The Macbeth Papacy
“But wherefore could not I pronounce ‘Amen’?
I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’
Stuck in my throat.” -Macbeth, Act II, scene ii
For one involved in the commission of sin, prayer becomes impossible. We cannot at the same time turn away from God and face Him. To make any pious utterance while doing evil requires a hardened heart. And false prayer – that to which the heart is not joined – mocks God and all that is holy. When it is offered publicly, it is scandal.
After Macbeth has murdered the king, he hears one of the grooms say, “God bless us” and the other reply, “Amen.” To his horror, he discovers that he cannot say “Amen.” It is then, when prayer sticks in his throat, that he comes face to face with his sin. He can no longer pray, for he remains immersed in evil. He regrets it but does not renounce his evil and repent. He has cut himself off from prayer, from God. He feels the terrible nature of this separation, but he remains more inclined to the bad counsel of his wife than the good counsel of his conscience. The longer he delays repentance, the more impossible it appears to him. He grows accustomed to living a lie, and heaps lie upon lie until the truth becomes the dreaded enemy that must be murdered whenever it raises its head.
So long as Macbeth is horrified by his inability to say “Amen,” there is hope that he may repent. Conscience is yet alive in him. But when he becomes accustomed to dissimulation, hope recedes, as does the joy of life, which is founded in the love of truth. “Amen” no longer sticks in his throat. It becomes, like all other words, emptied of meaning. What he says and what he does no longer correspond and words are mere counters in a game of deception. Existence itself seems no more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
We have reached a point in Western culture when we hear a ceaseless babble of pious rhetoric from public officials and Church leaders, and no one any longer believes it: not those mouthing it, nor those to whom it is directed. But is it any longer directed at anyone? Is it not just a wave of sound rolling into the void? Words have become dead things, the corpses of the truth, embalmed platitudes? And whether offered by Pope or potentate, they evoke the same tired disgust. If the ennui such words induce were not so overpowering, we might yell, “Shut up! Go away! Take whatever power and money and trust you’ve stolen from us and leave us alone now!”
But we are exhausted. And the moribund routine continues “to the last syllable of recorded time,” or so it would seem. And we feel as though we are crawling about inside the carcass of a culture that died and was left unburied. Some parts are more putrefied than others, but decay is everywhere. We see and hear our leaders making useless speeches, as though they mattered, as though anyone were any longer interested. And the self-important commentators add their inflated blather to the mix in an attempt to get us excited. We are then genuinely treated to a “tale told by an idiot” and there are yet some idiots who are moved by it, but they are fewer all the time. Language itself appears to be dying: the logos on its last legs.
This death of language comes about by the abuse of words: they are no longer used to express truth but to manipulate. The ancient Greek sophists believed that there was no absolute truth and that manipulation was the proper function of language: words are the tools by which the cleverest among us obtain what they want at the expense of others. Socrates was ever at war with this abuse of language, forcing those around him to confront the exact meaning of what they were saying – and doing. He was given poison to silence him.
Our Lord counseled us to let our speech be “yes, yes, and no, no.” He told us that beyond clear affirmation or denial lies the realm of demons – “all else comes from the evil one.” Now, there are complex situations that cannot be expressed in simple words, but these have to do with trying to discern causes that are not immediately evident or comprehensible. There is much that remains beyond the knowledge of the senses and our reasoning based upon that knowledge. But there likewise exists much in our experience which can be expressed clearly, if one has a will to speak the evident truth. Such a will is absent in most of our leaders, including – one might even say, especially – in our Church leaders. Why?
Because “Amen” – the true Amen that rises in the pure heart – can no longer be pronounced by them. Have we, at any time, heard a frank admission from the Pope and the bishops that the Catholic clergy has been corrupted by homosexuals? Have we, at any time, witnessed a sincere attempt to remedy the situation? How could we, when the situation is yet to be acknowledged?
The Pope and many bishops have instead chosen the path of Macbeth: they persist in protecting the profound evil eating away at the core of the Church while making empty speeches and pointless gestures. If they themselves are not guilty of sodomy or sexual abuse, they either condone it or cover up for it. Even at this stage in the worldwide scandal of homosexual predation by the Catholic clergy, Cardinal Cupich has what might be characterized as either the boldness or the stupidity to say that there is no link between homosexuality and the abuse of minors by priests. He may be, as are many powerful people, so insulated by yes-men that he actually believes the rest of the world will accept whatever he says and not challenge it.
