Rorate Caeli

Aldo Maria Valli on the Church and the Pandemic: "The Masks have fallen! The Masks have fallen!"

by Aldo Maria Valli of Duc in Altum

Translated by Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla

The pandemic of the coronavirus has brought us suffering and uneasiness, but has contributed to the ripping off of many masks.

One mask that has been ripped off is a consequence of how the government has acted in the pandemic, just as we have been accustomed to see how the government has acted in the last few years: the politics of superficial declarations, of disputes that are continual and meaningless. of continual electoral campaigns, of the quasi- theater only good for talk shows but in the end all fatuous and empty.

When confronted with an alarming situation, for each individual and for society as a whole, the apparatus of the government has shown it itself to be what it is: A debased theatrical event, or more to the point, a backdrop of papier-mâché, before which dull and dreary figures of actors recite the lines of the farce that is the struggle for power that totally ignores the authentic functions of government, that is, the management of the res publica.  

What should a government do if it does not operate to guarantee the safety of its citizens?  And what should it do to guarantee the safety of its citizens if it does not recognize that reality, to do what has to be done to give to the country a solid foundation and to confront in a timely fashion crises that arise?

In this case, instead, we have found ourselves in the presence of a government totally unprepared, which facing a situation of crisis has not been able to anything other than to flounder like a ship in the midst of the sea.  No one, as it has now been seen, had prepared at all to confront the imminent danger, even as the first signs were readily apparent.  And the so-called Intelligence Community?  And those who are in place to meet emergencies?  And those in charge of crisis management?  Nothing at all.  A medical doctor, Professor Pasquale Bacco, who conducted a study on the diffusion of the Coronavirus in Italy, has said that he had advised the authorities already in the month of October 2019, but his warnings were not heeded as something important. 

The strategy that was adopted was the “lock down”, shutting down everything, like hiding in a hole in the ground.  The simplest and immediate reaction.  Like primitive man who ran to find refuge in a cave to flee a ferocious animal.  The quality of a government shows itself in times of difficulty, and what we have seen is the non-existence of a government in the full sense of that word.  In fact, it placed itself in the hands of a techno-scientific committee.  It gave up its power and responsibility of governing and decision-making to a body that has nothing to do with governing.  

Another mask that was ripped off is that of science as a panacea, as the grand resolver of every problem. The mask was ripped off of science as the certain answer, as absolute and incontrovertible Truth.  It makes me think of the words of an Italian politician who in the columns of an important daily newspaper accused scientists of being able to only offer hypotheses and no solutions.  “You have to give us answers that are certain!” shrieked this politician, showing his profound ignorance of the nature of science.

To be fair, serious scientists admit that facing a new problem they are able to only begin to do studies, looking at data and verifying hypotheses. Their answers, if and when they are announced, will be the fruit of this long and patient work.  Science knows above all that it cannot answer questions without verification.  Science is not a magic wand.  

Another mask that has been ripped off is that of the false friends of liberty.  Those, confronting a situation that is complicated and dangerous as the one in which we find ourselves, do not know what to do except to put a bridle on anyone who does not think like they do, on those who do not accept as fact those explanations that are given, on those who do not accept the dominant opinions. We are seeing just how these enemies of freedom operate.  They organize frameworks against those that they proclaim to be “fake news” and then claim to decide from on high what is true and what is false, humiliating immediately any sign of questioning and branding as provocative anyone who does not fall into line with the narrative adopted by the majority.  Before this situation of danger due to the pandemic, these people who see themselves as important emptied out their mouths with demagogic hymns to democracy and freedom, but now, confronting a situation that is objectively difficult, they reveal themselves for who they are:  third-rate censors and inquisitors ( I called them third-rate because the true inquisitors at least had education).  

With respect to information, another mask that has been ripped off is that of journalism that says that it is on the side of the man in the street, but in reality engages in psychological terrorism.  The journalist talks of service but, giving in to sensationalism, actually frightens the public.  It is that type of journalism that takes pleasure in alarming situations and stokes the situation, because they profit from  the number of their readers and the number of copies of their newspaper that are sold.  Instead of helping people to conduct a rational analysis of the situation, their only purpose is to stir up emotions.  

Another mask that has been ripped off (and here we move on to the ambit of religion) is that of the happy clappy clergy who are all “peace and love”, all “we love each other”, and “it is not true that God punishes”, and “we do not judge” and “enough with dour expressions on faces” and “life is beautiful” and “fajth is joy.”   These clergy, all ”Laetitia et Gaudium”, are always ready to polemicize against those who tell us that the life of faith in reality is also tragedy and battle, it is choice and judgement, because Jesus said that he came to bring the sword and not peace, because truth is not negotiable, and therefore to defend truth one needs to be ready to defend it, because the problem of death and of the eternal destiny of the soul is not something that can be avoided. But now, facing the danger of the pandemic what are we supposed to make of these discourses on peace and love, that avoid taking into consideration death, judgment, hell and heaven?  Right now, faced with the objectivity of suffering and restriction, what are we supposed to make of religion that is reduced to sociology and vague words of consolation, a religion that has forgotten transcendence and what is ultimately important?  Strange, but not too strange, for it is exactly these clerics, who are all ”peace and love”, who are those who seem most terrified of the virus, those least disposed to open up the churches.  Before all of this, they always laughed and smiled. Now they are terrorized.  A while ago they were jabbering about the “Church going out of herself”. Now they prefer to hide in a hole in the ground.  Now, instead of helping us to make sense of pain and death, instead of bringing us closer to God, they ask for obedience to the State and lock down our Lord, treating him as a bringer of plague, whom one must approach with a thousand precautions and as a sign of distrust, as if the Eucharist were not the Viaticum that sustains us and strengthens us, but rather a danger in itself.

If and when we get out of this situation, will we have learned anything?  Will we be less disposed to allow ourselves to be seduced by the hallucinations imposed by the guardians of thought?  Unfortunately, nothing lets us imagine that we will have learned anything.