Friday, 30 August 2019

When Joseph Stalin’s Daughter Became Catholic

The most popular post I've ever shared was a very short piece, Stalin's Daughter Died a Catholic, which garnered almost 15,000 views. Here's a more in depth look at her conversion.

From the National Catholic Register

The most popular post I've ever shared was a very short piece, Stalin's Daughter Died a Catholic, which garnered almost 15,000 views. Here's a more in depth look at her conversion.


From the National Catholic Register


By Matthew Archbold


“The Eucharist has given me life,” she said — and “my father would have shot me for what I have done.”





Joseph Stalin with his daughter Svetlana in 1935 (Wikimedia Commons)

Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of the murderous dictator Joseph Stalin, renounced materialism and converted to Catholicism. Joseph would not have approved. In fact, Svetlana once reportedly told an editor of National Review that “my father would have shot me for what I have done.”


Joseph Stalin himself was raised in the Orthodox Church. His parents actually wanted him to be a priest. Unfortunately, his father abused the young Joseph mercilessly. Stalin once described his childhood as having been “raised in a poor priest-ridden household.” He came to renounce Christianity altogether, reportedly saying, "You know, they are fooling us, there is no God… all this talk about God is sheer nonsense."


While in power, Stalin did everything he could to crush Christianity, closing down thousands of churches and violently torturing, killing, and imprisoning Christians. This is the man who was reputed to have said, "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic" so you can imagine the merciless persecution he mounted against Christianity. Here is a photo of the demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on the orders of Stalin, just before Christmas 1931:






But it was all for the Marxist cause. In fact, his daughter Svetlana once wrote of her father, “Many people today find it easier to think of [Stalin] as a coarse physical monster. Actually, he was a moral and spiritual monster. This is far more terrifying. But it’s the truth.”


She was right. It is more terrifying.


Stalin established as the goal of the 'five-year plans of atheism' directed by the League of the Militant Godless eliminating all religious expression in the country. Reportedly, during just the purges of 1937 and 1938, well over 168,300 Russian Orthodox clergy were arrested, a majority of whom were shot. And that was just during two years.


But as the great singer Sting once pointed out, “The Russians love their children too,” and this was true of Stalin. Well, one of them anyway. Stalin adored Svetlana and was playful and affectionate with her. And she reciprocated. As a child she looked up to her father as a wise hero. When she was born in 1926 her father was already General Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party and anyone she came into contact with spoke of her father in strictly laudatory tones. She later came to understand that few dared to even whisper criticisms.






By comparison, Svetlana found her mother, Nadezhda Alliluyeva (“Nadya”) cold. Svetlana reportedly said that she couldn't remember her mother ever hugging her or even complimenting her.  Then in 1932, when Svetlana was only six years old her mother killed herself. But her relationship with her father remained strong, at least for a while.


Doubts about her father would soon being. In school, Svetlana would sometimes be handed notes by classmates whose mother or father had been “disappeared” by the state. They were begging her to pass them on to her father. It was an odd thing about the USSR that while so much pain and violence was inflicted on the people by the government many persisted in believing that Stalin was blameless and that if he knew about the abuses going on he surely would have stopped them. These children sending notes to Stalin through his daughter simply wanted to know where their loved ones were. The dictator coldly instructed his daughter not to act as a “post-office box.”


Later, Svetlana noticed that sometimes even her own relatives disappeared. Even then, Svetlana attributed it, as did so many Russians, as things which Stalin was either unaware of or unable to fix. But years later, her father would flatly tell his daughter that her relatives had been killed simply because “they knew too much. They babbled a lot,” he said, and it “played into the hands of our enemies.” You see, the official party line had been that Nadya had died of a burst appendix, not at her own hand.


When Svetlana found her first boyfriend her father considered him unacceptable and condemned him to a Gulag. Later, she attended Moscow University and received a marriage proposal from a young Jewish man. When she told her father about the proposal he coldly said, “To hell with you. Do as you like.” He told her that she could marry him but only on the condition that her husband never set foot in his house. The two had a son but their marriage broke up after a few short years. Shortly after, she married the son of a man who had been high up in the Kremlin. Joseph approved of this marriage but it too ended rather quickly.


In March of 1953, Stalin died. “My father died a difficult and terrible death,” wrote Svetlana. She was there at his bedside for days, as doctors applied leeches.


Reportedly, he died raising his fist in anger. “The death agony was terrible. He literally choked to death as we watched,” Svetlana wrote. “At what seemed the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry and full of fear of death. Then he suddenly lifted his left hand. The gesture was incomprehensible and full of menace.”


A few years after her father's death, Svetlana changed her name to her mother's maiden name. She said the name Stalin “lacerated” her ears. She was now Svetlana Alliluyeva. Joseph Stalin had changed his last name to make it sound strong. “Stalin” means steel. The name “Alliluyeva” was a form of “Allelujah” which fit Svetlana better at that time because in 1962, she was baptized in the Orthodox Church. Svetlana rejected the materialism and violence of her father. Of her decision, she wrote, “The sacrament of baptism consists in rejecting evil, the lie. I believed in ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ I believed in truth without violence and bloodshed. I believed that the Supreme Mind, not vain man, governed the world. I believed that the Spirit of Truth was stronger than material values. And when all of this had entered my heart, the shreds of Marxism-Leninism taught me since childhood vanished like smoke.”


