When the news came out at the beginning of this past weekend that Pope Francis had arbitrarily removed Joseph Strickland as the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, I was furious. That Pope promotes all sorts of apostates, the apostasy adjacent and other evildoers and stacks the College of Cardinals with them, but takes down probably the most courageous traditional Roman Catholic bishop in the United States.
Now that I’ve calmed down somewhat, I see that we have yet another illustration of what I podcasted about last week — that there are limits to wise tolerance. One reason limits to tolerance are needful is that misguided tolerance can actually enable intolerance. We see that with the huge marches in American and European streets openly spouting virulent antisemitism. These are happening in part because Western countries foolishly tolerated intolerant antisemitic cultures and even allowed millions from these cultures to migrate right on in. Our tolerance imported and enabled toxic intolerance. As Rod Dreher put it yesterday:
In our Western countries, no Jew should ever have to walk the streets afraid of being attacked for being a Jew. For that matter, no Muslim should have to fear being attacked for being Muslim. Yet thanks to mass migration, which has imported the Jew-hating fanaticism of the Muslim world into the heart of the West, this is where we are. That, and thanks to wokeness, a suicidal pseudo-religious ideology that identifies with the “Oppressed” no matter what they actually stand for.
And the leaks from the Nashville Manifesto reveal more directly how deadly wokeness can be. The diary of the Covenant School shooter is is full of woke hate toward Whites and Christians. We’ve tolerated, nay, lavishly funded and kowtowed to the woke, and, instead of reciprocated tolerance, we are only beginning to bear the toxic and deadly fruit of that.
Apostate liberal “Christianity” and modernist “Catholicism” are not as overtly deadly and genocidal as the recent marches or the Nashville shooting. (A multitude of the unborn whose murders were enabled by mainline liberal denominations might beg to differ on that.) But their false teachings are deadly to souls.
And their apostasy has spread like gangrene in part because faithful Christians tolerated it. I won’t go into all the history of that, but even Pope Benedict XVI, whom I revere, was far more gentle with apostate clergy than his reputation might have you think. And that, in part, is how we got Pope Francis.
And now that the Church of Rome has such an ostentatiously humble Pope of “mercy,” how is that working out for traditional Catholics? How much of that “mercy” are they getting?
Now before you think I’m just looking for an opportunity to engage in that old Anglican sport of deriding Popery, I must say those of us with knowledge of The Episcopal Church and The Church of England know the drill and have longer experience with it.
Us orthodox Anglicans in return for tolerance and for playing nice in a Broad Church thought we would be allowed to remain orthodox unmolested. We thought our tolerance would be repaid with tolerance. Further, we were promised, particularly by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, “mutual flourishing.”
“Mutual flourishing” was a trap. Before those two words were even out of Justin Welby’s prevaricating mouth, it was clear that orthodox Anglicans would have second-class status in the Church of England — for now.
The Episcopal Church went down that road faster and ran off many of those who then founded the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). And the libs weren’t happy even then as they sued the orthodox for buildings the parishes had paid for.
Both in England and America, orthodox Anglicans discovered a Broad Church only remains broad until the liberals gain control of it. Then it becomes a narrow church suffocating out orthodoxy. Yes, pockets of excellent traditional Anglicans remain in both the CofE and in TEC as I’ve experienced first hand. How long that will be allowed is an open question.
To their credit, the Romans were slower about going down that road of constricting apostasy. But now that the libs have taken control under Francis, the Romans have arrived. Perhaps the most traditional — and faithful and active — segment of the Roman Catholic Church have had the traditional Latin Mass suppressed by Francis. And now the American diocean bishop who most fights for faithfulness and is most loved by the American Catholic faithful is yanked from his seat by Francis. Tolerance from the orthodox has led to intolerance of the orthodox.
The temptation here, particularly for us Anglicans, is to write the above off as “the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome” and of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church and their “detestable enormities.” But there is a larger principle and a needful warning here.
You might think that if you are tolerant toward apostate clergy in your church, they will be tolerant toward you and leave you alone. And they will for a time . . . until they gain enough control and power in your church to crush you.
The same principle applies in a society with totalitarian ideologies — and Critical Theories (aka wokeness) are totalitarian ideologies. We laughed at their nuttiness on the campuses decades ago. We mocked wokeness as it gained influence beyond the campuses. But we also tolerated them because us Americans really are a tolerant people. And surely our society would not fall for their silliness. So we thought. Many Germans surely thought the same of those nutty brown shirts in the streets of Weimar Germany.
But now they have gained enough power that we see all too well our tolerance is not reciprocated and will not be reciprocated. Nor will they leave the church alone. Now they are all the more open in their hatred of White males and Jews and Christians and more. And the death toll from that has already begun.
What will it take for us to know that there are times to be tolerant, but there are also times to fight? Yes, there has to be tolerance in a healthy society and forbearance in a healthy church. But to tolerate apostasy in the church or toxic totalitarian ideologies in society only invites and enables deadly intolerance, deadly to both body and soul.
For the sake of church and country, we must have the wisdom and the courage to know there are times to be tolerant, but there are also times to fight.
This is a time to fight.
Bari Weiss may be a gay secular Jewess; I disagree with her on much. But she gets our time better than most Anglicans. And she gets it that it is a time to fight. Please read and hear her excellent lecture to the Federalist Society.