“…We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully: we are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church: of the gospel against the anti gospel.
We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future, trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine it is possible to alleviate this tribulation but it is no longer possible to avoid it.“
And in case you imagine that I am here quoting some traddie wacko from some insignificant backwater complaining about Pope Francis: Fr. Linus Clovis in the video above was quoting Karol Wojtyla, then the Archbishop of Krakow, speaking in Philadelphia in 1976.
I keep coming back to the increasingly inescapable idea that what we are seeing unfold during this pontificate is nothing more than the peeling back of a kind of … well… facade, for want of a better word, that we have all taken for reality for the last 50 years. Pope Francis is the instrument that the Holy Ghost is using to demonstrate to the faithful that they MUST now choose between the Church and this evil thing that has been insinuated into its institutions. There is no more “conservative” Catholicism – no more compromise between the Faith and Modernia – in which they can hide and enjoy a quiet life.
There has been a kind of false front held up in the Church since Vatican II that hides a great and terrible division. One of the frustrations faithful Catholics have experienced until now is the accusation of “divisiveness” – most often flung by bishops – at the mere act of recognising and identifying this division.
Us, for the last 35 years: “There’s a terrible division in the Church! There are evil people trying to separate the faithful from Christ! Please help us by clarifying doctrine and fearlessly preaching the truth!”
Bishops: “You’re being divisive!!!”
There is probably something of a generational problem in this. I’m firmly in the Gen-X demographic, born on the West Coast in 1966, the child of Flower Children, raised in that anything-goes environment by people we now refer to as Boomers. By the time we hippie kids were teenagers in the 1980s, we were wearing Doc Martens and spiked collars and had learned that our parents’ narcissism had made them useless to us and to themselves. And these flowerpower nincompoops who abandoned their responsibilities to focus on themselves, are the same people we now refer to as the “hierarchy of the Catholic Church”.
Why do Pope Francis and James Martin SJ and Cardinal Kasper et al, all sound faintly ridiculous but in such a distinctly familiar way? Where have we heard all this before?
Even apart from the times the really stupid ones like Spadaro are ACTUALLY SAYING THAT 2+2 = 5 …?
Because they all talk like Boomers.
They’re all STILL trying to weasel out of being grownups, a propensity for which people of my generation have little tolerance. This is the same Me-Generation gobbeldygook we all got as kids listening to our mothers explain that Daddy just needs to go and find himself… that it’s really not about us…
It may surprise you to hear that for me, this pontificate is really just catching up to my reality. In fact, the election of Pope Benedict seemed like a crazy – and completely untrustworthy – anomaly to me. The one thing he did that was completely in keeping with my understanding of how the world is now functioning was quit. It seemed incongruous to have a pope like him while everything else in the world was such complete and utter crap. (And anyway, the fact that our father wanted to abandon us to get out of his responsibilities, that his kids weren’t important enough to him to stick it out, and that he now does nothing substantive while the Unholy Stepfather beats us, shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us born at that time.)
Maybe the most frustrating thing in all this time has been the inability of the “good” people to admit just how bad things really are. In 1998, I started doing research into bioethics and biotechnologies, their history and their philosophical background. That was the year the confusion over what I had instinctively understood about the world finally resolved into something I could understand. I understood it, however, in the way one of those Joe-Ordinary guys in a disaster movie realises that the end of the world is actually nigh.
So, in a way, I appreciate Pope Frankenstein, because he fits. He makes sense. He is, in fact, the perfect pope for these times. And he is, better than I could ever have hoped and with every word of anti-rationality that drools out of his mouth, telling the whole world what I’ve been trying to tell them since I was 31. I grew up under the phantasmic, anti-Real regime of nihilistic chaos and meaninglessness that he and his buddies are trying to foist onto the Catholic world; the same regime against which I rebelled in a proper punk-rocker rage as a teenager.
I’ve written many times that I had been uneasy and disquieted since early childhood. I knew beyond a doubt that something terrible was going on, something secret and strange and horrifying, but that almost no one else could see it. In one of the last conversations I ever had with my mother she told me, “Yes, even when you were a tiny child, you were always in some kind of emotional, existential pain, and we never knew what to do about it.” It was simply that I knew on an instinctive level that all the things I loved in this world were being destroyed.
In my 20s, when I started exploring and reading and thinking about it, and finally understanding what that thing was – that the world had somehow slipped into some kind of horrifying, Lovecraftian mirrorverse of howling monstrosities – I went to war. That was where my involvement in the pro-life movement started.
At this time, in the tail end of Pope John Paul II, we still looked upon him as a guide and beacon. But it used to frustrate me furiously that he and all the bishops were always just smiley smiley smiley nothing-to see here. John Paul praising the “New Movements” that – surprise! – turned out to be corrupt to the core. John Paul kissing the Koran. John Paul putting himself on the same level as heathen idolaters, giving episcopal rings and pectoral crosses to English laymen dressed up as bishops. John Paul grovelling to the world and apologising for the robust defence of the Faith by the saints and popes of the past. This was our rescuer? Really?
With JPII making horrifyingly naive mistake after horrifyingly naive mistake (best possible interpretation) I felt more and more like I was in a kind of sci-fi nightmare: like watching through a pane of thick glass where you are the only one able to see the monsters.
