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World Youth Day 2016:
Panem et Circenses for the Collapsing Novus Ordo Empire

by Christopher A. Ferrara
July 27, 2016

By the time you read this column, World Youth Day 2016 will have commenced in Kraków. Another WYD, another massive waste of time and resources by a supposedly ecologically sensitive pontiff, who will expend tens of millions of dollars of Peter’s Pence on the huge “carbon footprint” of this useless, jet-set junket. The cheering mob will have its fun, including campouts of both sexes together and blaring rock music.  There will, of course, be the “papal Mass” replete with “sacred music” that will include a pop score (with electric guitar and drum set) and preening performers, hamming it up in front of the cameras with their out-of-control vibratos.  (See, for example, John Vennari’s report on WYD 2013.)

And no WYD would be complete without frenzied idolization of the person of the Pope — the ultimate celebrity. And Francis will soak it all up just the way his predecessor, John Paul II, did.  Indeed, John Paul was the very inventor of “the Catholic Woodstock.”  Here I am reminded of this description of John Paul II’s reaction to the crowd at World Youth Day 2000, which I cited some thirteen years ago in The Great Façade (p. 289):

As Pope John Paul II looked out at the vast throng of joyful youth, hearing their shouts of “Viva il Papa” and “Giovanni Paulo” and “JP II, we love you!” ringing in the air — everywhere they gathered with the Holy Father — no wonder he wiped tears from his eyes, swayed with the young as they sang, waved his arms in the air, and let a glorious smile break through, again and again. Here he saw, before his very eyes, the fulfillment of the words of Vatican II to the young, in its blossoming and growth [since the first World Youth Day, over 15 years ago].

What I wrote then applies with equal force today: “An ephemeral outpouring of mass sentiment from a boisterous crowd is ‘the fulfillment of the words of Vatican II.’  The crowd sways.  The Pope sways with them.  All is well. The phenomenon of feelings is the triumph of Vatican II. All empirical evidence of the actual condition of the Church is ignored in favor of a phenomenal event.”

The phrase “bread and circuses” — Panem et Circenses— originated with the poet Juvenal, writing his satires around 100 A.D., when the Roman Empire, seemingly at its height, was already rotting from within: “the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”  WYD and other mass papal events are the bread and circuses of the collapsing Novus Ordo Empire — distractions that hide the underlying reality of decay.

The “spirit of Vatican II” supposedly manifested at the World Youth Days is actually a delusion of grandeur preceding a great fall.   It is a delusion in the form of what the imaginary “renewal” of the Church really involves: the triumph of the love of novelty over the zealous guarding of Tradition, of emotionalism over right reason, of mere enthusiasm over sober piety, of boundless tolerance over the divine intolerance of sin and error, of the profane over the sacred in worship, and now, with Francis, of false “mercy” over the truth that makes us free.

Mourn indeed over what the Church’s deluded leaders have done to her. But rejoice as well at the certainty of her ultimate deliverance from their hands.  Take consolation in the immortal words of Saint Athanasius at a time (during the Arian heresy of the 4th century) when almost the whole Church, from the Pope on down, was similarly afflicted by temporary insanity:

May God console you! ... What saddens you ... is the fact that others have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith….

You are the ones who are happy; you who remain within the Church by your Faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from Apostolic Tradition. And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded. They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis. No one, ever, will prevail against your Faith, beloved Brothers. And we believe that God will give us our churches back some day.

The triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will mean the fall of the Novus Ordo Empire of worthless novelty.  The signs of its final collapse are already obvious.  Its end cannot be long in coming, even if many of us may not live to see it.