If you were the Devil, and you wanted to disrupt a European Catholic church which was growing and strong, spreading its wings after disastrous decades of unspeakable war, what would you do?
I speak of the time of the 1950s. If you were the Devil, how would you go about this? (I am assuming here for a moment that you are so unenlightened so as to believe that the Prince of Lies exists, of course.)
Well, since you are only a spirit, you need a human being to do your work, so I shall call him the Protagonist. Someone reliable, someone whose fortunes you could improve over the course of his life. Someone young, highly influencible, someone who was hungry for fame and riches, underneath a pious exterior.
The Protagonist would have to have a pious exterior of course because he would have to be a member of the Church. And he could not be identified with any of the clearly Satanic forces that you had so successfully unleashed in the 20th century. Not a Marxist. Not a Communist. Not a Nazi.
Someone wholly reasonable. Someone who cared about the poor, the environment and the marginalized.
Of course you would have to give him the resources he needed to spread the destruction far and wide. Money. Useful idiots. These things could be used to take advantage of the spectacular increases in technology and communications that would ensue in the wake of World War II.
Of course, your Protagonist would have to be eminently corruptible. A weakness for luxuries perhaps? Or sins of the flesh?
And he would get his appetites satisfied. Oh yes, you would see to that.
The Protagonist’s financial base would have to be assured. You couldn’t have him too distracted with money problems. A good move would be to tie his income to a growing concern. And his success or failure in his ostensible ‘job’ should not be tied to his income. That should be something quite separate. The money needs to flow in regardless of whether he is doing his ‘job.’
And of course very little oversight would be needed, in order to give him free rein.
Now, it would be important to shield the Protagonist from having to spend all of his time tediously communicating your destructive messages. This work can be done by mouthpieces. Professors of theology, for example, whose daily bread is dependent on the good will of the Protagonist. They can be trusted to work assiduously for the intellectual undermining of the Church and her position – all from the safety of their jobs inside the Church. They can demand that Rome dismantle her morals, her catechism. They can disdain the queries from the faithful as ‘uninformed’ and/or ‘uneducated.’
They will for sure be applauded by the secular media. They will be heroes.
No, the Protagonist would have to be deployed in using his natural gifts, like his talent for management. He will naturally see that the Church’s ‘customers’ – ie the faithful – are nothing but a nuisance. The fewer of them to take up his time, the better. So, his priests must be trained to believe that the nonsense emanating from the theologians was actually their religion.
Which is to say no theology at all. The old, Scholastic ‘theology’ must be ridiculed and derided. The ‘Sacraments’ must be administered grudgingly, and in their most diminished form.
Of course of all this will discourage vocations, which is a delightful prospect. The few faithful left can be served by imported priests from India and Africa, grateful for the pittance they are paid to be sent back to their desperately poor dioceses. Barely conversant in the language, they will make no trouble.
The Protagonist will be in a position to dispense gifts and favors to his enormous native workforce, of course. This will minimize the occasions when he will have to use his primary talent for bullying.
Of course, when the occasion merits it, he will not hesitate to bully, Mafia-style. It will be salutary for his henchmen to see a victim every once in a while.
Perhaps a Bishop from a wealthy family, dismembered and shamed before the entire nation?
But I digress.
Finally, the killer sin. Pride. He must be a proud man. And he must link his personal pride deeply with your satanic cause. He must believe that what he is doing is furthering the cause of Christ on earth.
Until it is too late, of course. That’s when you will grant him the full view – the supreme vision—so he can see the destruction he has been the agent of, the countless souls lost. But you will make sure he will see this only in his last, tortured hours on this earth, maybe even in his last breath.
By then it will be much too late, and he will only see the devils, your minions, swarming around him. Exactly like the folktales about the death of one of your other great European success stories, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Of course, once he dies, he will leave behind precisely the kind of Church which the people will hate most. Swollen with riches. Rife with corruption. Riddled with proud clerics grasping for the reins from the dead Protagonist’s hands.
Perfect for secularization. Again.
It would be important to give the Protagonist cover, of course, from criticism. Probably best to locate him in a society where people have for centuries been trained not to resist the will of great and powerful princes.
Someplace like Germany, perhaps?