Three of the lesser-known architects of neo-modernism

June 4, 1993

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

A fascinating series of articles is appearing in the Italian periodical Si Si No No. Fascinating, because they take us down into the engine-room of the apostasy devastating the Church.

Engine-room of apostasy? Just as in the great ocean-going liners of the beginning of this century there could be thousands of people on board, and action going on all over the ship, but the real action driving the ship over the ocean went on in the huge engine-rooms deep below decks populated by relatively few men, so in the ship of the Catholic Church, millions of Catholics in all parts of the ship are now being like - shaken to - pieces by something which started with a handful of men a long way below decks, out of public view.

What drives the Catholic Church forward? The Catholic Faith. What shakes the Catholic Faith to pieces? Heresy. The Si Si No No articles present six architects the slippery heresy of neo- modernism, of whom this letter will present the first three who are less well-known, but without whom the last three, of whom everyone knows, would never have been. Another letter will cover the last three. As for this letter, it will be long, but we are sure it will repay an attentive reading. It makes some sense out of otherwise confounded nonsense in today's Church.

The first of the six neo-modernists is a French philosopher living from 1861 to 1949 whose name will be known to very few readers, yet without whom there would have been no Vatican Two: Maurice Blondel. How can philosophy be so important when everybody with any good sense knows it is all nonsense? Answer, philosophy is the mechanics of the human mind grasping natural reality, in such a way that as every man must relate to that reality in some way or other in order to live at all, so he must, consciously or unconsciously, philosophize. As Aristotle said long ago, even if we refuse philosophy, we still have to philosophize our refusal of philosophy. For instance, even if a man chooses to follow his feelings, his head still has to hand in, and to go on handing in, its resignation. That action of the head, governing or refusing to govern his life, is his explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious, philosophy.

Now over the last several. hundred years, modern man has been more and more turning his back on reality, because it is governed by God, because it comes from God. Modern man prefers the fantasy of which he himself is creator and master. That is why modern philosophy expresses not a grasp of reality, but a hundred different ways of refusing reality, which is why philosophy has justly got itself such a bad name, and why a man with any good sense does far better to live by that.

However, the Catholic Church acknowledges God, adores Him, loves His reality, or creation ("Brother Sun, Sister Moon"), and expresses its submission of centuries to that one reality in, logically, one philosophy worked out also over the centuries, and today best known as thomism, named after St. Thomas Aquinas. If all men wanted to submit to reality, philosophy would have, instead of the contempt it earns today, an excellent reputation, and all men would be conscious or unconscious thomists. On the contrary, the modern world being marinated in liberalism and steeped in revolt, it refuses thomism as it refuses reality. Accordingly, Catholic thinkers too much in love with the modern world want only a way out of the Church's classical thomistic theology and philosophy; they want a philosophical justification of fantasy. This is what Blondel gave to Fr. Henri de Lubac, S.J., father of the "New Theology," which was the charter of Vatican Two.

The first feature of Blondel's writing noted by Si Si No No is its apparent vagueness and imprecision. His enemies could not pin him down, his friends would not pin him down, because in this way while deserving condemnation, he managed to slip out of ever being condemned by the Church. Nevertheless the grand lines of his thought were clear to friend and foe alike...

Blondel starts from the desire "to win over modern man" who is unimpressed by objective philosophy, i.e:, by a philosophy of submission to the real object. So on the excuse of reaching out to modern man who is subjectivist, Blondel is going to jump into subjectivism! Modern man is drowning, so we must jump in and drown with him!

Accordingly, a man's mind being objective, or made for the object outside a man, while a man's heart is the heart of the subject or the man inside, Blondel's next step is to argue that the Catholic Faith goes rather from heart to head than from head to heart. So where St. Paul says the Faith comes from outside, "from hearing" (Rom. X, 14-17), which is Catholic common sense, Blondel says it must come from "experience" inside, which is modernism: — the, Faith is what I feel.

