Dietrich von Hildebrand on Pope Francis

Dietrich von Hildebrand on Pope Francis

by Joseph Shaw

Rorate Caeli

Readers of my blog (Part 1Part 2, and Part 3) will know that I’ve been trying to get to grips with what Pope Francis has been saying, and how Catholics attached to the Church’s traditions can best respond to it. We need both a conceptual and a rhetorical framework for responding to a critique which is coming from an unexpected direction.Unexpected, but not unprecedented. We have, in fact, been here before, and I was very struck by the relevance of a chapter in Dietrich von Hildebrand‘s book Trojan Horse in the City of God. This was published in 1967 (I have the slightly revised 1993 edition), with a Foreword by John, Cardinal O’Connor. I offer an extended quotation here; I’ve had the whole chapter (10 pages of the book) retyped and you can download it here. I think Pope Francis would like it too.Hildebrand was one of the founders of the Traditional movement, and specifically of the Roman Forum, directed by Dr John Rao, which continues the work of education he thought so important. They are currently appealing for funds; go over there and have a look.—————————————

Romam vado iterum crucifigi

By Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 10/7/13
REMNANT COLUMNIST, Virginia
______________________

“I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

Pope Francis

Editor’s Note: As this article went to press, the Vatican Press Office—clearly in response to worldwide expressions of dismay by concerned Catholics—has floated reports that the interview of Pope Francis by Eugenio Scalafari quoted in this article was not a verbatim transcript and that Scalfari did not use a tape recorder or take notes. The same neo-Catholic commentators who attempted to defend some of the Pope’s shocking statements in the interview are now exulting that perhaps the interview was not accurate after all—showing once again their willingness to bend and twist themselves in any direction to persuade us all that nothing is amiss in the Church. We are, however, witnessing the Vatican apparatus’s usual two-step.  The interview in its entirety, complete with quotation markshas been posted on the Vatican website and the Pope has not corrected a single word of it.  Further, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told the press that “if Francis felt his thought had been ‘gravely misrepresented,’ he would have said so.”   The Remnant will not dance either the Vatican or the neo-Catholic two-step. Unless the Pope himself indicates to the contrary, the Remnant will assume that His Holiness stands every word attributed to him by Scalfari and posted on the Pope’s own official website.  We have had enough of this nonsense! Another interesting development: Cardinal Dolan hasinformed the press that the “mystical moment” recounted in the Scalfari interview, when the Pope-elect supposedly stepped into a room adjacent to the Sistine Chapel to ponder whether to accept the election and was illuminated by an interior light,never happened. In fact, there is no such room next to the Chapel.  Yet, the interview as posted on the Vatican website retains this entire account.  It is up to the Vatican to explain this glaring discrepancy.  We merely report it. MJM

Over the past several weeks we have watched, stunned, as Pope Francis conducts little short of a public jeremiad against Catholics he deems insufficiently in tune with Vatican II’s “dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today”—whatever that means—which he insists is “absolutely irreversible” even as the destruction from the failed conciliar aggiornamento continues to mount.

Francis has mocked Catholics who counted the Rosaries in their spiritual bouquets for him, belittling them before an audience of young people as poor peasants who “return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through—not you, because you are not old…” And he has maintained a drumbeat of derision of Catholic traditionalists: they are “Pelagians,” “restorationists,” and “legalists,” who in their hearts do not believe in the Risen Lord and thus indulge in “triumphalism” and a “triumphalist”liturgy; they seek an “exaggerated doctrinal ‘security’” (note the contemptuous quotation marks around the word security), want “everything clear and safe” in the Church (imagine!), “always look for disciplinarian solutions,” “stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists,” and “have a static and inward-directed view of things” that reduces their faith to “an ideology among other ideologies.

Having issued these public judgments against faithful Catholics, the Pope who will be known forever by the phrase “Who am I to judge?” respecting homosexuals has also passed judgment on the Church herself, and by implication his predecessors, suggesting that he will correct her many shortcomings as Vatican II demands.Quoth Francis in the now infamous America magazine interview and elsewhere:

The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, little rules.”’

“Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.’

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

“The church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”

“But the church has lived also times of decline in its ability to think. Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism. In thinking of the human being, therefore, the church should strive for genius and not for decadence.

“When does a formulation [of doctrine] of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself

The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.”

“The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done[!] in that direction….I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”


Sneak Peek:

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In addition to insulting faithful members of his own flock and denigrating the Church he is divinely charged to lead, defend and protect against her enemies, Francis has issued a series of astonishing pronouncements suggesting that the Church has no business seeking converts and that the salvation of the members of all religions and even atheists is possible so long as they pursue brotherhood and their idea of the good:

Interview with Scalfari, La Repubblica:

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”

“… I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God.”

