August 2, 2011

The Infiltration of Modernism in the Church

I’m happy to remark that every where in the world, everywhere in the Catholic world, courageous people are uniting together around priests who are faithful to the Catholic faith and to the Catholic Church, so as to maintain Tradition, which is the bulwark of our Faith. If there is a movement as general as this it is because the situation in the Church is truly serious.

If Catholics and good priests, some of whom have served in parishes for thirty years to the great satisfaction of their parishioners, have been able to beat the insult of being treated as disobedient rebels and dissidents, it could have only have been so as to maintain the Catholic Faith. They do it knowingly, following the spirit of the martyrs.

Whether one is persecuted by one’s own brethren or by the enemies of the Church, it is still to suffer martyrdom, provided it be for the maintaining of the Faith. These priests and faithful are witnesses of the Catholic Faith. They prefer to be considered rebels and dissidents rather than lose their Faith.

Throughout the entire world we are in the presence of a tragic and unheard of situation, which seems never to have happened before in the history of the Church. We must at least try to explain this extraordinary phenomenon. How has it come to pass that good faithful and priests are obliged to fight to maintain the Catholic faith in a Catholic world, which is in the process of totally breaking up?

It was Pope Paul VI himself who spoke of self-destruction within the Church. What does this term self-destruction mean, if it is not that the Church is destroying herself by herself, and hence by her own members. This is already what Pope St. Pius X said in his first encyclical when he wrote: “Henceforth the enemy of the church is no longer outside the church, he is now within.” And the Pope did not hesitate to designate those places where he was to be found: “The enemy is found in the seminaries.” Consequently, the holy Pope St. Pius X already denounced the presence of the enemies of the Church in the seminaries at the beginning of the century.

Obviously the seminarians of the time, who where imbued with modernism, sillonism and progressivism, later became priests. Some of them even became Bishops and among them were even some Cardinals. One could quote the names of those who were seminarians at the beginning of the century and who are now dead but whose spirit was clearly modernist and progressivist.

Thus already Pope St. Pius X denounced this division in the Church, which was to be the beginning of a very real rupture within the Church and within the clergy.

I am no longer young. During my whole life as a seminarian, as a priest and as a Bishop I have seen this division. I saw it already at the French seminary at Rome where by the grace of God I was able to study. I must admit that I was not very keen to do my studies in Rome. I would personally have preferred to study with the seminarians of my diocese in the Lille Seminary and to become an assistant vicar, and finally a parish priest in a small country parish.

I longed simply to maintain the Faith in a parish. I saw myself somewhat as the spiritual father of a population to which I was sent to teach the Catholic Faith and morals. But it happened otherwise. After the First World War my brother was already at Rome, for he had been separated from the family by the circumstances of the war in the north of France. Consequently my parents insisted that I go to be with him. “Since your brother is already at Rome, at the French seminary, go and join him so as to continue your studies with him.” Thus I left for Rome. I studied at the Gregorian University from 1923 to 1930. I was ordained in 1929 and I remained as a priest at the seminary during one year.


During my Seminary years tragic events took place, which now remind me of exactly what I lived through during the Council. I am now in practically the same situation as our Seminary Rector at the time. Fr. Le Floch. When I was there he had already been Rector of the French Seminary at Rome for thirty years. From Brittany, he was a very outstanding man and as strong and firm in the Faith as Brittany granite. He taught us the Papal encyclicals and the exact nature of the Modernism condemned by St. Pius X, the modern errors condemned by Leo XIII and the liberalism condemned by Pius IX. We liked our Fr. Le Floch very much. We were very attached to him.

But his firmness in doctrine and in Tradition obviously displeased the progressive wing. Progressive Catholics already existed at that time. The Popes had to condemn them.

Not only did Fr. Le Floch displease the progressives, but he also displeased the French government. The French government feared that by the intermediary of Fr. Le Floch and by that formation, which was given to the seminarians at the French Seminary in Rome traditional Bishops, would come to France and would give to the Church in France a traditional and clearly anti-liberal direction.

For the French government was Masonic and consequently profoundly liberal and frightened at the thought that non-liberal Bishops could take over the most important posts. Pressure was consequently exerted on the Pope so as to eliminate Fr. Le Floch. It was Francisque Gay, the future leader of the M.R.P., who was in charge of this operation. He came to Rome to exert pressure on Pope Pius XI, denouncing Fr. Le Floch as being, so he said, a member of.’Action Franaise” and a politician who taught his seminarians to also be members of “Action Franaise.’

This was all nothing but a lie. For three years I heard Fr. Le Floch in his spiritual conferences. Never did he speak to us of “Action Franaise.” Likewise people now say to me: “You were formerly a member of Action Franaise.’” I have never been a member of “Action Franaise.”

Clearly we were accused of being members of “Action Franaise,” Nazis and fascists and every other pejorative label because we were anti-revolutionary and anti-liberal.

Thus an inquiry was made. The Cardinal Archbishop of Milan (Card. Schuster) was sent to the seminary. He wasn’t the least of the Cardinals. He was in fact a Benedictine of great holiness and intelligence. He had been designated by Pope Pius XI to make the inquiry at the French Seminary so as to determine if the accusations of Francisque Gay were true or not. The inquiry took place. The result was: the French Seminary functions perfectly well under the direction of Fr. Le Floch. We have absolutely nothing to reproach the Seminary Rector with. But this did not suffice.

Three months later a new inquiry was begun, this time with the order to do away with Fr. Le Floch. The new inquiry was made by a member of a Roman Congregation. He concluded, in effect, that Fr. Le Floch was a friend of “Action Franaise,” that he was dangerous for the Seminary and that he had to be asked to resign. This is just what happened.

In 1926 the Holy See requested Fr. Le Floch to kindly abandon his post as Rector of the French Seminary. He was overwhelmed with sorrow. Fr. Le Floch had never been a politician. He was traditional, attached to the doctrines of the Church and the Popes. In addition he had been a great friend of Pope St. Pius X, who had had great confidence in him. It was precisely because he was a friend of St. Pius X that he was the enemy of the progressive wing.

It was at the same time that I was at the French Seminary that Cardinal Billot was also attacked. He was a first class theologian at the time and remains today well known and studied in our Seminaries. Monseigneur Billot, Cardinal of the Holy Church, was deposed. The purple was taken away from him and he was sent away in penance to Castelgandolfo, quite close to Albano, where the Jesuits have a house. He was forbidden to leave under pretext of having connections with “Action Franaise.”

In fact, Cardinal Billot never belonged to “Action Franaise.” He did, however, hold Naurras in high esteem and had cited him in his theology books. In the second volume concerning the Church (De Ecclesia), for example, Cardinal Billot accomplished a magnificent study of liberalism where he took, in the form of notes, several quotations from Maurras. This was a mortal sin! This was all they could find to depose Cardinal Billot. It is not a minor tragedy, for he was one of the great theologians of his time and yet he was deposed as a Cardinal and reduced to the state of a simple priest, for he was not a Bishop. (At that time there were still some Cardinal deacons.) It was already the persecution.


Pope Pius XI himself fell under the influence of the progressives who were already present in Rome. For we see a distinct difference from the Popes before and after. But nevertheless Pope Pius XI at the same time wrote some magnificent encyclicals. He was not a liberal. “Divini Redemptoris,” his encyclical against Communism was magnificent. So also was his encyclical on Christ the King, which established the feast of Christ The King and proclaimed the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. His encyclical on Christian Education is absolutely admirable and remains today a fundamental document for those who defend Catholic schools.

If on the level of doctrine Pope Pius XI was an admirable man, he was weak in the order of practical action. He was easily influenced. It is thus that he was very strongly influenced at the time of the Mexican Civil War and gave the Cristeros, who were in the process of defending the Catholic religion and combating for Christ the King, the order to have confidence in the government and to put down their arms. As soon as they had put down their arms they were all massacred. This horrifying massacre is still remembered today in Mexico. Pope Pius XI placed confidence in the government who deceived him. Afterwards, he was visibly very upset. He could not imagine how a government, which had promised to treat with honor those who defended their Faith, could have then gone on to massacre them. Thus thousands of Mexicans were killed on account of their Faith.

Already at the beginning of this century we find certain situations, which announce a division in the Church. Slowly we arrived at it, but the division was very definite just before the council.

Pope Pius XII was a great pope well in his writing as in his way of governing the Church. During the reign of Pius XII the Faith was firmly maintained. Naturally the liberals did not like him, for he brought back to mind the fundamental principles of theology and truth.

But then John XXIII came along. He had a totally different temperament than Pius XII. John XXIII was a very simple and open man. He did not see problems anywhere.

When he decided to hold a Synod Rome they said to him, “But Holy Father, a Synod has to be prepared. At least one year is necessary and perhaps two so as to prepare such a meeting, in order that numerous fruits be gained and that reforms be truly studied and then applied so that your diocese of Rome might draw profit from it. All this cannot be done straight away and in the space of two or three months followed by two weeks of meetings and then all will be fine. It is not possible.”

“Oh yes, yes I know, I know, but it going to be a small Synod. We can prepare it in a few months and everything will be just fine.”

Thus the Synod was rapidly prepared: a few commissions at Rome, everybody very busy and then two weeks of meetings and all was over with. Pope John XXIII was happy his small Synod had been held, but the results were nil. Nothing had changed in the diocese of Rome. The situation was exactly the same as before.


It was exactly the same thing for the Council. “I have the intention to hold a Council.” Already Pope Pius XII had been asked by certain Cardinals to hold a Council. But he had refused, believing that it was impossible. We cannot in our time hold a Council with 2,500 bishops. The pressures that can exercised by the mass media are too dangerous for us to dare hold a Council. We are liable to get out of depth. And there was in fact no Council.

But Pope John XXIII said: “But it’s fine: we don’t need to be pessimistic. You have to look on things with confidence. We will come together for three months with all the Bishops of the entire world. We will begin on October 13. Then everything will be over with between December 8 and January 25. Everybody will go home, and the Council will be over and done with.”

And so the Pope held the Council! Nevertheless it did have to be prepared. A Council cannot be held off the bat just like a Synod. It was indeed prepared two years in advance. I was personally named as a member of the Central Preparatory Commission as Archbishop of Dakar and president of the West African Episcopal Conference. I therefore came to Rome at least ten times during the two years so as to participate in the meetings of the Central Preparatory Commission.

It was very important, for all the documents of the secondary commissions had to come through it so as to be studied and submitted to the Council. There were in this commission seventy Cardinals and around twenty Archbishops and Bishops, as well as the experts. These experts were not members of the Commission, but were only present so they could eventually be consulted by the members.


During these two years the meetings followed one another and it became clearly apparent for all the members present that there was a profound division within the Church itself. This profound division was not accidental or superficial but was even deeper amongst the Cardinals than amongst the Archbishops and Bishops. On the occasion of the casting of votes the conservative Cardinals could be seen to vote in one way and the progressive Cardinals in another. And all the votes were always more or less the same way. There was obviously a real division amongst the Cardinals.

I describe the following incident in one of my books A Bishop Speaks. I often mention it because it truly characterizes the end of the Central Commission and the beginning of the Council. It was during the last meeting, and we had received beforehand ten documents on the same subject. Cardinal Bea had prepared a text “De Libertate Religiosa,” “Concerning Religious Liberty.” Cardinal Ottaviani had prepared another, “De ‘Tolerantia Religiosa,” .’Concerning Religious Tolerance.’

The simple fact the two different titles on the same subject was significant of two different conceptions. Cardinal Bea spoke of freedom for all religions and Cardinal Ottaviani of freedom for the Catholic religion along with tolerance of error and false religions. How could such a disagreement have been resolved by the Commission?

From the beginning Cardinal Ottaviani pointed the finger at Cardinal Bea and said, “Your Eminence, you do not have the right to present this document.”

Cardinal Bea replied, “Excuse me but I have perfectly the right to put together a document as President of the Commission for Unity. Consequently, I have knowingly put together this document. Moreover, I am totally opposed to your opinion.”

Thus two of the most eminent Cardinals, Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Holy Office, and Cardinal Bea, former Confessor of Pope Pius XII, a Jesuit having a great deal of influence on all the Cardinals, who was well known in the Biblical Institute and responsible for advanced biblical studies, were opposed on a fundamental thesis in the Church. Unity for all religions is one thing, that is to say that liberty and error are placed on the same footing; but liberty of the Catholic religion along with tolerance of error is something quite different. Traditionally the Church has always been for the opinion of Cardinal Ottaviani and not for that of Cardinal Bea, which is totally liberal.

Then Cardinal Ruffini, from Palermo, stood up and said; “We are now in the presence of two confreres who are opposed to one another on a question which is very important in the Church. We are consequently obliged to refer to a higher authority.”

Quite often the Pope came to preside over our meetings. But he was not there for this last meeting. Consequently the Cardinals requested to vote: “We cannot wait to go and see the Holy Father. We are going to vote.” We voted. Just about one half of the Cardinals voted for the opinion of Cardinal Bea and the other half for that of Cardinal Ottaviani. All those who voted for Cardinal Bea’s opinion were the Dutch, German, French and Austrian Cardinals, and all those in general from Europe and North America. The traditional Cardinals were those of the Roman Curia, from South America and in general those of Spanish Language.

It was a true rupture in the Church. From this moment I asked myself how the Council could proceed with such opposition on such important points. Who would win? Would it be Cardinal Ottaviani with the Cardinals of Spanish or romance languages or would it be the European Cardinals and those of North America?

In effect, the battle began immediately, from the very first days of the Council. Cardinal Ottaviani had presented the list of members who had belonged to the preparatory commissions, leaving full freedom for each to chose those that he wanted. It was obvious that we could not all know one another, since each one came for his own diocese. How could one possibly know the 2,500 Bishops of the world? We were asked to vote for members of the commissions of the Council. But who could we chose? We did not know the Bishops from South America nor from South Africa nor from India. ..

Cardinal Ottaviani thought that Rome’s choices for the preparatory commissions could help as an indication for the Council Fathers. It was in fact quite normal to propose these.

Cardinal Lienart arose and said, “We do not accept this way of doing things. We ask for 48 hours to reflect, that we might know better those who could make up the different commissions. This is to exert pressure on the judgement of the Fathers. We do not accept it.”

The Council had begun only two days previously and already there was a violent opposition between the Cardinals. What had happened?

During these 48 hours the liberal Cardinals had already prepared lists made out from all the countries of the world. They distributed these in the letterboxes of all the Council Fathers. We had therefore all received a list proposing the members of such and such a commission; that is such a bishop and another etc. from different countries. Many said: “After all why not. I do not know them. Since the list is already ready we have simply to make use of it.” Forty-eight hours later it was the liberals’ list, which was in front. But it did not receive the two thirds of the votes, which were required by the Council rules.

What then would the Pope do? Would Pope John XXIII make an exception to the rules of the Council or would he apply them? Clearly the liberal Cardinals were afraid that he might apply them and so they ran to the Pope and said to him: “Listen, we have more than half the votes, nearly 60%. You cannot refuse that. We cannot keep going like this and hold another election. We will never be done with it. This is clearly the will of the majority of the Council and we have simply to accept it.” And Pope John XXIII accepted. From this beginning all the members of the Council commissions were chosen by the liberal wing. It is easy to imagine what an enormous influence this had on the Council.

I am sure Pope John XXIII died prematurely because of what he saw at the Council, although he had thought that at the end of a few months everything would be done with. It was to be a council of three months. Then all would say good-bye and go home happy for having met one another at Rome and for having had a nice little meeting.

He discovered that the Council was to be a world of itself, a world of continual clashes. No text came from the first session of the Council. Pope John XXIII was overwhelmed by this and I am persuaded that this hastened his death. It has even been said that on his deathbed he said: “Stop the Council; stop the Council.”


Pope Paul VI came along. It is obvious that he gave his support to the liberal wing. Why was that?

From the very beginning of his pontificate, during the second Session of the Council, he immediately named four Moderators. The four Moderators were to direct the Council instead of the ten Presidents who had presided during the first Session. The Presidents, one of whom had presided over one meeting and then the second and then the third, sat at a table higher than the others. But they were to become honorary Presidents. The four Moderators became the true Presidents of the Council.

Who were these moderators? Cardinal Dopfner of Munich was one. He was very progressive indeed and very ecumenical. Cardinal Suenens, whom the entire world knows along with his charismatics and who has given conferences in favor of the marriage of priests, was another. Cardinal Lercaro who is known for his philocommunism and whose Vicar General had been enrolled as a member of the Communist party was a third. Finally there was Cardinal Agagianian, who represented somewhat the traditional wing, if I can say so.

Cardinal Agagianian was a very discreet and self-effacing man. Consequently he had no real influence on the Council. But the three others accomplished their task with drums beating. They constantly brought together the liberal Cardinals, which gave considerable authority to the liberal wing of the Council.

Clearly the traditional Cardinals and Bishops were from this very moment put aside and despised.

When poor Cardinal Ottaviani, who was blind, started to speak, boos could be heard amongst the young Bishops when he did not finish at the end of the ten minutes allocated to him. Thus did they make him understand that they had had enough of listening to him. He had to stop; it was frightful. This venerable Cardinal, who was honored throughout Rome and who had had an enormous influence on the Holy Church, who was Prefect of the Holy Office, which is not a small function, was obliged to stop. It was scandalous to see how the traditionalists were treated.

Monseigneur Staffa (he has since been named Cardinal), who is very energetic, was silenced by the Council Moderators. These were unbelievable things.


This is what happened at the Council. It is obvious that all the Council documents and texts were influenced by the liberal Cardinals and Commissions. It is hardly astonishing that we have such ambiguous texts, which favor so many changes and even a true revolution in the Church.

Could we have done anything, we who represented the traditional wing of the Bishops and Cardinals? Frankly speaking, we could do little. We were 250 who favored the maintenance of Tradition and who were opposed to such major changes in the Church as false renewal, false ecumenism, false collegiality. We were opposed to all these things. These 250 bishops clearly brought some weight to bear and on certain occasions forced texts to be modified. Thus the evil was somewhat limited.

But we could not succeed in preventing certain false opinions from being adopted, especially in the schema on Religious Liberty, whose text was redone five times. Five times the same opinion was brought forward. We opposed it on each occasion. There were always 250 votes against. Consequently Pope Paul VI asked that two small sentences be added to the text, saying that there is nothing in this text which is contrary to the traditional teaching of the Church and that the Church remains always the true and the only Church of Christ.

Then the Spanish Bishops in particular said: “Since the Pope has made this statement there is no longer any problem. There is nothing against tradition.” If these things are contradictory then this little phrase contradicts everything, which is in the texts. It is a contradictory schema. We could not accept it. Finally there remained, if I remember well, only 74 bishops against. It is the only schema, which met such opposition, but 74 of 2,500 is little indeed!

Thus ended the Council. We should not be astonished at the reforms, which have been introduced since. Since then, everything is the history of Liberalism. The liberals were victorious within the Council for they demanded that Paul VI grant them places within the Roman Congregations. And in fact the important places were given to the progressive clergy. As soon as a Cardinal died or an occasion presented itself, Pope Paul VI would put aside traditional Cardinals, immediately replacing them with liberal ones.

Thus it is that Rome was occupied by the liberals. This is a fact, which cannot be denied. Nor can it be denied that the reforms of the Council were reforms which breathe the spirit of Ecumenism and which are quite simply Protestant, neither more nor less.


The most serious of the consequences was the liturgical reform. It was accomplished, as everybody knows, by a well-known priest, Bugnini, who had prepared it long in advance. Already in 1955 Fr. Bugnini had asked Msgr. Pintonello, general Chaplain of the Italian army, who had spent much time in Germany during the occupation, to translate Protestant liturgical texts. For Fr. Bugnini did not know German.

It was Msgr. Pintonello himself who told me that he had translated the Protestant liturgical books for Fr. Bugnini, who at that time was but an insignificant member of a liturgical commission. He was nothing. Afterwards he became professor of liturgy at the Lateran. Pope John XXIII made him leave on account of his modernism and his progressivism. Hence surprise, surprise, and he is found again as President of the Commission for, Liturgical Reform. This is all the same, unbelievable.

I had the occasion to see for myself what influence Fr. Bugnini had. One wonders how such a thing as this could have happened at Rome. At that time immediately after the Council, I was Superior General of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and we had a meeting of the Superiors General at Rome. We had asked Fr. Bugnini explain to us what his New Mass was, for this was not at all a small event. Immediately after the Council was heard of the Normative Mass, the New Mass, the Novus Ordo. What did all this mean?

It had not been spoken of at the Council. What had happened? And so we asked Fr. Bugnini to come and explain himself to the 84 Superiors General who were united together, amongst whom I consequently was.

Fr. Bugnini, with much confidence, explained what the Normative Mass would be; this will be changed, that will be changed and we will put in place another Offertory. We will be able to reduce the communion prayers. We will be able to have several different formats for the beginning of Mass. We will be able to say the Mass in the vernacular tongue. We looked at one another saying to ourselves: “But it’s not possible!”

He spoke absolutely, as if there had never been a Mass in the Church before him. He spoke of his Normative Mass as of a new invention.

Personally I was myself so stunned that I remained mute, although I generally speak freely when it is a question of opposing those with whom I am not in agreement. I could not utter a word. How could it be possible for this man before me to be entrusted with the entire reform of the Catholic Liturgy, the entire reform of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the sacraments, of the Breviary, and of all our prayers? Where are we going? Where is the Church going?

Two Superiors General had the courage to speak out. One of them asked Fr. Bugnini: “Is this an active participation, that is a bodily participation, that is to say with vocal prayers, or is it a spiritual participation? In any case you have so much spoken of the participation of the faithful that it seems you can no longer justify Mass celebrated without the faithful. Your entire Mass has been fabricated around the participation of the faithful. We Benedictines celebrate our Masses without the assistance of the faithful. Does this mean that we must discontinue our private Masses, since we do not have faithful to participate in them?”

I repeat to you exactly that which Fr. Bugnini said. I have it still in my ears, so much did it strike me: “To speak truthfully we didn’t think of that,” he said!

Afterwards another arose and said: “Reverend Father, you have said that we will suppress this and we will suppress that, that we will replace this thing by that and always by shorter prayers. I have the impression that your new Mass could be said in ten or twelve minutes or at the most a quarter of an hour. This is not reasonable. This is not respectful towards such an act of the Church.” Well, this is what he replied: “We can always add something.” Is this for real? I heard it myself. If somebody had told me the story I would perhaps have doubted it, new I heard it myself.

Afterwards, at the time at which this Normative Mass began to be put into practice, I was so disgusted that we met with some priests and theologians in a small meeting. From it came the “Brief Critical Study,” which was taken to Cardinal Ottaviani. I presided that small meeting. We said to ourselves: “We must go and find the Cardinals. We cannot allow this to happen without reacting.”

So I myself went to find the Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani, and I said to him: “Your Eminence, you are not going to allow this to get through, are you? It’s not possible. What is this New Mass? It is a revolution in the Church, a revolution in the Liturgy.”

Cardinal Cicognani, who was the Secretary of State of Pope Paul VI, placed his head between his hands and said to me: “Oh Monseigneur, I know well. I am in full agreement with you; but what can I do? Fr. Bugnini goes in to the office of the Holy Father and makes him sign what he wants.” It was the Cardinal Secretary of State who told me this! Therefore the Secretary of State, the number two person in the Church after the Pope himself, was placed in a position of inferiority with respect to Fr. Bugnini. He could enter into the Pope’s office when he wanted and make him sign what he wanted.

This can explain why Pope Paul VI signed texts that he had not read. He told Cardinal Journet that he had done this. Cardinal Journet was a deep thinker, Professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and a great theologian. When Cardinal Journet saw the definition of the Mass in the instruction, which precedes the Novus Ordo, he said: ”This definition of the Mass is unacceptable; I must go to Rome to see the Pope.” He went and he said: “Holy Father you cannot allow this definition. It is heretical. You cannot leave your signature on a document like this.” The Holy Father replied to him (Cardinal Journet did not tell me himself but he told someone who repeated it to me): ”Well, to speak truthfully I did not read it. I signed it without reading it.” Evidently, if Fr. Bugnini had such an influence on him it’s quite possible. He must have said to the Holy Father: ”You can sign it”. “But did you look it over carefully”. ”Yes, you can go ahead and sign it.” And he signed.

But this document did not go through the Holy Office. I know this because Cardinal Seper himself told me that he was absent when the Novus Ordo was edited and that it did not pass by the Holy Office. Hence it is indeed Fr. Bugnini who obtained the Pope’s signature and who perhaps constrained him. We do not know, but he had without a doubt an extraordinary influence over the Holy Father.

A third fact, of which I was myself the witness, with respect to Fr. Bugnini is also astonishing. When permission was about to be give for Communion in the hand (what a horrible thing!), I said to myself that I could not sit by without saying anything. I must go and see Cardinal Gut -a Swiss -who was Prefect of the Congregation for Worship. I therefore went to Rome, where Cardinal Gut received me in a very friendly way and immediately said to me: “I’m going to make my second-in- charge, Archbishop Antonini, come that he also might hear what you have to say.”

As we spoke I said: “Listen, you who are responsible for the Congregation for Worship, are you going to approve this decree which authorizes Communion in the hand? Just think of all the sacrileges, which it is going to cause. Just think of the lack of respect for the Holy Eucharist, which is going to spread throughout the entire Church. You cannot possibly allow such a thing to happen. Already priests are beginning to give Communion in this manner. It must be stopped immediately. And with this New Mass they always take the shortest canon, that is the second one, which is very brief.”

At this, Cardinal Gut said to Archbishop Antonini, “See, I told you this would happen and that priests would take the shortest canon so as to go more quickly and finish the Mass more quickly.”

Afterwards Cardinal Gut said to me: “Monseigneur, if one were to ask my opinion (when he said “one” he was speaking of the Pope, since nobody was over him except the Pope), but I’m not certain it is asked of me (don’t forget that he was Prefect for the Congregation for Worship and was responsible for everything which was related to Worship and to the Liturgy!), but if the Pope were to ask for it, I would place myself on my knees, Monseigneur, before the Pope and I would say to him: ‘Holy Father do not do this; do not sign this decree.’ I would cast myself on my knees, Monseigneur. But I do not know that I will be asked. For it is not I who command here.”

This I heard with my own ears. He was making allusion to Bugnini, who was the third in the Congregation for Worship. There was first of all Cardinal Gut, then Archbishop Antonini and then Fr. Bugnini, President of the Liturgical Commission. You ought to have heard that! Alas, you can now understand my attitude when I am told; you are a dissident and disobedient rebel.


Yes, I am a rebel. Yes, I am a dissident. Yes, I am disobedient to people like those Bugninis. For they have infiltrated themselves into the Church in order to destroy it. There is no other explanation.

Are we then going to contribute to the destruction of the Church? Will we say: “Yes, yes, amen’; even if it is the enemy who has penetrated right to the Holy Father and who is ableot; make the Holy Father sign what he wants? We don’t really know under what pressure he did it. There are hidden things, which clearly escape us. Some say that it is Freemasonry. It’s possible. I do not know. In any case, there is a mystery.

How can a priest who is not a Cardinal, who is not even a Bishop, who was still very young at the time and who was elevated against the will of Pope John XXIII (who had chased him from the Lateran University), how can such a priest go to the very top without taking any account of the Cardinal Secretary of State, nor of the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Worship? How can he go directly to the Holy Father and make him sign what he wants? Such a thing has never before been seen in the Holy Church. Everything should go through the authorities. That is why there are Commissions. Files are studied. But this man was all powerful!

It was he who brought in Protestant pastors to change our Mass. It was not Cardinal Gut. It was not the Cardinal Secretary of State. It was perhaps not even the Pope. It was him. Who is this man Bugnini? One day the former Abbot of St. Paul Outside the Walls, a Benedictine who had preceded Fr. Bugnini as head of the Liturgical Commission, said to me: “Monseigneur, do not speak to me of Fr. Bugnini. I know too much about him. Do not ask me about him.” I replied: “But tell me. I must know it. The truth must be uncovered.” It is probably he who asked John XXIII to send him away from the Lateran University.

All of these things show us that the enemy has penetrated right within the Church, as St. Pius X already said. He is in the highest places, as Our Lady of La Salette announced, and as without a doubt the third secret of Fatima tells us.

Well, if the enemy is truly within the Church, must we obey him? “Yes, for he represents the Pope,” is a frequent answer. First of all we do not know this at all, for we do not know exactly what the Pope thinks.

I have, all the same, some personal proofs that Pope Paul VI was very much influenced by Cardinal Villot. It has been said that Cardinal Villot was a Freemason. I do not know. There are some strange facts. Letters of Freemasons addressed to Cardinal Villot have been photocopied. I do not have the proof of it. In any case, Cardinal Villot had a considerable influence over the Pope. He concentrated all power at Rome within his own hands. He became the master much more than the Pope. I do know that everything had to go through him.

One day I went to see Cardinal Wright with respect to the Canadian Catechism. I said to him: “Look at this catechism. Are you aware of those little books, which are entitled ‘Purture’? It’s abominable that children are taught to break away. They must break with their family, with society, with tradition. ..this is the catechism, which is taught to the children of Canada with the Imprimatur of Monseigneur Couderc. It’s you who are responsible for catechism in the entire world. Are you in agreement with this catechism?” “No, no,” he said to me: “This catechism is not Catholic” -“It is not Catholic! Then immediately tell the Canadian Bishops’ Conference. Tell them to stop and to throw this catechism in the fire and to take up the true catechism.” His answer was: “How can I oppose myself to a Bishops’ Conference?”

I then said: “It’s over and done with. There is no more authority in the Church. It’s over and done with. If Rome can no longer say anything to a Bishops’ Conference, even if it is in the process of destroying children’s Faith, then it’s the end of the Church.”

That is where we are now. Rome is afraid of the Bishops’ Conferences. These conferences are abominable. In France the Bishops’ Conference has been involved in a campaign in favor of contraception. The Socialist Government, which is constantly advertising on the television the slogan: “Take the pill so as to prevent abortions,” got them involved, I think. They had nothing better to do than push crazy propaganda in favor of the pill. The cost of the pill is reimbursed for girls of only twelve years, so as to avoid abortion! And the bishops approve! Official documents in favor of contraception can be found in the Tulle diocese bulletin, which is my former diocese, and which bulletin I continue to receive This came from Bishop Bruneau, a former Superior General of the Sulpicians. He is supposedly one of the best Bishops of France. It’s like that!


What should I do? I am told: “You must obey. You are disobedient. You do not have the right to continue doing what you are doing, for you divide the Church.”

What is a law? What is a decree? What obliges to obedience? A law, Leo XIII says, is the ordering of reason to the common good, but not towards the common evil. This is so obvious that if a rule is ordered towards an evil, then it is no longer a law. Leo XIII said this explicitly in his encyclical “Libertas.” A law, which is not for the common good, is not a law. Consequently one is not obliged to obey it.

Many canon lawyers at Rome say that Bugnini’s Mass is not a law. There was no law for the New Mass. It is simply an authorization, or a permit. Let us accept, for argument’s sake, that there was a law, which came from Rome, an ordering of reason to the common good and not to the common evil. But the New Mass is in the process of destroying the Church, of destroying the Faith. It’s obvious. The Archbishop of Montreal, Archbishop Grgoire, in a letter, which was published, was very courageous. He is one of the rare bishops who dared write a letter in which he denounced the evils of which the Church of Montreal is suffering. “We are greatly saddened to see parishes abandoned by a great number of the faithful. We attribute this, in great part, to the liturgical reform.” He had the courage to say it.

We are in the presence of a true plot within the church on the part of the Cardinals themselves, such as Cardinal Knox, who made that famous inquiry concerning the Tridentine Latin Mass throughout the entire world. It was a clear and obvious lie, so as to influence Pope John Paul II that he might say: “If there are such a small number who want Tradition, it will fall away by itself. His investigation was worth nothing.” Yet the Pope, at the time that he received me in audience in November of 1978, was ready to sign an agreement according to which priests could celebrate the mass they choose. He was ready to sign that.

But there is at Rome a group of Cardinals bitterly opposed to Tradition. Cardinal Casaroli the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Religious and Cardinal Baggio, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops who has the very important responsibility of nominating bishops, are amongst them. Then there is the infamous Virgilio Noe who is the second-in- charge for the Congregation for Worship and who is perhaps worse even than Bugnini. And then there is Cardinal Hamer, the Belgian Archbishop who is second in charge of the Holy Office, who comes from the region of Loops n and is imbued with all the modern ideas of Louvain. They were bitterly opposed to Tradition. They did not want to hear us speak about it. I believe that they would have strangled me if they could.


They league together against me as soon as they know I am making an effort to obtain from the Holy Father the freedom for Tradition. Just leave us in peace; just leave us to pray as Catholics have prayed for centuries; just leave us to continue what we learned in the seminary; just leave us to continue that which you yourselves learned when you were young, that is to say the best way to sanctify ourselves.

This is what we were taught at the Seminary. I taught this when I was a priest. When I became a bishop I myself said this to my priests, to all my priests and to all my seminarians. This is what you need to do to become a saint. Love the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which is given to us by the Church. Be devoted to her sacraments and her catechism, and especially change nothing. Keep Tradition. Keep to the Tradition, which has lasted for twenty centuries. It is that which sanctifies us. It is that which sanctified the saints. But now all has been changed. This cannot be. Just leave us at least freedom!

Obviously, when they hear this they immediately go to the Holy Father and say to him: “Concede nothing to Archbishop Lefebvre, grant nothing to Tradition. Especially do not back down.”

Since these are the most important Cardinals, such as Cardinal Casaroli the Secretary of State the Pope does not dare. There are some Cardinals who would be rather more in favor of an agreement, such as Cardinal Ratzinger. It is he who replaced Cardinal Seper who died at Christmas of 1981. Cardinal Ratzinger was nevertheless very liberal at the time of the Council. He was a friend of Rahner, of Hans Kung, and of Schillebeeckx. But his nomination as Archbishop of the diocese of Munich seemed to open his eyes somewhat. He is now certainly much more aware of the danger of the reforms and more desirous of returning to traditional rules, along with Cardinal Palazzini who is in charge of the Congregation for Beatifications and Cardinal Oddi who is in charge of the Congregation for the Clergy. These three cardinals would be in favor of allowing us freedom. But the others have still a great deal of influence over the Holy Father…

I was at Rome five weeks ago, so as to see Cardinal Ratzinger who was named by the Pope to replace Cardinal Seper as a personal intermediary for relations with the Society and myself. Cardinal Seper had been named on the occasion of the audience, which Pope John Paul II granted me. The Pope had made Cardinal Seper come and had said to him: “Your Eminence, you will have the job of maintaining relations between Archbishop Lefebvre and myself. You will be my intermediary.” Now he has named Cardinal Ratzinger.

I went to see him and I spoke with him during an hour and three quarters. Certainly Cardinal Ratzinger seems more positive and more willing to come to a good solution. The only difficulty, which remains rather troublesome, is the Mass. Ultimately it has always been a question of the Mass, right from the beginning.

For they know very well that I am not against the Council. There are some things, which I cannot accept in the Council. I did not sign the schema on Religious Liberty. I did not sign the schema on the Church in the modern world. But it cannot be said that I am against the Council. These are things, which cannot be accepted because they are contrary to Tradition. This ought not to upset them too much, since the Pope himself said: “The Council must be looked at in the light of Tradition.” If the Council is to be accepted in the light of Tradition I am not at all upset.

I will readily sign this, because everything, which is contrary to Tradition, is clearly to be rejected. During the audience, which the Pope granted me (-on November 18, 1978 – Ed.),, he asked me: “Are you ready to sign this formula?” I replied: “You yourself used it and I am ready to sign it.” Then he said: “Then there are no doctrinal differences between us? “ I replied: “I hope not.” – “Now what problems remain? Do you accept the Pope?” – “Of course we recognize the Pope andd we pray for the Pope in our Seminaries. Ours are perhaps the only seminaries in the world where the Pope is prayed for. We have a great deal of respect for the Pope. Each time the Pope has asked me to come I have always come. But there is a difficulty concerning the liturgy,” I said to him, “which is truly very important. The new liturgy is in the process of destroying the Church and the Seminaries. This is a very important question.” – “But not at all. This is but a disciplinary question. It is not very serious at all. If this is the only problem. I believe that it can be fixed up.”

And the Pope called Cardinal Seper, who came immediately. If he had not come I believe that the Pope would have been ready to sign an agreement. Cardinal Seper came, and the Pope said to him: “I believe that it should not be so difficult to make an agreement with Archbishop Lefebvre. I believe that we can come to an agreement. There is just the question of the liturgy which is a little thorny.” – “But, concede nothing to Archbishop Lefebvre,” cried out the Cardinal. “They make of the Tridentine Mass a flag.” – “A flag?” I said. “But of course the holy mass is the flag of our Faith, the ‘mysterium fidei.’ It is the great mystery of our Faith. It is obvious that it is our flag, for it is the expression of our Faith.”

This made a profound impression on the Holy Father, who appeared to change almost immediately. In my opinion this showed that the Pope is not a strong man. If he had been a strong man he would have said: “It is I who am going to decide this matter. We are going to fix things up.” But no. Immediately he became as if were afraid. He became fearful, and when he left his office he said to Cardinal Seper: “You can speak together right now. You can try to make an arrangement with Arch- bishop Lefebvre. You can stay here. But I am obliged to go and see Cardinal Baggio. He has very many files to show me concerning Bishops. I must leave.” As he left he said to me: “Stop, Monseigneur, stop.” He was transformed. In a few minutes he had completely changed.

It was during this audience that I had shown him a letter that I had received from a Polish Bishop. He had written to me a year beforehand in order to congratulate me for the Seminary I had founded at Econe and for the priests that I was forming. He wished that I maintain the old Mass with all its Tradition. He added that he was not the only one. We are several Bishops who admire you, who admire your Seminary, the formation that you give to your priests and the Tradition that you maintain within the Church. For we are obliged to use the new liturgy, which makes our faithful lose the Faith.

That is what the Polish Bishop said. I took this letter with me when I went to see the Holy Father, saying to myself: “He will surely speak to me of Poland.” I was not wrong. He said to me: “But you know, in Poland all is going very well. Why do you not accept the reforms? In Poland there are no problems. People are simply sorry to have lost the Latin. We were very attached to Latin, because it bound us to Rome and we are very Roman. It is a pity, but what can I do? There is no longer any Latin in the Seminaries nor in the Breviary nor in the Mass. There is no more Latin. It’s quite un facunate, but it’s just like that. You see, in Poland these reforms were made and they did not create any difficulty. Our seminaries are full, and our Churches are full.”

I said to the Holy Father: ”Allow me to show you a letter I received from Poland.” I showed it to him. When he saw the name of the Bishop he said: “Oh, this is the greatest of the communists’ enemies.” -“It’s a good reference,” I said. The Pope read the letter carefully. I watched his face in order to see how he would react to those words which were twice repeated in the letter: “We are obliged to use the liturgical reform which makes our faithful lose the Faith.” Obviously the Pope could not accept this. At the end he said to me: “Did you receive this letter just like that? ” – “Yes, this is a photocopy that I bring to you.” – “It must be a fake,” he replied.

What could I say? I could no longer say anything. The Pope said to me: “You know, the Communists are very cunning in their efforts to provoke divisions among the Bishops.” So according to him this was a letter fabricated by the Communists and then sent to me. I am very doubtful about this. This letter was posted in Austria, for I imagine that the author was afraid that the Communists would intercept it and that it would not arrive. That is why he posted it in Austria. I replied to the Bishop but I heard nothing more from him.

All this is to say that I think that there are even in Poland profound divisions. Moreover, there have always been divisions between the peace priests and those who wish to hold fast to Tradition. This has been tragic behind the iron curtain.


You ought to read the book “Moscow and the Vatican,” by the Jesuit, Father Lepidi. It is extraordinary. It shows the influence that the Communists had in Rome, and how they were responsible for the nomination of Bishops and even of two Cardinals: Cardinal Lekai and Cardinal Tomaseck. Cardinal Lekai, was the successor of Cardinal Mindszenty, and Cardinal Tomaseck was the successor of Cardinal Beran. Both Cardinal Mindszenty and Cardinal Beran were heroes and martyrs for the Faith. They were replaced by peace priests who were determined above everything else to come to an understanding with the Communist government who persecuted traditional priests. These traditional priests went secretly to baptize in the countryside or to secretly catechize so as to continue their work as pastors in the Catholic Church, and yet they were persecuted by their Bishops, who said to them: “You do not have the right not to respect the rules of the Communist government. You do us a disfavor by acting against its laws.”

But these priests were ready to give their life so as to keep the Faith of children, so as to keep Faith in families, and so as to give sacraments to those who had need of them. Obviously in these countries one had always to ask for authorizations, if one wanted to carry the Blessed Sacrament to a hospital or to do anything at all. As soon as they left their sacristy these priests were obliged to ask the Communist party if it authorized them to do this or that. This was impossible. People died without the sacraments. Children were no longer educated in a Christian way. So the priests had to do these things in secret. If they were caught it was often because the Bishops themselves persecuted them. It’s frightening.

Neither Cardinal Wyszynski nor Cardinal Slipyi nor Cardinal Mindszenty nor Cardinal Beran would have done such things as these. They, to the contrary, encouraged good priests, saying to them: “Go ahead, go ahead. If you are put into prison you will have done your duty as a priest. If you must die martyrs then you will be martyrs.”

This shows how much influence they had on Rome. We have great difficulty in imagining it. We cannot even believe it.

I have never been against the Pope. I have never said that the Pope is not the Pope. I am absolutely for the Pope, for the successor of Peter. I do not want to separate myself from Rome. But I am against modernism, progressivism, and all the bad and destructive influences, which Protestantism has had via the reforms. I am against all those reforms, which poison us and poison the life of the faithful.

Thus I am told: “You are against the Pope.” No, I am not against the Pope To the contrary, I come to help the Pope. For the Pope cannot be modernist; he cannot be progressivist. Even if he allows himself to be pushed around, it is by weakness. This can happen. St. Peter also was weak with respect to the Jews. And St. Paul severely reproached him for: “You do not walk according to the Gospel,” he said to St. Peter. St. Peter was the Pope and St. Paul reproached him. And he did it vigorously: “I reproached the head of the Church because he was not walking according to the law of the Gospel.” It was a grave thing to say this to the Pope.

St. Catherine of Siena also vehemently reproached several Popes. We must have the same attitude. We say: “Holy Father, you are not doing your duty. You must return to Tradition to be persecuted by all those Cardinals and Bishops who are modernists you are going to bring about the ruin of the Church.”

I am sure that in his heart the Pope is profoundly concerned and that he seeks for a means to renew the Church. I hope that by our prayers and sacrifices and the prayers of those who love the Holy Church and who love the Pope we will succeed.

This will be especially by devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. If we pray to Our Lady, she who cannot abandon her Son, she who cannot abandon the Church that her Son founded, the mystical Spouse of her Son, we will be answered. It will be difficult and a miracle, but we will succeed.

As for myself, I do not want people to make me say that the New Mass is good, but that it is simply less good than the Traditional Mass. I cannot say that. I cannot say that these modern sacraments are good. They were made by Protestants. They were made by Bugnini. And Bugnini himself said on March 19, 1965, as can still be read in the “Osservatore Romano” and in “Documentation Catholique,” which magazines published a translation of Bugnini’s discourse:

“We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is for the Protestants.”

This was on March 19, 1965, just before all the reforms. Can we go to the Protestants and ask them concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, concerning d toour catechism? In what are you not in agreement? Do you not like this or do you not like that? …Well we will suppress it. This is not possible. It would perhaps not be heretical to do so, but the Catholic Faith would be diminished. Thus it is that people no longer believe in Limbo, in Purgatory and in Hell. Original sin is no longer believed in, neither are the angels. Grace is not believed in. People no longer speak of that which is supernatural. Our Faith is being destroyed.

So we must absolutely maintain our Faith and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary. We desire to undertake a giant task, and without the help of the good Lord we will never be able to accomplish it. I am certainly aware of my weakness and of my isolation. What can I do by myself compared to the Pope or the Cardinals? I do not know. I go as a pilgrim, with my pilgrim’s staff. I am going to say “keep the Faith.” Keep the Faith. Be rather a martyr then abandon your Faith. You must keep the sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

You cannot say: “But it is all different now. It is not too bad after all. As for me, I have a solid Faith and I’m not likely to lose it.” For it is clear that those who habitually attend the New Mass and the new sacraments undergo a gradual change of mentality. After a few years it will become apparent in questioning somebody who goes regularly to this new ecumenical Mass that he has adopted its ecumenical spirit. This means that he ends up by placing all religions on the same footing. If he is asked whether one can save oneself through Protestantism, through Buddhism, or through Islam he will reply: “But of course. All religions are good.” And there you have it. He has become liberal and Protestant and is no longer Catholic.

There is only one religion. There are not two of them. If Our Lord is God and founded a religion, the Catholic Religion, there can be no other religion. It is not possible. The other religions are false. That is why Cardinal Ottaviani used the title: “Concerning Religious Tolerance.”

Errors can be tolerated when they cannot be prevented. But they cannot be placed on to daame footing as the truth. There could then be no missionary spirit. The missionary spirit could not then be possible. If all the false religions save souls then why go out on mission? What is one going to do there? We have only to leave them in their religion and they are going to all save themselves. This is not possible. What, then, has the Church done for twenty centuries? Why all the martyrs? Why were they all massacred on the mission? Did the missionaries waste their time? Did the martyrs waste their blood and their lives? We cannot accept that.

We must remain Catholic. The slide into ecumenism is very dangerous. Easily one falls into a religion, which is no longer the Catholic religion.

I sincerely wish that all could be witnesses of Our Lord, of the Catholic Church of the Faith, and of Catholicism, even if we have to be despised and insulted in the newspapers, in the parishes and in the churches. What does it matter? We are witnesses of the Catholic Church. We are the true sons of the Catholic Church and true sons of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

+ Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

(Translated from Fideliter, Janvier-Fevrier 1992, and published in parts in various issues of the Angelus .)

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Some Traditional Catholic Groups Reconciling with Rome

ZE08011305 – 2008-01-13

Schismatic Groups Coming Home, Reports Vatican

Cardinal Assesses Impact of “Summorum Pontificum”

By Mary Shovlain

ROME, JAN. 13, 2008 ( Six months after Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter on the extended use of the 1962 missal, the Vatican says it is seeing fruits of reconciliation with Catholics who objected to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

“Summorum Pontificum,” allows for more availability of the Latin-language Mass, a rite the document dubs the “extraordinary form.” The letter, issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative), brought attention to the situation of schismatic groups such as the Society of St. Pius X, that refuse to celebrate the “Novus Ordo” Mass established by Vatican II.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos told ZENIT that after the June 7 document, one group has already asked to return to full communion with the Church.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, as the president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei, is the Vatican official in charge of facilitating the return to full ecclesial communion of people linked to the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

“We have already received responses [to the letter],” Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said. “Here in Rome we have a community that has asked to return and we have already begun mediating their full return.”

Requests, he continued, are coming in from around the world: “Many of the faithful have contacted us, written and called, to say they want full communion.”

Sewing unity

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos clarified the current status of members of the Society of St. Pius X due to excommunications issued by the Vatican to group members in 1988, in the wake of the schismatic gesture by Lefebvre of ordaining four bishops illicitly.

He explained: “The excommunications for the consecration done without the Pope’s permission affects only those bishops who carried out the consecration, and those bishops who received episcopal ordination in this illicit form in the Church, but it does not affect the priests or the faithful. Only those bishops are excommunicated.”

According to the Vatican prelate, what is needed now is “to sew back together the ecclesial fabric, because our brothers — I know them, I know some of the bishops even better — are all people of good will, people who want to be disciples of Jesus.”

“In this moment,” he continued, “with a little humility, with a little generosity, we can return to full communion, and the faithful want this because they do not want to participate in the rites when the priest is under suspension because the Church does not permit them to say Mass and absolve sins — so the faithful want this full return.”

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said he hoped that everyone involved will continue “to work with the Holy Father to sew back together this unity so that these good people can have the fullness of holiness that comes from union with the only Church of Christ, founded upon Peter and his Successors.”

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Reprinting ZENIT’s articles requires written permission from the editor.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Assult on the Roman Rite

We propose that the word for what has been done to the Roman Rite since Vatican Council II is truncation.

by John W. Mole

Hardly had the Second Vatican Council come to an end in 1965 than the Roman Rite was set upon with fulgurating radicality by hordes of liturgical experts who, throwing off all restraint imposed by the Constitution on the Liturgy, rampaged like Red Guards in the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Aroused by articles 37-40 headed “Norms for Adapting the Liturgy to the Temperament and Traditions of People,” they made into a revolutionary slogan the opening phrase of article 40: “In some places and circumstances . . . an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed.” Indeed their battle cry became “Ever more radical!” They claimed their extremely disruptive changes were clamored for by the people who, for the most part, were moving massively out of the Church. Multitudes of those who remained lost their belief in the reality of our Lord’s Eucharistic presence.1

Even within the radical group of articles 37-40, the Constitution shields the liturgy from revolutionary aggression. Article 38 calls for the substance of the Roman Rite to be safeguarded and article 39 demands respect for the fundamental norms laid down. Especially to be noted is that which stipulates: “new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (art. 23). Organic change assures the growth and development of the living thing which the Roman liturgy is. Alien to its life is change disruptive of its overall form or shape, of any particular form pertaining to its integrity (Latinity for example) and of its orientation, by which we mean its Christocentricity.

The so-called experts (more appropriately described as energumens) coalesced into a worldwide body of national liturgical commissions and groups such as the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). At its apex was the Consilium appointed in 1964 by Paul VI with over forty diocesan bishops to provide it with plausibility and two hundred experts from which to draw its workforce.

Exorbitant use of article 40

This largely autonomous establishment of liturgists became a law unto itself by usurping authority to interpret article 40 as universal in intent and extent despite the fact that it was meant to be restricted. The first exorbitant use of it was to justify vernacularizing the Mass totally and everywhere. Even pidgin English was pressed into service. Thus was contravened article 36 which stipulates that Latin must continue in use, albeit with more recourse to the vernacular than hitherto. Such serious tampering with the Constitution nullified its normative value. In consequence, the postconciliar reform movement was launched without norms to guide it.

The Consilium presented its new Order of the Mass (Novus Ordo) for the first time in the Sistine Chapel before bishops attending the Roman Synod in 1967, most of whom disapproved. Nonetheless, it was promulgated two years later, together with a General Instruction, so doctrinally deficient that it had to be withdrawn and corrected by the Congregation for Divine Doctrine. Further interventions of the said Congregation have been necessitated in the ensuing years, the latest being the rescinding of an approval for inclusive language granted by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

At Rome, throughout the postconciliar period, those responsible for Worship have been at variance with those responsible for Doctrine. All three Cardinal Prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in office during this period (Ottaviani, Seper and Ratzinger) have strongly objected to the manner in which the liturgical reform of Vatican II has been implemented.2

Jungmann’s masterful work, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, published only a decade before the Second Vatican Council, now reads like an obituary. Indeed a prominent Consilium expert, Joseph Gelineau, S.J., has had the honesty to declare: “Let it be candidly said: the Roman Rite which we have known hitherto no longer exists. It is destroyed.”3 His conclusion is based on the liturgy being a symbolic action enacted with meaningful forms, to change any of which is to change the rite. In this respect, he reasons like the German scholar Msgr. Klaus Gamber who states: “Each rite constitutes a homogenous unity. So the modification of some of its essential components means the destruction of the entire rite.”4 However, the whole outlook of Gelineau is diametrically opposed to that of Gamber. The former applauds and the latter deplores the destruction of the Roman Rite.

In regard to the present, blitzed condition of the Mass of all ages, it would take a genius comparable to that of Jungmann to give a comprehensive picture of what has befallen in the past thirty years. For the time being, we can only peer dimly at the murky scene of “devastation” (the mot juste of Cardinal Ratzinger).5

The liturgical experts make euphoric statements about what they think they have achieved. Bugnini, whom Paul VI made the chief artisan of the liturgical reform and secretary of the Consilium, said that the Roman Rite now “has a greater richness than all that has been seen in twenty centuries.”6

In 1969, the Consilium was abolished and replaced by a new Congregation for Divine Worship with Bugnini still in the saddle. In 1975, after an explosive meeting on June 19th of indignant cardinals, the new Congregation was abruptly terminated and this time Bugnini was dismissed in disgrace. The remainder of his turbulent career was spent, until his death in 1982, in the revolutionary turmoil of Iran where he had been sent as Vatican representative. His only liturgical achievement in exile was obtaining permission from the Ayatollah to celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve for Catholics among the fifty-two members of the American Embassy kept hostage for over a year.

>From 1975 on, jurisdiction over the liturgy was back in the hands of the Congregation of Rites, originally appointed in 1585 to supervise the liturgical reform initiated by the Council of Trent. It had been set aside in 1964 so that Bugnini would not be hampered by the normal, circumspect, slow-moving pace of regular Vatican procedures. Now renamed the Congregation for Divine Worship, it returned to a situation so out of control of Pope and bishops and so dominated by the liturgical establishment that it had no alternative but to be subservient. In statements it prepares for the Holy Father to read, the praise due to the Constitution on the Liturgy is obsequiously extended to what the experts are doing with it.

The appalling state of the liturgy has yet to be seriously addressed by scholars in general. They have been strangely silent. The only voices we know to have been raised are those of Klaus Gamber (mentioned above) and Louis Bouyer (a Consilium appointee) who has said “There is practically no liturgy worthy of the name in the Church.” It obviously takes a lifetime to make a liturgical scholar. We whom concern has brought into the field late in life can only hope to acquire enough erudition to pose the questions which demand a response from the scholars and ultimately from the Holy See. Let us here take a tentative look at the vocabulary of the subject.

Vocabulary of the subject

The main term in the Latin text of the Constitution is instauratio with its connotation of St. Paul’s instaurare omnia in Christo which in the past has been translated: “to restore all things in Christ.”7 The Fathers of Vatican II did not intend to start a revolution but to renew what had already been started by Solesmes in the 1850s, had received a further impetus from Pius X in 1903 and had been solidified theologically by Pius XII’s encyclical Mediator Dei in 1947. This can be inferred from Paul VI’s letter of promulgation of the new Roman Missal, dated April 3, 1969. St. Paul, in urging us to turn to the newness of life which arises in Christ and radiates from him, gives us a Christocentric orientation. A main “form” (in the sense that Gelineau uses this term) of the Roman Rite is its orientation towards Christ, signified by having the priest and people face (at least symbolically) towards the east. The term disorientation should therefore be applied to the practice of mutually eyeballing each other instead of all facing eastward towards the Lord. The assembly, as Cardinal Decourtray remarked sadly, is now focused on itself instead of on God.8

The term reform, which came to be habitually used soon after the Council, is extensive in its meaning. At best it means that one keeps aligned with the right direction like a navigator who continually corrects his course. The present movement of reform has been deprived of a direction or standard through the use of article 40 of the Constitution to nullify its other articles. A house divided against itself cannot stand. At the other end of the spectrum, reform means putting an end to intolerable disorder. Let it be noted that disorder in the field of liturgy is a postconciliar, not a preconciliar, phenomenon.

Pope Pius X’s Gregorian Reform, as it was called, was attaining full momentum just prior to the Second Vatican Council. Its form was the Latin language of the Mass raised to lyrical, indeed celestial, heights of expression. St. Pius X said he wanted the people to feel sure of the beauty of their prayer. His reform is aptly termed Gregorian because of its fidelity to the rule, attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604), that the normative Mass be that which is expressed with the sacred chant which sprang from the exquisitely musical people which the Jews have always been, and which was adopted and developed by the early Christians. For the reformers of today, the normative Mass is that which is vernacularized.

