The Social Gospel
Distracted by media coverage of the Make Poverty History campaign and the gruesome sight of geriatric rockers being wheeled out for another Live Aid concert, I fear that our dissident episcopate could have missed dispatches about Pope Benedict’s recent Ad Limina meeting with the African bishops.
Just in case - and especially since Africa is the intended beneficiary of the above campaign in which their aid agency CAFOD is fully engaged - it is only right that we should apprise them of what transpired.
Gospel of Christ
He encouraged Africans to return to traditional family and sexual moral values, expressing concern at Western influences via which "the fabric of African life is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality, all of which contribute to a breakdown in sexual morality."
"The traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS," His Holiness stated. "For this reason, the companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young."
South African representative Bishop Nubuasah Frank, Vicar-General of Francistown, Botswana, said the Pope stressed that sexual intercourse should be open to reproduction and that couples who want to space their children should use natural family planning.
The Bishop pointed out that actions against AIDS must include monogamy and abstinence. "Condoms are not reducing the rate of infection in Botswana," he emphasised. "How did Uganda succeed? Uganda did not succeed with condoms but with abstinence. The Church, the state and everybody was involved."
The bishops had also discussed what to do in a case when one spouse is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. Bishop Nubuasah said the response could never include divorce since the Church teaches that marriage is for life. And he told a reporter that on the subject of contraceptives and homosexuality the African bishops are all clear on and in agreement with Catholic teaching on these points.
In sum, these unequivocally Catholic beliefs and strategies espoused by the Holy Father and the African bishops reflect the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, the nature and purpose of which is essentially spiritual; concerned above and beyond all else with the salvation of souls ransomed at such brutal and bloody cost by Our Lord and Saviour.
Thus, imbued with this spirit of the true Gospel of (supernatural) Life, Blessed Mother Teresa considered the human detritus she nursed in Calcutta as infinitely better off than the affluent victims of spiritual poverty in the West. As much as she cherished physical life, of prime concern to Mother were the life of the soul and a holy death. For this she was reviled by Western worldlings who charged her with callous indifference to suffering.
This diabolic ruse is rooted in a false charity which views ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ in isolation, shorn of its Divine rider ... ‘for love of God and His Commandments’. Hence, while commentators duly noted the total absence of the D-word during emotive, hyperbolic outpourings by "Live 8" performers, no-one observed or lamented the missing G-word.
Sadly, the monsters who have siphoned off or otherwise squandered a trillion dollars in African aid over the last fifty years, and crushed transparent government and the rule of law while slaughtering millions of their own people, did not make it into Mr Geldof’s manifesto. Hardly surprising, then, that his fellow foul-mouthed rockers in Hyde Park failed to mention the problematic African dictators either.
For a Christian, however, it was not so much this glaring verbal omission as the un-Godly silence that deafened.
Christianity and rock ‘n’ roll are hardly bedfellows, of course. Yet the nature of the event, the tragic and intractable human suffering of the deeply religious African peoples it addressed, cried out for a spiritual dimension. But no. Not even one token Born Again rocker was trotted out to invoke the name of Jesus.
It epitomised the social gospel in action: buckets of raw emotion and self-indulgence - a "feel good/do good extravaganza", as one writer put it - geared purely to material man and hyped as the apex of charity ("the greatest single thing that’s ever been organised in the history of the world," according to the lead singer of Coldplay).
A philanthropic/humanitarian exercise, however, is not necessarily a charitable one. Since true charity is impossible without loving God by obeying His laws.
A towering spiritual writer of the last century, Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, has pointed out the real hidden dangers to the Church of such humanitarianism masquerading as true charity. He might have been speaking of the Make Poverty History rock circus and castigating the ecumenised Catholic ecclesiastics and laity foolishly caught up in it:
There is also a false charity, made up of humanitarian sentimentalism, which seeks to have itself approved by true charity and which, by its contact, often taints the true.
