Subjectivist Theology, Subjectivist Piety
Thomas A. Droleskey
Many articles have been written on this site in the past seven months detailing the Modernist, Hegelian mindset of the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. A terse summary of Benedict XVI's mindset is that he believes in a subjectivist theology, that is, he bases his acceptance of dogmatically defined truths on the basis of whether he likes their particular formulation in light of his own consideration of Sacred Scripture and his own interpretation of the Fathers of the Church. Benedict does not consider himself bound to accept the formulations of doctrine as they have been handed down to us by Holy Mother Church. All must be thought over again, anew, if you will, which is of the essence of the contradictory "system" of the late Father Hans Urs von Balthasar and the other "new thinkers" that so impressed itself upon the mind of the young seminarian named Joseph Ratzinger.
The "re-thinking" of doctrine and its traditional formulation has been cast by Benedict XVI as "living tradition," the theological equivalent of "it all depends what the meaning of is, is." There is little that seems from the past that seems to bind his conscience. He defies anathemas imposed by dogmatic councils, believing that the Council of Trent, for example, simply misunderstood the heretical view of Justification espoused by Martin Luther and his adherents. Benedict plainly rejects this dogmatic pronouncement of the Council of Florence:
"The holy Roman Church believes, professes, and preaches that 'no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels,' unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church. For the union with the body of the Church is of such importance that the sacraments of the Church are helpful to salvation only for those who remaining in it; and fasts, almsgiving, other works of piety, and the exercise of Christian warfare bear eternal rewards from them alone. And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms, he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."
Does anyone want to contend with a straight face that Benedict XVI believes a word of this? Indeed, has he not said that the Old Covenant is valid for the Jews and remains in full force? Benedict does not consider himself bound by the Council of Florence. He does not consider himself bound, indeed, he rejects out of hand, by Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors. His own words prove this. His own words prove also his contempt for this solemn proclamation of the First Vatican Council:
Likewise I accept Sacred Scripture according to that sense which Holy mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers. . . .
For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated.
Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.
Here are his own words that prove his rejection of the defined teaching of the Church concerning the maintenance of the meaning of dogmas in the same sense as they have been defined and thus handed down to us:
The text [of the Second Vatican Council] also presents the various forms of bonds that rise from the different degrees of magisterial teaching. It affirms -- perhaps for the first time with this clarity -- that there are decisions of the Magisterium that cannot be a last word on the matter as such, but are, in a substantial fixation of the problem, above all an expression of pastoral prudence, a kind of provisional disposition. Its nucleus remains valid, but the particulars, which the circumstances of the times have influenced, may need further ramifications.
In this regard, one may think of the declarations of Popes in the last century about religious liberty, as well as the anti-Modernist decisions at the beginning of this century, above all, the decisions of the Biblical Commission of the time. As a cry of alarm in the face of hasty and superficial adaptations, they will remain fully justified. A personage such as Johann Baptist Metz said, for example, that the Church's anti-Modernist decisions render the great service of preserving her from immersion in the liberal-bourgeois world. But in the details of the determinations they contain, they become obsolete after having fulfilled their pastoral mission at the proper moment.
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, Benedict and his friend Father Metz believe that doctrinal pronouncements and magisterial decisions that reiterate the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church, thus constituting part of her Ordinary Magisterium of infallible teaching, contain within themselves the seeds of their own opposition, an eminently Hegelian proposition (that one idea gives rise to its opposite and a new idea, the synthesis, thus springs from the conflict of the original idea, the thesis, with its opposite, the antithesis). Thus, it is actually a necessity in this convoluted methodology to "re-think" various points of the Faith that have been rendered "obsolete," either by the passage of time or by the recognition that the Church must reconcile herself to various principles, whether from Protestantism or Modernity, she once too hastily opposing, thus making a mockery of the infallibility of the Church.
As has been noted in several articles in the past few weeks, Benedict clearly rejects Pope Leo XIII's and Pope Saint Pius X's warnings about reconciling the Church with the principles of the Modernity. Benedict, as a progenitor of and apologist for conciliarism, supports the heresy of the separation of Church and State, something condemned consistently by the Church over the centuries.
Begging your patience, I ask you to consider once again the contrasting words of two preconciliar popes with those of the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
Pope Leo XIII condemned Joseph Ratzinger's "reconciliation" with the "new era inaugurated in 1789," calling it an alliance with the devil himself. Writing in Custodi Di Quella Fede, December 8, 1892, Pope Leo stated in no uncertain terms:
Everyone should avoid familiarity or friendship with anyone suspected of belonging to masonry or to affiliated groups. Know them by their fruits and avoid them. Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God.
