The Ongoing War Between Catholicism and Communism (Guest: Kristen Theriault)

January 26, 2024 00:46:27
The Ongoing War Between Catholicism and Communism (Guest: Kristen Theriault)
Crisis Point
The Ongoing War Between Catholicism and Communism (Guest: Kristen Theriault)

Jan 26 2024 | 00:46:27

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

Since its inception in the 19th century, Communism has always been at war with the Catholic Church. We'll discuss at why that is, and look to some heroic examples of Catholics who resisted the atheistic system.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:08] Speaker A: Since its inception in the 19th century, communism has always been at war with the catholic church. We'll discuss why that is and also looked at some heroic examples of Catholics who resisted the atheistic system. Hello, I'm Eric. Sam is your host, Aaron, chief of Crisis magazine. Before we get started, I just want encourage people to smash that like, button to subscribe to channel, let other people know about it. Also, you can follow us on social media at Crisis mag. And you can also go to our website, crisismagazine.com. Sign up for our daily newsletter. You get our articles right to your inbox. Okay, so today our guest is Kristen Terrio. She is the author of when the Sickle swings, which I'm not lying, even though it says on the book, Kristen van Uden. Is it Uden? [00:00:56] Speaker B: Maybe Uden. [00:00:57] Speaker A: Uden. Uden. Okay. Because she got married recently, so her last name changed. She has degrees in history and russian area studies and is, like I said, the author of when the Sickle swings. She's also the editor of Catholic Exchange. I think a lot of people probably have heard of catholic exchange, have been to it, has great articles there. So she's the editor of that. So she's kind of got the same job as me, just a different magazine, online magazine. So very good. Welcome to the program, Kristen. [00:01:22] Speaker B: Thanks so much for having me, Eric. [00:01:24] Speaker A: So tell me a little bit about your background. I want to hear especially about the russian area studies, because my wife also had a dual major of political science and russian studies. [00:01:35] Speaker B: Very nice. [00:01:36] Speaker A: I don't meet very many other people who have that as a major. So tell me about what got you interested in that and why you did that. [00:01:44] Speaker B: Yes. Well, I would have loved to have majored in soviet studies if that were still available, but unfortunately, they renamed it after the collapse of communism because that is really the period that I focused on was the horror and the aftermath of the 20th century and of communism's implementation and the survival of that period. So I really actually began this project in undergrad. In my senior year, I did an independent study where I began interviewing Catholics who had survived communism. So this was always something that was in the back of my mind. I grew up reading Holocaust memoirs and reading of those who survived various horrors of the 20th century. But angle that you don't often hear about is how the catholic church was persecuted under these regimes. That's something that's often swept under the rug or not focused on to such a large degree. And so when I found out that communism was not only overtly atheist, but had this extraordinary anti catholic rhetoric, not only in its propaganda, but in actual policies that were implemented. This was something that I felt was a story that needed to be told. So this has been sort of the e day fix in my mind since then. I, in grad school, studied russian propaganda or soviet propaganda towards the United States. So propaganda that was brought over during, especially the world's fairs, that were these sort of international festivals where countries would try to present their best face. And so it all really came together with this project. [00:03:14] Speaker A: That's interesting. My wife, actually, she was in school, in college when the Soviet Union fell. [00:03:20] Speaker B: Wow. [00:03:21] Speaker A: Too. And it was actually while we were in college, in 89 to 93 is when we were in college, and it was actually falling. So she got to study russian stuff while it was happening. [00:03:30] Speaker B: There you go. What a time to be alive. [00:03:32] Speaker A: Exactly. So it was quite interesting. Communism, I think. Unfortunately, a lot of Catholics today, including some, we'll just say some higher up Catholics, seem to flirt with communism, as it's not so bad. In fact, some would even argue that it has some commonalities with Christianity. And so that really is not the case. But why don't you explain some of the kind of innate incompatibility between Catholicism and communism? Why is it not just like there's a number of political systems that the Catholic Church has not condemned? Most of them they haven't condemned, but this one it has. And so what is the innate incompatibility between the two? [00:04:19] Speaker B: So ultimately, the innate incompatibility is that communism is a false, messianic system, and so it posits an earthly utopia that can be achieved through the work of men alone, taking God completely out of the equation. And, of course, we know, as the tower of Babel was, this is doomed to failure. And this is actually, as I go through in the book, the doctrine of the Antichrist himself. What comes to mind is Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the world, where the Antichrist is this very popular and charismatic leader who promises prosperity and entertainment for all. And really this utopian but really dystopian system, where we're free from want and free from inequality and all things that would sound, on the surface, very appealing, but you can see ultimately, it is built on