On September 11th, 2013, Vladimir Putin published an editorial in the New York Times critiquing President Barack Obama’s address to the American people on intervention in Syria. By the 12th, the dust had cleared. That day in history is significant for many reasons. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, the Battle of Muret (a decisive defeat of the Albigensians in 1208), and the Battle of Vienna, 1683, in which Jan Sobieski led the charge in raising the Turkish siege of Vienna. While September 12, 2013 will not mark a decisive military victory, we will consider it the end of the Summer in which American Exceptionalism lost its hold on the minds of many good willed people on the planet, many Catholics in general, and American Catholics in particular. And in this battle, Vladimir Putin led the charge.
Putin´s editorial also marked the return of Russia as an important leader of the free world. In order to explain how this is so, let us briefly summarize the last fourty years of Russian history. As readers of this journal well know, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and subsequent Afghani rebellion helped to bring about the end of Soviet rule in Russia. By 1989, the Soviet regime was in its final days. In what amounted to a rapid transition to “democracy,” Mikhael Gorbachev handed the country over to Boris Yeltsin, who, in order to maintain his leadership position of the country, kept selling off the country’s goods to a series of oligarchs heavily under the influence of Jewish Plutocrats from around the world.
By the end of Yeltsin’s rule, Russia was on the verge of civil war. What used to be the patrimony of Russia was becoming the financial holdings of potentially warring oligarchs. At several times during his rule, Yeltsin had to use the elements within the army still loyal to Russia in order to save the country from falling into civil war and chaos.
Before he left office, Yeltsin realized the damage he had done to the country. He was allowed to leave without falling into disgrace. In return, he handed the reins of the country over to Putin whose nearly impossible task would be not only to prevent Russia from becoming a failed state, but also to build up its future glory.
Putin had two goals, one short-term and another long-term. His short term goal: to prevent Russia from falling into chaos. He some expelled oligarchs who had essentially become foreign agents. Others, he imprisoned. He did not eliminate, perhaps because he could not, all of the criminal elements within Russia. Figuratively speaking, some of the weeds remained in the regime, as part of the press and within the financial and political system. For example, to this day, the United States offers financial help to former communists and white nationalists as a means of trying to destabilize the regime. In addition, Some of the exiled oligarchs have become the darlings of the Western media.
While stabilizing the country, he also began to map out his long term goal: to create democratic institutions in Russia. He sensed that it would take at least a generation to create the political institutions and habits that foster true democracy in a country such as his own. In this, his thought mirrored that of Alexis de Tocqueville, who warned the Europeans that it would be foolish to simply implement democracy without forming people who had the habits of self government. Dostoevsky and Alexander Solznytisn held the similar ideas.
As Putin set out to alter Russian institutions, he also realized he had some more fundamental problems to address, stabilizing the Russian family. Putin realized that the family is the best long term guarantee for political order. But, Russia was also in the middle of a demographic free fall. He realized that if Russia were to over time have an influence in world affairs, that she needed a population. In short, a population is the one of the essential requirements of the common good.
In addition to the family, Putin, secretly baptized many years before by his mother, also wanted to restore the glory of the Russian Orthodox Church. He realized that the health of the Church was a necessary element of the common good. As a concrete action showing the importance of this reality, his regime has helped restore over 25,000 Churches.
Turning from domestic affairs to foreign affairs, Putin also sensed that it would be good for the world if more nations existed that could persuade the United States to act more in accord with the principles of justice. Russia, he thought, given its history, could be one of those nations.
From 1999 to 2013, he implemented his plans. But, by 2013, things had changed in the United States. Either because of the debacles that had occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, or due to hubris, the Foreign Policy establishment, still influenced by globalist dreams of hegemony, were now more openly considering Russia and China as the two empires to be dismantled once “radical Islam” had been given its final deathblow.
Putin saw the threat to his own country when the United States began openly considering bombing Syria. The pretext was Assad’s “use” of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013. Putin, and much of the world with him, realized that Syria was a domino leading to Iran, followed by Russia and China. A cynic would say he could not stop the United States. His military was not strong enough for that. But, he could use diplomacy to buy some time. An optimist would say he was motivated by a mixture of self preservation and a sense of justice. If we are to believe the words of his editorial in the New York Times, he was moved by a sense of justice.
Putin had been an observer of international affairs to know the script that the Obama administration was following. He knew that, going back to Kosovo, the left-wing version of American intervention had become bombing so as to punish and destabilize. Madeleine Albright popularized this approach when she said, “we have so many bombs, we have to use them for something” as the justification for bombing Serbia. Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power were the new advocates of it in the Obama Administration, with Libya being Hilary’s war.
