Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
A Political Meditation
on the Triumph and Passion
of the Son of God
Legionário, N. 236, March 21, 1937
The events commemorated today and throughout this coming week offer Catholics, in the stormy days we are living in, excellent subject matter for an extremely useful meditation on politics.
There are two extremely deleterious errors that often pop up among Brazilian Catholics and which Holy Week makes it extraordinarily opportune to unmask. As it usually happens, these errors do not come from false premises properly so-called, but from incomplete premises. They are provoked by a partial and narrow view of things. And only an accurate meditation in light of natural considerations and arguments inspired by supernatural motives can bring out the bad germ that hides in them.
The first of these errors consists in branding the action of the Church to solve the contemporary crisis as ineffective.
The word is going around in some circles of Catholics – which are not necessarily Catholic circles – and in circles that think or claim to be close to the Catholic faithful that the Church no longer suffices to counter the communist threat. And that therefore one needs to have recourse to another organization that will really save Catholic civilization.
Let us argue about it only with the infallible authority of the Roman Pontiffs. For if an argument inspired from the words of the Popes is not convincing enough to some Catholic, he had better study his catechism well, before trying to ‘save civilization.’
The Holy Father Leo XIII said, and all his successors have repeated, that communism is eminently an evil of a moral nature. The communist movement is not so much a result of economic or political factors. The paramount cause of communism is the moral disintegration of modern day civilization. This moral crisis has generated economic, social and political crises. And only when it is solved will the problems related with the finances, political organization and social life of contemporary peoples be solved as well.
On the other hand, the solution to these moral problems can only be found in the action of the Church, for only Catholicism armed with its natural and supernatural resources has the marvelous gift of producing in souls the fruits of virtue indispensable to make a Catholic civilization flourish.
What we have just said is taken directly from papal encyclicals. It suffices to open them to find what we affirm.
As a consequence, you have one of two things: either the Popes are wrong or we must recognize that only Catholicism will save the world from the crisis in which it is plunged. Therefore, it is useless to argue whether or not Catholics in country A or in country B have behaved well or if Catholics in Brazil have enough spirit of sacrifice to carry out the ideals of Catholic Action.
If it is true that the Church alone can remedy contemporary evils, then only in Church ranks should we seek to fight in order to eliminate these evils. Never mind that others do not fulfill their duty: let us fulfill our own. And after having done everything possible – the word “everything” means absolutely everything and not just “a little” or “a lot” – let us brace ourselves to face the coming avalanche. For even if Brazil and the whole world should perish, even if the Church herself is devastated by the wolves of heresy, She is immortal. She will swim over the waters of the deluge. And it is from her sacred bosom that will come out after the storm – just as Noah from the Ark – the men who will found the civilization of tomorrow.
But this is where some Catholics do not want to arrive. Like the Jews, they only understand Christ on a throne of glory. They are faithful to Him only on days resembling Palm Sunday, when the crowd acclaims Him and covers His path with their garments. To them, Christ must be an earthly King. He must constantly dominate the world. And if the impiety of men reduces Him for some time from King to Crucified, from Sovereign to Victim, then they will no longer have anything to do with Him.
For them, Christ came not to save souls for eternity but to establish a corporate system in the world and to combat communism. And if communism were to win, even momentarily, not much will be missing for certain hands to pick up the whip and scourge the great Guilty One, in union with the communists!
Yet, Christ wanted to go through every opprobrium, vexation and humiliation to show that the history of the Church would have its own calvaries, humiliations, and defeats. And that fidelity is much more meritorious on the Golgotha than on Mount Tabor.
It was to teach people like that that Our Lord suffered all humiliations on the Calvary.
However, He wanted the glory of Palm Sunday in order to teach a different kind of people.
There are people with a detestable mentality who find it absolutely natural for Christ to suffer and for the Church to be debased, humiliated, persecuted. These are selfish people “cujus Deus venter est” – “whose God is their own belly” and who think that since the Church should imitate Christ, it is only natural that all her enemies launch forth against Her and make Her suffer. This, they say, is the Passion of Christ repeating itself. And while this Passion is repeated they lead their plush and comfortable lives in orgies, filth, exacerbation of all senses, and practice of all sins.
It is for people like that that the whip with which Our Lord expelled the merchants from the Temple was made for.
It is not true that we must sit on our hands while the enemy launches against the Church. It is not true that we should sleep while the Passion is renewed. Christ Himself recommended that His Apostles watch and pray. And if we should accept the Church’s sufferings with the resignation with which Our Lady accepted the Passion of her Son, it is no less true that, if we behave toward the Savior’s sorrows with the sleepy indifference and cowardice of faithless disciples, it will be for us a reason of eternal damnation.
The truth is that we must always stand with the Church “because She alone has words of life eternal.” If She is attacked, let us fight for her. But let us fight like martyrs even to the shedding of our blood and to the very last drop of our energy and resourcefulness. If in spite of everything She continues to be oppressed, let us suffer with her like St. John the Evangelist at the feet of the Cross. And let us be certain that in this world or in the next, merciful Jesus will not deny us the splendid reward of assisting at His divine and supreme glory.