Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dungeon, fire, and sword: Catholicism survives!

A recent comment made on one of my earlier blogs by a Protestant visitor requires a brief response:

I think that the Orthodox have been declining for the last 700 years because they, more than the Western Church, have born directly the brunt of Islamic and Communist domination.

The European west had been invaded several times in the past by infidels of all stripes. As the Roman Empire collapsed, marauding Germanic tribes professing an Arian form of Christianity sacked Rome and ravaged the imperial cities. Attila the Hun himself penetrated deep into Italy and almost sacked Rome but was dissuaded from doing so by Pope Leo the Great in 452 AD. The Muslims invaded and conquered Spain in the 8th Century and it would be another 700 years before they were expelled. Meanwhile Muslim armies threatened the Byzantine Empire and the forces of Christian Europe waged a series of military campaigns known collectively as the Crusades to keep them at bay. The Muslim forces eventually overpowered the Byzantines and conquered them after the Eastern Churches reneged on their acceptance of the Council of Florence which would have healed the Great Schism. They had been turned back at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571 by the outnumbered CATHOLIC forces led by the Spanish. No Protestant monarchs lifted a finger to help despite urgent pleas from the Pope. All of Catholic Europe prayed the new devotion known as the Rosary petitioning God for victory in that battle. Muslim forces continued their imperialistic advances and reached as far as Vienna itself before they were turned back in 1683! After that, they nevermore threatened western Europe.

The Communist menace had plagued both east and west. The Communist dominated government in Portugal in 1917 was the site of the Fatima apparitions where the miracle of the "Dance of the Sun" was seen by thousands, including the reporters for the Communist newspaper who had come to scoff. Communist regimes were ousted in both Brazil and Austria after WWII due in large part of Catholic activists. The most heavily Catholic counties in the old Communist block were Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. All three of them actively resisted the Communists and were inspired in doing so by their Catholic faith. Cardinals Mindszenty and WyszyƄski were openly persecuted by the Communists in an attempt to discredit the Church. Pope Pius XII who had done so much to help war refugees -- Jewish, Christian, and otherwise -- and who was named a righteous-gentile by the Israeli government when he died in 1958 came under slanderous attack by the Communist Rolf Hochluth in his scurrilous play "The Deputy" which we now know was part of a KGB plot against the Church. And the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II was most certainly linked to the Bulgarian Secret Service acting as surrogates for KGB policies.

Don't tell me that the Latin rite has not "born directly the brunt of Islamic and Communist domination." The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church has come into direct conflict with both the Islamic and Communist oppressions and not only survived but won out in the end!

Art

11 comments:

rr1213 said...

Art, it is not a competition as to whether the Western or Eastern Churches have suffered most from the Islamic and Communist threats. Still, I think that it is indisputable that the Eastern Church was affected more. Entire Orthodox civilizations essentially, if not completely, disappeared in the Middle East and Turkey. Most of the remainder, especially the Greeks, lived under Islamic rule for centuries. Likewise, the Orthodox Churches in Russia, Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries were under direct Communist rule for between 40 and 70 years, depending on the country. Of course, as you noted, so were a few Catholic countries, especially Poland. Still, most of Catholic Europe lay outside of Communist domination.

As for the role of the Protestant nations in responding to the Islamic threat, I doubt that any could have contributed much after the devastation of the Thirty Years War. With Germany divided, Sweden diminished, and England just beginning to rise, the balance of power at the time was definitely with the Catholic nations and sovereigns (esp. Spain and France and, to a lesser extent, some of the Italian states).

As for the Communist threat, frankly this was met by the Protestant nations, although I doubt that they see themselves as responding as Protestants. It was through the efforts of the Americans and British that Europe did not fall to the Soviets after WW2. Later on, John Paul II to his credit threw his weight against the Communist regimes as well.

Art Sippo said...

RR you miss the point.

Catholicism confronted these challenges -- and several others -- and won out. Eastern Orthodoxy collapsed before them. There are 1.2 billion Catholics and somewhere around 300 million Orthodox. Catholicism clearly has been more resilient and successful. And it appears that we have had Divine providence on our side.

As to the Protestants, they continue to shatter into smaller and more numerous groups. During the Nazi regime, 80% of German Lutheran ministers were members of the German Church movement and many of them preached on Sunday in Nazi regalia extolling anti-Semitism.

When it comes to Islam, Protestants have been a complete failure. The Catholic Countries were just as exhausted as the Protestant ones. But the Catholics were able to rally under Papal sponsorship to defend Christendom. The failure of Protestants to join in the defense of Europe against Muslim imperialism remains as a black mark against them.

Even with regard to the Communists, primarily Protestant nations in the Eastern block succumbed and did not rise in protest.

