Historians often like to point to one individual or one event to help explain various important moments in world history which altered the course of human affairs in a dramatic fashion. One of those — without that person or that event — the world would be very different today type things. Often times these are over simplifications, but they do help provide a context to things. Single individuals or moments don’t just fall out the sky but are more like the spark that sets off an explosion. The explosives were already laid — all that was needed was the spark.
History is replete with these types of circumstances. Luther’s revolt, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand leading to World War I, the original defeat of the Etruscans by the Romans and so forth. But history is also rife with moments which did not occur that had they occurred, things would be very different.
The Democrats and the Left are currently realizing this lesson of history about sexual abuse and sexual harassment in Hollywood and Washington D.C. If we were to trace this torrent of allegations and accusations back to one moment as the focal point of “where it all began,” it would have to be the Left’s defense of Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Of course, this behavior did not begin with Bill but excusing it and defending sure got a leg up under him.
Democrat after Democrat and every leading mainstream media outfit during those momentous days, surrounding Clinton’s impeachment process in 1998 kept repeating ad nauseum, “It’s just sex, it’s just about sex. This should not be an impeachable offense.” First, it wasn’t just about sex. Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice — not sex. Second, think how hollow that defense now rings in today’s climate. A message was sent loud and clear that if you are powerful, you can abuse and get off scot-free. Now, 20 years later, it’s busting out everywhere that hundreds, maybe thousands of big bosses, producers, politicians, learned that lesson well. Bill did not start all this, but he was the spark that set affairs in motion as who knows how many innocent women were raped, harassed, demeaned etc. because everyone knows “it’s just about sex. No big deal.”
We have a shocking, even more disturbing parallel within the Church, and no, it’s not the homosexual priest, sex-abuse scandal, although that would qualify. No, we’re talking about the missed moment — affairs that were set in motion because of something that did not happen in the Church back in 1968. When Bl. Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae, too many clergy did not defend it, did not explain why this teaching is so monumentally important, despite its sometimes difficulty in being followed.
Just as Clinton allies did not step up to the plate and say he needed to resign the White House, likewise Catholic clergy and leaders did not step up to the plate and defend the Church’s teaching. In the case of Clinton, you have an entire culture of abuse and harassment that has been allowed to run wild for 20 years. In the case of the Church, the inaction helped create the Culture of Death. But remember, neither Bill Clinton nor the embarrassing cowardice of the bishops of the 1960s just fell out of the sky. They are merely the flashpoints for something that had been brewing for a long time before their arrival, just as Luther’s revolt didn’t just happen, and for that fact, just as a marriage doesn’t just fall apart.
In the case of the Church, committed Catholics need to understand what were the forces at play, what had been going on offstage and out of sight for the years, even decades leading up to this rejection of Church teaching — rejection certainly by the Canadian bishops — which they have still never recanted, as well as a nearly complete throwing in of the towel by their American counterparts.
This coming year marks the 50th anniversary of these historic and tumultuous events surrounding the collapse of the Church in the West. There are some common elements between the events surrounding the rejection of Humanae Vitae and Bill Clinton’s abuse of power. The cry could be made — on the surface — that both cases are “just about sex” and on the surface that’s true. But nothing momentous is ever just about what you see. There are always many, many things going on offstage that you don’t see that bring about the historic world-changing events.
This is true in nature, for example, think giant killer hurricanes and how they develop because of various little seemingly innocuous weather patterns. It’s true in politics, as well — think about how Trump is president in the face of the Clinton machine, which has controlled this country for 25 years, although it looks like that’s coming to an end. It’s also true in the Church where everything that goes wrong is always related back to a lack of supernatural faith and almost always on the part of leaders first.
Some leaders are wicked and devious and quietly working to dismantle the Church. But mostly, others are just careerists, who never want to rock the boat, which of course gives permission to the wicked to continue with their evil designs. The parallel between rotten Church leaders and evil politicians is truly amazing. The explosives are always there. All the diabolical does is wait for the critical moment.