[Comment: Of course God is not literally Catholic—as if anyone thought so. But this facile     remark, so pleasing to modern ears and delivered by no less than a Pope into the eager hands of an       anti-Catholic press, harms the cause of the Gospel because it obscures the truth that God Incarnate    did indeed found theCatholic Church, “which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts.   20:28).The Church that God founded and purchased with His Blood calls itself Catholic, thus         imparting an unalterable sacred significance to the word, which belongs to the very Creed that   begins: “I believe in God.” To declare “there is no Catholic God” is to detach in speech the Gospel         from its divinely ordained sole guardianship in the Catholic Church—to the world’s great delight.          How disturbing it is to see a successor of the very Rock on which the Church was founded   descending to such banality.]

“The Son of God became incarnate to instill in the souls of men the feeling of brotherhood. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father.”

“I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love.”

“The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”

“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”


“And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.

Sermon:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics…. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Address to inter-religious assembly at Refugee Service:

Many of you are Muslims, of other religions, and have come from different countries, from different situations. We must not be afraid of the differences! Fraternity makes us discover that they are a treasure, a gift for everyone! We live in fraternity!

Address at Shrine of St. Cajetan:

“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.”

Then there are the Pope’s remarks suggesting that, unlike his predecessors, he is not “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, “same-sex marriage” or the sin of sodomy relentlessly promoted as perfectly normal by those he (unlike any other Pope) calls “gay”:

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world [!] these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope…This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, “who am I to judge?”

“During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Certain Neo-Catholic commentators, continuing the cover-up of disaster in which they have been engaged for almost half a century, are frantically churning out orthodox interpretations for this torrent of astonishing papal remarks.  Typical of these is Francis Allen, whose article “Misreading Pope Francis” misses the immense significance of the fact she herself admits: “many conservative Catholics, who disagree with liberals on practically everything else, actually agree with their archenemies that Francis is poised to radically alter the Catholic Church”  (Yes, but only to the extent this is possible, for not even a Pope can change the deposit of the Faith.)

This time, however, the neo-Catholic explainers of What the Pope Really Means are overwhelmed by their task, for Francis has dropped far too many bombshells to defuse. And, as we have seen, the damage has been devastating. The world’s mass media are experiencing a collective transport of joy over Francis the Awesome,singing his praises in headlines and newscasts from every precinct of the culture of death.  We have all sampled the innumerable media hosannas, but one CNN headline says it all: “Pope Speaks Against Catholic Traditions.”

Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The media always supply a certain degree of spin to papal remarks.  The point, however, is that no Pope has ever given the media so many statements to exploit, and in so little time.  It will not do simply to protest that “the Pope’s remarks have been “‘cherry-picked’ by commentators who are presenting only a few phrases out of a lengthy interview,” for Francis has given them a bushel of cherries for the picking. At the very least, the Pope has recklessly disregarded—again and again—the entirely predictable reading of his words.

Furthermore, in this case the media are not that far off the mark.  The Neo-Catholic “out of context” defense fails in the face of so many explosively disturbing statements, all of the same dramatic, liberalizing tenor. There is a reason every conceivable constituency of the Church’s enemies, both internal and external, is hailing Pope Francis: from Hans Kung (“was overwhelmed with joy” at Francis’s election), to the National Abortion Rights Action League (“To Pope Francis: Thank you”), to Stephen Colbert (“a seismic ripple throughout the world of Catholicism”), toJane Fonda (“Gotta love new Pope. He cares about poor, hates dogma”), to Chris Rock (Francis is “the greatest man alive”), to the man that vulgar comedian worships as the “dad of our country” and “our boss”—none other than Barack Obama, who is“hugely impressed with the pope’s pronouncements.” When a politician who can rightly be viewed as a forerunner of Antichrist is “hugely impressed” by a Pope’s statements, there must be something gravely wrong with what the Pope is saying.

This time the neo-Catholic cover-up is not succeeding.  Francis has simply gone too far along the trajectory of the Council’s supposed “dynamic of reading the Gospel,” and now even prominent members of the “conservative” Catholic mainstream have had enough and are speaking out. A sampling of these protests demonstrates that the problem with Francis does not exist in the fevered imaginations of “radical traditionalists,” as the neo-Catholics commentators would have it, but rather is an objective threat to the Church’s credibility and mission.  Consider the following:

No less than Germain Grisez, the world-renowned moral theologian who is hardly a traditionalist, gave Inside the Vatican permission to publish his objection to the Pope’s rhetoric, including this blistering comment:

I’m afraid that Pope Francis has failed to consider carefully enough the likely consequences of letting loose with his thoughts in a world that will applaud being provided with such help in subverting the truth it is his job to guard as inviolable and proclaim with fidelity. For a long time he has been thinking these things. Now he can say them to the whole world—and he is self-indulgent enough to take advantage of the opportunity with as little care as he might unburden himself with friends after a good dinner and plenty of wine.

The equally prominent moral theologian Janet Smith, writing in the neo-conservative journal First Things under the bitter title “Are We Obsessed?”, had this to say about Francis’s musings, couched in ironic observations about her friends:

In fact, I don’t think the Holy Father was speaking about my friends, when he states: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. [W]hen we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” My friends definitely talk about these issues “in context,” in fact in many contexts…. [T]heir reason for boldly and sacrificially and ardently addressing these issues is precisely because they love Christ and the Church and want others to do so.

