So Wrong For So Long!|
Section Two of Four Parts
"The very people who dissent all the time from the Deposit of Faith tolerate zero dissent themselves."
The contrast between Catholic America and English America is stark. Sure, the United States is more advanced technologically and economically. But how have we used our technology and economy? To glorify God? How have we used our freedom? To seek our salvation through Christ's true Church? There are still places scattered about the map in Latin America where simple villagers life lives that appear backward and impoverished. Perhaps it is the case, however, that those simple villagers are more advanced and rich than we will ever be in our secular, religiously indifferentist nation. Those simple villagers love God and are content with the riches that flow to them in the sacraments instituted by our Lord for their sanctification and salvation. Which is more pleasing to God? A land which exalts technology and wealth? Or one which stresses a love for Him through His true Church.
Even bishops who profess to be pro-life have embraced an ethos and a spirit directly responsible for the rise of divorce, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and, obviously, sodomy. They do not understand or accept the fact that there is no secularist, religiously indifferentist way to resolve our problems. They have not seen it as their duty to teach the great encyclical letters of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI, to say nothing of Blessed Pius IX and St. Pius X. No, all that is American has been embraced uncritically, resulting in the triumph of secularism and naturalism which prevail throughout the hierarchy of the Church in this country (and in much of the world; for, as noted earlier, Americanism is a species of that Modernism which has infiltrated the highest quarters of the Church).
Testem Benevolentiae and Today
Pope Leo XIII understood all of this quite clearly, quite prophetically. It is important at this juncture to review key passages of his great apostolical letter, addressed to James Cardinal Gibbons, the Archbishop of Baltimore and de facto Primate of the United States, dated January 22, 1899, just seventy-three years before the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and to apply his insights to the state of the Church in the United States at present.
"The principles on which the new opinions We have mentioned are based may be reduced to this: that, in order the more easily to bring over to Catholic doctrine those who dissent from it, the Church ought to adapt herself somewhat to our advanced civilization, and, relaxing her ancient rigor, show some indulgence to modern popular theories and methods."
Comment: "The pride of modern man, who believes that he has new insights into the nature of the human being and how he is to live in a supposedly new age. Most of the American bishops are guilty of this pride, believing that a proclamation of the Faith of our Fathers will reduce the Church's credibility in the eyes of the cultural elite in this country and/or lessen the chances for upward social mobility and economic and political success on the part of Catholics. Thus, secular psychology must prevail in the screening and formation of men to the priesthood. The sacraments do not contain the power to restrain children, for example, from sinning against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. No, we must rely upon sexologists and the insights of textbook publishers to teach our children in order to give them "information" upon which they can make informed choices. And if a priest, let's say, falls into perverted vice, he must be taught be "comfortable" with himself as he is sent back to "minister" to the faithful. Thus, all that is modern is embraced and all that is truly Catholic, both in matters of doctrine and liturgy, must be rejected as unscientific and opposed to human progress and solidarity. Those who advance such ideas must be given positions in all levels of Catholic education-from elementary school through secondary school to colleges and universities and seminaries and professional schools. It is these experts who know best, even though they use modern methods to debunk the miracles of Our Lord (if not His actual historical existence) as myths, render the Church into a formless mass of egalitarian individuals seeking out a consensus upon which to agree (for the moment, at least), and to proffer relativistic concepts which result in the abortion of souls and bodies.
TB: "Many think that this is to be understood not only with regard to the rule of life, but also to the doctrines in which the deposit of faith is contained. For they contend, that it is opportune, in order to work in a more attractive way upon the wills of those who are not in accord with us, to pass over certain heads of doctrines, as if of lesser moment, or to so soften them that they may not have the same meaning which the Church has invariably held."
