Jul. 21st, 2014 10:48 am
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The narrow defeat of the Obama administration in the Hobby Lobby case has sent its supporters into ecstases of rage and hate that have to be seen to be believed, and that in some cases can only be described as murderous. I am glad I don't live in the USA. But this fury, that bewilders many conservatives and independents, does not bewilder me. The Mandate was criminal from the beginning, criminal in its prehistory. Remember how deliberately the President lied to poor Bart Stupak and destroyed his career. And the Mandate is really much more basic to the Obama project than people realize, because they can't see its actual purpose. Le me draw a historical parallel.

Ireland has one of the saddest modern histories of any country in the world. Repeatedly invaded and devastated by the larger neighbouring island, its Catholic majority was reduced to a pulverized peasantry, paying tax they could not afford to Protestant landlords and being tithed for Protestant parsons; a miserable swarm of penniless, ignorant and leaderless grubbers of the soil, fed by potatoes, with no middle class or aristocracy or any consistency. But what you have to realize is that, the destruction of the Irish educated classes, in spite of the frightful massacres and repeated wars, were not the result of military oppression or even of mass murder; they were, in the main, the result of laws. England wrote dozens, indeed hundreds,of laws, to destroy the Irish nation as elaborately and as legally as possible. As the Irish Protestant Edmund Burke said, the English laws against Irish Catholics - or "penal laws", as they are shamefully called - were "a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The Mass, of course, could not be said: to have it said or to say it meant life imprisonment. But neither could Catholics be educated: to set up a Catholic school was equally a matter of life imprisonment. And Catholics were to be robbed by law: "Every Roman Catholic was... to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy." The law encouraged Protestants to steal from their Catholic relations, or even pretended relations; and not just large amounts, but everything - every bit of property they had. "When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him."

"....Catholics, condemned to beggary and to ignorance in their native land, have been obliged to learn the principles of letters, at the hazard of all their other principles, from the charity of your enemies. They have been taxed to their ruin at the pleasure of necessitous and profligate relations, and according to the measure of their necessity and profligacy,"

"Examples of this are many and affecting. Some of them are known by a friend who stands near me in this hall. It is but six or seven years since a clergyman, of the name of Malony, a man of morals, neither guilty nor accused of anything noxious to the state, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for exercising the functions of his religion; and after lying in jail two or three years, was relieved by the mercy of government from perpetual imprisonment, on condition of perpetual banishment. A brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Talbot, a name respectable in this country whilst its glory is any part of its concern, was hauled to the bar of the Old Bailey, among common felons, and only escaped the same doom, either by some error in the process, or that the wretch who brought him there could not correctly describe his person,—I now forget which. In short, the persecution would never have relented for a moment, if the judges, superseding (though with an ambiguous example) the strict rule of their artificial duty by the higher obligation of their conscience, did not constantly throw every difficulty in the way of such informers. But so ineffectual is the power of legal evasion against legal iniquity, that it was but the other day that a lady of condition, beyond the middle of life, was on the point of being stripped of her whole fortune by a near relation to whom she had been a friend and benefactor; and she must have been totally ruined, without a power of redress or mitigation from the courts of law, had not the legislature itself rushed in, and by a special act of Parliament rescued her from the injustice of its own statutes..."

It says enough about the power of brute prejudice, of a kind we see in the highest places today, that this unanswerable attack on a disgraceful law lost Burke an election he should have won. The English had been taught to hate Catholics so much that they evidently thought that nothing done to them could be wrong or unjust.

What the Mandate is designed to do, mutatis mutandis, is exactly this. This is why the political and media leadership of your country has fought for it so obstinately, so savagely, and so underhandedly; this is why it took even a narrow defeat with murderous rage. It is because the real purpose of this abomination is to exclude Christians and especially Catholics from economic life. In a world in which money is the only power that can really affect politics - as Obama and his people know all too well - it is intolerable to them that there should be a number, however small, of rich people and of company owners who take their Christianity seriously. In this day and age it is not yet possible to make it legal for a man of the government's party to simply steal the property of his dissenting relatives; and besides, there is not - or not yet - a simple test of identity to separate the government's friends from its enemies, as membership in the "Protestant" church was in Burke's time. But they can impose a tax for a purpose that no Christian can accept, and then savagely penalize them - not by jailing them, which is not what they want, but by fining them into ruin.

Look at it in this light, and the whole mechanism becomes lucid, clear, rational and perfectly designed for its purpose. It is intended to make it impossible for Christians to have any independent economic activity in the USA, by making sure that they either have to resign their principles or be taxed into bankruptcy for them. Of course, they could not possibly declare their purpose; of course they lied from beginning to end. But that, and nothing else, is what this Mandate does.

Incidentally, this also gives you an insight into the real view that Obama and his henchmen have of the political process in your country, and of the nature of political power. This law is not meant to strike at Catholic or Christian faith. It does not try to obtain conversions. It does not set up anything like the imposing apparatus by which republican France, after 1875, worked tirelessly to break the ancestral Catholicism of its masses. The only thing that matters, the thing for which they have fought, the thing for which they have lied, the thing for which they ruined Bart Stupak and compromised the word of the President of the United States of America, was to be sure that no rich Catholics or Christians should exist. Wealth had to remain exclusively among people who had no problem with paying tax to distribute IUDs and abortifacients with a shovel. Because in the eyes of Obama and his crowd, only the very rich are politically significant. This attempt to winnow the Christians from their numbers makes it perfectly clear.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The drift away from normative lifelong monogamous marriage seems to be as old as the human race. That seems to me to be what Our Lord meant when He said: "Moses told you so [allowing divorce] because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning it was not so." Jesus had asked "What did Moses teach you [about marriage]?" And he had been answered that Moses - the biblical character Moses - had allowed a man to repudiate his wife. But Jesus answered that Moses - the traditional author of the first five books of the Bible - had, before that, taught that God Himself had made men male and female, and had ordered that they shall leave their respective families and become "one flesh". This is what God ordered, "and what God has put together let no man tear asunder."