[Francis] also said: “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” …Again, I don’t think this statement refers to my friends since there is nothing “disjointed” about the way they present doctrines nor do they “impose” them “insistently.” They make the call to conscience that John Paul II makes…  to live in accord with the natural greatness that God gave them. They do not make threats of damnation or make calls for blind obedience…

I also began to realize that the Holy Father was not speaking of the same context in which I live and labor… He seems to think that many people are hesitant to embrace Christianity or Catholicism because they believe that they are beyond redemption and that the Church is a judgmental, intolerant institution that won’t accept them…. I think most people think they are not sinners and not in need of redemption. They do not think having abortions, using contraception, using pornography, fornicating, masturbating, or engaging in homosexual acts are immoral actions. They think what they are doing is fine and they are fine just as they are.

Pope Francis finds the homily a proper place to teach moral truths but thinks priests have gotten the order wrong. Where is he hearing these homilies that hammer on moral truths at the expense of preaching the gospel?… [V]irtually none of us have heard it done! We have heard homilies on abortion—perhaps at most once a year—while homilies on contraception and homosexual acts are so rare as to cause astonishment and generally earn the pastor an influx of hate mail.

George Neumayr of The American Spectator has written a series of increasingly critical commentaries on the Pope’s statements. Herewith a sampling from those pieces:

§  From “Reading the Papal Tea Leaves”:

Francis’s papacy may not so much move the Church into the future as back to the recent past, circa 1970…. Emboldened liberal bishops under him may seek a reform of the “reform of the reform,” and they may push for a revisiting of settled moral, theological, and disciplinary stances. None of this repositioning will take place at the level of official teaching but at the murkier levels of tone, emphasis, and appointment.


That the Catholic left considers his election a shot in the arm can’t be chalked up simply to projection…. They believe that this is their moment to try to undo the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict and return to the casual, informal, and spontaneous liturgical spirit of the 1970s while reviving a more poll-friendly situational ethics. Tweeted Mahony: “Don’t you feel the new energy, and being shared with one another?”

§  From “When Paul Corrected Peter”:

The Pope’s scolding of “small-minded” restorationists for “pastoral” incompetence is laughable in light of his own order’s disintegration: What exactly would the editors of America and the other Jesuits whose liberalism Pope Francis was flattering in the interview, know about saving souls? Just look at the U.S. Congress: it is overflowing with Jesuit graduates who have abandoned the faith and support abortion and gay rights. Oh-so-pastoral Jesuits, heal thyself.

Indeed, the need for a St. Paul to correct him grows with each passing week as his pontificate emboldens the Church’s enemies and undercuts her friends and most loyal members.

§  From “The Pope They’ve Been Waiting For”:

No, this is not an Onion parody. This is the Catholic Church, circa 2013, under the hope-and-change pontificate of Francis—the one Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, and Jane Fonda have been waiting for. They had long pined for an enlightened pope and now they have found him in a Latin American Jesuit so loose, so cool, so “spiritual”… that he doesn’t fret over such fuddy-duddy anxieties as the killing of the elderly and the corruption of children… but rather their isolation and joblessness.

Anyone who is familiar with the cocky clichés of lightweight, dilettantish modern Jesuits will understand the import of this interview and hear all of its dog whistles: the praising of the late heterodox Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini, the politically correct sniffing at St. Augustine (“He also had harsh words for the Jews, which I never shared”), the condescension to saints of the past as products of their unenlightened times (as if Francis is not a product of his liberal times and liberal religious order; self-awareness is evidently not part of his “humility and ambition”), the Teilhard de Chardin-style jargon (“Transcendence remains because that light, all in everything, transcends the universe and the species it inhabits at that stage…”).

Pope Francis let it be known that he is eager to run the ball into the end zone for team spirit-of-Vatican II, and now that small-minded, rule-bound restorationists like John Paul II and Benedict XVI aren’t around anymore to tackle him he has an open-field run…

Were St. Ignatius of Loyola alive today, he wouldn’t recognize Francis as a Jesuit. He might not even recognize him as a Catholic.

Father Michal P. Orsi of Ave Maria School of Law, writing in The Washington Times, issued this scathing review of the effects the Pope’s utterances are having on the Church’s witness concerning social issues:

Pope Francis assured his interlocutor that he is a loyal son of the church and accepts the church’s teachings on the aforementioned issues. This addendum, however, is not good enough to mitigate the damage his words have caused for the pro-life movement and those who are trying to defend marriage as being between a man and a woman. His remarks have effectively given a sword to those who want to stifle them.

Most affected are those who have borne the heat of the day in the culture-war protests against abortion and same-sex marriages. The once-sure moral support that these groups enjoyed under past popes has been undermined….

