Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen discusses atheism, human freedom, and why God allows evil in the world
By Martin Hill
[Originally publizhed February 21, 2014.]



"Because God is the very embodiment of love, His love inspires you to be what you were meant to be: a free person in the highest sense of the word. The more you are led by God's love, the more you become yourself. And it is all done without ever losing your freedom. That still leaves another great problem, namely the problem of evil. You may ask, if God is power and love, why does He create this kind of world and why does He permit evil?"

In this classic sermon by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the well-known cleric addresses some of the most commonly asked philosophical questions that society grapples with.

In the original 25 minute sermon, Bishop Sheen discusses atheism, human liberty, free will and why a loving God would allow evil, pain and suffering in the world. The sermon is split into two segments on youtube; the second half is my favorite and that is where the transcript below (and the quote above) is from.

On a personal note, Bishop Sheen's vast volume of work, even though he died when I was a little kid, had a big influence on me growing up and in my early 20s, when I made it a point to listen to most all of his work. My dad had acquired an extensive collection of Sheen's books, audio, and video tapes in his library. [You can see all of the Catholic related article archives below.]

Sheen begins part 1 with the story of an encounter he had with an atheist woman who was promoting atheism inside of a Catholic church.

He concludes by pointing out "Morality implies responsibility and beauty but these can exist only on condition of freedom... Take the quality of freedom away from anyone and it is no more possible for him to be virtuous than it is for the blade of grass which he treads beneath his feet.

"...You say 'well if I were God, I would destroy evil.' Well if you did that you would destroy human freedom! God will not destroy freedom. If we do not want any dictators on this earth, certainly we do not want any dictators in the kingdom of heaven."

Bishop Fulton Sheen on Human Freedom - Part 1 [Part 2.]

[This is a partial transcript of part 2.]

"We are not going to give here a complete explanation of evil and a complete explanation of evil can not be given here below. We will only just give certain indications of why it is possible. Let us begin with the question why God made this kind of world. You must realize that this is not the only kind of a world that God could have made, he might have made ten thousand other kinds of worlds in which there would be no pain and no struggle and no sacrifice . But this is the best possible kind of world that God could have made for the purpose that he had in mind. Notice the distinction that we're making. For example a little boy says to his father ...

4:23 Now that brings us to this other question. What purpose now did God have in mind in making this world? The answer is that God intended to build a moral universe. He willed from all eternity to build a stage on which characters would emerge. He might have made a world without morality, without virtue without character. He might have made a world in which each and every one of us would have sprouted goodness with the same necessity for example, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But He chose not to make that kind of a world. not to make a world in which we would be good as fire is hot, and ice is cold. He willed to make a moral universe. in order that by the right use of the gift of freedom, characters might emerge.

5:57 The choice before God in creating the world therefore lay between creating a purely mechanical universe - people by mere automaton machines - or creating a spiritual universe in which there would be a choice of good and evil. all right granted then that God chose to make a moral universe. in which there would be character. What was the condition of such a universe? He had to make us free. That is to say He had to endow us with the power to say yes and no. We'd be captains of our own fate and destiny.

Morality implies responsibility and beauty but these can exist only on condition of freedom. Stones have no morals because they are not free. We do not condemn ice because it is melted by heat. Praise and blame can be bestowed only on those who are masters of their own will. It is only because you for example have the possibility of saying NO that there's so much charm in your character when you say yes. Take the quality of freedom away from anyone and it is no more possible for him to be virtuous than it is for the blade of grass which he treads beneath his feet.

Take freedom away from life and there would be no more reason to honor the fortitude of martyrs then there would be for example to honor the flames which kindle their faggots. Is it therefore any impeachment of God that he chose not to reign over an empire of chemicals? If God has deliberately chosen the kind of empire not to be ruled by force but by freedom, and if we find that His subjects are able to act against his will, as stars and atoms can not, does this not prove that He has possibly given to those human beings the chance of breaking allegiance in order that there might be meaning and purpose in that allegiance when they freely chose to give it?

Here we have then a mere suggestion as to the possibility ..

...A man who is free to love is free to hate. he who is free to obey is free to rebel. Virtue in this concrete order is possible only in those spheres in which it is possible to be vicious. A man can be saint only in a church in which it is possible to be a devil.

You say 'well if I were God, I would destroy evil.' Well if you did that you would destroy human freedom! God will not destroy freedom. If we do not want any dictators on this earth, certainly we do not want any dictators in the kingdom of heaven.

Those therefore who would blame God for allowing man freedom to go on hindering and thwarting His work are like those who see blotches and smudges in the errors in a students notebook would condemn the teacher for not snatching away the book and doing the copy himself. Just as the object of the teacher is sound education and not the production of neat and well written copybooks, so the object of God is the development of souls. And not the production of biological entities. And you say 'well, if God knew I would sin, why did He make me?' God did not make any of us as sinners. We make ourselves. In that sense we are creators. Therefore the greatest gift of God to man short of grace is the gift of human freedom and the power to love him in return. God love you." Catholicism Page

Father Charles E. Coughlin Archive Page

"...My friends, have we not learned that modern wars settle no disputes? By this time are we not dissillusioned? Do we not realize that wars are the enemy of democracy? Do we not appreciate that poor men- the laborers and farmers- pay for all wars- pay with their lives or their liberties?"

Fr. Charles E. Coughlin of Royal Oak, Michigan had one of the most popular radio shows in the U.S. during the late 1930's. At his height of popularity, upwards of thirty million listeners tuned in to his radio show each week and he received 10,000 letters per week with a clerical staff of over 100 people. He advocated a sound money system, abolition of the Federal Reserve, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and was a stringent opponent of both Nazism and Communism, which he pointed out was funded by corrupt Jewish interests and international bankers. Fr. Coughlin exposed war-mongers and government propagandists, which made him a real threat to the establishment. He was a devout and influencial priest who stressed the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ. The government banned his programs and threatened to arrest and imprison him. I consider Fr. Coughlin one of the wisest and greatest American heros ever. His material is an absolute treaure, a must-see. His work, in retrospect, was prophetic and still holds true today.

Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise,,,,, Economic Policy Journal, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association,,, WorldNetDaily,,,, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show,, Pasadena Weekly,, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640,, Redlands Daily Facts, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report,,, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze,,, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer,, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at and DontWakeMeUp.Org.

"The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. the choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." [Catechism of the Catholic Church 1733.]

"Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. the right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order." [CCC 1738.]

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