The War Against Being
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has been the Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith since 1982. He is considered by most to be the second most important man in the Vatican. He is also considered to be the bastion of orthodoxy and traditional Catholicism among the hierarchy.
The year 1982 also saw the publication of Cardinal Ratzinger's book Principles of Catholic Theology. The book contains an Epilogue On the Status of Church and Theology Today. Part B is titled Church and World: An Inquiry into the Reception of Vatican Council II. The text focuses primarily on the Vatican II document the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), which the Cardinal calls "a kind of summa of Christian anthropology." The following is of immediate interest to our subject:
"No Peace From The Children"
These words of Cardinal Ratzinger are absolutely astounding. Cardinal Ratzinger places himself and Gaudium et Spes in direct contradiction - countersyllabus - to the central teachings of Blessed Pius IX and St. Pius X. This, however, is a gross understatement. He actually places himself and this non-doctrinal document in direct opposition to the absolutely consistent teaching of at least nine Popes in dozens of documents covering a period of almost 175 years. Further, his statement that there was a new "ecclesiastical policy" under Pope Pius which somehow foreshadowed the "countersyllabus" teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger and Gaudium et Spes is simply false. In order to thoroughly dispel this error, I quote again the following words from Pius XI’s encyclical on The Kingship of Christ:
Cardinal Ratzinger cannot have directly contradicted all these magisterial documents of so many Popes without at the same time attacking the integrity and sanctity of the Magisterium. On May 24, 1990 Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published an Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian. The Cardinal also presented to the press a fairly long statement regarding the structure and purpose of the document. This statement was also published in Part III of his book The Nature and Mission of Theology. It contains the following passage:
Can any of us imagine telling Popes Pius VI, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, or Pius XI (or any of the other almost innumerable Popes who taught against religious indifferentism) that their condemnations and teachings were provisional and in need of correction! Pope St. Gelasius (492-496), in his epistle Licet Inter Vari pens the following instruction, profoundly applicable in the case of Cardinal Ratzinger:
It might be argued that what was taught by these Popes does not involve dogma. Is it not dogma that God is Supreme Being, that we are created by Him out of nothing, and that He has the absolute right to supreme Sovereignty and Dominion over every human individual and institution? Is it not dogma that Jesus Christ established only one true Church, that there is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, and that outside the Church there is no salvation - this despite the fact that no one will be condemned "who has not the guilt of deliberate sin" (Pius IX - Quanta Conficiamur Moerore, Denzinger 1677)? Is it not dogma that just as Christ possesses Universal Sovereignty over all individuals, He also possesses this same Sovereignty over all nations; and that a nation will be blessed or cursed accordingly as it accepts this Sovereignty and God's plan for divine order in this world? Is it not absolutely integral to Catholic dogma, therefore, that there is no such legitimate thing as "separation of Church and State"? Is it not absolutely integral to Catholic dogma, therefore, that there is no such thing as a "right" to religious error or a "right" to claim existence as a legitimate Christian religion or world religion outside of the Catholic Church?
The Oath Against The Errors Of Modernism began as follows:
Pope St. Pius X designates the magisterium as "unerring", and includes in this unerring magisterium the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions of both Pius X's Syllabus and his encyclical Pascendi (On the Doctrines of the Modernists). Cardinal Ratzinger, on the other hand, states that probably far the first time in Church history we can now accept that there is a part of the magisterium which is infallible and permanent, and there is another part that is fallible, and can be seen as provisional and superseded . The Cardinal further states that among these provisional and superseded teachings are the very ones which Pope Pius X declares to be part of the ''unerring" magisterium.
If Cardinal Ratzinger's statements are to be considered in any way the mind of the Church, may we not say that with Pope St. Gelasius: "Are we not ourselves offering, which God forbid, to all the enemies of the truth an example of rising again against ourselves, which the Church will never permit?" Are we not, in fact, denying the very Being of God by denying the Being and Nature of the Church which he founded?
Further, Pius X, in his Motu Proprio Praestantia Scripturae, issued Nov 18, 1907, declared ipso facto excommunication upon any who would contradict or "endeavour to destroy the force and the efficacy" of these documents:
We have two choices. We may believe Pope St. Pius X, the only Pope to be canonized since the 16th century, who largely dedicated his Papacy to the extirpation of these errors from the Catholic Church. Or we may believe Cardinal Ratzinger who says that the teachings and condemnations of this Pope have been superseded, thus falling into the category of those who "endeavour to destroy the force and efficacy" of these documents and their teachings and decrees. According to the decree of Pope Pius X, of course, Cardinal Ratzinger would be in a state of automatic excommunication. Whether or not this decree has been abrogated certainly lies outside my competence to judge. The fact, however, remains: Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements are clearly anti-magisterial to a massive degree.
