September 1, 1995
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
A superb conference was given recently by an American university professor on what this letter has often denounced as the major threat to the Faith and salvation of Catholics today: Pluralism, which is the practice of which religious liberty is the principle.
Dr. John C. Rao, Associate Professor of History at St. John's University on Staten Island, New York, gave this conference at the celebration of the first anniversary of the Dietrich yon Hildebrand Institute, indeed the conference explains how the Institute was founded to help solve the problem set by Pluralism. Whatever we may think of his solution, his analysis of the problem is brilliant.
Pluralism, says the Doctor, paralyses Catholics, because as Catholics they know that truth is single, unique and exclusive of all error, and in their Faith they possess the fullness of that truth. Pluralism on the contrary is that which persuades Catholics that for the sake of getting along amidst the diversity and divisions of modern life, they need to be "open to freedom for all faiths and cultures to coexist peacefully, subject to the dictates of a 'basic common sense"'. In other words, says Pluralism, by all means believe what you believe as Catholics, and even do go on believing it, because it makes you good citizens for everybody else's sake, but just do not behave as though your "truth" is absolute or exclusive, because that would be divisive and elitist. Just hay as though you have a truth while everybody else has a truth as well, even if all these "truths" contradict one another. It does not matter how exclusive you believe your Catholic truth is, just so long as you do not behave as though it is exclusively true.
Do readers see the subtlety of the temptation? Pluralism, as Dr. Rao suggests, does not directly require Catholics to abjure their Faith, on the contrary it may positively invite them to keep it, only they must act as though other faiths may also be true. Thus Pluralism tempts Catholics to have it both ways — they may go on believing their absolute beliefs, but at the same time they can mush in with everybody else in the dear modern world without having to constantly fight them, fight them, fight them! Oh, what a relief! Friends with God and friends with the world, friends with everybody, the hills are alive with the sound of music!
But in fact if my Catholic beliefs really are absolutely true, then I cannot mush in with sentimental error and idiotic heresy; whereas if my beliefs do allow me to mush in with sentimental idiots, then my beliefs are not absolutely true, but they are sentimental idiocy! That is why Catholics, if they buy into Pluralism, can no longer defend themselves as Catholics, but are reduced to those little pools of kissy-kissy huggy-huggy mush with which the mainstream church is awash.
That is why Dr. Rao denounces "this seemingly benign, open, peace-and-freedom-loving pragmatic Pluralism, this mere common-sensical 'methodology"' as being "a subtly monstrous lie that destroys everything that it touches. Rather than being a practical tool, it is a dogma: in fact the One and Only Dogma... a heretical dogma into the bargain... a SuperDogma".
This is very important to understand. Go-along-to-get-along Pluralism pretends not to contradict Catholic belief, or any other belief, it pretends not to get into the whole question of beliefs, and if it is accused of interfering with beliefs it vigorously denies having anything to do with them. At the same time, to achieve its mushing together of all people with contradictory beliefs, it requires of all of them to as though their particular beliefs are not what is most important, in other words to subordinate to itself their particular dogmas, in other words to treat itself in ion as their Super-dogma.
That is why Dr. Rao calls Pluralism a lie — it pretends not to be a dogma, but it imposes itself in fact (or in action) as a Super-dogma. "Oh, no, I am not a dogma", says Pluralism, "but all your dogmas must submit to me!" Thus Pluralism is the one dogma that no (other) dogmas are really important; the one belief that all (other) beliefs do not matter; the one absolute truth that all (other) truths are only relative. Which means that all non-pluralist dogma, belief and truth are reduced to mush. Which is why, a Catholic being a Catholic by the absoluteness of his dogma, belief, and truth, Catholics, if they accept Pluralism, are reduced to mush and rendered incapable of defending themselves.
