I’m reading Paul Kengor’s excellent book, A Pope and a President which charts the relationship between Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.
It’s a fascinating read not only because of the information about the two great men, but also because it recounts the history of the twentieth century from the visions of Fatima in 1917 onward. What becomes clear is how the popes of the twentieth century all faced a very clear enemy–in fact a whole cohort of clear enemies.
The forces of socialism, fascism and communism were openly and violently opposed to religion, and especially the Catholic faith. Communism especially declared war on the church, persecuted Christians, dynamited churches, closed church schools, executed priests, nuns and monks and more.
The fascists were almost as murderous and just as filled with hatred towards the church.
Satan was certainly let loose in the twentieth century, and the popes rose to face the explicit and demonic attacks on Christ and his church. Their opposition drew to a climax with the pontificate of Pope John Paul the Great. He faced down the threat of global communism and won. George Weigel’s great biography outlines how many oppressive regimes crumbled under the spiritual giant John Paul.
I therefore feel a bit sorry for Pope Francis because at this present time there does not seem to be such a clear and present danger to the church.
We do not have atheistic armies marching as to war. We do not have jackbooted, uniformed thugs blowing up churches, raping nuns, burning monasteries and torturing pastors. We do not have an explicitly atheistic system determined to root out religion, destroy faith and annihilate believers once and for all.
When there is a clear enemy, clear leadership emerges. When evil finally shows its face and bares its teeth all good men and women rise up to fight.
What we are faced with in our day is not a clear and present danger, but an invisible, distant danger.
Apart from the demonic threat of radical Islam, Satan seems to be in hiding.
There is no organized, uniformed, militarized assault on the faith.
There is no Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Che or Mao.
Instead the church is faced with what I call the Marshmallow Monster.
Do you remember that film Ghostbusters? Remember the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man?
He was big. He was white. He was sweet. He was smiling. He was cuddly. He was nice and he was a demonic monster.
Pope Francis has to lead the fight against an invisible enemy–one that appears, like the Marshmallow Monster–to be sweet, lovable and smiling.
I’m talking about the current enemy of the Catholic Church which might also be called secular, humanistic, global do-goodism. Otherwise known as Moralistic-Therapeutic-Deism.
The Marshmallow Man strides across the globe not with armies and air forces, navies and military might, but with “Global Initiatives” in education, health and social services and environmental policies.
The Marshmallow Man works behind the scenes through global foundations, NGOs, unelected organizations like the UN and other international groups. In this way he brings in everything the Nazis and Communists wanted, but all in the name of making the world a brighter, cleaner, happier place for everyone (but that was the aim of the Nazis and Communists too–they were going to create their own Utopias)
What does the Marshmallow Man introduce?–all the same evils the Nazis and Communists introduced: population control and eugenics through sterilization, contraception, abortion and euthanasia.
What is their aim? A world system that is integrated, dominant and utopian.
What else do they bring about? forced re-distribution of wealth through taxation, international banking and international trade deals put in place by unelected bureaucrats.
What else do they bring about? Propaganda, but not under the form of big banners, military parades and forced government schools, but through international educational projects, new technologies, equipment for disseminating information quickly and universally. The get their propaganda out through advertising, entertainment, movies, television and every form of media, and their propaganda is far, far more successful than anything the Nazis and Communists could ever have dreamed of.
Most of all the Marshmallow Man is just as atheistic and opposed to the Catholic Church as the most virulent Communist or Nazi, but they have succeeded in destroying the Catholic Church not by open persecution, imprisonment, torture, murder and military mayhem. They have sought to destroy the Catholic Church from the inside, by convincing leading Catholics that what they are doing is, in fact, the real mission of the Catholic Church.
After all, shouldn’t the Catholic Church jump on board the global campaign to safeguard the environment? Surely the Catholic Church should lend its weight to build more schools and educate more people! Surely the Catholics understand that a controlled population brings happiness to more people and helps eradicate the misery of poverty! Surely the Catholic Church is in favor of economic controls that bring as much wealth to as many people as possible! Surely the Catholic Church is in favor of freedom of choice, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of sexual expression! Surely the Catholic Church must see the good all these things bring to the human race!
And just as Communism and Nazism were false, atheistic, humanistic religions, so the religion of the Marshmallow Man is just as false, atheistic, utopian, humanistic and secular.
The problem Pope Francis has (as we all have who recognize the threat) is how to counter such a big, nice, sweet, Marshmallow Monster.
Pope Benedict XVI tried with his phrase “the dictatorship of relativism” but he did not succeed, because this dictatorship was not wearing a uniform with gold braids, buckles and medals.
The agents of the Marshmallow Man are slender, sophisticated college graduates who work for lobbying groups, international charities, technology giants, NGOs and well financed foundations, think tanks and institutes.
Like all ideologues, the agents of the Marshmallow Man are impervious to criticism. If you criticize them, if they engage with you at all they will try to convince you that the are doing good, bringing about a better world and you are negative, hidebound, superstitious, rigid and intolerant. It is more likely that they will simply ignore you as a religious fanatic.
If you do manage to land a blow, they respond as the wounded victim. They pretend that all they were trying to do was “build bridges” or “help the poorest of the poor” or “bring about peace and justice in the world” As Communism aped the church, so they ape St Mother Teresa.
The Marshmallow Man conquers the world not with open atheism, but with default atheism. The Marshmallow Man never attacks the church frontally, but always obliquely through legislation, lawsuits or just simply ignoring the church.
Poor Pope Francis! How can he hope to combat an enemy who is so subtle, so insidious and so integrated into the very church itself?
It is my opinion that the monster beneath the Marshmallow Man will eventually break cover. He cannot bear his necessary disguise as an angel of light for long. The facade will fall, and then the open attack will come.
When it does many, many brothers and sisters will be caught unaware. They will be caught napping because they have been lulled by the siren song of the minions of the Marshmallow Man.
They will be deceived because when the attack does come some of the leaders will be the leaders of the Church itself. “Good Christians” will join the attack on those who continue to resist the plans of the Marshmallow Man.
Already they have become dozy by not speaking out against the bloody crime of abortion. Already they have thought it good to “build bridges” to those who corrupt the world with crimes that cry out to heaven for vengeance. Already they have become the lotus eaters–taking the drugs of pleasure, power and prosperity. Already they have turned a blind eye to the abuse of the young through pornography, the abuse of the poor through greed and the abuse of the stranger through rejection and crime.
Already many, many Christians have forgotten or denied the doctrines and morals of the faith while mouthing the words their grandfathers and grandmothers once believed with all their heart. Already they have blasphemed the sacrament, trampled on marriage, neglected confession, laughed at the idea of repentance. Already they have relegated the Blessed Lady and her son to be no more than nice people who meant well. Already they have denied the Presence and reduced the supernatural faith of God’s love and mercy to more than a good idea to advance self improvement.
When the monster beneath the Marshmallow Man begins to bare his fangs and pounce they will be devoured.
I hope I am wrong, but if I am not, then buckle your seat belts.
Its going to be a bumpy ride.