The Gregorian and Pauline reforms differ greatly in their approach to the mystery of the Mass. The former seeks to penetrate it through the heart, aesthetically and transcendentally. The effort of the latter to be reasonable and down to earth makes for banality rather than mystery. Young people generally, even those deprived of religious upbringing, on listening to Gregorian chant, perceive it as music “out of this world” (their term for transcendental.) The absence of this dimension from their lives makes them vulnerable to Satanic rock and roll as a substitute. The prevailing of the prosaic over the artistic form was accompanied by a wave of vandalism against sacred music. Gregorian choirs were disbanded, their directors dismissed and their music collections, painstakingly built up for generations, destroyed. The Pius X Institute at New York, whose winter courses and summer schools were attended by choir directors all over the continent disappeared from sight. Other forms of sacrality were swept away, such as that of the sanctuary (no longer distinct from the nave), of religious dress and of demeanor before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle.

What was done in the 16th century by Pope St. Pius V is referred to as the Tridentine Reform because of the fidelity with which the mandate given by the Council of Trent was implemented.

Given the discrepancy between what the Fathers of Vatican II intended and what has happened, the term Pauline reform should simply mean that what has been done since the Council is attributable to the personal responsibility of Pope Paul VI. He allowed the Consilium to act as an independent entity, uncontrolled by the Holy See as a whole. He tried to control it personally by having Bugnini report to him at the close of every day of the five years that the Consilium was at work. He reviewed each day’s agenda brought to him by Bugnini word by word, line by line, for one, two or even three hours. Nothing indicates that Paul VI was endowed with genius in matters liturgical, as were Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope St. Pius V and Pope St. Pius X. But given the “crash-program” mentality with which Bugnini operated, one can surmise that Paul VI’s extraordinary efforts to keep personal control were a manifestation of anxiety rather than competence. His most notable interventions were to dismiss Cardinal Lercaro (president of the Consilium) and Bugnini when both fell from grace in 1969 and 1975 respectively. His famous lament about the smoke of Satan in the sanctuary was uttered in 1972.9

The Congregation for Worship has now chosen a new name for the game: inculturation. It explains the rationale for it in its Fourth Instruction for the Right Application of the Conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy, Articles 37-40.10 The principal players continue to be the liturgical experts (#30). Cardinal Ratzinger, in a discourse to Episcopal Conferences of Asia, meeting at Hong Kong, March 2-5, 1995, showed himself less than pleased with the term and concept of inculturation.11

Proper use of article 40

The Fourth Instruction culminates in a lengthy protocol of precautionary measures for the proper use of article 40 of the Constitution. Thus the barn door is closed with a flourish thirty years after the horse has bolted. During this time article 22 (3) of the Constitution stipulating that “no person, not even a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” has been a dead letter. The changes which the reformers have been flagrantly making by fait accompli have been acquiesced in by the Holy See. This habit has become so entrenched that it could conceivably have culminated in women being ordained as priests openly. It is likely that this has already happened clandestinely. The declaration of the Congregation for Doctrine that the teaching of the Church is infallible in this matter no doubt indicates that nothing less than the Petrine power of the keys must be deployed against the power of the liturgical establishment.

The more the Pope celebrates Mass abroad on a scale practically beyond his control, the more he is vulnerable to the “ever more radical” frenzy of the reformers. It must surely pertain to the substance of the Roman Rite that bread and wine be placed on the altar, in order thereby to be made sacred and apt for the sacrifice of the Mass. The Roman Canon refers to the offerings on the altar as sancta sacrificia even before they are consecrated. Yet at a papal mega-Mass celebrated in a stadium in February last year in Australia, 300 ciboria were not brought to the altar to be consecrated but put in the hands of 300 men and women dispersed in the crowd.12

Radical renewal of the liturgy is normally done from roots left in the soil, not wrenched from it. We began by noting that the extreme radicality of the postconciliar reformers was inaugurated by their arbitrary use of article 40 of the Constitution on the Liturgy for the purpose of totally vernacularizing the Mass. Let us also note that “to vernacularize” does not mean “to translate.” Here again Gelineau speaks with remarkable candor. He says categorically: “to translate is not to say the same thing with other words. It is to change the form.”13 Latin is a master language wherein the word vernaculus refers to a state of servility. And indeed, it has become amply evident that vernacularizing the liturgy makes it servile to ever changing fashions of speech. The ICEL is a self-perpetuating institution which itself has pointed out that the Mass needs to be retranslated every ten years. The vernacular Mass is enslaved to the banality of a committee.

The habit of acting independently, especially in regard to the Congregation for Doctrine, results in liturgical experts claiming that the inculturated practices they introduce are neutral as far as doctrine is concerned. The altar girl affair is a flagrant example. Even campaigners for the ordination of women contend that this is a matter of discipline, not doctrine. Cardinal Ratzinger, in taking exception to the concept of inculturation at Hong Kong, pointed out that there is no such thing as faith without culture or culture without faith. Hence no cultural practice can be considered as doctrinally neutral. When Christian culture comes in contact with a pagan culture, the question is: can these two cultures merge? Does the pagan culture and the cultural practices associated with it have some affinity with the true faith? If not, there can be no meeting or commingling of the two cultures. Cardinal Ratzinger proposed that we should talk of interculturality, rather than of inculturation.

The doctrinal ground for opposing altar girls is that physical proximity of the server to the altar entails spiritual proximity to the vocation of priesthood. Only a boy should be put in this situation. If a girl is substituted, she is put in a situation of untruth. This should be avoided for the sake of the integrity of the girl as well as for that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Doctrinal deviations

Vernacularizing the Mass in the 16th century was forbidden by the Council of Trent on doctrinal grounds. The removal of Latin enabled the Protestant reformers more easily to remove belief in the sacrificial nature of the Mass and in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.

This stratagem has reappeared in the present postconciliar period to an alarming extent and the Congregation for Divine Worship is not exempt from responsibility. In 1974, a year before Bugnini was sent away in disgrace, it approved a vernacular Mass proposed by the Swiss bishops which was phrased in a Lutheran manner.14 The present Congregation, presumably on the demand of the Congregation for Doctrine, moved to remedy the situation but only in 1991 and somewhat inadequately.

English versions of the Mass are full of doctrinal aberrations because of infidelity to the Latin text. So-called inclusive language simply intensifies the problem because its ultimate goal is to impugn the Fatherhood of God.

In 1965, when Pope John Paul was still Bishop of Krakow, he discussed the phenomenon now referred to as inculturation with a friend, saying “Certainly we will preserve the basic elements, the bread, the wine, but all else will be changed according to local tradition: words, gestures, colors, vestments, chants, architecture, decor. The problem of liturgical reform is immense.”15 He was overly optimistic in thinking that the use of bread and wine would not be called into question. A French missionary bishop in Africa was obliged to resign in 1975 for using beer made from millet (an African cereal) for Mass instead of wine. An erudite book by another French missionary has recently appeared in which the thesis is elaborated that as bread and wine belong to European culture, they can be dispensed with. As millet is sacred to certain African peoples, both food made and beer brewed from it should be substituted at Mass.16 This kind of theorizing about inculturation, which also is found in Latin America, is referred to by Cardinal Ratzinger in his Hong Kong address as indigenism. There is evidently an aberrance or wildness intrinsic to the concept of inculturation which is irrepressible.

Truncation of the Roman Rite

We propose that the word for what has been done to the Roman Rite since the Second Vatican Council is truncation. The splendid tree that has grown throughout two millennia has had its branches cut off and its trunk cut down to a stump from which is supposed to spring a new inculturated Mass. The West is probably too deculturated for this to happen but it is possible in Africa, given that its peoples are still close enough to their tribal stage to have a religious culture that can be assimilated.

In the forlorn stump of the Roman Rite left by the Pauline reform, it can be supposed that there are basic elements of the liturgy of the first three centuries of Christianity before the differentiation into rites began. Perhaps from these rudiments an African rite might spring in time. In any event, trying to force the mutation of a new rite, African or otherwise, by revolutionary disruptive change of the Roman Rite can only bring about its end. In the vocabulary of the Pauline reform, it is called revision but in fact it is the death of the Roman Rite. In saying this, we do not mean that it has actually been put to death. It has been saved providentially thanks to the Traditional Mass movement and John Paul II’s motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta, July 2, 1988.17 n

1 According to two U.S. surveys, the number of disbelievers is 70%; another taken in France indicates 60% (of the 13% who still go to Mass.)

2 Cardinal Ottaviani’s letter to Paul VI, dated Sept. 25, 1969, characterizes the Novus Ordo Missae as “a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.” Cardinal Ratzinger’s aversion is evident in his book Feast of Faith (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1986) and in his preface to La Reforme liturgique en question, by Klaus Gamber. Cardinal Seper made no public utterances but Bugnini, in his memoirs entitled La Riforma liturgica (Ed. Liturgiche, Roma, 1983), refers to Seper as being notoriously opposed to the liturgical reform (p. 477-478.)

3 Joseph Gelineau, S.J., Demain la liturgie, Ed. du Cerf, Paris, 1979, p. 10.

4 Msgr. Klaus Gamber, La Reforme liturgique en question, Ed. Sainte-Madeleine, 1992, p. 6.

5 Carrefours, Oct. 22, 1969.

6 The Decomposition of Catholicism, L. Bouyer, London, 1970, p. 99.

7 Ephes. 1:10. The new critical edition of the Latin Vulgate renders the phrase as recapitulare omnia in Christo which the Jerusalem Bible translates: “bring everything together under Christ as head.”

8 Eglise a Lyon (Diocesan bulletin), May 5, 1992.

9 Discourse of June 30, 1972.

10 Issued March 29, 1994. Text in Origins (U.S. Bishops’ documentary service), vol. 23, no. 23, April 24, 1994.

11 Text in Origins, vol. 24, no. 41, March 30, 1995.

12 The Catholic Weekly, Sydney, March 5, 1995.

13 Joseph Gelineau, opus cit., pp. 9-10.

14 30 GIORNI, Rome, July, 1991, pp. 10-19.

15 Malinski, Mon ami, Karl Wojtyla, Paris, 1980, p. 220.

16 L’Eucharistie du mil, Rene Jaouen, Ed. Karthala, Paris, p. 286.

17 Cf. my article The Traditional Mass Movement, HPR, October 1994, pp. 56-63.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Abuse of Ecclesiastical Power

According to Catholic theologians and canon lawyers, a prelate can abuse his position in a number of ways, which include the imposition of unjust laws or failure to guard and transmit the deposit of Faith, either by remaining silent in the face of heresy or even by teaching heresy himself. A Catholic has the right to refuse obedience in the first case and a duty to oppose the prelate in the second. Their consensus regarding law in general is that the legislator should not simply refrain from demanding something that his subjects would find impossible to carry out, but that laws should not be too difficult or distressing for those subjected to them. St. Thomas explains that, for a law to be just, it must conform to the demands of reason and have an effect which is both good and for the benefit of those for whom it is intended. A law can cease to bind without revocation on the part of the legislator when it is clearly harmful, impossible, or irrational.1 This is particularly true if a prelate commands anything contrary to divine precept. (Praelato non est obediendum contra praeceptum divinum.) In support of this teaching St. Thomas cites Acts 5:29: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” He teaches that not only would the prelate err in giving such an order but that anyone obeying him would sin just as certainly as if he disobeyed a divine command. (“…ipse peccaret praecipiens, et ei obediens, quasi contra praeceptum Domini agens…”).2

Dealing with the question as to whether subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things he explains that: “Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.”3

Where a matter of faith is involved, resistance is not a right but a duty for the faithful Catholic. The only correct course of action is that taken by Eusebius and so highly praised by Dom Guéranger in his Liturgical Year:

On Christmas Day, 428, Nestorius (Patriarch of Constantinople), profiting from the immense crowd assembled to celebrate the birth of the Divine Child to Our Lady uttered this blasphemy from his episcopal throne: “Mary did not give birth to God; her son was only a man, the instrument of God.”

At these words a tremor of horror passed through the multitude. The general indignation was voiced by Eusebius, a layman, who stood up in the crowd and protested. Soon a more detailed protest was drafted in the name of the members of the abandoned Church, and numerous copies spread far and wide, declaring anathema on whoever should dare to say that He Who was born of the Virgin Mary was other than the only begotten Son of God. This attitude not only safeguarded the Faith of the Eastern Church, but was praised alike by Popes and Councils. When the shepherd turns into a wolf the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. As a general rule, doctrine comes from the bishops to the faithful, and it is not for the faithful, who are subjects in the order of Faith, to pass judgment on their superiors. But every Christian, by virtue of his title to the name Christian, has not only the necessary knowledge of the essentials of the treasure of Revelation, but also the duty of safeguarding them. The principle is the same, whether it is a matter of belief or conduct, that is of dogma or morals. Treachery such as that of Nestorius is rare in the Church; but it can happen that, for one reason or another, pastors remain silent on essential matters of faith.

Dom Guéranger then insists that, when the Faith is compromised by someone in authority in the Church, the true Christian is the one who makes a stand for the truth rather than the one who does nothing under the specious pretext of submission to lawful authority.

To sum up what has been demonstrated so far, normally subjects must be obedient to lawful authority in Church and State but they have the right to resist harsh and harmful laws which do not contribute to the common good. They must never compromise the Faith under the pretext of obedience. “When the shepherd becomes the wolf the flock must defend itself.”

Few Catholics concerned to uphold orthodoxy within the Church during these troubled times would dispute this. Catholics in English-speaking countries do not normally have to contend with shepherds who have actually become wolves but with shepherds who permit wolves to ravage their flocks, shepherds who condemn any of the sheep who have the temerity to complain. Such bishops are not the exception, they have become the norm. Dietrich von Hildebrand denounces them with the burning indignation of an Old Testatment prophet:

They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass-media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God. The words of St. John Bosco apply to them: “The power of evil men lives on in the cowardice of the good.”…One is forced to think of the hireling who abandons his flocks to the wolves when one reflects on the lethargy of so many bishops and superiors who, though still orthodox themselves, do not have the courage to intervene against the most flagrant heresies and abuses of all kinds in their dioceses or in their orders.4

Dr. von Hilderbrand is in perfect conformity with the authorities who have already been cited when he denies that the faithful have the duty of automatic obedience to their bishops in the present state of the Church. He shows with admirable clarity that the mark of a truly faithful Catholic can be a refusal to submit to heretical or compromising bishops.

Should the faithful at the time of the Arian heresy, for instance, in which the majority of the bishops were Arians, have limited themselves to being nice and obedient to the ordinances of these bishops, instead of battling heresy? Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop? Is it not precisely by virtue of their obedience to the revealed truths which they received from the Magisterium of the Church, that the faithful offer resistance?…

The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should by all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace.5

“Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop?” asks Dr. von Hildebrand. “Yes, it is,” replies St. Thomas Aquinas together with every reputable theologian who has examined the subject. There can be very few faithful Catholics who would refuse to align themselves with St. Thomas and Dietrich von Hildebrand on this point – with one reservation. Many, if not most, would add the proviso: “Unless the bishop in question is the Bishop of Rome.” Some are quite unwilling to admit, even to themselves, that an occasion could ever arise when a Catholic should justifiably refuse obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff. However sincere such people may be, they display a lamentable ignorance of Church history and Catholic theology.

Professor Marcel de Corte of the University of Liège can be ranked with Dr. von Hildebrand as one of the outstanding Catholic philosophers of our time. He has noted that the attitude of these Catholics towards the Pope is tantamount to the claim that he is inerrant, that his every decision, his every word, is divinely inspired, that he is, in fact, a divine oracle. Writing in the March 1977 issue of the Courrier de Rome he remarked:

For them it is as if the person of the Pope were, as such, infallible, and as if all his words, all his directives, all his judgments in all matters, even those foreign to religion, could never be subject to error, though the whole history of the Church protests against that conviction which is close to idolatry.

There have been Popes whose doctrine was near-heresy, Honorius and Liberius for example. There were others whose faith, hope and charity could hardly be perceived behind the disorders of their conduct. And there were some whose faults, stupidity, blunders, extravagances, and weaknesses in the government and administration of the Church were such that the divine organism entrusted to their care was more than once shaken. It is enough to read the twenty or so volumes of Ludwig von Pastor’s History of the Popes to be convinced of that.

Few readers will possess this huge work but some will own the very scholarly one-volume work on the same subject, The Popes, edited by Eric John and published by Burns and Oates in 1964. It is only necessary to glance through the brief lives of the Popes in this book to find literally hundreds of examples of “faults, stupidity, blunders, extravagances, and weaknesses” among the Popes. A few of these examples will suffice to make the point:6

The pontificate of Pope Zosimus lasted for one year only, from 417-418.

His knowledge and prudence were insufficient for his task of governing the Church, and he was a weak man who blustered and yielded. Within a few days of consecration he conferred on Patroclus, Bishop of Aries, a usurper of the see, unscrupulous in his methods, what amounted to legatine authority over all the bishops of southern Gaul, and reprimanded them harshly when they defended their rights….Zosimus ordered the rehabilitation of an African priest, Apiarius, degraded by his bishop for his immoral life.

Pope Boniface II (530-532) attempted to nominate his successor, “an ambitious and unscrupulous deacon named Vigilius. His action, however, met with such general disapprobation that he rescinded the decree.” Here is an example of a pope who was clearly in the wrong, who met with legitimate resistance, and eventually abandoned his misguided policy. Pope Zosimus had refused to budge when opposed on equally just grounds.

This did not prevent Vigilius from eventually obtaining the papacy. Pope St. Silverius was unjustly deposed in 537 and Vigilius elected in his place. St. Silverius was handed over “to Vigilius and his slaves. He was taken to the island of Palmaria where on 11 November his resignation was extorted. On 2 December 537 he died, a victim of ill use and starvation. The guilt of his death rests primarily on Vigilius. The Church honors him as a martyr.”

After becoming Pope “letters frankly Monophysite7 addressed to the Monophysite bishops are attributed to Vigilius and reputable Catholic scholars believe in his authorship. In view of his shifty and unscrupulous character…we may be disposed to agree.” The Emperor Justinian was anxious to reconcile his Monophysite subjects and hoped to achieve a compromise with them by condemning three authors of whom they did not approve. “These writings proposed for anathema were known as the ‘Three Chapters.’ Though the condemnation would not reject [the Council of] Chalcedon,8 it must derogate from its authority, and would therefore be a sop to the Monophysites.” The Emperor wished Vigilius to condemn the Three Chapters. “A pitiful history of vacillation and evasion followed.” One of the writings was a letter by a Bishop Ibas which had been read at Chalcedon and pronounced orthodox. A Council of Oriental bishops falsely claimed that the letter of Bishop Ibas was not the document read at Chalcedon. The Council excommunicated Pope Vigilius, who then surrendered. He “condemned the Chapters and even endorsed the Council’s lie about Ibas’ letter on pain of heresy for disputing it. It was perhaps the greatest humiliation in the history of the papacy.”

Pope Honorius I (625-628), though orthodox in his personal belief, wrote letters which could be interpreted in a heretical sense. “The progress of the heresy [Monothelitism], the clear revelation of its character after Honorius’ death, and the use made by the heretics of his approving letters, compelled the General Council of 680 to condemn Honorius along with the Patriarch Sergius. This condemnation was sustained by Pope Leo II and repeated by subsequent popes.”

The case of Pope Honorius poses a particular problem for those who claim that the Pope is inerrant. If Honorius did not really favor heresy then Leo II erred in condemning him, but if Leo II did not err in his condemnation then Honorius was guilty of favoring heresy.

Pope Sergius II (904-911):

…certainly took the papacy by force, but he is customarily regarded as a legitimate pope. Legitimate he may have been but suitable he certainly was not….This unscrupulous man who ruled the Church so arrogantly held a Roman Council which overturned the acts of the Council of 898….the execration of some undoubted popes by this terrible man, were enough to cause scandal. Many of the better men of the day resisted and a bitter conflict arose.

Here is another example of good Catholics justly resisting a bad pope.

Pope John XII was “a scandal to the whole Church…John conducted himself in the manner of a layman, preferring hunting to church ceremonies, and largely indifferent to Church matters….It was said that he was struck with a paralysis while visiting his mistress. He died on 14 May 964, without confession or receiving the Sacraments.”

Pope Alexander II (1061-1073) made a sincere effort to introduce much needed reforms into the Church. “Both in northern Italy, and to a lesser extent in England, reform had served as a cloak for dirty politics without the Pope realizing he was being used by men less scrupulous than himself.”

St. Gregory VII (1073-1085) was able to humiliate the Emperor Henry IV “but it proved to be a political mistake.”

Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) “commissioned a convert from heresy, the Dominican Robert le Bougre, a sadistic monster who was later burned himself, as his inquisitor in France.”

A French pope, Martin IV (1281-1285) had served the King of France before Pope Urban IV called him to the Curia. “An ardent patriot, Martin IV was the devoted servant of Charles, and all else was now sacrificed to French interests. Charles was made a senator of Rome for life. Seven new cardinals were created, four of them Frenchmen. Those appointed to offices in the Papal States by the previous pope were now displaced in favor of Frenchmen.”

Pope Boniface IX (1389-1404):

…increased the taxation of the Church and sold provisions and expectatives for ready cash. Indulgences were multiplied, to be gained by an offering of money with little regard paid to the essential spiritual conditions. In the year 1400 the Pope proclaimed a Holy Year and allowed would-be pilgrims to the shrines of Rome to forego the arduous journey for a sum roughly equivalent to what they would otherwise have spent. The bankers of Europe were called in to collect the offerings which they divided equally with the Pope. There can be little doubt that Boniface IX, who treated the whole business simply as a political problem, was guilty of simony on a massive scale.

Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) had one dominating idea, “the desire to advance his family and obtain for it a leading position in Italy. Other popes had engaged in nepotism, some out of family loyalty and others from political considerations: but under him it became the chief influence in papal policy.”

Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) was:

…a kindly and genial man [but] he lacked the personality and intellectual capacity for the office of pope. His morals were equally unsuitable, and he openly avowed his illegitimate children….To the open scandals caused by the pope’s morals and policies – the advancement of his bastard Francesschotto, and his collaboration with the heathen – were added the results of corruption in the Curia. Administrative incompetence and the expenses of foreign policy in the early years of his pontificate led both to an increase in the sale of offices and to the creation of new posts in order that they might be sold. The number of papal secretaries was increased to twenty-six and the new posts sold for 62,400 ducats, while fifty-two Plumbatores were appointed to seal bulls, each of whom paid 2,500 ducats for his appointment.

Despite the fact that all these citations appear in an approved and highly praised work of Catholic scholarship, many Catholics will be shocked to read them. They reveal that men totally unsuited for the highest office to which a human being can rise have been elected to the office of Sovereign Pontiff. They reveal that popes have appointed unworthy officials; that popes have been deceived by unscrupulous men; that policies they initiated have done harm to the Church; that they have subordinated the good of the Church to political policies, to the interests of a particular country or their family. If true, these statements reveal that to be elected pope guarantees neither impeccability nor inerrancy. But as the Church has never taught that the pope is impeccable or inerrant, no Catholic should shirk facing up to the truth. Mention was made earlier of Baron von Pastor’s History of the Popes. A most interesting article on this work appeared in the 19 July 1940 issue of The Commonweal, at that time one of the most reputable and orthodox publications in the English-speaking Catholic world. The first volume of Baron von Pastor’s great work was published in 1886 – the last in 1933. The article in The Commonweal comments:

The circumstances of the time were favorable to Pastor. The nineteenth century had seen an unprecedented development of the historical sciences, and nowhere was this development more remarkable than in Germany, where Pastor was trained. Immense stores of authentic materials were made available to historians, and the publication of manuscripts and documents, of the fruits of individual and collective research, of historical monographs of every kind and of reviews which gave condession to the findings and opinions of every school of thought increased on all sides. Leo XIII gave further impetus to this movement when in 1883 he opened to historians the incomparable riches of the Vatican archives.

Pope Leo performed an even greater service by his letter on the study of history, in which he declared that the Church has nothing to fear from the truth and desires only that the truth be known. He reaffirmed the norms by which all sound historical scholarship must be guided; the first law of history is, “Never tell a lie,” and the second, “Do not fear to tell the truth.” It is understandable, though deplorable, that many who observe the first cannot bring themselves to fulfill the second. From this selective obedience arises the grave abuse by which history, maimed and distorted, is made the unprofitable servant of unsound apologetics. Cardinal Newman remarked that the endemic fidget about giving scandal is itself the greatest of scandals, and we may paraphrase his famous comment on literature by saying that we may expect a sinless history only from a sinless people.

Pastor’s freedom from the criminal trait of accommodating his matter is an imperishable glory for Catholic historical readership and is surely not the least of the reasons for the esteem in which his work is held by Catholic and non-Catholic scholars alike.

Conservative Catholics who ignore the truth and insist that every decision of Pope Paul VI was divinely inspired cannot hope to be vindicated by history. For many centuries there was an unfortunate tendency for Catholic apologists to adapt the facts to suit the case. Thus Liberius neither signed one of the creeds of Sirmium nor confirmed the excommunication of St. Athanasius (see Appendix I); Honorius did not write the letter for which he was condemned – it was a forgery; Bishop Grosseteste did not write the letter denouncing Pope Innocent IV – it was also a forgery.

An ability to face up to the truth is a sign of a strong and informed faith. Had the Church taught that every pope is impeccably virtuous this could not be reconciled with the life of Pope Alexander VI – but as the Church has never taught that the popes are impeccable, Alexander VI may be a source of scandal but he is not an impediment to faith. It should never be forgotten that the first pope actually denied Our Lord – perhaps this was intended as a lesson and a warning to us. Certainly, not even the most dissolute of St. Peter’s successors ever descended to the extent of denying Christ.

Professor de Corte comments:

One must have a very weak faith to be upset by this human side of the Church. One can, indeed, suffer in one’s feelings; but the solidity, the Amen, of our response to the action of God in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church should never be damaged by it: God writes straight with crooked lines, says the Portugese proverb, He always draws good from evil; and we know from Scripture that the time of universal apostasy will be followed by the glory of eternity.

The epidemic of the kind of deification of the Pope which is raging, in different degrees, in Catholic souls, and which inclines them, again in different degrees, to an absolute obedience to his injunctions in any domain whatsoever, is relatively recent. The Middle Ages, for example, knew nothing of it. It certainly cannot be said that that period, the most brilliant in the history of Christianity, ever cast doubt on the spiritual primacy of the papacy in the order of faith. The struggles between the Empire and Rome, however violent they were, respected the fundamental principle of the Catholic faith. When Dante, with a sort of ferocity, put Boniface VIII, the Pope gloriously reigning at the time he wrote, into the abysses of Hell, in company with some of his predecessors, he did not, like Luther, condemn to a shameful execution the Papacy itself as the principal organ of the Church.

Professor de Corte has touched here upon what is perhaps the most important distinction to be made in this discussion – the distinction between schism and disobedience. This distinction is discussed in the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique by no less a person than Fr. Yves Congar, O. P., an implacable critic of Mgr. Lefebvre and the traditionalist movement.9 Father Congar writes that schism involves a refusal to accept the existence of legitimate authority in the Church, e. g. Luther’s rejection of the papacy to which Professor de Corte referred. Father Congar explains that the refusal to accept a decision of legitimate authority in a particular instance does not constitute schism but disobedience. A Catholic who misses Mass on Sunday without good cause is disobedient but not schismatic – and his disobedience constitutes a sin. But disobedience to an unlawful command, a refusal to submit to an abuse of power, can be meritorious. It was not Bishop Grosseteste who sinned in refusing to appoint the Pope’s nephew as a canon of Lincoln Cathedral but the Pope who sinned by using offices intended for the cure of souls as a means of obtaining revenue for his relatives. But how can such a viewpoint be reconciled with the teaching of Pastor Aeternus, the dogmatic constitution of the First Vatican Council on the Church and particularly papal authority?

We teach and declare that, in the disposition of God, the Roman Church holds the pre-eminence of ordinary power over all the other churches; and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate. Regarding this jurisdiction, the shepherds of whatever rite and dignity and the faithful, individually and collectively, are bound by a duty of hierarchical subjection and of sincere obedience; and this not only in matters that pertain to faith and morals, but also in matters that pertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the whole world. When, therefore, this bond of unity with the Roman Pontiff is guarded both in government and in the profession of the same faith, then the Church of Christ is one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth; and no one can deviate from this without losing his faith and his salvation.10

In their zeal to uphold papal authority some Catholics interpret these words as if they invested the Sovereign pontiff with an authority which he has never possessed and could never possess. Probably without realizing it, they are claiming implicitly if not explicitly, that the Pope possesses absolute or arbitrary power, i.e. – that the Church has been placed at hiss disposal to be governed at his whim. But the authority of the Pope is neither absolute nor arbitrary – the idea that Pastor Aeternus might be interpreted in this manner was considered ridiculous during the debates of the First Vatican Council and attempts to include clauses intended to exclude such an interpretation were treated as absurd. One American Father, Bishop Verot of Savannah, proposed a canon stating: “If anyone says that the authority of the Pope in the Church is so full that he may dispose of everything by his mere whim, let him be anathema.” He was told that the Fathers had not come to Rome “to hear buffooneries.”11

Bishop Freppel of Angers (France) had been professor of theology at the Sorbonne and was one of the theologians who were called to Rome to prepare for the Council. During the debate on the Pope’s power of jurisdiction he commented:

Absolutism is the principle of Ulpian in the Roman law, that the mere will of the prince is law. But who has ever said that the Roman Pontiff should govern the Church according to his sweet will, by his nod, by arbitrary power, by fancy, that is without the laws and canons? We all exclude mere arbitrary power; but we all assert full and pedect power. Is power arbitrary because it is supreme? Are civil governments arbitrary because they are supreme? Or a General Council confirmed by the Pope? Let all this confusion of ideas go! Let the genuine doctrine of the schema12 be accepted in its true, proper, genuine sense, without preposterous interpretations.13

Bishop Zinelli was Relator (Spokesman) for the Deputation of the Faith, the body charged with explaining the meaning of the schemas to the Fathers. In answer to the Melchite Patriarch of Antioch he explained that papal power was not absolutely monarchical because the form of Church government had been instituted by Christ and could not be abolished even by an ecumenical council. “And no one who is sane can say that either the Pope or the Ecumenical Council can destroy the episcopate or other things determined by divine law in the Church.”14

If the power of the Pope is neither absolute nor arbitrary it must obviously be limited. The most obvious and most important limitation upon the plenitude of papal power (plenitudo potestatis), mentioned on a number of occasions during the debates of the First Vatican Council, is no less than that upon which Bishop Grosseteste based his refusal to obey Pope Innocent IV:

As I have said, the Apostolic See in its holiness cannot destroy, it can only build. This is what the plentitude of power means; it can do all things to edification. But these so-called provisions do not build up, they destroy (see p. 389).

This is precisely the point made by Bishop d’Avanzo of Calvi, another spokeman for the Deputation of the Faith, during the Vatican I debate on papal authority:

Therefore Peter has as much power as the Lord has given to him, not for the destruction, but for the building up of the Body of Christ that is the Church.15

Sylvester Prierias was a prominent Dominican opponent of Martin Luther and defended papal authority in his Dialogus de Potestate Papae (1517). He accepted that the Pope could abuse his position and used the terminology of Bishop Grosseteste – that the Pope possessed his power only to build, not to destroy:

Thus, were he to wish to distribute the Church’s wealth, or Peter’s Patrimony among his own relatives; were he to wish to destroy the Church or to commit an act of similar magnitude, there would be a duty to prevent him, and likewise an obligation to oppose him and resist him. The reason being that he does not possess power in order to destroy, and thus it follows that if he is doing so it is lawful to oppose him.

Sufficient evidence has already been presented to make it clear that Pastor Aeternus does not oblige Catholics to accept that the Popes has absolute or arbitrary power, or that all legislation which he promulgates in accordance with prescribed legal norms must necessarily be above criticism. Doctrinal teaching promulgated with the Pope’s infallible teaching authority comes into a special category and every Catholic is bound to give it full internal and external consent.

Commenting on the possibility of a conflict between conscience and papal authority, Cardinal Newman explains:

Next, I observe that, conscience being a practical dictate, a collision is possible between it and the Pope’s authority only when the Pope legislates, or give particular orders, and the like. But a pope is not infallible in his laws, nor in his commands, nor in his acts of State, nor in his administration, nor in his public policy.16

Opposition to any papal command is not something to be contemplated lightly. Indeed, it would be better to err in the direction of unthinking and unqualified obedience than to adopt the Modernist attitude of submitting every papal decision to our personal judgment. Cardinal Newman warns:

If in a particular case it (conscience) is to be taken as a sacred and sovereign monitor, its dictate, in order to prevail against the voice of the Pope, must follow upon serious thought, prayer, and all available means of arriving at a right judgment on the matter in question. And further, obedience to the Pope is what is called “in possession”; that is, the onus probandi of establishing a case against him lies, as in all cases of exception, on the side of conscience. Unless a man is able to say to himself, as in the Presence of God, that he must not, and dare not, act upon the Papal injunction, he is bound to obey it, and would commit a great sin in disobeying it. Prima facie it is his bounden duty, even from a sentiment of loyalty, to believe the Pope right and to act accordingly.17

This is an admonition which traditionalists should always keep in the forefront of their minds. There can be no source of action which a Catholic should undertake with more fear and trembling than that of disobeying a papal command. Such an act can only be prompted by the certainly that to obey the Pope would be to disobey God (“We ought to obey God rather than men ” [Acts 5 :29] ).

Cardinal Newman stresses that if a man is sincerely convinced that “what his superior commands is displeasing to God, he is bound not to obey.”18 He adds that:

The word “Superior” certainly includes the Pope; Cardinal Jacobatius brings out this point clearly in his authoritative work on Councils, which is contained in Labbe’s collection, introducing the Pope by name: “If it were doubtful,” he says, “whether a precept (of the Pope) be a sin or not, we must determine thus: that, if he to whom the precept is addressed has a conscientious sense that it is a sin and injustice, first it is his duty to put off that sense; but, if he cannot, nor conform himself to the judgment of the Pope, in that case it is his duty to follow his own private conscience, and patiently to bear it if the Pope punishes him.” – lib. iv. p. 241.19

It was in this context that Newman remarked:

Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink -to the Pope, if you please, – still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.20

A Distinction: Legal and Moral Norms

The above sub-title appears on page 394 of Karl Rahner’s book Studies in Modern Theology which was published in English in 1965. Father Rahner makes an important distinction between what is legally valid and what is morally valid. He cites an example of a papal act which would be legally valid but morally illicit which has some similarity to the case of Bishop Grosseteste and Innocent IV.

Take the case of a pope’s deposing a competent and pious bishop without any objective reason, merely in order to promote one of his relatives to the post. It could hardly be proved that such a deposition is legally invalid. There is no court of appeal before which the Pope and his measure could be cited. The Pope alone has the competence of competence, that is, he alone judges in the last juridical instance on earth whether in a given act he has observed those norms by which in his own view that act is to be judged. But for all the unassailable legal validity of such a measure, such a deposition would be immoral and an actual offense against the divine right of the episcopate, though not an offense extending to the proper sphere of doctrine.

One hundred years ago, in May 1879, Joseph Hergenröther was created Cardinal together with John Henry Newman. The Cardinal, one of the greatest theologians of his time, was called to Rome to assist in the preparatory work for the First Vatican Council. He was acknowledged as one of the most effective apologists for and interpreters of the Council. Pope Pius IX was one of his most fervent admirers. Cardinal Hergenröther made it quite clear that by no stretch of the imagination could the powers of jurisdiction ascribed to the Pope by the Council be considered as arbitrary or unrestricted.

The Pope is circumscribed by the consciousness of the necessity of making a righteous and beneficent use of the duties attached to his privileges….He is also circumscribed by the respect due to General Councils and to ancient statutes and customs, by the rights of bishops, by his relation with civil powers, by the traditional mild tone of government indicated by the aim of the institution of the papacy – to “feed” – and finally by the respect indispensable in a spiritual power towards the spirit and mind of nations.21

Cardinal Hergenröther’s reference to ancient customs is very peninent to the refusal of Mgr. Lefebvre and traditionalists in general to accept the New Mass. Cardinal Jean de Torquemada22 was the most influential champion of the papal primacy in the fifteenth century. His Summa de Ecclesia (1489) is a systematic treatise on the Church, defending the infallibility and plenitude of papal power. This work forms the basis of the arguments of the most notable defenders of the primacy up to the First Vatican Council – such theologians as Domenico Jacobazzi and Cajetan, Melchior Cano, Suarez, Gregory of Valencia, and Bellarmine. Cardinal Torquemada taught that the Pope could become a schismatic by breaking with tradition, particularly with respect to worship:

The Pope can separate himself without reason purely by his wilfulness from the body of the Church and from the college of priests by not observing what the universal Church by apostolic tradition observes…or by non-observance of what was ordered universally by the universal councils or by the Apostolic See, especially in respect to the divine cult if he does not want to observe what concerns the universal rite of the Church’s worship.23

Similarly, the wholesale reversal of traditional customs and ceremonies could, in the opinion of Francisco de Suarez (1548-1617), result in the Pope actually becoming a schismatic. Suarez is usually considered the greatest Jesuit theologian and was called by Pope Paul V “Doctor eximius et pius. ” For Suarez, schism, in the specifically theological sense, is a cleavage in the one Church. This need not involve formal heresy but can include one who retains the faith but in his actions and conduct is unwilling to maintain the unity of the Church. Suarez writes:

The Pope can be a schismatic if he does not want to have union and bond with the whole body of the Church, as he should, if he attempts to excommunicate the whole Church, or if he wants to abolish all ecclesiastical ceremonies, which are confirmed by apostolic tradition as Cajetan remarks.24

It is an indisputable fact that never in the history of the Church has any Pope presided over so wholesale an abolition of traditional customs and ceremonies as Pope Paul VI. The only comparable revolution was that of the Protestant Reformation – but this was done by men who were openly acting outside the unity of the Church.

Father Rahner also uses a similar example to illustrate a morally illicit papal act:

Imagine that the Pope, as supreme pastor of the Church, issued a decree today requiring all the uniate churches of the Near East to give up their Oriental liturgy and adopt the Latin rite….The Poper VIld not exceed the competence of his jurisdictional primacy by such a decree, but the decree would be legally valid.

But we can also pose an entirely different question. Would it be morally licit for the Pope to issue such a decree? Any reasonable man and any true Christian would have to answer “no.” Any confessor of the Pope would have to tell him that in the concrete situation of the Church today such a decree, despite its legal validity, would be subjectively and objectively an extremely grave moral offense against charity, against the unity of the Church rightly understood (which does not demand uniformity), against possible reunion of the Orthodox with the Roman Catholic Church, etc., a mortal sin from which the Pope could be absolved only if he revoked the decree.

From this example one can readily gather the heart of the matter. It can, of course, be worked out more fundamentally and abstractly in a theological demonstration:

1. The exercise of papal jurisdictional primacy remains even when it is legal, subject to moral norms, which are not necessarily satisfied merely because a given act of jurisdiction is legal. Even an act of jurisdiction which legally binds its subjects can offend against moral principles.

2. To point out and protest against the possible infringement against moral norms of an act which must respect these norms is not to deny or question the legal competence of the man possessing the jurisdiction.25 26

Father Rahner asserts that “there can be a right and even a duty to protest” against a morally illicit act “even where the legality of an act of ecclesiastical authority cannot be questioned.” He refrains from discussing the nature such a protest might take but censures in the most scathing terms those who insist that any act of an ecclesiastical superior, the Pope included, cannot be contested if legally valid. (Note that this was written before 1965.) His indictment can be applied directly to those conservative Catholics who attack traditionalists simply because they oppose legally valid papal legislation. It would be a different matter if they contested the grounds upon which traditionalists protest, e. g. it is a matter for debate as to whether the New Mass constitutes a break with tradition, has compromised true Eucharistic doctrine, and leads to liturgical abuse, etc. But when they deny that a Catholic ever has the right to contest any legally valid papal act there is no room for debate. Such an assertion is nonsensical: there is nothing to discuss.27

Has the example of papal interference with liturgical custom, chosen by Fathers Rahner and Suarez, ever been applied in practice? The answer is “yes,” and on at least two occasions. During the pontificate of St. Victor (189-198) a dispute arose due to the fact that some Asiatic Christians did not conform their system for reckoning the date of Easter to that of Rome, with the result that Easter was celebrated on different days in different parts of the Church.

Victor bade the Asiatic Churches conform to the custom of the rest of the Church, but was met with determined resistance by Polycrates of Ephesus, who claimed that their custom derived from St. John himself. Victor replied with excommunication. St. Irenaeus, however, intervened, exhorting Victor not to cut off whole Churches on account of a point which was not a matter of faith. He assumes that the Pope can exercise the power but urges him not to do so. Similarly the resistance of the Asiatic bishops involved no denial of the supremacy of Rome. It indicates solely that the bishops believed St. Victor to be abusing his power in bidding them renounce a custom for which they had apostolic authority….Saint Victor, seeing that more harm than good would come from insistence, withdrew the imposed penalty.28

Similarly, a number of Popes including Nicholas II, St. Gregory VII, and Eugenius IV attempted to impose the Roman rite upon the people of Milan. The Milanese even went to the extent of taking up arms in defense of their traditional liturgy (the Ambrosian rite) and they eventually prevailed. As a rite with a prescription of two centuries it was not affected by the promulgation of Quo Primum in 1570. 29 30

Pope John XXII actually taught heresy in his capacity as a private doctor. (Many papal utterances express no more than the personal opinion of the Pope and do not involve the teaching authority of the Church.) Pope John XXII taught that there was no particular judgment; that the souls of the just do not enjoy the beatific vision immediately; that the wicked are not at once eternally damned; and that all await the judgment of God on the Last Day. The Pope was denounced as a heretic by some Franciscans and then appointed a commission of theologians to examine the question. The commission found that the Pope was in error and he made a public recantation.31

One of the most serious cases of papal error was that of Pope Sixtus V. This well-meaning pontiff considered himself to be a biblical scholar and Latinist of no small ability and decided to intervene personally in the revision of the Vulgate which had been ordered by the Council of Trent.

Sixtus V, though unskilled in this branch of criticism, had introduced alterations of his own, all for the worse. He had even gone so far as to have an impression of this vitiated edition printed and partially distributed, together with the proposed Bull enforcing its use. He died, however, before the actual promulgation and his immediate successors at once proceeded to remove the blunders and call in the defective impression.32

The Rebuke at Antioch

St. Paul’s rebuke to St. Peter at Antioch (Gal. 2) provides a classic example of an occasion when the Pope himself needs to be corrected. Peter’s behavior in not eating with the Gentile converts was not in conformity with his own convictions or the truth of the Gospel. He was also endangering both the liberty of the Gentiles and the Jews from the Mosaic Law and, although not guilty of doctrinal error, he was, at the least, exerting moral pressure on behalf of the Judaizers.33 St. Thomas comments:

If the Faith be in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public. Thus, St. Paul, who was the subject of St. Peter, called him to task in public because of the impending danger of scandal concerning a point of Faith. As the Glossary to St. Augustine puts it: “St. Peter himself set an example for those who rule, to the effect that if they ever stray from the straight path they are not to feel that anyone is unworthy of correcting them, even if such a person be one of their subjects.”34

To quote Suarez again:

If [the Pope] lays down an order contrary to right customs one does not have to obey him; if he tries to do something manifestly opposed to justice and to the common good, it would be licit to resist him; if he attacks by force, he could be repelled by force, with the moderation characteristic of a good defense.35

Vitoria, his Dominican counterpart, writes: “If the Pope by his orders and his acts destroys the Church, one can resist him and impede the execution of his commands.”36

Saint Robert Bellarmine considers that:

Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff who attacks the body, so also is it licit to resist him who attacks souls or destroys the civil order, or above all tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will; it is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or depose him, for these are acts proper to a superior.37

Sufficient should now have been written to indicate that the right to resist the Pope has a solid foundation in Catholic theology although the circumstances which could justify such resistance would have to be of the utmost gravity. To repeat a citation by Cardinal Newman: “Unless a man is able to say to himself, as in the Presence of God, that he must not, and dare not, act upon the papal injunction, he is bound to obey it.” The object of this appendix is limited to proving that under extraordinary circumstances a Catholic can have not simply the right but the duty to disobey the Pope. A related topic is that of the deposition of a heretical pope. It will be dealt with only briefly here.

Writing in The Tablet in 1965, Abbot (now Bishop) B. C. Butler posed the question as to the source of authority in the Church “if the Pope has disenfranchised himself by public heresy? Where at such a time is hierarchical authority? Where is the authority that can, not indeed depose a pope (no human authority can depose a pope), but declare that the soi-disant pope has lost his powers whether by heresy, schism, or lunacy?”38

It will be noted that Bishop Butler phrased his question carefully. He does not suggest that any authority on earth could either judge or depose the Pope but asks whether there is any authority competent to declare that the Pope has lost his powers. The First Vatican Council taught that: “They err from the right path of truth who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.”39 Canon Law states clearly: Prima sedes a nomine iudicatur – “The first see can be judged by no one.” (Canon 1556) On the other hand Canon 2314 states that: “All apostates from the Christian faith, and all heretics and schismatics: (1) are ipso facto excommunicated; (2) if after due warning they fail to amend, they are to be deprived of any benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other position which they may have in the Church, they are to be declared infamous, and clerics after a repetition of the warning are to be deposed.”

Clearly, if the Pope came into one of these categories he would incur the appropriate penalty – as a cleric he would be deposed but who could depose him as he has no superior? Theologians have answered this question in two ways. One school of thought, represented by St. Robert Bellarmine, taught that a heretical pope would be judged by God and cease per se to be pope: “The manifestly heretical pope ceases per se to be pope and head as he ceases per se to be a Christian and member of the Church, and therefore he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the early Fathers.”40 The man the Church would be judging and punishing would not be the Pope, he would not even be a Catholic.

This is also the view taken in the classic manual on Canon Law by F. X. Wernz, rector of the Gregorian University and Jesuit General from 1906 to 1914. His work was revised by P. Vidal and last republished in 1952.41

The fact that the Pope had been deposed by God for heresy would need to be made known to the Church. This could be done by the declaration of a General Council. Cardinal Torquemada makes it clear that the Pope would not actually be judged by the Council – a Council cannot judge a pope nor is tthere any appeal from a pope to a Council. It would be a “declaratory sentence,” a declaration that the Pope has lost his office through heresy or schism. “Properly speaking, the Pope is not deposed by the Council because of heresy but rather he is declared not to be pope since he fell openly into heresy and remains obstinate and hardened in heresy.”42

Wernz-Vidal explain the position in very similar terms, i. e. the Pope is not deposed in virtue of the sentence of the Council but “the General Council declares the fact of the crime by which the heretical pope has separated himself from the Church and deprived himself of his dignity.”43

In other words, the sentence merely declares publicly that the Pope has already been deposed: it is not the sentence which deposes him.

An important group of theologians including Cajetan, Suarez, and two Spanish Dominicans who were prominent in the debates at the Council of Trent – Melchior Cano and Dominic Soto, held a contrary view which was that it was the sentence of the Council which deprived the Pope of his office. This view does not appear tenable subsequent to the teaching of Vatican I which has already been cited, i. e. that there is no appeal from the judgment of a pope to a General Council. However, even the view that the General Council does not depose the Pope, but merely declares him to be deposed, raises extremely difficult problems. Who would summon a General Council since this is the prerogative of the Pope? What if the Pope could be persuaded to summon it but then refused to accept its decision? Fortunately, Pope John XXII submitted to the commission of theologians which declared his views on the Judgment to be heretical. Sixtus V died before his erroneous version of the Vulgate could be promulgated. The hypothesis of a heretical pope who either refused to summon a Council or or refused to submit to its judgment, and did not die in the opportune manner of Pope Sixtus V, is one which would give even the very best theologians a great deal of food for thought. No attempt will be made to solve it here as it is only a hypothesis. The purpose of raising the matter of a papal deposition is to demonstrate that not only is it quite legitimate to resist the Pope if he is using his power to destroy the Church but that the far more serious step of actually deposing the Pope has been a matter for free debate among theologians.


The only possible conclusion to be drawn from the evidence provided in this appendix is that a Catholic has the right and sometimes the duty to oppose papal teaching or legislation which is manifestly unjust, contrary to the faith, or harmful to the Church. Such resistance has occurred during the history of the Church. Such a refusal could only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances when the fact that the subject was right and the Pope was wrong was just not probable but manifest. The conditions which Cardinal Newman set out as necessary preparation for such resistance should be observed stringently.

History must decide whether Archbishop Lefebvre had sufficient grounds for his refusal to obey Pope Paul VI. In the case of Bishop Robert Grosseteste there can be no reasonable doubt but that he was right and Pope Innocent IV wrong. What has happened once can always happen again and we can say with the saintly English Bishop, and in perfect loyalty to the Holy See: “God forbid that to any who are truly united to Christ, not willing in any way to go against His will, this See and those who preside in it should be a cause of falling away or apparent schism, by commanding such men to do what is opposed to Christ’s will.”

1. A comprehensive selection of citations from all the principal authorities is provided in an article by Fr. Raymond Dulac in the Courrier de Rome, No. 15, to which full acknowledgment is given.

2. ST, II-II, Q. XXXXIII, a. VII, ad. 5.

3. ST, II-II, Q.CIV, art.V, ad. 3.

4. The Devastated Vineyard (Franciscan Herald Press, 1973), pp. 3-4.

5. Ibid., p. 5.

6. References are not provided for these quotations as they can all be found in the accounts of the lives of the Popes to whom they refer.

7. Monophysitism: The doctrine that in the Person of the Incarnate Christ there was but a single Divine Nature, as against the orthodox teaching of a double Nature, Divine and Human, after the Incarnation.

8. The Council of Chalcedon (451) condemned those who deny the title Theotokos (‘God-bearer’) to Our Lady. A denial of this title implied that the Humanity of Christ is separable from His Divine Person. It also condemned those who denied any distinction between Our Lord’s Divine and Human natures. Catholic teaching is that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is one Divine Person with two natures, Divine and Human.

9. Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, XIV, 1303, col.2.

10. Denzinger, 1827.

11. C. Butler, The Vatican Council (London, 1930), II, 80.

12. Preparatory document which the Fathers could discuss and amend.

13. Ibid., pp. 84-85.

14. J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissa collectio (Paris, 1857-1927), LII, 715.

15. Ibid.

16. Difficulties of Anglicans (London, 1876), p. 256.

17. Ibid., pp. 257-258.

18. Ibid., pp. 260-261.

19. Ibid., p. 261.

20. Ibid.

21. CE, XII, 269-270.

22. Uncle of Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor.

23. Summa de Ecclesia (Venice, 1560), lib. iv, para. ii, cap. 11.

24. De charitate, Disputatio XII de schismate, sectio I (Opera Omnia, Paris, 1858), 12, 733ff.

25. Father Rahner is here making the same point to be found in Father Congar’s article on schism in Le Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, i. e. that to question the use made of authority in a particular instance without denying or rejecting that authority does not constitute schism.

26. K. Rahner, Studies in Modem Theology (Herder, 1965), pp. 394-395.

27. Ibid., p. 397.

28. CE, XII, 263, col. 2.

29. Sadly, it was “reformed? on the lines of the Roman Rite after Vatican II but whether or not its traditional character has been destroyed I am unable to say.

30. CE, I, 395, col. 2.

31. E. John, The Popes (London, 1964), p. 253.

32. CE, II, 412, col. 1.

33. A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London, 1953), p. 1116.

34. ST, II-II, Q. XXXIII, art. VII, ad. 5.

35. De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n. 16.

36. Obras de Francisco de Vitoria, pp. 486-487.

37. De Summo pontifice (Paris, 1870), lib. II, cap. 29.

38. The Tablet, 11 September 1965, p. 996.

39. D. 1830.

40. Bellarmine, De Summo pontifice, n. 30, lib. II, cap. 30.

41. Wernz-Vidal, Jus Canonicum (Rome, 1952).

42. Summa de Ecclesia, n. 18, lib. II, cap. 102.

43. Wernz-Vidal, Jus Canonicum (Rome, 1943), II, 518.


Faith Imperiled by Reason: Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutics

July 27, 2011

Faith Imperiled by Reason: Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutics


Title: Faith Imperiled by Reason: Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutics

Autor: Msgr. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX

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True Restoration is proud to present a translation of Bishop Tissier’s lengthy article of last summer on the hermeneutics of Benedict XVI. Due to online formatting, the footnotes in the original document are endnotes in this edition. Also, in the original, His Lordship refers to a book called The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today. It is known in the United States as Introduction to Christianity. We have changed the references thusly.

In his Afterword, the Bishop thanks Frs. Benoit de Jorna and Jean-Michel Gleize, two of the four men in the SSPX’s delegation to Rome. Due to their consultation and collaboration in this lengthy article of Bishop Tissier, it is reasonable to assume that they share his concerns and conclusions, and that these important matters are being discussed in Rome.

Because this renders at over 80 pages, with over 200 citations, if reading and printing from your computer is burdensome, you may purchase a printed copy from True Restoration Press, which is flat bound for greater ease of study. If you read French, you can buy the original issue of Le Sel de La Terre from the Dominicans.


Dr. Peter Chojnowski

Those who remain attached to the Catholic Faith as articulated by all the great dogmatic Councils of the Church are greatly indebted to His Excellency Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais for this article, published just last summer in the French Dominican publication Le Sel de la Terre and just translated into English. The fight we are in for Catholic Tradition is not a fight over ceremonies and rituals, which some happen to like and others happen not to like. The Sacred Rites of the Church are “sacred” precisely because they express and apply to the concrete lives of the Faithful, the truths and grace which even God the Son did not “make up,” but were, rather, revealed to Him by His Father in Heaven. This article, which compares the theology of Josef Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) to that of the traditional theology of the Church as articulated by the Popes, the Fathers, and the Doctors, is truly a comprehensive study for all those interested in the doctrinal issues now being discussed behind closed doors. Since the Conciliar Church has decided to accept the personal theology of each new pope as its current interpretation of the fundamentals of the Faith, it is absolutely essential for real Catholics to understand the Modernist Revolution in its current stage. Please spread this article far and wide. The text is long, however, the reader should make it to the end in order to understand how the New Theology attempts to transform the most fundamental doctrines of the faith.

After reading this fascinating essay, anyone who thought that “reconciliation” between Catholic Tradition and Vatican II theology is right around the corner will have to think again!

January 2010


Faith Imperiled by Reason
Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutics
Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais

From La Sel de Terre, Issue 69, Summer 2009
Translated by C. Wilson
Translator’s Note: I have decided rather to preserve the Bishop’s slightly familiar writing style than to convert the tone of the article to something purely academic.





