I’ll be taking annual Christmas/New Years Blog Break.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Be back January 8, 2018
I’ll be taking annual Christmas/New Years Blog Break.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Be back January 8, 2018
This article from Crisis Magazine reminds us of what an important time Christmas is in relation to the Rosary.
In this season of the Church calendar the Rosary should loom large for every Catholic. Nativity imagery will abound at all churches depicting the birth of Christ in the manger. But the importance of Mary within the story of the incarnation of Christ is something that is deeply important which is, of course, captured through the Rosary (as well as in Nativity imagery).
That Mary is included in the Creed is no little coincidence. Neither is it that all the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are directly related with Mary in some fashion. From time to time even the professors at Yale stumble upon a carnal of truth. One of my very Protestant professors once lamented in class that by “getting rid of Mary” Protestants have been in search for a female model of faith ever since and have yet to find one. How true!
Prayer is one of the core essences of Christian life. The Mass is really a long and joyful prayer, and Catholics, most of all, should be aware of this fact. It is not just communion with God—although it most certainly is that—it is also a participatory prayer of praise. But in our age of disorder, the “dictatorship of noise,” and consumerist ethos, as David Bentley Hart once said, “prayer is the one thing you should not do in a truly good consumerist culture.” Prayer, after all, is a call to order. It is a call to dialogue. It is a call to the transcendent—to fix oneself, and one’s mind, to things other the hectic fury of day-to-day life.
To be made for joy and praise is to recognize where that joy emanates from, and where one’s right praise (orthodoxy) should be directed. “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph… And he came to her and said, ‘Hail O favored one, the Lord is with you.’” And how did the blessed Mother respond to the news? “May it be done unto me according to thy word!” Truly a woman of faith for any Catholic to emulate.
The Rosary, with all of its parts, captures the very spirit of the Catholic faith through the Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Fatima Prayer, notwithstanding to call to mediate on the various mysteries of the day. Prayer is not just a call to order in a chaotic and disorderly world, it is a call to participate with God. And who better to be at the center as a model of participation than Mary herself? She was a vessel chosen by God to be sure, but her immediate compliance to God’s will stands in stark contrast to so many of the other great Biblical figures.
Retrieved December 15, 2017 from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/joy-and-the-rosary
A wonderful story from Tradition in Action of the doves who accompanied the statute of Fatima.
In 1946, Portugal was celebrating the third centenary of the dedication of Our Lady as patroness of Portugal under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Cova da Iria was chosen to preside over the ceremonies, which would begin in Fatima on November 23, 1946. Then the statue, carried on a platform on the shoulders of priests and laymen, would travel through the country until reaching the Cathedral of Lisbon. There, on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, the consecration of Portugal to this great patroness would be renewed.
What happened en route in the city of Bombarral, located about 40 miles north of Lisbon, was an extraordinary event that has come to be known as the Miracle of the Doves.
As a tribute to Our Lady, five doves were released as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima passed in procession through the streets of Bombarral on December 1. Large crowds were singing hymns to Our Lady and hardly noticed the release.
Then, something remarkable happened. Three of the doves, instead of flying upwards and away, flew to the statue and alighted at Our Lady’s feet. There they remained, despite a few attempts of hand clapping and arm waving to chase them off.
Sentinels of Our Lady
During the days that followed, as the statue moved from one town to another on its way to Lisbon, the doves remained at the base of the statue like faithful white sentinels of Our Lady. One witness wrote: “The noise and cries of the crowd, the singing of hymns, the bursting of festive fireworks, the lights at night, the heat of the sun or heavy rain of some days, the movement of the statue on its flower-covered stand as it entered various churches, the prayer vigils and night ceremonies that took place – nothing made the doves abandon the touching image of Our Lady.” (1)
Despite every distraction, the doves remained. Occasionally they took to air and encircled the statue, as if to prove to disbelievers in the crowds that they were not tied down. Throughout the journey the three doves of Bombarral remained at Our Lady’s feet, refusing all food or drink. Even the secular press took note, narrating the extraordinary fact in the daily papers; the story was picked up by newspapers throughout Europe and the United States.
The statue arrived at Lisbon on December 5, the platform triumphantly carried by Third Order Carmelites. The streets were packed with many thousands of faithful devotees as well as curious onlookers eager to witness what was already being called “the miracle of the doves.” None was disappointed. The doves did not abandon their post of honor at the foot of the statue even as it entered the brightly lit Church of Our Lady of Fatima for the final celebrations of the Marian centennial. Throughout the day Masses and night vigils of December 5 and 6, the doves remained perched at the feet of the statue.
