Destroyer of Heresies

"Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in your zeal and work, we beseech for you with our whole heart and soul the abundance of heavenly light, so that in the midst of this great perturbation of men's minds from the insidious invasions of error from every side, you may see clearly what you ought to do and may perform the task with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, be with you by His power; and may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid."
Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Conspiracy of Silence Against Pope Saint Pius X

When an adversary rises up against them [the Modernists] with an erudition and force that render him redoubtable, they try to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attack, while in flagrant contrast with this policy towards Catholics, they load with constant praise the writers who range themselves on their side... (Encyclical Letter Pascendi Gregis, St. Pius X, 1907)

One of the most effective ways to achieve strategic victories in theological debate is to simply ignore an argument.

This omission has succeeded beyond the expectations of most during the last century when the clash between the traditional Catholic philosophy and theology of St. Thomas and the partisans of the nouvelle theologie of Ressourcement struggled for primacy in the Catholic Church's doctrinal presentation.

The most telling evidence of this conspiracy of silence is the complete and total omission of any mention of St. Pius X, the contagion of philosophical and theological Modernism, or any efforts taken to condemn it in the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by the Confraternity of the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II. If Pius X had been an inconsequential pontiff, or had little to say about contemporary doctrinal concerns, one might accept the silence as simply the editor's choice. But something else is going on here.

The landmark encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis promulgated by Pope Pius X on 8 September 1907 left no doubts for the church militant: "the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart" and that they "lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires." 

  Pope John Paul II's Catechism omits any 
references to the teaching of Pope Pius X

Subtitled, "On the Doctrines of the Modernists" it concluded that this convergence of multiple lines of heresy constituted the "rendezvous of all heresies" that "means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone but of all religion." So dangerous, so threatening, so subversive was this collection of heresies that the Supreme Pontiff required all clergy to swear an oath against it, without which a man could not receive the sacrament of orders (Pope Paul VI abrogated the oath in 1967). 

The Modernists and their sympathizers were driven underground during the pontificate of Pius X following the excommunication of Fr. George Tyrell, S.J. and Fr. Alfred Loisy and the firm administrative actions taken per sections 45-57 of Pascendi. To succeed in advancing their theological agenda, they had to overcome the antidote prescribed by the holy office of Pius X: scholastic philosophy and theology.

A renewed emphasis on St. Thomas spread throughout the Church's institutions following the condemnation of Modernism which its detractors dubbed 'neo-scholasticism.' This epithet carried with it the implied criticism of what was then called 'manualism' or the learning from textbooks that consolidated sources of original biblical, patristic, and doctrinal material as opposed to treating the 'original' sources which the traditionalists dubbed 'ressourcement'. 

The war against St. Thomas was waged in two distinct but mutually supporting strategies: (1) the complete dismissal of scholastic philosophy as unworkable for so-called 'modern man'; and (2) the co-opting of scholastic philosophy by synthesizing it with modern philosophies. The former tack was taken by Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kung, and Josef Ratzinger; the latter by Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, and Karol Wojtyla. 

It may be helpful at this point to link these historical events to the Council of the Vatican 1869-1870 known now as "Vatican I". The material and physical sciences had become such a juggernaut in the post-1789 world that it threatened to consume and destroy all metaphysics. The claims of the men of science appeared to render much of the supernatural, preternatural, and biblical world-view as untenable to minds 'enlightened' by 'science.' About this, the fathers of Vatican I declared,

6. If anyone says that
the condition of the faithful and those who have not yet attained to the only true faith is alike, so that
Catholics may have a just cause for calling in doubt, by suspending their assent, the faith which they have already received from the teaching of the church, until they have completed a scientific demonstration of the credibility and truth of their faith:
let him be anathema.
Chapter III, Canons of Vatican I (1869-1870)

Scholastic  philosophy begins with cosmology - the science of the created order. The cosmology of St. Thomas, derived principally from the natural philosophy of Aristotle, deals with the universe as it is revealed in the biblical accounts and the consensus of the Fathers. The men of science ridiculed belief in a six-day creation, a literal first man of the slime and first woman from his rib, a universal deluge, the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Christ. The Modernists siding with science against faith - a practice gaining in momentum since the Church's dogmatic condemnation of Galileo's heliocentric cosmos - felt trapped now by the claims of evolution and the [alleged] untenable foundation of scholastic philosophy. 

This tension is explained by Pius X in Pascendi with clarity and specificity:

...when Natural theology has been destroyed, the road to revelation closed through the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. (Pascendi #7)

Thus the requirement for modern philosophy - philosophy not based on the biblical cosmology but man's experience of himself in the world. The subjective philosophies of Des Cartes and Kant refined by the materialist demands of the physical sciences culminated in phenomenology and existentialism, completely obliterating the sure foundation and footing of St. Thomas for religious philosophy.

Which brings us back to St. Pius X, Pascendi gregis, and Modernism. The Pope was less concerned about appealing to modern man captive to the claims of materialist, subjectivist philosophy than about fidelity to the deposit of faith. As Vatican I deliberated:

"For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles."

This commitment to vouchsafing the deposit included the sure norms of biblical interpretation which were under extreme duress from the partisans of science:

Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of Christian doctrine, that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one, which Holy Mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture. In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers."
When we see Pascendi in the light of the Council of the Vatican and trace its teaching, condemnations, definitions, canons, and action plan to that dogmatic ecumenical council, it takes on a weight much heavier than a mere Papal encyclical emphasizing certain points of doctrine, discipline, and liturgy. We may also realize then how irrevocably the condemnation of the super-heresy of Modernism is linked to that council and its infallible decrees. No wonder then the grave need for the partisans of Modernism to ignore both St. Pius X and his contributions to the magisterium of the Church!

The only way to finally and fully circumvent Vatican I was to convene another ecumenical council that would utterly ignore the condemnations of Modernism linked to it. Indeed, many of the periti or theological advisors to the council's various commissions were in fact men suppressed under the holy office of Pope Pius XII under it's prefect Alfred Cardinal Ottaviani.  Pope John XXIII knew this very well when approving their appointment. In an astonishing disciplinary sleight-of-hand, Pope John set aside all duties for condemning error at Vatican II. Since the council condemned nothing, defined nothing, and proscribed nothing, it stands as an anomaly among the Church's 21 ecumenical councils and is debated to this very day concerning its actual authority, requirements, and dogmatic value.

The council itself demonstrates this strategy of ignoring the previous magisteria. The document on ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio should logically take as it's point of departure the 1928 encyclical Mortalium animos promulgated by Pope Pius XI which condemned ecumenism.  But UR reads as though Pius XI had never existed.  The authors of the council's the sixteen documents simply took up where they wished, linked to what they thought advanced their agenda, and ignored the rest.  The abruptly discordant tension between Mortalium animos and John Paul II's Ut unum sint reads like two completely separate and different religions, treating some of the same subject matter but with diametrically opposed conclusions. The same can be said for the document on religious liberty Dignitatis humanae which utterly ignores the condemnations of it in Pope Gregory XVI's encyclical Morari vos.  