Comment: There were some bishops and priests in the nineteenth century who did not want to promote devotion to Our Lady in the belief that this would alienate Protestants from the Faith and be hurtful to the social success of Catholics. The same was true concerning the doctrine of Papal infalliblity, as noted earlier. And not a few bishops and priests believed it was utterly unimportant and totally unnecessary to confront the evils to both the Faith and to the country posed by Freemasonry. Today, every doctrine of the Faith has come under attack. Most of the Deposit of Faith is not even taught to our children. Indeed, as mentioned above, the received teaching of Our Lord is actively undermined in all levels of Catholic education, especially in allegedly Catholic colleges and universities. It is no accident that the American bishops have fought mightily the implementation of Ex corde ecclesia, believing that the American spirit of academic freedom and intellectual inquiry will be stifled by such an autocratic and outdated exercise of ecclesiastical authority. The irony, though, is inescapable: the very bishops and factotums who invoke the American spirit of democracy and egalitarianism and consensus act in very arbitrary, fascistic ways with Catholics who dare to point out how they are undermining the Faith. The very people who dissent all the time from the Deposit of Faith tolerate zero dissent themselves. Typical hypocrites and fascists. Such is the hypocrisy of the modern era, however: the very people who fashion themselves enlightened leaders are actually narrow bigots who come to hate any implication that they are in error.
TB: "Now, Beloved Son, few words are needed to show how reprehensible is the plan that is thus conceived, if we but consider the character and origin of the doctrine which the Church hands down to us. On that point the [First] Vatican Council says; 'The doctrine of faith which God has revealed is not proposed like a theory of philosophy which is to be elaborated by the human understanding, but as a divine deposit delivered to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully guarded and infallibly declared."
Comment: We know only too painfully that the doctrine of faith is mocked and reviled in many of our pulpits and schools and colleges and universities and seminaries. Opinion and heresy are offered as definitive. The received teaching of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made man is reviled. It was to safeguard the Deposit of Faith and to assure the salvation of souls that the Church used to have an annual cycle of preaching. Repetition is the mother of learning. People forget. They need to be reminded incessantly of the fact that we are made by God to return to Him through His true Church by cooperating with the graces made available in the sacraments and persisting until the time of our deaths in states of sanctifying grace. Instead, though, most Catholics today are bombarded with that which is injurious to their salvation (and thus to the right ordering of civil society). And many of the most successful heretics in pulpits are very popular with their parishioners as they ooze "compassion" and concern for "where the people are" as they evolve in their "faith journeys." Not only is nothing done by the American bishops to silence these heretics, they are promoted and made auxiliary bishops and ordinaries. Those who are orthodox are punished in various ways, sometimes being sent to psychiatric facilities to discover the "reasons" for their "rigidity." Pope Leo XIII knew that it was reprehensible to put the received teaching of Christ into question. Do most American bishops agree? Do they understand that those who can pervert the doctrine of Our Lord can easily abuse others for their own perverted pleasure?
TB: "Nor is the suppression to be considered altogether free from blame, which designedly omits certain principles of Catholic doctrine and buries them, a it were, in oblivion."
Comment: Popes used to write and to speak quite bluntly, not obtusely. Pope Leo XIII is stating at this juncture that there are American bishops and priests who want to suppress and to bury the true doctrines of Our Lord in order to curry favor with Protestant majority in society, as well as to be seen as "friendly" and "unthreatening" to their parishioners. This is even more the case today. Why else was the Baltimore Catechism, which was given us by the American bishops as an excellent teaching tool in the nineteenth century, suppressed in most instances? It is precisely because of the arrogance of those who believe that we can know nothing for certain, and the little that we think we know is subject to re-examination and debate.
TB: "For there is one and the same Author and Master of all the truths that Christian teaching comprises: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father. That they are adapted to all ages and nations is plainly deduced from the words which Christ addressed to His apostles: Going therefore teach ye all nations: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world. Wherefore the same Vatican Council says: 'By the divine and Catholic faith those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God either written or handed down, and are proposed by the Church whether in solemn decision, or by the ordinary universal magisterium, to be believed as having been divinely revealed.'"
