Calling evil good and good evil

OntheWay_Bishop Johnston“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”
Isaiah 5:20

The past few weeks have shown me that (fortunately) I am still capable of being shocked. First, I was stunned at the two recent ISIS inspired terrorist events in France: the murder of 84 innocent men, women and children by a man who mowed them down with a truck in the city of Nice; and the murder of 85 year old French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, at the altar while he celebrated Mass.

Then, I heard the speech by Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, at the Democratic National Convention, proudly recounting to a national audience of how she aborted her first child: “To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path. I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time. I made the decision that was best for me – to have an abortion – and was able to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community. Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.” Watching the speech with others, someone remarked, “I wonder if her children ever think about that older brother or sister.” Some commentators later gushed over the speech as part of a push to destigmatize abortion. One of them tweeted: “Abortion is normal, moral, respectable, and responsible. Abortion is health care!”

While it might not be readily apparent, these things are somewhat related. They are examples of evil being called good. In the first instance, ISIS terrorists perversely attribute their violence as a manifestation of divine will, often shouting in Arabic, “God is great!” as they carry out the carnage. An error about God leads to further errors about humanity and our relationship with God and one another. In this world of deep error, evil becomes “good.”

In the second instance, evil becomes good because “I say so.” God is not involved at all. This relativistic worldview was described in Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s infamous opinion in 1992 in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.” In other words, each person is free to create their own world, including what is good or evil. In such a world, I may choose to kill an unborn person if it is the “wrong time” and “best for me” and then call it “health care.” When this is facilitated by an unjust law and reinforced by court decisions, embraced by political interests and the big money attached to them, the evil is institutionalized.

I suppose my shock lay in the fact that abortion has for the most part always been portrayed as a “necessary evil” by its staunchest advocates. Now, it seems, we are facing a new propaganda, that abortion really is “good” or, as the commentator put it, “normal, moral, respectable, and responsible.”

Since 1992 we have seen the unfolding of Justice Kennedy’s vision in a variety of other ways; to freely impose one’s own meaning to a host of other things that lie at the foundation of any society: marriage, gender identity. In a world where there are no real absolutes that we can agree on, a world that is malleable to every person’s individual will, chaos and conflict ensue. Undermined are the common good and the delicate bonds of solidarity that are so important for a just and peaceful society. Pope Benedict foresaw the dangers associated with this, warning: “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

In spite of this, there is great hope to be had. It is Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He is with us always. Part of our witness as Christians (our duty in fact), difficult as it may be at times, is to point to Jesus as the one who, contrary to Justice Kennedy’s opinion, gives every person the truest concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life. Even for those who are not Christian, we can point them to what is “written” in creation itself: a meaning that is not of our own making; one that is true, good, beautiful, and over us . . . in which good really is good.


  1. August 7, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    AMEN!!! I say all the time – WHAT has HAPPENED to our world??? Good is now Evil and Evil is now Good and heartily approved! It is bad enough that the World has gone so deep into the dark side, but what bothers me even more is how this evil and twisted belief system has wormed it’s way into the church!

    I think if 40 years ago a Catholic Vice President (or even say if JFK who was Catholic) had gone to get sanctioned to be able to do marriages and had performed a Gay Marriage between two men we all would have fallen off our pews! Now though it seems this same Catholic VP is celebrating it and yet the church remains silent? When will the pastors and Bishops and the Pope himself do what is written in scripture?

    1 Corinthians 5:12-13
    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

    1 Timothy 5:20
    20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
    I would love to see strong soldiers and leaders of the faith who stand strong and in LOVE but Solidly stand up to rebuke Catholics who are in Public Leadership and continually call Evil Good and Good Evil. Take the gangrene out of the Church before the entire body is infected!

  2. August 8, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    God bless this good Bishop!!!!!!!!!!!! Victims of ISIS, the unborn, immigrants and refugees, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the depressed, people in jails, hospitals, nursing-homes, members of our own families, friends, everyone needs our love. Thank you Bishops for standing up for the forgotten unborn and every person in need.