Hence — third step — the supernatural is a need or a demand of human nature within, because "nothing can enter a man which does not come from out of him and correspond in some way to a need he has of expansion" — Blondel's own words. Thus as Blondel's subjectivism undermined all objectivity of the Faith, so his naturalism subverts everything supernatural, and the whole order of grace transcending nature is pulled down within nature! One may ask, what remains of Catholicism? But Blondel's version of the supernatural held de Lubac spell-bound, who in turn bewitched the Fathers of Vatican II, so that in its main documents, e.g. Nostra Aetate and Ad Gentes, the Council avoided all use of the word "supernatural"! It may be that few people read philosophers and theologians, but these have clout!

Finally Si Si No No quotes Blondel changing the very definition of truth. Instead of the classical definition "the matching of mind and reality" which Blondel dismisses as "chimerical," or unreal — presumably Blondel like most moderns held the mind to be incapable of attaining reality — Blondel's definition is "the real matching of mind and life," a definition leaving room for the truth to be in continual movement,. with nothing ever determined or fixed. Hence a shifting truth, an evolving Faith, a "living Tradition" which will enable Archbishop Lefebvre's "fixist Tradition" to be condemned. Truth evolves.

Was Blondel in good faith? A prominent Dominican at the time thought not, and his reasons could be applied as a test to all modernists: -

1) Blondel so quotes texts of St. Thomas as to make them mean the opposite of what they say;

2) he repeatedly meets well-argued criticisms from his adversaries with a mere categorical denial;

3) he continually claims to be misunderstood; and

4) he is always "explaining" how his thinking is really orthodox, so that it is disputed what he is actually saying:

However, discerning readers dismissed any supposed later change in his thinking as merely cosmetic, and amongst friends he would drop the disguise. Thus in 1932 when Fr. de Lubac accused him of paying too much heed to his Catholic critics, Blondel replied by return of post that back in the old days of "unbending extrinsicism" (i.e., excessive respect for the external reality!), he had had to go slowly and carefully in order not to incur censures which would have slowed everything down and "compromised the whole effort being undertaken, the cause being defended." In other words Blondel knew exactly what he was doing. He was deliberately deceiving the Church authorities as to his real thinking, in order to be able to continue working from within the Church to "reform" it.

Some "reformer"! Some "reform"! But surely Blondel himself sincerely believed in his work of rediscovering "authentic Christianity"? Yes, and the whole modern world lines up to congratulate him on his planting of the mines to blow sky-high the antiquated Church. But did his conscience congratulate him, or did it rebuke him? In any case when Blondel consulted Fr, de Lubac whether his theses were not going a bit too far, the priest re-assured the layman that his thinking was "spontaneously Catholic enough to need no timid cover-up." Ah, the responsibility of the priest!

Fr. de Lubac, S.J., subject of the fourth of the Si Si No No articles, born around the turn of the century, and who died only two years ago, was from the time of his studies in Jersey (Europe) in the early '20s a passionate reader of Blondel and other dubious modem thinkers, who were only "half-forbidden" by "indulgent" priests within the Jesuit order. Of course Pope Pius X had only fifteen years earlier strictly forbidden the moderns and strictly imposed St. Thomas Aquinas within Church institutes of learning, and the Lord God had given Plus X to work miracles to show that this was a Saint in whom God was wellpleased, but no doubt the Jesuit intellectuals regarded Pope Sarto as the backwards parish priest Pope, and the miracles as being good for the Italian peasants..., the modem world is full of rot which comes at a man from all angles and has a thousand entries into his mind and heart. What an immense grace it is to appreciate St. Thomas for what he is!

As for Fr. de Lubac and his comrades, they on the contrary found in Blondel the philosophical support for their Faith which they were disappointed not to find in St. Thomas. De Lubac even admired certain authors because they were disapproved of by Rome, but from one of his teachers he learned how to maintain an outward submissiveness towards Rome. Like Blondel, de Lubac would disguise his doctrine, such disguise being a hall-mark of the "new theologians" wrote Pius XII in the 1950's, which is why the Catholic world was so shocked to wake up at Vatican II and discover itself modernist.

