Category Archives: Militarism and Christianity

Christians and the Temptations of Nationalism

“When in the 1950s I asked my (then orthodox and rigidly catechized) American Catholic students: ‘Are you an American who happens to be a Catholic, or are you a Catholic who happens to be an American?’ all of them chose the former.”

“When Germany invaded Russia, Hitler ex­pected Catholics to support his ‘crusade’ against atheistic Bolshevism. No matter how wrong the ideas and the practices of Commu­nism, Jaegerstaetter said, this was but another invasion wrought upon innocent people. There was nothing in the practices and doctrines of Nazism that was preferable to those of Communism.”

The following article is very relevant to our times even though it was written in 1992. It is reposted with the kind permission of the folks at the New Oxford Review — D.F.

*****************************************************************************

The “God and Country” Trap

Christians and the Temptations of Nationalism

By John Lukacs
November 1992

John Lukacs is Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and a Contributing Editor of the NOR. His latest book is The Duel, 10 May-31 July 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler.

This article is adapted with permission of Ticknor & Fields from his book The End of the Twentieth Century, forthcoming in early 1993.

The decline of religion, and of the influ­ence of the churches, became more and more evident during the 18th century, at the end of which it seemed as if that decline were irre­versible. (In 2,000 years of history, the prestige of the papacy was never as low as in 1799.) Then there came an unexpected Catholic and ultramontane revival; but the decline, by and large, went on during the 19th century, and continued during the 20th. Even some atheists and agnostics regretted this on occasion: Orwell once wrote that the greatest loss for Western civilization was the vanishing of the belief in the immortality of the soul. That is a difficult subject, because it is not as ascertain­able how men and women (how, rather than how much) believed in the immortality of the soul 250 years ago. But Orwell was right when he wrote that faith and credulity are different things.

Most people (including intellectuals, theo­logians, ecclesiastical historians) think that the decline of religious belief has been due to the rise of the belief in science. That may have been true in the 19th century, but even then the evidence is not clear. The decline of re­ligious belief did not necessarily correspond to the rise of belief in science. Samuel Butler’s vehement rejection of Darwin did not lead to the recovery of his religion. Henry Adams’s discovery of the Virgin did not lead to his re­jection of his own mechanistic-deterministic view of history. Now, at the end of the 20th century, many people respect religion as well as science, together; but respect for the former is faint. This has something to do with the fact that we have declined to a stage lower than hypocrisy, the problem being no longer the difference between what people say and what they believe; now the difference seems to be between what people think they believe and what they really believe.

Actually, the great threat to religious faith in our time — more precisely, to the quality and meaning of faith — is nationalism. The democratization of the churches has led to that; but that is only secondary to the demo­cratization of entire societies. The primary element is that the religion of the nation, the sentimental symbols of the nation, are more powerful than religious faith, especially when they are commingled. Nationalism, I repeat, is the only popular religio (religion: binding be­lief) in our times. That won’t last forever; but there it is. Continue reading

Peace Through Strength

Dale Steinreich wrote a post “Church of the Doomsday Bomb” over at the Lew Rockwell blog. This original appeared here. He writes:

Because of Roseanne Barr’s recent tweet about Valerie Jarrett, Retroplex is running the original Planet of the Apes series of movies. Taking a break last night I saw Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Although the cable guide gives it 2 out of 4 stars, it was definitely more a 3.

Without revealing too many spoilers, among a lot of great anti-war themes was a hilarious parody of Peace-Through-Strength conservatives. In the 40th century, there is a Church of the Alpha-Omega Doomsday Bomb located in what was once St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (before there was a nuclear holocaust). As can be seen in the short clip below, the symbolism of the bomb replaces that of the cross all over the church.

Also interesting is the implicit allusion to Jesus’ comment about the Pharisees (Matt 23:27) being “whitewashed tombs:” clean marble on the outside but rot on the inside. As can be seen below, the Church of the Bomb’s members are much the same in that regard.  Not seen in the clip below is this dandy from their “moral” principles: “We don’t murder our enemies, we get others to do it.”

Interfaith Antiwar Movement: War in Vietnam

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 2017 documentary The Vietnam War is a brilliant antiwar film that humanizes the enemy and laments the brutal slaughter of roughly three million soldiers and civilians for absolutely nothing. It is also a ringing indictment of those American presidents who waged the war, consistently lied to the American public about how they were waging it, and sent tens of thousands of young American soldiers to fight knowing it could not be won. As such, it also offers an urgent warning about the nature of the wars we continue to wage.

