Ben is director of the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute, founded to help Christian politicians defend the faith in the public square. He drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity, launched by the Speaker of the European Parliament in 2009. He was a long-term aid to senior British politician Nirj Deva from 1996 until stepping down as Chief of Staff in 2010 to concentrate on the DHI. He is currently a Board member of the European Christian Political Movement. Follow him on Twitter at @ben_harnwell.
Why should Catholics in particular be concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage? Does this have any significance to the plotline of the human story?
Here I must issue a spoiler alert: stop reading now if you don’t want to know what happens at the end.
In 2008, after offering Holy Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra was asked about the spiritual warfare over the battleground of the family.
In his day, Cardinal Caffarra was founding President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, and was closely involved with the preparation of Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic apostolic exhortation on the family.
Here’s what the Italian cardinal said in his interview:
Q. There is a prophecy by Sister Lucia dos Santos, of Fatima, which concerns “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan”. The battlefield is the family. Life and the family. We know that you were given charge by John Paul II to plan and establish the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family.
A. Yes, I was. At the start of this work entrusted to me by the Servant of God John Paul II, I wrote to Sister Lucia of Fatima through her Bishop as I couldn’t do so directly.
Unexplainably however, since I didn’t expect an answer, seeing that I had only asked for prayers, I received a very long letter with her signature – now in the Institute’s archives. In it we find written: the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, she added, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed its head.
Talking also to John Paul II, you felt too that this was the crux, as it touches the very pillar of creation, the truth of the relationship between man and woman among the generations. If the founding pillar is touched the entire building collapses and we see this now, because we are at this point and we know it. And I’m moved when I read the best biographies of Padre Pio, on how this man was so attentive to the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of the spouses, even with justifiable rigor on occasion.
This episode suggests strongly that the Supreme Court’s decision might be read through a lens of a dramatic spiritual warfare, with the family, as traditionally understood, firmly in the center of the battle.
The then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said as much in his now famous letter to the Carmelites of Argentina. Ahead of a 2010 initiative to make of Argentina the first Latin American country to introduce same-sex legislation, which eventually passed, he warned:
Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a ‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.
Now that the author of those words is Supreme Pontiff, he is in the unique position to be able to guide Catholics through what some commentators are already saying will be the beginning of a new Western persecution of Christians.