Franciscan alumnus addresses ‘tyranny of relativism’


The Anscombe Society hosted alumnus and former professor from Franciscan University to speak on “The Relation between the Tyranny of Relativism and Contemporary Sexual Libertinism” on April 9.

Peter J. Colosi began his talk by describing how the world is different now than it was four or five years ago, and that though it is great to want to change the world, there are some things in the church that need to be done.

“Pope Francis, it seems to me, is raising the question about the relationship between love, joy and happiness on the one hand, the moral teachings of the church on the other and how they relate to each other,” said Colosi.

Colosi than gave a discourse on chastity with thoughts from Pope St. John Paul the Great, Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta and even current philosopher and humanitarian Jean Vanier. This works as a basis for the main topic of discussion: the shift from relativism to the tyranny of relativism.

“The tyranny of relativism is the use of power to coerce everyone to participate in actions that are contrary to the moral law,” Colosi said. “You might say the people who are in favor of abortion or redefining marriage used to think that there was no moral law. And now, they are taking a template of objective moral law but putting the opposite of the true moral law in and demanding everyone obey it.”

The focus of the discussion then became how relativism can blind people from the objective moral truth to the point of it no longer existing. Then “the only organizing principle for society left is power,” Colosi said, explaining how relativism turns into the tyranny of relativism.

After this discussion, Colosi started giving examples of this tyranny within the current world. He also mentioned his idea that bishops, instead of writing articles in journals, amongst other things, should begin doing catechesis within their own parishes.

He also mentioned the Supreme Court hearings that begin April 28, questioning if the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between members the same sex as well as whether a same-sex marriage is still legitimate outside the state of origin.

“I would venture to say that all this activity, the tyranny of relativism, is rooted in sloth, the flight from the effort of being good,” said Colosi.

Colosi concluded the rest of his talk with a discourse on points from Pope St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, such as the complementarity, unitive and other aspects of male and female. He also mentioned certain aspects that both hold as individuals that make them unique and able to access “the originals, original sin, original innocence” that are often thought to be inaccessible because of the fall of Adam.

Colosi is currently an associate professor of moral theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.