Robert Carballo, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Millersville University, who has written for the St. Austin Review and is a regular contributor to the Ignatius Critical Editions, has crossed swords with an anti-Catholic academic for the latter’s attack on the Church in an article on The Merchant of Venice published in the journal Humanitas. Robert’s vigorous defence of the Faith against what he calls “the poison of anti-Catholic bias” was expressed in the following letter to the editors of Humanitas:

Mons. Baldacchino and Ryn:

Given my understanding (perhaps erroneous) that your enterprise for the restoration of Western culture and values is based on a clear-headed understanding of that culture as essentially the offspring of the Greco-Roman world and of Christesdom (particularly Catholic Christianity, the original kind), I was rather surprised to find in the pages of your excellent journal, Humanitas (Volume XXIV 2011), a scholarly and lengthy essay by Gorman Beauchamp containing, nicely mixed with its erudition and insightful analysis of The Merchant of Venice, the poison of anti-Catholic bias.

Professor Beauchamp (perhaps the French surname may explain an ancestral Hugenot animus against the True Faith) gives as example of a more intransigent Christianity the 280 Protestants “martyred” during the reign of Mary Tudor when he could more justly have used the well-documented cases of the Elizabethan/Jacobean cruel persecution of Catholic recusants, many more than 280 butchered by the modern world’s first police state.  The many martyrs of Tyburn, hung and quartered or tortured and fined into paupery, would do nicely as examples.  Perhaps the more vivid case of St. Margaret Clitherow would better serve the good professor’s illustrative purposes: she was crushed between two bolders, as her children were made to watch, for the crime of attending Mass and sheltering a priest.  Many an English priest, many from ancient and venerable English families, suffered a similar fate at the hands of Elizabeth’s proto stasi for the simple crime of practicing the Catholic Faith that not long before was the cherished faith of all Englishmen.  To add insult to injury, Professor Beauchamp cites “the perhaps apocryphal” anecdote of the papal legate’s casual order to slaughter the citizens of a whole town indiscriminately (hardly serious scholarship, and very serious propaganda).  Moreover, in citing the cases of Portuguese and French (at Strasbourg) forced conversions, should his facts be accurate (which given his animus one is permitted to question), the professor should have cited the perennial church teaching about the sanctity of conscience, even if at time not observed by over-zealous or cruel members of the Church.  The Catholic Church has always condenmed forced conversions; in Spain the marranos, who were not authentic converts, converted for political and economic expediency while the Catholic monarchs expelled persons who had proven less than loyal to Catholic Spain’s religious and social unity and harmony.  The great historian Thomas Walsh shows in impeccable scholarship how prescient that historiacl decision was. 

Anyone familiar with history knows—I suspect Professor Beauchamp knows it also—that different historical epochs have different sensibilities: not all ages value a feminized, declawed Christianity such as ours does.  They understood that a sissified Christianity was exactly what the enemy of the Church needs.  Witness the battle you yourselves, and many others, are battling today.  It is the result of a weakened West and a weakened Christianity.  Professor Beauchamp clearly does not care, as he is not, by his own honest admission, a Christian.  But he should care about accuracy and fairness if he is a scholar and a gentleman.  There is no history in Christianity of stoning adulterers; in fact it was in Jewish culture, as the incident of the adulteress at the well clearly shows, that the barbaric practice prevailed.  I could not help but notice as well how he is most careful not to mention the practioners of stoning and cutting off hands by their name (he may be afraid of a fatwa issued against him) even today or of the equally barbaric blasphemies and provocations of the Talmud.  No, he reserves his bullying for the Christians, for he knows that what now obtains is, in his words, “the transformation of Christianity from its militant, combative, baptize-or-be-damned phase … to its much gentler, attenuated, and more pacific institution of today.”  In other words, a Christianity which is easy to defame and bully through lies, half-truths, historical distortions and purely subjective interpretations—and a Christianity that largely lacks courageous leaders but has plenty of cowardly followers who have been domesticated by a quasi-heretical, pacifist, and distorted preaching of the theological virtue of charity. 

Perhaps most disappointing is your collaboration in that attack against the foundation of the civilization you endeavor to defend.  It is particularly dangerous in times of spiritual and cultural warfare, such as ours, to provide our enemies the forum in which to attack us—even in the name of scholarship, and biased scholarship at that.  The fact that many Christians have acted less than honorably (and what group can claim exemption from this indictment?) is nothing new.  What is new is that the National Humanities Institue—malgre its disclaimer that the views of contributors do not reflect the instution’s—would allow a little Trojan horse into the citadel under siege. 

Sincerely in the cause for Western culture and civilization,

Robert Carballo, PhD

Lancaster, Pa