The “harpies,” as some like to call them, are the members of the Democratic Foreign Policy establishment that, beginning in the 1990s, fell under the sway of the neoconservatives or, at the very least, saw outmuscling the neocons as an electoral strategy for bringing about the dominance of the Democratic Party in American Politics. By 2013, all the major clubs that made up the American Foreign Policy Establishment were agreed that the main goal is to advance the American Empire, but the harpies wanted to do so using moralism or under the mask of humanitarianism.
Until the Summer of 2013, despite disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, America, or American exceptionalism still held a certain sway in the minds of a majority of Americans, as well as in the minds of millions throughout the world. America was a religion. It was the religion of freedom, progress, and democracy. Ironically, as a religion, American internally had developed a sophisticated means of dismantling and subverting religion.
In August and September 2013, Barack Obama and his team simply followed what was the playbook of American Exceptionalism up to that point in the War on Terror. They had already been funding and arming the Syrian rebels for at least two years. In early August, they sent 300 CIA operatives into Syria. A week later, the rebels used chemical weapons. The Administration tried to pin this on Assad after Obama had drawn his red line, but the international community was not buying it. The Russians objected.
Failing to obtain support of the international community and NATO, whose lack of support by this time was not surprising, the Administration went to their intelligent-sounding sycophant, the British Prime Minister, but the House of Commons rejected his appeal for war, something that had not happened since 1782.
When the entire international community turned against him and Obama could only muster Estonia, Albania, and Honduras in this particular “coalition of the willing,” his Administration tried to go it alone, hoping that they could at least get Congressional Approval. Congress, having been bought off by the Israel Lobby, would approve bombing Syria. Americans, they had come to expect, were extremely docile when it came to war and intervention. We are a nation of cheerleaders. We always support a president who drops bombs. If Congress supported it, they would have at least obtained a thin veneer of democratic respectability.
But something had changed. Congress began receiving calls at a rate of 298 to 2 against intervention. Both calls for intervention were personally bought by Abe Foxman. Public opinion polls grew decidely against bombing Syria. Between September 1 and September 7 six different polls agreed, Americans were between 70 and 80 percent against intervention in Syria. The vote in the House of Representatives was called off. The Administration would just seek approval in the Senate, the theory being, they could approve the measure by at least a two thirds margin, because they were protected from any popular backlash. By September 7th, it looked as if Leviathan were going to have to act alone.
But something intervened on the path to one more war in the Middle East. On September 7, Pope Francis, along with millions of Catholics and people of good will around the world, fasted and prayed for peace. In the previous month, it had become clear from his public statements that he was deeply concerned about events in Syria, and that he had a sense of impending doom if the United States proceeded with its unjustified attack.
The prayer vigil that accompanied the day of fasting was something unique in the memory of everyone living in the Eternal City. St. Peter’s Square was packed for the five-hour event. Millions from around the world were united with the Pope in asking God for peace.
But, as of September 8, it did not seem that peace was forecoming. With all of its traditional community building techniques exhausted, the Adminsitration was gearing up to bomb Syria alone. Obama was set to address the nation to that effect on the evening of September 10th.
And then, the impossible happened. Monday morning, September 9th, Vladimir Putin announced that Assad had agreed to allow the United Nations to dismantle his chemical weapons program. The Obama Team did not know how to respond. It was as if they were incapable of thinking outside of what had been scripted in poorly written political science textbooks.
When John Kerry first heard the news, he thought it was a joke. He said that it could never actually happen, but, if it did, the Administration would agree to it. Then, he was told it did happen. He found himself at a loss for words. The official position of the Administration changed at least four times between Putin’s announcement on Monday and Obama’s less than memorable speech on the evening of September 10th.
Showing that he really did not know how to respond to the events of the previous month, Obama muttered that we would bomb Syria, and then, changing horses in mid-stream, said that we were not going to bomb Syria. He concluded his speech by claiming incoherently that both the decision to bomb Syria and the decision to hold off bombing Syria proved the importance of American Exceptionalism. But, by the end of the Summer 2013, several important parts of the current myth of American Exceptionalism had crumbled.
Putin’s Editorial on the New York Times website was the final blow to this myth. To use an image from baseball, it was as if Obama, by mentioning American Exceptionalism, had tossed Putin a real slow soft pitch which Putin, in turn, could whack out of the park.
Putin knew that America was a religion. It was based on the myth of the City on a Hill, the nation that was pure, and did not need to be held to the same moral standards of the rest of men. The myth of American Exceptionalism was weak at the beginning of the 20th Century, but when Ronald Reagan, under the influence of the neocons and the revolutionary Jewish spirit that they brought to the White House with them, resurrected it for the last battle of the anti-Communist crusade, it morphed into the monster that currently dominates American foreign policy.
