The Stones Cry Out—Voices of the Palestinian Christians

This film, by Yasmine Perni, was made in 2013 and is a strong testimony to the brutality undertaken by Zionists to create Israel. The film is unique because it focuses on the suffering of Palestinian Christians, from 1948 to today, whose plight is largely unknown, and by extention it is a chronicle of the suffering of all Palesitinians who have been rendered faceless so that their agony may be the more easily ignored.

The attitude of American Protestants is also worth noting in this context, who are happy to excuse all atrocity because of their heretical notion of God’s “chosen people.”

The War Crimes in Gaza from a Catholic Worldview

“Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice” (John 18:37).

What follows is noteworthy. Pilate asks a question: “What is truth?” Rather than waiting for the answer from the One who is uniquely qualified to give it, in typical bureaucratic fashion he attends to other matters: “And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him.” At that point, the representative of Caesar begins an imprudent political negotiation with a mob under the sway of the faithless and cruel Caiphas. Pilate loses the negotiation and, committing an act of horrific moral cowardice, washes his hands of the abominable crime he sanctions.

Because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, we Christians ought to have a supreme love of truth. Because our Adversary the Devil is the “father of lies,” we should hate and execrate all lies. If we are not “of the truth” we will not hear the loving Voice or Our Lord. It is no surprise, then, that Saint Paul commands us, “Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds (Col. 3:9).

Sadly, we are presently drowning in an ocean of lies — as is often the way in this vale of tears. Currently, a war is taking place in the Holy Land and we Americans are expected, as good patriots, to cheer for atrocities being committed against the 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza, which has been described as “a concentration camp” by Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, and as “the world’s largest open-air prison” by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Roald Høvring. In 2009, the great Pat Buchanan called Gaza “a vast penal colony with no access to the outer world by land, sea or air, except by permission of the Israeli military.” (Here is Buchanan several years ago, in one-minute video, delivering an uncommon amount of common sense on the subject.)

A Bloody Background

In order to understand the background, we need to go to the era of colonial immigration of European Jews to the Holy Land that led to the founding of the Zionist state in 1948. There was a great deal of brutality against the natives who already inhabited the area — including Muslims and Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), as has been documented not only by Arab-Muslim sources, but also Jewish sources (see herehere, and here). Among the persecuted Palestinians was the family of the Catholic Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour, who bears the august title, Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and All Galilee. His first book on the subject, Blood Brothers, was written from a very loving and forgiving, but also fact-based, perspective. Brother Francis highly recommended it as a good summary of the subject for Catholics.

In the United States and much of the world that our American Evangelicals have exported their ideas to, so-called “Christian Zionism” has turned many Protestants (and tragically, now many Catholics) into indefatigable, uncritical advocates of the Zionist cause. Five years ago, I discussed the history of this in two back-to-back episodes of Reconquest which can be heard for free on our site.

The Oxymoron that Is “Christian Zionism”: Politics of False Religion

The events going on in the Holy Land are being shoehorned into America’s oversimplified binary political parlance — the same parlance, be it noted, that excludes the social Reign of Christ the King. If you are a good conservative, you are supposed to cheer for a genocide of Palestinians in the Holy Land because it’s just the right thing to do. Don’t believe me? See what our new, “conservative” Speaker of the House says is his first priority. See also the Zionist political credo of three other conservatives.” This is all a result of the heretical Scofield Reference Bible and the absurd dispensationalism that led many (though not all) Protestants to adopt a creed that opposes not only Catholic orthodoxy but even the historical beliefs of most Protestant denominations. If this comes as a shock to you, please give a listen to those episodes of Reconquest; I cover it all there.

Here is a quick summary: Basing themselves upon the novelties of the Scofield Reference Bible, Christian Zionists completely misread Genesis 12:3. They ignore the fulfillment of these words in passages such as Gal. 3:16-29Luke 1:54-55Matt. 3:9, and Gal. 5:6. Moreover, they neglect the very important Catholic concept of the Continuity of Religion, and the proper way to read the Bible according to the four senses of Scripture. Concerning the four senses, in Matins for the Feast of Christ the King, we see the following applied to Jesus Christ in the first antiphon: “I have been set up as King by Him on Sion, His holy mountain, proclaiming His decree” (Ps. 2:6). Sion is now the Catholic Church, as are Jerusalem and Israel itself. This elemental Catholic approach to the Old Testament in light of the New is essential to our Liturgy, but it is foreign to the Christian Zionist. Add to this fetid soup the heretical eschatology called dispensationalism, and we have the essential content of Christian Zionism.

“Catholic Zionism” is, therefore, an oxymoron, which would explain Saint Pius X’s seemingly harsh response to the pioneering Zionist, Theodore Herzl.

At this point, I well may be accused by certain partisans of being a Muslim-simp and a shill for Hamas. I am neither. We have enough material on this site critical of the religion of “the Prophet” to disprove that (see herehere, and here, for example). Further, any targeting of non-combatants by Hamas is just as wrong as the same acts perpetrated by the IDF. Both sides appear to be guilty of war crimes at this point, though the disparity of proportion is vast. Let us recall that we have Catholic brothers and sisters in Gaza, and, just as Israel’s bombs are not discriminating between combatants and non-combatants, neither are they discriminating between Christians and Muslims.

Not All Jewish People Are Pro-Israel

It needs to be understood that, among Jews, the thinking about the Palestinian question is not at all monolithic. Yes, many are Zionists who will support Israel against the Palestinians no matter what. But some of the most eloquent anti-Zionists have been and still are Jews, and these folks are not at all agreed among themselves as to why they oppose the policy of apartheid against Palestinians. Secular, liberal Jews like Ilan PappeNorman Finkelstein, and Dr. Gabor Maté have their own outlook on the question, based largely upon their liberal antipathy to “colonialism” as well as a sense of natural justice. Their motivations are informed by a secular political outlook. For a radically different perspective, we can look to Rabbi Yisroel Dovid WeissRabbi Yisroel Feldman, and their Israeli Haredim brethren. (For reference, the Haredim are commonly called “Ultra-Orthodox,” a term I have come to learn that they do not like.) The Haredi perspective is based upon a fundamental theological disagreement with Zionism. The Haredim contend that Jewish political hegemony in the Holy Land can only come about when the promised Messiah comes to lead the Jews. This, by the way, is why Orthodox Jews historically tended to oppose Zionism very strongly: It was tantamount to — and often explicitly was — a denial of the person of the Messiah, transferring the messianic identity away from the personal Messiah of Old-Testament prophesy and to the Jewish nation itself. This, among other reasons, is why the Heredim call Zionists “heretics.”

Catholic opposition to Zionism is also based both on theology, as outlined five paragraphs up, and on the just claims to their homelands of the Palestinian people, no matter what their religion. (Yes, Muslims are entitled to natural justice, and branding them “human animals,” as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently did, is the kind of dehumanization that easily leads to war crimes by many nations, including our own.)

Love of Jews and Muslims: Our Christian Duty

When I posted a prayer to Our Lady of Palestine and a brief review of a book sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians on social media, I was criticized for essentially taking the side of Muslims. But this is a classic false dialectic that has been programmed into the modern mind by our very biased media. We have to be on the side of truth and justice no matter what — and we have to do so with Christian charity. When I calmly explained my point of view to one of my critical interlocutors — who was beautifully responsive to what I had to say — I did it in the following terms, responding, in my opening words, to her explanation that Islam is a false religion because it is a “political system” that spreads itself by sanguinary means. The most important content is in the last two paragraphs, which I have put in bold:

Islam is first and foremost a false religion because it denies the Trinity and the Incarnation. The same may be said of Judaism.

I’m well aware of Islamic brutality and celebrate the victories of Lepanto, Belgrade, and Vienna with as much gusto as the next red-blooded traditionalist. I am also aware that not all Muslims are murderous Jihadis, just as not all Jews are IDF soldiers who deliberately target innocent civilians.

Atrocities abound all around.

I have spoken to both Muslims and Jews about Jesus Christ and am still alive to tell about it.

I agree that Europe’s profligate policy of immigration from Islamic countries is imprudent, evil, and, ultimately, self-destructive.

As Catholics, our duty to Muslims and to Jews is identical: to love them enough to bring both to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church so that they can be saved. Otherwise, they are all lost. This will require evangelism, not ecumenism, and yes, martyrdom will be necessary, as it always has been. This coincides with the Church’s duty to God, namely, to make Him known and loved by all men in all nations. We must love God so much as to will this.

Meanwhile, we cannot justify the violations against the natural law that persist in the systematic injustices against the Palestinian people, some of whom are our Catholic brothers and sisters. And this is the subject of the above video.

The answer to all of humanity’s problems is in the keeping of Holy Mother Church. It is the life of grace; of faith, hope, and charity; of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and of the Beatitudes. The deathly cycle of violence in the Holy Land will never end until the Prince of Peace, who was rejected and killed there, is accepted with open hearts by Jews and Arabs alike. As Christians, we are to love them all, even if they are our enemies, for such is the divine commandment given by that same Prince of Peace.

While peace talks, treaties, prudent political negotiations, and the like may bring some temporary reprieve to the violence, the real solution is in the Sermon on the Mount, where we are told,

You have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. (Matt. 5:43-45)

Jesus Himself gave us the example. The answer to hate is love — real love, Christian love for which faith is a necessary foundation. This is the love that Saint Maximilian Kolbe (who was no ecumenist, and who is unjustly called “anti-Semitic) had for the Jews whom he protected from the Nazis. This is the love that Saint Charles de Foucauld had for the Muslims among whom he lived, some of whom ultimately murdered him.

It is the saints, men and women perfected in the love of God and the gift of wisdom, who are the peacemakers. Be a saint and be part of the Catholic response to the problem. But remember, supernatural charity is not possible without a firm commitment that thing to which poor Pilate was so indifferent — the truth. For the King of Love is the way, the truth, and the life, and all those who are of the truth hear His blessed Voice.

Brother André Marie is Prior of St. Benedict Center, an apostolate of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond New Hampshire. He does a weekly Internet Radio show, Reconquest, which airs on the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel. This article appears courtesy of

Featured: Holy Family Church in Gaza City.

Mainstream Christian Zionism

Zionism and its impact on contemporary Israel and Palestine are topics of enormous import and therefore demand careful examination, yet they are widely misunderstood. Zionism is often regarded as a Jewish movement. In fact, the vast majority of Zionists are Christian. Moreover, Christian Zionism is usually considered to be a subset of Zionism. In contrast to this popular misconception, we should understand that Christian Zionism is the majority expression of Zionism; Jewish Zionism is an outgrowth of Christian Zionism. While many consider Christian Zionism to be a phenomenon of the religious right, most Christian Zionists are mainstream, liberal Christians. For example, Reinhold Niebuhr, the iconic twentiethcentury American liberal theologian, was selfconsciously and consistently Zionist throughout his career.

Christian Zionism is generally associated with Christians from the “Christian right,” who are loosely labeled fundamentalists or evangelicals. Sometimes, Christian Zionists are referred to as “the lunatic fringe.” Understood narrowly, Christian Zionists see the establishment of the State of Israel as a necessary step in God’s plan of salvation history. This is the best known form of Christian Zionism. This Christian form attracts the most critical attention, especially from mainstream Christians. However, it represents a distinct minority of Christian Zionists. The popular preoccupation with this select band on the Christian Zionist spectrum ignores the vast majority of Christian Zionists. I will refer to this strain of Zionism as fundamentalist or narrow Christian Zionism. In contrast to this narrow view, Christian Zionism, properly understood, covers a much broader range of Christians.

