September 2002
volume 13, no. 105

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The Regime of Novelty Decimated
Part One

A Book Review by John Vennari* of Christopher A. Ferrara and Dr. Thomas Woods' blockbuster book exposing the novelty-ridden post-conciliar Church: The Great Facade

    "Peter has no need of our lies or flattery., Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See-----they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations."-----Melchior Cano, Theologian from the Council of Trent
    The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church rolled off the press in late June, 2002. This highly readable work of rigorous logic and impeccable documentation is destined to become a basic reference for years to come. The book's authors, Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods Jr., have pioneered a new field of Catholic apologetics.

    Catholic apologetics is defined as a rational defense of the Catholic Religion, usually against pagans, heretics or infidels. Since Vatican II, however, a new type of apologetic was needed: a defense of the traditional Catholic faith against the progressivist orientation of the Council, coupled with a defense against NewChurch Catholics who accuse those who resist the new orientation of being "schismatic", "disobedient", and "out of communion with the Church".

    Because the situation over the past 40 years is without historic precedent, the authors coined the term "neo-Catholic" to describe the Catholic who defends every papally approved novelty since the Council, whether or not these novelties collide with 2000 years of Catholic teaching and practice; whether or not the implementation of these novelties [such as ecumenism and the New Mass] are disastrous for the Church.

    The neo-Catholic does not see himself as a "liberal", but as a "conservative". He is not calling for women priests, married priests, the ordination of homosexuals, or for the Church to allow artificial birth control, as advocated in the leftist National Catholic Reporter.

    Yet the neo-Catholic's position, like that of the modernist, is in a state of flux. The neo-Catholic opposes the sacrilege of Communion in the hand, until the Pope approves it. Then he defends it, or at least, refuses to speak up against it. Neo-Catholics oppose altar girls] until Pope John Paul II reverses his own ruling [as well as 2000 years of Church practice] and allows female severs. Suddenly, for the neo-Catholic, the altar girl problem is no big deal.

    The Great Facade demonstrates that the neo-Catholic mode of thinking is an intellectually untenable position, supported by neither Church teaching nor Church history. It is a nest of contradictions, harmful to the Church, that guarantees the unimpeded march of the Conciliar insurrection. By defending the Vatican's latest novelties [such as the syncretistic "spirit of Assisi"]; and by crying "schism" against Catholics who resist these innovations, neo-Catholics become the Watchdogs of the Conciliar Revolution, the Guardians of the Regime of Novelty, the Legion in Defense of Tradition Lite.

    At the book's beginning, the authors state, "the post-conciliar infection of the Catholic Church by liberalism was self-induced. Through a series of decisions without parallel in Church history, the Church's own leaders, including the conciliar Popes, have imposed what can only be called a regime of novelty upon the Church since Vatican II. The effect of that regime [whether or not intended] has been largely to strip the Church of her natural defenses against infiltration and corruption. The Council's much-vaunted 'opening to the world' was, in truth, a suppression of the Church's immune system, resulting almost immediately in the many-faceted disease that now afflicts her. In reaction to this regime of novelty, there has emerged in the post-conciliar epoch a movement known as Roman Catholic traditionalism, which seeks a restoration of the elements of traditional Catholic teaching and praxis that have been suppressed under the new regime. This book is both a defense of that movement and a call for Catholics to join it." [1] 1. The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods Jr. Wyoming, MN: Remnant Press, 2002, p. 2.

Background

    The Great Facade is the result of a Millennium Jubilee clash between two competing viewpoints of the so-called "Catholic Right".

    In spring 2000, four Catholic writers: Atila Sinke Guimar„es, Michael Matt, Marion Horvat, and myself, composed and signed the Statement, We Resist You to the Face. It was published in The Remnant, Catholic Family News, and as a book by Tradition in Action. [2] 2. Copies of the book We Resist You To The Face are available from Catholic Family News for $13US postpaid.

    The Statement was a declaration of legitimate Catholic resistance to post-conciliar novelties that 1) are not binding on the Faithful, 2) have the appearance of teachings and practices previously condemned by the perennial Magisterium, 3) cause untold harm to the Catholic Church. On the one hand, the Statement was dramatic and unprecedented. On the other, the Statement's signers simply presented in a systematic, documented framework the same resistance that traditional Catholics have mounted since the close of the Council, or at least, since the imposition of the New Mass. [3] 3. The Statement also invited an elevated discussion with the Pope and/or the Vatican hierarchy the points of the new orientation that seem to conflict with perennial Catholic teaching and practice. No response came from the Vatican. The Wanderer attacked us instead.