sand. And this is something that does not have actual objective cosmology at its center. Rather, it has this inverted cosmology where man is actually the creator of his own fate. And it's important to remember that while everyone knows of John Paul II and his strong advocacy against communism, the Catholic Church was actually opposed to it. From the very beginning. So Pope Pius XI, and Pius XI in particular, spoke very strongly against communism. The encyclical Divini redemptorist, which was issued by Pius XI in 1937, spoke about communism and how it had been implemented in the Soviet Union and also in Mexico at that time. And he speaks actually of the false messianism of this. To quote here on page 97, this is actually, let's see, Pius X says the communism of today more emphatically than similar movements in the past, conceals itself in a false, messianic idea. A pseudo ideal of justice, of equality and fraternity in labor, impregnates all its doctrine and activity with a deceptive mysticism which communicates a zealous and contagious enthusiasm to the multitudes entrapped by delusive promises. And this is actually the way I approach communism in the book, is that it is not simply an economic or a political system, but really has the spiritual core at its center. And so therefore, all catholic resistance to communism and even survival under communism took on this element of spiritual warfare that I think is often neglected. [00:06:36] Speaker A: I think you mentioned in your book, and I think Paul Kingor mentioned one time on the podcast, didn't a pope condemn, like, communism or socialism even before Karl Marx? [00:06:46] Speaker B: Oh, that's. I mean, of course, modernism and communism have very many similarities. So the ideals that were promulgated during the French Revolution, which evolved into communism and modernism in separate ways, were condemned before. So I would have to double check on that. Exactly. [00:07:06] Speaker A: I might have read it in another book. Oh, yeah, here we go. You said it yourself. [00:07:12] Speaker B: Oh, I did. [00:07:13] Speaker A: Authors, I love it when I'm getting interviewed for a book. I wrote something I wrote in there. [00:07:20] Speaker B: That was so brilliant. [00:07:21] Speaker A: I will quote the expert Christopher. Communism was condemned as early as 1846 by Pope Pius 9th, who later included in his syllabus of heirs. And so that's just amazing that that was before even. Because I think communist manifesto is 1848. I think. So basically, it's the same time frame. So the point is, this isn't like some giant come lately. John Paul II just decided, okay, now we're communism, right? [00:07:51] Speaker B: I think people have this idea that it was condemned after its fruits had been obvious, but you couldn't deny the body count of the Hellodomor anymore. Or it was obvious that this was an evil system. But they saw the writing on the wall and they could tell that this ideology could only ever bear bad fruit. [00:08:10] Speaker A: Now, the communists themselves, early on, they seem to realize also that their great enemy was the Catholic Church. But how are some just kind of general ways, especially before they had power, even when they had power? Because I know in some ways, obviously, like I said, paul King was written about this, how they infiltrated. And obviously, in your book, you talk a lot more about the explicit oppression, what were kind of the methodologies that different communist systems took into place to combat the church. [00:08:45] Speaker B: So I identify about five major tactics that are used really, once communism has gained power. But it's really interesting you ask about before they've even come into power, because during that time, that is when the propaganda campaigns really had the most effectiveness. And in the book, I go into the story of Father Joseph too far, who was a priest in Czechoslovakia, and in 1949, this is right after the communists had seized power, but before the machine had really started humming along. The communist state targeted him. And he was actually, I believe, martyred in this very intense way where this small town where he was a priest called Chihosht had what the parishioners believed to have been a miracle on Christmas day, which was a eucharistic miracle in the sense that when he was speaking of the real presence, the crucifix behind the altar actually swung all the way to the left, all the way to the right, and then came to rest, bowing down in the middle, so looking like a benediction or a blessing upon the people. And he thought nothing of it, really, just prayed about it. And then the very next day, it happened again. So at this point, of course, something's going on. He has to elevate this to the bishop for further investigation. The secret police of Czechoslovakia catch wind of this at this point, and they cannot have this rumor getting out because, of course, it would speak to the power of God, and that is just completely forbidden. And so they actually hauled father too far into their offices and tried to demand that he act in a propaganda film where he would show and prove how he had faked the miracle. And they had this whole system rigged up where they had a wire connected to the crucifix and they wanted him to pull it and wink at the camera and show, yes, this is all fake, nothing to see here. And of course, he refused. Even if this miracle was proven to not have been authentic, which we'll never really know because those investigations were cut off, he wasn't going to lie, obviously, and cause scandal to his people and just cause this doubt in the real presence. So they beat him to death over this and went on to actually create the film anyway. It's still available to watch on YouTube. The full name is in here, it's something like those to whom the