As a phenomenon, Christian Zionism is older than Jewish Zionism. In 1621, Sir Henry Finch wrote a discourse calling for support for the Jewish people and for their return to their biblical homeland. Further development of its primordial form dates to the first quarter of the nineteenth-century in England and in the United States. In the nineteenth century, Christian Zionism was, indeed, a fundamentalist ideology, but it has spread far beyond the narrow boundaries of evangelicals and biblical literalists. Over the past twenty years, Christian Zionism has attracted more and more scholarly attention, but that attention has been focused almost exclusively on this select band of the fundamentalist Christian Zionist spectrum, leaving wider and more conspicuous bands of the spectrum almost totally ignored—hiding in plain sight. This preoccupation of mainstream Christians with fundamentalist Christian Zionism is both misguided and misleading. Zionism is far more pervasive among “mainstream” Christians than it is usually regarded to be. Christian Zionism is not usually associated with mainstream, progressive Christians. This error needs to be corrected.

Christian attention to the phenomenon of Zionism is appropriate, because, paradoxically, Zionism originated as a Christian phenomenon and continues to be overwhelmingly Christian. How do I arrive at this conclusion?

Estimates of the number and percentages of fundamentalist and/ or evangelical Christians in America vary depending on how one defines these terms, but most surveys estimate that about twentythree to twenty-seven percent of the US Christian population is evangelical.1 In 2014, for example, a Pew Research poll of 35,000 Americans put the Christian population of America at seventy percent (210 million Americans). It found that evangelical Christians make up about one quarter of the Christian population (52.5 million Americans).

By way of contrast, consider that the world’s Jewish population is about 14 million people, i.e., about one quarter of the population of evangelical American Christians. At the risk of oversimplification, but to help demonstrate my point, consider that if all Jews in the world are Zionist, but only half the evangelicals in the USA are Zionist, then American fundamentalist Christian Zionists would outnumber all Jewish Zionists in the world by about 2:1. Thus, even if all Jews in the world are Zionists—and we know this is not correct—and only half of evangelicals in the US are Zionists, then Zionism is an overwhelmingly Christian phenomenon. The ratio of American fundamentalist Christian Zionists to American Jewish Zionists is closer to 5:1. Once Christian Zionism is properly understood
to include many progressive Christians as well, we will see that for every Jewish Zionist, there are at least ten Christian Zionists.

The significance of this point should not be ignored, because Zionist apologists often advance the erroneous and specious complaint that criticism of Zionism is a new and evolved form of anti-Semitism.

Zionism, however, should not be overly identified with Jews and Judaism for a number of reasons, most importantly because Christian Zionists vastly outnumber Jewish Zionists, especially once Christian Zionism is properly understood. Since Zionism has had enormous and far-reaching consequences on a national and global level and because it is overwhelmingly Christian, the examination of Christian Zionism by Christians of all persuasions is an important historical and ethical enterprise. What is more, since Zionism has produced catastrophic consequences for many people, Jews as well as non-Jews, Christian examination of Zionism, especially in its Christian forms, is a moral obligation as well. In any event, Christian examination of Christian Zionism is first and foremost an examination of Christians, Christian ideology, and Christian ethics.

My own consideration of Christian Zionism dates to the mid-1990s, when I was first introduced to it in its fundamentalist form. It was about that time that the phrase Christian Zionism was coined. My first essay on the subject—and I believe the first time the phrase mainstream Christian Zionism was employed and examined—was published in Michael Prior’s last book in 2004. By that time, Christian Zionism had gained considerable media attention, including a thirty-minute segment of 60 Minutes in 2003 and feature articles in the Washington Post and USA Today. However, those segments focused on what we should consider to be only a subset of Christian Zionism (i.e., the fundamentalist version represented by John Hagee, Hal Lindsay, and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem). It is also illustrated in the popular Left Behind series of fiction books. Critics frequently refer to this subset pejoratively as a Christian heresy or as the “lunatic ravings” of the Christian right.

Stephen Sizer, an English Episcopalian priest, wrote his doctoral dissertation on Christian Zionism. The dissertation is exclusively preoccupied with evangelical, fundamentalist Christian Zionism, ignoring the dominant mainstream variety, and he continues to focus his critique of Christian Zionism on this subset. In 2012, Steven Paas published Christian Zionism Examined. It focused exclusively on the fundamentalist form. In 2013, Paul Louis Metzger posted at Patheos a critique of Christian Zionism that focused exclusively on the fundamentalist Christian version. In 2014, at a conference on Christians in the holy land, sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries in Ginghamsburg, Ohio, Alex Awad, a Palestinian American Baptist minister, lectured on Christian Zionism. He focused exclusively on its fundamentalist form. David Wildman, also with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, held forth frequently on the topic of Christian Zionism, always in its narrow form.

Fundamentalist Christian Zionism An Easy Target for Liberals

It is not surprising that most contemporary attention focuses on fundamentalist Christian Zionism. Fundamentalist Christian Zionists are vocal and visible, and therefore easily identified. Due to their distinctive and sometimes bizarre biblical interpretations, they are also easily critiqued. Recent popular and scholarly assessments of fundamentalist Christian Zionism are not wrong, but they are misleading. The problem is that defining Christian Zionism as a form of biblical literalism is a mistake. If biblical literalism defines Zionism, then most Jewish Zionists, including the foundational Jewish Zionists, like Theodore Herzl, would not qualify.

That Christian Zionism does not require a fundamentalist reading of the Bible is well recognized by fundamentalist Christian Zionists. The Rev. Malcom Hedding, a spokesperson for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, writes:

If Zionism is the belief in the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland, then a Christian Zionist should simply be defined as a Christian who supports the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland. Under this broad and simple definition, many Christians would qualify no matter what their reasons are for this support.

Understood more broadly and more correctly, the ranks of Christian Zionists include renowned mainstream Christians such as Reinhold Niehbur, Krister Stendahl, Robert Drinan, William Albright, and W. D. Davies. Public figures including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and the journalist James Carroll must be included among Christian Zionists. None of these are biblical literalists. All of them are Zionists. Further, almost the entire biblical academy is, if not selfconsciously and directly in the service of the Zionist agenda, then at least indirectly engaged in promoting the Zionist narrative. The same can be said for mainstream churches that promote and reinforce the Zionist narrative in their Sunday school curricula, hymnody, and liturgies. Finally, almost all so-called Christian-Jewish dialogue is dominated by sympathy for the Zionist agenda. Indeed, most forms of so-called Christian-Jewish dialogue exclude any consideration of the effects of the Zionist agenda on the peoples of Palestine. Mainstream Christian Zionists are progressive and liberal. They often do not declare their Zionist orientation. Their affinity for Zionism is often masked by a sincere and notable concern to correct past wrongs by Christians against Jews. They usually do not endorse the extreme policies of the State of Israel against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, although their sensitivity toward Palestinians does not usually include the Palestinian experience in 1948. One might reasonably wonder how Christians can reject on moral grounds the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and its aftermath, but at the same time accept the occupation of Palestine in 1948, which was far more devastating to Palestinians without any moral compunctions whatsoever?

What Then Defines Zionism and How Do We Recognize That It Is Mainstream Christians?

If Zionism does not require biblical literalism in either its Jewish or Christian forms, then what defines a Zionist and Zionism Zionism is a nationalist movement bearing a family resemblance to all other nationalist movements of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and containing its own idiosyncrasies. Like any nationalist movement, it is subject to critique and it is subject to the same critique to which all nationalist movements must submit. All nationalism is exclusive. All exclusivity is divisive. All divisiveness is unstable. In my opinion, to be clear and in the interests of full disclosure, all nationalism is perverse and anachronistic. The advent of the nationstate is a modern phenomenon that has resulted in unprecedented ethnic conflict and unspeakable and unparalleled violence by peoples against each other. Zionist nationalism is no more violent than, for example, American nationalism, and no less violent, either. While they are different currently, neither is exceptional in that way. It is important to note, however, that people are sympathetic to Zionist nationalism because first they are sympathetic to the concept of nationalism.

There is no simple formulaic definition of Zionism. However, any articulation of Zionism, such as the one above by Malcolm Hedding, must express, one way or another, the ideas that 1) the Jewish people are a distinct people; 2) like other peoples, Jews are, and Jewishness is, best actualized in a nation-state characterized by national institutions and distinct boundaries; and 3) that this organization into a nationstate is not only a political and historical necessity, but a moral imperative as well. None of these essentials is unambiguous and none is beyond question, but whenever you find these ingredients, you will find a Zionist, whether he or she is Christian or Jewish, religious or secular, fundamentalist or progressive. When one considers these three characteristic features—each of which involves elaborate corollaries—one begins to get a feel for mainstream Zionism in contradistinction to fundamentalist Zionism. These three characteristics—that for the Jewish people, the establishment of the State of Israel is both a political necessity and a moral imperative—are common to those who identify themselves as Zionists.

Where do we find exponents of Zionism, so defined, among mainstream Christians? Let’s start with Reinhold Niebuhr, the iconic Protestant liberal Christian. Niebuhr was educated at Yale and wrote prolifically for The Christian Century, The Nation, The New Republic, and his own Christianity in Crisis. He was eventually appointed professor of ethics at Union Theological Seminary. He was by no means a

fundamentalist. There is no hint of any reference to the fulfilment of biblical prophecy in his writings. Indeed, he denigrates such views. Niebuhr’s unwavering support for Jewish causes was nurtured by strong philo-Judaism. He was motivated not by restorationist theology and informed not by biblical literalism, but by moral outrage over the experience of Jews in Nazi Germany and throughout Europe and central Asia. For him, support for the Jewish people required support for the Jewish state and both were moral imperatives. His conscience was attuned to issues of justice and the moral obligation of Christians to respond to social challenges. He spoke frequently in support of Zionism to Jewish audiences. Leaders of Zionist organizations identified him as one who could be counted on to advance their agenda among Christians and he agreed to write a two-part pro-Zionist article that appeared in The Nation. He wrote:

The problem of what is to become of the Jews in the postwar world ought to engage all of us, not only because a suffering people has a claim upon our compassion but because the very quality of our civilization is involved in the solution… The Jews require a homeland…

Clearly, Niebuhr was predisposed by his theological orientation toward empathy for Jews. Just as clearly, he had no interest in fundamentalist biblical hermeneutics. Does that fact alone, however, disqualify him from the ranks of Zionists? On the contrary, his orientation toward Zionism perfectly illustrates that fundamentalism is not a precondition for Christian Zionism. He wrote:

Many Christians are pro-Zionist in the sense that they believe that a homeless people require a homeland; but we feel as embarrassed as anti-Zionist religious Jews when messianic claims are used to substantiate the right of the Jews to the particular homeland in Palestine… History is full of strange configurations. Among them is the thrilling emergence of the State of Israel.