In other words, the drift from monogamy had taken place even in the history of the Chosen People. Indeed, this was one thing in which Jews, Greeks and Romans were very like each other. It was not that the ideal of lifelong monogamy was not known; in the area I know best, Rome, it was implicit in numerous features of religious and ritual ideas, for instance the prescription that the priest of Jupiter (Flamen Dialis), highest ranking of all priests in Rome, should be married with a single wife who shared his duties, or the fact that the children who assisted in certain important sacrifices should be "patrimi matrimi", that is, having both parents living. This indicates that the condition of being married to the same wife, in an unbroken partnership, and having had children with her, was regarded as a religiously pure and desirable condition. But what was more likely was the life story of Caesar - who had actually briefly been Flamen Dialis at seventeen - who was married four times, and eventually had his much-desired male heir not from his wife but from Cleopatra, who was never married to him - but was the highest-ranking and most powerful monarch at the time. Caesar's enemy Cato the Younger "lent" his second wife Marcia to his friend and ally Hortensius, divorcing her so that Hortensius could marry her, and remarried her, with no problem at all, when Hortensius died! In the Greek world there are several accounts of brothers marrying their own sisters to keep the family patrimony intact, something, indeed, that seems to have become a system among the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, the Greek dynasties that ruled Egypt and Syria after Alexander the Great. Cleopatra herself (Cleopatra VII), Caesar's lover, was the product of more than a dozen generations of married incest. How she felt about that charming family tradition is shown by the fact that her first act as a ruling queen was to have her brother murdered.

All this has one clear, visible and easily identifiable common feature: power. Violations of the natural rule of monogamy always come from displays of power or consideration of political and economic convenience. Poor and middling folks did not take more than one wife, and did not divorce, things that would have cost money.they did not have; at most, they may have wasted a little money on a girlfriend, or a favoured slave, or a prostitute. (And their culture, from King Lemuel to Plautus, always warned them that such women were financially ruinous.) It was the sovereign kings of Egypt or Iran or China who kept harems, as a display of their personal power. It was the importance of holding large inheritances, or even royal power, in a single line, that led that very practical nation, the Greeks, to allow married incest. When Cato "lent" his wife to his friend Hortensius, it was because Hortensius, an older man and the greatest orator in Rome, was an important part of the alliance he was establishing against Caesar. (He would not give him his daughter, as would have been more natural, because she was already married to Caesar's worst single enemy, Bibulus.) Wealth, kingship, political power, and the display that go with them, were the levers that had broken monogamous marriage across the civilized world from Rome to China.

Even in the Christian West, and in spite of Our Lord's clear and revered teaching, the way of political power to get around His prescription was visible, often to the point of hilarity. In Ireland, indeed, polygamy was accepted by the local Church until at least 1200 in theory, and until 1500 and more in practise; in other words, it could not be uprooted until the English had set out to destroy the whole class of Irish lords in earnest. In the Germanic countries and in Italy, they took advantage of the fiction that the kind has two selves - his public and his private one - to invent the "morganatic marriage", a marriage that involved only the king as a private person. So many kings (such as the founder of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II) had two wives, one official and married as a matter of policy, but also meant to give him the heir, and one private, whose children were usually ennobled. In France we reach the height of farce: girlfriend of the King becomes, by the seventeen hundreds, an official post, and great balls are held to find the lucky candidate. As a result, the languid and undersexed King Louis XV chose the beautiful and accomplished Madame Pompadour as he had been expected to, but did little more, all her short life, than have friendly and enjoyable talks with her. It had taken enough out of him to have a son - the future guillotine victim, Louis XVI - with his official wife.

Obviously, nothing is clearer than that divorce, outlawed by the Catholic Church for more than ten centuries, re-entered the Western world thanks to the most brutal exercise of naked political power, that of Henry VIII. The results, for him, were absolutely disastrous; the first symptoms of that mental and physical illness that destroyed his life and ruined his kingdom were when he had Anne Boleyn, the very woman he had "married" after forcing his first wife away from him, murdered under form of law after less than a year of "marriage", out of a mere and monstrous suspicion that she had been having incestuous relationships with her own brother! Nobody ever saw any evidence of this beyond the King's suspicions, and I for one have no doubt whatever that this is nothing more than the paranoid fears of an aging and already very guilty man (he had already murdered his friend Thomas More and dozens of others, and unleashed the monster Thomas Cromwell upon the Church) when he saw his beautiful young "bride" chatting and enjoying herself with her brother - a young lord as handsome and charming as Henry himself had once been, and would never now be again. Mind you, Anne Boleyn was a home-wrecker and a slut, and while I don't say she deserved to be humiliated and murdered under form of law by the man she had seduced, she took her chances when she set her cap at an aging and already married tyrant. Kings are dangerous. But the principle of divorce, born in such elevated and admirable circumstances, remained on the English statute book, migrated to America with the first English settlers just as slavery did, was slowly broadened, and eventually spread across the West. And we are still lucky: if the Lutheran Philip of Hesse had successfully managed what he had plotted in secret together with Luther and seven of Luther's chief followers, Europe might have been saddled not only with divorce but with polygamy. But that proved a bridge too far, even for them.

Feminists ought to oppose divorce, polygamy and all other marriage "variations", because they are historically always born as displays of male power and that is what they are nine times out of ten in reality. However, I do not agree with what seems to be the implication here, that the degeneration of ordinary marriage has anything to do with the invention of "gay marriage". I think the issue there is quite different. Caesar may have married four wives, but did not consider marrying four husbands. Even in the most degenerate environments, men saw a fundamental difference between attachments between or within the sexes,and never thought of granting the status of marriage to the others. Juvenal makes a savage joke out of the very notion that a man might marry another.