    Most traditional Catholics applauded the Statement with enthusiasm, since it bolstered their fight to preserve the Faith. [4] 4. A mother of five children told me she was literally cheering by the end of reading "We Resist You to the Face". The Statement put into words what they had implicitly known and done for decades. It further demonstrated, indirectly, that an uncompromising resistance to the post-conciliar novelties is not only a thoroughly Catholic approach, but the true Catholic approach.

    Immediately after the Statement's publication, The Wanderer launched a Keystone Kops counter campaign to stamp out this menace. It published a remarkably inane series-----7 parts-----called Traditionalists, Tradition and Private Judgement by a former traditionalist now turned wrong side up. The series was prefaced by Wanderer Editor AI Matt Jr. who warned, without basis, that the signers of the Resistance Statement were on a dangerous "schismatic trajectory". The series was also prefaced with a reckless broadside by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz so poorly written that one commentator called it little better than ebonics. [5] 5. Please note, I do not refer to The Wanderer series as "Keystone Kops," "inane" and "poorly written" simply because it opposed the Resistance Statement. I describe it this way because the series, plus the two prefaces, were so remarkably bad. [Bishop Bruskewitiz, in certain areas, seems to speak a bit more credibly these days].

    Yet The Wanderer series was a prime example of the neo-Catholic approach: the post-conciliar popes have approved of all post-conciliar novelties; so therefore, they are not novelties. The post-conciliar Popes have championed a break with traditional teaching and practice; so therefore, there is no break with tradition. Those insolent Catholics who point out the obvious, that novelties are novelties, that a break with the past is a break with the past, are schismatics of the worst sort.

    Catholic Family News published a number of superb, concise responses to The Wanderer, written by Mr. Guimar„es. [6] 6. "Quicksand," CFN, Sept. 2000; "Five Questions to Bishop Bruskewitz," CFN, Oct. 2000; "Spotlight on the Resistance," CFN, Nov. 2000. (All three reprints are available as a set from CFN for $4.00 US post-paid.)

    At the same time Michael Matt, Editor of The Remnant, began to receive red-hot manuscripts from Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods who had both decided enough was enough. It was time for the neo-Catholic charade to be taken down. Ferrara and Woods produced a series of articles that were fierce, relentless, often funny, and devastating to the neo-Catholic's land of make-believe. These articles were then re-sculpted, fine-tuned, updated and greatly amplified into a book that is far more than a defense of legitimate Catholic Resistance. The Great Facade is a masterwork of its own right, long overdue, that is guaranteed to reduce the comfort level of Novus Ordo Catholics.

The Regime of Novelty

    The authors' expertise make The Great Facade a unique contribution to traditional Catholic polemics. Mr. Ferrara is an attorney, founder and President of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, and has done outstanding legal work, particularly in a recent high-profile pro-life case in San Francisco. Thomas Woods, who is skilled in debate, earned his bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Both men write well. As a team they are unbeatable. The authors demonstrate that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has been under a regime of novelty, despite the fact the entire notion of "Catholic novelty" stands condemned by the perennial Magisterium.

    Pope Saint Pius X wrote in his Encyclical Against Modernism:

    "But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those 'who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind . . . or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church'. . . . Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: 'I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church'." [7] 7. Pascendi, emphasis added.
    And the Second Council of Nicea teaches infallibly,
    "If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the Church, let him be anathema." [8] 8. Cited from The Great Facade, p. 28.
    Yet the discarding of tradition and the invention of novelties has been the defining element of the post-Conciliar Church. This upheaval occurred because the post-conciliar Popes, particularly Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, who are the chief implementers of the Council's aggiornamento, have always been on the side of the progressivists. Before his elevation to the Papacy, Pope Paul VI, then Cardinal Montini, was part of the clique of progressivist Cardinals in Europe. He was a close friend and collaborator of Belgium's Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, probably the most progressivist Cardinal at Vatican ll. [9] 9. See "The Charismatic Cardinal Suenens," J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, Oct. & Dec. 1997. This is also found in the book Close-ups of the Charismatic Movement, by J. Vennari. (Los Angeles, Tradition in Action, 2000).