Pope Saint Pius X, critiquing a movement, the Sillon, that greatly influenced the mind of one Father Angelo Roncalli and thus a good deal of the Second Vatican Council and the entire ethos of conciliarism, wrote the following in Notre Charge Apostolique, August 15, 1910:
The same applies to the notion of Fraternity which they found on the love of common interest or, beyond all philosophies and religions, on the mere notion of humanity, thus embracing with an equal love and tolerance all human beings and their miseries, whether these are intellectual, moral, or physical and temporal. But Catholic doctrine tells us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be, nor in the theoretical or practical indifference towards the errors and vices in which we see our brethren plunged, but in the zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being. Catholic doctrine further tells us that love for our neighbor flows from our love for God, Who is Father to all, and goal of the whole human family; and in Jesus Christ whose members we are, to the point that in doing good to others we are doing good to Jesus Christ Himself. Any other kind of love is sheer illusion, sterile and fleeting.
Indeed, we have the human experience of pagan and secular societies of ages past to show that concern for common interests or affinities of nature weigh very little against the passions and wild desires of the heart. No, Venerable Brethren, there is no genuine fraternity outside Christian charity. Through the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ Our Saviour, Christian charity embraces all men, comforts all, and leads all to the same faith and same heavenly happiness.
By separating fraternity from Christian charity thus understood, Democracy, far from being a progress, would mean a disastrous step backwards for civilization. If, as We desire with all Our heart, the highest possible peak of well being for society and its members is to be attained through fraternity or, as it is also called, universal solidarity, all minds must be united in the knowledge of Truth, all wills united in morality, and all hearts in the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ. But this union is attainable only by Catholic charity, and that is why Catholic charity alone can lead the people in the march of progress towards the ideal civilization.
Finally, at the root of all their fallacies on social questions, lie the false hopes of Sillonists on human dignity. According to them, Man will be a man truly worthy of the name only when he has acquired a strong, enlightened, and independent consciousness, able to do without a master, obeying only himself, and able to assume the most demanding responsibilities without faltering. Such are the big words by which human pride is exalted, like a dream carrying Man away without light, without guidance, and without help into the realm of illusion in which he will be destroyed by his errors and passions whilst awaiting the glorious day of his full consciousness. And that great day, when will it come? Unless human nature can be changed, which is not within the power of the Sillonists, will that day ever come? Did the Saints who brought human dignity to its highest point, possess that kind of dignity? And what of the lowly of this earth who are unable to raise so high but are content to plow their furrow modestly at the level where Providence placed them? They who are diligently discharging their duties with Christian humility, obedience, and patience, are they not also worthy of being called men? Will not Our Lord take them one day out of their obscurity and place them in heaven amongst the princes of His people? . . . .
Here we have, founded by Catholics, an inter-denominational association that is to work for the reform of civilization, an undertaking which is above all religious in character; for there is no true civilization without a moral civilization, and no true moral civilization without the true religion: it is a proven truth, a historical fact. The new Sillonists cannot pretend that they are merely working on “the ground of practical realities” where differences of belief do not matter. Their leader is so conscious of the influence which the convictions of the mind have upon the result of the action, that he invites them, whatever religion they may belong to, “to provide on the ground of practical realities, the proof of the excellence of their personal convictions.” And with good reason: indeed, all practical results reflect the nature of one’s religious convictions, just as the limbs of a man down to his finger-tips, owe their very shape to the principle of life that dwells in his body.
This being said, what must be thought of the promiscuity in which young Catholics will be caught up with heterodox and unbelieving folk in a work of this nature? Is it not a thousand-fold more dangerous for them than a neutral association? What are we to think of this appeal to all the heterodox, and to all the unbelievers, to prove the excellence of their convictions in the social sphere in a sort of apologetic contest? Has not this contest lasted for nineteen centuries in conditions less dangerous for the faith of Catholics? And was it not all to the credit of the Catholic Church? What are we to think of this respect for all errors, and of this strange invitation made by a Catholic to all the dissidents to strengthen their convictions through study so that they may have more and more abundant sources of fresh forces? What are we to think of an association in which all religions and even Free-Thought may express themselves openly and in complete freedom? For the Sillonists who, in public lectures and elsewhere, proudly proclaim their personal faith, certainly do not intend to silence others nor do they intend to prevent a Protestant from asserting his Protestantism, and the skeptic from affirming his skepticism. Finally, what are we to think of a Catholic who, on entering his study group, leaves his Catholicism outside the door so as not to alarm his comrades who, “dreaming of disinterested social action, are not inclined to make it serve the triumph of interests, coteries and even convictions whatever they may be”? Such is the profession of faith of the New Democratic Committee for Social Action which has taken over the main objective of the previous organization and which, they say, “breaking the double meaning which surround the Greater Sillon both in reactionary and anti-clerical circles”, is now open to all men “who respect moral and religious forces and who are convinced that no genuine social emancipation is possible without the leaven of generous idealism". . . .