Zionism and the Mainstream Academy

Turning to the arena of Christian biblical scholarship, Christian Zionism is ubiquitous. In recent years, prominent biblical scholars, including Keith Whitelam, Thomas Thompson, and Michael Prior have produced groundbreaking works demonstrating that both biblical archaeology and the broader field of biblical studies are dominated by scholars whose ideas are sympathetic to and have the effect of validating the Zionist enterprise. This is particularly obvious when one travels through Israel, where virtually every archaeological endeavor is pressed into Zionist service to reinforce the Zionist narrative of Jewish return and validate exclusive Jewish claims to the land.

Neil Asher Silberman explores this theme vigorously as it pertains to Zionist historiography. One outstanding example, among many, is the archaeological excavation of Masada. Yigal Yadin, an avowed Zionist who directed the dig and who first published its findings, is the author of the popular myth of Masada. Yadin’s findings and the Masada story were subsequently debunked, but, nevertheless, live
on because they fit so well with the worldview of contemporary Israelis. Twenty-five years after Silberman published his work, Christian pilgrims, no less than Israeli school groups, are saturated with the fiction of Jewish Zealots heroically defying overwhelming odds, just as the Israeli Defense Force is said to do today in its aggressive wars of “selfdefense.” Biblical scholars reinforce this link by happily adopting Zionist language of Jewish return to the land. That Jesus and his compatriots, both those who were his supporters and those who were his detractors, belonged to one unified Jewish people is almost uncontested in biblical scholarship. English translations of the New Testament routinely refer to Jesus, his followers, and his opponents all as Jews, even though careful translation of the original languages of the texts would call for more nuanced translation.

Just as astonishingly, modern biblical scholars constantly refer to Jesus or Paul as practitioners of Judaism without nuance. The diversity of conceptions implied by the Greek noun Ioudaios and its cognates is consistently undermined in contemporary Biblical translations. In fact, the contrast between the scarcity of the unnuanced references to Judaism in firstcentury literature and its frequency in contemporary biblical scholarship is striking and well illustrates the degree to which mainstream Christian biblical scholarship helps to cement the connection between modern Zionist Jews and their claim to the territory of ancient Israel. Interpretation matters. Words not only describe reality. Words also condition the way we think about reality. The words biblical scholars use to describe the ancient past promotes an identification of modern Jews with ancient Jews and reinforces the Zionist claim of a direct line between past and present and the natural return of the Jews to their ancestral land. It should be observed that the archaeologists and historians whose historiographies are so harmonious with the Zionist enterprise, more often than not, are Christians who are neither fundamentalist nor dispensationalist.

Zionist ideology depends heavily on the idea of a distinct modern ethnic group which originated in the territory of ancient Israel and which can trace an uninterrupted lineage to ancient Israel. This historical oversimplification undergirds many modern Zionist claims to the contemporary real estate in Palestine. Such Zionism appeals to biblical archaeology to validate its contemporary claims to ethnic identity and territorial integrity. But the scholarship is not merely congenial to Zionist ideology. Biblical scholars themselves often uncritically presume the ethnic identity, territorial legitimacy, and nationalist aspirations at the root of Zionism. If the assumptions of the scholars are identical with those of Zionists, why do we not consider those scholars Zionists?

Mainstream Christian Zionism also pervades one of the most hallowed precincts of liberal, mainstream Christianity, namely so-called JewishChristian dialogue. It is no surprise that Jews involved in the dialogue display obvious Zionist sympathies, but their Christian counterparts are often equally and unapologetically Zionist. It is also in this realm that the challenges associated with identifying and critiquing mainstream Christian Zionism are most apparent. Unlike the ranks of fundamentalist Christian Zionists, whose opinions are often shrugged off as “lunatic ravings,” mainstream Christian Zionists are not easy targets. Not only does mainstream Christian Zionism include icons of liberal, progressive Christianity, their motivation for assuming obviously Zionist positions is motivated by and grounded in sincere moral concern.

The reality of Jewish suffering should be prominent in all Christian thinking, but in the formal circles of Jewish-Christian dialogue, it propels Christian participants to adopt clearly Zionist positions. Almost without exception, their concern grows out of sincere
regard for Jewish suffering and the demands of justice and restitution. Rarely, however, does their concern extend equally to the Palestinians who experience Zionism as an instrument of catastrophe. One notable example among many is Father Robert Drinan, formerly Dean of the School of Law at Boston College and professor of law at Georgetown University. Drinan was a well-known activist in liberal social causes throughout his long and illustrious career. However, in describing Zionism, Drinan uses language that would have surprised even Herzl, whom, he says, pursued his “messianic pilgrimage” with a zeal “infused with a compelling humanitarianism combined with traces of Jewish mysticism.” The “mystery” and “majesty” of Zionism appears in its glory from Herzl’s tomb. Now
that the state is established, Christians should support it “in reparation or restitution for the genocide of Jews carried out in a nation whose population was overwhelmingly Christian.” Let’s not ignore Father Drinan’s distinguished ten-year career as a member of the US House of Representatives (DemocratMassachusetts), during which he had numerous opportunities to express his enthusiasm for Zionism by voting in favor of legislation and resolutions that were staunchly pro-Israel. He is, thus, also an example of the way in which mainstream Christian Zionism pervades US political institutions.


Very few topics generate fervent debate, arouse passions, and evoke confusion like the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. This is because it veers into the volatile areas of religion and politics. Personal faith, interpretation of scripture, personal loyalties, moral convictions, and deeply-held political opinions overlap and collide in a confused sea of facts, perceptions, images, and realities. Notwithstanding these treacherous emotional waters, conscientious American Christians have no choice but to attempt to navigate them, because their churches and their government are both deeply complicit in the sadness and suffering of the people of Israel and Palestine.

In spite of the often repeated critiques of fundamentalist Christian Zionism, a more pervasive, pernicious, and sophisticated form of Zionism has been overlooked. I call it mainstream Christian Zionism. I believe that most American Christians should be included in this category. But if only half of mainstream American Christians are Zionists, then mainstream Christian Zionists outnumber American Jewish Zionists by 14:1. Were it not for this form of Christian Zionism, the more easily identifiable, easily critiqued, unsophisticated form of Christian Zionism would not have the effect that it has. The minority wields great influence and exerts great energy, but they still need the majority to effect policy and the majority is only too happy to play its part. Mainstream Christian Zionism does not depend on biblical authority for its legitimacy. It is rooted in genuine moral sensitivities. Its appeal is to moral imperatives and political necessity rather than personal piety. It assumes uncritically that nationalism is natural and necessary and so starts with a predisposition to Jewish nationalism. It is far better organized, far better funded, and far more politically potent than its
fundamentalist cousin

Reconsidering Christian Zionism in its mainstream form leads inevitably to vexing moral conflicts. It requires re-examination of widely held assumptions about ethnic identity and nationhood and the moral implications of these. It raises issues that are considered taboo in the Church and takes us into perilous moral and academic “no-fly zones.” But intellectual honesty requires no less.

It is, of course, quite convenient for mainstream Christians to identify Christian Zionism exclusively with evangelical, fundamentalist Christians. It is always easier to identify other people’s defects than one’s own. Mark Twain reportedly once said, “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” Jesus said, “First take the log out of your own eye…”

Mainstream, liberal Christians cannot absolve themselves of complicity in the Zionist enterprise simply because they are not fundamentalists. If they espouse views that are identical to the nationalist assumptions of self-confessed secular and religious Jewish Zionists, then they themselves should be identified as Zionists.

Equating Christian Zionism so thoroughly with evangelical, fundamentalist Christians, or with the Christian right, is highly misleading, and ignores the reality that Christian Zionist support for the State of Israel comes overwhelmingly from mainstream Christians. Until we understand Christian Zionism in its mainstream aspects, however, we have not begun to appreciate how pervasive—and, therefore, how dangerous—Zionism really is.

Peter J. Miano teaches courses in New Testament studies, biblical archaeology, biblical geography and biblical history. He also teaches courses in missiology. He specializes in the history of the Middle East, its contemporary development and the role of the Church in the Middle East during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Featured: Engraving by Ephraim Moshe Lilien, produced for the 5th Zionist Congress, which took place in Basel, Switzerland in 1901. The Hebrew inscription at the bottom is the prayer “May our eyes behold your return in mercy to Zion.” This is an excerpt from Prophetic Voices on Middle East Peace.

Religious Residue and AI: The Eight Rugby Players

On the first Saturday-Sunday in October, tens of thousands of Argentines undertook a pilgrimage, known as a “la Peregrinación,” to the Marian Basilica of Lujan, under the theme “Holy Virgin, make us one.” Sunday evening saw the first debate between five presidential candidates, three weeks before the general election of 22 October. All the parties preached unity, union, common strength, under a variety of slogans, as opportunistic as they come. Galloping inflation, obsidional crime, Rosario as the new Colombia of drugs, half the population in a state of poverty—while, on Saturday, a Kirchnerist oligarch, seen strutting around on a yacht with a callipygian “model” in Marbella, told his critics to go to hell by imitating, in Spanish, the vulgar American retort, “Get a life.” Sure, but what kind of life?

One response to that question was the pilgrimage. Under the leadership of the young Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the “Peregrinación” was a response to the political class — to Peronists in power (Peronism like historical Gaullism is an emotional belief system, straddling a wide spectrum), to the legacy bourgeoisie of Buenos Aires, and to the Chavist socialists. The political class paid lip-service to or ignored the pilgrimage and its message of good will.

With one discordant voice: the man who upset the usual suspects’ playbook, Javier Milei, portrayed by Western medias as “extreme right,” is an anti-Statist economist and a formidable rhetor in the long tradition of Argentine politics —emblematized by Juan Perón’s famous 1973 re-election address, “Gobernar Es Persuadir.” So Milei went frontal : one of his teammates mooted to suspend relations with the Holy Sea, the utmost meddling, invisible “state” in their view. Anti-statism and anti-clericalism are indeed congruent – but don’t tell that to Anglicans (conservatives or not) in the UK, cossetted protestant churches in Germany, or even French “liberals.” Not to mention US conservatives.

To grasp further the multi-layered religious residue in Argentine public life: when Pope Francis was elected, labels bearing his effigy on the streetlamps of Buenos Aires rubbed shoulders with a massage parlour advertisement (and an unintended joke): “Two for the price of one.”

That being said, how do you measure religious residue and mediatization of a public event, and the use of AI? Let’s look at one case.

At the beginning of the year, in the middle of the southern hemisphere summer vacation, a resounding trial fascinated Latin America: that of the ocho rugbiers, eight young rugby players who, at the same time three years before, had murdered a young man, Fernando Báez Sosa, outside a nightclub in Villa Gesell, a seaside resort south of Buenos Aires.

For weeks, the trial, held in Dolores, an old and dignified town on the pampas, was broadcast live on Argentine TV and followed daily from Peru to Mexico. A continental media phenomenon. A judicial phenomenon. A popular, if not populist, phenomenon. Ignored everywhere else, of course.

First mediatization : an extensive coverage by open access medias, such as La Nacion+ , which not only had reporters on the spot all day long, but also organized panels of legal experts who explained each stage of the proceedings with verve but clarity. One reporter stood out: “Carla,” who never lost track of events, maintained admirable calm and exemplary accuracy—she deserves an Oscar for court reporting.

