"Doctor Plinio" and his "counter-revolutionary magisterium" 

by Miguel Martinez

Although the Alleanza Cattolica web page makes no mention of this fact, its ideas are not original. They are based on the "counter-revolutionary magisterium" of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, a Brazilian professor who founded an organization which claims to be the "true" right, called Tradition, Family and Property (T.F.P), set up in the context of the struggle by landowners against agrarian reforms; but also with the more ambitious aim of destroying the 'Revolution' and setting up a universal Christian monarchy.  

In Costas-Gavras' film on the Montevideo kidnapping of a US diplomat, the tupamaros also kidnap the Brazilian consul, guilty of tortures in his home country: one of the accusations is his TFP membership. 

In the introduction to the Italian edition of Corrêa de Oliveira's work, Rivoluzione e Contro-Rivoluzione ("Revolution and Counter-Revolution"), his admirers claim that Plinio, at the tender age of four, was taken on a trip to Europe by his parents (his father was a homeopathic doctor:

"The visit to the castle of Versailles, and hence contact with the Ancien Régime, was an important moment for him. In the sumptuous dwelling of the Sun King, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira discovere an elegance, a life style, a way of being which inebriated him. He was so struck that he did not want to go away. He expressed his enthusiasm with a gesture typical of his age, grasping the wheel of a wonderful carriage."
  At the more mature age of nine:
"In 1917, the Bolshevik revolution broke out in Russia. Without knowing the doctrines of the revolutionaries, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira however perceived in them the implementation of a spirit of destruction which fully resembled that of the Jacobins of 1789. In the dramatic slaying of the Imperial family - the macabre details of which made the society of Sao Paolo tremble - he noted the same anti-hierarchical hatred which had struck Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette more than a century before.

It was then that Revolution and Counter-Revolution began to take shape in his spirit."

He then went on to teach at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC). Orlando thus describes his first meeting, in the early 50's, with Plinio:
"I met Plínio Correa de Oliveira at the PUC, where I was a student. I used to play table tennis and footbal, since there was no need to study. There were hardly any classrooms, and nothing was taught in those that did exist.

Actually, in those days, I was almost totally ignorant, and it was easy for Plínio to convince me, since he was very talented and a brilliant professor, although - as I was able to found out later - what he told was more his romantic imagination than actually facts of history.

He used to call himself Doctor, though he had never submitted a dissertation. He was Dr. like so many in Brazil, who are simply bachelors of art.

He was a Doctor imaginatively.

Because Plínio Correa de Oliveira used to immagine himself to be a Doctor, a Prophet, Immortal and Unerring. All of this at the same time."

Recently (June 1997), a round table in Rome showed the way TFP, CESNUR and AC work together. Massimo Introvigne and Giovanni Cantoni (both the "rector" of IDIS and the "regent" of AC) presented the book Libertà religiosa e legislazione anti-sette, co-authored by them; a prominent speaker was Juan Miguel Montes, "director of the [Italian] office of Tradition, Family and Property" (Francesco Pappalardo - himself an AC member - "Sette, il grande equivoco", in Il Secolo d'Italia, June 29, 1997, quoted in Sodalitium, Dec. 1997, p. 68). 

"Doctor Plinio" ("doctor" refers to the "Doctors of the Church"), like many other such figures, has an explanation for everything, so we might presumably call his theory a form of "sociology". It certainly is where Introvigne gets his sociology (in fact, on its Internet site, the AC off-shoot IDIS says that Master Plinio "is the author of sociological and historical studies"). 

The following quotations, which describe the world view of our author, are all from the preface to Revolution and Counter-Revolution. More to the point, they are not taken directly from Doctor Plinio's book, but from an article published in Cristianità ("La devozione mariana e l'apostolato contro-rivoluzionario", in Cristianità, Nov.-Dec. 1995, p. 9 ff.). In other words, they are thoughts Introvigne certainly is proud to share. 

God created Man in a happy, hierarchical world, where most obey and some give orders. 

"However, if a person gives in in some way to the vices of pride and impurity, an incompatibility will begin to arise within him with different aspects of the Church and the order of the universe. This incompatibility may start, for example, with a dislike for the hierarchical character of the Church, then extend to and affect the hierarchy of temporal society, then finally the hierarchical order of the family […]. Impure Man generally tends towards liberalism: he is irritated by the existence of an order, of breaks, of a law reining in the overflow of his senses […]. The result of pride and of liberalism is the desire for total equality and freedom, which is the basis of Communism." 