We fear that worse is to come: the end result of this developing promiscuousness, the beneficiary of this cosmopolitan social action, can only be a Democracy which will be neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish. It will be a religion (for Sillonism, so the leaders have said, is a religion) more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men become brothers and comrades at last in the "Kingdom of God". - "We do not work for the Church, we work for mankind."
And now, overwhelmed with the deepest sadness, We ask Ourselves, Venerable Brethren, what has become of the Catholicism of the Sillon? Alas! this organization which formerly afforded such promising expectations, this limpid and impetuous stream, has been harnessed in its course by the modern enemies of the Church, and is now no more than a miserable affluent of the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer.
We know only too well the dark workshops in which are elaborated these mischievous doctrines which ought not to seduce clear-thinking minds. The leaders of the Sillon have not been able to guard against these doctrines. The exaltation of their sentiments, the undiscriminating good-will of their hearts, their philosophical mysticism, mixed with a measure of illuminism, have carried them away towards another Gospel which they thought was the true Gospel of Our Savior. To such an extent that they speak of Our Lord Jesus Christ with a familiarity supremely disrespectful, and that - their ideal being akin to that of the Revolution - they fear not to draw between the Gospel and the Revolution blasphemous comparisons for which the excuse cannot be made that they are due to some confused and over-hasty composition.
Before continuing on with Pope Saint Pius X's accurate dissection of the Sillonist philosophy--and thus of the entirety of conciliarism, please consider once again these words of the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to discover his very embrace ot the Sillonist/Modernist philosophy:
It is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text (Gaudium et Spes) as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty, and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus ... Let us be content to say here that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.
See any problems here?
Drawing once again from Notre Charge Apostolique:
We wish to draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to this distortion of the Gospel and to the sacred character of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, prevailing within the Sillon and elsewhere. As soon as the social question is being approached, it is the fashion in some quarters to first put aside the divinity of Jesus Christ, and then to mention only His unlimited clemency, His compassion for all human miseries, and His pressing exhortations to the love of our neighbor and to the brotherhood of men. True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around Him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors. Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them. He was as strong as he was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body. Finally, He did not announce for future society the reign of an ideal happiness from which suffering would be banished; but, by His lessons and by His example, He traced the path of the happiness which is possible on earth and of the perfect happiness in heaven: the royal way of the Cross. These are teachings that it would be wrong to apply only to one's personal life in order to win eternal salvation; these are eminently social teachings, and they show in Our Lord Jesus Christ something quite different from an inconsistent and impotent humanitarianism.
It is plain that these words do not matter one whit to Benedict XVI or other originators and defenders of conciliarism. Some will admit the obvious, that Benedict plainly contradicts the defined teaching of the Church in a number of areas, contending, however, that he does so only as a "private theologian." There is a little problem here, though. Even a "private theologian," who is free to speculate on matters that have not been defined by Holy Mother Church, cannot hold any opinion, publicly or privately, that contradicts any article contained in the Deposit of Faith and remain a Catholic in good standing. Pope Leo XIII noted plainly in Satis Cognitum, December 8, 1896, that anyone who dissents from one iota of the Faith is no longer a Catholic. And it is, generally speaking, considered to be a plus for one to be a Catholic in good standing to hold ecclesiastical office. Once again, to Satis Cognitum:
The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. "There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition" (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).
The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. Epiphanius, Augustine, Theodore :, drew up a long list of the heresies of their times. St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. "No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic" (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88).
No "private theologian" can hold the views advanced by Joseph Ratzinger throughout his priesthood in contradiction of defined dogmas and remain a Catholic in good standing. To believe otherwise is to ignore Pope Leo's reiteration of the consistent teaching of the Church. Joseph Ratzinger's subjectivist/Modernist theology is simply not Catholic. Some will contend that, yes, it is possible for a heretic to govern as pope. Can it at least be recognized and admitted that the former Joseph Ratzinger knows the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church and dissents from it in a number of areas?
Joseph Ratzinger has sought to "re-think" the Faith in every manner imaginable, using novel ways to describe belief in Transubstantiation and the Atonement that confuse and bewilder the average reader, all to "appeal" to the mind of "modern" man, who has not exactly responded to these novel formulations with enthusiasm. Indeed, "modern man" has yawned in the face of these formulations. For man, created by God to know, love, and to serve Him as He has revealed Himself solely through His Catholic Church, responds promptly--or rejects utterly--only to the clear articulation of His truths as they have been handed down to us over the centuries under the infallible guidance of the Holy Ghost.
In like manner, you see, Benedict XVI has had to "re-think" the traditional piety of Catholicism. He does not humbly accept and submit to the doctrinal formulations of the Church as they have been handed down to us, and he does not humbly accept and practice the traditional forms of Catholic piety found in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. He has had to "re-think" these traditional forms of piety, just as he has had to "re-think" the liturgy, in order to justify in his own mind why it is right for a Catholic to engage in these practices and how to do so is not an impediment to the cause of ecumenism, of uniting the various Protestant "churches (which are not churches at all) into a "full communion of love" with the Catholic Church.
