Last Thursday, Pope Francis made international headlines after washing the feet of a series of illegal migrants who were staying at a center outside of Rome. Ostensibly an act of charity and humility, the international press piously listed the religious faiths of the migrants as “Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu, and Catholic.” More importantly, this multi-denominational crowd came from “Mali, Eritrea, Syria and Pakistan.”
As has been standard fare for the so-called Migrant Crisis in Europe, not a single purported refugee has escaped war and poverty in Ukraine, though apparently every other geographic area in the world is represented among the migrating crowds receiving papal TLC. The Pope criticized what he called Europe’s “anaesthetized conscience” when it comes to these migrants.
A day or two after Pope Francis carried out this media stunt, I attended mass at a Croatian Catholic Church in a fairly large Midwestern city. The church was built in the 20th century to serve another kind of migrant – the Catholic immigrant to America from Europe who worked in a Rust Belt factory. Despite recent construction, the building was refreshingly free of concrete and steel.
Mass was done in a mix of Croatian and broken English. Inquiry revealed that the English was used for the benefit of the few Slovenes in attendance. The priest took time to proclaim that secularism and relativism would not prevail against the Church through the 21st century. Above the altar surrounded by palm branches was painted a Croatian coat-of-arms in the early, pre-1991 style, used by long-gone Croatian monarchical and fascist regimes.
The national symbol displayed above the altar is not unique. When I visited the Hungarian town of Ásotthalom (whose mayor you may recognize), I noticed that the local church also had a large Hungarian coat of arms painted above the altar. From what I understood, the priest there was a close ally of the far-right mayor, who split off from Jobbik because it was insufficiently right-wing and founded a small crypto-monarchist, ultra-nationalist, irredentist party.
In Catholic Slovakia, Marian Kotleba is making clerical fascism fashionable again. Here is a Polish priest who is the “new face of Polish nationalism.” After you’ve opened all those links, open the first one again and take a look at Pope Francis kissing the feet of an illegal African migrant. What gives?
There is a segment of secular right-wingers from the Anglosphere who think that Christianity—or some sect thereof—is inherently globalist, universalist, anti-national, subversive, or otherwise degenerate. The gross number of North American churches sponsoring resettlement of Somalis and other undesirables from the Third World into conservative, white communities provide ample evidence to point to. When the Pope himself sides with illegal Middle Eastern and African migrants to Europe and makes passive-aggressive snipes at Donald Trump for his border policy, the perception is hardened.
A pithy quote from Oswald Spengler that Christianity is the grandmother of Bolshevism and the case is settled.
While this perception may be easy to uphold in the lands of megachurches, Glenn Beck kool-aid drinkers, and gay female bishops, it is far more dubious in places where the priests hang out with local far-right politicians. In Western countries, it may be typical for a conservative congregation to attend church only to receive a lecture on tolerance and equality, but in Eastern Europe it’s more likely that the congregants will find the clergy too conservative, even nationalist. Keep in mind that Pope Francis’ immediate predecessor was in the Hitler Youth as a teenager, and he only stepped down in 2013. There is a divergence of ideological directions in Christianity, and in particular in the Roman Catholic Church, that has to be accounted for. How to do so? Best to begin with another question:
Why exactly did Pope Francis do what he did? “It’s just charity” is a very questionable claim. There are homeless Catholic believers all over Europe. There are Catholics in poverty all over Europe. There are probably twelve homeless or impoverished Catholics whose feet the Pope could have washed in Rome itself. There have been hundreds if not thousands of European Catholic victims of illegal Muslim or non-European aliens just in the last year, suffering from rape, theft, murder, and so on. Yet who does the Pope single out to make a point about charity? Are there not twelve European Catholics who are suffering enough to merit the Pope’s attention? Why is the Pope ignoring the suffering at home in Italy and in Europe just to give his attention to a group of illegal migrants from far away, many of whom aren’t even Christian, let alone Catholic?
The Pope is making a big deal out of ecumenism and egalitarianism, but since when is the Pope the Pope of All Religions, or the Pope of Humanity, rather than the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church?
What’s going on here is obvious to everybody, although they may not have the right words to express it. The Pope is not exemplifying charitable spirit as a result of wisdom and reason. The Pope is exemplifying charitable spirit in the way Moldbug’s Cathedral would like him to exemplify it – only towards non-Europeans and primarily towards non-Christians.
How does the Pope conclude that this group of cultural and religious aliens are the most deserving of his attention? Funnily enough, the international media staffed largely by atheist progressives and secular Jews seems to have reached this conclusion long before the Pope did. How much of a jump is it to imagine that they reached this conclusion for him? It seems that Pope Francis is not acting based on his own judgment and reason as the Vicar of Christ on Earth. Pope Francis is acting based on the judgment of The New York Times. The Pope, whether he knows it or not, has surrendered sovereignty and control of his attention to the media.
The Pope is pwned.
In Eastern Europe, The New York Times had no readership until the 1990s, and it has not had enough time and power to become the source organ of information for majorities of Eastern European Christians like it has in the West. Persecuted by militant atheists, the Church under communism actually became stronger in a way, in a sort of spiritual hormesis. Christians and particularly Catholics in the West voted for social democratic parties and soft Marxists for decades while Eastern Christians struggled to keep the faith alive at all.
Fast forward to 2016, and the Church in the West has become essentially synonymous with the Cathedral. Discrimination and judgment of the poor and suffering have been wholly outsourced to The New York Times and the Open Society Foundation, and nobody seems to notice. The same is not true of the Church in the East.
While the Russian Orthodox Church has become fairly obviously tied to the interests of the Russian state, something similar seems to have happened to the branches of the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
Catholic populations in this part of the world never got the same doses of progressivism that American, Italian, French, or Hispanic populations did. These countries seem to have retained a concomitant level of sovereignty. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are doing a solid job of resisting EU directives to resettle Middle Eastern migrants in their countries, expand press freedoms, and cede control of national policy to bureaucrats in Brussels. It’s difficult to ignore the fact that the Church remains Catholic (as opposed to liberal-progressive) in the same countries where the government remains sovereign and resistant to Western control.
It would seem to be the case that the ideological direction of a local religion will tend towards the interests of the local state. Where the state is the Cathedral, the Church follows suit, straight into dogmatic egalitarianism and relativism. Where the state hasn’t been subsumed entirely, has achieved some measure of military, economic and geopolitical independence, and has a sovereign government, the Church becomes (or remains) right-wing, traditional and nationalist, just like the locals would prefer it.
In the long-term, we may be looking at a deep chasm within the Roman Catholic Church. What happened between the mainstream Church and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) may happen on a larger scale between the Catholics of Eastern Europe and the Catholics of the West and the Rest.
As France, Germany, etc. repopulate themselves with dysfunctional Muslims and become quasi-failed states, the governments of less powerful Eastern European countries will find it less attractive to imitate Western countries and more straightforward to oppose and resist their demands – whether the demands go through official mouthpieces like the EU or U.S. State Department or unofficial mouthpieces like the Vatican or mainstream media. States on the historical rise will not allow their national churches and religions to oppose or subvert them. Russia is getting closer every day to declaring ultra-conservative, by-the-book Russian Orthodox Christianity a state religion, and if it did, it would be because the state determined the religion would secure the state’s power against rival domestic and foreign entities. Poland and Hungary may eventually need to do the same.
Militantly self-effacing Catholicism will not replace traditional Catholicism in countries where the state finds an interest in maintaining traditional Catholicism as well as the means to maintain it. The Pope may be pwned, but all of his followers are not. There have been several Romes throughout history already.
It is not inconceivable that Warsaw becomes the Fourth.