In the wake of the allegations of priestly sexual abuse and the accusations of inaction on the part of Catholic Church authorities, Marcello Pera, Italian philosopher and politician sent this article to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which was published on March 19, 2010. Mr Pera, formerly President of the Italian Senate (2001 to 2006) argues that beneath the façade lies an ongoing battle between secularism and Christianity. The abuses are only an excuse for this war. This is an English translation from the Italian original.
By Marcello Pera
The recent breaking news in Germany of paedophile or homosexual priests is a direct attack against the Pope. It will be a serious mistake to think that the blame will not stick given the graveness of the matter. It would be an even greater mistake if one thinks that the matter will blow over for good as happened in similar situations in the past. This is different.
There is a war going on. And this war is targeted not against the Pope himself per se, because that is impossible on this matter. This is because Benedict XVI has made himself impregnable thanks to his image, serenity, clarity and to his doctrine. His gentle smile is enough to defeat an entire army of opponents. No, the war is between secularism and Christianity. The secularists know that if mud were splashed on the white robe, it would stain the church, and if the church is stained, so would the Christian religion. That is why the secularists accompany their campaign with questions like, “who will continue to bring children to the Church?” or “who will continue to send boys to Catholic schools?” or even, “who will cure our little children in a Catholic hospital or clinic?”
A few days ago, one such secularist completely missed the point by writing that “the extent of the spread of sexual abuse of children by priests undermines the very legitimacy of the Catholic Church as the guarantor of the education of minors”. To this writer, it does not seem to matter that this is a judgement that has no foundation in reality, because the so-called “extent of the spread” is a vague term. What percentage of priests are paedophiles? One, Ten percent? All of them? It does not also seem to matter that the statement is devoid of logic. One only need to replace the word “priest” with “teacher”, “politicians”, or “journalists” in order to undermine the legitimacy of public schools, the senate or of the newspaper. What matters to such persons is to make insinuations even at the cost of using coarse arguments. Priests are paedophiles therefore the Church has no moral authority… therefore Catholic education is dangerous… therefore Christianity is a fraud and a danger!
The battle is pitched between secularism and Christianity. To find a simile, one must cast his mind back to Nazism and communism. The medium has changed but the end remains the same. Today, just like yesterday, they ardently desire the destruction of religion. The price Europe paid for this destructive fury was its own freedom. And it is incredible that Germany while still beating its breast in remembrance of the price it inflicted on all of Europe (which today has become democratic) seem today to have forgotten so soon. Germany now does not seem to understand that democracy itself will be lost if Christianity is erased. The destruction of religion leads to the destruction of reason. Nowadays it will not be triumph of secular reason but the introduction of a new barbarism.
On the ethical plane, it is the barbarism of those who kill the foetus because its life will be detrimental to the “mental health” of the mother. They are the ones who say that an embryo is a “blob of cells” suitable for experiments. They are those who kill an old person because he no longer has a family to care for him. They are the ones who hasten the death of the child because it is no longer conscious and is incurable; who believe that “parent A” and “parent B” is equivalent to “father” and “mother”; who think that faith is like the tail bone, a body organ that is no longer participating in the evolutionary process because Erect and Independently standing man no longer needs a tail. And so on.
On the other hand, considering the political angle of this secularist war against Christianity, barbarism will lead to the destruction of Europe. This is because once you destroy Christianity, the end result is multi-culturalism, which believes that each group has a right to its own cultures; Relativism, which says that one culture is as good as the other; Pacifism, which denies the existence of evil or maintains that rhetorical and irresponsible Europe does not need to have its own identity, but should rather be a container of all identifies. After all these claim, they go into Strasbourg Cathedral to exclaim: “Now we need the Christian soul of Europe”.
This war against Christianity would not be so dangerous if Christians understood what was going on. Instead a great majority of them live in incomprehension. Theologians are frustrated by the intellectual supremacy of Benedict XVI. There are unsure bishops who believe that compromising with modernity is the best way to update the Christian message. There are cardinals suffering a crisis of faith who are beginning to suggest that priestly celibacy is not a dogma and that it would perhaps be better to reconsider it. There are plush Catholic intellectuals who think that there is a feminine question within the Church and an unresolved problem between Christianity and sexuality. There are Episcopal conferences that being out of touch with daily realities, adopt an “open door” policy with everyone, and yet lack the courage to denounce the aggressions and humiliations which Christians suffer by being continually brought to the dock and forced to defend their cause. Or those senators who show off a beautiful homosexual foreign affairs minister, while at the same time attacking the Pope on every ethical issue; or those born in the west who think that the west must be secular i.e. anti-Christian.
The secularist war will continue. If for nothing else, because a Pope like Benedict XVI who smiles but does not shrink an iota feeds it. If however one understands why he does not yield, one would then take up the battle without sitting back to await the next shot. Whoever limits himself only to displaying solidarity with the Pope and does not get with him into the Garden of Olives at night and in secret, is yet to understand what is going on.