A few days ago, we looked at the strange Reactionary Catholic sect TFP courtesy of Where Peter Is and saw some of its contributions to the small (globally speaking) but powerful and well-funded sect of Francis-haters. Most of that sect is located in or near the US for the same reason Willy Sutton robbed banks: that’s where the money is. So ETWN, 1 Peter 5, The Remnant, Taylor Marshall, Sophia Institute Press, Napa Institute, Lifesite News, FOX, Church Militant and various other tributaries to the mighty Nile of agitprop, malice, and lies directed against Francis all are located in North America. When a Vigano wants to stage a coup against Francis, he coordinates with American Catholic Right Wing Lie Machine Media. When some Trad kid in bed with an Austrian ethnonationalist party founded by a Nazi wants to desecrate Our Lady of the Amazon, he coordinates his Global Media Event and Instant Martyrdom and Canonization with that same North American Lie Machine. And when you need a cleric to drip endless anti-Francis poison into the veins of the Anti-Francis Cult, who you gonna call? An American Cardinal: Burke.
The Americanization of the Traditionalist movement is weird for a number of reasons. It is weird to watch a movement that is literally younger than the Reagan Administration claiming to be the Church of the Ages. It is weird to watch Catholics who are newer converts than I am, the chrism still wet on their foreheads, haughtily declaring the Pope to be a heretic and an apostate and excommunicating him from “their” Church. But it is especially weird to watch these apostles of the Ancient Church adopting the tactics, mindset, and theology of the American Evangelicalism of the 80s and 90s that persuaded me I needed to abandon Evangelicalism and become a Catholic.
Here, for instance, is a particularly weird headline from the most super duper ultra hyper perfecto more-Catholic-than-the-Pope Catholics who ever lived over at Church Militant:
CDL. BURKE WARNS OF VATICAN PUSH FOR ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT‘Synodal way’ is Trojan horse to protestantize Catholic Church
Now there are so many layers of contradictory nonsense here that it is hard to tease it out. Given that synods and councils, both regional and universal, have literally been a staple of Catholic life since Acts 15, it is hard to see how this is “protestantizing” the Church. And if the fear is that councils will overrule the Pope somehow, then what is the sense of Burke and Church Militant and the rest of the Right Wing Lie Machine suggesting or outright saying that the Pope must be overruled for authorizing the Amazon Synod? Trojan horses contain alien enemies who enter the Church from outside to destroy what is within the fortress. Just who are the aliens in this scenario when the pope, the regional bishops, and the attendees at the Amazon Synod (and every synod) are fellow Catholics? (The suggestion by Reactionaries that nearly everybody in the Church but them are not merely not Catholic, but enemies, is a beloved theme in the Francis-hating sect.) As a matter of historical record, the only person who entered a Catholic Church with malice aforethought to destroy something that was within it was, in fact, a Reactionary who tried to destroy Our Lady of the Amazon.
Now one of the traits of American conservatism that has become especially pronounced since the election of Trump has been the habit of making accusation a form of confession. In brief, American conservatives have become chronic in their habit of attributing to those they hate what they themselves deeply desire to do.
- The man who most insisted that Obama would launch a war with Iran to cover his alleged incompetence himself attempts to launch that war to cover his incompetence.
- The MAGA Cult, which has for years believed in the myth of “paid protestors” itself hired paid protestors.
- The Conservatives with the fingers on the hair trigger to label their enemies Communists and Socialists wear this at their rallies.
and so forth.
Combined with this has been the absorption of the FOX News Panic du Jour tactic by the Francis Hating Cult. The Panic du Jour is simply the habit of daily whacking the side of the chicken coop with a 2×4 every morning to frighten the chickens and keep them anxious and confused and angry about something–anything–so that they blame the Designated Enemy. For FOX it was Obama and Damned Libruls. For the Francis Haters, it’s Francis. So just as we saw ceaseless little panics about every dumb thing from tanned suits to Michelle the Secret Man and Pizzagate to The Coming Sharia Camps so the Francis Hate Machine is perpetually warning about Francis’ secret plot to unleash Whatever on the Church or the world. This story is part of that long project. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about from day to day. It can be anything. The other day it was outrage–OUTRAGE I TELL YOU!–that Francis welcomed some circus performers:
I mean… just look at this.