Yet The Vietnam War has some blind spots…

Peaceful Solidarity, Commonweal Magazine, Jan. 24, 2018

 

An Invitation to Metanoia

This is an excellent historical overview of American Catholicism and the last 100 years with respect to war, a pro-life issue.

An Invitation to Re-think 100 Years of Catholic Support for War

On April 6, 1917 the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of President Wilson’s war resolution and the U.S. entered WWI.  On April 18, while meeting as the trustees of Catholic University (CU), two Cardinals and six Archbishops signed a letter which was delivered to Wilson by James Cardinal Gibbons. In the most effusively patriotic language possible, it promised all out support of U.S. Catholics for Wilson and the war.

That promise was kept.  Three cardinals, including Gibbons, set up a general “Convention” of Catholics which took place at CU on August 11-12. “There were present official representatives, clerical and lay, from sixty-eight dioceses…twenty-seven national Catholic organizations and also of the entire Catholic press…In November, the Archbishops of the United States constituted themselves the National Catholic War Council. “  (Handbook of the NCWC, pages 8,10) The NCWC is considered the predecessor of today’s  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops  (USCCB), making 2017 its centenary year.
The Opening Mass for this year’s Fall Assembly of the USCCB took place at the Baltimore Basilica on Sunday, November 12, 2017.  Far from eschewing their origin as a war council, the liturgy booklet prepared for the centenary celebration reprinted Cardinal Gibbons’ November 21, 1917 “Letter to the U.S. Hierarchy Requesting their Assent to the National Catholic War Council.”  In the letter Gibbons wrote, “This war offers us, indeed, the grandest opportunity in all history of inspiring our men with religion.”  ….Continue Reading

100 years after Fatima

See the video below of the magnificent Mass and ceremony that took place in San Francisco on October 7. Witness the consecration of the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Archbishop Cordileone tells us in his homily that the “century through which we have just passed was nothing other than an experience of hell.” 100 years of wars, genocides, moral depravity and blasphemy.

And then he tells us what we must do in order to have hope that the next century might be “radically different,” so that the twin goals of Fatima might be realized, the goals of world peace and saving souls. He issues a “call to spiritual arms” as an antidote to the mocking of God which only leads to self-destruction.

Archbishop Cordileone asks Catholics to honor Our Lady’s Fatima requests by praying the Rosary, and practicing penance and adoration. Please help spread the word to every diocese in the U.S.

And please remember how this evil century (“a living reflection of hell”) began. In 1917, the ongoing slaughter of WWI provoked communist revolution in Russia, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies, and U.S. Catholic leaders tragically engineered the widespread capitulation of American Catholicism to the false god of American militarism. Can the next 100 years be different?

 

Oct. 7 and the Battle of Lapanto

The following was written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy:

******

Friends,

Again and again it must be stated that the universal ‘big lie’ of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches is that war, violence and enmity are activities in which Christians can participate and still be following Jesus and doing the will of God as Jesus reveals that will to humanity. To plant and perpetuate this blatant falsehood in the minds of Christians from birth to death has been one of the specific objectives of all the Christian Churches and their leaderships for the last 1700 years. Not one of the mainline institutional Churches that exists today or that has existed for most of the last 1700 years could exists as it exists without the use and justification of violence and enmity in the name of Jesus. Yet, there is not a scintilla of evidence in the Gospels for anything other than that Jesus by word and deed rejected, without reservation, violence and enmity as His Way and as the Way for those whom He chose to be His disciples. Nevertheless, around the world on a daily basis, in tens of thousands of Catholic, Orthodox ad Protestant niches, this anti-Gospel word goes out, “Violence, war and enmity are compatible with the teaching of Jesus.”

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, the designated worldwide Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Roman Catholic Church, I happened into one of these anti-Gospel proclamation niches. Attending Mass that day I heard the priest in the pulpit fill the minds of the Christians in the congregation with a mishmash of historical facts, embedded Catholic fables and outright theological untruth, the purpose of which was to promulgate the idea that God and Mary were on the Catholic side, supporting the Catholic killers in a homicidal political-economic-religious naval battle against Islam i.e. the Battle of Lapanto on October 7, 1571.

