Reverend Father Leonardo Castellani
A prophet of the end of times
By Father Juan Carlos Ceriani
Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Hope
But the preceding does not fully satisfy those Catholics who are more knowledgeable or more committed, especially because around us other projects are wavered and other alternatives are presented. Among them, two stand out: the creation of the so called «Civilization of Love» and the expectation of a re-flourishing of Medieval Christendom.
a)The «Civilization of Love»For the “irreductible idealists who have their own social doctrine and their own philosophical and religious principles to reorganize society under a new plan”, the destruction of the old framework of unity which was known as Christendom amounts to little or nothing. “Their dream consists of changing the natural and traditional foundations of Society and of promising a future city built on different principles” and they propose to us the creation of a «Civilization of Love».
This is how Paul VI, on more than one occasion (for instance December 25, 1975, during the closing of the Holy Year, as well as in his “Teachings to the People of God” pointed to the «Civilization of Love» as “the end to which all efforts in the social and cultural realm should be directed, as well as in the economic and political one”
On his part, John Paul II, in his Address to the Youth at the Esseneto Stadium in Agrigento on May 19, 1993, said:
“We are here to make this great project of the civilization of love a reality, initial but objective. This is the civilization of Jesus, this is the civilization of the Church, this is the true Christian civilization.”
This Utopia has not been a matter forgotten or put aside. On September 10, 2000, the meeting called the Millenial Summit came to a close; it had gathered more than 150 heads of state and of government at the Crystal Palace in New York, and had become the largest gathering of top rulers in history, Cardinal Sodano, then Vatican´s Secretary of State, as bearer of the words of John Paul II, said in his intervention on Friday the 8th:
“The Holy See fervently wishes that, at the dawn of the third millenium, the UN contribute, for the sake of humanity, to the creation of a new civilization, the one which has been called the civilization of love”.
And John Paul II began his message to the World Day of Peace of January 1, 2001, titled “Dialogue among cultures for a civilization of love and peace”, in this significant manner:
“At the beginning of a new millenium, the hope that relations among men be ever more inspired on the ideal of a truly universal fraternity, becomes more enlivened. Without sharing this ideal, peace cannot be ensured in a stable manner. Many indications make one think that this conviction is emerging with greater force in humankind's conscience. The value of fraternity is proclaimed by the great «charters» of human rights; it has been made manifest concretely by great international institutions, particularly by the United Nations Organization; and it is required, now more than ever, by the globalization process which unites in an ever growing way, the destinies of the economy, of the culture, and of society. The same reflection, of believers in the various religions, tends to underline how the relationship with the one God, common Father of all men, favors the feeling and the living as brothers.” (1)
To express then later:
“The dialogue among cultures, theme of the present Message for the World Peace Day, rises like an intrinsic demand of the very nature of man and of culture (...) The dialogue leads to recognizing the richness of diversity and disposes the spirits to reciprocal acceptance, in the perspective of an authentic collaboration, which responds to the primal vocation to the unity of all the human family. As such, dialogue is an eminent instrument to materialize the civilization of love and of peace, which my venerated predecessor, Pope Paul VI, pointed to as the ideal on which the cultural, social, political and economic life in our time ought to be inspired.” (10)
He finally closed his message with a call to the youth:
“I wish to conclude this Message of Peace with a special invitation to you, young people of the entire world, who are the future of humankind and the living blocks with which to build the civilization of love (...) Dear youths of any language or culture, an arduous and passionate task awaits you: to be men and women capable of solidarity, of peace and of love of life, with respect for everyone. Become artificers of a new humanity in which brothers and sisters, members all of the same family, will finally be able to leave in peace.” (22)
He who has read the works of Felicité Robert de Lamennais, founder of Catholic Liberalism, and of Jacques Maritain, creator of the idea of the Christian inspiration of modern civilization, will recognize in them the bases of this New Christendom proposed by the Second Vatican Council, the mentors of which have been Maurice Blondel, Henri de Lubac, Marie Dominique Chenu, Yves Congat, Hans Urs von Balthasar, to whom both Paul VI and John Paul II are indebted.
In the Lammennaisian-Maritainian thinking it is necessary to accept, under penalty of “historical suicide”, the forward march of humankind; and since modern civilization walks on the line of the Revolution, it is necessary to accept the path of the Revolution, which is the road of Progress.
Once the necessarily progressive character of history has been accepted, it is necessary to agree that the modern world, with its naturalism, liberalism, and communism, would be more human than the Medieval Catholic City, and which, consequently, the new Catholic City, the Montinian-Wojtylian «Civilization of Love», should not renounce to these three plagues of the Anti-Christian revolution.
b) A reflourishing of Christendom?There is no shortage of those who, among the alternatives or possibilities of the end of times, expect a re-flourishing of the Medieval Christendom.
