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Archbishop Gomez addresses rise of ‘wokeness’, social movements in US

Autumn Jones   By Autumn Jones for CNA

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, right, applauds as Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles acknowledges the applause after being named the new president during the fall general assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore Nov. 12, 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Denver Newsroom, Nov 4, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA). On Thursday, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles discussed the rise of new secular ideologies and movements for social change in the United States during a virtual address to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid.

He asserted that it is “important for the Church to understand and engage these new movements—not on social or political terms, but as dangerous substitutes for true religion.”

“Today’s critical theories and ideologies are profoundly atheistic,” Gomez said Nov. 4. “They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness.”

Gomez’ thesis, he said, is that the new social movements that exist in the U.S., such as “social justice,” “wokeness,” “identity politics,” “intersectionality,” or “successor ideology,” should be understood as “pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs,” and can result in tribalism.

“They reduce what it means to be human to essentially physical qualities—the color of our skin, our sex, our notions of gender, our ethnic background, or our position in society,” he said during the address.

“With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied,” Gomez said.

Gomez approximated today’s social movements to that of Marxism and noted that they resemble other heresies found in Church history.

“Like the Gnostics, they reject creation and the body,” Gomez said. “They seem to believe that human beings can become whatever we decide to make of ourselves.”

“These movements are also Pelagian, believing that redemption can be accomplished through our own human efforts, without God,” he said.

Gomez criticized groups of people involved in social movements for prioritizing a “global civilization, built on a consumer economy and guided by science, technology, humanitarian values, and technocratic ideas about organizing society,” and that they have “no need for old-fashioned belief systems and religions.”

Gomez also noted a “shrinking space” that Christians, Church institutions, and Christian businesses are allowed to occupy with the social changes at work.

“We recognize that often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs — about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more,” he said in the address.

His message, which was delivered in three parts, discussed the global movement of secularization and de-Christianization, and the impact of the pandemic; a spiritual interpretation of the social justice and political identity movements in the U.S.; and evangelical priorities for the Church.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Gomez said, accelerated the pace at which social issues are being addressed, but it was not the pandemic that caused these movements. He referenced the murder of George Floyd as a tragedy that “became a stark reminder that racial and economic inequality are still deeply embedded in our society.”

“The new social movements and ideologies that we are talking about today, were being seeded and prepared for many years in our universities and cultural institutions,” he said. “But with the tension and fear caused by the pandemic and social isolation, and with the killing of an unarmed black man by a white policeman and the protests that followed in our cities, these movements were fully unleashed in our society.”

Gomez said that, while there are unique conditions in the United States, “similar broad patterns of aggressive secularization” can be seen in Europe. He called those who are active in such movements “an elite leadership class” that “has little interest in religion and no real attachments to the nations they live in or to local traditions or cultures.”

He suggested that social movements offer an explanation for events that occur in the world, along with a sense of meaning or purpose—space previously occupied by the Christian worldview.

“Like Christianity, these new movements tell their own ‘story of salvation,’” Gomez said.

Gomez presented the Christian story of salvation in contrast to what he called the “woke story,” which “draws its strength from the simplicity of its explanations—the world is divided into innocents and victims, allies and adversaries,” he said.

“Clearly, this is a powerful and attractive narrative for millions of people in American society and in societies across the West,” Gomez said. “In fact, many of America’s leading corporations, universities, and even public schools are actively promoting and teaching this vision.”

Gomez said that people who buy into these social movements are often motivated by noble intentions and “want to change conditions in society that deny men and women their rights and opportunities for a good life.”

“We all want to build a society that provides equality, freedom, and dignity for every person,” Gomez said. “But we can only build a just society on the foundation of the truth about God and human nature.”

To address the social movements, Gomez said, the Church needs to “proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldly, creatively.”

“We should not be intimidated by these new religions of social justice and political identity,” he said. “The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen.”

Gomez said that the Church has “been ‘antiracist’ from the beginning,” but has “not always lived up to our beautiful principles, or carried out the mission entrusted to us by Christ.”

“The world does not need a new secular religion to replace Christianity,” Gomez said. “It needs you and me to be better witnesses. Better Christians. Let us begin by forgiving, loving, sacrificing for others, putting away spiritual poisons like resentment and envy.”

Gomez said he draws inspiration from the lives of U.S. figures such as Dorothy Day and Venerable Augustus Tolton.

“Father Tolton once said, ‘The Catholic Church deplores a double slavery — that of the mind and that of the body. She endeavors to free us of both,’ Gomez said. “Today, we need this confidence in the power of the Gospel.”

He concluded his address by recognizing an “authentic religious awakening,” in the United States and asked for the continued intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.

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  1. ‘“We should not be intimidated by these new religions of social justice and political identity,” he said. “The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen.’

    What makes Gomez think that new calls for social justice do not align with the Gospel?

    • Any movement who adherents burn and vandalize Churches, deny God given sexuality and morality, deny the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, routinely engage in lawless Burning, Looting and Murder, and proudly affirm Marxist teachings condemned by the Catholic Church, obviously are not in alignment with the Gospel.

    • One cannot be a sincere, devout Christian and embrace a Marxist worldview at the same time. Those two frameworks are incompatible. Any current movement that is rooted in or based upon a Marxist perspective is antithetical to the gospel. I assumed that was a no-brainer.

      • Don’t confuse Marxism with good old-fashioned American Civil Rights. Thats as Christian as it gets, no?