For as Blondel had abandoned scholastic philosophy, so de Lubac would abandon traditional theology. In 1932 de Lubac told Blondel that he, Blondel, had made possible a new theology of the supernatural. Mother Church teaches that the whole supernatural order of grace is exactly that, i.e. gratuitous, or a sheer gift of God. Nature may be capable of, and well suited to, supernature, but it in no way strictly requires grace, which is of a quite different order, infinitely superior, and given by God, as God wills, in a manner essentially independent of the receiving nature. On the contrary, the "new theology" of Blondel and de Lubac taught that the supernatural is an exigency and necessary perfection of nature, without which nature is frustrated in its essential aspirations. In other words the supernatural is needed to complete nature which remains incomplete without it; in other words the supernatural is not a gratuitous gift but a part of nature owed to nature; in other words the supernatural is not supernatural but natural, and lies within the bounds of nature.

Here is the heart and soul of the New Theology: man, merely by being man, is saved — hence Karl Rahner's "anonymous Christians," i.e. people who are Christians without realizing it, without even being baptized; hence indifferentism, it is indifferent which religion one belongs to; hence ecumenism, hence no need of the Catholic Church for salvation — oh, Vatican Two!

Blondel and de Lubac both knew that their "New Theology," especially their new theology of the supernatural, defied the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, but they told one another that theirs was "the authentic Christianity" (Blondel), "the more authentic tradition" (de Lubac), "the old doctrine revitalized" (de Lubac). When in a famous article of 1946 the outstanding thomist and Dominican, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, attacked the "New Theology" as being merely a re-hash of modernism, de Lubac responded with insults and mockery of Garngou-Lagrange's "simplistic views on the absoluteness of truth." De Lubac accused the thomists of "notorious ignorance of Catholic Tradition", and when in 1951 Pius XII issued the same warning against the New Theology in his Encyclical "Humani Generis," de Lubac dismissed it as "highly one-sided... it doesn't concern me."

Blondel died in 1949, but de Lubac lived to see the triumph of their New Theology during and after Vatican Two. However, there was enough Catholic sense left in de Lubac for even him who had fathered the Council's theology to recognize that its aftermath was a disaster for the Church. Towards the end of his days he undertook in a late work "an examination of conscience." He wrote, "This period is as full of error as any... maybe I should have concentrated more on essentials... for the last seven or eight years I have been paralyzed by the fear of confronting head on, in concrete fashion, the essential problems in their scalding reality. Out of wisdom or weakness? Was I right or wrong? Would it not seem as though, despite myself, I have finished up in the camp of the integrists who horrify me?" Thus de Lubac finished his life where he began it, in horror at the champions of integral or complete Catholic teaching, with only this difference, that whereas at the beginning of his career he no doubt exulted in the prospect of demolishing their work, at the end of his life, after bringing off the demolition, he at least had the decency to drop a few half-tears over the demolished ruins now staring him in the face...

From the Secret of Our Lady of La Salette comes the best comment on such a career: "Demons... unloosed from hell... will put an end to faith little by little, even in those dedicated to God. They will blind them in such a way, that, unless they are blessed with a special grace, these people will take on the spirit of these angels of hell; several religious institutions will lose all faith and will lose many souls. Evil books will be abundant on earth and the spirits of darkness will spread everywhere a universal slackening in all that concerns the service of God..." St. Paul said it more briefly: "In the last days... men shall be traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than of God: having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Tim. III, 4,5)

A disciple of de Lubac is the subject of the fifth of the Si Si No No articles, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, who died in 1988 just as he was about to be made a Cardinal of Rome! Trained like de Lubac within the Society of Jesus which he would leave just before making his Solemn Profession in the 1940's, von Balthasar had from the beginning, like de Lubac, a violent aversion for scholastic theology, and a passionate desire to pull it all down. He wrote later, "All my studies during the years of formation within the Society of Jesus were a furious struggle against the dryness of theology, against what men had done with the glory of Revelation: I could not stand the form they had given to the Word of God; I would have liked to lash out with the fury of a Samson, I would have liked his strength to pull down the temple and bury myself beneath it... All of this I told almost nobody. Przywara understood everything, even without being. told, otherwise there was nobody who could have understood. I wrote the `Apocalypse' with that fury that sets out to hurl down a world and rebuild it from the foundations up, cost what it may."

