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October 2005


Book Review

WORLD YOUTH DAY: FROM CATHOLICISM TO COUNTERCHURCH by Cornelia R. Ferreira and John Vennari, Canisius Books, Toronto, 2005, pp. 229. Available from Canisius Books, PO Box 90523, 230 Markham Rd, Scarborough, Ont. Canada M1J 3C2 Ph: (416) 321 0637 Email: canisiusbooks@rogers.com. Price: US$25/€25/£16 (airmail: US$30/€30/£20) postage and packing included. Cheques payable to Canisius Books. Credit cards not accepted. Bulk/bookseller discounts available.

MICHAEL McGRADE

No sooner had John XXIII opened his figurative Conciliar window to the winds of ‘change’ than secular fads and fashions swept through, gripped and began strangling the traditional life out of the Church. The cult of ‘youth,’ which defined the 1960s, was especially damaging. Clergy and Religious immediately rushed to worship at that particular shrine, pandering to young Catholics and their every idiotic whim. Who could forget the RE classes suddenly informed not by the Catechism but the lyrics of the latest Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel or Bob Dylan hit! One looks back on those heady, toe-curling days of initial decline with a weird mix of nostalgic horror: a time when spiritual guides determined to tailor the Faith to their youthful charges rather than vice versa. RE became ‘101 ways to find Christ through any medium except His Church.’

It’s been pretty much downhill ever since. And as highlighted in World Youth Day: From Catholicism to Counterchurch, a compelling study by John Vennari and Cornelia Ferreira, the selling out of Catholic youth shows no signs of abating. They argue, in fact, that things are speeding up; that the World Youth Days fostered by John Paul II have not only taken the cult of youth to new levels of corrupting indulgence but are being used to systematically fashion a new faith by indoctrinating participants in that satanic ‘social gospel’ treated in last month’s CO.

This veritable anti-Gospel, "devoted to social improvement rather than saving souls," is the foundation of the coming Counterchurch, which looks Catholic in its externals but, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen predicted in 1948, will be "emptied of its divine content." This is nothing less than the occult church "designed by the Masonic architects of Satan’s new world order." It was foreseen two hundred years ago by Augustinian nun and stigmatist Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, and methodically outlined in the 1930s by New Age leader Alice Bailey.

Among much else, these secular humanistic/occult roots are examined by Ferreira in Part I, World Youth Day: Change Agent for the Counterchurch. Voluminous supporting evidence and references are impressively marshalled as she joins up all the disparate programmes, processes, ideologies, spiritualities, groups, symbols, catch phrases etc., which together, seamlessly and relentlessly, are transforming Catholicism into a merely humanitarian body - "a community outside the Body of Jesus, the Church," as Blessed Emmerich foresaw, "[which] wills differently, acts differently everywhere."

Underpinning this subvervise humanistic agenda, Ferreira identifies four key concepts: spirituality, pilgrimage, community and lived experience. Her exposition of these four pillars of the Counterchurch is essential reading if we are to understand how the Faith is being dismantled and restructured by an alien spirit in our midst.

"For humanists," explains Ferreira, "religion is different from a religious attitude - or spirituality." In their eyes, ready-made beliefs and obedience based on the idea of the supernatural diminish the responsibility and dignity of the believer. "A religious attitude, or spirituality, on the other hand, is naturalistic and communistic. Involving imagination and feeling, it ‘helps one to adjust to the world and bring about changes ... to meet collective ... demands.’ It is thus ‘meaningful’ and upholds human dignity, and so is preferable to religion. ‘Spirituality’ is a change agent that is experiential and ‘dynamic’ i.e., evolutionary. It reflects the two planks of Freemasonry: Liberty (freedom from dogma) and Equality (freedom from authority, the basis of the democratic Church)."

Ferreira constantly demonstrates how frighteningly applicable such concepts are to World Youth Days. With regard to the above explanation, she notes that "A typical comment among young Catholics attending World Youth Day in Toronto [2002] was that they were searching for a spirituality ‘that feels right.’ They wanted to find this spirituality independently of the Church. Youth were officially denominated ‘the light of the world’ at World Youth Day 2002 - because they ‘shine as advocates for change.’ They are allegedly ‘leading efforts to create a just world’. As one Canadian student boldy told a high school assembly: ‘Each of us can be a spark to fuel the fires of change. ... Starting right now, you have a chance to improve our world’."

