Read Marie Carré’s novel as you would George Orwell’s 1984.
The primary similarity between Carré’s novel and the more famous 1984 by Orwell is that both works are prophetic, the one a dystopia of a secular world, and the other a dystopia affecting the Catholic Church.
While Carré’s novel was published in 1972 when reaction to the misguided “reforms” of some people after Vatican Council II would have justified her conservative critique, the scandals affecting the Catholic Church since then and much more obvious now in 2019, nearly a half century later, qualify Carré to be as much a prophet as her more famous British counterpart.
Plot details are simple and can be read quickly on any other Internet site. What I found important are the following.
The scene where the “man without a name”, the ostensible author of the memoirs which the narrator “found”, learns that he was adopted is pivotal as a psychological study for his eventual hatred of the Catholic Church and promotion within Communist circles (4). His love-turned-hate baffles the reader throughout the rest of the novel. Why should he necessarily hate his loving adoptive parents, even to the point of promoting a political philosophy hostile to his parents’ well-meaning faith? Contemporary parents who have children who have fallen away from the Faith can find this part of the fictional study most compelling.
While the author focuses on the consequences of a new Mass devoid of sacred components, much more interesting is the anonymous priest’s/Communist agent’s effort to argue for contraception and abortion (60). Every Catholic, whether he or she supports Church teaching on the dual purposes of sex or not, knows how effective secular (demonic?) forces have been in leading people to think that sex is merely for pleasure. These forces have succeeded in having people think that the Church’s support for sex within marriage as a means by which the couple can engage in pleasure and be open to the possibility of children is false. From the early twentieth century to now, we are still grappling with the consequences of the distortion of sexuality that the contraception and abortion business Planned Parenthood has forced on the culture.
All is not lost, though, as the publishing fact of Carré’s novel indicates. Written in 1972, the Catholic Church still exists in 2019 and will so in 2020, 2030, 2100, etc. How could the Church survive if it were infiltrated by Communist agents as the novel’s plot suggests?
Simple. As many Catholics today have argued, especially when faced with yet another demeaning message from Pope Francis about the “rigidity” of faithful, orthodox priests and lay people, Carré points to one means by which such demonic forces in the Church can be overcome: the rosary. I would add, also, that we who are ordinary Catholic lay people must never leave the Church—headed by bishops, cardinals, and a pope who just don’t seem to have our interests at heart. Moreover, we must have the courage that St. John Paul II wrote about when he asked us to defend our faith in the public square. As Carré’s prophetic novel indicates, sometimes such courage needs to be in the religious square as well.
George Orwell, thank you for the dire prophecy of a dystopian secular world which helped readers understand how to counter totalitarianism in the twentieth century. From your spot in whatever literary Heaven there may be, please help spread the religious dystopia that Marie Carré has depicted, if only to help us in the fight to lead an orthodox Catholic Church in this new century.