The strangest part is that the death of God that brings us eternal life is a death that we ourselves brought into the world through sin. It is a truly odd arrangement. Especially so given that our hearts are gnarled with pride, which stands in the way of our admitting our faults. The only way to have access to redemption is, paradoxically, to admit that we have sinned. Failing this, we make ourselves into gods, and determine on our own terms—whatever those may be—what is right and what is wrong.
These are the choices, then: life through dying to sin in God’s death, or death through living in sin as new gods. The universe drives a hard bargain.
I have rarely seen these two choices so fully on display as in two books that I read this past month. One is by a flamboyantly homosexual shock-artist and pundit. The other is by a famous French journalist who has written a string of works on homosexuality and culture.
The pundit is none other than Milo Yiannopoulos, who has made news around the world by twisting the prig noses of the liberal elite.
The French journalist is Frédéric Martel, who adopts the sangfroid, savoir faire pose of the European intellectual in proclaiming, as did the late Peter O’Toole, that there is but one law: “Do. As. Thou. Wilt.” (Interestingly, there’s another famous line attributed to O’Toole: “When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”)
Milo’s public pronouncements are most certainly not family friendly, and neither is his new book. And yet, of the two, Martel’s is the far more salacious. Milo wrote Diabolical: How Pope Francis Has Betrayed Clerical Abuse Victims Like Me—And Why He Has to Go to remind us that we need the Church to lead us to Jesus and salvation from sin. Martel wrote In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy to mock this idea.
It takes grace to admit that one is a sinner, but it takes courage, too. Milo Yiannopoulos is, without a doubt, one of the most courageous sinners of our time. It is not only that he recognizes his proclivities and knows that they are sinful. Even more astounding is that he is willing to tell the heartbreaking story of his life, abused at the hands of a lecherous priest in England in a post-Vatican II culture in which the very notion of sin had been largely discarded as old hat.
Perhaps most courageous of all is that he now shouts from the media rooftops that the New Church wishy-washiness that cultivated and abetted the scourge of homosexual predation and pedophilia must be ended and a manly Church, capable of protecting the flock from the wolves of modernity, must be rebuilt.
True to form, Milo does not couch his fire-and-brimstone sermonizing in vague generalities. He names names. This Savonarola of the #MeToo generation calls out not only shrieking feminists and self-righteous campus Gender Puritans, he also dares to follow the trail of Church-rot all the way to the top. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who as Pope Francis has done more than all previous popes put together to tailor the teachings of the Church to the heresies of the age, is named again and again in Diabolical as a dangerous enabler and snake-tongued double-dealer who is deliberately provoking chaos in the Church and the world. Milo also calls out the other spineless bishops and cardinals who, like certain high-ranking officials in the United States federal government, think it is their duty to dismantle their inheritance while living lavishly on the proceeds of the sellout.
In an age like ours, where Holy Mass has been replaced by mass media, it takes guts beyond compare to do what Milo has done—stand up as a lone truth-teller and read the whitewashed sepulchers of the hour the riot act.
It takes considerably less intestinal fortitude to take the Martel route. In the Closet of the Vatican is the most cowardly book I have read this year. To the long list of unfortunate American cultural exports (one has not truly wept for one’s homeland until one has discovered the popularity of Snoop Dogg in Beijing) must now be added virtue signaling, that practice whereby one preens one’s borrowed feathers in public, insisting that everyone applaud one’s ability to cannily appropriate whatever the faux morality of the hour happens to be. Martel, who styles himself a connoisseur of all things American, is a world-class virtue signaler. But he is much worse than just that. In the Closet of the Vatican makes Liz Smith’s gossip columns look like serious literature in comparison, and Dan Brown’s paranoiac screeds appear to be academic history.
Martel’s “book,” if one might call it that, is little more than a listing of the juiciest tidbits that Martel the gadfly has overheard while flitting around Rome and the rest of the world, meeting with Church officials and drizzling their words with homosexualist innuendo. This is scurrilous junk, and I regret paying money for even the Kindle version. There are no redeeming qualities to Martel’s tirade, period. Readers with any self-respect are advised to skip this act of sheer cravenness and find something, anything, better to read.
The premise of Martel’s prissy diatribe is summed up in one sentence: The Vatican is a hotbed of homosexuality, and those who pretend not to be homosexuals are probably the most flamingly gay of them all.
This is the kind of “social analysis” that I used to hear in seventh grade, but it forms the core of Martel’s entire effort. On page after page we are treated to juvenile jokes and asinine double-entendre, all in Martel’s exceptionally annoying writing style. In one passage, for example, Martel is meeting with Ludwig Cardinal Müller when the cardinal takes a phone call and begins speaking in German. Martel immediately concludes that Müller is having a romantic conversation with a male lover. There is no evidence given.
This kind of scene, repeated again and again—the retailing of hearsay, sometimes at second and third hand—is all there is to In the Closet of the Vatican. The most certainty that one is able to get out of Martel is when he pronounces that Walter Cardinal Kasper is not gay. How does Martel know? “Gaydar.” Yes, “gaydar”. As I said, do yourself a favor and do not bother with this book.