  3. August 8, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Today, we are suffering through a tyranny of liberalism that has sewn the seeds of moral relativism and its sequitur, “political correctness”. That liberalism that was intended to “free” us from the ‘slavery’ of morality, has itself enslaved us into moral error and its consequences. The result is that no one is permitted to dissent and religious persecution has already begun in our own land. Our Blessed Lord foretold these times and that we, as Christians, would be persecuted for living His word and abiding in Him [John 16: 1-4 & 15: 18-25]. Our own current government and the many evils it has supported in disobedience to the word of God is already beginning to reap the consequences of its actions. What Bishop Johnston has observed, was written of by Timothy [3 Timothy 13 and 12]. Our nations leaders, both Democrat and Republican have become the hypocritical modern Scribes and Pharisees of this age. St. Paul describes them and their fate to a tee in 1 Romans 21-32. Our Lord says it best: “ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE. FOR WIDE IS THE GATE AND BROAD (liberal) IS THE WAY THAT LEADS TO PERDITION, AND MANY GO THAT WAY. BUT THE GATE THAT LEADS TO (ETERNAL) LIFE IS SMALL AND THE ROAD IS NARROW, AND THOSE WHO FIND IT ARE FEW.” [Matt 7:13-14]. As Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen has pointed out years ago, in the history of man in this world, “there are no new temptations, just new fools.” In the end, we have only ourselves to blame. We as a society vote into office our leaders. The quality of leaders and their moral standards or lack thereof that we elect, reflect the standards of our own society and its moral state. We are in trouble as a nation and, if current trends continue, will reap great punishment for our sins.

  4. August 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Biden needs to dismissed from being a member of the church. Kathleen Sebelius was sent a letter from the Bishops counsel or even higher up Cardinals counsel about her going against church doctrine not being practice by her in public. I don’t remember all the details, but we were told at Church, we were not to give her communion if she showed up for it.
    It is just that we do not support evil and we are fighting for rights to follow what is God’s way in our life and that is what the church is teaching us. We need to have faith in what is right and knowing what is right.
    Right now seeing what Bishop James is writing and understanding everything he is writing.
    What we can do is fight with saying the rosary. The rosary is our armour against all that is evil. It’s not just one rosary being said, it’s about all of us praying the rosary.
    Our fight is against evil and the Blessed Mother can fight evil. She is seen standing on the serpents head.
    I don’t know about all of you, but I’m scared and I need spiritual help ever step of the way.
    I see what’s going on, and I personally can’t stop it by myself. Can we somehow all United and say our rosary faithfully. Maybe even more then once a day.
    Our Priest Father Shaun McKnight said, “that we have to live in the world, but are not of this world”. Our children need to know truth and the true God. Again our prayers are so important and there are alot of Catholics. I really don’t know any other way except to add living the faith we proclaim. I will continue to pray and ask all of you to say one, two or even three rosaries a day if you can, even one is better then non. We can turn this around, I know we can.
    God Bless or Pope, and all Priest each and every day. I love them all and I’m counting on them to keep leading the way of Jesus Christ in our life.

    • August 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

      I agree with ALMOST everything you wrote. However, I don’t think people need to say more than one rosary a day. After all, the true rosary consists of 20 decades!

  5. August 8, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    One thing I loved about having Bishop Johnston as our bishop was that he was always so clear with us! I learned alot from him. I could always count on Bishop Johnston to guard his children.

  6. August 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    As far as I am concerned any Catholic that has been shown the truth and still supports a political party that promotes abortion and same sex marriage will have to answer to God at their day of judgement. I pray that God shows mercy on their souls.

  7. August 17, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Thank you, Bishop Johnston. It would be good for the world if all the bishops would have the courage to speak similar words.

  8. August 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    Let’s keep praying and remember that, in the midst of all this darkness, Jesus is still the light!!

  9. September 13, 2016 at 1:55 am #

    Truly shocking times we live in indeed , may the blood and water that gushed forth from souls as a fountain of mercy change the world.

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October 20, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph