At The Catholic Thing there is a piece by David Warren which merits attention. Warren had been to the presentation of a new book about Bl. Clemens August Card. von Galen, the “Lion of Munster” who famously stood up in the public square directly in the path of Hitler and Nazism. When shall we see his like again?
Where are the von Galens we need today?
Where are the Ambroses?
Where are the John Fishers?
That’s what Warren wonders about too.
Here is a sample… but read the whole thing there. My emphases and comments.
Silence of the Lions
What is the use of bishops? This has been a question in the minds of many Catholic faithful, through my adult life, as I have learnt from conversation. Often the question itself, or something like it, is asked sarcastically, about one bishop or another who has failed, signally, to uphold Catholic teaching when he was called upon “by events.” The cock crows thrice and then – the possibility fades.
The faithful are told, by this silence or (more often) incoherent mumbling, that when it comes to the witnessing of Christ and Christ’s teaching, they are on their own. They may have the Catechism of the Catholic Church before them, to remind them what’s what in our faith, but if they make a stand they cannot expect their leaders to support them. [This is often the experience of priests in parishes who try to teach Catholic Faith in its fullness, including messages about human sexual morality. They come under attack and the bishop won’t back him. Instead the priests are left to the wolves, the wolves including, sometimes, sadly, the bishop himself. Mind you, what was said about “silence or … incorherent mumbling” is also endemic among priests. Many things written here can apply to priests and not just bishops.]
Rather, more likely, they are quietly disowned, as “fanatics,” and left to stew in that reputation. For they are now taken to be speaking only for themselves, in a time when anything said with clarity and precision can be dismissed as the outpouring of mere “feelings,” then slandered as “hate speech.” [Witness the treatment of Robert Card. Sarah after his invitation to priests to say Mass ad orientem. Witness the way that Card. Burke is treated by the catholic Left, even from the heights of the Twitter account of Fr. Spadaro (SJ), who called him – via a posted image – a “witless worm” as if the Cardinal were Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings. HERE]
In a dark time, when speech codesare advancing on every academic, legal, social and political front, the lawless Dictatorship of Relativism is being consolidated. Anything you say may be, potentially, prosecuted on the argument that it might, potentially, hurt the feelings of unknown members of some vaguely defined, politically favored group. The dissident loses his livelihood, or if he hopes to keep it, must submit to public humiliation and some course of “counseling,” or “sensitivity training,” or “re-education.” [Witness the recent treatment of Prof. Anthony Esolen ]
Maoism is thus alive and well on the college campuses; and spreading beyond them. [I suspect that in referring to Maoism, he may mean the Cultural Revolution, with its spectacular terror, shifting deadly political sands, and show trials.] Or Stalinism, or Hitlerism, if gentle reader prefers. Or “McCarthyism,” insofar as it was conceived to involve show trials.
McCarthyism was defeated, fairly quickly – inside three months – when several prominent establishment figures stood up to the late Wisconsin senator, and said they had had enough. Joe McCarthy was himself labeled a pariah, and his case made a warning to any who might wish to emulate him. [McCarthy, by the way, wasn’t wrong.]
Indeed, a more formidable McCarthyism of the Left was planted in the corpse of that politician, and his name made into a propaganda slogan. But to begin with, I think, there was genuine outrage at the recklessness of McCarthy’s senate hearings, and for the first who stood up, some nerve was required.
As courage will always be required – in all times, in all nations – for those who will oppose an injustice.
We have by now, in the Catholic Church, a legacy of bishops who were brave and worthy, written into the annals of our Saints and Martyrs. Conducted chiefly through the liturgy, they amount in practice to a Third Testament – an exemplary chronicle through twenty centuries in which, by the lives of great men and women, the Life of Christ persisted in this world.
By no means can we say that bishops always fail us; nor even when they fall silent are we necessarily left to fend for ourselves. God finds others who step forward to give the example. Too, it should be said that we ourselves are entitled, by the grace of our baptism, to step forward – to vindicate the good and the true; to condemn their opposites. But such acts are uncommon. [More on this point, below.]
That they are uncommon is part of the teaching, about sinful man. We are so attached to our worldly comforts, by our worldly imaginations, that in the clearest opposition between right and wrong we will seek the quiet life. And as we could know if only from the Gospels, the man well fed and well housed, well friended and conspicuously decorated (such as a bishop), has more to lose than most. Why risk it all in exchange for public persecution, and the risk of abandonment by his own supporters? For rewards not of this world, invisible except to the eyes of Faith? [Because we are under constant pressure from the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Because of Original Sin.]
For a while now I’ve been saying, in the context of trying to expand the use of the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite, that lay people can’t just sit on their hands and wait for priests and bishops to do something for them. Lay people have to take matters into their own hands, organize, and make it happen. Yes, of course, Mass requires the priest. But everything needed for Mass can be handled by lay people. Be ready to do all the work. Remove every obstacle. Make straight the path to that ad orientem altar.
Are you tepid? Are you spiritless or halfhearted? Do you not feel zeal? Are you downhearted?
Let us all make a thorough inventory of our situations in life and review our own vocations. We must examine our consciences and GO TO CONFESSION! Then we have to apply ourselves with greater zeal to the work in front of our faces.