In Chicago, another sign of the Catholic Church’s decline

I’m not a Catholic, but I have an abiding respect for Catholicism’s role in bringing down the paganism that dominated Europe before the Church took over. At least one Catholic cardinal, though, seems to have forgotten that time. How else can we explain Cardinal Blase Cupich’s decision to participate in a Wiccan-organized conference to “enrich” his faith?

Before the Jews, the world was entirely pagan. People across the known world worshipped a panoply of gods tied to the visible and invisible phenomena of the earth. The gods didn’t provide an overarching morality. Instead, they were capricious beings that constantly needed to be placated, and they especially liked blood, whether animal or human. The stories of the Roman gods are a soap opera of vanity, matricide, patricide, incest, insanity, and random violence.

The Jews brought something new: a single, invisible God who had a powerful moral code that He demanded of His followers. The shorthand for this is “ethical monotheism.” Through Jesus, ethical monotheism spread beyond the Jews. Eventually, throughout Western Europe, it was the Catholic Church that took up this banner.

Being a Jew, I’ll be the first to admit that Catholicism, even as it wove ethical monotheism into the warp and woof of Western society, could be brutal. After all, its early adherents all came from paganism and, once Catholicism took hold, they all fought against paganism. There were those who fought with words and moral example, like St. Patrick, and those who fought with swords.

Image: Cardinal Cupich (cropped) by MTF-GR. CC BY-SA 4.0.

But contrary to the leftist perception, it wasn’t all war. Unlike Islam, which spread only by the sword, one of the wonders of the Catholic Church was its use of syncretism, which smoothed the way for pagan converts. Most significantly, they were told that Christ himself was the ultimate human sacrifice, making all others redundant, cruel, and unnecessary. As the Venerable Bede explained, persuasion was a very effective way to end paganism.

That was the early Catholic Church—it made its bones fighting paganism, whether by persuasion or the sword.

I happen to think that fight was worthy. Today, we have a gauzy conception of pagans, especially the druids, dressed in pretty white robes, garlanded with mistletoe, and dancing around flames. But, as noted, the pagan world was an insanely brutal world centered around blood sacrifices to capricious gods, along with religious orgies that were heavy on child sexuality and sacrifice. Morality was not a part of the scene.

That’s why I find so upsetting news that Cardinal Blase Cupich, a member in good standing of the Catholic Church, is enthusiastically participating in a “religious” conference that a Wiccan priestess organized and that will be attended by thousands of self-identified pagans:

Left-wing Cardinal Blase Cupich is set to appear at a scandalous ecumenical event in Chicago this week. The conference is coordinated by a Wiccan priestess and features more than 6,000 representatives of various forms of pagan and non-Catholic sects.

The 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions is being held at McCormack Place convention center from Tuesday, August 14 until Friday, August 18. Its theme is “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights.” 

One could defend Cupich’s decision to attend by looking to St. Patrick, who went among the pagans to convert them. Or perhaps Cupich might be engaging in syncretism; that is, convincing pagans that Catholicism serves their needs, only better. But he’s not. Cupich is going there in a purely ecumenical spirit, to improve his faith through their faith:

I strongly disapprove of killing people in the name of Christianity. I equally strongly disapprove of the slow suicide of Christianity in the name of ecumenicalism—especially when that ecumenicalism comes from the left, which has long had as its goal Christianity’s demise. Marx wasn’t the first socialist to hate religion. In the lead-up to the French Revolution, Denis Diderot famously said, “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

If the Catholic Church doesn’t stand against paganism, one has to worry what basic principle it will abandon next.

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