“…but the dialectic is interested in you.”
So said Leon Trotsky, although the quotation is often misattributed to him as “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” I discovered that misattributed quotation when I saw it in a recent column by Pat Buchanan, and wanted to find a proper bibliographical citation. Buchanan writes:
…His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.
There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.
I am not nitpicking Buchanan for using the pseudo-Trotsky quotation about war, since I think the actual quotation supports Buchanan’s point just as well. Indeed, I have noted on numerous occasions (10/8, 10/19, 10/21, 10/26) how dialectical thinking crops up repeatedly in Francis’s papal witness. Buchanan again:
Did those legendary Jesuits like St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs* make a mistake proselytizing and baptizing, when they could have been working on youth unemployment among the Mohawks? …
While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for “skyrocketing” poll numbers.
If memory serves, the Lord said, “Feed my sheep,” not “get the smell of the sheep.” And he did not mean soup kitchens, but more importantly the spiritual food essential for eternal life.
I think Buchanan covers most of the points that justify disquiet about Pope Francis’s missionary strategy, but one recent encounter between Pope Francis and Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, puts Buchanan’s concerns in living color.
That The Bones offers a trenchant analysis of the encounter (with a HT to Rorate), so I’ll just embed the video here for viewing ease. Notice how Napolitano basically seems to be rearranging the pope’s own words into a soothing melange of buzzwords and bromides, and how the pope’s remarks afterwards strike much the same doughy chord.
Finally, consider Michael Voris’s recent segment in which he faults the sentimental irrealism (“babbling on about joy… poverty and immigration”) of the Church over the past few decades. A key point he makes is that, while you can ignore reality, you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. That hard truth ties back into Buchanan’s reminder from Trotsky: you may ignore the insidious nature of peddling the Catholic faith as one opinion among many others, as one social action plan among other grand “visions”, but you cannot ignore the deleterious consequences of such peddling as the trivializing of the absolute necessity and unchanging truth of the faith.
As always, the red herring is to retort that Pope Francis “hasn’t changed any official teaching,” but, once again, the point is not to worry if Pope Francis will square the Catholic circle, but rather to take seriously whom his erratic, Buddy Jesus witness to Catholic truthiness is feeding and galvanizing–the bullshitters or the martyrs?
* [ADDED A COUPLE DAYS LATER: My impression of Buchanan’s essay is that he had been accumulating impressions of and reactions to the Pope’s various “interview encounters” over the past few weeks. His column runs through a lot of issues very succinctly, and as far as the North American Jesuit martyrs are concerned, Steve Skojec got there first.]