In the February 13th edition of the Katholiek Nieuwsblad (“Catholic Newspaper”) in the Netherlands, an opinion piece appeared from Dutch traditionalist Roman Catholic historian, Rutger Schimmel, entitled, “Is Patriotism Not Catholic?”1 Overall, it is a valuable contribution (even to a Protestant like me) which also shames the paper’s Calvinist counterpart, the Reformed Daily, by which, amid a declining number of good contributions, the cultural Marxist agenda is increasingly forced down the throats of the faithful Reformed folk in the Netherlands.
I’ll translate a few passages from the piece in addition to providing commentary where necessary.
The idea that patriotism is irreconcilable with the biblical commands to love all people is equally ridiculous as the Christian-anarchist idea that the rule of law is irreconcilable with Christ’s command to turn the other cheek.
He does start off here by making a theological error, implying that Scripture commands us to love all men unconditionally. Yet the analogy he makes is valuable nonetheless:
The Roman Catholic Church stands for the aliens. Bearing in mind the tale of the good Samaritan and the flight of the holy family to Egypt, she preaches love for all – including foreigners. Many Catholics deduce from that that criticism of mass-immigration is unchristian.
While it is technically true that the church ought to be “for foreigners” in the sense that Christians ought not to oppress them, one cannot help but think that the way this paragraph is formulated, especially in light of the piece’s general message, is nothing but an attempt to resist sounding politically incorrect or, God forbid, “racist.” If the point of the piece is to fight the misconception that “criticism of mass-immigration is unchristian,” then I believe much more productive ways to formulate this principle would have been available to the author.
We have a tradition that teaches us to find a balance between xenophobia and oikophobia, between hatred of others and hatred of our own. Tradition in no way sanctions oikophobia, but actually defends the principle of “own people first.” This principle is already found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians [Gal. 6:10]. . . . Paul advises that one first sufficiently provide for one’s dependent neighbors such as one’s children; whatever is left one can give to aliens. . . . This is in short the “hierarchy of love” . . . a binding hierarchy, for Paul writes to Timothy that “if any provide not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
Nothing wrong with that statement. A number of our anti-traditionalist Protestant church leaders who have completely succumbed to modernist egalitarianism are certainly in need of learning even the most basic principles of biblical love, as expressed here by Schimmel. The same holds true for his final paragraph treating the Catholic tradition:
In the Summa Theologica he [Aquinas] praises, with reference to Aristotle and ancient Israel, the reluctance to integrate foreigners into the nation, “because foreigners do not yet have the common interest of the people at heart and can therefore damage the nation.” As a father does not lead his family into danger by allowing any and all men to enter his house, so does a good ruler not endanger his people by freely allowing foreigners to enter the country.
Confronted with a reckless nationalism [the church] calls us to, in the earthly life, provide a “foretaste” of the universal love which governs heaven. She does not, however, understand universal love as a victory over the natural love for one’s own, as many modernist Catholics think. That the supernatural conquers the natural, is a Protestant idea.
No one would dispute that there exists such a thing as “reckless nationalism.” Any good idea can be taken to such extreme consequences that it becomes idolatry – in the case of nationalism, the old and fine example is the racial idolatry of the Third Reich. However, writing in the context of Western Europe in A.D. 2015, one really needs to elaborate on what one understands to be “reckless nationalism.” As the leftist elites constantly shift the political spectrum to the left, what may have been considered by the opinion-formers as “responsible nationalism” yesterday might be “reckless” today. Secondly, while I obviously fully agree with his rejection of Gnosticism, he does violate the ninth commandment by accusing Protestants of coming up with this idea. While it is indeed true that many modernist Protestants, just like many modernist Catholics (as he admits), adhere to this heresy, Schimmel really only needs to read his Reformed countryman Herman Bavinck to realize the falsity of his accusation against Protestants in general here.
The Church actually understands universal love to be an expansion of love for one’s own to others. . . . Hatred of foreigners is, therefore, as are all other sins, the wrong application of that which is good. Hatred of others has its roots in a love for one’s own that is so excessive that the foreigner is treated unjustly.
I find this hamartiology, i.e. that all sin is the wrong application of the “good,” rather simplistic. To say that hatred of foreigners is rooted in having too much love for one’s own is not quite accurate. What he tries to communicate is clear: idolization of one’s own people will lead to a hatred of others. But the idolization of one’s own people is by no means necessarily always the root of hatred towards foreigners – one can easily (and many nowadays actually do) hate both one’s own people and other peoples simultaneously.
He beautifully concludes the article by pointing out the hypocrisy of the leftist political elites:
Ironically enough, the controversy surrounding Pegida shows how alive and well foreigner-hatred is among the self-proclaimed cosmopolitan elite. This elite exhibits a degree of hatred against Putin and Russia not seen since the Third Reich. Pegida breaks with this and desires a dialogue with Putin. Who makes themselves guilty of xenophobia in this scenario?
- http://www.katholieknieuwsblad.nl/nl/opinie/7028-is-patriottisme-niet-katholiek – link to the original Dutch article ↩