Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11, NRSVACE.
We were told from the beginning that Our Lord came into the world not to unite but to divide, not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The Crucifixion divides history in two. Some have observed that the meridian passing through Mount Calvary divides the Earth landmass in two roughly equal parts. Before going into one of his most severe teachings —about the unforgivable sin— Jesus stopped to warn us in Matthew 12:30: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” In the process of making all things new, God repeats his primordial creative actions, chaos is defeated by order; darkness is dispelled by light: “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
These past few weeks, we were witnesses of the struggles of two Catholic men. One was moved by his conscience to shed light on hidden, painful truths. The other contended with personal attacks so vicious that one could only qualify them as demonic. Both men are now the objective of character assassination efforts in the media.
I am talking about Monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò, and U.S. Judge Brett Michael Kavanaugh.
Some of us have a tendency to find patterns in things that are apparently unrelated. The whole human intellectual experience rests mainly on finding “the likeness of unlike things” to use Richard Mulcaster’s wonderful insight. Following the news about these two men, I asked myself: is God sending us a not-so-subtle message here? Here we have two decent men whose lives are a model of public and private virtue, two men who have lived almost their entire careers in the public eye. Both men are dedicated to serve, one as a priest serving God, the other as a public servant. Both of them are being reviled by groups supposedly standing in defense of fairness, mercy, and service for the weak and powerless in society.
This is very odd, especially when one observes the methods of those attacking these two good men: baseless, flimsy accusations that would not resist the most superficial analysis, darts of lies and innuendo shot from a dark corner. Cynical does not even begin to describe those attacks. The world’s media —of course— is the vehicle of that.
Malcolm Muggeridge commented, almost prophetically: “There is something, to me, very sinister about this emergence of a weird kind of conformity, or orthodoxy, particularly among the people who operate the media, so that you can tell in advance exactly what they will say and think about anything. It is true that so far they have not got an Inquisition to enforce their orthodoxy, but they have ways of enforcing it which makes the old thumbscrews and racks seem quite paltry.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, Christ and the Media, London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity, Eerdmanns, 1977/1978.)
I am quite sure Muggeridge never imagined that a Pope was going to avail himself of those hideous mechanisms, so far reserved for the media and academics of the left. I think old Democrats like Hubert Humphrey would have gone into spasms of horror watching the sinister show presented by Sen. Diane Feinstein during last week’s nomination procedures.
The “smoke of Satan” has become a dense fog that numbs both the intellectual and the moral senses of one half of the world. For those accusing Kavanaugh, the accusation of a woman is valid and true because it is made by a woman. For those persecuting Viganò, the Pope’s pledge of silence on the matter, followed by his failure to keep silent, is neither a tacit admission of guilt nor a sign of dubious ethics. In both cases, those who defend the Monsignor or the Judge are using logic and common sense. Their counterparts instead are cynically trying to manipulate the public’s emotions using false information and outright slander.
We may be seeing the hand of God separating light from darkness. Evil has invaded the life of the Church and the American body politic. Those wicked forces are now being exposed by the actions of these two men. Light is beginning to let us see the contours of two armies that are about to clash in the foggy morning of a new day.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle …