3. The Loves and Hates of the Progressivist.

To my friends
Letter 60

“Love that favours infidels and neglects Catholics is not charity.”

Laynez to the Fathers of the Council of Trent, September 6, 1562

MORE and more the teaching of the Catechism, preaching, liturgical forms, apostolic activities, ways of feeling and judging are changing in an alarming way. No doubt it is only a change of detail, a shift of emphasis to matters of secondary importance; new aspects of method or presentation which neither change nor contradict the essential dogma and unchangeable tradition – at least so they say – but in the minds and the outlook of the young being thus formed it will be the newest detail that is known and retained while the eternal dogma is ignored; it will be the secondary action that is adopted while the traditional action is neglected; it will be present day attitudes that prevail and the old foundation no longer provides a counterweight. The generation from 1900 to 1914 was still in possession of dogma and morals in their integrity and only a few ‘Modernists’ then gave any sign of the coming swing to the left. The generation 1919 to 1939 is the great culprit: they kept the ancient Faith intact for themselves but they were only capable of preaching and promoting the trumpery of accessory novelties. The present generation is so besotted with these novelties that they either know nothing of the essence of our religion or else they despise it to the extent of creating another in their ardent hearts.

This progressive transformation of ways of thinking and acting is accompanied by a further, truly scandalous, transformation, namely, that of the heart’s inclinations. The Progressivist no longer has the same ‘neighbour’ as his counterpart of twenty-five or fifty years ago. The new mystique makes the Christian a stranger, even an enemy of his fathers and brothers in the Faith, but a friend and more than a brother to all who are indifferent, above all, hostile, even enraged, at the name Christian.

How many of the sentimental kind of Progressivists have we met whose ideas are unerringly indicated by their passionate friendships and enmities! They all bear the same stamp, have the same affinities and above all the same – I say the word after careful consideration for these super apostles of universal charity – the same unappeased hatreds. How many times have I listened to them as one might examine a patient, a ‘pathological case’! Never once do they think of casting a doubtful look on their questioner, just like a mental patient they calmly move in a world of their own. A spontaneous movement of the heart (guided, restrained by what Ariadne’s thread?), educed by some mysterious signs, which they do not doubt are obvious to everyone, tells them instinctively who is a friend to be admired and who is an enemy to be detested. It is very useful (but usually, for the sake of being charitable, one does not dare) to put these affections and exclusions down in writing in order eventually to unmask the frightful disorder of their charity.

First of all, our Progressivist suffers on account of the contemporary materialism and the “dechristianisation of the masses,” their paganisation even. Now, that is all quite innocent. Yet, immediately a line is drawn in that amorphous crowd that divides his affections: “Christians” do not seem very lovable to him; in his opinion, they are the great culprits for the present state of affairs; furthermore, they irritate him and very few of them find any favour in his sight, for their faith is debased, their practice superstitious, their charity “uncompelling;” like the pharisees in the Gospel they are hypocritical, narrow-minded and inveterate. Unbelievers, on the other hand, do not attract his compassion but rather his affectionate admiration. They are the dynamic, generous, charming people. We must begin to listen to them and their aspirations, for the Spirit is speaking through them.

Why this extraordinary segregation? Our Progressivist only needs to be pressed a little for him to reveal more. Christians no longer interest him because they are (apart from a few militant Catholic Action leaders) the result of a formation and supporters of a system that the Progressivist finds detestable and denounces passionately. It is the “integrists” who have taught him this stupid religion, it is the “reactionaries” who have anchored others in their fidelity to and defence of fixed structures such as the Catholic School; it is the conservative bourgeoisie for which religion has always been nothing more than a façade and a rampart for its social injustice. Finally it is politics, the rightwing press and the Army whose violence are all at the disposal of this false world. The antipathy that the Progressivist feels towards the good mediocre Christian people is simply the fallout of his hatred for the institutions and the men who have formed him and who still hold him in their power. And the saints honoured by the Church, the masters of the spiritual life, the Doctors and theologians are scarcely paid more respect. Scorn, sarcasm, ridicule and calumny must bring all that world down and reduce it to nothing.

At the same time “sympathising efforts,” warm understandings and all manner of exaggerated expressions serve to justify the love, esteem and passionate admiration that the Progressivist feels for the great men of the left, the pure revolutionaries, the good communists, the secularist militants, the underdeveloped peoples and the proletariat. Here all is generosity, purity and loyalty. Only the press in that camp is intelligent, only their militants are dedicated, and only their soldiers are humane. When members of the NLF (National Liberation Front) assassinated their co-religionists by the dozen at Lyons, a priest dealing with North Africans in that diocese confided to me that in his opinion the murders were “probably” carried out by parachutists in disguise! He said this without the slightest evidence, but simply by following the inclinations of his heart. Hatred for the parachutist, the reactionary soldier; love for the fellagha, the very humane apostle of a just liberation [of Algeria].

Day in, day out, love and hatred burn within the heart of the Progressivist on each and every account: he is with the curate against the parish priest; for the state school against the Catholic school; for the social worker against the Sister of Charity; for the socialist against the man on the right; for the Muslim against the colonial; for “Marx” against “Maurras.” Full of admiration for Luther, Ghandi and Muḥammad; distrustful with regard to Saint Thomas, Saint Pius X and the Curé d’Ars. The Progressivists are ready now, as in 1944, to welcome any new purge to exterminate, with the excuse of political “counter revolution,” all in the Church that is opposed to their sect. In the end it is the Christian Faith, Christ and His whole Mystery that are thrown into question. It is Christ the sign of contradiction.

Letter to My Friends no. 60, 1959.
Published in Catholic Counter-Reformation no. 55, October 1974.

To get a clear idea of the humaneness of the NLF fellaghas and how denatured was the Progressivist’s love for them, read Harki