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Pacifist? Our Sunday Visitor type hates “For Greater Glory…..” October 11, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, foolishness, General Catholic, Holy suffering, horror, persecution, priests, religious, sadness, sickness, Society.

Over at CatholicVote, which I rarely read anymore, and now I remember why, an Emily Stimpson who writes for Our Sunday Visitor and who went to or taught at Steubenville, I can’t remember which, hates on “For Greater Glory. ”   I’ll give a glimpse of her viewpoint, which is essentially pacifist, and then my comment:

When those among you who claim to “like” For Greater Glory make such statements, I think what you really mean is that you like seeing a movie where the Catholic Church is the good guy and not the big bad boogeyman. I agree. It’s a real nice change. Go team.

Or maybe what you mean is that you like certain scenes in the movie…priests dying for Christ, boys holding fast to the Faith, sinful souls turning to Christ. Or again, maybe it’s seeing religious freedom championed. Or learning more about martyrs. Or seeing Eduardo Verastegui on screen.

Again, on all counts, agreed. All those things are indeed likeable.

But the movie itself? As a work of art? As a story? As a morally coherent tale? No, no, no. I do not believe that you liked it. You couldn’t have. It was too head-poundingly awful for anyone other than 12-year-old boys to actually like. And maybe I’m not giving 12-year-old boys enough credit.

But her problem is really less with the movie, than it is with the Cristero rebellion as a whole:

As it was, they glossed over the pointed moral problems of priests’ bearing arms, gun fights in churches, disobedience to Church authorities, and the whole idea that it’s okay for Catholics to deprive another person of their right to life in order to defend our right to religious liberty. [I know, move along……]

‘Cause you know what? It’s not. None of those things are okay. They’re all big bad no-no’s.  [Throughout the piece, Stimson maintains the habit of speaking down to her readers, as here…..]

Priests who bear arms are not heroes. [Ummm…….] Christians firing weapons before the Blessed Sacrament is gravely sinful. [I bet you could actually get quite a debate going between moral theologians on this point. Is it ok to use violence to prevent desecration of the Blessed Sacrament?] And when the Church says it’s not okay to be in open rebellion against the government, it’s not okay to be in open rebellion against the government. 
[see below]

Above all, while having the sacraments taken away is a fate worse than death, our death is the death in question, not the death of the person doing the taking. A Catholic should rather die than live without Jesus in the Eucharist. A Catholic should not rather kill someone than live without Jesus in the Eucharist. There is a difference.  [this is a good point, about her only good point, but the Cristero rebellion was about more than just being denied the Sacraments.  See below]

Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but if Christ were standing around watching soldiers shout Viva Christo Rey right before they took aim at other human beings, I don’t think he’d be cheering. I think he’d be weeping.  [A bit heavy handed here, perhaps.  Is this point debatable? I think it might be]

Anyways, you get the quote point.   As you can see, Emily’s problem is much less with the movie, than with the Cristeros themselves.  I left the following comment.  It’s perhaps not real good, but all I had time for.

It is unfortunate that there is such an all-pervasive pacifist trend in the Church today. Many well-intentioned Catholics have come to believe – or been led to believe – that violence associated with the Faith in any way is absolutely unacceptable. That view is historically and theologically wrong. Saint John of Capistrano led a Crusade – personally – against the Turk at Belgrade. I’m glad to know he’s not a hero. Various Popes called for Holy War – Crusade – against constant Muslim aggression. Calling for a holy war, and being the person who pulls the trigger or wields a sword, are not morally different.  Aquinas provides extensive theological ground for the taking up of arms for many reasons, including to defend the Church/Christendom.  He’s probably just one of those crazy medieval types the Church has been well to forget these past 50 years or so.

Violence in defense of the Faith is not necessarily a sin. St. Joan of Arc has been mentioned. Why is she a Saint? Because of her deep theological insights? Because of her great works of charity? Or because she saved the Eldest Daughter of the Church from English domination, and thus preserved France from becoming protestant in the 16th Century along with England?  Did she perform this preservation by talking?  Or by spilling blood on her sword?

You have simply come to accept a very pacifist view of the Faith. That view is very widespread. But that does not mean it is right, or that it is sinful, as you say, to take up arms in defense of the Faith.

It is so very, very easy, to sit in your climate controlled room in front of a computer in a comfortable chair, with everything you possibly need, to judge those who have the most important thing in their life taken from them. The faithful in Mexico had suffered depredation after depredation for decades prior to the start of the rebellion. It wasn’t just the attack on the most important aspect of their life, the Faith, it was an attack on everything. Their women were raped. The faithful were murdered. Their land was stolen. As far as they could tell, the government meant to kill them all if they would not apostasize. The Church has always taught that using violence to defend one’s life is morally permissible. You completely gloss over all these historical facts. The situation is not nearly so clear as you attempt to present it.