One of the chief conflicts of the present day is that which arises between true and false charity. The latter reminds us of the false Christs spoken of in the Gospel; they are more dangerous before they are unmasked than when they make themselves known as the true enemies of the Church.... The worst of corruptions is that which attacks.. the highest of the theological virtues. The apparent good which attracts the sinner is, in fact, so much the more dangerous as it is the counterfeit of a higher good...If, therefore, through stupidity or more or less conscious cowardice, those who should represent true charity approve here and there the dicta of the false, an incalculable evil may result. This evil is at times greater than that done by open persecutors, with whom evidently one can no longer have anything in common.[The Three Ages of the Interior Life, 1947]
And is there even one chance in 50 billion that MPH and L8 activists will decry such funding under the Orwellian banners of ‘reproductive health’ and ‘reproductive rights’?
The self-evident answer, laying bare their signal complicity in the Culture of Sin and Death, is rooted in the mentality of Claire Bertschinger, the British nurse whose humanitarian work in the Ethiopian refugee camps helped inspire the original 1985 Live Aid concert. Honoured with the Florence Nightingale medal for her work among the mujahedin in Afghanistan, she recounted her reaction after having sex with one of the rebels:
I was petrified because we hadn’t used any protection... There weren’t any proper pharmacies in Kabul so I had to resort to a medical textbook, desperately flicking through the pages to find the correct formula for the morning-after pill. I noted down how many milligrams of oestrogen it required and headed out to find some in town.
The ramshackle pharmacies hadn’t been resupplied for months, if not years, and contraception was hardly the norm there. I hunted among dusty bottles at the back of shelves, and finally found some contraceptive pills with which to make up my own cocktail. I was so panicked that I’m sure I overdosed myself but so long as it worked I didn’t care. After that I was more careful. The Red Cross thoughtfully supplied condoms in our first-aid kits... [Moving Mountains, Doubleday, 2005]
This is all of a piece with the anti-life ethos of Make Poverty History itself, which is part of a project titled "UN Millennium Development Goals." The UN Population Fund [UNFPA] links achievement of these goals - to combat AIDS and reduce poverty and child mortality - with universal access to abortion! A major report to this effect is at the top of the G8 agenda.
Any involvement with the UN, of course, is a deadly business. Robert Whelan details in his book Choices in Childbearing how the UN and its partners in crime like International Planned Parenthood have "international targets to reduce human fertility while integrating this policy with international health and food aid programmes," making population control look like family planning. For example, some aid programmes have only provided a village with a water-well if all the men are sterilised. While, as reported in IPPF’s People magazine, a woman receives 20kg of rice and two weeks holiday if an IUD is inserted, 100 kg of rice and lighter duties at work for a sterilisation ["Make Abortion History", www.unitedforlife.com].
Compromise and secularisation
Archbishop Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum which supports Catholic charitable agencies, recently denounced the compromise and secularisation which can occur during close collaboration with other denominations and faiths.
"Sometimes," he told the Catholic Herald, "Christ’s message is reduced to that which interests public opinion: justice, peace, and quality of life. It is rare one speaks about sin, love of God, and eternal life [and as a result] the vertical dimension of charity - that which is beyond earthly and secular humanism - is in danger of being lost."
But what does Rome expect! Its entire ecumenical movement is predicated on the jettisoning of St Paul’s strict teaching:
"Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? ... Wherefore, go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." [2Cor 6:14-17]
Imagine the Saint’s distress were he around to witness Catholic aid agencies making common cause with the godless likes of the UN and Bob Geldof!
Well might the Archbishop be "very concerned" about the failure of these agencies to uphold authentic Catholic charity, reducing it instead to "a very pragmatic [social gospel] redistribution of goods, disconnected from evangelisation."
An Australian feminist who had spent her life railing against the Church eventually found herself being tenderly cared for in a Catholic hospital. Asked by a friend why she wasn’t in a feminist hospital, she replied feebly - "Oh, we don’t do that." Quite.
