The Twilight Zone of Church History

By Ellen Finnigan

Catholics, you are now traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. You have entered a realm of existence between the past and the future, between sanity and madness, between delusion and reality. You have entered the Twilight Zone of revisionists’ Church History. Your next stop: an America Magazine article,The Teaching of the Catholic Church is Clear: We are Against War.”

The article that Fr. McCarthy refers to here, shallow, spurious, and misleading, was written by Father James Martin and published on January 13. A day later Bishop Barron published “‘1917’ and Remembering Who We Are” about the recent World War I film, which was followed by a YouTube video called “1917, War, and Faith”: both masterpieces of obfuscation. In them Barron seems mystified by the fact that millions of Christians, “presumably schooled in the moral principles of Jesus Christ,” participated en masse in the “folly of war,” and killed millions of other Christians in World War I. How could this have happened?

Image result for Catholic appreciate warThe answer is simple: Their religious leaders told them it was their duty!

Last week I discussed these two articles on my on my podcast with Fr. McCarthy (a priest who has been ostracized from polite circles in the Church for decades because he won’t stop insisting that Jesus taught a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies). The James Martin article is discussed here and the Robert Barron article discussed here. It seems the Catholic Church is on the “PR offensive,” trying to recast itself as antiwar. The audacity!

In a letter written to Woodrow Wilson in 1917, signed by all of the Archbishops of the United States, Cardinal Gibbons writes:

“…now that war has been declared, we bow in obedience to the summons to do our part…Inspired by the holiest sentiments of truest patriotic fervor and zeal, we stand ready, we and all the flock committed to our keeping, to cooperate in every way possible with our national government…”

In November of that year, Gibbons wrote to Wilson:

“Guided as we are by the sublime teachings of Christianity, we have no other course open to us but that of obedience and devotion to our country…we wish for our people to see, and we are striving to help them realize, that they owe unswerving loyalty to the rulers whom they have elected to office, and that in doing so they are not acting in a slavish manner, for obedience is not an act of servility we pay to man but an act of homage we pay to God…”

At least American Catholic Bishops no longer try to “help” Catholics by telling them overtly that they owe “unswerving loyalty” to their government. Instead of propagating the government’s ill-advised, unjust, and immoral wars with pro-war speeches and letters, the American Bishops condone them with silence: seventeen years of near total, unbroken silence. When it comes to support for war, their new motto seems to be: “Mum’s the word” and “Leave no trace.”

It will be easier this way: American Bishops in the year 2120 will be able to look back on the wars of the early twenty-first century, shake their heads in dismay and wonder aloud, like Barron, how it was that Christians— American Catholics no less! —  could have been involved in wars 9,000 miles from home, for which their was no discernible goal or purpose, that decimated the Christian populations of the Middle East. Future American Bishops will be able to chalk it all up to the mystery of iniquity, I guess, while pointing to puff pieces written by the likes of Martin and Barron and saying, “Didn’t they know that the Catholic Church is against war?”

I guess we missed the memo.

A few thoughts from Fr. McCarthy to conclude:

P.S “Where I come from we write our own history.” This is a response of a Donald Trump supporter to the issue of history judging him negatively for his support.

P.P.S. “History will be kind to me, because I will write it.” So proclaims Winston Churchill, one of the most brutal and murderous politicians of the Twentieth Century.

P.P.P.S. Throughout the Twilight Zone series, Rod Serling, its creator and major writer, continually illustrates how to throw viewers off the scent of reality by manipulating them into not seeing what is there to see and hence asking the wrong questions. If you are interested in watching how this is masterfully accomplished, view (don’t read about) the Twilight Zone episode titled, “To Serve Man” as a superb example of this skill. Interestingly and tellingly, after this episode appeared in 1962, its title, “To Serve Man,” became the unofficial emblem patch of the U.S. Air Forces’ 509th Bomb Wing, who as part of its history of serving man dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

(Gustatus Similis Pullus means “Tastes Like Chicken”.)

Ellen Finnigan [send her mail] teaches writing and literature at an online, Catholic school for homeschoolers. She runs a website and a podcast called Catholics Against Militarism. You can find her on Twitter @EllenFinnigan and read more of her writing here.

Copyright © Ellen Finnigan

Reprinted with permission from LRC

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