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Death without Hope

January 22, 2007

From the September 16, 1944 edition of Combat, Albert Camus reprimand of the Catholic’s Church’s impotence during the Nazi occupation of France:

We ask consistency of politicians who traditionally showed none. So how can we remain silent about the inconsistency of men who cloak themselves in one of the purest messages humanity has ever known? How can we no remind them that for a Christian, to be afraid is to betray one’s faith?

The eternal vocation of these men was in fact to affirm that force is of no avail against spirit that refuses to recognize it. Their vocation was not to concede and temporize, it was to refuse and, if need be, to die. They betrayed their vocation.

It was more difficult for the Resistance to have martyrs than for the church. Many of our comrades who are no longer with us went to their death without hope or consolation. Their conviction was that they were dying, utterly, and that their sacrifice would end everything. They were nevertheless willing to make that sacrifice. How, then, can we not feel bitterness in judging the tepidness of men for whom death is but a way station and martyrdom a superior liberation?

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