Svetlana was officially out of favor with the Kremlin. In fact, when she applied to the state for a marriage license to a man named Brajesh Singh she was promptly denied. Svetlana and Brajesh lived together for three years before he died in 1966. His wish had been to have his ashes spread on the Ganges. So she applied to the Kremlin for permission to travel to India. Much to her surprise, she was given permission to temporarily leave the USSR to go to India for one month.


While there, Svetlana stunned the world when on her trip she walked into the U.S. embassy and requested asylum. A stunned American on duty reportedly said to her, “So you say your father was Stalin? The Stalin?”


From there, she was flown to Rome and then on to Switzerland. She liked Switzerland but was told that could only remain there on the condition that she never speak publicly about politics. She would not agree to that. She could not. “To remain silent for another 40 years could have been achieved just as well in the U.S.S.R.,” she wrote.


In April of 1967, Svetlana Alliluyeva landed at Kennedy Airport in New York carrying a manuscript that never would have been published in the USSR. It was titled "Twenty Letters to a Friend" which was about her life in the Soviet Union. It was a huge success and a bestseller. And then, just two years later, she wrote another bestseller about her life since defecting titled “Only One Year.”


She was famous but her personal life was still a wreck. Switching from religion to religion and once again marrying, having a child, divorcing, and moving often, she found herself disenchanted with America and wanting to return home. In fact, she did return to the Soviet Union but almost instantly regretted it.


When she returned to America after over a year in the USSR she said, “I had to leave for a while to realize, ‘Oh, my God, how wonderful it is.’”


I don't know the exact year that Svetlana met Father Giovanni Garbolino, who lived in the United States but had done missionary work in Russia, but their relationship would change her life. Svetlana received a letter from Fr. Garbolino inviting her to make a pilgrimage to Fátima. Then later, he visited her in Princeton, New Jersey. The two were in frequent contact. Fr. Garbolino also gave Svetlana a cross that had been given to him by a Russian student whom he met during his missionary travels. Later, Fr. Garbolino had given that same cross to Col. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin for him to take to the moon with him.


Svetlana, with the guidance of Fr. Garbolino, read books by Catholic authors and on Dec. 13, 1982, she converted to the Catholic faith. Svetlana wrote about her conversion: “Only now I understand the wonderful grace that the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist produce, no matter what day of the year, and even on a daily basis. Before, I was unwilling to forgive and repent, and I was never able to love my enemies. But I feel very different from before, since I attend Mass every day.”


She added, “The Eucharist has given me life. The Sacrament of Penance with God whom… we abandon and betray each day, the sense of guilt and sadness that invades us then, all this makes it necessary to receive it frequently.”


This woman, who grew up essentially motherless, wrote, “I was taken into the arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary... Who else could be my advocate but the Mother of Jesus? She suddenly drew me close to her.”


She traveled to Europe and back to America often and then moved to be near one of her daughters in Oregon. In the end, she did not die raising her first in anger at the world as her father had done but peacefully in a Wisconsin nursing home in 2011 where she had enjoyed sewing and reading and surely praying.

By Matthew Archbold

“The Eucharist has given me life,” she said — and “my father would have shot me for what I have done.”



Joseph Stalin with his daughter Svetlana in 1935 (Wikimedia Commons)
Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of the murderous dictator Joseph Stalin, renounced materialism and converted to Catholicism. Joseph would not have approved. In fact, Svetlana once reportedly told an editor of National Review that “my father would have shot me for what I have done.”

Joseph Stalin himself was raised in the Orthodox Church. His parents actually wanted him to be a priest. Unfortunately, his father abused the young Joseph mercilessly. Stalin once described his childhood as having been “raised in a poor priest-ridden household.” He came to renounce Christianity altogether, reportedly saying, "You know, they are fooling us, there is no God… all this talk about God is sheer nonsense."


While in power, Stalin did everything he could to crush Christianity, closing down thousands of churches and violently torturing, killing, and imprisoning Christians. This is the man who was reputed to have said, "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic" so you can imagine the merciless persecution he mounted against Christianity. Here is a photo of the demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on the orders of Stalin, just before Christmas 1931:




But it was all for the Marxist cause. In fact, his daughter Svetlana once wrote of her father, “Many people today find it easier to think of [Stalin] as a coarse physical monster. Actually, he was a moral and spiritual monster. This is far more terrifying. But it’s the truth.”


She was right. It is more terrifying.


Stalin established as the goal of the 'five-year plans of atheism' directed by the League of the Militant Godless eliminating all religious expression in the country. Reportedly, during just the purges of 1937 and 1938, well over 168,300 Russian Orthodox clergy were arrested, a majority of whom were shot. And that was just during two years.


