23 December 2010

My dear Wormwood

I must confess to being a little puzzled by your suggestion that the Unholy Office is in any way open to criticism. It is, after all, inappropriate for somebody as high up in the Lowerarchy as yourself to venture upon criticism of any of Our Father's Dikasteries; but least of all should you fail to cringe in terror before this particular organ for bad. Indeed, in future, I must ask you to refer to it by its proper title as the Congregation for the Perversion of Prelates and Priests. Moreover, you describe it as "over-staffed". I think, nay rather, I long for you to come to regret such a good term. True, the CPPP is by far the largest of all our departments, but it is undoubtedly the most spectacularly successful of all the groups who assist the Ministry of the Sovereign Tempter. The humans, on the walls of some of their older churches, have painted the Doom, the Final Judgement, with an amusing detail (how deplorable their capacity to derive the pleasure of laughter even from Damnation!): they show some of those who are rising from the grave to everlasting condemnation as marked with insignia of office. Several of these doomed figures are commonly depicted wearing a mitre or a cardinal's hat or a tiara. Believe me, if humans understood the half of it, they would have painted vast phalanxes of such mitred prelates waiting to be hauled, poked, or prodded by our worthy footsoldiers into the open mouth which leads down to the Infernal Playgrounds. For all that - and for so very much more - we have the CPPP to thank. You forget this at your peril ... a delicious word, peril ... redolent of the most exquisite culinary expectations ... but I must curb my digression ...

In particular, your suggestion that they "should have shut Ratzinger up" demonstrates not only a degree of disrespect for workers who, believe me, are very much worse than you, but also a quite woeful, not to say admirably punishable, misunderstanding of the broad lines of current strategy. Protocol 7/12/666, which was very adequately expounded at your seminary, explains clearly that Ratzinger appears to have a strong degree of protection. Accordingly, policy is - do you remember all this now? - to concentrate on the ready malevolence of those we have trained to report and comment on what he says or writes. The departmental bottoms at CPPP have successfully put in place a number of highly productive antinomies of the sort that the humans would describe as "Heads I win, tails you lose". Thus, if Ratzinger is silent on some topic, he is "failing to speak clearly". But if he utters ... even just one sentence ... it is rich material for misrepresentation. Such misrepresentations will be what stick in the mind of most hearers. Not for nothing have we slaved for centuries to ensure that as few humans as possible are capable of even the simplest logical processes. But little is lost if a few humans remain who do perceive an inkling of the truth: we have multiple fall-backs in place. One of these is to suggest that Ratzinger, even if admittedly correct, is "accident-prone" and "should have realised how his words would be misinterpreted". This, of course, neatly diverts into renewed condemnation of the man a perception which, if left unmanipulated, might have opened some human minds to the accuracy of what he had said.

You are particularly concerned that Ratzinger recently "blew the gaffe" on our strategy (8/5/999) of promoting 'relativism' in the 1960s/1970s. It is true that there are thousands of clergy trained in those decades, tens of thousands of 'moral philosophers' who taught at that time in very low-down universities, who will remember systems such as 'Situation ethics' which were propounded and widely accepted. (This in itself was a spectacular success on the part of the CPPP.) But those humans whom we control in what they call their 'media' had no trouble providing a very satisfactory gloss upon Ratzinger's words. With our help, they picked on a couple of truths: that such systems were widely held; and that the implication of these systems is that paedophile actions were not ex sese "wrong". And they ensured that two responses would be inevitable: firstly; when victims of paedophile priests were told Ratzinger believed "Everybody thought that sort of thing was All Right", they very naturally responded that, in their own communities, paedophilia was certainly not considered "All Right" by everyone. And, for them, this is perfectly true. At that time, common folk lagged sadly behind the sophisticated moral innovations of our friends in universities and seminaries and the Intelligensia. Many of those dreary peasants would not even have understood the meaning of the phrase 'trahison des clercs'. So, for them, the claim, attributed to Ratzinger, that "Everybody believed paedophilia was All Right" simply sounds like a lie.

