What Christians Should Do in the Public Square
By Edward Pentin
ROME, 5 JULY 2012 (ZENIT)
Like a fair number of citizens from former Soviet-ruled countries, Russian pro-life campaigner Alexey Komov is surprised and disheartened to see the West flirting once again with socialism as a consequence of the global financial situation.
Whether it be in the form of support for the Obama administration, or the backing of other socialist-leaning policies and political parties, he sees the trend as disturbing and irrational.
In Rome to address a conference to launch the Rome office of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Institute for Human Dignity) June 29, Komov stressed that socialism has "never worked in world history" and that he found it "really amazing" to see such support when, in the 20th century, the ideology had caused such great pain and suffering "all in the name of social reform, progress and improvement."
Speaking with ZENIT after giving his address, Komov recalled the estimated 100 million people who died in the Soviet Union "in the name of social reform or revolution." He alludes to the hounding of the nobility who were killed or forced to emigrate, the 200,000 clergy and religious who lost their lives or were sent to gulags, the tens of thousands of Kazakhs who were murdered, and the "one hundred percent" destruction of social classes.
What disturbs him now is that many countries have a "softer version" of socialism. "We're witnessing this in the policies of Obama in the United States, recently those of Zapatero in Spain and others," he says. "Each has been inspired basically by the same socialist ideas, a softer form but still from the same source."
A marketing manager by profession and a former adviser to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, Komov now serves as Russia's representative to the World Congress of Families, said to be the world's largest association of organizations defending the traditional family.
He explains that he finds the Obama administration's socialist leanings particularly disturbing, and draws attention to a hero of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Saul Alinsky, a neo-Marxist writer who dedicated his first book to none other than the Devil, whom he saw as the first successful revolutionary to overthrow the "oppressive regime of God." (Alinsky's exact words were: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.").
Komov believes that if you "dig deep enough into the ideological roots of these socialist movements, you end up finding satanic roots in them." And although only a softer version is prevalent now, "it is still very dangerous," he says. "I would warn all those people fascinated by socialist ideas that they have never worked in human history — never worked."
The traditional nuclear family is a particular enemy of socialism, he says, because it is the basic institution that preserves values and passes them on to the next generation. "The state, if it wants to dominate life and the individual from birth to death, needs to destroy the family, because the family is independent of the state," he argues. "As Marx and Engels said, the family is a repressive, bourgeois institution that needs to be destroyed; they need to get rid of its patriarchal power and that of Christianity because they are the main obstacles of the social revolution."
He further believes that the merging of Freudianism with Marxism led to the sex and drugs revolutions of the 1960s, resulting in such ideologies as radical feminism and environmentalism.
During his speech, Komov noted the population of Russia has decreased by almost 10 million in 20 years, partly due to high abortion rates and an increasingly hedonistic culture. But can this be blamed on socialism when communism fell over 20 years ago? "It's a world phenomenon," he says, but adds it is "inevitably linked to a moving away from Christianity" and the embracing of a popular culture which stresses self-fulfilment and no personal self-sacrifice.
Komov, who is also trying to raise awareness of these issues through the "Family and Demography Foundation," a body led by two Russian Orthodox priests well-known in Russia, Dmitry Smirnov and Maxim Obukhov, says he is also working closely with the Catholic Church.
"We should be closer together," he says, "given that we're facing the same secular attacks on things we hold dear to our hearts."
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The Dignitatis Humanae Institute's conference on "The Role of Christians in the Public Square" drew a wide range of speakers including the Italian politician and patron of the Institute, Professor Rocco Buttiglione, and the Slovakian MEP, Anna Záborská.
Záborská highlighted the importance of the Vatican's 2002 ten-page doctrinal note "On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life" as a document that contains "all what a Christian politician or policy maker should know."
She then noted upcoming challenges to human dignity in Europe legislatures. These included "The Horizon 2020 program," which threatens to authorize millions of dollars in spending on human embryonic stem cell research, and a proposed EU Commission regulation establishing the Rights and Citizenship program from 2014 to 2020.
"I am very concerned about this program because it contains the potential attacks against the natural family founded on the marriage between a men and a woman," Záborská said, adding that the initiative focuses on the fight against all forms of discrimination. "Discrimination based on sex, gender and sexual orientation is misused by powerful lobbyists to force EU Member States into legalizing same-sex partnerships," she warned.
Záborská also drew attention to continued pressure to enforce sexual and reproductive health and rights. "We all know that this is a code for abortion," she said, adding that the current Danish presidency of the EU accepted EU financing for abortion in developing countries as part of sexual and reproductive health.
But the Slovakian MEP also highlighted some encouraging developments: firstly, the final declaration of the UN Rio+20 International Conference on Sustainable Development failed to include sexual and reproductive health and rights, representing "a major pro-life victory for the pro-life coalition at the UN"; preparations toward the International Year of the Family in 2014 appear likely to contain "a coherent vision of marriage and the family respecting the dignity of the human person"; and the European Parliament's plenary session next week will address forced abortions in China. Záborská said the issue "now figures on the European Parliament agenda for breaches of human rights."
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Rocco Buttiglione spoke at the conference on the importance of truth and authentic tolerance in politics.
The Italian politician stressed that as a loving father will occasionally say no to his child, so a politician "who loves his people must tell the truth, and must sometimes say 'no' to his people, but explain why what the people want is wrong." He must "run risk of being ousted and lose an election," Buttiglione said, "but better to lose the election than to win by selling people false merchandise."
"I respect very much politicians who've shown considerable courage to lose elections in order to tell the truth," he said.
Recalling the famous quote on free speech by Voltaire, the Italian philosopher professor stressed the importance of people being free to voice their opinions, and for others to freely and openly disagree with them. "I may not respect the error someone is saying, but I respect them as a person," Buttiglione said.
But he noted that the meaning of tolerance has subtly changed over the years, so subtly, in fact, that it has escaped people' s notice. "'Don't be judgemental,' people say, but you can translate that as 'Don't think' because to think means to pass judgement," he said.
He said that to think means to create hierarchies, to put things in order, to make distinctions between good and bad, truth and falsehood. "If you do this, you are considered intolerant," he said, "That's bad, because it destroys real participation."