umbrage comes or some very unwieldy title like. [00:11:05] Speaker A: That very communist title. [00:11:08] Speaker B: Exactly. It's like concrete. Or when the paint dries. Which, by the way, I actually like how my title, which I really love this title, but it actually kind of sounds like a socialist realist title if you're thinking of it in another way. But yes, this case with Father too far happened right at the beginning when communism was taking over. So it's really this ideological warfare and priming the populace through just the discrediting of the Catholic Church that happened before any of the overt persecution. [00:11:42] Speaker A: Now, did they have phases where they would try to be friendly with the Catholic Church and not say anything against it in order to try to kind of be chums with them? Does that happen at different communist parties? Have they tried that? [00:11:57] Speaker B: It does. There's kind of this good cop, bad cop mentality, and it ebbs and flows depending on. Especially throughout the 1970s in Eastern Europe, there was sort of this period of cooling a little bit. That's when the Prague Spring happened in 1968, and the church was a bit more free at that point. But typically the most insidious tactic that is used to pretend to marry Catholicism and communist ideology together is, in Latin America at least, liberation theology, which you alluded to a bit in the beginning because this is really, this in studying Castro, is a very interesting topic because he never actually disavowed his Catholicism per se, as the line was much more clear in Eastern Europe, for example. But he basically perverted the catholic ideals, especially those of social justice, and claimed that, oh, if you're not supporting communism, then you don't care about the poor, and you can't be considered to be acting in charity and all these other perversions of what we know the gospel actually states. And so that was very confusing ideologically in the east, and this is a really interesting element of Czechoslovakia, is that there were actually sort of two churches, this shadow church that was the state church, that was very similar to what we see in China today, actually, where the communist authorities would select the bishops, they would promote their company men from within, and they would get those priests to either just not speak against communism or to actually actively push their doctrines versus the underground church, the ones who remained loyal to the Vatican and refusing to take part in this schismatic act of allowing a state authority to call the shots. And they, of course, had to operate in secret and were completely cut out from the seized property. They couldn't use church buildings or vestments or any of the treasures that the church had previously held in that country. So there was this friendliness sometimes, but those who I interviewed could always see through it, and they knew that this wasn't going to actually benefit the church in the long run. Many times the argument would go, oh, at least you can go to mass, which I think we hear sometimes today in terms of ideological issues of, oh, well, I'm here for the sacraments. It doesn't matter what's being taught. And that was a dangerous trap to slip into, because the process with those they were chummy with was more gradual and more of this ideological, again, warfare to get you to the boiling frog. Except communism slowly over time. [00:14:35] Speaker A: Yeah, it does seem like obviously communism has been tried, I was going to say has been successful only in the sense of gain power. It obviously has never been actually successful. But in various places in the know, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Latin America, South America, it does seem like they go different routes on how they deal with the Catholic Church. And in the Americas at least, it seems to be much more a matter of co opting the church, the church to basically endorse them, maybe because, of course, the catholic church is much stronger in the Americas than it would be in, for example, Russia or China or something like that. And I think it's more popular here in America, those who are kind of pushing communism to try to, and you'll see, like, progressive Catholics do this. What would be like your nutshell argument? If somebody is like, basically, okay, the church cares for the poor, the church wants to support the poor. The church, in fact, talks about us having solidarity with the poor and being with them and things like that. How is that different than what communism doing, which also claims to be helping the poor, being in solidarity with the poor? What is that kind of difference you would tell a Catholic between those two? [00:15:47] Speaker B: Sure. So first, I would disavow them of this notion that communism actually does help the poor, because it really is just the changing of hands, of the means of production of capital. And this uber class always is created under communism, where the party apparat chicks are the ones who have the wealth and have the dachshas on the lake and are able to really draw power to themselves and oppress the little man. Again, it's just those class distinctions. The members of those classes have flipped. But there is, I think Friedrich Kajek said that all monopolies will be nationalized at some point. It's a very similar process that happens with this consolidation of power in the more social sense as well. So I don't think anyone would say that those who lived through communism would say that they actually gained more wealth under this system. In fact, it's quite the opposite, as has been proven, that collectivization does not work. And actually, people are in the ubiquitous breadlines that we all associate with communism. These just inability to meet your basic daily needs is