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October 2003


The War Against Being

JAMES LARSON

Part III

There is peace from the pagans and
peace from the heretics,
but no peace from the children."
Pius VI, 1775        

 

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:

"If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text (Gaudium et Spes) as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus. Harnack, as we know, interpreted the Syllabus of Pius IX as nothing less than a declaration of war against his generation. This is correct insofar as the Syllabus established a line of demarcation against the determining forces of the nineteenth century: against the scientific and political world view of liberalism. In the struggle against modernism this twofold delimitation was ratified and strengthened. Since then many things have changed. The new ecclesiastical policy of Pius XI produced a certain openness toward a liberal understanding of the state. In a quiet but persistent struggle, exegesis and Church history adopted more and more the postulates of liberal science, and liberalism, too, was obliged to undergo many significant changes in the great political upheavals of the twentieth century. As a result, the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X in response to the situation created by the new phase of history inaugurated by the French Revolution was, to a large extent, corrected viafacti, especially in Central Europe, but there was still no basic statement of the relationship that should exist between the Church and the world that had come into existence after 1789. In fact, an attitude that was largely pre-Revolutionary continued to exist in countries with strong Catholic majorities. Hardly anyone today will deny that the Spanish and Italian Concordats strove to preserve too much of a view of the world that no longer corresponded to the facts. Hardly anyone today will deny that, in the field of education and with respect to the historico-critical method in modern science, anachronisms existed that corresponded closely to this adherence to an obsolete Church-state relationship. Let us be content to say here that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789."

"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:

"He, however would be guilty of shameful error who would deny to Christ as man authority over civil affairs, no matter what their nature, since by virtue of the absolute dominion over all creatures He holds from the Father, all things are in His power...."

"His (Christ's) empire manifestly includes not only Catholic nations, not only those who were baptized, and of right belong to the Church, though error of doctrine leads them astray or schism severs them from her fold; but it includes also all those who are outside the Christian faith, so that truly the human race, in its entirety is subject to the power of Jesus Christ. Nor in this connection is there any difference between individuals and communities whether family or State, for community aggregates are just as much under the dominion of Christ as individuals. The same Christ assuredly is the source of the individuals salvation and of the community's salvation: Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."

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:

"The text also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states -perhaps for the first time - that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy.

Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernists decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission."

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:

"What pray permits us to abrogate what has been condemned by the venerable Fathers, and to reconsider the impious dogmas that have been demolished by them? Why is it, therefore, that we take such great precautions lest any dangerous heresy, once driven out, strive anew to come up for examination, if we argue that what has been known, discussed and refuted of old by our elders ought to be restored? Are we not ourselves offering, which God forbid, to all the enemies of the truth an example of rising against ourselves, which the Church will never permit… Or are we wiser than they, or shall we be able to stand constant with firm stability, if we should undermine those [dogmas] which have been established by them?" (Denzinger, 161).

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:

"I firmly embrace and accept all and everything that has been defined, affirmed, and declared by the unerring magisterium of the Church, especially those chief doctrines which are directly opposed to the errors of this time."

Further on:

"I also subject myself with the reverence which is proper, and I adhere with my whole soul to all the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions which are contained in the Encyclical letter ‘Pascendi’ and in the Decree ‘Lamentabili’"

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:

"In addition to this, intending to repress the daily increasing boldness of spirit of many Modernists, who by sophisms and artifices of every kind endeavour to destroy the force and the efficacy not only of the Decree, "Lamentabili sane exitu," which was published at Our command by the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition on the third of July of the current year, but also of Our Encyclical Letter "Pascendi Dominici gregis," given on the eighth of September of this same year by Our Apostolic authority, We repeat and confirm not only that Decree of the Sacred Supreme congregation, but also that Encyclical Letter of Ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against all who contradict them; and We declare and decree this: if anyone, which may God forbid, proceeds to such a point of boldness that he defends any of the propositions, opinions, and doctrines disproved in either document mentioned above, he is ipso facto afflicted by the censure imposed in the chapter Docentes of the Constitution of the Apostolic See, first among those excommunications latae sententiae which are reserved simply to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication, however, is to be understood with no change in the punishments, which those who have committed anything against the above mentioned documents may incur, if at anytime their propositions, opinions, or doctrines are heretical; which indeed has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, but especially when they defend the errors of modernism, that is, the refuge of all heresies."

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):

For great is the power of God alone, and he is honoured by the humble. Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above the ability: but the things that God hath commanded thee, think on them always, and in many of his works be not curious. For it is not necessary for thee to see with thy eyes those things that are hid. In unnecessary matters be not over curious, and in many of his works thou shalt not be inquisitive. For many things are shewn to thee above the understanding of men. And the suspicion of them hath deceived many, and hath detained their minds in vanity (Ecclus 3:21-26).

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.

Click here to read Part I | Click here to read Part II