Second mediatization: publicly available CCTV footage of the murder, bearing directly on the judicial process. People wondered: was it a pelea, a brawl involving the exchange of blows (the defense)? Or was it a patada, kicking and punching a victim (the public prosecutor and the family lawyer)? You only have to look at the numerous footage reels to see that it was not a brawl. In Argentina, surveillance cameras are ubiquitous, and there seems to be no law against making public what they record. Every morning, on the 7 a.m. news, you can watch burglaries, and even murder attempts, being committed.

From the very start of the investigation, anyone with access to YouTube or the Web could see what had happened. There was no blurring, in the style of false American prudishness (the “fig leaf” camera) or European-style hypocrisy (“some images may be harmful to sensitive viewers”). Living in society also means seeing what is going on. How can we witness this famous communal life if we cannot see what disrupts it? Even YouTube has not censored anything. From this point of view, Latin America is free.

So, the public had the obvious, right in front of them. The obvious — in the sense that to see is to be convinced of/by the obvious —was freely available, and in no way reserved for the courtroom. The violent crudity of the images was, and remains, public. As a rhetorician, I approve.

And then, a novelty: mediatization using AI. In order to tease out the (concealed) obvious of/from the images of the murder, the Báez Sosa family lawyer resorted to computer analysis: each of the eight assailants was represented digitally. The lawyer brought out this AI mapping at the end of the trial, in his recapitulation. The presiding judge immediately indicated that this could not, at this stage of the trial, be a prueba but she accepted the argument (supported by a reminder of the procedural code) that it was just another visualization of the video which per se was a building block of the proof already argued. As a rhetorician in a law school, I approve.

This digital reconstruction of the video made it possible to follow exactly the movements and the gestures of each assailant. It stunned everyone (and again, all that was broadcast live). We see the victim raising his hand in a plea for mercy, which drew cries from the victim’s mother. AI provided a dis-closure of the video. This is where “mediatization” takes on a whole new meaning. It harks back to the rhetorical concept of aletheia, de-concealment, dis-closure, of the truth, that is the exhibition of what cannot be seen without being mediated, here by AI.

At this point in the trial, the public had indeed judged. Even though the lawyer’s digital ex-planation (in the strict sense of unfolding) was not judicial evidence (at this concluding stage of the trial), it had now become more than a procedural support ; it is energetic evidence (in rhetoric, the Greek energeia translates into evidentia in Latin). That is how aletheia operates.

But what about the three judges (there is no jury)? Digitizing the video had the effect of transforming their naive viewing (however logical in terms of points of argument) into something else: a logic of the gaze.

Watching is necessarily naive: few people are taught to watch, just as they are taught to count or read. Because looking or watching is supposed to be natural. We hardly ever educate people (except specialists in classical painting, for example) in the logic of the gaze. Now, with digital reconstruction, the naive, emotionally-charged —in short, reactive— evidence produced by “watching a video” is replaced by a rational, cold, categorical evidence of a learned gaze. It is a cognitive effect, produced by digitization. The judges had watched. But AI taught them now how to watch. Now they really know : they have a concept of what happened, but was, on their part, a naive, natural act of perception.

Indeed, as we all know, there are two types of knowledge: instinctive knowledge (perception) and constructed knowledge (conception); perception is unstable, perverse, subjective knowledge. But when you glue a strong element of “design” (in this case, AI) onto perception, you have graduated from “percept” to concept.

Lawyer Fernando Burlando’s persuasive strategy was subtle. He played on two rhetorical, audience-centered registers. On the one hand, he targeted the public who had watched the assassination videos, reinforcing their naive certainty (“wow, they’re killing him”) with a logic of movements and gestures (“wow, now I can see what’s going on thanks to the digital markers”). On the other hand, he approached the judges, telling them, without actually saying it, “Of course you have seen the video and analyzed it, but all the same, between you and me, people of good character, you know the value of AI, and having now watched it accurately you have gone beyond a naive perception: you have been introduced to the logic of the gaze.”

In short, he used the extreme media coverage of the case, the avalanche of videos, to supplement a video that is not a video at all, but the purified, perfect, irrefutable version of an exact medium subject to the logic of the gaze. That is aletheia at work.

To sum, so far: mediatizing an event always has a hint of cheating (you cut, paste, edit, have your own angle), and it is even the rule of visual media; otherwise, all agencies would produce the same images, identically; and that is not the case, of course. But transforming media coverage into a certified, accurate, scientific and intelligent mediatization, exhibiting, in this case, the logic of the gaze, is to move to another level.

So, it is understandable that the mother of the main culprit, Máximo Thomsen, accused the media of being responsible for her son’s life sentence (he and four others, the remaining three received a 15-year sentence). But she got the wrong media. It is the use of AI mediatization that established the concealed obvious. Certainly, the accumulation of evidence (DNA, material objects, various videos, autopsy, eyewitnesses, WhatsApp messages) led to a conviction—but for what? For first or second degree murder, or manslaughter (as it was argued) or even non culpable homicide ? But it was the transformation of the video of the attack into an irrefutable object and subject to the logic of the gaze that won the judges over. Intelligent digitization was not proof, but was better than proof. It taught the judges how to watch.

And that is where the religious residue returns.

The “Justicia por Fernando” slogan that guided Fernando Báez Sosa’s family is explicitly religious. His family is pious, and the reference on the networks to Fernando as an “angel” is not a figure of speech. “Justice” then became a rallying cry against all the injustices, judicial and social, poisoning Argentina from below, at a time when the Kirchnerist government was leading the country to ruin. There was an outpouring of vigils, marches and interfaith services, which doubled up as “justice” hearings. The street became an ekklesia. The religious took over the judiciary, and the political as well (the country was experiencing several cases of infanticides, the atrocious result of poverty).

Yet, in the face of this vocal surge of the religious, the eight defendants remained impassively silent throughout the trial (except for one brief interjection), refusing to answer any questions, adopting a stiff stance, and staring fixedly. This was perceived as class contempt, and to a large extent it was: you do not talk to the poor. Their non-gestures, their non-spoken words projected the image of this contempt: “They refuse even to talk to us or look at us. In their eyes we don’t exist. They are beyond justifying themselves.”

But when the sentence was passed, the mask of contempt for justice fell off. But it fell into a religious evocation. When the young men understood what the convoluted pronouncement of the sentence meant, “prison perpetua,” three of them reacted oddly, breaking their weeks long impavid posture: one wept, his head in his hands; another, lionized as a “heart-throb,” fainted dramatically; a third, who had only been sentenced to fifteen years, raised his face to Heaven.

Suddenly the eight rugbiers proffered a religious tableau, worthy of the great altar paintings of Latin American Baroque churches, of three villains facing Judgment, and in various states of what classical painters called “passions,” from despair to imploration and terror. This is the screenshot at the top of this article. So, by instinct and atavism, the condemned placed themselves in the same logic of the gaze and religious representation as the angelization of martyred Fernando. A surprising, Baroque indeed, Pietà tableau came up next: after recovering from his dizzy spell, the dejected accused had his torso and head across the knees of a companion who held him gently like a Mater Dolorosa would hold her Son at the Sixth Sorrow. Gestures like that are residues.

However, to understand the agency of such residues, you have to know how to look, to accept the logic of a particular gaze, Christian or more precisely, Catholic. In fact, Baroque iconicity operated as AI did: the tableau brought out what was concealed, the religious residue, which is now dis-closed and colours the entire event.

In conclusion, it would be good to reflect on the religious substrate on which AI operates, and its insidious and vulgar intrusion in the cultural residues of audiences who, through ignorance and consumerism, see AI only as a practical tool. The inscription of AI in a particular cultural milieu, such as South American religiosity, provides food for thought. We must be wary of treating AI as independent of cultural contexts, residues as Pareto calls them. Its aura of neutral machine is a mercantile ploy. A vending machine knows nothing. Try to make a machine pray, or go on a pilgrimage.

French philosopher and essayist Philippe-Joseph Salazar writes on rhetoric as philosophy of power. Laureate of the Prix Bristol des Lumières in 2015 for his book on jihad (translated as, Words are Weapons. Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror, Yale UP). In 2022, the international community of rhetoricians honoured him with a Festschrift, The Incomprehensible: The Critical Rhetoric of Philippe-Joseph Salazar. He holds a Distinguished Professorship in Rhetoric and Humane Letters in the Law Faculty of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Featured: A screen capture (at 1:17) of the verdict.

Saint Michael, The Angel of Religion

The new esoteric fashions that are springing up to fill the void left by the retreat of Christianity and the forgetfulness of the sacred, feature angels who supposedly connect us to invisible energies. Far removed from such figures, and far from maintaining our tendency towards egocentricity, the Archangel looks upwards, and invites us to do the same. Saint Michael teaches us to rediscover our sense of God. Abbé Paul Roy introduces us to this Archangel, whom we can only invoke more fully if we know him better.

After the centuries of Enlightenment, rationalism, scientism and faith in progress, our era marks a return to the sacred. Alas, the eclipse of the religious has not come to an end—rather than returning to the faith of the ancients, people remain radically modern, willing to do anything but acknowledge themselves as heirs, and prefer to build their own spirituality. Consciously or unconsciously, most are joining the ranks of what used to be known as the New Age, and what some today refer to as magical thinking. Esotericism is on everyone’s lips, attracting many souls clumsily in search of God.

Angels, spiritual beings halfway between man and heaven, are making a strong comeback in the contemporary imagination. A quick search on the Internet, however, leaves us wondering about the contemporary conception of angelic spirits: angels—in particular the “72 guardian angels”—seem to have become a means of connecting to energies and to an invisible world in which we are bathed without being aware of it, of developing our capacity for empathy and personal creativity.

This is reminiscent of the emanatist doctrine of the Platonists, who saw man as a quasi-divine being fallen to earth and enclosed in matter, separated from the original One by a ladder of intermediate beings, to be traversed in an upward direction, by illumination, to return to fundamental harmony. Thus conceived, angels are no longer ministers or auxiliaries of God, but obstacles in man’s relationship with the true God. Like the esoteric doctrines that flourish everywhere today, they lead our contemporaries down blind allies, distracting them from the profound religious quest for the true light that leads to a profound change of life.

A Powerful Defender

We have come a long way from the true nature of angels, and the figure of their prince, Michael. Far from keeping us in the egocentric attitude that characterizes modern religiosity, the archangel looks upwards, and invites us to do the same. Mi-ka-El, in Hebrew: “who is like God.” His name is a program. Saint Michael is an effective intermediary, a powerful defender of the human race, but a messenger who steps aside, so that man can once again be directed towards his Creator. The archangel thus appears on mountain tops—theophanic places par excellence in the Old Testament—to remind us that his role is none other than that of a hyphen, a signpost.

From Mont Gargan to Mont Tombe, now Mont-Saint-Michel, the sanctuaries where the Prince of Angels is venerated are invitations to contemplation of celestial things. The Prince of Angels is named in the Old Testament as the one who fights for the people of Israel (Dan 10:13), the “one of the chief princes.” In the Epistle of Jude (Jude 9), he is mysteriously designated as the one who disputed with the Devil over the body of Moses, who expired on Mount Nebo, in sight of the Promised Land, without anyone ever finding his remains. In the Book of Revelation (Rev 12:7), he leads the angels to fight the dragon—despite the latter’s counterattack, he has the upper hand, and from heaven, hurls Satan down to earth.