None of these efforts at ignoring the condemnation of Modernism can possibly succeed. Not only is Pascendi dogmatically rooted in Vatican I's infallible teaching, Pope Pius X's remains were exhumed in 1944 and found incorrupt. Pius XII had little choice but to formally recognize the cult of devotion to Giuseppe Sarto and canonized him in 1954. 

Rare Footage of Pope St. Pius X's Incorrupt Body
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre entrusted his priestly fraternity to the patronage of St. Pius X which he founded in Switzerland in 1970 to preserve the traditional priesthood, liturgy, and faith. Beginning with 12 ordinands in 1976, the Society of Saint Pius X has blossomed to more than 700 priests today carrying on the charism of their missionary founder and dedicated to the perseverance of the traditional liturgy, Scholastic theology, and militant opposition to the compendium of all heresies, Modernism.  

In conclusion, the most evil and dangerous threat ever to menace the Catholic Church has been ignored by the efforts of men in fact captive to its errors, whether in part or in full, whether by design or neglect. The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church - the cornerstone of pedagogical enterprise since the close of the Second Vatican Council - refers to that council over 600 times, quotes Pope John Paul II over 130 times, but never mentions Pope St. Pius X, the crisis caused by theological Modernism, nor the requirement to root Church teaching in Scholastic philosophy and theology. 

At least two generations of Catholics have been encultured, educated, and liturgically immersed in a religious milieu devoid of any understanding of the compendium of all heresies that "means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone but of all religion." But the truth has a way of getting noticed. The conspiracy of silence has the upper hand now, but the silence is being broken by the power of divine inspiration. 



Sunday, October 1, 2023

Defeating Modernism at the Root Level

Defeating Modernism requires addressing the root cause. The root cause of Modernism according to St. Pius X is the exaltation of agnostic philosophy over natural and supernatural revelation. Philosophy - the art of reasoning about created things - in this era is based on false ideas about nature. Science is treated today as the faith once was; and where science opposes faith the faith is summarily subjected to it, even within the Church: occupies itself solely with something which science declares to be unknowable for it. Hence each has a separate field assigned to it: science is entirely concerned with the reality of phenomena, into which faith does not enter at all...

 ...but it is quite different with regard to faith, which [in the Modernist system] is subject to science... (Pascendi gregis #16 & 17)

How did this displacement of theology, long regarded as the Queen of sciences occur? When did this happen? I would caution the reader to tread carefully over the next few paragraphs as the ideas expressed there may be both unsettling and for some, impossible.

As St. Pius X traces in his analysis of the "compendium of all heresies" (Modernism), it is the doctrine of evolution that underpins the agnosticism of the Modernist. Enough ink has been spilt confuting the heresy of so-called theistic evolution; what I propose here is the examination of the seminal theological event that made the theory of evolution inevitable as the dominant cosmological theory even among churchmen.

Evolution attacks creation. Creation as divine revelation explains it to us simply could not have occurred. Therefore, the Book of Genesis - the sure foundation upon which all Sacred Scripture rests - is either in error or speaks only in poetic and symbolic style. 

The first attack on the divinity of Genesis happened long before Darwin. It occurred in the early 17th century when three Roman Pontiffs (Paul V, Urban VIII, and Alexander VII) all condemned Galileo's heliocentric theory as formally heretical. The Church had always held that the earth was at rest in the center of cosmos as the theater of redemption in which God became incarnate of the Virgin Mary. The rest of the heavenly bodies rotated around the earth as Genesis 1,14 reveals. To this, Saint Robert Bellarmine testifies

 "Second. I say that, as you know, the Council [of Trent] prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether in all prudence the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators." (Letter to Foscarini, 1615)

Evolution could not have gotten off the ground - at least as regards the theology of the Church - except first that faith in Genesis had been wounded by the heliocentrists. They - long before the evolutionists - accused the Church of error as regards the interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis.  If the Church was wrong about so foundational a matter as the cosmological makeup of the universe, how could she be trusted with the weightier matters of Biblical interpretation?

St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church

However, Saint Robert Bellarmine points out a dogmatic hermeneutic here; where there is common agreement by the Church Fathers, there is no freedom to oppose their interpretation. This decree from Trent is renewed at Vatican I:

"The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council [Trent] and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.

These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their Author, and were as such committed to the Church.

Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of Christian doctrine, that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one, which Holy Mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture.

In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers."

- Decree of the Vatican Council, 1869-1870

Here we face an immovable object; the Church formally forbids interpreting the Word of God against the consensus of the Fathers, which St. Robert says were agreed about the geocentric cosmological model. No Fathers ever considered that the earth rotates around the sun, especially as an insignificant and obscure planet in some remote location in the galaxies. The teaching was so firmly established that three Popes condemned the idea that earth rotates around the sun as heresy. In his 1885 book The Pontifical Decrees Against the Doctrine of the Earth’s Movement and the Ultramontane Defence of Them Rev. William W. Roberts argues that the Church exercised her charism of infallibility in the condemnations of heliocentrism. These condemnations occurred prior to Vatican I when Papal infallibility was defined, but the condemnations have never been retracted - nor could they be without destroying the integrity of the ecclesiastical magisterium. 

A brief explanation about the science is perhaps helpful. As shocking as it may sound to the reader, there is no proof that the earth rotates the sun, nor is moving at all despite the claims that it is hurtling through space at a rate of 66,000 miles per hour while rotating at a speed of 1,004 miles per hour at the equator. All the experiments conducted to prove the motion of the earth failed. Albert Einstein developed two (opposing) theories of relativity to save the heliocentric system which at the end of the day simply renders the issue a 'tie': all motion is relative according to Einstein, and we cannot know whether the earth moves or the planets and stars do. And now the latest evidence from James Webb's telescope have scientists, astronomers, and cosmologists scrambling for explanations as what they previously held as fact is thrown into chaos. 

They simply do not know all that they say they know and most people have blindly accepted what they say as though it were an article of faith.

Back to the roots of Modernism: it was this frontal assault by Galileo (utilizing the system distilled from others by Fr. Nicholas Copernicus) on the Church's authoritative interpretation of Genesis that resulted in his censure. Following Galileo others advanced the heliocentric theory each asserting that he found conclusive evidence for it. Finally the Catholic Church permitted the investigation of the heliocentric model in the late 19th century but never formally retracted the condemnations of Paul V, Urban VIII, and Alexander VII. The enemies of the Church used the Galileo affair as a battering ram against her as they do to this day. They accuse her of being anti-science, a position that is laughable now as the Church is infected with Modernism from head to foot. Just say the name "Galileo" and watch modern churchmen apologize profusely, back peddle with haste, and explain how we have now "repented" for the "unjust treatment" of Galileo Galilee. 

