Belgium and “Our Values”

The bombings in Belgium, just days before Easter, were a potent reminder of something we, in the postmodern West, now have a hard time expressing. President Obama, on a visit to Argentina, said in response to the attacks: “Our values are right.” And that we must tell the terrorists, “you are not going to change our values of liberty and openness and the respect of all people.”

Politics is not philosophy and presidents are not philosophers. There was nothing wrong – and a fair amount right – with that, as far as it goes. But there is also no little tension, as we know only too well, among “values” like liberty, openness, and respect. (We can’t, for example, seem to decide whether restricting marriage to a man and a woman is mere common sense or the rankest prejudice, or whether abortion is killing the innocent or female liberation.) Values only make sense – only have identifiable “value” – when we have a settled view of the world and the people in it.

Liberty ungrounded in reality, as our Founding Fathers knew, becomes license; openness can become vacuousness, and an inability to distinguish right from wrong; and respect can shade into a kind of indifference that doesn’t really take others’ views, especially their religious views, seriously. We all, after all, believe the same thing, don’t we?

Still worse, today, we no longer have an idea of why we value liberty, openness, and respect. We just do. It’s no coincidence that Belgium and France and the Scandinavian countries that most embraced these “values,” are now troubled.

And an American president who watches a baseball game after a terror attack or does the tango while an ally is in mourning might fairly be regarded as failing in respect, and really not all that invested in large, abstract values. That’s how an otherwise intelligent man can seem to think that showing terrorists that they aren’t going to “change our values” also means that attacks should not change our plans. Or policies.

In his Commentaries on the Gallic War, Julius Caesar famously wrote that “all Gaul (France) is divided into three parts,” and that the Belgians were the strongest (fortissimi) and bravest “because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of [our] Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germans, who dwell beyond the Rhine, with whom they are continually waging war.”

That was long ago, and not only the Belgians but many Europeans have for some time believed that their “values” – and futures – lay instead precisely in increasing wealth and turning away from martial virtues. As a reaction to two catastrophic world wars, that’s understandable. As a residual Christian inclination to eschew violence as much as possible, it’s only natural. But as a basic stance, given the challenges that not only ISIS, but the world and human nature perpetually present, it’s suicide.

Last Tango in Buenos Aires
Last Tango in Buenos Aires

Anyone acquainted with history knows that it’s happened before. Once robust Roman and Christian North Africa, the birthplace of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, Sts. Cyprian and Augustine, Felicity and Perpetua, lacking a strong secular state after the fall of the Western Empire, disappeared under Muslim assault. Except for their moral and intellectual achievements, in today’s North Africa those great figures might as well never have existed.

Something similar is occurring all over the Middle East. It would be foolish to think it cannot also happen, in the longer run, in Europe or the Americas, especially given the West’s demographic collapse.

Obama often says that ISIS isn’t an “existential” threat. By that, he may mean that terrorists and their armies are, for now, too small to conquer or destroy us. But there are many ways to be destroyed – and one of them is by undermining those very “values” the president thinks are “right.” Sometimes the undermining comes, unintentionally, from the very people who think they are defending them.

Other nations may explain their values as they will. We Americas know – or used to – whence they come: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that men have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The American Jesuit, John Courtney Murray, though well aware that the United States only carries on part of the natural law tradition, argued, nevertheless, that the Declaration made certain claims. There are truths; we can know them; and we, we Americans, hold them. They don’t just exist in some abstract realm. They make a difference – perhaps all the difference.

Such rights and truths did not exist in the pre-Christian ancient world. And they mostly do not exist, as they were once understood, in the post-Christian modern world, which has a hard time accounting for where “rights” come from and agreeing on what “values” might be, other than preferences.

They certainly don’t come from the rationalists. Christopher Dawson once pointed out that a seminal Enlightenment figure like Voltaire only cared for reaching “rich polite educated people.” The central Enlightenment current thought itself the flower of civilization. For Voltaire, Plato was a madman, Thomas Aquinas’s work “like taking a course at Bedlam,” Shakespeare was “a low savage.”

Only “the Brights” of his day, Voltaire thought, were worth addressing: “We have never claimed to enlighten shoemakers and servant girls, they are the portion of the apostles.” To the enlightened elite, ordinary people are always “bitter clingers” to guns and religion.

