Friday, February 08, 2008

What date is it?

It’s January 1943.

Puzzled? It will all be made clear in a moment.

The Archbishop (of happy memory) used to say that there have been three world wars: the first of 1914-18, the second of 1939-45, and the third of 1962-65.

But, with all due regard to the Archbishop’s analogy, the Third World War did not end in 1965; it is still being fought today, in every diocese across the world, in every religious order, in every seminary and Catholic institute of education; even in every parish.

Some readers may consider it an impious thing to compare this putative “Third World War” with the actual Second World War, especially in view of the colossal carnage, destruction, displacement and loss of life occasioned by the latter. But since we are Christians, we have a supernatural view of human history, and the cost to souls as a result of our still-ongoing Third World War has been no less grievous than that of the Second.

German troops of the 6th Army in the ruins of Stalingrad, 1942In January 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle ever fought, was drawing to its end. A massive Soviet counter-attack which began in November 1942 succeeded in encircling and cutting off the German 6th Army which had besieged the city since the previous July. By January 1943, the German position was hopeless. It was by then too late to withdraw; the Germans could have done so earlier and cut their losses by retreating and regrouping—and perhaps they could have attacked again after being reinforced—but, with a determination to fight to the very last man that was almost Japanese in its hysterical fervour, Adolf Hitler absolutely forbade any retreat under any circumstances whatsoever. The forces of the great German Reich could not possibly entertain the notion of retreat! It would be victory or annihilation; and so the 6th Army, comprising the most capable and most experienced of Germany’s fighting men, was abandoned to its fate. Shortly before the end, Hitler even promoted the commander of the 6th Army, General Friedrich Paulus, to the rank of Field Marshal. No German Field Marshal had ever before surrendered, so Paulus knew he was expected either to work a miracle and take the city against all the odds, or else to commit suicide and thus avert the shame of surrender. The Soviets, recognising that the Germans were in an impossible situation, offered to accept their surrender with generous terms. Paulus was a soldier above all, not a National Socialist fanatic, and with the words “I have no intention of shooting myself for that Bohemian corporal”, he surrendered to the Soviet forces on 2 February—the feast of Candlemas. With the defeat of the 6th Army, the Wehrmacht had lost 300,000 seasoned troops, had failed to capture Stalingrad, and the USSR was in a much stronger position strategically and militarily than when the battle had started. With all due regard for the heroism of the Soviet troops who broke the siege of Stalingrad and surrounded the German forces, the 6th Army was defeated not by Stalin or Rokossovsky, or even by the harsh Russian winter; the German 6th Army was defeated by Adolf Hitler.

Despite his mesmeric charisma (upon which many who met him have remarked) and his powerful personality, Hitler possessed nothing even remotely approaching military genius. If he was the reason Germany went to war in 1939, he was also the reason Germany lost the same war in 1945. The brilliant successes of 1939 and 1940 gave the impression to friend and foe alike that the Wehrmacht was unstoppable, and that Germany’s final victory was all but assured. But even at that early stage, Hitler had already shown himself incompetent to command, having overridden the sound advice of his staff—much to the frustration of German military commanders who actually knew what they were doing. The famous evacuation of the allied armies from Dunkirk in 1940 only took place at all because Hitler expressly ordered a halt to the German advance, a halt which bought the allies precious time to escape. Then there was the decision in the same year to focus the Luftwaffe’s attacks on English cities rather than on military targets, a blunder for which Hermann Goering shares responsibility, and which allowed the RAF to continue the fight and then to win the Battle of Britain. Then there was the decision to delay the 1941 German invasion of Russia until June, which meant that winter stole upon the Germans before they could capture Moscow and so their advance bogged down. They never did capture Moscow. The decision to invade Russia at all was itself a blunder. Then there was Hitler’s slow and almost unconcerned response to the D-Day invasion, among sundry other gaffes, not to mention the continual diversion of manpower and resources in implementing the Führer’s racial policies in conquered territories; his obsession with finally solving “the Jewish question” led to one of the most egregious mass murders in history, and significantly detracted from the German war effort: German Jews and leading scientists who had fled from their homeland in the 1930s to escape Nazi persecution were instrumental in the development for the United States of the atomic bomb. When all is said and done, the Germans’ fiercest enemy in World War II was not the British, or the Americans, or the Soviets; it was their own commander in chief.