A passionate lover of literature and music, von Balthasar wrote that at the end of his studies of philosophy and theology, "I understood what a great help for my conception of theology was to be my knowledge of Goethe, Hoelderlin, Nietzsche, Hofmannsthal and above all the Church Fathers to whom de Lubac had directed me... the phenomenon of Jesus and the convergence of New Testament theologies should be viewed from the stand-point of Goethe"! "Phenomenon of Jesus"- What an expression! One may ask, did von Balthasar have the Catholic Faith? In any case Our Lord is to appear before the moderns to have his worth examined!

In 1936 von Balthasar was ordained to the priesthood and soon he was working in Basel, Switzerland, where he met the prominent Protestant thinker, Karl Barth, whose "radical christocentrism" became the next major influence on his own thinking. Putting then Christ rather than the Catholic Church at the centre of Christian unity, von Balthasar made some converts to his surely dubious Faith, including a woman called Adrienne von Speyr, with whom von Balthasar would be "theologically and pyschologically" bound close together for the rest of his days. Under his guidance she began having mystical experiences. He founded a publication to publish them, and since his Jesuit Superiors could not see clear what was going on in her case, he left the Jesuits. He then became a house-guest under her (second) husband's roof until 1960, when he was mobilized by the neo-modernists in their frantic work of preparation for the upcoming Council.

As for the experiences or "charisms" of Adrienne von Speyr, had von Balthasar followed the Catholic Church's classical rules, he would have had no difficulty in recognizing how they contradicted Catholic Faith and morals, but instead of correcting Adrienne by Catholicism, he chose to correct Catholicism by Adrienne. Si Si No No quotes two examples of their enormous joint influence on the Modern Church: sexuality and ecumenism.

On the first point Adrienne considered that she had received from Heaven the task of re-thinking "the positive value" of "corporeity," or the human body. Thus she would write that "the prescriptions (for the sexes) to keep their distance and to practise custody of the eyes are in the sphere of the corporeal no longer in force today," as though original sin was henceforth abolished! Her collaboration with von Balthasar she would express in vivid language of the body, thus blazing the trail for that outburst of "corporeity" in religious life which since Vatican Two, behind the slogan of "integrating the affections," has devastated thousands of religious vocations. Von Balthasar likewise could not accept that in the religion of God's taking flesh, the significance of the male and female bodies should be down-graded, and he wanted erotic love brought back into the centre of theology.

Adrienne's bold novelties he defended on the grounds of "today's theology being not (or not yet) up to comprehending what is presented" (by Adrienne). But in fact Catholic theology comprehends full well! — such writings which deck out fallen nature in the trappings of grace are, in the words of Scripture, of "ungodly men, turning the grace of Our Lord God into riotousness... defiling the flesh, despising dominion, blaspheming majesty... who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit..." (Epistle of Jude).

Indeed Adrienne and von Balthasar were separating themselves from the Catholic Church, but to cover their withdrawal, they invented a new concept of the true Church which they called "the Catholic," but which for the sake of clarity we will translate as "the Super-Catholic." Here is their vastly influential error on ecumenism...

