December 1, 1994
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
A difficult but valuable book on Pope John-Paul II has just been published in English translation by the Angelus Press out of Kansas City, Missouri: Volume I of "Pope John-Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi" by the German Professor and priest, Fr. Johannes Dörmann.
Difficult; because Fr. Dörmann is a Catholic scholar of many years' standing, not a Society of St. Plus X priest, but a learned writer and teacher within the official Church, with many university-level articles and books to his name.
Valuable, because with no concern other than to get at the truth Fr. Dörmann has applied all his experience and talents as a Catholic scholar to discovering and analyzing what this Pope actually thinks. His analysis and conclusions are to us all the more valuable for having been undertaken and published in Germany quite independently of the society, indeed upon information and belief Prof. Dörmann does not even celebrate the Tridentine Mass. In no way can he be accused of being a "Lefebvrist". If then he and his book testify that the Church's present crisis is not just a problem of liturgical rites or of Church language or of any superficial feature of Church life, but an upheaval of the very foundations of the Catholic Faith, then his independent testimony is a striking confirmation of the wisdom of the apparently extreme stand taken by Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Plus X since the early 1970's.
What happened was that Prof. Dörmann was profoundly shocked by the Inter-religious World Prayer Meeting held in Assisi in 1986 at Pope John-Paul II's instigation and under his leadership. The Professor asked himself, how could the Catholic Pope have come to give such public recognition and official credit to all of the world's principal false religions? Over some such question Catholics have agonized for years, and it has driven many to resort to more or less far-fetched explanations such as a drugged Pope, a dummy Pope, a KGB Pope, a Freemason Pope, an invalid Pope, or whatever. Instead of wild surmise the Professor assumed — reasonably — that Pope John-Paul II meant what he was doing and was doing what he meant. In that case, what did he mean? Again reasonably, the Professor set himself to find out what Pope John-Paul II meant, by studying what he has said in his speeches and writings.
Now it is not as though over the last 20 years, whether as Cardinal or Pope, Karol Wojtyla has been hiding what he thinks, on the contrary there has come from him a constant flow of words, spoken or written. The problem is that his style is difficult. Many a page of his one can read half a dozen times and still not grasp what he is meaning to say. Outwardly it seems pious, but inwardly it seems unclear. At this point the pious majority of the Pope's readers or listeners lets itself be contented with the outward piety of his words, whilst a disconcerted minority lets itself be repulsed by their inward lack of clarity. Either way, they give up the attempt to understand what the Pope is meaning, and pass on, contented or disconcerted as the case may be.
In this situation, the immense virtue of Prof. Dörmann, and the immense usefulness of his book, is that he let himself be neither contented nor disconcerted, but he pursued the Pope's meaning until he found it. What the Professor found is so shocking that many of the pious Catholics mentioned above will be tempted to go into denial, or at least to give his book the silent treatment, but let two indications be given that the professor really has found the Pope's meaning. First and foremost, it is normal that how a man thinks should correspond to how he acts, and what the Professor discovered of the Pope's thinking corresponds exactly to the event of Assisi and to much else besides. Secondly, it is normal that a man as trained as this Pope is in philosophy and theology, should think coherently, and what the Professor discovered is an entirely coherent system of thought, "with every word calculated and in its right place", the Professor has said.
What system did the Professor — repeat, quite independently of the society of St. Plus X — discover? The enclosed red flyer gives an overview of his book, which is only the first of three Volumes to have appeared in German, with another two, maybe three, waiting to be written, if the Professor's health holds up, for which we must pray, for the sake of the truth, which is sacred.
The Pope's thinking starts out from man. Every man alive has deep inside himself, if only he will look within, access to a union of himself with God which exists thanks to Christ's Incarnation whereby Christ united himself to every man. This union of every man with God is inside every man alive whether he knows it or not, whether he wants it or not, and so it has been since the beginning of the human race, but it is only in recent times, thanks to the out-pouring of the Holy Ghost upon the Second Vatican Council, that men have become aware of this automatic union of every man with God. The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ merely made manifest the love of God the Father present already inside every man by God's union with every man.
Thus far Fr. Dörmann, who in his successful pursuit of the Pope's meaning has abstained from all emotion, abuse or rhetoric. He has merely laid out the Pope's thinking and then, by contrast, alongside, the thinking of the true Church (see, for example, the "Criticism" sections of the Overview).
But let us spell out a few of the logical consequences of this thinking: all men are saved from birth, so Hell (the old-fashioned eternal fire) either does not exist or is empty. Conversion, faith, baptism, the sacraments are no longer necessary for salvation, they merely enhance the human person's awareness of his saved state. Likewise amongst all the religions in which subsists the Super-church of the God of all men, the Catholic Church's only superiority is that, through its connection to Christ, it has a better grasp of man's full inner dignity, which it is its function to encourage men to live up to.
Hence on the one hand a certain preaching of moral standards, e.g. Cairo, to maintain human dignity, but on the other hand a steady pressure upon the narrow old Catholicism to open up and to allow itself to be absorbed into the brave new Super-Church of all mankind, so much less exclusive, so much more caring for all men! Hence Pope John-Paul's recent promise that the new Super-church will apologize for all the sins of the narrow old Church, for instance its warmongering Crusades, its intolerance of other religions, etc.
Not that the Pope disbelieves in the doctrine of the Old Church, on the contrary he is convinced that Tradition is true and that amongst all religions, Catholicism alone is the fullness of the truth. However, all other religions contain seeds of truth sufficient for salvation outside the Catholic Church!
Nor does the Pope want to exclude Traditional Catholics from his Super-church, on the contrary he is convinced that the evolution from Church to Super-church is the true, "living Tradition". So he would love all Catholics to follow him, so he will formulate the Super-Church doctrine as harmoniously as possible with the old Church doctrine - surely his contriving to express the new thought in the old language causes the above-mentioned obscurity of his style, which it takes the patience and skill of a Prof. Dörmann to penetrate. However, if obstinate "Traditionalists" nevertheless refuse to share his broader vision, then to his sorrow and without his fault they excommunicate or at least marginalize themselves ....etc, etc.
Dear friends and benefactors, I hope your hair is now quietly standing on end! The depth and objective perversity of this neo-modernist heresy are unprecedented. As remedies, surely there soon remain only the shedding of our blood in martyrdom and/or a divine chastisement. But to understand helps us to endure, and here we owe a great debt to Prof. Dörmann: his book makes sense of an otherwise senseless scene. Read the book if you have a chance of understanding it. Give a copy to any priest with a chance of reading it. The truth must out. How else can souls be saved?
Meanwhile note down Winona's interim remedies in your calendars: men's retreat, December 26 to 31; priestly ordinations Saturday June 24; men's three-day retreat June 28 to July 1; women's retreat July 10 to 15; men's retreat July 17 to 22 and men's doctrinal session July 25 to 29.
We pray for the Pope. We pray for yourselves, and we sincerely thank each one of you benefactors for all your support through another calendar year. Blessed Advent, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year!
Most sincerely yours in Christ,