One of the many maladies afflicting the Church since Vatican II has been neo-pacifism. Violence is denounced as if it is the problem rather than a manifestation of conflicts that arise from many different causes. That is why while Jihadis compile an impressive body toll, the reaction of the leaders of the Catholic Church is to cluck non-violence at all and sundry as if that is a reaction that solves anything. Traditionally the Church has often taken a much more robust attitude towards combating evil, not shying away from armed force when necessary. That tradition in the Church is as dead as full pews at Mass and full confessionals prior to Mass. Oakes Spalding at Mahound’s Paradise takes Bishop Barron to task for his embrace of non-violence in the wake of the Paris Massacres:
Now, anyone familiar with Catholic history or Biblical exegesis would realize that Barron’s description of the traditional Christian response to violence and war–while superficially plausible to those with, say, a Cliff Notes exposure to the Bible–is false. The tradition is not pacifist or even “non-violent” when it comes to resisting aggression. In a sense Barron is sketching out a new interpretation of Christian tradition (after 2,000 years)–some sort of out of context melding of the thoughts of the quasi-Baptist Martin Luther King and the quasi-Hindu Mahatma Gandhi (as Mullarkey earlier suggested). In addition casually interchanging the concepts of sin, violence and “dysfunction” (whatever that is) is dangerously misleading, even (dare I say it) heretical.
But let’s leave those precise considerations aside and instead ask these questions: are Bishop Barron’s views on Christianity and violence attractive? Are they persuasive? Do they make, say, a non-Catholic want to become a Catholic? After all, presumably we want to reverse that 6.5:1 statistic. Don’t we?
Bishop Barron wants to be liked by the secular world. Indeed, I would say that is the driving force behind his own apparent intellectual dysfunctions. And if you put it to him politely, I think he might even sort of agree. “But that’s how you evangelize,” you can imagine him saying. “Talk to them on their own terms, without finger wagging.”
Of course, many non-Catholics will applaud. Finally (so goes the response of the applauders), here’s a Catholic who admits it’s all a bit too much to fight for the Catholic faith (or even to non-physically defend it). See, in doing so, he’s admitting what we have said all along, that much of what the Catholic Church has stood for and done over the last 2,000 years has been wrong.
They will applaud. But they won’t become converts. They will patronize Bishop Barron as they would the dim Anglican vicar. But in the end they won’t take him seriously.
If this is evangelism, it’s for those who have an IQ below 80.
Christ took on violence and swallowed it up with his mercy.
If that’s the best argument for Christianity, then Christianity is obviously false. There’s at least as much violence in the world now as there was 2,000 years ago. Christ didn’t vanquish it. Unless the Bishop means, metaphorically or whatever or, you know, in some deeper sense. If that’s the case, then applause. Finally (according to the applauders) Catholicism has been denuded into just another silly and harmless religious affectation.
(Correct answer: Christ vanquished sin, or at least the eternal consequences of sin for those who honestly repent and ask Him to forgive them.)
Respond to violence with non-violence. Violence tends not to work.
Now, again, this is calculated to get applause. But it is also imbecilic. And as much as some will say they believe it, almost no one actually does. Tell it, by the way, to the Holocaust survivors who were liberated by troops and tanks, not Buddhist floral arrangements. I suppose it might get some of the New Age crowd. Then again, why should the New Age crowd become Catholic when they’re already getting their oatmeal somewhere else?