In the evening of December 7, the statue was conveyed in a noisy and excited candle-lit procession to the Cathedral. Fireworks exploded, bands played, flowers were tossed to Our Lady. The doves, flapping their wings occasionally to keep their balance, faithfully kept their place at the statue’s feet.
The doves suddenly fly
When the image finally reached the Cathedral at 1 a.m. on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the doves flew to the top of the tower and remained there for almost an hour and, then, resumed its post at Our Lady’s feet. Throughout the night, the church filled to capacity, the doves remained, quiet and still.
It was the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Cerejeira, who offered the feast day Mass and made the re-consecration of Portugal to the Immaculate Conception. During that Mass the crowds witnessed another incredible episode in the history of the three doves. At the ringing of bells for the Consecration of the Sacred Host just before the elevation, there was a sudden fluttering of wings. An eyewitness, Canon J. G. de Oliveira, made this report:
“To the utter amazement of all, two of the doves suddenly flew … after two weeks of refusing food or drink and of remaining at the feet of the statue … One sped straight to the Gospel side of the altar, and the other to the Epistle side! There, as the Bishop straightened to raise the Consecrated Host, they alighted and folded their wings – one on each side – as though in adoration!
“As the Mass progressed, the two doves remained there to the bewilderment of the celebrants and servers and the stupefied congregation. But, this was still not the climax.
“The third dove had not left the statue. Suddenly, at the moment of Communion, the third dove flew up and perched on top of the statue’s golden crown, placed there by the Cardinal Legate, who personally represented the Holy Father the previous May 13 at Fatima. As the celebrant turned and held up Our Lord, saying ‘Ecce Agnus Dei’ (“Behold the Lamb of God”), it spread its white wings and held them open!” (2)
That evening, the statue was carried in ceremony to a decorated frigate for its transport across the River Tagus to be honored in the courtyard of the Seminary of Almada. The three doves, indifferent to the fireworks, noise of engines and whistle blasts from the hundreds of accompanying boats, remained at Our Lady’s feet. (3)
On the journey back to Fatima, the doves would fly away, only to be replaced by three others who took up their posts. And so they remained with Our Lady until her return to Fatima on Christmas Eve.
Retrieved December 10, 2017 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h153_Bombarral.htm
The institutional Church has done a lot of damage, and some of it is outlined in this article from Fatima Perspectives.
For more than half a century, the Catholic Church has been plagued by a widespread collapse of faith and discipline rivalling the Arian crisis in length. But unlike the Arian crisis, this still ongoing crisis has not been provoked by a single explicit heresy but rather by a swarm of novelties in the liturgical and pastoral realm that have opened the way to the spread of numerous heresies throughout the Church even while the Church’s authentic teaching avoids any official “repeal.”
Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, describes the process thus: “A foreign way of thinking has entered into the Catholic world, stirring up confusion, seducing many souls, and disorienting the faithful. There is a ‘spirit of self-demolition’ that pervades modernism…”
There are three primary vehicles for the penetration of this foreign way of thinking into the Church:
First, a new rite of Mass, devised by committee, that has resulted in what Cardinal Ratzinger admitted is “the collapse of the liturgy.”
Second, an obsession with “dialogue” to the exclusion of the Church’s mission as the sole repository of revealed truth, the Mother and Teacher of all humanity.
Third, “ecumenism,” which abuses the Bride of Christ by attempting to lower her to the level of humanly founded organizations rife with doctrinal and moral corruption, with the result that those outside the Church remain confirmed in their errors while innumerable Catholics absorb the same errors in a kind of thermal equilibrium with the world to which, so we are told, the Church has been “opened” since Vatican II.
Regarding “ecumenism” in particular, it is no exaggeration to say that it has descended into outright ecclesial madness, as we see in the above photograph, which depicts the Vicar of Christ embracing a bogus female “bishop,” one Antje Jackelen, who calls herself the Lutheran “Archbishop” of Uppsala and “primate” of the “Church” of Sweden. By this one scandalous gesture alone, which took place during his visit to Lund, Sweden to “commemorate” the Protestant rebellion as if it were a happy event, Francis confirmed this woman in her diabolical delusion that she is some sort of successor of the Apostles, capable of receiving Holy Orders, and that her “church,” which condones contraception, abortion and sodomy, along with numerous heresies, has a valid commission from God.
