January 6th, a year later
repent and believe in the Gospel
A few days after the January 6th siege on the Capitol, a good friend and I wrote an article about the role Christians played in this irrationality and violence.
A year later, as Gloria Purvis recently discussed in her podcast, a new study found that 21 million adults believe that the 2020 election was stolen, that Biden is an illegitimate president, and that the use of force is justified to reinstate Donald Trump as president.
I believe our reflection from a year ago is still very relevant for today.
In a homily given to the College of Cardinals before he was elected pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger famously coined the phrase, “the dictatorship of relativism.” Commenting on St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the future pope spoke about how we must have “the maturity of Christ” and “not remain children in faith.” To be a child, Ratzinger said, quoting St. Paul, “means being ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine.’” He explained that this teaching was timely in our present age because “Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error comes true.”
In other words, a mature Christian stands firm in the faith, but those who lack maturity allow themselves to be swept into the ideologies of their age. This “letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there,’” rather than being grounded in the truth, is precisely the then-cardinal’s definition of “relativism.” He says:
“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 idea is echoed in the US Bishops’ guide to faithful citizenship where they teach that believers should be “guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party.” Christians are called to transform their political party and “not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths.”
What the world saw on display this past week in the mob at the U.S. Capitol building was a clear example of Christians not recognizing anything as definitive in order to serve their egos and desires. This was an example of Christians allowing themselves to be transformed by their political party—to the point of denying truth and reality—and is sadly what the world has seen on social media throughout the pandemic and presidential election. This is the relativism Cardinal Ratzinger warned us against.
Read the whole thing here: