What fellowship can light have with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14
As recently as 50 years ago, one could honorably be either Democrat or Republican. Both parties were basically pro-life, pro-nuclear family, pro-individual liberty, pro-free speech, and at least gave lip service to the Judeo-Christian ethic and took pains not to offend these sensibilities. This was a time when it was right and proper for clerics to be non-political, for the parties agreed on fundamental goals that were compatible with the faith, only disagreeing on how best to get there. For a cleric to pushily get political was to risk intruding on what was a primary temporal duty of the laity.
Times have changed. Now, various political entities (almost all left wing) have denounced fundamentals of the Christian faith, have outlawed some and continue to try to outlaw more, and have declared any opposition to be “political.” Far too many clerics have gone timid – or outright refused to defend the faith in order not to seem political. Pathetic!
In 1938, Nazi Germany took over Austria without firing a shot. Mere threats were enough. It was called the Anschluss. The Austrian leadership had neither the wit nor courage to take their own side in a fight. When a hostile power seeks to take over your legitimate territory, it is not “political” for you to defend it. Far too many clerics are playing the role of Austria during the Anschluss, hoping forlornly, as Winston Churchill once said, that if they “feed the crocodile, it will eat them last.”
Just in the last century, the Church was far more vigorous in defending her territory. She had no problem looking at how the Soviet Communist Party and later the Nazi Party were committed enemies of the fundamentals of the faith – and formally condemned them and excommunicated any Catholic who voluntarily joined either. But now many clerics are more concerned with being nice to the crocodile than to living up to their solemn oath to defend Christ and His people. Some, hideously, have even joined forces with the demonic left in repudiating Christian doctrine and persecuting the very faithful they promised to give their lives to defend.
I have had more than a few Priests criticize me for being too political and being a supporter of Donald Trump. They think they have the moral high ground. You want to criticize me for having supported Trump after initially being close to being a never-Trumper? That is entirely fair game – just as in 1960 you could criticize someone for being either pro-Nixon or pro-Kennedy, without doing violence to the faith. But if your criticism is not accompanied by condemnation of those who wage war against the faith, you are not being non-political, you are just a useful idiot for the anti-God left – a coward and a chump who does not have the wit to take your own side in a fight, hoping the crocodile will eat you last.
A couple of years ago I set up a small savings account. I was a bit disoriented because I had had no bank account at all for almost a decade – having lived poverty from about a year before I left on my pilgrimage. The branch manager, seeing my struggle, helped me personally in her office. Naturally, she was curious about why I was confused when I seemed to be an otherwise fairly astute fellow. I explained to her about the pilgrimage and voluntarily living poverty. She was charmed – and we had a delightful chat. She told me she leaned left, but had become a little embarrassed by it because her side had become so vicious and intolerant. She then asked me (with no hostility; we were just good-naturedly candid with each other by this point) how a man who obviously took his faith so seriously could justify supporting a man like Trump. I told her I thought Trump was undergoing a genuine conversion experience, but to set that aside for now. In 2016, I was confronted by what I believed to be two reprobates: Hillary Clinton, a reprobate who promised to destroy me and every aspect of religious liberty she could and Donald Trump, a reprobate who, even if he wasn’t one of us, promised to protect and defend our rights and religious liberty. I told her my faith did NOT obligate me to vote for the candidate who promised to destroy me. Her eyes went wide and she said, “You’re right. I never thought of it that way.” Would that some hostile clerics were as quick to pick up on what is at the heart of the matter.
It is the legitimate prerogative of any cleric to support a different candidate than I do, but only insofar as that candidate is NOT hostile to religious liberty or to fundamentals of the faith. It is also the legitimate prerogative of any cleric to stay out of political matters altogether – but NOT to attack me or anyone else who supports a candidate who defends religious liberty – but that the cleric doesn’t like. When your legitimate territory and prerogatives are under attack and you refuse to defend them, you are not being non-political: you are, at best, a moral coward and, at worst, a traitor to the living Christ to whom you solemnly swore fidelity.
This is nothing new in the hierarchy, though. The much-maligned Crusades, contrary to conventional but errant wisdom, was NOT Christianity’s attack on innocent Islam. Islam was waging a war of extinction on Christianity. By the time Christians decided to finally fight back, Islam already had taken over the entire Iberian Peninsula and substantial chunks of Italy and France. One could legitimately criticize the Church for being so slow to defend itself and the faithful – and even for some excesses, but you cannot legitimately criticize it for defending itself. The Crusades were not a Christian assault on innocent Islam; rather, it was the Christian counterattack against sustained Islamic aggression.
If you are a cleric, you can remain completely non-political (but that means refraining from deriding someone who supports Trump or any other candidate you don’t like who, nonetheless, supports religious liberty – while simultaneously maintaining “prudent” silence towards those who support candidates who actually assault the faith – whether by advocating for the execution of infants or any other fundamental of the faith. You don’t get to pretend to be non-political while trying to curry favor with the “cool kids.”) If you choose to be completely non-political, you had better truly devote yourself to corporal acts of mercy, lest the Lord spew you out of His mouth for being lukewarm instead of hot or cold. This can be done. I have long been friendly with a Bishop who is orthodox but has no taste for the culture wars or the broader theological battles. He does, however, devote himself to helping the addicted, the wounded, and the broken. And he knows them by name. I deeply admire the man. You can certainly tend to the wounded, but woe to you if, when the faith was under sustained assault, all you did was try to keep out of the line of fire. If you further afflict the afflicted in an effort to ingratiate yourself with the aggressors, you deny Christ – who will deny you unless you repent and do real penance.
It is NOT political to defend the legitimate prerogatives of the faith and of liberty (free will). Great saints have been formed by boldly going into hostile territory, effectively opposing the zeitgeist, and bringing new souls to Christ. These great saints suffered great persecution, often for decades, because of their deep love for Christ and commitment to win souls for Him. Zero saints have been formed by trying to accommodate the faith to a debauched and fallen world. St. Patrick did not go into Ireland and assure the pagans that they were fine as they are, while adopting pagan attitudes, himself. St. Boniface did not adopt the superstitions of the semi-pagan Germanic and Nordic peoples when he was sent among them: he chopped down the sacred oak and called the people he was responsible for to full communion with Christ.
In times of great strife, when the faith and the faithful are assaulted from within and without, if you will not get your hands dirty, either completely devoted to cardinal acts of mercy or passionately defending the faith, the faithful, and the sovereignty of Christ, you will perish. You cannot be the timid and cowardly Gideon of Judges, Chapter 6. Rather, you must be the fully trusting, passionate Gideon of Judges, Chapter 7. If you protest that the forces of secularism and rot are too great, that is not an argument at all – just a confession that you don’t trust God at all. The initially timid Gideon conquered an invading army of 135,000 warriors with a mere 300 men God sent him out with. Trust or don’t, but don’t whine about how hard things are. Christianity is not for wimps. For crying out loud, gird your loins and stand your ground under the banner of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How much nobler to give your life for the faith than to preserve it for the rot around you!
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