"The struggle between Revolution and Counter-Revolution is basically a religious struggle […]. It is easy to see the role that the Virgin plays in the struggle between Revolution and Counter-Revolution […]. Mary is the Universal Mediator, the channel through which all grace flows. Therefore, her help is indispensable for preventing the Revolution, or for the triumph of the Counter-Revolution over the Revolution […]. Devotion to Mary is the sine qua non condition for crushing the Revolution and for the triumph of the Counter-Revolution." 

"The Revolution is not only the result of mere human wickedness. It is the latter which opens the gates to the Devil, allowing itself to be excited, exasperated and directed […]. The role played by the Devil in the explosion and progress of the Revolution has been enormous."

The cult of Mary, in T.F.P., revolves largely around a statue of the Virgin of Fatima which supposedly wept in New Orleans, before being bought by Doctor Plinio, which the organization calls the "Holy Statue", and which Plinio claimed used to provide him with precious information on the world situation (Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, p. 31).

The prophecies of Fatima are of course crucial for Catholic millennialists, as they paint exactly the picture of apostasy and imminent catastrophe, followed by the mysteries of the "Third Secret", which such people already see.

Going back to Plinio's 'sociology', the political situation is entirely in the hands of Mary:

"For hell to panic, be confused, go back to its den and disappear from the human scene, all that is needed is that She cast an order on it. On the other hand, if she wishes to chastise mankind, all she has to do is leave the Devil a certain margin to act, for the Devil's action to progress."

Mary politically governs the world. Obviously reminiscing on what must have been quite unhappy childhood memories, Plinio explains:

"Let us imagine the director of an institute with very rebellious students, whom he punishes with an iron authority. After having brought them back to order, he withdraws, telling his mother: 'I know you would run this institute differently from me. You have a mother's heart. Now that I have chastised these students, I want you to govern them with sweetness […]. The role of the Virgin as queen of the universe is similar". 

It is an interesting comment on Scientology listing CESNUR as a "human rights resource" to see that at this point, Master Plinio says:

"When the Church sings of Her: 'You alone have exterminated the heresies of the whole universe', it is saying that Her role in this extermination was, in way, unique. This means She directs history, because the director of the extermination of heresies is the director of the triumph of orthodoxy"

All of this, it should be remembered, is not only theology; at least in Introvigne's sense of the word, it is 'sociology', an attempt to explain why Brazil is full of rebellious farmers. At least for the present:

"This and other considerations taken from the teachings of the Church open up the perspective of the Kingdom of Mary, that is of a historical age of faith and virtue, which will be inaugurated by a spectacular victory of the Virgin over the Revolution. 

At such a time, the Devil will be driven away and will return to his hellish den, while the Virgin will rule over mankind through the institutions she has chosen."

One begins to see through some of the more obscure statements Introvigne makes whenever he writes about millenialism. The institutions the Virgin will choose to rule over mankind will most definitely not be democratic.

During this coming age, which closely resembles that of the Jehovah's Witnesses, greater saints will arise than at any time in history. 

However, the Kingdom will be preceded by the "Bagarre", roughly, "the troubles".

"Virtually every meeting with Doctor Plinio revolves around the 'bagarre'. Generally, whenever he speaks of the coming cataclysm, his words are drowned out by frantic applause from those present. All the militants stand up and shout three times, as loudly as possible, 'Tradition-Family-Property-Bagarre". This triple slogan often finishes with a triple cry "Plinio"!!" 
(Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, p. 33)

T.F.P. militants are constantly on the look out for signs of the 'bagarre':

"In Paris, the weather forecasts in the daily Le Monde are often cut out and filed. Any apparent irregularity in the weather is held to be a sign of the imminent coming of the 'bagarre'. In this peculiar field, TFP has its specialists. A violent storm which was not forecast, and a snow fall in Paris in February 1979, which coincided with a 'TFP campaign' for the Parliament elections, were interpreted as a sign of acceptance and mercy of the Virigin for TFP's action. Quite often, a militant will say to a colleague of his: 'Have you noticed the weather?' 'According to the radio, this disturbance comes from the East'. This more than eloquent response simultaneously evokes both secret and diabolical forces and the imminence of the 'bagarre'". 
(Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, pp. 34-5)

Expectation of the 'bagarre' often leads T.F.P. militants to sleep completely dressed (although the official explanation is that they expect a Communist attack).

