One of the definitions of the word “scrutinize” is a “searching look.” The Second Vatican Council taught that the Catholic Church’s duty is to “scrutinize the signs of the times … in the light of the Gospel.”
Will the church in the United States — and around the world — now have the courage to take a searching look at the signs of these extraordinary times?
It is also not an extreme concept to call this moment in history the Second American Revolution.
If the scrutiny is truly in the “light of the Gospel,” then the most important part of that guiding light will be the pursuit of the truth — because the truth will set us free. The fact that truth may be very uncomfortable is not a valid reason for ignoring it or for denying it. It is, in fact, a Gospel imperative.
This presidential election was revolutionary — and that statement is not hyperbole. It is also not an extreme concept to call this moment in history the Second American Revolution.
A ruling class — not just a political class but the elites in the media, academia, and Hollywood — are out of touch with ordinary citizens. They have been ignoring the views of real Americans, despising their “ignorance and lack of education” — and yes, their religion. But that ruling class has been routed by a rank outsider and a non-politician, as the Founding Fathers intended for those who seek public office.
This is the first “sign” that the church must scrutinize in the cold light of truth. The election was ugly and there were harsh and extreme things said in the heat of battle. But there is very little point in even acknowledging that reality now. There is also little point in wallowing in the mire — as the liberal media seems to be doing, perhaps reflecting their own disappointment with the result.
This first sign for the church is a positive one. In some senses, it reflects a key social doctrine of the church — the principle of subsidiarity. Both Brexit and the Trump victory, which are very closely linked, were a clear rejection of increasing centralization, bureaucracy, and the alienation of the poor. It is a false narrative, but one which the Left and the secular elites both in the U.S. and the U.K. are unable and unwilling to acknowledge — and simply blame on the far Right. If they admitted that, they would be admitting the emperor had no clothes.
It is not the “far Right” to believe in secured borders, national sovereignty, Christian culture, and the rule of law. Giving these facts a “searching look” will be difficult for some in the church who have embraced wholeheartedly the bureaucratic, top-down mindset so often typified by, for example, the bloated and rarefied echelons of bishops’ conferences.
Brexit and the “Trumpnami” have washed away the idea that government — and the elites who only seem to speak to each other and never the person in the street — have all the answers. These movements have positively shown the dignity of the individual. The church must be very clear in its scrutiny that these victories are a profound rejection of state-ism in all its forms. Secondly, they are a sign that the church must recognize the alienation of so many people from the structures that have, in many ways, replaced the church in its charitable works — the “Big Society” doesn’t exist.
That scrutiny or “searching look” should also bring searing accountability to some powerful forces in the worldwide church — and in the U.S.
The revelation by WikiLeaks of severe infiltration of the U.S. Catholic Church by hostile forces financed by George Soros and others on the Left must not be ignored. There was a manipulation of the papal visit to “direct the message,” which is a massive scandal and cannot be forgotten — or “bleached” — by the mainstream media.
“Nec laudibus, nec timore — not for praise, nor out of fear.”
This is a “sign” the church must not fail to scrutinize — it is the U.S. church’s Watergate — and WikiLeaks again reveals that this even goes into the heart of the pope’s “Council of Cardinals.” Interventions in domestic politics, by foreign church leaders, have also been demonstrated to have been both unhelpful and not respectful of the democratic process.
A “searching look” must also be cast upon the clear disconnection between voting and solemn Catholic teaching on the right to life. We must also look to those charged with the office of teaching who failed to teach that life is the thread that holds the whole “seamless garment” together; without it, the clothing falls apart.
To all in power, including our new president, church leaders must always remember in their preaching and teaching the motto of the great anti-Nazi bishop, Blessed Clemens Von Galen: “Nec laudibus, nec timore — not for praise, nor out of fear.”
Fr. Benedict Kiely is a Catholic priest and founder of Nasarean.org, which is helping the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.