All of this nonsensical clucking comes together so gratingly in Martel’s (surely libelous) description of His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke that it feels as though Martel wrote In the Closet of the Vatican as a vehicle for his insults. Consider, for example, the following excerpts from Martel’s passage about going to Cardinal Burke’s residence in the Vatican for an interview, and then touring the rooms while His Eminence was delayed.
When waiting becomes awkward, I leave the drawing room at last. I take the liberty of wandering about the cardinal’s apartment. All of a sudden I happen upon a private altar in a fake iceberg setting, an altarpiece in the form of a colourful triptych, like a little open chapel, embellished with a garland of blinking lights, with the cardinal’s famous red hat in the middle. A hat? What am I saying: a headdress!
Then I find myself remembering the extravagant photographs of Raymond Leo Burke, so often mocked on the internet: the diva cardinal; the dandy cardinal; the drama-queen cardinal. They must be seen to be believed. Looking at them, you start imagining the Vatican in a different light. Laughing at Burke is almost too easy!
Burke is well known for wearing […] garb from another era. The photographs of him wearing this big ceremonial altar-boy outfit are famous. He’s a big man; in his cappa magna he becomes a giant—he looks like a Viking bride! Performance. Happening. In his long robe (he could be wearing a curtain), Burke shows himself in his full plumage.
Often we see him surrounded by young seminarians kissing his hand—also magnificent is that our Hadrian seems to follow the cult of Greek beauty, which, as we know, was always more male than female. Winning both the admiration and the laughter of Rome, Burke always appears surrounded by obsequious chaperones, Antinous-like figures kneeling in front of him or page boys carrying the long red train of his cappa magna, as choirboys might for a bride. What a spectacle! The skirted cardinal playfully slaps his young men, and they in turn adjust his rolled-up robes. He makes me think of the Infanta Margarita in Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen anything quite so fantastical. At the sight of this man disguised to display his virility, one is utterly lost for words. There are no adjectives to describe this cardinal draped in his female attire. And there you have your gender theory!
This vaudevillian mockery of Cardinal Burke is much more than cruel. It is also disingenuous. The fundamental mendacity of Martel’s dreck—and one must peel back a lot of layers of the stuff to get to the bedrock level of deceit—is that the Catholic Church has always been a big joke, filled with people who don’t take religion seriously or who use various aspects of the Faith in the service of their own sins and sinful natures.
One of Martel’s sub-themes, for example, is that the priesthood is filled with homosexuals because the Church’s requirement of priestly celibacy was a perfect match for self-loathing men with same-sex attraction. As if to prove this point, Martel interviews several men who went through seminary in the hopes of covering over their inclinations with the veil of an imposed single lifestyle.
But here is where the deception slips in. Martel, willfully or otherwise, gets his cause-and-effect analysis precisely backwards when it comes to sexual sin in the Church. For Martel, it is the Church’s teachings on chastity, marriage, and priestly celibacy that bring about what Martel calls the “hypocrisy” of an immense gay lobby within the Vatican (the infamous “lavender mafia,” whose members are referred to in the argot of the clerical underworld as being “in the parish”). What rollicking contradiction, Martel delights in pointing out, that the men who tell the rest of the world to live prudishly are the same men who get caught in their lavish Vatican apartments with rent boys, string-and-leather get-ups, and duffel bags full of methamphetamines and cocaine. How rich.
Indeed, this pose of Tartuffian sniffery is precisely what allows Martel to riff on Cardinal Burke’s magna cappa, “fluorescent yellow mitre in the shape of a tall Tower of Pisa, and long turquoise gloves that look like iron hands”. The subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-jaw subtext here is that Burke is the biggest homosexual of them all. Get it? Cardinal Burke very much included, the Vatican is stewing in its own hypocritical juices and the only good thing that comes of it, in Martel’s view, is when homosexuals finally quit the charade and go out into the world to get “married” to their lovers and finally live normal secular lives. Goodbye to all the “red trapezoid outfits” and the “forest of white lace”. To round out this farce, Martel goes so far as to bring in Julian Fricker, “a German drag artist who aims to achieve a high artistic standard,” to offer his opinion on such fripperies. As you might have already guessed, Herr Fricker does not focus on Cardinal Burke’s theological bona fides. All of this, Martel seems to believe, proves his point that the Vatican is a sartorial, and theological, punchline.
The inconvenient truth, though, is that Martel has reversed the effect and the cause. As Michael S. Rose’s must-read 2015 book, Goodbye, Good Men, lays out, it is not that the Church creates hypocrisy. Far from it. The Church’s teachings on sin, sex, and holiness would be impossible to hew to without God’s grace, of course, but that is precisely what God gives us when we resolve to follow His law. We are prone to sin, but that is not supposed to be the final word. God’s Word, made flesh, intervenes, if we let Him. Priests are supposed to live this holy truth and teach and model it for the rest of us. Many of them did, and still do.
Shame on Martel for insinuating that the holy and virtuous men who administer the sacraments at the parishes I am blessed to attend are probably consorting with male prostitutes. Shame on Bloomsbury for publishing such rot.
