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Friday, May 11, 2018

Russia, Fatima, and the Future of Christianity

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Putin attends the Easter service Putin attends the Easter service

This year and last celebrate three epochal hundredth anniversaries marking our modern age: November 11, 1918, will mark the end of World War I. But the other two are, in many ways, far more important in significance and meaning for us today. During the period May 13 to October 13, 1917, Our Blessed Lady appeared to the children at Fatima, Portugal. Later that year, on Tuesday, November 7, 1917 a much more ominous event occurred: the Bolshevik Revolution, when the Soviet Communists took possession of the Russian state and began their real efforts at world conquest.

Already perhaps too much has been written about the Russian Revolution in the history of the bloody 20th century. The most comprehensive study of Communism and its criminally tragic effects is arguably the incredible volume, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror,Repression (1997, edited by Stephane Courtois, with a group of international scholars). Therein approximately 100 million deaths are documented and attributed to the worldwide Communist bacillus. And there are other solid and impressive studies, including works by Stefan Possony (Lenin: The Compulsive Revolutionary), Robert Conquest (The Great Terror), Simon Montefiore (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar), not to mention the more personal accounts of experiences with and under Communism, including Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, the collection The God that Failed (by several prominent ex-Communists), George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, and, certainly more riveting and damning, the various works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

And in the United States certainly the most stunning and critical personal account remains Whittaker Chamber’s eloquent Witness, a volume that continues to thoroughly irritate the American Left which remains totally wrapped in the sullen stubborn embrace of an historical philo-communism. One only need recall the bald-faced Soviet propaganda of New York Times writer, Walter Duranty, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for journalism, for his glorification of the Stalinist state, a template that continued even after the brutal occupation of Eastern Europe, the 1948-1949 Berlin blockade, and the suppression of popular movements in East Germany and Hungary (1956). Voices in the West and America that raised the specter of Communist infiltration here not only into our politics, but into our religion and culture, our entertainment and our educational establishment, were shouted down as “right wing extremists” who did not respect “free speech” and who “looked for Commies under every bed,” or, more recently, as “racists” and “fascists.”

The late Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Catholic from Wisconsin, was pilloried and basically had his character assassinated as a “drunken and thuggish right wing extremist” who “made up facts” and used his Senate position to badger and batter innocent victims of his “rabid anti-Communism.” Yet, as we know now from the release of the revelatory Venona Transcripts (documenting Communist espionage in the United States) and the opening of the old Soviet archives, not to mention such blockbuster studies as Professor Arthur Herman’s Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator, and M. Stanton Evans’ Blacklisted by History, McCarthy was essentially correct in  his understanding of the continuous, long-range infiltration and subversion of American institutions. It was even worse than he imagined….

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What he did not and could not foresee were the ideological vicissitudes of post-Communist Marxism and its ironic triumph in the West, at almost the same time it was dying an ignominious death in Russia and the former Soviet satellite states in the East. Just as the Stalinist brand and its Moscow-based septuagenarian commissars, once proudly reviewing Red military might from their perches in the Kremlin, disappeared into the dustbin of history after the failure of the final desperate KGB-attempted coup in August 1991, the once-exiled and persecuted descendants of Leon Trotsky staged a seemingly miraculous rebirth—but it was a rebirth in the West, a rebirth that had been slowly and surely cultivated and solidified in the minds of thousands of educators and artists over decades [on this see Dr.Paul Gottfried’s excellent study, The Strange Death of Marxism].

In so many ways, superficially, it did not resemble the stodgy imagery of the creaky and bureaucratic, top-heavy Soviet state. It rejected the innate “conservatism” of Soviet Communism and the remarkably old-fashioned “morality” coming from Moscow (e.g., persecution of homosexuals, insistence on traditional marriage, etc.).  It was zealously internationalist; it understood the insights of earlier Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs, that the West could not be defeated by military confrontation, but rather must be so through a cultural “long-march” through its institutions, through its churches, through its schools and universities, through its entertainment industry and media, and, most critically, through the transmogrification of its very language and accepted manner of communication. To accomplish these objectives was, in effect, to win the seventy-year-old struggle, a victory that Soviet Communism had been unable to achieve.

Arguably, one of the most significant victories of this subversive process came with the holding of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, at which the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre identified several major “time bombs” buried in some of the equivocal language and resulting praxis following the council (and circulating for years previously just below the surface in countries like France and Germany; cf. Ralph Wiltgen, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber). The Church since the 19th century had been the most dedicated and zealous opponent of Marxism and one of the chief obstacles to its eventual success. Blunting that voice was critical for Marxist success.