In the United States, Protestants were at the forefront of the Nativist and Ku Klux Klan movements and strongly supported racism here and elsewhere such as South Africa.

To their credit, British evangelicals and many American northern Protestants did support and help bring about the end of slavery. But this after the Civil War, no one cared what happened to the blacks until the Civil Rights movement started in the 1940s.

There are several reasons why Protestantism has failed against Islam, Communism, Nazism, and the advance of the social order. It is hopelessly divided and no one within Protestant Pandemonium speaks with authority.

This is one reason why I reject the Protestant Deformation as a demonic deception. It has made alleged "christians" into impotent defenders of the status quo who cannot survive the challenge of worldly opposition.

Art

rr1213 said...

Ah, Art, I don't think I missed the point but for you to say that Catholicism met these changes, while Orthodoxy collapsed before them, begs the question. For reasons not related to religion, the Catholic nations to the west were stronger than the Orthodox nations to the East. With the exception of the Spanish and Moors, the Orthodox were also geographically closer to the Islamic threat and, therefore, faced a greater threat.

And why bring up the Nazis and the Protestant Churches? You are correct that the Churches in Germany, for the most part Lutheran, did not respond well to the Nazis. An understatement certainly. On the other hand, the Nazis were eventually defeated by the Protestant nations (the US and the United Kingdom) and the Godless Communists. Not a single Catholic nation offered signficant assistance in that campaign. Not one. Poland and the eastern Catholic nations were overrun by the Nazis. France collapsed in six weeks and then fought the Allies in North Africa. Ireland sat out the war and facist Spain did as well, although favoring the Axis. Italy of course was actually an Axis power. So...?

As for the US, sure the KKK and nativists were primarily anti-Catholic. This is also a country that in 1789 adopted a Constitution with a ban on religious tests for federal office...a protection of religious conscience that you will not see elsewhere at the time. Shortly thereafter the nation adopted the Bill of Rights with its protections for religious expression. So, I don't have any problems looking at this country's treatment of religious minorities throughout history. Yes, there are times when we have treated religious minorities poorly but, in the context of the times, we have done quite well. Better than anybody else frankly.

Art Sippo said...

With regard to the Nazis, rr, the Catholic people did resist them. France and Poland in fact bore the brunt of the Nazi's ire. Ireland and Spain stayed out of the war as did (Protestant) Switzerland. Why? Because it wasn't their fight and who wanted to make enemies of the Nazis? Hitler's goals were elsewhere. Meanwhile Mussolini and his MASONIC government were hardly Catholic.

And calling the USA a "Protestant" country is just he old nativism rearing up again. Catholics were OVER REPRESENTED in the US armed forces during WWII compared to their percentage of the US population and were then -- as today -- the largest religious body in the USA. The largest number of Medal of Honor winners in WWII (as in all American wars) were Mexican Americans.

We did our share.

Art

rr1213 said...

I have no doubt whatsoever that numerous Catholics fought in the US armed forces against the Nazis and in the armed forces of other nations which were at war with Hitler. The patriotism of Catholic citizens is not an issue. My point was that no predominately Catholic nation offered any sigificant assistance in the fight against Hitler. I don't consider the efforts of the resistance movements in France and Poland, although gallant and quite self-sacrificing, to have contributed much to defeating the Germans.

As for the US being a Protestant nation, it is without a doubt that US culture and politics have predominately been shaped by Protestants and Protestant viewpoints. It is actually remarkable that in that context that the US would be so tolerant of other religious minorities such as, I previously noted, the prohibition on religious tests to hold federal office and the protections of the First Amendment.

You all are still (for a time being) a minority in this country, albeit the largest single religious faith. That will change over the next 50 years with the huge legal and illegal immigration of Latinos to this country.

InCatholicTruth said...

RR said:
You all are still (for a time being) a minority in this country, albeit the largest single religious faith. That will change over the next 50 years with the huge legal and illegal immigration of Latinos to this country.

... not to mention the current very orthodox young Catholic Movements (e.g. Regum Christi) where couples marry young, are faithful to NFP, and have lots of babies.

Art Sippo said...

rr sez: "My point was that no predominately Catholic nation offered any sigificant assistance in the fight against Hitler."

So? Why should they? Hitler had a score to settle with France, England and Russia along with territorial disputes with France, Poland, Czechslovakia, Austria, and few other places.

You keep acting as if Catholics were meant to be world policemen. Well, look at what that attitude has gotten us in Iraq.

There was no mandate on anyone's part to attack Germany except in terms of a response to direct German aggression. Remember, Germany declared war on the US after Pearl Harbor. We only reciprocated afterwards.

