If I were a liberal, you’d expect me to say that the Church has a rosy future as soon as she drops her distinctive moral teachings, and that the way to keep the next generation in the Church is to make sure it’s full of warm fuzzy feelings. As a conservative Catholic, you’re probably expecting me to say that the Church needs saints, holiness, and our prayers and fasting, and that children need to be taught to love Jesus and fear hell. Those are our canned responses. Maybe it’s just that I’m a fairly irreligious Catholic, but I’m going to say something different. Holiness is great. Prayer is great. But what the Church is most missing is something much more basic and easy to manufacture.
What Catholicism lacks is tribalism, or, more specifically, the us-versus-them mentality. This has two pieces.
- Identification with the Church. Catholics must stop thinking that when our enemies criticize the Church, they’re talking about those other Catholics, the ones who are bringing our reputation down. When they say that Catholics are a bunch of pedophiles, they’re talking about YOU. When they say that Catholics are ignorant bigots, they’re talking about YOU.
- Characterization of outside critics as enemies. Their criticism must not be taken helpful suggestions offered in good faith. It must be recognized as the ATTACK that it is. The default response to attacks from enemies should not be to give their claims credence and beg forgiveness. The default response should be anger followed as soon as strategically practicable by retaliation in kind.
Here’s what it comes down to. If the Kasperites, the MSM, the “Founding Fathers”, and the sodomites are right, then the priest-killing Jacobins and Bolsheviks were basically right. That proposition should be psychologically intolerable to anyone who truly identifies with Catholicism. The idea of siding with the Church’s persecutors, to admit that Voltaire, Garibaldi, and Lenin were actually right all along, should be so hateful to a Catholic that he dismisses arguments for it out of hand.
But isn’t tribalism inferior to holiness? Isn’t loving a people inferior to loving the Triune God? To this, I say that grace perfects nature rather than overriding it. Human attachment to the corporate body of Christ is a more fertile ground for supernatural attachment to that body than human alienation from it. To the liberals going on about “We are Church”, I say, if that were really true, you would respond to attacks on Catholicism as attacks on yourselves, and you would recognize the Church’s enemies as your own. If any liberal thinks that he’s just above tribal attachments of any kind, try gently criticizing the Democratic Party or the civil rights movement, and see how he responds.
Another worry one might have about us-versus-them is that it’s dangerous, because you miss out on valid criticism from outsiders. People have gone so far with this that openness to criticism is now considered a strength. Poppycock. Natural selection proves it. There are many associations in the world. Would you say that openness to demotivational criticism from outsiders is common or uncommon among them? Clearly such openness is maladaptive (something so obvious to me I have trouble arguing it), and the groups that survive and prosper teach their members not to give credence to enemies. Again, if a liberal argues against this, try suggesting that an organization he truly cares about follow this advice. No, once again it is only the Catholic Church that is expected to follow policies that guarantee her own destruction.
One shouldn’t imagine that a tribalist refuses to consider any criticism of the tribe. If you’ve ever been around they, you know that’s not the case. There are some types of criticism that come easily to the tribalist: that the tribe’s leaders are insufficiently chauvinist, that they compromise too readily. Liberal Catholics are open to this sort of criticism of the Democratic party and the civil rights racket, those groups for whom they genuinely care. I am enraged by John Paul II’s apologies to outgroups.
The best part: us-versus-them is easy to learn. You’re never too young! A mere choice of pronouns can make a world of difference. When speaking of Americans, do you ever call them “we” or “us”? Stop this immediately. Abortion and sodomy are in the Constitution; its official interpreters say so. Its elected officials insist there is “no place” in their realm for beliefs like ours. Believe them. Anyone who feels himself an American will feel psychologically compelled to follow the American herd like Jody Bottum. We are not Americans. Americans are Other. Love them as your enemies, but recognize them as your enemies. You don’t teach your children to hate Americans, just to fear them in a diffuse sort of way. They’re mostly nice people, you say, but they don’t believe the Gospel or follow our ways, and when they find out someone does, sometimes they get angry. We are Catholics. Once we had countries, but now we are exiles. Some among the Protestants are loyal to God over liberalism, and whether they know it or not, they are not Americans, but our allies.
Do I say that Catholics should be willing to die rather than betray the Church to the enemy? That would be nice, but it’s more than is really necessary. Courage is difficult and rare. Identification is easy. If a man would give in to the liberal establishment under pressure, but burn with shame and resentment, he is still ours.
No Italian should have supported the Risorgimento. There is absolutely no excuse for that. Loyalty to Church comes first, way before aspiration to being a cheap imitation of England and France via Piedmontese conquest. I don’t care what you think about the temporal power of the Popes.
There’s talk among Catholics about conceding defeat in the Culture Wars. There is a right and a wrong way to do this. Bowing out of the culture wars means washing our hands of this country altogether. What the Church must never do is what that rat Bottum wants her to do–agree to shut up about sex so that she can parrot establishment thinking on capital punishment or other secondary issues. What message could that send but that the patriarchal family isn’t really important and that the secular state is a reliable advocate of the common good. No, if the world will not hear what we have to say about the family, then we have nothing to say to it whatsoever. Any other evils in the nation we will simply use as further evidence for its wickedness and illegitimacy. Let us call other peoples out of their degradation into our completely different and utterly inimical way of life.
Our tribe has been brought low and humiliated. If you’re a Catholic and don’t feel the sting of that, there’s something wrong with you.
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