Politically, in a fascinating twist of history, the two major supposedly intellectual antipodes in American society—the openly cultural Marxist Left, with their media and political minions, and the Neoconservatives, with their media and political minions, despite their continuous shadow boxing and bickering over Obamacare, taxes, trade, and civil rights--both owe their profound origins more to that man bludgeoned to death on Stalin’s orders in Mexico City in 1940, Leon Trotsky, than to either Joe Stalin or Thomas Jefferson.

Both have joined in what at first appeared an incongruous “alliance” in manifesting a virulent hatred of post-Soviet, post-Communist Russia, and in particular, towards its president Vladimir Putin.

But is it really that incongruous?

Much of the current hatred for Russia and its president, twenty-seven years after the collapse of Communism, may be attributed to what post-1991 Russia has become. Certainly, it is no model or copy of the United States or any of the Western European EU states—and that is a major part of the problem: Russia’s conspicuous unwillingness to submit to the political and economic tutelage—and control—of Bruxelles and Wall Street and the managers along the Potomac.

A much larger issue—and an issue fully realized by both the American Left and the pseudo-Right Neoconservatives—is the direction culturally and religiously in which Putin’s Russia—and other Eastern Europe nations like Poland and Hungary—seem headed. It is not just the news, as reported for instance by Franklin Graham and other conservative Christians, that post-Communist Russia has experienced a revival of traditional Christianity and opened 28,000 new churches since 1991 (plus restoring hundreds closed by the Reds); it is not just the fact that Russia has criminalized homosexual proselytization among Russian youth and has enacted laws favoring the nuclear family (making same sex marriage illegal); it is not just the fact that the Russian Duma has passed one of the strongest anti-abortion laws of any European state; it is not just the fact that the Russian Ministry of Culture has sponsored dozens of blockbuster anti-Communist and pro-traditional Christian films; it is not just the fact that Russia has kicked George Soros’s subversive organizations out of the country.

russian orthodoxyA new poll by The Levada Research Center reveals that the number of Russians who identify as atheists has fallen by 50 percent in just three years; the predominiant religion being Orthodoxy.

No, it is not just any one of these actions or numerous others that have raised the ire of John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Max Boot, in tacit alliance with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and CNN; it is all of them.

And the drowning chorus in the American media is that “Russia is violating ‘human rights’,” that “Putin is a thug and dictator” (despite recent national elections that more than 1,000 independent observers found fair), that “Russia wants to re-establish the Soviet empire” (a complete misquoting of something Putin said several years ago when he commented that the sudden break-up of the old Soviet state was a tragedy economically, ethnically and socially—with millions of ethnic Russians arbitrarily consigned to new countries, and with a total disregard for economic realities—he was not lamenting the fall of the Communist state).

As we look at the anniversary of the establishment of one of the bloodiest regimes in human history and what has happened since its demise, and the curious juxtaposition of American political forces in a “united front” against its successor, Pat Buchanan’s remarkable words may seem apt: “In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?”

During the past year Russian President Vladimir Putin has participated in several formal commemorations of the victims of Communism, dedicating “Walls of Grief” to the memory of millions of lives that perished under that infamy and denouncing Marxism and its crimes (i.e., at Butovo, Sretenskii). He was accompanied on each occasion by leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church which in so many ways became the underground and “martyr” church under seven decades of Communist barbarity.

One such recent visit by Putin was to the newly-reconstructed Sretenskii Monastery in Moscow, built next to what once was the headquarters of the Soviet KGB and NKVD secret police, Lubyanka. The monastery is devoted to the New Martyrs—those thousands of Christians murdered by Bolsheviks following the 1917 revolution. The new church’s decoration reflects this. Around the dome are illustrations of key saints of the Russian Orthodox Church, among whom are Tsar Nicholas II and his family, symbols of suffering at the hands of Bolshevism.

As Professor Paul Robinson describes it:

Behind and above the altar, one can see a depiction of Christ’s crucifixion. But around the cross are not merely the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, but also some more of the New Martyrs. On the far right are a man and his two sons who initially supported the revolution and joined the Red Guards, but who then refused to renounce their Christian faith and were shot. On the left is, among others, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who became a nun after the assassination of her husband Grand Duke Sergei, and who was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. And on the far left is a woman who during the Great Terror brought food and clothes to those detained by the NKVD, until she in turn was arrested and shot… In May of this year, he attended the service at which the church was consecrated. Our guide spoke of Putin as the former head of the FSB, the successor organization to the Soviet secret services who executed the New Martyrs. Our guide stated that by coming to the service and bowing and praying before its altar, Putin in effect repented on behalf of those secret services and asked for forgiveness. There is little doubt in my mind that Putin understood perfectly what his presence symbolized and what message he was sending all across Russia.