By the evening of September 12th, the world had changed. The US was not going to bomb Syria. Even if it accomplished nothing else, Putin’s diplomacy had succeeded at least in buying some time. And when it came to the Syrian gas attack buying time was no small task, since in order to work, it had to happen before the UN inspectors had issued their report.
When I say the world had changed, I do not mean that the US will stop its insane efforts to bomb Syria and Iran. I also do not mean that the US Foreign Policy Establishment has changed one bit. But this false flag operation was exposed for what it was and because of that the war-mongering American establishment was exposed for this and other frauds it has perpetrated (the alleged massacre at Rajak in Serbia in 1999 comes to mind), and the good-willed people of the world who saw through it this time rejected it.
If T.S. Eliot characterized April as the cruelest month, one can only imagine what he might think about September. In the United States September corresponds to the end of the summer. It is when people start working again after their final summer vacations. Children go back to school. In a sense, the year starts anew. At American Universities, everybody is busy starting the year, following college football, and nobody seemingly does any thinking. Barack Obama chose to speak on September 10th because it was the vigil of 9/11, with all of the emotion that that day now holds.
In Italy, it is still summer in September. But, in a way, it is not summer. Romans are returning to the Eternal City from their vacations, but their are still lots of tourists here. Nathaniel Hawthorne says that in Italy, September is the time of the year when the oranges dry up, but the trees produce juicy peaches, pears, and white figs. Children are returning to school. Scholars are returning to their Universities, but classes don’t start until October. And so, itt is a time when scholars reflect on what has just ended and what might be beginning.
In September 1951, Romano Guardini published his thoughts on the End of the Modern World and on the Nature of Power. Guardini was convinced that the modern world was winding down, and that a new era was beginning. He had spent several of the previous summers reading and reflecting on the thoughts of Blaise Pascal, Rene Descartes, and Michel Montaigne. He thought that, with the two world wars that had just passed, the modern age was passing along with it, and that we were about to enter a new age in history.
Guardini was not sure when the customs, habits, laws, and manners of the next age would change, but he did think it was worth reflecting on the signs that one age was passing and another starting up, to try and understand the countours of the age to come. And so, if nothing else, his works give us some criteria to think about the age that has just passed in America and the world as well as the age that might come next.
Every age and every Empire relies on myths. The myths are false when they are based on stories other than the stories of Christ. But a society cannot live without them. In the West, mythologizing has been an essential element of Empire making, especially when a society attempts to throw off the yoke of Christ.
The founding myth-makers or propagandists in the modern Anglo Saxon world are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Hobbes saw that the modern Leviathan would have to have the appearance of a mortal god, a being that seemed to be an omnipotent machine. It would appear neutral in the realm of morality or a-moral. This is because in order to exist it would have to act according to norms that transcended the rules of everyday existence. The perfection of the Leviathan consists in its capacity to exercise power. It is the sea-faring monster that can appear at any moment and wipe out a ship, or a nation, for any reason that it chooses.
At the same time that this power threatens all with death, it also threatens all with the possibility of salvation. It offers salvation to all who flee from ultimate evil to it. It offers the possibility of redemption in the form of freedom from anarchy. Any regime based on this myth, Guardini tells us, is destined to become asbolutist and unjust, or totalitarian.
Guardini blames Nietzsche and Hegel for these developments, but, at the same time, claims that the orgins of the myth can be traced back to primitive religions. Perhaps because he was teaching classes at Tubingen after World War II, Guardini did not want to consider another possible primitive religion that could be the source of a modern myth.
He fails to point out that these myths can also be traced back to the psychology of any revolutionary Jew who has rejected Christ and seeks a messiah who will once and for all bring about a definitive universal kingdom, with all of the political and military might necessary to bring it about. And yet, while he does not point to the Jewish revolutionary, and its promise of a messiah who will establish a universal kingdom of justice over the earth, he does outline the contours of such a myth in his writings.
Thomas Hobbes drew his understanding of the nature of the Leviathan from his distorted reading of the Old Testament. And so, it makes sense that there are elements of the Leviathan that conform with the Jewish revolutionary spirit.
Guradini, simply refelcting on the experiences of his life both in Italy and Germany, describes something that has come to life in the West. He sees the danger of a immense society composed of isolated individuals. The model citizen of this society is at the same time the bourgeois and the bohemian. These citizens feel themselves controlled by anonymous forces. They feel absracted from nature, uprooted, and easily manipulated.
The leaders of such an Empire, also uprooted, feel they can act beyond the moral norms of ordinary mortals. The gods of Empire can create a constitutional crisis, or any crisis, as a mechanism for controling both the bourgeois or the bohemian. They can make the person feel that there is a constant state of emergency. The Leviathan can also threaten any opponent with destruction. Fear of destruction or fear of death is the greatest source of its power and control.
