An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy |
Introduction and Part One: The plan of the reform of the Papacy: a revolutionary, liberal, and amodernist desire for more than 200 years.
Atila Sinke Guimarães, Michael J. Matt, Dr. Marian Horvat and John Vennari
Your Holiness John Paul II,
After the many and controversial festivities for the passing of the Millennium, the beginning of the year 2001 ushered in strong winds of change in the Church. The year opened with numerous rumors and speculations about your eventual retirement, which would involve a reform of the Papacy and the choice of a new Pope.
These winds, however, were not new ones. Over the years, much had already been said about your retirement and the reform of the Papacy. The retirement would ostensibly be motivated by your weakening health. But is there not a certain inherent contradiction here? How could a person with such poor health follow an agenda of activities such as yours, which few would deny, would normally prostrate a vigorous man of 50 years? Your numerous and wearying travels stand as testimony against these rumors. What other Head of State could manage, as you have to make 20 to 30 speeches during the course of four or five days of travel, preside over innumerable ceremonies, receive countless persons without interruption, face enormous multitudes, and then return to Rome to take up again the burdensome day-to-day activities of an aggiornato Pope? The sacral Papacy of times past presupposed carefully selected public appearances, the issuance of solemn and infrequent documents, and the leading of a recollected life. The new style of Papacy of the post-Concilliar era has, in the minds of many, transformed the Church into a stage and the Pope into a superstar. Obviously, this is more strenuous than the former style. However, since you are the one who chose this regime, if you so desired you could easily change it and arrange for a less exhausting schedule. One sees, therefore, that this argument of broken health is not overly convincing.
About one year ago, the German Bishop Karl Lehmann - recently elevated to Cardinal - had the indelicacy to raise publicly the possibility that your mental faculties had debilitated to the point that you should retire (1)
(1) (Los Angeles Times, January 11 2000, p. A1).
For anyone who even casually follows your many activities, it is clear that no lack of mental equilibrium can be noted in your very frequent written and spoken pronouncements or in the coherence of your line of government. In our opinion, it is progressivist-and we respectfully disagree with it (2)
(2) (See the open letter We Resist You to the Face, signed by the four authors of this Plea and published in The Remnant April 30, 2000); Tradition in Action (book form - May 2000); Catholic Family News (July 2000).
One might say that some powerful and evil genie is demanding the reform of the Papacy and sounding a gong that calls for this to take place some time soon. The unfounded references to your weak physical and mental health seem merely a pretext to hasten this goal.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been more and more indications that the road is veering sharply toward a reform of the Papacy. From this perspective, therefore, Most Holy Father, we request your leave to trace the general lines that surround such a reform. We ask that Your Holiness correct us if we are wrong, and we would be honored with the courtesy of a response to our appeal, especially since it concerns an issue central to the lives of all Catholics.
1. The plan of the reform of the Papacy: a revolutionary, liberal, and modernist desire for more than 200 years.
Anyone who has followed the History of the Church even superficially over the last 200 years realizes that the desire to reform the Papacy is not a new plan. After the French Revolution and the establishment of the sadly celebrated Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the "French Constitutional Church" that emerged was constructed following revolutionary philosophical principles and was opposed to the Papal Primacy. That attempt to curb the papal power ended as a futile experiment condemned by the Church and put aside. Nonetheless, it represented a new formula that in certain aspects continued to live in the liberal Catholic movement; from there, those same ideas were subtly insinuated into the whole Church.
In the religious sphere, therefore, the French Revolution marked the installation of two important milestones: First, it established its Catholic counterpart of Liberalism, the father of Modernism and Progressivism. (3)
(3) Here we take Liberalism as the attempt to unify Catholic thinking with the ideas of the French Revolution in the political and social ambits. Modernism arises from an analogous attempt to reconcile Catholic thinking with German Idealism especially with the theory of Schleiermacher, which supposes the presence of an essential divine immanence in the human soul. Such a thesis was "translated" to Catholic language by Johann Adam Mohler and had a strong influence on German and French Modernism. This resulted in an immanentist Modernist thinking, primarily in the psychological ambit, and was justly denounced in the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis by St. Pius X. Progressivism, which followed and took over Modernism, assumed the same principles as the latter. It also accommodated the thinking of the more recent German, French, and Danish Existentialism, which disregards abstract ideas in favor of what exists concretely. This provides the basis for the progressivist norm to emphasize the "pastoral" (practical) ecclesiastical activities, and to put aside the doctrinal orientation of the Catholic Church. Progressivism was characterizes by a broader application of the aforementioned philosophical principles to the ecclesiastical life, namely the so-called biblical, patristic, and liturgical renewal. Also Progressivism presents a new conception of the Church-the Church as mystery and the Church as people of God. These currents of thought-Liberalism, Modernism, and Progressivism-are interchangeable among themselves. They could be more precisely defined as three metamorphoses of the same process, rather than three different movements.