[T]he pope’s words provide a sword for those critical of the church’s moral teachings on life and of the purpose of human sexuality. It will now be quite easy for them to say, “Why don’t you just listen to the pope and move on?” This sentiment has already been advanced in a letter to the editor in the New York Times by a Planned Parenthood official, who applauds the pope for “getting in step with modern times.”

[T]he pope’s musings have provided cover for Catholic politicians who support liberal abortion laws and legalization of same-sex marriage. They can now claim that they, like the pope, are concerned about the bigger issues, such as poverty and concern for the poor.

The pope’s “big tent” approach for Catholicism is bound to diminish the church’s presence as a moral force in societyIt is also detrimental to the church’s main ministry, the saving of souls. If there is only a distant and muffled voice on the life and human sexuality issues, how will people know that they are transgressing God’s laws?

The pope’s remarks have moved to the background those bright red lines of acceptable human actions that must not be crossed. This is neither pastoral, nor merciful. As Jesus said, only “The truth will set you free.”

piece by John-Henry Westin of Lifesitenews.com takes Francis to task under the title “Here’s how Pope John Paul II handled the charge of ‘obsession’ with abortion.” Westin quotes John Paul II’s reply precisely to the charge (related by Vito Messori) that his “repeated condemnation of any legalization of abortion has even been defined as ‘obsessive’ by certain cultural and political factions…” Said the late Pope:

It is… very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience—the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.

 

… I categorically reject every accusation or suspicion concerning [my] the Pope’s alleged “obsession” with this issue. We are dealing with a problem of tremendous importance, in which all of us must show the utmost responsibility and vigilance. We cannot afford forms of permissiveness that would lead directly to the trampling of human rights, and also to the complete destruction of values which are fundamental not only for the lives of individuals and families but for society itself.

There are other examples, but the point is made. The liberal utterances of this Pope are so disturbing, and the world’s thunderous applause so alarming, that we are suddenly facing a new stage in what Pope Benedict (writing as Cardinal Ratzinger) called “the continuing process of decay” that began immediately after the Council.

Mike Matt and others have rightly noted that Pope Francis is merely extending the trajectory on which the human element of the Church has been moving since Vatican II.  As Neumayr puts it, Francis is “run[ning] the ball into the end zone…”—just when we thought, under Pope Benedict, that team Vatican II had been penalized and moved back a few crucial yards toward the goalpost of Tradition. But under Francis the ball is moving downfield again with amazing rapidity, even beyond where it was before Benedict was Pope. Now, not only we traditionalists, but also prominent conservative Catholics of good will are standing up and calling foul. With us, they can see what lies ahead in the end zone, and they do not like what they see; they are, in fact, frightened by it.

Perhaps, then, the emergence of Jorge Bergoglio from the last conclave was a providential development.  For it is forcing more and more Catholics to make a choice: either the continued absorption of the Church into the “modern world” to which the conciliar Popes imprudently opened the Church’s windows, or a definitive return to the safety of the very “fortress” the “spirit of Vatican II” despises: that house built upon the rock of Peter; that refuge of sinners, sustained against the storms by the solid structure of obedience to the commands of the Gospel:  “And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand/And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof….  If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Matt. 7:24-27; Jn. 14:15).

REMNANT E-EDITION   |   E-EDITIO: The Defense Rests

The Defense Rests

The Bizarre Case of Catholic Answers Live vs. “Radical Traditionalists”

Peter Crenshaw POSTED: 9/17/13

REMNANT COLUMNIST

______________________

On May 31st, Catholic Answers Live radio host Patrick Coffin and apologist Tim Staples launched a two-hour attack on “radical traditionalism” which I responded to here. Apparently, the overall response to the show was not favorable. In a July 12th blog post entitled “Meet the Mad-Trads” host Patrick Coffin described the reaction as follows:

We found ourselves on the business end of a nasty backlash. Of all the hot-button issues we’ve tackled head-on with me behind the mic (start the list with abortion, sexual sin, feminism, and homosexuality) no previous topic generated the kind of vitriol from (some) listeners. [1]

Coffin then exposed the “vitriol” by posting excerpts from e-mails he received after the show. Some examples are as follows:

“Amazing! Wow! I am deeply disappointed by this apparent arrogance.”

“That show was an embarrassment to all Catholics.”

“I was extremely annoyed with the . . . program criticizing the “radical traditionalists,” which is a reference that in and of itself makes no sense whatsoever” (sic).

“I finally turned the radio off in disgust.”

“To treat anyone in such a manner—much less our fellow Catholics—is a serious failure in justice and charity, and I seriously doubt you would indulge in this kind of careless and misleading attack on any other group.”[2]

Read more via REMNANT E-EDITION   |   E-EDITIO.

