Transition to Tradition (oct28rea.htm)

October 28, 2005
vol 16, no. 271

By What Title Shall He Be Called?

Father Kevin Vaillancourt

    Rather than being the Protector of the Faith and vowing not to change anything of the handed down from Peter through Pius XII, Benedict XVI is proving to be a carbon copy of his conciliar predecessors as another Perverter of the Faith.

Editor's Note: The following is republished with permission from the June issue of The Catholic Voice. For more information on how to subscribe, see

      "Dominus Jesus defines the Church as a mere organization in which the Church of Christ subsists much like a branch has life because it subsists together with the trunk of the whole tree. Forget whatever else you may read in this document that appears to be 'conservative' and 'traditional'; this core erroneous teaching of Dominus Jesus about the Church of Christ cannot be explained away in traditional Catholic terms. Therefore, the true Catholic must reject it entirely as having no worth."

    Those familiar with the inner workings of a papal conclave know that once a candidate has received the requisite number of qualified votes, and after he accepts his election, he is asked a very important question: By what name will you be known? The first major decision for the pope-elect is made at that time, for some note that the choice of a name tells us much about the thinking of the new pope, and what can be expected of him in the future.

    It is not my purpose in this work to speculate about the choice made by Cardinal Ratzinger of the name Benedict XVI. Rather, I would like to review the names (or, more properly, the titles) given him by the worldwide religious and secular media-titles, not necessarily of his choosing, but which have "stuck" with him nevertheless ever since his name was bandied about as being the successor to John Paul II. My reader has surely heard them mentioned over and over again: they are traditional and conservative.

    For some, these titles have inspired fear, loathing and scorn, for they believe that the new Benedict XVI will bring an end to their progressive ways. On the other hand, there are many others who expect from John Paul II's successor a more strong-handed approach toward the "liberals" in the Church. "After all," they say, "Benedict XVI is a conservative." For yet a few more, these titles seem to inspire hope that perhaps this will be the man who will restore the Church, and bring back Her traditional teachings and public worship. "After all," they say, "he is traditional." I hate to be the bearer of bad news for all these categories of people, but the new Benedict XVI will not live up to any of these expectations, and I know this by reviewing his many public speeches and writings ever since his career in Rome began. As the maid servant said to Peter during Our Lord's trial before the Sanhedrin: "Thy speech doth betray thee" (Matthew 26:73).

Liberal Or Conservative?

    Let me set the tone for the remainder of this article by quoting a section of an editorial from the September 30, 2003, issue of The Washington Times:

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the second most powerful Vatican official, was a radical leftist theologian during the [Second Vatican] Council, but is now considered the most conservative of the cardinals. His Eminence has admitted that he has not moved to the right in four decades, but that the world has moved so far to the left that even a progressive of his conviction looks traditional. The same goes for all the cardinals John Paul II has appointed, except that they are even more liberal than Cardinal Ratzinger. It is this college that will pick the next pope. (p. A20)

    This is quite revealing, coming from a secular newspaper - perhaps more revealing than anything we would expect to read or hear about this man. By his own admission, the new Benedict XVI is not "conservative" according to the common definition given to this word in the political, and even religious spheres. And neither is he "traditional" by these same standards. It appears that we need to define "conservative" and "traditional" according to the common religious (not political) usage of these terms, lest we run afoul in our understanding of the vast amount of praises heaped upon the new leader of the modern church by the media, both secular and religious alike. We must define these words properly, I say with more emphasis, because the very fact that they are being repeated over and over again for the more gullible to absorb tells me that soon many rather naive Catholics will believe all they hear, and will fall into a very clever trap laid out by the Modernists - a trap that secures them in the modernist church, and away from the Roman Catholic Church.

Defining Terms

    As these apply to the new Benedict XVI in the case of the mass media, it is fairly easy to pin down a common definition for the terms "conservative" and "traditional". However, the fact that we can determine a common definition for the way the mass media uses such words does not mean that we have achieved the proper definitions for them, for the use of "conservative" and "traditional" is not the same as that commonly employed by those who apply them in religious circles.

