In response to the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decree on same sex marriage, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued this statement:
…It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage…. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. (July 26, 2015)
During the first fifteen years of the 21st century, clergy and laity alike could certainly have fought more vehemently after Vermont became the first State to establish same sex civil unions (July 1, 2000). But our foes were hell-bent to redefine marriage, led by SCOTUS (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003) and since 2012 by President Barak Hussein Obama (BHO). Together with a host of homosexualist supporters backing the revolution (homosexuals themselves are under 3% of the population) the BHO/SCOTUS tandem has overthrown the written Constitution in order to mainstream sodomy into the culture.
Our ancestors faced something similar. In their day dual scourges took form in Bolshevism (Soviet Communism for 75 years), contemporaneous with Nazism for twelve dreadful years.
The downfall of both apocalyptic forces would show forth yet again how Satan is mankind’s most adaptable and resourceful enemy. It took only a few decades for the Prince of Darkness to contrive another concoction in the mold of the six million Jewish victims, but this time a holocaust of between one and two billion abortions worldwide in the last half century (some 58 million in the USA during the last 42 years).
Then with the fall of atheistic Communism in Eastern Europe and in Russia, a hedonistic form of godlessness sprung up. Aided by new technology (the pill) the sexual revolution worked mightily to minimize religious practice in the very nations which had, until relatively recently, constituted Christendom.
In Soviet Russia the spiritual effect of atheistic Communism was to corrupt morals and ghettoize people of faith. Much the same diabolical combination is at work here. While postmodern oppression may rest more lightly in America, it imposes a brooding presence just as broadly across the political, economic and cultural spheres.
Under SCOTUS the sequence of revolutionary edicts went like this: society was spiritually darkened by secularization (1962-63); barbarized by abortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973); meanwhile the culture was being hyper-sexualized with court sanctioned pornography (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964, Miller v. California, 1973); and then impacting all 50 States, sodomy was incorporated into the institution of marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, June 2015).
Again and again, beginning with the Earl Warren Court, SCOTUS would intervene to provide what Pat Buchanan termed a “battering ram for the cultural revolution.” As this postmodern revolution bashed open the gates, the media, the entertainment industry, and a host of corporate accomplices marched along in an informal alliance. SCOTUS cleared away legal obstacles while BHO exhorted the public from his bully pulpit.
Eminent Catholic theologian, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), lived through most of the earlier anti-Christian revolutions in Europe. He worked tirelessly to bolster his audiences and his readers, urging them to maintain an “absolute enmity” against the Antichrist in Bolshevism and in Nazism. He warned against the danger of being “morally blunted,” of putting up “with the injustices of others and so accustom ourselves to a morally poisoned atmosphere;” or of being paralyzed into inaction by the gaze which the serpent fixes upon its intended victims.
What Adolf Hitler did to freeze his opponents into passivity, the same sex marriage movement has done to many of its natural foes in the West. It may be history’s most incredible case of bedazzlement, a public relations triumph exceeding Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda displays. After a 15 year onslaught came the culmination, the usurpation by SCOTUS; and as collateral damage, overthrowing the Republic in what Justice Scalia terms a “judicial putsch.”
A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy…. [T]o allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation. [Justice Antonin Scalia, Obergefell dissent, 6/26/15]
In his book, My Battle Against Hitler, von Hildebrand offers a number of lessons and parallels between Bolshevism and Nazism in the 1930’s and the diabolical duo we face in postmodern America. He warns, for example, against the dangers contained in the heresy of “pietistic quietism,” which he defines for his time (and ours) as “a cowardly flight from the battle.” When political questions concern “fundamental beliefs about the meaning of human existence,” all Catholics “must fight” in the political sphere.
Thus “Catholic Action,”… is indeed apolitical in the sense that it must not be understood as a political party or engage in party politics itself; but it certainly extends into the political sphere, since Catholics who are active politically have the same obligation to carry the spirit of Christ into this domain that they have with regard to any other sphere of life…. It is our obligation as soldiers of Christ to wage war against the Antichrist and to rip the mask from his face. The “apolitical” disposition cultivated by certain Catholics, which induces others to refrain from exposing and relentlessly fighting against National Socialism (Nazism), is an evil sophism….Here too Christ’s words hold true: “He who is not with me is against me” (Mt 12:30).
