Rorate Caeli

The Horror of Surrogate Religions: cats are a substitute for children and skyscrapers for bell towers

Camillo Langone
Il Foglio
December 17, 2015

It doesn’t surprise me if St. Peter’s Square is half-empty, or not as full as expected, I would be surprised at the opposite. And I don’t believe that it’s all due to the  fear of running into a Muslim with a passion for explosives. It’s true that in recent years, Catholic movements ( apart from the Neocatechemunals) capable of bringing youth to the Square have eclipsed, being now reduced to their laughable summer rites (yes, I’m thinking mainly about the C. L. ) Further, it’s true that Catholicism at the parish level is aged and consequently trembling (the old fear death infinitely more than the young, for them death is a concrete reality, not an idea).  Still, it’s not only this. But principally this: as in nature, the heart of man abhors a vacuum. 

If the centre of Christianity is perceived as abandoned, this is the reason it ceases to be attractive, this is the reason the fickle head for cults under new guises or old ones, such as  environmentalism and animalism which are variations on the pagan theme.  Man is a religious being however, and also Pope Francis knows this;  in his homily of March 14th 2013, he cited quite surprisingly, the apocalyptic Léon Bloy: “Those who don’t pray to God, are praying to the Devil”.  

If the churches aren’t filled with the faithful, sooner or later they will become mosques or at best, museums: complaining about it is useless, it would be more useful to go to Mass and not do what my friend does every Sunday i.e. rather than taking part in the Eucharist she reads St. Catherine thinking she’s doing alright, instead, she’s taking part in the collapse of a religion gradually reduced to spirituality, subjectivism and intellectual Onanism. Those who don’t pray to the Lord, as the Lord Himself requested, (“Do this in remembrance of me…”) are not even praying to St. Catherine, and without realizing it, they are praying to something else. 

Another friend became the director of a museum and invited me to visit her office. I told her that I wouldn’t be coming, as I had bad vibrations from the building itself, and she looked at me undecided, wondering whether I was crazy. In effect, it may appear something obsessive, with [all] the secularized clergy we have around, to insist on the sacred as I do, but I have no other alternative: “Sensitivity is the genius of everyone” says Baudelaire, and my genius is zeal for the House of God.

The very contemporary museum run by my friend fills up an ancient abbey emptied by Napoleon and this sounds like something annihilating to me. Jean Clair wrote entire volumes on the museum as a surrogate temple and I have no need of reopening them to know how true this is.  That emptiness tends always to filling itself up is a psychological law. Women without children to embrace, easily give themselves to a little dog, they talk to it, they kiss and cuddle it, they buy it little dainties.  Father Rosario Struscio, a missionary in India and spiritual father to Madre Theresa, on his return to Italy after many years, was greatly disturbed at “seeing so many women going around with cats in their arms, as if they were children.  A Country that has substituted children for cats is a Country with no tomorrow.” It is even a law of city planning: the bell-towers in Milan, which not even archbishops believe in anymore (as the new churches without bell-towers show), have now been replaced with skyscrapers.

“In the desert of  their  abandonment, the people resign themselves to building the golden calf,” wrote the theologian, Pierangelo Sequeri. Or green idols. If there is no longer belief in Our Lady, the Mother of God, then there is surrender to the fascination of Gaia, the Earth goddess. Clergy yielding to lust, to human senses, need not frighten, but the apostasy of those (as the philosopher of Religion, Marco Vannini retains) “that have lost faith in the Divinity of Christ, and have thus annulled the novelty of the Gospel, by bending themselves in adoration to the world and its Lord” are immensely more dangerous than any Francesca Chaouqui.  It is the Dark Society (sic) that projected beasts on the façade of St. Peter’s, specifically on the day of the Immaculate Conception.  

It’s a pity that in transforming the Papacy into a branch of Greenpeace, the “mother house” in these affairs is much more credible. Even the other day they were back at it, dictating their agenda by projecting images against tuna-fishing on the monuments of Milan.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana