God or the Mob?

“The counter-revolution will not be a contrary revolution, but the contrary of revolution.” — Joseph de Maistre

Should Catholics be excommunicated for holding views on race which are found to be insufficiently woke? The Jesuits seem to think so.

In a June 1 editorial, America magazine urged Catholics to “hunger for [social] justice like we do the Eucharist,” and that includes seeking “repentance and reconciliation” for the crimes of the white race. All whites are automatically culpable of those crimes by the fact that our skin contains less melanin. (If only the Jesuits were so eager that Catholics go to confession before receiving the actual Eucharist. Alas.)

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Fifteen years ago, that view was only espoused by a few self-righteous undergraduates at B-list state colleges. It was a punchline: Sally comes home from their first semester of college, newly enlightened by three months of Ethnic Studies. She ruins Thanksgiving dinner by calling Grandpa (who fought at Normandy) a Nazi for supporting George W. Bush. We assumed that only silly, impressionable teenage girls could really believe in “white guilt.” Now, it’s become the Jesuits’ editorial line.

In case you were wondering, yes: America has consistently opposed bishops and priests who deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians. Yet more proof that “God’s Marines” have defected to the City of Man.

But Archbishop Wilton Gregory will do them one better. On June 2, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., condemned the Saint John Paul II National Shrine for hosting a visit from President Donald Trump. The Shrine explained that the visit had been planned far in advance: Mr. Trump was there to sign an executive order advancing religious freedom. Yet a statement from Archbishop Gregory called the President’s mere presence at the Shrine “baffling and reprehensible.” Read it for yourself:

I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree. Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.

Just consider how extraordinary it is to hear a Catholic bishop essentially say, “This man shouldn’t be allowed into our churches because I don’t agree with his politics.” No bishop has ever said that pro-abort politicians should be barred from church. They’d be encouraged to attend Mass until they’re prepared to confess their sin, do penance, and receive Holy Communion. But Archbishop Gregory doesn’t even want Mr. Trump putting his foot in the door.

By the way, that “place of worship and peace” that President Trump desecrated was Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square. Located just a block away from the White House, Saint John’s has been attended by every American president since James Madison, earning its nickname “the Church of the Presidents.”

Apparently, it’s true that Mr. Trump ordered police officers to clear out the protesters. According to a local Episcopal priestess, “They turned holy ground into a battleground.” The Washington Post interviewed Mariann Budde, the Episcopal “bishop” of Washington, about the President’s appearance at Saint John’s. Like her Catholic counterpart, Ms. Budde was outraged by Trump’s presence at one of her churches. “Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” she said; “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”

Of course, both women belie the reason Mr. Trump was visiting Saint John’s in the first place: because it had been set on fire by the protesters. The President was assuring America’s Christians that he wouldn’t stand by and watch as vandals destroyed our houses of worship in an orgy of nihilistic rage. He will defend us, even if we refuse to defend ourselves.

This is the first point we must make. To believing Christians, our churches are not ours. They belong to God. It’s not for us to bar a politician from entering a church because we disapprove of his cause. It’s not for us to allow rioters to burn down a church because we approve of theirs.

Ms. Budde vented to the Post: “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.” This is clearly someone to whom every church is a prop, and who sees herself as stage director. The churches exist for her to dress up in a miter and play prelate—or else simply to burn down. Whichever has more dramatic flair. Whichever is more effective in spreading the gospel of social justice.

To the Religious Left, Christianity is (at best) merely an aspect of the one true faith: Progressivism. The progressive believes the world will “spin forever down the spinning grooves of change.” And, when the spirit of Progress evolves beyond the need for churches, its new agents—the mob, apparently—may simply burn them down. The lady-vicars will all dance around the flames before hurling themselves into the pyre: a willing sacrifice to lubricate those “spinning groves,” so that the world may forever spin down, down, down.

As for Archbishop Gregory, we mustn’t forget that egregious statement his office published at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. His Excellency announced the suspension of public Masses by assuring his flock that his “number one priority” was “to ensure the safety and health of all who attend our Masses, the children in our schools, and those we welcome through our outreach and services.” Once again, Christianity becomes merely a faction within Progressivism.

By His Excellency’s own admission, he is more concerned with the material improvement of his people than with their spiritual well-being. Whether it’s by cancelling public Masses so the faithful don’t fall ill or banning the President of the United States in order to “make a statement,” Archbishop Gregory has made it his mission, not to welcome people into the Church, but to keep them out.

I find it difficult to take the riots too seriously, given the lack of a real motive and the total failure of our elected officials to disperse the mob.

The death of George Floyd in police custody was undoubtedly criminal. Yet there’s no evidence that the arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, was motivated by racial animus, much less that Mr. Floyd’s death is evidence of systemic racism within law enforcement. To point out this fact does not evince a lack of “compassion,” though to deny it certainly evinces a failure of the rational faculties.

And, of course, our political class has only encouraged the riots by sitting on their hands. Not a single office-holder in the country has ordered the police to use the force necessary to restore order—to protect their citizens’ lives and livelihoods.

To cooler heads, it’s obvious that the two real causes of this riot were boredom and unemployment, both were seriously exacerbated by the shelter-in-place orders which have been in force across America for the last three months. (Remember, those lock-downs were ordered by the same public servants who are now cheering the looters and far-left militants as they reduce our cities to ashes.) Most likely, these riots will peter out as the mob gets bored again.

Yes, it will be devastating for those whose property was destroyed during these “protests.” But we’ll never hear about them. The media won’t show us the faces of those mothers and fathers who can no longer feed their families because Antifa terrorists burned down their corner store. Just the opposite, in fact: on May 31, The Washington Post ran an op-ed by a Minnesota restaurateur named Hafsa Islam saying, “My family’s restaurant caught fire in the Minneapolis protests. Let it burn.” I guess they’d have us believe America’s small business owners are happy to have their livelihoods destroyed so the mass of hooligans can “honor the memory” of George Floyd.

Oddly enough, all of this will probably just blow over one day. The mob will get bored and disperse; then we’ll get bored and tune out.

Let’s not forget, however, how our Christian leaders responded during this crisis. Remember the blasphemous editorial from America magazine and that ridiculous statement from Archbishop Gregory. Remember the Episcopalian lady-vicars fuming at President Trump for preventing their churches from being torched.

These “protests” are not about racial justice. They never were. They’re about a nation that has become intoxicated by self-righteousness. It’s a recreational riot.

But let’s never forget how our priests and bishops, our mayors and governors, responded to this crisis.

The royalist Jacques Mallet du Pan famously observed that, “Like Saturn, the revolution devours its children.” He was right in 1793, and he’s still right in 2020. Those of our leaders who seek to appease the mob—our very own Robespierres and Expillys—are in for a rude awakening.

Photo credit: AFP via Getty Images


  • Michael Warren Davis

    Michael Warren Davis is a contributing editor of The American Conservative and the author of The Reactionary Mind (Regnery, 2021). He previously served as editor of Crisis Magazine and U.S. editor of the Catholic Herald of London. His next book, After Christendom, will be published by Sophia Institute Press. Follow his Substack newsletter, The Common Man.

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