Yesterday at Easter Mass, Pope Francis encouraged the use of the “weapons of love” against terrorism. That, too, is one of our values. But we’ll need other, more tangible weapons as well, if our values are going to survive.

The terrorists have done us a favor, in a way, by reminding us of an urgent task: relearning that without a foundation in something that transcends mere values and even ourselves, our values are just a habit we happen to have retained from the latter days of the Christian West. Without a deeper foundation and more serious commmitment, our values – and we – won’t last very long at all.

Robert Royal

Robert Royal

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

  • Alexandra_kirschmitt

    Thank you Mr. Royal. Just this morning I was reading again one of my favorite writers, Hilaire Belloc, and your aticle reminds me of what I read. Hilaire Belloc wrote that the grand effect of the Reformation was the isolation of the soul,” a loss of corporate sustenance; of the sane balance produced by general experience, the weight of security, and the general will. The isolation of the soul is the very definition of its unhappiness. But this solvent applied to society does very much more than merely complete and confirm human misery.

    In the first place and underlying all, the isolation of the soul releases in a society a furious new accession of _force_. The break-up of any stable system in physics, as in society, makes actual a prodigious reserve of potential energy. It transforms the power that was keeping things together with a power driving separably each component part: the effect of an explosion. That is why the Reformation launched the whole series of material advance, but launched it chaotically and on divergent lines which would only end in disaster. But the thing had many other results.

    Thus, we next notice that the new isolation of the soul compelled the isolated soul to strong vagaries. The soul will not remain in the void.If you blind it, it will grope. If it cannot grasp what it appreciates by every sense, it will grasp what it appreciates by only one. On this account in the dissolution of the corporate sense and of corporate religion you had successive idols set up, worthy and unworthy, none of them permanent. The highest and the most permanent was a reaction towards corporate life in the shape of a worship of nationality–patriotism.

    The rationalism of the eighteenth century carried on through the materialism of the nineteenth, the irrational doubts of Kant (which included much emotional rubbish) carried on to the sheer
    chaos of the later metaphysicians, with their denial of contradictions, and even of being. Both sprang from this necessity of the unsupported soul to make itself some system from within: as the unsupported soul, in an evil dream, now stifles in strict confinement and is next dissolved in some fearful emptiness.”

    ” We have reached at last, as the final result of that catastrophe three hundred years ago, a state of society which cannot endure and a dissolution of standards, a melting of the spiritual framework, such that the body politic fails. Men everywhere feel that an attempt to continue down this endless and ever darkening road is like the piling up of debt. We go further and further from a settlement. Our various forms of knowledge diverge more and more. Authority, the very principle of life, loses its meaning, and this awful edifice of civilization which we have
    inherited, and which is still our trust, trembles and threatens to crash down. It is clearly insecure. It may fall in any moment. We who still live may see the ruin. But ruin when it comes is not only a sudden, it is also a final, thing.

    In such a crux there remains the historical truth: that this our European structure, built upon the noble foundations of classical antiquity, was formed through, exists by, is consonant to, and will stand only in the mold of, the Catholic Church.

    Europe will return to the Faith, or she will perish.

    The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.”

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Alexandra I much enjoy your comments and the quotes of Belloc. The difficulty I have, for example in today’s post is knowing exactly your thoughts, or Belloc’s, because of the lack of quotation marks before and at the end of each quotation. Otherwise thanks for a very pertinent post.

  • Michael DeLorme

    Belgium bleeds; Obama boogies. If this disgraceful lack of class has anything remotely to do with “values,” please apprise me.

  • Marguerite

    I’m not as certain terrorists are primarily concerned about destroying our “values”as much as they are intent upon destroying Christianity and Judaism.

    • BroEdward

      I agree. I think the terrorists only see changing and destroying our values as a byproduct benefit of destroying us. They remind me of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Hitler wasn’t trying to change or destroy “Jewish Values.” He wanted to kill all the Jews.

      And the terrorists did us no favors, at any time or in any way.

    • MSDOTT

      On the front page of our national newspaper today: “Taliban targets Christians in suicide bombing at park”…this happened in Pakistan.

      “A suicide bomber set off a powerful blast close to a children’s swing set in a public park in the eastern city of Lahore,killing at least 69 people, and wounding about 300, rescue workers and officials said.”

      The park was crowded with families on the Easter Holiday. A spokesman for the group which claimed responsibility, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, said that Christians were the target.

      I agree: “they are intent upon destroying Christianity and Judaism”

  • Thomas Gillespie

    Actually, I don’t think the Pope encouraged “the use of the “weapons of love” against terrorism.”

    He said: “With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death.”

  • Manfred

    Is there a point to this essay? Does pro-abortion, pro-infanticide, pro-legalized sodomy Obama have anything to say to anyone about “values”? Does Pope Francis, who most serious people consider a madman and await his apostolic exhortaation with dread, have anything to say to anyone?

    • Gitanjali Sudhir

      I am writing from CHENNAI, INDIA.
      It is disheartening to read, “Pope Francis, who most serious people consider a madman..” and the like slurs. What is this seriousness? Is it a monopoly of Europe or the US? Can it not come from South America, Africa or even Asia or my own India? Is the Papacy in the Catholic Church stands devalued because the office holder comes from Argentina? How come [Mr. Manfred] didn’t serialize together with abortion, infanticide, legalized sodomy a few other maladies and serious personal and social SINS, we suffer in our part of the world, towards which the West – I mean the Christian West – has been and is contributing?

      • Steven P Glynn

        Gitanjali,
        While I sympathize with your reaction to Manfred’s phrasing, what exactly does he say that implies he objects to the Pope because he is not from western Europe or the U.S.? For that matter (perhaps I am not the student of history I once thought myself), exactly which Popes were from the U.S.? I suggest to you that it is not Pope Francis’ country of origin that Manfred is reacting to, but his statements, and that had Pope Francis name been Sarah rather than Bergoglio, and hailed from Africa rather than S. America, (still quite removed from the U.S. or western Europe), his reaction would be quite different.

        • Faithful Catholic

          Steven, I couldn’t agree with you more. Mr. Gitanjali is obviously unfamiliar with the objections of serious Catholics to Pope Francis. I’m one of them and I happen to be from Argentina, although I live in the U.S. Our objections have absolutely zero to do with his country of origin, and everything to do with the statements he makes, the people he befriends (i.e. Cardinal Kasper) and the people he disses (i.e. Cardinal Burke) and his general support of liberal (i.e. admitting divorced and remarried people to Holy Communion, his encyclical on global warming) and Marxist ideology (referring to capitalism as “the dung of the devil”, accepting the “Marxist crucifix” from the leader of Bolivia, etc.).

      • rick

        Two wrongs don’t make a right Mr Sudhir. The justifiable denunciation of imperialism and capitalist excess does not justify abortion and infanticide, much as those positions go together in modern Marxism. The worthlessness of the “progressive” platform is especially apparent with Obama, who recites the litany of sins of the West, but has left the African American community worse off than it was 8 years ago. Your Mr Modi has the better idea. As for Manfred’s “seriousness” being code for Western exploitation, is Cardinal Sarah non-West enough for you?

      • MSDOTT

        Gitanjali Sudhir:

        Have you been following the numerous sayings by the Holy Father that contradict the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church? There are more than enough to fill over 100 pages. I encourage you to google Denzinger-Bergogolio to understand what the protests and dismay of orthodox Catholics are with respect to Pope Francis – whether these orthodox Catholics be from the west or from other parts of the globe. ( The Catholic Thing does not allow links to be posted).

        Contributions to Denzinger – Bergoglio are made by anonymous priests from all over the world, who compare what Pope Francis has said to what has been always held by the Catholic Church. The website used to display a map showing where the contributions came from, which was not only from the west, but from Africa. I cannot recall if there were contributions from India, as I cannot find the map on the website when I searched today in order to write this response to you .

        The Remnant Newspaper, (you can google the name as well), in its petition to the Holy Father to either change course or resign from the Papacy writes to the Holy Father: “you have given many indications of an alarming hostility to the Church’s traditional teaching, discipline and customs, and the faithful who try to defend them, while being preoccupied with social and political questions beyond the competence of the Roman Pontiff. Consequently, the Church’s enemies continually delight in your pontificate, exalting you above all your predecessors. This appalling situation has no parallel in Church history.”

        Finally, check out a priest from the archdiocese of Bombay, India – Fr. Conrad Saldhana – (goggle his name), and read his post entitled Heresy and Apostasy. You may then, IF you have a good foundation in, and understanding of, the Catholic Faith – which apparently, the Holy Father does not seem to have – understand why there is a great concern about Pope Francis from Catholics – who reside all over the world.