No, the fact is that a new, and bad, doctrine has been introduced. It had, originally, nothing to do with sexuality at all. You may find it in a famous play, "Henry IV" by Pirandello, in which the protagonist manages to force the people around him to act as though he were the emperor Henry IV (a historical figure from the Middle Ages). Its basic doctrine is the omnipotence of the will, the notion that will forms the identity of a man independently of his/her birth, characteristics, connections. or anything else. This, it may surprise you, was the central doctrine of Fascism, I mean the real thing, the doctrine formulated by Benito Mussolini after he abandoned Socialism in the wake of World War One. Not surprisingly (although his admirers tend not to discuss the matter) Pirandello himself was a black-as-coal Fascist, a favourite of Mussolini's, and the head of Mussolini's Academy of Italy. The political relevance was that Italian Fascism promised Italy, a middling power in the shade of mightier neighbours, the ability to change itself into the Roman Empire, merely by concentrated will. Willpower was the god of the Fascists.

Having failed politically in the most extreme manner (and having shown for all the world to see that Willpower was exactly the quality which Mussolini most lacked), the doctrine of the omnipotence of the will and the malleability of the self migrated, of course, to the universities, especially in the USA. That is where you got people like the horrible Professor John Money applying them to real human beings in the context of sex. The rest you know. But the point is that, whatever evil we may have done or accepted in the context of normal marriage, "gay marriage" and the associated evils of gender ideology are something new. The drift away from the norm of one man, one woman, for life, is ancient, universal, and - taking the word to refer to fallen human nature - natural. The doctrine of the subservience of self and gender to will, on the other hand, is a wholly modern evil. It would be disastrous whether or not the situation of marriage were bad, just as it was disastrous - look at what it did to my country - when it had not yet been associated with gender and sex at all.


An English translation of Luigi Pirandello's three most famous plays, including "Henry IV";
fpb: (Athena of Pireus) not altogether without precedent. Apart from the case of Celestine VI, Pius XII wrote and signed, but left undated, an act of resignation, to be activated in case the Nazis kidnapped him. That is to say that it is not completely out of the order of things. And the fact that people live longer now than they ever did before means that sooner or later something like this would have had to be considered. The job has got more rather than less demanding; from what I understand, one thing that helped Pope Benedict make up his mind was that his doctors had recommended no more intercontinental journeys, which are an essential part of the modern Papacy. I am still unhappy about it, because I love and admire the man so much, but I don't know what it is like to be in his shoes. And considering the storms that are about to engulf the Church from many sides (I refer to certain curious legal enactments passed in various countries including Britain), he may have felt that he could no longer summon the strength to fight and lead the people of God.
fpb: (Default)
The history of the Western Church begins with the Pope recognized as the ultimate court of appeal. Kings were crowned by bishops and therefore could, in extreme cases, be uncrowned (as Pope Innocent did to King John Lackland, and Gregory VII to Emperor Henry). But in the late middle ages, the kings - beginning with the king of France - began to realize that they could bring the Church under their own control, and make themselves effectively lords and masters. The Great Schism was the result of this, with the king of France and his allies manipulating the Avignon succession, the Italian states (then immensely powerful) and varying numbers of allies behind the Rome succession, and eventually a third line of Popes based in Spain. This was obviously intolerable, and in the end unity was restored, but in the meanwhile Czech Bohemia had gone off on its own tangent, the Hussite revolt, which demonstrated that a whole state could break off from the Roman communion and not only survive (at least for a while) but become powerful and threatening. By the time of the Reformation, the idea of breaking away from Rome and remaking the church in whatever image the ruling classes wanted it had already become reality, which is why the revolt caught on so fast. Luther was not much of an innovator - even his public personality was pretty much imitated from that of earlier Dominican preachers, especially Tauler. But while two centuries earlier anyone would have been horrified, as if by the ending of the world, at the notion of breaking up the Church and renouncing Roman allegiance - the reason why France and the other kingdoms had tried to pull the Papacy to themselves, ripping it up in the process, was that they still thought only in terms of one Church led by one Pope - the idea could now be easily entertained, especially by lords who bordered on Bohemia and whose fathers and grandfathers had suffered from Hussite raids within living memory.

The point is that the Reformation is by no means the only assault that the papacy had to suffer in the transition from the Middle to the Modern ages. Equally poisonous, and possibly even more dangerous, was the increasing nationalization of the local Catholic churches by all the great powers - Empire/Austria, Venice, France, Spain, Portugal. By 1600, the Pope had almost no right of intervention in anything but the most shocking affairs in local churches, and the local sovereigns treated church institutions and patrimony as their own to be dealt out as they saw fit. In France, abbacies were given to women and bishoprics to atheists. In a sense, Henry VIII had blundered: the example of the kings of France and Spain showed that he could pretty much have done as much with the Church and its goods as they did, without quarrels or excommunications. The only difference between the churches of France and of England until the revolutionary age was that, while the Anglican body was open to infiltration from outright Protestants, especially Calvinists, because of its claim to be "reformed" and its general theological weakness, the Church of France was not, and the Calvinists, however strong they were in France (which was, after all, the country of origin of Calvinism), remained an excluded minority and had to develop their own institutions. But that did not spare England from a civil war very much like France's, between the Calvinist minority and the majority - Catholic in one case, Anglican in the other. In both cases, the result was a pyrrhic victory for the Calvinists: Henry of Navarre became king of France, but had to accept the Catholic faith to be able to rule it; Parliament defeated Charles I of England, but made such a botch of governing that it was overthrown by the military leader Cromwell, and eventually had to re-admit the king and the Anglican Church.