Nope. I do not think you have a point.

rr continues "As for the US being a Protestant nation, it is without a doubt that US culture and politics have predominately been shaped by Protestants and Protestant viewpoints."

Ahem! I think the term you are looking for is not "Protestant" but "Deist" or "Masonic". And the delusion that American culture has not been influenced by the Hispanic, French, German, Italian, Irish, JEWISH, and other immigrant groups is just self-indulgent nativist hype. Sorry.

Art

rr1213 said...

You're proud of the fact that no Catholic nation significantly contributed to the defeat of the worst tyrant in the history of the world? I wouldn't be.

It's not a question of being the world's policemen, it's an issue of right, wrong, and defending the helpless. Of course, at the time, most Catholic states were not even free nations, so I suppose it would not make much sense for them to participate in the great crusade for freedom.

As for the US, you will note that I never said that people of other faith did not influence the culture of this country. Instead, I said that "US culture and politics have PREDOMINATELY been shaped by Protestants and Protestant viewpoints." (Emphasis added). That, my friend, is a historically true statement.

Art Sippo said...

rr sez:

"You're proud of the fact that no Catholic nation significantly contributed to the defeat of the worst tyrant in the history of the world? "

Worst tyrant? O come now. Let's add up a few tallies. Before we get to modern times we need to deal with people like the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Ashurbanipal, Nero, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Vlad Tepes, Ivan the Terrible, and a host of others.

Then in the 20th Century alone we have the Turkish Genocide against the Armenians (1-2 million civilians), Stalin (25-30 million civilians dead; 10 million of whom were Ukrainians starved to death deliberately in the 1930s), Mao Tse Tung (40-50 million civilian deaths), Pol Pot (3 million dead), and the smaller but equally vicious regimes of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Ayatollahs in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hoxha in Albania and Ceausescu in Romania. All told the Communists chalked up an impressive 100 million murdered civilians over 70 years.

Hitler comes in at a paltry third on that list and the first and second place winners were both our allies during WWII!

Please spare me the simplistic moralisms. The US remained isolationist until we were forced into the war. FDR and Churchill felt the threat from Hitler early on but their constituencies did not. In fact Roosevelt ran in 1940 on the fact that he had kept us out of the war in Europe.

WWII did not take on the pinning of a moral crusade until after the war when the full extent of Nazi war crimes was revealed. Until 1944, there was no tangible proof of any of this and even then nobody believed it until allied forces over-ran the camps and the evidence was clear.

I reiterate, there is no mandate on any nation to police any other. If that were the case, the USA had a much stronger case for attacking Russia in the 1930s than it ever did for attacking Germany. Germany posed no direct threat to us and its internal problems were little different from those of other nations suffering from the world wide economic depression of the time. meanwhile Stalin was happily committing genocide, slaughtering his political opponents en mass, and purging the ranks of his own LOYAL followers.

It is not we who need to judge the nations but God. Read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Psalms. It is God who deposes tyrants, not man.

I am sorry that you are still too married to nativism, chauvinism and jingoism to put history into perspective. I look at the role of the Allies crushing Hitler WWII in the same way that God used the Babylonians to punish the Assyrians in the OT. He did not raise up Israel to do it. He instead used a much stronger weapon holding Israel in reserve to make peace, not war.

Sorry, rr. Your arguments don't wash.

Art

rr1213 said...

The people you mention were all infamous tyrants. Nonetheless, I stand by my assertion: Hitler was the greatest tyrant in the history of the world. If you believe otherwise, you are in a distinct minority among educated persons.

What have I ever said for you to allege that I am "married to nativism, chauvinism and jingoism"? I am a "nativist" and "chauvinst" because I said US culture and politics have predominately been shaped by Protestants? That is a historic fact and something on which Catholics are usually quick to agree. I am a "jingoist" because I believe that Hitler should have been opposed? You have got to be kidding. Well, my posts are here to see. People can make their own determinations. Name calling is unbecoming, especially when labels are without grounds in truth.

BTW,we were defacto at war with the Nazis for months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition to liberal aid terms to the Allied combatants, we were patrolling the eastern half of the Atltantic, firing on German submarines and taking casualties, such as the sinking of the Reuben James in October 1941 off Iceland.

Art Sippo said...

rr pontificates infallibly!:

"I stand by my assertion: Hitler was the greatest tyrant in the history of the world. "

Wrong. The Communists were 10 times worse than Hitler ever was. WWII lasted merely 6 years. Communist oppression lasted over 70 years in the Russian sphere of influence and in China is still on-going

You know rr, you have lots of opinions that are not grounded in reality. I think you need to do a serious intellectual makeover.

Art