Authors: Eamon Kiernan (EK) Joshua McKenzie (JMcK) Peter Ceteli (PC). Copyright is asserted by the authors for their work.

The miraculous failure of Maurice Bellière

Fr. Maurice Bellière was adopted by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux as her ‘little brother.’ She told him that she would return after her death to help him with his missionary vocation. Fr. Bellière ended up a dismal failure. In exploring his story, this essay asks whether Saint Thérèse kept her promises.

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The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita

Whether it originated from police interrogations, from the febrile imaginations of anti-semitic journalists and priests, or from the murky thoughts of the conspirator, ‘Nubius’, the ‘Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita’ anticipated to a high degree what has become of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Fairness for Fromm

“I always wanted only the best for Germany.” In the prison yard, the rifles of the firing squad were at the ready. The condemned man, seeing their nervousness, tried to calm them. They shouldn’t blame themselves, he said. They were only doing their duty. He himself stood strong. “Shoot well, comrades,” he finished, looking each of them in the eye. The giant-like man before them had been sentenced to death for cowardice. A travesty of justice. Not that it was any of their business. That the condemned man, a former general, had put his signature to hundreds of execution orders carried out in that very place, wasn’t their business, either. Still, they didn’t like it. Not any of it.

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Birds from the Nazi past

Vogelschiss. Birdshit. A German politician used this word recently to describe the National Socialist regime which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was looking for a new perspective, one which would reduce the Nazi dictatorship to proportion in a thousand years of mostly successful German history. Elections were in the offing, and he may have felt that he needed attention. Because I am reluctant to give him any, he will be referred to here as Mr. Bird, leaving out the second syllable.

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Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ and Josef Oberhauser

Claude Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ is a memorable film. Not because of what it says. But because of its refusal to say anything at all. The theme of Shoah is the Holocaust, in which over six million Jews were murdered by National Socialist Germany. But to state the theme in this way is to already go beyond the film. Shoah can be classed as a documentary, in that it features interviews about events to which the interviewees were eyewitnesses. But it does not document anything, or try to explain anything. If there is a message, it must be worked out by the viewer, in subjective imagination. Which puts the question to me.

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Thoughts on Gomorrah

Gomorrah is the title Roberto Saviano chose for his well-known book on the Camorra, the network of criminal organisations that have dominated Naples and Italy’s Campania region for generations. A revelatory choice. Gomorrah and Camorra sound alike. And are alike. The land of the Camorra is a lost place, ruined by greed, hubris, and the vilest excesses. A Biblical place. A place of the damned.

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Easter 2018. Berzosa’s ‘Christ Resurrected.’

It must be quite a challenge to represent the message of Easter in a painting. Spanish artist Raúl Berzosa, whose ‘Christ Resurrected’ is featured on the new Vatican City 95c postage stamp, tries it with physical beauty. The result, though interesting, fails to convince.

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Blessed Anton Bruckner

If there are saints of music, Anton Bruckner is surely one of them. Like Beethoven, whom he greatly admired, Bruckner was a strong-willed, undaunted composer. Dreadful abysses lurk in Bruckner’s music, but he does not get stuck in them. That Promethean defiance, that raised fist, which is Beethoven’s, is nowhere to be heard. Perhaps for this reason, Bruckner’s seemingly meandering arguments lead to a deeply satisfying destination, while Beethoven’s powerful statements, those clearings in the woods he beats a way to, amount to so much less than the effort made.

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General Wolf fabricates the truth

Markus Wolf was the legendary head of the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA), the East German foreign intelligence service. The HVA was much better at its work than its West German counterpart, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Intelligence gathering by the BND in East Germany was of persistently low quality and rarely went beyond what anybody could have read in the newspapers. The reason is simple. Markus Wolf had inflitrated the BND so effectively that much of its activity was steered from the HVA.

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Why did German reunification take so long?

For over forty years, from 1949 to 1990, Germany was divided into West and East, each side calling itself a Republic. From the beginning, there were serious attempts at reunification. Why did it take so long? Here are a few reasons.

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