Infallibility: Reflections from Roman Catholicism

By Franco Famularo

Should we be guided by our conscience or obey authority? Should one be loyal to the leader or be honest and straightforward? Both? Such questions have troubled human beings since antiquity.

Unificationists have at times been asked if they would obey the Founders without question with queries such as: “Would you do anything Rev. Moon asks of you?” or “Do you believe Reverend and Mrs. Moon are infallible?” After all, “absolute obedience” is a term found in the pledge regularly recited by Unificationists.

Recently, an article on this site by Dr. Michael Mickler discussing a Unificationist position on birth control referenced the 1968 papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae and its impact on the Roman Catholic world. As is widely known, Roman Catholics generally do not strictly follow church teachings on birth control and other matters.

Mickler’s article also demonstrated that Unificationists also apply church teachings differently on a variety of issues, including birth control. It can further be assumed that given the international nature of Unificationism, responses to authority vary depending on culture, ethnicity, upbringing, and a variety of other factors.

Regardless of theological differences, it may be helpful to study how Roman Catholics relate to papal statements on matters of faith. This article briefly explores the dogma of infallibility and how it is viewed within Catholicism, and offers some reflections in the hope of stimulating discussion about Unificationism’s relationship to conscience, culture and authority.

It has been almost 150 years since the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimed on July 18, 1870. During the final public gathering of Vatican I, a bishop received from Pope Pius IX’s hand the document defining “Papal Infallibility.” Pastor Aeternus contains the following statement that has been the subject of intense debate to this day:

“The Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he discharges his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals, that is to be held by the universal Church, through the Divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed to endow his church.”

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Adding Tools for Building a New World

By Rob Sayre

One assumption suggested by the Divine Principle and Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon’s theology is that applying the fundamental lessons and tools for the individual and family to ever-larger spheres will produce similar results as can occur on the individual and family levels.

It is my experience and belief that we also need improved tools to build successful extended families, tribes, communities, nations, and a world of peace.

This article discusses a few tools and provides a cursory overview that can aid in building a culture and communities centered upon God. It builds upon my previous article, “Converting Good Intentions into Results.” The tools discussed were used in the development of the Shehaqua Ministries.

First, some introductory quotes on leadership and the family as the cornerstone of society:

“The man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others.” Analects 6.28 (Confucianism)

“The Way lies at hand yet it is sought afar off, the thing lies in the easy yet it is sought in the difficult. If only everyone loved his parents and treated his elders with deference, the Empire would be at peace.” Mencius IVA (Confucianism)

“Family education determines the future destiny of the entire nation. When there are many families living by the principle of public service, the nation will flourish; when there are many families living with a private standard, the nation will perish.” (31:243) Rev. Sun Myung Moon, June 4, 1970

Do Good and Righteous People Create Good and Effective Organizations?

The simple answer is: not necessarily. It’s true that without a quorum of righteous people in any community, organization or nation, creating a good society is a tough slog. New tools, however, make the job easier and more people can be involved in the effort.

The tools of Cain-Abel relationships, leadership and governance rooted in biblical stories and Confucian thought applied to the individual, family, and extended family provide valuable insights into Western culture and indeed the world.

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Korean Reunification: Promise and Perils

By Michael L. Mickler

Rev. Sun Myung Moon (True Father to Unificationists) emphasized the “providential significance” of Korean reunification. To him, unifying the Korean peninsula would be “the final act of bringing the global Cold War to a conclusion” and “the blueprint for the unification of the world.”

He also envisioned a unified Korea as a driver of global development. He taught that the peninsula will provide a platform for oceanic and continental civilizations to fuse together and develop into a new civilization, inaugurating the Pacific Rim Era.

This article attempts to connect his vision of Korean reunification with current economic, technological, transportation, cultural, and political realities.

The Promise

Economy. The most optimistic appraisal of Korea’s economic future is a 2009 Global Economics Paper, “A United Korea? Reassessing North Korea Risks,” published by global investment firm Goldman Sachs. It contends that “North Korea has strong untapped potential, which could be unleashed once meaningful economic reforms start and investment flows in.”

In particular, the study emphasizes “synergies between South Korean capital and technology, and North Korean natural resources and labor.” It points out, for example, that North Korea has large deposits of minerals valued at 140 times its GDP while South Korea “has virtually no mineral resources” and “imports 97% of the energy and mineral resources [it] uses.” Apart from natural resources, the study references North Korea’s “abundant and competitive labor force.” It notes,

  • More than one-third of North Korea’s population (37%) lives in rural areas, as was the case in South Korea in the late 1970s when it began its economic ascent;
  • The labor force could increase substantially given the current large military population (nearly 1.3 million);
  • Pre-college education is compulsory;
  • Experience from the Kaesong Industrial Complex suggests that North Korean workers have a strong work ethic and a good potential for productivity enhancement; and,
  • North Korea’s demographics are relatively young and the population is growing roughly twice as fast as in South Korea.

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Where Are We Going and How and Why?