And now that same “church” has “voted to adopt a controversial new handbook which says masculine references to God, such as ‘He’ and ‘Lord’ should be scrapped so as to be more ‘inclusive.’” At the same time, a prominent homosexual minister of that “church,” hailed as “the world’s first Lesbian bishop,” has proposed to remove all Christian symbols from her church building, while marking the direction of Mecca inside for the convenience of Muslims, essentially converting the edifice into a mosque.
Retrieved December 9, 2017 from http://www.fatimaperspectives.com/ef/perspective1120.asp
That has been a fact for millennia and it is good the United States finally recognized it, and this article from First Things about it is excellent.
Jerusalem was last a recognized capital city exactly 830 years ago, when in 1187 the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem surrendered the city to Saladin. The conqueror did not make the city his capital, and neither did any of the Muslim Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman rulers who followed him. (Nor did a short-lived Crusader restoration, ruled from Acre.) Indeed, for centuries no ruler or state saw fit to declare the city a capital. No one that is, until 1948—when, despite near-universal condemnation, the newly established, fledgling, and fragile Jewish state, in the midst of a desperate war for survival against seven Arab armies, and barely hanging on to the western part of the city, declared Jerusalem its capital.
Why is it that the most famous city in the world, sacred to so many, was time and again shunned as a capital, even by the Palestinian-majority Jordanian kingdom that ruled its eastern parts from 1948 to 1967? Why is it that the 1947 UN resolution dividing the British Mandate territories into a Jewish and an Arab state saw fit to carve out Jerusalem expressly as a city to be under a “special international regime”—and most nations, including the US, have refused ever since to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the city? Why did this attitude persist even after 1967, when Israel reunited the city and opened it, for the first time in its history, to free religious worship for all? Why was it that out of all capital cities in the world, good, bad, or ugly, only Jerusalem was denied recognition?
Because Jerusalem is much more than a city—it is also a powerful idea. It instills hope and fear. For many across the world, it is a symbol of redemption, but a celestial and spiritual redemption; for many others, it is a foreboding shadow, casting doubts about the purported trajectory of history from past darkness to future enlightenment. To all of these, the historic role of earthly Jerusalem has concluded, and having long been superseded, it now should, like Athens or Rome in their turn, be only a tourist’s or pilgrim’s destination.
But not so to the Jewish nation, for which even during eighteen centuries of exile, Jerusalem never became a thing of the past. It is present in virtually every daily and festive prayer, as well as in the declaration concluding every Jewish wedding: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning; Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy” (Psalm 137). It is the place toward which all Jewish synagogues and graves around the world are oriented, and the namesake for the modern Jewish national movement, Zionism. Jerusalem has always remained so much at the heart of Jewish life and identity, that they cannot really be separated from each other. That is because Jerusalem is both the symbol and the actual place, assigned for that distinctive Jewish idea, of a redemption that will be spiritual as well as social and political, taking place within this world.
It is because of the nature of this deep and abiding connection that the description of Jerusalem as a city “sacred to the three monotheistic religions” can never do justice to the place it holds in Judaism. It certainly had an important role in the birth of Christianity and Islam; it holds a prominent place in their historic memory. But the role of Jerusalem to Jewish identity is different. It was possibly best described by John Selden, the eminent seventeenth-century English legal and political thinker as well as the greatest of Christian Hebraists, in his last published work, the massive treatise De Synedriis, on the judicial and political assemblies of the ancient Hebrews. Selden contested the prevailing view that Jews, long exiled and dispersed, were no longer a nation. He instead insisted that as long as the Jews adhered to their traditional laws, as part of their expectation to be restored eventually as a nation to their land and their city—not the heavenly city but the actual terrestrial Jerusalem—they indeed remained a nation.
Retrieved December 9, 2017 from https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/12/jerusalem-above-our-chiefest-joy
Great article from Fatima Perspectives about a stronghold of the faith in America’s heartland.
Phil Lawler has written a couple of articles that deserve wider attention. The gist of the pieces is that by a remarkable “coincidence” no fewer than five seminarians ordained for the diocese of Wichita, Kansas (three of whom attended seminary there) have been made bishops of various American sees since 1998: Archbishop-elect Paul Coakley; Bishop James Conley; Bishop Ronald Gilmore, who retired, to be replaced by the fourth, Bishop John Brungardt; and, most recently, Bishop Shawn McKnight. Gilmore is a native of the diocese and the others are natives of nearby Midwestern dioceses.