And, as with Cupich, so with many other prelates, there is an implicit, if not an explicit, exoneration of sodomy among adults. The denial is that homosexuality carries with it an attraction to young men, some of whom may not have reached the age of legal consent. Cases where such abuse of minors has occurred should then be regarded as an aberration of “normal” homosexual attraction. This is, in effect, what Cupich is saying.
There is something majorly annoying about even having to notice Cupich. This delicate little man, parsing his words as though he were a high school debater defining his terms, is so puerile, so removed from reality, that to give him any consideration diminishes one’s dignity and puts one in danger of entering the fantasy world in which he lives. This is the world of the sophist in which words are not used to speak the truth, but to score points in some imagined competition judged by media pundits.
The Pope, Cupich and other prelates know that so long as they speak about climate change and open borders and bash ordinary people as ignorant and bigoted the press will stand behind them, blessing them, so to speak. They seem to believe that media approval is something they need and should seek. In this, they are like other people at the tables of power, intent upon controlling what people think about and talk about through collaboration with media.
But to keep the media in their camp when it comes to homosexuality presents a complication. The complication rests squarely on the Church’s immemorial condemnation of homosexual sin. It is not that the Church has separated sodomy among consenting adults from the abuse of minors as Cupich has attempted to do. The Church has called sodomy a sin the cries to Heaven for vengeance, without regard to laws regulating the age of consent. This is Cupich’s problem. It is the Pope’s problem: how to get around this without seeming to reject or contradict defined and biblically rooted moral doctrine.
Perhaps, the God of Surprises will come to their rescue: Surprise! Sodomy is no longer a sin! Perhaps sodomy, like adultery, will be regarded as the most generous response one can give to God in the “concrete circumstances” of one’s life and, therefore, sodomy will be what God wills for you. The Amoris Laetitia solution may be applied. Of course, many Catholics have been assimilated by the larger culture and regard the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage (should they even know it) as a cultural relic. Morals, like everything else, evolve, in the Church of What’s Happening Now.
The leaders of the Catholic Church reached the Rubicon where they either had to remain with immemorial teaching or cross into the land where satan rules. They crossed over, not as an invading army but as a willing ally. Where does this leave us? If we have not followed them into the new Sodom, we are left on the opposite shore, a decimated band, mostly leaderless. We are mocked by the one who is supposed to love and strengthen us. The Pope calls us names: hypocrites, pharisees, neo-Pelagians, rigorists, doctors of the law, etc. The father has turned against his children who will not follow him into corruption.
We are seeing the deaths of some of the corrupt wreckers of the Church, such as Cardinal Daneels, and the fall of others, such as former Cardinal McCarrick. Bishops and even cardinals face criminal charges. Some have been convicted. More convictions will doubtless follow. We are hearing hollow rhetoric from the Pope and his Synods, whose real purpose is often the opposite from the one avowed. We might take some comfort in the advanced age of the most militant of the Vatican II modernists and be tempted to think that the solution to the current corruption lies in time and mortality. But who will take the place of Daneels and McCarrick? The very people they groomed to succeed them. Who will succeed Francis? Another, younger Francis?
When an institution becomes too corrupt to be salvaged, it must be given over to the forces of dissolution inherent in that corruption. The Church is not Francis, or McCarrick or Cupich. It is not the College of Cardinals or a rigged Synod or a politically correct bishops’ conference. It is the Bride of Christ, pure and beautiful.
After the Wedding of Cana, Our Lord went to Jerusalem. There, at the entrance to the Temple, he found sellers of livestock and money-changers: people looking to profit from the piety of those who came to worship God. He cast them out. The Temple remained, purified of their presence. So will all who corrupt the Church be cast out, and the Church will remain, purified of their presence. Meanwhile, we must be content to be without leaders, without the support of the institutional structure. This will strengthen us spiritually and this is doubtless part of the good that God will draw out of this seemingly terrible time. We can only see so far, but we can know what is eternally true. Amen.