June 5, 1992
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
To commemorate the Quincentenary or 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus' Discovery of America, the Seminary is offering you the enclosed "Verbum" in colour. If you are tempted to ask how Columbus' feat can be considered Seminary news, the answer must be that without what he did, there would be no North American Seminary at all, so we are commemorating the common ancestor of all of us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
His feat was stupendous. Today, with satellites spinning round the world in 90 minutes, with telephone calls reaching to the other side of the globe at the speed of light, and with every square yard of the earth both surveyed and lying wide open to aerial surveillance, it is difficult to recreate the sense of what it must have felt like east of the Atlantic, since all known centuries in all then known countries of the civilized world, for the gates of the Ocean to be locked. On land at that time it might take days to reach the visible horizon, and the same at sea. Sailors had ventured no further westward than Portugal's Azores Islands. What lay further west? Nobody knew. Columbus had himself collected all scraps of information from all previous mythical or possible westward voyages, but they amounted to no certainty. It was Columbus and nobody else who unlocked the gates of the ocean and discovered a New World, and made the unknown known.
Surely, it is more than anything else the aeroplane that has extended our sense of the horizon and diminished our sense of the limitations that always used to hem in explorers. However, in flying today over the Caribbean, one can still recapture a sense of the magic of the world into which Columbus sailed for the first time: the bright blue sea, the scattered islands, the lush vegetation, the balmy climate. Columbus himself was enchanted, as are today millions of — holidaymakers!
But the Caribbean is much more than just a playground. Starting with Columbus, it has been the geographic hinge of North and South America, and the cockpit of the continent's history down to this day. Following the Spaniards who came with Columbus, there have been, down the 500 years, incursions of the French (still in Martinique and Guadaloupe where the Society of St. Pius X has large and growing parishes) the Dutch (ever heard of Curacao liqueur?), the British (British and French fleets used to play hide and seek in the Caribbean), the Americans (to whom Puerto Rico fell in 1898) and finally the Russians - President Kennedy tussled with Kruschev over Cuba in the 1960's and President Reagan had to deal with their latest effort in the 1980's to spread their errors from the island of Grenada.
Grenada! The very name is like a bell, to toll us back to Spain. The other European and world powers may have followed Columbus in and out of the Caribbean to play politics, but to Spain and Portugal alone fell the honour and the glory of following Columbus in planting the Cross and Catholic civilization throughout Central and Southern America. As shown in the Verbum centerfold, a Rosary of Catholic nations sprang up from the profound Catholic piety that impelled Queen Isabella of Castille to sponsor Christopher Columbus to cross the Ocean. To this day, more than half of the world's Catholics inhabit the countries to which these two incredibly great souls gave rise. Their role is duly acknowledged by the numerous statues, especially of Columbus, erected in Latin American cities, but as these countries today are losing their Catholic Faith in the worldwide apostasy, so Columbus and Isabella are losing their places of honour. In Bogota, Columbia, the pair of then statues have been moved out of the city centre towards the airport, and they are due to be moved further out still, I recall being told.
For indeed, the modem world is more and more estranged from everything Columbus and Isabella stood for. They were godly, it is secularized; they embodied a Catholic monarchy, it believes in pluralist democracy; they believed in hierarchy and obedience, it believes in equality and independence; they believed in spreading the Faith, it believes in religious liberty; they believed in missionaries, it believes in liberation theology. And so today throughout the Continent engendered by Columbus and Isabella, tens of thousands of Protestant vultures are feeding on the carcass of its decaying Catholicism, and the vile media rejoice in Isabella's successors apologising for her cornerstone policies...
But the chickens are coming home to roost. Catholic order is not an optional extra. Catholic order is not overthrown with impunity. Nations cannot rest on Protestant foundations. They can only rest on what still remains, or has been re-injected, of Catholic foundations, and when the vile media will have completed their work of uprooting those foundations, then chaos will come again.
Over one hundred and fifty years ago the missionary impulse of Columbus and Isabella was still expanding from Mexico up the western coast of North America, and in a line of Catholic mission-stations founded to evangelize the local Indians in what is today California, one was called "Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula". Within one hundred years the little mission-station was swamped within the modern megalopolis seething around it, to which it bequeathed its religious name, The Angels, but which was founded no longer upon Columbus' ancient religion but upon man's new-found religious liberty, enshrined in a Constitution guaranteeing freedom and equal rights for all. Unfortunately, by the beginning of our own decade the freedom had untied bonds of family, the equality had undermined school and authority, and the religious liberty, by equally protecting all churches contradicting one another, even churches of Satan, had made every church in effect look foolish. With family, school and church undermined, the delinquents began to roam the streets.
Now this was grave, but mush graver was the national media's ability so to play on liberty, equality and rights, on the public's veneration of citizens' liberty, racial equality and the individual's rights, that when the Los Angeles police force in the course of their duty to arrest a particularly menacing delinquent resisting arrest, used a measure of force judged to be reasonable by a jury exposed to all the facts and not just to the media's selection of them, nevertheless 83% of the public as measured in one poll judged that the jury had made a mistake. Actually, given the weight of the media onslaught, the astonishing thing is not that 83 % of the public were deceived, but that as many as 17% still kept their common sense about them. So the delinquent emerged a hero, the police were discredited and demoralized, and the media and professional agitators are free to plot their next — they no doubt hope, final — assault upon law and order.
"Excellency, when will you stop mixing our sublime religion with your contentious opinions on politics?" My dear friends, the exclusion of Catholicism, or of Christ the King, from ideas of how to run a nation is exactly the problem. The problem is neither delinquents nor the big cities nor even the media, but deeply anti-Catholic ideals being rooted in the mass of the people. The solution is not the Constitution. In fact the Constitution, especially when treated as the solution, is the problem.
Columbus was not a great sailor who happened to be a Catholic, but a great Catholic who happened to be a sailor. In 1992 we are commemorating his name but despising his ideas. America awes him its very existence, yet treats him as though he had no idea what he was really doing — his religion uniting State and Church was as quaint as his little ships whose replicas we parade up and down the coast!
My dear friends, if chaos is upon us we have only ourselves to blame. By integrating Faith and politics, Columbus founded America. Whoever separates them, is disintegrating America. Let this be the real lesson of the 500th anniversary. I wish you enjoyment of the "Verbum", and a riot-free summer.
Most sincerely yours in Christ the Lord of Lords and King of Kings,