“None of the proponents of this reject God outright, but they treat revelation as secondary, or at least, on equal footing with experiences and modern science. This is how practical atheism works: it does not deny God, but functions as if God is not central.” Cardinal Robert Sarah


Do you identify as Catholic, but speak, act and live as a practical atheist? Secularism was sold to us as a neutral political ideology that would protect freedom of religion and ensure government would not impose a particular religion on its citizens, which at first thought, sounds wonderful. Who could possibly be against freedom, especially in the land of the strong and free?

Much like the slogan “love is love” is not about love, secularism is neither neutral nor about freedom. Consider the definition of the word found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion or religious considerations”. Exclusion sounds about right. This is what diversity and inclusion means in 2024. Without any hint of irony, the dictionary presents the reader with this example: “The Satanic Temple describes itself as a non-theistic organization that aims to uphold secularism and individual freedoms.” You read right. The Satanic Temple is now the great bastion of freedom that will ensure the government upholds secularism. At least the name is appropriate.

Secularism did indeed provide a divided West, a divided Christian West, with a political solution for Catholics, Orthodox and various other Christian denominations, to live in peace and harmony. No longer would Ontario be able to deny Catholics the ability to become lawyers, teachers or doctors. Quebec could no longer bar Protestants from political participation. The same is true in America and Europe. And it worked.

Much like the American founders wrote the constitution for “a religious peoples”, secularism within a broad Christian society can indeed work. Christians of various types certainly have differences in their doctrines, traditions and methods of worship, but they also share many things in common. Christ is the Son of God, not one god among many other sun gods. The Bible as the inspired Word of God, not the expired world of Smaug. The Ten Commandments as really commandments, not the ten suggestions. In this context, secularism allows for the fair participation of all Christians in the political sphere of the nation where they reside. What happens though, in a post-Christian society?

Whether by the abandonment of the faith or through the mass importation of foreign ideas and philosophies, in some cases opposite to Judeo-Christian values, our societies no longer have Christ at the center of life. At best, we can be Christians in private, but atheists in public affairs. The issue of course, is that there is no such distinction. As Pericles astutely observed a long time ago, “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!”. Recent examples of the FBI targeting Catholics in the US, and our own Canadian government propagating a hoax, which led to nearly 100 church burnings, are but a few examples.

The Church not only encourages the laity to participate in public life, but deems it a personal responsibility to do so in an active manner. In article 1915 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Church states, “As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life. the manner of this participation may vary from one country or culture to another. “One must pay tribute to those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of the citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom.” It goes on to say that the purpose of our participation is to promote the common good, defined as “The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; the peace and security of the group and of its members.CCC 1925.

In a recent Word on Fire article on Title IX (gender identity under Biden’s new discrimination laws) by Dr. Matthew Petrusek, he reminds us that “Laws are supposed to embody principles to which everyone can consent because they are grounded in a shared rationality. That’s what distinguishes a civil law from a religious precept, in the narrow sense of “religious”.” This is a real important distinction, because as he goes on to warn us, “in appealing to religious freedom to avoid compliance with Title IX, Catholic institutions are only emboldening the state’s embrace of gender ideology by tacitly granting the premise that rejecting transgenderism is a matter of religious faith rather than rational principle. That’s exactly where the gender ideologues want their opponents: asking for permission from the state to practice their “religion” of living in accordance with biological reality. This is not a durable solution. If we give the state the power to redefine sex, it will use that same power to redefine religious freedom as well.” In a recent commencement speech at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, alluded precisely to this danger freedom of speech and religion face in our current culture, because not everyone shares the view that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”. One only has to remember Hillary Clinton’s reference to a particular segment of Americans as “deplorables”, or Trudeau calling large segment of Canadians “fringe minority” and referring to burning churches as “understandable”. Rights based on relative circumstances or the whim of those in power, are no rights at all. The covid experience with its lockdowns and mandates exposed this reality for all to see.

In another commencement speech, NFL kicker Harrison Butker created quite the stir. The predictable reaction by external players was expected, but the reaction within inner Catholic circles, demonstrated that some wounds were poked. He urged the graduates that ” if we are going to be men and women for this time in history, we need to stop pretending that the “Church of Nice” is a winning proposition.” He followed this with a warning, “Don’t be mistaken, even within the Church, people in polite Catholic circles will try to persuade you to remain silent.” Butker compared this attitude with the apostate Jesuit priest in the movie Silence, and ends by saying “it was exactly what the cultural elite want to see in Christianity — private, hidden away, and harmless.” This is secularism. It is not new or progressive. Rather it’s a return to the Roman pantheon, the fruit of a society that wants a king like everyone else, as Israel once did. 1 Samuel 8:6-20 Whether through the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks or Romans, chastisement through foreign invaders usually followed abandonment of God.

In his poem, Ballad of a White Horse, G.K. Chesterton predicted the new barbarians would be “slaves without a lord”, “bound to Nothing”. Signs of their presence would be known “by weird and weakness winning…by the detail of the sinning, and denial of the sin.” One can easily rhyme a list of slogans or scientific-sounding clinical names to a multiplicity of perverse acts. No sin – no sinner. No sinner, no Saviour needed either. Secularism is not neutral, it neuters. It turns vibrant, fruitful Christian societies into decayed, lifeless hordes of people, who know neither where they are headed nor where they came from. Priests do not make good bureaucrats, but neither do bureaucrats make good priests. Keep them separate in their respective areas of authority for sure, but unite them in humility to our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.

The word “seculo” derives from Latin and in Portuguese, means “century”. Saeculorum is defined as “for ever and ever”. One certainly hopes that this century’s version of secularism is not here to stay for ever and ever. We can take courage by the fact that God takes delight in teaching us in the most unexpected ways. Just over a century ago, through Our Lady, the Lord chose to use a secular newspaper named “O Seculo” to proclaim His Son by sharing the good news of the Miracle of the sun, at Fatima. Years and millions of pilgrims later, that newspaper’s article with photos is still exhibited there for new generations to see. And if that doesn’t give one reason to smile and celebrate, then I don’t know what will. Heck, even the sun danced!

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

St Joseph, pray for us.

Roberto Freire


If publishing article online please attribute source Band of Christian Brothers with link to original article.



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