In all this, and in every other religious conflict in the seventeenth century, the struggle was about controlling the one form of Church in the State. The Puritans were certainly not fighting for religious freedom, as is shown not only by their behaviour during the English civil war but also by the kind of commonwealth they set up in north America when they had the chance. Except for late creations such as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, state churches were the rule (the state church of Connecticut was not disestablished until1831) and intrusive religious control the norm. But this was not, it must be clear, a direct result of the mediaeval norm, so much as a perversion. In the Middle Ages, the Church was independent of the State, and judged it when necessary. It also tried to mitigate the cruel customs of the time. (It is no coincidence that slavery was legislated almost out of use in mediaeval Europe.) It did not serve the State, in so far as such a thing as the State existed - which was in fact a welter of lordships bound together by written law and personal obligation. The idea that the State could possess the Church, rather than the reverse, is a late-comer to western civilization. And while it first became manifest in the struggle to control the Papacy in the fourteenth century, it has lingered long and in some ways it is with us still. As ;ate as 1905, the French government made an all-out effort to destroy and take over the Catholic Church, under guise of "democratizing" it - a democratization from above carried out with military occupations and confiscations, against the will of the Catholic faithful. Mexico tried it even later, under Plutarco Calles, and of course we have the whole sordid history of the various totalitarian tyrannies. None of them worked.

The idea that the Church can be independent of the State - an idea that many modern statesmen, including Obama, still haven't completely absorbed - only really became prevalent in the last three centuries, and even so it left a lot of people behind. The first Protestant churches, and the Anglicans, were state bodies, even more purely than the contemporary Catholic Churches, and however much they might prate about the right of private judgment. They only existed where the local princes said they could. It is for that reason that they have, in the long run, not made the transition to the contemporary world very well. Even after the various princes lost power or interest, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians and so on kept the instinct to stick to what the boss says, and identified the boss with the various societal leaderships which managed to make their views sound like the voice of the people; hence the disheartening show of supposed Christians throwing the Bible and Holy Tradition overboard bit by bit. And that is even where the political power did not in fact directly impose such betrayals, as it did to the state Lutheran churches of Scandinavia, to the Church of England, and so on. Those who actually picked up the opportunity and ran with it were those bodies that had never been the tools of any state power, beginning with the Baptist churches, and to whom the congregational principle was more than just some sort of political excuse not to have a bishop. These churches started out as the most insignificant of the insignificant - there is not even a clear starting point or a famous founder; a number of congregations seem to have started in various places in England and New England, and just gradually found each other, and never anything but the sketchiest of common beliefs. And today they are a power across continents, rooted from Russia to Latin America and from Africa to England, and have imposed their image on the whole of Protestantism, so that "Protestant" and "Evangelical" are almost synonymous.

The Catholic Church, poisoned nearly to death by the state-church principle, nonetheless was struggling towards the idea of independence even before the earliest Baptist congregations gathered. The main reason why the Jesuits got a bad name - and the reason why the Catholic kings of all Europe demanded and eventually obtained their suppression - is that their theologians theorized the independence of the Church. As long as the vast majority of Catholics were subjects of no more than four absolute sovereigns - the kings of Portugal, Spain, France and the Emperor (later Emperor of Austria), independence was a practical impossibility, and indeed the so-called Age of Enlightenment saw the high tide of State control and use of the Church, reaching the stage of self-conscious theorizing as "Gallicanism" and "Febronianism". What the French Revolution demanded of the Church - total and declared obedience to the State - was what all the "Enlightened" despots of the time, except for the atheist Frederick II of Prussia, had been consciously working towards. Both sides of the struggle were enemies of the Catholic Church, as I pointed out here: .

But that was only part of the breaking point. The other part is the growing number of Church bodies that were either under non-Catholic sovereigns or large minorities in non-Catholic countries. By 1815, all the strongest non-Catholic sovereigns in Europe were responsible for vast bodies of Catholics: Britain for Ireland, Prussia for Silesia and west Poland, Russia for east Poland and Lithuania, the Netherlands for Belgium - in fact, Catholics were an overall majority of the briefly united Kingdom of the Netherlands, which soon made trouble. It was becoming a more and more common experience for Catholics to live in states that had no relation to their church, and to deal with them as an independent group. The balance finally tipped when, as a direct result of the last and worst English attempt to exterminate Ireland's Catholics, a huge mass of Catholic immigrants poured over the English-speaking world ( ). While at the same time the old Catholic powers drifted in various ways towards institutional anti-clericalism - which was to dominate all of Portugal, France, Spain and Italy after 1871 - the English-speaking Catholic Church, spear-headed by millions of hungry Irishmen, her path opened - oh delicious irony! - by the conquering sword of its own traditional enemies in London, poured as relentlessly as a lava flow unchecked across the face of five continents. And it did so on an entirely volunteer basis, supported purely by the endeavours of its individual members, with no support and little sympathy from imperial or federal authorities: . By 1850, the Pope felt strong enough to throw a direct challenge to the world's greatest empire, and established a new hierarchy of bishops over the British mainland itself. The British huffed and puffed, but found there wasn't anything they could do. An enormous new body of churches suddenly reared up across the world, grown in a conscious tradition of relying only on itself and on its own forces, law-abiding but wholly autonomous of the State.

The final stage of this part of the drama was the First Vatican Council and the dogma of Papal Infallibility. The reason why it was done then is that the Church, and especially the Vatican, felt the hot breath of the anti-clerical Savoy government of Italy, and of an increasing number of contemporary governments, and wanted to make it clear that it answered to another authority than theirs. Papal Infallibility is the Church's Declaration of Independence: it obeys no earthly power, neither authoritarian nor democratic, but only the law that built it and the authority that it has always recognized.