I’m glad, at least, that you showed some mercy for the Cristeros at the end. You express worry over a potential persecution, or one already underway. Frankly, what is going on now is pathetically small compared to what the Catholics in Mexico endured. And your smug elitism is a bit tired “…….just another bad movie in a long line of bad movies being peddled to the Catholic masses……” (repeated twice, to make sure us brain dead rubes got the message). I got very strongly from the movie that the armed resistance of clergy was morally problematic. Perhaps I had less of a bias going in.

Finally – to say that the Cristeros disobeyed the episcopate is a gross generalization, and really not very accurate. The episcopate in Mexico was very cagey in how they dealt with the Cristeros – at times signalling support, at times seeming to deny it. Some bishops even sent their seminarians to the Cristeros to continue training and hide them from the government. At the end, after the fatal deal with Calles that led directly to the very sick, very weak, very worldly Church that exists today in Mexico, the bishops did call for all to lay down their arms. Most obeyed, and thousands were summarily executed by the government as a result. Some disobeyed.

In the end, Mexico, which had 4000 priests and about 10000 religious prior to the murderous persecution in 1925, had fewer than 400 priests and less than a thousand religious by the late 30s. But even worse was the limitations the bishops accepted which were instrumental in removing the Faith as the center of Mexican life. How many souls have been lost because of this? Is a death worth the salvation of a soul?  The Church used to believe so – in fact, the Inquisition, so very misrepresented and misunderstood, was founded on that principle, that bodily death was infinitely preferable to the death of the soul.

But, in our present, “enlightenment”-influenced materialist-dominated cultural construct, such has been completely, utterly forgotten.  We have a tendency, even as Catholics, to imagine that death is the very worst thing that could happen to a person. It’s not.  Losing one’s faith, dying outside the state of Grace, committing mortal sin, frankly – these are infinitely worse.  Because they effect our “real” existence, the state of our soul, and our eternal destiny.  Death is  just the process of getting there.  I don’t mean to trivialize murder to any extent, I am simply saying their are things worse than death.

Pray for the Cristeros. Many likely did morally questionable (or even damnable) things, but they did them, generally, for the right reasons.  I wouldn’t want to be put in there shoes.  I’m not going to cast aspersions at them, as Ms. Stimpson so glibly did.

I obviously don’t have Stimpson’s very refined tastes. I loved the movie.  I thought it was fantastic, on every level, but I didn’t go in with a huge pacifist bias, nor, perhaps, a preconceived distaste for the Cristeros.  And she’s wrong, the movie plainly addressed the moral problems of priests bearing arms.  That came up more than once.


1. Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - October 11, 2012

Wow! This, my friend, in my humble opinion, was one of your shining moments. Thank you for the comments. May God continue to bless your apostolate if only to ensure we get more like this. Bravo!

(I meant to leave this comment for this particular post. My apologies!)

2. Kathleen Riney - October 11, 2012

Why do all the “idiot uneducated, mal-informed catholics” seem to be female???SIGH!!!!

tantamergo - October 11, 2012

I don’t think I said that! But I do disagree, and in my opinion Stimpson was talking down to others.

3. Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - October 11, 2012

I thought that you were serious, Kathleen. Sarcasm does not come across well on the interwebz. I was going to refute your point, but then I saw tantamergo’s response. Please be mindful of how you make your comments, my dear.

4. JLG - October 11, 2012

Let me hear an “Amen!”, for my brother Tantamergo. Keep it going!

Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - October 11, 2012


tantamergo - October 11, 2012

Thanks, guys!

5. Philippa - October 11, 2012

Great post! Though In her trials St. Joan of Arc testified that she never killed anyone. She preferred to carry her banner into battle – But she did use the flat of a sword on the prostitutes who followed the soldiers’ camp to chase them away, and broke it in doing so!

tantamergo - October 11, 2012

You’re probably right. Thanks for the correction!

6. Catechist Kev - October 12, 2012

Good grief.

More “Mommy” religion.

You did good, Tantam.

Back in the 20s or 30s in my home town (in the midwest, 75% Catholic at the time) the Klan decided to “march” on the local Catholic parish. Ironically enough the “leader” of the march was my great uncle.

Even more ironically I had Catholic relatives inside the parish church hanging outside of the stained glass windows (they opened at the very bottom back then) with their guns ready, willing, and able to defend their church if the KKK resorted to violence!

I am not sure of the intent of the Klan. Shoot at the church? Bang down the doors to get inside? Not sure. If they had either intent above I would hope that those Catholic men would have defended their parish – with violence if necessary.

What you say here, Tantam, is 100% correct!:

“It is unfortunate that there is such an all-pervasive passivist trend in the Church today. Many well-intentioned Catholics have come to believe – or been led to believe – that violence associated with the Faith in any way is absolutely unacceptable. That view is historically and theologically wrong.”

To defend and protect what is Holy – *especially* our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar – should be every Catholic’s priority if there is the possibility of profanation of His Most Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!

It isn’t that hard if you ask me.


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