Ch1. The Hermeneutic of Continuity

1. The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today: the ‘why’ of hermeneutics

2. Faith at risk from philosophy

3. Hermeneutics in the Patristic School

4. The Homogenous progress of dogmas

5. Return to the objectivity of the Fathers and the councils

6. A new reflection by a new vital connection?

7. The Method: Dilthey’s historicist hermeneutics

8. Benedict XVI reclaims the purification of the Church’s past

9. When hermeneutics begins to distort history

10. A new Thomas Aquinas

Ch.2. Joseph Ratzinger’s Philisophical Itinerary

1. From Kant to Heidegger: a seminarian’s intellectual itinerary

2. Kantian agnosticism, father of modernism

3. The autonomy of practical reason, mother of the Rights of Man-without-God

4. Reconciling the Enlightenment with Christianity

5. In search of a new realist philosophy

6. Relapse into idealism: Husserl

7. Heidegger’s existentialism

8. Max Scheler’s philosophy of values

9. Personalism and communion of persons

10. The dialogue of ‘I and Thou’ according to Martin Buber

11. ‘Going Out of Self’ according to Karl Jaspers

Ch.3. Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Itinerary

1. Living Tradition, continuous Revelation, according to the school of Tübingen

2. Revelation, living Tradition and evolution of dogma

3. Tradition, a living interpretation of the Bible

4. The doctrine of faith as experience of God

5. The power of assimilation, driving force of doctrinal progress, according to Newman

6. Far from pledging allegiance to our concepts, Revelation judges and uses them

Ch.4. An Existentialist Exegesis of the Gospel

1. ‘He Descended into Hell’

2. ‘He rose again from the dead’

3. ‘He ascended into heaven’

4. The reality of Evangelical facts put between parentheses

5. Existentialist exegesis, a divinatory art

6. A Historicist Hermeneutic

Ch.5. Hermeneutic of Three Great Christian Dogmas

1. The dogma of the Trinity reviewed by personalism

2. The equivocation of the perpetual search for truth

3. The dogma of the incarnation, revised by Heidegger’s existentialism

4. The dogma of the redemption reviewed by Christian existentialism

5. Satisfaction, the tact of divine mercy

6. A denial worse than Luther’s

7. Existentialist sin

8. The priesthood reduced to the power of teaching

Ch.6. Personalism and Ecclesiology

1. The Church, communion in charity

2. The Church of Christ ‘subsists’ in the Catholic Church

Ch.7. Political and Social Personalism

1. Personalism and political society

2. Personalism applied to marriage and chastity

Ch.8. Christ the King Re-envisioned by Personalism

1. Political implications of man’s ultimate end

2. Religious liberty purified by the help of Emmanuel Mounier

3. Jacques Maritain’s vitally Christian lay civilization

4. Sophistic refutations

Ch.9. Benedict XVI’s Personalist Faith

1. Faith, encounter, presence and love

2. Philosophical experimentation and mystical experience

3. Divine authority replaced by human authority

Ch.10. Skeptical Supermodernism

1. An inaugural anti-program

2. A resigned and demoralized skepticism

3. Faced with skepticism, the remedy is found in Saint Thomas Aquinas

Epilogue: Hermeneutic of the last ends

1. Retractions

2. Limbo reinterpreted by hermeneutics

3. Death, a remedy

4. Eternal life, immersion in love

5. Collective salvation according to Henri de Lubac

6. Purgatory diminished

7. A humanistic particular judgment

8. The fundamental option, economy of mortal sin

9. Hell, a state of soul

Afterword: Christianity and Lumieres

1. A fragile equilibrium

2. Mutual regeneration and polyphonic correlation


End notes




This is Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic[1]:

Msgr. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX

– First it is the hermeneutic which a pope proposes for the second Vatican Council so as to obtain for it, forty years after its conclusion, reception into the Church;

– Next it is the hermeneutic, very much like modern reason, which the Council and conciliar theologians propose for the faith of the Church, though these have opposed each other in a mutual exclusion since the Enlightenment, in order to reduce their opposition;

– Last, it is the hermeneutic of the thought of a pope and theologian who attempts to make faith reasonable to a reason trained to refuse it.


The triple problem which, according to Benedict XVI, hermeneutic ought to have resolved at the Council and which it must still resolve today is the following:

1. Modern science, with the atomic bomb and a consumerist view of man, violates the prohibitions of morality. Science without conscience is nothing more than the ruin of the soul, said a philosopher. How to give science a conscience? The Church in the past was discredited in the eyes of science by its condemnation of Galileo; by what conditions can she hope to offer positivistic reason ethical norms and values?

2. Confronted by a laicized, ideologically plural society, how can the Church play her role as seed of unity? Certainly not by expecting to impose the reign of Christ, nor by restoring a false universalism and its intolerance, but by making an allowance for positivistic reason to challenge, in a fair competition, Christian values, duly purified and made palatable for the world which emerged after 1789, that is to say, after the Rights of Man.

3. Faced with ‘world religions’ better understood and more widespread, can the Church still claim exclusivity for her salvific values and a privileged status before the State? Certainly not. However, she wishes only to collaborate with other religions for the sake of world peace, by offering in concert with them, in a ‘polyphonic correlation,’ the values of the great religious traditions.

These three problems make no more than one: Joseph Ratzinger estimates that to a new epoch of history there must correspond a new relation between faith and reason:

“I would then willingly speak,” he has said, “of a necessary form of correlation between reason and faith, which are called to a mutual purification and regeneration.”[2]

Asking pardon of my reader for having perhaps anticipated my conclusion, with him I have just entered my subject by the back door.




Pope Benedict XVI’s speech to the Roman curia on December 22, 2005 appeared to be the programmatic speech of a new pontiff, elected pope the preceding April 19. It closely resembles his inaugural encyclical.

I am going to try to extract its ideas from it by force, then to analyze them freely. I thus offer to my reader a route of exploration through the garden of conciliar theology. Three avenues emerge at once:

1. Forty years after the close of the Council, Benedict XVI recognized that ‘the reception of the Council has taken place in a rather difficult manner.’ Why? he asks himself. ‘Well, it all depends on the just interpretation of the Council or—as we would say it today—on its just hermeneutic.’ Side by side with a ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’ on the part of traditionalists and progressives, there is ‘the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity.’ This continuity is ‘the continuity of a Church which is a unique entity. […] It is an entity which grows with time and which develops itself, remaining always the same—the unique entity which is the people of God on its pilgrimage.

2. Such was the Council’s intention: to guard the deposit of the Faith but to ‘present [it] in a manner which corresponds to the need of our time’ (John XXIII, opening speech to the Council). Benedict XVI explains:

This commitment with a view to expressing in a new fashion a determinate truth demands a new reflection upon it and a new vital connection with it […]. The new way of speaking can only develop if it is born from a conscious understanding of the faith which is expressed and […], on the other hand, if the reflection upon the faith demands equally that one live this faith.

3. Thus, to present a living faith, fruit of a vital new experience, was ‘the program proposed by Pope John XXIII, extremely necessary, as it is precisely the synthesis of fidelity and of dynamism.’


The Council’s hermeneutic, then, stands upon three principles which follow one upon the next:

– The subject of faith, with his reason, is an integral part of the object of faith.
– Thus, he must look for a new vital connection of reason with faith.
– Hence there is implemented a synthesis of fidelity and dynamism.

What sort of synthesis is this? The Council explains: to college ‘the requests of our times’ and ‘the values most prized by our contemporaries’ and, after having ‘purified’ them, ‘to bind them to their divine source’ (Gaudium et Spes, n. 11), that is to say, to introduce them to Christianity along with their philosophy. But to do this, the Church must for her part, as the Council determined it, ‘to revisit and equally to correct certain historical decisions’ (Benedict XVI, speech of December 22, 2005).

Such is the hermeneutical program which must be mutually imperative for reason and faith.

I will not attempt either an analysis or a synthesis of Benedict XVI’s thought, of his inspiration so eclectic and mobile. Professor Jacob Schmutz, in twelve sessions with the Sorbonne University, during 2007-2008, detailed its components: secularization, Christianity as vera philosophia[3], the human personality irreducible in nature, the Enlightenment (Aufklärung) who need God to limit their passion for independence, the historical contingencies which keep the conscience from seeing, etc.

In this extremely rich body of thought, I will content myself with outlining an extremely reduced philosophical and theological course, according to the custom of the initiate, guided by the idea of hermeneutic as by Ariadne’s thread.

In my progress, I will let Benedict XVI speak, sometimes commenting in a polemical manner, for I have chosen such a style with care for brevity, suitable to this unpretentious journal.

When I cite his writings earlier than his sovereign pontificate, I attribute them with all respect and truth to ‘Joseph Ratzinger.’ His work, Introduction to Christianity, reproduces the course of the young professor from Tubingen and, prepared in French in 1969, was reedited in 2005 with a preface from the author, who fundamentally confirms his writing: ‘The fundamental orientation,’ he wrote, ‘was correct; that is why today I dare to place this book again in the reader’s hands.’


Several texts will whet my reader’s hermeneutical appetite. They are a little compendium of the developments which follow.

1. Concerning the corrective revisitation of Tradition

My fundamental impulse, precisely from the Council, has always been to free the very heart of the faith from under any ossified strata, and to give this heart strength and dynamism.[4]

Vatican Council II, with its new definition of the relation between faith and the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has equally revisited and corrected certain historical decisions; but in this apparent discontinuity, it has in return maintained and deepened its essential nature and its true identity.[5]

2. Concerning the purifying assimilation of modern philosophy

To assimilate into Christianity [modern] ideas born into a new world, often hostile and even now charged with an alien spirit, supposes a labor in the depths, by which the permanent principles of Christianity would take up a new development in assimilating the valuable contributions of the modern world, after having decanted then, purifying according to need.[6]

Certainly the philosophy of being, the natural metaphysics of the human spirit serves as instrument of faith for making explicit what it contains implicitly[7]: on the other hand, no philosophy can pose as partner of faith in ‘perfecting doctrine and faith like a philosophical invention for human minds.’[8]



Chapter 1
The Hermeneutic of Continuity

1. The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today: the ‘why’ of hermeneutics

‘What is constitutive of faith today?’ Such is the question which Joseph Ratzinger posed in 1973, during a group ecumenical discussion, and which he posed as the first question of his book, The Principles of Catholic Theology.[9] ‘The question is ill framed,’ he amends; ‘it would be more correct to ask himself what, out of the collapse of the past, still remains today a constitutive element.’ The collapse is scientific, political, moral, even religious. Must one allow for a philosophy of history which accepts ruptures in faith as relevant, each thesis possessing its meaning as one moment from a whole? Thus, to paraphrase Ratzinger, ‘Thomistic as well as Kantian interpretation of Christian fact each has its truth in its own historical epoch but only remains true if one abandons it when its hour is finished, so as to include it in a whole which one constructs as a novelty.’

Joseph Ratzinger seems to dismiss this dialectical method precisely because it results in a new truth. It is not necessary to synthesize irreconcilables, but to find what continuity exists between them. Let us then find what permanence of Christian faith there is in the fluctuations of philosophies which have wished to explain it. Such is the theme of the professor of Tübingen’s work, Introduction to Christianity.[10]

Since reason seems to evolve according to diverse philosophies and since the past of such an evolution adapts itself to the faith, the connection between faith and reason must be periodically revised so that it will always be possible to express the constant faith according to the concepts of contemporary man. This revision is the fruit of hermeneutic.



2. Faith at risk from philosophy

When Saint John, and the Holy Ghost who inspired him, chose the name ‘Word,’ in Greek Logos, to designate the person of the Son in the Holy Trinity, the word had been until then as ambiguous as possible. It commonly designated formulaic speech. Heraclitus, six centuries before John, spoke of a logos measuring everything, but that meant the fire which burns and consumed all. The stoics used this term to signify the intelligence of things, their seminal rational (logos spermatikos) which merged with the immanent principle of organization in the universe. Finally Philon (13 BC – 54 AD), a practicing Jew and Hellenist from Alexandria, saw in the logos the supreme intelligibility ordering the universe, but much inferior to the unknowable God—that of Abraham and of Moses.

John seizes a Greek word. He wrests it, in a manner of speaking, from those who have used it in ignorance or by mistake. From the first words of the prologue to his Gospel, he gives to it, he renders to it rather its absolute meaning. It is the eternal Son of God who is His word, His Logos, His Verbum. And this Word is incarnate […]. Thus, the Revelation made to the Jews makes an effort, from its very beginnings, to express itself in the languages of Greek philosophy, without making any concession to it.[11]

Thus the faith expressed in human concepts is inspired Scripture; the faith explained in human concepts is theology, science of the faith; finally, the faith defined in human concepts is dogma. All these concepts have a plebian or philosophical origin, but they are only employed by faith once decanted and purified of all original, undesirable philosophical stench.

At the cost of what hesitations and what labors have the Fathers and the first councils resolved, when faced with heresies, to employ these philosophical terms and to forge new formulae of faith so as to clarify the gift of revelation! The use of the philosophical term, ousia (substance), hypostasis, prosôpon (person), to speak the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and of the Incarnation is accompanied by a necessary ‘process of purification and recasting’ of the concepts which these words signify.

It is only once extracted from their philosophical system and modified by a maturation in depth, then sometimes at first condemned because of their still inadequate content (monarchy, person, consubstantial), then understood correctly, admitted at last and qualified for application (but only analogically), that these concepts can become carriers of the new consistency of the Christian faith.[12]

These facts demonstrate that, far from expressing itself in the philosophy of the epoch, the faith must extricate itself from false philosophies and itself forge its own concepts. But is this to be extricated from all philosophy and to rest itself on a simple ‘common sense?’

With Father Garrigou-Lagrange, I will further respond to this question by showing that dogmas express themselves in the language of the philosophy of being, which is nothing besides a scientific instance of that common knowledge



3. Hermeneutics in the Patristic School

It was with repugnance, even, that the councils would consent to add precisions to the symbol of faith from the Council of Nicaea (325) which itself seemed sufficient to exclude every heresy. The council of Chalcedon (451), against the monophysite heresy, resolved to proceed to a definition (horos) of the faith, a novelty. A little after (458), the bishops would conclude that Chalcedon was no longer a extensive enough interpretation of Nicaea. The word, interpretation (hérmènéia), was also used by Saint Hilary (Syn. 91) when speaking of the Fathers who, after Nicaea, had reverently interpreted the propriety of consubstantial. It was a matter neither of a new reading nor of a revision to the symbol of Nicaea, but of a more detailed explanation. Such is, in consequence, the meaning of the hérmènéia achieved by Chalcedon. Later, one Vigilius of Thapsus would affirm that it was necessary, when faced with newly prepared heresies, to ‘bring forth new decrees of such a type that, even so, whatever the preceding councils have defined against the heretics remains intact.’[13] Then, Maximus the Confessor declared that the Fathers of Constantinople had only confirmed the faith of Nicaea against those who sought to change it for themselves to their own meaning: for Maximus, Christ subsisting ‘in two natures’ is not ‘another profession of faith’ (allon pistéôs symbolon), but only a piercing (tranoûntes) look at Nicaea, which, by interpretations and subsequent fashionings (épéxègoumenoi kai épéxergazoménoi), must still be defended against deformative interpretations.[14]

Thus, the hermeneutic (hérmènéia) that the Fathers practiced for the earlier magisterium was clarified as far as its end and as far as its form.

As far as the end, it is no matter of adapting a modern mentality, but of combating this modern mentality and of neutralizing the impression of modern philosophies upon the faith (it is in fact the characteristic of heretics to bring the faith to modern philosophical speculations which corrupt it). It is not any more a matter of justifying the old heretics in the name of a better comprehension of the Catholic formulae which have condemned them!

As far as the form, it is no matter of proposing modern principles in the name of the faith but of condemning them in the name of this same unchanged faith. In summary, the revisionist hermeneutic of Joseph Ratzinger is a stranger to the thought of the Fathers, There are, therefore, grounds for reviewing it radically.



4. The Homogenous progress of dogmas

It belongs to Saint Vincent of Lérins to have taught, in the year 434, the homogenous development of dogma, always by increase in explicitness but never by mutation:

It is characteristic of progress that each thing be amplified in itself; it is characteristic of change, on the other hand, that something be transformed into something else. […] Whenever some part of the essential seed grows in the course of time, then one rejoices in it and cultivates it with care, but one never changes the nature of the germ: then is added to it, certainly, its appearance, its form, its clarity, but the nature in each genus remains identical.[15]

In the same sense, in 1854 Pius IX, citing the same Vincent of Lérins in the bull defining the Immaculate Conception, and speaking of the ‘dogmas deposited with the Church,’ declared that she ‘devotes herself to polishing them in such a manner that these dogmas of heavenly doctrine receive proof, light, clarity, but retain fullness, integrity, propriety, and that they increase only in their genus, that is to say, in the same dogma, the same meaning and the same proposition’ [DS 2802].

According to this progress in clarity, dogmas do not progress in depth—a depth of which the Apostles have already received the plenitude—nor in truth, that is to say, in their aptness to that part of his mystery which God has revealed. The progress sought by theology and by the magisterium is that of a more precise expression of the divine mystery as it is, immutable as God is immutable. Concepts, always imperfect, could always be refined, but they would never fall out-of-date. A dogmatic formula, therefore, never has anything to do with, nor ever has to earn the vital reaction of the believing subject, but it would have everything to lose in doing so. It is rather that subject who must, on the contrary, efface himself and disappear before the objective content of dogma.



5. Return to the objectivity of the Fathers and the councils

Far from being obliged to take on in turn the successive, temporary forms of human subjectivity, the dogmatic effort is a labor of perseverance for the sake of making revealed truth objective upon its base of the gifts of Scripture and Tradition. It is a work of purge from the subjective in favor of an objectivity as perfect as possible. This work of purification is not in the first place an extraction of the heterogeneous so as to regain the homogenous, even though it can be this when faced with heresies and doctrinal deviations. The essential operation of dogmatic development is the effort to reassemble what is dispersed, to condense the diffused, to eliminate metaphors as far as possible, to purify analogies so as to make them more suitable. Nicaea’s consubstantial and Trent’s transubstantiation come from such successful reductions.

Inevitably, dogmatic reduction deviates from scriptural depth: consubstantial will never have the depth of one word from Jesus, such as this: “Who sees me, sees the Father” (John 14, 9). In this word, what an introduction to an unfathomable abyss! What a source for interminable questions! What space for contemplation! And nonetheless, what progress in precision belongs to consubstantial! What a fountain of theological deductions! There is, it seems to me, Joseph Ratzinger’s whole gnoseological difficulty: torn between the dogmas which he must hold with an absolute stability and the inquisitive quest of his mobile spirit, Joseph Ratzinger never achieves the reconciliation of the two poles of his faith.[16]

When will the affirmation of the ‘I’ efface itself before the ‘Him’?



6. A new reflection by a new vital connection?

It is this effacement of the believing subject which Benedict XVI energetically refuses. For him, the evolution of the formulation of the faith is not the search for better precision, but the necessity of proposing a new and adapted formulation. It is novelty for novelty’s sake. And the adaption is an adaption to the believer, not an adaption to the mystery. All this fits with John XXIII’s syllogism, from the presentation of the program of Vatican II in his opening discourse:

From its renewed, serene and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its integrity and its precision […], the Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit of the whole world waits a leap forward toward a doctrinal penetration and formation of consciences, in the most perfect correspondence of fidelity to the authentic doctrine, but also: this doctrine studied and explained through the forms of investigation and the literary formulation of modern thought. One, in fact, is the substance of the ancient faith from the depositum fidei, the other the formulation of its surface: and it is of the later that one must, if there be need, take great care, by weighing everything according to the forms and the proportions of a magisterium whose character is above all pastoral.[17]

Such indeed was the Council’s task, Benedict XVI says: the modern reformulation of the faith; according to a modern method and following modern principles, then according to a new method and after new principles. For there is always method, on the one hand, and principles on the other. To apply this method and to adopt these principles should still be the Church’s task forty years later:

It is clear that this commitment in view of expressing in a new manner a determinate truth needs a new reflection upon that very truth and a new vital connection with it. It is equally clear that the new way of speaking can only mature if it is born from a conscious comprehension (Verstehen) of the expressed truth, and that on the other hand the reflection upon the faith demands just as much that one live that faith.[18]

There is the whole revolution of the magisterium implemented by the Council. Preoccupation with the subject of faith supplants care for the object of faith. In place of simply seeking to make dogma precise and explicit, the new magisterium will seek to reformulate and adapt it. In place of adapting man to Go, it wishes to adapt God to man. Do we not then have a subverted magisterium, an anti-magisterium?



7. The Method: Dilthey’s historicist hermeneutics

Where to find the method for this adapted rereading of dogma? A German philosopher who has influenced German theology and whose mark is found upon Joseph Ratzinger must intervene: Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), father of hermeneutics and of historicism.

Hermeneutics, as we have seen, is the art of interpreting facts or documents.

Historicism then, wishes to consider the role of history in truth. For Dilthey, as for Schelling and Hegel who were idealists, truth is only understood in its history. But whereas for Schelling and Hegel truth develops by itself, in a well-known dialectical process, on the other hand, for Dilthey a distinction must be made:

— **In physical sciences, development consists in explanation (Erklären), which is a purely rational function.
— But in human sciences, truth progresses by understanding (Verstehen) which includes the appetitive powers of the soul. Thus truth develops by the process of a vital reaction of the subject to the object, in accordance with the link of vital reaction between the historian, who looks into the facts of history, and the impact of history.

Thus, the emotive richness of the historian tends to enrich the object he studies. The subject enters into the object; it becomes a part of the object. History is charged with the energy of its readers’ emotions and thus the judgments of the past are unceasingly colored by the vital reaction of the historian or of the reader. Now, it is at the end of each epoch that there fully appears the meaning of that epoch, Dilthey emphasizes, and this is very true; from there, at each such term, it is necessary to proceed to a new revision.

Let’s apply this: the date 1962, that of the start of Vatican Council II, seemed the end of a modern epoch; thus one could then—and one was obliged to—revisit, revise all historical facts, the judgments of the past, especially concerning religion**—so as to disengage from them significant facts and permanent principles, not without coloring them anew with the preoccupations and emotions of the present.

In this sense, Hans Georg Gadamer (born in 1900) judges that the true historical consciousness does not, for the interpreter, consist in wishing to get rid of its prejudices—that would be the worst of prejudices—but in becoming aware of them and in finding better ones. This is not a vicious circle, the hermeneuticists say; it is a healthy realism which is called ‘the hermeneutical circle.’

Applied to the faith, this retrospective necessarily purifies the past from what was added in an adventitious manner to the nucleus of the faith, and this revision, this retrospective, necessarily aggregates to the faith the coloring of present preoccupations. There is, thus, a double process: on the one hand, a rereading of the past which is a purification of the past, a disengagement from its parasitic growths, a highlighting of its implicit presuppositions, a becoming conscious of its fleeting circumstances, a reckoning of the emotive reactions of the past or of the philosophies of the past; and on the other hand, it must be an enrichment of historical facts and ideas by the actual vital reaction, which depends on the new circumstances in the actual epoch, as well as upon the actual mentality and thus upon actual philosophy.

It is indeed to this hermeneutic that the expert on the Council, Joseph Ratzinger, invited the assembly in the editing of ‘schema XIII,’ which would become Gaudium et Spes, in an article written before the fourth session of the Council. What he said there about moral principles applies as well to dogmatic ones:

The formulations of Christian ethics, which must be able to reach the real man, the one who lives in his time, necessarily takes on the coloration of that time. The general problem, the knowledge that truth is only historically formulated, arise in ethics with a particular acuity. Where does temporal conditioning stop and permanent begin, so that it can, as it must, cut out and detach the first so as to arrange its vital space in the second? There is a question which no one can ever settle in advance without equivocation: no epoch can in fact distinguish what abides from its own fleeting point of view. To recognize and practice it, it is thus still necessary always to engage in a new fight. Faced with all these difficulties, we must not expect too much from the conciliar text in this matter.[19]



8. Benedict XVI reclaims the purification of the Church’s past

However uncertain and provisional it may be, this purification of the past is indeed what Benedict XVI reclaims for the Church, and this is a constant in his life. He says it himself:

My fundamental impulse, precisely from the Council, has always been to free the very heart of the faith from under any ossified strata, and to give this heart strength and dynamism. This impulse is the constant in my life.[20]

In his speech on December 22, 2005, Benedict XVI enumerates the purifications of the past implemented by Vatican II and he justified them against the reproach of ‘discontinuity’ while invoking historicism:

In the first place, it was necessary to define in a new way the relation between faith and modern sciences […]. In the second place, it was necessary to define in a new way the link between the Church and the modern State, which accorded a place to citizens of diverse religions and ideologies […]. This was bound in the third place to the problem of religious tolerance, a question which needed a new definition of the link between the Christian faith and the religions of the world.

It is clear – Benedict XVI concedes – that in all these sectors of which the collection forms a singular question, there could emerge a certain form of discontinuity in which, nevertheless, once the diverse distinctions between concrete historical circumstances and their demands were established, it would appear that the continuity of principles had not been abandoned.

In this process of novelty in continuity – Benedict XVI justifies himself – we should learn to understand more concretely first of all that the decisions of the Church concerning contingent facts – for example, certain concrete forms of liberalism – must necessarily be themselves contingent because they refer to a specific reality, in itself changeable: It was necessary to learn to recognize that, in such decisions, only the principles express the enduring aspect, while remaining in the background and motivating decisions from within. On the other hand, the concrete forms are not as permanent; they depend on the historical situation and can thus be submitted to changes.

Benedict XVI illustrates his proof by the example of religious liberty:

Vatican Council II – he says – with the new definition of the relation between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has revisited and likewise corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity, it has in turn maintained and deepened its essential nature and its true identity.

Vatican Council II, recognizing and making its own through the decree on religious liberty an essential principle of the modern State, has captured anew the deepest patrimony of the Church.[21]



9. When hermeneutics begins to distort history

If only Benedict XVI would allow me to protest this distortion of history! The popes of the 19th century have condemned religious liberty, not only on account of the indifferentism of its promoters, but in itself:

— because it is not a natural right of man: Pius IX said that it is not a ‘proprium cujuscumque hominis jus,’[22] and Leo XIII said that it is not one of the ‘jura quae homini natura dederit.’[23]
— and because it proceeds from ‘an altogether distorted idea of the State,’[24] the idea of a State which would rather not have the duty of protecting the true religion against the expansion of religious error.

These two motives for condemnation are absolutely general; they follow from the truth of Christ and of his Church, from the duty of the State to recognize it, and from its indirect duty to promote the eternal salvation of the citizens, not, indeed, by constraining them to believe in spite of themselves, but by protecting them against the influence of socially professed error, all things taught by Pius IX and Leo XIII.

If today, circumstances having changed, religious plurality demands, in the name of political prudence, civil measures for tolerance even of legal equality between diverse cults, religious liberty as a natural right of the person, in the name of justice, should not be invoked. It remains a condemned error. The doctrine of the faith is immutable, even if its complete application is impeded by the malice of the times. And on the day when circumstances return to normal, to those of Christianity, the same practical application of repression of false cults must be made, as in the time of the Syllabus. Let’s remember that circumstance which change application (consequent circumstances) do not affect the content of doctrine.

We must say the same thing concerning circumstances which prompt the magisterium to intervene (antecedent circumstances). That religious liberty had in 1965 a personalist context, very different from the context of aggressiveness that it had a hundred years earlier in 1864, at the time of the Syllabus, does not change its intrinsic malice. The circumstances of 1864 certainly caused Pius IX to act, but they did not affect the content of the condemnation that he set down for religious liberty. Should a new Luther arise in 2017, even without his attaching as in 1517 his 95 theses to the door of the collegial church of Wittenberg, he would be condemned in the very terms of 500 years before.[25] Let us reject then the equivocation between ‘circumstantial’ decision and prudential, provisional, fallible, reformable, correctible decision in matters of doctrine.



10. A new Thomas Aquinas

By consequence the purification of the past of the Church, the revision of ‘certain of her historical decisions,’ such as those which Benedict XVI proposes, is false and artificial. It is to be feared that the same goes for the assimilation by the Church’s doctrine of the philosophies of the temps, which is promoted by the same Benedict XVI in his speech to the Curia in 2005.

Benedict XVI praises Saint Thomas Aquinas for having, in the 13th century, reconciled and allied faith and the new philosophy of his epoch. This new Thomas Aquinas says: Voilà, I am going to make for you the theory of alliance which the Council has attempted between faith and modern reason. I summarize.

Here are the pope’s exact words:

When, in the 13th century, Aristotelian thought entered into contact with Medieval Christianity, formed by the Platonic tradition, and when faith and reason were at risk of entering into an irreconcilable opposition, it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who played the role of mediator in the new encounter between faith and philosophy, thus placing faith in a positive relation with the form of reason dominant in his epoch. […] With Vatican Council II the moment when a new reflection of this type was necessary arrived. […] Let us read it and welcome it, guided by a just hermeneutic.[26]

In short, Saint Thomas did not condemn Aristotelianism, despite its dangers, but he knew how to welcome, purify and establish it ‘in a positive relation with the faith.’ – This is very exact. – Very well, then, Vatican II did analogously; it did not condemn personalism, but it knew how to receive it, and , in return for some purifications, ‘how thus to place the faith in a positive relation with the dominant form of reason’ in the 20th century, how to integrate personalism into the vision of the Church. – Stay to see whether this integration is possible.



Chapter 2
Joseph Ratzinger’s Philisophical Itinerary

1. From Kant to Heidegger: a seminarian’s intellectual itinerary

What then is this ‘dominant form of reason’ which seduced the young Ratzinger and challenged his faith, so much so that he must exert himself heroically to reconcile them? Just like what he studied as a young cleric, it comes out of the agnosticism of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).

For the philosopher of Koenigsberg, our universal ideas do not take their necessity from the nature of things, which is unknowable, but from reason alone and from its innate ‘a priori categories’ of substance, causality, etc. Reason alone gives its structure and intelligibility to the real.

We only know a priori [that is to say, in a necessary manner] those things which we put there ourselves [Kant affirms].[27]

Modern physical science already followed this idealism with fruit by maintaining that the nature of the physical world remains opaque to reason and that we can only have mathematical and symbolic representations for it, in scientific hypotheses, works of reason, which force nature to appear before its tribunal so as to constrain it, by experimentation, to confirm the judge’s a priori. Once confirmed, the hypothesis is declared scientific theory, but it remains nonetheless a provisory and always perfectible hypothesis.

Kant wants to apply this rationalism to the knowledge of the operations of the intelligence itself upon the givens of sensible knowledge. It is our understanding, he says, which applies its a priori categories to things.

He does not see that the real beings most immediately perceived by the intelligence, such as being itself, or substance, or the essence of a thing, are on the contrary intelligible by the simple abstraction which the intellect operates on them from the givens of sensible experience. In particular, the first thing known by our intelligence is the being of sensible things:

What is first conceived by the intellect is being; for everything is capable of being known according as it is in act […]. This is why being is the proper object of the intellect; it is thus the first intelligible, as sound is the first object of hearing.[28]

And upon this apprehension of being is founded the natural knowledge of the first principles: being is not non-being; everything which happens has a cause; every agent acts for an end; all nature is made for something, etc.

On the contrary, the consequences of the Kantian ‘unknowning’ or agnosticism are catastrophic: being as being is unknowable; the analogy of being is indecipherable and the principle of causality has no metaphysical value; thus one cannon prove the existence of God from the things of the world, and any such analogy between creature and Creator is unknowable, even blasphemous.



2. Kantian agnosticism, father of modernism

Consequently, reason cannot know either the existence or the perfections of God. This agnosticism even so incurs this reproach from Wisdom:

Deranged by nature are all men in whom there is not the knowledge of God and who, from visible goods, have not known how to understand He who is, nor, by the consideration of his works, how to recognize by analogy Who is their creator.[29]

Likewise, since the analogy with God is impossible, the revealed analogies which unveil for us his supernatural mysteries are just metaphors; consequently, every word of God can only be allegorical, and all human discourse concerning God, inversely, can only be mythological. This is the same principle of modernism condemned by Saint Pius X a century later: evangelical facts result from fabrications, and dogmas from a transfiguration of reality because of religious need. Dogmas have a practical and moral meaning which answers to our religious needs, while their intellectual meaning is derivative and subordinated. Their generative principle is within man; it is the principle of immanence.[30] For example, for Kant, already, the Trinity symbolize the union in a single being of three qualities of goodness, holiness and justice; the incarnate Son of God is no supernatural being; he is a moral ideal, that of a heroic man.[31] Therefore, dogmas are nothing more than symbols of states of soul.



3. The autonomy of practical reason, mother of the Rights of Man-without-God

On the other hand, in morality, according to common sense, human nature and its natural operations are defined by their ends, just as the nature and way of using a washing machine are what they are by their end. Well, Kant rejects the principle of finality itself, true and thereby the knowledge of our nature. He ignores that this nature is made for happiness and that true happiness consists in seeing God, who is the sovereign Good. Moreover, he denies the analogy between the sensible good, object of desire, and the genuine good, the will’s goal according to the perennial philosophy. The notion of the good is not acquired from sensible experience, and the existence of the sovereign Good is unknowable. Then what about morality? For Kant, a good act is not that which has an object and an end conformed to (unknowable) human nature and which of itself ordains man to the last end, but it is to act independently of every object and every end, out of pure duty, which is pure good will:

A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end; it is good only through its willing, i.e., it is good in itself.[32]

This is really the refusal of the final cause, the negation of the good as the end of our acts and the exclusion of God as sovereign Good and sovereign legislator. It is the proclamation of ‘the autonomy of practical reason.’ It is the German theory for the French Rights of Man in 1789. It is man taking the place of God.

Kantian virtue acts so as to ‘maintain in a person his humanity with its dignity.’[33] And as any such virtue, quasi stoical, does not coincide here below with happiness, it postulates the existence of a God who makes remuneration in the next life, a provisional and hypothetic Deus ex machina, concerning whom ‘one can only affirm that he exists apart from the rational thought of man.’[34]



4. Reconciling the Enlightenment with Christianity

Even if he seems to reprove such a ‘religion within the limits of reason alone,’ Joseph Ratzinger admires Kant, the philosopher par excellence from the Enlightenment. He salutes ‘the enormous effort’ of one who knew how ‘to bring out the category of the good’—that beats everything!—He proclaimed the current import of the Enlightenment, in his discourse at Subiaco, on April 1, 2005, one month before becoming pope. He analyzed the contemporary culture of the Enlightenment as being that of the rights of liberty, of which he enumerated the principles while adding**:

– “This canon of Enlightenment culture, though far from being complete, contains important values from which, as Christians, we cannot and we must not disassociate ourselves. […] Undoubtedly, we have come to important acquisitions which can aspire to a universal value: the established point that religion cannot be imposed by the State but can only be welcomed into liberty; respect for the fundamental rights of man, which are the same for all; separation of powers and the control of power.”

– But, Joseph Ratzinger nonetheless objects, this Enlightenment culture is a secular culture, without God, anti-metaphysical because positivist, and based upon an auto-limitation of practical reason by which ‘man allows for no instance of morality independent from his self-interest.’ Consequently, ‘there exists contradictory Rights of Man, as for example the opposition between a woman’s wish for freedom and the embryo’s right to life. […] An ideology confused with liberty leads to a dogmatism always very hostile to liberty.”[35] By its absolute, this ‘radical Enlightenment culture’ is opposed to Christian culture.[36]

– How to overcome this opposition? Here is the synthesis:

On the one hand, Christianity, religion of logos, according to reason, must rediscover its roots in the first philosophy from the Enlightenment, which was its cradle and which, abandoning myth, sought for truth, goodness and the one God. In return for this, this nascent Christianity ‘refused to the State the right to regard religion as a part of the political order, postulating thus the liberty of the faith.’[37]

On the other hand, Enlightenment culture must return to its Christian roots. But of course: proclaiming the dignity of man, a Christian truth, ‘Enlightenment philosophy has a Christian origin, and it is not haphazardly that it was rightly born in the domain of the Christian faith’ (sic).

This, moreover, the future Benedict XVI underlines, was the work of the Council, its fundamental intention, exposed in its declaration concerning ‘the Church in the modern-day world,’ Gaudium et Spes:

[The Council] has placed in evidence this profound correspondence between Christianity and the Enlightenment, trying to arrive at a true reconciliation between the Church and modernity, which is the great patrimony which each of the two parties must safeguard.[38]

To do this, Kant, in spite of his agnosticism, must be taken into account, the future pope judges: every man, even the unbelievers, can postulate the existence of God:

Kant denied that God can be known within the limits of pure reason, but at the same time he represented God, liberty and immortality, as so many postulates of practical reason, without which, he said in perfect agreement with himself, no moral act is possible. Does not the contemporary situation of the world make us think again that he might have been right?[39]



5. In search of a new realist philosophy

From his first love, never renounced, for Kant, the intellectual itinerary of a young seminarian from Freising led Joseph Ratzinger to modern German philosophy. He recounts it in his memoirs. Counseled by my elder, Alfred Läpple, he said, ‘I read two volumes of the philosophical foundations for Steinbüchel’s moral theology, a new edition of which had just been prepared.’

[In this book, he continues,] I found first of all an excellent introduction to the thought of Heidegger and Jaspers, as well as to the philosophies of Nietzsche, Klages and Bergson. For me, Steinbüchel’s work, The Revolution of Thought, was nearly the most important. Just as one believes in physical power so as to abandon a mechanistic conception and establish a new opening into the unknown and consequently into ‘the known Unknown,’ God, so one can note, in philosophy, a new return to the metaphysics made inaccessible after Kant.

We know that the physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) elaborated in 1927 a theory concerning the statistical position of atomic and molecular particles known by the name of the ‘uncertainty principle.’ In 1963, our professor of physical sciences in Paris, Monsieur Buisson, mocked the application, that certain ill-advised philosophers wanted to make of this principle, to substance and nature, which must henceforth be considered indeterminate and thus instable! It is unbelievable to see how the confusion between substance and quantity can have put the pseudo-philosophers, and even the pseudo-theologians, in a whirl for fifty years.

Steinbüchel, who began by studying Hegel and socialism, exemplified in the cited work the blossoming of personalism essentially due to Ferdinand Ebner, who also acted for him as a turning point in his intellectual development. The discovery of personalism, which we find realized with a new force of conviction in the great Jewish thinker, Martin Buber, was for me a marked intellectual experience; this personalism was by itself linked in my eyes to the thought of Saint Augustine, which I discovered in the Confessions, with all his human passion and depth.[40]



6. Relapse into idealism: Husserl

The turning point of modern thought is marked by phenomenology. Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), a professor at various German universities, wanted to react against Kantian idealism and come ‘to things themselves.’ Very well. But to reach undeniable truth, he practiced a sort of methodical doubt, ‘épochè,’[41] which in Greek signifies the suspension of judgment, and he ‘struck into nothingness’ whatever was not ‘authentic.’ He did not deny the existence of external things, but he put it ‘between parentheses’: thus experience was ‘reduced’ to what is ‘give,’ to what appears, to what manifests itself ‘authentically.’ Well, the demand of this process lead Husserl to profess provisionally the contrary of what he had expected: it is no longer the thing external to the spirit which is absolutely real, but it is the ‘given,’ that is to say, the reality of my act of aiming at my mental object, in which I know myself to be thinking something.

For consciousness – Husserl says – the given is essentially the same thing, whether the represented object exist, or whether it be imagined or even perhaps absurd.[42]

It is clear in any case that everything which is in the world of things is, by principle, only a presumed reality for me. On the contrary, myself […], or if you like the actuality of my existence, is an absolute reality. […] Consciousness considered in its purity must be held by a system of being closed on itself, by an absolute system of being.[43]

Curiously, we find at the same time in modernism, the same disinterest in reality applied to religion: the reality of the mysteries of the faith matters little; what is important is that they express the religious problems and needs of the believer and help him to resolve them or to fulfill them. It was Alfred Loisy (1857-1940), Husserl’s exact contemporary, who undertook this ‘reduction’ on the part of dogma. These ideas were in the air.

With Husserl and his extreme crisis of idealism, the ‘turning point of thought’ evoked by Joseph Ratzinger was still problematic.



7. Heidegger’s existentialism

Let us understand the atmosphere of fresh air that existentialism, such as that of Heidegger, professor at Fribourg-en-Brigsau, can bring. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) wanted to avoid Husserl’s relapse into idealsm; he consecrated himself to beings, whose existence—the fact that they are cast into existence—calls out to us. At last, you say, here we leave the ideal and plunge again into the real! Alas! Being above all is the person and the general conditions for his affirmation. For existentialism in general, to exist is to have oneself abandon what one is not, by a free choice of destiny; in this sense, ‘existence precedes essence,’ becoming precedes being. To define the nature of things is determinism. – Kantian agnosticism is alive and well! The difference is that being defines itself by its action, as in Maurice Blondel (1861-1949).

For Heidegger, the subject is not constituted statically, by its nature, but by its dynamism, by its connections with others. Cast into existence and exposed to the abrupt impression ‘of finding myself there’ and to the feeling of ‘dereliction,’ I deliver myself from my anguishes by casting ahead, by accepting my destiny courageously and by making the decision to assume my place in the world, to ‘exceed myself,’ by giving my whole self to others who exist with me and by granting them authentic being.

Joseph Ratzinger will apply the idea of excelling oneself as accomplishment of self to Christology: Christ will be the man who completely excels, by the hypostatic union, and again, differently, by the cross.



8. Max Scheler’s philosophy of values

Another of Husserl’s disciples, Max Scheler (1874-1928), a professor at Frankfort, is the founder of the philosophy of values. According to this theory, human and community life is directed not by principles—which reason abstracts from the experience of things and which are founded on human nature, its finality and its Author—but by a state of spirit, a sense of life and of existence, which is nonetheless illuminated by immutable and transcendental values, which are imposed a priori (as Kant would say): liberty, person, dignity, truth, justice, concord, solidarity. These are the ideals, the many ideas which should live in action, in commitment to the serve of others and by which all should commune, differently however according to cultures and religions.

The Council, John Paul II and Benedict XVI are imbued with this philosophy of values.

The Council proposed before all to judge by its light (of the faith) the values most prized by our contemporaries and reconnect them to their divine source. For these values, in so far as they proceed from the human genius, are very good.[44]

The Church should not be the only promoter of values in civil society. […] Ecclesiastical participation in the life of the country, by an open dialogue with all other forces, guarantees to Italian society an irreplaceable contribution of great moral and civil inspiration.[45]

It would be absurd to wish to turn backwards, to a Christian political system […]. We do not hope to impose Catholicism on the West. But we do wish that the fundamental values of Christianity and the liberal values dominant in the world today could meet and become fertile mutually.[46]

This is to suppress the final cause along with the efficient cause of man and of society, and to construct politics on pure Kantian formalism.



9. Personalism and communion of persons

Scheler is the originator of a Christian existentialism or personalism. On the basis of the same confusion between being and act which is characteristic of Blondel and Heidegger, Scheler affirms that the ‘I’ results from the synthesis of all my vital phenomena of knowledge, instinct, emotion, passion, especially love—a synthesis which transcends each of these phenomena by an ‘unknowable something more’ In this superior value the person discovers itself as ‘the concret unity of being in its acts.’ The person exists in his acts.

Love makes the person reach his ‘highest value,’ in an intersubjectivity where love shares in the life of the other and makes them interdependent. The Council was inspired by this to declare:

Man, the only creature upon the earth that God willed for its own sake, can only find himself fully in the disinterested gift of himself.[47]

There is the phenomenological view of charity, most characteristic of Scheler. But the danger is to reduce the redemption to an act of divine solidarity. Joseph Ratzinger will fall into this failing. Max Scheler goes only to the point of affirming that God has need of communicating himself to others, otherwise the disinterested solidarity which is the essence of love would not be authentic in Him. Joseph Ratzinger will apply this excess of intersubjectivity to the processions of the divine persons in the Trinity.

According to Scheler, the person is not only individual and ‘unrepeatable,’ but also plural and communal. It is of his essence to become part of a community which is a Miterleben, a ‘living with,’ a communion of experience.

Karol Wojtyla (1929-2005), the future Pope John Paul II, was an ardent disciple of Scheler, for whom he wished to supply his nonexistent[48] ethics, without correcting his metaphysic of the person. For Wojtyla, ‘the person determines himself by his communion (or participation, communication, Teilhabe) with other persons.”[49] The person is relation, or tissue of relations.

Isn’t this nonsense? The person, philosophically speaking, is a substance par excellence and not an accident or a collection of accidents. “The person is most perfect in its nature,” Saint Thomas explains.[50] It is evident that this ‘perfection’ is to subsist in itself and not in any other. Invaluable then is Boethius’ definition of person, maintained by Saint Thomas: “Hoc nomen persona significat subsistentem in aliqua natura intellectuali: the name ‘person’ signifies a being subsisting in an intellectual nature.”[51]

Well, abandoning such healthy realism, all personalism adopts the relational definition of the person. And the application of this definition to social life seems to flow from the source: communion, Wojtyla said, is not anything which reaches the person from the exterior, but the very act of the person, which energizes it and reveals to it, through unity with the other, its interiority as a person.[52] The Council picks up this idea:

The social character of man becomes apparent by the fact that there is an interdependence between the growth of the person and the development of society itself. In fact the human person […a Thomistic interpolation] is and must be the principle, the subject and the end of all institutions. Social life is not therefore for man something superfluous: as it is by exchange with others, by the reciprocity of services, by dialogue with his brothers that man grows according to all his capacities and can answer to his vocation. [Gaudium et Spes, #25, § 1]

We will see further this application of this principle to the Church and to political society: if the person itself constitutes society, it follows that one could even have economics as the final cause for society, unless the person be first made the end of society.



10. The dialogue of ‘I and Thou’ according to Martin Buber

Joseph Ratzinger has recounted how, by means of reading Steinbüchel, he made the acquaintance of ‘the great Jewish thinker, Martin Buber.’[53] ‘The discovery of personalism […] realized with a new force of conviction’ in Buber was for Ratzinger ‘a marked spiritual experience.’[54]

The central work of Martin Buber (1878-1965), I and Thou (Ich und Du, 1923), places relation at the beginning of human existence.

This relation is either ‘I-it,’ as in the technical sphere, or ‘I-thou.’ The ‘I-it,’ in human relations, reduces a fellow man to a thing, considered as a mere object or a simple means. On the contrary, the ‘I-thou’ establishes with another a reciprocity, a dialogue, which supposes that I, at the same time as the other, am a subject. Buber is the thinker of intersubjectivity. If the ‘I*-it’ is necessary or useful for the functioning of the world, only the ‘I-thou’ sets free the ultimate truth of man and thus opens a true relation between man and God, the eternal Thou.[55]

The relation to others, who hold the common nature of man, is important, with its power, authority, influence, appeal, invitation, answer, obedience, but the danger is to make this relation the constituent of the person, when it is only one of its perfections. Besides, in this matter Buber discovered nothing, since already Aristotle (384-322 BC) set friendship as the virtue which crowns intellectual life and happiness. He defined it as ‘a mutual love founded on the communication of some good,”[56] as Saint Thomas (1225-1274) said, which, going even beyond Buber, makes charity (love of God) a true friendship:

As there is a certain communication of man with God, according as he communicates to us his beatitude, this communication must be founded upon a certain affection. Concerning this communication it is said in the first epistle to the Corinthians (1, 9): “God is faithful, by whom you are called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In fact, the love founded upon this communication is charity. It is thus manifest that charity is a certain friendship of man for God.[57]

Moreover, the danger, in the religious domain, is to confuse this charity with faith and to make faith in God a dialogue of the believer with a God who ‘cries out to him,’ making an abstraction from the conceptual content of the faith, that is to say, from the truths that God has revealed—not to me, but to the prophets and Apostles—and that the Church teaches. See how Buber himself confuses Revelation, experience, encounter, faith and reciprocal relation.

Revelation is the experience which swoops down on man in an unexpected manner […]. This experience is an encounter with an eternal Thou, with an Altogether-Other who addresses himself to me, who calls me by my name […]. The image of encounter precisely translates the essence of religious experience. The Thou as an active and not objectifiable presence, comes to meet me and expects for me my establishment in the faith of reciprocal relation.[58]

It is to be feared that Joseph Ratzinger made this confusion between faith, Revelation and reciprocal relation, and that he also abstracted from the content of the faith, that is to say, from revealed truths. It is this that the continuation of my exposé will try to elucidate, first by examining Joseph Ratzinger’s theological itinerary, then by a more precise study of the notion of faith which the future Benedict XVI developed in the course of his career. But before that, let’s look at one last philosopher who interested the student in Munich.



11. ‘Going Out of Self’ according to Karl Jaspers

By Joseph Ratzinger’s own avowal, there was in fact another existentialist and personalist, Jaspers, who marked the young philosopher of Freising.

Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), a professor at Heidelberg, resembles a Christian existentialist and personalist, although he did not know how to reflect on the personality of God. He proposed an natural analogy for charity toward fellow men: communion. He is in fact less original in comparison with Scheler and Heidegger. He notes the experience of loving communication, made out of respect for the mysterious personality of the ‘other’ whom one even so wishes to touch and to whom one wishes to give oneself. This going out of self (Ek-Stase) towards others would furnish to Joseph Ratzinger a philosophical substratum for the considerations of Dionysius’ mystical theology concerning the ecstatic love of the soul for God and for a new interpretation of the redemptive love of Christ, as ‘going out of myself,’ in reaction to the pessimism of Heidegger for whom ‘going out of self’ is the solution for the anguish of an existence doomed to death.

Christ—Joseph Ratzinger will teach at Tübingen—is fully anthropocentric, fully ordained to man, because he was radically theocentric, in yielding the ego, and by this fact the being of man, to God. Then, in the measure by which this exodus of love is the ‘Ek-Stase’ of man outside of himself, an ecstasy by which he is extended forwards infinitely outside of himself and thus opened, is drawn beyond his apparent possibilities for development—in this very measure adoration [sacrifice] is simultaneously cross, suffering and heartbreak, the death of the grain of wheat which can bring forth no fruit until it passes through death.[59]

Is this not to effect a personalist or existentialist reinterpretation of the redemption? The cross should not be the torture of Jesus on the wood of the cross; without doubt it is not, as with Heidegger, an extension into the future so as to escape the present; but it is the extension outside of self for the sake of love which ‘shatters, opens, crucifies and sunders.’[60] In this fatally naturalistic perspective, where is sin? Where is atonement?

The danger of wishing, with Heidegger or Jaspers, to find natural and existential bases for supernatural realities is that of succumbing to a temptation all too natural for a spirit which seeks to reconcile ‘modern reason’ with the Christian faith: to cause, in place of an aspiring analogy, a debasing reduction of supernatural mysteries. Was this not the process of Gnostic heresies?

Jaspers exceeds the rest in the fault of confusing natural with supernatural. His method of ‘paradoxes’ consists in finding for the apparent contradictions of the natural order supernatural solutions. John Paul II seems to have given in to this fault in his encyclical on August 6, 1993, concerning the norm of morality: his letter presents itself as the modern solution for a modern antinomy:

How can obedience to universal and immutable moral norms respect the unique and unrepeatable character of a person and not violate its liberty and dignity?[61]

Dignity is considered in a personalist manner, as inviolability, and not in a Thomist manner, as virtue. Thus, to a false problem, a false solution:

The crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of liberty: the total gift of self. [VS 85]

The gift of self in the service of God and of one’s brothers [accomplishes] the full revelation of the inseparable link between liberty and truth. [VS 87]

This is true on the supernatural level. But isn’t it disproportionate to give a philosophical question a supernatural, theological solution: the cross? The true solution of the antinomy is the Thomistic: liberty is the faculty which pursues the good; and it is the role of moral law to indicate what is this good, and that’s all.

This false antinomy reveals a subjectivist philosophy’s incapacity to pose true questions. How to grasp the mystery of God, if the intellect has that for its first object how, not being, but the thinking subject or the questioned subject? If the notion of being does not allow one to climb again by analogy from created beings to the first Being? One is forced into the immanent genesis of dogmas, according to the modernist theory condemned by Pascendi. How to grasp the notion of good, the ratio boni, if thought cannot climb by analogy from sensible good to moral good? If the intellect does not know human nature and its ends, and the last end? One is condemned to the ethics of the person, the ethics of the inviolable subject or rather that of the subsistent relation. On all sides, there is an impasse.



Chapter 3
Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Itinerary

Joseph Ratzinger’s philosophical itinerary is then an impasse, because it abandons the road of the philosophy of being. Will the theological itinerary of the same Ratzinger leave that impasse? Will it find a way which leads to the first Being, to his infinite perfections, to his supernatural mysteries?

To answer this question, it is first necessary to situate the professor of Tübingen in the context of German theology, dependent on the celebrated school of theology in the university of that very city.



1. Living Tradition, continuous Revelation, according to the school of Tübingen

According to the founder of the Catholic school of Tübingen, Johann Sebastian von Drey (1777-1853), historical development is explained by a vital spiritual principle:

What encloses the various historical epochs into a united whole or what sets them in opposition to each other is a certain spirit which, at determined times, concludes historical development with a unity filled with life: this is the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.

[This spirit is constructive:] acting by going out of itself, it draws everything around itself like the center of a circle, which reduces opposition and reorganizes in accordance with itself whatever is conformed to it.[62]

The affinity of this thought to Dilthey’s is striking, but for Drey, the Zeitgeist is nothing besides the spirit of Christ. The theologian’s faith transfigures the philosopher’s naturalism.

In his Apologetik (1838), Drey explains how evolution is necessary to Chrstianity, insofar as it is a historical phenomenon and insofar as it is Revelation. Here is how Geiselmann summarizes Drey:

Christian Revelation is life, originally divine life—a life which, without interruption, increases from its original core towards its plenitude within the universal Church. As uninterrupted divine life, Revelation is not a completed gift, deposited, so to speak, in the cradle of the church and transmitted by human hands. It is this very Revelation, which, like all life, moves and continues of itself.[63]

Its movement is auto-movement, thanks to that portion of spiritual force which has dwelt in it since its origin, to know God’s essential force and also his action, which, without failing, continues to act and to lead his creation towards its perfection.[64]



2. Revelation, living Tradition and evolution of dogma

This idea of Revelation, which ‘no longer appeared simply as the transmission of truths addressed to the intellect, but as the historical action of God, in which Truth unveils itself little by little,’[65] would have been the thesis concerning Saint Bonaventure presented by Joseph Ratzinger in 1956 for his State authorization as a university professor. The author pretended that the Seraphic Doctor had seen in Revelation, not an ensemble of truths, but an act (which is not exclusive), and that ‘the concept of “Revelation” always implies the subject who receives it’[66]: the Church thus forms a part of the concept of Revelation, that is to say, a part of Revelation itself. Similarly, the candidate for authorization maintained that ‘to Scripture belongs the subject who understands it [the Church]—Scripture with which we have already given the essential meaning of Tradition.’[67] And Joseph Ratzinger tells just how his thesis-director, professor Michael Schmaus, ‘did not at all see in these theses a faithful reconstruction of Bonaventure’s thought […] but a dangerous modernism, well on the way to turning the concept of Revelation into a subjective notion.’[68]

Well, this idea of Revelation as a divine intervention in history, which also was not closed by the death of the last of the Apostles, but which continues in the Church which is its receptive subject, had been rejected meanwhile, after Drey and before Loisy, by the Roman magisterium: Revelation is not any divine intervention, but only a pronunciation from God, ‘locutio Dei,’[69] not to the whole Church, but to ‘the holy men of God’ (1 P 1, 21), the prophets and Apostles’; the truth which it contains ‘was complete with the Apostles’[70]; it is not perfectible,[71] but is a ‘divine deposit’ confided to the magisterium of the Church ‘so that it might guard it as sacred and set it out faithfully.’[72]

The ‘Revelation transmitted by the Apostles, or the deposit of the faith’[73] does at all times experience progress, not indeed in its content, of which the Apostles possessed the plenitude as well as the plenitude of understanding[74], but in its explanation, by a ‘more ample interpretation’[75] or a clearer ‘distinction,’[76] that is to say, by a passage from implicit to explicit[77] of that same deposit of faith closed at the death of the last of the Apostles.