        Once you have completed these searches and read the articles, you may then understand WHY I consider what you say i.e. that “the Papacy in the Catholic Church stands devalued just because the office holder comes from Argentina” completely specious.

  • Harry

    The terrorists have done us a favor, in a way, by reminding us of an urgent task: relearning that without a foundation in something that transcends mere values and even ourselves, our values are just a habit we happen to have retained from the latter days of the Christian West. Without a deeper foundation and more serious commmitment, our values – and we – won’t last very long at all.

    Before Roe and after California’s highly controversial “legalization” of abortion, pro-abortion Dr. Malcolm Watts wrote an editorial that appeared in the September, 1970 edition of California Medicine. His audience was not that of the local mass media in California — that audience consisted of many who could be easily propagandized. No, his audience was to consist of educated medical professionals who had taken some version of the “First, do no harm” physicians’ oath of Hippocrates and knew quite well the earth-shaking nature of the “legalization” of taking the life of the child in the womb. Dr. Watts was forced into intellectual honesty in his editorial entitled A new ethic for medicine and society. Here are some excerpts from his editorial, which ultimately asserts that the “new ethic of relative rather than of absolute and equal values will ultimately prevail…”

    THE TRADITIONAL Western ethic has always placed great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its stage or condition. This ethic has had the blessing of the Judeo-Christian heritage and has been the basis for most of our laws and much of our social policy. The reverence for each and every human life has also been a keystone of Western medicine and is the ethic which has caused physicians to try to preserve, protect, repair, prolong and enhance every human life which comes under their surveillance. This traditional ethic is still clearly dominant, but there is much to suggest that it is being eroded at its core and may eventually even be abandoned. This of course will produce profound changes in Western medicine and in Western society. …

    What is not yet so clearly perceived is that in order to bring this about hard choices will have to be made with respect to what is to be preserved and strengthened and what is not, and that this will of necessity violate and ultimately destroy the traditional Western ethic with all that this portends.

    I wish the Church would be as intellectually honest as Dr. Watts was about the fact that a potentially lethal assault on not only Western civilization, but on civilization itself, is in progress, and that it has already taken the lives of billions of innocent human beings.

    • Tamsin

      Thanks Harry. I sometimes forget, CMP videos notwithstanding, that the Hippocratic oath is long gone.

      • Harry

        Hi, Tamsin,

        Yes, it is long gone. In response to the Nazi assault on the Hippocratic Oath, the Declaration of Geneva, also known as the Geneva Code was enacted in Geneva Switzerland in 1948 by the World Medical Association. Its updated version of the medical oath taken by physicians to “First do no harm” states in part:

        Now being admitted to the profession of medicine, I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity … I will practice medicine with conscience and dignity. The health and life of my patient will be my first consideration … I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of its conception … Even under threat I will not use my knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.

        Adherence to this version of the oath is long gone, too. The “laws of humanity,” or natural law and its prohibition of taking the lives of innocent humanity as a matter of social policy, has once again, just as occurred in the Nazi regime, been rejected. It is like Nazi ideology lost the battle but won the long term war, as its deification of the state is now world-wide.