But as the great singer Sting once pointed out, “The Russians love their children too,” and this was true of Stalin. Well, one of them anyway. Stalin adored Svetlana and was playful and affectionate with her. And she reciprocated. As a child she looked up to her father as a wise hero. When she was born in 1926 her father was already General Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party and anyone she came into contact with spoke of her father in strictly laudatory tones. She later came to understand that few dared to even whisper criticisms.




By comparison, Svetlana found her mother, Nadezhda Alliluyeva (“Nadya”) cold. Svetlana reportedly said that she couldn't remember her mother ever hugging her or even complimenting her.  Then in 1932, when Svetlana was only six years old her mother killed herself. But her relationship with her father remained strong, at least for a while.


Doubts about her father would soon being. In school, Svetlana would sometimes be handed notes by classmates whose mother or father had been “disappeared” by the state. They were begging her to pass them on to her father. It was an odd thing about the USSR that while so much pain and violence was inflicted on the people by the government many persisted in believing that Stalin was blameless and that if he knew about the abuses going on he surely would have stopped them. These children sending notes to Stalin through his daughter simply wanted to know where their loved ones were. The dictator coldly instructed his daughter not to act as a “post-office box.”


Later, Svetlana noticed that sometimes even her own relatives disappeared. Even then, Svetlana attributed it, as did so many Russians, as things which Stalin was either unaware of or unable to fix. But years later, her father would flatly tell his daughter that her relatives had been killed simply because “they knew too much. They babbled a lot,” he said, and it “played into the hands of our enemies.” You see, the official party line had been that Nadya had died of a burst appendix, not at her own hand.


When Svetlana found her first boyfriend her father considered him unacceptable and condemned him to a Gulag. Later, she attended Moscow University and received a marriage proposal from a young Jewish man. When she told her father about the proposal he coldly said, “To hell with you. Do as you like.” He told her that she could marry him but only on the condition that her husband never set foot in his house. The two had a son but their marriage broke up after a few short years. Shortly after, she married the son of a man who had been high up in the Kremlin. Joseph approved of this marriage but it too ended rather quickly.


In March of 1953, Stalin died. “My father died a difficult and terrible death,” wrote Svetlana. She was there at his bedside for days, as doctors applied leeches.


Reportedly, he died raising his fist in anger. “The death agony was terrible. He literally choked to death as we watched,” Svetlana wrote. “At what seemed the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry and full of fear of death. Then he suddenly lifted his left hand. The gesture was incomprehensible and full of menace.”


A few years after her father's death, Svetlana changed her name to her mother's maiden name. She said the name Stalin “lacerated” her ears. She was now Svetlana Alliluyeva. Joseph Stalin had changed his last name to make it sound strong. “Stalin” means steel. The name “Alliluyeva” was a form of “Allelujah” which fit Svetlana better at that time because in 1962, she was baptized in the Orthodox Church. Svetlana rejected the materialism and violence of her father. Of her decision, she wrote, “The sacrament of baptism consists in rejecting evil, the lie. I believed in ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ I believed in truth without violence and bloodshed. I believed that the Supreme Mind, not vain man, governed the world. I believed that the Spirit of Truth was stronger than material values. And when all of this had entered my heart, the shreds of Marxism-Leninism taught me since childhood vanished like smoke.”


Svetlana was officially out of favor with the Kremlin. In fact, when she applied to the state for a marriage license to a man named Brajesh Singh she was promptly denied. Svetlana and Brajesh lived together for three years before he died in 1966. His wish had been to have his ashes spread on the Ganges. So she applied to the Kremlin for permission to travel to India. Much to her surprise, she was given permission to temporarily leave the USSR to go to India for one month.


While there, Svetlana stunned the world when on her trip she walked into the U.S. embassy and requested asylum. A stunned American on duty reportedly said to her, “So you say your father was Stalin? The Stalin?”


From there, she was flown to Rome and then on to Switzerland. She liked Switzerland but was told that could only remain there on the condition that she never speak publicly about politics. She would not agree to that. She could not. “To remain silent for another 40 years could have been achieved just as well in the U.S.S.R.,” she wrote.


In April of 1967, Svetlana Alliluyeva landed at Kennedy Airport in New York carrying a manuscript that never would have been published in the USSR. It was titled "Twenty Letters to a Friend" which was about her life in the Soviet Union. It was a huge success and a bestseller. And then, just two years later, she wrote another bestseller about her life since defecting titled “Only One Year.”


She was famous but her personal life was still a wreck. Switching from religion to religion and once again marrying, having a child, divorcing, and moving often, she found herself disenchanted with America and wanting to return home. In fact, she did return to the Soviet Union but almost instantly regretted it.


When she returned to America after over a year in the USSR she said, “I had to leave for a while to realize, ‘Oh, my God, how wonderful it is.’”


I don't know the exact year that Svetlana met Father Giovanni Garbolino, who lived in the United States but had done missionary work in Russia, but their relationship would change her life. Svetlana received a letter from Fr. Garbolino inviting her to make a pilgrimage to Fátima. Then later, he visited her in Princeton, New Jersey. The two were in frequent contact. Fr. Garbolino also gave Svetlana a cross that had been given to him by a Russian student whom he met during his missionary travels. Later, Fr. Garbolino had given that same cross to Col. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin for him to take to the moon with him.