Certainly, God continues to intervene in human history: the conversion of the emperor Constantine, the evangelization of America, the pontificate of Pope Saint Pius X were as milestones among so many others in God’s providential action, but they do not have the value of divine Revelation. Here a very important distinction must be made: a progressive Revelation from God is undeniable in the Old Testament and even in the New until the death of Saint John. After that, public Revelation ended. Neither God nor anyone else could add anything whatsoever to it, as Saint John said in the Apocalypse:

For I testify to everyone that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book. [Apoc. 22, 18-19]

Without doubt, as Saint Thomas says, ‘in each epoch, the Church never lacks men filled with the spirit of prophecy, not indeed to draw out a new doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts.’[78] These are the subjects and instruments of private revelations. If, therefore, anyone supposes that public Revelation is continued in the Church by the prophetic charism of its members or of the hierarchy, he falls into error. Here as elsewhere, Saint Thomas is a sure guide. Speaking of the Old Testament, he teaches that there has effectively been an increase in the articles of faith, not as regards their substance, but as regards their explanation:

As regards the substance of articles of faith, there has been no increase in these articles according to the succession of time, because all the later ones are believed to have been already contained in the faith of the early Fathers albeit implicitly. But as regards their explanation, the number of articles as increased: because certain among them have been explicitly understand by the successors, which were not explicitly understood by the first. Thus, the Lord said to Moses in Exodus: ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and my name of Adonai I did not tell them.’ And the Apostle says: ‘the mystery of Christ…in other generations was not known…as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets’ (Ep. 3, 4-5)[79]

There is no parallel but only analogy between the time of Revelation and the time of the Church, between progressive Revelation, on the one hand, and progressive development of Christian dogma, on the other. Thus Saint Bonaventure must be interpreted. Until Christ and the Apostles, Revelation itself was developed while passing from implicit to explicit; after the Apostles, Revelation being terminated, its understanding, its application and its proposal by the Church are developed while passing from implicit to explcit.

We could summarize this in Latin: Ante Christum, creverunt articula fidei quia magis ac magis explicite a Deo revelata sunt; post Christum vero et apostolos, creverunt quidem articula fidei quia magis ac magis explicite tradita sunt ab Ecclesia.[80]



3. Tradition, a living interpretation of the Bible

The historicism in Joseph Ratzinger’s concept of Tradition presupposes his subjectivism. The mystery of God is not an object; it is a person, an I who speaks to a Thou. The I who speaks is only perceived by a Thou who listens. This relation is inscribed in the notion of Tradition. Tradition, consequently, is nothing besides the living interpretation of Scripture:

There can be no pure sola scriptura (‘by Scripture alone’). To Scripture belongs the subject who understands it—Scripture by which is already given to us the essential meaning of Tradition.[81]

This requires explanation. For idealist thought, the crude thing is unknown; it is the object (that is to say, the thought thing) which is known. For Kant, the subject forms a part of the object, imposing on it his a priori categories, his own coloring. For Husserl, the thought object is simply the correlative for the thinking subject, independent of the thing. Joseph Ratzinger would find an application of this idealism in Scripture and Tradition: crude Scripture is unintelligible; it must be ‘understood’ by the Church as subject, which is its correlative, and which interprets it in its own manner; in this sense, ‘there can never be Scripture alone,’ in rebuttal of what Luther pretended with his ‘sola scriptura.’

In fact, Joseph Ratzinger is here inspired by Martin Buber,[82] for whom the essence of the Decalogue is a summons: the summons of the human Thou by the divine I: ‘Thou shalt not have strange gods before me…’ (Ex. 20, 3). Interpretation of the Bible relives the experience of this summons. In this sense, there is no sola scriptura since there is always the summons, today in the Church.

The truth is that it is the Church who gives an authentic interpretation for the Bible. But this is not because she is ‘the understanding subject,’ but because she is its judge: ‘It belongs to her to judge concerning the true meaning and interpretation of Holy Scripture.”[83] And to sustain this judgment, the Church has another source of faith: Tradition, that is to say, the truths of faith and morals received by the Apostles from the very mouth of Christ or from the holy Ghost, which have been transmitted from them to us without alteration, as though from hand to hand.[84] The witnesses for Tradition are the holy Fathers, the liturgy, the dispersed and unanimous magisterium of the bishops and the magisterium of councils and popes. All these voices succeed each other, but Tradition in essence is immutable.

It is because it is immutable that it can be a rule for the faith, because elastic rules are no rules at all. It is therefore insofar as it is immutable that Tradition is a rule of interpretation for the Bible; there is no actual reading of the Bible, different from yesterday’s, which can suffer Scripture to undergo a ‘process of reinterpretation and of amplification,’ as Benedict XVI pretends.[85]

Immutable in itself, Tradition progresses in becoming more explicit. Here is a truth which Vatican Council II, in its constitution Dei Verbum concerning Divine Revelation, has obscured by alleging an historical progress for Tradition in ‘its perception’ and in ‘its understanding’ of the things revealed by God, and an ‘incessant tendency of the Church towards the plenitude of divine truth’—things absolutely impossible, as I have shown. I cite:

This Tradition, which comes from the Apostles, progresses in the Church, with the assistance of the Holy Ghost: in fact, the collection of things as well as the words transmitted increases, whether by the contemplation and study of believers who meditate upon them in their heart (see Luke, 2, 19 and 51), or by deep understanding of spiritual things which they experience, or by the predication of those who, with Episcopal succession, receive a certain charism of truth. Thus, the Church, while the centuries pass, tends constantly towards the plenitude of divine truth, until the words of God are accomplished in her. [Dei Verbum, # 8]

I have already let you understand how doctrinal progress in becoming explicit is inversely proportional to progress in depth of understanding, which does not exist absolutely since, as Saint Thomas says:

The Apostles were most fully instructed in the mysteries: just as they received before anyone else in time, so they received more abundantly than anyone else. Such is the interpretation of the gloss on this passage of the Epistle to the Romans (8, 23): ‘It is we ourselves who have the first-fruits of the Spirit.’ […] Those who were closer to Christ, whether before him, like John the Baptist, or after him, like the Apostles, knew more fully the mysteries of the faith.[86]

Who in the Church could surpass the Apostles in understanding of the faith? It is inevitable that this in-depth understanding should decrease among their successors, despite being teachers of the faith provided with the charism of truth, excluding the several lights who are the doctors of the Church. This sane realism has given place, in the Council, to the illusion of necessary progress towards a pretended plenitude, which did not belong to the Apostles.



4. The doctrine of faith as experience of God

It is not only the idea of Tradition, but also that of Revelation, which Jospeh Ratzinger revises either in light of his idealism or in light of his personalism.

Thus, concerning Revelation, considered as somehow actual, Jsoeph Ratzinger is of the opinion that ‘the concept of “Revelation” always implies the subject who receives it.”[87] The author supposes wrongly that the receiving subject is the believer, or the Church, and not only the Apostles; he falls into a Prostestant error.

Concerning theology, Joseph Ratzinger judges that ‘pure objectivity does not exist,’ no more in theology than in physics. Just as in physics ‘the observer himself forms a part of the experience, and ‘in his response there is always some part of the question posed and of the questioner,’ so in theology ‘whoever engages in the experience receives an answer which not only reflects God but also our own question; it teaches us something concerning God by refraction through our own being.’[88]

Concerning the faith itself, Joseph Ratzinger assures us that pure objectivity is not even possible:

When someone pretends to provide an objective response, free from all passion, a response, in fact, which surpasses the prejudices of pious persons, a purely scientific piece of information [about God], let us declare that he deceives himself. This kind of objectivity is outside the capacities of man. He cannot question and exist as a mere observer. As such, he would never learn anything. To perceive the reality ‘God,’ he must equally engage in the experience of God, the experience that we call faith. Only the one who engages in it can learn; only by participating in the experience is it possible to pose a question truly and to receive a response.[89]

I object that, if to have faith an ‘experience of God’ is necessary, very few Christians have faith. Faith, adherence of the intellect to the divine mystery is a thing requisite for salvation; but the life of faith, ex fide, as Saint Paul said, is a normal, desirable thing, but not equally necessary; and in any case, the experience of God is not requisite for it.

But above all, if one defines faith as ‘experience of God,’ one repeats the modernist heresy, which consecrates every religion as true, since all pretend to have some authentic experience of the divine.[90]
Finally, concerning the magisterium of the Church, Joseph Ratzinger has as well a dialectic vision or, let us say, one conversational with its decisions, which must be, according to him, answers to the believers questions or the result of his experimentation with God:

Dogmatic formulae themselves—for example, one nature in three Persons—include this refraction through the human; they reflect in our example man at the end of antiquity who inquired and experimented with the philosophical categories from the end of antiquity, these categories determining the point of view from which he poses his questions.[91]

Let me first say just one word about the Kantian substratum for this problem.

Just as the physicist, Kant said, even before Claude Bernard, selects phenomena and submits them to the experience which he has rationally conceived, so as to obtain from them an answer which confirms the a priori of his theory, so the philosopher must question phenomena—objects of spontaneous experience—while applying to them the a priori categories of his understanding—making thought objects of them—so as to verify their pertinence for these ends.

Just as easily could all science of necessity be a reflection, not only of such things as appear to us (phenomena), but even of the spirit which imposes on them its modes by which they are represented to itself.[92]

One could in fact allow that the long and difficult adaptation of the concepts of dogma so as to proclaim them adequately is a kind of experimentation practiced by the Church. But by doing so, it is neither God nor his mystery that are thus challenged, but rather human concepts. It is not reason—ancient or medieval—which ‘experiments with God,’ but rather divine faith which ‘experiments with reason.’

This being established, the fundamental problem remains: does our intellect reach the being of things, yes or no? Is truth objective? Is there a philosophy of the real? Are the concepts chosen and polished by the faith concepts of a particular, historical philosophy: Platonist, Aristotelian, Thomist, Kantian, personalist? Or rather are they more simply the concepts of the most elementary philosophy of being, that of common sense?

I mean by common sense the spontaneous exercise of the intellect, which reaches the being of the things of natural reality so as to find in them certain causes and certain principles. For example, reason spontaneously affirms that, besides the coming into being of a reality, there is in that reality something which abides (principle of substance). Or again: every agent acts for an end (principle of finality).

To the proposed question, I have already sketched above the answer, but it must be demonstrated.

Common sense, philosophy of being and dogmatic formulae

To limit ourselves to the dogma of the Divine Trinity, the principle mystery is the reconciliation of the divine unity with the real distinction of the Three Divine Persons. Let us examine the concepts which express better and better the mysterious antinomy.

The confession of faith in its primitive simplicity is this: ‘I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost.’ This expresses the mystery clearly but still imperfectly. The heresies of the first three centuries dismissed the true meaning of this formula, either by denying the real distinction of the Three (Sabellius), or by denying the divinity of the Son (Arius), or that of the Holy Ghost (Macedonius), or by professing in opposition three gods (tritheism). This last error was condemned in 262 by a letter of Pope Dionysius. [93]

The Council of Nicea (325) clarified the dogma against the Arians, not only under a negative form by anathema, but in a positive manner, by expanding the apostolic symbol with the development of the idea of filiation and generation: ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, that is, of the Father’s substance […], begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.’[94] Here appears the notion of ‘substance,’ which remains in the domain of common sense, but also the judgment of ‘consubstantial’ (homoousios), which already surpasses what expression the common sense can give to the shared divinity of the Father and Son.

Later, the first Council of Constantinople (381) clarified the divinity of the Holy Ghost. Finally, the second Council of Constantinople (553) clarified in its turn ‘that it is necessary to adore one deity in three subsistences or persons.’[95] This was an anathema, but it positively determined what must be believed. Besides the abstract terms of nature and substance (‘mian physin ètoi ousian: a single nature or substance’), the formula utilized the concrete terms of subsistence and person (‘en trisin hypostasesin ègoun prosôpois: in three subsistences or persons’), the first of which, ‘subsistence’ (or hypostasis), was already a developed philosophical notion, since it had been precisely distinguished from ‘substance’ (or ousia).

To continue, the eleventh private council of Toledo (675) distinguished the divine persons from each other by naming them in relation to each other: ‘In the relative names of the Persons, the Father is linked to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Ghost comes from the two others. And although, according to these relations, three Persons are affirmed, yet one still believes in only one nature or substance.’[96] From then on it has been believed that there are in God three real relations which characterize and number the persons.

At the council of Lyon (1274) was defined, by the Filioque, the procession of the Holy Spirit from both Father and Son (Dz 463). In 1441, the Council of Florence, in its decree for the Jacobites, gave the final expression of dogmatic progress concerning the Trinity: There is a distinction of persons by their relations of origin; their unity is total ‘wherever there is no opposition of relation’[97]; the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single principle; and the persons are present in each other (circuminsession) (Dz 703-704). It is evident that the notions of ‘relative nomenclature,’ of ‘opposition of relation,’ of principle without principle,’ ‘principle from principle’ and ‘unique principle’ surpass the level of common sense and denote a philosophy, and a well-developed philosophy, but a philosophy which cannot be specifically named.

Even later, the Church, by the voice of Pius IX, condemned in 1857 the explanation of the Trinity made by Anton Günther (1783-1863). The person being ‘consciousness of myself,’ said the later, the two divine processions of the word and of love must be reinterpreted as being three intellectual processions: consciousness of the thinking self, consciousness of the thought self and the correlation between the two. This is Husserl before the fact. Pius IX declared this explanation to be ‘an aberrance from the Catholic faith and from the true explanation of unity in the divine substance’ (Dz 1655). Pius IX’s act contained an implicit approbation of the definition of person made by Boethius (470-525): ‘a person is an individual substance of a rational nature,’ a definition which surpasses common sense and which is coherent with the philosophy of being, though opposite to personalist philosophy, which confuses metaphysical personality and psychological personality.

I will conclude with Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange:

– The dogmatic formulae developed by the Church contain concepts which surpass common sense.
– These formulae and concepts belong to the philosophy of being, which maintains that the intellect knows, not primarily its own act, but first being.
– These concepts are all the same accessible to the common sense, insofar as it is the philosophy of being in its rudimentary state.
– This amounts to saying that the concepts of dogmatic formulae belong to the philosophy of being, which is the scientific instance of common sense.
– It follows from this, and is verified by facts, that idealist philosophies, which reject the philosophy of being, do away with the common sense and become inept for explaining dogma.
– Finally, the philosophy of being, suitable for proclaiming dogma, is not a ‘particular philosophy,’ nor a system, but rather the philosophy of all time, the philosophia perennis, to cite Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), the philosophy inherited from Plato and Aristotle.

Here is a beautiful witness offered to this philosophy of being by Henri Bergson (1859-*1941), who, without being a Thomist, was not for all that ignorant of the great Greeks or of Saint Thomas:

Of the immense edifice constructed by them, a solid framework still remains, and this framework draws the grand outlines of a metaphysics which is, we believe, the natural metaphysics of the human intellect.[98]

– The final reason for the suitability of the philosophy of being for developing dogma is their pre-established harmony, as was shown by Newman.



5. The power of assimilation, driving force of doctrinal progress, according to Newman

It was John Henry Newman (1801-1890) who first made a driving force for doctrinal development reside in the assimilation by Catholic doctrine of elements foreign to Revelation, that is to say, of philosophical principles. But, as an idealist, he saw in this assimilation a general sign of correct progress of ideas:

The facts and opinions which until now have been considered under other connections and were grouped around other centers are from now on gradually attracted by a new influence and submitted to a new sovereign. They are modified, reconsidered, set aside according to each case. A new element of order and of composition has entered among them; and its life is proved by a capacity for expansion, without introducing any disorder or dissolution.

The process of deduction, of conservation, of assimilation, of purification, of molding, a unitive process, is the essence of a fruitful development and is its third distinctive mark.[99]

And Newman gives an example, a unique example of such a fruitful assimilation: the assimilation by Catholic theology of the philosophical principle of instrumental causality. This assimilation, he says, results from an antecedent affinity between the revealed truth and the natural reality.

That an idea becomes more willingly coalescent with some rather than with others does not indicate that it has been unduly influenced, that is to say, corrupted by them, but that there was an antecedent affinity between them. At the least, one must admit here that, when the Gospel speaks of a virtue going out of Our Lord (Luke, 6, 19) or of the cure that he effected with mud that his lips had moistened (John 9, 6), these facts offer examples, not of the perversion of Christianity, but of its affinity with notions exterior to it.[100]

This nice text allows us to evoke the fruitfulness of the assimilation by Christian doctrine of the principle of instrumental causality: one can think about the efficacy of grace in the sacred humanity of Jesus as instrument of his divinity, first in his passion, then in the mass and in the sacraments, which Saint Thomas taught and which the Council of Trent utilized to define the action ex opere operato of the sacraments.[101]

One can also think, on the other hand, about the sterility to which Protestantism condemned itself by refusing this assimilation: the so-called Christ is the sole cause of grace without any instrument or mediation. Vatican Council II, likewise, was sterilized by refusing, in 1963, according to the counsel of the experts Rahner and Ratzinger, to proclaim the blessed Virgin ‘Mediatrix of all graces,’ because, they said, such a title ‘would result in unimaginable evils from the ecumenical point of view.’[102]

On the contrary, in Catholicism, the principle of instrumental causality has been the revealer of multiple faces of Christian dogma, which, without it, would have remained veiled in the depth of mystery and would have escaped the explicit knowledge of the faith.

Without doubt, assimilation, by dogma or by theology, of philosophical principles has no resemblance to the growth of living beings through nutrition, that is to say, by intussusception![103] Progress is made by a comparison of one proposition of faith (some one of Jesus’ miracles) with a judgment of reason (instrumental causality) which lends him its humble light, so as to draw from it a theological conclusion which will aid in clarifying dogma. In the progress of the science of the faith, the premise of reason is only an instrument for the premise of faith, an auxiliary of faith, for disengaging what exists in a virtual state, or even already in an actually implicit state—I will not go into the secret of this distinction. What must be understood is that the truth of reason cannot be included in the faith, but that it can be ‘assimilated’ by faith only as a tool for investigation and precision.

But what matters to us is the final rational for this pre-established harmony between dogma and philosophy. It is that, according to the philosophy of being, through our concepts the intellect reaches the being of things and, by analogy, can know something of the first Being, God. And we certify with admiration that what the philosophy of being says concerning the perfections of the first Being is in exact accordance with what Revelation unveils for us. On the other hand, what in God surpasses the capacity of every created intellect is supernaturally revealed to us, is expressed in human language and may be developed in the concepts of the philosophy of being.

The suitability of this philosophy for proclaiming and causing dogma to progress is an indication of its truth. On the contrary, the unsuitability of idealist philosophies for doing this is the indication of their falsehood.



6. Far from pledging allegiance to our concepts, Revelation judges and uses them

If the philosophy of being can express and develop dogma, it is also, and this must be emphasized, because that dogma, or Revelation, has judged and purified its concepts, extracting them from particular philosophies or from what Benedict XVI calls ‘the dominant form of reason’ in an epoch. The whole endeavor of Saint Thomas was to purify Aristotle of his bad Arabic interpreters, to join to him elements of Platonism, and to correct him again by the light of Revelation, so as to make of him the instrument of choice for theology and dogma. Some excellent authors further clarify this conclusion.

It is only once extracted from their philosophical system and modified by a maturation in depth, then sometimes at first condemned because of their as yet inadequate terminology (monarchy, person, consubstantial), then correctly understood, at last recognized and qualified as applicable—but only analogically—that these concepts could become bearers of the new substance of the Christian faith.[104]

It is by placing in the light of Revelation the notions developed by pagan philosophy that the Church has remained faithful to the Gospel and has made progress in the formulation of the faith.[105] [And she has resisted, I add, the attacks of that philosophy—still poorly developed.]

Far from pledging its allegiance to these concepts, the Church uses them in her service; she uses them as in every realm a superior uses an inferior, in the philosophic sense of the word, that is to say, by ordaining it to its end. Supernature uses nature. Before using these concepts and these terms in his service, Christ, through the Church, judges and approves them according to a wholly divine light, which does not have time for its measurement, but immutable eternity. These concepts, evidently inadequate, could always be made more precise; they will never become outdated.

Dogma thus defines cannot allow itself to be assimilated by human thought in a perpetual evolution; this evolution would only be a corruption. On the contrary it is [dogma] which wishes to assimilate to itself this human thought which only changes unceasingly because it dies everyday; it wishes to assimilate it to itself so as to communicate to it while here below something of the immutable life of God. The great believer is he whose intellect is basically more passive toward God, who vivifies it.[106]

In light of our analysis of the role of the philosophy of being in the development of dogma, a role so well clarified by the three others whom I just cited, how defective and relativistic appears the idea that Benedict XVI has concerning the ‘encounter between faith and philosophy.’

When in the XIIIth century—he says—by the intermediation of Jewish and Arabic philosophers, Aristotelian thought entered into contact medieval Chrstianity, and faith and reason were at risk of entering an irreconcilable opposition, it was above all Saint Thomas Aquinas who played the role of mediator in the new encounter between faith and philosophy [with Aristotelian philosophy], thus setting the faith in a positive relation with the dominant form of reason in his age.[107]

According to Benedict XVI, the task determined by Vatican Council II, in accordance with the program sketched by John XXIII, was none other than today to set the faith in a positive relation with modern idealist philosophy, in order to suppress the deplorable antagonism between faith and modern reason, and to implement in sacred doctrine a new leap forward. Very well, let us see how Joseph Ratzinger himself, following this program which was also his own, has employed these ‘dominant’ philosophies of the 1950’s to reread several articles of the Creed and to expose the three great mysteries of the faith. Let us first watch the exegete comment on three articles from the Creed, two of which are evangelical facts.



Chapter 4
An Existentialist Exegesis of the Gospel

Nominated, in the summer of 1966, as professor of dogmatic theology in the illustrious faculty of Catholic theology at the university of Tübingen, Joseph Ratzinger was confronted with an introduction to Heidegger’s theology of existentialism by the protestant Rudolph Bultmann. In his courses for winter 1966-1967, he ‘tried to fight against the existentialist reduction’ of doctrines concerning God and concerning Christ.[108] My reader well judge whether this combat was victorious; its content figures in the work prepared in 1968 under the title Einführung in das Christentum (Introduction to Christianity [109]). Among other things, the author there comments upon three articles from the Apostle’s Creed, two of which are among the facts narrated by the Gospel.



1. ‘He Descended into Hell’

‘ No other article of faith […] is as strange to our modern consciousness.’[110]

– But no! Let us not eliminate this article: ‘It represents the experience of our age,’ that of dereliction [Heidegger’s theme], dereliction through God’s absence (Ratzinger clarifies), of which Jesus had experience on the cross: ‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matt 27, 46)[111]

– Thus, this article of faith explains ‘that Jesus has crossed through the door of our ultimate solitude, that he has entered, by means of his Passion, into the abyss of our dereliction.’ The limbo of the Saints of the Old Testament visited by Jesus (this limbo is passed over in silence) is the sign that where no other word can reach us, there He is. Thus, hell is overcome, or more exactly, death which previously was hell is no longer so […] since within death dwells love.’[112]



2. ‘He rose again from the dead’

– Man is doomed to death (p. 214) (another theme of Heidegger’s). Can Christ be made an exception?

– In fact, this article corresponds to the desire for love, ‘which aspires to eternity’ (p. 214); because ‘love is stronger than death.’ (Canticle 8, 9) Thus, man ‘can only survive by continuing to subsist in another’ (p. 214), in that Other ‘who is’ (p. 215), He, ‘the God of the living […]; I am in fact more myself in Him than when I try to be simply myself’ (p. 215). (Notice the Platonism: I would be more real in God than in myself).

– Thus, in presenting himself really ‘from the outside’ to the disciples [very well], Jesus ‘shows himself powerful enough to prove to them […] that in him, the power of love is manifestly stronger than the power of death’ (p. 220)

The conclusion that one must logically draw: the reanimation of Christ’s body on Easter morning was not necessary; Christ’s ‘survival’ by the force of his love suffices; and this survival is guaranteed to be ours by love… – This does not reassure me concerning the reality of my future resurrection.



3. ‘He ascended into heaven’

– ‘To speak of the ascension into heaven or the descent into hell reflects, in the eyes of our generation awakened by Bultmann’s critique, the image of a world of three levels which we call mythical and that we consider as definitively outdated’ (p. 221). The earth is round; there is neither top nor bottom.

– ‘This [outdated] conception certainly furnished images by which the faith represented its mysteries, but it is also certain that it [this conception] does not constitute the essence of asserted reality’ (p. 221). The reality is that there are ‘two poles.’

– Thus, the reader concludes logically, Christ’s ascension was not in the dimensions of the cosmos, but in the dimensions of human existence. In the same way that the descent into hell represents the plunge into ‘the zone of solitude of love refused’ (p. 222), the ascension of Christ ‘evokes [sic] the other pole of human existence: contact with all other men through contact with divine love, so that human existence can find in some way its geometic place in the intimacy of God’ (p. 222).



4. The reality of Evangelical facts put between parentheses

The physical reality of the mysteries is neither described nor commented upon, it is neither affirmed nor denied—save that of the ascension, which seems quite denied; very simply it does not have any interest, it is put in parentheses, as Husserl would do, because it is not the ‘reality.’ ‘For consciousness,’ said the phenomenologist of Frieburg, the given is a thing essentially the same, whether the represented object exist or whether it be imagined or even perhaps absurd.”[113] By this account, little matters the historical reality of the Gospel; what matters is that the scriptural symbols of descent, resurrection and ascension and the dogmas which correspond to them should be able to explain the interior experience of the man of the 20th or 21st century. Joseph Ratzinger simply gives to this experience a Christian substance drawn from several parts of the Gospel: the dereliction of the cross. Thus Christianized, the existentialist rereading of the dogma is confirmed: the truth of the facts of the Gospel, the truth of dogma—it is their power of evoking the existential problems of the present epoch. Such is the movement toward introversion affected by the ‘new type’ of modernism.



5. Existentialist exegesis, a divinatory art

There must be a free movement for the vital creation of a new understanding of Scripture. Exegesis becomes a divinatory art: it divines what God never meant to signify: the historical sense being denied or ostracized, the divined sense rests on nothing. Well, the whole secondary meaning of Scripture, as St. Thomas explains, ‘is founded on the first meaning and presupposes it.’[114] Thus, to take again the Gospel as commented upon by Joseph Ratzinger, man’s escape outside the zone of dereliction into a geometrical place within the presence of God presupposes, to be an understanding of Scripture, Jesus’ physical ascension – ‘He was lifted up as they watched, and a cloud hid him from their eyes’[115] – as its foundation. Consequently, denying or passing over the literal sense in silence is the ruin of all exegesis.

Such was the fault of Origen: persuaded that the moral or spiritual sense of Scripture was the principal, he neglected to explain the literal sense and sank into an arbitrary allegorical interpretation.[116] Saint Jerome rose in force against this deviation and begged a correspondent: ‘Distance yourself from the heresy of Origen!’[117] And Cardinal Billot, who cites this test, shows how Alfred Loisy, commenting on Saint John, wishes that the multiplication of loaves were only a symbol of the Eucharist, the historical fact being no more than a fiction.[118] Joseph Ratzinger—this is patent after what we have read—falls into Origen’s fault, a ‘heresy’ according to Saint Jerome, and he risks falling into the heresy characterized by Loisy.

Exegesis can become, in turn, a pure art of deconstruction: in the mystery which possesses us, the ascension is no more than a purely verbal poetic allegory; under the appearance of the deeds and gestures of Christ, it directly explains the moral fact of the soul’s return to God.

Exegesis becomes, when all is said and done, an art of free creation according to the road of immanence denounced by Saint Pius X: the ‘transfiguration,’ by holy writ, of its religious sentiments into fabulous facts, and in turn, the demythologization of evangelical facts by the exegete.[119]



6. A Historicist Hermeneutic

But exegesis becomes above all, thanks to history, a historicist hermeneutic.

Every word of weight—writes the exegete Pontiff—contains much more than is in the author’s consciousness; it surpasses the instant when it was pronounced and it will mature in the process of history and of faith.[120]

Is this possible? Saint Paul’s high principles of wisdom were known by him in all their elevation and also in all their potency (in potentia) for application. They had no need of ‘maturation’ but simply of being preached and meditated, so as to be applied to the varied circumstances which the Apostle did not have in mind (in actu).

An author, following the exegete, does not speak only from himself, but he speaks ‘in potency,’ ‘in a common history which bears him and in which are secretly present possibilities for his future. The process of interpretation and amplification of words would not be possible if there were not already present in the words themselves such intrinsic starting-points.’[121]

If it was a matter of progress in distinction and precision, as Saint Vincent of Lerins allows, this would be just. But the words, ‘interpretation and amplification of words’ are revelatory: for Joseph Ratzinger it is a matter of progress effected by the play of vital reactions from believers in successive epochs, according to the idealist and historicist principle. This is the dream of a living, evolving Tradition, contrary to the essential immutability of Tradition.

Pius XII, in his encyclical Humani Generis of August 12, 1950, had condemned the penetration of the ‘system of evolution’ and of the philosophies of existentialism and of historicism into dogma. One must believe that, seventeen years having elapsed and Vatican II having passed over all this, Joseph Ratzinger did not feel himself bound by this new Syllabus, which stated among other things:

The fiction of this evolution, causing the rejection of everything absolute, constant and immutable, has opened the way for a new, aberrant philosophy, which, going beyond idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, is named existentialism, because, neglecting the immutable essences of things, it only concerns itself with the existence of each. To this is added a false historicism which, only attaching itself to the events of human life, overthrows the foundations of all truth and of all absolute law in the domain of philosophy and even more in that of Christian dogma.[122]

Thus was condemned not only living, evolving Tradition, but also the existentialist rereading of dogma and the very method of historicist revisionism of doctrine and faith. The whole future Joseph Ratzinger was analyzed and condemned in advance.

One understands that the exegetical audacities of professor Joseph Ratzinger, even before his Introduction to Christianity (1968), had very soon frightened the Roman theologians, if one believes Cardinal Cottier concerning the rest of them. This man confided in his biography, embellished with a brief commentary, the recent propositions of a witness whom he does not name but who has not invented the fact:

Recently was reported to me the word of a eminent professor of Rome, who had written certain preparatory texts [for the Council] and had said later to his students, while speaking of Ratzinger, ‘this young theologian will do much evil to the Church!’—This is marvelous, no?[123]

Marvelous or tragic? Has the young theologian of yesterday made his act of contrition?



Chapter 5
Hermeneutic of Three Great Christian Dogmas

We will leave here the domain of exegesis so as to enter the vaster domain of theology and of theological explanation of dogma. According to Saint Anselm (1033-1109), theology is faith in search of understanding, fides quaerens intellectum. Could it give to us moderns a modern understanding of dogmas? Yes, Joseph Ratzinger answers, and ‘the answer will not only reflect God, but also our own [modern] question: it will teach us something about God by refraction from our own [modern] being.’[124] Here, first of all, is the modern attempt at refraction of the divine through the human, which the theologian of Tübingen undertook for the dogmas of the Trinity, the incarnation and the redemption.



1. The dogma of the Trinity reviewed by personalism

‘For a positive understanding of the mystery,’ look at the title; there the thesis is set forth thus: ‘The paradox, “one nature, three persons,” is a result of the concept of the person.’

We are thus warned that we are going to have an explanation of the dogma dependent upon a particular philosophy and not the doctrine mastering and employing the philosophy of being. And the author continues: ‘[The paradox] must be understood as an implication internal to the concept of person.’[125]

And here is the reasoning:

– According to the Christian philosopher from the end of the antiquity, Boethius (470-525), the person is an individual substance of a rational nature. Based on this, to confess God to be a personal being and to be three persons is to confess one subsistent in three subsistances.

– Antithesis: but this substantialist affirmation, opposed to progress, of the person necessarily engenders by its absolute exactly its opposite. According to Max Scheler (1874-1928), the person is the concrete unity of being in its acts, and it attains its supreme value in the love of other persons, that is to say, in participation with the reality of the other: this intersubjectivity in fact helps the person to achieve objectivity in itself. Karol Wojtyla, Scheler’s disciple, saw the characteristic feature of the person in the tissue of the relations of communion (Teilhabe) which relates it to others, and the perfection of the person in acts of the communion of reality. Similarly, for Martin Buber, the ultimate truth of the human is found in the ‘I-Thou’ relation.

– Synthesis: the ontological view, opposed to progress, of the person is conformed neither to modern experience nor to its modes of investigation, which see the person not as a distinct being, but as a ‘being-among.’

To recognize God as person is thus necessarily to recognize as a nature demanding relations, as ‘communication,’ as fecundity […]. A being absolutely one, who was without origin or term of relation, would not be a person. Person in absolute singularity does not exist. This emerges already from the words which have give birth to the concept of the person: the Greek word prosôpon literally means ‘to look towards’; the prefix pros (= directed towards) implies relation as a constitutive element. Likewise for the Latin word persona: to resonate through, again the prefix per (= through, towards) explains the relation, but this time as a relation in speech. In other words, if the Absolute be a person, he should not be an absolute singularity. In that way, in the concept of person is necessarily implied the surpassing of singularity.[126]

Of course, the author emphasizes that the term of person is only applied to God by an analogy which respects ‘the infinite difference between the personal being of God and the personal being of man’ (p. 115). But I note that by the reasoning of this theologian is demonstrated that the trinity of persons (or at least their plurality) comes from the personality of God. Well, that God must be personal is a truth of simple natural reason. Thus is demonstrated the plurality of divine persons by natural reason, which is impossible and heretical.

This disorder was avoided by Saint Thomas. With him, the divine persons as relations are the summit, not the starting-point, of his treatise on the Trinity. In his Summa Theologica, the holy doctor sets out from the divine unity and, upon the givens of faith, he establishes that there is in God a first immanent procession, an intellectual procession, that of the Word. Then, by analogy with the human soul created in the image of God, in which there is an immanent procession of love, the holy doctor deduces that all this supports the thought that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Word according to a procession of love. Finally, he deduces from this that there are in God real relations, subsistent[127] and distinct: paternity, filiation and spiration; and he concludes that these three relations constitute the three divine persons which Revelation teaches to us: in fact, he explains, the name of person signifies the distinction, while in God there is only distinction by the relations of origin, so that the three persons are these three subsistent relations.[128] This singular deduction occurs entirely within the faith; it sets out from a truth of faith, the processions, so as to end in clarifying this other truth of faith, the three persons.

The success of the philosophy of person as substance with Thomas and the failure with Benedict of the philosophy of person as relation confirms the truth of the first and the falsehood of the second. What a pity that the young Ratzinger was turned aside from Saint Thomas during his studies as a seminarian, as he relates:

This personalism was of itself linked in my eyes to the thought of Saint Augustine, which I discovered in the Confessions, with all his passion and his human depth. On the other hand, I hardly understood Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose crystalline logic appeared to me to be too much closed in on itself, too impersonal and too stereotypical.[129]

The fact, however, is that Saint Thomas asked many more questions than his master Saint Augustine, but that, differently from the latter, he asked them in crystalline order and had a crystalline answer for all. Joseph Ratzinger would prefer to remain among questions and to search without ceasing for other answers less crystalline.



2. The equivocation of the perpetual search for truth

Joseph Ratzinger has explained his love for Saint Augustine, born from his readings as a seminarian:

I have been from the beginning—he said to Peter Seewald—very vividly interested by Saint Augustine, as counterweight, so to speak, to Saint Thomas Aquinas[…]. What moved me […] was the freshness and vivacity of his thought. Scholasticism has its grandeur, but all there is very impersonal. There is need of a certain time in order to enter it and discover in it its interior tension. With Augustine, on the contrary, the impassioned, suffering, questioning man is directly there, and one can identify oneself with him.[130]

If Saint Thomas is the genius of synthesis, his beloved master Saint Augustine is the genius of analysis. A synthesis is always more arid than an analysis, and more attractive search for the lure of the unknown and for the discounted discovery. Henri-Irenee Marrou, another devotee of Saint Augustine, well describes the very lively movement of the great doctor’s thought:

[Still more than his memory of innumerable treasures], the power of his speculative genius must be celebrated, which knew how to detect that there was, here or there, a problem, how to pose it, then how to cling to it, to push it to the extreme, to face one by one the difficulties which arise, and not to declare itself too soon satisfied. It is a moving spectacle to see this great thought make itself clear and to express itself by groping about at the cost of immense efforts.[131]

But the Church, in declaring Saint Thomas her ‘Common Doctor,’ invites her sons not to remain groping, but to progress to the synthesis, an effort which ought to cost them much. There is the very effort which seems to have been renounced by Joseph Ratzinger, whose faith as whose theology is characterized, like that of the innovators, not by the stability of assent, but by the mobility of perpetual seeking. He seems to have suffered the malady of all those philosophers who, elevating becoming above being, unceasing doubt above certitude, the quest above possession, find their paradigm in Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781), German poet and skeptic philosopher, follower of the Enlightenment, from whom there is here a famous passage:

It is not truth, which is or is thought to be possessed, but the sincere effort that is made so as to attain it, which gives value to a man. For it is not by possession but by search for the truth that he develops those energies which alone constitute his ever-increasing perfection. Possession renders the spirit stagnant, indolent, prideful. If God, in his right hand, hold enclosed all truth, and in his left hand the impulse always in motion towards truth, it must be at the cost of my eternal wandering; if he say to me: “Choose!” I would incline myself humbly before his left hand and would say, “Father, give me this! Pure truth is for you alone.”’ (Lessing, Samtliche Schriften, X, 206, cited by Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, X, Rousseau and Revolution, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1967, p. 512)

In place of humility, what refined pride! The subject prefers himself to the object. One is in total subjectivism, and this is irreconcilable with religion, which wills the submission of the creature to the Creator. Is there nothing of this pride in Joseph Ratzinger’s infatuation with personalism and its inquiry, and in the distaste that he has for Thomist philosophy and its simple supports?



3. The dogma of the incarnation, revised by Heidegger’s existentialism

The ‘refraction of the divine through the human’ is again sought by Joseph Ratzinger in the dogma of the incarnation, revised in light of existentialism. Existentialist philosophy will be used, the process of immanence will be borrowed and the method of historicism will be practiced. The principle of immanence says that the object of faith comes from within us and the method of historicism says that there is a necessary reinterpretation of dogma.

Here is how the dogma of the incarnation is presented after the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, in his book, The Christian Faith, of 1968, according to the schema of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

– Thesis: the philosopher Boethius, at the end of antiquity, has defined the person, the human person, as ‘an individual substance of a rational nature,’ allowing the development of the dogma of the two natures in the single person of Jesus Christ, defined at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. There is the thesis; it is classical. Boethius, Christian philosopher, has illuminated the notion of person and has helped the dogma of Chalcedon to develop. Very good.

– Antithesis: today, Boethius is surpassed by Martin Heidegger, German existentialist, who sees in the person a ‘going beyond self,’ which is more conformed to experience than is subsistence in an intellectual nature. He prefers to go beyond self. We realize our person in surpassing ourselves; there is the definition of person according to Heidegger.

–Synthesis: the God-man, whose divinity we profess in the Credo, logically no longer has need of being considered as God made man. He is the man who ‘in tending infinitely beyond himself, totally surpassed himself and by this truly exists; he is one with the infinite, Jesus Christ.’[132] I repeat: it is necessary to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, but—this is logically implied—there is no need to consider him as God made man. No, it must be supposed that, in tending infinitely beyond himself, Jesus totally surpasses himself and, thereby, truly exists. He is one with the infinite, Jesus Christ. Thus, it is man who surpasses himself, who auto-accomplishes himself and who becomes divine. There is the mystery of the incarnation reinterpreted in the light of existentialism and historicism simultaneously.

A logical consequence of this reinterpretation of the incarnation could be that the blessed Virgin is no longer the Mother of God, but that she is only the mother of a man who becomes divine. One risks falling into Nestorius’ heresy, condemned in 425 by the council of Ephesus in these terms:

If anyone should confess that the Emmanuel is not God in truth and that for this reason the Blessed Virgin is not Mother of God (because she has physically engendered the Word of God made flesh), let him be anathema. [DS 252]

Someone might say that Boethius has been surpassed and that Heidegger must be preferred because Boethius’ experience has been surpassed; Martin Heidegger’s experience is ‘a new vital link’ to the person; it corresponds to our actual problems, to our actual psychological problems: how to overcome egoism? One conquers it by going beyond self. Jesus Christ has conquered egoism, radically, by infinitely surpassing himself, by uniting himself to the infinite.

It seems to me all the same that the incarnation is above all the abasement of the Son of God, if I believe Saint Paul: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.’ (Phil. 2, 6-7) Evidently, going beyond self is, in the regard of the moderns, more valuable than humbling self. However, the true improvement of man by the incarnation is clarified by the Fathers: “God made himself man so that man might be made God,’ that is to say, might be divinized by sanctifying grace.

Henri de Lubac, twenty years before Joseph Ratzinger, had already attempted a personalist and humanist reinterpretation of the incarnation, but with person as ‘consciousness of self’:

By Christ, the person become adult, the man emerges definitively before the universe, he takes full consciousness of himself. From now on, even before the triumphal cry: Agnosce o christiane dignitatem tuam [Know, o Christian, your worth] (St. Leo), it will be possible to celebrate the dignity of man: dignitatem conditionis humanae [the worth of the human condition]. The precept of the sage: ‘Know thyself,’ assumes a new meaning. Each man, in saying ‘I,’ pronounces something absolute, something definitive.[133]

Thus, the incarnation of the Son of God becomes the pedestal for human pride. The absolute person, independent of his acts, without consideration of his virtues or his vices, abstraction being made from his restoration or not in the supernatural order, saw his inalienable dignity magnified by God made man. We have here a fine example of the ‘humanist turn’ or ‘anthropology’ of theology, put into practice by Karl Rahner in Germany and by Henri de Lubac in France.

Joseph Ratzinger’s theological anthropologism is a very near neighbor to this: in place of person as consciousness of self, he opts for person as going beyond self.

But the ‘conscious comprehension of expressed truth’ of dogma is pursued with this author by a new understanding of the dogma of redemption.



4. The dogma of the redemption reviewed by Christian existentialism

It was Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) who was the instrument of this revision. According to this French philosopher, a Christian existentialist, disinterest and unconditional availability in regard to another, to the other, causes its entire ontological density to adhere to our ego. In this, Marcel is disciple of Scheler and neighbor to Buber.

According to Marcel, devotion, by its absolute, unveils the person of the absolute Being who is God, alone capable of explaining this experience by guaranteeing to it its value.[134] It follows that Christ, by his gift of his life for men, is the emblem of this revelatory gift of self from God.

The dialectical structure of the reasoning is Joseph Ratzinger’s in his work, Introduction to Christianity. I summarize the process of the theologian of Tubingen’s thought: again it has the schema of thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

– Since Saint Anselm (1033-1109), Christian piety has seen in the cross an expiatory sacrifice. But this is a pessimistic piety. For the rest, the New Testament did not say that man reconciled himself to God, but that it was God who reconciled man (2 Cor. 5, 18; Col. 1, 22) by offering him his love. That God needed from his Son ‘a human sacrifice,’ is a cruelty which is not conformed to the ‘message of love’ in the New Testament.[135]

– But this negation, by its absolute, engenders its contrary (antithesis): a whole series of New Testament texts (1 Pet. 2, 24; Col. 1, 13-14; 1 John 1, 7; 1 John 2, 2) affirms a satisfaction and a penal substitution offered by Jesus in our place to God his Father, ‘such that we see reappear all that we just dismissed.’[136]

– Thus (synthesis), on the cross Jesus indeed was substituted for us, not to pay a debt, nor to suffer a penalty, but to ‘love in our place’ (p. 202). Thus, the thesis reconquers, enriched by the antithesis, in the synthesis.

We note well that here as in the dialectic of G.W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), the antithesis and the thesis, rather than contradictories, both make a part of the truth. The antithesis in not a simple objection which one may resolve by its elimination or by retaining its bit of truth; no, it is a contradictory truth which one resolves by its integration.[137] If this be so, truth, and the truth of faith equally, is subject of a continual and indefinite evolution: at each synthesis, the human spirit will always find new antitheses to oppose it, so as to effect ‘new syntheses’ (Gaudium et Spes, #5, §3). The result for redemption is that ‘the Christian sacrifice is nothing other than exodus of for the sake of, consisting of a departure from self, accomplished wholly in the man who is entirely in exodus, surpassing himself by love.’[138]

There is thus need of making a ‘rereading’ of the New Testament (Benedict XVI, first address, April 20, 2005), conforming to modern sensibility and to the existentialist ‘mode of investigation and of formulation,’ as is demanded by ‘a new reflection on truth and a new vital link with it’ (Benedict XVI, December 22, 2005). At the end of this ‘process of reinterpretation and amplification of words,’ the passion of Jesus Christ no longer causes our salvation by means of merit, not by means of satisfaction, nor by means of sacrifice, nor by means of efficient causality,[139] but by the example of the absolute gift of self (a Platonic idea?), and by the appeal of offered love, a mode of causality which J. G. Fichte wanted to call ‘spiritual,’ irreducible to efficiency and finality.

From this revolution in the idea of expiation, and thus in the very axis of religious relatiy, the Christian cult and all Christian existence also themselves received a new orientation.[140]

This was professed in 1967, printed in 1968, and finally realized in 1969 by the new mass, the new priesthood, the new Christianity without enemies, without combat, without reparation, without renunciation, without sacrifice, without propitiation.



5. Satisfaction, the tact of divine mercy

It is however true that charity is the soul of the redemptive passion of Jesus. But Joseph Ratzinger sins by angelism in placing between parentheses, by a pocketing worthy of Husserl, the reality of Christ’s sufferings and their role in the redemption. Did not Isaiah, however, describe Christ as ‘the man of sorrows […], stricken by God, wounded for our iniquities, bruised for our sins,’ adding that ‘the chastisement of our peace was upon him and by his bruises we are healed’ (Is. 53, 3-5)?

In the sinner, Saint Thomas explains, there is a formal element, aversio a Deo (the fact of his turning away from God), and a material element, conversio ad creaturam (the fact of his turning towards a creature and adhering to it in a disordered fashion). The charity and obedience with which Jesus offered his sufferings compensate by a superabundant satisfaction for the aversio a Deo of all humanity; but as for the adherence to creatures, its disorder can only be repaired by a pain voluntarily undergone: this is Jesus’ penal satisfaction, offered to God his Father in our place, and by which all our satisfactions hold their value.[141]

Thus, far from having suppressed all offering of satisfaction to God by man, the Redeemer has been, says Saint Thomas, our ‘satisfier,’ whose sacrifice we offer in the Eucharist. Man is thus rendered capable of redeeming himself. In this work, Saint Leo the Great says,[142] God did justly and mercifully at the same time. God does not snatch man from his slavery to the devil by an act of main strength, but by a work of equality, that is to say of compensation. It is, says Saint Thomas, on God’s part a greater mercy to offer to man the possibility of redeeming himself, than to redeem him by simple ‘condonement’[143] of the penalty, without demanding any compensation. This contributes to man’s dignity the ability to redeem himself.[144] Not, indeed, that man redeems himself of himself, but he receives it from God to give it back to him. What we give to God is always ‘de tuis donis et datis’ (‘from those things which you have given us’—Roman Canon). And even if our gift procures nothing for God, who has no need of our goods (Psalm 15, 2) in order to be infinitely happy, it is nevertheless owed to God in strict justice—and not only in ‘metaphorical’ justice,[145] which is the interior good order of our faculties—as our contribution to the reparation of the order injured by sin. There are in these truths a sublime metaphysics refused by Joseph Ratzinger, who only sees love in the cross. We must reject in the name of the faith this dematerialization of the cross.



6. A denial worse than Luther’s

The error of the neo-modernists does not consist in affirming the primacy of charity in the redemption—Saint Thomas did it before them—but it is that heresy which consists in denying that the redemption is an act of justice. See the denials of Joseph Ratzinger:

For a great number of Christians, and above all for those who do only know the faith from afar, the cross situates itself within a mechanism of right wronged and reestablished. […] This is the manner in which God’s justice, infinitely offended, is reconciled anew by an infinite satisfaction. […]

Thus the cross appears to express an attitude of God demanding a rigorous equivalency between right and credit; and at the same time one retains the feeling that this equivalency and this compensation rests in spite of all upon a fiction. […] He [God] gifts first secretly with the left hand what he takes back solemnly with the right. […] The infinite satisfaction that God seems to demand thus takes on an aspect doubly unsettling. […]

Certain devotional texts seem to suggest that the Christian faith in the cross represents to itself a God whose inexorable justice has claimed its human sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own son. And one turns in horror from a justice whose somber wrath steals all credibility from the message of love.[146]

But the series of denials is not closed; it relentlessly prosecutes the satisfaction of Jesus Christ and the offering that we renew in the mass:

It is not man who approaches God to bring him a compensatory offering.[147]

The cross […] is not the work of reconciliation that humanity offers to an angered God.[148] [What becomes, on account of these denials, of the propitiatory nature of the sacrifice of the mass?]

Adoration in Christianity consists first in a welcome that is cognizant of the salvific action of God. [What becomes of the mass, sacramental renewal of the salvific action of Calvary?] […] In this cult, it is not human actions which are offered to God; it consists rather in that with which a man lets himself be filled. […] We do not glorify God in bringing to him what is so-called ours—as if all this did not already appertain to him—but in accepting his gifts. […] The Christian sacrifice does not consist in giving to God something that he would not possess without us.[149]

He has offered himself. He has taken from men their offerings so as to substitute his own person offered in sacrifice, his own ego.[150]

If the text affirms in spite of everything that Jesus accomplished the reconciliation by his blood (Heb. 9, 12), this is not to be understood as a material gift, as a means of expiation quantitatively measured. […] The essence of the Christian cult does not consist in the offering of things. […] The Christian cult […] consists in a new form of substitution, included in this love: to know that Christ has loved for us and that we let ourselves be seized by him. This cult signifies thus that we put aside our own attempts at justification.[151]

There is in these repeated denials from Joseph Ratzinger a repetition of the Protestant heresy: Jesus has done all, man has nothing to do or to offer for his redemption. Hence, the sacrifice of the mass is rendered superfluous, detrimental to the work of the cross; it is only an ‘adoration.’ [152] How would it be a propitiatory sacrifice?

Well, to this heresy another is added: the denial of the expiatory and satisfactory virtue of the sacrifice of the cross itself. This denial is a heresy worse than Luther’s. At least Luther believed in the expiation of Calvary. Here is his profession of faith:

I believe that Jesus Christ is not only true God, generated by the Father from all eternity, but also true man, born of the Virgin Mary; that he is my lord and that he has redeemed me and delivered me from all my sins, from death and from slavery to the devil, me who was lost and damned, and that he has truly acquitted me and earned, not with silver and gold, but with his precious blood and by his sufferings and his innocent death, that I might belong entirely to him and that, living under his empire, I might serve him in perpetual justice, innocence and liberty, and like him, who rose again from the dead, live and reign into the age of ages. This is what I firmly believe.[153]

Which of the two is Christian? The one who affirms with a powerful inspiration the efficacy of the sufferings and blood of Christ for redeeming us, or the one who denies it? Who is the Christian? The one who confesses, with Saint Thomas, the expiation, satisfaction and efficiency of Christ’s passion, or the one who, inspired by existentialism, denies these things?

It is true that Joseph Ratzinger recognizes in Jesus on the cross the gift of his own person and compensatory love; but why does he refuse to admit the complementary truths? Why does he profess diminished truths? – Because divine justice does not please modern man. At the end, Gadamer is right: just like the historian who wants to rewrite history, the theologian who wants to rethink the faith is always the accomplice of his prejudices.

The ambition of hermeneutics to enrich religious truth and to engender its progress by a philosophical rereading is thus a staggering failure. It results rather in an impoverishment, which is a heresy.[154] This attempt had already been stigmatized by Pius IX in 1846 in these terms:

On those men who rave so miserably falls with much justice the reproach which Tertullian made in his time against the philosophers ‘who presented a stoic, Platonic, dialectic Christianity.’[155]

Nihil novi sub sole (Nothing new under the sun, Eccl. 1, 10).

But this new Christianity in the last analysis rests upon a misunderstanding of divine justice and upon an existentialist reduction of sin. It is this which we must examine in order to reach the bottom.



7. Existentialist sin

A stoic or Platonic neo-Christianity is a Christianity purged of sin. Joseph Ratzinger’s language is symptomatic: Christ has not reconciled the sinner, but he has reconciled man. For the rest, in his Introduction to Christianity, the author almost never mentions the word sin, sin in the article of the Credo, ‘I believe in the remission of sin,’ hardly mentioned and commented upon in half a paged (p. 240). The only serious mention of sin: when Joseph Ratzinger sets forth Saint Anselm’s doctrine concerning Christ’s vicarious satisfaction:

By the sin of man, who is directed against God, the order of justice has been injured in an infinite manner. There is behind this affirmation, Ratzinger comments, the idea that the offense is the measure of the one who is offended: the offense made against a beggar leads to other consequences that that made against a head of State. The weight of the offense depends on the one who undergoes it. God being infinite, the offense which is made against him on the part of humanity by sin has an infinite weight. The injured right must be reestablished, because God is the God of order and justice; he is justice itself.[156]

Hence the necessity, if God wishes culpable humanity itself to repair its sin, for a leader offering in the name of all humanity a satisfaction which, seeing the dignity of his life, would have an infinite value and would thus be sufficient compensation: only the life of a God-man would have this virtue.[157]

Well, Joseph Ratzinger, while indeed recognizing that ‘this theory [sic] contains decisive intuitions, as much from a biblical point of view as from a generally human point of view’ and that ‘it is worthy of consideration’ (p. 157), accuses him of schematizing and deforming the perspectives, and of presenting God ‘under a disquieting light’ (p. 158). – No, he says, Christ is not such a satisfier acquitting men of a debt of sin; it is the gratuitous gift of his Ego ‘for’ men:

His vocation is simply to be for others. It is the call to this ‘for the sake of,’ in which man courageously renounces himself, ceases to cling to himself, so as to risk the leap into infinity, which alone permits him to find himself.[158]

It would be neither a question of a ‘work separated from himself’ which Christ must accomplish, not a ‘performance’ that God demands from his incarnate Son; no, Jesus of Nazareth is simply ‘the exemplary man,’ who by his example helps man to surpass himself and thereby to find himself (p. 158-159).

In this theory, what becomes of sin? It is ‘the incapacity to love,’[159] it is egoism, withdrawal into oneself. Culpability is the man bent back on himself (p. 198), in ‘the self-satisfied attitude, consisting in letting himself simply live’ (p. 240), the one who ‘simply abandons himself to his natural gravity’ (p. 241). Redemption consists in Jesus’ leading man to go out of self, to conquer egoism, to stand erect: ‘His justice is grace; it is active justice, which readjusts the bent man, which straightens him, which sets him straight’ (p. 198).

It is exactly right that Christ’s justice straightens the sinner, corrects the disorder of sin, frees charity within the love of God and neighbor: ‘God, […] infuse in our hearts the sentiment of our love, so that loving you in all and above all […].’[160] But is this what Joseph Ratzinger wishes to say?

Whatever it may be, it conceals this capital truth: sin is first formally an insubordination of man under the law of God, a break in the ordination of man to God. This first ordination, realized by sanctifying grace, was the source of the submission of powers lower in the soul than reason, and this double ordination, exterior and interior, constituted original justice, which was lost by original sin. This lost sanctifying grace for man and inflicted on his nature the quadruple wound of ignorance, malice, weakness and concupiscence,[161] wounds which remain even after baptism.

Well, as all human nature, common to every man, was thus despoiled of the gratuitous gift of grace and wounded in its natural faculties, it is necessary that the Redeemer accomplish an act which, not limited to affecting each man in the sequence of ages, embraces all humanity in a single stroke. This was not possible by mere force of example or by attraction; this must be by the virtue of satisfaction and of redemption, which are works of a juridical nature.

As I have already said, according to Leo and Saint Thomas, God could have repaired humanity by the simple condonement of his debt, by a general amnesty; but man would quickly have fallen again into sin and this would have accomplished nothing! Thus God’s prudence and his free will chose a plan more onerous for God and more honorable and advantageous for man.

