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Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Unperceived Ideol. Transship. and Dial.

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B. A Point of Apathy

 

This method also presupposes a point of apathy or indifference symmetrical to the point of impressionability in those to whom it will be applied.

* Regarding social questions, the symmetrical point can be, for example:

insensitivity to injustices no less notorious or numerous than those of certain rightly detested privileges. To illustrate, we here recall the most serious and widespread injustices caused by the gradual but systematic grinding away of the rights of persons, families, social groups, and regions, brought about by the massification of contemporary societies (or, as Pius XII put it in his celebrated Christmas Radio Message of 1944, by the transformation of people into masses, cf. Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, Vol. VI, p. 239).

This massification can happen by the transformation of customs, by the action of socialist laws that are becoming more numerous in noncommunist countries, or by the implantation of the so‑called dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus, not only legitimate and invaluable personal, familiar, or regional peculiarities are mercilessly destroyed, but also harmonious, organic, cultural or social inequalities based on just motives of the intellectual, patrimonial, or moral order are sacrificed to what many call "socialization;"

insensitivity to the consideration that, if a social revolution is a very grave evil, it is usually so above all because of unjust and pernicious objectives. Nothing is more absurd than wanting to avoid the revolution at any price, making the revolution therefore from top to bottom and thereby reaching precisely the destructive and unjust objectives one was trying to avoid.

In other words, it is absurd to bring about from the top, through the initiative of the natural defenders of order, the "reforms" communism would make from the bottom since this would mean, for the whole social body, "propter vitam, vivendi perdere causas" ‑ to lose the reasons for living for the sake of life itself (Juvenal, Sat. VIII, 84).

Insensitivity to the fact that, if one should do everything possible against hunger and sicknessconsidered here as social evils ‑ in no way should one try to do the impossible, the utopian, since this would only sooner or later aggravate the very same evils one desires to vanquish. In many instances, profound and lasting solutions for this kind of social evil are slow. This does not mean that one should not hasten to apply them. But it is necessary to apply these solutions with redoubled concern in order to prevent the natural delay of the cure from being added to the censurable slow‑down resulting from our negligence. But one must frequently give up the impatient desire for immediate results. This desire, in effect, exposes us to the risk of preferring, rather than authentic solutions, the violent panaceas extolled by demagogy and effective only in appearance.

 

* As far as ideological problems are concerned, the symmetrical points can be:

Insensitivity to the risks of intemperate apostolic zeal. Since knowing the true Religion is the greatest happiness, those who do not know it are certainly to be greatly pitied. And those who use all means to bring our separated brethren to the unity of the Faith are to be praised. Therefore, we would run a serious risk if any action to this end were wanting on our part because of indifference or ignorance. However, we must not be insensitive to possible risks from the other side, that is, from the disorderly ardor of the apostle and from the naturalistic character of his methods. Disorderly zeal and naturalism can inspire the use of illegitimate techniques to attract nonCatholics, techniques such as confused terminology, implicit or explicit doctrinal concessions, etc.

Considering only the apostolic efficiency of these illegitimate ruses, we should point out that the keenest and most consistent minds among our separated brethren observe them carefully. The best and most approachable nonCatholics are the very ones who most carefully watch us in order to judge us according to our sincerity and consistence in the faith we profess. To see that we confide more in morally doubtful techniques than in the supernatural in our eagerness to obtain conversions can only cause them sadness and turn them away. We should not be insensitive, then, to these many risks.

Finally, and above all, we cannot be indifferent to the risk of exposing our own Catholic brethren to doubts about their faith, persuading them ‑ under the guise of peaceful coexistence with our separated brethren ‑ to attend conferences and lectures, and to read books or participate in meetings in which heresy, schism, atheism, or moral corruption might enter their souls.11 We should be even more vigilant about the preservation of Catholics than about the conversion of infidels, since in the hierarchy of the love of neighbor, no one deserves more love than the brother who participates in the same faith, as Saint Paul says: "Then while there is time, let us do good to everyone, but principally to our brothers in the faith" (Gal. 6:10);

Insensitivity to the illicitness of renouncing some supreme and undeniable principles, and of accepting some Marxist errors, to prevent a total Marxist victory.

The victory of Marxism is undoubtedly the cause of catastrophic misfortunes. But our worst risk is not to be conquered by it in the military or political fields, but to kneel before the conqueror. To accept a modus vivendi that might mean renouncing prin ciples to avoid the fatal consequences of our defeat, to renounce expressly or tacitly the institution of private property, for example, in order to obtain freedom of worship (cf. The Church and the Communist State: The Impossible Coexistence, in Crusade, Vol. VI, JulyOct. 1976) ‑ is a thousand times more lamentable than suffering the persecution brought on by a noble and virtuously faithful position on orthodoxy.

- Insensitivity to the risk of communism dominating the world before the silence and inertia of Christians. If the communists brutally present us with the alternative of giving up the battle against their errors or accepting the risk of war, they implicitly require us to choose between the fulfillment of our duty as Christians or real apostasy. In that case, we must say like St. Peter that, whatever the cost, "It is more important to obey God than men" (Acts, 5:29).

 




11 This risk was not absent from the preoccupations of Vatican Council II, which determined that the task of better understanding the thinking of our "separated brethren" and of showing them our faith in the most efficient manner, above all through meetings in which theological matters might be discussed, does no rest on just any Catholics, but on "truly competent persons," under the vigilance of the bishops (cf. "Decreto Conciliar de Ecumenismo," November 21, 1964, no. 9AAS, LVII 1, p. 98). Clearly, "truly competent persons" is to be understood as those who have not only sufficient study to enable them to go unscathed by the sophisms of heresy, but who are also sufficiently firm in the theological virtue of Faith.






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