    Likewise, Father Ludvik Nemek, a "conservative" Catholic, wrote in praise of John Paul II that "Bishop Wojtyla took a progressive stand" at Vatican II, and that he "interacted with progressive theologians" at the Council. [10] 10. Pope John Paul II, A Festive Profile, Father Ludvig Nemek. (Catholic Book Publishing, NY, 1979), p. 98 Father Nemek is hardly a "progressivist" Catholic. In the Philadelphia area, he had the reputation of a devout priest. Father Nemek also composed a beautiful little book on the Infant of Prague. Bishop Wojtyla has shown himself to be a "conservative/progressivist" ever since, and has brought this bewildering mixture to the Papacy. This is why he will speak well of Our Lady of Fatima on one hand, and promote the pan-religious "Spirit of Assisi" on the other.

    Now it must be said that these observations about the post-conciliar Popes are not meant to demonize them. Rather, the book points out that the post-conciliar Popes, even if motivated by the best intentions, are the prime movers of the new orientation that has been a disaster for the Church. [11] 11. The contrast between pre-Vatican II Popes and post-Vatican II Popes is masterfully presented in Chapter 2, "The Problem of Novelty".

    In fact, The Great Facade observes that neo-Catholics will often condemn Cardinals, bishops, priests and others for doing precisely what the Pope does. For example, Mother Angelica rightly criticized Ted Turner for giving a billion dollars to the pro-abortion United Nations. But Mother Angelica has nothing to say about Pope John Paul II's constant praise of the UN, which gives that godless institution immeasurable respectability. The Wanderer rightly lambasted Cardinal Keeler for his recent "Apology" that asked forgiveness for the historic "sins" of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, but it failed to mention that Cardinal's "apology" venture is what Pope John Paul ll wants and does, even though it scandalizes Catholics worldwide.

    Thus when the book points to the problem of the conciliar Popes, it is not in a condemnatory fashion. Nor is it to promote sedevacantism, a theory the authors reject. [12] 12. The Great Facade, p. 12. The book merely emphasizes a truth that many Catholics find hard to accept: in our day, the fight to maintain tradition against the regime of novelty necessarily includes resistance to certain words, actions and pet-themes of the post-Vatican II Pontiffs. It is not realistic to blame middle management for what the boss promotes.

Redemptor Hominis and Ecumenism

    Pope John Paul II himself announces that the Council and the conciliar Popes have given us something utterly novel. In his inaugural encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, referring in part to "the new ecumenical orientation," John Paul said:

    "Entrusting myself fully to the spirit of truth, therefore, I am entering into the rich inheritance of the recent pontificates. This inheritance has struck deep roots in the awareness of the Church in an utterly new way, quite unknown previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII convened and opened and which was later successfully concluded and perseveringly put into effect by Paul VI . . ." [13] 13. Redemptor Hominis, n. 6.
    Ferrara and Woods ask, "Before Vatican II, when has a Pope ever proclaimed a whole 'new orientation' of the Church, ecumenical or otherwise? And what other council in Church history disclosed anything 'utterly new' and 'quite unknown previously' in the realm of doctrine? How can a doctrine of the Church, if it is a doctrine, be something 'quite unknown' before 1965? Are we now to understand that the Holy Spirit could have left the Church unaware of some important truth of the Faith for nearly 2,000 years?" [14] 14. The Great Facade, p. 38.

    Yet post-conciliar Churchmen charge ahead, despite the fact that their new ecumenism stands condemned by Sacred Scripture, [15] 15. Catholic Family News, May 1998, Reprint #292. (Available from CFN for $1.75US post-paid.) and by the Church's constant Magisterium, particularly in Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Mortalium Animos. [16] 16. Pope Pius Xl's 1928 Encyclical Mortalium Animos, "On Fostering True Christian Unity," is available from CFN for $1.75 US post-paid.

    This ecumenical orientation has been catastrophic for the Church, as is noted repeatedly in Catholic Family News. Today's ecumenical practice gives the appearance that one religion is as good as another, or at least, that any religion is good enough for salvation. It is responsible for the reshaping of Catholic teaching to emphasize what we have in common with Protestants while playing down other points of Catholic truth.

