Not Such A Good Outlook.....
Once again Mr. Ferrara you are right. You have hit the "nail on the head". Realistically, I agree with him, although I wish I didn't have to. I am not feeling overly optomistic either.
"Holy Revolution" or "Wholly Revolutionary"
It seems there's no help on the way
-by Christopher A. Ferrara -
REMNANT COLUMNIST, New Jersey
Catholics of good will yearn to believe that the new Pope has launched a "holy revolution" that will restore the Church. But developments so far, including the Pope's recent address on Vatican II and religious liberty, give no cause for such optimism.
(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) The first 100 days are over. In fact, the first 200 days are over. There are now enough points on the map to determine the probable course of the new pontificate: due south toward that ecclesial Bermuda Triangle known as "the true implementation of Vatican II." While it seems the captain has reduced speed from a reckless "all ahead full" to a minimally more cautious "all ahead two-thirds," the course itself remains unchanged. Barring some surprise development, it appears the Church is heading deeper into the dark post-conciliar waters. Who knows what new terrors we will encounter there? As a dear friend of mine declared in a recent email: "Happy Holidays! There is no help on the way."
Despite a few encouraging early signs, the Novus Ordo liturgy remains immovably in place, with a bit of Latin and chant during pontifical celebrations of Mass facing the people, who still receive communion in the hand. A dethroned and crownless Pope still sits in his Novus Ordo presidential chair, taking lessons from laywomen with uncovered heads, who read Scripture to the Vicar of Christ from a lectern. No longer read, of course, is St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, which infallibly conveys the divine ordinances observed for nearly 2,000 years: that women cover their heads (1 Cor. 11:10) and "keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith... For it is a shame for a woman to speak in Church" (1 Cor. 14:34-35).
Under Pope Benedict, alas, women with uncovered heads will continue to speak in the churches, including St. Peter's Basilica.
Meanwhile, the rapidly spreading and totally out-of-control Neocathecumenal Way, founded by an "existentialist painter" and a chain-smoking ex-nun-known to the Novus Ordo world as Kiko and Carmen, respectively-will be allowed to go on with its Gnostic catechesis rife with heresies, and its Judaized Saturday night liturgies, at which Horah-dancing congregations consume hosts the size of personal pan pizzas while seated around tables in the middle of the worship space. Concerning this Judaized liturgy, in a thundering reaffirmation of liturgical tradition the Vatican has given "the Way" exactly two years to cut it out-before further discussions on the matter, that is. Until then, the members of "the Way" have been directed to attend Mass on Sunday at least once a month. The toothless lion roars again.
As the Novus Ordo liturgy continues to decompose, the doctrine of Limbo seems headed for the post-conciliar memory hole. Even The New York Times noticed (with evident satisfaction) that without Limbo there is no Catholic doctrine concerning the fate of infants who die without baptism. In default of a doctrine, people will simply conclude that such infants must all be saved. So much for the dogma of Original Sin. And so much for the teaching of the Church that "Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death" (Catechism of the Council of Trent). This farcical "abolition" of Limbo will not, of course, be declared in any encyclical or other binding papal pronouncement. Rather, the impression will be created that the International Theological Commission's forthcoming document on Limbo is the teaching of the Church, as opposed to the worthless opinion of a neo-Modernist think tank.
Despite the recent Vatican document purporting to bar the ordination of homosexuals, homosexuals will remain ensconced in episcopal palaces, seminaries and chanceries throughout the world. The document leaves these ecclesial termites completely unmolested, while giving a green light to the admission of a new crop of known homosexuals to Holy Order,, provided they profess to have "overcome" a so-called "transitory" predilection for sodomy during the second half of their seminary training (i.e., three years before ordination).
Some well-meaning people have tried desperately to descry a "holy revolution" in such dismal developments. For example one blog site (which is actually spot-on concerning many issues) declares that Pope Benedict's Christmas address to the Roman Curia on the subject of religious liberty is an "epoch-making speech" and "the most important text of this pontificate so far," because it supposedly puts an end to the "hermeneutics of discontinuity" which interprets Vatican II as a break with the Church's past.