After fifteen or so years in the pro-life movement, trying to tell bishops and priests and “good” politicians as politely as possible, “No… see… This little thing you want to allow this other guy here to kill or use for experiments is actually a person…” and they would smile and say things like, “Oh, we sure do appreciate your useful input…” I was done. I realised it was time to stop. It was time to stop writing the same damn three articles over and over and over. Everything I had to say I had said. If they still weren’t going to get it, there was nothing more I could do.
So, what is it? What is the name of this Beast that has its tendrils in so many minds?
“The Upside Down is an alternate dimension existing in parallel to the human world. It contains the same locations and infrastructure as the human world, but it is much darker, colder and obscured by an omnipresent fog…. dimension that is a dark reflection, or echo, of our world. It is a place of decay and death, a plane out of phase, a place of monsters. It is right next to you and you do not even see it.” … Nope. No parallels under here.
I’ve often used the nickname “Novusordoism,” but this is really unnecessary. We’ve already had a definitive answer. It’s Modernism. Yes, the same thing Pope Pius X tried to stop. A conversation with a friend the other day helped refine my understanding:
“Does the thing we’ve got now fit the thing Pius X described?”
“Well, that makes it easier.”
My friend got right to the heart of the matter. What is the difference between the “ism” that rules the Church now, and the Catholicism of the past? At the most basic level, the “god” of Modernist Catholicism is a completely different kind of god from that of Christ.
The essential question is – Does God have a nature, and a will which is what it is in function of his nature, and which He manifests to the world by certain definitive acts, or does He not?
This is why, e.g., the ONLY substantive achievement which has taken place in the field of ecumenism in the almost 55 years we have been gibbering about it was Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus. Paul VI and JPII knew precisely nothing about the Protestant churches with whom we periodically sit down and gibber about ecumenism.B-XVI, whose pinky toenail was a greater theologian than both of them put together, understood that the Catholic/Prot divide today is far less significant than the Christian/Modernist divide.
Let me put it this way – who is more Catholic, diehard anglican Ulsterman CS Lewis or James Martin SJ? [Lewis was more of a Catholic than Fr. James Martin SJ] because despite his Anglican faith and Ulsterman culture, to him the self-revelatory act of God’s will is non-negotiable.
For a man whom we suspect of deep modernist tendencies like James Martin (whose soul we do not pretend to read) all religion is equally man groping outwards to God. What he finds/encounters in that act of out-groping is maybe something real to him, but only subjectively, and therefore may not be to another. To the modernist mind, in the past, people sought to know what God or the gods thought they ought to do with their bodily bits, and came up with a purely subjective answer based not on any kind of revealed truth about anything.
Now, we modern people (hence the name) seek to know what God or the gods think we we ought to do with our bits, and we come up with a purely subjective answer based solely on our own feelings and experiences. NOT a coincidence that the same guy also keeps tweeting about how people, (esp. women, of course) “teach” Jesus things in the Gospels. And why you can, if you’re a modernist cardinal attending a Vatican synod on the family, stand up in front of 300 bishops AND THE POPE and say something like, “Gee, why can’t Peter be merciful like Moses, and not mean and rigid like that Jesus guy?” and no one freaks out. No one bats an eye.
And that last example is probably more indicative of the situation than any other outrage the Synods produced. That Panamanian Red-hat, a personal pick of the pope, openly suggested that the Church should abandon Christ and return to the Jewish law… AND NO ONE OBJECTED. Not one voice in the Paul VI Aula was raised against this horrifying blasphemy.
I have a personal message for any of the people we usually refer to as the “good bishops” reading this: if you have been a bishop for more than five years, and if you are currently uncomfortable at all under Pope Francis, if you are worried now more than you have ever been about what to do about this division, how to resolve it, or avoid the conflict that is being forced on you, if you fear more now than ever before that an open declaration of the Catholic Faith will get you removed from office or censured in some other way – you deserve this suffering more than any other Catholics.
Your desperation to stick your fingers in your ears and wish the existing division – let’s call it what it is: a de facto schism – into the cornfield is EXACTLY what. Has. Brought. Us. To this pass. Your determination for the last five decades to ignore and pretend and paper over the vast division that has existed since 1965, to accommodate, to play nice and pretend to be politicians and say (yes, a bishop once said this to me) when faced with grave moral evil, “Well, politics is the art of the possible”…
This situation is YOUR FAULT.
You have brought this not only on us but upon yourselves.
That’s why I came back today to something Ross Douthat said about the happy glowy “golden age” of John Paul II the “conservatives” all pine for:
It would seem very much that the removal of the one man [Benedict XVI] has revealed what we can see is a kind of ‘mystery’ that leaves many Catholics bewildered and shaken in their faith. Around them, both Benedict and John Paul II had a few, but perhaps not many, senior members of the Church as bulwarks of support. Both were strong in their Catholic faith and in their Catholic identity. But in hindsight – such a wonderful but often bitter tasting thing – the presence of even a few pillars of Catholic orthodoxy gathered close to the Chair of Peter turned out to be entirely dependent on the faith of the person in the Chair.