Just saw the new film hosted and co-produced by Newt and Callista Gingrich, Nine Days That Changed the World, a documentary centered on the nine-day pilgrimage Pope John Paul II made to Poland in June 1979. They were here on campus at Franciscan University of Steubenville for a screening (full disclosure: I work for Franciscan University) and book signing event.
Great film about a man, only a man, who had an impact on human events the ancients would have attributed to a demi-god. He endured the worst that the godless society could do. He experienced the godlessness of communism and its sister, fascism. He looked them both in the face, and rather than shrink from their worldly power, he smiled, knowing that the power of the cross of Christ would undo the seemingly worst they could inflict. He smiled that infectious smile, proclaimed the love of Christ, and shook the communist bloc to its foundation, a tremor which would bring the wall crashing down.
But the take away point: His struggle was not anti-communist, but pro-Christianity. For religious liberty. For the Catholic spirit that had animated Polish culture for a millennium—quite a span when compared to the paltry 30 years of the Soviet regime that had come to eradicate it. For the souls of the people, not merely the sum of their bodies and actions.
One of the contributors was the former president of the Italian Senate. He spoke of the relativism which has taken hold in so much of Europe. When we each are liberated to declare for ourselves what is right and what is wrong then nothing is right or wrong in and of itself, and there is no reason for or against anything that is any better than any other reason. Democracy collapses into a tyranny in such circumstances.
He offered his opinion that the reason we have not suffered the encroachment of totalitarianism here in the United States is precisely because we have retained our foundational religious sentiment—that of Judeo-Christian morality.
And that is the message to take away for our own day: democracy cannot work without a moral populous. Every effort to reduce marriage, “reproductive rights,” property rights, etc., to mere social contracts or personal preferences (“Personally opposed, but…” anyone?) must be resisted and turned back as the lies of the devil that they are.
It’s the perpetual struggle. It’s not about being opposed to any political philosophy or ideology, but being staunchly on the side of Christ.