|Mediterranean shore in Libya following the massacre of 21 Copts in early 2015|
Editorial: Radicati nella fede, May 2015
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy
We are once more in times of Martyrdom. What is happening to Christians in Asia and Africa has forced us to use the word “martyr” again. Christians are being killed, en masse, and in the most horrendous ways, simply because they are Christian; all this makes us say that the age of martyrdom has returned.
To be truthful, the Church has never emerged from times of martyrdom.
The studies published on the occasion of the last Holy Year (2000) had already reminded us of the number of martyrs over twenty centuries of Christianity. The number is immense: about 80 million! And even more shocking: about half of this 80 million belong to the last century!
Despite these facts, we satiated Christians of the West, have great, great difficulty in believing that the Church is in a perennial state of martyrdom. We have gotten used to thinking (from the school and secular culture) that the Church must ask forgiveness for its violent and authoritarian past: this is the black legend which depicts the Bride of Christ as an instrument of power and is also the reason we resist facing the truth i.e. that many Christians have continued to suffer and shed their blood for the [cause of] the Faith.
Alongside the work of disinformation by secular culture, which tends to minimize, if not even deny, the martyrdom of Christians, we see the greatest intellectual derailment occurring inside the Church by Catholics themselves. After the Second Vatican Council, the dictatorship of Dialogue imposed silence on the phenomenon of Martyrdom i.e.: the Church must reconcile itself with the modern world and for this must not mention those who die for the Faith any longer. The martyrs are the greatest hindrance and stumbling block to this work of transformation in the Church, which wanted secularization at any cost.
The concept of martyrdom, according to these modern emancipated Catholics, belongs now to an out-dated past: it belongs to the era of opposition to the world, and we must not go back there. According to these Catholics, and there are many, there is a more effective way of working in the world as Christians, more effective than giving one’s life, uniting one’s blood to Christ’s: there is the ‘arm’ of understanding the adversary’s rationale, by dialoguing with him, discovering in the end, that deep down, we all think in the same way.
This miserable attempt to reject martyrdom and substitute it with the ideology of dialogue, had tragic consequences during the 60s and 70s. While Christians from the East were being eliminated or lead to forced labour camps in the gulags, the Holy See favoured good relations with the Ostpolitik and Marxist dictatorships, seeking a potential agreement with them, retaining, mistakenly,that Communism was eternal. The fact that there was no condemnation of Communism during the Council itself is part of this disgrace: history would come to judge this wretched, heretical capitulation most severely.
In recent years, silence on the phenomenon of martyrdom has been imposed by dogmatic inter-religious dialogue: to be at peace with the other religions is necessary, along with a no, no, to proselytism, consequently, silence about murdered Christians must be maintained.
However, today the facts themselves speak in the name of God.
A new era for the Church was longed for, the era of complete peace with the world, but alas! the blood of Christians, crucified, butchered, burned, shot, hung and stoned has broken this deceptive idyll.
The suffering of our brothers and sisters – for whom we must not stop praying until this terrible trial is shortened for them – is a powerful reminder to us, Christians, submerged in the greatest ideological sham in history – Modernity!
Modernity, which rejects as foolishness Christ crucified, has brought into the Church, the deadly illusion of separating the Resurrection from the Cross,
A new Christianity was longed for, which focuses on new Life in Christ by forgetting His Passion and Death.
It is true, Christ has overcome death, and is risen; He is the Lord of all. It is true that the Church and the Saints share in the victory of His Resurrection, but we need to be careful: this victory, as the great Father Calmel explains: “far from suppressing the Cross and rendering it useless, is realized only through the Cross. Dicite in nationibus quia Deus regnavit a ligno”.(R.T. Calmel. For a Theology of History - Per una teologia della storia Borla 1967, page. 44.)
It is precisely this awareness that has been missing in the Church for some time now; living in the deceptive belief that the Resurrection exceeds the Cross. In this way, a new kind of church has been created which talks on and on about life and not martyrdom; which talks on and on about human aspirations and not martyrdom; dialogue with the world and not martyrdom; universal peace and not martyrdom; building an earthly kingdom and not martyrdom.
It is for this reason also that the Church’s presence [in the world] has been shattered and the lives of [many] Christians have slipped into profound faithlessness.
It has all been a deadly, demonic illusion. A “dream at times infantile and tender, but perhaps more often cowardly and hateful, which aimed at fidelity to Christ without sufferings in the life of the Christian and, for the future of the Church, a fervid sanctity which should not have to suffer the persecutions from the world anymore, nor from inside the Church itself, the betrayals of false brothers and at times, even clergy and prelates.” (ibid. pag.44).
God is waking us up from this illusion with the gift of new martyrs – those of the 21st century. They are reminding us that until the last day “we can be witnesses for Jesus only by immersing our garments in the Blood of the Divine Lamb, who has loved us and has redeemed us from our sins. We will not go to Him without crossing the torrent of the great tribulation.” (ibid. page 44).
Well, let’s not just protest the persecutions like the world’s politicians do; let’s be educated by God in the grace of martyrdom.
[A Rorate translation by Contributor Francesca Romana]