“The problem naturally is not only the many health concerns but also the economic and social consequences that the virus can have in our interconnected society… What should counter-revolutionaries do in this situation – those who are faithful to Tradition, zealous Catholics who are full of the apostolic spirit?”– Roberto de Mattei, “The Hand of God and the Hand of Men”
Italian Church historian Roberto de Mattei summarized the global crisis occasioned by the coronavirus by describing its social, political, and religious aspects. He described Catholics in the current situation who are “faithful to Tradition” as being “counter-revolutionaries,” because they fight against a centuries-old Revolution against Christian Civilization.
In his book Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: Prophet of the Reign of Mary, Prof. de Mattei described a prominent Catholic leader in recent history, but he does not present Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in isolation. He portrays him instead in his historical context, in the tradition of doctrinal principles that he defended, and in relation to another Catholic leader who represented those same principles in the ecclesiastical sphere. We mentioned French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in our previous newsletter, and Roberto de Mattei describes the relationship between these Catholic leaders in the following manner:
While liberal Catholicism denied the social kingship of Christ, all counter-revolutionary authors, faithful to papal teachings, see it as an indispensable ideal and principal remedy to the crisis of our time. Jean Ousset dedicated to it a programmatic work, That He May Reign, while Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre summed it up with the formula They Have Uncrowned Him, the title of one of his last books, subtitled “From Liberalism to Apostasy: The Conciliar Tragedy”[p. 261].
It was for the purpose of providing a compendium of this doctrine of the Kingship of Christ that we reprinted Juan Donoso Cortés’s book Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism. Central to understanding the global crisis of our time is acknowledging the relationship between the Church and the society of nations. It is this that Juan Donoso Cortés provided in the manner indicated in his subtle: Considered in Their Fundamental Principles. What are these principles of Catholic doctrine that are denied by those responsible for the present social crisis?
The first is that man is given a free will through which he is called to serve God in society. When social evils arise, they do not come from an evil principle within things – the doctrine taught by the Manicheans – but from the misuse of human liberty through sin. The prevention or correction of these evils does not come about by overthrowing political and social institutions, but from Our Lord’s shedding of His Blood on the Cross.
This principle, therefore, presupposes a central role that the Church must play in human society. When this doctrine is rejected by liberalism and rationalism, it is replaced by a false doctrine on the nature of evil – that of blaming society’s problems on institutions that must be overthrown, rather than on the sinfulness of man that only the power of the Church can overcome. Liberalism, however, is only a transitory doctrine. For it is followed by socialism, as Donoso Cortés explains, which takes the false principles of liberalism to their ultimate consequences. Socialism then completes this Revolution’s attack upon the Church and Civilization. It undermines the sanctity of marriage and the family, and then, having attacked this fundamental unit of society – and with it the Church, which sanctifies and protects the family – it turns against the individual nation as the more complete expression of human solidarity, and seeks to replace all nations and social institutions with a global humanity, a human solidarity without the institutions that constitute the fundamental structures of human society.
In a global crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to aspire to false solutions, those that bypass the central roles of the Church and the family, and to empower government alone to exert total control, and ultimately a world government that would replace the universal guidance of the Church. Therefore, while Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira devoted his life to the defense of the notion of a sacral Christian Civilization, as explained by Roberto de Mattei in Prophet of the Reign of Mary, Archbishop Lefebvre had argued that the true notion of the common good can only be understood in relation to the Church and the life of grace. That is why St. Pius X taught in Il Fermo proposito, his encyclical on the lay apostolate, that the only true civilization is a Christian Civilization, and, in Notre Charge Apostolique, that the true friends of society are not the revolutionaries but traditionalists.