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Cardinal George: Secularism Leads to Persecution of Catholics

Tim Drake tracks down the original source for a quote that has been circulating for a few years, usually attributed to Chicago Cardinal Francis George, that predicts anti-Catholic persecution. He confirmed with George that the quote is accurate and that he’s not backing down from it. Here’s what the cardinal told him about what he’d said:

“I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smart phone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world. I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’ What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

There’s something rather perverse about a Catholic, of all people, claiming that they’re going to be the victims of terrible persecution in the future, especially at the hands of non-believers. I dare say no other institution has as long and horrible a record of persecuting its critics as the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t worry, Cardinal. As society becomes progressively more secular, we will certainly treat you far better than your church has ever treated others.

Comments

  1. DaveL says

    ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’

    Refresh my memory?

  2. says

    While the RCC gets a lot of bad press, keep in mind that they represent only a part of Christendom. The Eastern Churches are just as ancient and just as bad: while there was never an organized Greek Orthodox Inquisition, Orthodoxy was literally spread by the sword (“convert or die”) while the Latin Church was spread relatively peacefully. The older Protestant denominations — especially the Lutherans and Calvinists — also burned “heretics” at the stake.

  3. doublereed says

    More like “my successor will be more moderate than my socially backwardness, and his successor will abandon faith altogether.”

    We can only hope.

  4. Alverant says

    Let me guess, this “persecution” will take the form of not being given special dispensation when it comes to breaking secular laws and not having special rights in society.

  5. says

    You know, if I was a leader in one of the most powerful organizations in the world and I thought that my successor would be jailed and his successor would be killed, I might take some time to think about whether what I’m doing leads to those outcomes.

  6. Artor says

    “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”
    Cardinal George, please fuck off while I call the whaa-mbulance.

  7. Who Knows? says

    ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’

    Are there any real examples of the church actually helping rebuild civilization? Seems to me we have only progressed when we manage to get out from under the authority of the church.

  8. says

    It’s not just Catholics. I’m on the e-mail list of some right wing theocratic nut case from Washington state named Ron Boehme, and a recent e-mail post I got from him was titled “Prepare to be Persecuted” or “Prepare for Persecution” or something along those lines.

    For these people, persecution is when they don’t get to have dominion over the rest of us.

  9. tassilo says

    I have to quibble with Gregory @2. The RCC were already old hands at persecuting heretics by the time the Lutherans and Calvinists, or other Protestants came along. They may not always have burned them at the stake, but they had many other means of death and torture available. That’s not to excuse Protestants, who came later and who had no qualms fighting for their faith with fire and sword, either.

    As for the RCC re-building civilization: for better or worse, they certainly were the power behind empires who shaped western civilization. They still claim to have civilized Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire to the “heathens” of northern Europe.

  10. jefferylanam says

    the Latin Church was spread relatively peacefully

    The Saxons, Lithuanians, Cathars, Andalusians, Aztecs, and Incas beg to differ.

  11. zekehoskin says

    Re @1, @7: Given a society in which only monks can read and write, literature and written history will mostly be preserved ( and “improved” and “corrected”) by monks. That’s gonna happen again fer shure.

  12. pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile says

    for an institution that excelled in persecuting people for as long as they did, the RCC seems to have an extremely bare minimum requirement for that term when applied to themselves.

  13. Phillip IV says

    Secularism Leads to Perrosecution of Catholics bishops for their part in covering up child abuse

    Fixed that for Mr. George, to the version he’s really worried about. And let me add a personal “As it should, but we’re not quite there yet”.

  14. rabbitscribe says

    “What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse”

    My response to this consists of the Benny Hill theme song “Yackety Sax.” Please listen to it in its entirety before returning to read any further comments. That’s just my way of forcing people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.

  15. raven says

    They still claim to have civilized Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire to the “heathens” of northern Europe.

    This is totally incorrect.

    The Germanic tribes that overran the Roman empire were already…Xians!!!

    The xians didn’t help the Roman empire at all. It fell after they gained control to other groups of xians.

