Dear Friends and Benefactors,
When the United States Senate voted last month to acquit President Clinton of crimes of which all the known evidence had until then made him guilty, it was a sign of the times, marking an extraordinary degradation in the public life of the leading nation of the Western world. However, rather than heap blame on the sign, let us consider the times. In what does the degradation consist? Who is mainly responsible? What is its purpose?
The degradation consists essentially in the fact that instead of good accusing evil, it is now as though evil accuses good. Instead of decent standards being accepted while the facts are in dispute, now the indecent facts are widely accepted while the standards are in dispute. In this sense, what the Senate did last month is merely the culmination (for the moment) of a process of overthrowing old values. This process has been going on for a long time but on this occasion it broke out in spectacular fashion. Again and again during the last six years, "decent" Americans must have said to themselves, "But the public can't stand for this! The people will react against that!" But the reaction never came. Again and again such Americans have had to lick their wounds. It is as if the old moral standards no longer applied. The people seemed to rejoice in their being blown away.
Here are two examples. Firstly, when President Nixon was nearly impeached in 1974, the New York Stock Exchange fell disastrously. When Clinton was really impeached in 1998, it hardly wavered. That represents a very different public attitude. Second symptom: when the private adultery of an old-breed American politician becomes public, it can still destroy his career, because he admits it is wrong. But no adultery of any new-breed politician can give leverage to a blackmailer because then it is virtually a badge of honour. We are, as Americans say, in a completely new ball-game.
The next question is, who is mainly responsible for this enormous change in morals, merely shown forth in politics? For an answer let us return to the recent decision of the Senate. Was the system responsible? For instance, some people would say that the whole episode was just typical of the United States. Well, it may be true that the Puritanism rooted in the American soul twists out of true all kinds of moral reactions here, but can it be said that the moral rot is markedly worse in the U.S.A. than in many other Western nations, especially those repudiating a Catholic past which the United States never enjoyed? Surely not.
Then maybe the systematic liberalism of the U.S. Constitution was the problem in Clinton's acquittal? Now it is certain that the U.S. Constitution is not the all-saving remedy that some patriots pretend it to be, but in this case the impeachment process that it contains would have worked well, had it been operated by men whose first concern was the truth. As Catholics have always known, Constitutions are only worth what is in the hearts and minds of the men operating them. "Madam, you have a Republic, if you can keep it", said Benjamin Franklin on emerging from the Convention that forged the U.S. Constitution. This recent acquittal showed that today's Americans, by what they have in their hearts and minds, are fast losing their republic. See in the enclosed flyer what Donoso Cortés said to his fellow Spaniards 150 years ago on the same theme.
Then is systematic democracy the problem, which made the constitutionally appointed Senators bow under the pressure of the opinion polls? No doubt public opinion did put the Senators under pressure, but did it force them to acquit Clinton? Of course not. Many senators voted against acquittal. In conclusion, as Catholics should know, systems are not the problem, but people. What people were responsible for this acquittal?
It is interesting in this respect to compare the acquittal of Clinton with the release of Barabbas (Mt XXVII, 1523). When Pontius Pilate released this "notorious prisoner", there were three parties responsible. Pilate himself bore the official responsibility, because only he could give the order for Barabbas to be released. The "chief priests and ancients" bore the leading responsibility, because it is they who persuaded the crowd to cry out for the release of Barabbas, and to raise such a tumult as made Pilate give way. The crowd bore the ultimate responsibility, because when Pilate washed his hands in front of them to protest that he was innocent of the blood of "this just man", i.e. Jesus, the whole people answering said, "His blood be upon us and upon our children".
Official responsibility, leading responsibility, ultimate responsibility - which was the main responsibility? Surely not Pilate's, because he would obviously not have released Barabbas or condemned Jesus had he not been put under severe pressure by the crowd and its leaders. The responsibility of the conspiratorial chief priests and ancients (cf. Jn XI, 47-53 for their conspiracy) in the release of Barabbas and death of Jesus is overwhelming. However, without the crowd, they were powerless to force Pilate's hand, and they could not force the crowd, therefore the main responsibility must be that of the crowd, which freely chose to follow those evil leaders.
