The White Lily Blog

Why the Doctrine Matters: Christopher Caldwell on the Church, the Council, and the Crisis in Europe

Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe makes many startling assertions and observations regarding developments in Europe in the past fifty years, but to those of us following the unfolding drama of revisionist Rome against tradition, none so interesting as this one: Vatican II disarmed Europe.  Caldwell is no theologian, he is on the contrary most often a financial writer. But that makes his thesis the more compelling.

Europe is dissolving itself in Islam via low fertility rates, which has provided a false ‘need’ for massive immigration to keep the population of working age laborers from falling, and if you want the numerical details, Reflections delivers chapter upon chapter of statistics that provide the platform for Caldwell’s powerful interpretation. He first effortlessly destroys the idea that immigration is or ever was a financial necessity serving the common good,  comprising as it does a small portion of the annual net worth of any European country (he gives the figures), and he asserts that immigration and its social vocabulary, ‘wonderful multiculturalism,’  and ‘glorious diversity,’ are all part of a single strategy contrived by ‘elites’ with the sole purpose of reducing European native workers’ wages, which were seen to be overly generous by the rich and liberal. The ploy has been successful; wages and living conditions have collapsed for the majority of Europeans, and there are many unexpected and painful changes to their civilization.

Consider Amsterdam, for example, the repository of most of Denmark’s heritage, its literature, art, and music.  That ancient city is approaching being sixty percent Muslim. Caldwell observes that the immigrant population, which not only has resisted cultural integration, but which has become, counter-intuitively, less integrated with each successive generation as measured by numerous polls and indicators like intermarriage with native Europeans, cannot be counted on to vote for the expensive preservation of those European museums and libraries when the same could be turned into buildings more useful to the new majority, into serviceable mosques or public buildings housing Islamic cultural artifacts.  There is no way, in a democracy, to fight it. Naturally, given Europe’s Catholic background of tolerance and hospitality, immigrants were granted whole-sale citizenship without any thought of the effect on future elections. This development in Amsterdam is repeated all over Europe, with many immigrants making their entry illegally through easy-in Spain before moving through Europe’s open borders to any place they choose and obtaining legality there. Efforts to stop immigration at Spain have led to violence. Having heard Si for so long, immigrants now demand entrance.

One horrible change is the tsunami of violent physical antisemitism.  A  Jewish cell-phone salesman was tortured to death over three days, for example, but every day brings news of less spectacular but frightening incidents, resulting in a new exodus of Jews to Israel from all of Europe.  There are also attacks on homosexuals, the gradual imposition of sharia law over Christianity-infused European law, the destruction of educational curricula in favor of ‘inclusive’ Islamic content, the fear-mongering fatwas against critics of Islam, the murders, the car-burning riots, and the mushrooming expense of paying the welfare costs of an ever-growing and now massively unemployed Muslim population. Caldwell does not fail to point out how much easier the US has fared with its more compatible immigrant population from Catholic Mexico.

Caldwell tells the details of various initiatives to reverse the cultural effects of Muslim immigration, but so far none have been even moderately successful in reducing the tension.  Islamic youth completely detest European values and culture.  The more it is urged on them, the more they reject it, says Caldwell. Who can forget the image of young men caught by the cameras with hundred of burning cars behind them, gesticulating at the camera and chanting, “F*ck France!”  About the possibility of reversing that sentiment, Caldwell says, “Europe finds itself in a contest with Islam for the allegiance of its newcomers. For now, Islam is the stronger party in that contest, in an obvious demographic way and in a less obvious philosophical way. . . . When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.” (349, Doubleday ed.)