Lawler notes that Wichita is a relatively small city of less than 1 million, “where Catholics form a distinct minority (a bit over 100,000), and the local diocese has only one bishop with no auxiliaries.” Thus retired Bishop Gilmore once asked jokingly: “Is there something in the soil, in the water, in the air?”
Clearly, something mysterious is at work here, and Lawler thinks he knows what it is: four of the five (Coakely, Conley, Gilmore and Brunghart) participated in, and were arrested during, the “Summer of Mercy” campaign conducted by Operation Recuse in Wichita in 1991. As Lawler describes the event:
“Hundreds of activists drove or flew to Kansas; thousands of local pro-lifers joined in the effort. Day after day, scores of pro-lifers blocked the entry to the abortion clinic run by the late George Tiller, risking arrest in an effort to save unborn babies from destruction. Over the course of an intensive 6-week campaign, before a stern federal injunction brought an end to the daily clinic blockades, more than 2,700 people were arrested — including all four of the future bishops! Then-Bishop Eugene Gerber said that he was ‘completely in solidarity’ with those risking arrest.”
Four of the five bishops (all but McKnight) were appointed by John Paul II or Benedict XVI (who appointed Conley). Those appointments are reflective of what the ultra-progressive ecclesial commentator Massimo Faggioli lamented as “thirty years of episcopal appointments under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, which recast the US episcopate in the image of the ‘cultural warrior’,” which these four certainly were back in 1991. These appointments have produced what Faggioli views as an unfortunate “climate” in America which has fostered opposition by Catholics he characterizes as “cyber-bullies” to the campaign by Francis to retreat from the culture war in favor of “social justice” issues that mesh rather well with the platform of the Democrat Party.
But what about the fifth bishop, Shawn McKnight, appointed by Pope Francis? Lawler notes that he was a seminarian back in 1991, and he suggests that McKnight may well have participated in the “Summer of Mercy.” This much, however, is certain: the little Diocese of Wichita is, by today’s standards, a veritable engine of vocations, producing not only five bishops but more ordinations per capita than any other diocese in the country, including ten ordinations just this week.
There can be only one explanation for this, in my view, and a priest quoted by Lawler provides it: “[S]eminarian candidates flock to dioceses that are good. Wichita has been one of these dioceses.” But let us say: relatively good in comparison with the widely decadent liberal wreck of the Catholic ecclesial establishment in America. Hence, for example, it is no surprise that the unlawfully suppressed traditional Latin Mass was reintroduced in that Diocese twenty-five years ago.
Retrieved December 8, 2017 from http://www.fatimaperspectives.com/oc/perspective1119.asp
Apparently suggested by the Holy Father in this story from Tradition in Action.
On three different occasions, Francis has praised Judas publicly, suggesting that the apostle who betrayed Our Lord Jesus Christ is a misunderstood personality and “the end of his story” possibly is not Hell. We should not be surprised since on other occasions the same Pope, assuring us he is following in the tradition of John Paul II, proposes that Hell as a physical place does not exist as well.
The most recent attempt to rehabilitate Judas is in the book Padre Nostro, an interview Francis granted to Don Marco Posso. An excerpt published by Il Corriere della Sera on November 23, 2017, reveals Francis’ denial of the traditional Catholic teaching that Judas was condemned. Of the three persons involved in Christ’s Passion – St. Peter, the good thief and Judas – Pope Bergoglio affirms that “the case that moves me most is Judas’ shame.”
He goes through the story, presenting Judas as “a difficult character to understand”: first, he sincerely repents; second, the “righteous ones – the priests – reject him; third, since he “can’t find a way out of his situation,” he is overcome with a “guilt that suffocates him.” A sympathetic portrayal of the traitor Judas, who, according to the Pope, is himself betrayed by the lack of mercy of the “righteous ones,” the priests…
Then, he goes on to find a conjectural medieval “proof” for his theory that Judas could be saved: “Perhaps someone might think, ‘this pope is a heretic…’ But, no! They should go see a particular medieval capital of a column in the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalen in Vézelay, Burgundy [France] … On that capital, on one side there is Judas, hanged; but on the other is the Good Shepherd, who is carrying him on his shoulders and is carrying him away.”
Francis confesses that he loves that particular sculpture and his falsified interpretation so much that he has a photograph of it behind his desk at the Vatican to help him meditate on the great mercy of God. “There is a smile on the lips of the Good Shepherd, which I wouldn’t say is ironic, but a little bit complicit,” he explains.
