THE NEW GLOBAL ETHICS, CHALLENGES FOR THE CHURCH, AND THE ROLE OF DEPSOCOM AND THE CATHOLIC MEDIA. A TALK DELIVERED BY MOST REV. PHILIP NAAMEH, ARCHBISHOP OF TAMALE, TO THE CONFERENCE OF DEPSOCOM DIRECTORS. TAMALE, 27/10/12
I will like to begin with a word of thanks to the organizers of this conference of our Depsocom Directors And for inviting me to speak on the topic of the new Global ethic and the role of the Catholic media. I wish to start with a brief description of what Postmodernity is, and the challenges it poses not only for the church and faith in general but also for culture in general and the African culture in particular. But as the term itself suggests, we cannot begin to consider Post-modernity without first taking a quick look at what modernity is. Modernity generally refers to cultural and intellectual movements in the West between 1500 and l910 and indeed through the present. It is a period charachterised by the absolutization of reason, blind faith in science and its laws, optimism and faith in progress, individualism, human rights, liberal democracy, national sovereignty, Marxism, Capitalism, communism etc.
Postmodernity was born out of the frustrations that the claims of modernity could not be realized. That the utopia of modernity’s claim to liberate humanity through scientific progress has fallen apart, as it became apparent that science alone was incapable of explaining everything.
In reaction to modernity therefore, Postmodernity rejects ‘certitudes’ about anything, fixed answers to questions, it rejects truth, objectivity, and reality itself. Everything, for the Postmodern is relative and subject to interpretation. It aims at the total negation of being, reality, moral commitment, and consequently the total elimination of religion in general and the judeo- Christian faith and tradition in particular.
Postmodernity manifests itself in two ways: Philosophically and Culturally.
It is generally agreed that Postmodernity started with philosophers who since Jean-Jacques Rousseau(l712-1778) question Reasons capacity to grasp reality. They therefore sought to replace reason with the social will.
Culturally the transition towards Postmodernity gained momentum after the Western erotic revolution especially after the l960s. The exaltation of the libido, the revolt of the youth, the rejection of authority and of moral and social norms by the youth, have all contributed to the deconstruction of reason and conscience.
On the political level, the separation of Church and State powers came to imply the separation of conscience and spiritual values on the one hand, and the domains of science, civil society and political institutions on the other hand. In practical life, this has spread the misunderstanding that one cannot be a serious scientist or indeed an astute politician if one maintains his faith in God and practices a sound spirituality.
‘The calculating individual seeking his or her interests became for the Postmodern an aim in itself and the measure of reality’(M. Peeters, 32)
The great themes of Postmodernity are:
a) Deconstruction of Reality
b) Rejection of the Given
c) Celebration of Diversity
d) Freedom and primacy of Choice
In the three decades preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall Postmodernity thus gave rise to a new ethic, which the U.N. intergovernmental conferences succeeded to have recognized as the ‘Global Ethic’. This ethics has a totally new vocabulary, different from the old with which humanity had until now always dealt with, and with an intended different value system aimed at doing away not only with the old vocabulary but also the traditional and permanent values.. I give here just a few examples.
|Old Paradigm||New Paradigm|
|Representative Democracy||Participatory Democracy|
|Institutional Power||Rights of Individuals|
Sexual and reproductive Rights
|Short term||Long term|
|Objective needs||Individual right to choose|
|National Sovereignty||Global Governance|
|Answers, certitudes, dogma||
Questions, choice, tolerance
Quality of life
|National citizenship||Global citizenship|
|Human life||Life under all its forms(veg. animal )|
|Cultural Indentiy||Cultural diversity|
|Dogma||Freedom to choose|
|Truth||Right to error|
Source: Marguerite Peters, The Globalisation of the Western Cultural Revolution, 24-25
From what we have just discussed, it becomes clear that post modernity both in its positive and negative self expression defies clear definitions or categorization. It no doubt encourages the abandonment of moral values and fidelity to permanent commitments. Its promotion of the pleasure of the individual, and the need for the individual to live in a non repressive environment availing over unlimited choices introduces elements, indeed anti-values into our culture and national life which threaten seriously the very survival of our societies and culture. I think immediately of the increasing rate of divorce in our society today, the promotion of the condom anti-culture in the name of freedom in the names of rights without responsibility and even the spate of indiscipline in our second cycle institutions and sometimes in our universities.
Regrettably, it needs to be observed that post modernity has been a calculated and a painstaking work of some intellectuals who sought to create a culture without values or morality . Alfred Kinsey 1894 – 1956 who may be called the Father of Sexology was a Zoologist, who aimed at establishing a permissive society with a manipulative type of ‘research’. His two books Sexual behaviour in the human male1948 and Sexual behaviour in the human female 1953 launched so to say the western sexual revolution.
Kinsey who performed his experiment among perverts in the American society and then generalized the findings for the ordinary human person, taught for instance, that the only sexual act which is unnatural is the one that you can not perform. Further on he maintained that all sexual acts are good as long as they gratify the individual. So for Kinsey, all sexual acts be they pedophilic, incestuous, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual etc are good.
In these teachings, Kinsey merely continued the teachings of Margaret Sanger, founder of the International planned parenthood Federation(IPPF) . M. Sanger wanted to liberate the woman from what she called the slavery of reproduction and pursued vigorously the creation of a culture in which the woman will own her body and sexuality. No woman can call herself free, if she does not own and control her body. And no woman is free until she can choose consciously to be or not to be a mother. And as she said, a free race can not be born out of slave mothers, Margaret Peeter p 11 – 14.