This plan of unfathomable wisdom was that the Son of God made man should suffer the passion and die upon the cross, offering thus a perfect and superabundant satisfaction for God’s justice and meriting for all men the grace of pardon, because of the dignity of his life, which was that of the God-man, and because of the immensity of charity with which he suffered, and the universality of the sufferings that he assumed (see III, q. 48, a. 2). And from the merits and satisfactions of Christ follow the good works—charitable acts and sacrifices—of Christians. Thus, in Jesus Christ, one of our own, it would be humanity which would rise up, and, joining its holy labors to those of its leader, it would cooperate actively in its own raising. “Thanks be to God for his ineffable gift!’ (2 Cor. 9, 15).

Far, therefore, from assuming a ‘disquieting aspect,’ the God’s care for our redemption by ourselves, in virtue of the merits and satisfactions of Jesus Christ, is the proof of God’s delicate respect for his creature, and the demonstration of a superior mercy.

There is the mystery which Joseph Ratzinger, alas, seems not to have assimilated. Why then? One is constrained to ask himself if he has not lost the sense of sin, lost the sense of God, of the God of infinite majesty. Does he forget the ‘dimitte nobis debita nostra’ from the Pater Noster (Matt. 6, 12)? Does he not admit the infinite debt contracted before God by a single mortal sin? Does he not then understand God’s care that an infinite reparation be offered him on the part of sinners? Hell, moreover, is not for him a punishment inflicted by God, but only the outcome of love refused, ‘a solitude into which no longer penetrates the word of love.’[162] Joseph Ratzinger’s religion is shortened. Sin is no longer a debt, it is a shortage. This is existentialist sin.

Well, Joseph Ratzinger declares, ‘from the revolution in the idea of expiation, the Christian cult receives a new orientation.’[163]



8. The priesthood reduced to the power of teaching

This new cult will be the new mass.

The mass becomes, according to the request of Dom Odo Casel, Benedictine monk of Maria Laach, the common celebration of faith. It is no longer a thing offered to God; it is no longer an action separate from that of the people; it is an action of interpersonal communion. It is a common experience of the faith, the celebration of the high deeds of Jesus. ‘It is only a matter of making remembrance,’ says the Missal for the flower of faithful French speakers in 1972.

On the other side, in parallel, according to Joseph Ratzinger, the priesthood ‘has surpassed the level of polemic’ which, at the council of Trent, had shrunk the vision of the priesthood by seeing in the priest a mere maker of sacrifices (Session XXIII, Decree on the Sacrament of Orders). The council of Trent shrunk the global vision of priesthood; Vatican II broadened the perspectives. Joseph Ratzinger tells us:

Vatican II has, by chance, surpassed the polemical level and has drawn a complete and positive picture of the position of the Church as regards the priesthood where were equally welcomed the requests of the Reform.[164]

You read aright: the requests of the Protestant ‘Reform,’ which saw the priest as the man of God’s word, of the preaching of the Gospel; this one point is all.

So then, Joseph Ratzinger continues:

In the last analysis, the totality of the problem of priesthood comes down to the question of the power of teaching the Church in a universal manner.[165]

Thus he brings the whole priesthood back to the power of teaching the Church. He will not deny sacrifice, simply he says: “Everything comes down to the power of teaching the Church.’ Logically, even the offering of the mass by the priest at the altar must be reread in the perspective of teaching the word of God. The priesthood must be revisited, as also sacrifice, as also consecration: this is nothing other than the celebration of the high deeds of Christ, his incarnation, his passion, his resurrection, his ascension, lived in common under the presidency of the priest, as Dom Casel pretended. The priesthood has been revised. The priest is become the organizer of the celebration and of the communal life of the faith.

This is only a parenthesis to show how Joseph Ratzinger’s existentialist and personalist ideas, from 1967, concerning redemption and priesthood, that is to say, concerning Christ the High Priest, have been effectively applied in 1969, in the new mass.

But this new Christianity will necessarily assume a social form, on the one hand in the spiritual society of the Church, and on the other hand in the temporal city. What then will be its ecclesiology, and what will become of Christ the King?



Chapter 6
Personalism and Ecclesiology

The trouble of putting a little weight upon the manner in which personalism has penetrated ecclesiology, that is to say, the theology of the Church, would here be worthwhile.



1. The Church, communion in charity

Applied to the spiritual society, the Church, Scheler, Buber and Wojtyla’s personalism, which I analyzed in chapter II, makes the Church seem to be a simple communion in charity, by lessening the fundamental communion in the true faith. From there emerged ecumenism, even expanded to all religions, as in the colorful gathering at Assisi on October 27, 1986, which gathered the representatives of the ‘world religions,’ if not to pray together, at least to ‘be together to pray.’

‘The creaturely unity’ of the ‘human family,’ John Paul II assures us, is greater than differences in faith, which come from a ‘human fact.’ ‘Differences are an element made less important by a link in unity which, on the contrary, is radical, fundamental and dominant.’[166]

Indeed, men are all issue of Adam, in whom they recognize their common father, and by him they form one family. Besides, by the fact that man is created in the image of God, that is to say, endowed with intelligence, he is capable, differing from other animals, of tying the bonds of amity with all like him. There thus exists in potency a certain universal fraternity between all men.[167]

However, original sin and, later, the sin of Babel has broken up the human family into a mass of ‘familiae gentium peccati vulnere disagregatae (families of nations broken apart by the wound of sin),’ as says the collect for the feast of Christ the King.

In order to make real the universal brotherhood between all men, there must be a reparatory principle which can embrace all humanity.

Well, for such a principle, there is only one option: Christ. ‘For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’[168] (I Cor. 3, 11)

The beautiful collect of Easter Thursday brings out well the natural contrast and the supernatural synthesis between the universality of nations and the unity of faith:

God, who has reunited the diversity of nations in the confession of your name, give to those who are reborn by the fount of Baptism the unity of the faith in their spirits and of piety in their actions, through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.[169]

There is no other universal society possible than the Church, or perhaps Christianity. The beautiful invocation Veni Sancte Spiritus proclaims this:

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of thy faithful and inkindle in them the fire of thy love, who, beyond the diversity of tongues, has reunited the nations in the unity of the faith.[170]

It is the Holy Ghost, bond of charity between Father and Son, who is also the driving force behind a unity for all diverse people, by reassembling them in the unity of the faith. Upon this unity of faith is founded the supernatural fraternity of Christians, of which Jesus said: ‘All you are brethren […] for one is your father who is in heaven.’ (Matt. 23, 8-9)[171]

But the pure communion of charity, in which, according to the personalists, the Church consists, does not limit itself to eliding the faith; it also lessens the hierarchy. However, if the Church is a combatant and pilgrim here below, it is because she is not yet in her final state; upon this earth, she always has a finality: eternal salvation. It is this end which gives its form to the multitude of believers and makes of them a single organized multitude; it is this end which, also, demands a human efficient cause for this end: the Church is thus necessarily hierarchic. It is this which causes one of the differences with the Church in heaven. The Church of the blessed, already attained to man’s ultimate end, possessing God without possibility of loss, has no more need of hierarchy. She has only a hierarchy of saints, saints great and small, under the Blessed Virgin Mary and under Christ, the only head, who subjugates them and units them all to God his Father.

The conciliar idea of the Church as ‘the people of God’ tends also to falsify what remains of the hierarchy. Which is seen solely as a diversity of ‘ministers’ among the people of God, already essentially constituted by the communion of charity between members, and not as a distinction of divine institution, constitutive of the very establishment of the Church.

The faithful of Church, says the new code of Canon Law, are those who, in so far as they are incorporated in Christ by Baptism, are constituted in the people of God and who, for this reason, being made participants after their own manner in the sacerdotal, prophetic and royal function of Christ, are called to exercise, each according to his own condition, the mission which God has confided to the Church so that she may accomplish it in the world.[172]

Personalism is the root of the religious democracy which is the Church of communion. That the new code of Canon Law, which I just cited, consecrated this revolution, John Paul II did not hide in its promulgation on January 25, 1983. He describes thus what he himself called the ‘new ecclesiology’:

Among the elements which express the Church’s own true image, he writes in his apostolic constitution, there are those which must above all be reckoned up: the doctrine of the Church as the people of God (cf Lumen Gentium, #2); that of authority, hierarchic just as service is; the doctrine of the Church as a communion, which consequently establishes the relations which must exist between the particular Church and the universal, between collegiality and primacy.[173]



2. The Church of Christ ‘subsists’ in the Catholic Church

To this ill-defined communion of the members of the Church is joined the idea of a more or less full communion with non-Catholics, from the fact of the ‘ecclesial elements’ which these keep despite their separation. It was during the Council that Pastor Wilhelm Schmidt would suggest to Joseph Ratzinger to have done with the affirmation of identity between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church, an identity reaffirmed by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (# 13) and Divini Redemptoris (DS 2319). The formula proposed by the pastor, and which Joseph Ratzinger transmitted to the German bishops, was that in place of saying, ‘The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church,’ it should be said, “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.’ The reporter for the doctrinal commission explained that: Subsistit in was employed in place of est, so that the expression would harmonize better with the affirmation of ecclesial elements which exist elsewhere.’ ‘This is unacceptable,’ Mgr. Luigi Carli protested in the conciliar court, for one could believe that the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church are two distinct realities, the first abiding in the latter as in a subject.’

From then on, the conciliar teaching would recognize in separated ‘Churches and ecclesial communities’ an ‘ecclesial nature’ and the constitution Lumen Gentium concerning the Church would adopt the Subsistit in, while the declaration Unitatis Redintegratio concerning ecumenism would recognize, contrary to the whole Tradition, that ‘these Churches and ecclesial communities are in no way deprived of significance in the mystery of salvation; the Spirit of Christ in fact not refusing to serve itself by them as means of salvation’ (UR, #3). – An impossible thing, as Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre explained to Vatican II, in a few luminous lines filed with the secretary of the Council in November 1963:

A community, in so far as it is a separated community, cannot enjoy the Holy Ghost’s assistance, since its separation is a resistance to the Holy Ghost. He cannot act directly upon souls or use means which, of themselves, bear any sign of separation.[174]

Cardinal Ratzinger himself explained the subsistit in: The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church; it is not said to subsist elsewhere.

By the word subsistit, the Council wished to express the singularity and not the multiplicity of the Catholic Church: The Church exists as a subject in historical reality.[175]

Thus, the subsistit would signify that the permanence of the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. This explanation does not reflect the real intention for change. For the rest, Joseph Ratzinger, in the same text, clarifies:

The difference between subsistit and est reinforces, however, the tragedy of ecclesial division. Although the Church should be only one and subsists in a single subject, ecclesial realities exist outside of this subject: true local churches and diverse ecclesial communities. Since sin is a contradiction, on cannot, in the last analysis, fully resolve from a logical point of view this difference between subsistit and est. In the paradox of difference between singularity and concretization in the Church, on the one hand, and the existence of ecclesial reality outside the unique subject, on the other, is reflected the contradictory character of human sin, the contradiction of division. This division is something totally different from relativistic dialectic […] in which the division of Christians loses its dolorous aspect and, in reality, is not a fracture, but only the manifestation of many variations on a single theme, in which the variations have reason, after a certain manner, and again do not have reason.[176]

In reality, sin introduces its contradiction in the will only, which revolts against the principles—here the principle of unity: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build my Church’ (Matt. 16, 18). But the principle remains untouched, without any internal contradiction. It is the unrepentant denial of the principle of non-contradiction which introduces a contradiction into understanding and into the principles; sin would never come to be, if sin were not contrary to the understanding of the first principles.

The truth is that the churches and separated communities have no ‘ecclesial nature,’ since they lack either hierarchic community with the Roman pontiff, or communion with the Catholic faith. The notion of communion invoked by Joseph Ratzinger is in this regard entirely adequate. Commenting upon what Saint John said concerning the communion of charity through Christ with the Father (1 John 1, 3-4), the cardinal says:

Here appeared in the very first place the starting-point for ‘communion’: the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who, by the Church’s announcement, came among men. Thus was born the communion of men with each other, and that in its turn was founded upon communion with the one and triune God. Communion with God is accessed by the intermediation of this realization of the communion of God with man, which is Jesus Christ in his person; the encounter with Christ creates a communion with him and thus with the Father, in the Holy Spirit.[177]

The new notion of communion as ‘encounter’ proposed by Joseph Ratzinger is evidently attributal to Martin Buber’s personalism, for whom the intersubjective ‘I-Thou’ relation sets free the ultimate truth of the human and opens to the true relation between man and God, the eternal Thou. Christianized by Joseph Ratzinger, is this communion-encounter the communion of charity? We don’t know. It is in any case neither communion in faith, nor hierarchical communion, which are however the two essential components of the Church.



Chapter 7
Political and Social Personalism

If, from the Church, we pass to the city, we will see the disintegration which personalism causes, in political society first, and then in social life.



1. Personalism and political society

According to the theory which considers the person as a tissue of relations, as society itself is relation, it follows that the person would be its own end unto itself in society; it would be the end of society; the good of the person-communion would identify itself with the good of the political city.

According to the philosophy of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, the good of the person does not constitute the common good of the city: this common good is ‘an added good’ which will make the person attain to an added perfection. To this common good the person must ordain himself as to his temporal end, as potency is ordained to act. This classical conception allows it to be justified that the person must sometimes sacrifice his own goods—and even his life—for the common good of the city. In short, the person finds his temporal perfection in ordaining himself to the end of the political community.

The personalist conception deprives political society of a proper finality which transcends the good of its members who are persons. The whole postconciliar magisterium, or what holds its place, would make of common good a collection of the rights of the person, of rights’ of which there is as yet no complete catalogue, and which appears sometimes contradictory,’ as Joseph Ratzinger avows.[178]

The Thomist, later personalist, philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) came to the aid of this theory by distinguishing two things in man. On the one hand, he should be an individual, ordained to the political community as to his end, as the part is to the whole. On the other hand, his is a person who transcends the city and who is not a mere part of its whole.

In reality, this distinction is specious: it is only true that in the supernatural order, where the person is elevated by sanctifying grace above his nature; but it is false in the natural order where the person is only an individual of a rational nature, making one part of the whole of reasonable natures, and consequently ordained to this whole as a part to its whole. This is however very simple; it is simply a matter of applying the principle of totality: the part is for the whole. Certainly this principle may be modified, according to the fact that the city is not a substantial whole but a whole of order between substances, but this modification does not suppress the necessary and natural ordination of the person to the city, in the temporal order, as to its end.

Thus, the definition of the person as a tissue of relations, by abandoning Boethius’ definition, leads to the denial of final causality for political society. One finds in conciliar politics the same lacuna of the final cause that one finds, in individual ethics, with Kant and all Enlightenment philosophy.



2. Personalism applied to marriage and chastity

A last application of personalism will be made by the Council to marriage and chastity.

Let us first consider sexuality and the virtue of chastity. The new ‘catechism of the Catholic church’ patronized by Cardinal Ratzinger makes chastity ‘the successful integration of sexuality into the person,’ that is to say,’ in the relation of person to person by an entire mutual gift […] of the man and the woman,’[179] without reference to the first and proper end of sexuality, which is procreation, or reference to sin and to concupiscence.

The disappearance of the end implies ignorance of the nature of things. Thus, the nature of carnal desire (appetitus venereus) is passed over in silence, though Saint Thomas said of it that ‘it is especially connatural to us since it is ordained to the conservation of the nature […] and thus, if it be nourished, it will increased to a higher degree […] and thus at that higher degree it will have need of being checked’ (castigatus, chastised, from which comes chastity’s name).[180]

The tendency to abstract from the final cause and the nature of things is constant in personalism and in philosophies issued from Kant. Joseph Ratzinger’s intellectual itinerary is marked by this agnosticism.

Here is the truth: God, author and redeemer of human nature, is the legislator of conjugal society. It is he who willed marriage to be fruitful, for the propagation of mankind: ‘Increase and multiply,’ as he commanded the first human couple (Gen. 1, 28). The morality of marriage is dominated by this end: procreation. The traditional code of Canon Law decrees that ‘the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children’ and that ‘the secondary end is mutual help and a remedy for concupiscence’ (canon 1013). Contraception and sterilization are immoral because they divert the conjugal act from its end, just as is periodic continence without grave reason, which diverts the conjugal state from its end. Well, personalism will corrupt these objective principles with subjectivism.

[According to the Council, procreation—or the refusal to procreate—] must be determined by objective criteria [very good] drawn from the nature of the person and of his acts, criteria which respect, in a context of true love, the total significance of a reciprocal gift and of a procreation worthy of man; an impossible thing if conjugal chastity is not practiced with a loyal heart.[181]

A first glance, this text withers subjectivism and calls for objectivity. In reality, it is the contrary. Is not the ‘nature of the person’ (barbarism) the intellectuality of human nature, capable of proportioning its acts by good reason? Where is the individuality of the person [which is common in him with the beasts], and what should give foundation to his moral autonomy (I. Kant; Marc Sangnier and le Sillon[182])? Or rather is this the intersubjective relation of the ‘I-Thou’ dialogue (Martin Buber), or the amorous, interpersonal relation, which is ‘the disinterested impulse towards a person as such’ (Max Scheler)? According to this philosophy of values, love ‘possesses in itself its own finality.’[183] The objective order of beings and of ends, according to Pius XII’s expression, is not taken into account.

If nature, said Pius XII, had had exclusively in view, or at least in the first place, a reciprocal gift and possession of the spouses in joy and in love, and if it had regulated this act solely so as to make as happy as possible their personal experience, and not for the end of spurring them on in service of life, the Creator would have adopted another plan in the formation and constitution of the natural act. But, this act is on the contrary entirely subordinated and ordained to the great law of the generation and education of the child, ‘generatio et education prolis,’ that is to say, to the accomplishment of the first end of marriage, origin and source of life.[184]

Well, denying Pius XII and the natural order, the new code of Canon Law places ‘the good of the spouses’ before ‘the procreation and education of children’ (canon 1055). This inversion of the ends of marriage is an open door to free unions and to pacs, to contraception and abortion. Imbued with underlying relational personalism, a professor René Frydman envisages the human embryo ‘as a being of becoming, who takes the status of person when he enters the couple’s plan.’[185] If thus the mother does not feel any relation to the infant which she carries within her, it is no person and may be eliminated.

Has not Joseph Ratzinger on his own part taught—certainly with no view for abortion, but the principle is set out there—that ‘a being […] which has neither origin nor term of relation would not be a person?’ (See above, p. 58 in the original or p. 39 here)

The pretended civilization of love is a civilization of death. Christ the King, legislator of nature, being rejected, Christianity runs towards physical extinction. There is the ultimate outcome of personalism.



Chapter 8
Christ the King Re-envisioned by Personalism

The political kingship of Jesus is the consequence of his divinity. If this man, Jesus Christ, is God, then he is king. Not only the Church is submitted to him as to the head from whom she receives all spiritual influence, but civil society itself, in the temporal order which is its own, must be submitted to his government. Indeed, Christ does not himself directly exercise this temporal government, but he leaves it to his retainers who exercise it in his name (Pius XI, encyclical Quas Primas, December 11, 1925)



1. Political implications of man’s ultimate end

Well, all human things, spiritual with temporal, are ordained to the only and unique last end, eternal beatitude, otherwise called, because of sin, eternal salvation. And Christ was incarnated and suffered his passion precisely so as to lead men to this ultimate end.

It follows from the singularity of the last end that civil society, or the city, is willed by God, not only so as to assure for men here below ‘the good life according to virtue’ (Aristotle), but ‘so that, by this virtuous life, they may reach to enjoyment of God.’[186] It follows that the temporal common good, the proper end of the State, must be ordained to the last end of man, eternal beatitude. This ordination is only indirect because temporal means are not proportionate for obtaining a supernatural effect. From this ordination follows that the State’s duty ‘of procuring [in the temporal order] the good life of the multitude, according as it is necessary to make them obtain celestial beatitude; that is to say that it must prescribe what leads them there and, in the measure possible, forbid what is contrary to it.’[187] In this consists the State’s ministerial function in regard to the Church, since celestial beatitude, or the salvation of souls, is the proper end of the Church.

Even if the application of these principles depends on the historical conditions of societies, whether unanimously Christian, or religiously plural, or laicized, or non-Christian, the principles remain. They are in particular the foundation of two sentences of Pius IX. The first, in his encyclical Quanta Cura, attributes to the well-constituted State the office of reprimanding ‘the violators of the Catholic religion.’[188] The second, in the Syllabus, does not recognize for immigrants into Christian countries any right to exercise freely their dissident cult (DS 2978). These sentences suppose a Christian state; they are conditioned for that state, but the principles which underlie them are timeless and remain.

What will Vatican Council II do? – Christ the King will also be purified in a historicist and personalist vision. This is no longer existentialism, this French personalism, with Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) and Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), both Catholics.



2. Religious liberty purified by the help of Emmanuel Mounier

A first revision, postulated by philosophical progress, affects the human person; then a second, postulated by the meaning of history, will affect the State, in the ties that the person and the State have with religion. Let us first consider the person.

– Thesis. Felicité de Lamennais (1782-1864) was condemned in 1832 by Gregory XVI’s encyclical Mirari Vos, for having understood that for each freedom of conscience and of opinions must be recognized, for the advantage of religion, and that the Church must be separated from the State (Dz 1613-1615). In this freedom of conscience was included the freedom of cult for each.

– Antithesis. To Lamennais was lacking the necessary tool for introducing freedom of cult ‘into Christianity.’[189] Gregory XVI, attributing a ‘putrid source of indifferentism’ to this freedom, did not know how to see the Christian root of that same freedom. This tool, which must purify religious liberty from all stench of indifferentism, was procured by Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950): it is the dignity of the human person.

The freedom of cult, Vatican II will say, is one of the ‘values most prized by our contemporaries’; ‘proceeding from the human genius, which is a gift of God, it is very good.’ It is only there ‘to retie them to their divine source’; but ‘tainted by the corruption of mankind, it has been diverted from the requisite order; it thus has need of correction’ (Gaudium et Spes, # 11, § 2).

Joseph Ratzinger took up again this synthesis twenty years later: religious liberty is one of the ‘least tested values from two centuries of liberal culture’[190]; today it may be ‘purified and corrected’ (Congar and Ratzinger), if, in place of making it rest on the moving sand of freedom of conscience, founded on religious indifference, it be founded upon the solid rock of ‘the nature of the person’ (John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993, # 50). According to Mounier, the person constitutes himself by his free action, responsible ‘by virtue of his own choices.’ According to Maritain, the dignity of the person demands ‘his freedom of exulting in its risks and perils.’

– Synthesis. The result of this correction is the religious liberty proclaimed by Vatican II (declaration Dignitatis Humanae, # 2). The person who, in religious areas, ‘acts according the consciousness of his duty’ or who, in the exercise of his religious cult, is supposed to be in search of truth—even if it is not so in fact—is worthy of respect and consequently has a right for freedom in exercising his cult. This synthesis is the product of a double process: purification of the past condemnation, that supported by Gregory XVI and Pius IX, and assimilation of the present philosophical thesis, that of personalism from the 1950s. This double process of purification-assimilation the same method of hermeneutics, from Dilthey to Gadamer.

It is however evident that for the objective criterion of Christ, the Council has substituted the subjective criterion of the ‘truth of man.’ It was John Paul II who clarified this criterion in Veritatis Splendor, #40. He made reference to Gaudium et spes, #41, which speaks of the ‘essential truth of man’ (§ 1), and which says that ‘the Gospel […] scrupulously respects the dignity of the conscience and its free choice’ (§ 2). In the end, the moving sand of the conscience remains the foundation.



3. Jacques Maritain’s vitally Christian lay civilization

If we consider now the State in its ties to religion, the same process is applied, thanks to the idea of ‘historic climes’ from the philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), the apostle of a ‘new Christianity’ which would be the modern ‘analog’ to medieval Christianity.

– Medieval Christianity was characterized by the maximum constraint for a theocratic social order, by a univocal application of principles at the cost of the person, an application which lasted fifteen centuries, from Constantine to Robespierre.

– To this past historical ideal must today succeed a ‘new Christianity,’ which will be analogically a Christianity, taking new circumstances into account. This Christianity will be characterized by maximum freedom in service of the person and his ‘freedom for exultation.’ This is the only ‘concrete historical ideal’ of our modern epoch.[191] – The origin of this thought with Drey and Dilthey is striking. – On supposes moveover that, just like the philosopher, the State is become agnostic: it does not constitute an instance capable of recognizing the divinity of Jesus Christ.[192]

– It follows that the social reign of Christ can be, must be no more what it has been. Now there must be ‘a lay society of Christian inspiration’ (Maritain). This will be an open, even positive, laity, spiritual animated by ‘the ethical values relgions’ (Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae, n. 4; Benedict XVI, December 22, 2005). In a world religiously plural, the dignity of the person appeared already to Mounier ‘the only base adapted to a generous union of good wills.’[193]



4. Sophistic refutations

In adopting this political personalism, the conciliar Church adopts Masonic ideology and renounces the preaching of Christ, king of nations. Man takes the place of God. But the trouble of examining Benedict XVI’s argument is worthwhile.

– The separation of Church and State appears to Benedict XVI to be ‘the new recovery of the Church’s deepest patrimony’ (Speech of December 22, 2005). – Answer: the deepest patrimony of the Church is the submission of the State to Christ the King.

– ‘In praying for emperors but refusing to adore them, the Church has clearly rejected state-religion’ (Ibid.). – Answer: it has rejected the false state-religion!

– ‘The martyrs of the primitive Church died for their faith in the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ, and precisely thus they died for liberty of conscience and for the freedom to profess their faith’ (Ibid.). – Answer: they died for the freedom of the true faith and against liberty of conscience! The Church’s authentic patrimony is not ‘freedom’ but the truth of Jesus Christ and the Church.

– ‘Freedom of religion must be considered […] as an intrinsic consequence of the truth which cannot be imposed from without, but which must be adopted by man only through the process of conviction’ (Ibid.). – Answer: although the faith must not be imposed on a person who has reached the age of reason (for the Baptism of children is a legitimate and praiseworthy custom), however, there is one good constraint, that which protects the Catholic Faith against the contagion of error and which preserves the unity of the Christian city in peaceful communion of this faith, communion which is the source of true temporal peace.[194]

– ‘The modern State accords a place to citizens of diverse religions and ideologies, behaving towards these religions in an impartial fashion and assuming simply the responsibility for an ordered and tolerant coexistence between citizens and for their freedom to exercise their religion’ (Ibid.). This type of modern State, offered by ‘the American revolution’ and by the inspiration of the Enlightenment, would found itself on the separation of the two powers, spiritual (of the Church) and temporal (of the State), according to the words of Christ: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’ (Matt 23, 21). – Answer: however what must not be forgotten is what Caesar owes to God! The distinction of the two powers does not logically imply their separation, but rather their subordination: that Caesar has obligation to Christ, and not to Allah or to Buddha. Otherwise, as well deduce from the distinction of body and soul their separation, and that would be death. What legal implication of Christ and his Church’s truth there must be is the constant teaching of the popes, of Leo XIII, for example in his encyclical Immortale Dei from November 1, 1885:

Heads of State must keep the name of God holy and place among the number of their chief duties that of favoring religion, of protecting it by their kindness, of shielding it with an authority that teaches law, and of decreeing nothing which may be contrary to its integrity.[195]

Then, Leo XIII clarified that by religion he meant ‘the true relation.’ Finally he exposed the doctrine of tolerance: false religions are an evil which one can tolerate ‘in view of a good to be attained or an ill to be prevented,’[196] if necessary by according a civil right to their cult, but without ever recognizing a natural right for them.[197] For this would be to deny the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The conciliar right of the person for religious freedom is thus a lack of faith. In upholding this right, Benedict XVI lacks faith.



Chapter 9
Benedict XVI’s Personalist Faith

How to explain this lack of faith? Here is a theologian, a cardinal, a pope, who is disinterested in the reality of the incarnation, who practices a ‘pocketing’ of the materiality of the redemption and who denies the royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ. – It is that he has a personalist faith. I will attempt to demonstrate this.



1. Faith, encounter, presence and love

You never find, when Joseph Ratzinger speaks of faith, any mention either of the object of faith (revealed truths) or of the motive of faith (the authority of a supremely true God). This is not denied, but it is never evoked. In place of this, you find the initial impact, the encounter, the interpersonal relation with Jesus and the meaning that this encounter gives to life. Nothing of this is false, but this is not faith; it is a personalist view of faith.

The theologian of Tübingen comments thus upon ‘I believe […] in Jesus Christ’:

The Christian faith is an encounter with the man Jesus, and it discovers in such an encounter that the meaning of the world is a person. Jesus is the witness of God, or better, he is the presence of the eternal himself in this world. In his life and by his total gift of himself for men, the meaning of life is revealed as a presence, under the form of love, which loves me also and which causes life to be worth the pain of living.[198]

Encounter, presence, love,…this is not faith, and it hides the object of faith.

In our Credo, Joseph Ratzinger, writes, the central formula does not say, ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in You.’ – The affirmation is true; we do believe in Jesus Christ, a living person (his divinity must still be believed); but is not the denial (‘I do not believe in something’) heretical? For it denies the object of faith, the articles of faith, the twelve articles of the Apostle’s creed.

Having become Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger thus describes Catholicism:

It is a matter of entering into a structure of life, and this englobes the plan of our life in its totality. Here is why, I believe, one can never express it in words. Naturally, one can designate essential points.[199]

And faith is to believe in an event, but hardly in a conceptual content:

To become Christian, he says, the essential thing is to believe in this event: God entered into the world, and he acted; it is thus an action, a reality, not only a configuration of ideas.[200]

An elder and friend of Benedict XVI has furnished this very realistic testimony concerning Joseph Ratzinger’s anti-conceptualism:

Ratzinger has always been angry against this impulse which pushes one to consider truth as an object which one possesses and must defend. He does not feel at his ease with neoscholastic definitions, which appear to him as barriers: that what is contained in the definition should be truth and what is outside only error. […] The truth is a Thou who loves first of all. According to him, God cannot be known because he is the summum bonum which a person seizes and demonstrates by exact formulae, but because he is a Thou who comes to the encounter and makes himself known.[201]

This faith without the truths of faith, without dogmas, or at least which depreciates them, is the personalist reduction of what had been Joseph Ratzinger’s childhood faith. His faith became, in the manner of Max Scheler and Martin Buber, encounter with the ‘Thou’ of Christ. His faith is also a ‘fundamental decision to perceive God and to welcome him,’ as with Gabriel Marcel, for whom faith is a strictly personal event, and in this sense incommunicable.

The Catholic faith is thus set aside. Faith, firm adherence of the intellect to revealed truths, is passed over in silence. The authority of God who reveals is fatally replaced by the religious experience of each.



2. Philosophical experimentation and mystical experience

For the rest, is the faith-encounter a mystical experience? ‘God exists, I have met him,’ André Frossard titled his narration of his conversion to the Christian faith, an undeniably authentic grace. But to rely essentially upon an encounter or on an impression of an interrogation—this can lead to illusion. The true mystic goes beyond emotions: the mystery of the incarnation was accomplished in the Virgin Mary without her feeling what it was; all was done in pure faith.

The taste of Christ which communicates the gifts of wisdom and understanding is not perceptible to sense: thus, it is founded on true faith and corroborates truth faith. As to what are the riches that grace gives mystically to faith, it is necessary to reaffirm what Father Marin Sola teaches:

The sole objective source of all supernatural knowledge is the truth of faith: Accedentem ad Deum oportet credere (he who wishes to reach God must believe),’ Saint Paul says (Heb. 11, 6). From this is born the essential dependency and the subordination of speculative theology or mystical theology in regard to the revealed deposit and the authority of the Church. By the intuitive view from the gifts of the Holy Spirit, mystical theology can seize truth more or more quickly, but it cannot attain more of it than what the revealed deposit has always contained implicitly.[202]

This established, it must be said that faith which wants ‘to experiment with God’ in concepts of either existentialist or personalist philosophy has nothing to do with mystical theology! For the depth of the mystery is one thing, before which the mystic stops admiringly, but another is the intensity of emotion by which the idealist is stopped in his interpersonal relation with Christ.

Saint Pius X, in Pascendi, has, however, underlined how emotion and experience are more likely to trouble the faith which gives them basis.

Let us return, in fact, for a moment, he writes to the bishops, to this pernicious doctrine of agnosticism. The whole issue being concluded concerning God on the side of intelligence, the modernists try hard to open another on the side of sentiment and action. A vain attempt […]. What commons sense says is that emotion and everything that captivates the soul, far from favoring the discovery of the truth, hobbles it […]. As far as experience goes, what does it add to it? Absolutely nothing, besides a certain intensity which influences a conviction proportionate to the reality of the object. Well, these two things do not cause sentiment to be anything but sentiment; they do not take away its character, which is to trick it if intellect do not guide it; on the contrary, they confirm and aggravate this character, because the more intense a sentiment, the more it is a sentiment.[203]

The difference between the true believer, mystical at times, and the false believer, multiform idealist, consists in this: the mystic effaces self before the mystery and makes himself only an adorer; the idealist affirms himself as the ‘I’ correlative to the ‘Thou,’ as the subject who enters into an interaction with the object of his faith. Personalism affirms itself also as a subject who enters into interrelation with another subject, the Wholly-Other. – On the contrary, the contemplative theologian, and likewise the preacher or teacher, like Saint Thomas Aquinas, ‘does not have the goal of making a confidence to his hearers of the sentiments which rise in the soul of the doctor of contemplated truth, but to set free that very truth.’[204]



3. Divine authority replaced by human authority

If, with the philosophies issued from Kant, one admits that the subject is a part of the object, then the believer is part of faith. By the same blow, the formal motive of faith (divine revealing authority) makes way for human experience, deprived of authority and source of illusion. You see how Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Spe Salvi from November 30, 2007, in # 7, no longer understands the beautiful definition that Saint Paul gave for faith: ‘Fides est substantia sperendarum rerum, argumentum non apparentium (faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the proof of things which are invisible’ (Heb. 11, 1). What, then, is that ‘proof of things invisible’ if not the authority of God who reveals these things? And is it not on this divine authority alone that the certitude of the believer rests? We adhere, says Vatican Council I, to divine truth ‘propter auctoritatem Dei revelantis’ (because of the authority of God revealing – Dz 1789 and 1811). Well, it is very necessary to note that all this escapes Benedict XVI.

There is a temptation, in the actual encyclicals as in modern preaching, to present the evangelical message as the preacher’s personal witness, provided by his personal reactions. This is a confusion. Only the Apostles were ‘witnesses’; only they had witnessed what they had touched, seen and heard. Hear, for example, the witness of Saint John the Apostle:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the word of life. For the life was manifested: and we have seen and do bear witness and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father and hath appeared to us. That which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you: that you also may have fellowship with us and our fellowship may be with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice and your joy may be full. [1 John 1, 1-4]

But the Apostles’ successors, the bishops and priests who assisted them in the holy preaching, are not witnesses of the evangelical facts, like the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ; they are simply messengers, transmitters, of a sacred deposit which they have received and which they must deliver as it was. The force of conviction for the faith which they put into proclaiming the divine message is indeed necessary for moving the passions and will of their hearers, but it will not affect the content of this divine message, any more than their state of soul in its intersubjective relation with God.

Take care, Mgr Marcel Lefebvre said to his priests, to tendency, this shortcoming of considering faith as a science and seeking to penetrate the great mysteries of the faith by our human intelligence, trying to understand these mysteries in the same way as those which are attached to medicine or to the other human sciences. This would be a great obstacle, in place of a help for souls’ belief. For the faith consists in adhering to these truths because of the authority of God who reveals them to us, and not because of the knowledge that we can have of it.[205]

To adhere to the mysteries of God because of the light of my own search, or because of the heat of my interpersonal relation with Christ, the link between my ‘I’ and his ‘Thou’ is to acquire an opinion of the mystery, in place of adhering to it very firmly with divine faith:

Those who address the Church to demand the faith, says Mgr. Lefebvre to priests, already have that conviction that the faith which you must give them comes from God. If thus they already submit themselves to the authority of God, they will demand no more than one thing: that someone teach them what God has said. […] Then it will be necessary to affirm the truths of faith. The faithful await this because, in this affirmation of the faith, it is God’s entire authority which passes through you. It is not your gratuitous opinion. It is not your authority that you set out, but God’s authority.[206]



Chapter 10
Skeptical Supermodernism

To conclude, I would like to say that today we are dealing with a modernism renovated and perfected. The modernists considered dogmas to be products of religious experience, and as mere symbols serving to renovate this experience unceasingly. A century later, the immanent providence of all the divine mysteries is no longer affirmed. They are simply put between parentheses so as to seek for them only an existentialist or personalist vital significance.

No longer are denied either dogmas or the decisions of the past magesterium, but they are revisited so as to have for them a ‘conscious understanding’ which was lacking to past popes and doctors, an understanding (Verstehen) purificatrice from past, pretended circumstance and assimilatrice of present circumstance. No one becomes an atheist or heretic openly; no, simply, thanks to the tool of modern philosophy, the real Trinity is rethought, the real incarnation is disincarnated, the real redemption is sublimated, Christ the real King is relativized; will the real God be replaced next?



1. An inaugural anti-program

Immanuel Kant, imbued with his agnosticism, wrote in 1793 a work entitled Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, in which he already considered dogmas as mere symbols of moral ideas.

A hundred years after, following liberal Protestants Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and Adolf Harnack (1851-1930), a priest, Catholic but soon excommunicated, Alfred Loisy (1857-1940) held the same theories, denounced by Pius X in 1907, in Pascendi.

And then, a hundred years after Pascendi, in 2007, there are Catholic theologians, one of whom has become pope, who, imbued with the philosophy of Kant and that of the 19th and 20th centuries, of Hegel, Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, Jaspers, Buber, Marcel, Mounier and Maritain, have the ambition of purifying, correcting, enriching the doctrine of the faith and of engendering its progress by its actualized philosophical reinterpretation.

In the Middle Ages, Saint Thomas Aquinas happily resolved what seemed then an antinomy: to effect a synthesis of the Christian faith and the philosophy of Aristotle. In the 20th century, it seems it feel again to Vatican Council II and to its theologians, to make a synthesis between faith and the new philosophy. Should we be as happy with the ‘I” (or the ‘I-Thou’) philosophy as formerly with the philosophy of being? Are the philosophies of auto-coherence or of intersubjectivity as fruitful as that of the order of beings and ends?
These theologians, or rather these philosophers, have in part effected this process of synthesis in the Council, and as that has not been a success—they admit it—unrepentantly they wish to pursue its application. Benedict XVI has renewed the theory and has proclaimed again that program in his speech of December 22, 2005.

Well, if it is true, as Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his Principles of Theology, that Vatican II, through Gaudium et Spes, has announced a kind of ‘counter-Syllabus’ insofar as the conciliar text ‘represents an attempt at an official reconciliation of the Church with the world, such as it has become since 1789,’[207] then it is true that the speech of December 22, 2005, which proposed the theory of the reconciliation and mutual fecundation of revealed faith with agnostic reason, is the anti-program of Pope Benedict XVI’s inaugural quasi-encyclical.

In so doing, the advocates of such an anti-program disincarnate, uncrucify and uncrown Jesus Christ with more ferocity than Kant and Loisy. But their subjective faith is ‘in the hold of the flood of doubt’ of which Joseph Ratzinger spoke in his work, Introduction to Christianity.[208]



2. A resigned and demoralized skepticism

This faith believes by encountering God in place of believing simply in him. This faith believes by entering into interaction with God in place of adhering simply to his mystery. This faith frees itself by its experience of God, in place of relying upon the authority of God who reveals. This faith is made fragile by its human reason.
It is in the grip of doubt, for Joseph Ratzinger says that the believer, like the unbeliever, is always menaced by doubt concerning his position: ‘The believer will always be threatened by unbelief and the unbeliever will always be threatened by faith.’[209]

In a world without God, in peril of losing itself, can such a believer still propose eternal salvation and, as source of salvation, the ‘God of Our Lord Jesus Christ?’ Alas, no! He can only propose the guarantee of the values and norms drawn from the Enlightenment—which are the Rights of Man—a God considered nominally as the creative Reason of the universe and conventionally called the dispenser of the Rights of Man.
Is this hypothetic God different from the ideal God postulated, according to Immanuel Kant, by ethics? A God, as the same Kant avowed, ‘of whom no one knows how to affirm that he exists outside of man’s rational thought?’[210]

It is this provisional God of the Rights of Man that the Church must preach to the Muslims, according to the wish expressed by Benedict XVI on his return from Turkey, so as to make them effect an update of Islam thanks to the Enlightenment, in place of converting them to ‘the true Light which enlightens every man.’ (Concerning this wish, I refer my reader to my afterword.) At bottom, it is the religion of the Enlightenment which agrees the best with humanity today.

In the time of the Enlightenment, there was a search to establish universal laws valuable even if God did not exist; today, Joseph Ratzinger counsels, it is necessary to invert the order of this speech and say:

Even the one who does not succeed in finding the way of accepting God must seek to live and to direct his life as if God existed.[211]

There is the social solution for bringing order into the world: ‘Man must seek to life and to organize his life as if God existed,’ not because God does exist and because Jesus Christ is God, no. This is the last outcome of modernism. Modernism leads to skepticism, that is to say, to Christians who are no longer sure of what they believe; they content themselves with advising: act as if you believed!

It seems to me that this skepticism is no stranger to the pessimism which Joseph Ratzinger’s confidence made to Peter Seewald in 1996 reveals, and which was inspired by the conciliar idealism of the Church conceived as ‘the messianic people […] who often keep the appearance of a little flock’ (Lumen Gentium, # 9b), a Church as ‘seed of unity’ and which must be ‘like the sacrament of unity for mankind’ (Lumen Gentium, # 1 and 9c):

Perhaps we must say goodbye to the idea of the Church reuniting all peoples. It is possible that we are on the sill of a new era, constituted very differently, of the Church’s history, in which Christianity will exist rather under the sign of the grain mustard, in little groups apparently without importance, but which live intensely in order to fight again evil and implant the good in the world; who open the door to God.[212]

At the Council, on the subject of the schema for the missions, presented in October 1965, Father Maurice Queguiner, superior general of the society of foreign missions in Paris, had reacted to such an opinion: ‘It is important,’ he said, ‘to drive back in an explicit manner the opinion of those who condemn the Church to be no more than a little entity, the least in the world’ (146th general congregation). This was a man of faith, a missionary.



3. Faced with skepticism, the remedy is found in Saint Thomas Aquinas

The lack of faith which, on the contrary, Benedict XVI suffers, is explained by his hermeneutic. His mutual reinterpretation of faith by idealist reason and of reason by modernist faith is only complicity.

His philosophy is no longer an instrument of faith in search of understanding, but the partner of faith, in order to impose on it his emotional whims. By his agnosticism, ignoring nature and its finalities, it replaces nature with the person and suppresses final and efficient causes, returning to full barbarism.

As far as his faith, it is only a symbolic rereading of dogmas according to the postulates of modern sensibility. Thus, Christ is more a man sublimated than a God incarnated. Sin does not offend God and the sinner does not redeem himself. Redemption, without defined end or agent, no longer effects justice towards God. God being no long the last end of the city, Christ the King is a historic error to be repaired by democracy and laicity. Such is the result of Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic.

A century before, in his inaugural encyclical E Supremi Apostolatus, his predecessor Saint Pius X described ‘the profound malady which torments mankind’: ‘it is,’ he said, ‘as regards God, abandonment and apostasy.’

But ‘the hermeneutics of the Council and of Benedict XVI,’ as I call them by convenience, lead to something more serious than simple loss of faith; they lead to the establishment of another religion, made of a shaky faith in God and of a faith reassured by man and by is inalienable and inviolable dignity. Man takes the place of God (2 Thess. 3, 3-17) both within and without the sanctuary. The mystery of iniquity develops in broad daylight.

God wishes that we should oppose ourselves to this diabolical disorientation. Let us arm ourselves. Against the revisions of hermeneutics and the doubts of agnosticism, let us equip ourselves with a great, preventative remedy.

To keep the faith stable and supernatural, ‘firm assent of the intellect to the divine truth received from without, by the very authority of this divine truth,’ the great protective remedy is Saint Thomas Aquinas, from whom comes this beautiful definition of faith.

In fact, it is because this objective, Catholic faith harmonizes perfectly which the philosophy of being set forth by Saint Thomas Aquinas, that Pope Saint Pius X prescribed to future priests ‘the study of the philosophy which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us’ (Saint Pius X, Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, June 29, 1914).

Faced with the impiety of those who pretend, by hermeneutics, ‘to detach from ossified layers of the past the deepest patrimony of the Church,’ let us take again into account the motto of the order of venerable Claude François Poullart de Places, of whom we are the heirs by the intermediation of venerable Father Henri Le Floch and of His Excellency Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre:

A pious clerk, without knowledge, has a blind zeal; a knowing clerk, without piety is at risk of becoming a heretic and a rebel against the Church.

Let us combine in ourselves piety (respect for the Church’s Tradition) with science (Thomist theology), so as to be neither blind men nor rebels. May the Virgin Mary, Immaculate in the faith, aid us in this:

She is the shield of faith, the pillar of the supernatural order. – She is neither liberal, nor modernist, nor ecumenist. She is allergic to all errors and with greater reason to heresies and to apostasy.[213]

This is also a question of taste: to skeptical furor, we prefer Thomist fervor.




Epilogue: Hermeneutic of the last ends

Forty years separate Joseph Ratzinger’s Christian Faith and Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi (encyclical of November 30, 2007). Has the theologian pontiff retracted his past opinions? Has he changed his method?



1. Retractions

Yes, Benedict XVI seems to have changed his opinion concerning the redemption and passion of Christ:

Man has for God a value so great that he made himself man so as to be able to sympathize with man in a very real manner, in flesh and blood, as is shown to us in the account of the passion of Christ. [Spe Salvi, # 39]

This stain (of sin) has already been destroyed in the passion of Christ. [Spe Salvi, # 47]

If ‘the East ignores the purifying and expiative suffering of souls in the next life’ (# 48), as Benedict XVI says, this would signify that for him the West does not ignore it at all.

But, alas, the offering of daily pains, that he recommends in Spe salvi, is seen by him more as a compassion than as a properly so-called expiation, which would have an ‘unhealthy’ aspect:

The thought of being able to offer up little everyday pains […], attributing to them a meaning, was a form of devotion, perhaps less in practice today, but not so long ago still very widespread. In this devotion, there were certainly things exaggerated and perhaps even unhealthy, but it is necessary to ask whether something essential, which could be a help, was not in some way contained in it. What does the word ‘offer’ wish to say? These persons were convinced that their little pains could be attached to Christ’s great compassion and thus would enter the treasury of compassion which mankind needs, (and) […] contribute to the economy of good, of love between men. Perhaps we could ask ourselves truly is such a thing could not become again a judicious perspective for us. [Spe Salvi, #40]

The timidity of that ‘perhaps’ and the nostalgia denoted by those repeated uses of the past tense only goes to reinforce the evidence of change in religion: the offering of pains is no longer either reparative or expiative, for that was exaggerated and unhealthy; it is only a care for compassion, a spirit of solidarity, that is to say, of fraternal participation in the sufferings of men, which humanity needs in order to leave the solitude of the lack of love. It is under this title of solidarity alone that the new religion ‘could perhaps’ salvage this offering of pains, though duly review and corrected by a ‘hermeneutic right.’

To wish to flee or to suppress suffering, Benedict XVI adds, is ‘to sink into an empty existence,’ where is found ‘the obscure feeling of a lack of meaning and of solitude’:

It is not the act of dodging suffering, of fleeing before sorrow, which cures man, but the capacity of accepting tribulations and of maturing through them, of finding meaning in them by union with Christ, who suffered with an infinite love. [Spe Salvi, # 37]

But what is this ‘meaning?’ Why did Christ suffer? Benedict XVI is quiet about this. – Jesus Christ suffered to expiate our sins: there is what the new religion rejects; it absolutely excludes the treasury of Christ’s superabundant merits and satisfactions.

At base, Benedict XVI notes down no repentance, he never reaches acceptance of the mystery of the redemption, the mystery of ransom by suffering. The demands of divine justice always cause him fear; he is victim of the emotionality of his time. And this emotionality continues by a progress which must lead the doctrine of the faith to ‘new syntheses,’ as the Council said:

Mankind passes from a rather static notion of the order of things to a more dynamic and evolutionary conception; from there is born a new problem, immense, which provokes us to new analyses and new syntheses. [Gaudium et Spes, # 5, § 3]

By this, the Church officially opened its doors to Marxism. It is in fidelity to this spirit from the Council that leading theologians embraced Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionism and existentially reinterpreted the mystery of the redemption. Thus, the Bishop of Metz, Paul Schmitt, dared to declare at Saint-Avold in September of 1967:

The mutation of the civilization in which we live influences changes not only in our behavior, but even in the conception that we make for ourselves of creation as much as of the salvation brought by Jesus Christ.[214]

And it was as a reader and disciple of Joseph Ratzinger in his Introduction to Christianity that the bishop of Arras, Gérard Huyghe, in the collective catechism entitled The Bishops Speak the Faith of the Church, dared write, in 1978:

The door of entrance into the mystery of Jesus’ suffering must not be mistaken. In other times this mystery was presented as a simple (and fearful) juridical method. God (the Father!), having undergone an infinite offense (why?) by the sin of man, would only agree to pardon men after an infinite ‘satisfaction’ (what a horrible word). [A citation of Introduction to Christianity follows: Could God demand the death of his own Son?] God wishes no one’s death, either as chastisement, or as means of redemption. It was not the act of God that death entered into the world through sin.

There is only one door for opening it, only one door of love. Thus, we can dismiss all explanation of the passion in which Christ is not deeply integral to the human condition […], with the condition of unhappy man. […] This love joins man, the whole man whatever he is, even if he be executioner, and radically changes his destiny. If the key of love be not taken, the right meaning, the correct and spontaneous feeling, is offended: how can anyone open himself to a God who is not a Father, who does not love, a Moloch who expects his ration of blood, of sufferings and of victims?[215]

Thus the hermeneutics practiced by Joseph Ratzinger have poisoned the catechesis of redemption. You see how a German bishop, Mgr. Zollitsch again in a television broadcast of May 2009 preached the redemption as a divine solidarity with unhappy, wounded humanity.[216] A week later, he outlined a retraction in his diocesan bulletin. But Benedict XVI, on his side, has never shown sign of repentance.



2. Limbo reinterpreted by hermeneutics

The Fathers’ interpretation or hérmènéia, we have seen, only lent the philosophy of being to the faith as an instrument, without posing any opinion, philosophic or otherwise, besides the faith. On the contrary, modern hermeneutics argue for feelings: it poses in antithesis to traditional faith the sentimental impression of the contemporary epoch and infers from this ‘new syntheses.’

Limbo is the victim of this. The common doctrine of the Church, not defined, certainly, but commonly admitted, teaches that the souls of infants who die unbaptized are, by reason of the original sin from which they have not been purified, deprived of the beatific vision of God, but are, by reason of their lack of all personal sin, exempt from the fires of hell, in a state or place called limbo.
Well, here is the point of departure for hermeneutic reasoning:

Parents [of infants who die without baptism] suffer great grief […] and it is found more and more difficult to accept the fact that God is just and merciful if he excludes from eternal happiness children who have no personal sins, whether they are Christians or non-Christians [sic].[217]

This sentimental premise is amplified in a theological assertion which looks for its justification in a scriptural text cited out of context:

Where sin has abounded, grave has superabounded (Rom. 5, 20). There is the absolute [sic] teaching of Scripture; but the doctrine of Limbo seems to restrain this superabundance [# 91].

But are there not other scriptural texts which affirm, ad rem, the universality of original sin and the necessity of Baptism for salvation?

Tradition and the documents of the magisterium which reaffirmed this necessity must be interpreted [# 7].
There must be a hermeneutic reflection concerning the manner in which the witnesses of biblical Tradition [sic], the Fathers of the Church, the magisterium, the theologians have read and employed biblical texts [# 10].

In other words, traditional hérmènéia is too simplistic; it deduced Limbo too abruptly from the assertion that only baptism effaces original sin. Hermeneutics must be preferred, in which the reaction of the subject, believing in the word of God in the 21st century, his ‘new reflection’ and his new ‘vital bond’ with it, result in a ‘synthesis of fidelity and dynamism’ which will be the ‘correct interpretation’ (see the speech on December 22, 2005).

Thus, hermeneutics purify hérmènéia from its primitive naivety and enrich it with the values of its emotive reactions—for which it makes an effort to find the echo in the Bible, by citing texts from it completely out of their context; a disgrace! – This is why the status of reason is not at all the same in the Thomist reading of Revelation and in the hermeneutic rereading. In the first, reason, purified of all subjectivity is a simple instrument for making the faith more explicit; in the second, reason, impregnated with subjectivity, sets itself up as a partner for faith and imposes on it its whims. Instead of magnifying glasses, hermeneutics recommends tinted and distorted glasses.

Well, the shape of these glasses, their tint, the whim of this reason are, fatally, the dominant shape, tint, whim of the epoch. This contemporary whim is neither science nor scientism; it is sentimentalism.

O theologians who twist texts, false spirits full of shrewdness, emotional enemies of truth, flowing with feelings and arid of faith! You reread and revisit the Tradition of the Church with your prejudices of today and you declare haughtily that this revision rediscovers ‘the deepest patrimony of the Church.’ On the contrary, you ought to find this patrimony in the Tradition of the Church, its constant practice and its invariable teaching, by bringing forth the high principles and by them condemning your prejudices of today.



3. Death, a remedy

Traditionally, death is the separation of the soul and the body, and the end of human life upon earth: it is the greatest temporal evil and the most feared. Death is not against nature, since all composite being is dissoluble and since God only preserved our first parents in the terrestrial paradise from it by a gratuitous preternatural gift. But it is, in fact, the penalty of sin: ‘Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God commanded Adam, for the day on which you eat of it, you will die the death” (Gen. 2, 17).

This vision of death must be revised by existentialism. One of Saint Ambrose’s sermons, is only existentialist sermon, appears opportunely:

Death, the bishop of Milan says there, is not natural, but it is become so; for from the beginning, God did not create death; he gave it to us as a remedy […] for transgression; the life of men becomes miserable in its daily work and by insupportable tears. A term must be set for his unhappiness, so that death may render to him what life had lost.[218]

In fact, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) affirms, ‘Better is death than a bitter life: and everlasting rest than continual sickness’ (Eccl./Sir. 30, 17). – Still, eternal rest, whose enemy, like the enemy of life, is sin, must be merited.

And Benedict XVI underlines the existentialist paradox of death:

On the one hand, we should not wish to die […], while on the other we also do not desire to continue this limited existence, and the world was not even created in this perspective [Spe Salvi, #11].

I would say that this paradox does not exist. Provided that it be without too terrible infirmities, what man does not want to continue living? The paradox is false because it fails to mention that death is the wages of sin: ‘stipendium enim peccati mors’ (Rom. 6, 23). Without doubt, it is more positive to see death as the remedy of our temporality than as a sanction for our malice. Religion is thereby rendered more acceptable for our fragile generation. But why hide from ourselves that Jesus, by the cross, has made of death a remedy, a truth: the expiation for sin?



4. Eternal life, immersion in love

Eternal life, Benedict XVI teaches, is not ‘an interminable life,’ an idea ‘which causes fear’; it is, as Saint Augustine said, ‘the happy life.’ In what does this consist?

It is a matter, Benedict XVI explains, of the moment of immersion in the ocean of infinite love, in which time—before and after—no longer exists […], an immersion always renewed in the immensity of being, while we are simply filled with joy [Spe Salvi, #12].

Why this condition ‘it is a matter of?’ What is that ‘ocean of infinite love?’ What is that ‘immensity of being?’ One is not very reassured by these images nor by their dimensions. It is only on the following page that we learn that heaven is ‘to live with God forever.’ – It is true that eternal life, begun on earth by sanctifying grace, is a life with God; but what has changed in heaven? Is it only the ‘forever?’