  • Francis Miller

    If I get your message here, it is has come to the point that standing firm on our values is the strong suite of Prez Obama and the progressive left. They will brook no intolerance or assault on our values as they have determined them, for now. I find it very hard to agree with the Prez and the intellectual left simply because I don’t see the value in it (pun I suppose). If life is not sacred, what is? The only response is “What is sacred?” or “What does sacred mean anyway?” The conversation stalls on a true value point. I am still buoyed by the celebration of Easter and not so prone to shake my head in frustration. I recently spoke to 2 very well educated young ladies (20’s) who were cautiously Bernie supporters. When we spoke of of Roe v Wade (neither aware of that case nor what the court actually decided), they were somewhat shocked when I explained the court decided not to recognize the unborn child as a human being. Being well educated they did ask “Well when does life begin anyway?” as being the critical question. I asked them did they ever hear of an expectant mother refer to the thing inside them as other than “my baby?” They were noncommittal but agreed that was a good point. It seems to me the common ground of ‘values’ or self evident truths are now as Nietzsche exclaimed, a matter of will not intellect.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Really excellent point Francis, that truth, that is moral truth is ultimately self-evident, and a matter of assent not simply intellectual exploration. Deliberation of a moral act results in the intellect’s apprehension, the judgment of the morality of an act that possesses its own intelligibility. In other words the act is either good or evil of itself. We then respond with assent, an act of the will. As Aquinas says reason is the measure of truth not the rule.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Robert Bork in his book Slouching Toward Gomorrah wrote that Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was a mistake. The mistake was that Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness having no stated definition gave the impression to Am that both principles had no bounds. This Bork said was particularly true regarding the Pursuit of Happiness. I like Bork’s thought in general and disagree with him on this point. Bork was referring to the interpretation of Liberty as you said in your article as license. Whenever I read the like my mind quickly envisions our ‘Catholic’ Sup Ct Just A Kennedy’s 92 definition of liberty in Planned Parenthood v Casey. In that respect Bork was correct. The real issue however is not the mistaken values of some, but the dearth of solid Catholic thinkers, philosophers [for example we have had too few like Alasdair Macintyre in the public forum] teaching not simply collections of elderly Catholics and clergy but the general public. The Pursuit of Happiness is clearly a good and necessary quest when properly directed toward God and the things of God. Jefferson, well read likely had similar in mind. Happiness is treated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics, and Aquinas in his Commentary, both recognizing the need. Is there hope for the West and its decline? Not unless it completely renounces the ethics of Gomorrah upheld by this Democratic Adm and W Europe.

    • Margaret

      “Is there hope for the West and its decline? Not unless it completely renounces the ethics of Gomorrah upheld by this Democratic Adm and W Europe.”

      Fr. Morello, I agree with your above assessment. In addition, I believe that too many leaders in our Church have lost their prophetic voices and thereby have aided this proliferation of “the ethics of Gomorrah” by not giving priority to the most important issues of life and the sanctity of marriage. Instead, they emphasize secondary issues of prudential judgment like immigration favored by the Democrat party, Thus, they give credibility to the party of death which helps it to stay in power to spread its “ethics of Gomorrah.”.

  • RickWI

    Brussels is so last week. There was a priest crucified in Yemen on Good Friday (not sure if confirmed) and an Easter celebration bombing that killed ~80 people in Pakistan yesterday. On deck is probably London then I think the U.S. is due for another. Meanwhile, be more afraid of the only candidate that has been spot-on about this threat, Trump.

    • Bobo Fett

      Trump is representative of that Christopher Wauken speech. Google “the lion speech.” America is the lion. We let stuff build up. We put up with the debt. The lazy people. These dime terrorists killing our people…they even call us a paper tiger, they laugh at us, mock us.

      “Until one day, the lion gets up…”

      What we are seeing is the lion getting up.

      • RickWI

        I hear you. Lion? At this point I’m just hoping that the ostrich will lift its head out of the ground.

  • sw

    Is this a magazine about American politics or Catholicism?

    • Michael DeLorme

      American politics, among other things, seen through a Catholic lens.

  • Tom Williams

    You made mention of John Courtney Murray in your article. A number of different catholic scholarly persons reject what John Courtney Murray had as a view on religious freedom. His view which influenced a Vatican ll document has in fact undermined the traditional teachings of The One True Faith. It reduced The Catholic Faith to just being one of many faiths. In this understanding it makes our efforts to suffer and proclaim the Truth which Jesus baptised us into His Church for an impossible task.
    The influence of this thinking is what has crippled the Church in America and in the world.
    Jesus Christ has risen and we need to live the fullness of what he taught in order to bring any peace and justice into a world that has lost it’s way. We cannot do this if we just view all faiths as equal. “Unless you eat My Body and drink My Blood you cannot have life within you.” Other faiths may do many good things but unless it is embued by the Spirit of Him Who lives in us, we are just blowing against the wind.

    • Dave Fladlien

      It isn’t a document which has brought about the decline of religion and especially Catholicism in the West. It is persistence of the idea that “religion” is a set of beliefs, rather than personal relationship with Jesus Christ, albeit a friendship in which a set of beliefs plays a guiding role and a guides in manifesting the friendship. Philosophy is important, but it is very much less important than the friendship which should underlie it.