        There may be a Marxist movement that is anti-Christian and anti-American. There is also the constant push for a more perfect Union, the striving of every person inspired by the American experimwnt.

    • Maybe things like CRT which cast all whites in the role of villain. So called “diversity training” at companies which do the same. There IS no systemic racism In the US and its a lie to say there is. A recent news story indicated that a large percentage of white students lie and claim Minority race in order to INCREASE their chance of being admitted to college. Evidently there is a disadvantage to being white, contrary to media propaganda. Racism against whites is still racism. If the Bishops intend to accuse their parishioners of racism which doesnt exist, i hope they are prepared for empty pews and empty collection plates.

      • The part of CRT that villainous whitesnis problematic. The part that identifies the anti-black, anti-minority power structure is helpful. The part I like is actual historical facts that provide the true complexity of our world, instead of selecting just the facts that make me feel good about myself.

        • “The anti-black minority power structure”??? Does that include the white folks who voted in Obama twice? Or Winsome Sears yesterday( for which the whites were excoriated as dog whistle racists?? ) maybe you mean all the federal covid aid deals concocted by senile Joe which were to help only the farmers and small business owners who were BLACK. Or maybe we are talking about colleges who use quotas to admit their students?? With which whites and asians are discriminated AGAINST? What about cities like NY which are ending high school gifted programs because not enough minorities can qualify?? How is ending those programs fair to anyone?? FAIR is not trying to refashion history. History on this topic which died more than 150 years ago. Blaming today’s whites for something THEY were not alive to Is an offensive, sick, absurdity. The US has made great strides with racial equality in recent decades but no one will stand by to let themselves or their children be treated as second class Americans in the name of Equity and a bogus view of minority discrimination which is pure fantasy.

          • Its a complex issue, with some attempts to resolve things. Certainly not perfect. I do not think you should be quiet about your passions. You should speak up against wrongdoing, like everyone else does.

  2. From Gomez, we read: “that people who buy into these social movements are often motivated by noble intentions and ‘want to change conditions in society that deny men and women their rights and opportunities for a good life.’”
    And, so, it begins again…

    The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers said it this way: “When an intellectual joins the Communist Party, he does so primarily because he sees no other way of ending the crisis of history. In effect, his act is an act of despair, regardless of whether or not that is how he thinks of it. And to the degree that it is an act of despair, he will desire the party to use him in overcoming that crisis of history which is at the root of his despair” (Witness, 1952).
    And, of socialism, the endpoint to which despair points, and toward which all of the movements are attracted, Chambers said this: “What else is socialism but Communism with the claws retracted” (Cold Friday, 1964)?

    And the spiritual “crisis of history” is post-Christianity.

  3. “The world does not need a new secular religion to replace Christianity,” Gomez said. “It needs you and me to be better witnesses. Better Christians. Let us begin by forgiving, loving, sacrificing for others, putting away spiritual poisons like resentment and envy.”

    Spot on. However, I would add, pride, anger, and playing God by trying to separate the goats from the sheep according to our superficial perspective.
    This is how Jesus wanted us to live. This is how Pope Francis wants us to evangelize. This is the only way.

    • ‘This is how Pope Francis wants us to evangelize’

      The German ‘synodal way’ as Francis silently approves and as yet has not corrected the German Church which now gives the Eucharist to anyone who wants it and blesses same-sex unions…this is the only way to evangelize as Pope Francis is doing from our ‘superficial’ perspective and how Jesus wanted to live???

  4. All credit to Archbishop Jose H. Gomez for his in depth analysis of the religiosity of Wokism. As identified by Gomez beginning in academia, the intellectual seeds developing in the minds of professors. Children of the Corn seeking assurance of continued tenure in obeisance to the god behind the anomalous truth that it doesn’t exist. About that time psychedelic drugs were a favorite secret pastime Timothy Leary among the enlightened. Suddenly LSD revealed all with clarity. Existence is shaped by our idiosyncratic vision. Villains yes although in the West and Christianity we can reach back to Descartes Methodical Doubt and the impossible search for apodictic knowledge. As a friend found in his God bracketed search for apodictic knowledge, the relativity of good and evil became horrifying. Other academics less religious found enlightenment. As Gomez shows, exit God from our understanding and we have the inflow of fantasy. Woke ideology is consistent with a drug altered consciousness and is virtually impossible to rectify by reason. Reintroduction of God alone can successfully return our culture back to reality and moral sanity. Christianity, Catholicism in particular has the intellectual tools, acumen, and the indispensable remedial power of grace and the Holy Spirit. A dilemma faces Catholicism in our Journey of discovery to nowhere when the world desperately requires what we already possess in Christ.

  5. The social justice gospel proclaimed by Archbishop Gomez is little more than wokeness with a “Christian” veneer. His support for open borders immigration, for example, shows that he has no attachment to the nation that took in his parents. He laments the social disintegration that the policies he promotes help to cause.

    • Amen. Archbishop Gomez is part of the problem. Instead of woke, he is weak and thus open to the heresy of “Social” over God, contrary to what he says otherwise, by trying to invoke George Floyd as his mark of his own form of social wokeness.

  6. Sweet Autumn, George Floyd was not murdered, despite the ludicrous verdict in the Minneapolis show trial. He died as a result of the drugs in his body that brought about the heart attack he suffered during the commission of a felony – resisting a justifiable arrest.

  7. The End Times could be ending. The Vatican is not sending clear messages. The flock is drifting. No Saints on the horizon when matters get worth.

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