To try to make this point as clearly as I can, Joseph Ratzinger has made it a point to justify anew such things as devotion to Our Lady, going back to Scripture and other early sources in the Church without drawing from that Apostle of True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort, or that Apostle of the City of Mary Immaculate, Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He must come up with his own justifications for devotion to Mary, not being satisfied with those who have gone before him. Not surprisingly, therefore, he has admitted that he does not pray Our Lady's Rosary every day. He does not have time for it. He believes that his mind would wander too much if he tried to pray it every day. Catholic doctrine and Catholic piety, ladies and gentlemen, means very little to Joseph Ratzinger if he has not thought it afresh.
This stunning admission is contained in n an article, "Mary and Benedict XVI," written by Father Johann G. Roten, Mariologist at the University of Dayton, and posted on their website at: http://www.udayton.edu/mary/benedictmary.html:
In his own way, Benedict XVI values, too, the prayer of the rosary. For a "restless spirit" like his, the rosary "allows the soul to settle into tranquility. . . (makes it) calm and free and grant(s) it a vision of God" (Seewald, 319). The Pope associates the rosary with consolation and healing, an inner refuge, and the certitude "to be enfolded in the rhythm of the prayer of the whole Church" (Seewald, 320). Praying three rosaries daily, even one, would be too much for him: "I would wander too much." He fits two or three mysteries "in a certain interval when I want to get away from work and free myself a bit, when I want to be quiet and clear my head." He humbly recognizes that "the older you get, the less you are able to make great spiritual efforts" (Seewald, 320). And just as humbly he admits: "I do it quite simply, just as my parents used to pray" (319)
Some will protest by saying that it is not necessary to pray the Rosary every day to get Heaven. I do not want to be one of the people who tries to get to Heaven without praying the Rosary every day. I would not want to try to discharge my duties as a husband and a father without praying the Rosary every day. Far from being a sign of his "humility," Benedict's admission that he has to make time for the Rosary is based in his belief that he does not need to rely upon the chief weapon after the Mass itself that has been given us to get us home to Heaven. No wonder he has such contempt for Our Lady's Fatima Message.
Our Lady told Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos to pray Rosaries for the conversion of sinners. Our Lady told Francisco Marto that he would go to Heaven, but that he had to pray many Rosaries. If an innocent child must pray many Rosaries to get to Heaven, should not that teach us that we have even a greater obligation to do so? And what is this nonsense that "great spiritual efforts" get more difficult as one gets older? Go tell that to the saint of Wednesday, the Cure of Ars, Saint John Marie Vianney, or to his namesake, Saint John the Beloved, or to Saint John Bosco, who continued to pray his daily Rosaries until the day he died in 1888.
As one who has demonstrated by his words and actions a belief in his mentor von Balthasar's error of Universal Salvation, Benedict does not believe in the necessity of seeking with urgency the conversion of those outside of the Church in order that their souls be saved. Why should he bother himself with the praying of the Rosary daily for this intention? Oh, no, this admission is not a sign of humility. It is a sign that he rejects obedience to Our Lady's Fatima Message not because "his hand was forced" into deconstructing it but because he does not believe that "modern man" needs it. Modern man can leave or take the Rosary and be more or less assured of his salvation. Such a casual approach to the Rosary and to the salvation of the souls of men is not of the Catholic Faith. It is of the devil.
One possessed of the mind of Joseph Ratzinger would justify his refusal to pray the Rosary more or less along these lines: "the 'early Church' did not have the Rosary. People got to Heaven without the Rosary. We need not get the Rosary until the Thirteenth Century. It took time for this devotion to spread. The fact that it has spread is nice, but it is not essential for salvation and therefore I do not need to practice it absolutely as a sign of my love for God and my devotion to the instrument who made possible our salvation." And this is precisely what Benedict's defenders will say and write when all of this comes to light. Once again, I would hate to face God with a refusal to obey His Blessed Mother's Fatima Message. I have far too many sins on my soul as it is. I don't need to add contempt for the Mother of God to the debt I owe for those many sins.
There is a direct connection between this subjectivist approach to personal piety and the subjectivist approach to theology, which more or less contends: "People lived quite well before dogmatic councils. We can ignore them. They have outlived their usefulness. We must return to that 'simpler' form of Christianity of the first centuries." This attitude, evocative of Martin Luther himself, was assessed--and condemned--by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, August 12, 1950:
In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.
Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
Displaying the precise contempt for "dogmatization" that is typical of the "new thinkers" Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger rejected calls as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the proclamation of the doctrine of Our Lady as the Co-Redemptrix. One has to rely upon "Scripture" and the early Fathers, stripping away, of course, most everything else that fell in between, as Father Roten, who has summarized Benedict's thoughts on Mary from a variety of published sources, notes:
What counts in Ratzinger's eyes are the "essentials," the "profound inner level" of understanding, conviction, and commitment. Here may be one of the reasons, a personal as well as a professional one, why he assesses the movement in favor of the dogmatization of Mary's co-redemption with caution. He points out that Christ "builds a profound and new community with us" (Seewald, 306). Redemption is the heart of the "great exchange": what is his became ours, and what is ours becomes his. This "being with" is expressed in exemplary fashion in Mary who is the "prototype of the Church," and so to speak, "the Church in person." It must not lead us "to forget the 'first' of Christ: . . . Mary, too, is everything that she is through him" (Seewald, 306). Ratzinger finds that the expression "co-redemptrix" would obscure this absolute origin in Christ, and departs to "too great extent from the language of Scripture and Fathers." The continuity of language with Scripture and Fathers is essential for matters of faith. It would be improper, according to Ratzinger, to "simply manipulate language." He sees in the movement promoting Mary's co-redemption a "correct intention" being expressed in the wrong way. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith holds that "what is signified by this (scil. 'Co-redemptrix') is already better expressed in other titles of Mary." And so his answer to the request is summarized in the following sentence: "I do not think there will be any compliance with this demand, which in the meantime is being supported by several million people, within the foreseeable future" (Seewald, 306).
As is noted above, it is upon Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar and Hans Urs von Balthasar that Benedict has relied to formulate his own theological view of Our Lady He has had to "re-think" all of this:
Ratzinger's reading of Mary follows the pattern of ecclesiotypical Mariology. In doing so, he finds himself in the company of theological luminaries such as Przywara, Congar, de Lubac, and to an extent, Balthasar. The ecclesiotypical point of view rests on solid patristic foundations and uses typological methodology. What derives from this approach is a double mirror-effect. The Church reads and explicates itself in Mary, and vice-versa. Mary, for her part, explains the Church's relationship with Christ. In Mary the Church is Bride, Virgin, and Mother. Conversely, Mary's membership in the Church, eminent as may be, is solidly established. We find all of these characteristics in Ratzinger's Marian thinking. He pictures Mary as the "personal concretization" of the Church, the true "Daughter of Zion," the personalized beginning of the New Covenant (see: Introduction to Christianity, 1968, English 1969; Daughter of Zion, 1978, English 1983). We have here the foundation for Mary's role of model and exemplar for our faith. In a homily to conclude the month of May in 1979, the Archbishop of Munich hails Mary as the one who keeps the word in her heart. She is the one who believed and was praised "blessed" because she believed (Lk 1.45). Commenting on all the so-called rejection texts about Mary in the New Testament (Lk 11.27; 2.49; Mk 3,34; John 2,4), he shows that in fact they lead us to the very nature of Marian devotion. How is that? Mary is the "dwelling place for the Word of God," a place where the word is accepted, nurtured, protected; where it is given space, allowed to grow and be at home in a homeless world. Most important, Mary is the fertile ground where the seed of the Word becomes fruit. The Marian character of our being Christian is expressed in Luke's definition of true blessedness. Blessed are those who "hear the word of God and observe it" (Lk 11.28). Ratzinger sees in this Marian attitude a sure direction and trustworthy reference for all those pilgrims in route to eternity who have to brave confusion and contradictions, trial and hardship, anxiety and rejection
There are elements of truth, expressed very beautifully, to be sure, in this passage from Father Roten's article. There would appear to be nothing wrong with the view of the "new thinkers" about Our Lady, although they seem to assert "defenses" of Our Lady as "new" that have been used by the very Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries of the Church, giving the impression that they have thought of these things for the first time.
Ah, but the key is at the end: the "new thinkers" see Our Lady as one who will help us "brave confusion and contradictions," meaning that she will help us to see that truth can contradict itself, that we must accustom ourselves to the confusion caused by contradictions, which assertions are blasphemies against God and Our Lady both. There is no confusion and there are no contradicions in the life of a Catholic. There is only clarity and certainty.
Father Yves Congar himself, in a quote provided on the Tradion in Action website, makes it clear that he rejects the "idea" (it happens to be the defined teaching of the Catholic Church) that Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, Saint John the Beloved:
Since the decree Lamentabili of July 3, 1907, the Catholic treatises on Revelation included a paragraph about how Revelation closed with the death of the last Apostle. The condemned proposition was formulated as follows:
"Revelation, which constitutes the object of the Catholic Faith, was not completed with the Apostles."
The target of this condemnation was a concept of Revelation which, like that proposed by Loisy, considered Revelation to be the religious intuitions of mankind, a perception that broadens and becomes more perfect in relations between man and the unkown God. Or the mystical view of Tyrrell for whom Revelation relies on an interior act, an appeal or prophetic message that continues to appear in the religious consciences [of men].