    The secular media, influenced by the Modernists whom they interview, can never achieve a correct, non-political, non-Modernist definition of these terms, and this is largely because they are secular and have little care for religion. For instance, when we hear the word traditional invoked in reference to the life of Cardinal Ratzinger and the doctrines he taught, the mass media's definition is that he is "traditional" because he is "pro-life": meaning that he is opposed to abortion and euthanasia, and even the death penalty. They also include in this definition his public stand on such issues as homosexuality, "gay" marriage, and even female ordinations. We are told that he holds a "hard line" (conservative, I think, could be used here) stand against the "liberals" in the modern church which causes speculation about him being, perhaps, a "strong pope" after the style of John Paul II. And if you think that John Paul II was either "conservative" or "traditional", then you have been wrongly influenced by the secular media, and you don't know the traditional doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church that well.

    Now, the more we hear the media personalities, and their guests, use the term traditional in this way, the more the average person ends up believing that theirs is the only valid definition of the term. In truth, the average Catholic listener has lowered his standards of religious expectation so far, due to the rampage of Modernist errors all around, that the minimum standards expressed by the secular media for "traditional" - minimum standards because they are the mere expression of the principles of the Natural Law that every human being should be observing - are now what they hopefully believe. Catholics are settling for a "strong stand" on social and natural issues, and surrendering in the areas of the destruction of their Holy Faith. The concern about "moral relativism" is not enough; we must also beware of "doctrinal relativism" being forced on us by the "conservative" and "traditional" elements of the modern church. By this loose definition of these terms, the most Protestant ministers, and even the Muslim mullahs are also "conservative" and "traditional" because they preach the same things as Benedict XVI, save the subjects uniquely Catholic, such as women's "ordinations", "communion in the hand", etc. No, we need to explode the myth that Benedict XVI is both "conservative" and "traditional" according to their proper definition, and let Catholics see this new modern leader as he truly is, in light of traditional Roman Catholic Teaching- that which is based on the Deposit of Faith given to the Apostles by Jesus Christ.

Forty Years Of Progressive Thought

    Ratzinger officially "made it" in Rome at the time of the Second Vatican Council. During that time, he served as the peritus (or theological "expert") to Josef Cardinal Frings of Cologne, Germany. Numerous authors speak of his influence at Vatican II, even to the point of steering the public discussions as well as the documents themselves. John Mallon, writing in the April 18, 2005, online edition of Inside The Vatican, makes this observation:

    There are those who say that John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger have "rolled back" the "openness" "ushered in by the Council." This too is nonsense. Young Bishop Wojtyla and young Father Ratzinger were among the architects of the Council, and Wojtyla did a fair amount of the writing of the Vatican II documents.

    This appears to be our first introduction to Ratzinger's "mind" concerning the nature of Church, its relationship to the other "ecclesial communities", and its hierarchical structure, and how the Modernist teachings about these issues found their way into the teachings of Vatican II.

    Young Fr. Ratzinger was captivated by the thought of collegiality: the erroneous teaching that the Church is run equally by the pope and the bishops of the world. Writing in Concilium magazine in 1965, he developed this thought in his article, The Pastoral Implications of the Doctrine of the Collegiality of Bishops:

    The bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and therefore they are well constituted collegially as the college of bishops, and as the succession to the college of the Apostles . . . The primacy of the Pope cannot be understood on the model of an absolute monarchy, as if the Bishop of Rome were a monarch without the restriction of a supernatural communal entity, the Church without a central constitution.

    The trouble with this statement is that Jesus Christ founded His Church on Peter as an absolute monarchical society, and Tradition teaches that the Apostles recognized this fact in practice. What is more, the Council of Florence and the Vatican Council of 1870 both defined the doctrine of the monarchical structure of the Church as de fide doctrina (Denzinger 694 & 1822). Ratzinger's "doctrine" of "collegiality" is opposed to a dogma of our Faith, and thus is heretical. However, it is Ratzinger's notion of "collegiality" that is dominant in the teachings of Vatican II and the modern church today.