always something that happens. So then, ideologically, there is, as many people have outlined before, a stark difference between charity. That is something that the church orders us to partake in, and that is an act of free will versus a charity or a pseudo charity that is forced upon the populace at the societal level, and it removes the agency of the individual there. So there is really no perfect system of government in which, of course, we're not utopians, but we do, of course, seek to live in a better world and seek to relieve the suffering of the poor in the ways that we can. And so in the US, I think we're at this pivotal moment where over the past, even just 70 years, the role of the church as the provider of these services has been co opted almost completely by the state. And so the church's imperative to live in that way and to love your neighbor as yourself has sort of been neutered. [00:17:58] Speaker A: Do you like, in our country, here in America, there's been like this gradual move from a more limited government to a government that's much more involved in every aspect of life, including economically. I mean, in Russia it was overnight. I mean, almost literally, you went, mean the monarchy, and then you went the temporary government they had. I can't remember what kind of government system it was for like six months or whatever it was. And then you have communism, like overnight. But here, like I said, it's been much more gradual. At what point? Catholics have been often convinced to go along with this because this idea of government helping the poor is a good thing and it helps. Now, my cards on the table is I am pretty radically free market and anti government. So I think at the beginning of that discussion, it was like it was off the table. But what would you say is kind of like, at what point does it get dangerous? Where does it get to be really against catholic thought to go from no government, for example, just anarchy all the way to communism? Where is that balance that we should go for? And are we past it already here? [00:19:18] Speaker B: I know. I think it depends on the system of government. And also I always remember that our government was founded upon human beings acting with principles that have really been lost, like just basic moral and human dignity principles that really are not as common anymore as they would have assumed they would have been. So a government by the people, of the people only reflects the basic moral temperature of that people. So we are definitely headed in the wrong direction because of our moral formation. But, yeah, the balance, I would say a good example that kind of helped me to grapple with this question lately was the problem of Indy Gregory in the UK. And everyone speaks, of course, of socialized health care as something that is desirable, because many people in the United States struggle to get proper health care, and our system is far from perfect. But the rule of thumb that I always use is to be a pessimist in that the government, when it takes rights away, very rarely gives them back without some sort of major shift or forcing that. And so when you are handing over the decisions over life and death, really, through health care, to the government, what is the worst possible thing that can happen, which we see did happen, unfortunately, in this case, and she's not the first, there have been several babies over the past decade who have unfortunately been condemned to death by the NHS. Really? And so many people would say, oh, this is just a conspiracy theory, something that ten years ago, we thought maybe would not have happened. But if you follow the seizure of rights to its logical conclusion, then, yes, this is something you have to always consider, especially given, again, the actual moral status of those who are in charge. [00:21:05] Speaker A: Yeah. Whenever something is free, like free health care, there's always a major cost. Yes, it's always very expensive, but it's even, sadly, the cost of lives, you see, with communism. Now, before I talk about, I want to ask you about some of the kind of the heroes that you focus on. You have a chapter here and I'll make sure you get right. The doctrine of the Antichrist, I believe, is what it's called. That's pretty hardcore. We're not saying, oh, I don't agree with this political system. I think it's bad. But you're saying. You're calling it doctrine of the Antichrist. Why is it that you feel like you can use? I mean, I know you've already touched on this a little bit, but you're just giving no quarter at all to communism. You're really calling it, like, the Antichrist. So why is it that Catholics really should think of this as the doctrine of the Antichrist? [00:21:58] Speaker B: Yeah. So this was informed by actually my reading for Sophia. So, as you probably know, I'm spokesperson for a lot of our reprints, and in the last year, we published a lot on the Antichrist. So I was reading, like, book after book on the Apocalypse and the Antichrist. [00:22:12] Speaker A: That's kind of a downer after. [00:22:13] Speaker B: I know, right? It's a great year. And after a while, I just started to think, wow, this sounds a lot like what communism is promising. And it goes back. I always kind of receive truths best through literature. And so again, I'll refer to Lord of the world and how this really portrays the Antichrist as someone who is sneaky. And many people have made the mistake of thinking the Antichrist will introduce himself as such and will be walking around with devil horns and be this obvious caricature of evil. But no, instead, he's going to be very sly and he's going to cloak himself in the language of justice and truth. And again, he will seek to be the Messiah, and so he has to act at that job. It's not something he can just show his