Tyrrell admitted, however, that "the revelation given by Christ and the Apostles, independent of further theological reflection, already contained everything necessary for the fullness of the life of faith, hope, and charity. With the death of the last Apostle, the regulatory, classical period of Christian inspiration closed. Not in the sense that revelation - which is to a certain degree the privilege of each man - would have ceased abruptly, but in the sense that every further revelation needs to be controled and checked in accordance with apostolic revelation."
It is a concept very similar to the correct position that we find in Henri de Lubac, Edward Schillebeeckx, and Karl Rahner.
(Yves Congar, La Parole et le Souffle, Paris: Desclée, 1984, pp. 96-97.) La Parole et le Souffle, Paris: Desclée, 1984, pp. 96-97.)
Yes, the "new thinkers" believe that they have every right to "re-think" all aspects of the Faith as their work is part of an "ongoing" revelation known to each man that must be "discovered" and made relevant to "modern" needs, taking into account "scientific" advances.
These prideful men do not accept the fact there is no need to "re-think" anything about the Faith including devotion to Our Lady so as to make her "relevant" to "modern" man and to appeal to those outside of the Catholic Church. Why not draw from the wisdom of one of those "preconciliar" popes, Leo XIII, who wrote eleven encyclical letters on the Rosary. Here is an excerpt from Iucunda Semper Expectatione, September 8, 1894:
The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and, therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven. Now, this merciful office of hers, perhaps, appears in no other form of prayer so manifestly as it does in the Rosary. For in the Rosary all the part that Mary took as our co-Redemptress comes to us, as it were, set forth, and in such wise as though the facts were even then taking place; and this with much profit to our piety, whether in the contemplation of the succeeding sacred mysteries, or in the prayers which we speak and repeat with the lips. First come the Joyful Mysteries. The Eternal Son of God stoops to mankind, putting on its nature; but with the assent of Mary, who conceives Him by the Holy Ghost. Then St. John the Baptist, by a singular privilege, is sanctified in his mother's womb and favored with special graces that he might prepare the way of the Lord; and this comes to pass by the greeting of Mary who had been inspired to visit her cousin. At last the expected of nations comes to light, Christ the Savior. The Virgin bears Him. And when the Shepherds and the wise men, first-fruits of the Christian faith, come with longing to His cradle, they find there the young Child, with Mary, His Mother. Then, that He might before men offer Himself as a victim to His Heavenly Father, He desires to be taken to the Temple; and by the hands of Mary He is there presented to the Lord. It is Mary who, in the mysterious losing of her Son, seeks Him sorrowing, and finds Him again with joy. And the same truth is told again in the sorrowful mysteries.
Interesting to note is that Pope Leo referred to Our Lady as "co-Redemptress." Good enough for Pope Leo, not good enough for the prideful "new thinkers" who are constantly "re-thinking" the Faith as they "think" themselves outside of the Catholic Church?
Pope Leo went on in Iucunda Semper Expectatione to elucidate some of the fruits of praying the Rosary:
Those same things are, in fact, the most important and the most admirable of Christianity, the things through which the world was renewed and filled with the fruits of truth, justice, and peace. And it is remarkable how well adapted to every kind of mind, however unskilled, is the manner in which these things are proposed to us in the Rosary. They are proposed less as truths or doctrines to be speculated upon than as present facts to be seen and perceived. Thus presented, with the circumstances of place, time, and persons, these Mysteries produce the most living effect; and this without the slightest effort of imagination; for they are treated as things learnt and engraven in the heart from infancy. Thus, hardly is a Mystery named but the pious soul goes through it with ease of thought and quickness of feeling, and gathers therefrom, by the gift of Mary, abundance of the food of Heaven. And yet another title of joy and of acceptation in her eyes do our crowns of prayer acquire. For every time that we look once more with devotional remembrance upon these Mysteries we give her a sign of the gratitude of our hearts; we prove to her that we cannot often enough call to mind the blessings of her unwearied charity in the work of our salvation. At such recollections, practiced by us with the frequency of love in her presence, who may express, who may even conceive, what ever-new joys overflow her ever-blessed soul, and what tender affections arise therein, of mercy and of a mother's love! Besides these recollections, moreover, as the sacred Mysteries pass by they cause our prayers to be transformed into impulses of entreaty that have an indescribable power over the heart of Mary. Yes, we fly to thee, we miserable children of Eve, O holy Mother of God. To thee we lift our prayers, for thou art the Mediatrix, powerful at once and pitiful, of our salvation. Oh, by the sweetness of the joys that came to thee from thy Son Jesus, by thy participation in His ineffable sorrows, by the splendors of His glory shining in thee, we instantly beseech thee, listen, be pitiful, hear us, unworthy though we be!