Throughout the length and breadth of his fictionalized commentary on the Apocalypse, Father Castellani already warned us about the illusion of that period of triumph of the Church.
To learn about his thinking regarding this supposed re-establishment of Christendom we have to read carefully pages 15, 29-30, 38, 85, 135-136, 139-140, 159-160, 227-228, 287-288, 292-296, 307-309, 312, 387-389, 393, 398, 415. of Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides.
Summarizing his teaching, we extract these paragraphs, which we do no always quote verbatim.
“The modern world was born under a sign of mortal illness. The world thought it was coming out from an agony but its magnificent rebirth was nothing but a fever. It had a mortal wound. It was given orders to confirm, strengthen matters which, at any rate, were agonizing. The Church centralizes itself resolutely, as an army on the defense which draws back upon itself” (page 160)
“The age of Sardis is over! We are not in it now, expecting the triumph of the Church and the restoration of Christendom to arrive with the Church of Philadelphia. The Counter-Reformation ended with the French Revolution. The Revolution was a capital event that changed the face of history; in this, its admirers are not mistaken. Don't they put it in history textbooks as a new era, the «hegira» of the new times, what they call contemporary history? With the Revolution, the Roman Empire, which patristic tradition puts as Saint Paul's mysterious Katejon, the Obstacle for the Anti-Christ, formally ends." (page 161)
“There will be no «New Christendom»: neither the one of Solovyov's and his disciples, Berdiaev and Rozanov, nor the one of Maritain, nor that of Pemán, nor that of Father Lombardi and don Sturzo. Those are the vain illusions of a world which is afraid to die, The Roman Empire is the last of the great empires, after which the Anti-Christ will follow” (page 296)
“However, Christendom will not disappear. It will be profaned. The visible Church will not remain intact: inside her will be a sanctuary and an atrium. There will be faithful, clergy, religious, doctors, prophets who will be trampled upon, who will yield to the pressure, which will take the sign of the Beast”
“Christendom will be taken advantage of: the rubble of European public law, the materials of cultural tradition, the political and juridical mechanisms and instruments, will be taken advantage of in the continuation of the new Babel, the great impious world confederation” (page 294)
Father Castellani, however, was not unaware of the existence of a different opinion, contrary to this interpretation: that of those who believe that a re-flourishing of the Church will take place and a new Christendom will emerge. In the same work quoted above he presented it as follows:
“There will be, in-between the Anti-Christ and the Great War, an entire period of peace and prosperity of the Church, as it has never been seen before, in which the Gospel will be preached all around the world and the Jewish people will convert. It will be the time of the Angelic Pope and of the Great King, of the medieval visions; innumerable private prophecies have announced it; a kind of brief golden age of the Church in between two furious tempests; a passing restoration (of one lifetime's duration) of the Christian Monarchy in Europe, which corresponds to the stretch between the finis and the initia dolorum of our Lord, that is, what we could call the Nondum Statim period. "(pages. 29-30 and 38. For the latin quotes, see Saint Matthew, XXIV: 6-8 and Saint Luke, XXI: 9, "This, in effect, has to happen, but it is still not the end... All this is the beginning of the sorrows").
“Blessed Holzhauser predicts an immense but brief triumph of the Church, lasting a man's lifetime, in which the forces of Satan will be shrunk and reduced, but not eliminated, and in which the pressure from both sides will be formidable. A tense, palpitating, noisy, exasperated period, in the rhithm of human history: a truce but not a peace.” (page 140).
And despite this, he confirmed his opinion on the subject:
“You can resort to that if you are too scared of the end of the world. But I fear that such hope might be a temporary Millennialism, a human escape from the fearful prediction: because the puerperal pains, once they begin, are no more interrupted by any long period of well-being”
“It is a bad Millennialism that which expects Christ's Kingdom on Earth before Christ's coming, and obtained by temporal means, and consisting of a splendor of the Church, also temporal” (page 287)
“Nowadays, very many Catholics, including writers, including preachers, including wise men dream of a kind of temporary triumph of the Church, neighboring our times and preceding the Parousia. And is this something other than an advanced Millennialism?” (page 387)
And in his commentary to the Apocalypse he ratifies his thought:
“It is the same carnal dream of the Jews, which made them deceive themselves with respect to Christ. These are the Millenialists upside down. They deny staunchly the meta-historical Millennium after the Parousia and place instead a millennium which is not in Holy Scripture, by work of the historical forces alone; in other words, an infra-historical solution of History, the same way as do the impious progressivists; which is tantamount to negating the supernatural intervention of God in History.” (El Apokalipsis de San Juan, page. 297).