Comment: Have you ever seen a diocesan or parish "mission statement." As former the former Bishop of Fargo, the Most Reverend James S. Sullivan, commented to me in 1988, the only "mission statement" we need is Our Lord's command repeated by Pope Leo XIII, that we teach all nations everything that He has revealed, and to do so until the end of time. Period. Anyone who believes he is more "sophisticated" than Our Lord is bereft of his senses, seeking to draw people to himself rather than to the Divine Redeemer as He has discharged His mind to the Apostles and through them to us by means of the Church. Alas, is this not the state of the Church in the United States? How many Catholics believe in all that Our Lord has revealed? Most Catholics dissent from at least one part of the Deposit of Faith, doing so not only because of cultural currents but because those cultural currents have been embraced by bishops and priests and alleged teachers of religion in our schools and religious education programs.
TB: "Far be it, then, for any one to diminish or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine; whosoever would do so, would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it. Let them return; indeed, nothing is nearer to Our heart; let all those who are wandering far from the sheepfold of Christ return; but let it not be by any other road than that which Christ has pointed out."
Comment: How prophetic. The complete and total abandonment of the Deposit of Faith following the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 has indeed alienated millions of Catholics from the Faith, drawing next to no Protestants into the Church. Why should people convert to a church which is indistinguishable from theirs? As we know, the Holy See itself, scandalously, told an Orthodox bishop who wanted to convert to Catholicism not to do so! This is the triumph of the American spirit of sentimentality and indifferentism on a global scale. Domestically, the abandonment of the Deposit of Faith (and the Mass of Pope Paul VI) bewildered and alienated Catholics, many of whom sought refuge later in some brand of nondemoninational Protestant congregation. Look at the names of many evangelical and fundamentalist preachers. Many of them have Italian and Irish and, now, Spanish names. As Father Enrique Rueda noted at a conference in Tarrytown, New York in 1988, the doctrinal and liturgical revolutions made it easy for Spanish-speaking immigrants to this nation to fall prey to evangelicals and fundamentalists. If the Church does not catechize the truths of Our Lord to Catholics, then those Catholics will be catechized and evangelized by some other gospel. Political ideology. Some brand of Protestanism. The New Age movement (and its practice of syncretism of Eastern "religions" and Christianity). Narcissism, in which the entirety of life revolves around the satisfaction of one's own desires and pleasures. Pope Leo XIII was prophetically predicting the demise of the Church in the United States if the trends he saw developing grew to maturity. He knew that souls would be devastated, and the very credibility of the Church in the world would be undermined and eclipsed. If people are interested in winning over Protestants and non-Christians to the Faith, then they must simply proclaim the full truths of the true Church without compromise and to pray for their conversion. We do not water down the Faith do accommodate human sensibilities. The Apostles did not do so. Neither can we. But, as Pope Leo pointed out in a section of Testem Benevolentiae to be discussed shortly, those who are convinced so arrogantly of their superiority to the Apostles will ultimately believe that the Holy Ghost pours out greater gifts on them than on people in the far distant past.
After admitting that the rule of life, "which is laid down for Catholics" does admit of modifications, "according to the diversity of time and place," Pope Leo XIII nevertheless warned that what was being proposed by Americanism was more than a mere adaptation of the Faith to the exigencies of a particular culture. It was, he taught, an embrace of currents which are cancerous to the Faith and to the salvation of souls.
TB: "But in the manner of which we are now speaking, Beloved Son, the project involves a greater danger and is more hostile to Catholic doctrine and discipline, inasmuch as the followers of these novelties judge that a certain liberty ought to be introduced into the Church, so that, limiting the exercise and vigilance of its powers, each one of the faithful may act more freely in pursuance of his own natural abilities. They affirm, namely, that this is called for in order to imitate that liberty which, though quite recently introduced, is now the law and the foundation of almost every civil community. On that point, We have spoken very much at length in the Letter written to al the bishops about the constitutions of States; where We have also shown the difference between the Church, which is of divine right, and all other associations which subsist by the free will of men."
