Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Let no-one say that nobody reads any longer! Numbers of you read and appreciated, as I thought you would, the June Newsletter's summary of the Si Si No No analysis of the leaders of the modern Church's "New Theology": Maurice Blondel, Fr. de Lubac and Fr. von Baltasar. Reader reaction may not have been quite as strong as for the question of s-BEEP!, or the Ho-BEEP!, but it did make clear that the promised second part of the analysis would also interest many of you.
This second part is more delicate because it criticizes three prominent churchmen. The problem is that modern godlessness undermines all authority, which hollows out institutions, which leaves only individuals. If then the individuals prove unworthy of trust, there seems to be nothing left. That is why many Catholics today cling to unworthy churchmen and follow them in their liberalism because the only alternative seems to be to abandon the Church altogether.
On the contrary, as the July letter suggested, when Catholics have a robust faith, as in the Middle Ages, their faith in the Church as an institution remains unshaken by any misbehaviour of the individual churchmen, because the institution is that much greater than the individuals. That is why a Catholic today can severely criticize the recent Popes without having to be a sedevacantist, and he should be able to say these Popes have been very bad for Catholicism without his needing to be accused of losing the Faith or of seeking to destroy the Church. In fact Si Si No No's articles on Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John-Paul II are highly constructive, showing how things should go right by analysing just how they have been going wrong.
The sixth article in the series deals with Pope Paul VI. Si Si No No quotes an abundance of sources to show that Msgr. Montini, later Paul VI, was an admirer of the naturalistic "New Theology", of de Lubac in particular, and of the truth-dissolving philosophy behind it, especially of Blondel. When Blondel's orthodoxy was being fiercely contested in France in the early 1940'x, Msgr. Montini as substitute Secretary of State published in the name of Pope Pius XII a letter to Blondel publicly and authoritatively praising his philosophical speculations as a "valuable contribution" reaching out to modern man.
This letter seemed to give the support of the highest Church authority to doctrinal error, but it can hardly have been Pius XII's own position, given that in 1951 the Pope would issue a classical Encyclical, "Humani Generis", condemning the "New Theology" from start to finish, and ordering superiors to stamp it out! But how capable Msgr. Montini was of betraying Pius XII is well-known from his war-time contacts with Stalin behind the Pope's back, contacts forbidden by the Pope and known to him only later through the Swedish secret service. On learning of them Pius XII immediately removed Msr. Montini from Rome by making him in 1954 Archbishop — but never, as is normal, Cardinal — of Milan, and from then on to the end of-his reign in 1958 Pius XII never received him in private audience.
Typically before leaving Rome Msgr. Montini had worked to nullify the effect of "Humani Generis", reassuring a liberal friend that the "New Theology" dear to both of them was an opinion worthy of respect and had been condemned by the Pope only as a matter of form. In fact "Humani Generis" did succeed for a while in discrediting de Lubac and in preventing the open circulation of his writings, but once in Milan Msgr. Montini continued to encourage de Lubac until Pope John XXIII appointed de Lubac to the Preparatory Theological Commission of the up-coming Council. John XXIII of course swiftly made Montini a Cardinal, from where he could become Pope to support the "New Theology".
Sure enough, as Pope from 1963, Montini opened the doors much wider still to the "New Theologians", receiving them in audience, concelebrating with them, praising them. Many bishops at the Second Vatican Council, ignorant of their theology but knowing that the "New Theology" had been condemned, only supported it because of the lead given by Paul VI.
In giving this lead, Paul VI proceeded carefully with a carefulness that gave some observers the impression that he was hesitant or indecisive, like Hamlet in Shakespeare's play. Maybe involuntarily he had moments when his conscience, or what was still Catholic in him, rose up in anguish at his wrenching the Church off her true path, but voluntarily or with his will, he was resolute in changing the Church's direction, and any carefulness he displayed in doing so was in fact to avoid provoking undesirable reactions on the part of the conservatives, as Msgr. Bugnini testifies in his book on that reform of the liturgy which the two of them brought about together. With his will Paul VI knew exactly where he was going, and he was resolute in going there.
For instance in June of 1963 he had the orthodox Jesuit Rector of the Gregorian University invite de Lubac to address a Thomist Congress on Teilhard de Chardin that autumn! Thus the Pope himself twisted thomists into teilhardists. Thus was the door opened to what the great Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange had called "Scepticism, fantasy and heresy."
