There is a good explanation for the hatred shown towards the Catholic Church in some circles: this hatred is essentially drawn from a deep rooted fear that the Church speaks to human hearts in a way that the cold theories of so-called “rationalism” never can.

For all of its very many failings, Holy Mother Church can afford us a glimpse of something very much greater than ourselves (I’m not just writing about the glimpse of heaven that the Mass can give us, I am also writing about the very tangible sense of the Church throughout the world uniting a billion people) and understands us as human beings, not as cogs in an ideological machine, a “juche” to use the North Korean term.

We have a modern-day example of this before us – for many of us, within our recent memories – that of the combat between the late Holy Father, Pope John-Paul II, and the communist political system. George Weigel, in his new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, the second part of his biography of Pope Wojtyla reminds us of this struggle, so easy to forget in the light of the dog-days of his papacy and the Augean stable of abuse that the present Holy Father has been left to clear out. A review of Weigel’s book by Mary Eberstadt, writing in the Policy Review gives us a flavour:

There was indeed much that the communists didn’t understand — including that men like the pope and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were more right than wrong about what really makes human beings tick. Nonetheless, the masters in Moscow and Krakow and East Berlin and other tragic wastelands of modern history did get a few pretty big things right. They knew, or at any rate were forced to learn, that an otherworldly pauper in a Roman collar could do more to bring them down than any worldly prince seeking business as usual. They knew that Christian religious belief and practice were on a permanent collision course with totalitarianism, which is why they persecuted it everywhere they could. They understood, in short, that the chief enemies of the state were those who did not believe the state had the authority to call the ultimate moral and political shots.

Traditionalist Catholics have reason for holding mixed feelings towards Pope John-Paul II (Assisi, Piero Marini’s “polyester” Masses, his failure to reverse the rampant disregard for the penal provisions of Canon Law that had started under Paul VI and facilitated the abuse crisis), but in the context of the mortal combat with a terrible evil that the latter stages of the Cold War represented, it is undeniable that God sent us the Pope that the world needed.

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14 Responses to Fear

  1. toadspittle says:

    Hate springs from fear, that is for sure.
    That’s why Catholics, who have nothing to fear, feel no hatred towards others, is it not?

    Maybe it’s just Toad, but in all his 70 years as a Catholic, he has never ever experienced hate or discrimination towards him on that account, either in London or the States (especially the latter.).
    But he now lives in a country where he knows there is still a lot of active hatred towards the Church.
    No doubt people have their reasons. But, the general attitude here ‘on the street’ seems much the same as in Britain, indifference.
    So, the hatred may be ‘relative.’ (The dreaded ‘R’ word!)

    Don’t know that ‘rationalism’ is either hot or cold. Depends I suppose, on who’s doing the rationalising.

    Toad sometimes gets the notion that some folk on CP&S don’t think the Church is ‘totalitarian’ enough, these days.
    He’s probably wrong, of course.

    ..it is undeniable that God sent us the Pope that the world needed.
    ..but unsurprising surely? Doesn’t He do that every time?


  2. joyfulpapist says:

    It seems to me that hatred tends – at least at first – to be directed toward stereotypes and organisations rather than individuals. In order to be violent toward others, we must first see demote them from being human.

    I remember my grandmother (a fervent Anglican, and strongly disapproving of my engagement) saying, after she had met my fiance: ‘He’s very nice, dear. Even if he is a Catholic.’

    I recently read a story about a British woman living in occupied France who was dragged out of bed by German soldiers in the middle of the night, forced into a truck with her small son, and driven several miles to what was clearly to be her place of death. She tried to appeal to the captain of the soldiers. He ignored her completely, except to order her to hurry. She asked him if he had children. She begged him to spare her child. Finally, she was ordered to stand against a bank, and the soldiers were ordered to take aim. At that moment, the child looked up at the clear night sky and said, “Look, Mummy, God is smiling at us.” The captain looked at the child as if for the first time, then ordered his soldiers to lower their rifles, and to get back in the truck. And she and her son were left alone, and alive.

    As a Catholic, I have met with hatred for what people think is my Church (generally, they get the teachings all wrong and hate something that doesn’t exist). But I, personally, have not been hated.


  3. manus2 says:

    Toad, you are a fascinating creature. 70 years a Catholic, so you say? Perhaps I missed you mentioning this before. So you keep us on our toes with a knowing, as well as a kindly, eye.