By Michael Hentrich

In some ways it seems our movement is suffering from an identity crisis.

Many of us are not really clear about where we are going or how we are trying to get there and why, even if we are doing our best to unite with True Mother. (The “we” in this article addresses Unificationists who understand Rev. and Mrs. Moon as the True Parents of humankind and who strive to fulfill their vision and directions)

Everything Father asked us to do was for multiple purposes. When we did campaigns, for example, we did it for our own spiritual experience and development, to make a good condition for ourselves, for the movement, for America and the providence, and usually it was to help create social and political capital so Father could get more social and political leverage and influence.

In addition, it was also to create a mechanism by which to overcome the exploding world population (there are 1.6 million more people on this earth every week!). And, it was also to stir up, inspire and motivate the spirit world.

When we went to workshops, it was to improve our personal understanding, elevate our ancestors, and hopefully improve our level of enthusiasm and commitment to the providential life we live every day.

When we went to Cheongpyeong, it was to bring healing to our ancestors and other spirits who were dragging us down, clean up our own spirit, nurture us through the educational classes, and hopefully inspire and empower us to be more active and effective back home.

So, there were multiple reasons for everything that we and Father did.

What about our lives today? What are we doing and why? Where are we trying to go in the long-term and short-term? We like to do campaigns, events and programs. That is what we did for the past 40 years. We should keep doing them. We know how to do them. We can bring some guests. We felt good doing them and we could make a positive report to headquarters and to True Parents.

Did we bring success? It depends what we were trying to accomplish. What were we trying to accomplish? People participated in our campaigns, events and programs, but too often they didn’t go deeper with us and become members. Why not?

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Where Does Unificationism Stand on Birth Control?

By Michael L. Mickler

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”), which condemned the use of artificial birth control methods. The arrival of the birth control pill in 1960 triggered Pope Paul’s letter, and it sought to stem the tide of the 1960s sexual revolution.

The encyclical was singularly unsuccessful.

A chorus of dissent, even within the Roman Catholic community, followed its publication.  A recent account recalls that, within days of its release, a group of American Catholic theologians issued a statement saying, “[S]pouses may responsibly decide according to their conscience that artificial contraception in some circumstances is permissible.”

A year later, a survey found that 44% of Catholic women of childbearing age were using artificial contraception and by 1974, 83% of U.S. Catholics reportedly said they disagreed with the ban. Commentators blamed the encyclical for a decline in people attending mass and for damaging the authority of the papacy, particularly among younger Catholics.

The encyclical also failed to stem the tide of the 1960s sexual revolution.

According to one author,

“[T]he year the Pill went on the market, most Americans lived in nuclear families, the average married couple had four children, and mothers stayed home. By 2000, the average family had two children, one out of two marriages ended in divorce, and almost a third of American children were being raised by a single parent or an unmarried couple.”

Acceptance of premarital sex, cohabitation, alternative forms of sexuality and abortion accompanied the trend. In the 2000s, Internet connections facilitated easy access to pornography and dating sites. Smartphone apps such as Tinder encouraged casual sex. However, “hook-up culture” prompted consternation and the #MeToo movement suggested that the sexual revolution had not ended predation but may have licensed it.

These developments prompted Catholic apologists to re-examine Humanae Vitae and assert its “prophetic power.”

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The 21st Century Cities in Global History

By Ronald Brown

Futurists have consistently undervalued the role of the city.  I believe the 21st century megacity will enter human history as an autonomous independent actor and exert a determining influence in world affairs.

Megacities, typically with over ten million population, have constantly increased in size and importance, and today account for 55% of global population. By 2050, this number will increase to 68% according to the UN’s World Urbanization Prospects.

After a brief historical introduction on the changing role of cities, this article describes five characteristics of the 21st century megacity: 1) demographically dynamic, 2) politically autonomous, 3) economically driven, 4) religiously vibrant, and, 5) globally networked.

The changing role of cities

Cities created the great cultures and civilizations of humanity. The rulers of Memphis in Egypt, Ur in Mesopotamia, Xi’an in China, Harappa in India, Athens, Rome, and later Paris, Mexico City, Cuzco, Timbuktu in Africa, London, and New York exploited the surrounding agricultural peoples and natural resources to create kingdoms, empires and states.

These great cities centralized the economies, founded the first writing systems and official languages, wrote law codes, established formal religions, and constructed monumental public buildings. The civilizations these cities created dominated humanity until today.

With the rise of the nation-state, upon the unification of Spain in 1492, the new cities of Madrid, London, Paris, and later New York City, Cairo, Moscow, and Beijing, replaced the cities of old as the creators and disseminators of national and eventually global cultures.

The city continued as the incubator of national cultures until the dawn of the 21st century. In his book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman describes the rise of a world in which globalism is replacing nationalism. Globalism, according to Friedman, is marked by the free and unimpeded flow of people, ideas, capital, cultures, languages, products, raw materials, and religions across once impermeable boarders.

