MY THEORY AS TO MALACHI MARTIN'S PERSONAL CONVERSION FROM FOLLOWER OF DE CHARDIN TO TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC EXORCIST
When I was growing up in County Cork, I was very aware of a rivalry between my people and the people of a neighboring shire, County Kerry. I used to hear the older folk say with chagrin, "You can never trust a Kerryman...they can charm you into anything." Perhaps there was a certain envy for the Kerry people's softer lilt, their gift of the gab and charm that was suspected to be superior.
This was in my thoughts as I studied the life of Malachi Martin, who was born in Kerry in 1921. Despite his controversies, I trust this Kerryman. While we were born in the same province of Munster, I never met him and I was fifteen when he died in 1999. July 23 marks the 100th year anniversary of his birth.
Martin trained as a Jesuit in old Catholic Ireland, and later he described the rigors of his seminary days: when he arrived they confiscated his Brill cream hair gel and cologne and fashioned his will til he obeyed without question. A first-class scholar, he went on to get three doctorates, develop fluency in eight languages and was an expert in Semitic handwriting from the time of Abraham.
In his 30s, he became a professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and acted as Cardinal Augustin Bea's private secretary, a role he held for six years, from 1958 to 1964. During this heady time, Martin said he read the Third Secret of Fatima and came to know the major players who orchestrated the changes which ravaged Mother Church.
In an interview with Bernard Jansen, Martin revealed a telling incident when, during the Vatican Council, Cardinal Bea came to Martin's room in some distress and was anxiously sweating. "He never sweated," commented Martin, but Bea had just overheard Hans Küng saying that unlike the Protestant rebels of old, he and his cohorts were going to stay inside the Church and change it from within. Martin never shared his reaction to Cardinal Bea's unease. Yet the mere fact that he was Bea's close confidante is itself just a bit troubling because Bea was an influential ecumenist, and in the encounter with Küng, Bea was reaping what he had sowed, because Bea had been accommodating of others practicing Protestantism, but he was apparently balking when he saw that it was going to be used to make his own Catholicism unrecognizable from the time before the Council.
Martin and Bea parted ways and in the mid 1960's Martin left the Jesuits, and went to America by way of Paris. In the coming decades, Martin gave the impression that he had always been an arch traditionalist. To wit, he became a celebrated author who made gorgeously eloquent defenses of the Traditional Latin Mass. He wrote seventeen fiction and non-fiction works, and his novels are prophetic, especially Windswept House with its plot that centers on pressure being brought to bear on a Pope to resign so that a man can be elected Pope who will make liberal changes. Hindsight has proven him right about many important things, too.
There is, however, a gap in our understanding of Martin's development as a Traditional Catholic. Some investigation needs to be done as to the years before he became an extremely active exorcist who claimed to have done hundreds of major exorcisms and many more minor exorcisms.
Let me tell you why I think this needs to be done. Martin's past is so mysterious that there was a time when I thought there were two separate authors with the same name because I could not fathom how Martin had written Jesus Now in 1973 and Hostage to the Devil in 1976. I thought they must be two separate people. But no, t’was the same Martin who wrote both books. In Jesus Now, Martin is adamant that there will be no second coming of Christ and he brags about his closeness with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Yet, merely 3 years after Jesus Now hit the shelves, Martin published Hostage to the Devil which has a section where Martin makes sophisticated refutations of de Chardin.
My contention is that Martin had a conversion between the time he wrote Jesus Now and Hostage to the Devil, and changed from being an admirer of Teilhard de Chardin to being an arch-critic of the aquiline-nosed French Jesuit. Furthermore, I submit that he wrote himself into Hostage to the Devil as "Father David," a professor of paleontology who has allowed himself to be owned by de Chardin’s false constructs of Christ, and who must submit to an exorcism before he can himself perform exorcisms. A few biographical similarities between Martin and Father David are in themselves overwhelming.
Father David must free himself from de Chardin's - and thus, Satan's - influence over him, he learns the hard way that his total acceptance of de Chardin's dangerous reduction of the Person of Christ means that he does not have sufficient faith to call on the power of Christ to exorcise a young priest.
The first time Father David tries to exorcise the young priest, the demon speaking through the young priest taunts him, “You have adopted the Lord of Light, like I have, you old fool! Physician, cure yourself!” When Father David is at a loss as to how to continue the exorcism, the demon mocks him, “And you were trying to exorcise me?”
Only after Father David rejects de Chardin's heretical or even diabolical teaching that Christ is merely the pinnacle of man's evolution, can he successfully perform the Rite of Exorcism where he must not rely on his own power, a mere man, but that he must rely solely on Christ to drive out the demon.
To cast Christ as the omega point, He who is the best creation of an evolutionary process, is still to emphasize his humanity over his divinity, and in some ways this is most deadly for a priest because it is all too easy for a priest to see himself as a man like Christ, but just lower down the scale from Christ; when in actual fact the priest has to invoke Christ's authority as Savior of mankind in order to expel a demon.
If Martin was really writing about himself, he employed some heavy disguise, and certainly the elements of a composite are present. But nonetheless as in Father David's case, it would appear that Malachi Martin was cleansed of his infatuation with de Chardin by the way of performing exorcisms and realizing that to rely on the Christ figure that de Chardin created in his mind will not drive out a devil, because no man, however great, has Christ's power over devils which comes by way of His Divinity.
Were I to explain to my fellow Corkonians why I am a fan of this Kerryman, I'd concede that Martin was a world-class talker who was extraordinarily charming. But he spread his charm a bit too thick at times, and it gave the impression he was compensating. Also, he was good at using his charm to evade the hard question that would make his life intelligible for the people who live now and will come after us: Did his own conversion come about through battles with the demonic that convinced him of the Divinity of Christ as Lord of Lords who has dominion over all?
I wrote this column for The Latin Mass Society Magazine Summer 2021 edition. You may read the entire magazine here.