The priest began by stating the historical fact that Pope Saint Pius V sent and blessed the Holy League Navy, the Catholic Navy, which included the Papal Navy, out to destroy the Muslim navy in the Gulf of Lapanto. Although greatly outnumbered he said, (the actual number was 280 ships to 212) the Catholics won the battle, which Pope Saint Pius V attributed to the Rosary being prayed in Rome for a victory. Pope Saint Pius V—who before becoming Pope had worked himself up to being the Inquisitor General of the Roman Catholic Church—declared October 7 to be the Feast Day of Our Lady of Victories because of her part in bringing a homicidal victory to the Catholic Holy League. After his death the next Pope changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary, which it remains to this day. However the change of name did not change the message that the leaders of the Church—to this very day—universally communicate to Catholics about the meaning of the feast, namely, prayers to Mary, especially the Rosary, can procured a victory by homicidal violence over an enemy. And by simple logical extension, praying to Mary can obtain a violent victory over the enemies of Poland, France, Italy, Russia, the United States, etc.

Yet, the official teaching of the Church which is never mentioned in such homilies is “While the characteristics of the shalom of the Old Testament are present in the New Testament tradition, all discussion of war and peace in the New Testament must be seen within the context of the unique revelation of God that is Jesus Christ and of the reign of God which Jesus proclaimed and inaugurated. There is no notion of God who will lead the people in an historical victory over its enemies in the New Testament.” (The Challenge of Peace: A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1983, §39, 40).

There is not a speck of violence and/or enmity in Mary in Gospels. Mary is an explicit witness to the truth that Jesus proclaims. Her last public words in the Gospels are, “Do whatever He tells you.” There cannot be an inkling of dissonance between the what the Mary of the Gospels sees and teaches as the will of God and what the Jesus of the Gospels sees and teaches as the will of God—and Jesus sees and teaches by word and deed a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Will and Way of God.

Mary is not God. She can only intercede with God through her Son, Jesus, who is the Incarnation of God. It is absurdity in the extreme to teach that the Nonviolent Mary of the Gospels will intercede with her Nonviolent Son of the Gospels to help one partisan homicidal groups kill and maim more human beings than another homicidal group that it calls “the enemy,” and thereby win a glorious homicidal and “historical victory over its enemies.” Such an understanding of Jesus and Mary and their relationship to each other and to each and every son and daughter of the “Father of all” is loathsome and revolting.

The fact that the rulers of the various Churches in every nation and in every ethnic group permit, and indeed foster, around the globe in the lives of ordinary Christians such a monstrous belief about Mary deserves universal publicity and universal condemnation from the top down and from the bottom up. If there is to be a Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and I think there should be, remove it from the October 7th date, where it can be and is subverted into a piece of Marian military jingoism. Place it on a date where only the Christlike holiness, peace, love, trust and universal compassion—of the Mother of a Son murdered by state and religious rulers and the Mother of a Son Resurrected in love, by love and for love—shine forth the truth and glory of God.

Failure to take this definitive step of totally separating the Marian Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary from October 7 and the Battle of Lapanto will for certain result in solidifying the status quo. The Nonviolent Mother of the Nonviolent Jesus will continue worldwide to be invoked, not to help one love his or her enemies as Jesus loved His enemies, but rather to help one kill his or her enemies more efficiently than his or her enemies can kill. Bishops, priests, ministers and religious educators will continue to propagate, Mary Slayer of Muslim, e.g. in pre-school to adult pious books, magazines, sermons, Catholic art, Church windows, etc. And, as happened in the little niche of Christianity I was in on October 7, 2017, the relation will be drawn between invoking Mary for a victory at the Battle of Lapanto—which the priest erroneously claimed saved the Church—and fighting ISIS today!

Here is an example of one of the tens of thousands of Catholic niches glorifying the Battle of Lapanto and Mary Slayer of Muslim. This is a stained glass window immediately to the right of the main alter at the Papal designated Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Mary with the Baby Jesus presides over the Battle of Lapant in the upper left corner.

Bishop Barron’s Clever Dismissal

The following was written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy:

Friends,

This eight minute video presentation by Bishop Robert Barron is an example of the clever dismissal of Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, which the average Catholic is subjected to ceaselessly in thousands of different ways by the violence justifying institutional Church through its senior personnel and its various avenues of communication. It is a example of the traditional ecclesiastical tactic of damning Gospel Nonviolence by faint praise, saying—in stark opposition to Jesus’ “new commandment”—that all sane minded, realistic Christians certainly do not want all Christians to be nonviolent, although it is nice to have a few Christians around who follow that Way in order to remind us what heaven will be like.

https://youtu.be/Y-0z2m_NtS8

In this video Cardinal George and Bishop Barron have strayed a long way from what  Jesus teaches in the Gospels. Their statements equating celibacy with Gospel Nonviolence are erroneous and meant to teach the majority of Christians to ignore Jesus’ teaching of nonviolence, while they give it a backhanded tribute.

