Pushing ‘Freedom’ on the World: A Scientific Investigation into the Fruits of Liberalism

Speaking proud words of vanity, they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness, those who for a little while escape, such as converse in error: Promising them liberty, whereas they themselves are the slaves of corruption.’ (2 Peter 2:18-19)

                      There are groups of people, usually identified with the term, globalist or elitist, who wish to force their own false ideas on the world’s populations. These people usually consist of people who have their own ideas about what will bring the citizens of the world happiness and freedom.  Amongst these people consist many academics who believe they are leading the way in enlightening the masses about progress and human freedom.  They have certain ideas about how the world should look, and they are determined to influence decision makers, so the world begins to look the way they want it to.  Often, they will use the name of ‘science’ to justify their claims.  One of the ways of the best ways of pushing one’s ideas is through the use of elaborate and complex sociological, psychological, and political theories that few study, and even fewer understand.  One example of this comes from research funded by the CATO Institute, a thinktank which has a major influence on academic research and public opinion, particularly in the USA.  The following blog outlines its attempt to push its own brand of ‘freedom’ on nations around the world.

Introduction:

                  In 2012, the CATO Institute helped to develop a method of measuring supposed personal freedom across 152 countries, calling this the ‘personal freedom index’. It was developed through analysis of various countries by researchers rather than through the completion of questionnaires by citizens in these countries. This ‘personal freedom index’ lists countries that have the least restrictions on such things as ‘religious freedom’, ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘sexual freedom’. (Footnote 1).  Its researchers then compiled a list of these 152 countries, numbering them from highest to lowest in order of ‘personal freedom’.  The theory of the researchers is that the type of ‘freedoms’ they propose are crucial for recognising the true dignity of human beings. According to their theory, these ‘freedoms’ should lead to individuals feeling more free, as restrictions such as restrictions on religious practice and sexual acts and other ‘coercive’ laws such as censorship that impact on ‘personal freedom’ are removed.  It is their theory that the most peaceful and happy society is one where people have the ‘right to choose to do, say, or think anything they want, provided that it does not infringe on the rights of others to do likewise.’ (1). The theory goes that less restrictions on the types of freedoms mentioned above should have an impact on people’s perception of their freedom.  As one’s sense of freedom is strongly correlated with one’s life satisfaction, it should also lead to happier societies.  

Method:

                      The best way to assess if the removal of certain types of so called restrictions within a country leads to a sense of more personal freedom is to look at what the data says on the subject. To do so, we would need to examine countries that were included in the ‘personal freedom index’. We then need to find data from samples within these countries that answered questions on perceived personal freedom as well. Thankfully, we have this data available.  From 2010 to 2014, global research was conducted that collected data from individuals from 64 countries across the globe. This was known as the World Value Survey (WVS) (see: https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs.jsp). It represents one of the largest efforts to collect and examine data on various psychological, sociological, and political positions, views, and opinions held globally. This data was collected around the same time as the ‘personal freedom index’ for various countries was being developed by the CATO funded researchers. One of the questions asked to individuals is the following:

‘Some people feel they have completely free choice and control over their lives, while other people feel that what they do has no real effect on what happens to them. Please use this scale where 1 means ‘no choice at all’ and 10 means ‘a great deal of choice’ to indicate how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out’

‘No choice at all’ – 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10 – ‘A great deal of choice’

It is theorised by liberal researchers that if restrictions on ‘personal freedom’ were removed, people would feel that they had greater freedom of choice and control in their lives.

From the 64 countries in the World Value Survey who answered the question above, 54 of these countries also have a personal freedom index score.  Let us examine the results.

Results:

A simple correlational analysis was conducted to identify if there was any relationship between scores on the personal freedom index and the average score for one’s sense of freedom.  This produced a correlation of .19.  Statisticians advise that a correlation must be at least .3 to indicate a weak relationship between two sets of data (2). A correlation of .19 indicates that there is no relationship between these two sets of data, i.e. the data suggests that the personal freedom index of countries does not significantly affect the sense of freedom of individuals within these countries.

If one inspects the data, one notices major discrepancies between countries which are supposedly ‘free’ (based on CATO’s understanding of this), i.e. the personal freedom index, and countries where its citizens score highly on the World Value survey freedom question, i.e. the average freedom score. The two tables are outlined below for one’s own analysis:

Position:Country:Average freedom score (WVS): Position:Country:Personal Freedom Index:
1Mexico8.44 1Sweden9.53
2Trinidad and Tobago8.17 2Germany9.34
3Colombia8.16 2Netherlands9.34
4Kuwait7.96 4Ireland9.28
5Romania7.88 5Australia9.23
6Slovenia7.88 6Hong Kong9.09
7Ecuador7.86 7Slovenia9.03
8New Zealand7.8 8Poland9.02
9United States7.73 9New Zealand8.97
10Uruguay7.73 10Estonia8.85
11Australia7.69 11Chile8.81
12Brazil7.69 12Taiwan8.73
13Sweden7.62 13United States8.71
14Cyprus7.54 14South Korea8.61
15Thailand7.53 15Uruguay8.6
16Malaysia7.5 16Spain8.57
17Taiwan7.48 17Cyprus8.46
18Peru7.45 18Romania8.39
19Philippines7.42 19Argentina8.26
20Kyrgyzstan7.38 20Peru7.63
21Argentina7.36 21Ukraine7.6
22Turkey7.35 22Ghana7.57
23Pakistan7.34 23India7.36
24Ghana7.29 24Georgia7.28
25Jordan7.27 24Ecuador7.28
26Azerbaijan7.23 26South Africa7.24
27Ireland7.22 27Armenia7.17
28Nigeria7.22 28Turkey7.16
29Chile7.18 29Singapore7.05
30China7.13 30Brazil7.02
31South Africa7.12 31Thailand6.84
32Kazakhstan7.03 32Trinidad & Tobago6.75
33Lebanon6.97 32Philippines6.75
34Spain6.95 34Mexico6.31
35Netherlands6.9 35Lebanon6.25
36Bahrain6.88 36Kazakhstan6.14
37Hong Kong6.87 37Kyrgyzstan6.12
38Rwanda6.85 38Russia6.06
39Germany6.8 39Tunisia5.93
40Singapore6.77 40Kuwait5.91
41Poland6.67 41Morocco5.9
42Algeria6.66 42Jordan5.89
43Tunisia6.64 43Colombia5.87
44South Korea6.57 44Malaysia5.86
45Ukraine6.56 44Bahrain5.86
46Armenia6.52 46Azerbaijan5.79
47Zimbabwe6.43 47Rwanda5.37
48Yemen6.4 48China5.33
49Egypt6.36 49Algeria5.15
50Estonia6.35 50Egypt4.75
51Georgia6.24 51Nigeria4.69
52Morocco6.18 52Zimbabwe4.59
53Russia5.95 53Pakistan4.56
54India5.41 54Yemen3.23

There are some countries that maintain similar positions on the personal freedom index and the average freedom score, i.e. USA, New Zealand, Egypt, but the charts are mainly distinguished by the large differences between country’s scores on the personal freedom index and the average freedom score.  For example, Germany scores 2nd on the personal freedom index and 39th on the average freedom score, Netherlands 2nd and 36th, Estonia 10th and 50th, Mexico 34th and 1st, Hong Kong 37th and 6th, Kuwait 40th and 4th, Poland 41st and 8th, and Colombia 43rd and 3rd.  Together with the non-significant correlation this indicates that a country’s rating on the personal freedom index has no impact on the sense of freedom of its citizens.  In some instances, it appears that there is a negative relationship between a country’s scores on the personal freedom index and the sense of freedom of that country’s citizens, e.g. Netherlands and Germany.  

Discussion:

                         The results indicate that increased ‘personal freedom’ as defined and advocated by the CATO Institute does not lead to an increased sense of freedom amongst individuals.  Even in countries where this ‘personal freedom’ is almost fully implemented, e.g. Germany and the Netherlands, its citizens still have a strong sense that they are not free.  Germany and the Netherlands may be seen by many as some of the most free and progressive countries in the world, yet its citizens rate themselves as less free than those in Communist China.  Now, it is not easy to identify what exactly is causing the average rates of freedom amongst the citizens of countries and there appears to be no obvious identifiable pattern (see footnote 2). However, the evidence does show that it is clearly not the ‘freedom’ that is advocated for by the CATO Institute that is affecting people’s sense of freedom. If the implementation of liberal ideology is meant to make citizens free and happy it certainly is not doing so.  If it is designed to frustrate people in their search for freedom, leave them exposed to error through freedom of speech and ‘religious freedom’, and lead them into immorality through ‘sexual freedom’, the empirical evidence suggests that this is what it does (See footnote 3).  Often those who espouse liberalism cite science and scientific evidence as a way of justifying their claims.  They claim that their ideas will benefit and give freedom to all mankind. Yet, when one looks at the effects of the implementation of these ideas, the actual evidence tells us otherwise.

Conclusion and reflection:

                       For those with a scientific mind who like to apply reason, logic and evidence when trying to assess whether certain theories actually work the above study hopefully provides an insight into the effects of liberalism on countries. It shows that liberalism does not work for the good of citizens, despite the clamour from the globalists and elitists that it is the way forward. (See footnote 4). Liberalism appears to be driven by a frustration with the psychological chains one feels around oneself.  Liberals tend to put the blame firmly on external circumstances or institutions for restricting their ‘freedom’. Liberals with some intellectual ability tend to wrap their theories up in pseudoscientific language to try and justify their claims. Instead of promoting true freedom which all citizens would benefit from, they promote licence, which only corrupts individuals. Instead of examining their own conscience and identifying where they are going wrong, they tend to point out where society is going wrong. They tend to promote their own ideas and behaviours as normal thus keeping themselves locked in chains and encouraging others to join them in these chains (See footnote 5).

So, the author will leave the reader to reflect on these results.  If the reader has followed what has been laid out and has agreed with the conclusions set forth then the reader may realise that the ‘freedom’ promoted by many today does not actually lead to freedom.  Once the illusion of liberalism as the way to freedom becomes apparent, one can become cynical or disillusioned and abandon the search for freedom or one can instead continue to search for freedom and better understandings of what it actually is. The references in footnote 5 give an indication of where to start this search and many other blogs on this website have already pointed toward the answers.  A deep and solid sense of freedom and peace is possible, but the scientific data, as outlined above, shows that it is not the illusionary ‘freedom’ offered by the world.

All the sovereignty and freedom of the world compared with the freedom and sovereignty of the Spirit of God is utter slavery, anguish, and captivity.’ – Ida Friederike Coudenhove, The Burden of Belief’  

God bless you in your search for it,

Footnote 1: The researchers who developed the concept of ‘personal freedom index’ have erroneous understandings of ‘freedom’ basing their understandings on the philosophical errors of Hobbes and Plato. More recently, the CATO Institute has expanded its concept of ‘freedom’ to include ‘transgender freedom’. The author has put ‘personal freedom’ in quotation marks to note this. Footnote 5 explains the true understanding of ‘freedom’ in more detail and offers references for further information.

Footnote 2: The question about ‘freedom of choice and control over the way your life turns out’ in the World Value Survey does not capture all that it means to be free. It also refers to one’s sense of control as well as freedom. This may explain why no obvious pattern can be identified across countries. While it is not a perfect measurement of freedom it does give some sense of how free people feel and thus it is useful for the purposes of this study.  

Footnote 3: Germany and Netherlands are examples of societies that have become morally corrupt.  They were some of the first countries to accept immoral practices, e.g. abortion, prostitution, homosexuality, that inevitably follow when one adopts liberal ideologies.  As the seed of liberalism is Protestantism it is not surprising that these countries, who abandoned the Catholic Faith before many other European countries, were some of the first to fall into moral corruption.  Their citizens are far from free or satisfied compared to other countries. They will continue to be frustrated in their clamour for freedom so long as they persist on their illusionary path to ‘freedom’ through liberalism. Their low scores on the question about freedom of choice and control in one’s live may also be explained by the rejection of the truth that man has free will by both Calvin (the Netherlands) and Luther (Germany). It is likely that these false understandings still have a significant effect on the mentality of Dutch and German people today.    

Footnote 4: Life satisfaction is a good citizens wish to have.  One’s sense of freedom and life satisfaction are strongly correlated. This relationship is highlighted in a 2009 paper by Italian economist Paolo Verme, “Happiness, freedom, and control.” (3) Verme finds that: ‘The variable freedom and control is by far the most significant predictor of life satisfaction. It shows the highest coefficient, the highest odds ratio, the highest z-score and one of the lowest standard errors. For a one step increase in the one to ten freedom and control scale, happiness is expected to change about 36 percent of a step on the one to ten happiness scale …’ (4)  As the Personal Freedom Index has statistically no relationship with one’s sense of freedom it is highly likely that it has no relationship with life satisfaction either. Thus, promoting ‘personal freedom’, as outlined by the researchers, is not going to be of benefit for the good of the public.

