Overcoming the allure of relativism with ratzinger journey to easter online or pdf message of truth has been a consistent project of Pope Benedict. Twenty-five years ago, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the celebration of World Youth Day — to be celebrated on Palm Sunday each year.
He understood — as does Benedict XVI — that the future of the Church depends on the youth, on the next generation of Catholic parents, priests and religious. But reaching the next generation is not always easy — especially when young people today are inundated with messages that push them toward a “relativistic” view of morality, toward a value system in which relevant values are chosen on an individual basis — and are not thought to be universally applicable. It was this relativistic interpretation of living that Pope Benedict spoke out against in the days just before his election as Pope — when he warned of a “dictatorship of relativism. There is certainly a problem with relativism among young people today. 18-29 year old Catholics see morals as “relative. That’s a shocking number, but fortunately there is more to that statistic than meets the eye.
When confronted with a series of moral issues, those same Catholic young people who saw themselves as relativistic chose overwhelmingly to categorize issues such as abortion or euthanasia as “morally wrong” — despite being given the option of classifying each as “not a moral issue” — which one would assume would be the logical choice of a true relativist. Relativism, unlike truth, leads to exactly such inconsistent thinking, and so ultimately is not a fulfilling philosophy of life. Again this weekend, on the 25th celebration of World Youth Day, the Pope took the opportunity to address the young people in St. Peter’s Square for his Palm Sunday Mass on the subject of leading a life based on truth. At the Angelus following the Mass, he appealed “to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ. Truth — in the person of Jesus Christ — must be the basis for witness to the faith.