Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Little Bit of Flannery ... and Fascism

Yesterday I wound up reading a long conversation about the new liturgy in a forum where one would not normally find such a thing. Among other things, there was an extremely angry person who continually called the pope a fascist and, as far as I could gather, seemed to feel that in stating her opinion in the most angry and forceful way possible, she was following in the steps of those who helped the Church stay on course. No amount of conversation, whether gentle or spirited (and there were both sorts) was enough to shake her set beliefs.

I was left to my own thoughts on whose steps she felt she was following and, therefore, my thoughts turned to the great saints who have been instrumental in changing the Church in the past. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Teresa of Avila are those who always come to my mind, although I never can think of examples where they were not obedient and respectful as well as continually trying to effect change. Not being educated extensively in their writings, I could be wrong, of course.

Most mystifying of all to me was the repeated appellation of Pope Benedict as a "fascist." I don't really understand what that means and I surely don't understand why it would be applied to him. It was, therefore, with delight that this morning I read in The Habit of Being, Flannery's own response to being called a fascist because she was Catholic.
To "A."6 september 55

I looked in my Webster's and see it is 1948, so you are five years ahead of me in your vocabulary and I'll have to concede you the word. But I can't concede that I'm a fascist. The thought is probably more repugnant to me than to you, as I see it as an offense against the body of Christ. I am wondering why you convict me of believing in the use of force? It must be because you connect the Church with a belief in the use of force; but the Church is a mystical body which cannot, does not, believe in the use of force (in the sense of forcing conscience, denying the rights of conscience, etc.). I know all her hair-raising history, of course, but principle must be separated from policy Policy and politics generally go contrary to principle. I in principle do not believe in the use of force, but I might well find myself using it, in which case I would have to convict myself of sin. I believe and the Church teaches that God is as present in the idiot boy as in the genius. ...
Whether or not this has any application to that pitifully angry person's labeling of the pope is anybody's guess. But I liked what Flannery said anyway.


  1. "Fascist" now usually translates as "anyone who doesn't indulge me, me, me."

    The poor soul needs a good, healthy dose of Don Camillo.

  2. I LOVE Don Camillo. There is no way we can't smile at ourselves after seeing Don Camillo and the town mayor go at it. :-)