Once utilitarianism, in theory, is defined and exposed, every Catholic would say, “Oh, yes, that’s evil.” Yet, all too often there is a disconnect between theory and practice, as if we feel that such evils are regrettable but unavoidable; and that it is impossible for us personally to bridge the great chasm between what we conceive as a Christian “ideal” and practical reality, what we feel are our sad but necessary compromises with evil. To the degree that we think this way, that is the measure of how badly we have become infected by utilitarianism. The objective reality here is that other human beings, who are as beloved by God as we are, will pay for our disconnect with their suffering and/or their deaths. We will continue to vote for the utilitarian who seems less evil to us or who offers us an apparent good, such as security or economic stability (which we have, consciously or subconsciously, decided is a higher good than the sacredness of human life). A problem deeper still is the inability to even see the disjunct. What is the cause of this? Is it utilitarianism alone, even the worst kind, religious, or is there something else that needs pondering here?
The world grows more complex and inflamed, violence erupts everywhere, evil seems to be spreading. I think of the massacre of students a few weeks ago in Montreal by a youth who left a message declaring his hatred of Christians, and the massacre of Amish children in Pennsylvania a few days ago by a man who proclaimed he was doing it because he hated God. I think of the wars in the Middle East, and the rage of Islamic extremists over an academic paper delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg, and the murder of a Catholic nun and burning of churches in reprisal for his talk. The list goes on and on and where it stops only Christians know — because the only place it stops is on a Cross on Calvary. Looking closely at what is happening in the world, or for that matter only superficially, we see murder in the human heart, violence as old as the story of Cain and Abel.