Footnote 5:  It is noted that political and social changes are needed to promote true liberty amongst citizens. This true liberty is far from the ‘personal freedom’/licence promoted by the CATO researchers. Yet, a sense of freedom or a ‘spirit of liberty’ will only be partly achieved through the removal of external obstacles. It will be mainly achieved through the removal of our internal obstacles, e.g. envy, greed, pride, lust, etc., that block us from being truly free and peaceful. As outlined by Thomas A. Kempis in ‘The Imitation of Christ’: ‘Strive diligently for perfect interior freedom and self-mastery in every place, in every action and occupation, so that you be not the slave of anything, but that all things be under your control. You must be lord and ruler over your actions, never a bondsman or a mercenary. You must be a free person – similar to a righteous Hebrew – one who is transferred to the rank and the liberty of the children of God. Children of God stand above present things; they contemplate those that are eternal.’ It all comes back to the truth essentially and living a true life, as this is the only way that you can be free. A liberal mindset is not the solution in the personal sphere nor are liberal projects the solutions in the public sphere. This mindset and these projects promote and encourage the choice of evil and liberals celebrate this as if the choice of evil is liberating. As Archbishop Lefebvre, paraphrasing St Thomas Aquinas, said in his classic book, ‘Against the Heresies’: ‘To be able to choose evil is a defect, and can only be a defect: one chooses, essentially, one’s own destruction; one commits suicide. To seek what is sin is to seek one’s own imperfection, that is, non-being…It is necessary to fix firmly in mind the idea that the power to do evil is a defect of human liberty, a flaw of freedom.’ Or as Pope Leo XIII said, ‘Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object.’ And ‘True liberty of human society does not consist in every man doing what he pleases, for his would simply end in turmoil and confusion, and bring on the overthrow of the State; but rather in this, that through the injunctions of the civil law all may more easily conform to the prescriptions of the eternal law.’  For an outline of the errors of liberalism and what external efforts, i.e. religious, social and political laws and practices, are needed to protect and promote true liberty, one can read the encyclicals explaining and condemning liberalism, Mirari Vos by Pope Gregory XVI, Quanta Cura by Pope Blessed Pius IX, Humanum Genus by Pope Leo XIII, or within the various encyclicals by Pope St. Pius X or read the encyclical ‘Libertas – On The Nature of Human Liberty’ explaining what liberty really is by Leo XIII. Or for an overview of these encyclicals one can read ‘Against the Heresies: Comments on the Papal Encyclicals condemning Modern Errors infecting the Church and Society’ by Archbishop Lefebvre.

References:

1.) From: Vasquez, I. & Porcnik, T. (2015) Introduction to ‘The Human Freedom Index’.

2.) https://www.dummies.com/education/math/statistics/how-to-interpret-a-correlation-coefficient-r/ [Accessed 27/08/20]

3.) Verne, P. (2009)‘Happiness, Freedom and Control’, Econpubblica Centre for Research on the Public Sector, Working Paper, 141.  Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1499652[Accessed 20/08/19]

4.) Wilkinson, W. (2011) ‘Happiness, Freedom and Autonomy’ Available at:https://www.forbes.com/sites/willwilkinson/2011/03/23/happiness-and-freedom/#5ceeac83fe5f[Accessed 21/08/19]

Getting Closer to the Truth – Protestant Services or the Novus Ordo?

‘If in the records of the Church it is deservedly reckoned to the special credit of its first ages that the multitude of the believers had but one heart and one soul (Acts 4:32), there can be no shadow of doubt that this immense blessing was due to their frequent meetings at the divine table; for we find it recorded of them: They were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42).’ – Pope Leo XIII ‘Mirae Caritatis

As stated elsewhere on this website, the key to happiness and freedom is knowing and loving the truth. To gain knowledge of the truth, the truth must be presented clearly. When the truth is presented thus, one is more likely to assent to it, love it and follow it. The following study, presented below, is a scientific investigation into whether a Protestant service or a Catholic (Novus Ordo) Mass is more likely to help people to love and follow the truth. I post this study here as the soul and intellect are nourished on truth and where one goes to honour and receive Truth Himself will have a significant impact on one’s psychological well being.

Forming one’s moral foundation: A Protestant service or a Catholic Mass?

The following article examines the moral attitudes of Protestant and Catholics and the effect of attendance at their respective ‘services’ on these attitudes.  This is done by looking at data from the World Value Survey and European Value Survey.  While this article outlines a scientific investigation, it is written in a slightly more informal style so that it can be understood by those not familiar with reading scientific publications.  The author hopes that enough information is provided, and methods clearly explained that this study can be critiqued, and the results verified by any researchers who wish to review what is shared here. If the reader wishes to have access to any further data/tables/results or has any questions about what is shared below please contact the author at: truthandfreedomtherapy@outlook.com 

‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)

Introduction:

                   One of the core missions of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was to help us lives that were highly moral so that we could earn eternal happiness.  He exhorts us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), to love one another (John 13:34), love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to be meek, merciful and just (Matthew 5:3-10). He tells Christians to be virtuous and let this light shine as an example to the world (Matthew 5:15).  He says that people will know His followers by their fruits (Matthew 7:16) and He says that those who love Him will keep His commandments (John 14:15).

                  During our recent times, there has been a falling away from the message of Christ and a decline in love for God.  This is reflective in our behaviour and also in our attitudes towards His commandments.  This is strikingly obvious in the breaking of the fifth (‘Thou shalt not kill’) and sixth (‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’) commandments. Over the last number of decades, abortion and euthanasia have been legalised in many countries and in countries where it is not yet legal, more accepting attitudes towards these two sins have developed.  In relation to the sixth commandment, sins of impurity are becoming more and more prevalent.  This is particularly true in relation to the atrocious sin that is homosexuality (For a great insight into why ‘atrocious’ is only one of many appropriate words for this sin, see: ‘The Book of Gomorrah’ by St Peter Damian (1)).  It is become fashionable in countries, which used to be Christian, to have ‘gay pride’ marches and it is now legal in many countries for homosexuals and lesbians to ‘marry’. 

                  So what can stem this tide of immorality?  The answer is Christianity. True science only supports this position and the greatest of Catholic minds, such as that of St Augustine, St Thomas, St Bonaventure, nobly and, decidedly, defeated the so-called intellectuals of their time.  In our modern ‘scientific’ times, ‘scientific’ arguments which supposedly refute the Faith are nothing but ‘sham’ science. This was outlined neatly over a 100 years ago by Harvard Professor of Anatomy, Thomas Dwight, ‘One of our greatest curses has been the atheistic popular lecturer, the purveyor of sham science on one hand and the hater of religion on the other. He spreads abroad the wildest theories as established facts, clamoring that the whole social fabric, religion and all, should be remodeled to suit the new revelation. He does not know whether there is a God or not; but he does know that man came from an ape. There is no certainty that our senses tell us the truth, yet there is no knowledge but from observation.  An idea is nothing but a glorious sensation, idiocy is a reversion, crime a disease, free will a delusion, religion an emotion.  The mischief that such men do is great indeed.  The young man sees the popular lecturer praised and flattered.  He is dazzled by his plausibility and brilliancy.  The plain fact that his hero is but a quack does not occur to him.’ (p. 26-27) (2).  These words from 1911 are even more relevant today than they were then. In these times of mass confusion, there is much blindness and scientific quackery.  So where can you find good shepherds to teach and guide you on the straight and narrow path of Christianity and help you to live a good moral life?  There have been many theological and philosophical discussions and arguments about false teachers and false shepherds throughout the last number of centuries.  This study is not going to enter into these theological discussions (‘The Catholic Encyclopaedia’ (3) is a great guide for those looking to find answers to these arguments and it is worth studying the warnings from the Epistles of St Paul about false teachers as they are as relevant today as ever they were). Rather, the purpose of this study is to draw people’s attention to data from the social science field that can give evidence for the best route on the short and narrow path.  Subsequent to presenting and analysing the data, the results will be discussed, and conclusions drawn from this. 

The Rationale for This Research:

                  This question about whether it is better to attend a Protestant service or Catholic Mass to inform one’s moral attitudes became of interest to the author after observing the difference in opinion on abortion amongst Protestant and Catholics during the abortion Referendum campaign in Ireland in 2018.  Many Catholics and Protestants came together for the prolife campaign.  People who called themselves ‘Catholics’ had a wide range of divergent opinions on this issue and this was apparent even amongst Mass going ‘Catholics’. (This has become even more evident once the results were announced in the Referendum with many Catholics voting for the removal of the eighth amendment from the Irish Constitution, thus legalising abortion in Ireland (4)). It became obvious during the campaign that many Protestants had stronger stances against abortion than many Catholics.  There were complaints during the Referendum campaign that the Church was being too quiet on this issue and not guiding its flock properly.  As stated above, once one’s eyes are opened, by the grace of God, and once one has studied the current problems in our world, it is clear that Christianity is the key to bringing people back to the truth.  But who are guiding people to the truth and correct moral attitudes? Tragically, as a Catholic, the question must be asked: is it Protestant ministers or Catholic priests?

                       The author wished to look at data objectively to try to find the answer to this question.  The data chosen to achieve this was from the World Value Survey (1981 to 2014, see: www.worldvaluesurvey.org). These surveys collected data from people on a range of social, political and religious issues.  Since 1981, there have been 6 waves, i.e. collections, of data completed.  This data is open to the public. (The collection of data for the seventh waves, 2017-2019, is under way). These surveys provide a wealth of data on moral views and opinions from across the world.

Preliminary research:

                        Based on what was observed during the abortion Referendum campaign, it was decided, first, to examine how many Mass going Catholics were in favour of abortion. This was done to obtain an overview of moral attitudes amongst Mass going Catholics (Please note: the author does not wish to pass judgement on individuals who voted for abortion as one does not know how much they knew about what they were voting for.  Many voters may have thought that they were voting for ‘women’s rights’, ‘women’s liberty’ or ‘healthcare’ but I write ‘voted for abortion’ here as this was what was voted for.  The author also believes that the sinfulness of the act of voting for abortion should be pointed out to people as this is the charitable thing to do as works of mercy include instructing the ignorant and admonishing the sinner). The author was aware of many Mass going ‘Catholics’ who voted in favour of abortion, but no study or research was found indicating the views on abortion of Mass going ‘Catholics’.  Pew research from 2016 (5) indicated that Catholics in the USA had less opposition to abortion than some Protestant groups, e.g. Evangelical Protestants, but this gave no information on Mass attendance.  Using data from Ireland from the European Value Survey (EVS, 2008 – see: https://europeanvaluesstudy.eu/), the author examined the percentage of weekly Mass going Catholics who believed abortion was sometimes acceptable, i.e. they scored 2 or more on the question outlined in figure 1 below.  (Note: The focus is on Ireland (2008) in this preliminary research but data from around the world from 2010 to 2014, which shows the deplorable state of the beliefs of weekly Mass going Catholics, is included for the interest and reference of readers)

Figure 1: Question on justification of abortion:

‘Please tell me for each of the following actions whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between’:

 Abortion:                                Never justifiable                        Always justifiable                  

                                                 1      2      3      4       5       6       7      8       9      10

Table 1:

Percentage of Mass going Roman Catholics (‘RCs’) who believe abortion is ‘never justifiable’:

% ‘RCs’ in country % of ‘RCs’ that go to Mass weekly % that believed abortion is ‘never justifiable’ (v204 = 1) of weekly Mass going Catholics
New Zealand (12) 13 21 80
Brazil (80) 53.1 44.3 78.2
Colombia (119) 61.5 53.5 77.9
Trinidad and Tobago (87) 20.2 44.3 68.2
Ghana (60) 13.5 85.6 67.9
Ecuador (65) 49.9 49.3 67.9
Ireland (Note: 2008 –  EVS) 81.6 49.3 65.2
Mexico (100) 69.7 50.1 64.2
Argentina (44) 70.2 16.7 63.6
Chile (26) 64.9 25.5 60.1
Peru (54) 74.5 40.2 59.8
Zimbabwe 21.3 84.4 59.6
Poland (20) 94.2 55.3 58.4
Belarus 10.6 30 58.3
Nigeria (143) 19.1 92.3 56.5
Philippines (87) 69 61 56
Uruguay 23.8 14.6 54.5
South Korea (33) 15.8 59 51.4
Germany (8) 27 20.4 50.9
Lebannon (103) 23.1 56.7 48
Australia (12) 22.9 18.8 43.5
Spain (35) 73 16.7 42.6
United States (31) 22 41.5 41.8
Slovenia (19) 65.4 21.3 30
Netherlands (8) 17.7 12.8 30
South Africa (69) 16.3 70.3 26.3
Singapore (75) 6.1 73.3 23.9
Rwanda (133) 55.7 74.3 21.4

The table above indicates that many weekly Mass going Roman Catholics believed that abortion was ‘justifiable’ in some instances. In Ireland, 10 years before the Referendum on abortion, over one-third (34.8 per cent) of weekly Mass going Roman Catholics believed that abortion was justifiable in some instances.  By 2018, the Irish Times reports that 68 per cent of those who voted in favour of abortion in the Referendum were Catholic and many justified this by citing ‘freedom of conscience’ (4).  While Irish Catholic bishops and priests mainly remained silent after the result, some Protestant writers, seeing these results, questioned whether the Catholic Church was guiding people correctly with one writer pointing out that almost half of those Catholics who voted ‘yes’ went to Mass weekly or monthly according to exit poll surveys (6). One Protestant writer lambasted Catholic leaders for leading people astray (6).  While this Protestant writer did not understand the fundamentals of Christian/Catholic teaching, i.e. he erroneously believed in salvation through the Bible alone, he did point out some  of the modern errors that have crept into the minds of the Catholic hierarchy and he did rightly point the blame at local Catholic churches and its clergy for how and what they have taught their attendees about Christianity.  So these initial results raise an important question, i.e. do Protestants have a point?  Do attendees at Protestant receive better Christian moral formation than Catholic Mass goers? 