Benedict XVI does not even feel capable, if not of giving a definition of heaven, at least of giving an exact description of it! Why does he conceal from us that the life of heaven is the vision of God himself, the vision facing God, God seen face to face, ‘facie ad faciem’ (1 Cor. 13, 12), that is to say, without created intermediary? It is Saint John, the Apostle of love, who teaches: ‘We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is’ (I John 3, 2). Saint Paul explains that in faith, knowledge, as ‘through a glass, in a dark manner’ (I Cor. 13, 12), will be succeeded by the immediate vision of God. It is this view which will beatify the souls of the elect.

But is this view perhaps too precise for the spirit of Benedict XVI, recalcitrant in all definition? In any case, the pontiff clarifies one precondition for the happy life: it is not to live isolated from others, as Henri de Lubac showed, he said. From the Fathers, Lubac would have proved that ‘salvation has always been considered a communal reality’ (Spe Salvi, #14).

[The happy life] thus presupposes an exodus from the prison of my own self, because it is only in the opening of this universal subject [others] that also opens the sight of the source of joy, of love itself, of God [Spe Salvi, #14].



5. Collective salvation according to Henri de Lubac

The French theologian honored by Spe Salvi has in fact reinterpreted the dogma, ‘ no salvation outside of the Church,’ by invoking a collective salvation: no salvation for the individual without a community of salvation. This would remain quite traditional. But it is not only this. There will be no need for every infidel to enter in good time into the bosom of the Church; it suffices that each and every one of them make up a part of that humanity which is on the way to unity thanks to Christianity:

How then would there be salvation for the members, if by some impossibility the body was not itself saved? But the salvation for this body—for humanity—consists in receiving the form of Christ, and this is only done by means of the Catholic Church. […] Is it not she, finally, who is charged with realizing, for as many as lend themselves to her, the spiritual unification of all men? Thus, this Church, which, as the invisible body of Christ, identifies itself with final salvation, as a visible, historical institution is the providential means of this salvation. ‘In her alone is mankind remade and recreated’ (St. Augustine, ep. 118, #33, PL 33, 448).[219]

Saint Augustine does not, however, speak of the unity of mankind, but of its recreation and this is more than a nuance. Does Father de Lubac judge it easier to impress the form of Christ upon the collectivity of humanity than to impress it by Baptism upon each of millions of souls to be saved? This would be a brilliant Platonic solution.

Another solution, more elegant, is proposed by the scurrilous[220] Jesuit: each of the millions of human beings has been and has still his role in the preparation of the Gospel throughout the centuries, despite the groping ‘of research, of laborious elaborations, of partial anticipations, of correct natural inventions, and of still imperfect solutions’ (p. 172). These living stones of the scaffolding for the building of the body of Christ will not be rejected ‘once the edifice is achieved’ (p. 172):

Providentially indispensible to the building of the Body of Christ, the ‘infidels’ must benefit in their manner from the vital exchanges of this Body. By an extension of the dogma of the communion of saints, it thus seems just to think that, since they are not themselves places in the normal conditions for salvation, they could nevertheless obtain this salvation in virtue of the mysterious ties which unify them to the faithful. In short, they could be saved because they make up an integrated part of the humanity which will be saved.[221]

This is no longer Platonism; this is theological fiction: to an imaginary preparation for the Gospel within paganism, a meritorious virtue of grace is attributed, in favor of the obscure artisans of this preparation. But can the recompense of an imaginary elaboration be anything other than an imaginary grace?

The sentimental care for enlarging the door of salvation, because the Church has become a little flock, makes reason a vagabond in the imagination. Benedict XVI makes a similar attempt to lessen the pains of Purgatory. Let’s see.



6. Purgatory diminished

Benedict XVI welcomes ‘the old Jewish idea of an intermediary condition between death and resurrection,’ that is, a state ‘in which the judgment is yet lacking’ and in which souls ‘already undergo punishment […] or on the contrary already rejoice in the provisional forms of beatitude’ (Spe Salvi, #45).

This is, very simply, to repeat Pope John XXII’s error, condemned ex cathedra by his successor Benedict XII, defining that the souls of the just, ‘immediately after their death and purification […], for those who should have need of it, […] have been, are and will be in heaven, in the Kingdom of heaven, and in the heavenly paradise with Christ, united to the company of the holy angels.’[222]

In this [intermediary] state, Benedict XVI continues, are possibilities for purification and healing which make the soul ripe for communion with God. The primitive Church took up these conceptions, from which finally the Western Church [he wants to say Catholic] developed little by little the doctrine of Purgatory [Spe Salvi, #45].

To this heresy of the intermediary state (mixture of the old Jewish sheol and the Limbo of the Patriarchs) and to this theory of Purgatory with its old Jewish origin, Benedict XVI proposes a modern alternative which decidedly pleases him better:

Certain recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which burns and at the same time saves may be Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment; before his eyes all falsehood vanishes. It is the encounter with him which, burning us, transforms us and frees us to become truly ourselves [Spe Salvi, # 47].

There is no question of a lingering debt to be acquitted, nor of a temporal penalty to be purged; he ignores that it is about this purification: might it be from sin? Whatever it may be, it is a liberation for the sake of becoming oneself anew; it is an existentialist transformation:

Christ’s regard, the beating of his heart heals us thanks to transformation indeed sorrowful, ‘as by fire,’ as Saint Paul said (I Cor. 3, 12-15). Nevertheless, it is a happy suffering, in which the holy power of love penetrates us like a flame [Spe Salvi, #47].

I thought that the suffering of Purgatory was first a certain penalty of displeasure: the delay of access to the beatific vision, and besides that a penalty of fire, inflicted by God to purify the soul from its inordinate attachments to creatures. Is this explanation, which accords so well with the nature of sin—aversion from God and adherence to creatures—to clear for Benedict XVI? It is simply that the fire of love avails more to destroy ‘the filth’ of the soul, than a fire inflicted by the sovereign judge! Purgatory becomes quite sympathetic, since the same fire of love there destroys, as on earth, the stains on the soul. – However the saints are not of this opinion; they have the faith, and they understand, like Saint Theresa of Lisieux, that ‘the fire of love is more sanctifying than the fire of purgatory’: that it is not thus the same fire.

Indeed, the advantage of the theory patronized by the pontiff is that this instantaneous purification through Christ’s regard enormously shortens Purgatory, with regard to our hurried generation. Here is a handy Christianity. Here is an ‘easier’ religion, such as was conceived by an English reformer. Here is the ‘reign of God,’ Kant would say, ‘in which the faith of the Church is overcome and replaced by religious faith, that is, by simple rational faith.’[223] For the rest, Kant adds, ‘if Christianity should cease to be likeable […], one would necessarily see […] the heart of the majority of men incited to aversion and revolt against it.’[224] (Texts cited by Spe Salvi # 19, without the pontiff’s remarking that Kant justifies this and, in so doing, without condemning him.)

Benedict XVI however clarifies something concerning this instantaneous Purgatory:

We cannot calculate with this world’s chronological measures the duration of this burning which transforms. The transforming moment of this encounter escapes all terrestrial chronometry. It is the time of the heart, the time of passage into communion with God in the body of Christ [Spe Salvi, #47].

Thus it is confirmed that Purgatory is a moment, a passage. There is no longer any question of remaining ‘in purgatory until the end of the world,’ as Our Lady dared to say to Lucia at Fatima, May 13, 1917, concerning a certain Amelia.[225] Decidedly, this new religion is more reassuring.



7. A humanistic particular judgment

God’s judgment is hope, Benedict XVI affirms: as much because he is justice as because he is grace. If he were only grace which make everything earthly insignificant, God would still owe to us an answer to the question concerning justice. If he were pure justice, in the end he could be for us no more than a motive of fear [Spe Salvi, #47].

I regret to contradict these reflections which seem to make good sense. No, if divine justice is desirable, it is not because it gives recompense to the ‘earthly,’ but to our merits, that is to say, our good works accomplished in the state of grace. But Benedict XVI precisely does not believe in merit:

God’s reign is a gift, and rightly because of this it is great and beautiful, and it constitutes the answer to hope. And we cannot—to employ classical terminology—‘merit’ heaven thanks to ‘our good works.’ It is always more than what we merit. […] Nevertheless, with all our consciousness of the ‘super-value’ of ‘heaven,’ it remains not the less always true that our acts are not indifferent before God [Spe Salvi, # 35].

Let us remind ourselves of the anathema of the Council of Trent”

If anyone say that man, justified by his good works, does not truly merit […] eternal life […], let him be anathema.[226]

Likewise, if the divine justice of judgment ‘causes us fear,’ it is not because it could be ‘pure justice,’ but rather because it can inflict pains upon us, the eternal pain of those who die in the state of mortal sin and the pains of Purgatory for the rest.

But all these distinctions exceed Benedict XVI, as we will again note; his theology is diminished and hazy; the distinction between natural and supernatural is too large and too clear for his eye.



8. The fundamental option, economy of mortal sin

According to the tradition doctrine of the faith, by a single mortal sin, in fact the soul loses sanctifying grace (DS 1544) and merits eternal hell; while venial sin only merits a temporal penalty, perhaps expiated by any good work.

This distinction, however, is not conformed to the feelings of our contemporaries. (By whose fault? – The conciliar clergy’s!) They judge that, setting aside war criminals and the authors of genocide, with whom ‘everything is a lie’ and who have ‘lived for hate,’ and setting aside the saints ‘who let themselves be totally penetrated by God’ and have ‘totally opened themselves to their neighbor,’ there is ‘the norm,’ that of ‘the most part of men,’ in whom good and bad are present at the same time and sometimes evil more than good. But despite this:

In the greatest depth of their being remains a final, interior opening to truth, to love, to God. However, in the concrete choices of life, this is covered […] by compromises with evil. Much filth covers purity, the thirst for which nonetheless endures and which, despite this, emerges always anew out of any baseness and remains present in the soul [Spe Salvi, # 46].

In this theory, there are no longer the just man and the unjust (theologically), no longer the state of grace and the state of mortal sin. All sin or state of sin gives way to salvation, provided that the fundamental option be guarded by God, by ‘the thirst for purity,’ ‘the interior opening to truth, love, God.’ In this case, ‘the Christian experience built upon Jesus Christ’ is a ‘foundation which can no longer be removed’ (#46). Such a soul could be saved by passing through the fire which consumes evil deeds (Ibid., I Cor. 3, 12).

In the final account, Benedict XVI republishes the Protestant error of ‘man at once just and sinful.’ He also republishes the theory that was however condemned by his predecessor John Paul II in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor (# 63-68), that of the fundamental good option, which keeps particular, sinful choices from interrupting the relation with God. Against this error, John Paul II reaffirmed the distinction between mortal and venial sin (VS 69-70). Benedict XVI’s religion is decidedly more convenient.



9. Hell, a state of soul

“Hell is other people,” said John-Paul Sartre. Benedict XVI takes the counter-stance against this diabolical egoism. Hell is irrevocable egoism, that of those who ‘have totally destroyed in themselves the desire for the truth and availability of love.’ He explains:

In such individuals, there would no longer be anything remediable and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: it is this which is indicated by the word hell [Spe Salvi, # 45].

Here is an equivocation. It is necessary to clarify that the one in a state of mortal sin already is in a state of damnation, but that this damnation is not irrevocable as after death. This then is hell, place and state of souls damned at once by their fault and by the sentence of the just Judge. If this distinction is lacking, the equivocation of mixing the state of the sinner’s revocable damnation and the state and place of hell’s irrevocable damnation remains.

And for want of knowing of what one is talking, one puts hells into the conditional: it ‘would be’ the state of a man irremediably closed to truth and bent back on himself. It is disquieting for the egoists that we all are, but who is entirely egoist? To sum up, who can be truly in hell? By such a manner, hell is a state of soul.


As a fruit of his hermeneutics, Benedict XVI’s religion is a religion which presents itself as very likeable, but it is a religion in the conditional.



Christianity and Enlightenment

1. A fragile equilibrium

I have mentioned the wish expressed by Benedict XVI, after his return from Turkey, on December 22, 2006, before the members of the Roman curia, of seeing Islam update itself with the help of the Enlightenment, a process effected in the Church by Vatican II, ‘at the end of a long and difficult search,’ the pontiff avowed, explaining:

It is a matter of the attitude that the community of faithful must adopt when faced with the convictions and demands which are affirmed in the philosophy of the Enlightenment.

On the one hand, we must oppose ourselves to the dictatorship of positivist reason, which excludes God and the life of community and of public organization, thus depriving man of his specific criteria for measurement.

On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the true conquests of Enlightenment philosophy, the Rights of Man and in particular the liberty of the faith and of its exercise, by recognizing in them equally essential elements for the authenticity of religion.[227]

Leaving to the reader the care of appreciating the justice of the free exercise of ‘faiths,’ the advantage of ‘the authenticity’ of Islam, and the degree of realism in the opening of Islam to the Enlightenment rather than the conversion of Muslims to the true Light ‘which enlightens all men’ (John 1, 9), I will consider the nature of the welcome, by the Church of Vatican II, for the quintessence of the Enlightenment: the Rights of Man. Joseph Ratzinger describes this recent welcome as an ‘acquisition’ and a ‘balance’:

The problem of the 1960s was of acquiring the better values expressed by two centuries of ‘liberal’ culture. These are in fact the values which, even if they are born outside the Church, can find their place, purified and corrected, in its vision of the world. It is what has been done. But it is necessary to admit that some hopes doubtless too naïve have been deceived. It is a matter of finding a new equilibrium.[228]

This text is an implicit citation of Yves Congar’s texts which I have quoted in my introduction, to which I send my reader. Father Congar proposed as early as 1938 (and in his work from 1950 for a ‘true reform of the Church’[229]), Christianity’s assimilation of ‘valuable contributions’ from the modern world, after the Church has ‘decanted and at need purified’ them. This is what the Council attempted, but in fact has this synthesis not been assisted to an unstable and not yet attained equilibrium? In fact, does not the one who says the word equilibrium suppose an engagement of forces between two antagonists?

This is what seems to me to emerge from one of Joseph Ratzinger’s conferences treating exactly of a mutual purification and a correlation of Christianity and the Enlightenment.[230] – I summarize this text:

1. On the one hand, religion should make positivistic rationality hear reason by causing it to admit, in science as in politics, ‘the challenge and the chance of faith in God, who is in person the creative Reason of the universe.’[231] Positivist reason should not even be asked to accept natural right—whose legislator is God, author of human nature:

This instrument [J. Ratzinger judges] is unhappily blunted, and it is why I prefer not to lean upon it in this debate.

The idea of natural right presupposes a concept of nature where nature and reason interpenetrate each other, in which nature herself is rational. This vision of nature collapsed when the theory of evolution triumphed. Nature as such may not be rational, even if there are in it rational behaviors. There is the diagnostic which is addressed to us from this very moment, and which seems impossible today to contradict [p. 25].

But is human nature not rational for God who conceived it and affixed to it its ends? Is it not ration for man, who, by his natural reason, apprehends his natural inclinations as good and thus as ends to be attained by his action?[232]

It is necessary to suppose that Joseph Ratzinger is incapable of grasping such an argument, no so much because he adopts the evolutionary antithesis which he sets forth, but because he refuses the idea of finality and the notion of final cause.

However, he does consent to admit as a base for natural right what would be the Rights of Man:

As the ultimate element of natural right, which would wish to be in its depth a reasonable right—in any case, in modern times—the Rights of Man are put in place. They are incomprehensible without the presupposition that man as man, by virtue of his simple membership of the species ‘man,’ is a subject of rights, which his being itself bears in itself for values and norms—which are a matter of discovery and not of invention [p. 25].

My readers will be indignant, I hope, at this ‘human species’ without knowable nature, which serves as a foundation, not for rights (to what really is right, because this is suited to human nature and its ends), but as a foundation for a ‘subject of rights,’ who says only ‘I have the right,’ without knowing first to what he has a right nor from what he holds this ‘I have the right.’ He will be indignant too at this ‘values’ which, without being the order owed to the end suited to the nature, are all the same ‘values maintained by themselves, issued from the essence of the human and thus inviolable by all those who possess this essence’ (p. 21). He will be indignant then at those ‘norms’ which apparently have no author, not even that God who is however ‘the creative Reason of the universe.’ He will be indignant at last that those ‘values and norms’ must be, according to Joseph Ratzinger, completed, limited by a list of the ‘duties of man.’ Is this the Decalogue? Instead of the norms of natural right following naturally from the commandments of God, one has duties as a man, antagonistic and regulatory to one’s rights:

Perhaps today the doctrine of the Rights of Man must be completed by a doctrine of the duties of man and the limits of man, and that is what could, in spite of everything, help to renew the question of knowing whether there can be a reason to nature and thus a reasonable right. […] For Christians, they would deal with creation and with Creator. In the Indian world, it would correspond to the notion of dharma, to the internal causality of being; in Chinese tradition, it is the idea of the celestial orders. [p. 25].

Is the Creator no longer the supreme and unique legislator of nature? He is only the police for the Rights of Man? Between the Christian faith (or other religious traditions) and the Enlightenment (and its Rights of Man), the assimilation dreamed up by Yves Congar, the acquisition wished by Joseph Ratzinger, the equilibrium called for by Benedict XVI prove itself to be a trial of strength.

2. On the other hand, Christianity (like all religions)—cured of its ‘pathologies’ (p. 27) by a purification of its tendency to be, in place of a force for salvation, ‘an archaic and dangerous force which builds false universalisms [the reign of Christ, or Jihad] and foments thus intolerance and terrorism’ (p. 22)—would ratify the Rights of Man, duly purified and limited, as ‘the translation of the codified convictions of the Christian faith into the language of the secularized world,’ according to the expression of Jürgen Habermas in the same dialogue.[233]



2. Mutual regeneration and polyphonic correlation

In summary, Joseph Ratzinger declares: “I feel myself in general agreement with Jürgen Habermas’ account concerning a post-secular society, concerning the will for mutual learning and concerning self-limitation on the part of each’; he explains himself:

– There are extremely dangerous pathologies in religions; they make it a necessity to consider the divine light of reason [sic] as a sort of organ of control which religion must accept as a permanent organ for purification and regulation […]

– But there also exist pathologies in reason […], a hubris (passion) of reason, which is not less dangerous […]: the atomic bomb, man as product. This is why in an inverse sense, reason also must be recalled to its limits and learn a capacity for hearing in regard to the great religious traditions of humanity. […]

– Kurt Hubner recently formulated a similar need and declared that with such a thesis there was not question of a ‘return to faith,’ but of a ‘liberation in relation to a historical blindness, which supposes that [faith] no longer has anything to say to modern man from the fact that it is opposed to its humanistic idea of reason, of Aufklärung and of liberty’; I would thus willingly speak of a necessary form of correlation between reason and faith, reason and religion, called to a purification and to a mutual regeneration. […]

[As for other cultural or religious components], it is important to integrate them in an attempt for polyphonic correlation, in which they will open themselves to the essential complementarity between reason and faith. Thus could be born a universal process of purification in which, in the final account, values and norms, known or intuited in one manner or another by all men [sic], will gain a new force of radiance. What maintains the world in unity will in this way rediscover new vigor [p. 27-28].


Thus, Benedict XVI’s hermeneutics goes much further even than I discerned at the beginning: more than a reinterpretation, it is a regeneration; and it goes beyond the only links of the Catholic religion with Western rationality. It consists first in a mutual purification of faith and reason, which corrects the intolerant drift of the first and the blind autonomy of the second. It finally consists in a mutual regeneration of faith and reason, which would enrich faith with the liberal values, duly limited, of the Enlightenment, and which would win reason over to a hearing of the faith duly decoded and transcribe in secularized language. And this process would stretch out universally to all religious faiths and to all rationalities.

Without realizing a one world ethos (p. 27), thus vigor would be given to the values which must support the world.


Does it not seem to my reader that what maintains the world is neither Max Scheler’s ‘values,’ nor the Enlightenment’s man as ‘subject of rights,’ but Jesus Christ, author, reformer and elevator of human nature? ‘For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus’ (I Cor. 3, 11). Before this conviction which the Christian faith grants, the whole equilibrist construction of a theologian in his room – salva reverentia – collapses like a castle of cards, as the New World Order will collapse which it wishes to serve. For secularized reason, the faith has only one true word: ‘Omnia instaurare in Christo (to restore all things in Christ)’ (Eph. 1, 10).





In concluding this study, I thank my confreres, Father Benoît de Jorna and Jean-Michel Gleize for their intellectual rivalry, as metaphysical as ecclesiological, which furnished me with precious ideas and documents. I likewise thank Father Jean-Dominique Favre for his help with German philosophy and Father François Knittel for his labors in ethics which I pillaged shamelessly; Father Renaud de Sainte-Marie for his master’s thesis for philosophy concerning The Role of the Sensible Good in the Representation and the Obtainment of the Moral Good in Saint Thomas Aquinas and Kant (Institut universitair Saint-Pie X, Juin 2006); Father Alain Lorans for his ‘Analysis’ of the speech of December 22, 2006, in DICI, # 148, January 13, 2007, p. 11-12, which I copied; Father Dominique Bourmaud for his work One Hundred Years of Modernism: Genealogy of Vatican Council II, Clovis, 2003, and his article Karl Rahner, Son of Modernism, in Fideliter # 179, September-October 2007, p. 29; Father Christian Thouvenot for his article The Faith According to Joseph Ratzinger, appearing in the same issue of Fideliter, p. 32; Father Xavier Beauvais for his article concerning contemporary modernist faith appearing in Le Chardonnet, # 236, March 2008, after Marcel De Corte; Father Grégoire Celier for his methodological counsel; and Father Pierre-Marie de Kergorlay for the important corrections that he suggested to me.

Thanks to what I have learned from these men, all in the school of Saint Thomas Aquinas, I can dare to say with the wise king Solomon: ‘The wisdom which I have learned without guile, I communicate without envy and her riches I hide not’ (Wis. 7, 13).



End notes:

[1] Hermeneutics is the art of interpreting facts or documents.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Right, Democracy and Religion” (debate with Jürgen Habermas, Catholic Academy of Bavaria, Munich, January 19, 2004), Esprit, July 2004, p. 28,
[3] True philosophy
[4] J. Ratzinger, Le Sel de Terre, Flammarion-Cerf, 1997, p. 78-79.
[5] Benedict XVI, speech of December 22, 2005.
[6] Y. Congar, True and False Reform in the Church, Paris, Cerf, 1950, p. 345-346.
[7] See Pius XII, Humani Generis, Dz 2314.
[8] Vatican I, constitution Dei Filius, ch. 4, De fide et ratione, DS 3020.
[9] J. Ratzinger, The Principles of Catholic Theology, Téqui, 1982, p. 13
[10] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, Cerf, 2005 (reissue without any change from the 1st edition of 1969).
[11] André Clement, The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, NEL, 1983, p.33-34.
[12] Michael Fiedrowicz, Theologie der Kirchenväter, Grundlagen frühchristlicher Glaubensreflexion, Herder, 2007, p. 340.
[13] Vigilius of Thapsus, Against Eutyches, 5, 2.
[14] Maximus the Confessor, opusc. 4, PG 91, 260: Fiedrowicz, Theologie der Kirchenvater, p. 356-357.
[15] Saint Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, RJ 2173-2174.
[16] See J. Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, Paris, Fayard, 1998, p.43-44.
[17] John XXIII, Gaudet Mater Ecclesiae, opening speech of the Council from October 11, 1962, translation according to the Italian text prepared in l’Osservatore Romano, October 12, 1962, p. 3. See on this subject Paolo Pasqualluci, ‘Vatican II and modern thought: Considerations from a celebrated talk of John XXIII,’ The Religion of Vatican II – First Paris Symposium, October 4-6, 2002, p. 313-314. (NDLR.)
[18] Benedict XVI, speech from December 22, 2005.
[19] J. Ratzinger, Der Christ und die Welt von heute, in J. B. Metz, Weltverständnis im Glauben, Matthias Grünewald Verlag, Mainz, 1965, p. 145.
[20] J. Ratzinger, The Salt of the Earth, p. 78-79.
[21] Benedict XVI, speech from December 22, 2005.
[22] “A right proper to each man’: Pius IX, encyclical Quanta cura, Dz 1690.
[23] ‘Rights which nature has given to man’: Leo XIII, encyclical Libertas, Dz 1932.
[24] Pius IX, encyclical Quanta Cura, Dz 1690.
[25] See: Fr. François Knittel, “Benedict XVI: debate concerning Vatican II,’ in Courrier de Rome, Si si no no, # 290, June 2006, p. 6.
[26] Benedict XVI, speech of December 22, 2005.
[27] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, preface to the 2nd edition, III, 13.
[28] “Primo in conceptione intellectus cadit ens; quia secundum hoc unumquodque cognoscibile est in quantum est actu; unde ens est proprium objectum intellectus, et sic est primum intelligibile, sicut sonus est primum audibile.” (I, q. 5, a. 2).
[29] Wisdom 13, 1-5: “But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen could not understand him that is. Neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman.” (Douay-Rheims version)
[30] St. Pius X, encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, # 9 and 13, Dz 2076 and 2079.
[31] Immanuel Kant, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, 1793.
[32] Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (trans. by James W. Ellington), 1981, p. 7.
[33] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason (1788), Paris, PUF, 1965, p. 92-93.
[34] Immanuel Kant, Opus postumum, Convolutum VII.
[35] Joseph Ratzinger, speech at Subiaco, Documentation catholique, 2005, special edition, p.121-122.
[36] J. Ratzinger, ibid.
[37] J. Ratzinger, ibid.
[38] J. Ratzinger, ibid.
[39] J. Ratzinger, ibid., p. 124-125.
[40] J. Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, Paris, Fayard, 1998, p. 52.
[41] reduction
[42] Husserl, Logical Investigations, II, 2nd part, translated by H. Hélie, PUF, 1970, p. 151.
[43] Husserl, Directive Ideas, translated by Ricoeur, Gallimard, 1950, p. 164.
[44] Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, #11, § 2.
[45] John Paul II to President Bettino Craxi, at the time of the ratification of a new Italian concordat, June 3, 1985 (The Cross, June 5, 1985).
[46] Joseph Ratzinger, interview with the daily newspaper, Le Monde, November 17, 1992.
[47] Gaudium et Spes, #24, § 3.
[48] “Si in luce ambulamus,” St. John said, “societatem habemus ad invicem” (If we walk in the light, we are in communion with each other – 1 John 1, 7): Society is a matter of virtue.
[49] Karol Wojtyla, Person und Tat (Person and Act), Freiburg, Herder, 1981, ch. 7, n.9, p. 311 and 341.
[50] “Persona est perfectissimus in natura.” Summa Theologica, I, q. 29, a. 3.
[51] Summa Theologica, I, q. 39, a. 3, obj., 4.
[52] Rocco Buttiglione, The Thought of Karol Wojtyla, Communio-Fayard, 1984, p. 291.
[53] Joseph Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, p. 52.
[54] Ibid.
[55] Summarized from our perusal of G. Bensussan, art. ‘Buber,’ in Jean-François Mattéi, Universal Philosophical Encyclopedia, Paris, PUF, 1972, t. 2, p. 2301-2302.
[56] ‘Mutua amatio [quae] fundatur super aliqua communicatione’ II-II, q. 23, a. 1.
[57] II-II, q. 23, a. 1.
[58] Martin Buber, The Eclipse of God, Paris, Nouvelle Cité, 1987, p. 35; cited by Daniel Tangay, Leo Strauss, an Intellectual Biography, Paris, Livre de poche, p. 296.
[59] Joseph Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 203-204.
[60] Ibid., p. 204
[61] John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, # 85.
[62] Josef Rupert Geiselmann, Die katholische Tübinger Schule, Freiburg, Herder, 1964, p. 22.
[63] Josef Rupert Geiselmann, Die katholische Tübinger Schule, p. 36.
[64] Drey, Apologetik, I, p. 377-378; Josef Rupert Geiselmann, Die katholische Tübinger Schule, p. 36.
[65] J Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, p. 82
[66] Ibid., p. 87.
[67] Ibid., p. 88.
[68] Ibid.
[69] Pius IX, 1846, Dz 1637.
[70]St. Pius X, decree Lamentabili, 1907, Dz 2021
[71] Pius IX, Dz 1636; Vatican I, Dz 1800.
[72] Vatican I, Dz 1836.
[73] Dz 1836.
[74] Saint Thomas, II-II, q. 1, a. 7, obj. 4 and reply 4.
[75] ‘Interpretatione latiori,’ ‘Letter of the bishops after the council of Chalcedon,’ 458, in Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum published by W. de Gruyter, 1936, 2, 5, 47. (Cited in Michael Fiedrowicz, Theologie der Kirchenväter, Herder, 2007, p. 355, note 97.
[76] Saint Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, 434, RJ 2174.
[77] Saint Thomas, I, q. 36, a. 2, reply 2.
[78] II-II, q. 174, a. 6, reply 3
[79] II-II, q. 1, a. 7.
[80] Before Christ, the articles of faith increased because they were revealed more and more explicitly by God; after Christ and the Apostles, the articles of faith increased because they were transmitted more and more explicitly by the Church.
[81] J. Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, p. 88.
[82] See: Martin Buber, Moses, Oxford, East and West Library, 1946.
[83] The Council of Trent, session IV, Dz 786.
[84] Ibid., Dz 783.
[85] Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Paris, Flammarion, 2007, foreword, p. 15.
[86] ‘Apostoli plenissime fuerunt instructi de mysteriis: acceperunt enim, sicut tempore prius, ita et ceteris abundantius, ut dicit Glossa, super illud, Rm 8, 23, “nos ipsi primitias spiritus habentes.” […] Illi qui fuerunt propinquiores Christo vel ante sicut Joannes, vel post sicut Apostoli, plenius mysteria fidei cognoverunt.’ (II-II, q. 1, a. 7, obj. 4 and reply 4)
[87] Joseph Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, p. 87.
[88] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 111.
[89] Ibid., p. 110.
[90] See Pascendi, # 16, Dz 2082.
[91] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 111.
[92] See Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, preface to the second edition, III, 10-14.
[93] Dz 48, DS 112.
[94] “Jesum Christum, Filium Dei, natum ex Patre unigenitum, hoc est de substantia Patris[,,,] genitum no factum, consubstantialem Patri’ (Dz 54).
[95] ‘Unam deitatem in tribus subsistentiis sive personis adorandam’ (Dz 213).
[96] ‘In relativis vero personarum nominibus, Pater ad Filium, Filius ad Patrem, Sanctus Spiritus ab utroque referetur; quae cum relative tres personae dicantur, una tamen nature vel substantia creditur’ (Dz 278).
[97] ‘Ubi non obviate relationis oppositio’ (Dz 703).
[98] Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, p. 352, cited by Garrigou-Lagrange, Common Sense, Paris, 1922, 7th edition, p. 92.
[99] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1878, reprinted by the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, 2006, p. 185-186.
[100] John Henry Newman, An Essay, p. 187.
[101] Council of Trent, session VII, canon 8, Dz 851.
[102] Ralph Wiltgen, The Rhine flows into the Tiber, Paris, Cèdre, 1974, p. 90. See also Father Victor Alain Berto, letter of November 30, 1963, to Father B., published in Le Sel de la terre 43 (winter 2002-2003), p. 29.
[103] Translator’s note: by this word, the Bishop could be referring either to the medical disorder in which one part of the intestine is invaginated (sheathed) in another, or to the process of blood vessel growth by the splitting of one into two. However, neither of these meanings makes much sense in context, so perhaps he had the etymological meaning in mind: intus-suscipere – to receive within oneself, which could be understood as ‘to digest.’
[104] Michael Fiedrowicz, Theologie der Kirchenväter, Herder, 2007, p. 340.
[105] André Clement, The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, NEL, 1983, p. 42.
[106] Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., Common Sense and Dogmatic Formulae, Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, 1922, p. 358-359.
[107] Benedict XVI, Speech to the Curia from December 22, 2005, ORLF December 27, 2005.
[108] J. Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, ch. 11, p. 121.
[109] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, Cerf, 2005 (a new edition without any change to the 1st edition from 1969).
[110] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 207
[111] Ibid.
[112] Ibid., p. 213.
[113] Fifth logical research, in Husserl, Logical Researches, t. II-2, Paris, PUF, 1961.
[114] I, q. 1, a. 10.
[115] Videntibus illis, elevatus est, et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum (Acts 1, 9).
[116] See Tixeront, Handbook of Patrology, Paris, Victor Lecoffre, 1918, p. 120-121.
[117] Saint Jerome, Letter contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum.
[118] Louis Billot, De Ecclesia, t. II, Rome, Gregorian University, 1929, p. 96.
[119] See Pascendi, # 9, Dz 2076,
[120] Benedict XVI, foreword to Jesus of Nazareth, Flammarion, 2007, p. 15.
[121] Ibid.
[122] Pius XII, Humani Generis, August 12, 1950, Dz 2306, DS 3878.
[123] Patrice Favre, Georges Cottier, Itinerary of a Believer, Tours, CLD, 2007, p. 73.
[124] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 111.
[125] Ibid., p. 113.
[126] Ibid., p. 113-114.
[127] I, q. 28, a. 2.
[128] I, q. 29, a. 4.
[129] J. Ratzinger, My Life, Memories, 1927-1977, p. 52.
[130] J. Ratzinger, The Salt of the Earth, p. 60-61.
[131] H-I. Marrou, Saint Augustine and Augustinianism, Seuil, 1955, p. 62.
[132] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 159.
[133] H. de Lubac, Catholicism, Paris, Cerf, 1954, 264-265.
[134] See F. J. Thonnard, Handbook of the History of Philosophy, Desclée, 1966, p. 1081-1082.
[135] See J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 197-198.
[136] Ibid., p. 199.
[137] See Thonnard, Handbook of the History of Philosophy, p. 676-677.
[138] J. Ratzinger, op. cit., p. 203.
[139] See Saint Thomas, III, q. 48.
[140] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 199.
[141] See III, q. 1, a. 2, ad. 2; q. 48, a. 2 and 4.
[142] Saint Leo the Great, First and Second Christmas Sermons, Paris, Cerf, ‘Christian Sources’ #22a, 1964, p. 69 and pp. 81-82.
[143] From the Latin, ‘condono’: to give freely, without claiming anything in return.
[144] See III, q. 46, a. 1, ad. 3.
[145] See I-II, q. 113, a. 1.
[146] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 197.
[147] Ibid.
[148] Ibid., p. 198.
[149] Ibid., p. 199.
[150] Ibid., p. 201.
[151] Ibid., p. 202.
[152] Ibid., p. 202 and 204.
[153] Luther’s Little Catechism, cited by Louis Bouyer, Concerning Protestantism in the Church, 3rd edition, Paris, Le Cerf, collection ‘Unam Sanctam’ #27, 1959, p. 27.
[154] ‘Heresy,’ in Greek etymology hairésis, means: retreat, selective choice, preference, diminution.
[155] Pius IX, encyclical Qui Pluribus of November 9, 1846.
[156] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 157.
[157] See III, q. 1, a. 2, ad. 2. Saint Thomas Aquinas has pointed out the doctrine that Saint Anselm proposed in his Cur Deus Homo (why did God become man). J. Ratzinger’s critiques opposing Saint Anselm in fact are directed against Saint Thomas Aquinas himself.
[158] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 158.
[159] Benedict XVI, encyclical Spe Salvi of November 30, 2007, #44.
[160] ‘Deus […], infunde cordibus nostris tuis amoris affectum: ut te in omnibus et super omnia diligentes […].’ (Collect of the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost)
[161] See I-II, q. 85, a. 3.
[162] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 212.
[163] Ibid., p. 199.
[164] J. Ratzinger, The Principles of Theology, p. 279.
[165] Ibid.
[166] John Paul II, Speech to the Cardinals in the Curia, October 22, 1986, DC #1933, year 1987, p. 133-134.
[167] See Pius XII, encyclical Summi pontificantus, October 20, 1939, in Utz-Groner-Savignat, Human Relations and Contemporary Society, Fribourg, ed. Saint-Paul, t. 1, p. 17-9, #26-35.
[168] ‘Fundamentum enim aliud nemo potest ponere praeter id quod positum est, quod est Christus Jesus.’
[169] —Deus, qui diversitatem gentium in confession etui nominis adunasti: da, ut renatis fonte baptismatis una sit fides mentium, et pietas actionum, per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum.
[170] Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende: qui per diversitatem linguarum cunctarum, gentes in unitate fidei congregasti. (Antiphon for the office of Pentecost)
[171] See Jean Carmignac, To Hear Our Father, Paris edition, 1971, p. 17.
[172] Code of Canon Law from 1983, canon 204, §1.
[173] John Paul II, apostolic constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges (January 25, 1983), promulgating the new code of Canon Law.
[174] I accuse the Council, Martigny, ed. Saint-Gabriel, 1976, p. 34.
[175] J. Ratzinger, ‘Conference on the ecclesiology of Lumen Gentium to the congress of studies concerning Vatican II from February 25-27, 2000,’ DC 2223 (2000), p. 311.
[176] Ibid.
[177] Ibid., p 305.
[178] J. Ratzinger, ‘Conference at Subiaco,’ April 1, 2005, DC special edition, 2005, p. 121.
[179] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mame/Plon, 1992, #2337.
[180] II-II, q. 151, a. 2, ad. 2.
[181] Gaudium et Spes, n. 51, 3; John Paul II, Familiaris consortio, # 32.
[182] See Saint Pius X, letter Our Apostolic Charge, # 25.
[183] Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, At the Heart of Love, Jubilé, 1998, p. 115.
[184] Pius XII, Speech to midwives, October 29, 191, Utz-Groner-Savignat, # 1160. EPS-Mariage, # 646.
[185] R. Frydman, God, Medicine and the Embryo, ed. Odile Jacob, 2003.
[186] Saint Thomas Aquins, De Regno, l.1, ch. 14.
[187] Ibid., ch. 15.
[188] Dz 1689. This passage has been suppressed in editions after the Denzinger.
[189] See Yves Congar, True and False Reform in the Church, Paris, Cerf, 1950, p. 344.
[190] J. Ratzinger, ‘Why the Faith is in Crisis,’ debate with Vittorio Messori, Jesus, November 1984.
[191] See J. Maritain, Integrated Humanism, Paris, Aubier, 1936, p. 134-135.
[192] See the relation Mgr. Emil De Smedt’s discussion on the Council from May 28, 1965; and the debate between Cardinal Ratzinger and Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre on July 14, 1987 (see Mgr. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Marcel Lefebvre, Étampes, Clovis, 2002, p. 576).
[193] See F. J. Thonnard, Handbook of the History of Philosophy, Desclée, 1966, # 657, p. 1091.
[194] See the schema of Cardinal Ottaviani at Vatican Council II concerning the relations between Church and State (analyzed in The Salt of the Earth 39, winter 2001-2002, p. 74 and sq., notably p. 93).
[195] EPS-PIN, # 131-132.
[196] Ibid., # 154; Dz 1873.
[197] Leo XIII, encyclical Libertas, June 20, 1888, Dz 1932.
[198] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p. 36-37.
[199] J. Ratzinger, The Salt of the Earth, 2nd ed., Flammarion, 2005, p. 19.
[200] Ibid., p. 21.
[201] Alred Läpple, ‘Testimony,’ in 30 Days, 24th year, 2006, #1-2, p. 60.
[202] Marin Sola, O.P., The Homogenous Evolution of Dogma, 2nd ed., Fribourg (Switzerland), Lib. Saint-Paul, t. 1, 1924, p. 375.
[203] Pascendi, # 54, Dz 2106.
[204] DTC, ‘Thomas Aquinas’: see the section on the ‘objectivity of his doctoral teaching.’
[205] Mgr. Lefebvre, homely at Jurançon, July 29, 1979.
[206] Ibid.
[207] J. Ratzinger, The Principles of Catholic Theology, Téqui, 1982, p. 426.
[208] J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, Cerf, 2005, p. 11-12.
[209] Ibid., p. 11.
[210] Immanuel Kant, Opus Postumum, Convolutum VII.
[211] J. Ratzinger, ‘Europe in the Crisis of Cultures,’ conference at Subiaco on April 1, 2005 (just before being elected Pope), Sienne, Cantagalli, 2005.
[212] J. Ratzinger, The Salt of the Earth, Flammarion-Cerf, 1997, p. 16.
[213] Mgr Marcel Lefebvre, Conference at Mortain, 1947; A Spiritual Itinerary, Écône, 1990.
[214] Official Bulletin of the Diocese of Metz, October 1, 1967, cited by Itinéraires, # 118.
[215] The Bishops Speak the Faith of the Church, Paris, Cerf, 1978, p. 229-230.
[216] See Mitteilungsblatt of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, Stuttgart, May 2009.
[217] The Hope of Salvation for Children Who Die Unbaptized. Reflections of the International Theological Commission, published by Benedict XVI’s oral authorization in April 2007, # 2.
[218] Homily on the Death of his Brother Saturus, II, 47, CSEL 73, 274, cited by BenedictXVI, Spe salvi, # 10.
[219] H. de Lubac, Catholicism, the Social Aspects of Dogma, Cerf, 1938, p. 164-165.
[220] Translator’s note: the bishop’s word choice here was ‘sulfureux,’ meaning sulfurous or possibly lurid. Since ‘the sulfurous/lurid Jesuit’ made little sense, scurrilous or suspect seemed to be about the best interpretation.
[221] H. de Lubac, op. cit., p. 173.
[222] Mox post mortem et purgationem […] in illis qui purgatione hujusmodi indigebant […] sunt et erunt in caelo, coelorum regno et pardiso coelesti cum Christo, sanctorum angelorum consortio aggregatae (DS 1000).
[223] Immanuel Kant, The Victory of the Good Principle over the Evil and the Foundation of a Kingdom of God on Earth (1792), in Philosophical Works, Gallimard, La Pléiade, t. 3, 2003, p. 140.
[224] Kant, Das Ende aller Dinge – The End of All Things (1795), in Philosophical Works, Gallimard, La Pléiade, t. 3, 2003, p. 324-325.
[225] See Lucia Retells Fatima, DDB-Résiac, 1981, p. 159.
[226] Council of Trent, session VI, chapter 16, can. 32, DS 1582.
[227] DC #2373, February 4, 2007, p. 108.
[228] J. Ratzinger, Why the Faith is in Crisis, debate with Vittorio Messori, Jesus, November 1984, p. 72.
[229] Y. Congar, True and False reform in the Church, Paris, Cerf, 1950, p. 345-346.
[230] J. Ratzinger, ‘Democracy, Right and Religion’ in The Prepolitical Foundations for the Democratic State, Dialogue with Jürgen Habermas, Munich, January 19, 2004, translation by Jean-Louis Schlegel, in the review Esprit, July 2004, p. 5-28.
[231] Speech of December 22, 2006, to the Curia, DC # 2373, February 4, 2007, p. 107.
[232] See I-II, q. 94, a. 2.
[233] See J. Ratzinger, speech of December 22, 2006, DC 2373, p. 107.

2010 in review

January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Minty-Fresh™.

Crunchy numbers

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A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 5 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 369 posts.

The busiest day of the year was June 17th with 29 views. The most popular post that day was SKIRTING THE DIFFERENCE; What’s wrong with women wearing trousers .

Where did they come from?

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Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


SKIRTING THE DIFFERENCE; What’s wrong with women wearing trousers July 2009


untitled March 2008




The fraud of climate change as seen by a True Catholic: An article that needs to be read by ALL True Catholics. “Collapsing Before Our Very Eyes” by Dr.Thomas A. Droleskey December 2009
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The Oath Against Modernism Betrayed

December 7, 2010


“The students are molded according to the pattern of their teachers.”


The Oath Against


 Modernism Betrayed

by John Vennari

September 1, 2010, marks the 100th Annivesary of Pope St. Pius X’s promulgation of the Oath Against Modernism.

Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, the eminent American theologian, called the Oath Against Modernism “the most important and most influential document issued by the Holy See during the course of the 20th Century. It is a magnificent statement of Catholic truth in the face of errors which were being disseminated within the Church by the cleverest enemies the Mystical Body of Christ has encountered in the course of its history.”1

The Oath Against Modernism was abolished two years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, yet the men who took the Oath at ordination are still bound by it. Those who swore this sacred Oath and then promoted the modern program of Vatican II, including the Council’s new ecumenism and religious liberty, have shown themselves unfaithful to the Oath they swore solemnly before God.

Stressing the seriousness of the matter, Msgr. Fenton noted in 1960 that a man who took the Oath Against Modernism, and who then promoted Modernism himself, or allowed it to be promoted, “would mark himself not only as a sinner against the Catholic Faith but also as a common perjurer.”2

He who takes the Oath Against Modernism swears solemnly: “I sincerely hold that the doctrine of Faith was handed down to us from the Apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same explanation (eodem sensu eodemque sententia). Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another, different from the one which the Church held previously.”

At the end of the Oath, he makes this solemn Promise before God Himself: “I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand.”3

It is hard to see how a person who holds to the countersyllabus of Vatican II can claim to have kept the Faith “in exactly the same meaning and always in the same explanation” as the Church always held. It is hard to see how someone who accepts the Council’s new program of ecumenism and religious liberty can claim to have “guarded inviolate”, and “in no way deviated” from the clear teachings of the pre-Vatican II Popes regarding true Christian Unity and the Social Kingship of Christ.

Both Cardinal Ratzinger and Yves Congar stated openly, as if it’s something to be proud of, that Vatican II is a countersyllabus – that it says the opposite of key teachings from pre-Vatican II Popes.4

The spirit of infidelity to traditional Catholic doctrine, the lust towards change and novelty that Pius X’s anti-Modernist measures condemned, and the violation of a Sacred Oath against God by highly-placed Churchmen, is the true legacy of the Second Vatican Council and its consequence reforms.

“In the very veins and heart of the Church”

To better appreciate the gravity of the Modernist heresy, the determination of Pope St. Pius X to eradicate it, and the subsequent rise of neo-Modernism in our time, let us go back to the beginning of the 20th Century when a crucial papal conclave took place.

On August 4, 1903 Giuseppe Sarto, Cardinal Archbishop of Venice, was elected the 257th Successor of Saint Peter. He took the name Pius X.

He had been elected Pope against his wishes. During the conclave, he pleaded with the Cardinals not to do this. He did not want to be Pope. He fully understood the immense burden of the Papal office, a responsibility before God that is colossal.

And Pius was afraid. It was a frightful time to be held responsible before God for the purity of the Catholic Faith throughout the world. For at the time he was elected Pope, the Church was suffering the outbreak of the deadliest error it had faced in its entire history: Modernism – rightly denounced by Pius X as the “synthesis of all heresies”. “The danger” Pius X said, is “in the very veins and heart of the Church.”5

Pius pledged in his inaugural Encyclical E Supremi that the program of his Pontificate would be to “restore all things in Christ”. Pius was as good as his word, as is evident when in 1907 the battle against Modernism was joined.

The “Synthesis of All Heresies”

The first skirmish between Catholic truth and Modernism occurred in the field of biblical studies. It was countered by Pope Leo XIII’s 1893 Encyclical on the study of sacred Scripture, Providentissimus Deus.

This encyclical did a certain amount of good, but not enough, and Pius X knew it.

Pope Saint Pius X launched his attack against Modernism with the Syllabus of Errors, Lamentabile sane exitu, issued on July 4, 1907. Here Pius X condemned Modernism’s principal errors listed as 65 “Condemned Propositions”.

Five months later, on December 8, 1907, Pius issued the blockbuster encyclical Pascendi. This masterful text unmasked Modernists; it exposed their seemingly elusive and impenetrable doctrine.

Saint Pius X explained the heresy so completely that the Modernists themselves would tell their initiates that if they wanted to fully understand the Modernist system, read Pascendi.6 A key tenet of Modernism is the belief in at least some transformation of the Church’s dogmatic message over the course of the centuries. Religion must change for the sake of changing times. There is always an “evolution of dogma”, a continuous aggior­namento (continuous updating).7 Pius knew that the deadly system of Modernism destroyed not only all idea of religion but all idea of truth. He also knew, as he said in the opening of his Encyclical against Modernism, that his first duty was to protect the integrity of the Catholic Faith.

Here Pius stated that one of the “primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsay of knowledge falsely so called”. He explains that in the face of this Modernist heresy, “We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty …”8

In Pascendi, he laid bare the doctrine of Modernists, and also explained Modernism’s causes: pride, curiosity and ignorance.

St. Pius X also pointed out that the Modernists aim not to simply corrupt and change this or that doctrine, but every aspect of Catholicism. He wrote of the Modernists, “There is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none they do not strive to corrupt.”

In the same encyclical, Pius established effective remedies to Modernism, which gave teeth to the document. For seminarians and all theological students, he ordered firm adherence to the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. “We will and strictly order” said Pius X in Pascendi, “that scholasticism be made the basis of sacred sciences”.9 Thomism is the remedy to Modernism.

Pius then ordered the bishops to implement the following:

    • the exclusion from seminaries and universities of all directors and professors “found in any way imbued with Modernism”;

    • episcopal vigilance over all publications to detect any taint of Modernism in them, and to allow no books infected with Modernism sold in Cath­olic bookstores;

    • the establishment in each diocese of “Vigilance Committees” composed of priests chosen by the bishops, who are to be on the watch for any evidence of Modernist tendencies.10

These were forceful measures, yet Pius X concluded they were not enough. His watchword was vigilance, vigilance and even more vigilance.

Three years later, to combat what he knew to be an enemy “inside the gates” who never quits, he promulgated the Motu Proprio Sacrocrum Antistitum that contained the famous Oath Against Modernism.

Though it is easy to find the Oath itself, the Introduction and Conclusion of Sacrocrum Antistitum are seldom found in English.

Thankfully, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton11 provided an English translation of these important passages. He produced the translation in a brilliant American Ecclesiastical Review article, “The Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background to the Oath Against Modernism”, which he wrote to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Anti-Modernist Oath.12

In October 1960, Fenton said that the Papal document containing this Oath “definitely deserves serious study by the present generation of theologians.” He said the document contains some “badly needed lessons for the clergy of our day”. Clearly, by 1960, there were growing numbers of priests and theologians who succumbed to the same errors that the anti-Modernist Oath sought to eradicate, and Msgr. Fenton knew it.

The Introduction

The Motu Proprio, issued on September 1, 1910, contained an Introduction in which Saint Pius X declares:

    “We believe that no bishop is ignorant of the fact that the wily Modernists have not abandoned their plans for disturbing the peace of the Church since they were unmasked by the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis. For they have not ceased to seek out new recruits and to gather them into a secret alliance (foedus clandestinu).”13

Pius explains that these men are dangerous because they are so near to us, right inside of the Church.

Pius X reiterates “it is the duty of all bishops to exert themselves in defense of the Catholic Faith and most diligently to see to it that the integrity of the divine deposit suffers no loss. Likewise, it is most definitely Our duty to obey the commands of Christ the Savior, Who gave to Peter, whose position of authority We, though unworthy, have succeeded, the order: ‘confirm thy Brethren’.”

Msgr. Fenton praises Pope Saint Pius X for recognizing and acting on this duty. Fenton then reiterates the inescapable obligation of bishops to discipline clergy who are promoting Modernism, or any heretical doctrine. Fenton warns:

    No one has ever been as well placed to harm the true Church and to counteract its essential work as a priest in good standing. If such a man, by his preaching, his teaching, or his writing, actually sets forth the kind of teaching condemned in the anti-Modernist documents Lamentabile sane exitu and Pascendi dominici gregis, or if he works to discredit the loyal defenders of Catholic dogma without receiving any repudiation or re­proof from those to whom the apostolic deposit of divine revelation has been en­trusted, the Catholic people are in grave danger of being deceived.”14

If something un-Catholic is taught by a priest in good standing, and he is not corrected, then the Catholic people will say, “Well, the bishop never corrected him, the Pope never corrected him, so what he says must be alright.”

Pius X was well aware of his duty not to let this happen and acted accordingly.

In the Conclusion of the Motu Proprio, Saint Pius X further castigates the Modernists:

    “They are men whose audacity against the wisdom that has come down from Heaven increases daily. They arrogate to themselves the right to correct this revealed wisdom as if it were something corrupt, to renew it as if it were something that had become obsolete, to improve it and to adapt it to the dictates, the progress, and the comforts of the age as if it had been opposed to the good of society and not merely opposed to the levity of a few men.”15

These words of Pope Saint Pius X seem to prophesy the program of aggiornamento that would follow the Second Vatican Council.

As noted, Pius did not simply write nice words, he backed them with effective action. In this Motu Proprio, Pius X orders:

    • all seminary teachers must first present the teachings to the bishop to ensure that the courses contain nothing contrary to sound Catholic doctrine;

    • if the courses are found tainted with modernism, the professor is to be immediately dismissed;

    • all seminary teachers must make the Tridentine Profession of Faith;

    • all seminary teachers take the Oath Against Modernism, and sign the Oath in his own name.

This Oath Against Modernism, Msgr. Fenton notes, should be taken every year at the beginning of the academic term.16

Pius says regarding seminary professors and teachers at Catholic Universities:

    Anyone who in any way is found to be tainted with Modernism is to be excluded without compunction from these offices, whether of administration or of teaching, and those who already occupy such offices are to be removed. The same policy is to be followed with regard to those who openly or secretly lend support to Modernism, either by praising the Modernists and excusing their culpable conduct, or by carping at scholasticism and the Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of the depositaries; and with regard to those who manifest a love of novelty in history, archeology, and biblical exegesis; and finally with regard to those who neglect the sacred sciences or appear to prefer the secular [sciences] to them. On this entire subject, Venerable Brethren, and especially with regard to the choice of teachers, you cannot be too watchful or too careful, for as a rule the students are modeled according to the pattern of their teachers. Strong in the consciousness of your duty, act always in this matter with prudence and vigor.”

As a true father, Pius X wants to ensure that students receive proper Catholic doctrine, as the Athanasian Creed commands, “integral and inviolate”, while in their precious years of formation, since the damage done in those crucial years is often irreparable. “The students are formed according to the pattern of their teachers.”

Pius then extends the same stern directives to those who aspire to the priesthood. No young man infected with Modernist errors was to be allowed to become or to remain a candidate for Holy Orders:

    “Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty! God hates the proud and obstinate mind.”

Recapping the duty to study scholasticism, Pius commands “In the future the doctorate in theology or Canon Law must never be conferred on anyone who has not first of all made the regular course in scholastic [Thomistic] philosophy. If such a doctorate is conferred, it is to be held as null and void.17

Pius then extended to all nations the rule that “Clerics and priests inscribed in a Catholic institute or university must not in the future follow in civil universities those courses for which there are chairs in Catholic institutes to which they belong.”

Msgr. Fenton, a staunch opponent of liberalism, observes that these anti-Modernist directives “went against the liberal Catholic spirit of which Modernism was the outstanding expression. All of them were likewise unpopular, as calculated to arouse the antagonism of the enemies who attacked the Church from the outside. All of them were duly denounced and regretted as obscurantist.”18

Today, however, these anti-Modernist directives are openly denounced by countless “priests in good standing”19 who receive no reproof from their bishops, or even from today’s Vatican. This is because, as we shall see, our highest Church leaders are imbued with the “liberal Catholic spirit of which Modernism was the outstanding ex­pression”.

The Oath and the Second Commandment

All traditional Catholic catechisms and all traditional Catholic moral theology manuals explain that an oath is an act of religion. This teaching flows from the Second Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.” The Oath against Modernism is a solemn act that imposes grave obligations.

Fenton explains: “An oath is not something to be taken lightly. And the man who makes this Oath against Modernism calls upon God to witness that he reverently submits and whole-heartedly assents ‘to all the condemnations, the declarations, and the commands which are contained in the encyclical Pascendi and the decree Lamentabili’ …

It would be careless and irreverent for any man who takes this Oath, notes Fenton, not to exert himself to find out exactly, and in detail, what he is promising before Almighty God.

Fenton’s words at this point should strike terror into the hearts of the vast majority of today’s neo-Modernist hierarchy who cooperate in the post-conciliar aggiornamento. “The man who taught or in any way aided in the dissemination or the protection of Modernist teaching in a seminary or in a Catholic university” after taking the Oath Against Modernism “would mark himself, not only as a sinner against the Catholic Faith, but also as a common perjurer”.20


Seven years after Msgr. Fenton wrote these words, Pope Paul VI abolished the Oath Against Modernism, in July of 1967.21

The abolition of the Oath Against Modernism was an act that Bishop Rudolph Graber described as “in­comprehensible”.22 Yet in a way, it is not difficult to understand. The Oath Against Modernism was scrapped because it is, in the words of Msgr. Fenton, “not in accord with the taste of liberal Catholics”. And it was liberal Catholicism that triumphed at Vatican II.

Marcel Prelot, a senator of the Dobbs region of France, rejoiced after the Council: “We had struggled for a century and a half to bring our opinions to prevail within the Church and had not succeeded. Finally there came Vatican II and we triumphed. From then on, the propositions and principles of liberal Catholicism have been definitively and officially accepted by Holy Church.”23

And Modernism is one of the main components of liberal Catholicism.

In fact, a total disregard for the anti-Modernist efforts of Pope St. Pius X is now the norm in the post-Conciliar Church. It has come to the point where priests such as Father Donald Cozzens, author of the pro-homosexual book The Changing Face of the Catholic Priesthood, openly denigrates the Oath Against Modernism. This happened in an October 24, 2002 National Public Radio interview, during which the Oath was briefly discussed. Father Cozzens, speaking of himself and his confreres, said on the air:

    “We compromised and we signed the Oath. We who were to be preachers of the truth, men who were to be trusted, men whose word was all-important, we began our priesthood with an Oath that we really didn’t be­lieve.”24

This is sheer contempt for the Second Commandment, a complete disregard for a solemn Oath taken before God. Yet priests such as Father Cozzens who publicly mock their sacred oath receive no disciplinary censure from their bishops.

Modernism Resurfaces through the “New Theology”

Pope St. Pius X predicted the resurgence of Modernism.

It is reported that toward the end of Pope Saint Pius X’s reign, when he was congratulated for having eradicated Modernism, Pius X immediately responded that despite all his efforts, he had not succeeded in killing this beast, but had only driven it underground. He warned that if Church leaders were not vigilant, it would return in the future more virulent than ever.25

Pius X’s successors kept up the opposition to Modernism, but not with the same vigor as did Pius X himself. We also had two world wars that greatly distracted even the good bishops who were maintaining vigilance.

It was during and after the Second World War, that we saw the emergence of the “New Theology”, which is Modernism repackaged. The leaders of the New Theology were Father Henri de Lubac, Father Dominique Chenu, Father Yves Congar, Father Karl Rahner, and others. For simplicity sake, we can sum up a central point of the New Theology that “religion must change for the sake of changing times”, which is a key tenet of Modernism. Father Henri Boulliard, a proponent of the New Theology in the 1940s, wrote: “A theology which is not current [does not keep changing] will be a false theology.”26      

In 1946, Pope Pius XII denounced this New Theology by name:

    “There is a good deal of talk (but without the necessary clarity of concept), about a ‘new theology,’ which must be in constant transformation, following the example of all other things in the world, which are in a constant state of flux and movement, without ever reaching their term. If we were to accept such an opinion, what would be­come of the unchangeable dogmas of the Catholic Faith; and what would be­come of the unity and stability of that Faith?”27

The magnificent Thomist Father Garrigou-Lagrange rightly observed in his 1946 landmark article “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?” that the New Theology leads straight back to Modernism.28 As Saint Pius X warned, the beast was not dead, and was now returning with a vengeance.

Pope John “Lifts the Ban”

Then came Pope John XXIII who ignored the warnings of Pius XII and encouraged the proponents of the New Theology to become expert theologians at the Second Vatican Council. These theologians and their bishops formed the liberal bloc that hi­jacked the Council and steered it on to the new progressivist path.

In his book Vatican II Revisited, Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo, a rhapsodic advocate of the Vatican II revolution, declared with enthusiasm that “theologians and biblical scholars who had been ‘under a cloud’ surfaced as periti [theological experts advising the bishops at the Council], and their post-Vatican II books and commentaries became popular reading.”29

He noted “Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis had … a devastating effect on the work of a number of pre-conciliar theologians”30 and explained that “during the early preparation of the Council, those theologians, (mainly French with some Germans) whose activities had been restricted by Pope Pius XII, were still under a cloud. Pope John [XXIII] quietly lifted the ban affecting some of the most influential ones.”31

Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton noted in 1960 that a man who took the Oath Against Modernism, and who then promoted Modernism himself, or allowed it to be promoted, “would mark himself not only as a sinner against the Catholic Faith but also as a common perjurer.”


Bishop Wycislo sings the praises of these triumphant progressivists such as Hans Küng, Karl Rahner, John Courtney Murray, Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, Edward Schillebeeckx and Gregory Baum, who had been either condemned or deemed theologically suspect before the Council, but who are now the leading lights of post-Vatican II theology.32

Likewise Bishop Remi de Roo, one of Canada’s most progressivist bishops, who attended Vatican II, recently said he still gets “shivers up my spine” when he recalls “when Paul VI came out to celebrate the Eucharist … there with him, all in red, were all the theologians who had been marginalized before the Council.”33

These modernist theologians who became the driving force of Vatican II, and who give Bishop de Roo such happy shivers, deliberately inserted ambiguous language into the Council texts to knead into the documents their progressive ideas. After the Council Pope Paul VI gave these same liberal theologians the go-ahead to be the official exponents of Vatican II to the world.34

The Jesuit Father Henrici, himself a disciple of the New Theology, boasted that the New Theology “has become the official theology of Vatican II”.35 The neo-Modernist system, condemned under Pope Pius XII, won the day at the Council. The proponents of the New Theology have maintained control of the Church ever since.

The leaders of the New Theology, such as Fathers von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar, were made Cardinals by Pope John Paul II, even though these Modernist theologians never renounced their progressivist tenets. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI were fervent disciples of de Lubac and von Balthasar, and were formed according to their precepts.36

Thus it is no wonder that in 1967, two years after the close of the Council, when change, change, change, change, was the order of the day, Pope Paul VI abolished the Oath Against Modernism. The bulwark against the spread of Modernism was formally removed when these anti-Modernist measures were needed the most. Chaos reigns ever since.

Vatican II

We will take a quick look at an episode that demonstrates Modernism at work at the Second Vatican Council, and Modernism at work in those Churchmen for whom Vatican II is new center of the universe.

As is well-known, Pope John XXIII established a Central Preparatory Committee prior to the Council. This Committee spent two years preparing the schemas for the Council. These were to be the main drafts the bishops would discuss once Vatican II opened.

These first drafts were in splendid accord with the traditional teaching of the Church. Cardinal Ottaviani of the Holy Office oversaw the drafting of the documents, and the work was carried out with great care. If these documents had been followed at the Council, the discussions of the bishops and theologians would have been forced to proceed along traditional lines.

Of the original schemas on Vatican II, Archbishop Maracel Lefebvre said:`s

    “I was nominated a member of the Central Preparatory Commis­sion by the Pope and I took an assiduous and enthusiastic part in its two years of work. The central Com­mission had the responsibility of checking and examining all the preparatory schemas which came from the specialist commissions … This work was carried out very conscientiously and met­ic­ulously. I still possess the seventy-two prepar­atory schemas; in them the Church’s doctrine is absolutely orthodox. They were adapted in a certain manner to our times, but with great moderation and discretion.”37

As is also well known, however, immediately after the Council opened, the liberal bishops from the Rhineland countries protested against the original documents. They complained that they had no input in them, and put forward other specious objections. The entire matter was put to a vote, and the documents that had been two years in preparation were scrapped.

Archbishop Lefebvre recalls,

    “Everything was ready for the date announced and on 11th October, 1962, the Fathers took their places in the nave of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But then an occurrence took place which had not been foreseen by the Holy See. From the very first days, the Council was be­sieged by the progressive forces … fifteen days after the opening sessions not one of the seventy-two schemas remained. All had been sent back, rejected, thrown into the wastepaper basket.”38

This scrapping of the Council’s agenda left 2500 bishops in Rome with nothing to talk about. The original agenda had been trashed. The bishops then relied on the liberal theologians at the Council to draft new documents in order to steer the Council away from a traditional framework, and towards a more progressive, ecumenical orientation.39

A Tale of Two Liberals

What follows are two brief commentaries on Cardinal Ottaviani’s original drafts that show how these traditional documents were hated – hated – by the liberals.

The quotes also demonstrate how the progressivists were determined to wrench power from the loyal sons of Pope Saint Pius X who recognized their first duty is to preserve the purity of Traditional Catholic Faith as it has always been taught and practiced. The approach of Saint Pius X was literally stamped out at Vatican II.

First there is the comment by Robert McAffey Brown, a Presbyterian who was a Protestant Observer at Vatican II. He writes:

    “In light of the assumption on the part of many bishops that the Council would be no more than a rubber stamp for the decisions the curia had already made, it is clear that one of the most important events of the entire Council occurred within its opening minutes. A group of Cardinals realized that if the Council immediately proceeded to the election of members to the Commissions (the smaller working group designated to handle the bulk of the Council’s work) the result could not help but give overwhelming power to the conservative faction that had prepared the preliminary Council documents, and whose names had been distributed to the fathers as the session began. Thus, although the agenda called for immediate voting, the cardinals in question were fully aware that such action would render the Council virtually powerless to act on its own behalf and make it a prisoner of a minority already committed to resist significant reform.”40

McAfee Brown goes on to tell of Cardinal Lienart’s objection, his move to recess the Council until over the weekend, the move being seconded by the liberal Cardinal Frings, and the weekend recess, which resulted in a new vote that put the most progressivist Cardinals at the levers of power at Vatican II. This was also when the original schemas were scrapped.

McAfee Brown continues, “[B]ecause the motion succeeded, the Council was able to become a genuine Council of the whole Church, rather than reflecting viewpoints regnant only in the Southern portion of the Italian peninsula”.41

These allegedly outdated viewpoints “regnant only in the Southern portion of the Italian peninsula” were actually the true doctrine and practice of the Church throughout the centuries. McAfee Brown rejoices that the liberals gained the upper hand during Vatican II, which assured that traditional doctrine and practice would be eclipsed by the new vapors of modernist sentiment.

Next, we meet a young priest-theologian, a peritus at Vatican II, who was on the side of the progressivists from day one, and who was a close co-worker with the modernist Father Karl Rahner at the Council.

In his 1966 book about Vatican II, the young theologian sneers with contempt against the original Council schema, composed under the direction of Cardinal Ottaviani, concerning the Sources of Revelation:

    “The text was, if one may use the label, utterly the product of the ‘anti-Modernist’ mentality that had taken shape about the turn of the century. The text was written in a spirit of condemnation and negation, which … had a frigid and even offensive tone to many of the Fathers. And this despite the fact that the content of the text was new to no one. It was exactly like dozens of text-books familiar to the bishops from their seminary days: and in some cases, their former professors were actually responsible for the texts now presented to them.”42

The theologian is appalled at the prospect that the Council would actually reiterate the consistent teaching of the Church of all time; appalled that the Council would have an anti-Modernist tone in fidelity to Pope St. Pius X.

Who is the theologian sneering at the anti-Modernist approach? It is a young Father Joseph Ratzinger.

Father Ratzinger continues in the same vein:

    “The real question behind the discussion can be put this way: Was the intellectual position of anti-Modernism – the old policy of exclusiveness, condemnation and defense leading to an almost neurotic denial of all that was new – to be continued? Or would the Church, after it had taken all the necessary precautions to defend the Faith, turn over a new leaf and move on into a new and positive encounter with its own origins, with its brothers and with the world today?”43

After this gross caricaturization of the anti-Modernist position, he goes on to say that the majority opted for the second alternative – a kind of anti-anti-Modernist approach. He rejoices that it is a “new beginning” and says that the two main arguments used to defend the new position “rested on the intention of Pope John that the texts should be pastoral and their theology ecumenical.”44

Thus, both the liberal Protestant McAffee Brown, and Father Joseph Ratzinger, are thrilled that the traditional approach and the anti-Modernist bulwarks against heresy were torn down to make way for the new Radiant City of Vatican II.

The Council would go on to rip down even more safeguards, such as the precision of scholastic language and St. Robert Bellarmine’s definition of the Catholic Church, in order to clear the ground for its new ecumenical program. Father Joseph Ratzinger was delighted that these safeguards were demolished, as will be detailed next month from Father Ratzinger’s own words.45





1. “Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1960, p. 260.

2. Ibid., p. 259.

3. See full Oath Against Modernism on page 2 of this issue.

4. Council theologian Father Yves Congar admitted openly: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus of 1864 said, and even just about the opposite of propositions 16, 17 and 19 of this document.” (Yves Congar, O.P. quoted by Father George de Nantes, CRC, no. 113, p.3.) Likewise Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that he sees the Vatican II text Gaudium et spes as a “counter-Syllabus”: “If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text (Gaudium et spes) as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty, and world religions,) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-syllabus … Let us be content to say here that the text serves as a counter-syllabus and, as such, represents on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” He speaks of the “one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X” and claims the Syllabus represents “an obsolete Church-state relationship.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987], pp. 381-382.). In other words, Cardinal Ratzinger called two of the greatest Popes in Church history “one-sided” in their efforts to protect the Church from the errors of liberalism and modernism.

5. Pascendi, Pope Saint Pius X, translation from The Popes Against Modern Errors, [Rockford: Tan Books, 1999], p. 181.

6. According to Canon Barthod, who taught at the Seminary at Econe in the 1970s.

7. The three main principles of Modernism are: Agnosticism, Vital Imminence, and the Evolution of Dogma. For the best explanation, study St. Pius X’s Pascendi.

8. Pascendi, Pope Saint Pius X, par. 1. Translation from The Popes Against Modern Errors, p. 180. Emphasis added.

9. Cited from Saint Pius X, Restorer of the Church, Yves Chiron [Kansas City, Angelus Press, 2002], pp. 209-210.

10. Symposium on the Life and Work of Pope Pius X; entry by Father James E. Egan, O.P, S.T.D., “Pius X and the Integrity of Doctrine” [Washington: Confraternity of Christ­ian Doctrine, 1946], p. 63.

11. Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton was a professor of dogmatic theology at Catholic University of America. He was trained at the Angelicum in Rome, and wrote his doctoral thesis under the direction of the renowned Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. From 1944 to 1963, he was editor of the prestigious theological journal, the American Ecclesiastical Review. Among his many writings, Fenton especially defended Cathol­icism against the progressives’ “new broader definition of the Church” then gaining adherents among many theologians. He also defended staunchly the traditional papal position regarding Church and State at a time when it was increasingly unpopular to do so.

12. “Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, the American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1960, pp. 239-260.

13. From original Latin Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum published in the Ecclesiastical Review, November, 1910, p. 366.

14. Ibid., p. 246. Emphasis added.

15. Ibid., p. 247.

16. Ibid., p. 253.

17. Ibid., pp. 253-4.

18. Ibid., p. 25.

19. For example, see the quote by Father Donald Cozzens later in the article.

20. “The Sacrorum Antistitum and the Oath Against Modernism”, p. 259.

21. See “Oath Against Modernism” in The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 926.

22. Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Bishop Rudolph Graber, (Palmdale: Christian Book Club, 1974), p. 54.

23. Le Catholicisme Liberal, 1969. Quoted in Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics. (Kansas City: Angelus Press, 1992), p. 89. Emphasis added.

24. Father Donald Cozzens discusses his life as a priest, his latest book and the recent crises in the Church, “WHYY”, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, October 24, 2002. Emphasis added.

25. Father Vincent Micelli, “The Antichrist” (cassette lecture), Keep the Faith, Inc.

26. “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, English Transla­tion of 1946 Angelicum article, Catholic Family News, August, 1998. On line at: (reprint #309 available from CFN for $2.50 postpaid)

27. Quoted from “Thomism and the New Theology”, Father David Greenstock, The Thomist, October 1950, p. 568. Emphasis added.

28. “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?, Father Garrigou-Lagrange.

29. Most Rev. Aloysius Wycislo, Vatican II Revisited: Reflections by One Who Was There [Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1987], p. x.

30. Ibid., p. 33.

31. Ibid., p. 27.

32. Ibid., pp. 27-34.

33. Rosemary Ganley, “Remi de Roo at CTN …” Catholic New Times, July 4, 2004, p. 12.

34. This is explained in detail in Michael Davies Pope John’s Council.

35. Father Henrici’s full quote reads, “Our allegiance is to that tradition in the line of the ‘new theology’ of Lyon [cradle of de Lubac’s theology] which insists on the non-opposition between nature and super-nature, that is, nature and super-nature are really identical things (and consequently) between faith and culture, and which has become the official theology of Vatican II.” Fr. Henrici in his interview with 30 Days of December 1991, quoted from “The Think They Have Won,” Part VIII, see footnote 8.

36. For a magnificent treatment of the New Theology and its “conquest” of the post-Conciliar Church, see the Si Si No No Series “They Think They Have Won,” Ten-part series. Index on line at

37. Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, [Kansas City: Angelus, 1992], p. 102.

38. Ibid., p. 102.

39. Two of the finest books on this subject are The Rhine Flows into the Tiber by Father Ralph Wiltgen, SVD, and Pope John‘s Council by Michael Davies. Also, for even more information that shows that the progressivist takeover of Vatican II was effectively planned prior to the Council, see “The Tiber Flows into the Tiber: Who Was Responsible for the Liberal Hijacking of Vatican II?”, J. Vennari. Two part series, June & July, 2008. (Reprint RP0807-12 available from CFN post-paid for $4.00).

40. The Ecumenical Revolution, Robert McAfee Brown [New York: Doubleday, 1969], pp. 161-2. Emphasis added.

41. Ibid., p. 162.

42. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, Father Joseph Ratzinger [New York: Paulist Press, 1966], p. 20. Emphasis added.

43. Ibid., p. 22.

44. Ibid., p. 23. More on “Pastoral language” next month.

45. Comment: I find that some people get rather emotional when these documented facts about Father Ratzinger’s liberalism are pointed out, and sometimes send angry letters that I am “attacking” him. Such an emotional response precludes rational thinking. My main purpose in focusing on these statements is not to “condemn” the person of Joseph Ratzinger, but to show that the entire Vatican II program, starting with the documents themselves, is the product of a calculated anti-anti-Modernist approach, in defiance of Pope St. Pius X’s measures against Modernism. 




Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism By Mgr. Joseph Fenton

November 28, 2010

Read the rest of this entry »


May 1, 2010


    Duties of the Catholic State In Regard to Religion


Imprimi potest:

P. O’CARROLL, C.S.Sp. Praep. Prov. Hib.

Nihil obstat:

THOMAS MORRIS, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.



Archiepiscopus Cassiliensis Thurlesiae, 30a Octobris, 1953


I should not have thought of publishing the lecture I gave on March 2, 1953, in the auditorium of the Pontifical Lateran University, if I had not been moved to do so by the great number of requests I received from writers and professors of different Institutes of Higher Studies. All of them insisted on the e opportuneness of publishing what I had said in the presence of that imposing Assembly. “For too long,” a distinguished religious wrote to me, “the Public Law of the Church is heard of only in the lecture halls of Ecclesiastical Institutions, while the need is urgent of making it known to all classes of society and especially to the highest.

“The Press, directed as it is by men who worship liberty far more than truth, on principle never speaks of it. … The widespread confusion in the presence of which we find ourselves, the perplexities of politicians, and the enormous errors that are committed in the hybrid alliances between states and parties render it imperative that the all-important problem of the relations between Church and State should be put in unmistakable terms, that it should be treated fully, with the greatest clearness, and above all, fearlessly.

“Christian courage is a cardinal virtue which is called fortitude.”

All these pressing importunities have convinced me that today, more than at any other time, it is necessary for every priest and every layman who collaborates in the apostolate of the clergy to imitate, as far as is possible for him, the example of the Divine Master who, speaking of Himself, said: “For this came I into the world: that I should give testimony to the truth” (St. John. 18:37).

Someone may be tempted to comment on the fact that I have not men­tioned names of authors, even in the cases in which I have quoted extracts from their writings. I have not done so for two reasons: primarily, because it is of little importance to know that certain ideas have been defended by one or other writer, when they are so widely diffused that they can be no longer considered as the exclusive property of certain individuals; secondar­ily, because I have wanted to observe the rule laid down by St. Augustine who admonishes us to combat errors, not those who commit them. Thus also I have tried to follow the program and the example of the august Pontiff gloriously reigning, who has taken as the motto of his Pontificate: “Doing the truth in Charity.”

Rome, March 25, 1953.

Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani


It is not to be wondered at that the enemies of the Church have always striven to impede her mission, refusing to admit some, or even all, of her divine prerogatives and powers.

The fury of the attack, with its false pretenses, was already let loose against the Divine Founder of this two-thousand-year-old and yet ever youthful Institution. Against Him the cry was raised, the same that is raised today: “We will not have this man to reign over us.”1 And with the patience and the serenity that come to her from the secure foundation of her promised destiny and from the certainty of her divine mission, the Church sings throughout the centuries: “He who gives heavenly kingdoms does not take away earthly ones.”

We are, however, astonished, and our astonishment grows into bewilder­ment and turns to sadness, when the attempt to deprive this beneficent mother, the Church, of the spiritual arms of justice and truth, is the work of the Church’s own children. This is a particular cause of grief, when it is a question of her children dwelling in interconfessional States and thus in continual contact with non-Catholic brethren, since, more than any others, they should experience a debt of gratitude towards this mother, who has always made use of her rights, to defend, to protect and to safeguard her own faithful.


Today some maintain that there is in the Church only a spiritual order, and from that they draw the conclusion that the nature of the Church’s law is in contradiction with the nature of the Church herself. According to these people, the original sacramental element has grown continually weaker, giving way to the jurisdictional element, which is now the power of the Church. As the Protestant jurist Sohm holds, the idea has come to be accepted that the Church of God is constituted like the State.

But Canon 108, 3, which treats of the existence in the Church of the power of orders and of the power of jurisdiction, appeals to divine right. And that this appeal is justified, is proved by the texts of the Gospels, the affirmations of the Acts of the Apos­tles and the citations from their Epistles, all of which are frequently quoted by authors of treatises of Public Ecclesiastical Law in order to establish the divine origin of the above-mentioned powers and rights of the Church.h.h.

In the Encyclical Letter, Mystici Corporis,2 the au­gust Pontiff now gloriously reigning wrote about this point in the following terms: “We therefore deplore and condemn also the calamitous error which invents an imaginary Church, a society nurtured and shaped by charity, with which it disparagingly contrasts another society which it calls juridical. Those who make this totally erroneous distinction fail to under­stand that it was one and the same purpose – namely, that of perpetuating on this earth the salutary work of the Redemption – which caused the Divine Re­deemer both to give the community of human beings founded by Him the constitution of a society perfect in its own order, provided with all its juridical and social elements, and also, with the same end in view, to have it enriched by the Holy Spirit with heavenly gifts and powers.”

Accordingly, the Church does not desire to be a State, but her Divine founder has constituted the Church a perfect society, enriched with all the powers inherent in such a juridical condition, in order to accomplish its mission in every State, without con­flicts between the two societies of which He is, though in different ways, the Author and the Support.


Here the problem presents itself of how the Church and the lay state are to live together. Some Catholics are propagating ideas with regard to this point which are not quite correct. Many of these Catholics un­doubtedly love the Church and rightly intend to find a mode of possible adaptation to the circumstances of the times. But it is none the less true that their position reminds one of that of the faint-hearted sol­dier who wants to conquer without fighting, or of that of the simple, unsuspecting person who accepts a hand, treacherously held out to him, without taking account of the fact that this hand will subsequently pull him across the Rubicon towards error and injus­tice.e.e.e.e.e.

The first mistake of these people is precisely that of not accepting fully the “arms of truth” and the teaching which the Roman Pontiffs, in the course of this last century, and in particular the reigning Pontiff, Pius XII, by means of encyclicals, allocutions and instructions of all kinds, have given to Catholics on this subject.

To justify themselves, these people affirm that, in the body of teaching given in the Church, a distinction must be made between what is permanent and what is transitory, this latter being due to the influence of particular passing conditions. Unfortunately, how­ever, they include in this second zone the principles laid down in the Pontifical documents, principles on which the teaching of the Church has remained con­stant, as they form part of the patrimony of Catholic doctrine.

In this matter, the pendulum theory, elaborated by certain writers in an attempt to sift the teaching set forth in Encyclical Letters at different times, cannot be applied. “The Church,” it has been written, “takes account of the rhythm of the world’s history after the fashion of a swinging pendulum which, desirous of keeping the proper measure, maintains its move­ment by reversing it when it judges that it has gone as far as it should…. From this point of view a whole history of the Encyclicals could be written. Thus in the field of Biblical studies, the Encyclical, Divino Afflante Spiritu, comes after the Encyclicals Spiritus Paraclitus and Providentissimus. In the field of Theology or Politics, the Encyclicals, Summi Pontificatus, Non abbiamo bisogno and Ubi Arcano Deo, come after the Encyclical, Immortale Dei.”3

Now if this were to be understood in the sense that the general and fundamental principles of public Ecclesiastical Law, solemnly affirmed in the Encycli­cal Letter, Immortale Dei, are merely the reflection of historic moments of the past, while the swing of the pendulum of the doctrinal Encyclicals of Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII has passed in the opposite direction to different positions, the statement would have to be qualified as completely erroneous, not only because it misrepresents the teaching of the Encyclicals themselves, but also because it is theoret­ically inadmissible. In the Encyclical Letter, Humani Generis, the reigning Pontiff teaches us that we must recognize in the Encyclicals the ordinary magisterium of the Church: “Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand assent, in that, when writing such Let­ters, the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their teaching authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say “He who heareth you heareth Me” (St. Luke 10:16); and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already belongs for other reasons to Catholic doctrine.”4

Because they are afraid of being accused of want­ing to return to the Middle Ages, some of our writers no longer dare to maintain the doctrinal positions that are constantly affirmed in the Encyclicals as be­longing to the life and legislation of the Church in all ages. For them is meant the warning of Pope Leo XIII who, recommending concord and unity in the combat against error, adds that “care must be taken never to connive, in anyway, at false opinions, never to withstand them less strenuously than truth allows.”5


Having treated in n n succint fashion of the preliminary question of the assent that is due to the teachings of the Church, even in her ordinary magisterium, let us now pass on to a practical question, which in popular phraseology, we can call “burning,” namely, that of a Catholic State and of the consequences that follow from it with regard to non-Catholic forms of worship.

It is known that in certain countries of which the absolute majority of the population is Catholic, the Catholic religion is proclaimed to be the religion of the State in their respective Constitutions. I shall mention as an example, the most typical case, namely, that of Spain. In Article 6 of the Spaniards’ Charter, Fuero de los Espanoles, the fundamental Charter of the rights and duties of Spanish citizens, the following provisions are laid down:

“The profession and practice of the Catholic reli­gion, which is the religion of the Spanish State, shall enjoy official protection. No one shall be molested for his religious beliefs nor for the private exercise of his cult. No ceremonies or external manifestations other than those of the State religion shall be permit­ted.”t;

These provisions have provoked protests on the part of many non-Catholics and unbelievers; but what is more displeasing, they are considered as out-of-date by some Catholics. These people think that the Church can live peacefully and in the full possession of all the rights to which she is entitled in a lay-state, even when the State is composed of Catholics.

The controversy recently carried on between two authors of opposite views in a country beyond the Atlantic is widely known. One of the disputants has defended the thesis we have just mentioned and holds:

(1) The State, properly speaking, cannot accomplish an act of religion. (The State is a mere symbol or a collection of institutions).

(2) “An immediate illation from the order of ethical and theological truth to the order of constitutional law, is, in principle, dialectically inadmissible.” That is to say, the State’s obligation to worship God can never enter the Constitutional sphere.

(3) Finally, even for a State composed of Catholics, there is no obligation to profess the Catholic religion. With regard to the obligation to protect it, this does not become operative except in determined circumstances and precisely when the liberty of the Church cannot be guaranteed in any other way.

From such principles spring attacks directed against the teaching set forth in manuals of public ecclesiastical law, no account being taken of the fact that such teaching is based, for the most part, on the doctrine expounded in Pontifical Documents.

Now if, among the general principles of public ecclesiastical law, there is any certain and indis­putable truth, it is that of the duty incumbent on the Rulers in a State composed almost entirely of Cath­olics, and which therefore ought to be governed by Catholics in a manner consistent with their religion, to mould the legislation of the State in a Catholic sense …

Three consequences follow immediately from this duty:

(1) The social, and not merely the private, profession of the religion of the people;

(2) Legislation inspired by the full concept of mem­bership of Christ;

(3) The defense of the religious patrimony of the people against every assault aimed at depriving them of the treasure of their faith and of religious peace.

I have said, first of all, that the State has the duty of professing its religion, even socially.

Men living together in society are not less subject to God than they are as individuals, and civil society, no less than individual human beings, is in debt to God, “who gave it being and maintains it, and whose ever-bounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings.”6

Accordingly, as it is not lawful for any individual to neglect his duties to God and to the Religion accord­ing to which God wills to be honored, in the same way “states cannot without serious moral offense conduct themselves as if God were non-existent or cast off the care of religion as something foreign to themselves or of little moment.”7

Pius XII reinforces this teaching, condemning “the error contained in conceptions such as do not hesi­tate to absolve civil authority from all dependence upon the Supreme Being, the First Cause and the Absolute Master both of man and of society, and from every bond of transcendent law which proceeds from God as from its Primary Source, and that con­cede to civil authority an unlimited power of action, a power left to the ever-changing wave of whims or to the sole restraints of contingent historical exigen­cies or of relative interests.”8

And, continuing, the Supreme Pontiff shows clearly, also, what disastrous consequences for the liberty and rights of man follow such an error: “When the authority of God and the power of His law have been thus denied, the civil power, by a necessary consequence, tends to attribute to itself that absolute autonomy which belongs only to the Creator and to put itself in the place of the Omnipotent, raising the State or the collectivity to be the final end of life, the supreme criterion of the moral and juridical order.”9

I have said, in the second place, that it is the duty of the Rulers to see to it that the moral principles of the True Religion inspire the social activity of the State as such and its legislation.

This obligation on the part of the Rulers is a con­sequence of the duty of religion and of submission to God, not only on the part of individuals but also on the part of society, and its fulfillment will certainly contribute to the well-being of the people.

In opposition to the moral and religious agnosticism of the State and its laws, Pope Pius XII insisted upon the concept of the Christian State in his splendid Letter of October 19, 1945, for the Nineteenth Social Week of the Italian Catholics, in the course of which the problem of the new Constitution was to be studied.

“Reflecting seriously on the deleterious conse­quences which a Constitution, that abandons the ‘corner stone’ of the Christian concept of life and attempts to base social life on moral and religious agnosticism, would introduce into the bosom of so­ciety and into its ephemeral history, every Catholic will readily understand that the question which, before every other, ought at present to attract his attention and to spur him to action, is that of securing for this and future generations the benefit of a fundamental law of the State, which is not opposed to sound religious and moral principles, but which rather draws vigorous inspiration from them and proclaims and pursues their lofty aims.”10

In this connection, the Sovereign Pontiff has not failed to bestow “the praise due to the wisdom of those Rulers who have either always favored or have striven and known how to restore to honor, to the profit of their people, the value of Christian civilization, by establishing happy relations between Church and State, by safeguarding the sanctity of marriage, and by the religious education of youth.”11

In the third place, I have said that it is the duty of the Rulers of a Catholic State to ward off everything that would tend to divide or weaken the religious unity of a people that has the unanimous conviction of being in the secure possession of religious truth. With regard to this point, there is an abundance of documents in which the Holy Father reaffirms the principles enunciated by his Predecessors, particu­larly by Leo XIII.

When condemning the religious indifferentism of the State in the Encyclical Letter, Immortale Dei, Pope Leo XIII appeals to the divine law, whereas in the Encyclical Letter Libertas, he appeals also to the principles of justice and to human reason. In the Letter, Immortale Dei, he makes it manifest that Rul­ers cannot “out of the many forms of religion adopt that one which pleases them,”12 because, as he ex­plains, in the worship of God they are obliged to observe the laws and the forms of worship in accor­dance with which God Himself has commanded that He should be honored, “for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will.”13 And in the Encyclical Letter, Libertas, he insists strongly on the same point, appealing to justice and to reason: “Justice forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness, namely to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges.”14

The Pope appeals to justice and to reason, because it is not just to ascribe the same rights to good and to evil, to truth and to error. And reason revolts at the thought that, out of deference to the demands of a small minority, the rights, the faith, and the con­science of the quasi-totality of the people should be spurned, and that this people should be betrayed, by allowing the enemies of its faith to introduce division among its members with all the consequences of religious strife.


These principles are firm and unchanging. They were valid in the days of Innocent III and Boniface VIII. They are valid in the days of Leo XIII and Pius XII, who has reaffirmed them in more than one of his documents. That is why, with unyielding firmness, he has also recalled Rulers to their duties, by appe­aling to the warning of the Holy Ghost, a warning which applies to all times. In the Encyclical Letter, , , Mystici Corporis, the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius XII, speaks as follows: “We must implore God that all those who rule over people may love wisdom,15 so that upon them may never fall that fearful judgment of the Holy Spirit: ‘The Most High will examine your works and search out your thoughts; because being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God. Horribly and speedily will he appear to you; for a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule. For to him that is little mercy is granted; but the mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all.’ “16

Referring back, then, to what I have said above concerning the agreement of the Encyclicals that have been called in question, I am certain that no one can prove that there has been any change what­ever, in regard to these principles, between the En­cyclical Letter, Summi Pontificatus, of Pius XII, and the Encyclicals of Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris against Communism, Mil brennender Sorge against Nazism, and Non abbiamo bisogno against the State-monopoly of Fascism, on the one hand; and the earlier Encyclicals of Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, Libertas and Sapientiae Christianae, on the other.

“The ultimate and supreme norms of society, those which are its foundation stone,” declares the August Pontiff in his Radio-message of Christmas, 1942, “cannot be impaired or weakened by the intervention of human minds. They may be denied, ignored, de­spised, transgressed, but they can never be abro­gated in a manner juridically efficacious.”17


Here it is necessary to answer another question, or rather, a difficulty, so specious that, at first sight, it may seem insoluble.e.e.e.

The objection is put to us: You maintain two differ­ent standards or norms of action according as it suits you. In a Catholic country, you uphold the doctrine of the Confessional State with the duty of exclusive protection for the Catholic religion. On the other hand, where you form a minority, you claim the right of toleration or straightway the equality of forms of worship. Hence for you there are two weights and two measures. The result is a really embarrassing duplicity from which the Catholics who take account of the actual developments of civilization wish to be delivered.

Well, quite frankly, two weights and two measures are to be employed; one for truth, the other for error. Men who feel themselves in secure possession of truth and justice are not going to compromise. They demand full respect for their rights. How can those, however, who do not feel themselves secure in the possession of the truth, claim to hold the field alone, without sharing it with the man who claims respect for his own rights on the basis of other principles?

The concept of the equality of forms of worship and of tolerance has resulted from the doctrine of private judgment and from confessional multiplicity. It is a logical consequence of those opinions accord­ing to which, in the field of religion, there is no place for dogmas and that the individual conscience is the sole criterion and exclusive norm for the profession of faith and the exercise of worship. Accordingly, in the countries in which such theories flourish is it any wonder that the Catholic Church seeks to be in a position to develop her divine mission and to obtain recognition for those rights which she can claim, as a logical consequence of the principles accepted by the Legislatures of these countries?

The Church would prefer to speak and to put for­ward her claims in the name of God. But amongst these peoples the exclusive nature of her mission is not recognized. She is content, therefore, to plead her case in the name of that tolerance, of that equality, and of those common guarantees which inspire the laws and the lawgiving of these countries.

When, in 1949, there was held at Amsterdam a reunion of various heterodox bodies in view of furth­ering the ecumenical movement, there were rep­resented in that assembly no fewer than 146 different Churches or Confessions. The delegates present be­longed to about 50 nations. There were Calvinists, Lutherans, Copts, Old Catholics, Baptists, Waldenses, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Malabar Christians, Seventh-Day Adventists, etc.

The Catholic Church, knowing herself to be in firm possession of the truth and unity of Christ’s Mystical Body, could not, logically, take part in such an assem­bly with a view to seeking there that union which the others have not got.

After lengthy discussions, the members of the as­sembly were not even in agreement for a final celeb­ration in common of the Eucharistic Banquet, which was to be the symbol of their union, if not in faith, at least in charily. Such was the lack of unity that, in the plenary session of August 23,1949. Dr. Kraemer, a Dutch Calvinist, who has since become the Director of the new ecumenical Institute of Celigny in Switzer­land, remarked that it would have been preferable to omit the Eucharistic Banquet altogether rather than manifest so great a lack of unity by holding many separate celebrations.

In such conditions, I say, could one of these Confes­sions coexisting with the others, or even predominant, in one and the same State, adopt an intransigent at­titude and claim for itself what the Catholic Church expects from a State in great majority Catholic?

It ought not, therefore, be a matter for wonder that the Church appeals to and demands recognition for the rights of man at least, when the rights of God are not acknowledged. This the Church did in the first centuries of Christianity when confronted with the Roman Empire and the pagan world; this she continues to do today, especially in those places where every religious right is denied, as in the coun­tries under Soviet domination.

In the presence of the persecutions, to which all Christians are subjected, and Catholics first of all, how could the reigning Pontiff not appeal to the rights of man, to tolerance, to the freedom of consciences, precisely when such frightful havoc is being played with these rights?

He vindicated these rights of man in every sphere of individual and social life in his Christmas message of 1942, and, more recently, in the Christmas mes­sage of 1952, in connection with the sufferings of the “Church of silence.”

It is clear, therefore, how wrong is the attempt being made to give the impression that the recognition of the rights of God and of the Church, which existed in the past, is irreconcilable with modern civili­zation, as if the fact of accepting what is just and true for all times constituted a retrogression.

For example, a well-known author alludes to the Middle Ages as follows: “The Catholic Church insists on this principle that truth should have precedence over error, and that, when the true religion is known, it should be aided in its spiritual mission in preference to religions of which the message is more or less halting and feeble and in which error is mingled with truth. That is simply a consequence, flowing from the duty of man to truth. It would, however, be very false to draw from it the conclusion that this principle can be applied only by demanding for the true reli­gion the favors of an absolute power, or the assis­tance or dragonnades, or that the Catholic Church claims from modern societies the privileges she en­joyed in a civilization of the ‘sacral’ type, like that of the Middle Ages.”

In order to do his duty, a Catholic Ruler of a Catholic State need not be an absolute monarch, nor a mere policeman, nor a sacristan, and need not return to the whole organization of the Middle Ages.

Another author objects: “Almost all those who, up to the present, have tried to reflect upon and to examine the problem of religious pluralism have come up against a dangerous axiom, namely, that truth alone has rights, while error has none. As a matter of fact, all see today that this axiom is falla­cious, not indeed because we want to grant rights to error, but simply because we have become aware of the self-evident truth that neither error nor truth, which are abstractions, are the objects of rights, or are capable of having rights, that is, of begetting reciprocal duties between person and person.”

It seems to me, on the contrary, that the self-evident truth consists rather in this, namely, that the rights in question are to be found perfectly, as in their sub­jects, in the individuals who are in the possession of the truth, and that other individuals cannot claim equal rights, by reason of their error.

Now, in the Encyclicals we have quoted, it is laid down that the first Subject of these rights is God Himself. From this it follows that only those who obey His commands and who possess His truth and His justice have true rights.

In conclusion, the synthesis of the doctrines of the Church on this subject has been set forth in the most unequivocal fashion, even in our day, in the Letter which the Sacred Congregation for Studies in Semi­naries and Universities sent to the Bishops of Brazil on March 7, 1950. This Letter, which refers continu­ally to the teachings of Pius XII, amongst other things, contains a warning against the errors of renascent Catholic Liberalism which “admits and encourages the separation of the two powers and denies that the Church has any kind of direct power over mixed matters. It affirms that the State ought to show itself indifferent in regard to religion, and recognize the same freedom to truth and error. The Church ought not to enjoy any privileges, favors or rights superior to those recognized to the other religious bodies in the other Catholic countries, and so on.


Having examined the question from the doctrinal and juridical points of view, I now beg to be permitted to make a brief excursion into the practical domain. I mean to speak of the difference and the dispropor­tion between the outcry raised against the principles set forth above, when actually realized in the Spanish Constitution, and the slight resentment which, on the other hand, the whole laicized world has shown against the Soviet legislative system that oppresses all religion. And yet, as a result of that system, innum­erable are the martyrs that languish in the concentra­tion camps, in the Steppes of Siberia, in the prisons, not to speak of the legions of those who, at the cost of their lives and of all their blood, have experienced the iniquity of Soviet legislation to the utmost.

Article 124 of Stalin’s Constitution, promulgated in 1936, and closely connected with the laws on religious associations of the years 1929 and 1932, reads as follows:

“In order to secure freedom of conscience for the citizens, the Church is separated from the State, and the school from the Church. Freedom of religious profession and freedom of anti-religious propaganda are recognized for all the citizens.”

Leaving out of consideration the offense commit­ted against God, against all religion, and against the consciences of believers, by the fact that the Constitu­tion guarantees complete freedom for anti-religious propaganda, which is carried on in the most licenti­ous manner, we must bring out clearly in what con­sists the famous liberty of faith guaranteed by the Bolshevik law.

The existing rules regulating the exercise of forms of worship are gathered together in the law of May 18, 1929, which gives the interpretation of the corresponding article of the 1918 Constitution and in the spirit of which article 124 of the present Constitution is drawn up. Every possibility of religious propaganda is excluded and only freedom for anti-religious prop­aganda is guaranteed. As regards worship, it is al­lowed only in the interior of Churches. Every possibil­ity of religious formation is forbidden, whether by way of discourses, or through the press, or by means of journals, books, pamphlets, etc. Every form of social and charitable initiative is ruled out, and the organizations that are inspired by these ideals are deprived of every fundamental right to sacrifice them­selves for the good of their neighbors.

In proof of all this, it is enough to read the summary of this state of things given by a Soviet Russian, Orleanskij, in his treatise entitled Law Concerning Religious Associations in the Socialist, Federal, Soviet Russian Republic.

“Liberty of religious profession signifies that the action of believers in the profession of their particular religious dogmas is limited to the believers’ sphere itself and is considered as strictly bound up with the religious worship of one or other of the religions tolerated in our State. … Consequently, any kind of propaganda and every form of recruiting activity on the part of Churchmen or of Religious – and a fortiori of missionaries – cannot be considered as an activity allowed them by the law concerning religious associ­ations, but must be reckoned as going beyond the limits of religious freedom protected by the law. Ac­cordingly, it becomes the object of the penal and civil laws insofar as it is opposed to them.”18

The struggle waged against religion is, in addition, carried on also by the State in the domain of all the activities which the practice of the Gospel implies of itself, both in regard to morality and in the social rela­tions between human beings. The Soviet leaders have a clear grasp of the fact that religion is intimately linked up with the life of the individual members of society and the life of society itself. Accordingly, in order to combat religion, they seek to crush every form of religi­ous activity in the field of education, morality and social life. Here is the testimony of a Soviet writer19 concern­ing this point: “The anti-religious propagandist,” he states, “must remember that, though Soviet legislation allows every citizen freedom to perform acts of worship, it at the same time restricts the activity of the religious organizations, which have not the right to interfere in the politico-social life of the U.S.S.R. Religious associ­ations are allowed to occupy themselves uniquely and exclusively with matters concerning the exercise of their worship, and with nothing else. Priests are not allowed to publish obscurantist publications, or to carry on propaganda for their reactionary and anti-scientific ideas, in the factories or workshops, or in the Kolchoz, the Sovchoz, the clubs and the schools. In virtue of the law of April 8, 1929, religious associations are for­bidden to found sick-funds, co-operative societies or societies for production, and in general are forbidden to make use of the goods at their disposal for purposes other than those comprised within the sphere of religi­ous needs.”

Accordingly, before attacking Catholic Rulers who accomplish their bounden duty towards the Religion of their fellow-citizens, the defenders of the “rights of man,” should examine a situation so offensive to the dignity of man, no matter what his religion, especially when a third of the total population of the world is crushed beneath that yoke!


The Church also recognizes the necessity in the case of certain Rulers of Catholic countries to tolerate other forms of worship for very serious reasons. “The Church, indeed,” Pope Leo XIII teaches, “deems it unlawful to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the True Religion, but does not, on that account, condemn those rulers who, for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil, patiently allow custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion having its place in the State.”t;t;t;20

But tolerance does not mean freedom to carry on propaganda which foments religious discord and dis­turbs the tranquil and unanimous possession of the truth and perseverance in the practice of religion, in countries such as Italy, Spain and others.

Referring to the Italian laws on the “admitted forms of worship,” Pius XI wrote: “Forms of worship ‘toler­ated, permitted, admitted’; We have no desire to raise difficulties about the terms employed. So far as that goes, the question can be elegantly solved by distin­guishing between the Constitution of the State and State legislation. The former is of itself more theoret­ical and doctrinal, and the word ‘tolerated’ is there more suitable; the latter is intended to be applied to practical life, and one can employ the words ‘permit­ted’ or ‘admitted’ in such a context, on condition that they be understood unequivocally. For that, it must be and remain clearly and unequivocally understood that the Catholic Religion and the Catholic Religion alone, according to the Statute and the Treaties, is the Religion of the State, with the logical and juridical consequences of such a situation according to Con­stitutional law, particularly in regard to propaganda.

… It is not admissible that these words should be understood in the sense of absolute freedom of dis­cussion, that is to say, a freedom comprising those forms of discussion that can easily deceive the good faith of poorly-instructed hearers and which quickly degenerate into camouflaged forms of propaganda, becoming just as readily injurious to the Religion of the State and, by that very fact, to the State itself, and precisely in regard to the point which the tradition of the Italian people holds most sacred and its unity most essential.”21

But the non-Catholics, who would like to come to evangelize the countries from which the light of the Gospel took its rise and was diffused even unto them, are not satisfied with what the law concedes to them. In opposition to the law and without even submitting to the formalities it lays down, they would like to have unrestricted license to break up the religious unity of Catholic peoples. And they complain if the Govern­ments close chapels, opened without even the re­quired authorization, or expel the so-called “mis­sionaries” who came into the country for purposes other than those stated in the requests for permission to enter. It is worthy of note also that, in this campaign, the Communists are among their most vigorous allies and defenders. Thus, those who, in Russia, forbid all religi­ous propaganda and incorporate that principle in the article in the Russian Constitution we have quoted, are, on the other hand, full of zeal in helping every form of Protestant propaganda in Catholic countries.

Unfortunately, in the United State of America, where many non-Catholic brethren are ignorant of certain circumstances both of fact and of law that concern our countries, there are to be found imitators of the Communists’ zeal in protesting against our pretended intolerance in regard to the missionaries sent to “evangelize” us.

But, why, pray, should the Italian authorities be denied the right to do in their own country what the American authorities do in theirs, when they apply, with unyielding firmness, laws made expressly in order to prevent entrance into their territory, or even to expel from it, those who are reckoned as danger­ous by reason of certain ideologies and who are considered capable of doing harm to the free tradi­tions and institutions of the Fatherland?

On the other hand, if the believers beyond the Atlantic, who collect funds for their missionaries and for the neophytes won over by their preaching, were aware that the majority of those “converts” are au­thentic Communists, who do not care a lot about the things of religion except when it is a question of insulting Catholicism, while they are deeply interested in enjoying the largesses that arrive abundantly from beyond the ocean, I believe that they would think twice before sending sums that, in the last analysis, only serve to encourage Communism.


There is one last question which frequently forms the subject-matter of present-day discussions. It con­cerns the pretension of those who would like to de­termine of themselves, according to their own judg­ment and their own views, the Church’s sphere of action and the limits of her competence, in order to be able to accuse her of “interfering in politics,” in case she goes outside that sphere.

This is the pretension of all those who would like to shut up the Church within the four walls of the temple, by separating religion from life, the Church from the world.

Now, the Church must hearken to the command­ments of God rather than to the pretensions of men. “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”22 And the Gospel comprises the whole of Revelation with all the consequences that it entails for the moral conduct of man, with regard to his individual life, in his family life, and from the point of view of the good of the community or city (polis).

“Religion and morality,” teaches the august Pontiff, “in their close union constitute an indivisible whole. The moral order, the commandments of God, are equally binding in every field of human activity with­out any exception. And as far as these reach out, thither extends also the mission of the Church and therefore also the word of the priest, his teaching, his admonitions, and his counsels to the faithful com­mitted to his care.

“The Catholic Church will never allow herself to be shut up within the four walls of the temple. The separation between religion and life, between the Church and the world, is contrary to the Christian and Catholic idea.”

In particular with apostolic firmness, the Holy Father continues:

“The exercise of the right to vote is an act of grave moral responsibility, at least where there is question of electing the men who are called upon to give the country its constitution and its laws, especially those laws that concern, for example, the sanctification of Holydays, marriage, the family, the school, and the regulation of manifold social conditions in accor­dance with equity. It pertains to the Church, therefore, to explain to the faithful the moral duties that spring from that right to vote.”23

And the Church carries on this struggle, not from the desire of earthly advantages, nor for the sake of depriving Civil Rulers of that power which the Church cannot and must not aspire to – “He who bestows heavenly kingdoms does not take away earthly ones”24 – but for the reign of Christ, in order that the “Peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ” may be realized. It is for this that the Church unceasingly preaches, teaches and combats unto victory.

It is for the same end that She suffers, weeps and sheds her blood. But the path of sacrifice is precisely that by which the Church is accustomed to attain her triumphs. Pius XII recalled this in his Radio-mes­sage of Christmas, 1941

“We behold today, beloved sons, the God-man, born in a cave in order that He might raise man to the greatness from which he had fallen by his own fault, and place him again on the throne of freedom, justice and honor, which the centuries of false gods had denied him. The foundation of that throne will be Calvary. Its ornament will not be gold or silver, but the Blood of Christ, Divine Blood, which for twenty centuries flows over the world and dyes purple the cheeks of His Spouse, the Church, and purifying, consecrating, sanctifying, glorifying the children of the Church, becomes celestial brightness. O Chris­tian Rome, that Blood is thy Life.”25


1 St. Luke 19: 14

2 Translation published by the Daughters of St. Paul. Available from Angelus Press.

3 Cf. Temoignage Chretien, Sept 1, 1950 (Quoted in La Documentation Catholique, October 8, 1950).

4 Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. XLIII, p. 568. The translation is that contained in Catholic Documents, Vol. III, published by the Pontifical Court Club, London.

5 Encyclical Letter, Immortale Dei, On the Christian Constitution of States. (Trans­lation as given in The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Benziger Brothers).

6 Immortate Dei, Acta LeonisXIll, Vol. V, p. 122. (Translation as given in The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Benziger Brothers).

7 Immortale Dei, Acta Leonis XIII, Vol V, p. 123. (Translation as given in The American Ecclesiastical Review, May 1953).

8 Summi Pontificatus (Translation as given in The American Ecclesiastical Re­view, May 1953).

9 Summi Pontificatus.

10 Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. XXXVII, p. 274.

11 Christmas Radio Message, 1941. (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. XXXIV, p.13).

12 Encyclical Letter, Immortale Dei.

13 Encyclical Letter, Immortale Dei.

14 Encyclical Letter, Libertas (Acta Leonis XIII, Vol. VII, p. 231. Translation as given in, The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Benziger Brothers. Available from Angelus Press.)

15 Cf. Wisdom 6:23.

16 English C.T.S. Translation. The quotation from Scripture is from Wisdom 6:4-8.

17 Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol.XXXV,pp. 13, 14.

18 This work was published in Moscow in 1930. The quotation is taken from page 234.

19 Author of the article entitled Stalin’s Constitution and Freedom of Conscience in Sputnik Antireligioznika, Moscow, 1939, pp. 131-133.

20 Encyclical Letter Immortale Dei, Acta Leonis XIII, Vol. V. p. 241. Translation as given in, The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo, XIII, Benziger Brothers.

21 Letter of May 30th, 1929, to Cardinal Gasparri on the Lateran Treaties.

22 St. Mark 16:15.

23 Lenten Discourse of 1946 to the Parish Priests and Lenten Preachers of Rome. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXVIII, 187.

24 Hymn for the Feast of the Epiphany.

25 Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. XXXIV, pp. 19, 20.


May 1, 2010


“In the New Mass the Offertory was replaced by a formula from the Talmud, a classic of hate-literature directed against Jesus with an intensity and perversity perhaps never equaled.”

by Craig Heimbichner

Many articles have been written about the objectionable changes to the Mass which culminated in the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI, and scarcely anything of substance can be added to the incisive Ottaviani Intervention or the exhaustive study of Michael Davies in his third volume of Liturgical Revolution.

Even Cardinal Ratzinger is on record admitting the practical disaster of the liturgical reform. It is obvious to devout Catholics that the faithful have been submerged during the period of the New Mass in a swamp marked by non-attendance, widespread unbelief, immorality, irreverence, indifferentism, and compromise.

Catholics have seen even their formerly orthodox leaders flailing in a quicksand of ambiguity. While the causes of this broad crisis cannot be solely attributed to the changes in the Mass, an important connection exists, since the rule lex credendi, lex orandi (we believe as we pray) remains vitally true.

Yet one of the most subtle and blasphemous changes in the prayer of the Mass has been overlooked. We have been told that the Offertory was replaced by a “Jewish table blessing”–a change objectionable enough for a host of reasons. But the reality is far worse: for the Offertory has been replaced by a prayer with no connection to the practices of the Old Testament Israelites, but rather which stems from Christ-rejecting Rabbis who agreed with the Sanhedrin that demanded His death. The astonishing truth is that in the New Mass, the Offertory was replaced by a formula from the Talmud, a classic of hate-literature directed against Jesus with an intensity and perversity perhaps never equaled. (1)

This sacrilege was slipped past the faithful without notice, and deserves exposure as yet one more reason to loudly demand the restoration of a liturgy which honors rather than blasphemes the One Who first said and instituted the Mass itself. The Offertory had long been a target of the enemies of Christ and His Church, since it clearly expresses the propitiatory content of the Sacrifice of Christ which is repeated in an unbloody manner in the Mass. This was the subject of a stern warning by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei, some of the pretended resurrection of early traditions was patently fraudulent.

Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the supposed revival of a “Jewish table blessing” from the days of the first Jewish converts to Christianity as a replacement for the Offertory. We are supposed to believe that this scrapping of the Offertory marks a return to the type of faith and liturgy of the earliest Church, and furthermore supposedly reminds us of our Jewish roots. All of these alleged reasons and explanations are simply lies, and their subversive nature is underscored by the fact that they succeeded where Luther failed–in eliminating the Offertory which he hated.

The lies behind this substitution are truly multiform. First, the Offertory was not replaced by a Jewish table blessing, but by a rabbinical blessing from the Talmud, as we will see below. Second, the Talmud was not written during the life of Christ or His Apostles, and could not have been reflective of anything in the early Church except the traditions of its first enemies. In fact, the Talmud was written in Babylon after the Rabbis had rejected the Messiah–written in fact by Rabbis in full and venomous agreement with that rejection. Third, the Talmudic blessing is part of a list of “blessings” in the Talmud which also contains curses of Christians. Fourth, what we now know as Judaism–the rabbinical swamp of blasphemy and paganism codified in the Talmud–has no connection to the faith of the Old Testament, for it nullifies it (Matthew 15:1-9). Fifth, borrowing any prayer from the Talmud is arguably treason to Christ, for the Talmud–burned by several astute Popes–contains the most horrid blasphemies against both Jesus and Mary known to man, only a few of which we will quote for purposes of documentation.