  16. raven says

    The Catholic church killed many millions of people during their heyday.

    It’s estimated that 1 million Albigensians died during the first crusade. It was a wildly successful genocide. The RCC hunted down and killed every single one of them.

    Two of the crusades were against other xian groups, the Albigensian Cathars and the Eastern Orthodox.

    Then there were the crusades against the Moslems.

    The witch and heretic hunts which might have killed 100,000.

    The persecution and extermination of European and New World pagans.

    And the Reformation wars which lasted on and off for 400 years and ended a whole 12 years ago in Northern Ireland. It’s estimated that tens of millions died in those wars.

    The Catholic church has been up to its neck in blood for nearly 2 millennia. They finally stopped killing people when we got sick and tired of it and took away their armies and heavy weapons.

  17. Michael Heath says

    Last evening 60 Minutes had an outstanding though stale presentation on the cultural battle between the church hierarchy and the U.S. nun’s. The man tasked by the hierarchy with bringing the nun’s back into line was unequivocal. The “dialogue” he was having with the nun’s would in no way have the church adapting, he was solely purposed with making them unthinkingly obedient and back to where they knew their place.

  18. Sastra says

    What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

    Yeah, because there’s nothing like introducing a paranoid conspiracy theory for making people think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse. Glad to see you think our differences will be reduced to good vs. evil and will be reconciled with force, struggle, blood, and defeat. Way to reach out in friendship to the Damned, Cardinal, and take the poison out of the discourse.

    And you’re still wrong about God and your religion is not true. Deal with it.

  19. says

    @zekehoskin #13 – Both the Latin Church (the precursor to the RCC, which did not exist as such until 1054) and the Greek Church were faced with invaders coming in from the east and north. In the west, Christians fought the invaders to a stand-still, then sent missionaries in to evangelize them. By and large, the evangelization was peaceful and somewhat slow; the violence began in the late 11th century as part of the Great Schism, the spread of Catharism, the Crusades and the first stirrings of the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. In contrast, the Greek Church in the East mowed down the invaders, evangelized the survivors, then turned the newly converted fanatics north and east to spread the Gospel at the edge of a sword. The conversion of Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia and Turkey was far and away more violent and bloody than the conversion of Italy, France, Germany, England and Spain (excluding the Reconquista.)

    Anyway, these differences in approach is why the Roman Church was a minority sect in Christendom for almost 400 years, between the Great Schism in 1054 and the start of the Age of Exploration in 1492.

  20. Ulysses says

    ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’

    Is anyone else thinking of Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz?

  21. says

    Ulysses “Is anyone else thinking of Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz?
    No, but for a little over six bucks (less, if you have a competent used bookstore nearby) everybody here who hasn’t read it yet should be. After they’ve read it, I mean. I’m not saying that they should rush out and buy it, all I’m saying is that at these prices they’d be fools not to. Not to rush out and buy it, I mean.

  22. D. C. Sessions says

    What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

    I feel so much safer from poisoned discourse after that comment.

  23. shallit says

    How about,

    People will point and laugh at his successor.

    And most people won’t even know what obscure sect his successor’s successor belongs to.

  24. tfkreference says

    It’s clearly persecution when the election of the new pope was only covered 23 hours and 59 minutes of everyday this month.

  25. anubisprime says

    When religious claims are questioned that is ‘Prejudice’.
    When religious claims are critiqued that is ‘Intolerance’.
    When religious claims are mocked and openly ridiculed that is ‘Persecution’
    When religious claims are summarily dismissed as utter puerile hocum that is the ‘End Times’

    Seems that a significant proportion of Catholics have the same cockamamie deluded beliefs as the other major deluded sects, there will be an ‘End Time’ featuring a ‘Rapture’ , although the Catholics do not use the term ‘rapture’ , they grow very vague and incoherent on what the end times actually means but it is coming…except they do not know when!
    And they seem divided on the ‘how’ of every aspect of the premise…’cept it will ‘appen cos jeebus is a ‘comin in glory doncha’ know!