Adrienne once had a vision of the Mother of God (?) in which she wrote that after she and Mary had together pronounced a formula of self-offering, Mary put in her arms the baby (of Adrienne and von Balthasar) for a second, "but it was no longer only the baby, it was the Church in miniature, so it seems to me there is a just unity of everything assigned to us, it is work in God for the Super-Catholic." Converted (?) from Protestantism, Adrienne considered that her "Catholicism" was not confined to any denomination; indeed she attended Mass only at Christmas and Easter. This concept of Catholicism she transmitted to von Balthasar who would write, "As opposed to narrow scholastic theology, the dimension of Catholic reality is as wide as the world." Yet at the same time von Balthasar sharply criticized Karl Rahner for being anti-Roman, and he did not like the way Vatican Two Catholics were selling off the Church. How are such contradictions to be explained?

By the influence of the German philosopher, Hegel, says Si Si No No, and back we come to philosophy. In Hegelian logic, instead of opposites (e.g., day and night, round and square) being contradictory and exclusive, they are complementary and inclusive. From the clash of thesis and antithesis, and only from that clash, emerges the fullness of the synthesis which combines them into one. Thus for von Balthasar, inspired by Adrienne, the various Churches, various religions, even various atheisms are to complement and complete one another in the one all-embracing "Super-Catholic," which is the true Church of Christ, and to form which all the opposites must be in play and none are to be excluded. Thus the Super-Catholic is to emerge as the all-inclusive synthesis superior to the present Catholic Church, which for its part must loosen up and enter into fair competition with all rival systems, including even the anonymous Christians who are Christians unknown to themselves, outwardly not Christian at all.

This Hegelian ecumenism of van Balthasar was seen clearly in action at Assisi in 1986, for example, where Pope John-Paul II denied that he wanted any syncretist blending of the religions but called on them all to be what they are, including the Catholics! This is because the Hegelian synthesis, to be the true synthesis, requires all the theses and antitheses to be what they are.

As for the Papacy of Peter which might seem an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the "SuperCatholic," von Balthasar provides another Hegelian answer: the Catholic Church must be not only Petrine (thesis), but also Pauline, Marian and Jahannine (antithesis), leaving a vague primacy of charity. We recognize the exact model of the John-Paul II Papacy - unceasing travel, an all-round openness, the urging upon all to be diversely what they are, yet at the same time the urging upon all of a millennial unity.

Thus for von Balthasar, the full "Catholicity" of the true "Church" has never yet been realized; rather it is a hope for the future, for the end of time. As for the existing Catholic Church, it represents with its rigidity and exclusivisrn merely the Roman version of the Super-Catholic, one version amongst many other versions, one fragment amongst other fragments of the whole, one fragment in which, amongst others, the whole - in the famous expression of Vatican II — "subsists," or is in part to be found. Thus Catholics must listen to members of all other religions. Thus conversion must no longer be by individuals but by religious groups as a whole, and their conversion must be not to the present Catholic Church but to the Super-Catholic. Thus Catholics are urged to quit the Catholic Church, and thus von Balthasar has drawn up a charter for apostasy.

It is all frighteningly coherent and true to life, true to the ruins of the Church that are piling up all around us. Mother Church's leaders are not stupid men, nor do they seem to be acting under constraint, nor do they seem to be of ill will — there had to be some explanation of their persevering in demolition when the results were there for all to see that they were demolishing the Church. In the engine-room of thinkers like these three is the answer. "Blind leading the blind," practitioners of deceit, but — God is just — how much more deceived themselves, by the Father of Lies! They wanted to reform Church and world, and all they have done is wreck both! Kyrie eleison!

It is time to come back above decks into a little sunshine and fresh air! The Seminary, thanks to your support, is drawing to the close of another peaceful school year. Four Society seminarians, drilled in thomism and full of youth and courage, are to be ordained priests on June 19, to step into the front-line for the defense and salvation of your eternal souls. They have the Catholic Faith, and little else, but this is their victory over the world.

Let us join in thanking Almighty God for the immense graces whereby they and we have not lost the Light of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and whereby the Eternal High Priest is ensuring the continuance of his priesthood an earth. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at Winona an June 19.

With all good wishes and blessings for a Christian summer,

Sincerely yours in Christ,