Melancholicus must admit that the foregoing critique of Hitler as a military commander was a tangent, so let us now return to Stalingrad and to the point of this post. What makes the Battle of Stalingrad so significant is that it marks the first major reverse for the German war machine. Stalingrad was a turning point in the war. Thitherto, everything had been going Hitler’s way. Well, not quite everything. There was the inconvenience of the Battle of Britain, after which Operation Sealion had to be aborted. There was the somewhat more serious inconvenience of the Second Battle of El-Alamein—contemporary, incidentally, with the siege of Stalingrad—which resulted in the expulsion of the axis from North Africa, and the consequent ability of the allies to threaten Fortress Europe from across the Mediterranean. But the failure to occupy Britain and the failure to hold North Africa were not in themselves decisive. It was not until the surrender of the 6th Army at Stalingrad that Germany began losing the war, for the subsequent history of the German campaign in Russia is one of constant retreat and regroup in a desperate and futile attempt to halt the advance of the Soviet counter-attack. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the writing was thenceforth on the wall, and the events of April 1945 were from that moment inevitable.

So now, in our analogical comparison between the Second and Third World Wars, we have reached January 1943. We have reached the conciliar church’s Stalingrad. For the past forty years, everything has been going the way of the conciliar revolutionaries. They have, in the ecclesiastical version of Blitzkrieg, marched from triumph to triumph with scarcely a single reverse. They have seized control of seminaries, universities, diocesan chanceries, bishops’ conferences, and practically the entire mainstream Catholic media. Their lackeys write the religious education textbooks used by our children in Catholic schools. Their programmes and workshops have indoctrinated Catholic teachers in conciliar religion. Their revolutionary liturgy is celebrated in almost every single parish in the entire Catholic world. The revolutionaries’ views of scripture, of tradition, of liturgy, of sacraments, of catechetics, of ecumenism, of the respective roles of the priesthood and the laity, of sexual morality, of everything in fact, have become the norm. Our Catholic people have been conciliarised, to the extent that they no longer know what is true and what is false, nor are they even aware of it. Of course the revolutionaries have experienced a few setbacks in the last forty years; much as Hitler was unable to suppress the British in 1940, so the conciliar revolutionaries were unable to have the traditional Roman Mass actually banned by the Holy See (although they tried!). Nevertheless, they were able to hold it—and the entire Catholic faith—at arm’s length for most of this period. Much as the Germans were unable to hold North Africa at El-Alamein in 1942, so the conciliarists were unable to prevent the Archbishop from proceeding with the consecrations in 1988, which meant that Rome had to sit up and finally take the Traditionalist movement seriously. But despite these setbacks—a slap on the wrist for a Küng here, a faint-hearted indult permitting celebration of the ancient Mass under restrictive conditions there—the revolutionaries’ grip on the Church and on the reins of power continued.

Until now. Until the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, whereat the traditions and the faith of our holy Church have at last begun to emerge from the catacombs to which they were consigned after the Blitzkrieg of the revolutionaries. Until the Holy Father’s recent motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which liberalised not only the ancient Mass, but all the liturgical books in use before the liturgical deformations of Vatican II. No longer do faithful priests have to depend upon the diktat of authoritarian modernist bishops for access to that Mass which is the right of their ordination. The absolute stranglehold of the heretics upon the Church has been loosed; their grip is faltering, their confidence is shaken, and they can see on the horizon the next generation of younger orthodox priests in cassocks and nuns in full habits fast approaching them with a grim determination, like the innumerable divisions of the Red Army which broke the siege of Stalingrad and harried the retreating Wehrmacht all the way to Berlin itself.

Summorum Pontificum is the conciliar church’s Stalingrad, and as such it is a turning point in the war. From this point on, the revolutionaries are in retreat. They still occupy almost the whole territory of holy Church, but their supplies and reinforcements have been cut off. No-one is following in their footsteps; their dissent has inspired no vocations to take their place. They have no heirs.

And now that they are old, or at the very least in late middle age, death and retirement will by degrees remove them from the scene. Their passing will not be mourned. Not by me, not by anyone.

This, to quote Churchill, is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

It might still be 1943.

The war is not over yet. There is still a long road ahead and much to do. There will be much suffering in this blackest of dark nights before the dawn comes again.

But it will soon be 1945.

We will beat them. We will win.

Grant, we beseech Thee, most merciful Lord, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, that the peace, beauty and dignity of the Tridentine Latin Mass may be restored to our churches, and that the holy Catholic faith may be restored to its proper place once again.

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