The Response to Relativism

I recently finished reading and reviewing The Church Under Attack: Five Hundred Years That Split the Church and Scattered the Flock by Dr. Diane Moczar. Throughout the book Dr. Moczar details the numerous attacks the Church has withstood since the sixteenth century, starting with Martin Luther’s split from the Church. Additional events covered included the Ottoman Turks, challenges in Europe, trials with Russia, Napoleon, Two World Wars, and so on. While reading the book I couldn’t help but think of the modern day attacks our beloved Church is facing.

One thing is certain. Every attack, whether led by a single person or through more complex culture for us are engineered by Satan himself. The ultimate goal of the Satan is to destroy Mother Church. We have recently experienced many vicious attacks from the sexual abuse crisis in the United States to corruption at the Vatican Bank. Our Church is most definitely under attack.

Perhaps the worst and most widespread attack on the Catholic Church today is relativism. “The Dictatorship of Relativism” is a term coined by Pope Benedict XVI. In his homily during the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger noted;

“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

This relativism or moral relativism is prevalent in our society today. We are in a culture of “I and me.” This thought process goes like this: I rule my life, and you and your moral views have no bearing on me. As long as I am happy, that’s all that matters. Me, Me, Me, Me. How sad of a society have we become.

In its basic boiled-down essence relativism is the thought that one can’t impose one’s moral views upon another. Thus, religion and morals are parked to the side as cumbersome and interfering with individual free will.

This translates into the abortion issue: “It’s my body so you can’t tell me what to do.” It translates into sexual promiscuity: “I chose to abandon my virginity and co-habitate prior to marriage you can’t control me.” Perhaps it was best stated by Frederick Nietzsche: “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.”

So what can we do to combat relativism? First, recognize relativism when you see it. Second, expose relativism when you see it.

Here’s how, using an example from a retreat I attended led by Father Mitch Pacwa. Every relativist will express his relativist view as an objective fact, even the “fact” that everything is relative. But, no relativist can point to an objective standard upon which to base his claim. if you are in a debate with a relativist it is quite easy to trap them in their own beliefs. A relativist will dismiss objective moral views on a particular issue as simply “an opinion.” If what you say is dismissed as an opinion, then everything the relativist says in favor of his or her view (including the very claim that what you have said is “an opinion”) is nothing more than “an opinion” on his or her part.

Most assuredly the Church is under attack. It is under attack by a society that has lost its use for objective morality. In the words of the great thinker G.K. Chesterton, “Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles.”

Copyright © 2013, Pete Socks

Pete Socks

Pete Socks

Pete Socks is a converted Catholic still learning the faith after 17 years. He continues to learn the riches of our Faith through books. The passion to read has led to his side "job" as a book reviewer for leading Catholic publishers. You can find his reviews, author interviews and weekly giveaways at Catholic Book Blogger He hopes to take what he finds between the covers of books and bring it to a new audience here at New Evangelizers.

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