Second, it gave official status to the false notion that all religions are equal-a notion that was transformed into law on December 6, 1793. This gave birth to the religious indifferentism of the State, which also soon was condemned by the Pope. But an analogous error found its way inside the Church, namely the assertion of equality of religions, which ipso facto denies the unicity of the Catholic Church and the Papal Primacy. The document of Vatican II Dignitatis humanae and Unitatis redintegratio represented respectively the embrace by the leaders of the Conciliar Church of the errors of religious indifferentism of the State and its acceptance in the spiritual sphere.
The humiliations to which Napoleon subjected Pius VI and Pius VII were, concretely and manu militari (by military force), attempts to subject the Popes to the Empire-the old Ghibelline dream in a French historical context. That is to say, they were yet another negation of the Papal Primacy.
Many leaders of the liberal movement soon appeared overtly inside the Church and began to call for changes and adaptations: Lammenais, Lacordaire, and Montalembert in France; Mohler, von Ketteler, and Dollinger in Germany; Gioberti and Rosmini in Italy, John Acton in England; O'Connell in Ireland; Sterckx, De Potter, and Dechamps in Belgium. Among the adaptations they wanted was the reform of the Papal Primacy.
There was also a healthy reaction against the attacks of Catholic Liberalism, represented by, among others, Joseph de Maistre with his Du Pape (On the Pope), Louis de Bonald with his Theorie du pouvoir politique et religieux (Theory of Political and Religious Power), Louis Veuillot with his L'Illusion liberale (The Liberal Illusion), Donoso Cortes with his Ensayo sobre el Catolicismo, el liberalismo y el socialismo (Essay on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism), Jules Morel with his Somme contre le Catholicisme liberal (Summary against Liberal Catholicism), and Dom Prosper Gueranger with his Essai sur le naturalisme contemporain (Essay on Present Day Naturalism). This glorious counter-revolutionary movement of the 19th century extended through all of Europe. Designated as "papists" or "ultramontanes" (4)
Ultramontanis and ultramontane (literally, beyond the mountain) were terms invented by French liberals to describe the doctrines and policies that upheld the full authority of the Holy See and the Pope. The term ultramontane was used until the end of the 19th century, especially at the time of Vatican Council I, to describe both a supposed exaggeration of papal prerogatives and those who supported them.
such Catholics did not fear to confront Liberalism wherever it presented itself, but principally in the French arena-which was the decisive center for social political ideas, or on the Roman stage-the cradle for religious ideas. Those undaunted Catholics deserve much of the credit for creating a climate propitious for the acceptance of the dogma of Papal Infallibility and the Petrine Primacy that was solemnly declared by Pius IX in union with Vatican Council I in the Constitution on the Church, Pastor Aeternus (July 18, 1870).
The pontificates for Gregory XVI and Pius IX represented a sound reaction to the errors of Liberalism and the affirmation of the papal prerogatives on the dogmatic level. That is, anyone who would not accept them would cease to be Catholic.
The long pontificate of Leo XIII was marked by a contradictory orientation. On the one hand, he continued the forceful conduct of his predecessors against certain enemies of the Church, and thus reaffirmed and stabilized the Papal Primacy. On the other hand, he was the one who installed the well-known politics of ralliement (reuniting), that is, the union of the Church with the French democratic regime born from the Revolution of 1789. By establishing that the Church could approve the principles of the new revolutionary democracy with few restrictions, he consciously or unconsciously planted its seeds in the Church. Thus the installing of democracy in the Church, regardless of the name one gives it-collegiality, conciliarity, synodality, communion, co-responsibility, etc.-can be attributed in part to the ralliement of Leo XIII. This policy, which began with the symbolic "toast of Algiers" (5)
(5) In November of 1890, Cardinal Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers, took advantage of the occasion when the French Mediterranean war fleet was anchored in the city port to offer a banquet to the French Admiral and anchored in the city port to offer a banquet to the French Admiral and officers. The officers' corps of the French Navy was well-known for its Catholic convictions and monarchist views. The Cardinal received his guests to the republican music of "La Marseillaise"-which was still recognized as the national anthem. During dessert, the Cardinal raised a toast in favor of acceptance of the French Republic. In his prepared speech, he invited the officers to adhere to the recent policy of ralliement of Leo XIII and to the revolutionary democratic regime. The Admiral and the officers did not join the Cardinal in his homage. See Plnio Correa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XIII (Hamilton Press: 1993), Note 36, pp. 416-417l
and the Encyclical Au milieu des solicitudes (Among the concerns), represented one of the first steps along an extensive road of adaptations. This route led the Church to the aggiornamento of John XXIII and to the Constitution Gaudium et spes of Vatican II, which represented the Council's official adaptation to the errors of the modern world. Thus Leo XIII, highly respectable from numerous points of views, also is known for important concessions to the liberal movement.