    There is total inarticulate rambling on the different portents to herald the ‘end times’ and has been described as ‘fistikated katolik feelology’ and very smug about it they all seem to be!

    And new portents are added all the time…so now ya know!…the Cardinal is only rambling and regurgitating the internal script.

    Depending on audience the ‘End Times’ dogma gets revised and twisted every which way…some do promote it others claim allegory…but whatever the consensus seems to indicate that we are all well down the road to the tribulations, what ever the catholic faithful believe it to be!

    One of the features that seems common in all their bollix is that there will be a catastrophic turning away from the church and secular and atheistic tendency increases to swamp the servants of christ’s glory, and the last pope will be vilified and will eventually flee Rome in disarray with a few loyal cardinals and finally end up murdered!
    There will be civil war in Italy, France. and the UK…War, famine, pestilence, natural disasters…etc etc!

    And the strand that meanders throughout the cretinous dialogue is the insistence that ‘Persecution’ will be a feature…and in fact is required cos it is a chronological necessity.

  26. says

    Funny how this crybaby-victimhood nonsense is coming out just as people are starting to get hints that all those persecution stories from the early Christian era may have been mostly fabrications.

  27. says

    His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.

    Did the Church really rebuild anything back then? Or did they just gather the pieces together in a pile and hide them in vaults and monasteries? ‘Cause the way I see it, back when the Church was “rebuilding civilization,” most of Christendom was wallowing in backwardness (when they weren’t lashing out with the occasional Crusade, that is), while the Muslims were building some really cool stuff on the foundations of pagan Greek math, inquiry, and medical knowledge (the bits they didn’t burn, that is).

    And the people who really DID rebuild civilization were the ones acting OUTSIDE the confines of Church teachings.

  28. rr says

    Not being treated with the utmost reverence is terrible persecution for any priest, bishop or cardinal. And obviously the persecutors are trying to suppress the real truth about the universe. So, the rise of secularism and atheism means that Catholicism is true! Checkmate atheists!

  29. pHred says

    I’m not the only one who thinks that the mind numbing news coverage breathlessly reporting on how humble the new pope is because he would cook his own food and carry his own luggage, just like a regular person, is insane right ? And I really can’t connect the whole “he asked the adoring masses in St. Peters Square for silence so that they could pray for him” as this amazing example of how humble he is. It is surreal.

  30. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Are there any real examples of the church actually helping rebuild civilization? – Who Knows

    I think the RCC does have an arguable case in (roughly) the 11th-15th centuries, when they:
    * Collected together a lot of the writings of the ancients, which had been preserved by the Byzantines and Arabs.
    * Took a prominent part in the foundation of universities and the spread of literacy (to maybe 5% of the population, but that was a lot better before).
    * In their doomed attempt to reconcile Aristotle with Paul of Tarsus, invented many of the little contrivances which seem obvious once they’ve been invented, such as spaces between words, punctuation, cursive script, capital letters, tables of contents, alphabetization (that one used a little by the ancients), running heads…
    * Were also the first to develop spectacles, and musical notation, and to persist with that of mechanical clocks (which had appeared in Song China around the 10th century, but vanished again).
    For the last two points, see Alfred W. Crosby The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600.

    Of course, all this went together with the large scale violence of the Crusades (in northern Europe and Spain as well as the Levant, where the Fourth Crusade destroyed much of what the Byzantines had preserved, while spreading some of the rest to the west), and increasing persecution of such convenient targets as pagans, “heretics”, homosexuals, uppity women, etc. (see R.I. Moore The Formation of a Persecuting Society).

  31. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    pHred@34,

    One aspect of Bergoglio that has received very little attention is his membership of a group called “Communion and Liberation”. Sounds like it might have some connection with Liberation Theology, right? Well, yes, in the sense that the National Socialist German Workers’ Party had something to do with socialism. There’s an interesting article partly about this at SALON. “Communion and Liberation” started in Italy, has an “integralist” (read: quasi-fascist) philosophy, and has given considerable support to that paragon of rectitude and humility, Silvio Berlusconi.

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