Bishop tells hostile crowd at gay marriage debate: my secretary was murdered by a gay activist | LifeSiteNews.com

Bishop tells hostile crowd at gay marriage debate: my secretary was murdered by a gay activist

BY JOHN-HENRY WESTEN

Wed Jun 05, 2013 17:43 ESTComments ()Tags: Gay Marriage, Homosexuality, Thomas Paprocki

PHOENIX, June 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In what is being acknowledged even by liberal Catholics as a courageous move, Springfield, IL Bishop Thomas Paprocki debated dissident nun Sr. Jeannine Gramick on the topic of gay “marriage” before a decidedly gay-friendly crowd on Friday. In a shocking revelation in his opening remarks, the bishop told the crowd that his former secretary was brutally murdered by a gay activist simply for suggesting that he change his lifestyle.

Heckling and insults from the crowd and were expected and received as the bishop laid out the argument in favor of traditional marriage, after which he concluded, “some of you may be sneering, and I might be lucky if you said you were willing to hear me again on this topic some other time… In the end, I hope that at least a few of you will agree with my remarks.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Moderated by journalist Robert Blair Kaiser, the event was held at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ Church.

The Jesuit alumni of Arizona, which organized the event, called it “Two Catholic Views on Marriage,” but in his remarks Bishop Paprocki was quick to point out that was a misnomer. “I corrected that, since there is only one authentic Catholic view,” said the bishop. “There are two views being presented here tonight by two people who are baptized Catholics, but only one of those views, the one I will present, is consistent with Catholic teaching, while the other view clearly dissents from Catholic teaching.”

Read more via Bishop tells hostile crowd at gay marriage debate: my secretary was murdered by a gay activist | LifeSiteNews.com.

A Look at Some Biblical Texts in Opposition to Contraception « Archdiocese of Washington

A Look at Some Biblical Texts in Opposition to Contraception

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

In the following post I seek to lay out a few of the biblical texts related to the Church teaching against contraception.  This is not a post intended to give a full defense of the teaching against contraception. I have done that elsewhere, e.g. HERE & HERE & HERE

This post is intended only to set for the kind of biblical logic and background for the teaching which comes to us from antiquity. In fact, no Christian denomination prior to 1930 ever taught the contraception was anything but sinful. The first denomination to depart from this received teaching was the Anglicans,  who at the 1930 Lambeth conference set aside more than 5000 years of Jewish and Christian wisdom and embraced the modern contraceptive notion that there is no necessary connection between procreation and sex. One by one the other Protestant denominations fell, such that today, only Catholic and Orthodox Christians, as well as some Orthodox Jews, are left holding the light of ancient antiquity.

Read more: A Look at Some Biblical Texts in Opposition to Contraception « Archdiocese of Washington.

Papal Infallibility

Papal Infallibility was defined as a dogma of the Faith, in the year 1870, during the First Vatican Council.  While most people have heard of this dogma, few understand its true meaning and limitations.  It is not uncommon to find non-Catholics who believe the dogma extends to the moral actions of a pope, in such a way, that he is said to be incapable of sin (impeccability).

Most Catholics realize that the scope of infallibility is limited to papal teachings on matters of faith and morals, but they often err by extending it beyond its boundaries; understanding infallibility as if it were a habitual active charism that prevents a pope from erring when he speaks on the subject of faith or morals.  This misunderstanding on the part of Catholics in recent decades has resulted in two opposite errors.

On the one hand, we have those who erroneously believe that whatever a pope says, regardless of how novel it is and how far it deviates from Tradition, must be accepted as an infallible truth, since “the pope is infallible”.  On the other hand, there are some who see apparent errors in the documents of Vatican II and believe that Papal Infallibility would prevent a true pope from ratifying such documents.  In both cases, the error is a result of extending Papal Infallibility beyond the limits determined by the Church.

Before proceeding, it should be noted that the purpose of this article is not to assert that Catholics are only bound to accept what has been infallibly defined by a pope or ecumenical council.  The late Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton referred to this error, which was condemned by Pius IX (1), as minimism.  Catholics must give assent to all that the Church teaches, either by virtue of a solemn pronouncement or by the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.  Yet at the same time, Catholics are not bound to give assent to novelties and apparent errors, even if such novelties or apparent errors come from a pope who is not exercising his infallibility.   In the chaos that has followed the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary that the faithful have a correct understanding Papal Infallibility, as well as its limitations, lest the understandably confused or scandalized Catholic be led into error in one direction or the other.

read more . . . THE REMNANT NEWSPAPER: Papal Infallibility.

Think St. Gabriel Possenti . . . Obama’s America Turns Meek Me Into A Gun Owner: THE WANDERER

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — After the December 14 Newtown, Conn., school massacre, liberally inclined Washington Post writer Melinda Henneberger, a Catholic, said the left is correct that guns kill people. But who of any persuasion would doubt that? Guns, that is, plus human evil intent.

However, she added in a December 18 blog post, “the right has a point, too, about the ‘Culture of Death,’ in the language of John Paul II’s Gospel of Life.”

Henneberger wrote, “If gunsalone — or even guns plus lousy treatment options — were the entire problem, why were no little red schoolhouses fired on in the Wild West, where everyone was armed and mental illness completely untreated?”

Moral codes have been ejected faster than spent cartridges.

Read more . . .