It was decided to examine the relationship between attendance at Protestant services or Catholic ‘services’, i.e. Mass (see figure 2 below for wording of this question in the survey) and moral attitudes and then compare the two.  The relationship between how important God was in one’s life and Protestant or Catholic attendance was also examined.  This was examined as Our Lord clearly states, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15).  How important God is in your life is a sign of this love and while some people may have a distorted conception of God, scores on this question are negatively correlated with acceptance of immoral behaviour, i.e. the more important God is in your life the less likely you are to justify abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia and other sins (see footnote 1 on this point).

Figure 2:  Question on religious service attendance:

V145.  Apart from weddings and funerals, about how often do you attend religious services these days? (Code one answer):    

1  More than once a week     2  Once a week     3  Once a month     4  Only on special holy days      5  Once a year     6  Less often     7  Never, practically never

Main Research:

Method:

                        To begin with, average scores were examined on the importance of God and the attitudes towards homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia of Protestants and Catholics from across the world (see figures 2 and 3 for an outline of how these questions were asked).  Answers to questions on homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia were chosen as these are current major political, social and cultural battlegrounds in most Western countries. 

Figure 2: Question on the importance of God:

How important is God in your life? Please use this scale to indicate. 10 means “very important” and 1 means “not at all important.”

Not at all important                         Very important

1      2      3      4       5       6       7      8       9      10

Figure 3: Questions on attitude towards homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia:

‘Please tell me for each of the following actions whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between’:

Homosexuality:                    Never justifiable                        Always justifiable                  

                                                 1      2      3      4       5       6       7      8       9      10

Abortion:                              Never justifiable                        Always justifiable                  

                                                 1      2      3      4       5       6       7      8       9      10

Euthanasia:                           Never justifiable                        Always justifiable                  

                                                 1      2      3      4       5       6       7      8       9      10

The following tables provide a general overview on data from across countries:

General overview – scores:

Table 2 (i): Average scores for importance of God in one’s life:

Importance of God (From 1 ‘Not at all important’ to 10 ‘Very important’) Roman Catholic Evangelical Protestant
1981-84 7.66 6.85
1989-93 8.34 8.65
1994-98 8.27 9.45 7.03
1999-2004 8.76 9.54 9.54
2005-09 8.44 7.74 8.47
2010-14 8.34 7.79 8.91

(ii) Average scores for justifiability of homosexuality:

Justifiability of homosexuality (From 1 ‘Never’ to 10 ‘Always’) Roman Catholic Evangelical Protestant
1981-84 2.04 2.38
1989-93 2.89 2.59
1994-98 3.32 2.09 3.98
1999-2004 3.52 2.77 2.53
2005-09 4.35 4.64 3.57
2010-14 4.26 4.59 2.56

(iii) Average scores for justifiability of Abortion:

Justifiability of abortion (From 1 ‘Never’ to 10 ‘Always’) Roman Catholic Evangelical Protestant
1981-84 3.09 3.82
1989-93 3.3 3.28
1994-98 3.09 1.63 4.13
1999-2004 2.79 2.53 2.69
2005-09 3.44 3.78 3.47
2010-14 3.24 3.18 2.63

(iv) Average scores for justifiability of euthanasia:

Justifiability of euthanasia (From 1 ‘Never’ to 10 ‘Always’) Roman Catholic Evangelical Protestant
1981-84 3.08 3.92
1989-93 3.37 3.88
1994-98 3.98 2.18 4.81
1999-2004 3.58 2.94 3.32
2005-09 4.12 4.07 4.01
2010-14 3.27 2.48 3.25

                        Please note: From here on, Protestants and Evangelicals are grouped under the heading ‘Protestant’.  These two groups of Protestants were chosen as they provide the largest samples to compare against Catholics, i.e. there were at least 90 people in the Catholic and Protestant (‘Protestant’ or ‘Evangelical’) groups in each country (see Appendix for list of countries examined in each wave).  This study was designed to assess whether attending Catholic or Protestant (of any large denomination and in this case, ‘Protestant’ or ‘Evangelical’) ‘services’ was more conducive to one’s correct moral formation.  From here on, the word ‘Protestant’ is used to refer to Protestants and Evangelicals. 

Overview of results above:

Table 3 (i): Higher score for importance of God in one’s life (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84   X
1989-93 X  
1994-98 X  
1999-04 X  
2005-09 X  
2010-14 X  

(ii) Higher score for justification of homosexuality (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84 X  
1989-93   X
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09   X
2010-14   X

(iii) Higher score for justification of abortion (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84 X  
1989-93   X
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09 X  
2010-14   X

(iv) Higher score for justification of euthanasia (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84 X  
1989-93 X  
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09   X
2010-14   X

An examination of the results in table 3 (i) to (iv) highlighted the following:

They show how Protestants rated God as more important in their lives than Catholics, with 1981-84 being the only time that Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants.  It also highlighted how Protestants were more likely to be against homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia than Catholics across most samples. 

General Overview – Correlations:

                          Next, it was decided to examine the effect of ‘service’ attendance on the importance one gave to God in one’s life and one’s attitudes towards homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia.  The overall pattern is outlined in table 4 below:

Table 4 (i): Higher correlation: Importance of God and ‘service’ attendance (marked ‘X’)

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84 X  
1989-93 X  
1994-98 X  
1999-04   X
2005-09 X  
2010-14 X  

(ii) Higher correlation: ‘service’ attendance and justification of homosexuality (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84   X
1989-93   X
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09   X
2010-14   X

(iii) Higher correlation: ‘service’ attendance and justification of abortion (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84   X
1989-93 X  
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09   X
2010-14   X

(iv) Higher correlation: ‘service’ attendance and justification of euthanasia (marked ‘X’):

  Protestant Roman Catholic
1981-84   X
1989-93   X
1994-98   X
1999-04   X
2005-09   X
2010-14   X

An examination of the results from table 4 (i) to (iv):

They show that attendance at Protestant services was more likely to increase the importance people placed on God than attendance at Catholic Mass across most years.  It also shows that those who attended Protestant services were less likely to justify homosexuality, abortion or euthanasia compared to Catholics who attended Catholic Mass across most years . 

The pattern indicates that Protestants rate God as more important in their lives, rate homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia as less justifiable compared to Catholics.  It also highlights that attendance at Protestant services strengthens these beliefs compared to attendance at Catholic Mass. However, as these measurements are taken from across a range of countries and as they are comparing people who may grow up in divergent cultures, it is hard to draw any definite conclusions from them. It was decided to look at data from within countries to examine the difference in moral attitudes between Protestant and Catholics and what impact attendance at ‘services’ had on these attitudes. 

There were 6 different waves of the World Value Survey to examine.  The results of this investigation are outlined below:

Table 5: Scores in relation to importance of God and how justifiable homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia are:

1981-84:

In 3 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants. 

In 3 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 2 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 2 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

1989-93:

In 2 of 3 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants.

In 3 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 0 of 4 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 0 of 3 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

1994-98:

In 9 of 12 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants. 

In 10 of 14 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 6 of 14 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 8 of 14 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

1999-2004:

In 2 of 9 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants. 

In 9 of 10 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 8 of 10 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 5 of 9 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

2005-09:

In 5 of 20 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants. 

In 13 of 19 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 11 of 19 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 12 of 19 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

2010-2014:

In 3 of 16 countries, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants. 

In 15 of 16 countries, Roman Catholics saw homosexuality as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 11 of 16 countries, Roman Catholics saw abortion as more justifiable than Protestants.

In 5 of 6 countries, Roman Catholics saw euthanasia as more justifiable than Protestants.

Pattern emerging (within countries):

Importance of God: In 47.1 per cent of countries analysed across the six waves from the 1980’s to the 2010’s, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Roman Catholics rated God as more important in their lives than Protestants but in more recent surveys, i.e. since 1999, this has changed decidedly so they now rate God as less important in their lives than Protestants across most countries. 

Homosexuality: In 74.7 per cent of countries, Roman Catholics were more likely than Protestants to justify homosexuality.

Abortion: In 49.9 per cent of countries, Roman Catholics were more likely than Protestants to justify abortion.

Euthanasia: In 51.5 per cent of countries, Roman Catholics were more likely than Protestants to justify euthanasia.   

Overall pattern: The evidence above suggests that Roman Catholics are more likely than Protestants to view homosexuality as justifiable while the importance of God in their lives and attitudes towards abortion and euthanasia show similar scores across both groups.  More recent surveys, i.e. since 1999, suggest that Catholics rate God as less important in their lives than Protestants and that abortion and euthanasia are more justifiable amongst Catholics compared to Protestants in most countries. 

Next, it was decided to look at the effect attendance at Catholic Mass had on the moral attitudes of Catholics compared to the effect attendance at Protestant services had on the moral attitudes of Protestants.

Table 6: Correlations – number of countries where attendance at the Catholic Mass had a stronger relationship with the importance of God in one’s life, i.e. as Mass attendance went up, importance of God went up, and a more negative relationship between Mass attendance and justification of homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia, i.e. as Mass attendance went up, justification of homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia went down, compared to attendance at Protestant ‘services’:

1981-84:

In 2 of 4 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 2 of 4 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 1 of 4 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 3 of 4 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

1989-93:

In 1 of 3 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 1 of 3 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 2 of 3 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 1 of 2 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

1994-98:

In 3 of 12 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 4 of 14 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 10 of 14 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 9 of 13 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

1999-2004:

In 5 of 9 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 5 of 10 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 6 of 10 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 5 of 10 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

2005-09:

In 4 of 20 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 6 of 19 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 8 of 19 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 7 of 19 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

2010-2014:

In 6 of 16 countries, there was a stronger positive correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and the importance of God in one’s life

In 6 of 16 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying homosexuality

In 7 of 16 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying abortion

In 3 of 6 countries, there was a stronger negative correlation between Catholic Mass attendance and justifying euthanasia

Pattern emerging (within countries):

Importance of God: In 36.9 per cent of countries analysed across the six waves of data, attendance at Catholic services is more likely to increase how important God is in one’s life than attendance at Protestant ‘services’. 

Homosexuality: In 61.5 per cent of countries, attendance at Protestant services is more likely to reduce how justifiable one views homosexuality compared to attendance at Catholic Mass. 

Abortion: In 51.9 per cent of countries, attendance at Protestant services is more likely to reduce how justifiable one views abortion compared to attendance at Catholic Mass. 

Euthanasia: In 44.8 per cent of countries, attendance at Protestant services is more likely to reduce how justifiable one views euthanasia compared to attendance at Catholic Mass.   

Overall pattern: The data suggests that attendance at Protestant services is better for healthy moral formation compared to attendance at Catholic services.  The data shows that Protestants see homosexuality as less justifiable than Catholics since the earliest data was collected in the early 1980’s.  The data also suggests that Protestant service attendance has reinforced this attitude towards homosexuality more so than attendance at Catholic Mass has done for Catholics.  It must also be noted that attendance at Catholic services shows no effect or is positively correlated with an increased justification of homosexuality in many countries in these samples (See table 2 below).  In relation to impact on attitudes towards abortion and euthanasia, no obvious difference is detected between attendance at Protestant services or the Catholic Mass. The data also suggests that attendance at Protestant services is more likely to increase how important one rates God in one’s life compared to attendance at Catholic Mass. 

Table 7: Pattern of correlations between Catholic Mass attendance and increased justification for homosexuality:

1981-84: 4 of 4 countries: attendance at RC Mass is correlated either with increased justification of homosexuality (2 countries: Finland, Hungary) or there was no significant negative correlation, i.e. less than .1 (2 countries)

1989-93: 2 of 3 countries: attendance at RC Mass is correlated either with increased justification of homosexuality (one country: Nigeria) or there was no significant negative correlation, i.e. less than .1 (1 country) (Not asked in South Africa)

1994-98: 6 of 14 countries: attendance at RC Mass is correlated either with increased justification of homosexuality (one country: South Africa) or there was no significant negative correlation, i.e. less than .1 (5 countries)

1999-04: 5 of 10 countries – attendance at RC Mass is correlated either with increased justification of homosexuality (2 countries: South Africa and Uganda) or there was no significant negative correlation, i.e. less than .1 (3 countries)

2005-09: 13 of 19 countries – attendance at RC Mass is correlated either with increased justification of homosexuality (6 countries: Zambia, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Rwanda, Netherlands, Guatemala) or there was no significant negative correlation, i.e. less than .1 (7 countries)

2010-14: 7 of 16 countries – attendance at RC Mass had no significant negative correlation with justification of homosexuality, i.e. less than .1, in 7 countries

Overall, in 62 per cent of countries analysed across six waves of data, attendance at Catholic services is associated with either having no effect on one’s attitudes towards homosexuality or is positively correlated with increased acceptance of homosexuality.  In order words, attendance at Catholic services has no effect on one’s attitudes towards homosexuality in the majority of countries and, in some countries, attendance at Catholic services is associated with an increase in the likelihood that one will believe homosexuality is justifiable. This positive relationship between attendance at Catholic services and increased justification of homosexuality is seen mainly in poor, conservative, non-Western countries, e.g. South Africa.  This suggests that there is a relationship between the Catholic Mass and the promotion and acceptance of homosexuality in traditional cultures. It suggests that the Catholic Mass is not a moral bulwark against the homosexual promotion that is emanating from Western culture today but that it is part of the problem.   