true colors from the very beginning. And so really, it comes down to this false messianism that we discussed at the beginning that the popes identified very early on, is that the Antichrist will seek to be a false messiah. And communism also posits itself as this false, worldly messiah. So it sounds intense, but this is the ideological mismatch that leads to the bloodshed and that leads to the ends justifying the means. Because if a thousand years of peace is coming in the near future, once you establish world communism, it doesn't really matter how many lives are lost. In the meantime, as Stalin said, the death of one is a tragedy. The death of millions is just a statistic. And so this really matched this idea that the Antichrist is going to be this false prophet, this person who is promising paradise on earth, which is an impossibility and so will always implode. So that is the central through line that makes them similar. [00:24:02] Speaker A: Yeah, I think. And this is to be contrasted with what you're not saying I know, is what was big in my day, when I was much younger, was when Gorbachev was in charge. Evangelical Protestants, which I was one at the time, would call him the Antichrist because he had the mark of the beast on his forehead. [00:24:19] Speaker B: Wow. I've never heard that one before, actually. [00:24:22] Speaker A: Yes, he absolutely was. There was a big strain of evangelical Protestants here in America that Gorbachev was the Antichrist, and they would tie in that birthmark he had as the mark of the beast. But what you're saying more is that the system itself, I guess you almost call it antichristic in the sense that anything that posits a paradise here on earth is a false messiah because that's what the actual messiah brings. [00:24:58] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:24:58] Speaker A: And so that makes this basically anti Christian, like I said, antichristic, because the people who run it, a Stalin, there's no question he's an antichrist figure. He's not the Antichrist. But St. John talks about multiple antichrists. It's not like there will be one, but there's his forerunners, so to speak, his John the Baptist, like a Stalin or something like that. [00:25:24] Speaker B: Exactly. Yeah, and exactly. Obviously, the actual big a Antichrist has not yet come because everyone who's a potential candidate is either too old or dead already. So these are prefigurements of that. And one book that I relied on heavily for this, just hashing this out, was Father Vincent Michelle's books on the Antichrist, and also one called the gods of atheism. And in the second one, he forwards the theory that basically atheism is not the absence of worship, as it claims to be, but rather the worship of idols, because the human soul has built into it that innate desire to worship God. And that doesn't go away, even if God's existence is denied. So something else will take its place. And so whether that's the idol of consumerism or a false religion, et cetera, something will fill in that vacuum. And as I talk about in the book, communism is this totalizing ideology that fills that vacuum very well, because it really is in this religious language. And I briefly mention in the book the story of these Gulag survivors who were true believers in the party. And I speak about a book that focused on their stories particularly. And they were sent off to the gulag, and they couldn't believe that the party was wrong in their decision. So they had internalized this shame and guilt and thought they must have done something wrong, even if they don't remember doing it. So they would gaslight themselves into thinking, yes, I am some sort of wrecker or some counterrevolutionary. And after their release, even they would petition the party to be reinstated in good standing as party members. So it's sort of this process of penance and redemption that really mimics the rituals of an actual religion. And of course, as we know of confession and penance. And so that's what makes this system so much more insidious than, again, merely a political or economic failure, is that it has this actual element of religious fervor that's baked into it. [00:27:27] Speaker A: So you tell stories, and the funny thing about this book is, so far, how long have been going about 25 minutes or so. And it's all been kind of how terrible communism is. But the book is actually a hopeful book because our victory, the way we are victorious often is through suffering. I mean, obviously that's how our Lord was victorious is through suffering. And we have to be the same way. And so you tell stories of Catholics who basically survived communist oppression. Of course, millions did not survive it throughout its history, but I think that's an uplifting story for us. But before I ask you about any specific ones, how did you find these stories? Like, how did you research them and discover these different stories? Because I don't think most of them are well known. It's not like you just, okay, New York Times talked about one. [00:28:18] Speaker B: Right. It was really providential. I put out inquiries and tried to solicit interviews for a few months before. And of course, this process had kind of begun several years ago. But mostly through networking and through friends, I was able to find one of the most interesting interviews, I think, was with a slovak politician, Mr. Frantoshek Mikloschko, who had actually worked with the underground church and worked directly with Bishop Jan Presustom Koritz, who was later a cardinal that listeners may be familiar with. And I found him through a friend who had a priest who was from Slovakia who had contacts still. And he was just very happy to share his story and to really provide a lot of great detail and to guide me through it. So that was just something I