It is a well-known account. Sister Marie Bernarde (Bernadette) Soubirous is in the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, it is 1870, war is raging throughout northern France as the Prussian-led German armies march towards Paris. The first printed version of the account,* published while she was still living, is the following. A visitor came to Bernadette at that time and made her the following questions:
- Did you receive, in the grotto of Lourdes, or after then, any revelations related to the future and fate of France? Did not the Blessed Virgin deliver any warning for France, any threats?- No- The Prussians are at our gates; does that not cause you any fear?- No.- There is thus nothing to fear?- I only fear bad Catholics.- You do not fear anything else?- No, nothing else.
Words of great wisdom from the Saint.
Our longtime guest-contributor and friend, Dr. John Lamont, has just had published in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review an article on "Why the Jews are not the enemies of the Church." As he obviously concludes, "Accurate knowledge of the main contemporary Jewish groups thus reveals that it is wrong to describe the Jews as enemies of the Church. That does not mean that there are no Jewish enemies of the Church; to deny that this is the case would be absurd—it would mean that Trotsky or Freud, for example, were not hostile to the Catholic faith. But it does mean that it is false and unjust to describe the Jewish people, or Jewish religious believers, as enemies of the Catholic Church."
May God "sustain the people of Israel."**
The true enemies of the Church, those who can cause Catholics great harm and peril of damnation, are instead those who are within, the "bad Catholics" Saint Bernadette feared so much. And they are more dangerous the more powerful they are and the more empowered they feel, their fury, deception and bold vulgarity unleashed.
* Edmond Lafond, La Salette, Lourdes, Pontmain: voyage d'un croyant, Paris, 1872, p. 238.
** For context, cf. Pastoral Letter of the Dutch Bishops, July 20, 1942.