Steadily Pope Paul VI smashed the conservative resistance, put the levers of power in Rome into the hands of "renewers" and guaranteed their future, for instance by reforming the rules for the election of a Pope. Like de Lubac, Paul VI towards the end of his days seems by moments to have questioned or regretted what he had done, but as with de Lubac it was no real conversion, rather an attempt to disown responsibility for so many ruins. Thus as late as 1976 he was still praising de Lubac on his 80th birthday. Modernists do not convert...
Just recently, in 1993, the Liberals in Rome have, logically, begun the canonization process of their champion Paul VI. Wiser friends of Rome urged the liberals not to do so, because disturbing facts of Paul VI's private life, the moral signpost of intellectual disorder, would have to come to light. But what do liberals care for facts? — which is why the Church is now full of such facts! — they went-ahead anyway. Pray the process die a discrete death!
In any case by the time Paul VI died in 1978 he had succeeded in breaking down or dissolving that Catholic resistance which had still been significant at the time of the Council, but which was now reduced to a numerically insignificant handful of "Traditionalists" with two old bishops at their head. The only significant clash remaining centre-stage in the Church from now on was between the extreme neo-modernists who occupied the teaching posts, and the moderate neo-modernists who occupied the governing posts, but this was no longer a clash of principle, merely a disagreement about how fast the "renewal" should go forward.
Joseph Ratzinger, subject of the seventh article in the Si Si No No series, was at the time of the Council a prominent young priest and theologian in his thirties, colleague and disciple of the leading progressive teacher, Karl Rahner. Soon after the Council, in 1968, Ratzinger published a book entitled "Introduction to Christianity" which by 1986 was in its eighth edition in Italy. Far from disowning this early work, when Ratzinger became the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith he described it as “a kind of classic", because of its being both "Catholic" and "open to the Council". To show how Ratzinger achieved this combination, Si Si No No presents a series of textual quotations, taken here from the English-language edition published by Herder and Herder in 1973.
Page 142: "God comes to pass for men through men, nay, even more concretely through the man (referring to Jesus) in whom the quintessence of humanity appears and who for that very reason is at the same time God himself." (Note especially the "for that very reason").
Now if words mean anything, this quotation means that for Joseph Ratzinger Jesus is God because in Jesus appears the quintessence, i.e. the very essence, of man. In other words, any man who would show himself completely, absolutely and perfectly man would thereby be God! And to believe that Jesus is God, all I need to believe is that Jesus is perfectly man!, Forget about the Second Person from eternity of the Holy Trinity descending from heaven and becoming incarnate, all that is too difficult for modern man to believe. Clearly, Ratzinger's way of combining Catholicism with Vatican Two is to keep the words of Catholicism, like "God", but to empty out their substance — "God" is no more than supremely perfect man. Ratzinger is certainly "renewing" Catholicism! In fact his "Introduction to Christianity" is introducing readers to a brand-new Christianity. There is just one little problem: it has nothing to do with the "old", or true, Christianity! What he is renewing is modernism and heresy.
It might be objected, these are enormous conclusions to build on one little quote, torn out of context. Alas, there are several such quotes in the book, because the context is Ratzinger's over-riding concern to get through to unbelieving and uninterested modern man. For the half dozen quotes given by Si Si No No from only one section of the book (pages 142, 156, 163, 168, 170 and 176 in the English edition), see the complete article due to appear eventually in the English language Si Si No No out of 2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City MO 64109-1500, or subscribe to the original Italian article out of Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14, I 00049 Velletri (Rona), Italy. This letter will have to content itself with two more samples of the book's "renewing" of Christianity, e.g. page 156: -
"Must we not much rather claim Jesus enthusiastically as a man, and treat Christology (the study of Christ) as humanism and anthropology (the study of man)? Or should the real man, precisely because he is wholly and properly such, be God, and God the real man?"... the early ecumenical councils answered yes to both questions, says Ratzinger a few lines further down! In other words, he is saying it is the Catholic Church's teaching that Jesus the man, because he is fully man, is God, and so God is man! Where the Church in fact teaches that the fullness of God became man by taking flesh in the Virgin Mary's womb, Ratzinger says it teaches that in Jesus the fullness of man became God! One more quotation, page 170: -
"Jesus' being is pure actuality of "from" and "for". But precisely because this "being" is no longer separate from its actuality it coincides with God and is at the same time the exemplary man, the man of the future, through whom it becomes evident how very much man is still the coming creature, a being still, so to speak, waiting to be realized; and what a short distance man has even now progressed towards being himself." In context, Ratzinger is saying that the man Jesus was so totally selfless, that the service of others ("actuality") was his very being. The human being of Jesus was thus so perfect that this human being was both the being of God and the ultimate being of man, towards which all men are destined to evolve! In other words when all other men attain the perfection of their evolution exemplified for then by Jesus, they too will be God! Between man and God there is essential identity!
