THE ALGERIAN WAR
THE COUNTRY PARISH PRIEST, THE COLONEL, THE POPE…
CALL TO CONVERSION
ON May 13, 1962, when a torrent of distressing letters and sad news was reaching him from the martyred province of Algeria, Fr. de Nantes beseeched his friends not to « turn a deaf ear to the clamour that is rising from the land of Algeria, from all this blood shed by the sanguinary frenzy of a very few. »
« When will the trial end ? To answer this question it does not suffice to weigh up the opposing forces, one must, with the eyes of faith, get to the bottom of things and of souls. Undoubtedly we pray, but not as God wills. We pray in France that God give peace but without us giving up our errors and our baneful passions. We want the end of the nightmare, but without regretting the insane political opinions that are its direct cause and without in the least renouncing our comfort…
« Thus we must conclude that our tribulations are only beginning and that many other chastisements await us. Of course, this is not a prophecy. It results from a simple analysis of the situation : the torrent of blood would have to be larger in order for our “ thinking elite ” to renounce their lies and their hatreds. In His paternal love God is eager to assist us ; He will do so, you can be sure, as soon as we authorise Him to do so by our true conversion and our remorse. For He only helps those whose faith is pure ; He only saves a people submissive to the truth. As long as flagrant, impassioned error inhabits our hearts, He will strike us with His blows repeatedly, for, when all is said and done, bloodshed and violence are but a secondary evil. The absolute evil, from which the good Shepherd has undertaken to cure us – us first, France, privileged by the Sacred Heart – is the moral violence done to deceived, indoctrinated souls, led by the poison of error to hatred of what is from God and to the service of Satanic forces. »
« I believe, in fact, that Satan infests metropolitan France, where little blood is shed, far more than Algeria where it is shed in torrents… » 1
What remedy can be applied against this diabolical disorientation, what light, what providential help ? It is remarkable that it was at the beginning of this month of June in 1962 that Fr. de Nantes sent to his readers, and then to all new subscribers to his Letters, the account of the conversation of Sister Lucy with Fr. Fuentes on December 26, 1957. The convergence of his political and mystical analysis of events with the views of the seer of Fatima is amazing : « Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid any attention to Her message, neither the good nor the bad… Believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner… the Devil is engaged in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. »
This is the great lesson of the Secret of Fatima, in its three parts. The “ Third Secret ” should have been revealed in 1960, as Our Lady wanted, for then, « it would seem clearer ». It was kept secret by all the popes for forty years until 2000. Now that it has been divulged, however, we see that it remarkably clarifies the events in Algeria by describing in advance the consequences of the refusal given by the Holy Father to the demands of Our Lady of Fatima :
« A great city half in ruins », strewn with « corpses », is Algiers ! Rue d’Isly, on March 26, or Oran, on July 5, 1962. « The blood of martyrs » gathered up by the Angels « beneath the two arms of the Cross » is that of our colonists killed in the most cowardly way by the fellaghas or by the Gaullist power, and our 150,000 harkis put to death because of their fidelity to the « roumis ».
« THE ERRORS OF RUSSIA »
The « errors of Russia » were, as we have seen, the mainspring of the entire Algerian war, and it is these « errors » that defeated the French army, not on the terrain where it was fully victorious, but in minds. This was also the case during the Liberation-purge of 1944, the first penetration or “ infestation ” of the « errors of Russia » into the body and soul of the nation.
From July 1 to August 20, 1962, Fr. de Nantes dedicated five “ Letters to My Friends ” (nos. 112-116), which together form a veritable treatise, to the Franco-Algerian tragedy, its underlying causes and the salutary lessons that it is important to draw from it. We see clearly how “ Red Christians ” or “ progressivist Christians ” reached positions of authority in 1944 and have, since then, subjugated the Church to Revolution.