Catholics Must Not Cede Ground in Public Debate | Crisis Magazine

In the last several months I’ve been discussing the problems Catholics face dealing with public life today. The recent election underlined some of them. The bishops and others made their pitch about threats to the family and the freedom of the Church, the Democrats stood firm, and most Americans—including most self-identified Catholics—voted for the Democrats. Not only does the world care very little for Catholic concerns, but it seems that Catholics acting as citizens care little for them as well.

Read more . . .

RORATE CÆLI: 7 years of RORATE CÆLI – and a special gift: An essay on Modernism by Don Pietro Leone

Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517)
Propers, Mass of the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Introit

Today is Rorate Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, and a very special day for us: it is the seventh anniversary of this web log, founded on this same Sunday, 2005, and named after its introit – recurrent words throughout Advent, from its very first liturgical moment (First vespers of the First Sunday). It is a perfect day, then, for us to present a special essay on Modernism and why its presence is so strong in our days – by Don Pietro Leone Monselice, the pen name chosen by a traditional Catholic priest, whose solid work on the Traditional Roman Rite and the Pauline Rite we happily published in 2011.
 
We thank Father deeply for his new contribution to our website – and we also thank you, our readers, for the faithful readership in the past seven years. And thanks also to our followers on Twitter (@RorateCaeli).

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In his book “Athanasius”, Bishop Rudolf Graber, of Regensburg, explains how the Evil One in the course of the ages has attacked the Holy Catholic Church in ways increasingly refined, insidious, and intimate. He began by attacking the faithful through persecutions, but seeing that these lead rather to an increase of the Faith, he adopted another method: that of attacking the Faith itself.
With the heresies of Martin Luther he managed to detach a great number of people from the Catholic Church; with the heresies that comprise Modernism, he has even succeeded at present in contaminating the Faith of a great number of people within the Church Herself.
What is Modernism? Saint Pius X defines it in his encyclical Pascendi as “the synthesis of all heresies”. The Code of Canon Law (CIC. 751) defines heresy as: “the obstinate denial, after receiving baptism, of a truth which is to be believed by Divine and Catholic Faith, or the obstinate doubt concerning it…”
Now, what is defined by the words ‘a truth which is to be believed by Divine and Catholic Faith’ is Catholic dogma. We observe that Modernism has in fact a wider scope than Catholic dogma as here defined, in that it extends to all traditional Catholic doctrines, even if they have not yet been defined as dogmas. In other words, Modernism includes the denial not only of all dogmas, but also of all traditional Catholic doctrine.
For the purposes of this essay we shall understand ‘heresy’ in a wide sense, as the obstinate denial of any traditional Catholic doctrine (or the obstinate doubt in its regard).
First of all, we will present two particular characteristics of Modernism: 1. Ubiquity; 2. Obscurantism.

I The Characteristics of Modernism

1. Ubiquity

Ubiquity concerns the extension of the heresy.
In the past the Church always condemned heresies, and took this opportunity to formulate Her doctrines more profoundly and more clearly. Consequently, the rotten, heretical, branch of the Church was cut off from its healthy trunk; and the healthy trunk, nurtured by a new influx of the light of Truth, was able to flourish yet more gloriously than before.
For the past fifty years, by contrast, the heresies of Modernism have no longer been condemned; or if they have been condemned, they have been but seldom, feebly, and without sanctions. As a result almost the entire tree of the Church has by now been infested by error.
This infestation takes its cue from the Magisterium itself, from the teaching of the Church: of the hierarchy and the clergy. This said teaching constitutes an illegitimate use of the munus docendi entrusted to the Church by Our Lord Jesus Christ: a use illegitimate and therefore a use that also exceeds the competence of those who exercise it: a use that is extra vires.
At this point we observe that we understand the term ‘Magisterium’ as the organ or instrument of the munus docendi of the Church, and we distinguish two senses of the term: a positive sense which refers to its legitimate exercise; and a neutral sense, which is the sense in which we will understand it in this essay, which refers to its exercise simpliciter, without specifying if it is legitimate or illegitimate. That the Magisterium may be exercised in an illegitimate way, will be demonstrated by the examples given below. This is obvious, and may be denied only by an ideologist.
Modernism inside the Church is difficult to combat for various reasons:
-it is difficult to discern inasmuch as it is ubiquitous or omnipresent – Jacques Maritain speaks of ‘immanent apostasy’. This signifies that it has become part of the very fabric of the Church Herself, or, using another image, it has become too vast even to see;
-it is difficult to understand because it is obscurantist (as we shall show it in the next section);
-it is difficult to evaluate since in order to evaluate it, theological knowledge is required which is no longer taught in seminaries or in parishes, or at least not exclusively so taught;
-it is difficult to accept because it requires intellectual honesty and courage, which are necessary to face the doctrinal devastation in the Church today;
-it is difficult to criticize, above all for a priest, because he will be regarded not only as ‘hard’, but also as ‘lacking in piety’ or even ‘schismatic’ (or ‘crypto-schismatic’) towards the Church, the Pope, and the Magisterium (understood in the first sense of the term); and will have to steel himself for some mauvais quarts d’heure with his Superior or Bishop, and perhaps even the loss of his apostolate.