If only it were so. But Pope Benedict's explanation of how Vatican II's Dignitatis Humanae is in continuity with the Church's past only confirms the "hermeneutics of discontinuity." As the Pope declared to the members of the Curia:
By adopting a decree on religious freedom, the Second Vatican Council recognized and made its own an essential principle of the modern state. And in doing so, it reconnected with the wider heritage of the Church.
The Church itself is conscious that it is fully in sync with the teachings of Jesus (cf Mt, 22: 21), the Church of the early martyrs, and with all the martyrs. Although the early Church dutifully prayed for emperors and political leaders as a matter of fact (cf 1 Tm, 2: 2), it refused to worship them and thus rejected the state religion.
In dying for their faith in the one God revealed in Jesus Christ, the martyrs of the early Church also died on behalf of freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own religion. No state can impose any religion; instead, religion must be freely chosen with the grace of God and in freedom of conscience.
This view does not correspond to the truth of Western history or the constant teaching of the Roman Pontiffs on the theological (not to mention logical) imperative of the Catholic confessional state. While the early martyrs rejected the state religion of pagan Rome, they hardly rejected the idea of the State professing the religion established by Christ in the Catholic Church. Nor did these saints in any way offer their lives for "freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own religion." They died simply and only for the sake of the true religion; and it was the very blood of the early martyrs that converted Rome from a pagan into a Catholic state. Professing to see "continuity" between Vatican II and "the Church of the early martyrs," however, Benedict's amazing statement simply ignores the entire history of Christendom after the Roman persecutions ended miraculously with the conversion of Constantine.
Even the pagan Romans themselves, like the Philosophers of Athens, would have regarded as absolute madness the novelty of the modern secular state that refuses to profess and defend the common religion of the people. With the coming of Christ grace perfected the insights of human reason, and the result was precisely Catholicism as the religion of the State-that is, Christendom. None other than St. Augustine, of whom Pope Benedict is said to be a devotee, provided Christendom's intellectual foundation when he argued in City of God that the only truly just commonwealth is the Christian commonwealth. As Christopher Dawson observed, City of God was "one of the books which did the most to form the mind of Western Christendom..." In the mind of Western Christendom the normative human connection between the religion of the people and the religion of the State was so intimate that, as Dawson put it, "Christianity was the law of the land."
The Edict of Milan and the Theodosian Code were only the beginning of the age-long process by which what A.J. Penty has called "the common mind" of Christian civilization was embodied in Catholic confessional states. Indeed, as Penty observed, for the State to profess the religion of the people and defend it against attack is simply normative human behavior in society. It is quite beside the point to argue, as Pope Benedict's address does, that "No state can impose any religion; instead, religion must be freely chosen with the grace of God and in freedom of conscience." There is a world of difference between the State professing and defending the Catholic religion of the people and the State "imposing" religion. It is the difference between Christendom, on the one hand, and the modern liberal caricature of Christendom on the other. One would have hoped that the Pope would recognize the difference rather than implicitly dismissing the entire history of Western Christianity as an unfortunate detour from the path rediscovered at Vatican II.
One would never know from reading Benedict's address that Catholic confessional states in one form or other perdured in Europe for nearly fifteen hundred years, until Woodrow Wilson made the world safe for democracy by insuring the destruction of the Hapsburg Empire during World War I. A Catholic confessional state continued to exist in Spain until as recently as 1975, when the Spanish constitution was amended in keeping with the supposed dictates of Dignitatis Humanae; and Catholic states survived even longer in Latin America.
One can certainly make a case for the practical necessity of tolerating modern pluralist regimes as an unavoidable evil, given the destruction of Catholic social order over the centuries following the Protestant Revolt. But if we are to be faithful to the Church's divine commission to make disciples of all nations, and to reason itself, we must hold with Pope Leo XIII that "although in the extraordinary condition of these times the Church usually acquiesces in certain modern liberties, not because she prefers them in themselves, but because she judges it expedient to permit them" (Libertas), nevertheless Catholics are obliged "to make use of popular institutions, so far as can honestly be done... to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described (Immortale Dei)."
That is, Christendom is always something to be recovered, never something to be abandoned as outmoded; for Christendom-the embodiment of Christianity in the form and pattern of the State-arises from the very nature of man as a social being whose highest good is his participation in the eternal society of the beatific vision. The abandonment of Christendom can thus be seen only as the gravest form of social disorder, a severance of political society from man's summum bonum in consequence of the destruction of the common mind of Western civilization.