      In that sense, the sense of a friendship — as opposed to making a determination of right from wrong — religion is and should be a personal thing. If it is impersonal, it probably won’t last in today’s world. People can easily turn their backs on an idea or a philosophy; it’s much harder to turn one’s back on a beloved friend.

      • Tom Williams

        Our relationship with Jesus Christ through eating His body and drinking His Blood is about as personal one can be with Our Lord. This is the Truth we must live and proclaim. The Church has fallen short on teaching this Truth. Jesus commanded Her to teach all nations and to achieve this, He gave Her The Sacraments. No other church has what The Catholic Church has. We have become a bunch of wimps complaining about others not doing what we the think they should be doing. It is about time we put our trust in God and start acting courageously ourselves against the evil that is upon us.

        • Andrew Joe Nelson

          Right On! We fear the world more than we Fear the Lord. I agree we have not only become wimps, but ‘effeminate’ wimps. Also, we no longer have the courage as Catholics to proclaim the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ.

        • Dave Fladlien

          “Our relationship with Jesus Christ through eating His body and drinking His Blood is about as personal one can be with Our Lord.” This is true but incomplete. The Blessed Sacrament is not a “gas station” where we go to “fill up”, as I think many Catholics have long considered it (I’m not saying that you think that, but I think many Catholics do). Quite the contrary. The Blessed Sacrament is the conveyance of the real presence of Jesus to us, and once we have completed the action of that conveyance, it is then up to us to build that relationship with Jesus through prayer (and hopefully through prayerful communication or interaction, not empty recitation of words) and through the involving of Him in every aspect of our lives as we live them.

          I think this point is missed again and again. Many Catholics do the sacramental conveyance part, but have no real on-going relationship with Jesus as a real and living friend. Evangelicals seem to be far ahead of many of us in that regard, but they completely miss out on the sacramental conveyance portion, so that they are missing the direct contact with God that is necessary for actually living that personal friendship to its fullest.

          In short, all of us need to keep working to make make our closeness to God all that it can be, and all that He wants it to be.

  • Christine Penn/Bridges

    Psalm 1 – The only real true happiness is of God for God and about God and our relationship with Him. Without that devotion day in and day out we never would have had Him every day in every tabernacle. We never would have prayed the Hail Mary every day of our lives for the same. That is the true happiness we were created for. In the end that will be proven beyond all doubt.

  • Robert Bunselmeyer

    A good article, but the West is not “postmodern.” That is a literary term that explains nothing about the behavior of nations. The nations that used to be considerd the West no longer undersand their history, nor do they have the courage to defend their way of life. The last time that happened was when Britain and the United States stood up to Germany and Japan, 1939-1945.

    • Augustin

      Postmodernism means there is no absolute truth or value.
      Ten Commandments or Jesus words are not absolute truth for the West..

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    A value, religion understood as the right to believe and practice a doctrine must be reconsidered as a right if persons of that religion believe that murdering innocent mothers and their children in the name of their religion, Islam, and that the perpetrator, in this case the suicide bomber in Lahore, Paris, Brussels is a martyr. He it is believed will go to Heaven and as a reward from God receive lovely young women for his pleasure. This is not religion understood as belief in God. It is belief in evil, and in the Father of Lies Satan. America and the world must face this reality squarely. No religious belief can excuse heinous evil acts nor does ‘belief’ in such acts constitute innocence of responsibility. If an act is intrinsically evil anyone who performs such an act is morally responsible in the precise manner that Germans who murdered Jews were morally responsible regardless of previous indoctrination as Hitler Youth and Nazi homicidal ravings. The human intellect by its very nature made in God’s image is designed by God to identify intrinsic evil as it is by nature designed to identify good, the First Principle of the Natural Law. In combating the form of terrorism we face today this must be recognized and openly and forcefully addressed. Moral cowardice, the position of progressives who hold to license in place of liberty will destroy the West.

  • bernie

    Many of us mull over the same thoughts. Of course, in fact Obama’s comments are not
    really correct at all, since they overstep the fundamental singular
    “value” of the individual personhood implied in both the
    U.S founding documents and in the even more fundamental Christian
    value. It is the “value” that we keep trying to restore in
    the fight for life. We do not respect nor are we open to those who
    would deny or water down our Constitution. Obama’s words, or their
    equivalent, could probably have been found in the Constitution of the
    USSR.

