Catholic & Identitarian, by Julien Langella (Arktos Media; 338 pp., $38.95). French commando Dominique Venner committed suicide inside Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2013 as an act of protest against unrestricted Islamic immigration. One cannot but censure Venner’s sacrilegious act. Yet, calling attention to the existential threat to the West in general and France in particular is a legitimate aim. In a disorienting age that has confused the touchstones of family, faith, nationality, vocation, and even sex, the question of identity is undeniably paramount.
Given the Catholic ecclesial bureaucracy’s flamboyant embrace of globalist ideology, it is quite radical enough to point out that, as French activist Julien Langella puts it in this book, “the teachings and traditions of the Church have always respected ethnic and national borders and protected the integrity of authentic human roots.” For the benefit of those unaware of the Catholic tradition’s relationship to patriotism, Langella shows how the local, particular loyalties frequently denounced in modern homilies as “racism” have been affirmed not only by popes and Church Doctors, but by Biblical figures such as the Maccabees, Saint Paul, and Christ Himself.
Pope Pius XII declared in his Summi Pontificatus (1939) that the Church cannot “attack or underestimate” the cultural characteristics that each people “retains and considers as a precious heritage.” The recently canonized John Paul II also observed in his provocatively entitled Memory and Identity that Church teaching “speaks of ‘natural societies,’ indicating that both the family and the nation have a particular bond with human nature.”
Bound up in such seemingly innocuous statements is a critical truth from which today’s Catholic conservative establishmentarian consistently shrinks: There is no argument for denying significance to ethnicity or nationality that does not ultimately translate into an attack upon the natural family itself. Either organic and historic bonds matter, or they don’t.
“Caring for strangers has its limits,” Langella writes. “Only our Father can simultaneously love every creature on the earth with the same intensity.”
Yet, for men of weak character, a shallow love for the other expressed as hypermobile liberal internationalism proves seductive. It is far easier to gaily tour the world while prattling solicitously about the latest PC cause célèbre than it is to maintain messy yet meaningful long-term relationships with kinfolk, countrymen, and next-door neighbors. Whatever good is still to be accomplished in the 21st century will come through those willing to take the hard road, which points homeward.
Jerry D. Salyer writes from Louisville, Kentucky.