    Moving ahead in time, while Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the former Holy Office), he had the opportunity to demonstrate more of his Modernist, progressive tendencies:

  • On May 28, 1992, an official statement was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was promulgated by order of John Paul II, confirming the (erroneous) "incarnational theology" that was developed by the Vatican II documents Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, and later expounded in John Paul II's first encyclical letter, Redemptor Hominis. "Incarnational theology" teaches that the whole human race, regardless of their state of soul, is in invisible communion with the Father, through Christ and in the Holy Ghost. This "invisible union" comes about because all who take human flesh are united to Christ by the fact that He took human flesh in the Incarnation. As a result of this, all human beings are "fellow bearers of the divine nature," something which establishes a "link between the invisible and visible elements of ecclesial communion." Titled a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects Understood as Communion, Cardinal Ratzinger defines the Church of Christ in paragraph 7 along these lines:

      "The Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, is the universal Church, that is, the worldwide community of the disciples of the Lord, which is present and active amid the particular characteristics and diversity of persons, groups, times and places."
    And, in paragraph 9 we are told that

      "the universal Church is therefore the body of the churches."

    Thus, this document does not identify the universal Church as being solely the Roman Catholic Church, but as a sort of "super-church" to which all belong, while some have more truth than others. It is this doctrine that is used to justify (in paragraph 11) the notion that this "unity" of the churches is "rooted in the eucharist", even if it is found "imperfectly" in non-Catholic churches. I suggest my reader familiarize himself with the true doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ by studying Pope Pius XII's encyclical of that same name so as not to fall prey to the errors of the Modernists.

  • In August, 2000, the same Congregation issued the document Dominus Jesus, which is being held up today as an example of Ratzinger's "traditional" stand that the Catholic Church is the unique means of salvation. In reality, this document expounds a modern version of the "Branch Theory": that "the particular churches, although separated, are one because of the common relationship to the one, true Church, or Mystical Body of Christ, and by their connection with it." The Holy Office, on September 16, 1864, forbade Catholics to take part in any organization that promoted this heresy. Dominus Jesus explains the new theory in this way: "This Church (the universal "super-church" described above. FKV), constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Saint Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him" (Emphasis mine. FKV).

        Dominus Jesus defines the Church as a mere organization in which the Church of Christ subsists much like a branch has life because it subsists together with the trunk of the whole tree. Forget whatever else you may read in this document that appears to be "conservative" and "traditional"; this core erroneous teaching of Dominus Jesus about the Church of Christ cannot be explained away in traditional Catholic terms. Therefore, the true Catholic must reject it entirely as having no worth.

  • On July 20, 2001, this same Congregation issued the document Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist Between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Here one reads that Cardinal Ratzinger, with the full approval of John Paul II, recognized as valid the "liturgy" of the Assyrian (Nestorian) Church, and stated that the Chaldeans (the uniates who left the Nestorian church) could now participate in that "liturgy", even though, for centuries, it had been recognized as invalid because it did not contain any reference to words of Consecration in its anaphora (canon). This violation of every element of traditional Sacramental Theology swept away the doctrinal teachings on what is necessary as a minimum for the confection of the Holy Eucharist. It was never repudiated.

        On April 20, 2005, Ratzinger (as Benedict XVI) assured all the cardinals present at the first "eucharist" after his election that he is not "traditional", that is, not according to the proper definition of upholding the traditions of the Church as taught since apostolic times. Instead he proclaimed:

      I wish to affirm strongly my determination to continue the commitment to implement the Second Vatican Council in the footsteps of my Predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2000-year tradition of the Church (!?). This year, in fact, will be the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the conciliar sessions. With the passing of the years, the conciliar documents have not lost their current importance; on the contrary, their teachings reveal themselves particularly pertinent in relation to the new needs of the Church and of the present globalized society.

        Perhaps this is why, in the April 20, 2005, online edition of Haaretz Daily, Rabbi David Rosen expressed his hope that Benedict XVI will continue building ecumenical relations with the Jews as did John Paul II. In a document prepared after the Vatican established diplomatic ties with Israel, Cardinal Ratzinger sought "to tackle the Jews' refusal to accept Jesus as the messiah, and Judaism's insistence that the messiah has not yet come. 'He [Ratzinger] argued that this position is also part of the divine plan,' explains Rosen, who now heads the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Affairs department, 'and the fact Jews don't accept Jesus must not be seen as an act of rejecting God, but as part of God's plan to remind the world that peace and salvation for all humanity has not yet come. This is amazing. He took something that has been the source of a major condemnation of Judaism and the Jewish people down the ages and twisted it into something of a positive theological nature.'"

    By what titles shall we know Benedict XVI? How about: "Modernist", "progressive" and a "perverter of the Faith of millions"?

Father Kevin Vaillancourt

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    October 28, 2005
    vol 16, no. 271
    Reality Check