Saint Michael’s role in the history of the Church does not end there—soon the object of popular veneration in the East (the Copts dedicated up to seven liturgical feasts to him), then in the West (with a few excesses that the authorities were obliged to curb, as witnessed by certain letters of Saint Augustine), he appeared at Mont Gargan in the 5th century; then at the beginning of the 8th to Bishop Aubert of Avranches, to whom he gave an indication, by means of a strong pressure of his finger on his skull (the relic preserved in the church of Saint-Gervais d’Avances still bears witness to this), to build a sanctuary at the summit of Mont Tombe, an isolated rock in the middle of the large sandy bay bordering his diocese.

Centuries later, Christian peoples’ veneration for the Prince of Angels has not waned, and God allowed him to continue to intervene visibly on their behalf. When France found itself in distress, he was the messenger sent to Jehanne, the Pucelle of Domrémy, soon to be the liberator of Orléans. To prepare the children of Fatima for the apparitions of Our Lady, the angel appeared to them three times, taught them to pray and mysteriously gave them Holy Communion. St. Michael’s close relationship with the Eucharist is still visible in the rites of the Mass, where the angel is invoked on numerous occasions—in the Confiteor, in the blessing of incense at the offertory in the traditional Mass, and even in the Roman Canon (implicitly in the Supplication prayer), where the holy offering is even asked to be carried by him to the heavenly altar. On the Last Day, Saint Michael will again be our intercessor, as well as taking part in the judgment (1 Thess 4:16), as he is often depicted holding the scales that weigh our souls by the weight of their charity.

Saint Michael thus has a dual function, which is an important teaching for our spiritual life: tradition identifies him among the seven angels who stand continually before the face of the Lord (To 12, 15), and his very name is a praise of God’s infinite glory; but the archangel also presents to Him the prayers of pious men (as Raphael presented the prayers and religious acts of old Tobias, cf. To 12, 12), and he willingly serves as a messenger and intercessor.

As a divine sign, Saint Michael shows us that there is no creature too high or distant to condescend to support our misery, since God Himself became man in Jesus. An angelic model, he teaches us to keep our eyes raised to heaven, full of gratitude and admiration for the Divine Majesty, proclaiming with him: “Who is like God?” In a world so far removed from religion and yet so versed in spiritualities, could St. Michael, duly presented and venerated, serve as a bridge to bring our contemporaries back to the unity of truth and faith?

Father Paul Roy is a priest of the Fraternity of Saint-Pierre, and moderator of the site and training application Claves. This interview comes through the kind courtesy of La Nef.

Featured: Saint Michael, by Guariento di Arpo; painted ca. 1350.

Pius XII, Independent Ends, and the Inseparability Principle

Recently, a person on social media, after erroneously attributing to me the idea, written in this article, that traditional Catholic morality represents a “discounted, fearful teaching that has no bearing or relevance for the faithful,” told me that in any case “the inseparability principle is demonstrated to be false.” The context of our exchange was obviously Catholic sexual ethics, and he referred to the principle (used in Humanae Vitae) according to which the two meanings of the sexual act (procreative and unitive) cannot be separated. My discussion with him proved to be revealing of some common misinterpretations regarding this topic and is therefore useful to report.

I must say that I was puzzled by his sharp statement as I had never heard of such an allegedly obvious truth about a principle I myself explained many times in classes and writings. So, I just replied that the inseparability principle is one of the most beautiful and solid cornerstones of magisterial teaching, and that I have never read any credible arguments that would deny it.

Does “Independent Meaning” Equal “Separable Meaning?”

I thought this was enough for our friendly exchange on the social network, but he soon came back to me strongly claiming that the principle was old stuff, that,

The primary purpose of marriage (procreation) is independent of the secondary, and therefore is “separable,” because it does not depend on the secondary to exist.

I’m not that comfortable with this use of the term “independence” to indicate the potential relationship between marriage’s ends but I don’t mind following the reasoning and language of my interlocutors, at least initially. Having said that, the first thing that caught my eye in this sentence was the logical confusion of necessarily linking “being independent” with “being separable,” as if the inseparability principle could imply the impossibility of one of the meanings to exist without the other. I wasn’t totally sure if this was his actual problem, but I thought it was relevant, so I replied,

You’re making a typical logical error in ethics. Every moral norm or principle implies the factual possibility of breaking it. For example, the fact that it is possible to give birth or raise a child without love does not mean that it is morally licit to do so. When we use the term “impossible” in morality we express an ought, not a factual impossibility. The principle of inseparability of the procreative and unitive meanings must obviously be understood in a moral sense. The factual possibility of separating the meanings is not an objection, it is a logical premise of the moral principle. If they couldn’t be separated de facto, there would be no need to formulate the ethical principle.

Does “Independent” Equal “Primary,” Equal “Essential?”

I thought this would settle the matter, but I was wrong because he, in addition to confusing independence with inseparability, also confused “primary” with “essential” and thought that the principle of inseparability implied affirming the existence of two primary ends. For reasons unknown, he attributed to me this eccentric idea that there were two primary ends,

The primary is independent. The secondary is dependent. There is only one primary (essential) purpose to marriage. You are saying there are two primary purposes. The # must be correct before liceity of any marriage-related issue can be identified.

Of course, he had to admit that I had never said such a thing, but he added,

It’s not your quote, however “two primary purposes” is the necessary result of “inseparability.” How many, do you say, of the purposes of marriage are essential to it?

Not without some patience and good humor, I had to remind him that the classical view has nothing to do with the idea of two primary ends,

Well, the traditional view, which is my own too, is that there are two ends, one primary and one secondary.

But he immediately insisted on going back to the alleged intrinsic connection between the concepts of “primary” and of “essential,”

Okay, of the two ends, how many are essential to marriage?

My answer, of course, was “Both.” So, he insisted again,

If both are essential, then neither is independent of the other. However, the Church teaches that the primary purpose of marriage does not depend on the secondary in its essential perfection. How is this contradiction remedied?

This reply revealed some deeper metaphysical shortcoming. I therefore decided to provoke my interlocutor with a metaphysical analogy which highlighted other types of essential elements of which one was primary and one secondary and which did not imply inseparability. I also asked for specific quotes from the Magisterium so to better understand from where his doubts were coming:

Are being animal and being rational both essential to the human being? Which one is primary? Are they dependent on each other? How is death possible? Where exactly is the Church teaching what you say? Please provide exact quotes for what you claim.

Pius XII

At my solicitation, he revealed the magisterial source of his conviction. It was Pius XII:

An essential “purpose” can exist independent of its secondary purpose. But the secondary purpose cannot exist without the primary. This is why the legal object of marriage consent is the primary purpose only, and not the secondary. Here is Pius XII condemning “dependent primary.

This line still reveals the confusion between “essential” and “primary,” but at least he added a reference to a document which, although drafted by Pius XII, was issued by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (Decree on the Ends of Matrimony, April 1, 1944). My interlocutor strangely missed that the whole point Pius XII wanted to make was to reaffirm the doctrine according to which there are certain “goods” or “essential properties” of marriage (Pius PP. XI, Casti Connubii, 1930) of which one is primary (procreation) and other secondary, and that secondary goods cannot be interpreted as independent.

This is how the Decree from 1944 (quoted by my online friend) put it:

A novel manner of thinking and speaking was born hither unto fomenting errors and uncertainties; seeking to avert these things, the most Eminent and Reverend Fathers of this Supreme Sacred Congregation, charged with safeguarding matters of faith and morals, in the plenary session of Feria IV, held on the day of March 29, 1944, to the dubium put before them: “Whether the opinion of certain modern [authors] may be admitted, who either deny that the primary end of matrimony is the generation and raising of offspring or teach that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinate to the primary end but are equally paramount and independent?”; they have decreed the response: Negative” (Decree on the Ends of Matrimony, April 1, 1944).

And this is how Pius XII himself summarized what happened with the dubium and the Decree:

Now the truth is that marriage, as a natural institution, by virtue of the Creator’s will does not have as its primary and intimate purpose the personal improvement of the spouses, but the procreation and education of new life. The other ends, although they too are intended by nature, are not in the same degree as the first, and even less are they superior to it, but are essentially subordinate to it. This applies to every marriage, even if it is infertile… Precisely to cut short all the uncertainties and deviations, which threatened to spread errors about the scale of the ends of marriage and their mutual relations, We Ourselves drew up a few years ago (March 10, 1944) a declaration on the order of those ends, indicating what the same internal structure of the natural disposition reveals, what is the patrimony of the Christian tradition, what the Supreme Pontiffs have repeatedly taught, what was then established in the due forms by the Code of Canon Law. Indeed, shortly afterwards, to correct the contrasting opinions, the Holy See with a public decree pronounced that the sentence of some recent authors could not be accepted, who deny that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring, or who teach that secondary ends are not essentially subordinate to the primary end, but equivalent to and independent of it (S. C. S. Officii, April 1, 1944—Acta Ap. Sedis, vol. 36, a. 1944. 103). (Pius XII, Speech of His Holiness PIO PP. XII to the participants in the congress of the Italian Catholic Union of Obstetricians, Monday, October, 29 1951).

And again,

Two tendencies are to be avoided: the one which, in examining the constituent elements of the act of generation, gives weight solely to the primary purpose of marriage, as if the secondary purpose did not exist or at least were not finis operis established by the Orderer of nature himself; and that which considers the secondary end as equally principal, freeing it from its essential subordination to the primary end (Pius XII, Speech to the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, Friday, October 3, 1941).

Thus, this is how I replied to my interlocutor’s quote:

This document does not say that unity is not essential to marriage but that it is subordinate to the primary (essential) end, which is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. You keep confusing the concepts of “essential/not essential” with those of “primary/secondary.” The secondary meaning of marriage is essential to marriage too even if it is essentially subordinate to the primary end. I don’t see any logical problem here.

Yet, he had done more than confuse those meanings. Surprisingly, he had claimed that “the legal object of marriage consent is the primary purpose only, and not the secondary.” Thus, I politely reminded him what the Code of Canon Law actually states,

You may like to consider canon 1096, which clarifies, in terms of validity, what is essential to the existence of the marital consent: “Can. 1096 §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.” The concept of “permanent partnership” includes a reference to unity (secondary end), which is as essential to the contract as the primary end (“ordered to the procreation”) is.

Matrimonial Consent and the Conjugal Act

He insisted,

When legally defining marriage, “unity” refers only to exclusivity AKA faithfulness AKA fidelity. If “inseparability” is true, then no purpose of marriage is independent, correct?

I interpreted this further response as a difficulty in connecting the unitive meaning to love, also generating an eccentric contrast between love, on the one hand, and the legal concepts of exclusivity, faithfulness, and fidelity, on the other. After all, he had just claimed that “the legal object of marriage consent is the primary purpose only” (i.e., he thought that unity was not part of the essence of the contract). He was clearly trying now (after I recalled Canon 1096 about “permanent partnership”) to legally interpret “unity” in a different way than that expressed by the inseparability principle. Thus, in my reply I focused on the important consistency that must exist between legal definitions and the substance of things.