To undo some of their obfuscation it must be stated without equivocation that celibacy is not the will of God as revealed by Jesus in the Gospels, but Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is. Celibacy is an option within the will of God as revealed by Jesus. Violence and enmity— the quintessential components of every war—are explicitly rejected as options within the will of God as revealed by Jesus, who is God Incarnate. Contrary to Bishop Barron’s talk rejecting Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies in imitation of Jesus is not an option granted to any Christian by Jesus. The analogy of Barron and George comparing celibacy with Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence is an invalid, self-serving, misleading and anti-evangelical effort. It appears to be the work not of two learned Christians who do not know that Nonviolent Love is a teaching of Jesus applicable to all Christians at all times, but rather the work of two highly educated Christians who do not want to know and/or to admit it, and who want to proselytize others into following a non-existing just war Jesus as they follow a never existing just war Jesus—as if there were spiritual safety in numbers.

Their duplicitousness in proselytizing is chilling because while comparing nonviolence in the Church to celibacy in the Church and simultaneously effusively praising both, their statements in the minds of most Catholics, marginalize to the position of useful Catholic gadflies, those who proclaim Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolence Love of friends and enemies. Their statements are intended to obscure or undermine the fact that those who proclaim Gospel Nonviolence are proclaiming, not an optional Church discipline, but rather an essential dimension of God, of Divine Love, of that power, the only power, which in truth saves. As the Catholic Biblical scholar, the late Rev. John L. McKenzie, wrote in his book The Power and the Wisdom (Imprimatur, 1966), “The power which destroys all other powers is the power of love, the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else… Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what He did.”

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

P.S. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. in following the Way of Nonviolence was not following Gandhi, Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day as Robert Barron claims. He was following Jesus. There is an infinite difference between following the Creator and following another creature like yourself.

Letter to Pope Francis

The following was written by Mark Scibilia-Carver

**********************************************

Dear Pope Francis,

Greetings from Trumansburg, New York and Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish.

Many U.S. Catholics agree with your assessment that we are already in the midst of World War III, given the open, covert and proxy wars that are ongoing.  The U.S. is the world’s greatest arms merchant and has bombed, invaded and occupied Muslim countries for at least the last 25 years.  This  “jubilee of mercilessness” is motivated by the greed and arrogance of the wealthy who covet the world’s resources.  These wars have resulted in the deaths of millions of poor souls, to mention one of the costs.  There is no doubt that thousands of women have been killed, along with their children, including the unborn.

No one should be surprised that a group like ISIS has arisen to resist this “crusade” of the west but it is the U.S. with its military that is, by far, the world’s greatest terrorist.

Please note that this February 15 marks 87 years since the death of Benjamin Joseph Salmon, a Catholic of Denver, Colorado.  Ben Salmon refused to fight and kill his “brothers” in WWI years before Gandhi, Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, Dorothy Day or Martin Luther King.  For his conscientious objection to a war in which millions of baptized Christians killed each other, he was first sentenced to death and later to 25 years in prison.  After 2 ½ years in prison he wrote a 235 page treatise based on his Catholic faith and his reading of Christian scripture and concluded that there was “no such animal as a just war”.  This treatise and much more can be seen at www.bensalmon.org.

February 19 is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time.   The Gospel is Matthew 5: 38-48, from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus commands that we love our enemies.  The same command is pronounced twice in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain.  Both sermons end with Jesus insisting that his disciples put these commands into action.

The U.S. has seen the rise of a peculiar “Christian” fascism in support of our imperial wars.  This is a time that seems right to place the light and truth of Jesus’ nonviolence on a lamp stand and not under a bushel basket.  Pope Benedict was right, “it is no longer licit to even speak of a just war.”  Pope St. John Paul II was right, “violence is a lie”.  You were right, “to be a true follower today, it is necessary to embrace Jesus’ nonviolence”  Now we need more than words.  We need an authoritative teaching of the gospel truth.  The teaching must be so clear that our Catholic youth, who are constantly targeted for military recruitment, cannot mistake it.

As you already know the nonviolent truth about Jesus, please consider February 19 as the day to give an ex cathedra teaching to end the “just war” era of Catholicism!  With Jesus and the Gospel there is no justified killing, no “just war.”

In solidarity with the suffering such a witness will entail,

Mark Scibilia-Carver