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Popestalgia: Pining for the Days of John Paul II

the pope smiles and waves
Pope John Paul II in 1987

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz By Friday, 16 October 2020 11:39 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

I miss John Paul II, whose centennial of birth we have been celebrating this year and whose anniversary of the elevation to the Throne of Peter is coming up shortly. In these trying times I miss his leadership, vision, and, in particular, his call: "Fear Not!"

As a matter of fact, for similar reasons, I also miss Ronald Reagan. Back in the 1990s in California I saw here and there a bumper sticker, which became my favorite: "Remember when America had a real President?" And there was a picture of Reagan next to it.

Those two giants set the pace of the anti-Communist crusade in the 1980s which resulted in the implosion of the Soviet Union. Alas, there was no sustained follow-up, so we failed to capitalize on the victory to the detriment of the West, America, and the Intermarium, lands between the Black, Baltic, and Adriatic seas. The most obvious manifestation of evil, Soviet Communism, is no more.

Unfortunately, we left China alone, nay, we nourished her to our peril. Now, it waxes supreme, strutting its system as a Chinese manifestation of Lenin's New Economic Policy in tune with Mao's Marxist dialectics as interpreted by late Deng Xiaoping, channeled by the current Bejing Supremo, Xi Jinping.

We also looked the other way (or, in some cases, joined in) when the Communists in Central and Eastern Europe transformed themselves into post-Communists, liberals, and assorted progressives in an unparallel orgy of embezzlement which has allowed them to remain in power financially. Equally crucial was the post-Communist ability to ape America's liberals and leftists by adopting their ideological solutions in culture.

However, most dramatically we let our U.S. domestic Marxists in academia and media off scot free to corrupt our kids and grandkids. The results are disastrous. The youngest generation apparently rejects America and its values. These nefarious trends migrate elsewhere to see the U.S. and its trademark freedom perverted and undercut in the West and the Three Seas region.

To add insult to injury, whether in America or the Intermarium, the faithful cannot count on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to deliver a message of leadership appropriate to the stupendous challenges facing us now. There is no equivalent of moral clarity we used to hear from John Paul II anymore.

For a few years now, when, more often than not, anything about the Holy See comes up, I think about a T-shirt I should get for myself: "Remember when Rome had a real Pope?" – emblazoned with St. John Paul II's likeness.

Maybe it is too mean, but it clearly reflects the exasperation with the current top resident of the Vatican. OK. So the verdict is still a village funny guy? Francis is ambivalent at best, or scary in the implication of his words and acts at worst.

Take his last encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (We are All Brothers), for example. I am glad the current Pope invoked human dignity, equality of races, and Christian universalism. His eloquent cry for universal victory of love should ring in all ears.

But does this have to entail his endorsement of "open borders"? What about national sovereignty? Does it not sustain and guard human diversity? What about that critique of capitalism? Has the coronavirus pandemic exposed it as worthless as the Pope would have it? Or was it government intervention, population sequestration, and almost total cessation of economic activity that prevented the proper functioning of free markets?

If capitalism is not the right kind of globalism for Pope Francis, what is going to feed the teeming masses he champions? Socialism? Socialism specializes in starving the masses, and not sustaining them. Also, socialism – whether national or international – is responsible for at least 200 million dead, and more destitute and miserable. Indeed, the historical record of socialism makes a mockery of the Pontiff's postulate to eliminate the death penalty.

And I nearly choked when I read about "the throwaway society" (Wegwerfgesellschaft). A testimony to Jorge Mario Bergoglio's German education, the term is often rendered as Wegwerfbeschmutzungsgesellschaft – a throw away earth befouling society – by the Greens. So we get an encyclical that's globalist and Green, but anti-capitalist and anti-sovereign.

Perhaps Francis means that consumerism for its own sake is evil and selfish, which it is; but national sovereignty sure beats any global governance, especially a socialist one, anytime. Besides, as Jesus said about universalism, "my Kingdom is not of this world." So no kind of globalism is perfect; there is just a lesser evil, hence capitalism, rather than socialism. And in the Old Testament we see God making tribes and nations; and not the United Nations. In fact, he destroyed its prototype, when he confused the tongues and cast down the Tower of Babel. Can't Fratelli Tutti be also tutte le nazioni (all nations)?

OK. So the present Pope wants to be one with his famous namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. But the current successor to the Throne of St. Peter sounds more like Greta Thunberg, the left's favorite Swedish truant, than the medieval saint of religious extasy.

But, perhaps, we should not take Francis too seriously; we should wait him out. Remembering John Paul II and emulating him should help. And so should humor, which was Ronald Reagan's forte.

I called a friend in Rome, who happens to be a priest. To my query about how things were, he deadpanned: "Italy is like in medieval times. We have two popes and a plague." Call it the coronavirus sense of humor. And "Fear not!"

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.

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I miss John Paul II, whose centennial of birth we have been celebrating this year and whose anniversary of the elevation to the Throne of Peter is coming up shortly.
Friday, 16 October 2020 11:39 AM
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