The second response calls in aid the policy embodied in 4/3/969. This -I presume you will again need to be reminded - concerned the inculcation of the idea that "What everybody does/thinks" is automatically "Right". You and I, of course, know that such a principle would, for example, have made the Jewish Holocaust and the practice of Slavery and the Burning of Widows into acceptable systems. Indeed, we successfully used this very idea to erode the consciences of those we wished to become involved in the Jewish Holocaust. But only a few off-message academics realise the logical absurdity of treating "Everybody thinks it is Right" as equivalent to "It is Right". Most of the common people cheerfully accept this equivalence. So, when our workers were able to simplify Ratzinger's words into a suggestion that "Everybody thought paedophilia was All Right", the minds of many humans automatically glossed this as meaning "Ratzinger thinks paedophilia is All Right".

He's clever, the little Bavarian, but we have him by the short and curlies. What we are best at is turning his cleverness against him. And this is not just CPPP policy; it was explicitly approved by Our Father Below in his weekly audience with the Prefect of the Congregation, and ordered to be published. You will find texts in Acta Infernorum Locorum. Indeed, rumours down here suggest that it may soon be incorporated into a Diabolic Constitution. You had better watch your words, and keep just a teensy weensy bit more up-to-date in your reading ... if you know what is bad for you ... as (given my own very great desire for you) I profoundly hope you do not.

As loving, as hungry, as ravenous, as ever

Your Uncle

Screwtape

9 comments:

Fr Levi said...

Fr Humwicke,

Excellent piece.

I doubt that anyone truly believes that the Holy Father was trying to say that he thought the evil that is paedophilia was 'all right.' Anyone not bound and determined to put the worst interpretation possible on his words must know that. The way that they are determined to use the pain of others in pursuit of their anti-Church agenda is truly vile.

GOR said...

Excellent, Father!

We have had a need for another Lewis, Chesterton or Belloc for some time. I'm sure you can expand upon this with other examples.

Perhaps a book...?

Joshua said...

Bravo!

David said...

There is also the method whereby one claims that the Pope is blaming secularism and relativism in order to ward off any criticism of the Church. This ignores the fact that in the paragraph before he has criticised the Church's behaviour in the strongest terms, terms never uttered, at least not in my memory, by a Pope.

Jonathan said...

It's no good trying to defend the indefensible. Numerous statements e.g. on the holocaust and those who deny its horrors,and this issue of sexual abuse by priests are indicators that the popes inept public statements are systemic rather than occasional. This is not just a media beat up, victims of abuse are appalled by the popes statements and only an ostrich would fail to see why. For some, particularly some anglicans it would seem, this pope can do no wrong, but such a posiition is looking increasingly untenable.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

Is "Jonathan" a plant? He seems to demonstrate the case perfectly.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

"Jonathan" provides indeed an amusing parody of the fodder who are taken in by the Enemy and his media. The essence of the real "Jonathans" is that they have clearly never actually read what the Bishop of Rome says; they are simple souls who are overwhelmed by the consensus of the public commentators ... "Everybody says it so it must be right".

In the chilly world we are entering, it is clear that it will be vey difficult to be a Christian without having a capacity for being counter-cultural: which is what our great Tractarian predecessors were. And courses in elementary logic ought to have a central place in catechesis.

Jonathan said...

You've missed the point - I can only assume that this is deliberate. I have indeed read what the Bishop of Rome has said on the issues I refererred to earlier. I understand what he is saying and why, but I also see the context and the way he expresses himself and only a fool could fail to see why this is often a gift to the hostile media or an affront to those who feel raw about a particular issue. Are you really suggesting that if the victims of sexual abuse by clergy feel offended by the pope's response it is their own fault? Sure they may have misunderstood, but they also feel that the popes response is inadequate. I doubt that in your own life and dealings with others you refuse to take responsibility if the manner or context of something you say confuses the message you want to convey.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Jonathan: I am suggesting that when journalists approach victims of paedophilia with their own heavily massaged, selective, and tendentious accounts of what the pope has said, the victims are very naturally extremely upset.

If the journalists, on the other hand, were to approach the victims with the question:"The pope is very angry with the teachers who, back in the 1960s, taught trainee priests that there is nothing which is always and automatically wrong: do you share his anger?", their answer might very well have been "Yes".

It is, furthermore, my view that the journalists who, just to get an easy 'story' to the pope's discredit, approach victims in this sort of way, are in fact compounding and aggravating the original obscene and appalling violence for cheap personal motives.