« In 1944 we entered into a false world … The aggressive forces of revolution were adorned with all beauties and with all hopes, while the defensive forces of the social order and of the traditional historic communities were always retrograde, criminal and devoid of any ideal. By conformism, ignorance cowardice, but more than anything else by infiltration, the Church continues to accept exclusively these untrue analyses of the facts, and thus allows her charity to be directed onto the heads of the worst enemies of human order and of God, and her anger onto her best children and devoted servants. For how long ? How far will this incredible aversion and self-hatred go, this inversion and love of one’s adversary ? » (Letter n° 114)
In his last Letter, dated August 20, 1962, Fr. de Nantes justified in a moving tone, with prophetic accents, his “ politics ”; it is part of the very battle of the Immaculate against the Devil :
« I admire, in these Apocalyptic tempests that rock our poor world, these sinister creaks of the old and maternal Christendom, the care that many people who consider themselves good and beautiful souls take to remain in a safe place, in some creek with calm waters, where they enjoy tranquillity and attend to their works and personal concerns. They are deaf to the cries of the persecuted, blind to the blood of their brethren shed in hatred for the Faith. Some do not tolerate seeing me occupied with politics and enjoin me to come back to the mysticism which, far from the discussions of this time, soothes their souls with noble considerations… »
Here is the conclusion, which announces the “ Third Secret ” : « Charity comes before all commandments ; it dominates them all : “ If mercy were a sin, St. Bernard used to say, I think that I would be unable to stop myself from committing it. ” This summer, mercy is a political crime. Notwithstanding this danger, it is a Christian virtue. If there were a hundred million prudent people whose religion would remain indifferent to the outraged Christian, to the despoiled poor, to the slandered innocent, to an entire people in despair, the Church would not be with these millions of dead, but at the bedside of themartyr, like the Virgin and the others at the foot of the Cross. »
These millions of « dead » are the « corpses » that, in the Secret, the « Bishop dressed in White » encounter when passing through the « great city half in ruins ». Others, fortunately, have the souls of good Samaritans : « The judgment of people on this side of the sea does not matter to me. What counts is the look given me yesterday by this old woman, a refugee from Oran where she left her house, her church, her dead, her entire life. If I had been involved in the odious crime that had despoiled her without reason, if I had become an accomplice in it through thoughtlessness or oversight, if for years I had maligned and slandered this people in order to justify their murderers, then under this look my priestly eyes would have turned away in shame, and I would have had to confess that I had failed in my task as priest of Jesus Christ. I have fought and suffered, however, in the name of Christ, for her and her family. She had been aware of this over there. The justification of my “ politics ” is in this exchanged look. Jesus Christ has not abandoned these poor people. » (Letter n° 116)
THE PETIT-CLAMART ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT
The summer of the terrible exodus was marked by a last attempt to reverse the course of events. In the evening of August 22, the President of the Republic, Charles de Gaulle, coming from the Élysée Palace, went to Villacoublay to take a plane that would take him back to Colombey-les-deux-églises. When his car arrived in the centre of Petit-Clamart, gunfire was opened from several parked vehicles on the tires of the presidential car. Hit several times by machine gun and submachine gun bullets, it succeeded in reaching the airport with two flat tires but without anyone having been shot : neither the president, nor Mrs. de Gaulle, nor the chauffeur, nor Colonel de Boissieu, the son-in-law of the president.
On September 15, the leader of the plot was arrested : he was Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Bastien-Thiry, a brilliant thirty-five year old engineer from Aéronautique française, an internationally renowned specialist in guided missiles ; furthermore, he was a knight of the Legion of Honour and an exemplary father.
On January 28, 1963, his trial opened before the Military Court of Justice instituted by de Gaulle, but which the Council of State had just declared illegal. In his declaration on February 2, Bastien-Thiey spoke like the parish priest of Villemaur. His plan, he explained, was not to kill the President of the Republic, but to arrest him in order to bring him before the High Court and have him judged. This was indeed the substance of the trial :
« Before the aborted attack against him, an immense well-executed attack was evoked, that which de Gaulle, in the fullness of the power that he had claimed, had resolved and carried through inexorably against French Algeria. Four years of pivotal war to end, finally, with having his soldiers and policemen fire on his disarmed people whom he had sworn to defend and save ! 2 »
« This man is streaming with French blood, Colonel Bastien-Thiry concluded, and he represents the present shame of France. It is not good, it is not moral, it is not legal that this man remain for long at the head of France […]. We did not act out of hatred for de Gaulle, but out of compassion for the victims of de Gaulle and in order to safeguard the innocent human lives sacrificed by a tyrannical power…One day this man will account for his crime : before God, if not before men. »
He had dared to invoke a legitimacy other than that of the « de facto power ». He did not hesitate to hold the tyrant up to ridicule : « After having placed General de Gaulle under arrest, the judge asked, what would you have done if he had resisted ? – Oh ! Bastien-Thiry replied calmly with a smile, we would have only removed his suspenders. » There was an immense burst of laughter, despite the tragic atmosphere that enveloped the hearings. De Gaulle, however, would not forgive him. The verdict fell on 4 March : Bastien-Thiry and his two main assistants, Bougrenet de La Tocnaye and Prévost, were condemned to death.
