The modus operandi of Jansenism
by Father Peter R. Scott,
The greatest ally of heresy is the refusal of others to recognize it as heresy and oppose it vigorously
Last month I mentioned the parallel that certainly exists between the clarity of vision of Popes Pius IX and Saint Pius X and that of Archbishop Lefebvre. This month I believe it useful to bring to your attention another parallel, one that is very clearly illustrated by H.E. Bishop De Castro Mayer, the 10th anniversary of whose death we also celebrated this year.
In 1952 His Excellency wrote an article explaining how the heresy of Jansenism prepared the way for the French Revolution of 1789, a direct parallel of how the heresy of Modernism prepared the way for the Second Vatican Council, that even Cardinal Ratzinger has called the French Revolution within the Church. It was published in the Campos diocesan magazine, Catolicismo, no. 20 & 21, August & September 1952.
Here is how he began his article:
At first sight, the struggle at the end of the 18th century would seem to have been very straightforward: on one side was the Church and on the other all the openly impious ideas and sects – Protestantism, Rationalism, etc.- that we could call the counter Church. In reality the scenario was more complex. For in effect, the counter Church did not have all its disciples in explicitly heterodox groups; it had placed a large number of them inside the Catholic Church itself. (In Bulletin des amis de saint François de Sales, #107).
He further explained that these enemies of the Church were organized within her very bosom to form a fifth column, the purpose of which was to undermine the Catholic reaction.
Such is the wicked heresy of Jansenism, that by the means of cynical subterfuges, it evaded the different condemnations directed by the infallible Magisterium against it, striving to maintain itself within Catholicism in order to corrupt Catholicism at its very foundation.
The interesting aspect of this study is not simply the well known fact that the proud and rash Jansenists had infiltrated into the Church during the 18th century, in order to constitute a kind of church within the Church, working against real Catholics by an unceasing guerrilla warfare of subtle reasonings and sophisms. The value of this study is in pointing out, based on many examples, how there existed in between the orthodox Catholics, faithful to Rome, and the Jansensists, a "third party" of ecclesiastics, who were not Jansenists and did not adhere to their theories, but who were likewise opposed to Rome’s disciples, accusing Rome of exaggerating, being intransigent, fomenting strife and lacking charity, based upon the presumption that if the anti-Jansenists would stop fighting them and if the Holy See would abstain from its rigorous actions against them, then Jansenism would disappear all by itself. Such bishops made no effort to uproot Jansenism from their dioceses, but concentrated on maintaining peace and charity amongst everyone. Bishop De Castro Mayer’s point is that it was not so much the openly Jansenist bishops but the pacifist bishops who were largely responsible for the spread of Jansenism throughout France.
His Excellency’s conclusion is that conciliation at any price is doomed to failure, and furthermore that it was this spirit of private judgement, indifference and independence from Rome which became the gate through which liberalism entered into the Church throughout the 18th century, preparing the way for the overturning of the Catholic order at the time of the French revolution:
Peace is only true when it is nourished by the sap of the truth. In the contrary case, it is only a veneer, under which the division of minds will eventually bring back to life convulsions that can be volcanic. In order to maintain peace in France, Fleury (the Cardinal, who was the effective leader of this third group, and who was responsible for the appointing of the French bishops) avoided as much as possible the triumph of truth over error, by a policy of pseudo-equilibrium between the two sides. Just 20 years later the situation had become such that the King and the Pope agreed that it was no longer possible to apply purely and simply the teachings of the Popes. In effect, liberalism in the things of religion was born. Fleury had nourished in France the serpent that would poison it in 1789. (Ib.)