    As to the future, many living today may well see the dwindling Italian
    population slowly recede up the peninsula retreating before today’s
    version of the Visigoths who sacked Rome in 410 when they came from
    the North, beyond the Danube. Today they will come from the South,
    from across the Med. Let’s not kid ourselves – if they did it
    before, they can do it again.

    Italians themselves categorize a certain class of citizens as “Mamoni”
    – Mamma’s boys. No children, just girl friends, and a Momma to do
    the laundry. They are not alone. They are all over the Western
    world. In DC an unmarried grand daughter working downtown discreetly
    inquires among her fellow employees as to who wants children. There
    are none. The West is very quickly killing itself.

    Perhaps one day, Europeans will take a stand somehow, somewhere, and will say
    “No, Europe and what it means is ours. Come no further”.
    At that point they will be forced to ask themselves, “Why must I
    fight? What am I willing to fight for?” It wont be the
    effeminate EU that asks that question. It will be a Frenchman, a
    German, a Spaniard, an Italian, perhaps even a Belgian or a Dutchman
    when they realize the migrants from the South and East

    just don’t want to get along with them. Perhaps then
    Individual persons will group together and will fight as in Spain and
    at Lepanto and Vienna. Or maybe they wont.

  • dave399

    Exactly right.

  • Valdemar

    The most effective weapon the Muslims possess and use, is their reproductive capacity. Western societies {including most Catholics} have disavowed themselves from the truths of Humane Vitae and the result will be eventual dominance by Islam.

    • dbrown8

      Well, well said.

  • DaleJ

    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15: 13]

    Only “the Brights” of his day, Voltaire thought, were worth addressing: “We have never claimed to enlighten shoemakers and servant girls, they are the portion of the apostles.” To the enlightened elite, ordinary people are always “bitter clingers” to guns and religion.

    [“Tommy”, Rudyard Kipling]
    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,…

    “the old spartan mother’s directive <> doric dialect for “either this [shield, scil. worn en retour] or upon this [shield, scil. as a corpse duly borne back from
    battlefield]” –”

    The main idea of the Hunger Games is to show how people, no matter how big or small, can overcome any problem they put their mind to. It also shows the incredible cruelty of dictators and how people can mindlessly go along with things just because others may be doing it.

    These excerpts only go to show that the “elites” have one set of rules while the rest of us cling to our “guns and bibles”. The “Church Militant” needs to re-assert itself. Islam calls us “Crusaders”. Maybe that is what it will take to end this jihad against ALL Christians.

    • Faustina11

      The tango dancing bar hopping metrosexual “men” don’t have the guts of men like Jan Sobieski or John Parisot de laVallet or even Joan of Arc! Where is a St Loius IX when we need him? Or St Francis of Assisi? Slaughtering aliens on Halo. And they’re aborting their children and having dogs! God help us!

  • Michael DeLorme

    “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” -Graeme Wood

    If we can’t tell the truth, then we can’t begin to effectively counter the evil. Our President is, as I see it, a knowing enabler.

  • Mcaloonbb

    Dr Royal
    It is a beautiful article and while there are many salient points I believe you miss the true problem and solution. Unemployment and the lack of meaningful financial opportunity and advancement is the primary issue for both young people who are long time residents and those freshly immigrated. Neighborhoods where men are standing on street corners at 10 am Monday is both the problem and symptom of a caretaker government. The European economy is not based on capitalism but rather big state I.e. The king, granting rights and opportunities. As long as the average French tax payer can walk to the Pharmacy and buy commercially produced cold medicine for 10 per cent of the cost the king will live. Your article was correct in identifying some of the social values reinforcing the autocracy of most European governments. Until Europe is willing to change the care taker model of government, and I guarantee you they are not, instability will reign. The Europen Union replaced the Church, the Church replaced Rome..there is a pattern. The goal in the US is to keep as many opportunities open for individuals whatever and whoever they may be in order to challenge the greed of big government. Allowing opportunities for individuals to discover their own dignity and self worth is good for the economy, society and ultimately the true destiny of the God created human being. This is what I contemplate while riding the French metro waiting for the next shoe to drop.

