As a young graduate student, Fulton Sheen attended the School of
Philosophy at Louvain, Belgium. An English philosopher, Dr. Alexander, had
just received a medal from King George of England for his philosophical
treatise on Space, Time, and Deity. Basically, it was that Deity is
evolving. Sheen asked him if he could follow one of his classes but
Alexander refused. However, he did invite Sheen back for tea. Upon arriving
for tea, Sheen found that he was to debate Dr. Alexander before other
Dr. Alexander said that, according to his writings, God is perfect, but
Sheen quickly put that to the test.
"When [according to Alexander] there was only Space-Time, God was a
chemical; when chemicals came into being God was the ideal plant; when plants
came into the universe, God was the ideal state of an animal; when there were
animals God was the ideal state of man; now that there is man, God is an
angel. Someday we will reach that state. God will keep moving ahead as the
Urge of the universe…..Well, Dr. Alexander, your God is not yet perfect; He
is on the way to perfection. A perfect God would be One Who has at each and
every moment of His Being the fullness of perfection." ("Treasure of Clay";
Fulton J. Sheen, pg. 26)
Dr. Alexander admitted that no one had ever put it to him that way
before. When Sheen asked him if he would be interested in reading Aquinas,
Alexander responded, "No, I would not be interested because you become known
in this world not through Truth, but through novelty, and my doctrine is
Now isn't that odd? The truth doesn't matter, novelty does. It is also
odd (don't you think) that an award winning philosopher wouldn't know, or
have read, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas? Though this exchange occurred
in the 1920's, it would fit with what is occurring today.
Pope Paul VI wrote:
"Now, it is likewise known that at present mankind is undergoing great
transformations, upheavals, and the developments which are profoundly
changing not only its exterior modes of life but also its ways of thinking.
Mankind's range of thought, culture, and spirit have been intimately modified
either by scientific, technical and social progress or by the currents of
philosophical and political thought which overwhelm or pass through it. All
of this, like the waves of an ocean, envelopes and agitates the Church
itself. Men committed to the Church are greatly influenced by the climate of
the world; so much so that a danger bordering almost on vertiginous confusion
and bewilderment can shake the Church's very foundations and lead men to
embrace most bizarre ways of thinking, as though the Church should disavow
herself and take up the very latest and untried ways of life.
Was not the phenomenon of modernism, for example, which still crops up in
the various attempts at expressing what is foreign to the authentic nature of
the Catholic religion, an episode of abuse exercised against the faithful and
genuine expression of the doctrine and criterion of the Church of Christ by
psychological and cultural forces of the profane world? Now it seems to us
that to check the oppressive and complex danger coming from many sides, a
good and obvious remedy is for the Church to deepen her awareness of what she
really is according to the Mind of Christ, as preserved in Sacred Scripture
and in Tradition, and interpreted and developed by the authentic tradition of
the Church." (ECCLESIAM SUAM (Paths of the Church) Encyclical Letter by Pope
Paul VI, #26; Aug. 6, 64)
Cardinal Luciani (later to be known as John Paul I) shared the same
"[Today's preaching] never speaks of the following tragedies of original
sin, purgatory, hell, the last judgement….Rare are the preachers who speak to
the young about continence and self-control. Often preachers let it be
believed, explicitly or implicitly, that such points of Catholic doctrine,
taught until recently, are false, superficial, or depasse'." (In an article
for La Libre Belgique; Oct. 12, 1978) In fact, the Cardinal went on to use
homilies given in one large church in Italy. One week, a theologian denied
the humanity of Christ, a week later, another denied the divinity of Christ.
A few weeks later, a third cast doubts that Jesus ever really existed
These sort of challenges would be one thing if they were outside the
Church. But these are coming from within the Church.
Cardinal William Baum (former head of the American Bishop's Doctrinal
"The mystery of the Incarnation is being challenged in a profound new way
by many theologians and if you have not yet felt the effects of this in your
own local dioceses, you will in time. These effects already are being felt
in our seminaries and universities, and undoubtedly will affect preaching and
teaching in the local churches." (Our Sunday Visitor; May 27, 1979)
Cardinal Baum went on to point out that these 'novel' approaches were
similar to ancient 4th and 5th century heresies condemned by the Councils of
Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. So, in fact, they aren't
novel at all, just 'modernized'. Recall the words of Pope Paul VI:
" Was not the phenomenon of modernism, for example, which still crops up
in the various attempts at expressing what is foreign to the authentic nature
of the Catholic religion, an episode of abuse exercised against the faithful
and genuine expression of the doctrine and criterion of the Church of Christ
by psychological and cultural forces of the profane world?" (ECCLESIAM SUAM,
Yet, among the 'enlightened' of the Catholic intellectual elite, modernism
is promoted. In fact, in Call to Action's referendum, we read, "We see
theologians silenced, constructive opposition condemned, loyalty oaths
imposed and blind obedience demanded. We call for open dialogue, academic freedom, and due process."