Pope Leo then explained in the same encyclical letter that the Rosary was necessary to combat the social evils of the day, including attacks on the Faith in Italy:
Thus the excellence of the Rosary; considered under the double aspect We have here set forth, will convince you, Venerable Brethren, of the reasons We have for an incessant eagerness to commend and to promote it. At the present day -- and on this We have already touched -- there is a signal necessity of special help from Heaven, particularly manifest in the many tribulations suffered by the Church as to her liberties and her rights, as also in the perils whereby the prosperity and peace of Christian society are fundamentally threatened. So it is that it belongs to Our office to assert once again that We place the best of Our hopes in the holy Rosary, inasmuch as more than any other means it can impetrate from God the succor which We need. It is Our ardent wish that this devotion shall be restored to the place of honor; in the city and in the village, in the family and in the workshop, in the noble's house and in the peasant's; that it should be to all a dear devotion and a noble sign of their faith; that it may be a sure way to the gaining of the favor of pardon. To this end it is indispensable that zeal should be redoubled, while impiety daily redoubles its efforts and labors to move the justice of God and to provoke, for the general ruin, His terrible vengeance. Amongst so many causes of grief to all good men, and to Ourself, not the least is this, that in the very midst of Catholic nations there exist persons who are ever ready to rejoice in that which insults and outrages our august religion; and that they themselves, with incredible effrontery and with all publicity, seize every opportunity of teaching the multitude to hold reverend things in contempt and of persuading them from their old confidence in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. During the last months the very person of Our Divine Redeemer has not been spared. Such a depth of shameless indignity has been reached that Jesus Christ Himself has been dragged upon the stage of a theater often contaminated with corruptions, and has been represented there discrowned of that Divinity upon which rests the whole work of human salvation. And the last touch of shame was added in an attempt to rescue from the execration of ages the guilty name of him who was the very sign of perfidy, the betrayer of Christ. At the consummation of such excesses in the cities of Italy there arose a general cry of indignation, and energetic protest against the violation and trampling under foot of the inviolable rights of religion, and this in a nation that has for its greatest and most righteous boast that it is Catholic. The Bishops rose at once, on fire with holy zeal. And first they made their vigorous appeal to those whose sacred duty it is to safeguard the decorum of the religion of the country. Next, they informed their people of the gravity of the scandal, and exhorted them to special acts of reparation towards our most loving Savior exposed to such slanders.
Pope Saint Pius V called upon Catholics to pray the Rosary as the combined Christian fleet defeated the Mohammedan Turks in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Jan Sobieski prayed the Rosary as he defended the Gates of Vienna against the Mohammedan Turks on September 12, 1683. Should not a pope in our own day be calling upon the faithful to pray the Rosary daily without adding anything new to it (see Giovanni Paolo Secundo il Grande and Mysteries, Luminous)? Should not a pope in our own day be providing the example by praying the Rosary himself every single day?
The "new thinkers," you see, accept popular devotion to Our Lady on subjectivist terms, not as an absolute imperative to seek to save one's soul. Devotion to Our Lady is "nice" and can be justified by the "research" of the "new thinkers." If one has better things to do with his time than pray the Rosary, however, one is in no danger of losing his soul. Well, how can Benedict believe otherwise? He believes that a Protestant syncretist is in Heaven. He believes that Jews save their souls through the Old Covenant. What would he make of Saint Alphonsus Liguori's The Glories of Mary, to say nothing of Saint Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary?
Modernism is based in subjectivism, both insofar as theology and personal piety are concerned. Modernism is based in pride. Benedict XVI, rather than accept the Faith has it has been handed down to the Church, must pridefully "re-think" and "re-formulate" everything in the light of subjectivist principles. What will he say on the one hundreth annivesrary of Pope Saint Pius X's Pascendi Dominici Gregis one year from September 8?
Some will ask what is the purpose of pointing all of this out? Why bother people with this? What practical difference can even raising this subject make in our lives?
Well, truth matters, does it not? We should never be afraid of the truth, yes, even if it leads us to understand that the apparent holder of the papacy is a dissenter from various articles of the Catholic Faith, placing him,. as Pope Leo XIII noted in Satis Cognitum, outside of the pale of the Catholic Church. God will triumph over apostates. The Triumph of His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart will indeed be made manifest. But we must know who the enemies of the Faith are and denounce their treachery no matter what ecclesiastical office they appear to hold. Joseph Ratzinger fell from the Catholic Faith long before April 20, 2005. His own copious words convict him clearly in this regard.
One writer has said that it might be possible "in the future" for there to be an antipope in Rome. Why is it not even possible that "the future" is here and now? Why not face the truth that no one, including a private theologian, can dissent from any article in the Deposit of Faith and remain a Catholic in good standing? (See Father Anthony Cekada's article dealing with this matter: A Short Case for Sedevacantism at http://www.traditionalmass.org/articles/article.php?id=70&catname=10)
For years, you see, I had accepted very uncritically some of the contentions that were made by various theologians concerning the belief that it is possible for a heretical pope to govern the Church. Although I knew that there were counter-arguments, I did not really want to investigate them. There is nothing so easy as refusing to open one's eyes to evidence that one does not want to consider because it might force one to consider possibilities that one has rejected out-of-hand previously.