Svetlana, with the guidance of Fr. Garbolino, read books by Catholic authors and on Dec. 13, 1982, she converted to the Catholic faith. Svetlana wrote about her conversion: “Only now I understand the wonderful grace that the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist produce, no matter what day of the year, and even on a daily basis. Before, I was unwilling to forgive and repent, and I was never able to love my enemies. But I feel very different from before, since I attend Mass every day.”


She added, “The Eucharist has given me life. The Sacrament of Penance with God whom… we abandon and betray each day, the sense of guilt and sadness that invades us then, all this makes it necessary to receive it frequently.”


This woman, who grew up essentially motherless, wrote, “I was taken into the arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary... Who else could be my advocate but the Mother of Jesus? She suddenly drew me close to her.”


She traveled to Europe and back to America often and then moved to be near one of her daughters in Oregon. In the end, she did not die raising her first in anger at the world as her father had done but peacefully in a Wisconsin nursing home in 2011 where she had enjoyed sewing and reading and surely praying.


Nigerian Priest Killed as Car Set Ablaze

May he rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon him. Memory Eternal!

From Catholic World Report

By CNA Daily News




Jalingo, Nigeria, Aug 30, 2019 / 10:08 am (CNA).- A Catholic priest was killed in Nigeria this week when the car he was driving was set ablaze.
Fr. David Tanko was traveling within the Jalingo diocese of Nigeria, near the country’s border with Cameroon, when he was attacked Aug. 29. The priest was traveling to a “peace meeting” of local clergymen to discuss a conflict between the local Tiv and Jukun ethic groups.
“We received the nconostasews of his death with shock. This is sad. The diocese is mourning,”  Bishop Charles Hammawa of Jalingo told local media.
“We have been preaching peace and making efforts to bring both parties in the crisis in the area to a roundtable discussion,” the bishop added.
Shiban Tikari, chairman of Taraba State Council, told local media that a Tiv militia carried out the attack.
Hammawa encouraged a peaceful response to Tanko’s killing.
“Our basic concern now is to give him a befitting burial,”  the bishop said.
“We don’t want any group to go on reprisal. Going on reprisal will only worsen the situation.”
The bishop announced a Vigil Mass for the priest on Monday, Sept. 2 and burial the following day at the diocesan cemetery in Jalingo.

The Big Shift in Church-State Conflicts

Mr Shaw discusses the shifting front in the war against Christianity.

From Catholic World Report

By Russell Shaw

The more urgent church-state struggles these days arise from government encroachment, either actual or threatened, on free exercise.

In years gone by church-state conflicts in America commonly focused on the first of the First Amendment’s two religion clauses: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Tussles over public funds for parochial schools and prayer in public schools were typical no-establishment fights.
Now the emphasis has shifted from the first religion clause to the second, which bars government action “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. State infringement on free exercise and resistance to it by religiously motivated institutions and individuals are the new battlefront in church-state warfare.
Not that fights over the no-establishment clause have vanished. The Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling last term approving a war memorial cross on public land in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. was a reminder of that. Still, the more urgent church-state struggles these days arise from government encroachment, either actual or threatened, on free exercise.
Last May, for example, ignoring the strenuous objections of an interreligious coalition, the California senate by a vote of 30-2 approved an outrageous bill to require priests to violate the seal of confession by informing the authorities of anything they heard in a sacramental setting concerning the sexual abuse of minors.
Fortunately, in July the bill’s sponsor withdrew it from consideration the day before a scheduled hearing by a committee of the state assembly committee upon learning that it didn’t have the votes there. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles correctly called the measure a “mortal threat” to religious freedom. But don’t be too sure we’ve heard the last of it.
Elsewhere the religious freedom picture is hardly less worrisome. Currently pending before the Supreme Court, for instance, is an appeal from a federal court ruling that Philadelphia city authorities were within their rights in barring Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from making foster care placements because of its refusal to place children with same-sex couples. And note that the Supreme Court will begin its new term in October by hearing oral arguments in three cases seeking special protected status for LGBTQ persons in federal law that bars employment discrimination.
Meantime some providers of wedding-related goods and services, including bakers of wedding cakes, florists, and photographers, face continuing pressure from state enforcers to fall in line despite religiously grounded objections to same-sex marriage. Lately, too, a Christian T-shirt maker had to defend himself in the Kentucky supreme court for refusing to make gay pride shirts. If this case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be interesting to see what its liberal members make of so blatant an attempt at coercing speech.
The assault on religious liberty may be a new phenomenon, but its origins go back a long way. Sixty years ago American theologian Father John Courtney Murray, S.J., whose views on church and state were soon to influence the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious liberty, pointed to the dire consequences of the collapse of consensus on moral issues which he discerned already far advanced in the U.S.
Increasingly among Americans, he wrote, “civility…is a thing of the surface. It is quite easy to break through it. And when you do, you catch a glimpse of the factual reality of the pluralist society….You do not have to probe deeply beneath the surface of civic amity to uncover the structure of passion and war.”
Father Murray was right. And now the “passion and war” which he discerned behind the mask of toleration more and more target free exercise of religion. It promises to be an ugly fight.

