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Marcello Pera is an Italian philosopher and politician. He was the president of the Italian Senate from 2001 to 2006. In the wake of the allegations of priestly sexual abuse and the accusations of inaction on the part of Catholic Church authorities, he sent this letter to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In the letter, published on 19 March 2010, he argues that beneath the façade lies an ongoing battle between secularism and Christianity. The abuses are only an excuse for this war.
The recent uproar in Germany about paedophile and homosexual priests is an attack on the pope. It would be a serious mistake to think that it is too monstrously daring to harm him. And it would be an even worse mistake to think that the whole affair will be quickly brought to an end like so many others. This is not the case.
There is a war on. It is not openly against the pope in person as it would be impossibile on this ground. Benedict XVI is proof against any such thing; his serene calm, transparence, firmness and doctrine make him unassailable. His gentle smile is enough to scatter a whole host of adversaries. No, the war is between secularism and Christianity. The secularists know that a spot of mud on that white robe would mean that the church was sullied, and if the church were sullied so the Christian religion likewise. So they accompany their campaign with such refrains as “Who will take the children to church?” or “Who would send their children to Catholic schools?” or “Who would have our little ones cared for in a Catholic hospital or clinic?”.
A few days ago a secularist casually revealed their real thinking: “The extent of the problem of child abuse by priests undermines the right of the Catholic Church to educate the very young.” No matter that this sentence contains no evidence as “the extent of the problem…” is carefully concealed. Are the paedophiles one per cent of the priesthood? Ten per cent? All of them ? No matter that the sentence lacks logic: it would be enough to substitute the word “priests” with “teachers” or “politicians” or “journalists” to undermine the legitimacy of state schools, of parliaments and of the press. What matters is the insinuation that, regardless of the coarseness of the argument, priests are paedophile, therefore the Church has no moral authority, therefore Catholic education is dangerous, therefore Christianity itself is a fraud and a danger.
This war against Christianity is a total war. One has to look back to nazi rule or communism to find anything like it. The means change but the end is the same: today as yesterday the aim is the destruction of religion. Then the price paid by Europe was the loss of her freedom. It is incredibile that Germany, once again a democratic country, still beating her breast in memory of the sacrifice she inflicted on the rest of Europe, should forget and not understand that her democracy would be lost if Christianity were vanquished again. The destruction of religion then brought about the destruction of reason. Today it would not lead to the triumph of secular reason but to another barbarity.
From an ethical angle it is the barbarity of those who kill the foetus because its life might endanger the mother’s psychological health; those who consider an embryo a “cluster of cells” useful for experimentation; those who would kill an old person because he has no family to look after him; those who would hasten the death of a child because he is unconscious and incurable; those who think that “parent A” and “parent B” are the same as “father” and “mother”; those who believe that faith is like the coccyx, that part which no longer has any place in evolution because man no longer needs a tail and can stand up by himself. And so on.
Or, looking at the political side of the secularist war against Christianity, barbarity will mean the destruction of Europe. Because, once Christianity is vanquished, we would be left with multiculturalism, which claims that each group has a right to its own culture; with relativism, which claims that every culture is as good as any other, and pacifism, which denies the existence of evil.
This war on Christianity would not be so dangerous if the Christians understood what was at stake, but a large number of them join in the general incomprehension.
They are those theologians who are frustrated by the Pope’s intellectual superiority. Those hesitant bishops who believe that the best way to update the Christian message is to compromise with modernity. Those cardinals with a faith crisis who begin to insinuate that celibacy for priests is not a dogma and that it might be better to rethink the issue. Those stealthy Catholic intellectuals who think that there is a feminine problem within the church and an unresolved problem between Christianity and sexuality. Those episcopal conferences where mistakes are made with the agenda and, while they wish for an open frontier policy, haven’t the courage to denounce the attacks against Christians and the humiliation suffered when they are all indiscriminately brought to the bench of the accused. Or even those chancellors from the East who put on show a handsome homosexual foreign minister whilst attacking the Pope on every ethical question, or those born in the West who believe that the West must be secularist, that is anti-Christian.
This secularist war will continue, if only because a Pope like Benedict XVI, who smiles but doesn’t give an inch, fuels their fire. But if we understand why he is immovable, then the situation can be taken in hand and there is no need to just wait for the next blow. Those who are content with merely agreeing with him are either like a man who goes to the Garden of Olives at night under the cloak of darkness, or one who doesn’t realise why he is there anyway.
English translation from Marcello Pera’s website, slightly