ROME — The Atlantic has likened the rosary to an AR-15 assault weapon in an incendiary attack Sunday on conservative Catholics.
“Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or ‘rad trad’) Catholics,” writes Toronto-based Daniel Panneton in an Atlantic article released the day before the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (August 15).
Never mind that the highest-profile rosary-wielding U.S. Catholic is President Joe Biden, Panneton powers forward, alleging darkly that armed radical traditionalists “have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.”
The writer cites progressive Church historian and commentator Massimo Faggioli in describing conservative Catholic bloggers as a “Catholic cyber-militia” that actively campaigns against LGBTQ acceptance in the Church and for whom “rosary-as-weapon memes represent a social-media diffusion of such messaging.”
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Panneton goes on to assert that “the far right’s constellations of violent, racist, and homophobic online milieus are well documented for providing a pathway to radicalization and real-world terrorist attacks.”
“Militia culture, a fetishism of Western civilization, and masculinist anxieties have become mainstays of the far right in the U.S.—and rad-trad Catholics have now taken up residence in this company,” he declares.
One Catholic online store goes so far as to sell “replicas of the rosaries issued to American soldiers during the First World War as ‘combat rosaries,’” he warns, to which can be added a “concealed carry” permit a storage box “resembling an ammunition can.”
This dangerous alliance between prayer and warfare seems to have penetrated the highest levels of the Church and Panneton writes that in 2016, “the pontifical Swiss Guard accepted a donation of combat rosaries” and during a ceremony at the Vatican, their commander described the gift as “the most powerful weapon that exists on the market.”
Panneton might also have noted that the modern-day Catholic Feast of the Holy Rosary was established by Pope Saint Pius V in gratitude to the Virgin Mary following the victory of the Christian League against an invading armada of the Muslim Ottoman Empire in 1571.
Among radical-traditional Catholic men, the writer asserts, concerns about manhood “take an extremist turn, rooted in fantasies of violently defending one’s family and church from marauders.”
This is what the Left has done to America https://t.co/J2BHnmAdep
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 16, 2020
Moreover, Panneton cautions, conservative Catholics have joined with other Christians and today, “Catholics are a growing contingent of Christian nationalism” and are embracing “righteous violence” against political enemies regarded as demonic or satanic, “be they secularists, progressives, or Jews.” He provides no evidence for these disingenuous and inflammatory claims, a hallmark of the entire error-ridden piece.
The “convergence within Christian nationalism is cemented in common causes such as hostility toward abortion-rights advocates,” he adds, while failing to note the outbreak of violence and profanation of Catholic churches and symbols following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June.
“The ‘battle beads’ culture of spiritual warfare permits radical-traditional Catholics literally to demonize their political opponents and regard the use of armed force against them as sanctified,” Panneton claims. “The sacramental rosary isn’t just a spiritual weapon but one that comes with physical ammunition.”
As numerous commentators have noted, inconsequential pundits like Daniel Panneton engaging in ignorant hate speech against Catholic conservatives is easily understandable, a mainstay of anti-Catholic progressive social media.
It is the willingness of The Atlantic to grant a platform to such unhappy hacks and to publish fact-free anti-Catholic screeds that provokes both bewilderment and concern.