    As for hate, well my favourite spurious quote is from that pinacle of film culture, “The Vikings”. The wise woman advises a rather excitable Tony Curtis, “Love, … hate … (spits) – these are two horns on the same goat”.

    But we are advised that perfect love should cast out fear, and hence hatred. We all fall rather short on that scale. So we need the saints to astonish us with what is possible.


  4. Brother Burrito says:


    I think you have hit the nub of the problem. “As we forgive those who trespass against us, Father forgive us our trespasses against Thee.”

    Hatred springs from fear, and fear springs from pain. We are surrounded by pain, even if we are buried in pleasure

    The way of the Cross is the journey into pain, a journey with the aim of vanquishing that bastard, and its spawn fear and hatred.

    (I am not advocating masochism, for that is actually a form of pleasure seeking, under perverse form.)

    Asceticism is pain seeking behaviour, with an ultimately holy purpose. It is always strange and foreign to the zeitgeist, which has always been pain avoiding, comfort and pleasure seeking.

    Christ on His Cross is our perfect leader in this crusade into pain. We must learn as we mature, to drop our comfort blankets, our childhood crutches and supports, and follow Him on the Calvary road. If we refuse this vocation, then we become damned by our own cowardice.

    Suffering is best done in company with other sufferers. That’s why we are all here, I suppose.

    Thank you for suffering the reading of this!


  5. toadspittle says:

    “… fear springs from pain.”

    Toad doesn’t quite understand that. It may be so, in some cases,m but what pain induces many white Americans still to hate blacks? What pain made Hitler hate Jews? I suppose one could ask what pain made Satan hate God?

    Some sort of rage, perhaps?

    It all depends what one means by ‘pain,’ maybe?


  6. Brother Burrito says:

    Pain has many flavours. White Americans hate blacks because they pain them somehow-don’t ask me, I am not a white American.

    Hitler hated Jews because he saw them as enemies, and thus they pained him.

    Pain and pleasure are the trade winds for the human soul, and always have been.


  7. manus2 says:


    Yes you’re right. I suppose I was talking about the love/hate human relationship thing, which is quite different. Although Burrito’s pain/pleasure, which he describes as trade winds, were sounding perilously close to the hind legs of the same beast. But in this veritable menagerie (talking Donkeys and Toads – it’s practically Narnia here!) I must be careful talking of beasts lest I offend!


  8. The Raven says:

    But in this veritable menagerie (talking Donkeys and Toads – it’s practically Narnia here!)

    what about the crows? (starting to feel left out!)


  9. manus2 says:

    Can I manage to offer my humblest apologies while saying ‘told you so’ at the same time?


  10. The Raven says:

    Being a little more serious, I was careful to couch my opening paragraph in terms of the hatred shown toward the Church and not towards individual Catholics. I do think that talk of the persecution of Catholics is, for the moment at least, hopelessly overblown. We are certainly the object of some cruel humour, of a type no longer tolerated in relation to other groups, but I have never felt any concern about such things,

    In England, at least, the so-called “brights” stick to being abusive of the Church & Catholicism on t’internet (I doubt that their mums would approve of their attendance at anti-Pope rallies etc), but I don’t think it too great a leap to suspect that the hate might one day cross the line and start being personalised, much in the way that it is in Scotland and Ulster, but I think that we have a long way to travel before we reach that point.


  11. toadspittle says:

    Teresa, would Toad be right in assuming that you are constantly in some sort of pain, or anguish, maybe even rage? Maybe even dangerously close to hate?

    Forgive my gross impertinence if I am wrong.

    I get the something of same feeling about Burro, at times.

    Then you say..
    …the antithesis of “odi et amo”, of which Ovid and Petrarca sang, is a symptom of love-sickness and alas as natural as fever, and the one who loves and hates at the same time can’t be blamed for it.

    …Would seem, to Toad, to open a Pandora’s box of assorted potential horrors.

    But, then he’s only a toad.


  12. toadspittle says:

    “it’s practically Narnia here!”

    Quothes Raven.

    Toad prefers to regard it as a simple old zoo. Probably because he can’t spell ‘cronickles.’


  13. manus2 says:

    You’d no doubt feel differently if Reepicheep had been an amphibian.


  14. afmm says:


    Many thanks to toadspittle for his pertinent remarks. Thanks also to the rest of the contributors. Sorry for such a boring post but wordpress takes some getting used tol


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