We must also dare to ask the question. How many more are there like Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican? And how did they get there? Possibly this is what Pope Pius VI meant when he wrote: "In this way these men by their speech enter in lowliness, capture mildly, softly bind and kill in secret"
Conclusion: Philosophers Are Not Alone
We would be very mistaken if we were to conclude from all this that what we have considered as an apostasy from Being is now primarily a sickness of only the intellectuals: philosophers, theologians, etc. Virtually all persons in all the developed countries of the world are now immersed in the culture of scientific hubris, which, as we have said, amounts to a continual attack upon the very notion of substantial being itself, and therefore upon the God Who defines Himself as I Am. For the philosopher, this twisting of reality may result primarily in a perversion of the intellect. For the average individual, however, the primary effect of this philosophy is upon the will, his own personal moral well-being, and the whole moral fabric of society. This is the clear wisdom found in the following passage from Ecclesiasticus (Sirach):
Vanity is, of course a perversion of the will (which St. Thomas calls the intellective appetency). Holy Scripture is here telling us that the attempt to analytically penetrate the depths of created things is in itself an act of hubris, denying humility, and also denying the honour which is due to God as the "hidden" source and root of all being and substance. God, in fact, tells us that we are to spend the powers of our intellect upon understanding Him through His ways and commandments, and not try to penetrate into the hidden nature of His works. He further states, in this passage, that rejection of this "holy simplicity" leads to a state of "suspicion" (lack of faith or belief in the reality, truth and reliability of normal human perception of created things), which consequently detains the mind (heart) in vanity and perversion of the moral faculties.
Moreover, the "scientific" identification of all reality with physical (accidental) reality necessarily leads to the rejection of the fact that there really is any substantial nature (soul) to man. Modern secular science therefore necessitates not only the rejection of God, but also the rejection of the inviolable dignity of the human person. Consequently, it is not surprising that the moral corruption of "civilized" nations has paralleled the growth of secular science and technology. And it is therefore eminently logical that the twentieth century, which was the century of militant atheism (Communism, Nazism), produced more religious martyrs than all other centuries combined.
This "scientific" rejection of the substantial nature (soul) of human beings finds its ultimate expression in the abortion holocaust. We are rightly horrified by the murder of hundreds of millions of unborn babies. We should, however be equally horrified by what has happened to the minds and hearts of the hundreds of millions of women (and men) who have killed their own babies. Mother Theresa said that women are the heart of the world. If that be true, then the world has suffered a massive coronary, from which we might well doubt it can ever recover.
We have already mentioned that Pope Pius X focused on Immanentism as being a primary principle of Modernism. He also offers a second principle as this heresy's defining essence: the subjection of the faith to secular "science" and to modern "progress." If one reads the theological writings of Cardinal Ratzinger and so many other modern theologians (and especially Biblical exegetes), one is immediately struck by their ever-present sycophancy to so much that has been perpetrated on us as "science." On the other hand, search these men's works for any serious exposition and acceptance of Thomistic science (and here we use the word science in its true sense) - or, for instance, any serious exposition of the doctrine of transubstantiation - and you will come away empty handed. Ever since the beginnings of the Renaissance, increasing numbers within the Church have been falling victim to this hubris of man's reductive and partial "science," It has now become so all- pervasive as to seem almost the air we breathe.
Nor is this hubris something that finds expression only in science or philosophy. It penetrates to every institution of society: to art, literature, music; to every form of entertainment; and simply all aspects of culture. It also finds expression as a political hubris which increasingly seeks larger forms of worldly sovereignty; and in aspirations for a one-world government, which is simply a modern form of the Tower of Babel. Possibly most destructive, it leads to what is called the "fecundity" of money - those violations of simplicity in the economic realm which lead to money taking on a life of its own, whereby it ceases to be merely a medium of exchange for real goods (as St. Thomas taught it must be), and becomes instead an economic hydra to which all other values become subject.
As secular science has grown, so also has technology, and the consolidation of power and money in what is usually called international finance. And just as there now reigns a silence concerning the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ, so there also is silence from the Church on the subject of usury. This essential silence concerning usury is an older phenomenon, dating to the first part of the 19th century. We might well conjecture concerning the degree to which the Church's practical accommodations to secular economics in previous centuries paved the way for Cardinal Ratzinger's "coming to terms' with the French Revolution in the latter half of the 20th century. After all, money and secular science are certainly the primary means of making progress in this world; and the French Revolution is considered by liberalism to have been the most progressive event in human history.
We speak of the Church's silence. We may say with certainty, however that this is no true silence, but only the roar of the world. The recent Vatican Bank scandal, and the extent to which this Bank is deeply involved in money speculation and usury, should give us some idea of the degree to which this roar has penetrated towards the very heart of the Church. Christ said that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church. This does not mean that Satan cannot be howling at the door. I think that if we meditate carefully on the matter, we will in fact conclude that secular science and love of money are the primary pursuits by which holy simplicity has largely been defiled, the intuitive grasp of God's Being and the substantial being of creation has been lost, and God's children are more and more overcome by this dreary and feckless ascent by modern man towards God's throne.
As Christ's children, there is no room for despair. There is a great deal of room to return to that first love which is the Gospel, and that life of holy simplicity which is the subject of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. In order to accomplish this, of course, we must have the honesty and integrity to know just exactly how counterworld (and we might add Pro-Syllabus) Christ and the Gospel truly are. We must then possess the desire and fortitude to religiously attempt to apply all these teachings of Our Lord and His Magisterium to all the facets and institutions of our lives: to our families; the way we recreate; the education of our children; our work; our politics; and most of all to the way we worship and pray. God will provide the grace, if we in turn are willing to provide our honest assent to the fullness of His truth, and the gift of our wills to the action of His Desire and Grace.