WASHINGTON, D.C. – Society and humanity have removed God from daily life, and in doing so lost their purpose and sense of self, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez warned in a lecture delivered Wednesday.
Gomez made his remarks as he delivered the seventh annual Hispanic Innovators of the Faith Lecture on Feb. 6 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In his speech, Gomez offered wide ranging reflections on the state of society, human nature, and the consequences losing touch with God.
“The crisis I see today is this: In our society, we no longer seem to share any coherent or common understanding about what it means to be a human being,” said Gomez. “As I see it, this problem is rooted in our society’s broader loss of the awareness of God.”
Human beings have become “very good at engineering our lives,” Gomez said, and modern medicine and science have led people to think that they do not need God in their everyday life.
“The loss of God comes with even deeper consequences,” said Gomez. “We are living now in a society that makes individual well-being its only aim, a society that has no higher purpose than to produce goods to satisfy our personal appetites for security, pleasure, and entertainment.”
Humanity, particularly that in the Western world, has developed a warped sense on personhood, said Gomez.
The archbishop cited the “growing prevalence” of abortion and euthanasia, as well as human embryonic experimentation and research as evidence that humanity had lost sight of the central questions of life: Who people are, why they are here, and what they should be living for.
The recent laws considered–and passed–in several states that would reduce barriers on late-term abortions were, Gomez said, an “extreme example” of society’s “moral confusion about the status of a human person.”
This moral confusion, the archbishop suggested, could be behind the prevalence of identity politics and racism in American society, and the “widespread confusion about gender and human sexuality.”
“I would even argue that this crisis underlies the opioid epidemic and the alarming rates of mental illness, loneliness, and suicide in our country,” he said.
Perhaps, Gomez posited, the world has still yet to heal from the “spiritual wounds” that were inflicted during World War II and the subsequent decades that saw atheistic dictators attempt to strip religious faith from their societies and dehumanize whole peoples.
Today, Gomez said there is still a “project of the global leadership class” that seeks to create a world without the influence of God and “transform the human person according to political and economic dictates.”
“This is why U.S. bishops have made defending religious liberty a key priority,” Gomez said, as he cited recent lawsuits against religious companies and individuals, and the rise of religious-test questions being put to candidates for office.
“If we are not free to order our lives and institutions according to God’s Word, then we are not free to live a truly human life.”
Gomez warned of a “hidden despair” that lurks beneath what he called the “shiny surfaces of consumer culture.” Despite appearing to be happy, “people know something is missing,” he said.
“We know that in the end, our science cannot save us, our technology cannot redeem us. The happiness that consumer society promises does not last; it is in constant need of recharging through relentless novelty,” said Gomez.
“Only Jesus Christ can provide for our deepest longings — to love and to be loved; to live with joy and confidence; to face death without fear.”
Gomez said that he hopes that this message becomes the “heart” of a new evangelization.
“The way forward leads back to the source, to the beautiful truth of the Incarnation,” he said.
The Hispanic Innovators of the Faith Lecture is sponsored by Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies Hispanic Initiatives Committee. Past lecturers include Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Dr. Hoffman Ospino, and Dr. Dora Tobar van der Mensbrugghe.