The two key buzz words flowing from this perverted notion of spirituality, with which readers will be nauseously familiar, are community and pilgrimage: terms also redefined and invested with meaning and purpose utterly inimical to the Faith.

For instance, rather than a spiritual journey through this life to Heaven, the basic humanistic notion behind pilgrimage is "a journey away from a less desirable state of affairs" [social oppression and injustice] to something better [social well-being]. "Pilgrimage thus underpins the social justice and volunteer/service movements" - which have become part and parcel of WYDs.

"The ‘pilgrimage mentality’ is that everyone is a ‘co-learner’ and ‘companion on the journey of discipleship’." Given a Modernistic spin, this becomes a communal/democratic effort to "lead the whole Church from the old to the new model." Hence, pompous heretic Hans Kung wants a Vatican III "which will lead this church from Roman Catholicism to an authentic Catholicity" if the Church "is to have a future as an institution in the 21st Century."

The chief characteristics of this new church, of course, "will be non-structured, anti-authoritarian, led by lay men and women who are equals; it will be experiential, tolerant of heresy, indifferentist, inculturated and syncretic. Inculturation will make the Church ‘truly universal’ instead of ‘essentially Western’ in her theology, liturgy and philosophical systems ..."

The pilgrimage to this counterfeit structure is to be made in community, one of the most hackneyed yet pivotal concepts in the Modernist lexicon. Ferreira explains:

Human progress, growth or development (synonyms for pilgrimage) is seen as taking place only by "individuals united by a common [experiential] knowledge and shared purposes," i.e., individuals working together. This is because collaboration (the process) builds community, brotherhood or solidarity, which are the synonyms for Fraternity, the third plank of Freemasonry.

Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic of Toronto, host of World Youth Day 2002, described it in terms that clearly show World Youth Day is a program to build world brotherhood: "The World Youth Day is a pilgrimage... It is a journey creating a community of its own, motivated by the goal it sets for itself. This goal consists in meeting other young people, strengthening and being strengthened by the faith they share..."

Ferreira also notes the significance of the very word "parish" being replaced by "community" and the way in which "the parish is despised as the selfish, pre-Vatican II or ‘Old Age’ - i.e., traditional - model of the Church." Individualistic parishioners are demonised, as at one 2004 Missionary conference in Toronto which denounced those who "individually practice the sacraments in hope of eternal salvation" as having a "lifeless and socially irrelevant faith"! And yet as Ferreira states: "A parish is not necessarily a community. A parish consists of people who attend a local church merely to worship God and receive the sacraments and graces necessary to save their souls. They attend church as individuals, not ‘linked’ to anyone else in the parish ‘by effective latitudinal bonds’."

Nonetheless, "building community, which happens when people dialogue and work together," has in fact replaced conversions as the goal of the "new evangelisation." The emphasis in RCIA, for example, "is not on regeneration from original sin and the salvation of souls, but on increasing membership in the Counterchurch through the ‘conversion’ of both parishioners and catechumens to community ideology. New converts are incorporated into the Counterchurch ... RCIA belief is that Baptism does not make one a member of the Catholic Church, but of the local community."

As well as RCIA, among other groups cited in Counterchurch publications as communities or as "building" community or church are: new ecclesial movements (Focolare, The Neocatechumenal Way, et. al.); prayer/discussion/Bible-study/social-justice groups; RENEW, Marriage Encounter, World Youth Day, Cursillo, Charismatic Renewal and 12-Step Programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous). In sum, "For the Counterchurch, the title ‘community’ is applied to a group that is leading its members on a pilgrimage away from Roman Catholicism... [since] all faith communities teach and practice autonomy in religion."

This autonomy is encouraged by the humanistic ruse of making community "members feel they are special and not anonymous sheep in the flock; everybody’s a leader who deserves a visible ‘role’ in the Church and his ‘talents recognized.’ Unless you have a visible role or ‘ministry’ and receive official recognition, you are not a valued member of the Church. World Youth Day is dedicated to making young Catholics feel valued; like the feminists, youth now expect to be treated as special."