Summary of results:

The above data suggests that being Protestant and attending Protestant services, is more likely to lead one to rate God as more important in one’s life and develop moral attitudes in line with the teachings of Christianity, particularly in relation to homosexuality, than if one calls oneself a ‘Catholic’ and attends Catholic services.  There is some evidence, when examining the data from across countries, to suggest that Protestants see abortion and euthanasia as less justifiable than Catholics and that attendance at Protestant services is more likely to reinforce these beliefs than attendance at Catholic services.  However, when looking at data from within countries and comparing these, there is no clear difference between the effects of attending a Catholic Mass or a Protestant service on attitudes towards abortion and euthanasia.  Overall the data suggests that Protestants see God as more important than Catholics.   In saying all this, the correlation could be in the opposite direction, i.e. those that rate God as more important in their lives and see homosexuality as unjustifiable are more likely to attend Protestant services.  Either way, this data suggests that either Catholic ‘services’ do not have as strong an impact on correct moral formation, particularly in relation to homosexuality, as Protestant services, or that Catholic services are attracting those who justify homosexuality more than Protestant services.  The data suggests that attendance at the Catholic Mass has no major impact on attitudes to euthanasia and abortion compared to attendance at Protestant services; that attendance at Protestant services has a greater effect on how important one rates God in one’s life than attendance at Catholic services; that attendance at Protestant services leads to less justification of homosexuality than attendance at Catholic Masses and that attendance at Catholic Masses has no effect on attitudes towards homosexuality in many countries and increases justification of homosexuality in some countries.

Discussion:

These results are a shocking indictment against the claims of the Catholic Church that she is the one true Church, that the Church is the earthly shepherd guarding her flock from immorality and that her sacraments are the greatest source of grace in the world.  Analysing this data, what are we to make of Pope Leo XIII’s statement on the Holy Eucharist in his encyclical, Miroe Caritatis (7), where he says that the Holy Eucharist helps keep men away from moral corruption and that, ‘In the most admirable Sacrament, which is the chief means whereby men are engrafted on the divine nature, men also find the most efficacious help towards progress in every kind of virtue’? If Protestant ‘services’ are more efficacious at guiding people to virtuous moral standards, which this data suggests, and giving them a firmer moral foundation than attendance at the Catholic Mass, what are we to make of Pope Leo XIII’s claim and the further claims of those Catholics who insist that Protestants are in error and that their services and false preaching should be avoided? As any informed Catholic knows, reason and the Catholic faith are completely compatible. So if the scientific data is showing us that Protestants are closer to the truth than Catholics on moral issues, that Protestants rate God as more important in their lives than Catholics, and that Protestant services have a better impact on moral formation than Catholic services, what reason can there be for this?  The purpose of this life is to know, honour and love God (8).  Catholics and Protestants can agree on this.  If someone wanted to know how to do this the first thing one would suggest is that they need to keep His commandments and make Him the most important person in their life.  The data suggests that the most likely way of achieving this is by going to Protestant services rather than Catholic Mass.  This is a startling revelation and a huge change from previous times.

Catholic moral standards slipping:

Previously to our current times, those who called themselves Catholic held their moral standards up as beacons of light to the dark corruption in the world. Even Protestant ‘bishops’ recognised how great the Roman Catholic Church was at being a leading light in the moral issues of their times.  As Protestant Episcopal Bishop Burgess of Long Island, once reflected: ‘The RCC [Roman Catholic Church] has stood like a bulwark against divorce. It has stood for the inviolability of the marriage-tie and unity of the home.  Because of that it is in the world today one of the greatest forces for progress and Christianity’ (9, p. 365). Even one of today’s most prominent non-Catholic psychologists, Professor Jordan Peterson, recognises the role that the Catholic faith plays against dangerous political ideologies: ‘Peterson said religion in general and Catholicism in particular stand as a perpetual bulwark against ideologies of the political left or right, which is why the Catholic Church is now under attack by those ideologies’ (10).  Today, ‘Catholics’ appear to have fallen away from the high standards Our Lord expected of us.  Years ago, there was a clear distinction between Catholics and Protestants in terms of their moral attitudes and piety.  Catholic writers could defend the Church and the Faith by pointing out the fruits of the Faith, e.g. the piety and devotedness of the Catholic faithful, to its detractors. In John L. Stoddard’s book, ‘Rebuilding a Lost Faith’ (11), where he recounts his conversion to the Catholic Church, he gives an example of speaking to a Protestant friend about how the pious example of Catholics gives evidence of its fruits and goodness – ‘It is well to remember that in no country in the world are women so chaste and above reproach as in Ireland, although no land is more devoutly loyal to the Catholic Church than is the ‘Island of the Saints’ (p. 115).  This was written in the early 1920’s.  Can the same be said of Irish women who call themselves Catholic today, especially after many of them voted to legalise abortion? Overall, those who profess to be Catholic are no longer the shining examples of piety nor do they appear to be the principal bulwark against the moral relativity and subjectivism of our current times.  The evidence suggests that Protestants are more conservative in their moral attitudes, particularly when it comes to homosexuality, and more pious in their attitude towards God.  Protestants are now often the ones leading the charge when it comes to issues like abortion, LGBT and homosexuality.  Once great Catholic countries, like Ireland, now look to the USA, for examples of strong pro-life leaders and anti-LGBT rights campaigners, many of whom are Protestant.  There are Protestant ministers and writers pointing out the hypocrisy of those who call themselves ‘Catholic’ and the lack of moral conviction of its teachers and shepherds (6).  Those, Catholics, once called our ‘enemies’ are now called our ‘allies’ as Catholics join Protestants in opposition to abortion.  But in all our ‘prolife’ enthusiasm, are we, Catholics, not missing something? 

Fighting and dying for nothing?

Why is it that Protestant ‘services’ are now more influential on moral attitudes than the Catholic Mass?  Is it better to send people to Protestant services rather than the Catholic Mass so that they can develop a sounder moral foundation?  If the answer is ‘yes’ to this question then Catholics have to ask ourselves the following questions, lest we experience cognitive distortions and inconsistencies in our thinking – If Protestant are closer to the Christian truth then: were our Catholic brethren wrong when they criticised Luther and Calvin so much for taking people away from the truth, when the evidence today suggests that they are actually closer to the truth than ‘Catholics’? Was John L. Stobbard wrong to say that, ‘The devil played a great role in the life of Luther’ (p. 99)?  Was Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary wrong in trying to convert Protestants and were they wrong for picketing a Protestant run medical service, ‘The Medical Missions’ that tempted Catholics to deny the faith to receive this ‘free’ service? (12) Was Frank Duff wrong again when he said, ‘If a person can claim to be the mouthpiece of a Church or any great body, he has placed himself on a footing far superior to that of the individual. Each Protestant is only entitled to talk for himself. The only thing on which they enjoy unity today is that they are not in agreement with the Catholic Church.  Protestantism has become an almost total negation.  It is a good working rule to reason that Protestants are all painfully aware of this, are unsatisfied with their position, and would seize at anything which appealed to them as Truth. Try to give it to them’? (13) Were countless Catholic scholars wrong in defending the Mass from Protestant attacks, when attendance at the Mass actually doesn’t produce any better fruit, in terms of better moral formation and more piety, than the Protestant services? Were counter-Reformation saints, like St Francis Xavier and St Philip Neri, mistaken in their defensive zeal for the Catholic Faith?  Were Catholic martyrs who refused to attend Protestant services in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in the UK and Ireland wrong to give up their lives for the defence of the Mass, seeing as though Protestant services inform people better in Christian morals than the Catholic Mass?  If one is to seriously weigh up what the evidence shows these questions must be asked. But, of course, the answer to the questions raised here is an emphatic no. The poor Protestants have been lost since Luther, Calvin, Henry XIII and company rebelled against God’s Church and the one true Faith.  They have not become any less rebellious or relativistic in their beliefs as they continue their slight into subjectivism.  It is just that we, Catholics, have become worse in our morality and more fractured in our beliefs as we slide into relativism. We have dipped so low in this regard that evidence is beginning to show that Protestants maintain higher moral standards than us. 

As a Catholic, the author believes that the Catholic Mass is the most precious gift and source of grace that Our Lord has left us. As St Francis de Sales outlines in his book, ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’: ‘Holy Mass is the sun of all spiritual exercises, the mainspring of devotion, the soul of piety, the fire of divine charity, the abyss of divine mercy and a precious means whereby God confers upon us His graces’ (14). However, as a researcher, who believes one should follow what the evidence shows and give advice to others based on this evidence, the evidence presents some questions.

So how is it that, according to the evidence, the Mass has no difference in effect or less effect on proper Christian moral formation than Protestant services? The evidence demands an explanation.

Explaining the discrepancies:

There is something that is missing or not quite obvious when we examine this data.  This missing part helps to explain why it is that attendance at the Catholic Mass is less effective at helping people develop a Christian moral foundation than Protestants. This is the gigantic elephant in the room. This is the revolution that has happened in the Church over the last 60 years and the attempts to distort and change the Catholic Mass and the Catholic Faith. The data presented in this study can be taken as presenting the attitudes and beliefs of Catholics who attend the New Mass. It also gives an insight into the effects of the New Mass on moral formation. (Note: The Traditional Latin Mass was not available in most of the countries cited during the different periods when data was collected, it still is not available in many of these countries and attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass is roughly estimated at 0.5 per cent of overall Catholic Mass attendees (15)). We can confidently assert that the question in the World and European Value Surveys about Catholic ‘services’ is referring to the ‘Novus Ordo’ Mass.  The data suggests that attendance at the Novus Ordo is not helping people to be formed correctly in the Catholic faith. 

This revolution in the Church has been so effective that we can now see that Protestants who attend Protestant services are more likely to be closer to the truth on certain moral issues than Catholics who attend Catholic ‘services’. Some people may argue that it is the lack of preparation and reverence of each individual Catholic for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament that is causing the moral decay amongst Catholics.  This may explain some aspects of the data, but further examination must be employed to see what is really going on (See ‘footnote 2’ for further expansion on this point). 

Where have Catholics gone wrong?

With the above evidence showing that Protestants are receiving better moral formations than Catholics the question must be asked, ‘where have Catholics gone wrong?’  One of the major causes for this deviation can be traced back to the radical changes in the Church in the 1960’s.  Scholars such as Romano Amerio (9) have outlined how there were attempts to make the Catholic faith more acceptable to the world. In this process, there was more focus on honouring man than honouring God.  One of the most significant changes was the change in the Mass.  There have been reasonable and justifiable accusations that the Mass was ‘Protestantised’. This is confirmed by many Protestant scholars who found the New Mass acceptable to them.  Amerio, quoting his sources, points out the following in his book, ‘Iota Unum’: Max Thurian of the Protestant Taize community believed that one of the fruits of the new Mass would probably be ‘that non-Catholic communities will be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the same prayers as the Catholic Church: theologically it is possible.’ (La Croix, 30 May 1969); Brother Roger Schultz (Itineraires, No. 218, Dec 1977, p. 116) said that ‘The new Eucharistic prayers have a structure corresponding to that of the Lutheran Mass’ and ‘In Pope Paul’s New Mass, M. Davies has shown that the new Roman rite is similar to, and sometimes identical with Cranmer’s Anglican Mass produced in the sixteenth century’ (p. 651). The changes in the Church, with the most central one being the changes in the Mass, have led to huge confusion in the understanding of the Faith amongst Catholics and a rapid decline in the moral behaviour and piety of Catholics.  This has become so bad that those who call themselves Catholic are no longer renowned for their moral, upstanding way of living or their piety.  However, the changes have not just ‘Protestantised’ what people see as the Catholic Faith, it has led to Catholics being more immoral in their attitudes and seeing God as less important in their lives than Protestants. Looking at the trend in the data presented above, it is likely that Catholics will become more and more accepting of immorality, especially homosexuality, at a quicker rate than Protestants. Instead of those who profess to be Catholic being the ‘salt of the world’ (Matthew 5:13), it will be Protestants that will hold up moral standards.  This is a crazy situation for Catholics to be faced with.  Is this what Catholic martyrs who were killed in their defence against Protestantism lay down their lives for? No, this cannot be right.  So, what is the solution so Catholics can get back on the right track and be what we were meant to be?  Instead of holding up Protestants as examples and referring people to a Protestant service, where the data suggests they would have a better chance of forming their moral attitudes correctly, we need to know where can Catholics go and direct people to so that they will receive a solid moral formation and foundation in Christianity? 

Conclusion

‘Lex orandi, lex credenda, lex vivendi’ (‘as we worship, so we believe, so we live’). 

The answer lies in a return to the authentic Catholic Faith.  What is central to this is the Traditional Latin Mass.  A recent study (16, 17) highlighted the difference in moral attitudes and behaviours between those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass and those who attend the Novus Ordo Mass.  The disparity in views is striking.  (I would recommend that the reader check out the table at: https://liturgyguy.com/2019/02/24/national-survey-results-what-we-learned-about-latin-mass-attendees/comment-page-1/)

It can be argued that those who take strong moral stances against homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia are more attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass rather than attendance at Traditional Latin Masses being responsible for strengthening one’s moral attitudes. However, this only suggests that those who are closer to the truth about moral attitudes are attracted to where the Truth Himself is given the reference He deserves.  Whatever the causal relationship between the Traditional Latin Mass and moral attitudes, this study, along with the data presented above, suggests that attendance at the Novus Ordo is taking Catholics further away from the truth than attendance at Protestant services.  This is particularly true of the more recent surveys in this study, i.e. since 1999, which show that Catholics are more likely to justify homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia and rate God as less important in their lives than Protestants.  The author suggests that this effect is due to the passing away of a generation who were brought up with the Traditional Latin Mass.  Along with this, the changes that have occurred in the Catholic Church has meant that a younger generation of Catholics has never experienced the Traditional Latin Mass or been catechised properly in the Faith.  Catholic societies were reliant on those brought up strongly in the Faith to hold up the moral standards of society but, sadly, this generation is slipping away to be replaced with one that has not been given the necessary foundation that they need to find and stay on the straight and narrow path. 

