Spend four seconds in the Catholic realm of the Internet and you’ll find yourself up to your eyeballs in articles, hot-takes, and videos about all the “demonic forces” at work in the Church. More often than not, those unholy spirits often turn out to be the same thing: the liberals, the LGBT community, the Marxists, the abortion lobby, etc. You know, groups of malicious infiltrators seeking to undermine the church by spreading sexual deviancy, toppling masculinity, and destroying the family.
There are a handful of media outlets who serve as the mouthpiece for these apocalyptic rants, organizations who market themselves as theological sages and spiritual warriors protecting the Church against an all out assault by secularists. You may know some of the more popular sites (none of which I’ll link here), such as LifeSite News, Church Militant, Priests for Life, and Crisis.
These organizations like to present themselves as the the gold standard of Catholic Morality and Christian living, but beneath their pious veneer lies something much more sinister.
See, aside from their peculiar fixation on sexual ethics and gender roles, these organizations have a nasty habit of smearing good Catholics, attacking the Pope, and misrepresenting the views they oppose. They staunchly oppose any attempt to open the Church to those who might feel excluded, and they viciously attack anyone who doesn’t align with their puritanical interpretation of the Catechism.
Understand, this all goes beyond your simple opinion columns. Over the years, this confederacy of reactionaries has grown in influence, successfully pressuring Catholic institutions to take action against priests, writers, and academics with whom they oppose.
The most disturbing part of their agenda, however, is that their goal is not to grow or enrich the church. Instead, they want a small, exclusive safe haven governed, not by the Gospel, but by far-right ideology. The content that comes from these organizations is nothing more than a bait and switch. With one hand they keep you focused on a manufactured moral crisis while using the other to weave in chauvinist, xenophobic, and homophobic rhetoric. They also make a point to actively oppose magisterial teachings on social justice and basic care for their fellow man.
My fellow Patheos writers and I have often found ourselves in the crosshairs of this community, resulting in some back and forth that a few have jokingly dubbed “The Catholic Media Wars.” But this is not simply a discourse between philosophical and political adversaries, and we can’t afford to treat it as such. The actions described above are evil. They are demonic. They are tearing away at the heart of the Church, and the people who perpetuate them are doing doing the work of Christ, but of the devil.
Which, if you think about it, is pretty much par for the course for Satan, ain’t it? Consider the way our Holy Father has often warned us about the devil’s influence. “The Devil is intelligent,” he once said, “he knows more theology than all the theologians together.”
And he’s right. Satan is smart and subtle. He’s not an boisterous, marching tyrant like we might see in the movies. He hides in plain sight. He’s subversive, sly, and particularly capable when it comes to misdirection. More than anything, he’s most effective when he’s using our own tools against us.
And of course, we should never forget that Jesus was put to death by the moral leaders of his own faith, by those who chose legalism over the spirit. It was the pharisees and the sadducees, not the prostitutes and tax collectors, who were the enemy of Christ and the antagonists to the Gospel.
We know what we’re facing. It’s a cancerous evil infecting the Church. It’s time we said so.