  • Steven Barrett

    Robert Royal has done a great job of analyzing one of Europe’s and Western Civilizations weakest spots when it comes to how we are to deal with the ever rising challenges of a relatively few, but dangerously powerful Islamic clerics and their thousands of charged up followers who have also turned their backs on the very part of civilization they have to deal with and live with as part of the overall general price we all have to pay for living in any society. I’ve lived and traveled in both Morocco and Germany as an AF officer’s dependent child and the rules of life, aside from what we learn for our theological guidance in CCD classes were simple; you obeyed the local customs and respected them and the people who established them. They’re put there for a reason, and fulfilling some intellectual’s or his crowd of like-minded folks for esoteric purposes was far from it. You learned to adapt in order to survive; just like one does in any circumstances.
    I differ with Mr. Royal’s article in the sense that it might not be a bad idea to be as equally wary of the larger, though at times more subtle, influences of our material culture insofar as they’re directed by our more kitschy overlords of cultural determinants than the few intellectuals esconsed in our ivied institutions. Having lived in a college saturated area for years, I’ve managed to filter out the occasionally nagging pointy headed nonsensical “latest and best idea to save the human race” but it’s almost impossible to block out the constant din of our more expediently driven commercial sector. Just look at our almost imposed fashions in music, “entertainment,” fashion and worst of all, fads in the constant evolution of changing thoughts on moral issues that touch upon the life and death of not only our physical selves, but most importantly, our souls.
    When the day comes that I have to open up a line of credit in order to communicate with others on the wild-wide-web, that’s the day I start looking for monasteries for couples with and for kids.

  • Margaret

    “…Pope Francis encouraged the use of the “weapons of love” against terrorism…But we’ll need other, more tangible weapons as well, if our values are going to survive.”

    Robert, you are certainly right on! And several past popes apparently have agreed. Papal support for the Crusades, the Battles of Tours, Lepanto, Vienna, and many other defensive campaigns throughout history have been strong, as those pontiffs realized that Christendom was on the verge of annihilation by terrorists unless Christendom defended itself with more than “weapons of love.”

  • Howard

    And an American president who watches a baseball game after a terror attack or does the tango while an ally is in mourning might fairly be regarded as failing in respect, and really not all that invested in large, abstract values.

    Right. The proper response is for a president to hop on planes from military base to military base in abject fear that somehow the terrorists will be able to get to him at the base he is in now, and certainly to be too afraid to go back to the White House.

    Or maybe you’d better explain to me why a US president should drop everything when there is an attack in Belgium, but not when six dozen people are killed in an Easter bombing in Pakistan, or when Boko Haram carries out a massacre in Africa, or when ISIS carries out an atrocity in Syria, or when Chechens carry out a terrorist attack in Russia. Is the “Catholic Thing” to assert that only NATO Lives Matter?

    • accelerator

      Agree with this criticism. Otherwise good column, but totally uncalled for dig on POTUS.

    • Quo Vadis

      “Right. The proper response is for a president to hop on planes from military base to military base in abject fear that somehow the terrorists will be able to get to him at the base he is in now, and certainly to be too afraid to go back to the White House.”

      If this is a backhanded slap at President Bush and that actions that occurred on 9/11 then you know nothing of the events of that day, the recommendations of the secret service, the confusion that existed within the government and the President’s ongoing desire and ultimate order to return to Washington D. C that could not be disobeyed.

      Unfortunately, there were dead Americans, (while not certain at the time), in Belgium and bodies not even cold, which , never the less, any decent and thinking person could deduce that attending a baseball game might not be the best way to transmit the proper message to grieving and worried families and a country.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Nice try, Howard; but the straw man argument that the only alternative to bloodlessly callous narcissism is to engage in cringing touch-and-go exercises in order to avoid being a target, is more than a little disingenuous.

      This President’s capacity for compassion has been thoroughly and repeatedly dysfunctional. And that’s putting it charitably.

    • ThirstforTruth

      A President that does not show concern for his country’s allies, shows a weakness and a falsity that is appallingly lacking in leadership. Like “fiddling” as Rome burns! It borders on contempt when a President is so “compartmentalized” emotionally he can express
      one minute an attitude of sorrowful regret over a journalist being beheaded by terrorists and within the same hour be shown laughing, chewing gum and playing on the green turf of a putting green. Does he even know himself, let alone his obligations as leader of the world, a job he seems determined to eliminate.

  • CarlsPatrick

    One pattern I noticed in every European country that’s been attacked by terrorism: they all abandoned Christianity. That means lack of Christianity equals Islam.