For anyone with a middling knowledge of medieval art and theology, this interpretation is a blatant misrepresentation of History. First the column in the Vézelay Basilica that houses the relics of St. Mary Magdalene is obviously presenting Judas as the traitor and a symbol of horror and offering it for public disdain: His tongue hangs grotesquely out of his mouth and his eyes pop out madly as he hangs from the noose he fashioned for himself in despair.
This capital was carved between 1115 and 1120, Art History books tell us, and was intended, like similar depictions in other churches, to graphically bring to the minds of the faithful the terrible fate of the apostle who betrayed Christ, which was believed and preached to be the eternal fires of Hell. This is, in fact, where Dante – following traditional Catholic teaching – places Judas, in the deepest pit, or ninth circle, reserved for the greatest traitors.
The man carrying off the dead body could hardly be the “Good Shepherd,” or Jesus Christ, as Pope Bergoglio pretends. By the 11th century Christ was always portrayed in art and sculpture with a divine halo, a beard and invariably dressed in a long robe, the seamless garment Our Lady wove for Him.
This clean-shaven man with his short laborer tunic and without a halo is clearly carrying out the distasteful job of carting off the body of the suicidal Judas who, according to custom, received a shameful burial after dusk. Thus, the worker’s “ironic” expression that Francis prefers to interpret as Christ’s “complicity” with the crime of Judas has nothing to do with feelings of empathy; instead it simply express the repugnance of that worker in carrying such a disgusting burden.
Francis, so eager to rehabilitate Judas and imagine he could be saved, blatantly falsifies not only the symbolism of the column of Vézelay, but also medieval theology.
Retrieved December 7, 2017 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/P046_Judas.htm
It is unfathomable today that Communism, which had been so completely condemned since the middle of the 19th Century by the Holy Fathers, was not even mentioned during Vatican II, though available Council histories do explain why (great lobbying by Russia).
This article from Crisis Magazine has links to the documents the Council wanted to include but were not allowed by the Vatican.
In recent weeks there have been a number of articles regarding the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Bolshevik Revolution—that is, the birthday of a bloodbath. In fact, here at the centenary of communism, the number “100” is fitting, given that 100 million is a good stab at the number of people annihilated by the Marxist-Leninist monstrosity the Bolsheviks sought to spread worldwide. (Actually, 100 million is probably a conservative estimate. The true number is likely closer to 140 million.)
Ronald Reagan called communism a “disease.” Good description, although it’s hard to find even a twentieth century contagion that killed as many people as this ideological pathology. Reagan put it better when he described communism as “evil” and “a form of insanity.”
And yet, all along, from the very outset, no institution foresaw the scourge of atheistic communism like the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church’s scathing condemnation of communism preceded even The Communist Manifesto, the ridiculous piece of work Marx and Engels published in 1848 as the official programmatic statement of the communist movement. In 1846, Pope Pius IX released Qui pluribus, affirming that communism is “absolutely contrary to the natural law itself” and if adopted would “utterly destroy the rights, property, and possessions of all men, and even society itself.” In 1849, one year after the Manifesto was published, Pius IX issued the encyclical, Nostis Et Nobiscum, which referred to both socialism and communism as “wicked theories,” “perverted theories,” and “pernicious fictions.”
For the Church and its shepherds, this was just the start of a never-ending response to communism and its ugly step-sister, socialism. (In strict Marxist-Leninist theory, socialism is a transitionary step on the way to full communism. See, among others, Lenin’s awful screed, The State and Revolution.)
In 1878, Pope Leo XIII followed with Quod Apostolici muneris, defining communism as “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin.” More such Church statements followed, in 1924, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, and on and on.
Among these, 1931 saw Pope Pius XI issue his seminal Quadragesimo Anno, which ought to be required reading in every parish religious education program. If you’re tired of hearing Sister Social Justice prattle on about the wonders of “democratic socialism,” hand her this document. Few passages in Quadragesimo Anno put it as bluntly as this one (section 120): “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
To repeat: you can’t be a socialist and a good Catholic.
And then came, in 1937, the strongest statement of them all, Divini Redemptoris. There, the Church made clear that the notion of a “Christian Marxist” was an oxymoron. In Marx’s dialectical materialism “there is no room for the idea of God.” Communism was a “truly diabolical” instrument of the “sons of darkness.”
And so, I share this now not only for the purpose of reminding us—and we badly need reminding—that the Church was a pillar of strength in the battle against the deadliest ideology of the last 100 years, if not of all time, but because scholar Matthew Cullinan Hoffman has just done a great work: he has dug up and translated (from the original Latin) Vatican II’s unpublished condemnations of communism.
It’s not these documents were lost, but they’ve certainly been forgotten. Hoffman told me that the documents, in their Latin form, can be found in some large research libraries, squirreled away on old shelves. They are contained in heavy volumes that include all of the acts of the Council and its preparatory phases. In his translations, Hoffman lists the precise volume and page number of the acts that contain the document in question. “However,” adds Hoffman, “the documents have only been available to academics with a knowledge of Latin until now and the very existence of these condemnations has not been widely known—they are mentioned in certain histories of the preparatory phase of Vatican II, but they have never been translated into any vernacular language that we know of.”
What Hoffman has published (courtesy of LifeSiteNews) is extraordinary. The documents are lengthy and worth reading in their entirety, and so rich that there’s too much to try to summarize here. What follows is a general summary of highlights that doesn’t do justice to the full text.
Retrieved December 2, 2017 from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/vatican-iis-unpublished-condemnations-communism
It is the foundation upon which the Catholic doctrinal tradition is built and is captured admirably—especially in the final two paragraphs of the excerpt which I have bolded—in this article from First Things.
Given that the evils against which he fought—totalitarian repression, unrestrained capitalism, sexual immorality, moral heresy, aggressive secularism, racist nationalism, and so on—still cause us such grief, it is striking that Pope Pius XI is little celebrated today. He is remembered for his denunciation of the Nazis, and for the Feast of Christ the King, which Catholics marked on Sunday. But something about him puts people off—perhaps his regal manner. When instituting Sunday’s feast, he taught that every individual, every society, is “under the dominion of Christ,” and that Christ’s Kingship must be recognized “both in private and in public life.” He believed, moreover, that human authority would be more respected if it reflected divine authority; and so, when passing on the teaching of Christ, he spoke and acted with a commanding, almost imperious, confidence.
Some of this was a matter of personal character. Even when he was plain Mgr. Achille Ratti, a respected paleographer and librarian, he did not flinch from a challenge: He and three companions became the first mountaineers to climb Monte Rosa (the second highest of the Alps) from the Italian side. Later, as nuncio to Poland, he asked permission from Rome to stay in Warsaw as the Red Army advanced. (Against all odds, the city held out.)
He carried the same bullheadedness into the papacy. In 1929, Bishop Liénart of Lille publicly donated to a fund in support of striking Catholic workers. There was outrage, and a few reactionaries protested to Rome: This bishop was some kind of Marxist! Pius responded by making Liénart a cardinal.
In 1937, the aging Pontiff issued Mit brennender Sorge, the most significant act of his continuous opposition to Nazism. It was not only the text—a long and ferociously undiplomatic rebuke—which stunned Hitler (for three days, reportedly, the Führer was so upset that he cancelled all appointments). It was also the cleverness with which the encyclical was smuggled into Germany, reprinted in hundreds of thousands of copies, and then read out at packed Palm Sunday Masses. According to the historian Henri Daniel-Rops, Pius made sure to publish a few days beforehand a separate encyclical, Divini Redemptoris, which denounced communism as a “pernicious enemy.” The result was that the Nazi press came out and said that perhaps Pius was a wise man after all, just days before Hitler would be condemned from the pulpit.
Pius’s character is not beyond criticism—he was given, says Eamon Duffy, to “towering rages which left his entourage weak and trembling.” But it was not only his personality which makes him such a definitive example, for good or ill, of the regal style of papacy. It was not as himself that he spoke so thunderously, but as a pope who wished to teach nothing that contradicted his predecessors. G. K. Chesterton seems to have had an intuition of this: On his visit to Rome in 1929, he received the papal blessing and suddenly understood why popes and kings used the plural “we.” (Until then, it had seemed a “senseless custom.”) For when Pius blessed the group, Chesterton realized “that it was indeed ‘We’; We, Peter and Gregory and Hildebrand and all the dynasty that does not die.”
Chesterton’s insight—that in Pius you could almost hear St. Peter and Pope Gregory the Great and so on—is crucial to understanding both Pius and the papacy itself. Pius’s words had such force because he tried to speak as a “We”: He bound himself to what had already been believed by Catholics throughout history and had been reaffirmed by his predecessors. He did not wish to deviate from that tradition by a millimeter.
Retrieved November 28, 2017 from https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/11/in-defense-of-regal-popes
Most people this that with the fall of the Soviet Union, communism was largely done with, but this superb archive 1991 article from Claremont Magazine explains why that is not so at all.