Doctor Plinio's teachings about the 'bagarre' have been summarised as follows:

"Plants will bleed; there will be a fight between angels and demons, and the TFP militants, surrounded and helped by angels, will become the instruments of conversion or condemnation. They will then lead public campaigns to denounce evildoers. Then the good, after having been converted, will gather around TFP". 
(Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, p. 35)

One of Plinio's prophecies has definitely not come true: he claimed he would personally crown the Virgin with a crown currently possessed by TFP in Brazil (Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, p. 61).

One interesting consequence of this future Kingdom will be that priests will no longer be needed; at least according to the former TFP followers, this is the real meaning of Plinio's following statement:

"The Kingdom of Mary will therefore be a time when the union of souls with the Virgin will reach an intensity without any precedent in history, of course with individual exceptions. What form will this supreme union take? I know of no more perfect means of implementing this union than the sacred slavery to the Virgin, as taught by Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort [more on him later] in his Treatise on True Devotion to Mary." 
("La devozione mariana e l'apostolato contro-rivoluzionario", in Cristianità, nov.- dic. 1995, p. 15.)

Sacred Slavery (schiavitù santa) implies a "total consecration to the Virgin as a slave".

"This consecration is of an admirably radical nature. It includes not only the material belongings of man, but also the merits of his good deeds, his life, his body and his soul. It has no limits, since the slave, by definition, owns nothing. 

In exchange for this consecration, the Virgin works inside her slave in a marvellous fashion, setting up an ineffable union with him". 

("La devozione mariana e l'apostolato contro-rivoluzionario", in Cristianità, nov.- dic. 1995, p. 15.)

Since of course the Virgin is not a legal person, slavery vows are made, in her stead, to TFP. Only in certain cases, however, does this imply total obedience to the TFP leadership: the practice, as performed in AC at least, is only a picturesque and secretive ceremony, no more demanding than say a Masonic initiation.

The saints in Plinio's Kingdom will, of course, be the TFP members themselves rather than ordinary Catholics:

"The fruits of this union will be seen among the Latter Day Apostles [… ]. The extraordinary men who will fight against the Devil, for the kingdom of Mary, gloriously leading the struggle, until the end of time, against the Devil, the world and the flesh, are described by Saint Louis [Grignion de Montfort] as magnificent models who invite those who, in these dark days, are fighting in the ranks of the Counter-Revolution to perfect slavery to the Virgin". 
("La devozione mariana e l'apostolato contro-rivoluzionario", in Cristianità, nov.- dic. 1995, p. 15.)

Doctor Plinio must certainly have been an interesting character:

"Very often, after having spoken of his youth, Doctor Plinio speaks about his childhood, bringing back very precise memories of when he was three or four. He says that on the day of his baptism, the bells started ringing by themselves, without any natural explanation. He very soon was able to judge his parents: his father, Dr Joâo Paulo Corrêa de Oliveira, an unbelieving liberal; his mother, a woman who was always perfect. He very early realised the deep difference between himself, his cousins, and his friends, and started hurling invectives against them, accusing them of not being counter-revolutionary. During a trip to France, when he was about 4 or 5, he went to the puppet theatre at the Luxembourg gardens, in Paris. Struck by the anticlericalism of the puppet, he jumped up on his chair and, lifting an accusing finger, attacked the puppet and defended the Catholic religion. He dedicated himself to the Virgin as soon as he achieved the age of reason, and devoted himself to the Counter-Revolution. Soon after, having seen a book about Charlemagne, he made his parents buy it, thus discovering his first model." 
(Tradizione Famiglia e Proprietà: associazione cattolica o setta millenarista?, Rimini 1996, pp. 56-7)

One can well understand why the militants who would come to receive his blessing had to prostrate themselves in front of Plinio with their foreheads touching the ground; they would then kiss the armchair Plinio usually sat on (ibid, pp. 63-4).