Before supporting these contentions, it is worth noting that the Second Vatican Council Fathers were all warned that covert forces of Judaism and Freemasonry were about to stage a “coup” at the Council, under the guise of a “brotherly reconciliation” and under the pretext of “bridge-building”. This warning came in the form of a large and thoroughly documented tome entitled, The Plot Against the Church, penned by several authors under the pseudonym Maurice Pinay.

One of the actual authors was Fr. Saenz y Arriaga, later the subject of a questionable excommunication following his exposure of the public wearing of the Jewish Ephod of Caiaphas by Paul VI–an emblem replete with Masonic as well as rabbinical symbolism. It should also be emphasized that the architect of the New Mass, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, has been well exposed as a secret Freemason. A raid of an Italian Lodge in 1976 revealed a roster of high-ranking Vatican prelates, their dates of initiation into Freemasonry, and even their code-names. Bugnini entered the Brotherhood on April 23, 1963. His code-name was Buan. (2)

Several Popes had condemned Freemasonry, beginning with Clement XII in 1738, and for good reason. The conspiratorial intent of Freemasonry was not only indicated by its grisly oaths of blind obedience to superiors under pain of assassination–carried out in the famous William Morgan case (3)–but also in the upper degrees such as the Judaic Kadosh (4) degree, wherein a mock crown and mock papal tiara are stabbed in an unmistakable symbolic attack against Church and State (this degree is the 30th in the worldwide Scottish Rite today). (5)

In addition, the common Royal Arch Degree, considered a completion of the Third or Master Mason Degree, contains an invocation “for the good of Masonry, generally, but the Jewish nation in particular”. (6)

Hence Freemasonry as an institution is clearly pledged to fight against the Church and the well-ordered State, and to serve the interests of Judaism as embodied in the Talmud. For these grave reasons several Popes recognized the threat posed by this subversive secret society and censured it in the strongest possible terms. (7) Nevertheless, Masons bored from within, in accordance with their own plans which had been exposed by Monsignor Dillon in 1884 and published by Pope Leo XIII one year later at his own expense–after the Pope had himself written Humanum Genus, the most expansive papal condemnation of Freemasonry ever penned. (8)

One of the ensuing Masonic triumphs against the Church was clearly the wreckage of the liturgy, led by one of their own members, as we have seen. The hallmarks of treachery are apparent to those with eyes to see and a sensus Catholicus and need no recapitulation here. But this background of anti-Christian subversion and intrigue needs to be stressed to understand the truly blasphemous substitution of the Offertory with a nearly verbatim passage from the masters to whom the Masonic institution is pledged in service as evidenced in the Royal Arch Degree referenced above.

A modern myth is that this “Jewish table blessing” has its roots in worship from the time of Ezra. Searching the Bible should reveal that this story is absent from the pages of Holy Writ. Where, then, does it originate? The Jewish Encyclopedia (9) (published 1901-1906, consisting of twelve volumes) tells us, in its article on Benedictions, that this story of the origin of “blessings” in Judaism is a “rabbinical tradition” in the Talmud itself–in Berakoth 33a, as indeed it is.

As a source of history, however, the Talmud should as a rule be rejected–just as one should reject the Talmudic stories that the Blessed Virgin Mary was a “harlot” (Sanhedrin l06a), that Adam had sexual intercourse with all the animals in the Garden of Eden (Yebamoth 63a), that Jesus “learned witchcraft in Egypt”–(Shabbos l04b), or that Jesus is in Hell being boiled in “hot excrement” (Gittin 57a). One must emphasize that these passages and many others, long denied by Rabbis, have been included in the most recent and authoritative translation of the Talmud–several volumes of which are still in production–rendered by the noted Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Rabbi Steinsaltz comments on prior truncated and censored versions of the Talmud: “Wherever the Talmud makes derogatory reference to Jesus or to Christianity in general, the comment was completely erased, and the name of Christ was systematically removed . . . ” (10) In The Essential Talmud, Rabbi Steinsaltz writes of the supreme importance of the Babylonian Talmud: “Babylonian scholars were soon attracted to the new center and thousands of disciples flocked to study there.” (11)

What Christ condemned as “the traditions of the elders” (Mark 7:1-13), Rabbi Steinsaltz calls the “oral law,” stating that “the work of preserving and codifying the vast body of oral law went on for several generations . . . ” (12) This oral law was eventually written down as the Talmud, the most important and authoritative version being the lengthy Babylonian Talmud. Rabbi Steinsaltz traces the gradual development and redaction of the Babylonian Talmud, commenting that “the natural authorities best equipped to clarify problems were the heads of the great Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbedita”. Their authority was unquestioned, and consequently the Talmud assumed the greatest possible importance, eclipsing the Old Testament as the central text of Judaism: “Historically speaking,” writes Rabbi Steinsaltz, “the Talmud is the central pillar of Jewish culture” (13)–note: the Talmud, not the Old Testament.

From the redacted Talmudic oral traditions, which Christ denounced as a special mark of the Pharisees and Scribes, came what we know today to be Judaism. And it is from this false religion, premised on the rejection of Jesus, that the replacement of the Offertory in the Mass was culled. Some might respond that Judaism is not a different religion, but merely an earlier “phase” of the covenant now called Christianity, (14) with prayers which after all are directed to the same God.

In response to this completely false characterization–confusing as it does the faith of the Israelites with the corruptions of the Pharisees, already well-entrenched in the time of Christ–I will quote a Doctor of the Church universally neglected today. St. John Chrysostom responds incisively: “But at any rate the Jews say that they, too, adore God. God forbid that I say that. No Jew adores God! Who says so? The Son of God says so. For He said, ‘If you were to know My Father, you would also know Me. But you neither know Me nor do you know My Father.’ Could I produce a witness more trustworthy than the Son of God?” (15)

The true origin of the so-called “Jewish table blessing” is by all evidence the Talmud itself, since absent any other testimony one cannot attribute an authentic Old Testament origin to the practices of those who freely invented so many objectionable traditions that Christ Himself condemned them on several occasions (Mark 7:1-13; Matthew 15:1-9; Matthew 23:25-26).

Hence in the Jewish Encyclopedia explanation of “Benedictions,” we find that “in the course of time all these benedictions assumed a stereotyped form; and the rule is given by Rab that, to be regarded as a regular benediction (Ber. 40b), every benediction must contain the name of God, and by R. Johanan that it must contain the attribute of God’s kingship.” In other words, the Talmud and its rabbinical authors dictated the form of the blessing in Judaism which we later find brazenly imported into the New Mass by Bugnini’s committee.

By the time of Vatican II, of course, the voices crying out for “peace with Judaism” were strong. A new “appreciation” of Judaism was underway in the Church, culminating in the decree of Nostra Aetate that the Jews did not kill Jesus. (16) Flogged by the whip of the Holocaust, the Church was on the run and trying to prove its sympathy for synagogues.

If only Paul VI, in reviewing this audacious “swap” in the Mass, had heeded the strong exhortation of St. John Chrysostom: “Since there are some who think of the synagogue as a holy place, I must say a few words to them. Why do you reverence that place? Must you not despise it, hold it in abomination, run away from it? They answer that the Law and the books of the prophets are kept there. What is this? Will any place where these books are be a holy place? By no means! This is the reason above all others why I hate the synagogue and abhor it. They have the prophets but do not believe them; they read the the sacred writings but reject their witness–and this is a mark of men guilty of the greatest outrage.” (17)

But the advice of this Doctor of the Church was not only ignored, one could say it has been the target of a papal apology actually given within the Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986. (18)

The source of the replacement for the Offertory is clarified in the Jewish Encyclopedia, which introduces a list of “benedictions prescribed in the Talmud and adopted in the liturgy; each of them beginning with the formula ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Our God, King of the Universe’!” Although the liturgy of Judaism is intended in the above reference, ironically this Talmudic benediction became repeated almost verbatim in the New Mass.

But of even greater irony is the fact that in this instance the Latin is closer in form to the Talmud than the English translation done by the ICEL: for the Latin reads, “Benedictus es, Domine, Deus universi,” which translated literally becomes “Blessed are You, Lord, God of the universe,” whereas the common translation one encounters is, “Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation.” The difference is small, but the Latin more explicitly parallels the Talmud.

Tragically, those who hope for a “purification” of the New Mass by rendering it in Latin would only render the blasphemous parallel between the Offertory’s replacement and the Talmud more exact. As One reads the Talmud and the Jewish Encyclopedia, it becomes apparent that this formula extends to all benedictions, not merely to table blessings.

By the 2nd Century, states the Jewish Encyclopedia, “they were already fixed as to form and number, since R. Meïr declares it to be the duty of everyone to say one hundred benedictions daily . . . ” These “benedictions” include reciting a “blessing” after vacating one’s bowels (“who has formed man in wisdom and created many orifices . . . “), thanking God for not making one a Gentile, and thanking God “who hast not made me a woman.” The basic structure of benedictions was eventually crystallized into eighteen.

Rabbi Steinsaltz comments, “The Great Assembly . . . decided to compose a standard prayer reflecting the wishes and aspirations of the entire people. It was composed of eighteen benedictions, each dealing in brief with one subject. This prayer, most of which has survived to the present-day and still constitutes the basis of the synagogue service, consists of three opening benedictions, three closing benedictions, and twelve intermediate ones containing various requests and supplications.” (19)

Of particular note, however, is the fact that the daily “blessings” of Judaism contain a curse against Christians. As Professor Israel Shahak of Hebrew University tells us, “in the most important section of the weekday prayer–the ‘eighteen blessings’–there is a special curse, originally directed against Christians, Jewish converts to Christianity and other Jewish heretics: ‘And may the apostates have no hope, and all the Christians perish instantly.’ (20)”

Rabbi Steinsaltz comments, “One of the alterations introduced into the service shortly after the destruction [of the Second Temple] was not, however, connected to the Temple itself but to the problem of the heretic, Gnostic and Christian sects . . . Matters reached such a pass that the Sanhedrin sages at Yavneh decided to add to the Shemoneh Esreh an additional benediction (which is in fact a curse) on heretics (21) . . .”

One can see that the prayer-form in the New Mass was used not only for table and even bathroom “blessings” but also to introduce curses of Christians, as even hesitantly admitted by Rabbi Steinsaltz. Such is the chill-inducing context of the source of the prayer which replaced the Offertory in the New Mass. Let us be frank: the context is nothing short of blasphemy and sacrilege, for the Talmud and it’s authors were filled with hatred and curses–verifiable today in the Steinsaltz Talmud–against Christ and Christians. (22) The fact that the version of the prayer present in the New Mass is not overtly blasphemous is no more defense of its inclusion than would be the liturgical importing of an innocent-sounding passage from Satanist Meister Crowley’s Book of the Law (23) in the name of reaching out to the “misguided” or “connecting with those who have a Seed of the Word however obscure.”

Let us sweep aside such transparent hogwash and call a spade a spade, a blasphemy a blasphemy, and loudly and persistently demand of Rome the full restoration of what is ours by right: a Mass not born in treason and marked by sacrilege. For the Council Fathers were duly warned–as was Paul VI. To quote from the book handed to each bishop at the Second Vatican Council, “The most infamous conspiracy is in progress against the Church. Her enemies are working to destroy the most holy traditions and thus to introduce dangerous and evil-intended reforms . . . They manifest a hypocritical zeal to modernize the Church and to adapt it to the present-day situation; but in reality they conceal the secret intention of opening the gates . . . to prepare the further destruction of Christianity. All this it is intended to put into effect at the coming Vatican Council. We have proofs of how everything is being planned in secret agreement . . . ” (24)

But today we do not need proof of treasonous planning, for we can see the results in the implementation of the post-conciliar reforms–including the reform of the liturgy. And nowhere is the hand of an enemy more clearly apparent than in the replacement of the Offertory with words which are a hallmark of a different religion, reproduced from the premier anti-Christian text in the broad history of human resistance to grace.

Craig Heimbichner is a convert and recognized expert on Freemasonry and the occult. A speaker and writer, he is available to discuss the dangers of the occult and its influence are today. He may be reached in care of Catholic Family News.


1. For this reason the Talmud was ordered burned by Innocent IV in Bulle Impia Judeorum Perfidia, and later again by several Popes.

2. The facts were related in a September 12, 1978 article in Osservatore Politico in Rome, Italy entitled La gran loggia vaticana. The author reportedly died after printing the list of prelates.

3. Captain William Morgan, a Royal Arch Freemason, published the Masonic rituals and secret oaths in 1827. He was kidnapped and murdered by fellow Masons, an event which led to the original third political party in the United States: the Anti-Mason Party.

4. Hebrew for “holy” or “consecrated.”

5. See Secret Societies Illustrated, published by Masonic publisher Ezra A. Cook Publications, Inc., p. 123.

6. Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor, Malcolm C. Duncan, p. 249.

7. The excommunication of Freemasons was removed from the 1983 Code of Canon Law, although Cardinal Ratzinger subsequently clarified on November 26, 1983 that membership is a “grave sin” which excludes one from lawful reception of Holy Communion. One wonders, however, why the explicit canonical ban was removed. It is certainly true that many Catholics heard of this change and joined Masonic Lodges.

8. The reader is referred to the excellent summary of these documents by John Vennari, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita: A Masonic Blueprint for the Subversion of the Catholic Church, (TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.) Available from Catholic Family News, $4.00US postpaid.

9. Available online at http://www.

10. Adin Steinsaltz, The Essential Talmud, p. 84.

11. Adin Steinsaltz, Ibid., p. 43.

12. Steinsaltz, Ibid., p. 41.

13. Ibid., p. 266.

14. The unbiblical and unCatholic premise of Cardinal Ratzinger’s work, Many Religions–One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World, Ignatius Press, 1999.

15. St. John Chrysostom, Discourse on Judaizing Christians, III (2).

16. The day this was decreed, St. Simon of Trent was removed from the Roman Calendar–the child Martyr who had been killed by Jews on Good Friday out of hatred of Christ.

17. St. John Chrysostom, Ibid., V (2).

18. John Paul II was directly confronted on this occasion with the burning of the Talmud by his predecessors. His response was to apologize for “the acts of discrimination, unjustified limitation of religious freedom . . . in regard to the Jews . . . by anyone,” and he added,”I repeat, by anyone.” See Luigi Accattoli, Man of the Millennium: John Paul II, pp. 139-40. If John Paul II included prior Popes in his apology, by clear implication he included St. John Chrysostom, who was famous for his fiery denunciation of Talmudic poison.

19. Adin Steinsaltz, Ibid., pp. 101-102.

20. Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, p. 63.

21. Adin Steinsaltz, Ibid., p. 105.

22. An excellent summary of these passages can be obtained in the concise reference work Judaism’s Strange Gods by Michael A. Hoffman II.

23. For example, would a neo-Catholic object to the phrase, “There is no bond that can unite the divided but love”? Innocent enough in itself, it is a quotation from the odious Masonic Book of the Law of Crowley, which, like the Talmud, contains blasphemy against Jesus and Mary. If one finds a quote from Crowley objectionable–as one should–the objection holds a fortiori against the Rabbis who lived closer to the time of Christ, and yet denigrated Him with even worse blasphemy in the Talmud.

24. Maurice Pinay, The Plot Against the Church, p. 15.


April 27, 2010



Spoken over 30 YEARS AGO…

    and as pertinent as ever TODAY…




President, Catholic Traditionalist Movement

**This letter was originally sent, without any publicity, as a private communication between a priest and the Supreme Pontiff

who, two years earlier, had blessed and commissioned him as leader of the CATHOLIC TRADITIONALIST MOVEMENT.

Only when, after waiting for three months, the C.T.M. was informally notified that no formal “fatherly reply” could be expected,

was it decided to make the letter public, both in printing and on tape, under the title “Be Thou Peter.”

Soon translated worldwide into Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish, the 1967-letter soon became, and still stands today,

as the unequalled “anguished cry” of the post-Vatican II “Suffering Church.”

Text of Letter

Sent August 15, 1967, by C.T.M. President to Pope Paul VI

Your Holiness:

I still vividly remember that December 1, 1965 evening when Your Holiness personally blessed me and my work with the

traditionalist Catholics who selected me to be their spokesman. I shall never forget the crushing handshake of Your Holiness after I

had candidly stated that we, traditionalist Catholics, were ready to collaborate most loyally with Pope and bishops for the

implementation of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, but would continue to oppose the false interpretations of those

decisions which were already then causing so much confusion in the minds and hearts of our Catholic people.

I equally remember how Your Holiness literally begged me to urge the Catholics I was to lead in their fight for “TRUTH

and TRADITION” not to lose faith in the Church. And Your Holiness justified that request by stating: “Once the dust stirred

up by the recent Ecumenical Council will have settled down, the Church will come out of all this with renewed strength and vigor.”

May I humbly submit that during this past year and a half I have labored as hard as any human individual could to do precisely

what Your Holiness asked me to do: to keep the faith in our Church alive among those Catholics who had justifiedly become

alarmed to the point of publicly asking themselves and others: “What, in the name of God, is happening to our Catholic Church?!”

And may I add that one of the principal aspects of my efforts to keep that faith in our Church alive has consistently been the

stressing of belief in the divine foundation of the Roman Papacy and respectful loyalty to its present incumbent, Your Holiness, Paul


Already then, December 1, 1965, Your Holiness asked me to realize that our Church was going through “one of the gravest crises

in its history.” If such a description of our Church’s condition was true then, how much more can the same be said of our Church

today! To say that it has gone from bad to worse would be the understatement of the century.


Today’s condition of the Catholic Church is beyond the point of doctrinal heresy, factual schism and

even apostasy. It is in a state of chaos and utter collapse resulting from the systematic destruction of first our liturgical and other

traditions, and now our very beliefs and morals.

In 1965 we respectfully petitioned Your Holiness to ensure that our American bishops correctly implement the newly

promulgated Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and to permit the retention of at least one Latin traditional Mass a day for the

millions of Catholics of the “Latin” Rite who continued to find much deeper spiritual satisfaction in the traditional Mass than in any

of the novelties now made available in their churches.

We also begged Your Holiness to urge the greatest moderation upon certain members of the post-conciliar Liturgical

Commission in Rome, and to prevent the unbelievably radical and useless changes which they were then fanatically preparing and

which were bound, we pointed out, to increase the confusion and despair which the first liturgical changes had already produced

among the Catholics, priests as well as lay persons.

Not only have our 1965 requests been ignored, but those of us who dared to publicly submit them have been ridiculed,

maligned, defamed, ostracized, and, yes, persecuted. (I need not remind Your Holiness of what I personally have suffered at the

hands of our “liberal” Church Establishment under the leadership of the same Baltimore archbishop whom your advisors placed on

your list of new cardinals at the very time he was being investigated by your Holy Office on charges of heresy.)

In open violation of all past and present liturgical directives, the Roman Catholic Liturgy, once the envy of all other religions,

has for all practical purposes been destroyed. And it gives us very little personal satisfaction to know that all those responsible for

this destruction were in advance irrevocably anathematized by the still valid solemn decree of the Council of Trent: “If anyone says

that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only, let him be cursed.” (Canons of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, n.


Coercive changes have subrogated our traditional practices with the “litniks” of our Church Establishment daily intensifying their

attempts to subjugate the “people of God” to becoming “Protestant” Catholics.

Our churches are no longer Catholic in appearance, atmosphere or aim. Tables looking like butcher blocks or ironing boards

have replaced our altars in perfect harmony with the 16th century Protestant Reformation directives bent on destroying the belief in

the dogma of Transubstantiation and the sacrificial nature of the Mass and replacing it with a symbolical transignification-communal


Our Holy Mass has disappeared an in its place our people are offered a holy mess of vernacularized vacuum stripped of the

surety, serenity, uniformity, and dignity of our traditional Latin liturgy.

Hymns associated with the anti-Catholic rebellions of Luther, Calvin and Wesley have unceremoniously uprooted our cherished

Catholic hymns to our God and the Blessed Mother, while our uniquely Catholic Gregorian and polyphonic music has been discarded

for sounds and instruments sometimes borrowed from the decadent milieu of young human animals.

Communion rails are ripped out and Holy Communion is refused to the “people of God” unless they stand

(not kneel) to receive Him at the mention of Whose name all knees should bend, if one is still to trust the text of the “unrevised” New

Testament we were given at one time in our Catholic institutions.

The Most Blessed Sacrament, to be reserved in “the central place of honor” according to the legitimate liturgical directives, is

relegated to an obscure shoe box-type niche, playing much less than second fiddle to the throne-type chair of the presiding clerical

Buddha set up in dead center of a religious flavored discotheque-barn from which the traditional statues and Stations of the Cross

have been shipped to the nearest auction gallery or antiques shop.

A steadily increasing number of once unsuspecting Catholics are suddenly realizing that, as we predicted more than two years

ago, they are gradually, first with subtle and then with increasing bold changes in the liturgy, being ushered into a humanistic rite

of a universal brotherhood meal expressive of the existentialist pantheistic concepts of an illuminated “one-world-religion” preparing

the way for a communist controlled “one-world-government.”

But, not only our liturgical traditions have been destroyed. The very beliefs and morals of our Catholic heritage

are now up for grabs in our so-called “Church of the Aggiornamento.” Steadily, day in and day out since Vatican II, silt has

subversively been shunted in to the minds of the Roman Catholics in America.

Our “Catholic” universities, seminaries, and colleges are bluntly rejecting the religious character that justifies their existence,

and their teachers of the “new theology” are calling into question, if not outright rejecting, every tenet of our doctrinal heritage.

Not only are they now ridiculing the objective and historical value of both Scripture and Tradition, but they are even eliminating

such fundamental Christian beliefs as the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour, His virgin-birth, as well as the belief in the Blessed Trinity

of Father, Son and Holy Ghost now very nonchalantly replaced with the unholy trinity of Marx, Freud and Teilhard de Chardin.

Sunday after Sunday our traditional dogmas and moral precepts are denigrated with pseudo-modern preachments of Socialism or

worse emanating from our pulpits occupied by “new breed” clergymen whose pathological obsession with sex has brought them to

the low point of not only advocating the end of clerical celibacy, but even of condoning fornication, homosexuality, trial marriages,

artificial birth control, divorce, and abortion.

Our Church Establishment’s press and radio and television presentations are totally captured by the same heretical forces. And

our once respected nuns not only have become nonentity “nones” with absurdity of demeanor and dress, but are sabotaging the

religious instruction of our youngsters and children by replacing our traditional catechisms with brain-washing religion (?) books

subtly poisoning the minds of our coming generations into gradual acceptance of first a unitarian, then a pantheistic, and finally an

atheistic philosophy of life.

While some of our American cardinals and bishops are way in front of these apostatic hordes of religious

rioters, the rest of our hierarchy are burying their heads in the sand, rocking their consciences to sleep with the proverbial

“Everything will be O.K.!” or trying to compensate for the trust and respect they no longer command among their own Catholic

people by hob-nobbing with those

outside-the-fold merely to produce nothing but a superficial inter-faith harmony built on the swift sand of doctrinal compromise and

false hopes.

Your Holiness, we traditionalist Catholics, see the evil visibly extant and reject any portion of that evil!

Your Holiness knows better than any other person how we of the C.T.M have bent backwards to remain loyal and obedient to

both the spirit and the letter of the recent Ecumenical Council, including those of its non-doctrinal decisions of which we could

understand neither the necessity nor the usefulness. However, taking a closer look at the “Conciliar” church forced upon us in the

name of Vatican II, and simply judging the tree by its fruits, we are tempted to agree with one of your own immediate collaborators

in Rome who has been quoted as characterizing the recent Vatical Council as “a sinister farce acted out by a number of good-for-

nothings, some of whom, despite the gold crosses on their chests, don’t even believe in the Holy Trinity or the Virgin.”

Your Holiness, we were, we are, and we intend to remain members of the CATHOLIC Church, and we refuse to become


In spite of all the gigantic and expensive promotional techniques used to “sell” it, the “Conciliar” church fails to fascinate the

public, and refuses to spiritually refresh the individual. Instead it is repugnant to the point of rejection so tragically evident in the

all-time low of our conversion rate and religious vocations, and the pathetic trek of our most loyal and devout Catholics transferring

the almost snuffed out candle of traditional Catholic beliefs and practices from our desecrated churches to the underground

sanctuary of their hearts and homes.

Your Holiness, if no IMMEDIATE ACTION is taken by YOU, the public reality of the Catholic religion will phase out very

soon. Already the memory of a “real” Mass is fading away from the minds of our younger generation, while their elders are growing

indifferent or bitter over a Church which, if all her former beliefs and practices were so irrelevant as to be replaced so quickly and

drastically, they prefer to forget as the biggest hoax ever on record.

Your Holiness, take one last, hard look at the dying embers of your Church and ours! And decide, bluntly and honestly,

whether you wish to be a POPE, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the one true Church, or to perpetuate your current image of

the BISHOP of Rome, the first among equals, with a place of HONOR but without authority within the ranks of a so-called “college” of


With no personal offense meant, we must truthfully confess that we are not the least interested in Bishop or even Patriarch

Montini. The true affection and obedient respect

which we still have for you goes to you only as Pope Paul VI,

Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, with true power of JURISDICTION over all Catholics, including patriarchs, cardinals, and bishops.

Only a POPE who is willing to exercise his God-given prerogatives can save the Church now from further disintegration!

Does Your Holiness remember how you enthusiastically took my hands in your that December 1, 1965, when I respectfully but

candidly told you that we, traditionalist Catholics, do not believe in two thousand five hundred little popes but rather in two

thousand five hundred bishops and one Pope?

This statement of policy of our C.T.M. still holds today with this difference: But for a few exceptions which we can count on the

fingers of one hand, WE NO LONGER BELIEVE IN OUR BISHOPS WHO BETRAYED YOU AND US, but we still believe in a Pope! We

even still believe in Pope Paul VI if he starts doing immediately what he failed to do so far: ACT LIKE A POPE!

Your Holiness, may I most respectfully but with the candidness of a grown-up son who loves his father deeply tell you,

that, contrary to what your entourage of flatterers tells you, your image to the traditionalist Catholics, your most loyal sons and

daughters, has been one of a very weak Pope who contradicts today what he affirmed yesterday, and wastes his energy in

trying to reconcile the irreconcilable: water and fire, error and truth, modernism and traditionalism.

We of the C.T.M. still refuse to join the increasing number of Catholics all over the world who accuse you of being part of the

team out to destroy the Church we once knew, and of being less interested in remaining the Supreme Pontiff of Christ’s one true

Church than in becoming the Chief-Chaplain of a new one-world religion in the service of a one-world government.

We of the C.T.M. still have pent up in the reserve of our hearts the enthusiastic loyalty we, traditionalist Catholics, exclusively

set apart for our Supreme Pontiff. And we would like nothing better than to forget the past four years and shower our loyalty on a

Paul VI turned into a new Saint Pius X who had the courage to face the reality of enemies within our own ranks and the

integrity to condemn them. The first four years of your pontificate, Your Holiness, have been disappointing to the most loyal of

your sons and daughters. But, late as it is, you still have the opportunity to once more be capable instead of culpable.

May we, the traditionalist Catholics whose unworthy spokesman I am, help Your Holiness out of the impasse your

enemies cornered you into, by humbly submitting to you the following two requests:

  1. Publicly announce via all available international public media that you are again exercising the prerogatives of the Supreme

    Pontiff of Christ’s One True Church, and that the interregnum of Vatican II is over.

Let the world know that the Second Vatican Council started as an honest try on the part of a wonderfully sincere but

shamefully abused old man, the unforgettable “good Pope John,” but turned out to be a horrible mistake.

Maybe it was precisely the fear of this horrendous possibility that caused the Holy Ghost to have Pope

John declare from the very start that Vatican II, unlike all previous Ecumenical Councils, was not a DOCTRINAL Council but

simply a PASTORAL one, thus leaving the door open for any future Pope to eradicate it from the records.

Your Holiness, when honest people commit a blunder they admit it and try to undo it as quickly as possible. Vatican II has so

far produced nothing but confusion and disunity among the people of God’s Church. It takes humility and courage to admit that

even a Pope, outside the realm of his infallible ex cathedra definitions, can commit a blunder. But it is this kind of humility that

endears a truly great leader to his subjects. Even so, you know better than all of us together that to lose face is nothing compared

to losing souls.

Rescind that falsely interpreted and abused “Collegiality” decree IMMEDIATELY and PERMANENTLY. The burden of

the Papacy cannot be shared and was never intended to be. To Peter and to him alone were given the keys of the Kingdom. Peter

and Peter ALONE was appointed to strengthen the faith of “his brethren,” the first bishops who governed the primitive Church not

just WITH but UNDER Peter. Stop wearing that bishop’s mitre and place the papal tiara back on your anointed head where it

was placed the day you accepted to serve as Christ’s Vicar and Supreme Pontiff. You accepted the job; you have tasted the privileges

— now, taste the responsibilities; they are the two sides of the same coin. Give us another opportunity to let the world know once

again that: “HABEMUS PAPAM! We have a Pope!”

Stop accepting decisions made by your alleged “advisors.” Stand on your own two feet! These advisors have led you and the

Church into the abyss of their anti-Christ activity. They have forced you into a world position of being apparently at ease in such

impossible situations as your praying at the pantheistic monstrosity of the United Nations’ “meditation room,” your denying to the

favorite visionary child of Fatima the favor granted to publicly known, unrepentant examples of degraded womanhood, your

hobnobbing and exchanging symbols of religious authority with leaders of what still are heretical or schismatic sects, and above all,

your lending respectability to the leaders of international Communism, which is still out to destroy our Church and all other

religious bodies for that matter.

Stop listening to the politically attuned and diabolical-oriented “advisors” who have infiltrated the highest echelons of our

Church, exactly as Our Lady foretold in her last message of Fatima which has been unjustifiedly withheld from our Catholic

people for seven years now.

Stop listening to the red and purple-clad crypto-atheists who are readying your Alitalia jet for another melodrama in

Moscow, of all places!

Listen instead to the genuine Roman Catholic, the traditionalist “man and woman in the pew” who want their Pope to act like a

Pope; the same Catholic who continues to kneel when receiving his living God in Holy Communion; who still prays the Rosary to his

Mother in Heaven; who still genuflects at the words “And the Word was made flesh by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: and was

made man”; who still reads the Last Gospel of St. John in his or her worn-out missal; who still says the Leonine prayers after Mass for

the conversion of Russia; who still abstains from meat on Fridays; who still goes to church on Sundays instead of Saturdays; in one

word, the traditionalist Catholics who refuse to turn their backs on the Son of God for any son of man, despite the red or purple he

proudly preens.

  1. Establish a new “Vernacularist Rite” for those interested in it, and publicly revitalize our now dormant centuries-old Latin Rite

    by eliminating from it the prelates and priests who planned its destruction.

If there are still persons who prefer to continue in the now de facto existing “non-Latin” rite, we certainly do not wish to deprive

them of that satisfaction. We would only suggest to them that they in turn request Your Holiness to do some spiritual cleaning in

their non-Latin sector of your Church, and clean house of such cancer spots as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta,

Oklahoma, San Diego and other Worcesters which coercively infect the whole. Friends on the surface, the heretical pseudo-cardinals

and bishops in command of those dioceses are your enemies behind your back, Your Holiness.

We, traditionalist Catholics, however, can no longer have ANYTHING to do with an Establishment that has completely

betrayed the traditions and the beliefs of the Church of our Fathers.

We have received information that the upcoming Synod of Bishops scheduled for next month in Rome is at last willing to

recommend the celebration of one mass in Latin each Sunday in each parish for the benefit of those of us described as older

Catholics who failed to adapt themselves to the so-called “aggiornamento.”

While we might have gratefully accepted this arrangement two years or even one year ago, today we must sorrowfully label such

proposal as “too little and too late!” WE ARE NO LONGER PART OF THE CONCILIAR CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT, and no belated

Latin Mass left-overs can now satisfy the spiritual hunger of the traditionalist Catholics. We just could not stand the smell of a

dwelling where we would have to live again under the same roof with the Shehans, the Deardens and other Codys of an Alfrinkitis-

infected Conciliar church which has “entered into a league with death, and made a covenant with hell.” (Isaias, 28, 15.)

Your Holiness, I fully realize how presumptuous it would be for me to approach Your Holiness on matters of this nature in

simply my own personal behalf. However, may it please Your Holiness to accept the following concrete proposals as coming from

the millions of distressed and suffering loyal Roman Catholics whose spokesman I have become in the United States of

America, as well as from the countless other Catholics with whom our Movement has coordinated its efforts in twenty-eight

other countries.

It is in the name of those millions of loyal Roman Catholics that I now formally request Your Holiness to establish a new

“vernacularist rite” for those interested in it, and publicly revitalize our now dormant centuries-old Latin Rite by eliminating from it

the prelates and priests who planned its destruction.

This rejuvenated Latin Rite will, of course, incorporate the doctrines of the traditional “Profession of Faith” as well as its

concomitant Anti-Modernistic oath, and will live by the laws and liturgy that existed on October 9, 1958, the day the saintly

Pope Pius XII went to his eternal reward.

The Mother that generously allows some of her children to keep their Abyssinian, their

Alexandrian, their Antiochian, their Armenian, their Byzantine, their Chaldean and other rites, should do no less for her LATIN Rite

children, who are tired of being treated as the proverbial stepchildren and feel equally entitled to this public acknowledgement of

their maturity and love of our Faith.

We respectfully request that Your Holiness personally and immediately, without going through any of the customary red-tape

delays, allocate to the “vernacularists” certain churches, rectories, schools, convents, and seminaries to fill their needs, while at the

same time solemnly reaffirming the established property rights of the Traditionalist Roman Catholics of the Latin Rite over

all other Roman Catholic church buildings and properties in the U.S.A.

We respectfully request that Your Holiness appoint the Moderator of the C.T.M., the Most Reverend Bishop Blaise Kurz,

the principal Ordinary of the Traditional Latin Rite in the U.S.A., and empower him to proceed with the immediate

consecration of new bishops selected from the list of one hundred and fifty-six American priests who have joined me

in this last all-out effort to save our Church.

May I also inform Your Holiness that these priests, the cream of the crop, have also been joined by fifteen Sisters, eleven

Brothers, eleven seminarians, and two thousand one hundred and twenty-eight American families, who are ready to

immediately organize and support our renovated centuries-old Latin Rite for the spiritual benefits of millions of other

Catholics who have secretly expressed their support to us and are only waiting for Your Holiness’ public seal of approval to

publicly join our ranks.

Your Holiness! In the name of Jesus Christ, your and our Lord and Saviour, have the courage to disperse the false shepherds and

listen to your own conscience! Prove once again to friend and foe alike that the Gates of Hell did indeed not prevail. Stir the embers

of a dying Church and, with gallant despair, make her once more a House of Refuge in lieu of a house of refuse. Bind instead of

grind the gnawing wounds of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Holy Father! We beg you to leave the dead-end Appian way into which your advisors steered you. We do not want you to grace

the pages of future history books as one of our weak Popes and your picture in them captioned with “Paul, the Weak” rather than

“Paul, the Great.” Let history recount Paul VI as the Pope who put the Church on G-U-A-R-D again, the Pope who, after one of the

gravest crises in her history, gave back to the Church her attributes of Greatness, Uniformity, Authority, Respect, and Dignity.

Your Holiness! It would indeed be most inconsistent for the spokesman of loyal traditionalist Roman Catholics to become the

sender of ultimata in his dealings with the Supreme Pontiff of his Church. However, I would be remiss in my responsibilities to you,

our Pope, and to the people I represent, if I did not state unequivocally that the patience of the traditionalist Catholics has

reached the breaking point.

We can no longer remain part of an Establishment ready for the final ravishment of our Holy Mother the church. We must and

will break the chains that still keep us forcibly tied to a system of negating Christ, trampling on sacred traditions, lampooning

once-revered liturgical and penintential practices, destroying the faith and morals of future generations, and perpetuating a

hierarchy and clergy publicly committed to replacing once voluntarily accepted responsibilities with a life of fulfilled personal

ambitions and moral duplicity.

Your Holiness! If we do not receive a satisfactory answer from

Your Holiness or at least are given an opportunity to discuss our requests and proposals with Your Holiness personally-within

the next month, we shall consider our requests denied and our proposals

rejected, and draw the sad and tragic conclusion that Our Mother the Church has temporarily abandoned the best ones of her


I pray to God and to His blessed Mother whose Assumption we commemorate today — and millions all over the world are joining

me in this prayer — that such a dark and tragic day will never come. But, if we have no other choice, we will jealously protect the

small but still burning candle of our traditional Catholic Faith, and patiently carry on our spiritual “Resistance” movement

without the hoped-for papal approval.

I owe it to Your Holiness to herewith honestly state that, in the full realization of our responsibility to God, to our Church and

to the souls entrusted to our care, we are ready for any eventuality to the point of having taken the measures necessary to

guarantee the valid apostolic succession within our ranks.

Holy Father! Do no reject the best and most loyal ones of your sons and daughters! But, even if Paul VI would close his

soul and heart to us — Quod Deus avertat! — We will not reject the papacy!

Abandoned by you, we would sorrowfully pray and wait for the day a new successor of St. Peter would open his arms again to

those of his children whose only crime it was to live up to the admonition of your patron saint: “Even if an angel from heaven

should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be cursed.” (GAL.

1, 8), or of those other early Church leaders who taught us: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (ACTS 5, 29).

Dear Holy Father, at one time I was warned by my friend-turned-traitor, your former Delegate in Washington — now

Cardinal Vagnozzi! — that you could well be swayed by your “advisors” into replacing your 1965 blessing to me and the

C.T.M. with even the sternest of disciplinary measures. He was unable to scare me because I still have enough of the simple faith of

a child to believe that no Vicar of Christ could ever capitulate into that kind of abyss.

Meanwhile I shall continue to resist any self-styled “little pope” who tries to intimidate me into surrender, and continue to cite to

him the words of St. Thomas More who forfeited his earthly life in defense of the true Church. When the prosecuting Shehan

of his days asked this man for all seasons: “Come on, More! Do you wish to be considered wiser and of better conscience

than all the bishops and nobles of the realm?” St. Thomas replied: “My Lord, for one bishop of your opinion I have a

hundred saints of mine; and for one parliament of yours, and God knows of what kind, I have all the general councils of

the Church for a thousand years!”

Dear Holy Father! Permit me to summarize this long letter to Your Holiness by redirecting to YOU the anguished cry you

directed to US, the loyal traditionalist Catholics, on September 1, 1963: “The day is growing late. Become convinced that it is

necessary to work today, immediately, that not an hour can be lost. The need is immense and most urgent. Come and help us to

tell the world where is truth and where is error!”

Prayerfully expecting Your Holiness’ fatherly reply to this final anguished cry of today’s “Suffering Church” I beg to


Your loyal and devoted son in Jesus Christ,

    (s) Father Gommar A. DePauw

    Priest since 1942 — President, C.T.M.


The fraud of climate change as seen by a True Catholic: An article that needs to be read by ALL True Catholics. “Collapsing Before Our Very Eyes” by Dr.Thomas A. Droleskey

December 14, 2009

Published on: Dec 14, 2009

Have your say about this article or other Catholic related topics on the True Catholic discussion board.

Read by Dr.Thomas A. Droleskey for all the commentary on the state of the Catholic Church and be enlightened to the TRUTH.

Collapsing Before Our Very Eyes
by Thomas A. Droleskey

We must never lose sight of the fact that conciliarism is a false religion. False religions must collapse over the course of time as they degenerate into a mockery of all that is true and holy. This is what has happened as the Protestant Revolution of the Sixteenth Century degenerated into a mockery of Christianity as it mutated over time, continuing to mutate nearly five hundred years after Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses of the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany to over 33,000 different denominations. And this is what is happening within the structures of the counterfeit church of conciliarism as junk theology and junk liturgy work together with junk science and junk social science to adapt to the “needs” of the mythical entity known as “modern man.”

So many headlines in recent weeks attest to the thorough corruption that is conciliarism that it is hard to know where to begin in reviewing just a few of the more recent examples of how this false religion is collapsing in on itself.

True to his contradictory nature Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI issued two statements within six months of each about ecological matters that alternated between pantheism on the one hand and something approaching a semblance of reasonableness on the other hand. Ratzinger/Benedict’s zigzags on issues of ecology can be seen in just that six month period:

The first statement, made on July 24, 2007, seemed to indicate that the very existence of the earth itself hung in the balance on the basis of what man does to the environment:

In taking stock of the current situation, I would propose the combination of a secular approach and a religious approach, the approach of faith. Today, we all see that man can destroy the foundations of his existence, his earth, hence, that we can no longer simply do what we like or what seems useful and promising at the time with this earth of ours, with the reality entrusted to us. On the contrary, we must respect the inner laws of creation, of this earth, we must learn these laws and obey these laws if we wish to survive. Consequently, this obedience to the voice of the earth, of being, is more important for our future happiness than the voices of the moment, the desires of the moment. In short, this is a first criterion to learn: that being itself, our earth, speaks to us and we must listen if we want to survive and to decipher this message of the earth. And if we must be obedient to the voice of the earth, this is even truer for the voice of human life. (Meeting with the clergy of the Dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso in Auronzo di Cadore. July 24, 2007.)

This what I wrote following Ratzinger/Benedict’s invocation to “listen” to “our earth” “if we want to survive”:

Saving a discussion about Ratzinger’s lunacy about evolution for just a moment, it is necessary to point out this Modernist’s fundamental disregard for Catholic Faith and the omnipotence of God in this one remark:

“Today, we all see that man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his earth. . ”

Here is a newsflash for you, Father Ratzinger: the earth is not the foundation of human existence. God is the foundation of human existence. Neither the earth or anything on it, including the human beings whose first parents, Adam and Eve, were created specifically and specially by God Himself, exists without having been willed in to existence by God, Who is Omnipotence. The earth was created by God to be the temporal home of His visible creation, including the crowning glory of His creative work, man, who was given the power by Him to use the earth responsibly for his good purposes. Man does not exist for the earth. The earth exists to serve man as he seeks to save his immortal soul as a member of the Catholic Church and thus return to his true home, Heaven, in the presence of the Beatific Vision of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

God spoke specifically about man’s right to steward the earth:

And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. (Genesis 1: 26-30)

It must be noted furthermore that man can never destroy the earth. Oh, he can do great damage to certain parts of the earth, to be sure. Not even nuclear war, which would kill millions of people and make it difficult for survivors in some parts of the world, would destroy the earth. The earth will end when God chooses to do so by His own power at a time known to Him alone. God created the earth when He spoke the word as is recorded in The Book of Genesis:

In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.And God said: Be light made. And light was made. And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness. And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night; and there was evening and morning one day.

And God said: Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament, from those that were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament, Heaven; and the evening and morning were the second day. God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done. And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1: 1-10)

God created the earth. He alone has the power to end its existence. Those who contend that man can destroy the earth demean the omnipotence of God and do not understand Catholic teaching on eschatology.

No, man can never destroy the earth. We must always listen to the voice of God, not to the nonexistent “voice” of “our earth.”

The statement that Ratzinger/Benedict made on July 24, 2007, was straight out of the junk science of the 1960s, accepting the belief that the earth’s very existence is at risk as a result of a despoliation of the environment that is occurring precisely because most men, including most Catholics, in the world today do not understand how to use things of this passing earth in light of First nd Last Things. A world where the confessionally Catholic civil state has been overthrown and replaced by the naturalistic, religiously indifferentist, anti-Incarnational civil state of modernity is one in which men will worship and glorify dirt rather than adoring the true God of Divine Revelation has He has revealed Himself to us through the true Church that He created upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.

A little over five months later, however, Ratzinger/Benedict explained the matter of “climate change” in more cautious terms, warning against the “prophets of doom” even though he had said on July 24, 2007, that the very existence of the earth was imperiled:

Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying. (41st World Day of Peace 2008, The Human Family, a Community of Peace.)

Other conciliarists, however, are full-throated believers in the false scientific data used to “prove” dangerous climate changes that have been revealed now to be manufactured so as to change public policy by forcing governments around the world to spend billions of dollars in what amounts to gigantic exercises in social engineering to get people out of their automobiles and to do as the leftist scientists desire in their daily lives. Here is a recent report from Zenit (I still can’t believe they started sending me their news releases again) on one group of sappy conciliarists who are heading to Copenhagen for the upcoming United Masonic Nations Organization “climate summit:”

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2009 ( Caritas is joining with other humanitarian organizations to bring bishops and representatives from 25 countries to Copenhagen, Denmark, for an upcoming U.N. meeting on climate change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet Monday to begin a two-week conference in Copenhagen.

In a press release today, Caritas reported that it plans to send representatives to “urge world leaders for climate justice,” and campaign for a new deal “that puts the needs of the poor first.”

The aid agency is working with CIDSE, which represents some 180 Catholic agencies, to bring representatives from: Mexico, Zambia, South Africa, North America, the Pacific Islands, Mozambique, Kenya and Europe.

Lesley-Anne Knight, secretary-general of Caritas, who will be present in Copenhagen, stated, “World leaders must agree to legally binding commitments to cutting greenhouse gases and to paying for the damage that climate change is having on poor communities.”

She continued: “They must set a new vision with a shared responsibility to the Earth.

“We must all live more sustainable less excessive consumerist lifestyles. This will be painful, but not as painful as doing nothing.”

“The outcome of Copenhagen must be part of a new global ethic that reconnects us to nature,” Knight said, “otherwise it will have failed.”

The network of aid organizations is calling for a “fair, effective and binding agreement” that is “legally binding and enforceable.”

This agreement, the Caritas communiqué asserted, should include the commitment of developed countries to some $198 billion “additional public financing per year by 2020” to “support developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to develop sustainably.”

It also called for an agreement including a commitment to keep global warming and emissions down. (Caritas Plans Climate Change Campaign)

There’s only one little problem with all of this. The hysteria is based on faked “scientific” data, as an editorial in the fairly liberal San Diego Union-Tribune noted recently:

This editorial page has accepted the predominant view of the scientific community that global warming is occurring partly because of mankind’s industrial activity, specifically the release of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere. This view was strongly buttressed by a March 2007 editorial board interview with climate change experts Tony Haymet and Richard C.J. Somervill of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who laid out a comprehensive view of the scientific case for global warming and the risks it posed to civilization.

But after the events of recent weeks, we have deep doubts about at least one assertion of Haymet’s: that climate researchers operate in “a very open community.” Instead, the recent leak of thousands of e-mails to and from scientists at the University of East Anglia in England, the world’s most influential climate research center, showed something else entirely.

The e-mails described systematic manipulation of data to promote conventional wisdom on global warming and of trying to marginalize or harm scientists with contrary theories. They spoke of deleting e-mails, documents and raw data that were the target of public records requests, in apparent violation of British law.

On Sunday, the Times of London reported that this information purge included “much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based” – meaning the key conclusions of East Anglia scientists cannot be subject to independent review.

The leaked e-mails also included an extraordinary admission. U.S. scientist Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote on Oct. 12 that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t” – a reference to the fact that global temperatures haven’t gone up in more than a decade. Why is this a “travesty”? Because of the grand claims that climate scientists have made for years about the validity of their research and the strength of their predictive models. They should be able to explain what’s going on. It appears they can’t come close.

Yet even after this scandal, environmentalists and their political allies still want the world to remake its economy – redirecting trillions of dollars in economic activity – based on East Anglia’s research. They downplay, even dismiss, the clear evidence of academic fraud.

The White House has adopted this dismissive approach to the scandal as well. President Barack Obama plans to attend the international conference on what the world should do about global warming that begins Monday in Copenhagen. This conference is being held in great part because of the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which were among the very reports that scientists discussed manipulating in the leaked e-mails.

This outrageous scandal must not and cannot be dismissed. It must be investigated – by the United Nations, by Congress, by the National Academy of Sciences – until every last bit of tainted science has been exposed and excluded from the climate change debate. Given the stakes, it would be a travesty to do otherwise. (Tainted science; see also Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation.)

Does any of this matter to the exponents of junk theology in the conciliar Vatican who must be living in a parallel universe? Does the evidence of actual fraud in the manipulation of allegedly scientific data mean anything to the likes of Ratzinger/Benedict’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.? Evidently not:

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2009 ( The elements that have led to this week’s U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen must also be a call to lifestyle conversion, according to a Vatican spokesman.

On the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, analyzed the ethical implications of the Dec. 7-18 U.N. conference.

The priest proposed that “some time ago environmental and climate concerns seemed to many to be a luxury — worries for the rich. The concerns of the poor, who had to survive and meet basic needs, were different.”

But then, he said, “We understood that things were not quite that way.

“When there is drought or when there are environmental catastrophes, the poor are the first to suffer and die. Those who are in safer places or who have more resources for food or protection can better survive the worst environmental conditions.”

Thus, the spokesman asserted, caring for the health of the planet is something that must be done for everyone, and first of all, for the poor.

“The planet is like an organism in which imbalances reflect on each other,” Father Lombardi illustrated. “The alteration of the atmosphere’s composition, the increase of sea levels, the reduction of unpolluted fresh water reserves, the change in precipitation and hurricanes, soil erosion and desertification, damage to agriculture and human health. … And all of this fundamentally largely depends on human behavior and decisions.”

Our problem too

The Vatican spokesman observed that “the Copenhagen conference on climate will be considered a success or a failure according to the commitments that the governments will take on, above all those of the most powerful and largest countries. The ‘magic’ numbers on the reductions of harmful gas emissions and the funding to be procured will be pronounced.”

“But,” the Jesuit affirmed, “in the end everything will depend on the sum of each of our actions, [we] inhabitants of the earth, too used to thinking ourselves clever in shifting the responsibility on others.”

Referencing Benedict XVI’s “Caritas in Veritate,” Father Lombardi proposed “new lifestyles” and noted that “the ecological system depends on a good relationship between man and nature but also on his relationship with other men.”

“So,” he concluded, “Copenhagen’s problem is our problem too.” (Aide: Climate Change Talks Must Affect Our Lives.)

Ratzinger/Benedict himself wished success for the “climate change” conference, urging attendees to respect God’s laws and the human person. That’s nice. Ratzinger/Benedict does not understand that naturalists who believe in abject pantheism will never respect God’s laws as long as they do not convert to the true Church, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order.

Although my friend Mr. Timothy Duff told me recently that there is warming occurring in the world, said warming is not atmospheric. It emanates, Mr. Duff says, from the center of the earth. Gee, what was it that appeared when Our Lady parted the ground beneath Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos on July 13, 1917? Hell itself. Mr. Duff promises to write on this subject at another time.

For present purposes, however, the talk of atmospheric global warming necessitating all manner of economic and political and sociological changes is nothing but lies designed to render more control and more control to the statists who believe in contraception and abortion and perversity and all other manner of evils. That conciliarists buy into any of these lies speaks very loudly about the fact that a false religion built on one lie after another, including making “peace” with the Beatles, Karl Marx, Harry Potter, Oscar Wilde, John Calvin, Barack Hussein Obama, and now the murdered “rapper” Tupac Shakur (see Tupac Shakur and Muse feature on Vatican’s MySpace playlist). Then again, as we know, Ratzinger/Benedict is in favor of a one world governing authority and has endorsed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (see Kindred Spirit of the New World Order).

Behold a false religion in absolute shambles as one of its former archbishops, the corrupt and perverted Rembert G. Weakland (see Weak In Mind, Weakest Yet In Faith), a direct acolyte of Annibale Bugnini who helped to plan the Protestant and Masonic Novus Ordo service, admits to shredding documents relating to complaints made against priests/presbyters during his wretched tenure:

Former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland routinely shredded copies of weekly reports about sexual abuse by priests, according to formerly sealed testimony turned over to Milwaukee County’s district attorney on Thursday.

In a 1993 deposition, Weakland admitted destroying copies of the reports in his office, according to a partial transcript of the deposition released by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Peter Isley, SNAP’s Midwest director, turned over the partial transcript, as well as portions of the logs to which Weakland was referring, to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and asked him to review them for any possible criminal violations. Chisholm accepted the records and promised a thorough review.

The 16-year-old deposition documents have come to light during the discovery process in more than a dozen civil fraud lawsuits filed against the Milwaukee archdiocese.

SNAP made the announcements at a news conference Thursday morning outside Chisholm’s office at the Milwaukee County courts complex.

Julie Wolf, communications director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said Thursday she had not seen the documents SNAP released and could make no comment on them for the archdiocese.

In the deposition, Weakland explains that he got copies of the weekly logs made by vicars in the archdiocese about ongoing problem priests. He said he would read them, then shred them because he didn’t want to keep them in his office. He would “try to remember anything that is quite serious and important,” and later discuss the matters with the vicar.

SNAP also released portions of logs kept on two abusive priests, Siegfried Widera and Franklyn Becker. Widera killed himself in 2003 after police cornered him in Mexico; Becker has been removed from the priesthood. Isley said not all portions of all vicar logs have been released yet as part of the civil litigation.

Isley said SNAP also will ask Archbishop-designate Jerome Listecki to censure and discipline Weakland and anyone else who may have been involved in covering up sex abuse by clergy. He said Listecki has refused to say whether he would review why the Diocese of La Crosse, where he is bishop, has cleared more clergy accused of abuse than most dioceses.

Listecki told Wisconsin Public Radio that he did not have enough time left in his term as bishop in La Crosse and that, besides, it was the holiday season. (Weakland shredded copies of abuse reports.)

Meanwhile, as reported a few days ago on this site, the former conciliar “archbishop” of New York, Edward “Cardinal” Egan, refused to admit that he had mishandled a single case of a priest/presbyter abusing children during his tenure as th conciliar ‘bishop” of Bridgeport, Connecticut (see In Cardinal Egan’s Testimony, a New View of a Scandal.)

The false religion of conciliarism has perverted the Sacred Liturgy and corrupted the doctrines of the Faith. Even though things are terrible right now in one underground venue whose clergy have descended to the depth of evil to defend themselves and their now nonexistent “reputations” at all costs, never lose sight of the fact that the church of the new ecclesiology and false ecumenism and religious liberty and episcopal collegiality and inter-religious “prayer” services and separation of church and state and the “inculturation of the Gospel” in the profane Novus Ordo service is built on a web of lies that keeps collapsing in on itself before our very eyes.

Oh, yes, who is still in power in Germany despite having denied on April 11, 2009, Holy Saturday, that Our Blessed Lord and Savour Jesus Christ died on the Holy Cross in atonement for our sins? That’s right, “Archbishop” Robert Zollitsch. Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has not seen fit to raise his voice in defense of this doctrine of the Faith or to remove Zollitsch. The “quiet revolution” is very quiet indeed.

As we continue the penitential season of Advent on this Second Sunday of Advent and the Commemoration of Saint Nicholas, that bishop of charity who knew that true love of God leads us to hate heresy, which is why he slapped the heretic Arius in the face at the Council of Nicea, may we keep close to Our Lady during these days of patient expectation, accepting the sufferings of the moment as a just chastisement for our own sins, lovingly forgiving all who attack us or who seek to provoke anger or rage from us, seeking ever more faithfully to bear our crosses with joy and with gratitude, making sure to pray as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit, offering all to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The conciliarists lose in the end. Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph. May our patience in the bearing of the crosses of the moment, both at the hands of the conciliarists and, so very sadly, at the hands of some of our true clergy, help us to plant a few seeds as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart for the restoration of the Church Militant on earth and the restoration of Christendom itself.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!

Isn’t it time to pray a Rosary now?

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!


October 8, 2009

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