‘Prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Evidence points us in certain directions. The above information is an outline of what the objective empirical evidence says.  It has not been an attempt to explain, from a theological or philosophical point of view, why the Traditional Latin Mass is essential to the Catholic Faith. Many works have been published on this subject and readers are invited to examine these for themselves (The book, ‘The Incredible Catholic Mass’ (18) is highly recommended in this regard).  This study has outlined what the figures say. These are not easy to dismiss or explain away. By sharing this information, the author hopes that people will evaluate and carefully consider what is presented and the implications of this.  The world needs Catholics to be the light that shines brightly and to be the salt of the earth.  Catholics have certainly lost their savour over the last 60 years but there is a way back. It is not joining a Protestant sect or going to a Mass that does not teach or guide people towards the Truth. If the above evidence and results are taken seriously, there are two options for those who wish to steer themselves and those around them to the truth: it is to accept the evidence that shows Protestant services are a safer place for Christian moral formation than the Catholic Mass.  By implication, this also support the conclusion that Protestant heretics, like Luther and Calvin were right all along, that the Catholic writers who defended the Church against Protestant errors and heresies wasted their time and that the Catholic martyrs who died defending the Latin Mass died for nothing;  OR it is to admit that there is a serious crisis within our dear Mother, the Catholic Church, and that the way to combat and defend our Mother is to once again go back to the precious milk, i.e. the Latin Mass and the true teachings of the Catholic Faith, that she nourished our Catholic forefathers on for many hundreds of years. It is to rid ourselves of a disastrous innovation, i.e. the Novus Ordo, and all the changes that came with it, that is doing more damage to the souls of Catholics than Protestant heretics are doing.  We must challenge that which is sending people astray and ‘hold fast that which is good’.

The evidence indicates that the Novus Ordo is more damaging to souls and the morality of individuals, and therefore, society than Protestant services are.  If the author has not made this clear, it is at least hoped that the reader will seriously reflect on what is shared here and the implications this implies.  This appeal is made to both Catholics who find themselves drifting confusedly along in the current crisis and non-Catholics who have rarely, if ever, had the experience in our current times of experiencing the majesty, grandeur and splendour which is the Latin Mass and the Catholic Faith. As Pius X lamented, ‘How many are there that hate Christ and abhor the Church and the Gospel through ignorance rather than perversity…It cannot be agreed that faith is quenched by the growth of science: it is more truly quenched by want of knowledge.’ (19)  The reader is encouraged to acquire this knowledge and research more about the Catholic Faith so he may discover the divine goodness that the Catholic Faith and Holy Mother Church holds out to the world.  (References are given below for those interested in pursuing this).  The Catholic Faith is not accurately known by many in our world today.  As Pope Leo XIII says in his encyclical, Divinum Illud, (May 4, 1897) (7) ‘The more clearly and fully the good is known the more earnestly it is loved’.  It is hoped that this study has helped to show the crisis Catholics are currently facing and its ultimate goal is to help make the good more clearly and fully known. 

END

Footnote 1:

Data taken from the Irish surveys (1981 to 2010) of the European Value Survey during this period suggests that there is a negative correlation (-.38) between how important one rates God in one’s life and justification of immoral behaviours, i.e. as the importance of God goes up in one’s life, one is less likely to justify immoral behaviours.  However, the data from this study above shows that, worldwide, the importance that Catholics give God in their lives has remained stable since the 1980’s, while there has been an increased justification of immoral behaviour, such as homosexuality (table 3).  It is evident that there are many Catholics who rate God as very important in their lives who see abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia as justifiable. Data from Ireland from 2008 (from European Value Survey 2008-10 examined by author), shows that 30.1 per cent of those who gave God a rating of 9 or more out of 10 for importance in one’s life believed that abortion was justifiable sometimes. This implies that these Catholics have a wrong conception of God and what is offensive to Him.  This, again, reflects a lack of accurate knowledge of the Catholic Faith and erroneous understandings of the moral teachings of the Church.  As the intellect informs the will and one’s conscience, this results in many Catholics who believe that God is important in their lives also believing that abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality are acceptable. People must follow their conscience.  This leads to many of them making voting decisions based on erroneously informed consciences.  This is evident in the examples of people who profess to be devout Catholics, e.g. Minister Josepha Madigan, who were also leading campaigners for the legalisation of abortion.  This mainly shows how poor formation in the Catholic Faith is today. There is a responsibility on each individual to inform their conscience on moral matters but there is also a grave duty on Catholic shepherds, i.e. priests and teachers of the Faith, to make sure they help to correctly inform the consciences of those souls they are responsible for.  This has not been happening.  The discussion section of this study gives some reasons as to why this is the case.

Footnote 2:

Some Catholic writers who support the Novus Ordo Mass and many of the changes that have been made since the 1960’s have argued that the problem with the decline in morality amongst Catholics is due to Catholics not receiving the Blessed Sacrament reverently enough or not preparing properly for receiving Him, e.g. not going to confession beforehand so they receive the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin.  This is a sacrilegious act as St Paul points out in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11:27-30).  This lack of preparation and reverence for Our Lord could cause spiritual blindness and moral decay amongst Catholics. This preparation and reverence are extremely important and they can explain why some people drift away from the truth and experience spiritual blindness and moral decay. However, this is not the main reason why we are seeing such moral decay amongst Catholics, as will be explained. It must be noted that every Protestant service is a sacrilegious act and everyone who partakes in this service is partaking in a profane act that is offensive to God.  Without judging individual intent or culpability, objectively by attending these sacrilegious services, Protestants commit a grave sin by not giving God the honour He is due.  So without being able to give a conclusive answer on which sin is more offensive to God, i.e. a Catholic receiving Our Lord in a state of mortal sin and/or irreverently or a Protestant attending a sacrilegious service, it seems reasonable to suggest that both acts could lead to similar levels of spiritual blindness. Given this, one would still expect to see Catholics maintain higher moral standards than Protestants as the whole truth is only available within the Catholic Church where it should be taught, revered, followed and honoured.  This is not what the evidence shows.  It shows that despite attending sacrilegious services, Protestants still show higher moral standards than Catholics.  The argument that the decay in the moral standards of Catholics is mainly due to irreverence and ill preparation is not reasonable.  In addition, this argument points the problem at the faithful rather than at the real problem, i.e. attempts at radical changes in the Mass and other aspects of the faith since the 1960’s.  It takes the spotlight off those shepherds who either instigated or went along with these changes and who led their obedient flocks astray.  All of us, Catholics, could prepare ourselves better for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament and show increased reverence for Our Lord. We will all be judged individually on how much we knew, honoured and loved God during our lifetime. Catholics may be genuinely disgusted and distraught at the behaviour of Catholics they are seeing around them and want to guide people back on the right track by admonishing their behaviour. However, Catholic writers who fail to point to the gigantic elephant in the room, i.e. the radical changes in the Church and the disastrous fruits this has produced, and would rather speculate on the subjective disposition of their fellow Catholics and point fingers at them, fail to realise the impact that external factors can have on the faithful and on their beliefs.  The Latin maxim informs us, ‘Lex orandi, lex credenda, lex vivendi’ (‘as we worship, so we believe, so we live’).  Catholics are in a position where we are dependent on our shepherds to teach us how to worship so we can know what we should believe so we would then know how we should live.  God has designed it like this as Pope Leo XIII, quoting St John Chrysostom, explains in his Apostolic Letter, Testem Benvolentioe (7), ‘God in His infinite providence has decreed that men for the most part should be saved by men; hence He has appointed that those whom He calls to a loftier degree of holiness should be led thereto by men, ‘in order that,’ as Chrysostom says, ‘we should be taught by God through men.’’  The problem is not the divine structure and system, i.e. the constitution and hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, that Our Lord gave us when He ascended into heaven.  The solution is not Protestantism and subjectivism.  The problem lies in the fact that the radical changes accepted and promoted by many shepherds are leading the Catholic faithful astray. Until this problem and the radical changes are acknowledged and corrected more and more of the flock will continue to go astray with devastating and eternal consequences.

References:

  1. Bougis, E. (2015) ‘Book Review: The Book of Gomorrah by St Peter Damian’. Available at: https://onepeterfive.com/book-review-the-book-of-gomorrah-by-st-peter-damian/ [Accessed 28/08/19]
  2. Dwight, T. (1911) Thoughts of a Catholic Anatomist. New York: Longmans, Green & Co.
  3. Knight, K. (2017) ‘The Catholic Encyclopaedia’. Available at: http://newadvent.org/cathen/ [Accessed 29/08/19]
  4. McGarry, P. (2018) ‘Conscience takes priority over church teaching, says Catholic Catechism’. Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/conscience-takes-priority-over-church-teaching-says-catholic-catechism-1.3518377 [ Accessed 28/08/19]
  5. Masci, D. (2016) ‘Where major religious groups stand on abortion’. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/21/where-major-religious-groups-stand-on-abortion/ [Accessed 27/08/19]
  6. Nate (2018) ‘Abortion and the Irish Referendum: Does The Catholic Church Support Conscience Over Biblical Doctrine?’ Available at: https://christianjournal.net/church/catholicism/abortion-irish-referendum-catholic-church-support-conscience-biblical-doctrine/ [Accessed 28/08/19]
  7. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII. Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books
  8. Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Available at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/prologue.htm [Accessed 02/09/19]
  9. Amerio, R. (1996), Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century. Kansas City: Angelus Press
  10. LifeSiteNews (2016) ‘Prof who refuses to use gender pronouns points to Catholicism as bulwark against extremism’. Available at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/prof-who-refuses-to-use-gender-pronouns-points-to-catholicism-as-bulwark-ag [Accessed 02/09/19]
  11. Stobbard, J. L. (1923) ‘Rebuilding a Lost Faith – by an American Agnostic’. London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne
  12. Villarrubia, E. (2013) ‘An Army for Our Lady: The Legion of Mary’.  Available at: https://catholicism.org/an-army-for-our-lady-the-legion-of-mary.html [Accessed 02/09/19]
  13. Duff, F. (1956) The Spirit of the Legion of Mary. Dublin: John S. Burns & Sons
  14. St. Francis deSales (1994) Introduction to the Devout Life. Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books
  15. Pope, C. (2016) ‘An Urgent Warning About the Future of the Traditional Latin Mass’. Available at: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/an-urgent-warning-about-the-future-of-the-traditional-latin-mass [Accessed 28/08/19]
  16. Pecknold, C. (2019) ‘Traditional Latin Mass attendees more devout and orthodox, study says’. Available at: https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/02/27/traditional-latin-mass-attendees-more-devout-and-orthodox-study-says/ [Accessed 29/08/19]
  17. Williams, B. (2019) ‘National Survey Results: What We Learned About Latin Mass Attendees’. Available at: https://liturgyguy.com/2019/02/24/national-survey-results-what-we-learned-about-latin-mass-attendees/comment-page-1/ [Accessed 29/08/19]
  18. Von Cochem, M. (1997, original 1704) The Incredible Catholic Mass. Charlotte, North Carolina: TAN Books
  19. Forbes, F.A. (1992) Pope St. Pius X: (1835-1914).  Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books

All quotes from the Bible taken from the Douay Rheims Bible – see: http://drbo.org for an online version of this.

Pius XI quote, at start of article, taken from ‘The Spirit of the Legion of Mary’, p. 56-57.

Along with many of the books cited above, e.g. ‘Iota Unum’, ‘The Incredible Catholic Mass’,  the following books are useful for those wishing to know more about Catholic spirituality and the Traditional Latin Mass:

Appendix:

Countries examined in this research, i.e. countries that had sufficient sample sizes (n=90) of Protestants and Catholics to compare groups:

1981-1984:

Finland, Hungary, Mexico and South Africa

1989-93:

Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland

1994-98:

Australia, Colombia, El Salvador, Germany, Hungary, South Korea, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, USA

1999-2004:

Albania, Canada, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, USA

2005-09:

Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hungary, Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Zambia

2010-14:

Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Zimbabwe

Note: there may be a discrepancy between number of countries listed here and the number of countries cited in the results section. This is because the 4 questions (importance of God, attitudes towards: homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia) were not always asked in each country

Is the Catholic Faith Bad for Women? The Propaganda Versus The Evidence

Note: The following blog is different from previous blogs in terms of its length and detail.  In this blog, I share a study that I have conducted which examined the relationship between the Catholic Faith and women’s liberty.  This is examined from a scientific perspective by analysing what the raw data/empirical evidence has to say on this subject. It is presented here for people who are interested in approaching this subject from an objective and scientific point of view. By approaching it this way, it is hoped that any subjective bias that the author may have will be removed from this analysis.  The study highlights the compatibility of the Catholic Faith and science.  It is hoped that by presenting the facts and explaining basic philosophical/theological principles, readers will then be able to see the relationship between the Catholic Faith and women’s liberty more clearly.  It is also hoped that people can then form opinions and views about the relationship between the Catholic Faith and women’s liberty based on reason and objective evidence rather than emotion and propaganda.  I will return to shorter blogs next week. 