As American citizens a civic response to the Gospel is imperative; whereas political quietists, like Cal Thomas, are guilty of “outright desertion of duty.” Bishop Joseph Strickland of Texas condemned the SCOTUS decision, and on July 5th instructed all Catholics in his diocese that “this extremely unfortunate decision by our government is unjust and immoral, and it is our duty to clearly and emphatically oppose it….”
What we do not hear in von Hildebrand’s call to resistance are nuances ad nauseam about how we must love our enemies. All that is true enough, like the truism about hating the sin but loving the sinner. But during his five year exile to Vienna, with Austrian Nazis working feverishly for Anchulus with Germany and submission of their national sovereignty to der Fuehrer; our soldier of Christ spent no time lacing his call for absolute enmity toward the Third Reich with hedging about how to demonstrate more love toward Nazi ideologues, and more charity toward anti-Semites. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8)
For those disinclined to fight for “a lost cause,” as they might now view traditional marriage, consider Vaclav Havel’s definition of hope. He was describing life in 1986 under the oppressive Communist regime in Czechoslovakia:
Hope…is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpropitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
“The great lesson of history,” said GK Chesterton, “is that mankind generally forgets the lessons of history.” So it is now for Americans who emulate their predecessors 80 years ago. Many pious Germans and Austrians prayed for the spiritual conversion of their Fuhrer; rather than giving priority in their prayers to Hitler’s removal from political office. This attitude, says von Hildebrand, “was a horrid blend of equivocation and an attempt at self-deception,” for “there was far more to be decried in Hitler than his personal lack of faith, namely his entire gruesome doctrine, the totalitarian state he had created,” and the fact that “everything was permeated by the spirit of the Antichrist, and so everything had to be rejected.”
A devout Evangelical couple comes to mind who actively supported Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. They urged me also to contribute at least my vote. When I asked how such a vote was conscionable, given BHO’s commitment to abortion and his then doubtful stand on the same-sex issues, my friends explained that after Obama won the White House we should then storm heaven for his conversion to Christ.
Another Hildebrandian insight concerns laity and members of the clergy who flip flop under the influence of the Zeitgeist, of the intoxicating spirit of the times. Hildebrand mentions “so many Catholics” in Germany deceived by Nazism; also quite a number of Catholic clergy, not excluding some few bishops.
A day after SCOTUS’ decision, Dr. Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the theology department at Fordham University (a Jesuit school), married his male partner in an Episcopalian liturgy. Fordham’s director of communications, Bob Howe, issued a statement defending professor Hornbeck, and wishing him and his “spouse” many blessings “on the occasion of their wedding in the Episcopal Church.”
Somewhat similarly last month. The outrageous decision issued by SCOTUS was not even a week old when, alas, the triennial Episcopal General Convention voted to redefine marriage and to affirm same-sex wedding ceremonies in Episcopalian churches.
The Catholic hierarchy has done nothing of the kind, Deo Gratias. Still, the tepid response of some Catholic clergy during the course of the 15 year campaign to sodomize the culture calls to mind von Hildebrand’s lament: “I cannot express how much it pained me that the Catholic hierarchy did not take a definitive stance against the Antichrist, who raised his head in Nazism.”
A significant portion of the clergy in Germany and Austria was also infected with antisemitism. This heresy serves Satan on several levels, including the fact that it is so contrary to nature. Von Hildebrand describes anti-Jewish edicts by the government as “an attack on human nature… a direct attack against the incarnate God, against human nature sanctified by the Incarnation.”
Likewise in America as legislation and state constitutions got struck down by the Courts, i.e. laws that defended unborn children and favored natural marriage. It is unnatural in the extreme for a mother to kill her children and for the state to be complicit in the murder. It is also a crime against nature to demean marriage morally by redefining it to embrace sexual perversion.
There are two additional lessons from the 1930s that apply very much to the present crisis in Euro/American civilization. First, abiding by Romans 14:22 offers a blessing for clergy and laity alike. At all costs, avoid condemning ourselves by what we approve. Too many Christians extend tacit if not outright endorsement to the evil regimes that rule them.
Second, von Hildebrand kept his head despite the threats to him and his wife personally as they were forced to flee his home in Munich, Germany. They fled in turn to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Brazil and finally the United States. Through it all he remained steadfast in his desired role as an intellectual officer in the battle against Hitler. Likewise let us remain resolute in our opposition to the evil regime ruling us.