never would have thought that I would have ever met someone at that level before. And others came from friends and colleagues, someone who endorsed the book, actually. Philip introduced me to Olga, whose story is featured in the Czechoslovakia section. And for the interviews with cuban expats, I actually went down to Miami and met with a lot of them in person at the Bay of Pigs museum, which is really this amazing place. If anyone is ever in the area, I would highly recommend going because it's staffed entirely by veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion who are still with us. And it's just this living history museum where they can tell you all their stories and they're all just in such good spirits and love sharing about this. I think some feedback I often got was that oftentimes people don't ask them these questions. And some people thought that their lives were boring. Even I remember talking to someone and he said, oh, you don't really want to hear about my story. Everybody went through this. And then two sentences later he was talking about how he actually decided not to go to the Bay of Pigs at the last second because his CIA agent had warned him it would be dangerous. I'm like, boring, and this event do not go in the same sentence. [00:30:14] Speaker A: It's like a movie plot. [00:30:15] Speaker B: I know. Exactly. So what I discovered is everyone thinks that their lives are just ordinary. And really, the point of this book is that you don't have to be famous, you don't have to be a Solzhenitsen level to have an important story. And that many of these stories are being lost forever as the survivors grow older. And so they ultimately are universal in the sense that their strong catholic faith is what guided each of them through this. And so I think they're a lot more relatable to us who are going through something similar. More so in the lines of white martyrdom here in the west. [00:30:49] Speaker A: Yeah. And I think it's like, you got this book in. In time because we're getting further and further away from. I mean, there's still communism, like in China and stuff like that, but from some of the eastern european countries and places like that, we're getting further and further away from that. I remember 20 years ago, I was at a parish, and we got a priest from Hungary there, and he was a young priest, and I didn't really think much about it. So this was like, 2005 or something like that. And he was probably about 35 or around, like I said, relatively young. And I remember we got to know him a little bit and stuff like that. And then somehow I'm a dummy. But it clicked to me all of a sudden. Like, wait a minute, he grew up in a communist country. I mean, I didn't even think about it because I was not putting all together. I remember asking about it. I was like, oh, yeah. And he's just a very matter of fact about it, about the fact that it was constant pressure. There was constant desire, basically, to not be Catholic would help you out a lot. He talked about his own family being faithful, and of course, he ended up becoming a priest. And it just was amazing because it was very disconnected, because almost like in America, once the wall fell, like, okay, now that's done. [00:32:01] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:32:02] Speaker A: And then we meet people. Actually, when I was at Steubenville in the mid 90s, actually, there was a fellow student with me who had basically been involved in the overthrow of the communist government. I think it was one of the soviet satellites, Lithuanias. I can't remember which one. [00:32:19] Speaker B: Wow. It's amazing. [00:32:19] Speaker A: When he was talking about how he was part of this big, they all decide they knew they could get shot. But they were like, no, we're all just going to show up and hope enough people show up that they don't shoot us. Unfortunately for him, they didn't. But it's amazing. So now you focus on a few countries. You have Cuba, you have Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, I think, are the main people. Read the book for people. I just want people to know that so you can find these stories. But why don't you tell us a story from somebody in Hungary, like one of the stories that you found of what they went through. [00:32:56] Speaker B: Sure. So in Hungary, I interviewed, there's a woman whose name is Teresa, and I actually met her at St. Kieran's down in Miami. So this was actually where I was studying mostly the cuban story. And this is where the shrine of Our lady of charity, which is kind of one of the cuban cultural centers there was. But she also was in that area. And so, providentially, again, has joined together by our anti communism, but with the cuban community and with her story as well. And she had an interesting story because she escaped communism very early on in 1948, when she was still a child. So several of the stories in the book, they either grew up under communism, as in Olga and Franteschek's case, where they each kind of have this moment in their childhood where they realize that communism is evil, and it's either the STB, the secret police, had invaded their house and had been ripping through their drawers, or some other formative moment that helped them to navigate the rest of their time under this system. In Teresa's case, she had that moment, but she was able to get out quite quickly. She remembers the war, actually. So she was really little during the war. And she would see the bombs coming down and exploding and would just start clapping because she thought they were fireworks. She didn't know any better. So the war, through the eyes of a child, just amazing. And then her father was a factory owner of a textile factory in Hungary. And so when the communists took over, of course, he was part of this targeted