As for basic premises, Chaput said that America is increasingly seeking to base its morality on Enlightenment principles alone, which attempt to uphold human dignity, while cutting that dignity off from its supernatural roots.
"It doesn't work, because it can't work," Chaput said."It's like cutting the heart out of a living creature."
History issues dire warnings to man about what can happen when he is cut off from God and attempts to rely on reason or logic alone, Chaput noted.
"...the Jewish Holocaust was a tragedy without parallel," Chaput said. "But it did have a precedent; a kind of test run."
That test run was in the 1930s, when the Third Reich ordered the euthanization of more than 300,000 people with mental and physical disabilities. It was promoted as the "merciful" thing to do, Chaput said.
"Many of the victims were children, ages 6-15. The excuses given were legion: saving patients from their suffering; cleansing the Aryan gene pool; reducing the financial burden of unproductive citizens on the life of the community. Many patients were killed by injection. Some were starved. Others were gassed as groups in holding rooms or mobile 'treatment' vans," he said.
Many of the targeted patients were housed in religious facilities, but only a few religious leaders, such as Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen of Munster, spoke out against the program.
But part of the reason the program was so successful was because German doctors had started abandoning faith principles in favor of utility-based morality several decades prior, Chaput noted.
"Doctors, not the Third Reich, first pressed for euthanasia as national policy. What occurred among medical experts, in the words of one German psychiatrist, was 'a change in the concept of humanity,' with its perfectly logical consequences. Sentimental words about human dignity, unmoored from some authority or purpose higher than ourselves, were just that - words."
Only through faith in God, who is love, can man overcome the brutal ends toward which a society based on reason alone leads.
"The genius of Fides et Ratio, the beauty and the glory of the text, is its defense of the capacity of human reason to know the truth; a truth rooted in the deep harmony of creation," Chaput said.
"The world has a logic and meaning breathed into it by its Author, who is Love himself. And reason lit by faith can see that, and find the path to him."
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"Despite all the crises in the Church, despite all the failures and sins of her leaders, despite all our distractions and weaknesses and indifference as a people, God guides the world," Chaput added.
"He informs and sustains it with his Love. In seeking that love, and finding it, and living it with all our mind and heart – therein lies our joy. Therein lies our hope."