Two 20-year-old Knights of Columbus considered John Paul II "a good guy for the Catholic faith," because he "lets us know we’re important and we’re needed, ... part of the Church right now." The national director and chief executive of WYD 2002 stated that "hundreds of thousands" of youth needed "to be given credible and visible roles" in the life of the Church. No wonder, says Ferreira, that WYD participants believe and confidently state that "the Church would benefit from new ideas," such as "the possible ordination of women." Or that one of them, a 14-year-old, would declare that to keep the Mass from being "boring," their elders "need to involve us young people more... They need to put it into terms that teenagers can understand."

This groovy genuflecting to youth which embodies WYD simply highlights the kneeling before the world which has afflicted the Church for 40 years. It mirrors, for instance, the recent suggestion by "England’s first children’s commissioner", a father of two and grandfather, that "children should be involved in the selection of teachers, head teachers and even doctors;" that they "should be listened to and their views fed into government policy." The commissioner added, "I need to get a sense about how children feel about their lives and what they want to be different. We are very hierarchical and authoritarian compared to somewhere like Scandinavia." [The Sunday Telegraph, 17 July 2005]

That such lunatic views from the Dr Spock school of child psychology reflect the WYD approach is doubly ridiculous, because as Ferreira emphasises, "The word ‘Youth’ in World Youth Day is a major misnomer, considering large numbers of participants are adults up to age 35 (in Rome the age limit was 39), who should be married, raising families and steadily employed." This insulting definition of "youth," she adds, "encourages extended adolescence, irresponsibility and immaturity - the Peter Pan lifestyle."

At WYD both these Peter Pans and the genuine youth are subjected to adult faith indoctrination in which those four pillars of the Counterchurch - spirituality, pilgrimage, community and lived experience - are reinforced while allowing them "a faith that reflects their values and is referred to as their faith, not the Catholic faith."

One Redemptorist priest proudly recounted that "During WYD [2002] a youth workshop led by a young lady ... met to produce a draft for a proposed Constitution for the Catholic Church... what came through in the proposals was the desire of young people for a Church in which they would be heard, and for a method of governance enabling responsible participation at all levels, geared ultimately to the creation of ‘a more respectful, compassionate and just world community’."

Ferreira asks: "How many parents could have known that their children would receive revolutionary training at World Youth Day to prepare them for a democratic Counterchurch and a new world order? ... Youth can be conditioned in a few days if subjected to peer pressure in discussion groups (like the catechesis session) or to intense and emotional activity that leaves no room for thought. (The incessant entertainment at World Youth Day also prevents serious thought.)"

Another part of freezing younger Catholics in adolescence - leaving them prey to "peer-attachment disorder" by which "parents [and the Church] lose the power to direct their children" - is the promulgation of a "gospel of pleasure"; religion as unconstrained "fun."

In this regard, Ferreira recalls some of the "fun" spectacles - the gross immodesty, lack of decorum, vulgar dress, wild rock music and occasions of sin - which have come to typify WYDs:

A participant in Rome’s WYD happily noted, "Everyone was free to be themselves. No one cast judgment on another." At Rome, dubbed a "Catholic Woodstock," bare shoulders and midriffs and micro-minis were allowed in St. Peter’s, and the Papal Mass featured dancing girls in wispy costumes. In Toronto, pilgrims "stripped down to bikini tops and frolicked in a fountain" at the main venue.

One newspaper referred to Toronto’s overnight "Papal slumber party [involving] close co-ed sleeping arrangements." While the International Herald Tribune correspondent who witnessed the Rome [2000] antics commented on the front page of its Italian edition: "I am sure in nine months we’re going to see a huge population boom of babies named Jubilee."

Not all young Catholics are impressed by the scandalous behaviour they observe at WYD. One Torontonian exclaimed: "If this is the salt of the earth, I want to be on a low-sodium diet." Another, who attended Paris at age 27 "to learn something about the Faith," said: "It was the worst thing I’ve ever done. I wasted my money. I felt sick through the whole thing. I just wanted to get out."

What appalled her in particular?

She learnt nothing about the Faith; the group was taken to Taizé for a week and taught ecumenism; youth were screaming, rowdy and unruly all day; they were completely devoted to "coupling" and "matchmaking," with people looking for husbands and wives and organisers excitedly announcing engagements; priests were having fun with the girls in the hotel swimming pool, "not behaving as priests"; the washroom at the overnight vigil were so filthy and unhygienic that women had to resort to the bushes, while young men wandered all around.