Comment: Pope Leo XIII understood that Catholics in the United States were in a far more dangerous situation than had faced their predecessors in the past. The Roman Emperors and their factotums attacked the Church head on. Luther and Calvin just frankly rejected Catholicism. King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I attacked the Church violently, as did the French Revolutionaries. The Church in the United States, Pope Leo understood, was being eaten away in an indirect, insidious manner by the cultural milieu in which she found herself. For the first time in the history of the Church, the Holy Father saw so prophetically, Catholics had found themselves in a hostile cultural environment which they did not seek to convert but were in the process of being converted by. He knew that Catholics in the United States would want over the course of time to have the Church adopt the schema of "liberty" and "egalitarianism" that was part and parcel of American civil life. It was impossible to retard the influence of these false ideas into the Church as long as Catholics, starting with most of their bishops and priests, that they did not have the obligation to plant the seeds for the conversion of the nation. True, many individual converts were made to the Faith in the nineteenth century. However, the life of the Church was indeed being eroded by the embrace of the American spirit, to such an extent that Catholics in the United States rejoiced when this country went to war against Catholic Spain and introduced Protestant and Masonic influences in Cuba and Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Afer all, these backward people had to be Americanized, right?
Furthermore, Pope Leo XIII knew that the rush of partisan politics was diverting the attention of Catholics from the business of Catholicizing their nation. As I have noted on many occasions, Catholic immigrants and their successors developed a slavish attachment to the Democratic Party at a time when the Republican Party was in the hands of nativist anti-Catholics. Believing that it was important to achieve material and economic success through the political process, Catholics plunged headlong into the clubhouses of the Democratic Party, which is why so many Catholics are reflexively Democratic today. Accepting, however, the framework of a two-party system in a Constitutional framework inimical to the Faith, the lion's share of Catholics in the United States believe that the only way to make "progress" on a particular issue, including pro-life, is to be an adherent to a particular political party, ignoring how that political party endorses candidates who are fundamentally opposed to the primacy of the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law, to say nothing of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. Our salvation does not come from secular politics. It comes from the Church Our Lord founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. Pope Leo knew that while it was important for Catholics to be involved in the civic process, he insisted that they be involved as Catholics to defend Catholic truth, no matter what might befall them electorally. However, if the only thing that matters is electoral success as an end in and of itself, then it is easy to eschew the truths of the Faith by claiming to represent and to defend the American way of pluralism and consensus.
Ultimately, this embrace of the republican spirit has indeed infected the Church as Pope Leo knew in his day that it would. Many bishops believe that they are the equal, if not the superior, of the Vicar of Christ on matters of faith and morals. They believe that their leftist statements on matters of prudential judgment are absolutely binding on the faithful while the great encyclical letters of the past are shunted down the Orwellian memory hole. Lay people should direct and control the "liturgy," which is nothing more than the community love-feast, not the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary. The priest is merely the presider, not even the first among equals in most instances. Simply a master of ceremonies who reads from a script. The shopworn canards of feminism are embraced wholeheartedly. Sentimentality replaces the Deposit of Faith. And Catholics are led by their bishops and priests to believe that there is nothing they can do in their personal lives that can cause them to lose their salvation. The only sins are "social" sins which call for structural reform in society, not the reform of individual lives effected by the graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on Calvary. As a species of Modernism, we can see how Americanism has infected the Church on a worldwide basis, especially in the postconciliar years.
TB: "It is of importance, therefore, to note particularly an opinion which is adduced as a sort of argument to urge the granting of such liberty to Catholics. For they say, in speaking of the infallible teaching of the Roman Pontiff, that afer the solemn decision formulated in the Vatican Council, there is no more need of solicitude in that regard, and, because of its being now out of dispute, a wider field of thought and action is thrown open to individuals. A preposterous method of arguing, surely. For if anything is suggested by the infallible teaching of the Church, it is certainly that no one ought to withdraw from it; nay, that all should strive to be so thoroughly imbued with and be guided by its spirit, so as to be the more easily preserved from any private error whatsoever."