Vatican’s Amazon Synod Uses Third World As Totems Of Marxist Revival

'The extraordinary Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, coming to the Vatican in October, is a very big deal. It would be a mistake to dismiss it as inside baseball among Catholics. Far-reaching issues of broad societal concern are at work here under cover of ecological ideals and social justice rhetoric delivered in a Christian idiom.'

Stop the Shamazon Sin-od!

From The Federalist

By Maureen Mullarkey

The extraordinary Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, coming to the Vatican in October, is a very big deal. It would be a mistake to dismiss it as inside baseball among Catholics. Far-reaching issues of broad societal concern are at work here under cover of ecological ideals and social justice rhetoric delivered in a Christian idiom.

Under cover of deep ecology, liberation theology has come in out of the cold. And it is gunning to even the score between the industrial West and the Third World.

By hosting the conference in Rome, instead of Brazil or the seven other countries that touch the Amazon basin, the Vatican signals endorsement of the eco-spirituality that ran sotto voce through the 2015 encyclical “Laudato Sí: Care for Our Common Home.” The synod is a stalking horse for a Marxist-inflected reordering of political, social, and economic priorities along ecological lines hostile to Judeo-Christian tradition or askance of it.

Condemned by the Vatican in 1984, liberation theology did not disappear. It mutated to subtler pretexts for its premises and presuppositions. The old language of class struggle has been recast into the more digestible—and clichéd—terms of sustainability. And in the name of the church’s historic concern for the poor comes a relatively modern disdain for modernity.

‘A Long Journey…Reaches Maturity’

Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto, a Jesuit sympathetic to liberation theology, welcomes the event: “With this synod, a long journey of 30-40 years reaches maturity.” Maryknoll priests carrying AK-47s have given way to tribal activists hip to the charismatic appeal of beaded headdresses, tattooed chests, and the PR value of identity politics.

Emerson Sbardolotti Tavares, a Jack-of-all-studies from mysticism to fundamentals of tourism, addressed the 2012 International Congress of Theology in Saõ Leopoldo, Brazil: “Ecology is the new paradigm that. . . brings cosmocentrism, that is, the centrality of ecology, which replaces anthropocentrism, at the core of theological reflection.” A concluding statement of the Congress reads:
We have confirmed that Liberation Theology is alive and continues to inspire . . . new generations of theologians. Sometimes, however, it is an ember hidden beneath ashes. This congress has breathed on it and rekindled the fire of this theology so it can spread through the Church and society. . . . Another theology is possible and is a way of making another world possible.
In 1988, the 20th anniversary of the pivotal Conference of Latin American Bishops in Medellín, Columbia, liberation theologians from around the world met at Maryknoll Seminary in New York to discuss the need to move beyond Marxism. Julio Loredo, a Peruvian-born academic, summarizes its migrations:
They began to recycle their doctrines, adapting to new tendencies. They began to look for new ‘oppressions.’ Thus, the oppression of women . . . whence Feminist Liberation Theology. The oppression of black people, whence Black Liberation Theology. The oppression of Indians, whence Indigenist Liberation Theology. The oppression of homosexuals, whence Gay and Lesbian Liberation Theology. Later, they developed an Eco-Theology of Liberation, proposing the liberation of the Earth from man’s oppression.
Promoted by Leonardo Boff, former Franciscan and close advisor to Pope Francis, this latest strain of progressive theology animated “Laudato Sì” and shapes the synod’s working document: “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.” It declares the Amazon “a mirror of all humanity which . . . requires structural and personal changes by all human beings, by nations, and by the Church.”

That phrase by the Church is code for ordaining married men to compensate for a shortfall in priests. A rainforest dispensation is a camouflaged effort to dissolve the rule of celibacy and move eventually toward ordaining women. For Catholics, these issues are charged with significance. In themselves, though, they are disciplinary matters that do not cut to the heart of Christian belief.

Polytheistic, New Age ‘Catholicism’

What does touch central articles of faith—and extends to policy-making in the developed world—is the document’s cosmology. A dizzying blend of New Age piety, latter-day anti-colonial resentment, and antagonism to industrialization, it sacralizes Amazonia as a “locus theologicus,” a site of revelation. Tribal animism (“intercultural spiritualities”) is smiled upon as a corrective to the biblical mind that has wreaked—in Boff’s words—“massive destruction of the many-colored universe of polytheism and its anthropological significance.”

The text institutionalizes Francis’ 2018 address in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, where he declared indigenous peoples the “heart of the Church.” It enshrines Francis’ vision of “a Church with an Amazonian face and a Church with a native face.” Grandiose in sweep, the manifesto applies itself “to the future of the entire planet,” biome by sacred biome. “People of the waters” fight to defend not only their own rights, but “the life of the universe and of all creation.”
They live in communion with the soil, water, trees, animals, and with day and night. Wise elders . . . promote the harmony of people among themselves and with the cosmos.
This is messianism in a minor key levied on a people whose exalted status hinges on their poverty. It raises the question whether Vatican exertions in the Amazon are in service to the poor or in service to poverty.