In Part II, World Youth Day: An Eye Witness Account, John Vennari’s jaw-dropping account of the Toronto experience fleshes out this shocking and unsavoury reality behind the contrived WYD image of youthful devotion to the Church and papacy.

"‘Woodstock’ does not adequately communicate the spirit of World Youth Day," he writes. "I would have to call it a Catholic Rock ‘n’ Roll Olympics, not because there were any competition sports, but because of the way the crowd behaved." Indeed. The secularising fruits of Vatican II are laid bare on every page as he describes the faithless, clueless, irreverent, immodest and puerile antics of a Catholic generation indistinguishable from the pagan masses.

Not that Vennari’s account is unduly harsh. He completed his own Catholic schooling in 1976, and thus knows full well that if the postconciliar Catholic generations have been cosseted and indulged, they have also been utterly betrayed. Like the rest of us, he was left to educate himself in the Faith once he left school. His frustration is therefore not with misled youth, but "with the adults who promote, organise, take part in, and praise World Youth Day, as though it were a legitimate means to transmit Catholicism."

Nor are his observations those of a red-neck, kill-joy ‘traddie’. A student of jazz and classical guitar, from 1970 to 1980 John Vennari was a full-time guitarist. As a youngster he had his stint at the Guitar Masses and later played in bands that covered all the big rock ‘n’ roll hits. Thus he confidently declares: "I still know a rock concert when I see one. And World Youth Day was primarily a rock ‘n’ roll festival, pervaded by the superstition that today’s young people are the first generation in Church history that are incapable of knowing and practising the Catholic piety of the centuries."

His sobering testimony should be read by every responsible Catholic parent considering whether to allow sons and/or daughters to attend WYD. They will discover, for example, that so-called "catechesis sessions" can degenerate into inculturated rock ‘n’ roll rave sessions. One newspaper described how "St. Louis’ Archbishop Justin Rigali led a catechesis session that closed with two musicians breaking into a rowdy version of the Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ wherein ‘the Catholic pilgrims began to rock’." While a Toronto Star report on a riotous catechesis session and "Mass" held at Santa Cruz Church, fairly sums up the WYD ‘experience’:

Instead of subdued 200- to 300-year-old hymns, a full band, with bass guitars, keyboard, a drum set, congas and bongos, trumpet and tambourine, filled the sanctuary with the sounds of rock, folk and even, as one woman put it, techno-funk. Frequently the church would erupt in song and 400 young people would start to sway or gesticulate to the music. Near the end of the mass, with a chorus that repeated "Yes Lord," they began jumping up and down as if at a rave. They [the youth in the congregation] offered each other peace with high-fives and knuckle jabs. Some danced in the aisles."

Vennari also witnessed a no-holds-barred rock concert held adjacent to the "Vocations" room where a large number of religious orders had set up booths in the hope of gaining recruits. WYD youngsters went wild, "screaming, cheering, throwing water on each other," as "a freaky punk rock band called dAYZ wAGE thundered out heavy-thumping tunes." "Some young men ran around without shirts. Young girls danced furiously. Young men and women were being ‘body surfed’ over the top of the crowd. There were hands touching up and down the entire bodies of young women as they were body-surfed." Eventually, a Toronto policeman told the crowd to settle down or he would close the concert. "And yes," notes Vennari, "the dAYZ wAGE concert was a scheduled World Youth Day event."

Our hearts go out to these tragic "children of the children of Vatican II", as Vennari calls them. Deprived of knowledge of the Faith - its teachings, practice, expectations and responsibilities - their ignorance, immodesty and worldliness is only exacerbated by WYD. "It seems," laments Vennari, "that most of the clergy at this festival left these young people to themselves and their pop culture, and gave the youngsters no firm Catholic direction."

