Doing What Can and Must Be Done

Bro. Andre Marie, prior of Saint Benedict Center, recently made mention on this website of Pope Francis joining with a top Muslim cleric in signing a “Document on Human Fraternity” that declares a “diversity of religions” to be “willed by God.” Brother also mentioned a new book having to do with the homosexual network active within the Vatican. No doubt these and other recent developments — I think especially of the betrayal of loyal Chinese Catholics, whose brutal Communist persecutors now have a role in the naming of bishops — are deeply disturbing to all who cling to the undiluted Faith, but, as Brother reminded us at his conclusion: “He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved” (Matt. 24: 13).

My friend and colleague Charles Coulombe, also writing for the website, concluded a survey of his own on the current state of affairs in the Church and world by echoing Brother: “Christ our King shall be victorious over the adversary. Until then, we hold on.”

Brother and Charles remind me of how the late Hamish Fraser, champion of Catholic orthodoxy and the cité catholique, once exhorted readers of his invaluable publication Approaches. It was in the early 1970s when the liturgical revolution was in full swing and nothing short of apostasy was evident among many who persisted, and were allowed to persist, in calling themselves Catholic. Hamish, a blunt Scot, said: “Don’t let the bastards drive us out of the Church.”

Allow me to add my own bit in regard to these spurii (to use the Latin) including the clerical homosexual network and apostates within: Ignore them. Why?

In the first place, think very much on all the bad news about the Church that flows seemingly endlessly, and you can wind up thinking yourself right out of the Church. This is what Hamish was getting at. One can quite literally scandalize himself by contemplating these evils without certain necessary spiritual counterbalances.

In the second place, there’s really nothing most of us can do. Governance of the Church is not in our competence. Something else is. In fact it is obligatory if we want to get to Heaven: self-mastery. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been working at it since coming into the Church fifty-five years ago, have found it all uphill, and the end, if there is one for me, is still not in sight. Every time I hammer down one failing, one weakness, one sinful inclination (or think I have) another pops up grinning at me like a Japanese demon mask. It’s my personal Whac-a-mole of the soul.

The Church’s hierarchy should never be regarded as a purely administrative body, but self-mastery — self-sanctification — is a work we can and must do, and it does not require as pope another Bl. Pius IX, as wonderful as that would be, or a Church bureaucracy made exclusively of devout clerics. Think of Catholics who stayed steadfast in Tudor England, France in the 1790s or Mexico in the 1920s when the Church was outlawed and there was no help she could give the faithful because she simply wasn’t there. Yet it was in such times that some of its brightest names were emblazoned in the Church’s catalogue of saints.

In any event, from some quarters there has been a lot of good news in recent weeks to think about. Some of it:

President Trump’s State of the Union address. Whatever one may feel about Trump, the man, pro-lifers have never heard such strong language in support of their cause from any other president.

The nation is divided, we keep hearing. Well, what better issue is there for dividing it than abortion? Insofar as we are created in the image and likeness of God and in Him “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 28), recognition or denial of that truth, made manifest in the decision to protect and nurture or to destroy a human life in the womb, divides forces of God in society from those of unGod. That is to say, it requires taking a clear-cut stand. There is no nuance, no possible compromise or half-measure, because there is no such thing as a preborn baby who is only half alive or a little bit dead. All sin is terrible but none worse than the sacrifice of babies on the altar of liberal democracy.

President Trump is not always right, and whether he takes the positions he does out of conviction or because he intuits it will please his base is irrelevant, but Catholics serious about the Faith have no business as citizens joining the ranks who oppose him in everything. Too many of them are unGod.

Speaking of pro-life, I’ve already observed on this website that every nationalist/populist government now in power in Europe has enacted measures that encourage married couples to have children. Still another such measure was announced the other week by Hungary’s redoubtable Prime Minister Viktor Orban: Every Hungarian woman who has four children will be exempted from paying income tax for the rest of her life.

It was also announced in Budapest that students in state universities will no longer be able to obtain degrees in gender studies because the subject has been eliminated from the universities’ curricula!

In Madrid tens of thousands drawn from the ranks of two center-right political parties and the “far right” Vox party demonstrated against concessions made by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to Catalan separatists, who were part of his governing coalition in parliament. When the Prime Minister, pressed by the rightist demonstration, announced no more concessions, the separatists withdrew from the coalition and Sanchez was compelled to call for a snap national election. It seems likely the rightwing parties, including Vox, will win. When they do, it will leave only one country in Europe with a Socialist government: Portugal.

As of this writing, polls in France show Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (formerly National Front) with the support of twenty-four percent of French voters. In comparison, President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party has only fourteen percent support.

(A footnote for fans of monarchy: Prince Louis de Bourbon, duc d’Anjou, descendent of King St. Louis IX, great-grandson by his mother of Spain’s Caudillo Francisco Franco and legitimist claimant to the throne of France whose adherents know him as Louis XX, has voiced support for the yellow vest movement.)