Pope Francis and the Triumph of the Will
I just returned from three and a half months in a Europe as overwhelmingly indifferent as the New World to yet another traditionalist obsession---the survival of marriage and the family. Back in the States, I thought that I might share with Rorate readers a grave concern that I have been hearing expressed by a number of Catholics who still believe that that issue of marital and familial survival just might have a certain significance for mankind. This is the fear that Pope Francis, knowing that the majority of those who attended the Extraordinary Synod last year were in favor of Cardinal Kasper’s assault on Catholic morality, might personally change the rules this October to ensure that the voice of the mass of the People of God triumphs over the obstructionism of a minority of tyrannical orthodox nitpickers.
I don’t know whether this is a real possibility, but, quite frankly, it would seem rather contradictory for the Holy Father to allow a pedantic 2/3 “rule” to stand in the way of the victory of democracy or any other contemporary consideration whatsoever. Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his interest in listening and responding enthusiastically to the deeply felt needs of a world somehow more attuned than ever before to the innate dignity of the human person. Why not simply cut to the quick and use the coming Synod forthrightly to show his solidarity with the most basic underlying principle of the whole of modernity?
That principle is the destruction of all rules standing in the way of the Triumph of the Will; or, to express it with reference to the one word that every modern man latches onto when looking for a way to justify his own particular immoral hobby horse, the need to make the world safe for “liberty”. The “liberty” in question is not that positive, classical and Christian liberty that indicates a freedom to use Reason, Faith, and Grace to gain virtue and higher perfection in Christ. It is that negative Enlightenment “liberty” that does nothing other than break down obstacles to building civilization upon a freedom granted to everyone to pursue his preferred expression of Original Sin.
Let us look that truth straight in the eye once again. As one historian has noted, it is a “Promethean lust for material power that serves as the deepest common drive behind all modern Western cultures” (R. Gawthorp, Pietism and the Making of Eighteenth Century Prussia, Cambridge, 1993, p. 284). This is what all the talk about “freedom” and “the greater sense of the innate dignity of man” in our times really means. Modernity as an “idea” is now and always has been has been nothing other a multiform hunt for the ability to gain a “liberty” that ensures the triumph of the unreasoning will: personal, economic, class, national---whatever, you name it; the triumph of an unreasoning will that ruthlessly crushes all that is both True and weaker that stands in its way.
Spiritual assistance soothing the conscience in achieving this willful goal with respect to marriage and family questions is the “deeply felt need” that Cardinal Kasper & Company want the Pope to offer the world. And if it was justified to dismantle all the political and social structures of Catholic Christendom through religious and revolutionary warfare over the past five hundred years in order to guarantee the success of similar willful needs, why should a mere 2/3 “rule” in a Synod in Rome somehow be an insurmountable barrier that a “people’s pontiff” would not attempt to breach?
What modernity wants, modernity gets. What modernity wants is for Christ to diminish, the Will to increase, and the weak Catholic world to accept that perversion of an evangelical command as though it were eminently Christian.