This negativity does not extend to Christians. In France, the polls find that 91 percent of Muslims have a positive attitude toward Christians, in Spain 82 percent, in Britain, 71 percent, in Germany 69. It is not philosophical Christianity that is being rejected, but what has replaced it in Europe. And what is that, according to Caldwell?  A “hang-dog, sad-sack, our-day-is-done” version of Christianity, he writes, in which “Islam and Christianity are, in the last analysis, interchangeable religions” (179)  It is thus particularly interesting when, as Caldwell says, the elites of secular Europe try to teach Islam the lessons of the Enlightenment that all religions are equal in Europe, equal and private, by kicking Christianity to the curb whenever it is possible, by throwing feces at the Cross in their galleries, and menstrual blood on the cemetery statues of the Virgin, in the hope that Muslims will learn the lesson, take the hint, and stuff it, their damned medieval religiosity, into their private lives and private homes, like all the Christians have done with their faith in recent times. European values, to the liberal elites, mean that one must transcend religion, in the name of rationality, neutrality, and other vapid Enlightenment ideals. In 2002 the EU’s constitution deliberately left God out, after bitter political struggle, defying the argument that the very principles the constitution enshrines, democracy, freedom of conscience, free speech, protection of private property, stable marriage, all rose from the practice of Christianity over millenia in Europe. Meanwhile, ordinary Europeans are converting to Islam in record numbers. They are beginning to feel what Caldwell calls ‘the tug of religion’ and he asks, why should we expect people to ‘prefer a diffident, mocked, and un-chic faith like European Christianity over a dynamic, confident, and streetwise one like European Islam? The answer is, we should not” (190).

Of most interest to traditionalists, Caldwell places the source of European insecurity and relativism, and hence on their complete inability to treat effectively with Islamic immigrants in their realms on the Catholic Church at Vatican II! He spends many pages in frustrated analysis of Benedict XVI, who has sided with secularism over belief, Caldwell asserts, continually dialoguing with prominent secular philosophers to convince them that their values come from Christianity and that they are, “in a way, in it already” so that there is no need for them to formally join “the flock” (186), while Europe’s atheists like German Jurgen Haberman upon whom Benedict has spent much attention are happy to acknowledge the debt–as long as there is no further charge for usage. Caldwell says that the relationship of the post-Vatican II Church with secular Europe “looks modern, tolerant, ecumenical, and touchy-feely.” Gone are the thrilling standards for membership in the Mystical Body of Christ.

And that’s the trouble.  Through an ecumenism that leads her popes to make fatuous pronouncements like All Good Atheists Go to Heaven, the Church has ‘lost religion’ in favor of what Caldwell terms a ‘bureaucratized rationalism’ that is proving to be very unsatisfying to the majority of European citizens, who are turning in larger numbers to traditional religion–but not ours. Caldwell mourns it as the social tragedy it is, without any examination of the even greater supernatural cost, and asks, “If Europeans need what Muslims are bringing–basically, more religion–then did Europeans take a wrong turn when they got rid of these traditions in the first place? If so, when was the wrong turn made? In the 1960’s?” It is a rhetorical question, that Caldwell answers for himself by referring to the “sad-sack” Church as the post-Vatican II Church. Theologians are finally coming to the same conclusion.

Caldwell’s insight must be of great interest to those traditionalists fighting for a repudiation of the tainted doctrine buried in the constitutions of Vatican II. To those suffering the catastrophic conditions in Europe, Caldwell’s work crashes against those ‘traditional’ Catholics who find the theological discussion puzzling at best, irrelevant at worst, when compared to the snappier pyrotechnics of the liturgical wars. What’s the deal with a few little doctrinal changes, after all? (The loss of Europe, including its souls.) These same ‘traditionalists’ were furious when SSPX pulled up short of reunification with modernist Rome last summer after the terms would have muzzled their criticism of the doctrinal changes of the Council, furious and frustrated that the subject of ecumenism, one of three central theological on the table with SSPX, matters that much. Caldwell shows us that it does. Caldwell’s implications are compelling: the Church will awaken, or Europe is lost.

But perhaps it’s too late. Caldwell’s most surprising assertion is this: that there is big ideological concordance between secularism and Islamism, that Europe is ripe to convert to this most ‘sincere’ of religions, and that in many ways it would be a step forward from the economic and social crevice into which secularized Europe has fallen. Caldwell lists interesting stats related to a growing ‘tug of religion’ all across Europe, the explosion of Bible sales, the upclicks in profession of belief in ‘something,’ anything, to pollsters, the lingering of spiritual (or spiritualist) books on best seller lists, the increase of youth religious organizations.

