Trying to Break In

Day Four of the Year of Mercy, and I am suffering already from “mission fatigue.” This because I doubt we are on the right mission.

Worse, this may be true of almost everyone I know who is Catholic, except those who do not take their religion seriously. I don’t get bored with the Mass, except when it is happy-clappy; in which case I am less bored than appalled, to see Christ so insulted.

There is a girl I know with a big mouth. Twenty-something: perhaps I’d better say “woman,” reserving the more affectionate term “girles” to the Scottish sense: younger than fifteen and older than fifty. By “big mouth,” I mean that she says things that are bold, and does not limit herself to the politically correct. True, I adore people like that, who will not be intimidated by the Zeitgeist.

But what convinced me that she is Christian; and not only Christian but Catholic; and not only Catholic but profoundly so – was her response to an item of news from Argentina.

It was not about our pope, incidentally; except insofar as an effigy of him was being burned.

It was “about” a bunch of topless feminists, chanting obscene slogans, performing obscene acts, running helter skelter and physically charging a line of men who were blocking their entry into the Cathedral of San Juan. The girls were spray-painting their crotches, and so forth. (Not one of them retaliated.)

This was part of an annual, state-sponsored “cultural event,” during which prominent churches across Argentina are attacked and when possible, vandalized. (Plenty of film available.)

Argentine defenders
Argentine defenders

The young lady I know, has the hide of a rhinoceros when it comes to being insulted, herself, by leftists and feminists up here. I had never seen her cry. But at the sight of this desecration in suburban Buenos Aires, she was weeping. Her only comment was, “They are doing this to Our Lord.”

“The world is turning into Argentina,” according to one of my Argentine correspondents, who travels. He has a love/hate relationship with his own country, as many of us do today. He has plenty to say on the phenomena of Justicialismo – or “Peronism” as we call it in our northern naiveté.

At the time of this “story,” which made world news two years ago, he tried to explain to me the deeper psychic roots of this totalitarian ideology, which can express itself in quite various, often contradictory ways.

“It is neither Left nor Right; it can dress up or it can dress down. It is always populist and demagogic, however; always essentially fascist in its street manifestations. It feeds on the ‘madness of crowds’. And it is always anti-Christian, even and especially when it masquerades as Christian.” (I paraphrase from memory.)

He said much more, with emphasis on a “malign dialectic.” In a strange curious way, Peronism and anti-Peronism are the two poles of the same “magnetic field.” In the same way the true fascists of today call their opponents fascists – the truest Peronists declare themselves anti-Peronist, while condemning, in effect, their own behavior.

By contrast, Tuesday’s son-et-lumière at Rome – a massive, multi-million dollar spectacle mounted for an audience in Saint Peter’s Square, and watched by millions around the world on streaming video – was a much tamer affair. In what I could see of it through links, there were smiling nuns and enchanted children in the big crowd.

It was a day to ignore the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. For the “Year of Mercy” was being kicked off, in this media circus, with a message too political to leave any room for religion, except in the sense that “climate change” is, itself, a political religion.

Sponsorship and support came from various environmentalist organizations, also active in the cause of “population control.” So far as I follow, the Catholic Church supplied only the endorsement – the pulpit for their preaching – while Our Lady stood neglected, aside.

This incredibly extravagant propaganda display, toggling back and forth between sweet images of animals and nature, and simplistic depictions of threats to them, was reminiscent of the great son-et-lumière demonstrations before the crowds in pre-War Italy and Germany. It is political theatre designed to appeal to the child-like: to mobilize them into some kind of “children’s crusade.”

Now, I’m going to risk saying something controversial here. The contrast between the spectacle at Rome, and the spectacle before San Juan Cathedral, is outwardly quite stark.

Vatican monkeyshines
Vatican monkeyshines

This latest was a high-tech masque of “niceness,” at least until the observer thinks it through.

That earlier was, to look at, nasty indeed. Even “liberals” in the Argentine media, I am told, reacted to it with disgust and condemnation. Hardly anyone cried, however.

Both were of course intended to be theatrical. To my mind, one gets you coming, and the other gets you going – a tactic Hollywood well understands.

Nor, of course, were the two presentations organized by the same people, although it could be said that the ideological overlap between the two causes (radical feminism and radical environmentalism) is near total.

I suppose a very cynical person (I know a few, all atheists I think) could argue that the Mass is “a show,” too. But not such as can compete with this theatre for “the masses”; or vice versa. And entirely opposite to them by intention.

Whether in Buenos Aires, or in Rome, we find these new messages emblazoned (quite literally) onto our most visible churches, with the promise of more to come. We are already getting, and will get “the nice” and “the nasty” by turns; both in opposition to “the good.”

For it is as Saint Paul said, and warned, about their common origin. That: “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”

At the portals of the Sanctuary, lo, and trying everywhere to break in.

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: