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August 11, 2004

By the Numbers and by God's Book: Cardinal Ratzinger is Just Dead Wrong

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The spectacle of Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger heaping praise upon the “great fruits” of the pontificate of Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council calls to mind the efforts of the late Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev and his chief ideologist, the equally late Mikhail Suslov, to praise past Soviet leaders and to emphasize that the Bolshevik Revolution was charting the path successfully to the dawn of the New Socialist Man.

Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, was quoted recently as saying that the “springtime of the Church” is a reality, but that it does not depend upon numbers. He has said on other occasions that we are experiencing a “qualitative” renewal engendered by the Second Vatican Council, the “fruits” of which were again praised by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the twenty-sixth anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI on the feast of the Transfiguration.

Let us try to figure this out. We are in the springtime of the Church because octogenarian revolutionaries say that we are despite all empirical evidence to the contrary. In other words, revolutionaries responsible for laying waste Christ’s vineyard by fomenting an unprecedented revolt against her authentic patrimony can make positivist statements that must be accepted at face value as being true without any hint of criticism. My word, if a priest were to criticize such self-serving positivist statements he might find that his bishop would have canonical grounds to suspend him for disloyalty to the Pope and to the magnificent work done by the Second Vatican Council to “restore” and to “renew” the Church.

Unfortunately for the Holy Father and for Cardinal Ratzinger, God has revealed to us that he does care very much about numbers.

To wit, consider the following few passages from the New Testament alone:

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased.

“Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with His disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to Him, He said to Philip: ‘Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?’ And this He said to try him; for He himself knew what He would do.

“Philip answered him: ‘Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.’

“One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: ‘There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?’

“Then Jesus said: ‘Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.” (Jn. 6:1-10)

Yes, a number: five thousand. God cares about numbers. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is in each of the four Gospels (Mt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:41-44; Lk. 9:12-16).

Saint John records the exact number of fish, a simile for souls, as Our Lord manifested Himself to the Eleven after His Resurrection:

“Jesus saith to them: ‘Bring hither of the fishes which you have now caught.’ Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty-three. And although there were so many, the net was not broken.” (Jn. 21:10-11)

Consider the account of the conversion of men on Pentecost Sunday following the first Papal address in the history of the Church:

“But Peter said to them: ‘Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.’

“And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them, saying: ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’

“They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:38-41)

Three thousand souls. God cares about numbers. Otherwise, you see, His book, the Bible, would not be full of numbers. The examples from the Old Testament are just too numerous to review in this brief reflection. God made the world in six days, resting on the seventh. Noah spent forty days and forty nights in the ark. The Hebrews were enslaved to the Egyptians for 440 years. The Jews spent forty years wandering in the desert. The thousands slain by Saul, the tens of thousands slain by David. And one of the books of the Pentateuch happens to be called The Book of Numbers. Yes, numbers are important to God.

The tradition of the Church teaches us that God cares about numbers, which are indeed something of an indicator of the health of the Church Militant here on earth. Over 10,000 people who had gone over to the Albigensians came back to the Faith after Saint Dominic was given the Rosary by Our Lady. Saint Peter Claver baptized over 300,000 people in his lifetime. Saint Francis Xavier destroyed over 40,000 pagan idols (many of which have made their way into Papal events these days) baptized over 3,000,0000 people. That’s right, three million, And, quite importantly, over nine million indigenous peoples of the Americas were converted to the true Faith in a short space of time following Our Lady’s apparition to Saint Juan Diego at Guadalupe on December 9, 1531, almost person for the person the number of people lost to the Church in Europe as a result of the Protestant Revolt.

Thus, Cardinal Ratzinger’s assertions about a “qualitative” renewal of the Church are now and have always been an exercise in spin doctoring that flies in the face of God’s Word and of the authentic patrimony of the Catholic Church. The wreckage caused by the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae is vast. The decline in the numbers of Catholic attending Mass, of those who believe in the articles contained in the Deposit of Faith, of the numbers of priests and consecrated religious has not occurred because the Church has been preaching forcefully unpopular truths and seeking to gain converts to the Faith. This decline in numbers has occurred precisely because the Church has abandoned her authentic patrimony, expressed her contempt for the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, and treated actual schismatics and heretics and pagans and infidels with great solicitude while those who have held to the Faith our fathers have been dealt heavy and severe blows.

Those in ecclesiastical authority should not be concerned if the Church were abandoned by all but one person other than the Pope himself if all had abandoned her as a result of her fidelity to her tradition. Most of those who had followed Our Lord prior to the Eucharistic discourse left Him when He said that they would not have any life in them unless they ate of His Body and drank of His Blood. Turning to the Apostles, Our Lord asked:

“ ‘Will you also go away?’

“And Simon Peter answered Him: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’” (Jn. 6:68-70)

No, it would not matter if our numbers were few because of fidelity of all that is contained in the Deposit of Faith and in the Church’s tradition. Our numbers are few, though, because the Church herself has chased her sons and daughters away and refuses to convert those outside of her, an actual abandonment of the commission Our Lord gave to the Eleven before He ascended to the Father’s right hand in glory on Ascension Thursday.

While Cardinal Ratzinger believes that the small numbers signified by the “springtime of the Church” will be able to effect change in the manner that Lenin’s minority of followers did in Russia, the analogy is false. Our numbers are small at present precisely because of the Vatican’s own revolutionary policies against the Church’s entire patrimony. Imagine what our numbers would look like if the Church had not abandoned her patrimony and forced a synthetic liturgy upon Latin Rite Catholics. The story of the Church and of the world would be quite different.

Our Lord had something to say about those who refuse to bear fruit for the sake of the Kingdom:

“He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: “Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down therefore: why cumbereth it to the ground?” But he answer, said to him: “Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”’” (Lk. 13:6-9)

It is time for Vatican officials to recognize that the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath has borne nothing but rotten fruit for the Catholic Church and thus for souls. Our Lord wants everyone on the face of the earth to be a member of the Catholic Church so that they will have access to the supernatural helps He has entrusted to her for their sanctification and salvation. The loss of numbers in the wake of the Second Vatican Council is not an indication of the “springtime of the Church.” It is an indication of an apostasy that must be rooted out in the manner of the barren fig tree.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.


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