Not that one would ever suspect any of this from reports in neo-conservative publications. They should be worried sick about the corrupting effect of WYD shenanigans and regularly publicise traditionalist exposes like this one. However, since they were captive to every word and whim of our late Holy Father, and since he was the driving force behind WYD, they cravenly prefer to let the contrived and fatuous "John Paul II We Love You" mentality pass without critical comment. Yet even that renowned JPII adulation, whipped up by the New Movements and now synonomous with WYD, is a chimera; a media illusion. Again, Vennari relates the reality:

Whenever I saw World Youth Day coverage on television, I was under the impression that the entire crowd was cheering for the Pope. This was not the case. At the same time as the Pope was speaking, a massive amount of people, young and old, were ‘doing their own thing,’ not paying the slightest attention.

I saw crowds of people milling around, visiting the vendors, while the Pope was speaking. I saw young people sitting on the ground, chatting away, while the Pope was speaking. I saw six long lines of people buying pizza at a pizza truck, while the Pope was speaking. A plump Franciscan slurped an ice-cream cone, while the Pope was speaking. And lots of young people were stretched out on the ground for a nap, some young girls using their boyfriends’ tummies as pillows, while the Pope was speaking.

Vennari gives credit wherever it is due, but the fact is that any positives he observed were fleeting and even then usually mixed with or overpowered by the negatives. Thus, at a so-called Vespers presided over by the Pope (in fact "a far cry from anything the Catholic Church has ever termed Vespers: a tedious three-hour ceremony full of Novus Ordo-styled pop-songs, complete with insipid lyrics and dead melodies") he duly notes: "At one point in this vigil, the World Youth Day choir sang beautifully the "Adoremus Te," but this was ruined by a jazz saxophone solo that played overtop the choir’s voice. The jazz solo wove in and out of the beautiful Latin hymn, so it sounded as if two radios were simultaneously playing two different stations."

Tragically, it almost goes without saying that the Papal Sunday Mass, which opened with a pagan Native American ritual, "implicitly placed an ‘imprimatur’ on some of the worst [liturgical] abuses of the post-conciliar period." What hope for Catholic youth when the Vicar of Christ himself gives scandal by contravening his own liturgical directives, by the dozen, before their very eyes?

Vennari underlines this rudderless state of our devastated Church in his description of the 400 cringeworthy bishops who sat on stage with John Paul II for the Sunday Mass: a veritable tableau of the clownish dereliction of duty we are suffering for our sins:

The bishops sat together in one clump, all dressed in custom-made "World Youth Day" vestments. These vestments looked as if they were designed by an individual who hated the Catholic Church and was determined to make the bishops look as ridiculous as possible. They were white and streaked with World Youth Day colours - red, yellow and blue - in broad strokes. They looked as if they were the end-result of a pre-school finger-painting class. Making matters worse, some of the bishops, with arms up-lifted, sheepishly swayed along with the youth during the upbeat songs at the Papal Mass.

Vennari also notes that although "individual groups here and there, recited the Rosary on their own, there was no public recitation of the Rosary when the massive crowds were together. I did not see recitation of the Rosary listed on any of the lists of scheduled WYD activities." Moreover, the Pope mentioned Our Lady only briefly in his Sunday homily and "Her image was nowhere to be found at any of the functions over which the Pope presided."

I highly recommend this work. The sum of Ferreira’s forensic analysis and Vennari’s "lived experience" is a powerful compendium; a resource every serious Catholic should have on their bookshelf. I have only touched on the information and insights they provide.

Ferreira, for instance, includes superb sections on Focolare as "The Very Model of the Counterchurch", and how the naturalistic ideas and principles of Teilhard de Chardin and the French Sillon movement of the early twentieth century have finally triumphed. She also reveals the seminal influence on the young Karol Wojtyla of self-taught Polish psychologist and "mystic" Jan Tyranowski, and occult-tinged theatre director Mieczyslaw Kotlarczyk.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict did at least play down the social gospel dimension during his recent WYD debut in Cologne, stressing instead the spiritual and sacramental. Deo gratias. At the same, however, Pope John Paul’s old sidekick Archbishop Marini once more choreographed his customary liturgical abominations! (Heavy sigh...)

Let us pray and hope against hope that the Holy Father will signal his intention to end the patronising and corrupting cult of youth by shutting down the World Youth Circus and turfing Marini and his fellow subversives out of the big top. To that end, a final WYLD - World Youth Liberation Day - would be the ticket; to announce and celebrate a reversion to Catholic Truth and Tradition - which alone can set us free from the satanic clutches of the Counterchurch.