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The US Bishops on Secularism and the Family (With a Twist)

“Virtual Vestibule” readers may not yet have heard what the U.S. Bishops have been saying about the destructive impact of secular culture upon the family. So, here we go—incredible and insightful words about our contemporary predicament:

Secularism has wrought havoc in the family. Even the pagans saw something sacred in marriage and the family. In Christian doctrine its holiness is so sublime that it is likened to the mystical union of Christ and His Church. Secularism has debased the marriage contract by robbing it of its relation to God and, therefore, of its sacred character. It has set the will and convenience of husband and wife in the place that Christian thought gives to the will of God and the good of society.

A secularized pseudoscience has popularized practices which violate nature itself and rob human procreation of its dignity and nobility. Thus, selfish pursuit of pleasure is substituted for salutary self-discipline in family life.

Secularism has completely undermined the stability of the family as a divine institution and has given our country the greatest divorce problem in the Western world. In taking God out of family life, it has deprived society’s basic educational institution of its most powerful means in molding the soul of the child. Public authority and the press are constantly emphasizing our grave problem of juvenile delinquency. On all sides is heard the cry that something be done about the problem. Our profound conviction is that nothing much will ever be done about it unless we go to the root of the evil and learn the havoc that secularism has wrought in the family. In vain shall we spend public moneys in vast amounts for educational and recreational activities if we do not give more thought to the divinely ordained stability of the family and the sanctity of the home.

God planned the human family and gave it its basic constitution. When secularism discards that plan and constitution it lacerates the whole social fabric. Artificial family planning on the basis of contraceptive immorality, cynical disregard of the noble purposes of sex, a sixtyfold increase in our divorce rate during the past century, and widespread failure of the family to discharge its educational functions are terrible evils which secularism has brought to our country. What hope is there of any effective remedy unless men bring God back into family life and respect the laws He has made for this fundamental unit of human society?*

Pretty amazing and timely stuff, right? Well, here’s the kicker—this is what our US Bishops had to say about secularism and the family (wait for it)….back in 1947!!!

That’s right. 1947. Sixty-eight years ago. Perhaps there really is “nothing new under the sun.”

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*[Statement on Secularism,  Issued by the NCWC Administrative Board in the Name of the Bishops of the United States, November 14, 1947]