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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
This article was first published April 14, 2020, at the NCRegister.
COMMENTARY: The people who have the most to offer in combating the sexual revolution also have the most to lose from doing so.
by Jennifer Roback Morse
Respected commentator Father Raymond de Souza observed a little-known fact about the convoluted case of Australian Cardinal George Pell: “No judge who had a future to worry about sided with Cardinal Pell. Every judge whose future was secure from recriminations for judging fairly sided with the cardinal.”
One such fair judge was the lone dissenter on the lower court, Justice Mark Weinberg. Father de Souza’s observation has implications far beyond one Australian legal case. Let me come right to the point: Retired professionals, we need you back on the playing field!
Let me explain.
Obviously, the top jurists in the Australian legal system do not have “a future to worry about.” These judges on the highest court of the land are the ones who ultimately exonerated Cardinal Pell. Let’s zero in on Weinberg, who, as noted above, was the lone dissenter at that level. His 200-page dissent utterly demolished the majority opinion, which upheld Cardinal Pell’s convictions. Father de Souza pointed out something I did not previously realize: Weinberg is a 71-year-old retired judge who is called in for special cases because of his expertise.
Let’s apply this seemingly offhand observation to the broader situation of living out Catholic teaching in the modern world. The entire developed world is in the grip of an ideology that is every bit as toxic and irrational as communism or fascism. This ideology demands conformity, imposes penalties for dissent, and controls all the major institutions of society. The ideology promises to create heaven on Earth, if only we allow the ruling savior class enough power to reshape law, media, education, entertainment and, of course, the judicial system.
The ideology I’m speaking of is the one spawned by the sexual revolution. We can all have carefree, unlimited sex. No unwanted babies. No broken hearts. No loneliness. We’re told that the sex of the body is not a real constraint on anything, so we can remake our society and our bodies in any way we want. Children don’t really need anything from their natural parents, so we don’t really need any social norms requiring permanence in sexual relationships. If we just continue to reshape the institutions of society, we will eventually arrive at that wonderful world where sexual activity is sterile unless you have quirky lifestyle preferences and happen to want a baby: heaven on Earth.
The only major institution in the world holding out against this ideology is the Catholic Church. And even parts of the Church have “gone wobbly,” in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s colorful phrase from a different era about a different totalitarian ideology. Cardinal Pell’s “crime” was that he actively resisted the claims of the sexual revolutionaries. The child-abuse charges were trumped up against him. There are clerics around the world who are much guiltier of much worse things who are getting far better treatment within their own countries’ legal systems and the international media than poor Cardinal Pell. Why single out him, of all people? Interesting question, no?
I’ve written before about the commonalities among the cases of Theodore McCarrick, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. And I’ve written quite a lot (a whole book, in fact) about the dynamics of the sexual revolution and what keeps it chugging along, in spite of its irrationality and crimes. Long story short: Delaying childbearing is the de facto social price of getting an education and entering the professions.
Many people accomplish that delay, not by sexual restraint until marriage, but, rather, through the use of contraception and, in many cases, abortion. This fact tilts the educated and professional classes toward favoring the sexual revolution and the unfettered license it touts. The people most likely to be in positions of influence, power and wealth either think the sexual revolution is just grand, or secretly know that it isn’t but have a guilty conscience about it. In either case, an outsized percentage of people in the professions have a strong incentive to keep the sexual revolution going. People like Cardinal Pell, who dissent from the sexual revolution’s orthodoxy, disturb the consciences of many journalists and jurists.
Members of the professions who do not agree with the sexual revolution know all about the pressure to conform to its tenets. I have heard from Catholic lawyers and doctors, as well as evangelical Protestant therapists and social workers, about the difficulties of trying to do their jobs. The people who have the most to offer in combating the sexual revolution also have the most to lose from doing so.
Yet these are the very people we need to fighting for the integrity of their professions. These are people who know the fields of law or medicine or journalism. They can speak to the specific problems in the libraries and schools. They know how their profession operates. They know the important people and have connections an outsider can’t have.
This brings me back to Cardinal Pell. What if Mark Weinberg hadn’t come out of retirement to take this case? Where would Cardinal Pell be today if Weinberg had decided to check out and do the Australian equivalent of playing golf that day? Only someone who is both qualified and relatively detached from social pressure could render the type of impartial ruling that Weinberg did.
Retired doctors, nurses, teachers, attorneys: This is my plea. Find creative ways to influence your profession for good. Join or form alternative professional organizations or independent practices. No one can fire you anymore. You have nothing to lose now, and you still have a lot to offer. Get to work. We need you!