By creating the threat of chaos, the Empire can commit itself to almost any form of barbarity as a means of protecting its bourgeois bohemians from that chaos. This promise of protection, or salvation, is how it obtains its religious power. Guardini sees, as Plato did, that in such situations there will only be a few who run the apparatus of the state under the guise of democratic politics.
Guardini warned that a small group of rulers, with a sense of a religious mission, would do great harm if they had a false understanding of who they were, if they saw their power in the false, mythological sense just described. They would almost always poorly understand the circumstances they were in. And, if not stopped, they would only bring about one catastrophe after another.
To his credit, Guardini took the step that some of those who listened to his lectures at Tuebingen were unwilling to take when he rejected the idea that history is simply fate or blind force at work in time. History, according to Guardini, is moved by beings, men, angels, and God. If this is so, then the men who rule such an Empire are ultimately working for Satan, or, as Christ would put it when He spoke to the Jews, “your Father is Satan.”
Is it possible to stop the Leviathan? Here, Guardini is at a loss. But, he does tell us something that is instructive. He asks whether there a power in the world that can help men to remain men? Will there be a way that men will not simply succumb to Leviathan? Will there be a way to reject Leviathan without becoming a revolutionary, a utopian, or a naive moralist? The answer is yes, if there is someone who is capable, in the right moment, of articulating a sentiment that everybody, more or less clearly, would like to see enunciated. That was the role that Putin’s editorial played.
Guardini also says that the new Leviathan will, little by little, reject those effects of Christian civilization that have remained in place in the modern world because it will find even those fragments odious. Guardini goes on to say that no Christian can rejoice in seeing the radical denial of Christ or of Christian institutions. Such rejection is the rejection of Logos, the absolute Truth who created the world. Any person or institution that tries to frustrate Logos is evil to the core.
But a Christian sees it as good when the treason against Logos is laid bare. At this moment, his eyes are opened to the fact that the person, group, or institution that he once thought was good has clearly detached itself from the truth of Revelation. Now, he clearly sees the fruit. He sees the traitor for who and what he is.
While Putin did not put things in Guardini’s terms, it seems that Putin, in a rather mild yet forceful way, exposed the traitor when he showed that the American Emperor was wearing no clothes. He exposed American Exceptionalism for what it has become under the influence of the neoconservatives in the godless Obama Administration. It has become the Leviathan, a monster which acts beyond the limits of justice, prudence, decency, and human dignity. As Obama said in the aftermath of Putin’s editorial, Vladimir Putin does not share our values, a statement which was true in a sense which he did not understand.
By the time Obama appealed to American Exceptionalism as the rationale justifying an attack on Syria, canned responses no longer worked. They rang hollow. In a way, Obama was right, but his statement was not complete. He should have said, “Putin, 80 percent of the Americans, and 99 percent of the rest of the world do not share our values.”
American exceptionalism had become an ideological soap bubble that was destined to burst the moment it made contact with reality. Putin popped that bubble in his September 11 letter to the New York Times, but there were more signs earlier in the summer that the bubble going to burst soon anyway.
By 2013 the United States had been spending over a century cultivating the myth of American Exceptionalism, initially with the help of the dying British Empire at the end of the Second War. But as the Cold War ended and the War on Radical Islam began, neoconservative myth makers only intensified the construction of Leviathan and the myth making that goes with it. But by the summer of 2013, after twelve years of failed adventures in the Middle East, and with the Israel lobby pushing gay marriage throughout the Western world, more American Catholics began waking up to the fact that the world had changed, making them more receptive to the pin that Putin would use to pop the American bubble.
In other words, ever since the New Deal, American myth makers thought they could assimilate the American Catholic population into the Leviathan myth. At least some in the Obama Administration, following the example of how Woodrow Wilson and European leaders treated Benedict XV after World War I, wanted to show once and for all that Catholics were irrelevant in American politics, and perhaps irrelevant in world affairs as well.
There was no public diplomacy going on between the United States and the Vatican in the days leading up to September 12. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there was no American Ambassador to the Vatican in Rome. Perhaps it was due to the mentalilty of those in the Administration who felt that the Catholic Church was irrelevant in world affairs.
The Obama Adminstration’s seeming indifference to the Pope needs to be understood in the context of the relationship between the Pope and United States which has come into existence over the last 25 years, a context which will help us understand another startling fact about Pope Francis’s prayer and diplomacy during the Syria crisis: Francis may or may not be aware of it, but his call to prayer and fasting marked a spiritual break with the American Regime and one of its media propaganda machine. As if to show that He was still the Lord of History, God reacted to the Syrian crisis and the Pope’s reaction to it by showing that He did indeed have an ear for the cry of the poor when they prayed.