The point is that the nexus between much despised Catholic dogma and corporal charity is a glorious fact of history. The Church does more to alleviate material poverty and sickness than any organisation on earth! Not least, to the chagrin of the sodomites and the condom crowd, in respect of AIDS.
"The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront both in prevention and in treatment of this illness," Pope Benedict told the African bishops. Which only makes the politically correct grovelling of the English and Welsh Bishops’ in this arena all the more baffling and shameful.
For Archbishop Cordes, Cafod’s policy showed how easy it is for Catholic agencies to fail to realise their spiritual as well as practical purpose.
"It is illogical to represent the Church within the ambit of charitable aid and, at the same time, to do so without being part of the Church’s mission," he explained. "Charity, as an outreach of the Church’s mandate to make the Gospel known, must necessarily operate within the framework of the Church’s teaching."
As befits heralds of the social gospel, CAFOD responded to this Vatican hammering with soulless corporate verbiage.
After claiming that their policy is simply misunderstood, a spokeswoman proceeded to confirm our perfect understanding: that this policy includes providing "information on... the effectiveness... of condom use" as part of "personal risk-reduction information" so that "people already living with the HIV virus [can] be kept as well as possible."
Apparently, however, this anti-Catholic stance is not considered anti-Catholic since further balancing advice is offered on the "limitations" of condom use. Even-handed to the death!
Those convinced by the "effectiveness" side of CAFOD’s condom ledger and persuaded to play Russian roulette with their bodies and souls, may one day get to re-examine this sophistical method of AIDS prevention with CAFOD staff - together in Hell!
But for now, spokesparrots continue squawking the spurious party line - that "CAFOD neither funds nor advocates the supply, distribution or promotion of condoms."
In the tortured world of CAFOD doublespeak, you see, supporting the supply of "information on the effectiveness of condom use" doesn’t count as ‘advocating’ contraception. Well, how about ‘condoning’ it, as in the dictionary definition: "to accept and allow (behaviour that is considered morally wrong or offensive) to continue"?
CAFOD’s puerile response not only served to highlight its illogicality, self-contradiction and deep denial as flagged by the Archbishop, but the chasm that now separates the bishops and their increasingly ludicrous and insufferable aid agency from the Catholic faith of the English saints and martyrs.
For if, through CAFOD, the bishops of England Wales are indeed operating outside "the framework of the Church’s teaching" - if they are not making Christ’s Gospel known - as the Vatican representative clearly states, then all that is left is the Devil’s anti-Gospel. Oriented to the world, grounded in that false charity of which Fr Garrigou-Langrange warns, this ape of the true Gospel preaches salvation through the social justice and peace movements.
But as Father Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us: "The Saviour did not come upon earth to carry out a human work of philanthropy, but a divine work of charity. He accomplished it by speaking more to men about their duties than of their rights..."
Principally their duty to honour, worship and obey Him as their Creator and Redeemer. It is for lack of that true supernatural justice that the poor suffer most - because without it we are more "preoccupied with jealously defending temporal rights than with winning over to God the soul of [one’s] irritated brother."
Typically, however, it was not their eternal salvation but the fact that "those in poverty are most likely to live in a poor environment" that weighed on Scotland’s National Secretary. Blessed Mother Teresa, for one, would disagree. As stated earlier, she found more and worse (spiritual) poverty in the affluent West.
Moreover, supposedly Catholic agencies engaging in mass movements for ‘justice and peace’ while studiously avoiding the A-word would have appalled Mother, who wrote: "I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing, direct murder by the mother herself" [letter to Fr James Morrow, 9/7/90].
Yet as their contraceptive-abortive MPH partners snap their fingers every three seconds to signify a child dying in Africa, how many Catholic bishops and bureaucrats respond with a snap every second to indicate a child murdered in the womb? Where is the public response? The advertising blitz? The determination to redress the wicked imbalance and hypocrisy?