This idea prevails to the present moment: the Church was wrong for 18 centuries in her authoritative interpretation of Genesis. The problem with this perception is that it contradicts the twice defined dogma of patristic biblical interpretation; it undermines the authority of previous Supreme Pontiffs who acted uniformly in condemning heliocentrism as heresy; and it opens the door for the Church to be accused on multiple fronts for false teaching based on anti-scientific exegesis. 

Modernism wounds divine and Catholic faith with a malignantly inspired skepticism about the truth of revelation. It attacks the first words of Sacred Scripture in order to topple all that follows. It assumes a role above the science of divinity in order to criticize and ridicule it. But Modernism itself is condemned by the Church in the encyclical Pascendi Domenici gregis promulgated by Pope Pius X in 1907. It may surprise the reader to learn that St. Pius X is not quoted even once in the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II. John Paul II famously apologized for the Galileo affair explaining that "theologians had erred" in concluding that heliocentrism was formal heresy.

It is easy to be intimidated by Modernists today who reign in the Church Militant as the Arians did in the 4th and 5th centuries. They laugh in your face if you suggest the Catholic Church was right to condemn heliocentrism as heresy. They mock and scoff at the very idea that science could be wrong about anything. Yet until the churchmen - you and I - start to stand up for our faith as the martyr-Saints always have in the face of a world that is under the dominion of the devil, the false beliefs of the world will not only dominate profane thinking but continue to wound the faith of the Catholic Church.

Evolution must be confuted in our apologetics; but that is all activity above the ground level. To remove the roots of Modernism, we must believe what the Church has always taught and recover the teaching of the holy Fathers as regards our central place in the cosmos. This task is not for the faint of heart or those who desire the esteem of the world. 

Monday, January 2, 2023

Benedict XVI: Pope of Evolution

As the Catholic world mourns the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, baptized Josef Aloysius Ratzinger (may he rest in peace), his contributions to the Church and her theology will certainly receive fitting attention. 

The late Pope's theology was formed decisively during the inter-war period when foment for Ressourcement theology reached its zenith in Europe. Ressourcement as the French epithet suggests entailed a return to the primary sources of Christian faith - the Scriptures, the Fathers, the early Greek and Latin theologians. 

This movement was a counterreaction to the renewal of Scholastic philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. The renewal dubbed 'neo-scholasticism' by its opponents represented a legitimate call for a return to St. Thomas as the best viable option to combat the super-heresy of Modernism. This renewal begun by Pope Leo XIII is laid out in profoundly specific action plans in Pope Pius X's encyclical Pascendi Domenici gregis (On the Doctrines of the Modernists):

In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, or which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations (Leo XIII. Enc. Aeterni Patris). And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further let Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment. (Pascendi gregis #45)

 Reaction to Pope Pius X's encyclical was both strong and divisive; it resulted in the excommunication of some of Modernism's chief luminaries (Fr. George Tyrrell, S.J. and Fr. Alfred Loisy) and drove many of its adepts underground. Chafed by the restrictions of neo-scholasticism, some ventured a way around them by appeal to primary sources which when exegeted carefully could circumvent St. Thomas. The movement aimed to find a way to entertain the modern philosophies that sprang up after the French revolution; philosophies that more adequately reflected the juggernaut of the profane sciences and the progress it purported to hail.

The immovable object for the innovators was the twice dogmatically defined prohibition on exegeting Scripture against the consensus of the Church Fathers:

Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of Christian doctrine, that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one, which Holy Mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture.

In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers."

-Vatican Council, Chapter II, On Revelation

Moreover that same ecumenical council established strict rules about the applications of philosophy:
7. Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false [34].
8. Furthermore the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit [35].
9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.
(Session III, chapter iv)

Parenthetically, we may remind the reader that historically and traditionally philosophy encompassed a great deal of subject matter - which included natural sciences, metaphysics, and what we now think of as psychology. The adage in the Church: philosophy is the handmaid of theology.

For in the vast and varied abundance of studies opening before the mind desirous of truth, everybody knows how the old maxim describes theology as so far in front of all others that every science and art should serve it and be to it as handmaidens. (Leo XIII., Lett. ap. In Magna, Dec. 10, 1889).

In his analysis of Modernism, St. Pius X concludes that the primary error in the system flows from its agnostic philosophy, which is condemned in the Council of the Vatican, 1869-1870. Likewise in a similarly urgent encyclical promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950, Humani generis warns that 

 6. Such fictitious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.

Forty-three years earlier St. Pius X had warned against the disastrous effects of evolutionism in his 1907 encyclical:

 To finish with this whole question of faith and its shoots, it remains to be seen, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about their development. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject - dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself, and the penalty of disobedience is death.

...Consequently, the formulae too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles." (Pasc. 36, 13)

The theory of evolution cannot be reconciled with the early chapters of Genesis without doing violence to Sacred Scripture. While this is disputed by many, the cleavage generally falls into opposing camps, one that says scientific theory must submit to the revealed Word of God, the other that claims Scripture must be reinterpreted in order to accommodate scientific theory. The Church has always taught that true science cannot oppose what God has revealed, "who can neither deceive nor be deceived" (Vatican I). 

The Modernists obviously opted for the latter in the borrowing from the protestants a new biblical pseudo-science known alternately as the 'historico-critical' method or form criticism. It is condemned by Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus and by St. Pius X in Pascendi. 

The great prophet of evolution was in fact a student of the aforementioned Fr. Tyrrell in England. Teilhard de Chardin's grotesque theology-fiction (epithet ascribed by Etienne Gilson) generated an impressive series of books, tracts, and articles which were suppressed by his own order (Society of Jesus) for their explosive content, forbidding Teilhard to publish or to teach. Yet his ideas caught on rapidly through an underground network of enthusiasts, and for some proposed a promising synthesis of Catholic religion and evolutionary theory. Teilhard's insistence on the primacy of evolution left no room for dissent:

Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.

- Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution, p. 130.

 Obviously in the face of such ideological absolutism, Scholastic philosophy seemed dusty, irrelevant, and overcome by events. The conviction among the partisans of Ressourcement was so intense that Fr. Josef Ratzinger was impelled to say

I want to emphasize again that I decidedly agree with [Hans] Kung when he makes a clear distinction between Roman theology (taught in the schools of Rome) and the Catholic Faith. To free itself from the constraining fetters of Roman Scholastic Theology represents a duty upon which, in my humble opinion, the possibility of the survival of Catholicism seems to depend.

(Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, from a chapter in the book Zum Problem Unfehlbarkeit – “The Problem of Infallibility”, a series of essays edited by Karl Rahner and published in 1971)

Here the tensions are displayed clearly and openly: For a new and relevant Catholicism to emerge Roman Scholastic theology must be overcome. For Ratzinger, the contestation was existential; the survival of the Catholic faith depended on it.

Fr. Ratzinger, a native German subscribed to the philosophy of Georg W. F. Hegel. This system applies a theory of evolution known as dialectics, whereby a thesis is opposed by it's antithesis, and from the dialectic struggle between the two, a new synthesis emerges which itself becomes a thesis, and the process continues indefinitely. There is little room in Hegel's system for St. Thomas, and at the risk of a gross oversimplification, Hegel's philosophy may be considered the ontology of becoming as opposed St. Thomas' philosophy of being.

The biological-historical theory of evolution proposed by Darwin and embellished with Catholic syntax by Teilhard de Chardin provided a basis for Hegelian philosophy in nature. If evolution were true as the modernists proposed, the entire approach to Catholicism and even the God-Man Christ Jesus required a comprehensive reappraisal, leading the editors of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes) to conclude:

"Thus, the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one. In consequence there has arisen a new series of problems, a series as numerous as can be, calling for efforts of analysis and synthesis." GS #5)

 Fr. Ratzinger remained a convinced evolutionist for his entire life. His effusive praise of Teilhard de Chardin culminated in his characterization of Christ's resurrection as a 'mutation' in his 2006 Easter Sunday sermon. His voluminous writing both as a cleric and a private doctor feature ubiquitous references to Teilhardian concepts such as hominization, complexification, cosmogenesis, and other terminology indigenous to the Jesuit. 

As regards creation, Josef Ratzinger ascribed to the documentary hypothesis advanced by the 19th century protestant biblical critics, which proposed that the Scriptures were redacted, edited, compiled by various sources conditioned by their own times and circumstances and are not the work of the authors accredited to them by the Church Fathers.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...."

…these words give rise to a certain conflict. They are beautiful and familiar, but are they also true? Everything seems to speak against it, for science has long since disposed of the concepts that we have just now heard -- the idea of a world that is completely comprehensible in terms of space and time, and the idea that creation was built up piece by piece over the course of seven [or six] days. Instead of this we now face measurements that transcend all comprehension.

…Do these words, then, count for anything? In fact a theologian said not long ago that creation has now become an "unreal" concept; that if one is to be intellectually honest one ought to speak no longer of creation but rather of "mutation and selection." Are these words true?

There were times when Israel was so preoccupied with the sufferings or the hopes of its own history, so fastened upon the here and now, that there was hardly any use in its looking back at creation; indeed, it hardly could. The moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile. It was then that the account that we have just heard -- based, to be sure, on very ancient traditions -- assumed its present form. Israel had lost its land and its temple. According to the mentality of the time this was something incomprehensible, for it meant that the God of Israel was vanquished -- a God whose people, whose land, and whose worshipers could be snatched away from him. A God who could not defend his worshipers and his worship was seen to be, at the time, a weak God. Indeed, he was no God at all; he had abandoned his divinity. And so, being driven out of their own land and being erased from the map was for Israel a terrible trial: Has our God been vanquished, and is our faith void?

Ratzinger, In the Beginning (editor's note: the people of Israel were exiled because of centuries of idolatry and grave sins, and only went into captivity after the Lord God had mercifully sent His prophets to forewarn and admonish them to repent)

 As regards liturgy, where he is highly regarded by some Traditionalists as being a major force in preserving the integrity of the Missal of St. Pius V, he writes

“The history of the liturgy is constantly growing into an ever-new now, and it must also repeatedly prune back a present that has become the past, so that what is essential can reappear with new vigor. The liturgy needs growth and development as well as purgation and refining and in both cases needs to preserve its identity and that purpose without which it would lose the very reason for its existence. And if that is really the case, then the alternative between ‘traditionalists’ and ‘reformers’ is woefully inadequate to the situation. He who believes that he can only choose between old and new has already traveled a good way along a dead-end street.”

(Cardinal Ratzinger – 1994 sermon on the occasion of the retirement of his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, as choirmaster of Regensburg Cathedral)

In a 2006 letter written during his Papacy, Pope Benedict XVI with his eventual decease in view, sweetly and gently thanks God, his parents, siblings, and other supporters for his lifelong blessings and sundry advantages. The longest paragraph is reserved for his ruminations about science. 

Without analyzing Ratzinger's theological postulations directly, we can at least pause and ask, where does this leave us in reference to Modernism? Is Modernism no longer a threat to Christian revelation? The fact that Josef Ratzinger came to be the Prefect for the Confratenity of the Doctrine of the Faith - in effect, the supreme chief of theological integrity in the Catholic Church - requires us to ask, what then became of Modernism? What is the dogmatic legacy of Pope Benedict XVI? Can the grave warnings issued by St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII in Pascendi and Humani generis be ignored now? Is a philosophy dependent upon evolution now to be considered not only true, but a replacement for St. Thomas' Scholastic philosophy? Is St. Thomas now opposed to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church? Has the philosophy of becoming overtaken the philosophy of being

Defenders of the late Pontiff will undoubtedly point to his laudable and and inspiring work of preserving the Traditional Roman liturgy. This is indeed a most profoundly important development for the Church; but we must ask, why did he do it?

In The Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

J. A. Jungmann, one of the truly great liturgists of our time, defined the liturgy of his day, such as it could be understood in the light of historical research, as a "liturgy which is the fruit of development" . . . What happened after the [Second Vatican] Council was something else entirely: in the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product (produit banal de l'instant). [Introduction by Cardinal Ratzinger to La Reforme Liturgique en question (Le-Barroux: Editions Sainte-Madeleine), 1992, pp. 7-8.]

Could the "organic, living process of growth and development over centuries" be in fact a reference to evolution in the mind of Cardinal Ratzinger? Could his contention be with the process of reform (revolution) which disregarded what he esteemed the proper way (evolution)? Could his insistence on subjecting the reforms that proceeded from the Second Vatican Council to a "hermeneutic of continuity" be a reflection of his Hegelian philosophy? Could his primary concern with evolution have driven his moderation of the more radical reforms of the council?

This essay deliberately avoids any consideration of the man Josef Ratzinger, or his prudential decisions in governing the Catholic Church, many which cheered the heart of this author during his pontificate. The real concern for this essay is the threat Modernism continues to pose to the Catholic Church. If Modernism - absolutely dependent on the theory of evolution - is now enshrined at the highest levels of doctrinal authority in the Church, who were its champions? And how can we claim heroic sanctity and virtue for its supporters? 