Synodal euphoria over “the identity of the cosmos, its life-giving harmony, and its future” is fraught with political implication. It positions the Vatican squarely in the camp of ideologues chafing at Western affluence, and antagonistic to the industrialization and accompanying infrastructure needed to raise living standards in developing countries.

The synod elevates indigenous poverty from a condition to be addressed to a teaching to be venerated. Depicted in prelapsarian terms, the Amazonian poor are an oracular people whose “worldview and wisdom” has “much to teach those of us [“non-indigenous”] who do not belong to their culture.” The rainforest retains a hint of Eden. Its natives are agents of redemption for the developed world. They are apotheosized as “hunter-gatherers par excellence” whose aboriginal culture was “formed in harmony with the environment.”
Irrational Fantasies about Premodern Culture

Underlying that panegyric are anthropological phantasms useful for reviving the limits-to-growth agenda of the Club of Rome, a gathering of end-of-days technophobes in the 1960s and ‘70s. (The sole scientist present at the introduction of Laudato Sí was Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a member of the Club of Rome.)

The document’s obliviousness to the grimmer realities of aboriginal culture is stupifying. Gone is all memory of customs that contributed to high mortality rates and short lives: infanticide, cannibalism—funerary and gustatory—inter-tribal slave-raiding, and warfare. Eco-romance erases record of traditional practices, living conditions, diseases, and infections common to tribal life in the tropics. Lest anyone get the wrong impression of “the otherness of native peoples,” realistic portrayals are taboo.

In the end, indigenous peoples provide a blank slate on which left-leaning bishops can write their animus against the developed world. The myth of the Noble Savage, an enduring Western trope, has furnished a critique of civilization since Ovid. The synod extends the theme to include the Eco-Savage. Its ultimate aim is not to solve particular problems in one portion of a suffering world, but to hammer home a nihilistic appraisal of modern, growth-oriented economies:
The dominant culture of consumerism and waste turns the planet into one giant landfill. The Pope denounces this model of development as faceless, suffocating, and motherless, and as obsessed only with material goods and the idols of money and power. New ideological colonialisms hidden under the myth of progress are being imposed.
(Motherless. A nice touch. It nods to wise Mother Earth, and to fertility goddesses in every matrilineal agrarian society under the rubber trees.)

Using the Third World to Beat on the First

The document rails against “colonizing mentalities” while insensitive to its own mode of occupation. Sympathetic glorification of the Amazonians bears odd resemblance to the attitude of global elites toward the Palestinians. The wellbeing of Palestinian people frequently matters less than the usefulness of their circumstances as a stick for beating Israel. Israeli novelist Amos Oz once called the Palestinian situation a way of settling accounts with Western culture.

Seemingly in mimicry of bien-pensant antagonism to Israel, the rights and property claims of indigenous peoples—many of them nomadic or semi-nomadic—are contorted into a weapon against Western means. The working document presents native people less as flesh-and-blood human beings than as a concept for bashing the West.

In 1969, Georges Montaron, a French journalist and anti-colonial activist well-known among the Catholic left at the time, wrote: “Jesus Christ is on the side of the Palestinians . . . as soon as they are poor they are the refugees, the true holy places in Palestine, the true witnesses to the living God.” Fifty years later, the Vatican locates Christ on the side of Amazonia itself—“God’s extended body,” to use Boff’s phrasing.
Reversing Conversion

The incongruity of this looming pan-Amazon pageant is illustrated unawares by Fr. Corrado Delmonego who has lived 11 years among the Yanomami. He is pleased to admit that the Catamari Mission, in the Amazon since the late 1960s, has made no conversions among Yanomami in 53 years.

Polygynous like many other tribes, the Yanomami are traditional practitioners of infanticide and ritual cannibalism, and given to warring. No matter. The Italian missionary admires Yanomami ability to mix shamanism with the white man’s God: “They do not give up [ancestral beliefs] but simply appropriate something else. Why should you not do this also as a Church?” Conversion, it seems, has gone in reverse.

The conservative Catholic press is beginning to scent something unwholesome in the scheduled Amazon Synod. After this essay was written came a warning from Archbishop Carlo Viganò, a high-ranking mandarin in the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic circles. He noted in dismay what Peruvian Cardinal Barreto had earlier cheered:
What we are now seeing is the triumph of a 60-year-old plan, the successful execution of a well-thought out plan to bring a new sort of thinking into the heart of the Church, a thinking rooted in elements of Liberation Theology containing strands of Marxism . . . . And now this plan has achieved one of its supreme goals, with a Jesuit on the See of Peter.
At the same time, America, the flagship publication of Jesuits in the United States, decided the time was right to run “A Catholic Case for Communism.”

Maureen Mullarkey is an artist who writes on art and culture. She keeps the weblog Studio Matters. Follow her on Twitter, @mmletters.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Let’s Talk Ad Orientem

OMM takes on the latest modernist hissy fit, about Mass being celebrated ad orientem.

