The destruction of every major Catholic church in the capital, including the 81-year-old cathedral, also was a sign, he said: "When there is all this corruption going on, whose role is it in society to speak out? Isn't the Church supposed to say something?"As I work on a screenplay for a story based in the U.S. that quote tells of yet another example of what Cardinal Ratzinger recalls in SALT OF THE EARTH (page 82, the Ignatius 1997 paperback edition):
Most Haitians are Christian — largely Catholic with a small but growing number of Protestants. But most also practice Voodoo, which along with Catholicism is an official state religion.
The words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.Catholicism and Voodoo both State religions, and both practiced by the people. Are you kidding me? And what did the Haitian archbishop (before he was killed in the wreckage) and other prelates say of this commingling of Voodoo and Catholicism? Did he turn his head afraid of incurring the wrath of the state? Or did he, as the story suggests, not speak up much at all?
And what are the U.S. bishops doing and saying with respect to the commingling of some government approved practices like contraception and abortion? Are they just writing letters, taking votes, and speaking out? Are they being like Obama... "Time for another speech." Or are they leading the culture more dynamically with their lives. Are they afraid of the conflict and the negative press?
Well, take another look at the Notre Dame Cathedral of Port Au Prince above. Maybe the Earthquake was not a sign from God, but it sure comes off as a strong metaphor that something is going on here in addition to a really bad construction code. Or maybe that's no code. Ah, a code of life. You cannot buck Natural Law. Gravity, like moral truth, is not just a good idea, it's the law. You mess with it, destruction is sure to result.
God's judgment comes, then, comes simply as the natural result from ignoring Natural Law, that is by ignoring the marriage of Faith and Reason. To the devout Christian there is a certain and healthy paranoia that comes out of the humility of realizing how small, insignificant, and stupid we are compared to God. At the same time there is a confidence in how responsible, significant, and rational we need to be in order to advance human progress. Devout attention to the things of God will motivate individuals to PAY ATTENTION ... to BE WISE .. to ATTAIN KNOWLEDGE, and constantly be on alert for the devil who prowls around trying to screw everything up. The devout Christian cultivates the opposite mindset of the deconstructionists, the cynics, and the skeptics. Those negative mindsets are the result of sin and a willing separation from God and the universe's wisdom. When we sin we distress, loose hope, stop thinking as rationally, and are blinded toward the progress that can both save our soul and body.
So, here we have this horrible, pathetic destruction in Haiti. (Yes, give money to trusted relief organizations, as I have done... but go beyond the money. Don't trust in it.) Was it God's judgment as Pat Robertson suggested? Was Pat Robertson's comment as "stupid" as President Obama claimed. While the Rev. Robertson can sound radical and out of touch at times, I suggest that Robertson might have a sense of what God is about more than President Obama who has demonstrated a deeper trust in government to redeem us than in God.
I think God's judgment in Haiti can easily been seen in the rejection of common sense building codes that have been around the English speaking world for over 100 years. Such a rejection of readily available knowledge and wisdom suggests the similar rejection of a devout Christian mindset that marries faith and REASON, and pursues wisdom and knowledge. God doesn't need to reach out his hand in some "act" of judgment, man simply brings God's judgment himself by ignoring what God has made available and directed mankind to pursue.
It is unfortunate -- no it is utterly tragic -- that skeptics are so ready to reject the things of God, when all progress is based on the gifts of faith and reason that God has given to man.