Bishop De Castro Mayer was perfectly aware that the modernists used the same tactics to infiltrate the Church, as Saint Pius X himself explained, and that after the death of Saint Pius X they succeeded in this tactic, finally emerging from their dissimulation at the time of Vatican II. He consequently saw just as clearly through the post-conciliar revolution, deciding to assist Archbishop Lefebvre in the consecration of four bishops. He could easily have taken refuge in the intermediary third group, neither traditionalist nor modernist, which refuses to openly speak out about modernism for the sake of peace and harmony, which by pacifically getting on with the modernists in positions of authority in the Church feels that the problems and the crisis of Faith in the Church will simply disappear. Such was not his naiveté. Those who did chose the Indult and the Ecclesia Dei Commission did not even need 20 years of liberalism to prove that they could no longer apply purely and simply the teaching of the Popes. Twelve years sufficed. Since then Quo Primum is out the window, and these priests are obliged to celebrate the New Mass, at least from time to time, and they have come to defend the aberrations of Vatican II, such as religious liberty, collegiality and ecumenism. Never are they to be heard to teach purely and simply the anti-liberal and anti-modernists encyclicals of the pre-Vatican II Popes, with the condemnation of the post-conciliar revolution that it necessarily implies. There is always an explanation to excuse the modern authorities upon whom they depend, and who seem to be advancing further and further into the subjectivist insanity of indifferentism.
In this regard, it is interesting to re-read Bishop De Castro’s remarks at the time of the episcopal consecrations, which would without a doubt be no different now, since the crisis in the Church has in no way improved, but actually worsened dramatically:
My presence here at this ceremony is caused by a duty of conscience, that of making a profession of Catholic Faith…When the Faith is in danger, it is urgent to profess it, even if it be at the risk of one’s own life. Such is the situation in which we find ourselves. We live in an unprecedented crisis in the Church, a crisis that attacks her inner essence, in her very substance which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Catholic priesthood, two mysteries essentially united because without priesthood there is no sacrifice of the Mass and therefore no form of worship. It is also on this foundation that the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ is built…It is painful to witness the deplorable blindness of so many confrères in the episcopate and in the priesthood who do not see or do not want to see the present crisis nor the necessity to resist the reigning modernism in order to be faithful to the mission entrusted to us by God… (Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, p. 124).
If we really want to listen to Bishop De Castro Mayer’s words, let us avoid the temptation of attending the traditional Mass without condemning the New Mass as evil, of receiving on the tongue without standing up against the innumerable sacrileges that take place at the New Mass, of professing that outside the Church there is no salvation without condemning the practice of ecumenism, of teaching the Social Kingship of Christ without speaking out against religious liberty, in a word of trying to be traditional without standing up against the Pope’s and the modernists’ abuse of authority.
It is not a question of denying the Pope’s infallibility, for the Church has defined the limited conditions under which it exists, nor is it a question of denying the Church’s visibility and indefectibility, for the Church will continue despite the failures of its visible head as well as of its members, nor is it a question of denying the Pope’s supreme power of government for the salvation of souls (although he seems incapable of exercising it).
In this regard, it is interested to quote from an article written by Bishop De Castro Mayer in 1983. After stating the Catholic doctrine that the Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, "being His representative, His lieutenant", he further explains:
This aspect is of the very essence of the papacy. It cannot be put aside. Forgetting it would have the worst consequence, leading people to believe that the pope is master of the Church, that he can do what he wants, ordain and rescind according to that which might seem best to him, the faithful being always and absolutely obliged to obey him. Upon reflection, it is clear that this conception attributes to the pope omniscience and omnipotence, exclusive attributes of God. It would be idolatry, transferring to the creature that which is proper to divinity. This is why the First Vatican Council, in defining the power of the pope, took care to also define its purpose and its limits…In this regard it is not wrong to think that, precisely in order to well define the vicarial powers of the pope, Providence has permitted that individuals hold the see of Peter whose doctrine or actions have been gravely prejudicial to faith or morals…To resist such teachings and bad examples is not to refuse obedience to the pope, nor to his person. To act thus is to show one’s adhesion to the Vicar of Jesus Christ. For it is only as Vicar of Jesus Christ that the pope has been endowed with powers of jurisdiction over the whole Church… (From Heri et Hodie, no. 3. Quoted in Catholic, Apostolic & Roman, p. 25).
