DON CAMILLO AND VATICAN II
Giovanni Guareschi is one of the most significant Italian writers of the 20th Century – and certainly one of the most underrated. Better known as “Giovannino,” Guareschi was born over 100 years ago on May 1, 1908.
Few contemporary European writers had so much authentic Catholic sensibility embedded in their works as Guareschi, whose masterpiece was the series of works, the Mondo Piccolo (Little World), in which the great struggle of his and of our age – the war between Faith and Reason (Logos), on one side, and Socialist barbarianism and relativism, of either “left” or “right”, on the other, with many indifferent or lukewarm spectators in the middle – played itself out in a small village in the Italian countryside.
They’ve put up an autobiographical note by Guareschi which appeared in the seventh edition of Mondo Piccolo. There is a certain solid common-sense that permeates Guareschi’s “Little World,” somewhat reminiscent of Chesterton, that “apostle of common sense.”
DON CAMILLO ONLINE
Don Camillo is a colorful, down-to-earth small town parish priest that anticipated in many ways the Modernist saboteurs who would hijack the Church at Vatican II and alienate so many Catholics faithful to the Magisterium.
When you read the adventures of Don Camillo, you automatically want to root for Don Camillo against Don Chichi (the “post-Vatican II” Modernist priest).
In Ways of Escape, Graham Greene offers a touching tribute to the recently deceased Evelyn Waugh. Unlike Greene, Waugh was a convinced believer and had no doubts about her faith. But, as Greene explains, “the old expression ‘a broken heart’ comes near to the truth” when describing Waugh’s reaction to Vatican II. When Giovanni Guareschi’s Christ, in Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children, exclaims ‘Don Camillo, please, I just went through the agonies of the Vatican Council,’ the author himself must have felt something similar.
Guareschi’s sad epilogue to Comrade Don Camillo, among other things notes that his parishioners must now “face a new generation of priests who are no brothers of Don Camillo.”
THE ‘BUFFET TABLE’
Five years later, in Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children, Guareschi presents mixed feelings towards the controversial Vatican II. Don Camillo refuses to replace his church’s altar with what he calls a ‘buffet table,’ and inside Don Camillo’s church, nothing has changed. In other words, it has remained Catholic.
The Curia, however, decides to send over the priest Don Francesco, who arrives in a business suit, and is mistaken by Don Camillo for a salesman, to impose the changes that Don Camillo has not implemented. Don Camillo complains to Christ who responds: “Don Camillo, if a cassock does not make a monk, then most certainly it does not make the priest. Or do you maintain that you are more a minister of God than that young man simply because you wear a cassock and he wears a jacket and trousers?” Don Camillo responds: “The cassock is a priest’s uniform. Who can trust a soldier that despises his own uniform? And then we wonder why these days there are such few vocations?”
Don Francesco’s disingenuous motto, according to Don Camillo, is “Demystify,” that is, “throw out all that is merely ornamental and supposedly serves only to nourish superstition.”
According Don Francesco, the traditional Catholic altar with the crucified Christ on it (the one Don Camillo talks to) has to go. When Don Camillo tells Christ that he will not permit the Crucifix to be thrown aside as if it were an “ornamental,” Christ supposedly repeats the Modernists’ line: “you’re not talking about Me. You’re talking about a piece of painted wood,” to which Don Camillo lovingly responds “Lord, my country is not a piece of colored cloth called a flag. However, the flag of a country cannot be treated as if it were an old rag. And You are my flag, Sir.”
Having “demysticized” Don Camilo’s church, Don Francesco (called Don Chichi by the parish) launches into a series of sermons that significantly depopulate the parish. His Modernist arrogance prevents him from permitting a parishioner’s daughter to marry in the Old Latin Rite, and when the old man suggests that his daughter will be married civilly then, Don Camillo takes Don Chichi aside. Not giving an inch, Don Chichi states that the Church must break with Her past, and asks Don Camillo if he even knows what occurred at Vatican II?
Claiming ignorance, (Don Camillo is anything but ignorant) he states:
“I cannot go much beyond the words of Christ; spoken in a simply clear way. Christ was not an intellectual, he used no complicated words, but only the humble, easy words that everybody knows. If Christ had been present at the Council, his talks would have sent the erudite Conciliar delegates into gales of laughter.”
CHRIST’S ARM SAVED HIS PEOPLE
Reference to the Conciliar delegates is again given later, when it is believed that the ‘disposable’ Crucifix might just date back to the fifteenth century. Christ’s hand is broken at the wrist and the crossbar is stuck together by an old piece of iron.
Don Camillo explains to the Bishop’s secretary and a member of the Ministry of Culture that during the war a bomb exploded on the bell ringer’s roof, and shrapnel dangerously entered the church while Don Camillo was saying Mass. Miraculously, the shrapnel was blocked by the right arm of Christ.
Don Camillo concedes that to the member of the Ministry of Culture this might seem far-fetched, and that the story “would have made those attending the Council roar with laughter,” but that here in the Po Valley, young and old are reminded of the day Christ’s arm saved his people.
MILLIONS NO LONGER HAVE ANY FAITH
Although Don Camillo has the habit of often speaking only to think later, he understands Vatican II more than he lets on:
“Millions of people no longer have any religious faith at all. This is the only thing I understood out of everything that was said at the Council. And it is the most important thing of all.”
Don Chichi sees things exactly the same way, but attempts to deal with the problem in a radically different way:
“Don Camillo, the Church is a great ship which for many centuries has been tied to the dock. The time has come to weigh the anchor, and set sail for the high sees. And the time has come to renovate the ship’s trimmings, too.”
Don Chichi sees his role more as a social worker than as a shepherd of souls. “I want to bring Christ to those poor outcasts,” he explains, arrogantly misdiagnosing one elderly parishioner who brings Don Camillo the mail.
On another occasion, when he sees the 87-year old Giosue, up to his knees in mud dragging his cart along the road, Don Chichi gets out of his Fiat and gives the old man a hand. Don Chichi has a strong sense of justice and finds it appalling that this man is forced to work. (Giosue explains that he is not forced to work, but rather ‘works to keep living’).
Believing Giosue to be mad, Don Chichi again misdiagnoses the situation, and his well-intentioned actions result in Giosue’s death. Haunted by Giosue’s ghost, Don Chichi sells his Fiat, and puts the money towards having the man buried in the manner he desired to be buried in.
On another occasion, Don Chichi sees a boy carrying a heavy sack and stops to help him. When he sees the miserable conditions in which the boy and his large family live, he storms off to speak to Piletti, the owner of the land, and gives him an earful. Don Chichi only leaves when Piletti inserts a pitchfork into the argument, but he proceeds to convince Don Camillo to make use of the boy as an altar boy, whereupon the boy demands his cut from the collection plate.
Even though Don Chichi’s heart may be in the right place, he is arrogant and quite often wrong. He is part of “a new generation of priests who are no brothers of Don Camillo.” A product of the great church-emptying project called Vatican II, a Council that reduced its documents to mere opinions, pastoral suggestions that are not binding on the Universal Church for lack of an expressed will to dogmatically define anything or unequivocally condemn anything.
Most telling was the Council’s glaring refusal to fulfill its prophetic duty to condemn atheistic Communism and cowardly avoided any condemnation of Nazism and its brutal persecution of Jews.
Vatican II is a “Holocaust-denying” council? YES! Indeed it is.
Check out: http://www.doncamillo.net/