St. Pius X entered into fierce combat against the errors of Liberalism, which had multiplied and grown under Leo XIII and metamorphosed into Modernism. St. Pius X strove to do all that he could to exterminate this evil, well-defined as "the synthesis of all the heresies." But its roots ran very deep, and it continued to spread convertly in stealth and silence. Still, despite Modernism's remarkable expansion and conquest of important and eminent positions in the Catholic Church, many laymen persevere in believing, as we do, that it is the duty of all Catholics to continue to follow St. Pius X's advance to combat this insidious heresy.(6)
(6) "In the circumstances, and although I myself, as a layman, have never been asked to take the Oath against Modernism, I cannot but believe what Pope St. Pius X said about Modernism, that it constitutes 'the synthesis of all heresies,' and therefore I have the duty, a duty basically as binding upon me a Catholic as it is binding upon all Bishops Priests, and Religious, to repudiate it, to reject it, to disavow it, and to fight with all our strength this hydra-headed heresy wherever it rears its ugly head-even in Rome itself or in any of its modern-day bureaus and departments. And if this be treason, or what some high-placed princely gentleman say is treason, let them make the most of it! In the end, the truth will prevail!" Editorial, Walter Matt, The Remnant, August 22, 1975 page 15.
Sometime in the 1930's, Progressivism came to light. This was but an artful name to designate a type of Modernism that was, on the one hand, a more prudent, subtler, and more sophistic movement that dodged those strong condemnations of Modernism. On the other hand, it was more complete and encompassing in some aspects because it set forth a more extensive vision of man, the universe, and the Church.
It was during the pontificate of St. Pius X that a lay intellectual and politician, Antonio Fogazzaro, described the road to reform the Church and Papacy in his novel Il Santo. Speaking about the Modernist groups who continued their work despite the condemnations, Fogazzaro affirmed: "We are a good number of Catholics both inside and outside of Italy, ecclesiastics and laymen, who desire a reform in the Church. We want a reform without rebellion, carried out by the legitimate authority. We want reforms in religious instruction, reforms in the liturgy…and reforms also in the supreme government of the Church. In order to achieve that, we need to create a public opinion that will induce the authorities to act according to our opinions, even if this takes 20, 20, or 50 years"(7)
Antonio Fogazzaaro, Il Santo (Milan, 1907) p. 38.
The longings of Fogazzaro were effectively realized some 50 years later. He published these words in 1907. In 1958 the election of John XXIII was the landmark for the reform of the Church and the Papacy. Vatican II, which was announced on January 25 1959, would take this reform much further.
The Modernist dream of changing the ecclesiastical institution and eventually obtaining a Pope favorable to a revolution in the Mystical Body of Christ accords with the previously announced aims of Freemasonry in relation to the Church. This was demonstrated by the well-known anti-Modernist and anti-Masonic author Msgr. Henri Delassus, who transcribed documents from the highest Masonic authorities in Italy. One of these documents is The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, (8)
The Italian expression Alta Vendita, literally means high lodge. The secret institution was the supreme Italian Masonic authority when the cited document was released. It was the equivalent of the English Grand Lodge.
addressed to other Masons. It reads: "Now then, in order to ensure a Pope with the necessary scope, we must first prepare a generation worthy of the kingdom we are dreaming of…You have to see that your reputation is established…you have to win the confidence of professors and students; you have to take special care that those who enter the rains of the clergy are pleased with your meetings…This reputation will allow your doctrine access to the young clergy and monasteries. In a few years, this clergy naturally will have invaded all the offices: they will govern, administer, judge, form the King's council, and choose the Pontiff who will reign. And this Pontiff, like most of his contemporaries, will be more or less imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principles that we will begin to put into circulation…Let the clergy move forward under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. Cast your net like Simon-bar-Jonas; spread it to the depths of the sacristies, seminaries, and convents…Even if at first your nets are empty, we promise you a catch even more miraculous than his…You will have fished a revolution dressed in the (Pope" tiara and cape, carrying the cross and (Papal) flag, a revolution that will need only a small stimulus to set fire to the four corners of the earth." (9)
"Instruction secrete permanente donne aux members de la Haute-Vente," in Henri Delassus, La conjuration antichretienne (Lille: Desclee De Bouwer, 1910), vol. 3, pp. 1045-1047. On the consequences of this document in the Catholic milieu and its applications in the post-Conciliar period, see John Vennari, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita (Rockford, TAN, 1999), pp. 6-10.
If we compare these grave words of the enemies of the Church to the present-day progressivist plans, it leaves us very pensive.
TOMORROW: Part Two: Vatican II opened the doors of reform of the Papacy.
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