In defence of Ratzinger's book of 1968, one right say he really believed all along what the Church teaches about Christ coring down from Heaven at the Incarnation, but he was rarely re-casting that doctrine in completely human terns in order to get the Gospel through to humanistic modern man. To such a "charitable" interpretation of Ratzinger's humanism, the reply is swift and crushing: firstly, to re-cast in purely human terms the coring down of God from heaven to save us for an eternity in heaven with , is as impossible as, in fact infinitely more impossible than, re-casting all seven colours of the rainbow in a single one of those colours. Secondly, anyone who had the Catholic Faith would not dream of so diminishing it, however such he loved modern ran. Conclusion: Joseph Ratzinger according to his writing in 1968 did not have the Catholic Faith, he had not even a remote idea of the true Faith.
But has Fr. Ratzinger, the theologian of 1968, been disowned by Cardinal Ratzinger, reappointed in 1991 by Pope John-Paul II for a third five-year tern as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Alas, not at all, replies Si Si No No. His earlier works are being continuously reprinted, and the Prefect continues to write for "Communio", the "New Theology" review founded in 192 by — Ratzinger, de Lubac and von Baltasar. In the wake of these three follow nary others, who constitute the "think-tank" of John-Paul II's Church, either ultra-progressives in teaching or moderate progressives in Church government — today's Rome is ever rote crowded with "new theologians".
As Prefect of Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger has eulogized von Baltasar and has patronized the opening in Rome of a centre of formation inspired by the life and works of Baltasar, de Lubac and Adrienne von Speyr. On the contrary, dogmatic or near-dogmatic statements of the Church from the last century and the beginning of this century he has dismissed as "a sort of temporary measure".
Hence, concludes Si Si No No, the idea that Cardinal Ratzinger will restore the Church is a myth. True, he can, like von Baltasar and Pope Paul VI, make apparently conservative statements because he dislikes the excesses of modernism, but he globally approves of the "New Theology" while he disowns Tradition and the Magisterium. Hence he lays down false principles and then repudiates their logical conclusions. To wild error he opposes merely moderate error, and so his answer to the abuses is no answer at all. Dear friends, short of miraculous conversion there is no rescue for the Church to be hoped for from Cardinal Ratzinger, however charming, kind, and well-meaning he may be. It is ideas that matter, and judged by the ideas expressed in his words and deeds, he is a Prefect for the Faith without the Faith!
We come to the subject of Si Si No No's eighth article in the series "Those Who Think They Have Won". This is Pope John-Paul II. If a Cardinal follows the "New Theology", the Church is in great trouble. But if a Pope follows it, his mere example will be devastating. Alas, where Paul VI was an enthusiastic admirer of the "New Theologians", Pope John-Paul II is a personal follower of them. This emerges clearly, says Si Si No No, from a recent book by a German theologian, Fr. Johannes Dörmann, called "John-Paul II's theological road to Assisi". Dörmann is not a so-called Traditionalist, but, puzzled by the events at Assisi in 1986, he undertook a serene and objective study of Pope Wojtyla's speeches and writings. The first volume is due to appear in English from the Angelus within the next six months.
Fr. Dörmann says that John-Paul II's fundamental error lies in holding that absolutely all men, consciously or unconsciously, are in a state of effective redemption by Jesus Christ, i.e. all men are saved. The error arises directly from "New Theology" so glorifying man as to blur nature and grace. Human nature is so wonderful that it is "super". So whoever has human nature, has supernature, i.e. grace. So all men are in a state of grace. So all men, are in a state of grace merely by being men, are saved! Hence a new — brand-new! — version of the Church, of Revelation and of the Faith.
As for the Church, if every man at every moment has grace merely by having human nature, then every man belongs in some way to the Church, so the supernatural Church coincides with natural mankind. Once more, the radical blurring of natural and supernatural.
Secondly, since Church and mankind differ then from one another only by their greater or lesser awareness of their "being in Christ" — the Church being more aware of it than the rest of mankind — then all that Christ revealed to man was the fullness of man, i.e. man’s natural supernaturalness. However, this revelation of man by Christ to man is an exterior and secondary revelation, not strictly necessary, because all men are present to themselves, have a natural self-awareness, and so have an interior revelation coming before any additional revelation from outside. From which it follows that the various religions are none of them true or false, because all men have a valid self-awareness of which their religion is the expression. Hence John-Paul II's respect for all non-Catholic "religions".
