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Keeping the Catholics Down

by Christopher A. Ferrara
Dec. 11, 2008

Let me put this as simply as possible. What political modernity calls Liberty depends entirely on one thing: keeping the Catholics down. Just as John Locke recognized in his Letter and Essay on the subject of religious toleration back in the 17th Century, so do the enforcers of political correctness recognize today: Roman Catholicism is the one and only threat to the absolute supremacy of state power and “the law” over religious authority, according to which abortion, homosexual “marriage” and any other violation of the divine and natural law may be enacted without “interference” by the Church. This, they tell us, is Liberty.

As John Locke put it more than three hundred years ago, Catholics “ought not to be tolerated by the magistrate in the exercise of their religion, unless he can be secured that… [their] opinions will not be imbibed and espoused by all those who communicate with them in religious worship, which, I suppose, is very hard to be done.” By “their opinions” Locke meant, among others, the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that civil authority is subject to spiritual authority in cases of conflict. We have seen the end results of the rejection of that revealed truth, even if Locke himself might not have foreseen the final consequences of his own vision of political society.

Today the self-appointed media guardians of Liberty, ever vigilant to the threat of a resurgent Catholicism after 40 years of post-Vatican II torpor in the Church, are rather uneasy about the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Not because this Pope is another Blessed Pius IX, hurling a defiant NO! at the modern world. Far from it. Rather, what bothers the masters of the media is merely that Pope Benedict, with his motu proprio “liberating” the traditional Latin Mass and other gestures, has given evidence that the Church is not, after all, subject to “the law of progress” and that she still remains capable of restoring herself and rising again in opposition to the errors of modernity.

One intensely annoying example of this rather diabolical intelligence of the unbelieving about the capacity of the Church to regenerate herself is a character by the name of Jeff Israely, who writes for Time magazine. Israely’s journalistic specialty seems to be rhetorically wagging his finger at Pope Benedict every few months as if to say: “Now, now, now, don’t you go thinking about bringing back that hateful old pre-Vatican II Church!”

It was Israely who sounded the alarm about the motu proprio in the months before it was promulgated, and it was he who wrote a story in September 2007 with the amazingly condescending title: “Will the Pope behave in Austria?” In that story Israely sniffed that the Pope’s intellect and “sure-fire faith” had “gotten him into hot water not only in Regensberg” (where the Pope made that negative comment concerning Islam), but also “on his last trip to Brazil… by telling reporters on the Rome-to-Sao Paulo flight that pro-choice politicians were automatically excommunicated.” Why, the Pope had even dared to speak about the Church’s role in colonizing Latin America “without mentioning the history of forced conversions and other violence by Catholics against the indigenous population.” Yes, those “indigenous populations” who were happily engaged in human sacrifice to the serpent-god, until Catholic missionaries dared to baptize and educate them.

Even more condescending is Israely’s article of December 3, 2008 entitled “The Pope’s Christmas Gift: A Tough Line on Church Doctrine.” According to Israely, this “tough line” is shown by the Vatican’s opposition to a proposed U.N. declaration calling for “an end to the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation.” In other words, the UN proposes to demand that sodomy be legalized throughout the world. The Vatican’s position hardly means the return of Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors, but rather is only a defense of basic morality and the natural law — which seems to be all the Vatican apparatus is willing to defend in this, the age of “dialogue”.

But for Israely, Vatican opposition to the worldwide legalization of sodomy shows that “His kindly manner notwithstanding, Benedict does not seem to hesitate doing or saying what he deems necessary to keep Catholicism from straying too far from its doctrinal tradition.” Imagine that! Benedict does not want the Church to stray too far from Catholic doctrine. Just who does Benedict think he is? The Pope?

Israely even expresses his displeasure over the rumor that Vatican officials are preparing “a change to the mass [sic] that would affect the moment when members of the congregation are asked to greet each other with a ‘sign of peace.’ Worshippers then exchange handshakes, or sometimes a hug or kiss. In 2007, writing about the exchanging of the peace, Benedict called for ‘greater restraint in this gesture which can become exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly before the reception of Communion.’”

Now, why would Israely give a hoot about when and how the “Sign of Peace” in the Novus Ordo Mass is executed? Answer: Like his fellow guardians of Liberty, Israely is alarmed by even the least sign that the absurd and debilitating post-conciliar “renewal” of the liturgy might be reversed. For these unbelievers know — with that same almost diabolical intelligence — that the Mass, offered rightly and with dignity, has the power to revive the Church and renew the face of the earth. The restoration of the Roman liturgy would be very bad news indeed for the regime of “Liberty”.

Israely concludes his latest exercise in finger-wagging at the Pope with still more condescension: “And to those who wonder why not just let everyone say ‘peace’ when and where they please for Christmases to come, one can imagine Benedict flashing that gentle smile, tilting his head ever so slightly and declaring: ‘Bah Humbug!’” After 40 years of post-conciliar “dialogue” with “the modern world” it has come to this: the Pope being mocked to scorn by an impudent twit because Rome just might be reconsidering a few of the disastrous novelties spawned in the name of the Second Vatican Council.

Yes, this thing they call Liberty is all about keeping the Catholics down. That is Israely’s — and the world’s — contemptuous message to the Pope: Stay down. Or else.

It is long past time for Catholics to recognize that what the moderns call Liberty is really the subjugation of the Church by a neo-barbarism that threatens her very existence in society. As the Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre writes in his seminal work After Virtue: “This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond our frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes our predicament

Catholics must become aware of their predicament and recognize that true liberty lies in the restoration of all things in Christ. For as He Himself taught us: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”