Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
"Watchman, What of the Night?"
Honorable President, honorable members of the board, honorable members, and dear volunteers and supporters of the American TFP:
I greet you warmly at the opening moment of your grand Conference, in which you will examine themes of immense interest and import not only to you and your great and beautiful country, but also to the destiny of all humanity.
You will study the contemporary tempest as it is in the United States; then you will study how this tempest is in the rest of the world. Finally, you will study the relationship between the two to form an overall view of the enormous problems with which the TFP deals in its specific mission of fighting communism and defending the values of Christian civilization and the Church - tradition, family and property - so that it may fulfill this mission in the constantly growing storm.
I congratulate you, for you have demonstrated the profundity of your spirit and your truly disinterested desire to serve. Amid the North American prosperity, amid the easy North American lifestyle, amid the enjoyment of the universal power that Providence has allowed to rest in the hands of your country perhaps in proportions greater than in any other country of the past amid so many favorable circumstances that could lull you to sleep with the advantages of material prosperity, at precisely this moment, you gather to ask each other, "Watchman, what of the night?"
Each of you is like a devoted sentinel of the sacred cause who traverses the vast system of walls whose defense is in his charge to ask what is happening during the night. And you find each other; you treat each other as guards, and you ask each other during this night that is falling upon your country, during this "Good Night" of the contemporary world, "O Watchman, my colleague, my friend, my brother! O Watchman! What news do you have of this darkness?"
You will make a detailed analysis o the circumstances of today's world and you will ask yourselves firmly courageously, without pusillanimity looking toward the future that Providence wanted you to see, where this will lead you and what your duty is.
You will not give up. Of this I am certain because I know how you think and I know your works. You will not surrender to any vain and morbid pessimism; you will not surrender to any defeatism; you will carefully avoid those veiled omissions that have so often marked the defeat of the good in the history of the Revolution and the Counterrevolution. You want to know where the problems are because you want to be there. It is in search of the field of duty that you ask, "Watchman, watchman, watchman! What goes on in the night?"
May Our Lady help you with her heavenly and omnipotent intercession before God, for all her requests are pleasing to Him. May she help and assist you in all these labors. May she favor you with that spirit of valor, gallantry, dedication, courage and constancy that should characterize all true Roman Apostolic Catholics.
This courage is not preponderantly a bodily courage, at least at present. It is rather a courage of soul. It is the courage to see so much ruin, to see, one would be tempted to say, that the Abomination of Desolation is about to seat itself in the very interior of the sanctuary, in the holy place. It is to see such frightful circumstances intrepidly, calling to mind the promise of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom no one will gainsay: "Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Certain therefore of the indestructibility of this Church which is being corrupted even by internal seeds of destruction in tragic places and proportions never before seen you will take heart with a courage that is called humility and confidence in Divine Providence, with the desire to give of yourselves and make sacrifices, to immolate yourselves, to see everything, and, in face of everything, to fulfil your duty to the end, led by a consummate love, by the desire to serve only God and Our Lady.
I therefore rejoice at the results of your Conference beforehand. These results will be of great benefit to your country; this alone is already a great fruit. But, beyond that, they will be of great benefit to the whole world by virtue of the radiation of American influence in the three Americas and the rest of the world. These results will yield the abundant fruit of seriousness, resolution and firmness at a time when, in your country and throughout the world, the psychological war unleashed by Moscow which therefore we call 'revolutionary psychological warfare' endeavors to lead you to make concessions that could well be called suicidal.
Two steps away you have the case of Nicaragua. A short distance away you have the perennial case of Cuba. You witness, O Americans, the continuous attempt of the Russian communists to infiltrate South America. Not so far from Nicaragua, in Colombia, they are attempting to do so through a guerilla activity that more and more borders on a full scale war but that from time to time dies down, fades away, and takes on airs of peace. In Colombia there is the danger of a sudden change of situation and of a violent communist aggression.
At the same time, Venezuela, whose shore is bathed by the same waters of the Caribbean that bathe your shore, has a government that is ever more clearly manifesting its leftist aims.
These and so many other factors in South America lead one to think that all America will have hard trials to face this year and that it falls to you and your country to help all those who in these trials fight for the Church and Christian civilization.
Days that invite us to reflection in another sphere are approaching. They invite us to reflection and to action. John Paul II will convoke a consistory to deliberate on the administration of the Church. Soon afterward, he will call the august meeting of a synod representing all the bishops to deliberate on the twenty years of application of the Second Vatican Council. Let us pray that on these occasions the Pontiff and all those who will be studying and praying with him will be illuminated in a special way by the Holy Ghost, for, regardless of the outcome, the destiny of the world depends more on the Throne of Saint Peter than on any earthly power.
It is from this height whence emanate the orders, the works of wisdom and holiness, and the correct positions that can save men. Unfortunately, the omissions and all the coefficients of human misery may also emanate from this height, and though they shake neither the divine character nor the existence of Holy Mother Church, they are dark blemishes that God allows in episodes of her history. Let us pray, my dear ones, that in this situation the Holy Ghost grant special help to the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Especially dear to me is the presence among you of the great theologian Fr. Victorino Rodriguez, an illustrious person whose talent I admire and of whose virtue I have heard much from a very dear common friend, Mr. Joâo Cla Dias. From afar I render him the homage of my admiration and my friendship. I also take this opportunity to greet [Fr. José Luis Villac] the priest, the canon, the model director of souls whom, in his youth, I once accompanied to the altar. What a joyous day, what a fulfilling day that was when I was his sponsor at his ordination! Since then, how many years have gone by in a harmonious, continuous collaboration so fecund in fruits and results! How can I not present my greetings and my homage to him, who is, together with Fr. Victorino Rodriguez, an ornament of the Conference in which you will take part.
To you all, my dear ones, above all to the ladies, whose presence increases the brilliance of the Conference that is about to begin, I send my best wishes.