The Catholic Faith and Women’s Liberty:  A Review of the Empirical Evidence from Around the World

The following article examines the impact the Catholic faith has on women by looking at data from the World Value Survey and European Value Survey.  While this article outlines a scientific investigation, it is written in a slightly more informal style so that it can be understood by those not familiar with reading scientific publications.  The author also hopes that enough information is provided and methods clearly explained that it can be critiqued and the results verified by any researchers who wish to review what is shared here. If the reader wishes to have access to any further data/tables/results or has any questions about what is shared below please contact the author at: truthandfreedomtherapy@outlook.com  

Overview/Abstract:

Many articles have been published and many campaigns have been launched to remove the influence of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith on women’s lives. This has been done mainly in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘women’s liberty’.  Data from the World Value Survey (2010-14) and the European Value Survey (2008-10) was used to examine the relationship between women’s perceived sense of freedom and the Catholic Faith.  Results showed that the Catholic Faith did not have a negative impact on women’s sense of freedom. Further investigation highlighted a positive relationship between the Catholic Faith and women’s sense of freedom.  The discussion looked at the implications of this evidence and what ‘freedom’ actually means.   

Introduction:

In 2018, the protection that the Irish Constitution offered babies was removed from the Constitution. This opened the door for the State sanctioned killing of babies.  One of the main arguments for the killing of babies was the cry for female liberty/emancipation. ‘My body, my choice’ was one of the favoured slogans of the pro-abortion lobby.  There was also much talk of women breaking free from patriarchal suppression.  Finally, there was the disgustingly irreverent slogan, ‘Keep your rosaries off my ovaries’ that was trumpeted by those campaigning for the legal killing of babies.  The Catholic Church was consistently portrayed by the media and pro-abortion advocates as the great patriarchal oppressor of women.  When the result to kill babies came through on the 25th May 2018, feminists celebrated and the Irish Independent published an incredibly crass picture with the caption, ‘Rosarectomy’, which advanced the idea that women had taken a huge step forward in their emancipation from the patriarchy (1).  The line that the Catholic Church prevented, and still prevents, female freedom was repeated so much that it was evident that many women believed that the Church and its beliefs were the only things standing in the way of their freedom and happiness.

The investigation below set out to examine the link between freedom, happiness and the Catholic faith. It was designed to investigate what the objective scientific data had to say on the matter, rather than rely on media reports or popular opinion.

Here is a short outline of the research that was conducted:

The Catholic Faith and Women’s Liberty

Human beings naturally want to be free and can feel oppressed and stifled when we are not so.  In addition to public safety, prisons are used to take away people’s freedom as punishments for their crimes.  Parents also use restrictions on freedom, such as grounding their child, to discipline their children.  Freedom is precious to us with St Thomas Aquinas noting that freedom is a natural desire of human beings (2).  People are drawn to that which offers freedom and they pull away from that which they believe offers chains or restrictions on their freedom.  Free will is part of what makes us human and distinct from animals. Nobody likes to be forced to do things against their will, so it is natural to want to protect, guard and seek to increase one’s sense of freedom.        

A sense of freedom and life satisfaction are intimately intertwined. Research on the World Value Survey and European Value Survey have shown that the strongest correlate with life satisfaction is one’s sense of freedom. This relationship is highlighted in a 2009 paper by Italian economist Paolo Verme, “Happiness, freedom, and control.” (3) Verme finds that:

The variable freedom and control is by far the most significant predictor of life satisfaction. It shows the highest coefficient, the highest odds ratio, the highest z-score and one of the lowest standard errors. For a one step increase in the one to ten freedom and control scale, happiness is expected to change about 36 percent of a step on the one to ten happiness scale …’ (4)

It must be noted here, however, that freedom is not an end in itself. The free choices we make can either help or hinder us in trying to achieve the ultimate end we were created for, i.e. eternal happiness.  Free will has been granted to us so that we can know, honour and love God/the Truth.  However, if we abuse the freedom we have been given we can end up in chains in a physical sense, e.g. being locked up in prison. In a psychological and spiritual sense, if we abuse the freedom we have been given and drift away from the truth, i.e. the Catholic faith, we can end up in chains as we become chained to vice and sin. We end up damaging our mental well-being and not being as free or happy as we could have been.  This is what the Church and the Catholic Faith teaches us (5).  Freedom does not just consist in the capacity to ‘judge for oneself’ but it is also dependent on making the right choices and choosing the real good, rather than an illusory, apparent ‘good’.  St Thomas Aquinas makes this clear in his ‘Summa Theologica’ which Fr Chad Ripperger (6) explains: ‘St Thomas notes that the root of freedom is constituted in reason for without reason, the will cannot perform its operations.  It also means that free choice of the will ultimately has its root in the truth, for if the intellect fails in its operation to judge rightly about something, the object presented to the will will be affected. Consequently, true freedom for man consists not only in the capacity of the will to choose or ‘judge for itself’ but also in the intellect’s right operation which consists in knowing the truth.’ (p. 118)

The alternative argument to this, which has been advanced ever since the Church was established, is that it is the Church and the Faith itself that reduces our freedom.  As stated above, throughout the last number of years, especially during the abortion Referendum campaign in Ireland, it was constantly asserted that the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith are particularly restrictive of women’s ‘freedom’. One of the main accusations that is thrown at the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith is that it is a toxic patriarchal system that oppresses women and restricts their ‘freedom’. For example, Una Mullally, with ‘The Irish Times’, writing in support of ‘women’s/abortion rights’ writes, ‘Ireland has existed in a vacuum of misinformation, taboo, and hostility towards abortion for so long, underpinned by Catholic dogma’ (7).  This same prominent and influential journalist has also asserted on her Twitter page that ‘Just in case anyone is confused about the fight for legal abortion in Ireland, it’s Catholicism versus women’s rights.’ These accusations have become so prevalent that many people seem to think that they must be true (see footnote 1).  

So there are two competing claims: 1.) Catholic Faith is liberating for women and leads to increased freedom and 2.) The Catholic Faith is oppressive for women and decreases freedom.  These claims cannot both be true. I decided to look at what the data said on this issue.

The study:

The following study set out to explore what the empirical evidence said about the competing claims above. It was decided to examine the raw data rather than rely on previous social science investigations for this study.  There were two reasons for this:  Firstly, it is based on the author’s experience studying, researching and working in the field of sociology and social/cultural psychology.  The author saw how unscientific and non-objective much of the research in this area is and how it is driven by Marxist, feminist ideology.  Secondly, and following on from the first reason, the majority of social science articles that are published today are not reliable. The peer review process has become a sham and what is published is not good scientific studies but rather studies that promote the pet theories of a particular researcher.  The reason for this is because the foundations of most social science research are based on principles that are not grounded in the truth.  Social science researchers admit and are even proud of this.  For example, see paper by Maurice Dobb, ‘a foremost Marxian economist of his generation in Britain’ (8), where he argues that Marxism is the foundation for social science research (paper cited below in references) and this review by a prominent professor of political science on ‘Karl Marx and the Social Sciences’ (9) where it is argued that, ‘It is this ‘social epistemology’ of Marx that provided philosophical and methodological inspiration for most of the radical social science and humanities traditions in the twentieth century throughout the world. It is also this legacy of Marx that we can see reviving itself in the contemporary intellectual efforts to make sense of what is happening to the human world under conditions of economic globalization, and the wild expansion of capital under neo-liberal reforms at global level.’ Marxist theories have a flawed and dangerous understanding of what a human being is and the above quote highlights how it is the legacy of Marx that has led to the current crisis we are seeing in much of academia.

Errors in the understanding of human psychology are fatal for sociology and social science research. As Fr Doolan (8) points out in his excellent book, ‘Philosophy for the Layman’, ‘Sound ethics and sociology can be based only on sound psychology’ (p. 76). The current bias has become apparent to some social science professors, such as Jonathan Haidt (10) and Jordan Peterson (11), as they point out the dangers of Marxist ideology to academia (See footnote 2).  When the foundations of a discipline are built on dangerous errors, these errors tend to only multiply and the discipline and its adherents drift further away from the truth.  For these reasons, it is best to go directly to the raw data as one can cut through all the theoretical errors and see what the raw data actually says. This is what the author decided to do.

Method:

This research examined the most recent data from wave 6 of the World Value Survey (2010-2014).  The 2010-2014 wave interviewed over 80’000 from 64 different countries.  This data is freely available for download from the World Value Survey website (www.worldvaluesurevy.org). It is an excellent source of data and provides researchers with much to explore and investigate. The statistical software program, SPSS, was used to analyse the data.  The investigation looked at ‘descriptive statistics’ for certain questions. Using this data and program, the present study examined the average scores women gave on the following question:

Some people feel they have completely free choice and control over their lives, while other people feel that what they do has no real effect on what happens to them. Please use this scale where 1 means ‘no choice at all’ and 10 means ‘a great deal of choice’ to indicate how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out

No choice at all’ – 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10 – ‘A great deal of choice

Samples: It was decided to only examine samples in countries where there were at least fifty female Catholic respondents to this question.  This was done so there would be sufficient sample sizes to draw conclusions from.  Twenty-eight countries remained after this process (see table 1 below for list of these countries). 

Results:

Scores for female Catholics on the above freedom question were compared with scores from the general female population.  This showed that Catholic women rated themselves as more free than the general population in sixteen of these twenty eight countries (57.1 per cent) (see table 1). 

Table 1: Scores on freedom question – General female population, female ‘Catholics’, female ‘basic Catholics’ and females with ‘no religion’:

Country Freedom question score – general female population Freedom question score -female ‘Catholics’ Freedom question score –  female ‘basic Catholics’ Freedom question score – females with ‘No religion’
Ghana 7.2 7.18 7.26 7.14
Nigeria 7.08 7.71 7.73 7.04
Zimbabwe 6.3 6.35 6.58 4.87
Singapore 6.8 6.74 6.94 6.71
Lebanon 6.82 6.88 6.92 No data
Philippines 7.4 7.59 7.75 6.08
Ukraine 6.5 6.5 6.25 5.94
T & T 8.23 8.47 8.19 7.74
USA 7.75 7.96 8.02 7.51
Belarus 6.12 6.62 6.93 5.67
Mexico 8.44 8.47 8.51 8.15
Brazil 7.68 7.59 7.52 7.86
Ecuador 7.78 7.68 7.81 7.67
Colombia 8.13 8.19 8.17 7.81
Poland 6.69 6.65 6.64 6.97
Peru 7.36 7.27 7.46 7.02
S Korea 6.5 6.75 6.94 6.37
Chile 7.11 7.21 7.2 6.96
NZ 7.92 8.05 7.68 8.18
Australia 7.72 7.92 8.09 7.93
Argentina 7.38 7.41 7.44 7.31
South Africa 7.03 6.89 7.69 6.7
Slovenia 7.95 7.76 7.42 8.26
Germany 6.95 7.23 7.28 7.18
Spain 6.87 6.86 6.97 7.11
Uruguay 7.74 7.65 7.96 7.93
Rwanda 6.82 6.88 7.28 6.58
Netherlands 6.94 6.84 6.55 6.97

Countries where ‘Catholic’ women rated themselves as more free than the general population: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Chile, Colombia, Germany, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago, United States (16)

These initial results suggested that the Catholic faith does not restrict women’s sense of freedom.  However, one must be careful to check whether those who profess to be Catholic are true believers as many people tick the ‘Catholic’ box when asked about their religion due to cultural or societal reasons.  To assess whether the females calling themselves ‘Catholic’ were cultural Catholics, i.e. they called themselves ‘Catholic’ without really believing or practicing the faith, further criteria was applied. The following criteria was applied to see how many of those who professed to be ‘Catholic’ held basic Catholic beliefs. This criteria was whether they:

– believed in God

– believed in hell

– rated God as important in their life (6 out of 10 or more)

– prayed at least once a week

This gave us a group of female Catholics who professed basic Catholic beliefs and practices. It also showed how few female ‘Catholics’ there were who believed basic Catholic beliefs or engaged in basic Catholic practices (See table 2 below). 

Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe (92.1 per cent, 91.2 per cent and 85.3 per cent respectively) have the largest percentage of women who call themselves Catholic and believe and practice the basics of the faith. Within the Netherlands, only 6.5 per cent of women who call themselves Catholic follow the basic beliefs and practices of the Catholic faith.

Table 2: Percentage of female ‘Catholics’ and percentage of those female Catholics who profess basic Catholic beliefs and practices

Country Percentage of Catholics (of female population) Percentage of female Catholics who profess basic beliefs/practices (in descending order)
Ghana 12.4 92.1
Nigeria 19.5 91.2
Zimbabwe 17.3 85.3
Singapore 5.5 78.9
Lebanon 21.5 78
Philippines 62.4 76
Ukraine 5.5 71.2
T & T 19.5 69.3
USA 17.3 66.9
Belarus 8.5 62.7
Mexico 60.3 62.2
Brazil 44.8 61.3
Ecuador 52.4 58.2
Colombia 50.6 55.4
Poland 90.7 53.6
Peru 66.5 51
S Korea 11.9 50
Chile 53.5 43.2
NZ 10.8 39.7
Australia 15.4 34.4
Argentina 61.8 30.9
South Africa 13.5 29
Slovenia 54.4 23.8
Germany 21.4 22
Spain 60.8 19.1
Uruguay 16.5 19.1
Rwanda 48.5 18.9
Netherlands 11.2 6.5

How free this group of female Catholics, who believed and practiced the basics of Catholicism, rated themselves was assessed.  It was found that this group rated themselves as more free than the general female population in twenty one of the twenty eight countries (75 per cent) (see table 1) . 