Yet we know that open dialogue for them means that the Church has to submit to their way
" Men committed to the Church are greatly influenced by the climate of the
world; so much so that a danger bordering almost on vertiginous confusion and
bewilderment can shake the Church's very foundations and lead men to embrace
most bizarre ways of thinking, as though the Church should disavow herself
and take up the very latest and untried ways of life."( ECCLESIAM SUAM, #26)
Is it any wonder that in many Universities, the philosophies of Jung,
Kant, Voltaire, and Nieztche are embraced, while Aquinas, Augustine and
Aristotle are rejected and ridiculed?
Cardinal Mercier (noted for being a brilliant teacher) gave this advice
to a young Fulton Sheen:
"….always keep current: know what the modern world is thinking about; read
its poetry, its history, its literature; observe its architecture, its art;
hear its music and its theatre; and then plunge deeply into St. Thomas and
the wisdom of the ancients and you will be able to refute its errors."
("Treasure in Clay", pg. 51)
If Aquinas and the ancients can refute the errors of modernism, is it any
wonder they don't want them taught?
"we need people with chisels inside (the Church) chiseling away at that
institution or it is never going to fall." (Sister Maureen Fiedler; CTA
conference, Detroit, 1995)
New and novel approaches to life are taught as being freedom. As
removing the stale, dry, oppressive shackles of old morals and thinking. Is
it any wonder that the teachings of Vatican II are distorted and the
teachings of previous Councils are rejected? Is it any wonder that the value
of the Scriptures are dismissed, but the old heresies found in Gnostic
writings are embraced? Or that practices abandoned by the early Church
(because they brought about error and abuse) are resurrected?
We see neo-montanism in those who see themselves as being instruments of
the Holy Spirit, putting them above the bishops and the Pope.
"The conflict in the Church is from the hierarchy of the Church not
listening to the people of God." (Sister Maureen Fiedler; CTA conference,
As though the Pope and the Hierarchy of the Church are opposed to the
will of God, and 'they' know what that will is.
" Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the
LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God say, 'You shall not eat of
any tree of the garden'?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of
the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the
fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you
touch it, lest you die.'' But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not
die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you
will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the
tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the
tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and
she also gave some to her husband, and he ate" (Genesis 3:1-6).
"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I
proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of My own accord, but He sent
Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to
hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your
father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do
with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks
according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But,
because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me'" (John 8:42-45).
"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your
thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For
if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if
you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a
different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough"
(2 Corinthians 3-4).
"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but
having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit
their own liking, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander
into myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Novelty over truth.
As Pope Paul VI said at a Mass commemorating his 9th anniversary as Pope:
"Satan's smoke has made its way into the temple of God through some
crack….one no longer trusts the Church; one trusts the first profane prophet
that comes along….doubt has entered our consciences and it entered through
the windows which should have been open to the Light. It is believed that
after the Second Vatican Council there would be a day of sunshine in the
history of the Church. There came instead a day of clouds, storm and
darkness, of search and uncertainty. This came about through an adverse
power; his name is the Devil….We believe that some preternatural thing has
come into the world precisely to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the
Of course, to 'enlightened' Catholics, the devil is only the
personification of our own person evil and not a real entity. (Fr. Richard
Contrary to what some believe about Pope John XXIII, he made clear what he
hoped the effect of the Second Vatican Council would be:
"The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred
deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more
efficaciously." (Council Daybook: Vatican II, Sessions 1 and 2, Floyd
Anderson, ed., pg 26).
Instead, we hear how John XXIII, supposedly, meant to do away with that
deposit for a more, presumably, 'democratic' Church.
So, today, as in the 1920's we see that " you become known in this world
not through Truth, but through novelty." (Dr. Alexander) In fact, we seem
more enamored with Pilate than Christ by asking, "What is truth?" And
through years of universities and seminaries teaching modernism and
relativism, we see their affect in our local parishes.
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were
taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
...And not new, novel ideas which tickle the ears and kill the conscience.
Pax Christi, Pat