Today the Catholic and Evangelical churches are the two most potent and lively Christian realities in the world, spread across the continents, and growing. Everything that comes from the bad old tradition of state churches is rotten or dead, and even the Orthodox are learning to be independent of the Tzar. That, by the way, is the link between the First and the Second Vatican Councils: as the First Council - that was left unfinished when the troops of the King of Italy stormed Rome and the Council Fathers scattered - had only defined the role of the Pope, the Second defined the whole Church - bishops, priesthood, laity. There is much about Vatican II that bewilders an impartial observer: it condemned no heresy - not even Communism - and its constitutions, while admirable, do seem like a restatement of the obvious. But they are a restatement of Church doctrine in terms of the new world in which the State Church has died and the Church as a whole must live in a wholly autonomous way. That is why it was summoned and that is why it spoke.

And since history is the greatest of comedian and the master ironist of all ironists, I might as well close by placing the Council malcontents in their place in this frame of interpretation. It does not take much to understand that the "spirit of Vatican II" gang, the people who apparently want to turn the Catholic Church into an imitation of the American Episcopalians, belong to the same trend that has wrecked the old, state-supported Protestant denominations: that is, to a kind of person who instinctively seeks the sanction and support of what seems the contemporary consensus; that is, someone who wants the approval of an earthly power, and not having it in the state, looks for it in the consensus. But on the other hand, the so-called conservative dissident and schismatics, Lefebvrites and sedevacantists, can all be seen, with no effort at all, to be nostalgic for the state church and the King's authority. That is the real burden of all their songs; that is what Lefebvre preached about all the time. The real, live burden of his doctrine was the evil of the Revolution. In short, both the open opponents of Vatican II and its abusers and subversors are basically motivated by their itch for a political, terrestrial authority, king or revolution or consensus. Leonardo Boff and Marcel Lefebvre are brothers under the skin.
fpb: (Default)
The ending of World War Two engulfed all countries, victor and neutral, into a tide of horror. Even the Soviet Union, whose government had little to learn from Nazism at its worst, found it easy to show, indeed to feel, horror at what its troops discovered in the early months of 1945 in dozens of camps from Majdanek to Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. Many people evidently found it impossible to take in the enormity of German crimes; Giovanni Guareschi, for instance, in spite of having been himself dragged to Germany as a slave worker, simply does not seem to realize that the whole of the German state and army had been criminalized, and repeatedly treats individual German soldiers as honourable enemies. Such attitudes were not rare in the British and American armies as well - especially among officers; ordinary grunts who had fought the SS and knew that they tortured and murdered prisoners and made their comrades hear their screams in the night might have had a different view, but who listens to the grunt before the distinguished general?

But even to those who did not consciously or unconsciously shut down their minds against the real monstrousness of German behaviour, the facts were too close and too many to make a distinction. The Germans had murdered priests, gypsies, trades unionists, sick and old people. Their rationing policy in occupied France, according to expert testimony at the Trial of Nuremberg, seemed designed to cause mass malnutrition. There was, in fact, mass starvation in the Netherlands in the last months of the war. The amounts of food and animals stolen are unimaginable: millions of cattle, pics, fowl, made their way to Germany especially in the last few years of the war. In Germany itself, the Government had murdered thousands of people; American and French soldiers advancing through the woods of Swavia found them draped by hundreds of corpses, soldiers found by the SS and hanged without trial for supposed desertion.

Ito took a long time before the relative proportions of the various Nazi crimes became clear in men's minds. And when it did, one rather disquieting fact became clear. The worst and most determining of Nazi crimes, the one that dominated all the others and infected the whole of Germany with guilt, was one which none of the Allies had done anything to mitigate. The post-war powers, both western and Soviet, drew their legitimacy from the heroic saga of their resistence and overcoming of Nazi evil; Stalingrad and Normandy were sacred, resolving names, names that implied motivation, values and pride. But while everyone knew that the Soviets had, to put it mildly, no time for Hebraism, the record of the British Empire and the United States was if anything more despicable. The British had purchased a few hundred Jewish children from doomed Jewish families in Bohemia and Moravia. This is today presented as a humanitarian act, but to take the children while leaving the adults to their already foreseen fate strikes me as not much better than slave trade. Other than that, the record of the British Empire with respect to German Jews and Jews in general was black, and grew only blacker after the end of the war, when the very weapons that had brought down Nazism were turned against refugees fleeing to Israel and against Israel itself. As for America, the less said, the better. While universities cherry-picked illustrious and useful exiles (while remaining the one part of American society where Hitler was popular and admired), the country in general shut down against any effort to open its borders to fleeing Jews. During the war, Roosevelt and his administration repeatedly refused any proposal that might have helped the Jews, and they did so in the full knowledge that the Jews were being butchered. They also kept the knowledge of butchery from their people, on the reasoning that "we don't want them to think that we are fighting a war for the Jews". And they were right; they weren't.

There were exactly two sovereign bodies that seriously took action to help Jews. The unloveable Francisco Franco, Catholic tyrant of Spain, had inherited from his republican enemies a law dated 1926 that allowed any Jew of Spanish descent, however remote (this was meant to redress the injustice of the expulsion of the Sephardi Jews from Spain in the 1500s), could claim Spanish citizenship and reside in Spain. Under pressure from Nazi Germany, Franco gave them a list of Jews resident in Spain; a gesture that was worth nothing unless and until the Germans themselves invaded Spain. For Franco had no intention to persecute the Jews. To the contrary, his diplomatic representatives across Europe saved over 20,000 Sephardim by giving them Spanish documents according to the 1926 law, and placing them under Spanish protection. This policy also allowed the great Italian hero Giorgio Perlasca, under the guise of a Spanish diplomat, to save between three and five thousand Jews in Budapest more or less on his own.