I wonder if Pelosi & Schifty were invited.
What is he doing, ring tossing a persons head?�
— �⚔️�LADY GRACE �⚔️�Text TRUMP to 88022 (@OrenIShiKiddo) January 8, 2020
Of course, you can find identical footage of JPII and B16 doing the same thing, but that’s not the point. The point is outrage for its own sake, to keep the troops energized in the project of hating the hated object, Francis.
But there is a final ironic component here that is particularly piquant–the Evangelical Panic du Jour.
Some of us old farts remember back in the 80s and 90s when Evangelical culture was routinely blown about by every wind of doctrine with Satanic panics, D&D panics, Tinky Winky panics, gay panics, backward masking panics, second coming panics, and, of course, the evergreen One World Government Panic. The big fear of Evangelicals who got half their theology from the Bible and half from American nationalism was that America would lose its sovereignty to some vast transnational global state and cease being #1. Behind this lay the weird theory of America, The Light and the Glory, the Messianic State Chosen by God to impose the Gospel on the world and to fight back the godless forces of Communism.
The roots of this goofy unbiblical theory are found in the secular messianism that has been part of American DNA ever since the Pilgrims decided that America, not the Church, is the City on a Hill. Down through our history, we have larded ourselves with biblical accolades and biblical titles. Some of it has had a happy effect, moving us to try reforms and right wrongs and fight bravely for truly good things. Some of it has been dangerously toxic and led us to act with a combination of satanic pride and cruelty and unbearable Puritan smugness. But my point here is simply that the whole theory has nothing whatever to do with Catholic teaching and is simply quackery invented in, by, and for Protestant America. It is yet another manifestation of the fact that Christian nation states, when they felt their oats, tended to identify themselves as the Christ of Nations and justify what they did on that basis. Spain did it. Russia did it. England did it. And we did it.
Which brings us back to the absurd Church Militant article fretting about “one world government”. Never mind the fact that there is no sanity to the claim that a pastoral synod aiming to address the desperate need for sacraments and pastoral care in the Amazon will lead to a tyrannical global superstate. What is even more important to ask is, “Since when are Catholics having hysterics about a One World Government? At what point was it decided that this cardinal Panic Button phrase for Evangelicals was something Catholics needed to panic about?”
Here’s the deal. Prescinding from the fact that the Amazon Synod is the opposite of One World Government what with its entire focus being on the local, regional governance of a local regional people with local regional needs, the fact is that the Church’s Magisterium has never had a big issue with One World Government. Why?
Because it was born in a world ruled by a One World Government. The Roman Empire was “the whole world” as far as Paul was concerned (Colossians 1:6). And he was not too broken up about that. His counsel to the Church was to obey the law, honor the Emperor, pay your taxes, pray for the governing authority, keep your nose clean and odds are you’ll be fine. And if Caesar does come after you, try to die well like Jesus. But on the whole the Church’s attitude to the state was that it was God’s minister to keep order. Not a perfect minister by a long shot, but infinitely better than anarchy.
That attitude has always been the Church’s. It doesn’t go for mere servility to the state (since the state, you know, murdered Jesus and the apostles and murdered the Church for 400 or so years), but neither does it buy the Libertarian lie that the state is The Worst. The second death, something American conservatives do not fear nearly enough, is The Worst. And above all, given the choice between letting the Hatfields and McCoys use violence and kicking the use of violence up the ladder to the state, she has always staunchly backed sending the decision and power to use violence as far up the ladder as possible. That’s why you don’t get to lock your neighbor in your closet if you think he wronged you, why the mayor of Seattle does not get to declare war on Japan, and why (if the Church had her way) the UN would decide every time whether country A got to declare war on country B. In the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity, the local and regional and people closest to the problem get first crack at doing everything–except when it comes to violence. Then it goes as high up the ladder as possible.
This is why Pope Benedict XVI (not Francis) echoed Pope John XXIII (who is also not Francis) when he wrote in Caritas in Veritate:
To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.
Moral: The Greatest Catholics of All Time get their real understanding of Catholic teaching the way tofu gets its flavor, by absorbing the secularized conservative Evangelical culture of Americans, not by having the slightest idea what the Church actually teaches beyond the last thing they remember from Confirmation class.