class of property owners. And she remembers one day, communists somehow got into their apartment and started ransacking through their clothes and threw a trunk of her mother's belongings out of the window. And she remembers seeing all of her mother's white dresses just floating down into the mud. And that was the moment. That was the formative moment for her. Beyond that, her father was imprisoned for a few weeks, I believe, towards the beginning, and his fellow inmates warned him, you have to get out. This is not going to end well for you. Showing him what had happened in Russia, not only to Catholics, but also to those who are members of his class. And his trial was the next week. And really, in something that she believes to be a miracle, he was able to be let free after his trial. And this is because all of his workers came to testify on his behalf. And the textile factory's signature textile was this red checkered kind of gingham pattern. And they all came wearing that as either armbands or tucked into their hats or something like that. So seeing this show of solidarity from the proletariat, the judges actually let him go. And from that point, they fled west to Austria. She talks about just the harrowing escape. They would have to travel either by cart or on foot, going under barbed wire. And her sisters were separated from her parents at one point, and she actually was put into the care of some nuns who were helping children to escape communism. And she was reunited with her parents in Austria. She has a memory of her first Christmas outside of Czechoslovakia. And the american soldiers were going around distributing candy and presents to the children. So this very happy and just good impression of the United States started with them then, and she eventually emigrated to the US, as we know, and became a citizen here. So I interviewed her, actually, her mother was still alive at that point, and she was 104 years old, I believe, and to her very last breath, she actually lived in her bedroom, decorated with that same textile that the factory had produced. Sorry. Back in Hungary. And she passed away several days after we were able to get this. So it really. I'm just grateful for that and just the timing of everything that happened that way. [00:36:57] Speaker A: Have they been back to Hungary since the communism fell there? [00:37:01] Speaker B: I believe she has, yes. I asked her about any family ties, that branches of the family that were still there, and she said that that was one of the greatest losses for her of communism, was just the absolute moratorium on communication, so that by the time she was able to get back or to try to track them down, nobody really knew who she was anymore. There was no actual family bond there anymore. So she really doesn't have that strong connection with her homeland and with her family that she would have had otherwise. [00:37:30] Speaker A: Yeah, I think the trauma of being forced out, I think we can't underestimate. I mean, most of us don't even want to move to another city. This is in America, in the same state, even. And these people are basically forced out of their country with nothing and no way to contact the people who are still back in the country they came from. And it just is amazing. Now there's a lot of stories in the book and like I said, encourage people get when the sickle swings. And again, it's under if you're searching for it. Kristen van Uten and I will put a link to it, of course, show notes, buy it from Sophia Institute Press. But I want to ask, though, one of the last things I kind of want to ask is you're talking about these historical examples. Is this still going on today and is there a danger of it still happening? If so, where and what can we do about it? [00:38:26] Speaker B: Yes. So it's important to remember that there are still about half a dozen overtly communist countries, including China, whereas we know from constant articles on crisis and elsewhere, the church suffers continually. Vietnam, Nicaragua. I actually had a story from Nicaragua that I was going to feature in the book that we couldn't use because it's dangerous there. The situation is so tenuous since last year that the interviewee didn't feel comfortable sharing that anymore. Similarly, in China, I had a few leads and unfortunately, it's just too dangerous for many of them to want to share these stories, even from the great leap forward and from 60 plus years ago. In addition to Cuba, of course, is still communist. Even though the Castros have both died, they still suffer under that system and under the poverty. So this is not something that went away when the Berlin Wall fell, unfortunately. And then the other side of that is this infiltration that you've mentioned, this soft creep of communism both in the west, in Europe, and really into the international structures such as the UN and the EU, that has really embedded itself into the ideologies of most leaders. And this is where I think many of the stories that I feature that discuss more of white martyrdom. And as Olga put it, death by a thousand cuts are going to be quite informative because we see that the pendulum just keeps swinging. And while we may not have to make the ultimate sacrifice of red martyrdom for our faith, we certainly can relate to these issues of losing a job, being denied entry into university, or being ostracized in a more social way and all the economic hardship that comes with that through just the ideological turn towards communism in the public psyche. [00:40:18] Speaker A: And I think one of the Schultzman east, of course, is the one who really talked about this a lot, is that kind of the ground that's laid for communism is the acceptance of lies, is the public acceptance where basically public figure says something that everybody knows