A week later, on Monday, on March 11, although his two companions benefited from a presidential pardon, the Colonel was executed at Fort d’Ivry. He attended the Mass of the chaplain with great fervour and received Communion by breaking the Host that the priest handed to him, asking him to give the other half to his wife. He then marched to the execution stake saying the Rosary, his face calm and serene, even joyful. Before the salvo, he did not shout “ Long live France ! ” but he prayed for her and for those who were going to kill him.
Upon his return, his lawyer, shattered, declared : « Bastien-Thiry lived for God and for his country : he died in the service of God and his country. He is henceforth a martyr. »
THE COMMANDEERING OF THE CHURCH
In his summing-up for the prosecution, the public prosecutor Gerthoffer claimed to base himself explicitly on Catholic doctrine, which explained and justified, at least this is what he asserted, the Algerian politics of General de Gaulle. That was too much ! In a vengeful letter, Fr. de Nantes protested in the name of Catholic morality :
« The counsel for the prosecution believed that he had found his most convincing argument in the authority of this Catholic Church to which the conspirators claimed to adhere. She had supported decolonisation and made the direction of history one of her dogmas. By rising up against this politics, the accused had thus “ turned their backs ” on their Church. The Christian Faith agrees with dialectical materialism and democratic evolutionism to condemn the revolts and convulsions of the French nationalists and to justify, after due hearing of both sides, the work of Charles de Gaulle, who is also, as we all know, a submissive son of the Church. To oppose him is to refuse to submit to her, and thus to God !
« Now that is unbearable. I protest. I deny. Because if we accept in silence this commandeering of the Church at the summons of the lawyer of Charles de Gaulle, all the despoiled, all the exiles, all the tortured, all the victims of the politics of this man will see hereafter the Church at his side blessing his crime and canonising his plan. The holy water sprinkler of Léon-Étienne Duval (Archbishop of Algiers) for the heavy machine gun of the riot police, before the massacre of the Rue d’Isly !… Decolonisation, far from being a dogma of the Church, is but a revolutionary, racist, barbarian principle, the generator of infinite subversions, misery and anarchy, just like the principle of the freedom of peoples to self-determination. It is urgent, to counter the shameful commandeering of the counsel for the prosecution, General Gerthoffer, to repudiate in the name of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, these false dogmas that have covered the sanguinary work of Charles de Gaulle. Our silence would sully the Church with the crime of complicity. » 3
THE POPE AND THE COLONEL
Alas ! One month to the day after the martyrdom of Colonel Bastien-Thiry, the encyclical “ Pacem in terris ” of Pope John XXIII, which traced the picture of « a free, equal and brotherly world community, where each man and each people receives all that they can naturally desire, where nations are independent and the religions, cultures and ideologies agree and “ convergent ”, where there are no longer dominating peoples and dominated peoples, where at last men of good will desire in the depths of their hearts peace and harmony, having cast aside ancestral misunderstandings and conflicts of interests, submitting their moods and their passions to the supreme good of universal peace. »
This irenical, utopian programme results in condemning all defence of our historical communities. Between the two moralities that follow from these two opposites we must choose :
« There is nothing more graphic in this respect than the comparison of two recent documents :the last encyclical of the Pope and the declaration of Colonel Bastien-Thiry before his judges. Both have a systematic vigour and an uncommon boldness. They end up, however, at diametrically opposite conclusions because of having taken as objects and rules of their morality very different realities and principles. The French officer was serving his country, according to the laws in force and in accordance with the concrete possibilities and necessities of the world in which God had placed him. The Holy Father advocates an ideal and future world to be constructed on the good will of all men. It is the most formidable enmity introduced into the very bosom of the Roman Catholic Church… »
Because there was no one else to protest, Fr. de Nantes would bear alone the burden of this “ enmity ”, resolutely declaring : « It must be known, in Rome and in Paris, that there are renunciations and betrayals that are impossible for a French Catholic. The blood of our martyrs proves it. » 4 It is no coincidence that the day when Colonel Bastien-Thiry gave his life for France, Fr. de Nantes received from his bishop the order to leave his parishes and diocese as soon as possible. The “ last person executed ” by General de Gaulle gave, as it were, his hand to him who was “ the first victim of the conciliar revolution ”, which was taking place at the same time in Rome, at the centre of Christianity.