The legal definition of the existence requirements must correspond to the substance because it indicates what is essential to the real existence of marriage, in this case with respect to the purity of the will. If the will does not include the essential, the marriage does not come into existence. If the will does not include some important but accidental elements, marriage comes into existence but could be vitiated (annulment). In all the explanations I know (including Aquinas’) indissolubility is linked to the purity of spousal love (unity) and not to procreation because procreation per se, conceptually, does not require indissolubility (but at most a certain stability for enough years: cf., Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 122). Still, procreation is the primary meaning of marriage. Obviously, the inseparability of the meanings of marriage does not imply inseparability with respect to all acts internal to marriage, except in the case of the conjugal act. A nice outing with the wife and a hug when she is frightened need love in themselves but not procreation. The conjugal act needs both because outing and conjugal act are very different things, even within marriage. Logically, it’s very different to refer inseparability to the marriage as a whole or to the individual acts that the spouses continuously perform within the marriage. There is only one act within marriage which is so defining of it that it necessarily includes both meanings, and coincidentally this act (the conjugal act) is also necessary for the actual conclusion of the marriage, which makes it indissoluble.

Analogical Predications

My interlocutor has never allowed himself to be involved in my conceptual solicitations. His only problem was maintaining the logical objection that the principle of inseparability is denied by the claim that the primary end is independent of the secondary ones and, therefore, separable:

“Inseparable” purposes of marriage = no purpose can exist independently of the other. Pius XII says the primary purpose of marriage is “independent” of the secondary purpose. Was he wrong?

Philosophers always feel the primary need to clarify the meanings of terms, especially when there are various analogical meanings involved. I sensed that this was a case where this need had to be satisfied. So, I wrote the following,

You cannot reduce analogical meanings to univocal meanings. Both “inseparability” and “independence” can refer, for example: (a) to the marriage contract; (b) to a marriage in fieri as a partnership; (c) to the object of each single action; (d) to the intention of the agent. There is no contradiction, e.g., in saying that the two meanings are inseparable compared to “(a)” and not compared to “(c)” or “(d).” Humanae Vitae says that they are inseparable compared to “(c)” in the specific context of the conjugal act.

The point is that the doctrine of the inseparability of the two meanings has been used in Humanae Vitae to explain the immorality of contraception compared to its object. It was not used to explain the morality of every possible action performed by the spouses as a married couple. This doctrine or principle does not mean that even in the act of choosing movie night at home those two meanings must be present and inseparable. Clearly, marriage as a whole—the life together of the spouses—essentially requires both meanings, but as to specific acts of married life, there is only one act capable of encompassing the very essence of marriage, the conjugal act.

Again, the analysis of the human act can be done with respect to the object, the end, and the circumstances. In the case of intrinsically evil acts, the analysis of the objectivity of the act precedes and renders superfluous (at least in this respect) that of the end and of the other circumstances. This means that Humanae Vitae, even with respect to the conjugal act, did not need to refer the inseparability principle to the spouses’ intentions and/or to their entire marital life. Humanae Vitae focuses on the order of objective morality of the conjugal act.


The online discussion with my friend didn’t end here and maybe it will never end, but this is enough to clarify at least some important points regarding this topic. At the end of the day, his doubt was about the possible contradiction between the inseparability principle and the alleged independence of the primary end. How should we handle this doubt? One answer is that Pius XII and the Magisterium only used the concept of “independence” to deny erroneous theses which sought to make the secondary purpose independent. A more logical answer, which tries to save a possible correct use of the term, lies in the analogical predication and the logical distinctions I mentioned.

Essential, defining features cannot be independent in the sense that if one is missing the relevant thing is not there. Being animal and being rational are both essential to the human being. If one is missing, there is no human being. From this point of view, it does not matter if one feature is primary (being rational) and one secondary (being animal). This, however, does not mean that everything pertaining to the human being needs to have both defining features. For example, digestion, cellular mitosis, or sleeping do not need to be defined in terms of both animal and rational activities. There is one sense in which they all pertain to the human being and another sense in which they are not rational per se. Other crucial acts, on the other hand, essentially include the definition of the human being: e.g., (moral) choice.

Similarly, marriage is essentially defined in terms of both procreation and (loving) unity, but this does not mean that every act in married life includes both elements as defining features. In many ordinary acts that characterize married life (cooking a nice dinner, embracing after a fright, or defending one’s child from a stranger) the two meanings can be described as separable and independent (or, to use a better term, “distinct”).

Separability and independence can also be predicated in many cases of the order of intention compared to the objective moral order (without underestimating the difference between the habitual end and the intention of the proximate end). Spouses do not need to constantly think about procreation in every act of their life. They just ought to act in a context in which the purpose of procreation is objectively respected.

One final note on love and procreation. Many don’t understand why love in marriage, while more important per se, is secondary. Love is the highest meaning (inseparable from any other, at least as a habitual end) in any human reality because it is the first commandment of the law and the reason of our entire existence. Yet, love can exist without sex (think of angels, or love for children). The only reason for the existence of sex is procreation, but procreation must occur in the human reality, which is informed by the precept of love. In the same way, we can say that the primary meaning of the hammer is to drive nails even if we use the hammer to build our house. In this case, the house is a higher meaning of the hammer but not its primary meaning. Sexual life is primarily ordered to procreation but is also essentially ordered (as everything else in our existence) to love God and our neighbor. In the loving order of creation, procreation too—and the diachronic existence of the human race in history—is ordered to the love of God.

Fulvio Di Blasi, Ph.D., Esq., is an expert in moral philosophy and author of God and the Natural Law: A Rereading of Thomas AquinasFrom Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas: Natural Law, Practical Knowledge, and the Person, and Vaccination as an Act of Love? The Epistemology of Ethical Choice in Times of Pandemic.

Featured: The Marriage at Cana, by the Master of the Retable of the Reyes Catolicos; painted ca. 1495-1497.

Louis Veuillot, Lay Preacher

Louis Veuillot (1813-1883), head of L’Univers, exerted a powerful influence on 19th-century French Catholicism. He was also, quite simply, an extraordinary personality. Portrait of a social “ultramontane.”

Rome, 1838. Louis Veuillot, 25, on a mission to the Orient, stopped off in the Italian capital. A journalist for the government press at the time, the young man was disillusioned, having nothing but contempt for the nihilism of his time, whether it had the face of the Voltairean bourgeoisie or revolutionary anarchism. This soul, a friend of religion, yearned for the Absolute, and it was in the Eternal City that he was struck by light: “I was in Rome. At a bend in the road, I met God. He beckoned me, and I hesitated to follow. He took my hand and I was saved.” This “veritable first communion,” which he recounts in Rome et Lorette (Rome and Loretto), was a conversion in the most radical sense of the word. He, the self-taught son of an illiterate cooper living in Bercy, already a bulimic reader and soon an insatiable writer, had just found his way.

A Journalist on Fire

“As soon as he became a Christian, he felt like an apostle,” said his nephew François. Indeed, Louis returned to France animated by a religious zeal that would never leave him, and he chose to dedicate his life to bearing witness to this fire, to making Catholic truth resound everywhere, and also, with the ardor of a convert, to scourging freethinkers of all kinds (including the bourgeois louis-philippard “preceded by his belly and followed by his behind”): “These gentlemen have a great virtue that they preach to us incessantly: tolerance. They tolerate everything, except that we do not tolerate everything they tolerate. And that is where our quarrels come from.”

And it was journalism that was to be the instrument of his apostolate. In 1840, he landed at L’Univers, a moderate Catholic paper with a small readership (1,500 subscribers) and no resources, run by Charles de Montalembert. He soon became its chief editor—along with his brother Eugène, a writer without a genius for the pen but with good business sense—and for forty years made it the leading organ of French Catholicism. Its success was phenomenal: by 1860, the daily had become France’s fifth-largest newspaper, with 13,000 subscribers (and an audience estimated by Mgr Gerbet at 60,000-80,000).

The recipe for such success lies in his popular base. While the bishops always looked on him with a distant, even accusatory eye, the lesser clergy championed this plebeian from the same national bowels. In seminaries, in small parishes and among provincial notables, the flamboyant journalist—whom Thibaudet would say was the greatest of his century—was worshipped. Far from the mundane, he was above all the herald of a faith full of social solicitude, as witness the passage on the death of his father: “On the edge of his grave, I thought of the torments of his life, I recalled them, I saw them all; and I also counted the joys that, despite his servile condition, this heart truly made for God could have tasted. Pure joys, profound joys! The crime of a society that nothing can absolve had deprived him of them! A glimmer of mournful truth made me curse not work, not poverty, not sorrow, but the great social iniquity—impiety—by which the little ones of this world are robbed of the compensation God wanted to attach to the inferiority of their lot. And I felt the anathema burst forth in the vehemence of my pain…”

Veuillot’s journalism continued to be combat journalism, sometimes virulent, driven by a burning concern for the truth, unencumbered by convenience or recognition (he refused the decorations of the Académie française and the Académie des sciences morales): “The journalist forces the stragglers to walk, engages and compromises the timid, holds back the reckless; he binds up the wounded, comforts the vanquished, makes the clumsy understand their false maneuvers and repairs them.” His pen, wielded to wound evil, was genial as it was merciless, as full of ethos as it was of pathos. Hence the polemics and scandals that marked his life.

Church First

Although a staunch monarchist who even drafted a constitution, Louis Veuillot was never a politician—and twice refused to run for parliament. His mantra: “The Catholic Church first, and then what exists; the Catholic Church to improve, correct and transform all things.” His political choices were subordinated to religious interests—a position that heralded the Ralliement. The question is, how to act in a positivist age that has broken with Christianity? Against centrifugal modernity, for fear of dilution, Veuillot opted for centripetal forces: the empire, the Pope, the Church.

However, in the name of the same Catholic interests, the “liberal Catholics” went for the opposite gamble—and this marked the start of a fratricidal war with the “intransigent” Veuillot, who at the same time introduced the writings of the counter-revolutionary Donoso Cortés to France. Born out of the fight for freedom of education, the “Catholic party” fractured over the Falloux Law (which Veuillot disapproved of), then tore itself apart from 1852 onwards. While L’Univers sided with Napoleon III, the “liberals” defended the virtues of parliamentarianism, and considered that the modern regime of freedom (of conscience, expression, the press, association, etc.) allowed and would allow Catholic interests to triumph. The free Church in the free State: “The triumph of the Church in the 19th century will be precisely to vanquish her enemies through freedom, as she vanquished them in the past through the sword of feudalism and the scepter of kings,” professed the sensitive and introverted Montalembert (Les intérêts catholiques au XIXe siècle).

For three decades, infamous adjectives rained down from all sides, and people accused and replied to each other in books. Ozanam, Mgr Dupanloup and de Broglie accused Veuillot of fanaticism. Supported by Mgr Pie, bishop of Poitiers, and reinforced by the encyclicals of Pius IX, the massive plebeian denounced in L’illusion libérale a “rich man’s error which could not have occurred to a man who had lived among the people and who would see the countless difficulties that truth, especially today, experiences in descending and maintaining itself in those depths where it needs all the protection, but particularly the example from above.” In the end, historian Émile Poulat summed up this unfortunate quarrel best: “So-called liberal Catholics are the recurring expression of an unresolved problem in the Church—its place and relationship within our society that has left God behind—while Veuillot remains the witness to an imprescriptible requirement within an anachronistic situation.”