is a lie, everybody knows that everybody knows it's a lie. I love that quote everybody still goes along with it. Yes, and that's exactly what's happening today. I'm not saying we're under communist persecution in America, but yet, at the same time, that's exactly what's happening here. We have these lies, like the transgender lie, the most prominent one right now, the abortion lie, the homosexual marriage, all that stuff. But it's a lie, and everybody knows it's a lie. The transgender one particularly, because I think people actually believe there are people who believe homosexuality is fine and stuff like that. And I think there's people who have deluded themselves believe that abortion is for the good. But everybody knows that the man who says he's a woman playing in golf or whatever is not actually a woman, but we're all supposed to act like it. So I would say one of the things that we can do is we speak the truth, and that gives a lie to the lie. It shows that the lie is not the case there. And I think that's what you see in the stories of these people, that the ones who had to escape, basically, they weren't willing to tell the lie anymore. [00:41:48] Speaker B: Right? It's like the emperor's new clothes that everyone plays along, whether that be for social acceptance or personal gain. And after a while, if you act like this, you actually lose the faculty of conscience, and you lose the ability to discern right from wrong, just even in the practical sense. So, in addition to speaking the truth, one message that really came through from each participant was that the ultimate victory is to hold on to your own soul, and that these political victories, such as I go into the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia, and how that was really spearheaded by this catholic tradition of public pilgrimage and public protest, that is wonderful. And, of course, we see the act of God in that. But also, it doesn't matter if you helped to collapse communism in your country and you still have lost your own soul because you went along with the lies in some case. So that protection of the mind and within the battle within your own heart was really the central problem. And as someone I interviewed said, communism tries to steal your property. That's understandable. We can deal with that, but it also tries to steal your soul. And really, some of these stories, such as the guards trying to get Catholics to apostatize in cuban prisons and then killing them anyway and saying, your soul is going to hell. Now, just sort of, as they say, say the quiet part out loud, where if you're just a materialist who doesn't believe in the immortal soul, why would you rejoice in sending someone to hell. So it, I think, speaks to this deeper, diabolical nature of communism. And actually, the title, I think, ties us all together because it comes from Joel 313, swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. And I just thought it was interesting that this ubiquitous imagery of communism, the hammer and the sickle, also are found throughout scripture. The sickle especially, is speaking of this moment where the wheat is separated from the chaff and the moment of judgment, as the soul is brought before the throne of God, of course, represented by the hammer of justice. And so that is ultimately the message is that you're responsible for keeping the faith for your own sake, for the sake of the church, and also that that will have this ripple effect out into even temporal victories. [00:44:01] Speaker A: Yeah. I think one thing that the book does that is very helpful is I think it helps give us courage because we see it all the time where, and I'm sympathetic to this, where people are worried about saying something out loud because they could lose their job, or they think they could lose their job, at least. And I get that there's prudence always involved if you're a dad supporting his family. And I get that I'm not saying every situation, you have to proclaim it from the rooftops, whatever the lie is. But at the same time, I do think we should compare ourselves to the men and women you talk to here in your book and recognize we haven't even started to suffer. But we will go down that path if we don't stand up now. That's the key. We don't stand up now and aren't willing to potentially lose our jobs or whatever the case may be. We might have to move to another whatever, then we're going to end up losing our job anyway, or losing our soul, as you said. I think that's one reason I would recommend, as people in our era today, to read the book, because I do think it helps give us courage. So thank you for writing it and your years of research, really, because you've been thinking about this since you were a kid, it sounds. [00:45:19] Speaker B: I know. Finally, my obsession has been given a good, very good. [00:45:24] Speaker A: So I will put a link to buy the book from Sufi and Supress in the show notes. I'll probably also put a link into catholic exchanges because it's cool. Also, if you want any links to the books you mentioned about the Antichrist, I think that's very good, because that helps. Lord of the world. I just reread again a few months ago. It is so good. I mean, it's funny because it's obviously antiquated on some of the technology stuff, which is kind of funny, but it goes beyond that so much that you don't really care that much about. So, yeah, it's very good. Well, thank you very much, though, Kristen, for being on the program. So I assume the catholic exchange in the book is where people can find stuff about you. [00:46:04] Speaker B: Yep. [00:46:05] Speaker A: Okay. Very good. [00:46:06] Speaker B: Thanks. [00:46:08] Speaker A: That's great. Thank you, Kristen. Until next time, everybody. God love you.

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