Bellicose by Old Thunder

by Hilaire Belloc
It may be taken as a proof of Original Sin that the chosen continue to hanker for the fleshpots of Egypt. Purgatory is made easier for me by the realization that I did not live long enough to witness Lords Spiritual confuse their function, I will not say with that of Lords Temporal — things are far worse than that — but with the fustian of the Third Estate.

An author I might have read, but did not, a handicapped heretic named Kierkegaard (I have come to know the chap well here, as it happens, and we have taken a turn or two together in the Nona on the unpredictable tides of the Styx) wrote a perceptive essay entitled “The Difference Between A Genius and an Apostle.” Now those of us who have been blessed with the gift of the true faith hold, whatever the sentiments of the objects of our belief, that the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are, by dint of apostolic succession, the contemporary lieutenants of the twelve chosen by Christ himself. Their authority — or charism — is not due to the cut of their jib, their GRE scores, if any, their theological degrees (more likely than not they are canonists or now, alas, doctores in what are called, perhaps on an analogy with certain diseases, the social sciences), or even the fact, and it seems still to be a fact, that they are of Irish descent. From bishops we do not expect arguments, theological or otherwise. What we expect is authoritative discourse.

Among the pains of purgatory is to be kept apprised of the doings of the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States. Some of my best friends are Americans; my sainted wife was one. The American, as Gilbert Chesterton noted, is one who refers to his use of tobacco and wine as vices. One may perhaps trace so perverted a judgment to the Puritan influence, the Protestant influence in the formation of the country. And lament that the French and Spanish roles seem present largely in the names of rivers, cities, states. It is a comfort to me here to see that soon Hispanics will constitute an unignorable fraction of the church in America, in North America. I cherish the thought that it is their mission to bring back a sense of the manly virtues to a Church which, if it can be judged by its bishops, has become limp and womanly.

But, hold. This may be unfair. In the interests of accuracy, I should perhaps refer to the staff that wrote the draft which was leaked to the press which …. Enough! It is the thought of staffs and committees and bureaus and all the other paraphernalia behind which bishops now hide that I find especially outrageous. Down with ventriloquism. Let the successors of the apostles speak out loud and clear in their own voices and relying on the authority that is theirs by consecration. Committee reports and essays by anonymous hands we can get from a hundred sources. What the Church needs is the voice of the bishop, speaking vibrantly and with the strength of twelve.

When this happy day dawns, we will not get the drivel of draft pastoral letters. Is this too much to hope for in these dark days? I understand that I am little read in the world now. There is the most unkindest cut of all. Some may remember the epitaph I composed for myself. “When I am gone, may it be said, his sins were as scarlet but his books were read.” If you won’t read me, pray for me. And for yourselves.
Source: Crisis Mag


The By line says it's Belloc but actually was an anonymous Crisis writer.



  1. wow! what did Belloc write this in?

  2. Replies
    1. I updated the post, The By line says it's Belloc but actually was an anonymous Crisis writer.

    2. thanks for the clarification


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