Countries where ‘Catholic’ women who had basic Catholic beliefs and practices rated themselves as more free than the general population: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Spain,  Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Uruguay (21)

This increase from sixteen to twenty one countries, or this 17.9 per cent increase, suggests that an adherence to basic Catholic beliefs, e.g. hell, and practices, i.e. prayer, increases freedom for women.  This pattern of Catholic women rating themselves as more free than the general population was more prevalent in countries where Catholics were a minority, e.g. Germany, Nigeria, Ghana, USA, Lebanon, South Korea, Rwanda. This suggests that it is not a predominant Catholic culture or environment that leads to this sense of freedom but rather the internalisation of the Catholic beliefs and practices themselves.  For example, in Germany, ‘Catholic’ women are a minority amongst women in Germany (21.4 per cent of the population).  Amongst these ‘Catholic’ women, only 22 per cent maintain basic Catholic beliefs and practices.  Despite this, these women, who hold basic Catholic beliefs, rate themselves as more free than the general population.  This pattern is repeated across the world.  This indicates that it is not the social or environmental conditions for Catholic women in Germany that can simply explain away this pattern.  The evidence indicates that there is something intrinsically liberating about Catholic beliefs.

This freedom, which basic Catholic beliefs and practices offer, is also evident when women who hold basic Catholic beliefs and practices are compared to women who have no religious beliefs. 

Countries where ‘Catholic’ women who had basic Catholic beliefs and practices rated themselves as more free than those women without any religion:

Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay (21)

In twenty-one of twenty-seven countries (Lebanon did not have a ‘no religion’ comparison group), or 77.8 per cent of countries examined, women who hold basic Catholic practices and beliefs rate themselves as more free than those women who have no religion (see table 1).  This difference between women with basic Catholic beliefs and women with no religion is largest in either poor countries, e.g. Philippines, and/or those countries that do not have majority Catholic populations, e.g. Zimbabwe, Belarus, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Korea. 

Discussion:

The evidence above suggests that instead of offering poorer, non-Catholic majority countries feminist and Marxist ideologies, the women in these countries would be far better off and be truly free if they received the truth, i.e. the Catholic faith.   The data in table 2 also shows that most women in Western Europe don’t understand and/or practice the Faith.  Many may have the name ‘Catholic’, but this gives them no right to preach to those women in non-Western countries who know and practice the faith more than them.  The blind should not be leading those with better eyesight than them!

The research conclusions above give empirical evidence for the claim that adhering to Catholic beliefs leads to an increased sense of freedom for women. 

Objection: ‘This might apply to some countries in the world but it does not apply to Ireland’

What the data says: The most recent European Value Survey (2008-10) (see: https://europeanvaluesstudy.eu/) asked approximately 500 Irish women how satisfied they are with their life (see format of question below in figure 1) and asked them the above question about their sense of freedom.  Women who called themselves ‘Catholic’ rated themselves as more satisfied with life and rated themselves as more free to direct and control their lives than the general female population (See table 3).  The life satisfaction and freedom scores increased for ‘Catholic’ women who went to Mass weekly and they increased again for those women who went to Mass weekly AND rated God as very important in their lives. (Note: ‘God as very important in one’s life’ was taken as women who rated God as 8 or more out of 10 in importance in their lives – see figure 2 below for question format). Based on these surveys, there is no empirical data that supports the idea that women are oppressed by the Catholic Church or the Catholic faith in Ireland.  The evidence lends support to the belief that the Catholic faith is freeing for Irish women.

Figure 1: Life Satisfaction question

‘All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?

‘Dissatisfied’ – 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10 – ‘Satisfied’

Figure 2: Importance of God question

How important is God in your life? Please use this scale to indicate. 10 means “very important” and 1 means “not at all important.”

Not at all important     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10 Very Important

Table 3: Freedom and life satisfaction scores amongst Irish women:

2008-2010 Freedom Score Life Satisfaction Score
General Population 7.88 7.2
‘Catholics’ 7.93 7.25
Mass going ‘Catholics’ 8.07 7.32
Mass going and God ‘very important’ ‘Catholics’ 8.1 7.45

Objection: Catholic women are socially and culturally brainwashed to believe that they are free when they are really slaves to the Catholic patriarchy.

Answer:   This objection verges close to an assertion that women cannot think for themselves and assess their situation clearly and accurately!  We can only assert what the evidence tells us and the data shows us that Catholic women rate themselves as more free than the general female population in Ireland. This is true across the majority of countries in the world as well.  This is more evident in countries where Catholic women are in the minority and where the culture surrounding them is predominantly non-Catholic.  This suggests that it is not cultural or social conditioning that increases the sense of freedom of these women but the Catholic beliefs and practices themselves.  The evidence supports the view that what women need is more Catholicism, not less of it.

Objection: Catholic women do not really know what true ‘freedom’ is.

Answer:For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.’ (2 Tim 4:3)

Answer (continued): There are many global social research organisations which promote and push certain ideas about what will increase human freedom.  One particularly influential and determined force is the CATO Institute (13). The CATO Institute have developed the Human Freedom Index and their own definition of ‘freedom’.  Their version of ‘freedom’ is promoted as the ‘freedom’ that women need.  This institute pushes social and economic theories and systems that promote a distorted sense of freedom. It discourages nationalism and taking any pride in your country, especially if this opposition is based on Christian foundations (14). This institute promotes homosexuality and transsexuality ‘rights’ in its most recent ‘Human Freedom Index’ (15) – two vices and lifestyles that undermine the very fabric of societies.  This ‘Human Freedom Index’ creates its own idea of ‘human freedom’ which is in opposition to true freedom, i.e. freedom through the truth/Catholic faith. It promotes licence, i.e. the idea that one should be able to do whatever one likes to do, and it protects and promotes vice.  Their theories are based on false foundations and their efforts to implement them can only lead to less freedom and more chains for people.  Their falsehood appeals to those who ‘will not endure sound doctrines’ and who have ‘itching ears’

Previous Popes, such as Leo XIII in his encyclical ‘Immortale Dei’ (16), were particularly aware of the threat that the confusion between freedom and licence could create in people’s minds and how weary people had to be about this: ‘If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favour and protection of the law.’ The licence promoted by wealthy, well resourced, global and influential social research institutes is the tempting ‘freedom’ that feminists and pro-abortion campaigners push for. It cannot and will not lead to a true increase in liberty for women as it will only lock more women in the chains of sin and vice and lead them to fall into the ‘abyss of corruption’.  They do not know nor do they understand what freedom truly is.  They replace true freedom (a real good) with licence and the legal right to commit vice (what looks like an apparent good in their minds).  How this confusion can happen was clearly outlined centuries ago by St Thomas. Here it is summarised by Fr Ripperger (6): ‘Real freedom is ultimately for choosing among real goods since the will is ordered toward the real good and not the apparent good.  This is why St Thomas says that willing evil is not freedom, nor a part of freedom, but merely a sign of freedom. In other words, freedom is fundamentally designed for choosing among real goods and the choice of evil is in fact a case in which man is engaging in an action which is not proper to his human nature. It is unnatural.’  He also notes that, ‘It is because of Original Sin and man’s seemingly never-ending slip into a life imbued with Actual Sin that it seems ‘natural’ for man to choose evil. Rather, the fact that man is choosing evil is a sign that he is not functioning according to the natural state in which he was intended to thrive.’ (p. 120-121).

Because we have drifted away from a true understanding of freedom as outlined by the Church and St Thomas, the notion of true freedom gets confused with licence. Chasing this apparent good, i.e. licence, rather than true freedom, ultimately leads to people campaigning for the legal right to kill babies.  Fr Doolan (10) points out how, ‘An error in definition is always fatal’ (p. 80) and Aristotle, has noted that, ‘The least initial deviation from the truth will be multiplied later a thousandfold’ (17).  This error in understanding what freedom truly is is one of the main reasons why we are seeing such chaos in our society today.   The Catholic Church explained these theological and philosophical arguments hundreds of years through the likes of great philosophers and Doctors of the Church, like St Thomas Aquinas.  Table 2 presented above on what percentage of ‘Catholic’ women believe and practice basic aspects of the Faith is evidence of how many of the sheep are scattered and lost. It is evident of how many toxic falsehoods have infiltrated people’s minds.  Now, again, we need strong shepherds to guide and protect people within the Church’s fold and we need Her members to stand up against the errors of our times, such as those pushed by the CATO Institute and other nefarious forces.

Conclusion:

Despite all the feminist rhetoric and propaganda, this overview of data from around the world has not found any empirical evidence that supports the belief that the Catholic Faith is bad for women, i.e. is oppressive or has a negative impact on freedom or life satisfaction.  The evidence actually suggests the exact opposite, highlighting how adherence to basic aspects of the Catholic faith is of benefit to women in terms of life satisfaction and their sense of freedom. 

The above study also outlines how compatible the Faith and science are. (For further insight into the relationship between the Faith and science, see Hagan’s excellent article on ‘Science and the Church’ – link in reference section) (18).  The data presented here supports and affirms the Faith and its practice. 

True freedom is within the grasp of each individual. It is not dependent on economic or social conditions. God offers His grace abundantly to all. It is up to us to respond to or reject His calling.  The CATO Institute pushes vice and globalist economic, social and cultural revolutions as the way to freedom, but as Fr Edward Leen (19) outlines in his insightful book, ‘Why the Cross?’, ‘The function of Christianity is not to reform or devise economic or social systems: her function is to reform and to transform the economists themselves.’ (p. 9).  This involves living a life of virtue and adhering to the truth.

The Catholic faith has always supported true liberty with St Paul telling us that ‘Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ (2 Cor 3:17).  The Church only encourages people to use the freedom God has given them wisely so that they can be truly free as St Peter, ‘For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God.’ (1 Peter 2:16) and St Paul, ‘For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty: only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve one another.’ (Gal 5:13) remind us.  These reminders, that we must use this life and the freedom and gifts God has given us to know, honour and love Him, are the very things that many people rebel against.  They falsely believe that these cautions place a restriction on their freedom. These cautions are only there to guide people towards the spirit of liberty and essentially to eternal happiness.  While adherence to the Catholic Faith offers increased liberty in this life, St Thomas (2) also explains how perfect liberty cannot be achieved until we reach Heaven. This can frustrate people who are battling against the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.  Rebellion against God, anger, impatience and avarice along with many other vices, are stoked up by anti-Catholic forces that want to drag people away from the truth, true freedom and true happiness. The freedom that is offered by those who make ‘liberty a cloak of malice’, e.g. the CATO Institute and Marxist/feminist researchers and campaigners, is not true freedom and will only enslave those who follow its calling.  

Finally, this study affirms Our Lord’s words, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32).  He gently invites all people to follow Him so they can cast off the chains of the devil and ‘have it [life] more abundantly’ (John 10:10).  This is what women, and the world, needs to do.

Footnote 1: ‘Freedom’ here is put in inverted commas as people who push for ‘freedom’ and believe that the Catholic faith is against ‘freedom’ have a flawed understanding of what true freedom is.  This will be explained in the discussion section. For now, the data will examine women’s sense of freedom. 

Footnote 2: Professors Haidt and Peterson point out some of the problems currently in academia but they fail to really address the root cause. Thus, they both fail to promote sound sociology as they both lack understanding about what a human being truly is and what the purpose of this life is. They are referenced in this study to highlight how even those who are still blind in many ways are still able to see the problems with the social sciences.

References:

  1. Smith, S. (2018) ‘Irish Independent OK to publish ‘Rosarectomy’ Cartoon About Abortion Debate’  Available at:https://www.imediaethics.org/irish-independent-ok-to-publish-rosarectomy-cartoon-about-abortion-debate/[Accessed 27/08/19]
  2. Aquinas, T., translated by Collins, J. B. (1939) ‘The Catechetical Instructions of St Thomas Aquinas’.  Retrieved from Catholic Primer.  Available at: http://documentacatholicaomnia.eu/03d/1225-1274,_Thomas_Aquinas,_Catechismus,_EN.pdf [Accessed 28/08/19]
  3. Verne, P. (2009)‘Happiness, Freedom and Control’, Econpubblica Centre for Research on the Public Sector, Working Paper, 141.  Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1499652[Accessed 20/08/19]
  4. Wilkinson, W. (2011) ‘Happiness, Freedom and Autonomy’ Available at:https://www.forbes.com/sites/willwilkinson/2011/03/23/happiness-and-freedom/#5ceeac83fe5f[Accessed 21/08/19]
  5. O’Neil, A.C. (1912). Sin. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14004b.htm [Accessed 29/08/19]
  6. Ripperger, C. (2013) ‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’ Sensus Traditionis Press: Lincoln, USA.
  7. Mullally, U. (2018) ‘Borders of the middle ground being redrawn in abortion debate’. Available at:https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/una-mullally-borders-of-the-middle-ground-being-redrawn-in-abortion-debate-1.3363130?mode=sample&auth-failed=1&pw-origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishtimes.com%2Fopinion%2Funa-mullally-borders-of-the-middle-ground-being-redraw [Accessed 29/08/19]
  8. Dobb, M. (1947) ‘Marxism and the Social Sciences’ The Modern Quarterly (London, new series) 3:1, 5-21. Available at: https://monthlyreview.org/2001/09/01/marxism-and-the-social-sciences/[Accessed 28/08/19]
  9. Uyangoda, J. (2018) ‘Karl Marx & The Social Sciences’ Available at:https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/karl-marx-the-social-sciences/[Accessed 28/08/19]
  10. Doolan, A. (1945) ‘Philosophy for the Layman’.  Dublin: Irish Rosary Office.
  11. Duarte, J. L. et al. (2014) ‘Political diversity will improve social psychological science’, Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 38, e130.  Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/article/political-diversity-will-improve-social-psychological-science-1/A54AD4878AED1AFC8BA6AF54A890149F [Accessed 27/08/19]
  12. Peterson, J. P. (2017) ‘Postmodernism and Cultural Marxism’ – YouTube video.  Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLoG9zBvvLQ [Accessed 28/08/19]
  13.  The CATO Institute website is available at:www.cato.org[Accessed 27/08/19]
  14.  Porcnik, T. (2018) ‘Nationalism and Populism Detrimental to Freedom’ Available at:https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/nationalism-populism-detrimental-freedom [Accessed 27/08/19]
  15. Vasquez, I & Porcnik, T. (2018) ‘The Human Freedom Index: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom’  Available at: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/human-freedom-index-2018-revised.pdf [Accessed 29/08/19]
  16.  Pope Leo XII (1885).  ‘Immortale Dei: Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII On The Christian Constitution of States’ Available at:https://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_01111885_immortale-dei.html [Accessed 27/08/19]
  17.  Aristotle (350BC) – ‘On the Heavens’, trans. J. L. Stocks (2009). Quote from Book I, chapter 5. Available at: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/heavens.html [Accessed 29/08/19]
  18.  Hagen, J. (1912). Science and the Church. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 28, 2019 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13598b.htm
  19.  Leen, E. (1938).  ‘Why the Cross?’  London: Sheed & Ward.

