Rorate Caeli

The Current Catholic Situation: "The Betrayal of the Clerics"

Evil Hierarchs allied to the Powers of the World
persecuting and burning Holy Orthodoxy and Virginal Purity - not new!

Philippe de Villiers is a former French minister who has run twice for President, and who was for a long time a Member of the French National Assembly and of the European Parliament. A serious Catholic (which, in France today, means attending the Traditional Mass, if not exclusively at least occasionally), de Villiers is a former chairman of the General Council of the Vendée Department, the creator of the very famous Puy-du-Fou theme park, and a respected author. In the past few years, he has published widely acclaimed best-sellers on great Catholic figures of French history (Le Roman de Charette, on François-Athanase Charette, a Catholic leader in the Vendean War; Le Roman de Saint Louis, on Saint Louis King of France), and, just a few weeks ago, Le Roman de Jeanne d'Arc, on Saint Joan of Arc.

Being by far the most prominent practicing Catholic in French public life, de Villiers is being interviewed in all major television and radio shows in the country on his book, and he was recently (Nov. 7) interviewed as well by Paris conservative radio station Radio Courtoisie. In the interview, he compared the situation at the time of the saint with current events:

"And then, there is the betrayal of the clerics:* whether it was [the Cardinal-Archbishop of Reims] Regnault de Chartres, who tolerated Joan but was gleeful with her arrest, writing a letter to the inhabitants of Reims in which he says, 'She is just paying for her faults,' up until the Bishop of Beauvais, [Pierre] Cauchon.

"When I speak of the 'betrayal of the clerics,' I may perhaps hurt some sensibilities, but these are people coming back from the Council, or preparing to go to the Council: the Council of Basel and the Council of Constance. These were people who led very comfortable lives within the Church. These are people who have just voted in favor of a new method [of Church governance], that is the Synodal method, superior to the papacy. That is to say that, at the Council of Basel, they declared that from now on the Synod, the Council - what we call 'Conciliarism' - is superior to the decisions of the pope.

"It is therefore a time of great upheaval. And when the people turn to the poor Joan and ask her, 'Now, who is the true pope?' And, well, it's complicated, because at the time there are two or three. And one cannot be very sure which one is the true pope. We live today through the same upheaval that happened at Joan's time. ...

"She never recanted. She tells him: 'If I had recanted, my voices would have reprehended me.' But she hears the condemnation from her voices because she tried to finesse with the judges. It's not good to try to finesse when one is Joan of Arc. Why is it said that she recanted? Because this leaves everyone looking good in the story. It favors laymen, because this allows them to think that she was just telling some tale and that she was just like everyone else. There are Christians who say, 'Oh, it's good that she recanted, because she's just like us.' This, this 'self-pity', this notion of 'self-deprecation', this 'Who am I to judge?' line ... But this is not at all what Joan is all about."

* «La trahison des clercs» is an expression that became immensely famous as the title of a 1927 book by French author Julien Benda criticizing the "clercs" (the intellectuals, akin to the English word "clerk") who abandoned intellectual pursuits of the mind to engage in what he deemed to be the most demeaning depths of the political struggle, from left to right. The play of words by de Villiers involves therefore using the expression originally meant by Benda as "clerk" in the sense of scholar or bureaucrat as "clerk" in the primary etymological sense of cleric or clergyman.

Note: a couple of years ago, we had a special series on the meaning of the passion of Saint Joan of Arc for our age - read here: [Part I: A Saint in armor] [Part II: A Saint in isolation] [Part III: A Saint under excommunication]. Read also Joan of ArcA bishop in great peril (Transcript: reader J)