2. Obscurantism

Obscurantism concerns the communication of heresy. Heresy is the obstinate denial, or doubt, of a Catholic dogma. 1.
In the past, heresy was explicit. Examples are Martin Luther’s 95 Theses posted on the cathedral door at Wittenberg. Nowadays, by contrast, in the context of Modernism, the heresy is implicit: it is implied, insinuated, suggested, favoured by obscurantism.
This obscurantism operates in two principal ways: by silence or by equivocation (ambiguity). By silence a given doctrine is no longer taught; by equivocation it is expressed in a way that furthers heresy.
We shall consider each way in turn.
a) Silence
Many doctrines are passed over in silence, i.e. those that are considered “negative”, such as the existence of Hell, Mortal Sin, and sacrilegious Holy Communion.
Let us look at sacrilegious Communion. This doctrine is almost never taught or preached any more. In fact, the passage from Saint Paul that condemns it, which appears in the Old Roman Rite on the Feast of Corpus Christi and on Maundy Thursday, was suppressed in the New Rite.2.
Clearly this silence, as indeed silence on any article of doctrine, is not merely something neutral: the failure to accomplish an act; but something positive: a veritable act, an act of denial. Because if someone is entrusted with a doctrine to preach as a moral principle and does not preach it, the only explanation possible is that he does not deem it necessary for moral conduct, and therefore, for all intents and purposes, he denies it.
If a worker notifies the headmaster of a school that there is a live electric cable in a certain classroom, and cautions him to warn students not to enter for fear of electrocution, but the headmaster omits to warn them, his silence, for all intents and purposes, amounts to a denial of the fact in question.
To the Modernists’s silence on Catholic doctrines, we can apply the declaration of Pope Felix III regarding the Patriarch Acacio in the 6th century: ‘Error cui non resistitur approbatur, et veritas quae minime defensatur, opprimitur: error which is not opposed, is approved, and the truth which is defended only minimally, is oppressed’.


b) Equivocation

The second method of obscuring doctrine is equivocation. Let us put this equivocation in its context.
As for witnessing to the Faith, the Catholic assents to that which a doctrine declares and denies that which it denies: he says yes to yes and no to no, as the Lord Himself teaches us (Mt. 5.37): ‘But let your speech be yea, yea, no, no: and that which is over and above these is of the evil one.’ The heretic of the past, by contrast, says yes to no and no to yes; while the modern heretic, by means of equivocation, says yes and no to yes, and yes and no to no.
As for epistemology, it should be said that if a strength of dogma is its clarity, a strength of Modernism is its confusion. Clarity illuminates the mind to accept the truth, while confusion confounds the mind to accept falsity.
We will proceed to give three examples of equivocation.


i)The Ends of Marriage 3.

Until quite recently, the Holy Catholic Church has always taught that the primary end of Marriage is procreation, and the secondary end the reciprocal assistance, or love, between the spouses. Whereas at the Second Vatican Council, in the new code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in various recent encyclicals, love is now put in the first place and procreation in the second (without, however, explicitly defining love as “the primary end” nor procreation as “the secondary end”).
Let us ask ourselves the following questions: Was the doctrine of the past true and the doctrine of the present false? Or was the doctrine of the past false and the doctrine of the present true? Or was the doctrine of the past true then but is false now? Or was the doctrine of the past true in one sense and is the doctrine of the present true in another sense? And in this case, why does the doctrine of the present take precedence over that of the past? And answer comes there none.


ii)The Holy Mass

In the final version of Art.7 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (n. 27 in the 2000 typical edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal), the official introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, the Holy Mass is presented in these terms: ‘Missa seu Cena dominica….memoriale Domini seu sacrificium eucharisticum: the Mass or The Lord’s Supper[…] the Commemoration of the Lord or the Eucharistic Sacrifice’. In other words the Holy Mass is identified with the Lord’s Supper in the first instance and with the Commemoration of the Lord in the second. This, however, is an equivocation. The Holy Mass is the Lord’s Supper and the Commemoration of the Lord (that is Calvary) in a certain sense (not essential), but presenting it thus simpliciter, suggests that it is so essentially: which is a Protestant position.4 In other words, to present Holy Mass in terms laden with a Protestant sense, is to present it in a Protestant sense.

iii)The Papacy

Professor Romano Amerio, in his contribution at the Theological Congress “Sì, si, no, no” ‘The Dislocation of the Function of the Magisterium’ cites the following initiative expressed in an official document about ecumenism: ‘to discover a form of exercise of the Papacy, which, while not renouncing anything essential to its mission, opens up to a new situation’ and he comments: “This means: it cannot be renounced, but at the same time it can be renounced. It is an absolute principle, but it is not an absolute principle. The infallibility of the Pope is an immutable rock ‘but’… and when you say the ‘but’ the move has already been made.’