    This is why traditional apologetics on the Catholic Church as the one true Church of Jesus Christ, and the infallible doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, have all but disappeared from Catholic teaching texts. If anything, even the Vatican now regards as "outdated ecclesiology" the notion that non-Catholics must join the Catholic Church for salvation. [17] 17. The preconciliar Popes taught the Catholic truth that the schismatic Orthodox must return to the Catholic Church. But in 1993, Balamand Statement states that thanks to "radically altered perspectives and thus attitudes" engendered by Vatican II, the Catholic Church will train new priests "to pave the way for future relations between the two Churches, passing beyond the outdated ecclesiology of return to the Catholic Church". (Balamand Statement, nn. 13 and 30) Tragically, the Balamand Statement was cited approvingly by Pope John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint, n. 59.

    This means that the new ecumenism puts countless non-Catholics at even greater risk. The post-Vatican II helmsmen of the one ark of salvation now tell those not on board to stay where they are and enjoy the water. After all, is not drowning just another dynamic form of living?

    The new ecumenical orientation is also the basis for the Novus Ordo Mass, written with the help of six Protestant Ministers, that stripped the liturgy of its thoroughly Catholic bearings. The prime motivation in concocting the new rite of Mass was not to construct a liturgy that was pleasing to Christ and representative of the Catholic Faith, [18] 18. As it has been noted by Fr. Paul Kramer and others, the whole idea that a "new liturgy" would be "constructed" is a non-Catholic principle in the first place. but to construct an ecumenical liturgy that would be acceptable to Protestants who deny transubstantiation, the sacrificial nature of the Mass, and many other truths revealed by God. This is why Cardinal Ottaviani complained that the New Mass represents a "a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXlI of the Council of Trent." [19] 19. The Ottaviani Intervention, published by Tan, Rockford, IL; 1992, p. 31.

    And these are only the first of reasons why the new ecumenical orientation is disastrous for the Church.

    The authors continue on the theme of novelty, ". . . some neo-Catholic commentators are honest enough to admit that the Council and the conciliar Popes have introduced true novelties into the Church. Taking the bull by the horns, they openly declare that John Paul II is an innovator, who sees in Vatican II [as did Paul VI] a mandate for previously unheard-of progressivist undertakings. A striking example of candor in this regard is found in John Beaumont's review of neo-Catholic George Weigel's biography of the Pope: 'One possible cause for concern in relation to the phenomenon of Pope John Paul II is the sometimes breathtaking nature of his innovative teaching. It is natural for Catholics to be wary and wonder whether all of this can fit in with the tradition.' " [20] 20. "A Life for These Times," Culture Wars, May 2000, pp. 46-47.

    Yet Catholics need not "wonder whether all of this can fit with the tradition", because it does not. And though some neo-Catholics twist themselves into pretzels trying to prove that the new orientation somehow squares with tradition, other neo-Catholics admit that discarding of the past, and-----the implementation of novelty, are the glories of John Paul's pontificate.

    This is brought home forcibly in an article in Crisis entitled "Sensibly Catholic Right" by neo-Catholic luminary George Sim Johnston. Here he lauds the book Being Right: Conservative Catholics in America, a compendium of the views of a host of Johnston's fellow neo-Catholic leaders, lumped together with pieces written by doctrinaire liberals. In the process of praising the book, Johnston lays bare the whole truth about the neo-Catholic idea:

    "The featured players [James Hitchcock, Helen Hull Hitchcock, George Weigel and James Sullivan, formerly of Catholics United for the Faith, do not locate themselves on the theological 'right'. They embrace Vatican II, don't pine for the Tridentine liturgy, and support the historically radical ecumenism of John Paul II. . . . By any historical measure, the 'conservatives' in this volume are progressive Catholics. Until recently, their views on the role of the laity would not have played well with the Roman curia. Nor would their choice of philosophical mentors: von Balthasar, de Lubac, Congar, Danielou-----not to mention John Courtney Murray. . . . Unlike the Sadducees on the Catholic left and the Pharisees on the truly Catholic right, the 'conservatives' in this volume understand the pontificate of John Paul II because they understand the Second Vatican Council. They understand that Christ founded a teaching Church whose doctrines are not subject to whim and manipulation. But they also realize that the Church, being human and organic, has to change. Vatican II was the antidote to the triumphalism, legalism, clericalism, and, yes, Jansenism, that plagued the Church forty years ago." [21] 21. Crisis, 1996, p. 6. (Emphasis added.)

See Part Two of the Book Review of The Great Facade.

*The reviewer John Vennari is the editor of CATHOLIC FAMILY NEWS. This review is reprinted with permission from the August issue of his excellent monthly Traditional periodical.



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