From Mr Paolo Aranha, Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow of the Warburg Institute SIR – I find rather peculiar Eric Hester’s enthusiastic review (Books, September 30) of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s booklet, Egalitarianism: The Metaphysical Value and Religion of Our Days.
Corrêa de Oliveira is defined as a “saintly and brilliant man who has received the esteem of cardinals and bishops in his fight on behalf of the Church”. While it is true that certain prelates supported Corrêa de Oliveira’s reactionary opinions, it should be noticed that the founder of the extremist movement Tradition, Family and Property was hardly – pace Mr Hester – engaged in a “fight on behalf of the Church”. This is what Corrêa de Oliveira had to say about the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “The evidence singles out the Second Vatican Council as one of the greatest calamities, if not the greatest, in the history of the Church. From the Council on, the ‘smoke of Satan’ penetrated the Church in unbelievable proportions. And this smoke is spreading day by day, with the terrible force of gases in expansion. To the scandal of uncountable souls, the Mystical Body of Christ entered a sinister process of self-destruction, as it were.” Such an opinion is not surprising if we only consider that the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, instead of deploring the principle of equality, expressed a consistent commitment towards the removal of “the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination”.
Mr Hester recommends “that Catholic schools buy enough copies [of the booklet] for class study”. I wonder whether it would not be more useful for our Catholic students to study the documents of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church rather than the eccentric opinions of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
Yours faithfully, PAOLO ARANHA London WC1