c)The Nature of Obscurantism

In summary, we have given various examples in order to show how Modernism obscures Catholic doctrine: it obscures the Catholic doctrine on sacrilegious Communion; on the order of the ends of Marriage; on the sacrificial nature of Holy Mass; and on the primacy of Peter.
However, it does not only obscure these doctrines, but it obscures them in favour of heresy, since keeping silent about sacrilege is the same as denying it; the reversal in listing the ends of marriage insinuates a reversal of their valuation; presenting Holy Mass in Protestant terms, favours Protestant theology on the Eucharist; and qualifying that which is absolute relativises it.
This obscurantism can be considered as a sort of partial or total eclipse of the Faith. It is partial when it consists of an equivocation which does not amount to a formal contradiction; it is total when it passes over Catholic doctrine in silence, or when it expresses the doctrine in contradictory terms: since the denial of the principle of non-contradiction regarding a given doctrine is the denial of the very possibility of its truth. The result of such denial is a Faith without truth: a Faith determined merely by sentiments and subjective attitudes, which is no longer Faith at all.

II The Consequences of Modernism

If the heresy of the past is like ‘a dagger thrust’ in the words of the Abbé Dulac, the modernist heresy is like a slow poison, in such a way that one can go to bed at night with the Faith and wake up in the morning without it.
Modernism acts like a slow poison inasmuch as, by obscuring a dogma, it weakens the virtue of the Faith: that is to say it weakens the adherence of the will to revealed Truth. In this way Modernism disseminates doubt about all the dogmas of the Faith.
As a result, dogmas are labelled as ‘problems’: ‘the problem of the Resurrection’, ‘the problem of Original Sin’, ‘the problem of Hell’, etc. However, the dogmas of the Faith are not problems: rather they are supernatural Truths 5. They are problems only for those who deny the Faith.
The Faith becomes a problem, then, and is relegated to a place alongside other Religions, or is treated as one theme amongst a variety of others. In this way the Faith is substituted for “fables”: ‘they will refuse to listen to truth and will turn to fables’: a veritate quidem auditum avertent, ad fabulas autem convertentur’ (2. Tim.4.4).
The members of the hierarchy and clergy, then, in an illegitimate exercise of their munus docendi, lend importance to other Christian confessions or religions, or alternatively, abandon in large measure the teaching of the true Faith in favour of subjects such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, or politics. Abandoning definitions and anathemata, they make recourse in their official declarations to cascades of intellectualizing and impenetrable verbiage and in their sermons to stories and jokes
The emptiness of this teaching, once stripped of its sophistication, is manifested all too clearly in the children’s catechesis. What visions of truth and of holiness are given them in the pure days of their childhood to root them in the Faith and in the life of the sacraments and the virtues, and to summon them in the final hours of their life to the embrace of Divine Mercy?6.
Obscuring a doctrine, in particular by denying the principle of non-contradiction, has a further, and even more notable, effect, inasmuch as it not only obscures the Faith in its entirety, but also the very notion of Truth. For Catholic doctrines are Truths, objective Truths, indeed they are absolute Truths, more certain than the truths of the senses; and to claim that at the same time and in the same way they can be both true and false, is to deny the very possibility of Truth.
The further one departs from the conception of objective truth and reality, the closer one draws to that of subjective truth and reality. In so doing, however, one is on the road that leads to madness, because madness is nothing other than embracing subjective reality.
The order of the True yields to the order of the Good. Truth is no longer considered a guide to behaviour, but “love”: love, however that is no longer defined by reality. This love, inasmuch as it is rational, is manifested in humanism, a humanism lightly coloured by Christianity with a tendency towards activism; inasmuch as it is emotional, it is manifested in sentimentalism and the excessive concern for the sensibilities of others.
The objective yields to the subjective, and the river of Modernism flows back into that vast ocean of subjectivism from whence it came.
 
[MODERNISM: an essay by Don Pietro Leone Monselice. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]

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Notes:
 
1.or, in the wide sense in which we understand heresy in this essay, a Traditional Catholic doctrine.
2.This is a reference to the passage I Cor. 11,23-29 in the Old Rite, where the verses 27-29 have been omitted in the New Rite.
3The Catholic Doctrine on the ends of Marriage is not a dogma, but rather a sententia certa, but as we said above, Modernism extends to all Traditional Catholic doctrines.
4.According to Martin Luther the Holy Mass is the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and a mere commemoration of Calvary, in contrast to Catholic Doctrine which teaches the that Holy Mass is essentially the Sacrifice of Calvary.
5 A number of them are also mysteries, but that does not make them problems either: mysteries are unfathomable to the reason but defendable by it.
6. The merit of the Catechism of St. Pius X, who explains with exemplary simplicity and clarity the central doctrines of the Faith, which was learned by heart by countless Catholics up to two generations ago. In the present times, which are even more dangerous to souls than the past, children are deprived of this most precious assistance for their salvation.