We are today at a great cross road of human history. The break-up of the Soviet empire, and the repudiation of Marxist-Leninist communism by all those societies that—in one way or another—had become addicted or subjected to it—is an event of such stunning magnitude, that it is difficult even to begin to comprehend it. It is an event that for many years all civilized human beings have wished for and prayed for. Until very recently, it was not something I expected to happen in my own lifetime, and I doubted that it would happen within the lifetime of anyone now living. Until a very short time ago, some of the most intelligent students of politics believed that world communism would prove triumphant. Nor does the failure of their prognostications mean that they were wrong in their analyses. The soundness of the soundest predictions must allow for the intervention of human freedom, whether it appear under the guise either of wisdom or of folly. Who—in June or July of 1940—could have predicted that Hitler would lose the war? Who—that is to say—except the madman Churchill?
Communism was not doomed to fail by reason of its own internal contradictions. If communism was doomed to fail for any reason, it was because it placed its faith in the falsehood that internal contradictions were the driving force of human history. Marx inherited from Hegel the belief that the logic of the human mind was not, as classical rationalism had held, intrinsic to the mind itself, but that it was a by-product of events driven by passions over which the mind itself had no control. Marx himself was a bastard child of the Enlightenment. He believed as fervently as George Washington that the American Revolution was a progressive event in human history. He was an enthusiastic partisan of the Union cause in the American Civil War, and hailed the Emancipation Proclamation as warmly as any abolitionist. Yet he did not think that the goals of human freedom, as Jefferson or Lincoln understood them, could be identified with human freedom itself. The removal of class or caste barriers to human equality were good things; but the ultimate barrier to that equality, he believed, was private property.
What was wrong with private property—according to Marx—is well symbolized by James Madison’s assertion, in the tenth Federalist, that the “first object of government,” is the “protection of the different and unequal faculties of acquiring property.” By the principles of the American Revolution, even the most perfect equality in the protection of rights will lead to an inequality of results, because the faculties protected are unequal by nature. No regime that is according to nature can—or will attempt to—remove the inequalities that arise from the inequalities of human intelligence or human virtue. A guarantee of equality of rights is precisely what will lead to an inequality of possessions and, more importantly, to an inequality in the pleasures that derive from such possessions. Such inequality was unacceptable to Marx.
According to Marx, the rich derive pleasure less from the possessions themselves, than from the envy generated by their ownership. A man married to (or otherwise possessed of) a beautiful woman derives pleasure less from her beauty, than from the envy his ownership of her generates in others. A rich man possessed of great works of art does not experience them differently when exhibited in his living room than in a museum. It is the envy generated in others, by the exclusive character of his rights, that provides his peculiar pleasure. It is the domination of others, and the pleasures arising from that domination, that drives the oppression of the many by the few in all pre-communist societies. Marx’s idea of communism owes much to the medieval idea of heaven: the pleasures of the blessed consist primarily in watching the tortures of the damned! And the tortures of the damned consist primarily in being excluded from heaven! In the classless society that Marx foresaw, as the final stage of human history, there would be neither families nor private property of any kind: everything desirable would be held in common. No one could take pride in his “own.”
According to Marx, the greatest part of the production in a capitalist society is devoted to what Thorsten Veblen would call “conspicuous consumption,” meaning thereby the false utility of status symbols in a society dominated by the competitive spirit of capitalism. If, for example, one takes away from the production of clothing all the labor devoted to enhancing the vanity of the wearer, then only a very small fraction of the labor now required to produce it would be needed. (To understand communist consumerism, think of a billion Chinese whose wardrobe consists only of Mao’s pajamas.) If one removes from all production everything that can be put down, directly or indirectly, to human envy and vanity, then human society requires very little wealth. A community society would be a very poor society—by capitalistic standards—but it would not know it was poor. It would however be very rich in terms of human satisfaction, defined as the absence of any unsatisfied desire. It would not know it was poor, because human beings would not be characterized by any of the desires arising from envy or vanity. Envy and vanity—the passions that set human beings apart from each other and against each other (the causes of war and of economic competition are one and the same)—are themselves, Marx held, by-products of the institution of private property. Abolish this cause of what it is that makes human beings care more for themselves individually than for humanity altogether—and bourgeois man will be replaced by socialist man. The transformation in the human condition sought—and promised—by communism, is essentially a transformation in human nature.