As with Modernism and its offshoots addressed by Pope Pius XII in Humani generis, it is philosophy which is determinative for the formulation of errors. And errors about nature are the most serious, for they distort our ability to reason. We will conclude with St. Thomas:

It is absolutely false to maintain, with reference to the truths of our faith, that what we believe regarding the creation is of no consequence, so long as one has an exact conception of God; because an error regarding the nature of creation always gives rise to a false idea concerning God.

—Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Contra Gentiles"



Saturday, July 30, 2022

Why we doubt the consecration of Russia-Ukraine by Pope Francis

 The consecration of Russia (and an unasked for Ukraine) delivered by Pope Francis on 25 March 2022 is of doubtful value for peace in our times. The intention is defective; the objective is oblique; and the animus behind the current Papacy is decisively opposed to what our Lady of Fatima requested.

Even a casual perusal of the consecration prayer reveals nothing in reference to our Lady of Fatima, nor the purpose of the requested consecration she revealed to Sister Lucia in 1929 for the conversion of Russia. The Pope's prayer asks for peace. Peace is what our Lady promised the world if the consecration was carried out as she requested. What Pope Francis did was to request the fruits of the consecration without performing the requirements of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: ask for the conversion of Russia, lest that nation fill the world (and sadly now, even the Church) with its errors. Failure to do the consecration properly (according to the Fatima redactor, Sister Lucia) would result in Russia spreading its errors (atheistic communism) throughout the world resulting in wars, the annihilation of entire nations, and the persecution of the Church.

The real reason that heaven cannot accept the consecration is that the men of the Church have chosen their own path to peace in utter disregard for Fatima.

This began in April of 1963 when Pope John XXIII promulgated the encyclical Pacem in terris, subtitled Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. The encyclical demonstrated an utterly earthbound, quasi-humanist attempt to instrumentalize the Church as a vehicle for attaining a temporal peace in the world by an appeal to what amounts to the French Revolution's slogan of liberty, equality, and fraternity. 

The encyclical was published during the Second Vatican Council which had begun in October 1962 and provided an impetus to it that would inspire many churchmen to pursue peace through merely human means as though the Mother of God had not even appeared in Fatima, or requested the consecration of Russia.

The Council, seeking rapprochement with the communist sphere of influence then engulfing the eastern hemisphere welcomed observers from the Russian Orthodox Church on the (KGB's) condition that communism - the very errors of Russia our Lady warned against - would not be condemned. Pope John XXIII agreed to this in the little known Pact of Metz, guaranteeing no condemnation of communism at Vatican II. The calculus was this: uniting the Eastern Churches with Rome would strengthen the ties between the free countries and those restricted by atheist communism. This would come not by an act of religion (the requested consecration of our Lady of Fatima) but by human efforts and the new orientation of ecumenism.

Although nearly 500 council fathers signed a formal petition during the council to condemn communism (as Pope Pius XI did in Divini redemptoris, 1937), the petition was lost, and no condemnation ever occurred. 

Following the council, Pope Paul VI gave a speech at the United Nations on 4 December, 1965 in which he appealed

...this lofty Institution, and it comes from our experience of history... is as an "expert on humanity" [and] we bring this Organization the support and approval of our recent predecessors, that of the Catholic hierarchy, and our own, convinced as we are that this Organization [the United Nations] represents the obligatory path of modern civilization and world peace.

... People turn to the United Nations as if it were their last hope for peace and harmony. We presume to bring here their tribute of honor and of hope along with our own. That is why this moment is a great one for you too.

 Fatima does not even appear to be in the consciousness of the Supreme Pontiff nor of the conciliar fathers although it seems plausible that the best opportunity the Church ever had to perform the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary would have been at the Second Vatican Council where 2,400 prelates were assembled together in the same city, and even in the same room.

No one championed the council with more vigor and zeal than Pope John Paul II, who hailed it as the event that caused us to see the Church in an "utterly new way, quite unknown previously" (Redemptor hominis, March 1979). In fact, John Paul II was so convinced that the Council contained the promise and justification for achieving peace that he convened the spectacle of the Prayer Meeting of All Religions at Assisi in 1986. The stated purpose of this event was to ask the various deities and luminaries (as well as the Triune God) for peace in the world through the orchestrated cacophony of pluralist religious activity. The event appeared to place the religion of Jesus Christ, God-made-Man on the same level as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and many other religious systems. The common denominator is man in whom the Pope finds the key to true peace and brotherhood. 

"Man ... is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission: he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself, the way that leads invariably through the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption." (Redemptor hominis #13)

About the correlation between Vatican II and Assisi Prayer the Pope said

 “The day of Assisi, showing the Catholic Church holding hands with our brothers of other religions, was a visible expression of [the] statements of the Second Vatican Council.” 

Pope John Paul II went on to celebrate the inter-religious prayer meeting at Assisi as a new direction for the future, “The event of Assisi” he said, “can thus be considered as a visible illustration, an exegesis of events, a catechesis intelligible to all, of what is presupposed and signified by the commitments to ecumenism and to the inter-religious dialogue which was recommended and promoted by the Second Vatican Council.”

Toward the end of the speech, the Pope urged his Cardinals to continue on the same new path, “Keep always alive the spirit of Assisi as a motive of hope for the future.”

- Pope’s Christmas Address to Roman Curia,” L’Osservatore Romano, January 5, 1987, pp. 6-7.

The event itself - repeated by the same Pope in 2002 - shocked the sensibilities of Catholics and protestants alike with its audacious assertion that all prayer is directed to the one God regardless of the intent of the one praying. John Paul II left no doubt about this assertion:

"It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of God’s Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions.

In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirit’s constitutive openness to God’s action of urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that “every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person.”

(Address to the Members of the Roman Curia, 22 Dec. 1986, n. 11; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 5 Jan. 1987, p. 7).

The same Supreme Pontiff who urged the Curia to “keep always alive the spirit of Assisi as a motive of hope for the future” finds a willingness to do just that in successors Pope Benedict XVI who convened a third Assisi event in 2011 and in Pope Francis who participated in a pagan ceremony at the Vatican in 2019 and signed a document with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar alleging that God wills the existence of all religions. 

Which brings us back to Fatima: why would heaven accept the truncated, humanistic prayer of Pope Francis to end the war (without Russia's conversion) in Ukraine when he is inebriated with the spirit of Assisi Prayer himself? Make no mistake; Assisi Prayer is diametrically opposed to the message of Fatima in every way. Assisi prayer is based on a false conception of both man and God; far from requiring anyone's conversion, it offers Papal sanction to the practice of every religion imaginable. Assisi prayer sought peace through the mere human instruments of interreligious dialogue and ecumenical activity. Assisi Prayer is in the final analysis a shockingly impious repudiation of the message of Fatima in preference for man's own ways of attaining peace.

"Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." [Jeremias 17,5]

How could heaven set aside this monstrous effrontery?  How could our Lady of Fatima accept the prayer of Pope Francis for peace when the entire hierarchy with few exceptions has been compromising with Russia's errors for 60 years now? The root of this rejection of Fatima lies in the purpose and orientation of the Second Vatican Council; the council rejected the supernatural means of achieving peace provided by our Lady and chose the arm of flesh - humanistic ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. 

The same tragic exchange occurred in Judea when the Jews chose the way of political insurgency by crying out for the release of the terrorist Barabbas instead of the Prince of Peace, Jesus of Nazareth. Their violent insurgency ended with the death of a million Hebrews in the siege of Jerusalem 66-70 A.D. by the Roman emperor Titus. By choosing the means of mere human efforts and rejecting the sure path promised by the Queen of Heaven, we too are meeting the consequences of our decisions. 

The spirit of Vatican II - identified by Pope John Paul as being fulfilled at the Assisi Prayer events - is diametrically opposed to the spirit of Fatima. They both seek the same end but with dramatically different paths of attainment. Pope Francis asked for an end to the war in Ukraine, but he did not consecrate Russia and Russia alone to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for it's conversion. On top of all our other sins and moral failures, we have added an impious request for the Blessed Virgin Mary to bend her will to that of sinful humanity and grant us peace without conversion.

That is simply not going to happen.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

A short theology of climate change

 The only human behaviors that can affect the weather - known colloquially today as 'climate change' or 'global warming' - are offenses against the Creator when He has explicitly warned against them.

This essay will not discuss the so-called scientific evidence that usually reaches the conclusion its financiers favor; there simply is no settled science on the issue of weather patterns based on the causality of human behavior. The sample size of a couple hundred years is mathematically too small to consider, especially for those who believe the earth is billions of years old.

Nor is the most basic evidence available in this controversy applied to most debates: the massive size of the sun and its blazing heat compared to the relatively tiny earth. If anyone seriously proposes that bovine flatulence or other carbon-emitting activity directly impacts the energy of the sun, we are not dealing with science but (sadly as is too often the case) science-fiction. 

Theologically, there is one caretaker of the cosmos: almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. The traditional theology - never disproven - posits the governance of the universe by the agency of angels. These angels perfectly obey the Creator's every command, and as Sacred Scripture reveals, have power over the earth:

And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels: Go, and pour out the seven vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. [2] And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth, and there fell a sore and grievous wound upon men, who had the character of the beast; and upon them that adored the image thereof. [3] And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea, and there came blood as it were of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea. [4] And the third poured out his vial upon the rivers and the fountains of waters; and there was made blood. [5] And I heard the angel of the waters saying: Thou art just, O Lord, who art, and who wast, the Holy One, because thou hast judged these things: [6] For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. (Apocalypse 16, 1-6)

The great interventions of the Old Testament show us the punishments that afflicted men were not the result of "abusing the environment" but of committing abominable acts that offended the Creator. The great Deluge came because of the universality of human wickedness, completely changing the 'environment' forever; the multiplication of languages at the Tower of Babel was the divine response to the secular humanism of the day; the scorching obliteration of the cities on the Plain of Zeboim - to this day the lowest elevation on earth - came in response to the foul crime of sodomy. The plagues visited upon the Egyptians came not because of wanton excavations of the earth to build the pyramids, but from defying the God of Israel's direct commandments.

The Biblical record is replete with divine chastisements of floods, earthquakes, droughts, famines, and plagues which came upon men not for offenses committed against the terra firma, but against the will of God. 

Saint Thomas Aquinas treats the divine government in the Summa:

5. All things are subject to the divine government, since this is the divine goodness of God himself. The divine goodness is both the first effecting cause and the ultimate final cause (or ultimate goal) of everything. No positive being can exist without the divine goodness, and therefore everything, in particular and in singular as well as in general, is governed by the same divine goodness.

6. God alone designs the government of the universe, and this is his providence. The design is carried into execution or actual governing operation through use of secondary causes (creatures) as media or means of governing.

7. Since God is the first and universal cause, nothing in the universe can lie outside the order of his government. When something seems to evade divine government, the very cause of the seeming evasion will be found in the divine government itself. As we saw in our study of divine providence, nothing whatever is outside the divine rule.

What then do we reply to the apologists of the currently popular phrase that man has a stewardship over the earth? If this is so, it would be relatively easy to cite chapter and verse from the record of revelation that provides this explanation. But all we have is this:

And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. [18] Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. [19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Genesis 3, 17-19)

This work of tilling the soil was in fact, a disciplinary punishment for sin. The real justification for any stewardship of the earth comes to Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth and subdue it:

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. [27] And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. [28] 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. [29] 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: [30] 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).

While some may suggest the phrases 'have dominion' and 'subdue it' imply a moral responsibility towards the terrain of the planet itself, this idea is never developed in Catholic theology until the 1970s under the rubric of the Malthusian theory of overpopulation which has yet to materialize.

The idea that the LORD God created a fragile earth that his creatures could destroy by 'abusing the environment' is unheard of in salvation history. The earth is astonishingly resilient without any interference from man as every volcanic eruption testifies. The same pagan conception of the earth's alleged impotence in providing for all the resources of a multiplying human population fuels the madness that men must galvanize geopolitical action in order to halt the rise of a mythical global warming trend. 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Psalm 24, 1). 

No, the traditional theology of ecology is that the entire enterprise belongs to God from beginning to end, and that He reserves the right to marshal the forces of nature to influence human activity. What we are being sold with unbridled hysteria is a purely pagan idea: that an exaggerated regard for the physical environment is the exclusive province of man, and that only man can save himself from being cooked alive by his rapacious treatment of the environment. The solutions proposed for this alleged crisis appear to threaten the environment far more extensively than the production and consumption of fossil fuels: to build a single 1,000 pound battery for a hybrid vehicle 250 tons of earth must be excavated to obtain the precious metals required. Then the problem of environmentally responsible disposal of tens of thousands of these batteries at the end of their shelf-life imposes another threat upon the ground we all depend upon for growing food and water.

Proof of this new paganism is in the complete and utter disregard for real moral outrages that have historically brought cataclysmic chastisements upon the human race, and yes, the topography: infanticide, promotion of unnatural sexual acts, defilement of temples, perversions of [human] nature, wanton violence, promotion of atheism, etc... These crimes escape the indignation of our climate prophets who see in them the progress of human evolution - another pagan conception - and focus rather on 'carbon credits' and other theoretical threats that our God has never mentioned, nor His prophets. 

