The great ideologies that ravaged the twentieth century were based on the thought of the salvation of man by man, either through the exaltation of a supposedly superior race, or through the revolution that, by overthrowing dominating structures, would bring about peace. National Socialism and Marxism were two versions of the Antichrist in history and two beasts of the Apocalypse. They ravaged the earth and shed the blood of the saints. They were ideologies of redemption against the only Savior. St. John Paul II, who had experienced them in his lifetime, answered them in his first encyclical, Redemptor hominis, that Christ is the only Savior of men and that there is no other Name under Heaven by which we must be saved.
In the 21st century, we have entered an era in which new idols are rising. They are even more radical because they are no longer directly opposed to the Savior, but consist in a break with the Creator. The refusal of the Son has been succeeded by the refusal of the Father. The refusal to be saved has been followed by the refusal to be created. Today we want to be our own origin and our own end, like the Phoenix which destroys itself and is reborn from its own ashes. We pretend to be the creators of ourselves in the illusion of a pure freedom, radically autonomous from any natural “given” and from any obedience to reality. The current ideology is that of a freedom which refuses its limit and wants to choose absolutely its life as it intends to choose its death. It is not a question of “becoming what we are,” by consenting to our sexual origin, by accepting to be “qualified in being” by our heritage and our body, but of becoming absolutely what we want to be. We heard it on an astonishing program: “I am not a man. I am non-binary. What makes you say I’m a man?”
God creates by separating. He separates day and night, heaven and earth, man and woman, the fundamental distinction between the human, endowed with God’s breath and spiritual freedom, and the animal world, based on instinct. Not a separation as conflict, but as correspondence. Here we are in a time of extreme confusion where the complementarity of man and woman, naturally open to life, is no longer recognized as a reality that sets a boundary to our inordinate will to power—where, even more seriously, the distinction between man and animal appears to be fallacious among certain minority but incredibly violent “influencers.” These great ideologues obstruct any contradiction, in the United States and more and more in Europe, even in that temple of questioning and debate of ideas that should constitute university research.
These Co-Called Wise Men Have Gone Mad
In Nantes, a festival “to celebrate plural masculinities” opened, with a lot of inclusive writing, where we see not only androgynous and asexual silhouettes, but also hybrid beings, mixing the human body with bird or bear faces. “Let a parish be without priests for twenty years. They will worship beasts,” said the holy Curé d’Ars, as if to signify that man can only survive by way of the High and that without an orientation of his whole being towards invisible Love, manifested in the face of the other, and above all of the smallest, he will lose himself in the abyss of his own navel-gazing. Without God, man fades away like a grain of sand. We must go even further—where God loses His face, where He is venerated only as a “Supreme Being,” a “great architect” infinitely detached from history, men also lose their face.
The French Revolution worshipped the “Supreme Being” and lopped off heads by the thousands. Without the God of love manifested in Christ, the face of man is blurred in the uncertain magma of a freedom gone mad, which, like Rimbaud’s drunken boat, is no longer guided by the winds and descends the rivers impassively, at the mercy of the dominant currents and the most intimidating pressure groups. “If God does not exist,” writes Dostoyevsky in The Demons, “then everything is my will.” And the Apostle to the Romans: ” For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves” (Rom 1:22-24).
The Church Will Have to Stand Up
“Take away the supernatural,” said Chesterton, “and what remains is the unnatural.” Christians will have to be faithful to the earth as it sprang from the hands of God. Those who believe in Heaven must have the vocation of giving an anchor to the uprooting of men. The Church in the West will have to resist with renewed strength “a radical liberal ideology of an individualistic, rationalistic, hedonistic type,” Benedict XVI said to Peter Seewald. We must reread his Epiphany Homily of 2013 where he addressed the bishops he had just ordained:
“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking.”
No doubt the promoters of the “synodal way” in Germany, the native country of Benedict XVI, who in his testament exhorted his countrymen to stand firm in the faith, should be reminded of this.
Extreme Doctrinal Confusion
In a book to be published as his final testimony, the Pope Theologian writes that the Western world, “with its radical manipulation of man and the deformation of the sexes by gender ideology, is particularly opposed to Christianity. This dictatorial claim to be right all the time through apparent rationality requires the abandonment of Christian anthropology and the lifestyle considered ‘primitive’ that derives from it.” The German priests, bishops and even cardinals who preach in front of the rainbow flag unfurled at the altar or erect it on the churches undoubtedly believe that they are demonstrating the Church’s solicitude and its unconditional welcome. If we can only adopt the benevolence of the Good Shepherd for every man in this world, whatever his life situation, we cannot, without perjuring the logos of reason and the wisdom of Revelation, renounce to transmit, in its time, God’s plan for man and Christ’s call to conversion.
To love every man in his particular situation is to show him the way to the holy mountain and humbly try to climb it with him as a poor brother aware of his own sin, between falling and getting up, between shadows and lights, with the certainty that nothing is ever lost to God. Those who love us always believe us capable of a holy life. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether the “path” of the rich German Church—and more generally of those countries where the Church bends to the most liberal injunctions, in defiance of the small remnant of fervent and faithful youth—is not simply enslaved to a progressive agenda and subjected to pressure groups which, under the pretext of reforming the Church, contribute to accelerating its spiritual anemia and the already spectacular fall in its vocations. It is salutary to ask ourselves if they are not leading souls astray into extreme doctrinal and moral confusion by dint of wanting to please the spirit of the world. “But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men” (Mt 5:13).
To Love the World without Making a Pact with its Darkness
The time has come for humble daily courage and supernatural hope. There will always remain the Spirit of God, through whom our sins are forgiven. After having rejected the Redeemer for the illusion of an intramundane salvation, after having wanted to be his own creator in excess of a pride that rejects all limits, there yet remains for man not to refuse eternal mercy—not to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
Some will be persecuted, at least in the media, for their fidelity to the faith that comes to us from the Apostles. Courageous and faithful pastors will be mocked and humiliated, even inside the Church. It is through their perseverance that they will be able to bear witness to the infinite goodness of Him who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). “To God who reveals himself,” says the Vatican II constitution Dei Verbum, is due “the obedience of faith” (Rom 16:26).
The only synodal way is the way of Christ and the attentive listening to His Word, as it is transmitted to us and as it radiates in the midst of men. God alone remains in the midst of a world that is constantly changing, which we must love and join, without making a pact with its darkness. This battle is played out in the depths of our hearts. Christ is with us always, the slain Lamb and the Lion of Judah, the humbled meekness and the invincible strength. He alone remains faithful in the benevolence of His infinite demand, who wants us holy for He is holy (Lev 11:46).
Father Luc de Bellescize is the Curate of Saint Vincent-de-Paul in Paris. This article comes through the kind courtesy of La Nef.
Featured: Via veritas (The Way is the Truth), by Andrea di Bonaiuto; painted ca. 1365-1367.