Spanish decency, however, stopped at Sephardi Jews, a small minority of the Jews under threat; and it was simply dwarfed by the deeds of the Catholic Church, unless indeed it was to be counted as part of it - for Franco was a devout Catholic. The Catholic Church, driven by none too secret orders from the Pope himself, hid and smuggled abroad hundreds of thousands of Jews. Jews were hidden in monasteries, in church schools, in cathedral closes, among friendly families, in every possible place that resourceful priests and religious could find. Underground networks for the printing and distribution of faked documents were set up. The small puppet state of Slovakia, headed by a priest, did not arrest or execute a single Jew after 1942, when the Vatican made a strong protest (although it does seem to have taken the opportunity to accept or compel a huge bribe from surviving local Jews). An American Jewish historian estimates the number of Jews saved directly by Church intervention at 850,000. And the Church paid for it, too: Hitler knew who to thank for resistence against his exterminating policies, and 6000 priests and many more layment were murdered in the camps by way of thanks.

The larger the butchery of Jews loomed among the other enormous crimes of Germany, of course, the more serious the cognitive dissonance in the West. Roosevelt's direction came back to haunt them: they had not, indeed, fought the war to save the Jews. The war to save the Jews had not been fought except by the Church and by a couple of unpleasant but Catholic tyrants.

Nothing, therefore, explains itself more easily than the savage and historically wholly groundless assault on Pope Pius XII as "Hitler's Pope". The people who handed themselves over to this mania were and remain utterly blind and deaf to facts; or they would have shut up long since. They are under the psychological compulsion of a crawling, subtle, horrible guilt. They will not say it, or even admit it; but they know that the entities to which they are loyal, eastern or western, and which draw a great deal of moral legitimacy from the destruction of Nazi evil (and quite right too, for Nazism was evil if anything was) have in fact failed, failed systematically, failed horribly, in the most defining of the many moral challenges that Nazism threw at mankind. They could not contemplate the camps and the ovens without a small voice somewhere telling them that their own leaders had betrayed that mass of murdered mankind. The connection between this and the vicious, unreasoning, deliberately cruel assault on a dead Pope should be obvious.

Are there other phenomena like this? Aren't there just! The other vicious assault on the Church in our time has been in the name of abused and sexually assaulted childhood. And let me say immediately that abuse is a horrible crime and that the priests who broke their vows in this peculiarly ugly and treacherous way deserve anything that happens to them. But the history of the sexualization of children in our time has not yet been written, indeed it is not yet completed, and when it is written it will tell a very similar story as that of "Hitler's Pope". For the horrible abuser priests who seem to have sprung up across the Church bore on their forehead, like the mark of Cain, the imprint of secular culture in their time. What was the hallmark of the fifties, even before the sixties, across the West? Sexual liberation! Sexual liberation, of course; so imprinted in our memories as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that age that most of us don't even imagine taking a critical position towards it.

However, there is one way in which commonplace attitudes have retreated since the sixties. In the sixties, the calls for the complete normalization of sex with and among children multiplied till some countries legalized it or ceased to take any cognizance of violation of the laws on consent and rape. In 1969, the people involved in such things would frankly say that they saw no difference between the legalization of homosexuality and of paedophilia. For a while, groupls like NAMBLA were welcome partners in civil-rights environments.

However, in this area, and in this alone, there was an effective reaction. Throughout the seventies, grassroots movements of mothers rebelled against the normalization or toleration of paedophilia. It was from them, and in opposition to the sexual-revolution establishment, that the current hatred of paedophiles arose. Now we have a kind of broken-backed consensus that to have sex with someone under 14 is evil and forbidden and the worst thing in the word in all circumstances whatsoever, but to prevent two consenting persons above 16 from having any kind of sex they wish is is evil and forbidden and the worst thing in the world in all circumstances whatsoever. That is the conscious state of our society, in which the paedophile is absolutely the lowest of all beings.

However, this does not correspond to facts on the ground. I don't think there is a single thinking person who doesn't realize that the sexualization of children proceeds apace. Fashion, advertising, music, address and represent pre-teens in obviously allusive contexts. The revolt against paedophilia was a grassroots revolt, and the commercial heights of our society have every intention of circumventing and drowning it.

In this situation, what does it mean to single out the Catholic Church for a sin which it has taken in from the world - all the abusing priests were worldlings involved in "modern" movements in various ways, as indeed were those among the bishops who protected them - and in which the world greatly surpasses it? (It has been proven again and again that there are more child abuser among state schoolmasters than among priests, but it does not pay so much to prosecute the former. And the Church has not invented or decreed the success of Britney Spears and other paedophile-themed singers and actresses.)

What these facts suggest to me is simple: the Church is the conscience of the West. And when parts of the West feel filth on their consciences, they project it on the Church, imagining the objective body of the Church to be as filthy as their own inner consciences. It's an easy mistake to make.

NOTE: I corrected a mistaken account of the Slovak puppet tyrant Monsignor Tiso's activities. It was only after a direct protest from the Vatican that Tiso and his people stopped cooperating with Nazi persecutors. That, of course, only underlines more strongly the centrality of the Pope's position. From 1942 to 1944, Slovakia not only stopped deporting Jews, but became a refuge for Jews fleeing from neighbouring countries.