Finally faith is equated in this system of ideas with man's awareness of his "super" state, whether this was revealed to him through Christ or through some other source. Thus all religions contain some revelation of "God", whence the need for dialogue between those religions as the golden highway to religious peace, which is the most important component of universal peace. Hence Assisi, and John-Paul II's continual travels.
"Si Si No No" quotes numerous other instances of the present Pope's allegiance to the "New Theology". His first Encyclical in 1978 commemorated the famous (or notorious!) statement from the Council document "Gaudium et Spes" (#22): "By his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man". (This text has been called "the key text of the New Catechism"). The statement is true if it means that every man born alive is potentially saved by Christ, but he will have to do something about it if he wants to be actually saved. The sentence is false if it is understood (as by John-Paul II and the New Catechism) to mean that every man is actually saved by Christ, whether tie knows it and wants it, or not.
In 1982 John-Paul II glorified the centenary of the birth of the arch-heretic Teilhard de Chardin, and he appointed Bishop Ratzinger as Prefect for the Faith. In 1983 he made de Lubac a Cardinal. In 1983 he desired a symposium to be held on von Baltasar and Adrienne von Speyr; it was held in 1985. In 1988 he made von Baltasar a Cardinal. Von Baltasar died just before receiving the honour, but in his funeral sermon Cardinal Ratzinger declared that the gesture remained valid.
In 1991 John-Paul II sent telegrams of condolence to the Superior of the Jesuits and to the Cardinal of Paris on the death of de Lubac, referring to his "intellectual uprightness" his "long and faithful service" as a "great servant of the Church", guarding "the best of Catholic Tradition"! Early this year, 1993, he glorified the centenary of Blondel's key book "Action", proposing Blondel as a model for philosophers and theologians! And last year he commemorated once more de Lubac and von Baltasar as the initiators of the New Theology review "Communio". Those who write for this review, says Si Si No No, are called "conservatives", but in reality they are merely slightly more cautious modernists.
Following the Pope's lead, the entire Catholic press now promotes the New Theology.
Si Si No No concludes this daunting eighth article on John-Paul II by enouncing elementary Catholic principles that will enable a Catholic to keep his Faith, his head and his balance amidst this devastation of the Lord's vineyard by his own Vicar: -
1) The Holy Ghost cannot in the present contradict everything He has inspired in the past.
2) Public Revelation of the Faith was completed and closed with the death of the last of the twelve Apostles. That is the Catholic Faith. It can never more be changed.
3) Church and Pope are helped by God to guard that Faith, not to introduce novelties.
4) No Pope can contradict past Popes, pronouncing on Faith or morals.
5) No Pope can contradict what the Church has taught and believed always, everywhere and universally.
6) In cases of conflict between the universality of Popes in the past and a handful of Popes in the present, Catholics are bound to follow those of the past.
Finally, a Pope acting or teaching purely personally can neither demand nor receive obedience. His privilege of infallibility excludes his formally or strictly imposing error, but not his pretending to impose it, nor his any less than strictly imposing it. If a Pope wished to impose error, Christ's keeping watch over him would prevent him from using his infallibility. Hence the privilege of infallibility would not prevent the Faith from being imperiled by a Pope's negligence, but it would prevent error from being pronounced "ex cathedra". So today's crisis does not call in question the Pope's infallibility, but it does constitute a grave trial for all Catholics!
So we must pray, we must do penance, and we must resist the destruction of the Church, and according to our station in life, we may recall the Holy Father to his duty.
Dear friends, these articles of "Si Si No No" are daunting, but they are also consoling -we know what we are up against. What is happening in Rome today is perfectly coherent. On the human level, the Church's present leaders have a dream, and everything indicates they will go on pushing that dream through until the whole Church is in ruins. On the divine level, God is purifying His Church, He is allowing a mass of rotten fruit to fall, and when the process is complete, He will raise His indestructible Church in dazzling beauty from the ruins. He is in control, and He does know what he is doing. He is simply saying, "I am the Lord your God, and I will have no other gods before me. This is my Son in whom I am well pleased, and there is no other Way, nor Truth, nor Life. All other solutions are false, and I will let them break to pieces in your hands. I have loved you with an everlasting love. It is never too late to turn back to Me! I am.
It will be a great grace over the next few years to continue being part of God's solution. He calls us to be no less than heroes and heroines. We must pray for a supernatural steadiness, sanity and serenity.
A new school-year starts at the Seminary within two weeks. We have a normal in-take of new seminarians, and the prospect of four new priests on Saturday, June 25 of 1994. Man proposes, God disposes.
Thank you always for your support, and God bless you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,