What is truly astonishing is how easily Catholics get carried away with this entire pagan superstructure of ecological fragility in the name of a biblical 'stewardship over the earth.' While it is true that the current Pope has promulgated an encyclical on the environment the theological underpinnings of its thesis are embarrassingly shallow. There is simply no centuries-long tradition of any moral imperative to take God's place as master over the cosmos. Even if one concedes that the biblical record may lend credibility to a stewardship over the natural resources of the earth, that interpretation could not possibly extend to the weather patterns, which is what the priests of the climate change hysteria are worried about most. 

The real crisis we are facing is a crisis of antichristian gullibility. Without the universal acceptance of the natural law that the Creator wrote upon our hearts, men fall for the flimsiest substitutes and theories. Climate change theory is simply the latest in a long line of panhumanist causes that animates the minds of men that have either rejected the natural law (and by extension, the God of nature) or have been inoculated against it by malicious indoctrination. The menu of draconian solutions being proposed by the prophets of the environment comprise a list of self-inflicted disasters waiting to engulf us because we rejected the fear of the Lord. 

Weather patterns which may certainly include natural disasters cannot be credibly attributed to human behaviors; they can with some supernatural interventions be recognized as supranatural applications of the divine prudence. God may punish men for their collective crimes by ecological signs; but He is off the record as ever having assigned the control of weather patterns to the sons of Adam. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Full and active participation: capitulation to Modernism

Why did the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum concilium) promulgated by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council emphasize "full and active participation" by "all the people" as the number one priority for reforming the liturgy?

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work. (SC #14)

This reference is not without precedent; in fact, St. Pius X promulgated a similar clause in his 1903 motu proprio on sacred music Tra le sollecitudini:

It being our ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit restored in every respect and preserved by all the faithful, we deem it necessary to provide before everything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for the object of acquiring this spirit from its indispensable fount, which is the active participation in the holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.

The differences in emphasis are striking; in 1903 it was for the sanctity of the temple. In 1963, it was for "full and active participation of all the people." These differences lay chiefly in the attitude towards the synthesis of all heresies, Modernism, and the reforms inspired by them.

The purpose of the liturgical reform was to focus on subjective experience after some Churchmen conceded to the rationalist-atheists that God could never be the direct object of science or history. This was especially urgent in lands conquered by the communists. Therefore, stripped of the witness of external signs and even nature itself, they were dependent on subjective experience to justify religion. This Pope John Paul II made the crusade and purpose of his entire life, attempting to synthesize St. Thomas and modern philosophy, primarily under the broad heading of personalism. The particular school of personalism Father Karol Wojtyla subscribed to was the phenomenology of Scheler, Heidegger, and Husserl. He believed that by locating the experience of the divine in man, he could justify the Gospel in a new way not dependent on history, Tradition, or objective authority. Hence, the top priority identified in Sacrosanctum Concilium, “full and active participation” was intended to discretely replace the definition of faith as intellectual assent to that which God has revealed to a subjective experience of the divine. All of this is condemned by St. Pius X in his encyclical On the Doctrines of the Modernists, Pascendi Dominici gregis. A few quotes are provided below:

Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is usually called Agnosticism. According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that are perceptible to the senses, and in the manner in which they are perceptible; it has no right and no power to transgress these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognising His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject. (#6)

But when Natural theology has been destroyed, the road to revelation closed through the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. (#7)

But let us see how the Modernist conducts his apologetics. The aim he sets before himself is to make the non-believer attain that experience of the Catholic religion which, according to the system, is the basis of faith. (#35)

How far off we are here from Catholic teaching we have already seen in the decree of the [first] Vatican Council. We shall see later how, with such theories, added to the other errors already mentioned, the way is opened wide for atheism. Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with the other doctrine of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. What is to prevent such experiences from being met within every religion? In fact that they are to be found is asserted by not a few. And with what right will Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? With what right can they claim true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed Modernists do not deny but actually admit, some confusedly, others in the most open manner, that all religions are true. (#14) 

If Pope John Paul II did not adopt this very error as the basis for his phenomenology and did not apply these errors in his official doctrinal corpus, how else can we explain quotes like this?

It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial human openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of God’s Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions.

In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirit’s constitutive openness to God’s action of urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that “every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person.

(Address to the Members of the Roman Curia, 22 Dec. 1986, n. 11; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 5 Jan. 1987, p. 7).

Let's summarize. According to the philosophical agnosticism of the Modernists, God could not be the direct object of science, nor of history. This left churchmen with the only option to locate the divine in human experiences. The error here should be obvious: God is the object of the queen and mistress of all sciences, the science of divinity; He is the object of all history as He is its author and chief actor. To capitulate to the Modern error of agnosticism is to surrender to a false paradigm which the Second Vatican Council refers to as "modern man." This modern man rejects the entire supernatural order; places all the miracles of revelation in the category of myths; and sees in the God-man, Jesus Christ our Lord a mere human figure totally beholden to the requirements of his own epoch as a first century Jewish itinerant preacher. Any capitulation to such paradigmatic nonsense is to open the doors wide for atheism, as St. Pius X solemnly condemns in Pascendi gregis

The old liturgy with its reliance on the objectivity of human and divine knowledge, the transcendence of its heavenward gaze and communion with the Triune God and His Saints was totally unsuited for modern man who rejected what he could not experience subjectively in himself. While these efforts to accommodate so-called modern man with a liturgy better suited to the false paradigm of philosophical agnosticism seemed imbued with a certain human empathy, they were and always will be doomed to fail. God is the primary object of science - all science, the supreme science being theology. God is no less the Lord of all profane sciences as the Creator of the material world; He is no less the object of true history as its originator, consummator and Lord.

This explains the contemporary preoccupation with 'getting everyone involved' in the Novus Ordo liturgy. The incessant noise, activity, and overutilization of laymen in liturgical functions is all required to foster authentic subjective religious experiences - not only as a way to concretize Catholic faith but the only way, seeing all external revelation and natural theology is excluded, or at least made optional.

Hence, we have the current campaign of Pope Francis and his Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to stamp out the old Mass. The old Mass isn't promoting this anthropocentric religion; it isn't focused on man and subjective experiences, but on the transcendent Divinity. The Mass of All Ages gives absolute credibility to the God Who is the direct object of science and history; it mediates supernatural graces through the offering of the Son to the Father in propitiation for the sins of the living and the dead. It is not difficult to surmise why the partisans of the New Theology wanted to obliterate every vestige of Catholic Tradition, especially in liturgy. 

Where does this anthropocentric religion with its focus on human experiences lead us? According to St. Pius X, straight to atheism. And the precipitous and tragic decline in the Western Catholic Church would appear to corroborate this. 