Aug. 31st, 2010 10:24 am
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Nobody seems to have noticed the parallel; because, I suppose, not many historians today write from a Catholic viewpoint. But in 1798, two Catholic priests led two great popular insurrections on the two sides of the war then raging between a French Revolution not yet quite hijacked by a Corsican adventurer, and a reactionary Europe dedicated to the most contemptible and cynical forms of politics (the anti-French alliance was, at one and the same time, working together to slice and destroy Poland, and incidentally to destroy Kosciuzko's constitutional and liberal reforms). Their different fates had something to do with the different countries in which they took place, but they also had something to say about the future of the Catholic Church.Read more... )
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Don't waste your time trying to defend the Church. There is no point: the haters don't want to be set straight - it is too convenient to them to recycle the filth of the New Jerk Lines and its repulsive accomplices. If anyone comes at you with the kind of excrement that has been coming through the wrong orifice of media persons in their jolly progress towards Hell, just dump them on the spot and save yourselves some grief. Remember the parable of the pearls and the swine; there has rarely been a clearer case of swinishness in human behaviour. So leave them strictly alone to damn themselves in their own time.
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The Editrix, a two-fisted, pugnacious, opinionated blogger from Germany whom I could almost make an honorary Italian for her stubborn individuality - and with whom I have had some vigorous disagreements - published on one of her blogs an article so important that I asked her permission to republish it whole. Here it is:

Nine Million Women or: No Lie Is Quite Too Dirty

I oppose the term "Femi-Nazi" because it is a-historic and blurs the borders between two different phenomena. However, sometimes I am stunned by the affinity of certain totalitarian world views... Read more... )
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An excellent account of what actually happened two days ago in Rome, by an American visitor: . As I was in the city at the time (thouth I wasn't able to see the ceremony, being busy some twenty miles away), I can testify, first, that she has caught the atmosphere exactly: the little details sound just right; and second and perhaps more significant, that she has badly underrated the weather. It was not just bad or unseasonable: it was a monsoon, with days of steady and often vicious rain. On Saturday evening it had got so bad that, when I had to wait in the rain for half an hour for a bus, my very umbrella started leaking. The rain must have broken through the waterproofing. By the time the bus came, I was looking so wretched that, for the first time in my life (I am not yet 48), someone gave me a seat in a crowded public conveyance, as though I were a little old person. (I know that this was not just someone getting off, because he stayed for half a dozen more stops, chatting away with a friend.)

And this was the weather in which up to 200,000 people went to St.Peter's Square to show their support and affection for the Pope. I suggest the leading spirits in the BBC and both the London and NY Times commit seppuku, because there could be no more blazing proof that their hate campaign against Pope Ratzinger has comperehensively failed.
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,,,but however difficult it might have been, I disagree with his decision to reform rather than close down the Legion of Christ. Catholic orders depend on the charism of their founders, and there has never been - so far as anyone knows - an order whose founder was a proven, all-around villain who is rumoured to have rejected the Sacraments and cursed God before he died. The order is rotten from its premise, which is to be dependent on donations from some of the most corrupt financial aristocracies on the planet - those of Mexico and Chile. It should have been dissolved, its assets used to compensate Maciel's victims, and whee that was not necessary simply sold for charity (the Church should not keep assets so obviously tainted), its priests placed in the secular priesthood, and its lay members encouraged to joined other lay movements. Now, alas, we shall keep this unhappy innovation - an order founded by a villain of the basest order.
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As for President Obama:
1) he has broken his own promise on Don't Ask Don't Tell, something to which few reasonable people would have seen an objection. (That at least one right-wing columnist broke Godwin's Law in trying to find an argument against accepting homosexual soldiers just shows how poor the arguments for this really are.)
2) He has broken his promise on torture and even let into his administration a couple of people whose hands are dirty in the matter, such as Robert Gates.
3) He is wrecking his own proposals for health reform rather than give up a sneaky and unprincipled attempt to break the consensus on abortion (no federal monies for), and he is lying about it.
4) He is guilty of deliberately stirring up trouble against Israel, with the miserable Quartet all too happy to follow his lead.
5) He has ignored both the hideous threat of an Iranian atom bomb and, more disgracefully, the desperate struggle of the Iranian people against a bloodthirsty and disastrous tyranny. He has repeatedly spoken as though the mullah's government were the legitimate leadership of that unhappy country.

Oh, and strictly for Catholics:
6) According to Life Site News International, he has deliberately egged on Catholic Health Association, and possibly the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (although that lot don't need much egging) to revolt against the Bishops. I quote: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association's public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation.
Gibbs also suggested that the CHA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' (LCWR) break with the U.S. Bishops has provided legitimate political cover for pro-life Democrats to switch their votes from "no" to "yes."
Gibbs said that the president had been engaged on the issue, and a reporter asked if he had reached out personally to the groups.
"The President met earlier this week with Sr. Keehan of the CHA," said Gibbs, saying the meeting took place in the Roosevelt Room, but that he "did not get a detailed run-down of the pitch that [Obama] made."
"I do know that he was effusive about her support and her as a person for making the courageous statements that she has," he said.

Well, at least he was not shameless enough to tell his own spokesman what he had done with or offered to this rebel nun.
During the Paris negotiations of 1782-3, the reigning Pope offered Franklin and Adams that the USA government could have a veto over the nomination of Catholic bishops (something that many European governments had at the time). In keeping with their principles, the Founders - few of whom had any sympathy for the Catholic Church as such - nonetheless refused this offer and allowed the Church to organize itself in the new nation as it saw fit. Since then, I know of no President who has ever, for any reason whatever, thought to meddle in the Church's internal affairs and organization.

