Catholic Solidarity and American Civil Strife

When Archbishop Viganò recently wrote to President Donald Trump, providing guidance and support, some might have seen his letter as a case of a bishop’s political involvement. However, in the first chapter of Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism, Juan Donoso Cortés explained how “every great political question always involves a great theological question.” The racial strife spreading throughout the United States after a white police officer took the life of a black man in Minneapolis illustrates the thesis of Donoso’s book. Cain took the life of his brother Abel – Donoso Cortés explains – after having refused, unlike Abel, to offer a bloody sacrifice to God. Unwilling to offer an animal sacrifice, Cain killed his brother instead of an animal, and all history has been a continual record of such taking of human life. But the remedy that was offered was not violent revolution, and occurred instead when the Son of God offered His own blood on the Cross to redeem the human race.

Juan Donoso Cortés develops his explanation by demonstrating the effects of sin on human society. Man exists not only as an individual with free will, but also as a member of society, in such a way that the true exercise of freedom is combined with its effects on human solidarity. Adam sinned, and all of human society suffers the consequence of that sin. But the reality of sin is denied by modern liberalism and socialism, and therefore the revolutionary thinkers reject the true nature of human solidarity both for good and for evil. Donoso Cortés explains these two truths in the following points of his analysis:

“All the revolutionary and socialist doctors unanimously concur in the denial of that communion of glories and misfortunes, of merits and demerits between ancestors and their descendants, which mankind has recognized through all ages as an established fact.”

“The fundamental negation of socialism is the negation of sin, which is the grand affirmation, and considered as the center of all Catholic affirmations.”

The reason for these errors of revolutionary thinkers is that evil is not attributed by them to sin, but to evil within social structures, which therefore must be changed and overthrown. In the United States the recent promoters of racial strife immediately turned attention from the sinful action of one man to the police departments throughout the country, and then to the country taken as a whole throughout all its history. When not only the statues of Confederate generals came under attack, but also those of Christopher Columbus, it became apparent that it was European civilization as well, and ultimately the Catholic Church and her teaching, that were being fundamentally assaulted.

The error of the modern revolutionaries, Donoso Cortés explains, is that of Manicheanism, the doctrine that there is an evil principle in the world, and that God, when His existence is not yet completely denied, is in some way implicated in the creation of this evil, rather than the sinful actions of men. This is why Archbishop Viganò saw the need to write his letter to Donald Trump, alerting him to the danger that he was facing. It is the battle between the Woman and Satan – Archbishop Viganò explained to the President – and those who are doing the work of Satan are well organized into what has come to be called the “deep state,” and which, as Archbishop Viganò further explained, has found its way not only into the institutions of civil society, but also into the Church.

However, Archbishop Viganò did not limit his advice to Donald Trump alone. For he then turned, in another document, to his fellow Catholics and to the crisis within the Church – by insisting that one cannot be content with focusing on the present-day effects of that crisis, but instead one must go back to their roots at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Among the Conciliar documents he mentioned Dignitatis Humanae, the decree on religious liberty. He explained that the veneration paid to non-Christian statues from the Amazon during the Amazon Synod goes back to the Conciliar declaration on religious liberty. If religious liberty rather than the truth taught by the Catholic Church is the ultimate principle guiding civil society, what will stop the “deep state” from suppressing authentic religious truth, and with it the principles and rights based upon the natural law, and substitute in their place a false ideology that imposes non-existent rights, and forces these policies on the entire population?

The conflicts now taking place on city streets in the United States, with repercussions and imitations in other countries as well, represent further developments of the crisis already exposed by Archbishop Viganò, eight other Bishops and three Cardinals, in their Appeal for the Church and the World. The external threats analyzed in that document are more profoundly understood in relation to the more recent documents issued by Archbishop Viganò, examining the Church’s internal crisis. That crisis in the government of the Church had already been analyzed by Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise in Holy Communion, for the Holy Eucharist is the center of Catholic life. When the Holy Eucharist is not treated with maximum respect, and when the universal liturgical laws of the Church are not properly applied by those shepherds appointed to govern the Church, the sense of the sacred is weakened in the minds of the faithful. And when the sacred is forgotten, the effects on society soon manifest themselves, if we as Catholics lose the wisdom needed to direct human society toward God.