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Head of US Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls Out Wokeness, Social Justice: 'Pseudo-Religions'

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In Rome last week, President Joe Biden met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where the pontiff apparently gave the second Catholic U.S. president a subtle political message.

“We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion,” Biden said, referring to the growing rift in the U.S. Catholic Church over whether public officials who publicly advocate for abortion should be denied the sacrament.

The Vatican wouldn’t confirm whether this was the case. (“It’s a private conversation,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told The New York Times.) If it was, far be it from me to claim to be more Catholic than the pope. I doubt even Archbishop José H. Gomez would claim to be — and he’s the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

However, Gomez might argue the “devout Catholic” president is in a different kind of secular communion with members of a “pseudo-religion,” one which just so happens to have infected his own party.

According to the Washington Examiner, in a speech delivered to virtually to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid on Thursday, Gomez — the archbishop of Los Angeles — argued “America’s new political religions” like “social justice,” “wokeness,” “identity politics” and “intersectionality” had “come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied.”

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While arguing that events like the death of George Floyd were reminders that “racial and economic inequality are still deeply embedded in our society,” Gomez railed against both secularization and the secular “pseudo-religions” on the left that were filling the void, according to a transcript.

“An elite leadership class has risen in our countries that has little interest in religion and no real attachments to the nations they live in or to local traditions or cultures,” Gomez said.

“This group, which is in charge in corporations, governments, universities, the media, and in the cultural and professional establishments, wants to establish what we might call a global civilization, built on a consumer economy and guided by science, technology, humanitarian values, and technocratic ideas about organizing society.”

Gomez noted that in the program for the event, “you allude to ‘cancel culture’ and ‘political correctness.’ And we recognize that often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs — about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more.”

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He added that “the best way for the Church to understand the new social justice movements is to understand them as pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs.”

“With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied,” Gomez said.

“Whatever we call these movements — ‘social justice,’ ‘wokeness,’ ‘identity politics,’ ‘intersectionality,’ ‘successor ideology’ — they claim to offer what religion provides.”

Much like a traditional religion, he added, movements like wokeness had their own “story of salvation” being preached in the media and on the left, although it was markedly different than Christianity’s.

That story: “We cannot know where we came from, but we are aware that we have interests in common with those who share our skin color or our position in society,” Gomez said.

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“We are also painfully aware that our group is suffering and alienated, through no fault of our own. The cause of our unhappiness is that we are victims of oppression by other groups in society. We are liberated and find redemption through our constant struggle against our oppressors, by waging a battle for political and cultural power in the name of creating a society of equity.”

Gomez said that it was “a powerful and attractive narrative,” in part because of “the simplicity of its explanations — the world is divided into innocents and victims, allies and adversaries.”

However, by denying God, Gomez said, these narratives gave followers of these secular pseudo-religions tacit permission to view their opposition as less than human.

“Today’s critical theories and ideologies are profoundly atheistic. They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness,” Gomez said.

“They reduce what it means to be human to essentially physical qualities — the color of our skin, our sex, our notions of gender, our ethnic background, or our position in society.”

“In denying God, these new movements have lost the truth about the human person. This explains their extremism and their harsh, uncompromising, and unforgiving approach to politics,” he continued, urging the church “to understand and engage these new movements — not on social or political terms, but as dangerous substitutes for true religion.”

“Our Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI warned that the eclipse of God leads to the eclipse of the human person. Again and again he told us: when we forget God, we no longer see the image of God in our neighbor,” he added.

“Pope Francis makes the same point powerfully in Fratelli Tutti: unless we believe that God is our Father, there is no reason for us to treat others as our brothers and sisters.”

And where these excesses can be seen isn’t even in the left’s battle with Republicans or Christians. One merely needs to look at how the left has treated two Democrats who are seen as being insufficiently liberal: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

In both cases, the moderate Democrats have held up President Biden’s spending agenda. Earlier this week, Manchin announced he wasn’t yet ready to vote for the framework of Biden’s $1.75 “Build Back Better” plan. Progressive Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri took the opportunity to call Manchin a bigot, arguing his “opposition to the Build Back Better Act is anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman, and anti-immigrant.”

On Thursday morning, climate change activists surrounded his car and menaced the senator.

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Biden didn’t condemn either incident.

Last month, meanwhile, Sinema — another senator who objected to the initial size of the package — was cornered in a bathroom stall by immigration activists who screamed at her.

Biden commented on that one, too — lamenting it in general terms but calling it “part of the process.”

If this is “part of the process” for members of Biden’s own party, what, pray tell, is he willing to countenance being deployed against his ideological enemies?

It’s worth noting, too, that the purity tests of the woke forces on the left of the Democratic Party have forced Biden to abandon many of his long-held convictions. Biden had long supported the so-called Hyde Amendment, a rule which forbids federal funding of elective abortions.

In the middle of 2019, as that became an issue with the left, he abandoned that stance, saying: “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.” (The Hyde Amendment has nothing to do with abortion rights by state or jurisdiction, but never mind.)

It’s gotten to the point now where Biden has even abandoned what’s arguably the chief Catholic tenet on abortion: the fact life begins at conception. Six years earlier, as vice president, he affirmed the church’s teaching. Things have changed now.

President Joe Biden may be a “devout Catholic.” Whether or not that’s just positioning is above our pay grades. What we do know is that he’s in communion with what Gomez points out is a pseudo-religious movement. He’s not wrong and he’s not the first to make that parallel — noted linguist John McWhorter was arguably the first in 2015 — but he’s the most prominent Catholic to make that comparison.

“No man can serve two masters,” Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount. He may have been specifically talking about money in that context. However, he wasn’t only talking about money. Just look at our president.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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