In early August, the president of a Pontifical University came to visit us in the mountains. On Wednesday August 7th, he proposed having a discussion on Spei Salvi and Lumen Fidei the coming Saturday. I spent three days reviewing the two Encyclicals, only to find my efforts frustrated on Saturday morning when we failed to the discuss the documents in question. Instead of a seminar, he held a catechetical session in which he showed us all that the primary response to modern conditions was to love God more. True, but maybe more could be said.
Given the events that were occuring in July and August, the vague exhortation to love God more was not satisfying.
On July 29th, 2013 Pope Francis was flying home to Rome after a successful World Youth Day at the Copacabana. In what was depressingly familiar commentary, some Catholic journalists were bragging that the Pope drew more people to the Copa than the Rolling Stones. From this comment, they inferred that the Pope was going to capitulate to elements of the sexual revolution that the Rolling Stones helped to promote. Francis was gearing up to change the Church’s teaching on contraception and divorce.
Seemingly unaware that this kind of commentary was coming from his actions, and instead feeling confident in his role as first evangelizer in the Church, Francis spurned the advice of his public relations advisors and held a press conference. And why not? Up to this point in the Papacy he had been a darling of the media. He had had several successful media encounters in Brazil. And so why not take questions from the Press Corp on the plane?
During the Q and A, a question came out about how to deal with divorced Catholics. The Pope began his answer stating that his predecessor in Buenos Aires thought that probably half the marriages in his diocese could be annulled. The Pope went on to say that the Church had to learn to take better care of divorced Catholics. This, of course, led to a report on Italian television that the Church was close to changing its teachings on marriage and divorce.
This example is typical of the kind of coverage that has come from the Pope’s words and gestures since being elected. In fact, one could say that it extends all the way back to Benedict XVI’s resignation. Both the resignation and the first six months of Francis’ Papacy seemed to have gone a long way in encouraging the enemies of the Church. It had not only given them comfort, it also fanned their hopes that the last bastion of the moral order, the Catholic Church, might once and for all capitulate to the revolutionaries who have been warring against her from without and from within for over two centuries now.
To give some indication of the kind of publicity we are talking about, I only need to mention that Avvenire, the Catholic Newspaper of Italy, ran an interview of prominent European intellectuals praising the resignation of Benedict. Julia Kristeva, for example, claimed that Benedict had successfully fused together the ideas of Sigmund Freud with the morality of the Catholic Church. Turning to Francis, none other than the famous Sodomite Elton John has stepped forward to praise Francis as the only man who could offer hope in what has become a dark world.
John Allen, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of what the media thinks about the Pope, is claiming that nothing less than a revolution is happening in the Vatican before our eyes.
We are not opposed in principle to the Pope exercising a certain moral authority in the public sphere, but the occasion of yet another World Youth Day, along with the phenomenon of the media’s love-bombing of Francis led me to ask, exactly what is going on here? What good will come out of giving aid and comfort to the public enemies of the Church while many Catholics are suffering persecution by those very same enemies?
First of all, let me explain what I mean by love-bombing the Pope. Love-Bombing is a short period during which people or groups that we would normally expect to attack actually treat the other person or group well. Not only do they treat their usual adversaries well, they shower them with praise, do them favors, and, in general, publicly flatter them. My first experience of the media’s love bombing of the Pope occurred in August 1993, at World Youth Day in Denver.
During the week leading up to the Pope’s arrival in Denver on Thursday, the media were typically negative with respect to the Pope; they were critical of the Church for its opposition to birth control, married priests, homosexual priests, abortion, etc. But, on Thursday, the coverage changed. Everything turned positive. At the time, people spoke of it as a miracle. I suppose the first time it happens, it could be extraordinary, but if the same phenomenon keeps recurring, it is difficult to say that something supernatural is involved. If the same phenomenon keeps occurring in the media, it is more likely there is something sinister involved.
And, of course, the same thing has reoccurred at every World Youth Day since, at Paris, Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney, and now, Brazil. We have seen a six month love bombing campaign since March. But let me focus on Denver and Brazil. When the Pope came to Denver in 1993, not many were expecting a big turnout, as if a turnout meant something. But, in the context of the wider political and cultural scene, we were at the time seeing signs of the break up of what had been the Catholic-neoconservative alliance that had brought down communism. In the early 1990s, the neoconservatives were busy implementing their plans to create the next great enemy for Westerners to fight—namely, Muslims—and in order to do this, they needed to keep the Catholics on the plantation.
The Church was also rethinking what to do next in the wake of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Pope in the 1980s had written extensively against materialist communism. One could also find in his writings principles for a potentially robust critique of materialist capitalism.
