In 1095 Pope Urban II journeyed to his native France and to an assembly of Church dignitaries and Frankish knights gathered in a field outside the town of Clermont. There, he preached the First Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim military occupation. In response the assembled knights cried “Deus vult!” (God wills it!) and virtually to the man enlisted on the spot. Why do I now recall this glorious moment in the history of Christendom?
It is always good to recall the glories of Christendom, of course. Remembrance of what once was will fortify in perseverance any who remain faithful to Our Lord’s commandment to make disciples of all nations, which is to speak of what will be when Christian social order again prevails everyplace where it currently does not. This even as it excites the outrage of those who falsely believe their secular liberal globalism has permanently supplanted it. What, after all, could be more offensive to their political correctness than to exalt the achievements of “dead white men” over modernity’s multiculturalism or to believe there is much in the lives of individuals and peoples, like tradition, culture and religion, that transcends economics in importance?
All that said, the actual reason I recall Clermont in 1095 is because it is to where my mind turned when I saw some live coverage from France of a recent yellow vest demonstration. Let me put this in context.
In real time, last week’s demonstrations were the eighteenth Saturday of them. According to the Ministry of Interior 32,000 participated. Also, that Saturday President Emmanuel Macron held the last of his so-called Great Debate sessions – a series of town hall-style meetings meant to appease the yellow vests by his pretending to listen to “the concerns of the people.” Pretend, I say, because the government declared before the first meeting that two subjects were not open for discussion: legal abortion and legal same-sex marriage. The declaration amounted to an announcement that there was no room in the Great Debate for France’s practicing Catholics. So, where did that leave them? Where else could it except in the ranks of the anti-Macron, anti-globalist yellow vests?
Doubtless they have been there all along but no more visible as Catholics than others as whatever in a movement notable for lacking identifiable leaders and partisan affiliations. Now, suddenly, I’m seeing demonstrators who have emblazoned on their vests the words DEUS VULT. Others have drawn on their vests pictures of the Sacred Heart with a cross at the top – the famous badge of the Catholic royalist peasants of the Vendée who fought against the Revolution of 1789. There aren’t a great many of them, not yet, but their presence in any number begins to give the demonstrations and movement focus and to turn the yellow vests in a rightward direction.
It may also reinvigorate the movement. The Interior Ministry reported that 40,500 participated in the demonstrations of March 23, the nineteenth Saturday of them. This even though the government called in army troops in addition to police to “keep order,” the first time since 1948 that the military have been used to do this. Some sections of cities were cordoned off from demonstrators. In Paris anyone seen wearing a yellow vest on Champs Elysees Avenue was fined 750 euros. Barred from the avenue, the yellow vests made the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur) their rallying point on the 23rd. Deus vult!
In the U.S. the big news of the moment is of course the finding of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after two years, hundreds of witnesses and $30 million, that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. No surprise there. From its beginning, Russiagate looked like a fable concocted by the deep state spread by the leftwing secular liberal globalist media – like the fake news fed to Americans in 2003 that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD. The WMD story was the pretext for the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Russiagate was meant to delegitimize or, if completely successful, bring down the presidency of Donald Trump.
It is to be hoped he will now feel free to move toward friendly and cooperative relations with Russia, perhaps exploring the idea floated by Brazil’s foreign minister of an alliance between his country, Russia and the U.S., the world’s three largest Christian-majority nations.
To be sure, for such an alliance to have meaning as a Christian one, leaders of all three nations would have to look beyond economics for it. Deus vult?