Desperate to secure a false peace with the world, they keep their hands in their pockets and their mouths shut. It is the worst kind of false charity and hail-fellow-well-met cowardice masquerading as prudence.
Social Gospel Princes
His social conscience all aflame, Cardinal O’Brien called on the G8 leaders to "listen to the voice of your people", to be "generous and just," since "the poor do not seek charity but justice."
How often identical words addressed to the hypocritical Cardinal by his own flock have gone unheeded or drawn an angry non serviam retort: appeals for liturgical justice in generous provision of the Traditional Mass; for doctrinal justice from parish pulpits and RE teachers; for just action to prevent myriad unspeakable scandals among his clergy.
Such intra-ecclesial scandals could, of course, be genuinely eradicated by His Eminence (or indeed the Vatican, who once carpeted O’Brien himself for foisting a condom-advocating AIDS study pack on his schoolchildren). But he and his brothers prefer the utopian secular vision of the MPH social gospel dreamers.
Provided the G8 act, declared Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, the "scourge of global poverty [can be] consigned to history."
So much for the Gospel of Christ, in which He plainly states that the poor are always with us [Matt. 26:11]. So much for the moral and spiritual poverty of the West, that stymies all our charitable efforts and which only a healthy Catholic Church, not G8 billions, can eradicate.
The very idea that one could ever truly Make Poverty History is a classic Marxist absurdity that might have been lifted straight from a liberation theology text. The intellectual guise of the social gospel, liberation theology reinterprets the true Gospel by investing traditional Christian terminology with Marxist meaning: so the State takes the place of Christ’s Incarnation; liberation from Original Sin on the way to salvation becomes liberation from the sin of private property on the way to collective ownership; and any biblical expression of compassion for the poor is viewed as necessarily involving class struggle by the proletarian peasants against the rich. All of which was personified by the anarchic anti-capitalist contingent among the MPH protesters in Edinburgh.
Doubtless nostalgic for the halcyon days when their radical colleagues abroad championed this veritable ‘anti-theology,’ the pathetic rump of the once great British Jesuit Province even bussed their college students to an MPH rally in Trafalgar Square - to cheer Nelson Mandela, the legendary frontman for South Africa’s communist ANC, who appeared on video link from Johannesburg. "As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist," cried the veteran pro-abort, pro-condom death-dealer, "none of us can really rest."
While Marxism is currently back in vogue in Latin American, liberation theology of the heady 1970s-80s variety has pretty much died in a formal political sense. But the kind of leftist religious economics promoted by the British hierarchies and their bureaucrats, which drew them to MPH like moths to a flame, is its soft remnant. The tone is more populist than communist and the language of redistribution has replaced talk of revolution, but the animating socialist spirit, presented as democratic-egalitarian, is alive and well.
At its source lies the eternal temptation of the malign author of the social gospel himself:
"And the tempter coming said to him, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God" [Matt 4: 3-4].
The soul-sustaining words that proceed from the mouth of God are the moral and doctrinal truths taught by His Church. Yet the idea that our shepherds might back a campaign titled "Make Heresy History" is too laughable to countenance. It is precisely their longstanding preference for doling out trendy stones instead of the nourishing and compassionate bread of Catholic dogma which has reduced the faithful to the sort of spiritual penury Mother Teresa so abhorred.
No sir, the full-frontal dissidence and belligerent pride and intransigence exhibited since the start of the CAFOD condom scandal, even in the face of Vatican censure, is living proof that our bishops would sooner Make Benedict History than obey his teachings and ditch the social gospel.
These mimic the small "base communities" of liberation theology, wherein the materialistic mindset, false idealism and private judgement of the social gospel are passed on. Specific Catholic notions of sin, conversion, repentance and salvation give way to fuzzy verbiage about ‘faith community’, ‘Church as community’, ‘building community’, ‘serving community.’