Comment: For Americans, a controversial issue is never considered "settled" unless the most radical twist on that issue has been accepted as normal and binding upon everyone in society. For example, Roe v. Wade is considered "settled law" by the lion's share of people in this country, including many so-called "pro-life" politicians (who aren't really pro-life at all, simply less pro-abortion than others). Special "rights" for sodomites are in the process of becoming "settled law" in one state after another (to say nothing of the Federal level). Well, the same is true for Catholics in the United States who are infected with the Americanist spirit, including bishops and priests. If a matter of faith and morals is declared as settled by the Church (the Immaculate Conception, Papal infallibility, the nonadmissability of women to the priesthood, contraception, divorce and remarriage without a valid decree of nullity, abortion), this is considered to be all the more reason for there to be "dialogue" about that which has been declared "settled." After all, the American way calls for the majority "opinion" to prevail in controversial matters. Thus, Pope Leo XIII condemned as preposterous the contention of those who insist that a solemn definition of an article of the Faith is not final and that its proclamation as being solemn actually opens up for debate and re-examination.
This is what has happened in one diocese after another. Workshops and symposia are held featuring speakers who are dissenters from the Deposit of Faith. None of the Ten Commandments have any binding force. Individual conscience, unshaped and undirected by the authentic teaching of the God-Man, is supreme over any other authority, including that of the Church. Young people are told they need not attend Mass every week. They are told that there is no such thing as mortal sin; one can only sin if his "fundamental option" is against God (which denies, obviously, that each sin of its very nature is a conscious turning away from God and our relationship with Him through His Church). Their innocence and purity must be undermined by the rot of sex-instruction, which is based upon the belief that it is neither possible nor desirable to obey the Sixth and Ninth Commandments merely by loving God, avoiding sin, and seeking to cooperate with sanctifying grace to grow in holiness.
The American way is the way of discussion and debate. The way of Our Lord is revelation, firm and sure, unchanging and eternal. But that is too much for most of the hierarchy of the United States and their factotums and alleged theological advisers. Those who believe firmly all those truths revealed by God, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived, are the ones who must be denounced as rigid, reactionary, bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental by those in ecclesiastical authority who indemnify dissenters as original thinkers exercising their intellectual and academic freedom.
TB: "To this we may add that those who argue in that wise quite set aside the wisdom and providence of God; who when He desired in that very solemn decision to affirm the authority and teaching office of the Apostolic See, desired it especially in order the more efficaciously to guard the minds of Catholic
from the dangers of the present times. The license which is commonly confounded with liberty; the passion for saying and reviling everything; the habit of thinking and expressing everything in print, have case such deep shadows on men's minds, that there is now greater utility and necessity for this office of teaching than ever before, lest men should be drawn away from conscience and duty. It is far, indeed, from Our intention to repudiate all that the genius of time begets; nay, rather, whatever the search for turth attains, or the effort after good achieves, will always be welcome by Us, for it increases the patrimony of doctrine and enlarges the limits of public prosperity. But all this, to possess real utility, should thrive without setting aside the authority and wisdom of the Church."
Comment: The Pope is stating that he notes a trend among some American bishops and priests and lay people to eschew the teaching office of the Vicar of Christ on matters of Faith and morals. Recognizing that the Pope's authority to exercise the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ over rulers and civil societies had been overthrown as a result of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt and the so-called Enlightenment and the French Revolution and Freemasonry, Pope Leo XIII was aware that a similar spirit of rebellion in the Church was at work so as to overthrow all vestiges of Papal authority over bishops and their "local" churches. A Pope recognizes that there will be scientific and technological advances made which could improve the quality of life. However, all such discoveries and advances must be used according to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law, to that which redounds to the common good of societies and to the salvation of souls. To repudiate the supernatural in favor of the natural, as he argues in a later section of the apostolical letter, is to subject Holy Mother Church to the arbitrariness of a culture born as a direct result of a violent rejection of the patrimony of Christendom.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives
MID-SUMMER HIATUS ISSUE
July 15 - September 1, 2002
volume 13, no. 104
CHRIST or chaos