Q&A on The FALFA Project Principles
Why Catholic Principles?
Claiming that any set of principles are absolutely true is sacrilege to the popular religion of relativity, which states that absolutely everything is relative, ironically enough. This implies that we should never accept any particular belief as “the truth” and think of beliefs as “true for you” or “true for me” yet not “true for everybody”. So the Catholic faith is seen as just one among many equally valid beliefs.
But if “morality” means anything more than mere “opinion”, it must be objective and “true for everybody”. “Catholic” means “universal”, which is why we are founded on Catholic principles.
All willful actions and endeavors are based upon some moral values. There is a tendency these days of shying away from religion as a foundation for those values, in an effort to make them seem more “universal” or “unbiased”. These days the Christian aspect of even well-known organizations is often downplayed. How many Americans are currently aware that the YMCA stands for “Young Men’s Christian Association”?
But Catholic and Christian principles in general are far more solid than whatever the media happens to be peddling today as “the truth”, or what the popular opinion happens to be. These secular values are just as biased as any other and are far from “universal”, given their propensity to change and their tenuous foundation.
Truth is Catholic, and so are our principles.
Why not just “Christian”, rather than “Catholic” principles?
All Catholic principles are 100% compatible with Christ’s teachings. There should be no need, in principle, to refer to anything but “Christian principles”. Indeed, in the past, it would not have been necessary to refer specifically to Catholic principles simply because there was a general moral consensus about subjects like abortion, same-sex attraction and assisted suicide among all Christians, and even generally most Americans, even the non-religious.
But recent trends have seen these previously solid moral stances turned upside-down, with even Christian churches accepting and endorsing these things as moral. There are still other Christian denominations who have stayed more true to Christ’s teachings.
Nevertheless, in spite of the clear Biblical stance on many of these issues, it is now necessary to specify what principles we are speaking of, given that the consensus is no longer universal.
So your principles are based on the Bible?
Holy scripture is an important, but certainly not the only, resource for informing conscious. Catholic principles are not based upon the Bible. It is the Bible which is based on Catholic principles, per the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But Catholics principles are also compatible and partially based upon Natural Law, which does not involve the Bible nor any religious dogma, and can be understood and followed outside of Catholicism.
No essential Catholic principle is justified solely on the basis that “The Bible says so.” It would be silly to believe any claim simply because it is written in a book, even a Holy book such as the Bible. Though reason cannot tell us everything, it can lead us towards the truth of the universal spiritual principles without recourse to the Bible, or in fact, any document.
Why not Buddhist or Muslim principles?
Catholics recognize that all people and all world religions hold some truth. In general, adhering to ANY legitimate religious and spiritual principles is far, far better than being at the mercy of whatever is popular today, and we respect other traditions, beliefs and religions.
But we believe Catholicism has a more complete grasp of the universal truth. Thankfully, most religions and spiritual traditions agree more often than they differ on these matters, and by God’s grace people of many different religious and spiritual traditions frequently work together to make the world a better place, which we welcome.
Are you Conservative or Liberal?
Jesus was neither conservative nor liberal. He shocked the religious and political leaders of the time and brought new understanding to scripture, yet he accepted and followed the Jewish law faithfully, coming not to abolish it, but to fulfill it.
Rather than subscribing to any outside ideology, The FALFA Project tries to faithfully follow Catholic teaching. How that translates into politics is somewhat open to interpretation, and there will necessarily be some personal preference towards a particular solution, depending on the person.
But, Catholic teaching is very clear about the fundamentals- such as abortion, assisted suicide and same-sex attraction, for instance- and no Catholic solution, conservative, liberal, or otherwise, may contradict these teachings and remain faithful to Catholic principles.
Why involve God or Jesus?
Because God happens to be essential to understanding the basis of true freedom and morality. Without morality, we have no freedom. And morality tends to break down without God. This does not mean that people who do not believe in God are necessarily immoral. But an analysis of the basis of morality reveals the necessity of a purposeful, loving creator. God is a far more powerful and convincing foundation for morality and freedom than any non-theist foundation.
As Christians, we believe in the Christ, who is Jesus. The importance of Jesus Christ is that he came not only to teach us the principles of freedom, but to serve as a human and divine model for how to live those principles.
But more than an abstract figure, God became man, in the person of Jesus, the Christ, to show us the way and the truth. Jesus not only taught us the principles of freedom, but he showed us how to live these principles as human beings. He is the only fully human and yet fully divine model that we have for leading a moral, holy life, which we should all strive for.
These principles are universal, so they certainly apply and appeal even to those who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus or even in the existence of God. Nevertheless, God and Jesus are essential parts of our foundation, for which we cheerfully offer invitations, but no apologies.
Isn’t religion irrational, anti-science and quickly becoming outdated?
There is a great misunderstanding in the world today about what faith is and how it relates to reason and science. Catholic beliefs are no more, and often far less, irrational than many secular beliefs, such as “People should have equal rights” and “Human beings should be treated with dignity”, many of which have religious origins.
Concerning science, there is absolutely NO true conflict between religion and science. How could there be, if God is the foundation of both religion and nature? Science cannot “disprove” religion, because religion is concerned with different things, such as moral behavior and the metaphysical, which is outside of the scope of science. Likewise religion cannot “contradict” science, because science is concerned with the workings of the physical world, which is simply not what religion or the Bible is about.
Jesus Christ did not come to give us a science textbook. He came to give us a guide of how to live our lives, what life is about and reveal God’s will and love for all of us.
Societies in the recent past where religion is seen as “outdated” are among the most authoritarian and morally bankrupt, such as many communist countries. The Bible itself mentions those who do not believe. So the idea that religion is “outdated” is hardly new. The misunderstanding comes about when science, which has been wildly successful, is seen as contrary to religion, because it will give us “all the answers”.
But science will never be able to tell us how to live our lives, what is moral and what is not, or about things beyond the physical universe. Furthermore, history is full of religious scientists, including many Catholic priests and clergy who have contributed greatly to our scientific understanding of the world, without any contradiction to their belief in God, Jesus Christ or Catholic principles.
Rather than being outdated, religious understanding is more greatly needed in the world today. The success of science and its fruit, technology, gives us a greater understanding and control of nature, which demands from us a greater moral responsibility that only a proper religious foundation can address. Secular humanism, in spite of its popularity and appeal, is ultimately unfit to address these issues, lacking an understanding of the true spiritual nature and sacredness of the human person.