On August 12, 1993 I was invited along with a group of students to participate in a lunch discussion with a reporter from USA Today, at a which meeting took place at Regis University in Denver Colorado. I was 23 years old at the time and one of about 20 US delegates out of 300 at an international youth conference sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on the Laity. Before arriving in Denver, I had taken several courses studying Hardon’s Catechism and Catholic Social Doctrine, courses which more or less followed the Encyclicals of John Paul II up to that point.
This particular discussion took place before World Youth Day. I knew this interview was going to happen several days in advance. The reporter had given word that he would like the lunch discussion to be about what should happen next in the Church. That is to say, I had time to think about what I might like to say.
My thoughts ran something like this: based on what I had been taught in my catechism classes, communism is a materialist ideology. Capitalism is a materialist ideology. Communism just fell. Capitalism is next. What we should expect from the Pope is that beginning at Denver and in the upcoming years, he is going to point his guns at materialistic capitalism, its promotion of sexual corruption, and its war against the moral order.
Our little group had made a pact that we were not going to come across as dissenters. Most of us were hoping, some just because they thought it would be good to celebrate for a weekend, that the Press would not attack the Church.
And so, when the lunch started and the reporter asked us for our thoughts on what the Pope should do next in his Papacy, I began the discussion. “If you are looking for an angle, I think I have one.” I proceeded to give the explanation about turning his rhetorical guns on western materialistic capitalism. Of course, what I said fell on deaf ears. The reporter kept baiting the 20 of us to give him the answers he wanted to hear. After 45 minutes, one member of our group finally broke ranks, beginning his statement “if you want to hear something about married priests, I have something to say …”. In gratitude for giving the reporter the quotes he wanted to hear about homosexuals, contraception, and women priests, he got a photo and a couple of quotes in the USA Today article. That same man also got quoted in what was, at least for that week, the last article attacking the pope. Every subsequent article was a love-bomb.
As I reflect on events now, it seems that the media were love bombing the Pope in the hopes that he would, “cuddle up,” as my Aunt Pat liked to say, to the other Jewish factions currently vying for power in Washington, the neocons. It was as if the media were sending the signal to the Pope, “we normally make you look bad, but if you change a little, we can solve all your public relations problems.”
In the case of World Youth Days, the Dionysian Left flattered the Pope because these events held out the possibility that the Church would move towards elements of the sexual revolution. The Neoconservative Right would want to flatter the Pope, because they saw him and the faithful he led as an essential part of the upcoming war on Islam.
The warm reception that the Pope got after he arrived in Denver was all that people remembered and repeated from that World Youth Day. In fact, it is all that people remembered and repeated from the World Youth Days in Paris, Rome, Toronto, Cologne, and Sydney.
The love bomb in Denver worked. The Pope stuck to his guns in critiquing the most obvious bad effects of Western materialistic capitalism, that is to say, abortion, but he held back when it came to critiquing capitalism itself. He also held back when it came to critiquing the deeper causes of abortion in the promotion of sexual revolution and the corruption of morals. Instead, we were urged to be proud of the Gospel and to proclaim it from the rooftops.
By now it should be obvious that Benedict XVI followed in JPII”s rhetorical footsteps. Taking his cue from John Paul II’s overture to the Jews, his visit to the synagogue, his trip to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, etc., etc., Benedict XVI never articulated the way in which Catholic-Jewish dialogue was being manipulated to the Church’s disadvantage in the public relations wars. The only striking crack in the dike I can think of is Benedict’s insertion of Simon bar-Kohkba into Spei Salvi as an example of a Jewish revolutionary who had rejected Christ and lost hope, something a Christian can never do.
The dialectic by now, is clear. Within the West, two options are presented to the Pope, side with the radical sexual revolutionaries who have co-opted the Left or side with the Trotskyites-turned-neocons who have co-opted the Right. The neocons give the Pope the option of critiquing Muslims or abortion. The sexual revolutionaries let him speak about things like moral ecology. If they think he will deviate from the party line, he will get whacked in the media. Or, if circumstances arrive when it is convenient for both sides to whack the Pope, the love bombing will stop altogether.
After 20 years of watching the strategic use of the love bomb and trying to understand how it works, I am forced to conclude that Church leaders seemingly hold back from directly critiquing the sexual revolution by revealing its true promoters and the real effects they hope to achieve because Church leaders fear a direct confrontation with the Jews. They also fear that the general population is not ready for such a critique because the majority are enslaved to their passions. But, as we have come to see, there is no way to avoid the moment when the love bombing stops and the other more vicious bombs, both literal and rhetorical, start to fall.
The rise of convenient circumstances for whacking the Pope reminds us of events which occurred not 20 years ago but 10 years ago. In 2002-2003 we had a clear series of events in which both the sexual revolutionaries and the neocons could benefit from the demise of the papacy in public eyes. So, the love bombing stopped. These were the years, if you recall, of the outbreak of the news about pedophile priests, the first legal battles over homosexual marriage, and the first years of the Iraq war.
