a
Welcome to EWTN GB - Global Catholic Television Network - Copyright ©
HomeArticle‘The Catholic Church Is Right’: Father Spitzer Talks God’s Plan When the World Offers Nothingburgers

‘The Catholic Church Is Right’: Father Spitzer Talks God’s Plan When the World Offers Nothingburgers

‘The Catholic Church Is Right’: Father Spitzer Talks God’s Plan When the World Offers Nothingburgers

Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, is a popular EWTN host. (photo: EWTN photo)

 

‘The Christian notion of love is the only way that society is going to survive…’

Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer’s latest book, The Moral Wisdom of the Catholic Church, is the third book in his “Called Out of Darkness” trilogy. Father Spitzer, as an exceptional mind in the Catholic Church todayoffers a great read and an important resource that is clearly informative, but is also particularly helpful, offering practical advice for both overcoming sin and the effects of sin. And the writing reassures us that God gives us grace to draw closer to him.

The president of the Magis Center and the Napa Institute and EWTN TV host, who will be a speaker at the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress, spoke with the Register about the state of the culture and why the Church offers the best guide to happiness and human flourishing.

 

I know you wrote about this in the book, but could you clarify: Who is the audience for this book?

The key audience is teachers, priests and catechists who are confronted today with people who are basically saying that the Catholic Church’s moral teaching is anachronistic.

There are those people who argue that the Catholic Church is out of step with the mainstream. They pose questions like: “Why does the Catholic Church hate transgenders? Why does the Catholic Church hate homosexuals?” You know, all these kinds of accusations are simply untrue. But these poor Catholic teachers, the catechists, the priests, the sisters are just getting lambasted with these questions.

So I wanted to give them very concise evidence from secular studies: the findings of general psychiatry, university studies, and similar kinds of studies that illustrate that the Catholic Church is right. That is, if you obey the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, you are going to have significantly less depression, anxiety, substance abuse, anti-social aggressivity, and suicidal ideation. And that’s what comes out again and again in all these issues, such as transgenderism, homosexual lifestyle and pornography.

I’d love it if parents also would take this cause up, but I was encouraged to do this primarily by high-school teachers who basically said, “We just need to have a resource here.”

 

One of the things that struck me about your book is the focus on happiness — that is, virtue makes us happy. Can you go into some more detail about that?

The middle term between happiness and virtue is the Christian definition of love: In other words, Christ’s definition of love. That would include, obviously, friendship; but also sexual love — that is, eros, which would include our notion of exclusive and permanent commitment and the elements that are entailed by it; also, the specifically Christian virtue of agape. The Christian notion of love is the only way that society is going to survive. We just cannot continue with uncommitted sexual actions.

We can see this by looking at some statistics that were presented by secular institutes. For instance, if you start moving into a homosexual lifestyle, you can expect a three-times increase in depression rates, a three-times increase in anxiety rates, a five-times increase in panic disorders, a six- to seven-times increase in suicidal ideation, and so forth.

You can expect this to happen because you’re made not for that; but rather for committed love, self-sacrificial love, caring love, and emotionally intimate love. That’s what you’re made for. Now, if you just pursue sex, you have no emotional intimacy, no care for that other person, no desire to make a contribution to them towards a family, and you have no sense really of even being self-sacrificial for that individual in some sense or another. You don’t even have friendship as the basis of this sexual relationship. So what you’re doing is emotionally ripping apart the natural mode which we were built for.

Sexuality, without any real emotional intimacy, without any real care, without any real generativity, leaves us so empty, so uncared about. It makes us objectify the other person. In other words, we start thinking that other people are meant for our use, that they’re just objects to fulfill us sexually. Well, if you treat other people as objects, eventually, you’ll treat yourself like an object. You’ll treat yourself as a thing, because, of course, what goes around comes around.

We need love. We need care. We need emotional intimacy. We need generativity. We need to be befriended and to befriend others. You get the point at the end of the day where you’re just left with a big nothingburger except gratification. Then you just move to the final step. You say, “Well, I may as well just look at pornography, because sex to me is just gratification.” Remember they did all these interviews of Japanese young people asking, “Well, how come you don’t get married or anything. How come you don’t do any dating?” The response was basically: “Oh, pornography fulfills me completely. That’s all I need or want. I don’t want the hassle of other people.” But the more they look at pornography, the more depressed they become.

 

Human dignity is a running theme throughout the book. What would you like the reader to know about human dignity?

The No. 1 principle of human dignity was stated by St. Augustine:

 

“For thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

 

God alone can satisfy us. He has given us a soul. He has made us in his image and likeness, and, therefore, we not only want perfect truth, love, goodness and beauty — we want God. We want to be in a relationship with God.

We have the possibility of having ultimate meaning in life, ultimate mooring and anchoring of our identity in God. Ultimately, we have a dignity through our relationship with God, and, of course, eternal life. The first thing to know is that dignity is grounded in our relationship with God. Without that relationship, we are radically incomplete, radically empty, radically alienated and radically lonely.

This was reflected in a big American Psychiatric Association study in which they illustrated that religiously affiliated people have significantly lower rates of depression, anxiety, marital and familial tensions, antisocial aggressivity, substance abuse, suicides and suicidal ideation.

A lot of people think that they can be happy without God. They cannot be happy because their dignity rests — their dignity is grounded — in him. The idea of having a dignity apart from God is really the most radically incomplete dignity.

 

Clearly, there’s a connection between moral dignity and conscience. What’s the state of conscience in the world today?

First, people are not listening to that inner voice which Newman called the “inner voice of God.” This is exemplified by a criminal, for example, who finds the first kill kind of hard (unless he’s a sociopath from the beginning), but as he continues to kill the third, fourth and fifth time, it becomes easier.

It’s the same thing with violating God’s covenant. It’s like the person who is very hesitant to violate sexual norms, but then, they just let it go. It just becomes easier and easier. You don’t feel real guilt anymore. You just let it go. This is exemplified by viewers of pornography. When they first start off, they don’t like themselves, because they have a feeling of real guilt. But then, of course, as they continue to do it, the guilt kind of goes away.

In our culture, we’re really good at rationalizing things, and we’re really good at ignoring a guilty conscience.

And the second thing we know about people who don’t have conscience is, they make everybody around them miserable.

The third thing that we know about conscience is that people become depressed. Ultimately, they cannot escape the guilt. Literature is replete with the question: Why won’t the guilt go away? The Telltale Heart tells the story, as does Crime and Punishment. Why won’t the guilt leave? And the reason is: God won’t let it.

So if you want to just keep going, you can expect that you’re going to feel not only guilt but a lot of depression. You can expect that you will destroy the people around you, and, ultimately, you’re going to destroy your relationship with God.

 

In your book, you discuss social mores and political structures for influencing our sense of morality. Has our political system, which is constantly trying to appease voters, become partly responsible for a negative influence? 

The reason we have the political situation we have now is because we, as a people, have turned away from religion and God. We turned away from conscience and happiness. And if you turn away from God, you have to find something else which does not have ultimate meaning and ultimate significance and ultimate mooring of your identity and ultimate hope and ultimate destiny and so forth. So you’re going to have to find something non-ultimate to fill that vacuum.

That is where identity politics frequently comes in. There is a kind of crazy elevation of political beliefs to the sense of ultimacy, which they can never have. Without God and religion, you’re going turn ideology into an ultimate, or you’re going to turn politics into an ultimate. Either way, it’s a bad deal.

 

 

Share With:
Tags