Il Foglio: What do you think and feel about the recent attack at a French church? No priest had been killed in odium fidei (out of hatred for the faith) since the Second World War.
Pierre Manent: Imagine this scene: a mid-week mass, an almost empty church, two parishioners, three nuns, a very old priest with a mild, fine face who is immolated at the foot of the altar on which he has just celebrated the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. This heart-wrenching scene sheds light on the state of Christianity in Europe.
Il Foglio: France looks exhausted. … What are France’s mistakes, especially those of the elite media and intellectuals, and what is the nature of its malaise?
Pierre Manent: The French are exhausted, but they are first of all perplexed, lost. Things were not supposed to happen this way. … We had supposedly entered into the final stage of democracy where human rights would reign, ever more rights ever more rigorously observed. We had left behind the age of nations as well as that of religions, and we would henceforth be free individuals moving frictionless over the surface of the planet. … And now we see that religious affiliations and other collective attachments not only survive but return with a particular intensity. Everyone can see and feel this, but how can it be expressed when the only authorized language is that of individual rights? We have become supremely incapable of seeing what is right before our eyes. [NFR: Ahem! — RD] Meanwhile the ruling class, which is not a political but an ideological class, one that commands not what must be done but what must be said, goes on indefinitely about “values,” the “values of the republic,” the “values of democracy,” the “values of Europe.” This class has been largely discredited in the eyes of citizens, but it occupies all the positions of institutional responsibility, especially in the media, and nowhere does one find groups or individuals who give the impression of understanding what is happening or of being able to stand up to it. We have no more confidence in those who lead us than in ourselves. It is neither an excuse nor a consolation to say it, but the faults of the French are those of Europeans in general.
One more bit from Manent:
I believe that, amid the crumbling of Western civilization, which has begun, the supernatural character of the Church will become, paradoxically, more and more visible. The hatred of the world will turn against it more and more clearly. More clearly than ever the fate of all will depend on the “little flock” of Christians.
Europe is only one generation ahead of the US. The hatred about to come against the Church in Europe is coming to the Church in the US too. Open your eyes. If one of the most distinguished political philosophers in the world can see it coming, so had we better. The Benedict Option is the only path open to us orthodox Christians in the West. We are living through dramatic historical times. We Christians in the West had better hope that we can live up to what it demands of us.