The New Totalitarianism Requires Our Urgent Response

This is a transcript of the homily given by the Most Rev. Joseph Perry on May 13th, 2024. You can watch the homily on our YouTube channel:

One hundred and seven years ago today, Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal, bringing a message of urgency, laced in sorrow and concern for the condition of the world of that time.

The late Deacon Robert F. Ellis, National Coordinator for the World Apostolate of Fatima USA, wrote a column in SOUL Magazine in the Fall 2015 issue titled, “Why Did Our Lady choose to Appear in 1917?” He insightfully described how the world had been embroiled in World War I – the first amidst many militaristic skirmishes to be considered a world-wide war that encompassed any number of European countries suffering attendant social and political evils that led to that war, beginning with revolution in Russia which resulted in the spread of atheistic communism. There was also the anti-religion local influence of the Masons in Portugal at the time.

Ellis also cited the moral decline of the world that inspired our Lady to plead some several times to the shepherd children to pray that people stop offending God who is already so much offended. Our Lady offered a recipe of prayer with her rosary and personal penance that could aid the conversion of sinners and a sinful world.

Fast-forward to these days:

An even further moral decline, the subject matter of much commentary these days, is cited to have had a start with Hugh Hefner’s Playboy philosophy and, not too far behind, a large role played by Margaret Sanger’s publication of the first issue of The Woman Rebel, a magazine for radical feminists which advocated the right to practice birth control. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the nation. Five years later she founded the American Birth Control League which later morphed into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1927, she traveled to Geneva Switzerland to organize the first World Population Conference aimed at furthering global acceptance of birth control.

It picked up speed therefrom:

Since then, birth control ideology has engulfed the social consciousness sponsoring a sexual libertarianism to include abortion on demand, and the devaluing of marriage and family life to include legalized same-sex marriage and more recently individuals claiming gender crises whereby we can choose our sex and even undergo surgical procedures to change who we were originally born to be. Now, some strong proponents of this chapter of the sexual revolution have succeeded in obtaining measured endorsement of non-negotiable neutral words when referring to male and female and the overhaul of pronouns and revising school textbooks in elementary classrooms – a campaign replacing courses like civics with gender ideology fed by the exaggerated individualism popularly promoted, and with it a disparaging of moral and philosophical principles of life and rubric written in nature that have heretofore been universally understood to be the foundation of mature and responsible living. Even if one was not religiously inclined, these principles were universally understood and accepted.

When one considers the foreseen damages of atheistic communism that was the subject matter of ardent prayer and petition for the longest time, where would one list today’s crisis of sexuality and human dignity and life among evils threatening civilization? If our Lady appeared today to some ones some where what would she plead? Is it today atheistic communism, agnosticism, materialism, loss of faith or is it equally a moral fog and bedevilment that has overcome us, the corruption of minds, hearts and souls which should be the subject matter of our rosaries and intercessions today? Are these realities preventing today the Triumph of our Lady’s Immaculate Heart and the fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies? What are today’s 21st century realities that offend God being so much offended?

Western societies are forsaking a traditional moral tone and rubric proceeding as if everything is negotiable in the name of progress and enlightenment, but to what end and at what cost to human sanity.

One wonders where it is all tending?

I had dinner recently with a retired official of a Spanish country’s consulate who opined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, and issued nuclear threats amidst the destabilization of nations are nothing new, just routine preludes to a World War III. But do we take critical notice of the seriousness of the world situation? Such destabilizations, skirmishes and wars are found predicted in the Gospels and were cause for the previous two world wars. And add to today’s anxieties pervasive gun violence that has overtaken us here and abroad that leave many lives of victims and the grief-stricken torn to shreds.

Our Lady’s warnings are more urgent than ever and call for continued unabated prayer and intercession. We don’t know where the world is heading. The world situation was a bit different at the opening of the 20th century. Certain realities at most back then were seen first as political irritants but later mushroomed out of control to cause incalculable suffering and human loss under the heading of totalitarian dictatorships and a second World War that proved worse than the first in terms of human annihilation and degradation.

If our colleague Deacon Ellis were alive today I would love to hear his commentary on current events and their relevance within some broad implications of the Fatima catechesis.

There now exists a new totalitarianism – a sexual totalitarianism has crept up on us. And some people have considered it good news, where we are staged to lose our identity as human beings without a fundamental respect for life spawned by an Intelligent Creator’s assignments of male and female under His rubrics of nature and morality. The right to abortion, unfortunately, is now seen the ultimate right without which we perceive we have any other rights. The right to abortion is seen as the crown of all rights. The culture is obsessed with having the right to kill nascent life in the womb. Can we still call ourselves a civilized people?

Our Supreme Court just recently heard arguments over the abortion pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration to end the life of the developing child and induce the mother to discharge her child from her uterus right in the comfort of her own home’s bathroom. The pro-choicers consider this over-the-counter abortion pill progress and a victory for privacy.

The Ten Commandments are dismissed as irrelevant for the modern age, fashionably negotiated if not discarded as a compass of civilized and religiously oriented lives. These topics tend, unfortunately, to be heavily ladened with political discourse. Remove these topics from the preferential venue of politics and these sexual matters, I wager, take a different direction. But we love the political, it’s the religion of the present-day culture.

In a society of rampant technological advances and material prosperity we appear to be bored, running out of things to imagine and do to the betterment of the common good. Instead, we are increasingly self-referential, caught up with ourselves in a new atheism featuring a self-worship that excludes God and his rules.

Many of you are already perceiving the urgency of the current situation and are questioning the environment within which your children and grandchildren are being reared. And you should be. These days call for a critical evaluation by sensible and religiously grounded citizens to come to grips with what is happening and with what we are doing to ourselves, what we are taking for granted and are destroying in the name of human flourishing. Our human and religious formation of the children, to say nothing of the shaping of the Christian community, are the urgent preoccupations of the moment.

Would you agree that we have much to be concerned about and pray about?

O God Father, when you created Mary, you made her special. You set her apart for your work. You made us special too and each of us is set apart for your work so that your Son’s death and resurrection can keep on saving the world. Help us to see that our work here and now is to act as your Son would act – justly, morally, to love as he showed us, and to walk as he did, humbly with you. We ask this in unity with you, the Son your beloved and your Holy Spirit, Amen!

The Most Rev. Joseph Perry the Episcopal Advisor for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, and retired Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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