Contra Martel, the real problem is that, after Vatican II, sinful men in the Church, rabid Modernists and other practical atheists, began destroying the filaments and conduits of grace needed to live holy lives by undermining belief in the sacraments and faith in the ministers of God. Priests were targeted by the Devil, working through the Modernist camp, in a way that is likely without parallel in the history of Christendom. During the French Revolution and at other times of political upheaval there have been mass apostasies, to be sure. But the post-Vatican II apostasy was unique in that it was almost entirely invisible. Men turned away from God in their hearts; giving into their basest desires by sodomizing one another in seminary cells became a sad consecration of their inward rebellion. What Martel breezily calls “the parish” is not a sub-culture within the Vatican. It is the province of the Devil inside the walls of the Church. It was not the Church that caused sin. It is sinful men, working for a master other than God, who to this very hour seek the downfall of Christ’s Church.
Once Martel’s book is properly understood for the exercise in disingenuousness that it is, it comes to seem a monstrous attempt to paper over the horrors that were visited upon countless people once the invisible apostasy following Vatican II started to worm its way to the surface. Like abortion, which is another of the Devil’s attempts to hide his heinous contempt for God so that he might carry out his sick designs unimpeded, the sodomite revolution in the seminaries could not remain in the shadows forever. Abortion does not just murder an innocent baby, it also kills the child’s mother (and the abortionist and the “clinic” workers) in her soul. Society coarsens as legions of women bearing lacerations across the heart go back to interact with a generation of men who are implicit in these crimes—indeed, who often masterminded them. Abortion is not about what a woman does with her body—it is about what an ongoing holocaust does to us all.
Likewise, sodomite priests do not just harm one another. They also prey upon the weak around them. (Did anyone ever seriously believe that sin could be contained by the Devil’s favorite fiction of “consent”?) How many people, most of them children at the time, have been defiled by sexual predators whom the Devil used the seminaries to cultivate?
We will probably never know exactly how many innocent people have been psychologically vandalized by such devils in Roman collars. But we know of at least one—Milo Yiannopoulos. In a truly heroic act of honesty, Milo stands up to face the demons of his past, and in our present, calling down the wrath of God on those who have spent the past six decades taking a chainsaw to the Barque of St. Peter and who now suggest that, since the ship is sinking, we might like to move to the lifeboats (variously dubbed Ecumenism, Amoris Laetitia, Womenpriests, and the SS James Martin). Milo has been damaged by the horrific abuse he endured. But he has not been defeated. Read Diabolical and see if you do not catch yourself cheering for a man who has the guts to lay out the plain truth the way Milo does. This is someone who loves the Faith more than he loves being lauded by the New York Times. (Cardinal Dolan, take note.)
To be sure, Milo’s book is not for children. It contains more than a handful of gasp-inducingly-irreverent jokes, and the overall tone is often dyed heavily with homosexualist camp. But Milo’s book is most certainly for anyone who has children, or who is concerned about what the sinful “gay mafia” has done to children around the world. Milo’s book is also for anyone who wants the straight truth on how Jorge Mario Bergoglio crawled out of the Vatican II swamp to become the Pontifex Maximus and Bishop of Rome. How, as Pope Francis, he is seeking the final denouement of the Magisterium, and how we the tiny remnant can—must—stop him.
Christianity is a tremendous paradox. It is an even bigger paradox than I expected. One of the most ultimately pious and beautifully faithful works of recent memory has come from the pen of one of the world’s most high-profile homosexuals. Milo Yiannopoulos’ Diabolical is the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, of a Mary Magdalene pleading with sinners to cling to the One Who can alone can set us all free. It stands in stark contrast to the puerile, unserious floor sweepings of Frédéric Martel, a man for whom sin is a hoot and the Church a shooting gallery for sarcasm.
Compare the two and see: the idolaters of the moment cackle with glee, finding it good sport to lampoon whatever is holy and good. We have seen this all before, for example at Calvary. But who was the first person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven after Jesus? The repentant thief hanging on the adjacent cross.
To be a saint, one must say “I have sinned.” Martel, who denies sin, is a big supporter of Pope Francis, of course. Milo, a sinner like no other, demands that Francis take action against the root of sin and restore God’s Church in order to save souls. Bergoglio’s overweening pride is bruising the Bride of Christ. But one can imagine Our Blessed Lord turning tenderly to Milo and saying, “Today, you shall be with Me in paradise.”
Impossible? His sin is too great? Perhaps. But were the sins of the Good Thief any less egregious in the eyes of the Crucified? Perhaps there is still time for Milo if someone, anyone, in the Church today could summon the charity and, yes, courage required to say unto him and the millions of lost sheep just like him: “Go and sin no more.” It’s the denial of sin that leads to the bedlam that Martel blames on the Church. As the Holy Father “accompanies” us all to the gates of a Hell in which he apparently no longer believes, the fact that in the prevailing (and now deafening) ecclesial silence, it's up to Milo to sound the alarm tells us as much about the diabolical nature of the Revolution as anything else.