Friday, February 21, 2014


Self-styled Catholic John Cornwell, showing the signs of the cancer within
What do John Cornwell and Dan Brown have in common?  They are both writers of bad horror stories.

Both take rickety aim at the Catholic Church when inventing their fantasies about beady-eyed priests hiding in dark shadows waiting to pounce on the innocent or the unwary.  At least Cornwell is the better writer of the two, his venom being at least readable compared with Brown's grade school vocabulary.  In their odd way they join the company of Professor Candida Moss (late of Tooting-by-Sea, England) the ancient history expert of Notre Dame University whose amusing iconoclastic assaults upon history (and common sense) ensured her a place of high honor at that once Catholic institution.

Live jackals feeding upon dead lions is an old story.  These days it is a very profitable business.  Trashing the reputations of people long dead by writers with meager talents has long been a low-risk/high gain endeavor, and so Cornwell, always keeping one eye on his bank balance, has given us a thrilling read about the dark doings of Saint Pius X, the first Pope to be canonized in the last 400 years.

Mr Cornwell's latest is called "The Dark Box". (cue the "Psycho" show-murder music!).  No, Mr Cornwell, Hollywood will not cast you as the villainous St Pius X when they make your book into a movie.  They will save that part for Russell Crowe or Leonardo diCaprio, even though you could out-act them.

Will the leaders of the Catholic Church defend St Pius against these Cornwellian libels?  Of course not.  He represents everything the Modernists in control of Holy Church despise.  To come to his defense now would expose the shallowness and stupidity of their program for the Church, the program that has been rolling along like a wheat-thrasher for nearly 100 years now and found its fruition in Vatican Council 2, otherwise known as the Triumph of the Modernists.  In any event the Church has done precious little to defend its reputation of late.  Sullied by cretins of every shade and color, Churchmen remain silent while the Bride of Christ's reputation is dishonored.  Silence indicates agreement.  So St Pius X will have few defenders in the Vatican.  To defend him would be to show the world that the Modernists have indeed triumphed, and that is why any defense that may come will be the usual slop of ambiguity, niceness and banality.  And the current leadership of the Church is very good at banality.

What was my First Confession like?  As best as I can remember from the year 1958, nothing particularly terrifying though, of course, opening one's soul to the priest in the confessional for the first time was a serious and daunting business.  It meant that we would have to reflect upon our short lives, which gave us the strongly-imprinted idea that we must not ever offend Christ.  It meant that we had to look at the reception of Holy Communion, our very first Holy Communion that was looming in the near future, as something devastatingly beautiful.  But Mr Cornwell, like a man unable to lift his eyes from the gutter and look up to the lovely row of trees and cottages, finds this all very dangerous.  Mr Cornwell can only see horse droppings where Catholics can see the horse.  For him it is all about terrorizing the young and innocent.  That is about the intellectual level of the man, and those like the aforementioned Brown and Mizz Moss, whose minds are so polluted by the culture and the boot-licking rituals they must go through to get their works approved for publication that they literally cannot see the forest for the trees.

Untroubled by facts Mr Cornwell makes many assertions about St Pius that, to put it simply, are lies.  What other word can we use about a man who writes a best-selling book in 1999 called "Hitler's Pope"?   (We anxiously look forward to the sequels that are forming in Mr Cornwell's bat-infested belfry: "Diocletian's Pope", "Lucretia Borgia's Pope", "Stalin's Pope" and "Obama's Pope".  And "Pol Pot's Pope" has a nice ring to it.)  The media lap dogs lap it up like dogs, the readers of Dan Brown novels revel in it.  One quaintly unhistorical assertion of Mr Cornwell in his new book would have it that St Pius X issued a "decree" in 1910 that lowered the age of First Confession from 10 to 7.  Don't spend too much time looking for that decree because it doesn't exist.

Mr Cornwell calls himself a practicing Catholic (he was thrilled with the resignation of Benedict XVI) who claims he is upset with the "filth" in the Church.  But I am at a loss to understand why throwing additional filth at the One, true Church, as Mr Cornwell does at every opportunity, will help with cleaning the pus out of the Church's wounds.  And using outright easily disprovable falsehoods about the Church does not seem to be a very productive way to end the problems in the Church which he claims to be concerned about.

But Cornwell's mendacious assertion about lowering the age of penitents serves multiple purposes, one of which is to uphold the myth that the sex crimes being committed by certain clerics are against small children rather than the truth which everyone knows, namely: that these are homosexual crimes committed against adolescent boys.  Cornwell is nothing if not resourceful.

Most Catholics know that age seven is and has been considered the "age of reason", which is the reason why Pius encouraged it.

With melodramatic titles like "The Dark Box" it is very clear to this writer that Cornwell's claim to be a Catholic is as trustworthy as his claim to provide serious scholarship (see Joseph Shaw's piece here.)

I would suggest that the Dark Box is the one inside poor Mr Cornwell's head.


Tancred said...

As an academic, if he'd been writing about any other subject, he'd be working at U-Haul, or a cabby somewhere, but no one would ever take him seriously as a subject matter expert.

servo said...

Many of the so-called 'crusaders against filth' are just as bad as the people they go after. Or worse, considering the innocent people they trample. It's turned into some sort of weird parallel religion.

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