Note:  All Bible quotes taken from the Douay Rheims Bible – see: http://drbo.org  

Making Our Mother Proud – Common Sense, Science and the Catholic Faith

                         At family gatherings, one of my aunts often sings the song by Faron Young, ‘Walk tall (walk straight)’ which starts, ‘Walk tall, walk straight, look the world right in the eye, that’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high’.  Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the troubles that the world can bring us.  At times, we need to withdraw from the madness of the world. On other occasions, we need to take ‘mama’s’ advice, stand up, ‘look the world right in the eye’, and be as bold as lions in pointing out to the world its vices, lies and nonsense. This duty is particularly incumbent on those who have a keen intellect, see the errors clearly and have the necessary talents and ability to refute these errors.  In previous times, Catholic scientists were great at doing this.  However, in recent times, Catholic scientists seem to be cowering from this duty.                    

                          In our times, many eminent and popular scientists are directing continuous attacks against the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith. The number of attacks has increased but the fact that the Church is being attacked by atheist scientists is nothing new.  What is new is the fact that few Catholic scientists have come out in strong defence against these attacks.  It seems like scientists who profess to be Catholic have bowed down to or accepted the lies and falsehoods that the world is pushing rather than defend the Faith courageously and vigorously.  For example, the name of ‘science’ is used to discredit Creation and miracles and to push toxic ideologies, such as the promotion of homosexuality and feminism, without Catholic scientists coming out strongly to refute this dangerous nonsense. This type of response from Catholic scientists reminds me of the analogy in Bruce Springsteen’s, ‘Born in the USA’, when he sings about a person who ‘ends up like a dog that’s been beat too much, til you spend half your life just covering up’.  This surrender to the world and its so-called scientific wisdom is in stark contrast to eminent Catholic scientists of yesteryear. 

                          Take for example, the great French scientist, Louis Pasteur, who discovered various bacteria and whose name lives on in the term ‘pasteurising’.  He was a strong Catholic until his last breath as is evident from an account of him on his deathbed, ‘As his soul departed, he held in his hands a small crucifix of brass, and his last words were acts of Faith and Hope.  When one of his pupils asked him how he could be so religious after all his thinking and studying, he replied: ‘Just because I have thought and studied, I have remained religious like a peasant of Brittany, and had I thought and studied still more, I would be as religious as a peasant woman of Brittany.’’ (1).  He realized that the more he genuinely searched for truth, the more he came to realise the truth of the Catholic faith.  He also realized that it was often the poor, who were most connected to the land and common sense, that had the strongest faith.

                            Or take this brief insight into the life of Andre Marie Ampere, whom the ‘amp’ is named after: ‘The celebrated investigator in the field of electricity, after passing through torturing doubts, regained undisturbed possession of his Catholic faith, and was a pious son of the Church at time of his brilliant discoveries. He had frequent intercourse with Frederick Ozanam, and the conversation would always turn to God.  Ampere would cover his hands exclaiming: ‘How great is God, Ozanam! how great is God, and our knowledge is as nothing!’  He knew the Imitation of Christ by heart.’ (2).   These two great humble French men lived in France after the Revolution where the Church and the Catholic Faith were continuously ridiculed and attacked. This did not stop them from loving scientific truth and the Truth Himself. Nor did it stop them from expressing this love clearly and devoutly.

                             In our current times, the atheistic nonsense spouted by those who pass for scientists gets far more respect than it deserves.  This is due to a loss of common sense and an increased credulity amongst many people today.  Modern day philosophers, scientists, psychologists and writers douse people in eloquent phrases. The long list of letters and titles after their names seems to dazzle and confuse people.  People, today, are easily duped by what appears to be science but is actually someone’s pet theory wrapped up in fancy sounding terms and scientific clothing.  Fr Doolan (3) points out, in reference to the state of academia in the early 1900’s, how we are living in an age of credulity compared to the Middle Ages: ‘I find the ‘soul so hard to understand!’ sighed Professor Edgar Brightman of Boston University in 1926.  That accounts, perhaps, for the amount of nonsense that we find in modern writing on the subject of the soul. Men are not slow nowadays to write about what they do not understand. They seem to assume that if the Middle Ages were ages of faith, this modern age is one of credulity. They certainly make demands on the credulity of their readers that no medieval would have dared to make.  The men of the Middle Ages would simply have laughed at them.  They would have been amused at the innocence of Sir Arthur Keith, who denied that the soul was immortal because as ‘a medical man’, he never found it living after death.’  In the Middle Ages, quackery would have been called out quickly and the nonsense that modern atheist scientist speak of would have been laughed out of town.  The Middle Ages are often portrayed as a period of superstition and credulity.  This is far from the case. People of this era had far more common sense than people in our current age.  They lived in a time where the Faith was strong.  It was a time when people were grounded in the natural rhythm of life as most toiled and lived off the land.  They saw and experienced the constant patterns of life and knew that there had to be a Creator. They were then given more insight and knowledge of who God was through Catholic teachings and the Sacraments. The people of the Middle Ages would have thought that it was some sort of joke if they saw the common spectacle today of atheist scientists being given knighthoods, e.g. humanist/atheist mathematician, Sir Richard Penrose, atheist zoologist, Sir Patrick Benson. 

‘Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ’ – Colossians 2:8

                                 Harvard Professor of Anatomy, Thomas Dwight (4), writing almost 100 years ago, highlights how quackery can be mistaken for genius, ‘One of our greatest curses has been the atheistic popular lecturer, the purveyor of sham science on one hand and the hater of religion on the other. He spreads abroad the wildest theories as established facts, clamoring that the whole social fabric, religion and all, should be remodeled to suit the new revelation. He does not know whether there is a God or not; but he does know that man came from an ape. There is no certainty that our senses tell us the truth, yet there is no knowledge but from observation.  An idea is nothing but a glorious sensation, idiocy is a reversion, crime a disease, free will a delusion, religion an emotion.  The mischief that such men do is great indeed.  The young man sees the popular lecturer praised and flattered.  He is dazzled by his plausibility and brilliancy.  The plain fact that his hero is but a quack does not occur to him.’ In our times, one can look at the example of the militant atheist Christopher Hitchens, with his brusque, confident style and his refined and eloquent language, which disguises his lack of true understanding and knowledge, as a perfect example of this. 

Why are we so credulous?

                                There are some reasons that are peculiar to our times, which increase the likelihood of people being deceived or duped.  Fr Ripperger (5) highlights how technology has played a role in detaching us from common sense, ‘In the past, common sense, which is the ability to grasp the nature of things, tended to be a guiding light. More, by the physical toil involved in the average person’s life, one learned how reality functioned and so between common sense and experience, people could work their way out of difficult situations.  However, in a technocratic culture which pervades society today, less contact is had with reality as the technology becomes the prism by which a technocratic generation views reality.  The technology stands between the knower and reality and thereby the knower is distanced from reality and loses the opportunity to gain the necessary experience in order to live life according to reason (rather than depending on technology and science always to solve the problem in mechanistic or artificial way).  Moreover, excessive use of technology tends to strip one of common sense because it keeps a person from being in direct contact, either physically or psychologically, with reality and therefore the person loses his capacity to grasp the nature of things and how they are to be treated.’ (p. 86).  The ‘curse’ of the popular atheist lecturer is growing as these lecturers use technology and social media platforms, such as YouTube, to spread wild and dangerous theories.  People are attracted to the alluring bait that these theories offer.  This bait is often in the guise of ‘liberty’, ‘equality’, ‘fraternity’ or ‘truth’.  Some people seem to pay little attention to the sharp hook that is waiting for them that helps reels them into the clutches of the devil and his clever lies.  Frederico Suarez (6) also points out how technology and impatience can lead one to abandon the search for truth – ‘In our day the search for truth is not an objective for most people.  Their scale of values contains things that they consider much more urgent and immediate, and much more important too: success, efficiency, money, popularity (which today we equate with publicity), pleasure, comfort, politics, power. Nor is it easy to find, nowadays, the restful patience that one needs for cultivating the mind, enriching it by investigating bits of truth we find around us. People nowadays are practical, and they look for practical results.  Technology, inventions and the sale of goods: these are really practical things. Besides, people are in a hurry: the longer it takes to obtain a positive result, the more it costs. How, then, would they devote themselves to the search for truth which requires so much effort, time and patience?: it is just not worth the investment.’ (p. 77).  Technology can disconnect us from reality and the world’s focus on time and efficiency rather than truth leads people to either accept answers to the most important questions in life that are in contradiction to common sense or people rashly accept incomplete or erroneous answers as they have or take no time to sit and explore these vital questions.

Standing Up For The Truth

                                 Great Catholic scientists of previous generations had a firm grounding in common sense.  They would not accept any conclusions that went against plain and obvious facts of life or against philosophical principles.  They took time to check the evidence, to reason, to deliberate, to consult, to reflect and to pray, before setting out their arguments and conclusions. In doing so, they showed how the Faith and science are compatible (For further reading on this topic and an excellent outline of the relationship between science and the Church see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13598b.htm). Catholic scientists made many wonderful discoveries by being patient and by using logic, evidence and reason.  They were not afraid to profess and defend the Faith against atheist and agnostic attacks that were dressed up with the veneer of science.  These words of Prof Dwight, defending the faith against the heresy of monism can equally be applied to the inane and dangerous heresies of our times, e.g. pantheism, communism, modernism, liberalism, ‘It seems to me that many of the apologists for Christianity have made the mistake of fighting too much on the defensive.  They have held their position, they have shown the weakness of their opponents; but, if I mistake not, they for the most part have stopped there, without going on to show that, as far as science has anything to say in the matter, its evidence is in support of religion, and that as a whole the Catholic’s view of nature and of man is grander, more logical, and more satisfying than that of the monist.’ (p. 7-8). If Catholic scientists were to reflect on the history of scientific endeavor and the Faith they would quickly realise that there is no real conflict here.  They would realise that scientific truths and the truths of the Faith are perfectly compatible as truth and error cannot mix.  The absurdity of those who claim that science refutes the Catholic Faith would then be called out.  With a bit more knowledge and a bit more courage, Catholic scientists, and those blessed with strong intellects, could use their talents to defend the Faith.  They would be able to help enlighten minds lost in the darkness of ignorance and release those caught on the hook of seductive error. 

Making Our Mother Proud

                                  In Faron Young’s song, his mother advises him to be ‘a proud man and hold his head up high.’  The Catholic Church teaches people to be humble but this does not mean neglecting or distorting the truth as humility is the truth.  In this regard, Catholics can hold their head up high when it comes to the historical relationship between science and the Catholic Church and reflect on how Catholic scientists played a key role in the development and promotion of science.  Catholics can be as bold and proud as lions in roaring this truth. The young man in Young’s simple and meaningful song ends up in prison for failing to heed the wisdom of those who went before him, i.e. his mother, but he resolves to mend his ways so he can ‘make ma proud to call me son’.  Hopefully, we can heed the advice and example of great Catholic scientists that went before us so that we can avoid the prison that the devil tempts us into. We can heed the advice of Our Blessed Lady as well and follow her wisdom and example.  At times, we, and especially Catholic scientists or those of strong intellect, may be called to ‘look the world right in the eye’ and call out the nonsense and falsehoods for what they are.  In doing so, let us hope and pray that we can make Our Lady proud to call us her sons and daughters.  

References:

  1. Quote taken from: Revue des Questions Scientifiques (1896), p. 385 cited in Laux, J. (1928) ‘Catholic Apologetics: God, Christianity and the Church’. Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books.
  2. Quote taken from: Donat, J., (1914) The Freedom of Science. New York: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., p. 210 – cited in Laux, J. (1928) ‘Catholic Apologetics: God, Christianity and the Church’. Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books.
  3. Doolan, A. (1945) Philosophy for the Layman.  Dublin: Irish Rosary Office.
  4. Dwight, T. (1911) Thoughts of a Catholic Anatomist. New York: Longmans, Green & Co.
  5. Ripperger, C. (2013) Introduction to the Science of Mental Health. Sensus Traditionis Press: Lincoln, USA.
  6. Suarez, F. (1983) The Narrow Gate. Dublin: Four Courts Press.