“Lay Legate of the Infallible Pope”

Ironically, L’Univers was banned from publication by the Emperor, between 1860 and 1867, for having published the encyclical Nullis certe verbis, in which the Pope blamed French policy in Italy. A temporary death with apotheosis value. As a reader of Joseph de Maistre, Veuillot was devoted to the papacy—he was very attached to Pius IX—and, along with Dom Guéranger, took up the cause of papal infallibility, a dogma proclaimed at Vatican I (see Veuillot’s Rome pendant le ConcileRome during the Council). These debates were also an opportunity for him to battle against the “provincial spirit” of the “Gallicans,” whom he accused of threatening the unity of the Church—thereby fueling clear tendencies towards centralization. Together with the apostolic nuncio Fornari, Veuillot was the linchpin of French ultramontanism, the “lay legate of the infallible pope,” as the Journal des Débats put it. On the other hand, the “liberals,” supported by a large part of the French episcopate, feared that infallibility was a cover for political authoritarianism, and, along with Montalembert, denounced the “idol of the Vatican.” The truth surely lay somewhere between these two positions, as Cardinal Newman summed it up in his famous formula: “Conscience has rights because it has duties.” And indeed—a second irony of fate—in 1872, Pius IX reprimanded Veuillot for his vehemence against Dupanloup on the Italian (Roman) question, putting side-by-side “the party which fears the Pope too much” and the “opposite party, which totally forgets the laws of charity.” A rebuke tempered by a benediction that Veuillot would say “enters by breaking the windows!”

A genius of polemic to the point of excess, Louis was not a bad guy. A tender and delicate man, a kind-hearted father of six daughters, he lived and died firmly waving the flag of faith: “In all my life, I have been perfectly happy and proud of only one thing: that is to have had the honor and at least the will to be a Catholic, that is, obedient to the laws of the Church.” All is forgiven.

Rémi Carlu is a French journalist. This article appears courtesy of La Nef.

Miracles: Grounds for the Credibility of Faith?

Let us take a few biblical quotations as a starting point.

  • In the finale of Mark’s Gospel, the Apostles, after the Ascension, “they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed” (Mk 16:20). These signs are precisely the miracles that accredit the heralds of the Gospel. In the same sense, in Acts 2:22, Peter, presenting “Jesus of Nazareth” as ” a man approved of God among you [the men of Israel], by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you,” distinguishes, with these three terms, the admiration aroused by the unusual fact (miracles), the operation itself as the result of divine omnipotence (wonders) and its significant value (signs);
  • In Mt 13:58, we read that ” And he [Jesus]wrought not many miracles there [in Nazareth], because of their unbelief,” making faith a prerequisite for miracles, while faith ” as a grain of mustard seed” seems to be required to perform the miracle of moving mountains (cf. Mt 17:20). Hence the ambivalent relationship between miracles and faith: miracles rationally support faith, but faith gives miracles their theological significance. Like prophecy, then, the miracle is a reason for credibility, but cannot be reduced to this function. Finally, we cannot underestimate the dialectic in St. John’s Gospel between “seeing,” in particular works, and “believing” in the Word, which seems to place the presence of signs and the adherence of faith in a relationship of proportional inversion.


There are a number of objections to the ability of miracles to lend credibility to a proposition of faith.

The first concerns the link between the miracle and the message it is supposed to confirm. If, according to Mt 24:24, ” For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders,” like Pharaoh’s magicians, how do miracles accredit true prophets? For that matter, a miracle may well testify to the agility or skill of a (true) prophet, without necessarily attesting to the relevance of the prophecy itself.

The second type of difficulty revolves around the knowledge of what is described as miraculous. Is it not because of a temporary lack of scientific explanation that we resort to the category of the marvelous? Rather than lending credibility to anything, it is more a case of naive credulity! As for the Church’s recognition of the miracle, it seems suspicious since it is the Church itself that authenticates what confirms it. What kind of faith is it, moreover, that claims to rely on factual (“phenomenal”) evidence when it should only be interested in the symbolism (“theologoumenal”) of the “stories” in question?

The third set of challenges to the miracle concerns the specific response to the problem of evil that the miracle seems to bring. Why, for example, a cure for one patient and not another? By being only a partial and therefore arbitrary solution to the scandal of the presence of evil, the miracle adds injustice to that scandal! And what is this capricious God who, through the exception represented by the miracle, suspends the order of things he has established?

The Church’s Position

A remarkable synthesis of the relationship between faith and miracles can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, based on the teaching of the First Vatican Council:

What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.28 So “that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind.” (CCC 156).

Theological Analysis

At this point, what is a miracle? It is a physically proven event, produced beyond, or beyond the influx of, natural second causes by an immediate intervention of God, provoking, through its departure from the usual course of things, the admiration of its witnesses; it lends credibility to the person of Christ and authenticates His discourse; it signifies the action (often in parallel with physical healing) of God in the order of salvation; finally, it anticipates eschatological renewal. Saint Thomas Aquinas takes as his starting point the notion of order, that is, an open set—for an order can be subordinated to a higher order—of principal second causes, hierarchically ranked up to the ultimate effect produced. This notion is particularly fruitful, as it articulates the efficient cause and the final cause through the implementation of means. God, as first cause, transcends all order. He can therefore either produce effects from the outside, without the assistance of their natural second causes, or produce more than they could. The miracle constitutes a departure from the natural order insofar as this order depends on second causes, but not a violation insofar as this order depends on the first cause (Saint Thomas Aquinus, Summa Theologica, Ia, 105, 6).


It is time to answer the objections.

First, the prodigies ultimately attributed to demons do not exceed their natural capacity, which is certainly more extensive than ours; above all, the true miracle is properly speaking a “charism,” i.e., a gift graciously granted with a view to the common good of the Church (Summa Theologica, IIa-IIae, 178, 1), which is certainly not the aim of diabolical sleight of hand! But miracles, insofar as they confirm a discourse so that it becomes believable, are very useful in the service of this common good. In this sense, prophecy, which foretells a future that may not come to pass, is the miracle par excellence, because it links the predicted work even more closely to the discourse it corroborates. As in the case of all the charisms that can be possessed without charity, a wicked man can perform miracles which, while they certainly do not demonstrate the exemplarity of the preacher-predicter, nevertheless confirm the truth stated, as in the case of the prophecy of Caiaphas (cf., Jn 11:49-52).

Second, it is clear that a true miracle, which effectively surpasses the power of nature and its processes, must be scientifically examined to establish its veracity. The Church entrusts this task to independent experts, as in the case of the healings at Lourdes, and is more than circumspect when it comes to authenticating a miraculous fact. As for denying miraculous accounts their factual underpinnings and retaining only their meaning, as Bultmann did, this would be to dissociate the Christ of faith from the Jesus of history, and consequently to base this faith on the random and the fictitious.

Finally, the miracle in no way claims to be a “miracle solution” to the crucial problem of evil, which remains entirely a mystery. The miracle may be aimed at specific individuals, but it is for everyone an announcement and promise of eschatological renewal, when bodies, participating in Christ’s resurrection, will be glorified. That God bypasses second causes to intervene directly in the cosmos is within the realm of His sovereign freedom, and in keeping with His solicitous Providence.

Let us conclude by pointing out that creation and justification, understood as the passage from sin to Grace, although the work of God alone, are not strictly speaking miracles, since they are not by nature capable of being produced by other causes (Summa Theologica, Ia, 105, 7). The Eucharist is an interesting case in point. As such, it is not a miracle, for God alone still has power over the substance. We only speak of a “Eucharistic miracle,” like the one at Lanciano, when certain accidents are modified to make flesh and/or blood appear, “as a figure of truth”, says Saint Thomas, that of the reality of Christ’s presence (Summa Theologica, IIIa, 76, 8).

Canon Christian Gouyaud, a priest of the Strasbourg diocese and coordinator of the seminary at Strasbourg, France. he holds a doctorate in theology, teaches at several training institutes, and is the author of several books. This article appears courtesy of La Nef.

Featured: Miracles of St. Francis Xavier, by Peter Paul Rubens; painted ca. 1617-1618.

The Bible and Don Quixote

“God, source of inspiration of Don Quixote; the Bible, model of organizational structure of Don Quixote; and Catalina de Salazar y Palacios, love of the famous Manco and his source of human inspiration, are part of Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.”

The Bible, translated into 450 languages in full and more than 2000 in part, written by men and inspired by the majestic and mighty Lord God, is part of Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605 & 1615), which has been translated 1140 times into some 190 languages and dialects. It was written by the brilliant Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), hero of the Battle of Lepanto (1571), exemplary slave in Algiers (1575-1580), and perpetual reader of the true riches of the Old and New Testaments, for whom Jesus Christ was “God and true man” (Don Quixote, II-XXVII), and for whom the wish about the Bible came true: “It is clear to me that there should be no nation or language where it is not translated” (Quixote, II-II).

Don Quixote contains 181,104 words, of which 22,939 are unique; and the infinite wisdom of the Word of God left traces in the soul of Miguel, who loved God and the Bible, guide of his life, for he evoked the Bible three times in the “Prologue” of the first part of Don Quixote, “the Divine Scripture,” and he made authentic display of his vast biblical knowledge throughout his works; he alluded to thirty biblical characters, dealt with 300 references to the Bible, and included countless allusions and reminiscences of the Holy Scripture.

The Bible, the Book of books, whose principal inspiration is God, and Don Quixote, a human jewel of incalculable magnitude; both books of varied readings—on the absolute truth and undeniable existence of God, the superlative role of God in human thought and life, the direct and indirect communication between God and man, and the transcendence of divine life in the human heart—both books love Humanity and speak to our hearts.

However, it is not my goal to compare the Bible and Don Quixote because man can never equal God, for the Bible is incomparable and unsurpassable, and God clearly proclaims it this way: “I am the first and the last, besides me, there is no God, who is like me? Let him arise and speak. Let him proclaim it and argue against me” (Isaiah, 44: 7).

Even Miguel criticizes the comparison between the human and the divine as follows: “nor has he any reason to preach to anyone, mixing the human with the divine, which is a kind of mixture of which no Christian understanding is to be clothed. He only has to take advantage of imitation in what he writes, and the more perfect it is, the better will be what he writes: (Q, I, “Prologue”).

I still want to make special emphasis, inter alia, that the precious treasure of the Bible and the precious treasure of Don Quixote, both works of inestimable value for Humanity, are concerned with ethics, morality and religion in the behavior of the human being, that is why the phrase: where is your treasure there is your heart, comes here like a ring to the finger.

Cervantes’ thoughts and words, in all his works, are influenced by God through the Holy Spirit, despite the fact that some “academics of excellence” completely reject his knowledge of the Bible, but continue to ask without hitting the mark: how to approach Don Quixote? What to do and where to start? What are the tips for reading Don Quixote? What is the challenge of reading it? Why is it so difficult to understand it? And how to read Don Quixote?

The answer is very simple, but it is essential to leave aside all myths, fantasies, and hypocrisies; that is, before approaching Don Quixote, the works of Cervantes, and those of the geniuses of Spanish Golden Age literature, one must first and unavoidably read the Bible, and then acquire a solid knowledge of the origin of Spanish literature up to the dissemination of the masterpiece of world literature, Don Quixote (1605 & 1615).