The individual is thus subsumed by the group - osmotically drawn from the "I" into the great collective "We believe..." of the mistranslated Creed - and a whole new doctrineless faith takes shape. Since ‘God speaks through community’ and not the teaching Church, the priest speaks and acts not on behalf of the Church and in persona Christi but on behalf of the community and by virtue of its self-appointed mandate.
In effect, then, the crisis of faith and authority we face today is essentially the subversive anti-Gospel at work in countless quasi-autonomous ‘small groups’ and ‘faith communities.’ They now permeate the Church and have turned bishops, priests and laity into latter-day imitations of their 19th Century Protestant forebears - the puritanical WOWSERS (‘we only want social evils removed’).
These Victorians lived and breathed the social gospel but without an authoritative sacramental system to sustain them, watched their heirs abandon any semblance of traditional Christianity within a few generations. Their descendants, in turn, have morphed into champions of the new wowserism: that harbinger of Orwell’s "boot stamping on a human face" - political correctness.
Similarly, presenting dogma-lite compassion as true charity, the Church has already lost two generations. And compelling evidence presented in a new book by John Vennari and Cornelia Ferreira, which we hope to review in a forthcoming number, suggests that we will lose more still. The authors explain how the "social service" and "community-building" themes at the heart of World Youth Days are being used to reinforce and further the subjectivisation of every aspect of belief, effectively establishing a this-worldly "Counterchurch" - one which merges seamlessly with the feel-good humanitarianism of Make Poverty History.
Newsnight: And according to many in the Catholic Church, Bishops must be able to come up with their own answers to the problems in their own diocese. Crispian Hollis wants for example to ordain some married men, its his own way of coping with the crisis in the Church, another is respecting the decision of Catholics who disobey on issues such as birth control.
Bishop Hollis: It’s got to be a conscientious decision taken prayerfully and all these sorts of things and even at the end of the day if that’s what they feel they have to do then that is a decision I have got to respect.
Newsnight: It’s very interesting, even though it goes against the formal teaching of the Church?
Bishop Hollis: I think so, because they have made that decision on very good grounds. It is not a decision that is taken lightly.
The interviewer concluded that "The pastors of the Church in Britain understand their flock and have tended to avoid raising difficult doctrines that they know many people cannot accept."
This anti-Gospel according to Crispian, Cormac & Co. would be very familiar to Protestants, for whom DIY-doctrine is the increasingly soft norm. The number of evangelical churches may have risen dramatically in recent decades but not all conform to the fire and brimstone image of popular caricature. On the contrary, according to Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Centre for Religion and Public Life at Boston College: "They no longer speak of sins and damnation but have a positive discourse which holds rather to methods of personal development. Moreover, often, they don’t even sport a cross outside." [Le Figaro, 29/6/05]
It is the kind of secular humanism dressed up as Christianity prefigured in 1819 by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:
"...this church was born without a Saviour, good works without faith, the communion of the unbelieving with the appearance but not the reality of virtue; in a word, the anti-Church whose centre is malice, error, falsehood, hypocrisy, tepidity, and the cunning of all the demons of the period... Its mysteries are to have no mysteries and, consequently, its action is temporal, finite, full of pride and presumption, a teacher of evil clothed in specious raiment."
The autonomous, self-absolving, illogical and self-contradictory English Church of Crispian Hollis and CAFOD mirrors this diabolic state. Concretised in corporate plans, pie charts and soulless bureaucratisation, the essence and thrust of this anti-Church is encapsulated in a planning document for Arundel & Brighton produced several years ago under then-Bishop Murphy-O’Connor.
In our January 2002 edition, we showed how closely and thoroughly the social gospel language of this diocesan plan mimics the corporate verbiage of a South Wales Electricity annual report. We also noted that RENEW gets mentioned six times while the Holy Spirit and the Gospel get mentioned once; ecumenism and ‘liturgy’ are liberally mentioned but the rare naming of Mass as such is with a small ‘m’; the Scriptures are mentioned only once and there is not a single Biblical quotation.
