by George Bailey
This paper is basically an attempt not only to present the findings of the Research that was done to facilitate the work and objectives of the Assembly, but mainly to highlight and prioritize the exiting attitudes and lifestyles of our people, addressed in our efforts to BUILD CHURCH.
In order to succinctly present our findings, four aspects of Catholic Morality have been identified and then contrasted/compared with the data accessed by the research.
1. An Authentic Christian life with/in truth
i.e. with integrity, honesty, commitment and dedication to one’s choices etc.
The reality in our society, as observed, is that an incredibly significant number of our people feel:
a.) We are not obligated to stick to church teachings and rules, so why have church rules?
b.) We are not prepared to stand by our choices and/or the decisions we may have taken or made.
• (e.g.) cheating in married life is the norm in this and many other societies.
• Only lip-service is given in this teaching of the Church which requires strong commitment and a sense of responsibility. This is a reality even though many of the subjects indicated that the concept of ‘one man, one wife’ is fully accepted by most people and is the correct one.
• Our behaviour is unpredictable, so who should trust who?
c.) Everybody appears to want to “do his own thing” and rights no longer appear to relate with societal standards and values;
• Things that appear to have no owner are ‘growing wild’ and can be taken without question, especially from those perceived to be rich.
• So, we take advantage especially of those with lesser rights and property.
• This is not stealing, but simply taking what is there for all.
d.) We glory in the failure of others and find satisfaction in mediocrity.
• There is extraordinarily little striving for excellence (e.g. one ‘O’ level subject is good achievement in the eyes of parents and children).
• Parents are observed to be making excuses for their children’s misbehaviour, and not only condone them but rise in defense of them by daily disrespecting the schools and the teachers in them.
How much TRUTH is there then in our lifestyles? What must Assembly ‘98 do to counteract such behaviours and to rebuild a society that claims to want to live in TRUTH?
2. Catholic Christian morality stipulates in every instance
• That we must be our brothers’ keeper, promoting love, care and concern for our neighbour.
• That we strive always to be ‘good Samaritans’
• And that a good Christian lifestyle ought to be one that is guided by the tenets of the Beatitudes.
Contrarily, our research has shown that most of our people feel that what really exists in our society is selfish individualism.
• Grudge of others who appear to be doing better.
• Deliberate attempts to belittle those who appear to be ambitious, using calumny and gossip to bring down others morally, at any cost, in the eyes of their friends and neighbours.
One member of a family literally hates the partner of a sister who appears to be doing better than her in life. One uses even political maligning to bring down the other.
• That whole community has now become distraught and disoriented from Church.
• Groups/societies, and the missions lose membership because of infidelity, and lack of concern for the marginalized.
• Concern for the poor and indigent is given great lip-service with little or no hands-on activity.
a. Some members of institutions specifically organized to serve the poor, ensure that they are personally satisfactorily served before any consideration is given to the needy for whom donated goods and facilities are intended.
b. Visitations to the needy and indigent are thoroughly discussed at meetings, but they end there, except when some personal benefit can be derived from same. There’s always too little time.
Many are the reports of parishioners, aged, sick and incapacitated whose special requests to see a priest are ignored or put on the back-burner-even to hear their confessions, or to bless a new home, especially in the case of the perceived lower class.
Who wants to go in the old, smelly, dirty, shack, that the poor generally occupy, to visit, especially since we are the youths?
Assembly ’98 must take time-out to address these sickening concerns and conditions if any change/growth is to take place in our Church.
3. The Catholic Christian is a loving and caring person
• He/she strives daily to live in harmony with nature- in humility, sacrificially giving his/her whole life i.e. of their time, talents and property, for the benefit of others.
• Our research has shown very emphatically however, that the Vincentian society has a rampant urge to access easy-money, power and large properties- to be like, or better than, the Joneses.
• We consequently become deeply and secretly involved in the drug industry-trading and abuse.
• This leads us, especially (the youths) into deviance and crime –related behaviour, to the detriment of our fellowman and neighbour.
b. Our unemployed youths now hold-up at gunpoint, shoot and kill for money, etc.
c. Our young girls are afraid to walk, even in groups, in the streets after 6:00 p.m. “fear of the other, is the order of the day: Trust in the other is no longer desirable.”
d. Those who have money and wealth become richer, as they use their new power to obtain more wealth, and the poor becomes more marginalized and weaker in every way.
e. Our people have become comfortable with sin and evil, and we encourage this behaviour in others to justify our actions. We clothe them, and make them look good, and then live with them.
What must Assembly ’98 do to counteract the malaise, so that we can become more Christ-like in our daily living?
4. As Catholic Christians we must – with Our Holy Father the Pope- proclaim, promote and foster the “Gospel of Life.
Gen. 1: 28 reads: “The Lord God blessed them, saying to them, be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it.”
It is difficult to interpret “conquer it” to mean, kill and/or destroy life at will.
What is the level of Christian morality in the promotion of:
a) Homosexuality and lesbianism
• Now plaguing our youths and adults alike, in school and out of school, community wide and nationwide.
• In school the small boys go to the toilets to emulate what they see at home. At Carnival we teach the gyrating motions, the ‘Kok-up’, wind up down.
b) Rampant use of contraception
• A practice when internalized can only result in the desire for abortion due to unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and a ready acceptance of murder.
This is the “Culture of Death” that is vigorously promoted by the so-called family planners of today. Condoms are given out and sold everywhere, even at gas stations.
• A former Minister of Health and renowned leader of Women’s Organizations once stated in an address: “If you get pregnant, keep the baby, but do anything not to get pregnant.”
• Do anything not to get pregnant, yes but the right thing is to stick to the natural safe period and/or abstain from unnecessary sex.
• Why promote the contraceptive mentality? Our research has clearly indicated that contraceptives are widely used in the society and by Catholics and others.
c) Gen 2:23-24 reads: The man exclaimed:
“This at last is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman for this was taken from man.” Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.”
Our study, which constituted a larger proportion of women as sample subjects, has shown that a very significant number perceives that the way out of a problematic marriage is to get a divorce- particularly in the more highly populated parishes- and do “our own thing”.
Because this paper deals specifically with the morality of our people, only relevant sections of the study are presented here. Other important aspects of the research specifically pertaining to the responses to beliefs in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the traditions and rules of the Church will be dealt with in other presentations.
Notwithstanding, our theory that there is a ‘crisis of faith’ in our Church and society has been strongly upheld-for the most part in this study. This loss of faith in God and falling away from the teachings and rules of the Church have led to a high level of hopelessness, powerlessness, confusion and frustration in individuals, and families of our Church and nation.
Eking out a living, especially for the poor, has become a constant struggle; hence there is much cynicism, bitterness and lawlessness in the lifestyle of our people.
To formulate a meaningful and practicable Pastoral Plan in the face of this condition will necessitate very intensive planning and action.
Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, helps us.