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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Have you got an 'ology?



My good friend Fr John Zuhlsdorf had a look at a non-magisterial fervorino of Pope Francis about “ideology” and wonders what the Pope really said:
The Pope’s language about ideology is so vague that I can’t for the life of me make out who or what he is talking about. It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.
I too am puzzled by the use of the word ideology in this ferverino and others.

In general usage, "ideology" is used to mean the system of ideas at the basis of an economic or political theory, as in Marxist ideology, or more generally the manner of thinking characteristic of a class, as in bourgeouis ideology, or more generally still, some sort of visionary speculation. Napoleon used the word to ridicule his intellectual opponents, and Marx used it to engage in the struggle of ideas that would determine who had power within a society.

We believe that God has given us a spiritual soul which is able to think and form ideas. We need to espouse the right ideas so that we will act with truth and charity towards others, rather than the wrong ideas that will harm them. As Christians, we certainly accept such basic ideas as the principle of non-contradiction, but we are blessed with the revelation of God in the old and new testaments, and we follow and try to put into practice the teaching of Jesus Christ which we know from the Gospels and from the teaching of the Church which Christ founded. Necessarily, these teachings can be expressed in propositions - these are, if you like, ideas that we believe to be true both on human grounds and on the grounds of revelation.

Certainly we would not want to reduce the Christian faith to a set of propositions; it is more than that because we believe in a personal God and we should desire to do His will, and love Him with all our hearts. Nevertheless, if somebody says "I believe that all Jews should be exterminated", we Christians can and ought to reply (with many brave souls who did so in the face of persecution) "No, all people have the right to life and we must never kill an innocent person."

This last statement is a proposition which I passionately believe to be true. It is an idea, if you like. Does it form part of an ideology? I suppose it does really. But it is also fundamentally part of my Christian faith, my adherence to the person of Jesus Christ.

My personal following of Jesus Christ and His teaching does involve me in professing certain ideas, beliefs and values. In the case of whether it is legitimate to kill people just because they are Jews, I would be "rigid, moralistic and ethical", and even without much kindness to those who disagree and embark upon the path of extermination - though I would not think it a Christian thing to spit on their coffin.
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