From One Mad Mom

I’m trying to figure out what the liberals know that we don’t, because the hysteria has been turned up a notch or two in the past couple of months. First the word “schismatic” has been batted around like a beach ball, and now they’re trying to whip people into a frenzy about bishops and priests going “ad orientem” for their Masses, which is very literally much ado about nothing (other than liturgical accuracy). 
I’ve had more than one church my area (the very liberal San Francisco Bay Area) go “ad orientem” and guess what? The churches are still standing, pews are still full, and nobody has died because the priests have chosen to face God when talking to him!  Nobody has left the church a blubbering mess, not even the occasional visitor. No nervous breakdowns have occurred. Now, maybe some of this happened to people who don’t even attend these churches, but honestly, what is the big stinking deal?
Personally, I think the Pew Research poll on the Real Presence backfired on them. People are starting to acknowledge that there is a real problem of belief, but we’re not supposed to know about it. It’s been the proverbial game of “hide the football.” They didn’t want anyone to notice that reality. We’re just supposed to look at all of the happy-clappy people in the pews who show up when they feel like it and call it good. Their fruit has been outed and it’s rotten to the core. They’ve managed to make a good percentage of the people in the pews protestant in belief, and the people who do believe but hadn’t a clue are starting to take notice. 
The lack of belief in the Real Presence is why priests and bishops are starting to take a look at what we can do to bring that belief back. Naturally, acting as God exists is a big start. That’s the point of things like “ad orientem,” kneeling to receive Our Lord, chant, silence, etc., etc., etc.
They’ve had plenty of great little visual aid cartoons lately on “ad orientem,” but the cries of “The priest is turning his back on us! Woe to us!” seem to work a little better.
Dear laity, they’re trying to con you. They think you have no brain and you can’t think this through, which just makes it extra annoying to me. Seriously. They all think you are so childish you can’t put two and two together. So, let me try explaining just one more time to someone who might be swayed by the old “Those mean old priests just want to turn their backs on us!” argument. Maybe you know someone swayed by this. If so, pass this along. Maybe my very dumbed down mind will work for them. It just doesn’t seem that hard.
Let’s say that you’re at dinner with your friends and Jack is on your left and Jill is on your right. When you address Jill do you look at Jack? That would be kind of weird, no?  (All while looking at Jack) “Hey Jill, what color lipstick is that? It looks great on you!”  Of course, you wouldn’t.
Now let’s say you had a present for Jill, and Jack and Jill are sitting with you. Would you hand that present to Jack and say “Here, Jill”?  Again, all things being equal, you would not. Now let’s apply this to the “ad orientem” posture for the Mass.
First of all, if you’ve never been to an “ad orientem” Mass, the priest is not facing away from you the entire Mass. I realize that this is an allusion that the liberals are trying to put forth because the truth hurts – them.  Just like when you’re having dinner with Jack and Jill, you look at Jill when you’re talking to her, and you look at Jack when you’re talking to him. There’s a natural back and forth, and so it is with an “ad orientem” Mass.  The priest switches back and forth looking at the person he is addressing at the time. Sometimes he is addressing us and sometimes he is addressing God. When he’s talking to us, he’s facing us. When he’s talking to God, he’s facing God. Does this sound like some horribly nefarious plot to exclude you from anything?  Geez.
Now where does my gift example come in? The Eucharist is sacrifice to God. Very good read from a very good Jesuit (See? I like some of them. May he rest in peace).  http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/link/e-litur.html Again, when I give a present to Jill, I don’t hand it to Jack and say, “This is for you, Jill!” Does that offend you for some strange reason? Same deal. It’s all about God at that point, not us. The priest faces the Tabernacle (you know, that place where Christ is physically) and the crucifix(which the smart people call Liturgical East), both of which should be front and center in a church (yeah, a whole other debate). He’s not offering a sacrifice to us, because, well, that would be wrong. Can we agree on that? Who is the priest addressing when he says:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the wine we offer you:
fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
it will become our spiritual drink.
Is this addressed to the laity? Nope.
So, as you can see, “ad orientem” is just logical positioning between a priest and who he’s addressing or offering something to at a particular time in the Mass. And the big flippin’ deal is? Joke’s on you. There is none.
Just so you know, I attend the Ordinary Form almost every Mass. When I’m not there I’m at the Extraordinary Form. So, basically, 50ish Sundays out of the year, the Mass I’m attending is “ad orientem.” I’ve not spontaneously combusted yet, nor have I felt slighted by it.  In fact, I asked for it for many years. Why? Because I heard about it, looked into it, and after reading my little old missalette, it made perfect sense. Seriously, just look at the missal for the Ordinary Form. It’s not all addressed to me or you. I’ll make it easy for you, in case your parish has somehow crazily re-worded large parts of the Mass with gender neutral crud, etc., and doesn’t want you to see what’s approved: http://ibreviary.com/m/messale.php?s=ordinario&id=22
I’m not going to post links to all of the lame articles on why “ad orientem” is so offensive because, well, they’re really stupid and a big old lie. I will post the explanation from Bishop James Wall, Diocese of Gallup, since he’s the latest one who’s taking flack:
Please note, he’s not suggesting the Mass be in Latin or be “the old Mass.” This is what keeps the liberals up at night. Oh, the horror! Don’t fall for the scare tactics. Again, a whole other topic. I’m reasonably sure that most good-hearted people can do a little research and find that “ad orientem” isn’t the boogieman under your bed waiting to take all you love away from you. It’s probably going to make sense. The only thought the priests and bishops going “ad orientem” have is to make the Real Presence real again!