The West has literally lost its mind, and yet some Catholics defend this madness as "the only alternative." One prominent Catholic who considers himself a traditionalist recently suggested to the editor of this newspaper that traditionalists ought not to express contempt for the advocacy of pluralism, even if they don't favor it themselves, because pluralism at least preserves "social peace." But what sort of "social peace" results in the death of 35 million unborn children, the destruction of the family and the utter ruin of public morality? The loss of Christendom is precisely the loss of any prospect for a social peace worthy of the name. As Etienne Gilson aptly observed in his introduction to City of God: "It is completely useless to pursue a Christian end except by a Christian means. If we really want one world, we must first have one Church, and the only Church that is one is the Catholic Church."
But Benedict's address, and indeed his pontificate as a whole thus far, gives no sign of recognition that the right ordering of our civilization has been lost and must be recovered if the West is to avoid self-annihilation. In attempting to explain how Vatican II "reconnected" the Church to her "wider heritage"-a heritage that mysteriously excludes fifteen centuries of Catholic social order, and with it the greatest achievements of Western civilization-Benedict offered this astonishing opinion: "By defining in a new way the relationship between the faith of the Church and some essential elements of modern thinking, the Second Vatican Council revised and even corrected some past decisions. But in an apparent discontinuity it has instead preserved and reinforced its intimate nature and true identity." This the Council did, said Benedict, by reconnecting with the early martyrs of the Church and their supposed cause of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, which the Church finally took up again at Vatican II.
So it seems that the very man who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, assured us that Vatican II was not "a new start from zero," now argues that at least the Council's teaching on religious liberty was precisely that: a rolling back of the whole history of the Church to the time of the early martyrs, when the purity of the Faith (so the argument goes) was unsullied by the idea of a State religion. We have seen elsewhere this appeal to "the early Church" over and against all ensuing Church history; we have seen it in the opinions of the Modernists. False antiquarianism is, in fact, a staple of Modernist thinking. Irony of ironies, in a speech defending alleged "doctrinal development," Benedict would dispense with the entire developed doctrine of the Church on her divinely ordained relations with the State, as concretely realized in long and glorious Church-State alliance that was Christendom, which Benedict seems never to mention.
As for the constant teaching of the Popes that the State has a duty to profess and defend the Catholic religion, Benedict suggests, but never explicitly states, that this teaching was merely "past decisions" which have been "revised and even corrected" at Vatican II. That would make Vatican II the first and only council in Church history to revise and correct Church teaching. But notice we are never told precisely which "past decisions" of the Church were revised and corrected at the Council, whose decrees nowhere state they are revising or correcting anything. Quite the contrary, for all its confusion and ambiguity on the subject of "religious liberty," Dignitatis Humanae expressly affirms the "the traditional teaching of the Church on the duty of men and societies toward the true religion and the one true Church of Christ" (Article 1). As always when it comes to the supposedly "distinctive teachings" of Vatican II, nebulous assertions replace clear doctrinal statements. We are left with the impression but no actual evidence of, an unprecedented repeal of the Church's settled doctrine.
The Pope's address did not confine itself to a defense of "apparent discontinuity" in the teaching on religious liberty. Going further, Benedict defended other "discontinuities" that have emerged since the Council:
Although this may not have been fully appreciated at first, the discontinuities that did emerge-notwithstanding distinct concrete historical situations and their needs-did prevent continuity at the level of principles. The nature of true reform lies in this combination of multi-levelled continuity and discontinuity. In this process of change through continuity we had to learn how to understand better than before that the Church's decisions about contingent matters-for example, about actual forms of liberalism or liberal interpretations of the Bible-were necessarily themselves contingent because related to a reality itself changeable.
Thus Benedict appears to posit a post-conciliar discontinuity at the level of principle, although here too we are given no concrete evidence of any binding doctrinal repeal to be found in this or that particular text of the authentic Magisterium. We are told that we "had to learn better than before"-i.e., better than in the preceding nineteen centuries of Church history-that "the Church's decisions about contingent matters" were subject to "change through continuity." Is it really reasonable to expect anyone to believe that since 1965 Catholic churchmen have acquired a better understanding of the nature of "the Church's decisions" than all their predecessors before Vatican II?