No greater contrast and symbolism marks the tremendous changes in Russia since 1991—but it is precisely those changes that so threaten the Western secularist and globalist elites and the Marxist internationalists like George Soros. Russia has become the special target—but why?

A few years back writer Solange Hertz recounted in the pages of THE REMNANT (April 2, 2014) the growing interest in the Apparitions at Fatima and the Messages of Our Lady regarding Russia. Our Lady commanded via Sister Lucia that “ ‘the Holy Father…make, and to order that in union with him and at the same time, all the bishops of the world, make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart,’ promising to convert it because of this day of prayer and worldwide reparation.” The heightened discussion about Fatima not only touches upon the de-Christianization of the West, but on the growing and vibrant rebirth of faith in Russia and what role it might play in the future. Our Blessed Mother, despite seven decades of Communist persecution, is now more central to the faith of the Russian people than ever before.

As Hertz asks:

“When our Lady asked the Pope to consecrate Russia in union with ‘all the bishops of the world’ is there not reason to suspect that she may have been including the schismatic bishops of Orthodoxy, who despite their illegitimacy, are nonetheless valid bishops? Would not their willing participation in such a Consecration in conjunction with the Pope of Rome constitute of itself a healing of the [millenia-old] schism?   Despite its … longstanding disobedience, Russia still has a heart which can be appealed to, and essentially that heart is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Lady who appeared so spectacularly on that nation’s behalf at Fatima.”

On various occasions President Vladimir Putin has indicated that he recognizes the peculiar position that his nation may possibly occupy in what could well be an eventual miracle of faith. Of course, there are considerable, very difficult obstacles, both historical and theological, to overcome, including the age old hostility between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

As quoted by THE REMNANT (March 15, 2014), Putin spoke at the international Valdai Forum (September 2013), and while his words were largely ignored by the Mainstream Media, acute observers wondered what they would mean for the future:

"We can see how many Euro-Atlantic countries are rejecting their roots,the Christian values that form the basis of Western civilization. They are reneging on moral principles and their traditional identity: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They put in place policies that put on equal basis traditional families with LGBT families;faith in God is equal to faith in SatanThis excess of political correctnesshas led to people talking seriously of registering political parties whose aim is topromote pedophilia.

"In many European countries people are embarrassed to talk about their religion.The Christian feast holidays are abolished or called something different; their essence is hidden, as well as their moral foundation. And people are trying aggressively to export this model worldwide.

"I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.What better evidence of this moral crisis than the loss of the ability to reproduce?Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of immigration.

"Without the values in Christianity and other world religions, without moral standards that have formed over thousands of years, people will inevitably lose their human dignity.We consider it natural and right to defend these values. We must respect the right of every minority to be different,but the rights of the majority should not be questioned. At the same time we see attempts tolaunch the standard of a one world governmentand blur the institutions of international law and the national sovereignty model.Such a one world, standardized government does not need sovereign states, it needs vassals. Historically this represents a rejection of our own identity and of theuniversal diversity given by God."

When was the last time we heard any Western leader evoke these topics in this manner? Clearly, even if Putin’s remarks are politically colored, they do indicate that something significant may be going on.

Fatima scholars such as Fr. Nicholas Gruner (see the interview on Youtube with the late John Vennari of Catholic Family News) and the Society of St. Pius X’s journal, The Angelus, have explored these questions (the March-April 2018 issue of The Angelus is largely dedicated to Russia and the faith, especially the essay by Andrew J. Clarendon, “A Star from the East: Dostoevsky and Fatima”).

Can we now paraphrase Pat Buchanan: Who is now the real enemy of the historic traditions and beliefs of the Christian West? “Light from the East?” Perhaps….

Our Lady of Fatima pray for us!


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Last modified on Monday, May 14, 2018
Dr. Boyd D. Cathey

Boyd D. Cathey, a native North Carolinia, received an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow) and served as assistant to conservative author, Dr. Russell Kirk, in Mecosta, Michigan. Recipient of a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship, he completed his doctoral studies at the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. Then, after additional studies in philosophy and theology, he taught in both Connecticut and in Argentina, before returning to the United States. He served as State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives, retiring in 2011. He is the author of various articles and studies published in several different languages about political matters, religion, and culture and the arts.