When Khrushchev in 1959 said “We will bury you,” meaning that communism would out-produce capitalism in consumer goods, he asserted what was then still plausible. Yet his assertion already betrayed an abandonment of Marxism’s pristine ideals, at the heart of which was the ideal of socialist man, in whose soul altruism had replaced egotism. The justification of the unlimited brutality of Leninist and Stalinist tyranny was the creation of a new kind of human being, a quantum jump in the evolutionary process to a higher species. According to this neo-Darwinian mind set, stamping out counterrevolutionary—or, more precisely, counter-evolutionary—forces in the environment was entirely consistent with process by which nature had always generated the higher forms of life out of the lower forms. The unlimited brutality of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the interest of the ultimate emancipation of human life was no more immoral than the stamping out of the small pox virus. It was precisely when this justification of tyranny began to be unbelievable, that communism began to fail. It was when the ruling classes—the nomenklatura—of communism themselves began to look upon this notion of a transformed humanity as absurd, that communism lost its nerve. The Soviet regime, in an amazing display of energy, zeal, and competence had—in a single generation—surpassed the West both in nuclear striking power and in all the major categories of conventional military force. Yet, on the very threshold of what might well have been its final victory, it suddenly lost the will to risk its power (or its life) in behalf of a cause in which it no longer believed. Without that will, the instruments of its power were evanescent.
Like the French aristocracy on the eve of the revolution, all it had left to cling to were its privileges. Meanwhile among the peoples of the U.S.S.R. the old Adam—that is to say, the unchanging nature of man—reasserted itself: in the demand for consumer goods in this world and—evil of evils—in the demand for salvation in the next. Confronting reality, the Bolshevik Party discovered that to deprive human beings of private property does not turn them into keen-minded altruists: it turns them only into disgruntled egotists. Gorbachev himself was typical of what the nomenklatura had become: while still proclaiming himself a Leninist, he showed no familiarity whatever with Leninist doctrine. However, he complained bitterly that, unlike Jesus Christ, he could not multiply the loaves and fishes wherewith to feed the multitude.
I have reviewed this stale Marxist theory because I believe it really illuminates recent events in a way that has not been done in political literature concerning those events. But I have done so also because I see the same theory, detached from its roots, but nonetheless alive, playing an increasingly virulent role in the political life of the West. It is a standard joke that the only remaining true believers in Marxism are tenured professors in American universities. But it is not classical Marxism which is influential: dialectical materialism has long since been discredited, along with any idea of reason in history. Nietzsche long ago took care of that. But the revolutionary goal of a classless society of altruists has survived. It has survived, detached from any rational analysis, such as Marx claimed for himself. For what else is the movement for “consciousness raising,” but a re-named version of the demand for “socialist man”? What is the conflict between the property rights of individuals and global environmentalism but another chapter in the conflict between bourgeois man and socialist man?
“Diversity” is demanded by those who will tolerate no deviation from the “politically correct.” And what is “political correctness” but another name for “the party line”. It is Leninism/Stalinism without Lenin or Stalin. “Racism” is the generic term for any kind of “false (formerly bourgeois) consciousness,” that is to say, for any opinions not considered politically correct. It has nothing to do with what once was called race prejudice—an unreasonable depreciation of other human beings because of their race, color, or ethnic origin. The charge of “racism” is made by the very people demanding racial quotas, race norming, and segregated racial and ethnic centers. To point out the contradiction in these demands—or indeed of any demands made by the politically correct—is to bring on the accusations of “logism,” which means the use of reason, a vice held characteristic of “Eurocentrism”. The contempt for “Eurocentrism” as an endemic vice corresponds closely to Marx’s contempt for the false consciousness engendered in the ruling classes of all societies founded upon private property. “Racism” itself is then nothing but the endemic quality of human consciousness, prior to the transformation of human egotism into human altruism. “Political correctness” is nothing less than the blind and willful insistence upon the fulfillment of the goals of revolutionary Marxism/Leninism, without any reference to that failed enterprise itself, or to any rational political analysis. Indeed, the new political correctness differs from its predecessor only in its insistence that no reason needs to be given as to why it is correct. It is a synthesis of the goals of Marxism with the philosophical (or anti-philosophical) horizon of nihilism.
The defeat of communism in the USSR and its satellite empires by no means assures its defeat in the world. Indeed, the release of the West from its conflict with the East emancipates utopian communism at home from the suspicion of it affinity with an external enemy. The struggle for the preservation of western civilization has entered a new—and perhaps far more deadly and dangerous—phase.
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