For just as the most skilful horse-rider can only work with the horse that he has beneath him, so the most skilful politician, be he democrat or aristocrat or king, can still only work with the people that he has beneath him. In the case of Barabbas' release, God punished both leaders and people, with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and then with that curse they had called down upon themselves, and from which only those blessed few escape who call down the Precious Blood as a laver of regeneration.
Now let us apply these principles to Clinton's acquittal. Official responsibility lies obviously with the Senate. Like Pilate, they did not want to handle the case but were forced to do so. Like Pilate, they might have preferred to judge in accordance with justice and truth, but they chose to yield to the cries of the opinion polls, and so they bear an inescapable responsibility for the sentence of acquittal.
However, leading responsibility lies with the media which mould public opinion in modern democracies, and with the money-men who control those media. Why are the media so powerful? Because the liberals said to God, "We can do without you, all we need to run our affairs is an informed democracy", and the Lord God replied, "Alright, see where democracy by godless information gets you", and we have government by vile media, vile because moving all the time away from God. As for the money-men controlling the media that agitate the crowd, they are the direct successors of the chief-priests and ancients, and like them, their prime motive in this acquittal is to destroy Jesus. Here is one of their spokesmen, as quoted in the "Wanderer" of last Dec. 24: "We are in a culture war... a vote against impeachment of Clinton is not a vote for Clinton but a vote against fundamentalism and the pro-life movement. The anti-Clinton alliance is the forces of evil! - evil! - genuine evil!".
Nevertheless, even if the money-men wield enormous power by their money and their media, still, like the chief-priests and ancients, they could not exercise successful pressure on the Senators except through the people, and even with their media they could not force the people to support Clinton. Therefore the ultimate responsibility for Clinton's acquittal lay with the American people, who, when all is said and done, have the media and the leaders and the President that they deserve. The people want the President they now have because, like them, he defies the Ten Commandments, and he makes them feel good doing so.
That is why, to come to our third question, for leaders and for people the real purpose of the Clinton acquittal, as of the release of Barabbas, is to get rid of Jesus. The Clinton acquittal is a battle not only in a culture war but in a religious war. The people want to sin. They want money, materialism and all the pleasures money can buy. They want no restraints upon their sinful ways. This is what the money-men and corrupt politicians give them. This is why they want power to the money-men and to corrupt politicians. This is why Barabbas was released and Clinton was acquitted.
However, all is not lost, far from it. Even in Jerusalem's darkest hour under the "power of darkness" (Lk XXII, 53) when Our Lord was being betrayed and crucified, still there was a Veronica, a Simon of Cyrene, a Joseph of Arimathea, and an unwavering Mother of God. Amidst the crowd baying for the blood of Our Lord, still there will have been single souls or families not following the wicked crowd, but looking up to God, trusting God, and begging Him for the grace not to abandon Him. Nobody can force us to follow the movement of the crowd, to desire money, to expose ourselves to the media, to live sinfully. If only Catholics were Catholic and truly renounced the world and the flesh and the devil, the money-men and the media would rapidly lose their power. The more we analyze their power, the more we see how dependent it is on sin, which depends on my free will and the lack of grace.
Then let me pray to recover or to re-inforce grace. Let me pray quietly and steadily, each day at least five, preferably fifteen, Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Let me get to Mass as often as possible, and to Confession. Let me stop watching television, and read a minimum of newspapers. Let me read Catholic classics, pre-Council from TAN Publishers (Rockford, IL), post-Council from the Angelus Press (Kansas City, MO). And let me trust in God, who even if he has to destroy Jerusalem, will make all work for good to those who love Him (Rom VIII, 28). We are in His hands.
Men, also make use of the Ignatian Exercises available here at the seminary, the first just after Easter, as per the enclosed flyer. And use the courses of Family Doctrine, and Literature. Catholic lives need Catholic minds, Catholic minds need Catholic truths.
And may you all have a grace-filled Holy Week and Eastertide.
Most sincerely yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Richard Williamson