We are living now a new dusk of decrepitude. The Church has known much trouble of late; I suppose the Church has always known trouble of one sort or another. But 2016 has brought a new crepuscular light to bear on our home. We are experiencing an ecclesial chiaroscuro of unprecedented shadow and feeble, feeble light; unprecedented only because our digital age makes us all partakers in the universal horror.
I have blogged before under a range of names, although lately with a sense of impending crisis and confusion. Pope Francis's papacy shocked me so much that my capacity to make any sense of unfolding events almost ran dry. Then misfortune nearly revealed my identity - well enough known in some limited circles - to some people who could have done me a lot of harm. The blog was closed. Probably not before time.
But I come back now under a new pseudonym and with a new project. I take as my inspiration the brave cardinals who have risked so much in recent weeks, making public their questions about Amoris Laetitia. The reaction to this intervention has shown it to be a litmus test of extraordinary efficaciousness; a litmus test of fidelity of course, but also of infidelity and - in a surprising turn of events - of wilful stupidity too. Bold acts divide the world, and we should thank God for it
There are at least two unspoken things we know for certain about the letter of the cardinals. First, it is backed by more than four of them; they would not have gone public without behind-the-scenes support from others. Second, they are in deadly earnest. Now, deadly earnest in the clergy is so utterly rare that when one sees it, one has to sit up and take notice. I apologise to any clergy who feel that is unfair but, frankly, the crisis in authority is now too deep to take any other view of clerical power.
So, what of the blog project of which I speak? I might sum up its first aspect in a citation: Je voulais être témoin avant de mourir. So said Georges Bernanos to an interviewer in 1926: I wanted to give witness before I die. I think it a good motto. One of his many bon mot. And we're all dying, aren't we, especially under the current regime? Indeed, some of us may not survive the crisis. In the last twelve months or more, I have seen Christian charity withering too often in otherwise faithful hearts. And that, dear reader, is no way to die.
The second aim is simple. I'm just here for the company. It's good to know we're not alone. And if my words offer a few shards of consolation to someone, to anyone, I'll be glad to have broken my silence.
We are all called to the Decent Inn of Death eventually. The image is Chesterton's. The gift is Christ's. The bruising or even brutal events of recent times have attempted to bring us all low. But if we must languish in the gutter together, dear reader, let's make sure we're looking at the stars.