What Would Hippocrates Say? Patients Forced to Divulge Their Faith Before Getting Medical Care

Francis's commie pals at work. Part of the Orwellian 'Social Credit' score.

From Bitter Winter

By Tang Wanming

The CCP requires medical staff to register the evidence of patients’ religious belief in databases that the state uses to control every aspect of people’s lives.

Last October, a pregnant woman from the eastern province of Shandong was rushed to the hospital because of heavy bleeding. The doctor’s prognosis was that the woman was in imminent danger, and she needed surgery immediately.
A nurse was sent in to take the woman’s personal information. To the family’s dismay, the nurse was more interested in the woman’s religious beliefs rather than her health.
“She’s in so much pain. Why are you asking her these questions?” a family member was distraught. The nurse replied that the government requires to collect information about each patient, including their religious status, to be entered into their medical records. She added that not asking about faith isn’t an option.
Even though her life was hanging in the balance, the pregnant woman was asked twice about her religious status before she was taken to surgery.
Residents in Hebei, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, and other provinces have also reported to Bitter Winter having been questioned by hospital staff about their religious beliefs before seeing a doctor. Some residents said that similar incidents occurred as early as 2017.

Belief in God could affect treatment

Bitter Winter has interviewed several medical workers about their experience with collecting information about patients’ religious status. All of them said that the government had imposed this requirement, but none could understand the real intentions for this.
The director of a hospital in Shandong revealed that patients’ information – their personal and family’s medical history, financial standing, religious denomination, and alike – is uploaded on a government-run database. “Not only the Public Security Bureau reviews these records, but employers can also access them. As soon as someone has a ‘blemish,’ they will be restricted to purchase tickets for travel. Employers won’t hire them either.”
“Some patients didn’t know why such questions were asked, but they still gave a truthful account of their religious faith. It isn’t a good thing. It may seem innocuous at the moment, but the government can exploit this information if it needs to,” a medical worker from the central province of Henan said.
Since last year, local governments across China launched the campaign to register and investigate religious people, with databases of believers and religious venues springing up across the country. Apart from information collection in hospitals, believers’ data are gathered in government institutionsthe military, state-run enterprises, schools, and any other public domain. When their faith is disclosed, religious people are denied fundamental rights, such as jobs and social security.
Believers from religious groups listed as the xie jiao, association with which may result in a sentence to time in prison, acquire a criminal record after being arrested. Some of them discovered that their doctors already had information about their religious beliefs, an indication that their data is shared on a government network.
Members of religious groups that are not part of government-run churches worry that the collection of information on them is yet another means by the CCP to suppress religious liberties.
The religious status of citizens has also been reportedly added to the infamous social credit system that the CCP has been developing since 2014. As soon as the state blacklists someone, every aspect of their life, including traveling, getting a loan, or receiving medical care, will be impacted.
“The government can use the information to restrict people’s faith by not reimbursing believers’ medical expenses or even arresting them,” said a house church Christian who once truthfully reported her religious status to a doctor.

Seriously ill believer dies, not wanting to disclose his faith

A 46-year-old member of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in Baoding city in the northern province of Hebei died because he was afraid to disclose the religious status of his family had he gone to the hospital.
The man’s wife and son are also members of the CAG. To avoid persecution by the CCP, the entire family went into hiding a few years ago, wandering from place to place. The man already had diabetes before going into hiding. With time, his condition worsened, aggravated by high anxiety levels that he felt being on the run, having no home and being constantly malnourished. Scared to be found out and arrested, he didn’t seek medical attention.
In August 2017, he had a severe insulin shock. A doctor at a small clinic that the man gathered all his courage to go to told him to seek immediate care at a larger hospital because he couldn’t help him.
The man refused. “I would rather die than have my wife and son implicated and arrested along with me,” he told the doctor in front of his family.
He died in September.

Any religious activities prohibited in hospitals

Bitter Winter has obtained a document issued by a locality in Henan Province, entitled Negative List of Persons in Charge and Clerical Personnel of Religious Activity Venue Management Committees, according to which, “People must not take advantage of visiting patients to conduct preaching activities in hospitals and other public places.”
A doctor from Pingyang county, under the jurisdiction of Wenzhou city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, revealed to Bitter Winter that the authorities in his area also adopted a similar document in the first half of 2018. Every healthcare worker in his hospital was required to acknowledge with a signature that they had read it. A sign reading “Conducting religious activities in medical facilities is prohibited” has also been posted in the hospital.
“Since last year, believers are not allowed to pray for their friends or relatives in hospitals. Those who do could be arrested,” said a medical worker from Pingyang county. “In the past, seven or eight Three-Self church Christians would come every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. to pray for patients. But ever since the prohibition was issued, praying for patients is completely prohibited, and Christians stopped coming.”