Finally, a clarification of the legitimate role of experience in Catholic religious praxis. As we noted from St. Pius X's motu proprio on sacred music above, the words active participation (Latin: participatio actuosa) should be considered without any negative connotation when we use the philosophy of St. Thomas and not the modern agnostic philosophies. This Scholastic philosophy of St. Thomas was in fact recommended by St. Pius X in Pascendi as a sure bulwark against the collection of heresies converging in Modernism. It fully acknowledges that God is the primary object of both science and history and as such places no exaggerated or strained emphasis on human religious experience. But stripped of Scholastic philosophy's sure foundation and left naked with only subjective experience as a guide, the role of active participation takes on a dangerous urgency which leads eventually to a loss of faith, apostasy, and atheism. 

These key philosophical differences emerge from different attitudes towards the theories purported by profane science. For St. Thomas, theology is the Queen of sciences; for the modern philosophers, theology is only speculation about subject matter that cannot be finally and certainly known. The first major cleavage between profane science and the Church's magisterium occurred during the novel proposition by Galileo of Copernicus' heliocentric theory. This controversy fatally separated the profane sciences from the science of divinity as the former rejected the latter's conclusions; moreover, this opened wide an entire theater of polemical war against the Church's philosophical moorings which culminated in the super-heresy of Modernism, inasmuch as Modernism is utterly dependent on the theory of evolution. The collection of grotesque errors one may find in the literature of Teilhard de Chardin amply illustrates the bizarre lengths one may extend in order to synthesize Catholic religion with the theories of modern science unmoored from traditional Catholic philosophy.

For liturgy, the object must ever be the Transcendent Divinity; this object must be regarded as absolute, real, concrete, tangible, and accessible through the mediation of the Catholic Church. No amount of condescension to so-called modern man in new theories of liturgy can ever hope to replace the system of worship which came not from men, but from God. The focus on men and their experiences may have been inspired by a well-intended pathos, but in the end, it redirects men away from the Transcendent Good and toward their own weaknesses. 

About this, Fr. Johannes Dormann, S.T.D. writes

A comparison of the principles of knowledge in Cardinal Wojtyla's [Pope John Paul II] New Theology with those of classical theology makes the fundamental differences clearly come to light. In classical theology, God is the material and formal object of theology. In the New Theology of Cardinal Wojtyla, the object is man. The diametrical opposition is manifest. Through the confusion of nature and grace in the axiom of universal salvation, the traditional "dualism" is entirely eliminated. The traditional distinctions of the natural and supernatural knowledge of God, of natural and supernatural revelation, of natural reason and supernatural faith, of natural and supernatural theology, no longer apply. The virtue of faith, which is constitutive for the process of justification, is no longer required for salvation...

 Quote taken from Pope John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi, Part 1, pages 121-123, (c) 1994 by Angelus Press

The urgency and necessity in preserving the Traditional Roman Rite is not a matter of personal taste, preference, or attachment; it is the divinely provided bulwark against Modernism, as discussed in the Ottaviani Intervention of 25 September 1969:

...the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The canons of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.

The experiment of philosophical personalism applied to liturgy has had a 50 year run; there is ample data to make a judgment on the suitability of such reforms and to weigh their impact on the Church. God is and always will be the highest object of any true science, and sound philosophy will always validate this. Every effort to appeal to men who reject the God of history by directing their attention to their own subjective experiences will end up failing in the Church's divinely appointed mission of saving souls through the preaching of the Gospel, of which the most profound proclamation is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Pope Francis, the motu proprio, and the showdown at Mt. Carmel

 There is a prophetic irony in Pope Francis promulgating his motu proprio Traditionis custodes [on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970] on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The standoff between the two 'forms' of the Roman Rite was prefigured in the confrontation between the Prophet Saint Elias and the priests of Ba'al on this very mountain about 2800 years ago.

Mount Carmel was the scene of the biblical duel between the prophets of the pagan deity Ba'al and the Prophet of the LORD God, Elias (cf. 3rd Kings 18, DRV). The duel took place on Mount Carmel, which is located in the Jezreel Valley in what was then the Northern Kingdom of Israel, comprised of the ten tribes that had renounced their loyalty to the Davidic dynasty and the priesthood of Aaron after the disastrous rule of King Solomon's son, Reheboam. The northern tribes substituted the Davidic line with a series of violent coup de etats, and the Aaronic priests with men unqualified for covenant priesthood. The northern tribes capitulated easily to idolatry, and it was Ba'al, the god of nature they substituted as their object of worship. This period is the backdrop for the Books of the Prophets Osee (Hosea) and Amoz (Amos). 

Elias was sent to call the northern kingdom back to the LORD, then under the rule of the emasculated Achab, who bent his will to his pagan queen, Jezebel. Elias challenged the priests of Ba'al to a duel: both would offer a sacrifice to their deity, and the God which answered by fire would be recognized as the true. Elias was convinced that he was alone in this cause, but the LORD consoled him with the knowledge that a faithful remnant remained in the northern kingdom. What occurred on Mount Carmel is one of the most dramatic and thrilling episodes of biblical history, as the true worship, while in the minority was vindicated with the power of God displayed from heaven and the priests of Ba'al routed.

In a stunning irony, it is Pope Francis who is pursuing the constriction of the tiny orthodox remnant, and proposing an audacious challenge to them: reservations about the Second Vatican Council are tantamount to a rejection of the Holy Ghost. Accept the reforms and return to the Pauline liturgy or be guilty of resisting the Spirit of God! (this conclusion is detailed in the letter that accompanies the motu proprio, 6th paragraph).

Like the naturalist priests of Ba'al, the Vatican is arrogantly asserting a claim that is either the vox Deus or a display of astonishing hubris: was the Second Vatican Council and the reformed liturgy of Pope Paul VI inspired from heaven, or men? For the Pope, the question is settled.

For the Church, the confrontation, like that on Carmel of old, is clearly couched between the ancient forms (the sacrifice offered by Elias according to immemorial tradition going back to Abel) and the new, anthropocentric (man-centered) forms which break with tradition (the Ba'alist natural religion). Could the Pope not have foreseen the prophetic irony of promulgating his motu proprio on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel?

And so we have it: as Elias prophesied, "...if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him" (3rd Kings 18, 21). And the Pope throws down the gauntlet: if Vatican II is the work of the Holy Spirit, you sin mortally by resisting its reforms. 

I will not take up the arguments at this time against the sources of inspiration of Vatican II which I have detailed elsewhere. Suffice to say, we know the liturgy handed down from antiquity and canonized by Pope St. Pius V is from heaven.

Carmelite Sisters are executed by French revolutionaries in 1794 for the crime of maintaining their "silly religious traditions" that were against the "unity of the republic."