What Franz Jägerstätter and Pius XI Can Teach Us

Ryan McMaken has penned a brief resume of the deeds of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter. This was an Austrian farmer who refused to fight in the war machine of the Third Reich, and therefore died a martyr.

Reading the piece reminds us that an authentic resistance to the authoritarian state must be based on principles of right and wrong, not on the generic notion of mere “freedom.” We are only free to do the good. When we choose evil, we enslave ourselves.

Jägerstätter’ resistance, based at least on Pope Pius XI’s encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge, was resistance to a divinized State. And it was based on an informed Catholic conscience, which was both “good” and “correct.” This is a far cry from the kind of political dissent that has itself become one of the divinities in the pantheon of liberal progressivism.

As in the time of the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and the Cristero War, it is presently the liberal state that divinizes itself here in the United States. Conscientious objection, based upon true standards of right and wrong, may soon become obligatory.

Do we trust that the modern liberal state — armed with technology that would make Hitler envious, coupled with its love of infanticide, unjust wars, unnatural sexuality, and drone murders — is not capable of the cruelty of Hitler’s Reich?

Will we have Franz Jägerstätters in our midst when that cruelty manifests itself?