For, as Dr. Rao explains (#25, 26), Pluralism "tells a Catholic that he can think but not act, since acting in line with one's thought could be divisive in our world of inevitable and growing diversity". Now this disjunction of thought from action deforms personality, turns a man in on himself, makes introspective sterility normal, creates psychological disorders and drives individuals and societies insane. Hence the modern obsession with sterile contraception. Hence so many people acting willfully, because action from reason is ruled out. The Doctor logically concludes that this emasculation of human thought, reason, action, especially harms the masculine sex which is natured to think, to reason and to command. Pluralism is the deep down reason for the unmanliness of today's men, and for the consequent rise of feminism!
Dr. Rao next (#27) uses his analysis to explain the otherwise completely puzzling behavior of so many bishops and priests in today's church: how can they be so orthodox in their doctrine yet so destructive of the Church in their behavior? Answer, because by submitting to Pluralism, they have not ceased to believe in or to preach whatever the Catholic Magisterium teaches, but in their action that Catholic Magisterium is always subordinate to the Pluralist Magisterium. This means that the beautiful Catholic truths may be spoken in words, indeed they must be spoken, but they may only be spoken, because if they were to be taken seriously in action they would become dangerous and divisive.
The Doctor goes on to quote an example he knows (#28) of a Catholic bishop of impeccable personal orthodoxy who gives excellent public talks on Catholic doctrine, yet in whose diocese insane modernism is running rampant. Why? Because the "good" bishop fears that any action taken by him against the modernists would, as the Pluralist Magisterium pronounces, render him naive, unpractical, undemocratic and divisive. Then if one criticizes this split between his right thinking and wrong acting, he replies with an appeal, which he considers unanswerable, to the "spirit of the Council", pluralist again. Thanks to this Pluralism, his mind is closed to anything but the effective destruction of his diocese and of the Church! Pluralism has reduced him, like countless other Catholics, to a cheerleader for those who will destroy him! Truly, as the old proverb had it, "Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad".
When it comes to a solution for all this madness (#37-43), Dr. Rao proposes the Dietrich yon Hildebrand Institute as a means of teaching Catholics the fullness of their Church's culture and history so that their minds can escape from the glamorous trap of the modern world, so that they will no longer be afraid of being divisive with regard to its manifold nonsense. A good idea as far as it goes, but many a cultivated and learned Catholic historian has still let himself be corrupted by Pluralism.
Of course there is a mystery of grace involved, the mystery of the election of a remnant by grace (Rom.XI,5), and not one of us can prescribe to the Lord God how he will give out his grace, or to whom, so that none of us has a fail-safe answer to this appalling crisis of the Catholic Church. However one thing is certain, and that is that the key to the Church's future lies always with its priests, and another thing we have on the authority of St Vincent de Paul with regard to priests is that it is easier to make a new one than to convert an old one.
That is why Archbishop Lefebvre's solution to the problem so brilliantly analyzed by Dr. Rao was to make a new generation of priests who would have nothing to do with Pluralism or with pluralists, with all their pomp or with all their works. Plenty even of friends and admirers of the Society he founded have since then urged it to come to some kind of understanding with those pluralists, but it has with the grace of God so far refused to adopt the least bit of plurality, deadly for the singleness of God's truth. And as time passes, more and more of these friends and admirers are forced by the devastation of Pluralism to admit that the single-minded Archbishop was right.
Dear friends and benefactors, a trickle of such priests continues to flow off the hill-top here in Winona. Fourteen young men are due to enter the Seminary to try their vocation in a few weeks' time, seven of them having come through St. Mary's, Kansas! "Fr. Angles, as principal of St. Mary's boys' school, what advice do you give to a Society school principal wishing for vocations?" "Do your duty," he growls in reply, "and do not curry favour with the boys!" But then, dear friends, you have also been praying for vocations!
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your necessary support. If all goes well this school-year, eight young Americans should be ordained priests on Winona hill-top on Saturday, June 22, 1996.
With all good wishes and blessings, sincerely yours in Christ,