« It was thus necessary for the witnesses of the Truth to be silenced, down to the humblest of them ! The years have passed by this dreadful tragedy, but the innocent blood still cries out to Heaven. My conscience is my witness that in these tragic hours I did not fail, whatever the cost, in my duty as a priest of Jesus Christ. » 5
IN JUSTICE AND TRUTH
A year later, in July 1964, at the height of his battle against the Reform of the Church, Fr. de Nantes came back to the Algerian tragedy. On the other side of the Mediterranean, there was at that time chaos and misery due to the collapse of the economy and to unemployment, mass emigration to France, and political rivalry between clans.
« Blind, deaf to the consequences of their childish Machiavellianism, the priests of the new religion continue to exalt the oppressor and cast aspersions on the defeated.
« At the moment, I am the advocate of the vanquished, the tortured and the outlawed, before the tribunal of the Church. I am ready to reopen their files, to re-examine, in total liberty and charity, of course, in the light of our unchanging and impeccable Catholic morality, the great file of French Algeria, of its settlers, its soldiers, and its Harkis. Against Fr. Davezies, Fr. Congar and his Denise Walbert, who were helping the fln in the name of the Gospel, I would present my friend Captain Le Pivain, certainly the purest hero of the oas ; his comrades have no doubt about it. Betrayed by one of his own, captured by anti-riot police in a roadblock, he was killed there, unarmed, the prisoner of his own brothers, in accordance with superior orders. There are men that a State cannot allow to be properly judged, out of fear of their purity, their grandeur ! He pulled his Rosary beads out of his pocket, and then with a calm countenance, his soul in peace with God, he slowly collapsed on this ground that he had vowed to keep for France. »
« Yes, there is still a future for us, merited by the blood of our brethren ! Let us keep faith, hope and charity. » 6
marching at the head of his company of the 5th REI.
WE WILL RETURN THERE…
When leaving Algerian soil forever Robert Martel, who had done so much to keep it for France, made a commitment : « While reciting my prayer as a hunted man who had lost all, I thought : I will return. It is most certain that, at the same time, many Muslims who loved us were thinking : They will return. » 7
Fr. de Nantes also announced this return, by specifying that it would first be necessary to deny the false principles in the name of which we have betrayed our missionary and colonial vocation and brought sorrow to the peoples of whom we had received the providential responsibility.
« If all human relations are accountable to the Hegelian dialectic of master and slave, then we cannot establish man-to-man or people-to-people relationships of subjection, patronage, protectorate, etc., without mingling with them some seeds of injustice and hatred that will sooner or later empoison and dissolve them. If, on the other hand, these human relationships depend, notwithstanding all the inevitable imperfections and injustices, on the Gospel revelation of the Father and the Son in a single Holy Spirit of charity, these human relations are worthy and just, fruitful, and founders of lasting and peaceful communities…
« The Republic must be accused of having sown revolt and having taught colonised people, as it did the proletarian masses, hatred for the true France and contempt for her religion. From colonial peoples we have thus snatched France, her civilisation, her religion, her worship of the true God, in the name of Liberty and Right ! We left them, however, as a trace of our passage the canker of materialism, democracy, secularism, the cult of man ! We defrauded them of the best of colonisation and we left them the worst. We must not conclude : Ah ! It really was not worth the trouble… Yes, it was worth the trouble, so much sorrow, so much blood ! It would have been better, however, it will be better tomorrow, to go there in the name of Catholic France, to convert and civilise these distant peoples in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, rather than to subject them, only to reject them later on, in the name of republican Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, barbarian and bloodthirsty divinities, that cause the unhappiness of peoples and the eternal damnation of souls wherever they reign. » 8
Brother Bruno of Jesus
Excerpts from Il est ressuscité ! n° 60, août 2007, p. 20-28.
1. Letter to My Friends n° 109, May 13, 1962.
2. Letter to My Friends n° 133.
3. Letter to My Friends n° 133, March 7, 1963.
4. Letter to My Friends n° 139, April 1963.
5. Letter to Mgr Le Couëdic, December 19, 1965, Letter to My Friends n° 220, p. 2.
6. Letter to My Friends n° 175, July 1, 1964.
7. La Contrerévolution en Algérie, 1972, p. 611.
8. CRC n° 107, La France coloniale catholique, juillet 1976.