Indeed, one man wrote to me recenty to say that "there is no way that sedevacantism can be true." Well, this is simply not so. As I have been noting the last few months, Mario Francesco Cardinal Pompedda, the former head of the Apostolic Signatura and no friend of Tradition whatsoever, was quoted in a Zenit report in February of 2005, a time when John Paul II was in the process of dying from the effects of Stage 3 Parkinson's Disease, that the See of Peter would be "vacant in the case of heresy." That got my attention at the time. "All right," I said to Sharon, "sedevacantism is not an impossibility after all, it appears." Father Cekada made excellent points in his short article, which is just one of many produced on the subject over the years. So have Fathers Francisco and Dominic Radecki, CMRI, in Tumultuous Times, in which is included the following quotation:
The question of a heretical pope was raised by one of the cardinals at the Vatican Council of 1870:
'What is to be done with the pope if he becomes a heretic?' It was answered that 'there has been been such a case; the council of bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church.' The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be false doctrine, and he would cease to be pope, being deposed by God Himself. If the pope, for instance, were to say that belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed; I believe in Christ, etc. The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility. If he denies any Dogmas of the Church held by ever true believer, he is no more pope than you or I. (Father James McGovern, The Life and Work of Pope Leo XIII, p. 241, quoted in Tumultuous Times, p. 278.)
As noted above, some will strain to say that the promotion of novelties that contradict the consistent teaching of the Church (religious liberty, the separation of Church and State, ecumenism, the belief that false religions can "contribute" to the betterment of nations and the world, the belief that there are "churches" outside of the Catholic Church wherein people can save their souls, the belief that the Old Covenant has not been superseded by the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Our Lord and that the former Covenant remains a valid means of salvation for the Jews), to say nothing of the revolutionary change in the worship represented by the Novus Ordo Missae, either do not represent formal heresy or are simply the "private opinions" of popes in their capacity as "private theologians." Once again, however, no one can hold to, no less propagate openly, beliefs that contradiction the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on matters contained in her Ordinary Magisterium and remain a Catholic in good standing. Those who have been advancing the sedevacantist thesis, therefore, have done their due diligence and are not creating theological arguments out of whole cloth.
Without casting any aspersions on a single soul who would disagree with the raising of these questions, I simply ask those who have read this article to do two things: spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer and pray as many Rosaries every day as your state-in-life permits. Say Rosaries instead of listening to the un-Catholic, secular inanities of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. Say Rosaries instead of wasting your time on "chat rooms." Say Rosaries instead of looking at this site if looking at this website takes time away from your prayers! Say Rosaries. Say Rosaries. Say Rosaries. Say Rosaries.
Find a good place to save your soul outside of the conciliar structures, to which we must make no concessions whatsoever. Good is being done for souls in all throughout the traditional catacombs that exist outside of the structures of conciliarism. We must, as I have been noting, bear with each other charitably, understanding that the solution to our problems at present runs entirely through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Wonderful priests are spending themselves for souls in all of the extra-conciliar chapels. Let us pray for them and make sacrifices for them, commending them and their intentions daily to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As I have noted on so many other occasions recently, there is one thing common in all of the extra-conciliar traditional venues (sedevacantist, independent, Society of Saint Pius X) we have been visiting of late: a desire to seek the salvation of one's soul by clinging to the authentic Tradition of the Church as best as one can. Most of the people we meet just want to go to the Mass of the ages and have the Faith as it been handed down to us from the Apostles. Some people choose a particular extra-conciliar traditional chapel solely because it is the closest--and perhaps only--place they can get to the Mass of the ages, keeping to themselves whatever "positions," if any, they hold about the state of the Church.
Although it is important to examine the nature of the crisis we face, we must never lose sight of the fact that we must first and foremost seek a sure shelter in the present storm to save our souls without casting aspersions on others who have sought out different shelters in the traditional catacombs and/or have staked out positions different from ours.
Keep close to Our Lord in His Real Presence and to His Most Blessed Mother. Say your Rosaries. Offer your sacrifices and penances and mortifications to God through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Pour out your very selves to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to be a small instrument in helping to bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will restore Tradition in the Church and Christendom in the world, putting an end, at least for a certain period of peace, to the demonic reign of subjectivism and of the ethos it has spawned, conciliarism, in the life of ordinary Catholics and in the larger life of the world.
Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Cajetan, pray for us.
Saint Anne, pray for us.
Saint Joachim, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
Pope Saint Stephen I, pray for us.
Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Basil, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
The Seven Machabees, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.