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‘Two Nations Are in Your Womb’: Unificationism and Partitioned States (1948-2018)

By Laurent Ladouce

Unificationism promises the advent of a unified world, where heaven, humankind and earth live in harmony. On the path toward unification, a major obstacle is that of partitioned states, beginning with Korea.

University of Pennsylvania political scientist Brendan O’Leary defines political partition as “an externally proposed or imposed fresh border cut through at least one community’s national homeland, creating at least two separate units under different sovereigns and authorities.”

Partitions have occurred throughout history, seldom bringing good results. Some were considered a “lesser evil” or a “necessary evil.” Here I consider contemporary partitions which have been or still are major obstacles for the Providence.

The “Two nations are in your womb” paradigm

Unificationism in general sees partitions as resulting from a failure of human responsibility to achieve unity or integration. There is then a division into two parts, one representing relative good (Abel) and the other relative evil (Cain). A major input of Unificationism is to emphasize the pivotal role of women in the origin (Eve) of and the final solution (Rebecca) to the partition.

When Rebecca protested to God about the struggle of the two twins, Esau and Jacob, in her womb, the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)

This paradigm of the “two nations in the womb” is relevant in four of the five cases presented here.

The external cause of many partitions in the 20th century was the process of decolonization: the colonial power was unable to give birth to two communities or states living harmoniously and cooperatively, but gave birth to twins sharply pitted against one another.

I cover five partitions which had a direct impact on the Providence, grouped together for three reasons of direct concern for Unificationism:

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The Hope and Promise of the Singapore Summit

By Mark P. Barry

I usually tell people that if you visited Earth from Mars, looked down at the Korean Peninsula and saw it’s divided and technically in a state of war since 1950, you’d say, “This has got to end.”

In other words, this kind of situation is simply unsustainable, despite that many practitioners of international relations seem to believe it’s possible to manage conflicts in perpetuity.

Last Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is at least notable for one important thing: it potentially changed the trajectory — hopefully for the better in the long run — of events on the Korean peninsula. This is because no sitting American president had ever met a North Korean leader. Previous presidents generally would not even consider the idea; Bill Clinton was the exception, but in the waning weeks of his presidency, he chose to focus on Middle East peace rather than Korean peace.

Ironically, Jimmy Carter was the first former U.S. president to meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. He wisely observed at the time that “we should not ever avoid direct talks, direct conversations, direct discussions and negotiations with the main person in a despised, misunderstood or condemned society who could actually resolve the issue.” To his credit, Carter brokered an agreement, concluded months later, that froze the North’s fledgling nuclear program — which endured until the early years of the Bush 43 administration.

This simple truth — of the need for top-to-top communication and relationship-building — was easily grasped by President Trump because it had been a key lesson of his years of business experience. Kim Jong Un knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity to meet the U.S. president — the one person who could make fundamental foreign policy decisions without the encumbrance of a bureaucracy with a long and deep institutional memory.

It matters less what were the motivations of Trump and Kim; in both cases they were a mixture of the strategic and the selfish. But history shows that key figures, sometimes with unsavory motives, nonetheless produce changes, however unintended, whose impact endures for decades or even centuries (e.g., Henry VIII’s disagreement with the Pope over marriage annulment led him to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority).

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The Technology-Empowered Cleric and the End of Religions as We Know Them

By Ronald Brown

Thomas Friedman argued in Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 (2002) that modern technology had given rise to “super-empowered individuals” such as George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, and Osama bin Laden, who have amassed more power than traditional presidents, kings, generals, and dictators.

I believe super-empowered clerics have joined Friedman’s list of super-empowered individuals shaping the 21st century. These clerics are doing religion in ways never before imagined, hastening the decline of historic religions, and pioneering the rise of new global religions. Super-empowered clerics are taking religions to places where no one has gone before.

Here, I analyze the six (sometimes conflicting) characteristics of emerging religious movements: 1) The centrality of super-empowered clerics, 2) the merging of past, present and future, 3) the transience of religion, 4) the globalization of religions, 5) the deification of humans, and, 6) the politicization of religions.

Super-empowered clerics

The modern technological revolution is radically altering thousands-year-old systems of religious leadership. Super-empowered clerics such as Rev. Billy Graham, Menachem Schneerson of the Lubavitch Jewish sect, the Dalai Lama, Christian televangelists Robert H. Schuller and Joel Osteen, the Brazilian cleric Edir Macedo, ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Buddhist Dhammakaya Chandra Khhonnokyoong, and bin Laden emerged as religious superstars. They preside over virtual congregations, even empires, that exploit the Internet, cheap air travel, mass communications, videos, neuroscience, and have at their disposal colossal financial resources made possible by the new global economy.

Brazilian pastor Macedo is a prime example of the cleric of the future. Unlike traditional religious leaders who received their authority from long-established institutions, Macedo claims he received his calling and empowerment directly from God. He did not consider himself bound by ancient tradition, long-decided dogmas, historical precedent, or hierarchical superiors.

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