Hope? Change? Change, all right; hope - that he does not get re-elected.
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This is a passage from the introduction to Notes on the Diplomatic History of the
Jewish Question
, by Lucien Wolf, written in 1919 for the use of the Versailles Peace Conference:

Besides helping to indicate the lines on which Jewish action should travel in this matter, the State Papers here quoted may also serve to remind the Plenipotentiaries themselves that the Jewish Question is far from being a subsidiary issue in the Reconstruction of Europe, that they have a great tradition of effort and achievement in regard to it, and that this tradition, apart from the high merits of the task itself, imposes upon them the solemn obligation of solving the Question completely and finally now that the opportunity of doing so presents itself free from all restraints of a selfish and calculating diplomacy. It is not only that the edifice of Religious Liberty in Europe has to be completed, but also that some six millions of human beings have to be freed from political and civil disabilities and social and economic restrictions which for calculated cruelty have no parallels outside the Dark Ages. The Peace Conference will have accomplished relatively little if a shred of this blackest of all European scandals is allowed to survive its deliberations.

[vi]This collection does not pretend to be complete. The aim has been only to illustrate adequately the main lines of the theme with a view to practical questions which may arise in connection with the Peace Conference. American documents have been only sparely quoted, for the reason that the American Jewish Historical Society has already published a very full collection of such documents. (Cyrus Adler: "Jews in the Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States.") The many generous interventions of the Vatican on behalf of persecuted Jews have also been omitted partly for a similar reason (see Stern: "Urkundliche Beiträge über die Stellung der Päpste zu den Juden") and partly because they have very little direct bearing on the diplomatic activities of the Great Powers during the period under discussion.

Guess what? There really does seem to be a tradition of "Hitler's Popes". I for one had never even heard that the Vatican had ever intervened in favour of Jews before and during the First World War (when the main butcher was Russia, not Germany). Guess there are things that are not mentioned in polite society.
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Cardinal Danneels of Brussels, one of the most addle-pated compromisers in the Catholic world and an absolute disaster as shepherd of the Catholic Belgians, has finally resigned. And the man nominated in his place by the Pope is a living expression of the weary frustration with which Danneels' time in office must have been regarded in the Vatican. Indeed, it is also a slap in the face of the Belgian government and its culture of PC consensus. Two years ago, Andre-Mutien Leonard, then Bishop of Namur, was seriously threatened with prosecution for explaining homosexuality in Freudian terms (explicitly quoting Freud) as a regressive attitude. Ordinarily, whatever the value of the person himself, the Vatican would not promote a man who has so recently clashed with the media and political leadership of his country to such a position; evidently they must feel that there is nothing left to gain in propitiating the Belgian establishment.

Good news

Oct. 20th, 2009 10:55 pm
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The Pope's legal creation of a kind of Anglican Rite within the Catholic Church is the kind of thing I have been hoping for for decades. Anglican usage deserves to be preserved, whatever happens to the Anglican Communion.
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I am horrified. Of all the unwelcome, untimely, ill-conceived, unnecessary, insulting and disastrous measures Pope Benedict could have taken, this is the worst. On the very week that the most anti-Catholic and pro-abortion President has taken office in Washington DC, the Pope seems to indicate that open flirtations with Le Pen and Pinochet, notorious sympathies for Petain, open Jew-bashing of the vilest sort, are no obstacle to reconciliation with Rome. Thos of us who try to fight on a principled opposition to abortion and murder in all its forms have now had a ton of banana oil poured under our feet; any opponent of Catholic teaching will be able to raise the ugly spectre of Marcel "Marechal a nous!" Lefebvre, and the horrible living presence of Richard Williamson, whose moral and intellectual sins go even beyond his obscene denial of the Holocaust and belief in the Protocols. And what about Catholic leadership among Christians? For the last few decades, the mere force of events had driven many Christian bodies closer together, to discover that they shared so much of morality and belief, and against that dictatorship of relativism against which the Pope himself spoke such memorable words. And now, for the sake of a few hundred thousand obstinate, wilful and often bizarre schismatics, who never did anything on their own to earn or even encourage reunion, and who positively insulted the last two Popes, all this common ground, all this real and verifiable growth together, is endangered; because most Christians will see the Lefebvrists for what they are. Just because Richard Williamson is such an ugly caricature of the worst sort of traditionalists, real conservatives, let alone middle and liberals, will want nothing to do with him. How many Protestants and Anglicans in search of a decent Christian centre away from the various heresies and schisms of their own confessions will have seen this as confirmation that everything they had been told about Rome was in fact true? I am willing to bet that the conversion of adults will slow down considerably. And what about the Church itself? This act has been taken as much on the Pope's own decision as the famous Motu Proprio that sought to reinstate the Latin Mass. If the one can be described as reactionary, ill-advised, insensitive to Jew-bashing and admiration for tyrants, then so can the other. Far from strengthening the conservative side of the Church, the Pope has just delivered them a vial of poison. And at the same time, he has done nothing to please liberals, many of whom will read this to mean that one hard-right soul is more important to the Pope than one left-wing one, and either leave or reinforce even further their "inner schismatic" position. I will not leave the Church - I know how many like Williamson there are already; but many others may. There is absolutely no upside to this decision; every aspect of it is completely mistaken.

God help the Church. Mother of Victory, pray for us.
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Yes, quite right, she is a member of my family. And I am delighted to discover that she is the patron saint of "people ridiculed for their piety". So not only do a lot of my friends have a patron in Heaven - but she is a Barbieri, too! Now there's something to be proud of.

The only photograph of her in existence is genuinely embarrassing. What can I say? The Italian countryside in the nineteenth century was not a focus of good taste. But at least it gives the message very clearly.

Santa Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870)

When this photo was taken, she was 22, had not yet taken her final vows (as can be seen by the long uncovered hair) and yet had barely one year to live. In her few years, she almost literally moved mountains, setting up a monastic community against the desires of the Italian government (which had dissolved several monastic orders at the same time) and in the face of contempt from her "betters" and hideous humiliations. In 23 years, she managed to do more than most of us will achieve in seventy or eighty. The monastic order she started in a little schoolhouse in a remote village, Budrie, is now spread around the world.


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