Many are converting to Islam, although exact numbers are difficult to obtain, although 50,000 in Italy is often given as a representative number.  The tenets of Islam and the tenets of secular Europe have much in common, Caldwell points out. Islam has no magisterium–he terms it a hierarchy–and to that degree is inherently democratic, inherently liberal.  Islam’s take on sexuality is much closer to secularism than often thought, much more physical, much more focused on pleasure, even–especially–in their version of heaven, than Catholicism’s more rigorous and romantic teaching on love and marriage. Islam permits easy divorce and there is even precedent in Islam for co-habitation before marriage, trial marriages, that fit in seamlessly with current secular practice. Neither birth control nor abortion are consistently forbidden to Muslims (it’s ruining Iran right now).

All this makes Islam a natural fit with contemporary Europe.  Even as he calls for the Church to abandon its Conciliar fantasy and wake up to its responsibility to Europe, Caldwell cannot help but give plaintive voice against the empty horror of faithless, secular Europe, even to the degree of admiring Islam, and forsaking his own introductory chapters chronicling the equal horrors of Islam, the antisemitism, the dreariness of their intellectual lives as measured by their paucity of printed books, and all the rest. But all that is waved away, finally, when Caldwell gazes at the alternative of zombie secularism. Secularism is worse, even to a European. That the Church might awaken and give the necessary blessing to a new assertion of Christian values in the void does not earn credibility for Caldwell.

There is another possibility, though. Caldwell does not take it up, but what will surely emerge more and more urgently the longer it takes the Church to wake up is: fascism. Call it as neo if you like. Call it liberal fascism. Call it yahoo fascism. Call it the Chinese model. It is on the move. Recent government pressure on our own US constitution prove the new fascism has real fangs, not milk teeth.

The White Lily Blog never fails to call for the restoration of the Catholic Church in its authentic tradition as the solution to whatever social or economic problem is raised. Because the Catholic state is the natural and supernatural solution to all our problems. But truly, given the convergence of forces focused on Europe, the same ones that converged at the Council, Europe (and all those souls) may already be lost. Caldwell’s book paints an apocalypse.

3 Comments so far
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What a wonderful article: and I mean that it is well written, informative, and thought provoking. The analysis, as well as the solution, is clear. What is not wonderful is the truth behind the matter. For too long, liberals in the Church have been teaching false doctrine from the pulpit. I know, because I had experienced it for 22 years, before I could not stand it any longer and went for the traditional Mass and traditional Sacraments. God bless the SSPX. I often wonder what sad state the Church and the world would be in without them. It is good that we do not have to know, for our situation currently is far too grim as it is.

I had a conversation with a lady this past weekend about the state of the world. I told her that things would eventually improve. She was shocked that I should think so. Why, she asked. I replied that I do not believe that we are in the end times (though I cannot know), because the whole world has not been Catholic. At most, the world has been one-third Catholic, and I do not believe that God would create the world if it would all be a failure (meaning that the whole world would fail to recognize the true God and His Church). She did not seem to agree with me that there would be a restoration. She might be right. However, if I am correct, and the world’s situation will improve, I will take something spectacular to remedy our current state. I do not know what that is. Of course the Mass, the Sacraments, the Rosary, and more SSPX and other traditional-minded priests are necessary. I fear what other punishments are in store for us until the restoration occurs, assuming it does.

Comment by itineranttrent

Kind words about the article, and your comment cheers me up–I pray you’re right. I too love SSPX for being the only one that understands that Quas Primas means what it says. But we are not doing anything about it in a practical sense, and it is a practical as well as a theological issue. We need a third party like FIDESZ in Hungary that begins the work.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

I just read your previous article, and saw your mention of FIDESZ. I had heard of the situation in Hungry previously, and saw how much liberals in our own country hated what was happening.

So, continuing this thought, what can we do? How do we organize? How do we make this third party, and how do we make it Catholic? I might suggest getting in contact with other SSPX Catholics around that nation and seeing what type of force we could bring forth. Yet, I am no organizer. I am barely political. What do you suggest in order to make this practical?

Comment by itineranttrent

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