April 06, 2005

Assessment recalled

From a 1982 Anthony Burgess book review I happened to come across today while looking for something else:

To the disappointment of a great number of the faithful, the new pontificate has made no concessions at all to the forces of alleged progress: immactulate contraceptives for the populace, infanticide in ventro, women priests, the abolition of hell are not merely not on the papal agenda but have been decisively rejected. John Paul, who once had Auschwitz in his diocese, sees no difference between abortion and the Final Solution. For those who wish for copulation without population, he affirms that the two go together, but there is always the Malthusian way out -- self-control. The unrepentant sinner is shut away from God for ever but he has to face public judgment in his rearisen flesh first. There has been absolutely no change in fundamental doctrine, and I for one do not see how there ever could have been. If you can accept papal premises you will find no fault in his logic. Masses in Scowse with pop singers may look like progress (and one feels that if John Paul had his way we'd be back to Latin tomorrow), but the truth is the truth and progreass is a heretical word.

I'm struck, first of all, by the vivacity of Burgess's style, and secondly, that there's not a phrase there, or in the whole piece, that misses the mark.

Posted by Ideofact at April 6, 2005 11:20 PM

I am reminded of another influential Catholic of the previous century. G.K. Chesterton was a layman, but a prodigious author.

In several places, he commented on the strength of the Catholic faith. All the other fads of the first Century--from the Manichees to the Stoics--crumbled and fell apart eventually. The Church itself survived much longer, though it has sometimes appeared to be diminishing and dying. But then a surprise happens--a man of strong devotion and pure faith shows up, and rejuvenates the faithful to new levels of devotion.

One example would be St. Patrick of Ireland. Another might be St. Francis of Assisi.

In our own time, Theresa of Calcutta and John Paul II seem to have taken this role.

The description you quote makes this impression stronger in my mind.

Posted by: talon karrde at April 11, 2005 09:43 AM