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Christendom or Neo-Tribalism?

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

A “normal” group of youth gathering together for a day in the sun at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. Young men and women, dressed in interchangeable T-shirts, shorts and baseball caps, intermingling with an intimacy that used to be reserved for family or married couples, and then only in private. Today, innumerable people wrongly consider such a revolutionary scene not only normal, but even wholesome. The permissive excuse rises to many lips: “They are youth - young, healthy, tanned (uni-sex, immodestly dressed) - getting together to celebrate the Word. Let’s be glad they’re not doing worse!”

These youths were participating in the Young Church 200 “jubilee rally” in Los Angeles this May sponsored by the LA Archdiocese. It was a day filled with “continuous rock music, singing, dancing, Japanese drumming, break dancing, poetry, youth testimonies, Scripture readings and a ritual of empowerment” (“Youth celebrate Jubilee,” The Tidings, May 26, 2000).
Ken Deasy

Fr. Ken arrives on wheels...


The Master of Ceremonies, Father Ken Deasy, in the picture at right, arrived on a red motorcycle, wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt, shorts and sandals - setting the non-sacral tone for the day and showing teens how to deal with the afternoon’s blasting sun. During a “ritual of empowerment,” Cardinal Roger Mahoney led the youth as they lay hands on each other in a special blessing.

This is supposedly the Church of the future celebrating - with testimonies and witnessing, rituals of empowerment, celebrations of diversity with the background of pop and rock music. It is a New Church for certain, the post-Vatican II church that fulfills the dreams of the progressivists - the Church which finally seems to have shed the “baggage of centuries.” The ceremonies, customs, and way of being of Christian Civilization seem lost to the memories of this New Church. At the grand jubilee rally designed to amuse and attract youth, there was certainly nothing visible of the Catholic heroism and duty of militancy and sacrifice that are some of the most magnificent expressions of the true Catholic youth.

The Cultural Revolution in dress and manners

This is not such a casual affair as it may seem at first sight. For me, the Young Church 2000 Jubilee Rally is a cultural reflection of the conciliar concept of adapting the Church to the modern day world. Much is spoken about the cultural revolution, the “culture of death” coined by John Paul II. Many pro-life groups assume that their attitude of fighting for the life of unborn babies, indeed, a truly noble thing, certainly and unquestionably confers upon them the title of champions of the culture of life. This seems a simplified interpretation of the “culture of death.”

LA Youth Day
To fight this “culture of death,” one must also fight the egalitarianism and desacralization of society, which were given such a strong stimulus by the great cultural revolution of the ’60s.What was the goal of this cultural revolution, which ends in a kind of neo-tribalism? It is to destroy in Western man convictions, courtesies, customs, ways of being and feeling that are the very foundation of Christian Civilization. The young people in the picture may profess themselves to be “Christians,” but this is certainly not reflected in their customs, dress and way of being.

For Christendom has always been understood as a projection of the Catholic Church onto the temporal sphere. Christendom, and therefore, Christians, exist to the degree that the principles of Catholic Doctrine shape the customs, laws and institutions in nations. Therefore, in the past, the Church took upon herself the mission of expanding the principles of the Gospel into society, the culture, the habits of daily living. When a priest dresses in shorts and sandals to lead a youth rally, it already shows a violation of a principle opposed to the ordered seriousness necessary for civilized life. It speaks of the dawning of neo-pagan world. In fact, this priest seems more a minister of some ancient pagan cult adoring the world and the sun than a representative of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The open Pentecostalism of Catholic youth events

Another disturbing aspect in the youth rally is the open Pentecostalism of a Catholic-sponsored event. Once again, since the ’60s we have become acclimated to this atmosphere. Hardly anyone shudders or protests. It has become “normal.”

However, the fundamental notion of this Pentecostalism is the replacement of reason by intuition, instinct, feelings — essentially the same modernist “sentiments” already condemned by St. Pius X in the Encyclical Pascendi, which supposedly would supersede reason in the search for God. In ecumenical and charismatic “rallies” like this one, replete with rock-and-roll music fests, the spontaneity of the primary reactions dominates: It is to “witness,” to praise, to sing and dance collectively in a feel-good celebration of diversity. In fact, it involves the replacement of a religion based on the rational and absolute doctrines by a charismatic and relativist religion that ultimately dissolves all differences and ends in pantheism. This is the “New Young Church 2000,” a post-conciliar creation that permits the predominance of fantasy and feelings over the methodical analysis of the religious reality.

The “new man” emerging is concerned above all with experiencing collective emotion. He tends not to make personal analyses of situations, but looks for a consensus through the sharing of sentiments. Some 30 years ago, the thinker Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira predicted that a kind of neo-tribalism would emerge from the cultural revolution of the ‘60s (1). Today we are observing this phenomenon.

A march toward tribalism

A “youth culture” that celebrates moral laxity, tattoos, nudity and pagan extravagances are significant symptoms of a tribal mentality that is invading society. The “new man 2000” tends not to make personal analyses of situations, but looks for a consensus through the sharing of sentiments. The great intellectual themes that impassioned men in the past are no longer appealing. Nor is the Catholic Religion, with her rational constructions and emphasis on individual responsibility. The march toward tribalism is impelled by a sort of animal impulse, rather than the critical exercise of reason. This “new man 2000” feels the need for an experimental, pagan and collectivist type of religion, where one “feels the energies” around him. Something akin to a religion reduced to individual communities guided by gurus who would have the power to govern the energies and give the interpretation of them seems disturbingly more than a fantasy.

Promoting jubilee rallies and World Youth Days that celebrate rock music and baptize empowerment rituals and personal testimonies seem to be part of the progressivist program that is changing the very face of the Church and society.

Young Church 2000 at Dodgers Stadium supposedly drew 10,000 youth. Interestingly enough, the Chartres pilgrimage in May of this year attracted 10,000 young people in an event more representative of the Catholic spirit of heroism and self-sacrifice. There is no need for me to make the comparison; let the reader draw his own conclusions by comparing the two events.
1. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Chap. III.


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