Here there is a vague implication-but again, no particulars whatever—that the condemnations of liberalism and liberal interpretations of the Bible by such Popes as Blessed Pius IX (in the Syllabus of Errors) and Saint Pius X (in his own Syllabus Lamentabili Sane, Condemning the Errors of the Modernists) were mere contingent judgments subject to change because these condemnations "related to a reality itself changeable." But the preconciliar Popes did not condemn "changing realities." They condemned false principles and false propositions as such. In other words, they condemned errors against the Faith, which, by their very nature as error, could never cease to be false if there is any such thing as objective truth.
It is impossible for any Catholic to accept-nor could even a Pope require us to accept-that what the Magisterium has repeatedly condemned as a false principle of liberalism or a false interpretation of the Bible could ever become true. Even to admit such a notion into Catholic thinking would be to destroy faith in the Magisterium itself. But if this notion is not what Benedict is suggesting, then what is he suggesting?
Enough is enough. As the crisis in the Church enters its fifth decade, the faithful are entitled to a simple answer to a simple question: Does Benedict (following the line of his private opinions as Cardinal Ratzinger) really mean to say that any of the specific errors condemned by the Popes before Vatican II are no longer to be considered errors? If that indeed is what he is saying, then the faithful have the right to contradict him in keeping with the teaching of Pope Paul IV that while a Pope "may be judged by none in this world, [he] may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith." (Ex Apostolatus Officio ). If the truths of our religion have any objective meaning, Catholics would have no choice but to contradict a reigning Pope who deviates from the teaching of his predecessors-a possibility Paul IV clearly envisioned at a time when the open revolt against Christendom had just begun.
Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that Benedict's line of argument in defense of Vatican II refutes the "hermeneutics of discontinuity"! But the suggestion that there can be "change through continuity" in doctrine and doctrinal continuity despite "apparent discontinuity" has no precedent in the teaching of the Church; and (one must say it) this affirmation borders on the nonsensical. Never before Vatican II have the faithful been asked to believe such a thing, for no previous ecumenical council had ever given rise to the impression of "discontinuities" in Catholic teaching.
When closely examined, therefore, the Pope's address to the Curia is no more a cause for rejoicing then the other developments mentioned here. On the contrary, it is cause for alarm. What we have seen thus far in the new pontificate is no "holy revolution." It is, at most, a slight reduction of the momentum of the unholy revolution that began when a young Father Ratzinger and his fellow periti arrived in Rome for the Second Vatican Council to engineer the great "opening to the world" that afflicts the Church to this day. And we cannot forget that, much later on, it was the former Cardinal Ratzinger himself who adamantly affirmed that traditionalists must not be allowed to get away with questioning the wisdom of the great conciliar leap forward, that there must be no room in the Church for any discussion of turning back:
Was the Council a wrong road that we must now retrace if we are to save the Church? The voices of those who say that it is are becoming louder and their followers more numerous. Among the more obvious phenomena of the last years must be counted the increasing number of integralist groups in which the desire for piety, for the sense of the mystery, is finding satisfaction. We must be on our guard against minimizing these movements. Without a doubt, they represent a sectarian zealotry that is the antithesis of Catholicity. We cannot resist them too firmly... [Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 389]
So, Catholics who decline to embrace unheard-of novelties and who band together to maintain the sources of piety and mystery in the Church-which is to say, the faith of our fathers-are now to be viewed as sectarian zealots deserving of repression by ecclesiastical authority. The Church is being sacked from within by Modernist revolutionaries, but it is traditionalists who cannot be resisted too firmly in their attachment to the Church's unbroken historical past. Such was the opinion of Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988. And it seems this Jacobinical spirit will continue to dominate the postconciliar landscape now that Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI.
It is a sad and terrible thing that mere lay people, such as this writer, have to speak this way about the condition of their own Church. We yearned for a Pope who would take decisive action to make things right, and we sincerely hoped that Pope would be Benedict, despite everything he had said when he was a cardinal and a priest. But what is manifest is manifest. At the moment, there is no help on the way. Quite the contrary, it appears likely that further persecution will be our lot