To attain this freedom Sanger taught that it was necessary to rebel against all those institutions which oppress the woman by controlling her body as a means of reproduction. These, according to her, must include the Church, the State, the social institution of the family, civil, moral and religious law, dogmas, cultural traditions, patriarchal systems, male domination, lack of access to contraception etc. (Peeters, 12)
In a similar way, Herbert Marcuse 1898 – 1979 the Founder of the western cultural revolution pursued the aims of creating a culture where society will be non- repressive. He taught that the human instinct is sometimes a destructive force because the cultures in which they live do not allow their gratifications. Human society should be devoid of any sort of repression and seeking any form of gratification should be the highest value. He even went as far as saying that a child is a living contradiction of pleasure, it is repressive because of the responsibilities that it gives parents.
The above makes it clear that the intellectual, though indispensable for every human society, can play a very destructive role if he lacks scope and depth. For sure, for the believing intellectual, whether he be Christian, Moslem or Hindu etc, helping to create and maintain a culture directed by permanent values, values which link us to the Creator, must stand as one of his main responsibilities. In other words the intellectual must play the role of evangelizing the culture in which he lives.
The decisive moment in the internalization of the values of the postmodern culture and the creation and popularization of global ethics came in l989 with the fall of the Berlin wall, which marked the end of the East-West divide, with a resultant rapid acceleration of economic and cultural globalization.
The United Nations(UN) organization sought to place itself at the centre of global governance with the resultant weakening of the power of the nation states. It saw itself as the only institution capable of making globalization human, ethical and sustainable. The problems of humanity according to the UN had become global and required not only global solutions but also global values (global ethic). In the 90s the UN organized an unprecedented series of conferences on all aspects of life in society (1990 in Jomtien on education for all, 1990 New York children rights, 1992 in Rio on the environment, 1993 Vienna on human rights, 1994 Cairo on population, 1995 Copenhagen on social development, 1995 Beijing on women, 1996 Istanbul on habitat (partnership principle), 1996 Rome food securities) aimed at getting member countries through the process of consensus building to accept and imbibe the new values of the post modern culture which the UN had started since the 60s through its conference process to crystallize from the cultural and sexual revolutions from 1960s. The United Nations intergovernmental Conference process, started in the l960s, and is a well known instrument of consensus building, to accept and internationalise revolutionary values, propagated by a few NGOs and lobbyists, who are partners of the U N. From the l970s for example, a series of U.N. conferences on population and women were organised. (On Population, Bucharest, l974, Mexico, l984, and Cairo,l994: Women: Mexico,l975, Copenhagen, l980, Nairobi, l985,and Beijing, l995)
The process of these conferences was launched in the context of the Western cultural revolution, a relatively short time, after the commercialization of contraception, and at a moment, when the rapid acceleration of the global population growth generated a lobby to control the population of poor countries. (Peters,111)
As can be seen with Alfred Kinsey, Herbert Marcuse, and Margaret Sanger, the construction of the Global ethics was the work of some postmodern intellectuals, who generally stemmed from a post-judeo Christian secularist background. They established working partnerships with many international organizations. In the l990s many of such people were in the leadership of many international organizations .
Absent from the global ethics are terminologies belonging to the judeo-christian tradition and demonstrate clearly what the new ethic seeks to eliminate or deconstruct. Some of these are:
Truth, charity, hope, gratuitous gift, faith, spouse, family, virginity, chastity, fidelity, motherhood , service, conscience, sin , evil, good, law of nature, authority, suffering , sacrifice, the cross of Christ, creation, mystery etc.
Global governance is now in its implementation phase. The date 2015 stands as the target date for the implementation of the UN Conferences’ objectives and the Millenium Development Goals.
The Role of Depsocom and the Catholic Media.
Depsocom must serve as the communication Chanel of all diocesan Institutions. It must find the current and appropriate ways of communicating to all in the church and society all official decisions course of actions taken by the various diocesan organizations and societies.
Depsocom must be at the centre of diocesan Pastoral and Development Planning. Educate the diocese on the use and power of the Internet and other media of communication.
The internet or cyberspace has become the virtual world to which all of us have been invited as citizens. The Church has paid attention to this invitation in her endeavor to remain an effective sacrament of God’s presence in the world. On May 12, 2002, Pope John Paul II in a speech titled “Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel” at the 36th World Communications Day acknowledged that information communication technology “can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses.” Such acknowledgement comes from a wisdom that recognizes the functions of media as conduits for human expression and must remain as such. The late Pope compares the electronic information world to a Roman piazza “where politics and business were transacted, where religious duties were fulfilled where much of the social life of the city took place, and where the best and the worst of human nature surrounded culture and created a culture of its own.”
Admitting that the fast emerging information technology must remain a tool for human expression, it goes without saying that a responsible usage will lead humanity to a more fraternal and mutual exchange of ideas and values. Parish websites, for example, are becoming more common in our Ghanaian church. Ideally such sites will include contact information for parish offices; information regarding the history, structure and mission of the parish; weekly bulletin of events and thoughts in the parish; links to relevant sites such as the diocese and partner organisations. A parish website will not be relevant if it is not updated to reflect the events of the real world. A site with outdated news or postings of mass times that do not correspond to actual times for mass is not only irrelevant but also misleading. The website is relevant to the degree that it becomes a potent space for parishioners to engage themselves as active participants – creating and consuming media content.