The Gospel of Self-hatred
I loved my father, and he had faults. As a child, I only dimly perceived his shortcomings. As an adult, I saw them more clearly and recognized how I imitated them. But I also saw that much of the goodness of which I was capable also grew from the seeds he had planted in me. Maturity is the growth of moral discrimination: the ability to see in others the effects of virtue and vice and to encourage in ourselves the imitation of virtue until it becomes our nature, i.e. our chosen will.
I never hated my father for his moral failures, although I came to hate their evil consequences: the lessening of love and trust. I never saw myself as superior to him, judging him, rejecting him as unworthy of my love. He was struggling to be a good man, to walk upright in truth, but he was burdened with fallen nature, which manifests as selfishness: putting one’s own immediate gratification, whether it be physical or emotional, above the good of another. Selfishness dehumanizes others and, in the end, dehumanizes us. It blocks the flow of grace and truth into our souls and destroys empathy.
Our Lord said He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This means that there is a potential for spiritual growth in us; that we can grow toward a fuller life of love. It also means that we are not perfect; we are a work in progress. Christ loves us in our imperfections. And as He gave one command, over and over again, to His apostles – that they should love one another as He loved them – so we must love one another in our imperfections.
To withhold our love from others until they are perfect in our judgment is to condemn ourselves to a life of loneliness and bitterness. It is to arrogate to ourselves a superiority we do not by nature possess. The judgment with which we judge others will also become the standard by which we judge ourselves, if only unconsciously, and a self-hatred will take hold of us, poisoning our hearts.
What we are witnessing in our time is the growth of self-hatred in the West. In America, the Left angrily denounces the founders of this country for their imperfections, which they assume they themselves have risen above. Because the nation was built by men who had moral failings the nation must be considered an evil growth to be uprooted and all of its institutions destroyed or recast. The Founding Fathers must be despised and dishonored; their statues must be torn down; their very names be regarded as bywords for evil.
This process of reviling our fathers arose with great force in the 1960s and it has been gathering momentum for more than half a century. In the Church, it took shape in Vatican II and its aftermath. The progressives in the Church regard the Church’s history as an indictment: it is but a long list of Her crimes. A clean break with this discredited past was the aim of the Vatican II revolutionaries. They wanted to start anew, on leveled ground. This is still the dream of the octogenarian veterans of the revolution, including the current pontiff.
To understand Pope Francis, one must understand that he despises the Church as it has persisted in history. His mission is to continue the work of dismantling its structures so that something new, something enlightened by the insights of modernity can be erected in its place. The synods that he orchestrates are the mechanism of demolition, the wrecking ball that he sets in motion. Each synod is followed by a papal exhortation of some kind which further undermines the doctrinal and institutional structure of the Church.
But what is it, precisely, that Francis wants to put in the place of the historical Church? What is it that represents the Gospel as he understands it? In a word: Marxism. The essence of Marxism is economic equality. It locates the good of man in the material resources he can enjoy and regards it as an injustice that anyone should possess more of these resources than another. The perfect society for Marxism is the so-called classless society: a world of perfect sharing, of perfect fraternal charity. But this perfection can only be accomplished through the destruction of all that stands in its path, so a great deal of social upheaval and not a little blood-letting are prerequisites for the perfect peace that is to come. When the Marxist utopia becomes the motive force of a nation, mass murder and totalitarian tyranny always follow. Think of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot.
But notice that the ostensible purpose of Marxism is the realization of justice and fraternity. This allows those who want to effect a marriage between Marxism and Christianity to do so in the name of the Gospel. This is why the Pope talks about the “preferential option for the poor,” which is code in Liberation Theology for the proletariat. The proletariat must be roused to cast off the yoke of the oppressor and claim the rights, i.e. the material goods, that should be shared equally. When Marxism is mixed with the Gospel a mess is made. But the Pope likes messes, as he encouraged the young to “make a mess” in one of his visits to South America.
The Marxist Gospel regards the traditional Church and its teachings as the enemy of the people, i.e. the proletariat. Like the bloated bourgeoisie of the capitalist societies, the traditionalists are seen as interested only in preserving their privilege, their spiritual hegemony. The traditional Church enslaved the masses and served the parasites who fed off the poor. Such, in broad outline, is the vision that animates the Liberation Theology that Pope Francis champions, often in disguised manner, mixing in bits of orthodoxy with revolutionary rhetoric.
We are at a seeming crossroads in our cultural history. In religion and politics there are those who hate their own ancestry, which is tantamount to self-hatred. They want to clear away the past by discrediting all that went before them. This means destroying the bedrock of Western civilization: Christianity. The battle rages all around us, both within and without the Church. We have to realize what is happening if we are to fight on the right side.
We should not confuse ourselves by thinking that a person who holds an office in the Church shares our Faith and then try to reconcile his attacks on Tradition as some sort of internal criticism. We cannot fight the enemy unless we know the enemy. It is time we took St. Paul’s warning as the words we must live by: “But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” – Galatians, 1:8.