To Germanophiles von Hildebrand was treasonous; and he was high on the list for assassination if the Nazis had ever caught him. “That damned Hildebrand is the greatest obstacle for National Socialism in Austria,” exclaimed Franz von Papen, Hitler’s quazi-Catholic ambassador to Vienna. Because von Hildebrand’s anti-Nazi periodical, Der christliche Standestatt, was such a widely read weekly, von Papen considered him “the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria.”
Von Hildebrand’s writings decried the “collective egoism” which puts the well being of one’s country first.
This perversion reaches its culmination when the nation is ranked above the highest community of them all, namely the supernatural community of the Church understood as the mystical body of Christ.
In his essay, “Austria and Nationalism,” (1934) von Hildebrand distinguishes between genuine patriotism, a “love for the ‘divine idea’ which this particular nation represents;” and nationalism, “the great heresy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Likewise, American exceptionalism disavowed the divine idea from which the USA sprang, and has resorted to international bullying and domestic pushing for the tripartite paradigm of secularism in the public square, abortion on demand, and “marriage equality.”
As postmodern America has betrayed the Judeo-Christian heritage handed down by our forbears, so eight decades ago “Nazism was trampling all that was great and noble in (German) tradition.” Von Hildebrand’s prose reads like a dissent from the strained eloquence of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion, in which he distorts and downplays the moral / political principles upon which America was built. Writes von Hildebrand:
Anyone who regards the programmatic text Mein Kampf, so full of slogans and pseudo-education, as a product of the German spirit, has never sensed even a hint of the genius of the glorious German nation. In this book, demagoguery and slogans are, in fact, elevated to the level of principles.
For a final parallel, let’s return to hope. Not surprisingly, the sodomites and their supporters are moving fast to consolidate their victory, and to seal it in our psyche as an immutable change. Resistance is hopeless and futile, they tell us. We’re taunted that ignorant dissenters will soon die out as the enlightened new generation takes over.
Germans under 30 thought much the same thing in 1933. It is a tendency in the young to admire upheaval, breakthrough, and novelty. On the basis of youthful emotion, Hitler had an intense appeal to fresh-faced Deutchlanders. They found his forceful emergence and entry into the political fray exhilarating.
But some youthful Germans realized their error; most famously the brave martyrs in the White Rose Society. They continue to be celebrated in Germany to this day. Contrast the strident ovations of the Hitler Youth; where are they now?
In summary, then, what can we takeaway from these Hildebrandian parallels? I believe the Catholic theologian and philosopher who lived contemporaneously with the rise and prosperity of Stalinism, and who suffered under an arch-pagan occupation of his own country, has good advice for us in dealing with a postmodern regime so alien to our Judeo-Christian heritage as Americans:
- Resist the temptation to become “morally blunted.”
- Disavow the “horrid blend of equivocation” and the “attempt at self-deception” implicit in the plea to be more loving, so that Antichrist and his minions will convert to Christianity.
- Show his regime “absolute enmity.” Eschew political quietism.
- Reject the regime totally. Fundamental moral flaws call for resistance, not accommodation.
- Help our fellow citizens break the politically paralyzing spell of the serpent’s gaze.
- Remain hopeful, even when exiled or ghettoized by a hostile zeitgeist.
- Keep faith in young people, even though many suffer from a bias toward dramatic departures from tradition.
- Pray for the overthrow of the tyrant, not just for the conversion of the tyrant.
- Do not despair when fellow Catholics and even clergy become infected by the Zeitgeist.
- Be outraged when fellow “Christians” (like Episcopalians) embrace the enemy.
- Be on guard against all attacks on “nature and nature’s God,” like anti-Semitism or same-sex-marriage.
- Brace yourselves against being demoralized by the enemy’s insults and threats.
- Distinguish between genuine patriotism and nationalism.
- Fight to restore the divine idea that helped drive our country’s history and inspire our forbears.
- Reject shallow eloquence based on slogans, like Mein Kampf, – or like Anthony Kennedy’s “mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages” in the majority decision last month.
 Dietrich von Hildebrand, My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich, tr. & ed. by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby (New York: Image, 2014), p. 260.
 Ibid. p. 51.
 Ibid. pp. 282-83.
 Ibid. pp. 281-82.
 Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p.181.
 Von Hildebrand, supra, pp. 77-78.
 Ibid. p. 70. 86-87, 121.
 Ibid. pp. 248-250.
 Ibid. pp. 94, 132, 255-57.
 Ibid. p. 81.