This is the only infallible way or the only golden key to easily read and understand Cervantes, Don Quixote, and the best literature in the world, which is Spanish literature—exemplary, majestic and superior to all, in essence, is that of the Golden Age—headed by the brilliant novel of the distinguished leader of universal literature, Miguel, lover of books, who always read, taught and loved the Holy Scripture, par excellence, and with which he identified himself during his life trajectory at all times.

Cervantes is fully aware of the value of the Bible, speaks of the truth in the Sacred Scripture, advises us to read it: “If… he wants to read books of exploits and chivalry, read in Sacred Scripture the ‘Book of Judges,’ and there he will find great truths and deeds as true as brave” (Q, I-XLIX), and confesses that “Holy Scripture… cannot lack an atom in truth” (Q, II-I), and eternalizes his biblical knowledge and the greatness of God’s love in his works.

Certainly, Miguel loved the Bible, book of the history of the world, of poetry, and of wisdom, in which, as an example, the Book of Psalms, the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Songs are sublime, despite the fact that some “scholars of excellence” left Miguel’s knowledge of the Holy Scripture in the dark without any compelling reason manifested in the masterpieces of the genius of universal literature.

In addition to this, I should add that the meritorious historian José Luis Abellán García-González affirms that “Don Quixote is the Spanish Bible” (Visiones del Quijote, 130). The meritorious professor Alfonso Ropero Berzosa writes that it is the “Bible of universal literature, which is illuminated by the Christian Bible, from which Cervantes extracts the idea of justice and freedom so human and so divine” (El Quijote y la Biblia, 10). The extraordinary historian Sabino de Diego Romero, President of the Cervantine Society of Esquivias, says of Catalina, in his magnificent work: Catalina, fuente de inspiración de Cervantes (Punto Rojo, 2015), says through the mouth of Don Quixote, “because blood is inherited, and virtue is acquired, and virtue alone is worth what blood is not worth” (Catalina…, 242). And the excellent writer Eduardo Aguirre Romero declares with greater precision that “in these uncertain times, Miguel de Cervantes still has much light to offer us” (“Si Cervantes levantara la cabeza,” Diario de León, 27-III-2022).

Therefore, the questions arise; should we read the Bible and Don Quixote compulsorily in universities and schools? What are the reasons for reading such works? The answer is, yes. The Bible, God’s wisdom, and Don Quixote, human wisdom, are my daily readings for beauty, wonder, power, wisdom, truth, and virtues, among many.

Indeed, the spirit of both works pierces the soul like the sharp two-edged sword or the sword of Achilles of Troy, and both works are for the people; they speak of love and lovelessness, of good and evil, of the beautiful and the noble; they are concerned with humanity; they penetrate our human hearts; and they teach us to love one another and become better people.

The Bible, the wonderful book, can be read every day; it only needs 11:59 minutes; and if you start it on January 1st, you will finish it on December 31st of the same year. Or, I recommend you to listen to the Bible published by the University of Navarra in audiobook format. Don Quixote, the Bible of Humanity, can be read daily; it only takes 4:43 minutes; and if you start it on January 1st, you will also finish it on December 31st of the same year; or you can listen to it on Cadena SER.

You will not regret reading day after day the glorious Bible and the ingenious nobleman Don Quixote. You will always discover something new. You will feed on the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the famous Manco de Lepanto, and you will be provided with infinite benefits. Read every day the Bible and Don Quixote de la Mancha!

Laus in Excelsis Deo.

Krzysztof Sliwa is a professor, writer for Galatea, a journal of the Sociedad Cervantina de Esquivias, Spain, and a specialist in the life and works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and the Spanish Golden Age Literature, all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in English, German, Spanish and Polish, and is the Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Cordoba and Toledo.

Featured: Don Quijote in der Studierstube lesend (Don Quixote in the Study Room, Reading), by Adolf Schrödter; painted in 1834.

Religions and Wisdoms are the First Guarantee of Freedom and Peace

A former student at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, Henri Hude was Professor of Philosophy at the French Saint-Cyr Military Academy. (Saint-Cyr). His latest book, Philosophie de la guerre (Philosophy of War), is a call for religions to take a philosophical and spiritual leap forward in building peace for the world of tomorrow.

[This interview was conducted by Omnes Magazine, through whose kind generosity we are able to bring you this English version].

Omnes Magazine (OM): Faced with the risk of total war, can we sum up your approach in your latest book, Philosophie de la guerre, by saying that religions are the solution, not the problem, to achieving universal peace?

Henri Hude (HH): Total war requires the use of all available means. Today, it would lead to the destruction of the human race, thanks to technical progress. The terrifying possibility of such destruction gives rise to the project of eliminating war as a condition for the survival of humankind. But war is a duel between several powers. So, to eliminate war radically, there is the need to institute a single World Power, a universal Leviathan, endowed with unlimited power.

Henri Hude.

But plurality can always be reborn: through secession, revolution, mafias, terrorism and so on. To make the world safe, there is the call to destroy all powers other than that of the Leviathan. Not only must we put an end to the plurality of political and social powers, but we must also destroy all other powers: spiritual, intellectual and moral. We are far beyond a simple project of universal imperialism. It is about supermen dominating subhumans. This Orwellian-Nazi project is so monstrous that it has a paradoxical consequence. The universal Leviathan becomes common enemy number 1 of all nations, religions and wisdoms. Previously, these were often at war or in tension. Now, thanks to the Leviathan, they are allies, friends, perhaps. The Leviathan is incapable of guaranteeing peace, but his monstrosity, now forever a permanent possibility, guarantees the lasting alliance of former enemies. Religions and wisdoms are the primary guarantee of freedom and peace. This is another world.

OM: The Holy See’s diplomacy seeks to establish a solid dialogue with Islam in order to build “bridges.” In recent history, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran worked to this end by visiting Saudi Arabia, a first for a Holy See diplomat of such rank. In 2019, the emblematic meeting between Pope Francis and Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, the most important Sunni institution in the Middle East, also marked a further step in this rapprochement (not to mention the successive trip to Bahrain). Do you think this diplomatic policy is a step in the right direction?

HH: I think so, because it is part of this logic of peace through an anti-Leviathan alliance. For who is the Leviathan? Certainly, to become the Leviathan is forever the temptation of every power in this world. The Leviathan is therefore first and foremost a fundamental concept of political science. But it also has a terrible application in the political and cultural choices made by Western elites, especially Anglo-Saxon ones. The Woke is a machine for manufacturing sub-humans. Democracy is transformed into plutocracy, freedom of the press into propaganda, the economy into a casino, the liberal state into a police state, and so on. Such imperialism is both odious and dysfunctional. It has no chance of success, except in the old, more controlled Western countries—and even then… The Pope is right to prepare for the future.

As far as Muslims in particular are concerned, the Leviathan’s strategy is to push the most violent and sectarian everywhere, who are its useful idiots, or its stipendiary agents, in order to divide and rule. Muslim religious leaders, who are as intelligent as the Pope, know this very well. Political leaders know it, too. See how they are taking advantage of NATO’s failures in Ukraine to take their freedom from the Leviathan. It is not at all a question of creating a single syncretic religion, because cheap relativism is the first principle of the sub-human culture that the Leviathan wants to inject into everyone in order to dominate everything dictatorially. It is all about finding a modus vivendi. It is about friendship and friendly conversation between people who are sincerely seeking God, not pseudo “interfaith dialogue” between modernist, relativist clerics or intellectual laymen, guilt-ridden to the hilt by the Leviathan.

OM: In the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, do the links between the Patriarch of Moscow and the authorities, or similar links in Ukraine and internal religions, make it almost impossible for religions to join forces to build peace?

HH: If you want to criticize others, you have to start by putting your own house in order. We might ask ourselves, for example, if we French Catholics do not have an ambiguous relationship with political power. In the face of Woke dogmatism, the canonization of the culture of death, invasive authoritarianism, servility to the Leviathan, the march to world war, we remain as if KO standing. Manipulated and/or careerist, we sometimes wade into guilt, asking forgiveness for existing in the public sphere.

If the Woke culture were to be universally imposed, it would be the loss of all souls and the end of all decent civilization. Resistance to the imposition of Woke culture can be a just cause of war. That is what the whole world thinks, except the West, and that is why Western soft power is evaporating so fast. This is without prejudice to the justice due to Ukraine and charity among Catholics.

OM: Is violence inherent to Islam?

HH: I would like to ask you, is cowardice inherent to Christianity? Christ said he had not come to bring peace on earth, but division. He also said that he spewed out the lukewarm. In many a Sunday sermon, there would be nothing to change if we replaced the word “God” with “Teddy Bear.”

In his book, Ecumenical Jihad, Peter Kreeft (pp. 41-42) writes: “…it took a Muslim student in my class at Boston College to berate the Catholics for taking down their crucifixes. ‘We don’t have images of that man, as you do,’ he said, ‘but if we did, we would never take them down, even if someone tried to force us to. We revere that man, and we would die for his honor. But you are so ashamed of him that you take him down from your walls. You are more afraid of what his enemies might think if you kept your crucifixes up than of what he might think if you took them down. So I think we are better Christians than you are.’”

We call blushing for Christ respect for freedom. We believe we have opened up to the world, when in fact we have abdicated all evangelical freedom. We believe we are superior to our elders, when all we are doing is participating in this lamentable evolution, which Solzhenitsyn called the “decline of courage.” To be a Christian, you must first not be a sub-human. And in order not to be sub-human, you have to be capable of resisting the Leviathan. If need be, by spilling his blood. Bismarck put thirty bishops in prison, and in the end had to abandon the Kulturkampf.

OM: Ten years ago, Pope Francis said: “True Islam and a proper interpretation of the Koran are opposed to all violence.” This phrase continues to provoke debate and divide Islamologists and theologians. What did Francis mean?

HH: I do not know what the Pope meant. The expressions “true Islam” and “proper interpretation” pose formidable problems, so the phrase can take on very different meanings. In the absence of precision, there is no way of knowing. The philosopher Rémi Brague, who knows the subject admirably, has just written a book entitled, Sur l’Islam, in which he displays a truly confounding erudition. He believes he must interpret the sentence as if the Pope were speaking as a historian of ideas. He proves that, if this were the case, this assertion would be wrong. But I do not think the Pope is speaking as a historian of ideas. (In any case, these are subjects to which the Petrine charism of infallibility does not apply).

OM: Should we understand the Pope’s statement as primarily political, confronting Muslim authorities with their contradictions and responsibilities, and inviting them to join him in building a world of peace?

HH: The Pope is no more Machiavellian than he is ignorant. In truth, we need to distinguish between force and violence. Violence is the illegitimate use of force. All the great religions and wisdoms are opposed to all violence, but none is opposed to all use of force. Every society has the right to self-defense. If the use of armed force were morally forbidden to any society in all circumstances, it would be morally obligatory to endure any aggression, by anyone, for any purpose. In other words, it would be morally obligatory to obey even those perverts who would destroy every moral principle. Societies therefore have a right, and sometimes a duty, to self-defense, armed if necessary. Some abusers understand no language but force. So, you draw a red line on the ground in front of them. “This line means that I would rather risk my life and suffer than undergo what you want to impose on me. If, therefore, you transgress this line, you will have to risk your life and suffer.” If you are incapable of this behavior, you are good for slavery.

Featured: The Return of the Crusader, by Karl Friedrich Lessing; painted in 1835.