I remember having lunch in March 2003 with a former vice president of the University of Notre Dame. He was extremely aware of image making, and how the Church’s and Notre Dame’s images were affected by the least of events. As we sat over lunch, he explained to me that the publicity of the pedophile scandals would cost the Church 10 years or so of public relations damage.
I must admit that, at the time, I did not think about the Church in these terms. Of course, he did. He had spent his life cultivating the image of the University in the hopes of making it and possibly the Church a player in the alliance that made up the democratic Left. As I reflect on those events now, I am forced to conclude that he was probably right. The pedophile crisis cost the Church ten years of public relations problems with the media, and much more, if we consider the damage that scandal does to souls. These were ten years in which the Church did all in its power to placate its enemies. Outside of the weekends of World Youth Days, and Papal trips to Western Countries, the only time the media mentioned the Church was to castigate her for moral degeneracy.
Ironically, that brings us to 2013. We now live 20 years after the Denver World Youth Day that gave John Paul II a reprieve in the media, and ten years after the public relations disaster on the eve of the Iraqi war. We just finished World Youth Day in Brazil. And, so far, the press has given Francis a six month reprieve from the usual attacks on the Church.
Until now. The first half hearted attacks on Francis came from CBS, who hired a British professor to say that the Pope was siding with the Russians, and in a sense, he was: Putin, the Russians, and the Pope were all against bombing Syria. And Francis’s diplomatic efforts and prayer vigil showed that the Papacy, at least for now, was not going to hold back in its efforts to appease the neoconservatives.
The neoconservative Catholics seem to be aware of their waning influence. Signs had been appearing all summer indicating that the neocon grip on the Catholic imagination was eroding. To begin, First Things published an article critiquing George Weigel’s ecclesiology. Joseph Bottom, a former editor of First Things, published a paper financed by the Luce Foundation supporting homosexual marriage. George Weigel claimed that his efforts over the last 20 years had failed. By September 12, even Rick Santorum thought it would be imprudent to bomb Syria. At the moment I am writing this, no William Buckley or George Weigel has stepped forward to obfuscate the Pope’s message of peace.
I think something more is happening. America itself is a religion and an ideology. Some call it American Exceptionalism. Others call it grandma and apple pie. Professor Gelernter of Yale called it the world’s fourth great religion, but over the course of the War on Terror, that ideology has been losing its hold on people’s minds, both domestically and internationally.
During late August and Early September, many of my colleagues here in Rome from around the world were asking me what was happening in the US. They were in disbelief. They did not think that the US was controlled by money, as other nations were, but during the previous year, we saw how the Jewish Lobby had advanced homosexual marriage in the United States and almost every country in Europe, against the democratic wishes of the people. They heard Joseph Biden praise the Jews for being at the forefront of advancing gay marriage. They also saw the same groups support the bombing of Syria.
Could it be true that the United States was not a democracy after all? That it wasn’t the City on a Hill? That its politicians could be bought off just like politicians in Europe and Third World? Could it be, as the Polish began grudgingly admitted after their battles with the homosexual lobby last Spring, that at this moment in history Putin and the Russians had more good to offer the world than the United States?
Finally, the weekend of Septermber 7-8 exposed the Israeli Lobby in all of its perfidy. What else could explain the president’s determination to hold onto a lie in the face of the world’s outrage, the overwhelming opposition of the American people, and even the silencing of both Houses of Congress by the democratic process? As we indicated above, the Pope and Putin helped expose that lie. It also led to the end of the six month love-bombing of the Pope.
As I reflect on how events unfolded, and war was at least delayed, if not averted, I am reminded of the events outlined in Isaiah, events also set in Syria and Israel. In this instance, Sennacherib marched into Syria with 180,000 soldiers in order to menace Ezechias the king. Just as almost no one thought that Ezechias could turn back Sennacherib, no one thought on September 7th that Putin, Pope Francis, or anyone in the international community could turn back Obama and the Israeli Lobby.
The Lobby and its American lackeys could have repeated with Rabsaces, “By what cunning or what force do you have that can meet with my arms? Who will help you, once you have thrown off your allegiance to me?” Just as Obama thought the American people would support him, Rabsaces spoke in Hebrew thinking he could persuade the Hebrews to come over to his side.
After imposing the contraception mandate on a recalcitrant Catholic Church and the pushing of gay marriage, Team Obama was going to prove once and for all the irrelevance of the Catholic Church when it came to domestic and international politics. The strategy seemed foolproof, especially since Church leaders had done as much as possible on their part to make themselves irrelevant. It looked as if the Syrian gas attack false flag operation were doomed to succeed by default.
By the end of August and into the first week of September, nobody had a response to the Administration, just as at the time of Sennacherib the repsonse to the menacing threats of the Assyrians was that “all kept silence, and gave him no word in answer.”
