The other day, I saw a post in the a group of traditionalist Catholic would-be monarchists who were not in any way joking. It went like this:
How to restore a Catholic monarchy in seven steps:
1) Find a good wife.
2) Raise traditional Catholic children;
3) Develop a strong household economy;
4) Forge alliances with others who are following this model;
5) Offer perpetual fealty to a stronger household that can exercise effective leadership with a Christian civilization:
6) Accept offers of fealty from weaker households with competent members who have value to offer;
7. Eventually, one household will emerge as the strongest in the web of fealty. That household is the Royal Family and its head the monarch.
I feel like I’ve seen this list before. I think it was the instruction manual in a game of Settlers of Catan.
Further, I feel the set of instructions are incomplete. It ought to include:
25) Smother your twin nephews.
40) Intermarry with your own relatives to keep that bloodline squeaky clean, until your surname is synonymous with a genetic defect.
99) Get so desperate to produce a viable male heir that you divorce your faithful Catholic wife, murder everyone who won’t join you in apostasy, and marry your pregnant six-fingered mistress. Then divorce your mistress on the same day you have her beheaded on trumped-up charges of adultery and incest. Marry her lady in waiting, who will subsequently die in childbirth with a sickly boy. Then marry an ugly woman and divorce her when you fail to consummate the marriage because her breasts are too saggy; then marry a ridiculously young girl and have her executed for inexplicably preferring sex with a courtier to sex with your ulcerous old self. Then marry a clever Protestant lady who will manage to survive you. Finally, your son too shall die, leaving the kingdom in the hands of women after all your hard work. One of those women will go on to be among history’s most famous and successful monarchs, and will follow your legacy in martyring faithful Catholics to a startling degree.Or do these people not know that all those things are consequences of a Catholic monarchy?
Sometimes I think that the reason Traditionalists refuse to watch Game of Thrones isn’t because of all the sex. It’s because it might disillusion them about the glorious pristine beauty of a faith-based monarchy. Not that democracy produces flawless gems either, of course. You have only to scroll down a bit on this blog to find my rants on the current president. The first thing you learn from history is that people are crap at running things and crap always rises to the top. The first thing you ought to learn from Catholic social teaching is that people are more important than institutions– be they dynasties, administrations or corporations. Institutions insofar as they hurt people are bad, and institutions insofar as they help people are good. But then again, Traditionalists don’t care for Catholic Social Teaching either.
There are any number of faults you could find with the Seven Steps. It’s not historically accurate– where are the serfs? The military? It’s not in line with Catholic morality at all to refer to the poor and vulnerable members of a community as “weaker” and force them to serve the “strong.” Catholics are supposed to give preferential treatment to the weak. We should all be bending over each other to serve the weaker members of our society. We certainly shouldn’t look at what “value” people have to offer us. People are intrinsically valuable by virtue of being people.
Do you know what these Seven Steps do remind me of? It’s not any historic monarchy. They remind me of the mafia. They remind me of infamous European organized criminals that the Church excommunicates because that model of how to run a society is sinful in the extreme.
So, what would a Catholic society look like? Not a society wearing the trappings of Catholicism; we had that for a thousand years all over Europe. But a society faithful to the demands of Catholicism?