This is also what the priests of Campos, formed and instructed by Bishop De Castro Mayer, had to say in their declaration of August 22, 1999:
There is not, on our part, a systematic refusal of submission to the pope and the bishops. We absolutely reject any intention, desire for, or spirit of schism. We constitute no ‘Lefebvrist’ or ‘traditionalist’ party. We are apostolic Roman Catholics. We repeat: our resistance to the ecclesiastical authorities is circumstantial, temporary, and limited to those points on which those same authorities distance themselves from the doctrine of all times. When the ecclesiastical authorities return without condition to teaching and doing that which the Church has always taught and done, we…will all be at the complete disposition of those same authorities. (Catholic, Apostolic & Roman, 43).
Nevertheless, it is a question of speaking the pure and simple defined Catholic truth, outside of which there is neither peace nor harmony (as the innumerable divisions in the post-conciliar church clearly illustrate) and upon which the salvation of souls depends. This is why the Society’s superiors demanded of Rome, at the very least, that all priests throughout the world be granted the right to celebrate the true Mass, the entirely Catholic Mass of all time.
In this regard, Bishop De Castro Mayer made two joint statements with Archbishop Lefebvre, the following passages from which illustrate their common determination to avoid any kind of intermediary third position between Catholicism and Modernism. The first is from an Open Letter to Pope John Paul II, dated November 21, 1983:
Most Holy Father, it is urgently necessary that this disarray come to an end, because the flock is dispersing and the abandoned sheep are following mercenaries. We beseech you for the good of the Catholic Faith and for the salvation of souls, to reaffirm the truths, contrary to these errors, truths which have been taught for 20 centuries in the Church…
The second is from their common declaration in reaction to the Ecumenical meeting of religions in Assisi, dated December 2, 1986:
For us, remaining indefectibly attached to the Catholic and Roman Church of all times, we are obliged to take note that this modernist and liberal religion of modern and conciliar Rome is always distancing itself more and more from us, who profess the Catholic Faith of the eleven Popes who condemned this false religion. The rupture does not come from us, but from Paul VI and John Paul II, who break with their predecessors. This denial of the whole past of the Church by these two Popes and the bishops who imitate them is an inconceivable impiety for those who remain Catholic in fidelity to twenty centuries of the same Faith. Thus we consider as null everything inspired by this spirit of denial of the past: all the post-conciliar reforms, and all the acts of Rome accomplished in this impiety…
It is consequently no wonder that Bishop De Castro Mayer had this to say in a priestly ordination ceremony that he performed in December 1988:
We live – no one denies it – in a terrible crisis in the Church which profoundly affects the Catholic priesthood…Because of this there undeniably exists a grave state of necessity in the Church. The necessity for Catholic priests, for the Holy Sacrifice, the Sacraments and doctrine…Before God, from Whom I have received in the episcopal consecration the authority to ordain priests, I affirm that in the present crisis it is not only licit but an indeclinable duty to use that authority for the good of souls. (The Angelus, July 1991 p. 6).
This remains the Society’s duty, until such time as Rome returns to the pure and simple profession of the Faith. For just as the "third group" became the most effective instrument of the promotion of Jansenism by their attacks against the Jesuits, whom they accused of causing trouble by constantly preaching frequent Confession, frequent Holy Communion and devotion to the Sacred Heart, so also are conservative and Ecclesia Dei Catholics a most effective tool for the modernists in their attempt to neutralize all traditional opposition.
May this Advent be not only a time of fervent expectation for the celebration of the coming of the Incarnate Word in the flesh, but also one of preparation for His coming in glory to render to every man according to his works. Let our love for the pure and simple truth, and our docility towards the authority of the Church’s Magisterium be that preparation, that so effectively prepares our souls for grace.
Taken from the Traditionalism List at Subscribe to the Traditionalism List
For previous articles regarding matters that affect the Ecclesia Dei commission, see Archived installments
December 17-23, 2001
volume 12, no. 161
Exspectans exspectavimus Ecclesia Dei