willful ignorant of matters concerning salvation. Medicine that regularly practices abortion and euthanasia is uprooted from the Hypocratic oath.

Sure, it’s possible that the vaccines are as sound as an unbelieving scientific community would have us believe, but, in their unbelief, they deprive of us any sound basis of trust.

  1. John 14:6
  2. Matthew 5:14
  3. Colossians 1:20
  4. Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. Faith and The Future (p. 33). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
  5. Psalm 81:12
  6. Matthew 16:3
  7. Luke 12:53