Most chilling and telling of all, however, is that the words "God" and "Catholic" appear twice, in contrast to "community" which is repeated a dozen times. While "Christ" is mentioned once, on the final page, and "Jesus" is entirely absent.
What is this archetypical document if not the embodiment of that counterfeit Catholicism prophesied in 1948 by Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "religion without a Cross; a liturgy without a world to come; a religion to destroy a religion; a politics which is a religion; a church emptied of its divine content."
Fatima and 7/7
A formula for catastrophe of biblical proportions!
Holy Scripture attests time and again that God not only rewards but punishes, even here on earth. Jerusalem rejected the Saviour and was destroyed [Lk 19:41-47]. Primary cause and effect. St. Nicholas von Flue put it this way:
"What the soul is to the body, God is to the State. When the soul leaves the body, the body falls apart. When God is driven from the State, the State is doomed to ruin."
Within a week of the MPH-L8 jamboree having banished Almighty God from their fund-raising effort, and precisely one week after the British Medical Association had voted not to reduce the time limit for abortions and engineered an officially neutral stance on passive euthanasia, Islamic terrorists bombed London.
Around 8.50 am. on 7 July, three bombs were detonated on Tube trains within seconds of each other. Inexplicably, the fourth exploded almost an hour later, on a bus in Tavistock Square - directly outside the BMA headquarters. The terrorist plans appear to have gone awry and this was the result: blood and body parts of innocent victims, as well as the remains of decapitated bus bomber Hasib Hussain, splattered across the BMA building.
Veteran pro-lifer Fr James Morrow once adjudged that the BMA "has the blood of almost four million unborn babies on its hands (having stood by for years and ignored their plight)."
With the prospect of dirty bombs and nuclear bombs in terrorist briefcases on the horizon, we fail to discern the signs of the times and the Divine message signalled here at Britain’s peril [Matt 16:3]. After all, Our Lady warned at Fatima that if her requests for the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays are not heeded, Russia "will spread her errors throughout the world" and, in the process, "various nations will be annihilated." And as we have seen, the hegemonic social gospel is simply the Western vehicle for spreading those Russian "errors" - the essence of which is the naturalism/materialism informing the Culture of Death.
Predictably, however, ‘Reverend’ Blair’s response in the immediate aftermath of the bombings ignored this wake-up call. Preaching from Edinburgh, the famously deluded Prime Minister vowed that terrorists will not succeed in destroying "our values and our way of life" - as if to cry: ‘we will not be deterred from our godlessness!’
Stressing each social gospel cliche with the cringing theatricality of the ham actor he is, the PM went on: "We will continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world. Here at this [G8] summit, the world’s leaders are striving to combat world poverty and save and improve human life. The perpetrators of today’s attacks are intent on destroying human life."
This from a man who has repeatedly voted for abortion up to birth, who leads the most virulently anti-life government in English history, and whose G8 summit "striving to save human life" was, in fact, looking to fund the killing of African babies in the womb! Such rank hypocrisy and complicity in the Culture of Sin and Death is tailored to invoke the Fatima annihilation.
We need a miracle. We must pray the Rosary daily and do penance if our ecclesiastical and political leaders are ever to obtain the grace to recognise the difference between true and false charity; the Gospel and the anti-Gospel; Christ and anti-Christ.
Only that miraculous awakening and extraction from the mire of social gospel sentiment and ego will secure lasting solutions for a Church and world convulsed from top to bottom and looking down the barrel at Divine retribution.
For as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla stated in 1976 during America’s Eucharistic Congress, the hour is late. Just two years before his elevation to the Chair of Peter, the future John Paul II firmly declared:
"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realise this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine providence, it is a trial which the Church must take up. "