Then the Pope announced a fast and Eucharistic prayer vigil, specifically directed at all involved in Syria. Many who went along with it, did so out of blind faith, thinking that this was a nice but meaningless gesture from a Pope popular with the media up to this point. Like the Israelis, they kept silence. They had no answer.
Ezechias also prayed, did penance, and fasted. He tore his garments, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went to the House of the Lord. Putin, at least from the sign of respect he showed in his editorial, also united himself to the intentions of the Holy Father. He did take seriously the letter the Pope sent to the G20.
What stregnth did the world have to oppose the Obama Administration? Once again, Isaiah could have described the situation. It seemed as if the world had become like a “mother whose child has come to the moment of delivery, and she has no strength to bring him into the world.” The only hope, the Pope was telling us, was to see if God would listen to the prayers uttered for the poor.
God sent Obama back to his country, just as God promised to send Sennacherib back to his country. The man who led his armies to bring ruin onto many nations could only be turned back by the Lord, the Creator of all things. Only the Lord could save Israel from the threats of the Assyrians.
From time to time in history, God makes use of events to show that He is the Creator, that he is the Lord of History. He told Ezechias that these events were of his making, they were part of his design. He wanted to remind the king that He was watching all events.
The Pope was praying that the Americans would not bomb Syria. The Lord promised Ezechias that the Assyrians would not shoot an arrow into the city. That he would go back the way he came and never enter the city. And so it happened. An Angel of the Lord visited the Assyrian army and it became an army of dead soldiers.
After these events, the Lord pressed his case even further. He reminded Ezechias that his interventions in history were to prove that right would be established in His name, that His law would extend to all the ends of the earth, that this would happen without force, but that ultimately His justice would triumph.
Can we look to the weather as a sign that God uses to reveal His will? I am not sure. At rainy World Youth Days, the sun would shine while John Paul gave his homilies. In Rome, it stormed the day Benedict XVI announced his resignation. The Poles saw great lights in the sky the summer before September 1939. They attributed this to a prediction of Our Lady of Fatima. For several hours on September 8th, the day after the Pope’s prayer vigil and the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin, the world had clear skies. Meteorlogical maps showed no storms brewing over the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
My purpose here is not to say that the train of historical events in Syria is exactly following events in Isaiah. Nor am I saying that Leviathan, the Empire or the revolutionary Jew will not wreak further havoc in the Middle East or around the world. But there are moments when God intervenes more clearly in history. It is a reminder to us to keep our faith in Him and our hope in Him. It is also a reminder to purify our minds and hearts from those false ideologies that enslave us. August and September 2013 became another opportunity for Americans to purify their hearts of their attachment to Leviathan. Putin’s courage also freed the world from simply acting out of fear of Leviathan.
As Guardini sensed, there are times when the world changes. For example, the Great Depression and the War that followed it led to a definitive change in the political alliances that made up the United States and Europe. After World War II, the United States essentially became a Judeo-Protestant country, with Catholics making unsuccessful attempts to join the ruling class. We are now in the middle of another time when in domestic and international affairs a shift is happening.
For a time, the world became divided into two blocks, the communist East and capitalist West. After the fall of communism, neoconservatives attempted to redefine the major conflict in the world as being between the moderate enlightenment of the West and radical Islam in the East. On the horizon, they would like to propose a struggle between the Enlightened West and the totalitarian East. I have seen bizarre attempts in the past few years, for example, to paint Putin as a secret communist.
However, the Catholic Church can never go along with these simplistic paradigms. Her center of gravity still lies in the West, but the West has failed. The modern West continues to exist in heretical rebellion from the Church which brought the West into being out of the ruins of the ancient world. In as much as the West has succumbed to materialist capitalism and its anti-family, pro-contraception, pro-abortion culture of death, or pro-capitalist materialist culture of death, it will find itself at odds with the Church, in addition to being at odds with other materialist nations like China, who are competing to consume the resources of the world. They will also find themselves at odds with cultures, like Putin’s Holy Mother Russia or Khomeini’s Iran, that are seeking to re-establish order based on respect for religion, morality, justice, the family, life, and an economy based on a principle of justice.
And so, the Catholic Church once again is discovering her role in history and the world as a defender of the family and life, promoter of religion and peace, as well as a defender of the poor, seeking economic justice for all not just the wealthy. In as much as she preserves her status as the spiritual remnant, faithful to the Lord, she will be able to offer real support in favor of justice, peace, and the restoration of the common good. The summer of 2013 helped us all to see that more clearly, and to enjoy the fresh peaches and white figs of September.
This article first appeared in the October issue of Culture Wars Magazine http://www.culturewars.com/BackIssues/32.htm.