Rod Dreher

David Rieff was in Dublin for the Easter 1916 commemoration, and listened to a military chaplain speak at the official ceremony, delivering what David calls a “brave homily” addressing the ethical collapse of the nation during its recent economic boom, now a bust. The monsignor’s prophetic address to the Irish nation got David to thinking. Excerpt:

Listening to him speak, I found it hard not to be overcome by an unseemly envy. For what American figure with an equally important official role in this society has put what has happened in its proper moral context? … Why is it apparently impossible for the archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, a man of immense power in America who is also a person with a genuine social conscience and a long history of activism on behalf of the poor, to make a speech about the selfishness, greed, and ethical collapse of American society during our boom years in a context as likely to draw public attention, and, in doing so, shift the terms of the debate, as the one chosen by Msgr. Thynne? And the same question should be asked of the Reverend Rick Warren and of the leaders of the North American Baptist Conference and of the American Association of Lutheran Churches when they pronounce–as they hardly have been shy about doing–on the moral condition of the Republic.
This society is in moral freefall, and it is idiotic to pretend otherwise. …[It would be] a relief, if only once a year, say–perhaps during a national day of remembrance (after all, every country has one)–someone in a position of real influence and authority saw fit to tell the truth rather than spin it. The rest of the time we could go back to business as usual.

While I disagree with my friend’s suggestion that the corrupt Cardinal Mahony has the moral authority to chastise and correct anyone — see this partial collection of Mahony’s archdiocesan derring-do from — I endorse his main point. As David says, whether you take a liberal view that the main problem is degraded capitalism, or the social conservative view that it’s a collapse of the moral order, it’s hard to deny that something quite serious has taken place … but nobody in authority seems willing or able to name it, except insofar as they can blame their political opponents. This won’t do. Read the whole thing.

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