Novelties Beget Novelties
Catholics have lived through forty years of revolutionary novelties that have undermined the integrity of the Faith and weakened, humanly speaking, the ability of Holy Mother Church to combat the multifaceted manifestations of Modernism in the midst of the world. Indeed, the very revolutionary novelties in matters of liturgy and doctrine that have been foisted on Catholics in the past forty years are themselves manifestations of different aspects of the Modernist spirit, analyzed so presciently by Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis, issued on September 8, 1907.
The revolutionary novelties in liturgy and doctrine have spawned even more novelties, especially as they pertain to the governance of the Church by bishops and their chancery factotums. Fomenters of dissent and outright heresy have been promoted and protected by bishops and chancery officials. Countless numbers of priests who have simply tried to preserve the Deposit of Faith in all of its holy integrity have been persecuted, stigmatized in some instances by diagnoses of psychological disorders, a tactic used to great effect by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin from 1924 until his death on March 5, 1953.
One of the foremost goals of all revolutionaries is to wipe out the truth about the past and to create a "memory" about the past that justifies their novelties. The Protestant Revolutionaries were the pioneers of wiping out the memory of the glories of Christendom, achieving a measure of success that was no doubt influential in helping to convince the Freemasons and their kindred spirits in the secular world that similar efforts could be as successful in social revolutions.
Pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine disparaged the past during the time of the American Revolution. James Madison did so in The Federalist, Number One, stating that the American Constitution was a decisive break from the "tyranny" of the past, a period that was meant to include everything up to 1787, including Christendom. The French Revolutionaries went so far as to try to change the dating of time, a device copied by the Bolsheviks and the Maoists and so many others. Contemporary social engineers in our society have used textbooks and the mass media to foment false images of the past in order to justify their own nefarious agendas, relying principally upon sloganeering as the rhetorical weapon of choice to try to brand as intolerant and bigoted anyone who dares to contradict their falsehoods.
Flushing the past down the Orwellian "memory hole" has been one of the principal means by which the theological and liturgical revolutionaries have attempted to disparage everything associated with the "preconciliar" era, including the Traditional Latin Mass and all Papal pronouncements prior to 1958 that warned Catholics about the dangers of the modern world (especially those of Blessed Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X, Pope Pius XI). However, our own revolutionaries have gone beyond the mere wiping out the past down the memory hole. They have, as noted before, sought to harass and to persecute those who refuse to have their memories erased, both priests and laity. The persecution in some dioceses has been especially vicious against priests, both those who have tried to maintain as much tradition as they could in the new order of things and those who are dedicated to the restoration and growth of the Traditional Latin Mass. And it is sometimes the case that this harassment and persecution does not stop with the death of a particular priest, as I indicated in several pieces published on websites concerning the late Father Salvatore Franco, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who was denied his dying wish to have a solemn traditional requiem Mass. Father Franco's dying wish was fulfilled by the Society of Pope Saint Pius X, which subjected this faithful son of the Blessed Mother to even more opprobrium after death than he experienced in life.
Yes, all of this is well known. However, one of the novelties of recent times that has been relatively unexplored is the phenomenon of the high degree of visibility of curial cardinals. Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods document in their masterful The Great Facade (which has evidently gotten under the skin of certain defenders of ecclesiastical novelties as being perfectly compatible with our "unbroken" tradition) the number of times that men such as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have contradicted themselves in their public statements. Ferrara and Woods also cite the disputes that have broken out quite publicly between Cardinal Ratzinger and Walter Kaspar, who is the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. This is simply unprecedented in the history of the Church.
True, there have been times when men like Saint Robert Bellarmine, who was a prominent cardinal, were very visible in disputes with heretics such as the former Augustinian monk known as Martin Luther. Some of the fathers of the Vatican I were not exactly models of invisibility during the debates on the matter of Papal infallibility. However, it has been most rare in the history of the Church for the men who have served a Pope in the Holy See's sacred dicasteries even to be known to the average Catholic, no less prominent figures who are interviewed on a regular basis and whose pronouncements are used by disputants to prove or disprove which "side" in the Church is correct on a given point of doctrine and/or pastoral practice.
The ubiquitous presence of the modern mass media is certainly one reason why curial cardinals are more visible today, to be sure. However, it is arguably the case that the curial officials of yore would have eschewed the spotlight and do their work in holy anonymity. Additionally, the curial officials of the past had no need to be interviewed precisely because the doctrinal and pastoral language of the Church was crystal clear. It needed no elaborate explanations. Ambiguity was not part of the language of popes or Vatican documents. One of the reasons that the writings of such great popes as Blessed Pius V and Leo XIII and Saint Pius X and Pius XI are still producing converts to the true Faith is that they explained things in their encyclical letters with excruciating clarity. Each of their documents resonates with Catholicity. Although Vatican I was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War, the work it did manage to complete, including the solemn decree of Papal infallibility, did not have to be explained by endless processions of curial cardinals or other Vatican spokesmen (there was no equivalent of Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls in the past). The documents and decrees spoke for themselves. And those documents and decrees were taken seriously by many, although certainly not all, of the world's bishops and priests.
To wit, there was serious academic discussion in Catholic high schools and colleges and universities of Pope Pius XI's great encyclical on the Social Kingship of Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ soon after it was released in 1925. Indeed, the program for my late father's graduation ceremony from Brooklyn Preparatory High School, which was run by the Jesuits during the Catholic phase of their history, indicates that the subject of the salutatorian's address was "The Catholic State in Theory" and the subject of the valedictorian's address was "The Catholic State in Practice." Encyclicals such as Quas Primas did not need legions of theologians and workshops to make them understandable to the average Catholic. Their inherent Catholicity spoke for themselves. Indeed, the older encyclical letters, many of which are contradicted by the current language and praxis of the Church, resonate the desire to be faithful to Our Lord's command to bring all souls into the true Church He founded on the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
The documents of Vatican II are filled with ambiguity. As one priest noted in a conference in Culver City, California, in May of 2002, "entire forests have been tore down to produce the paper necessary to explain how the phrase 'the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church' is the same as the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Christ Himself." As if the ambiguity of the texts of many of the Vatican II documents is not enough, Catholics have had to contend with numerous papal statements and actions that have bewildered, if not actually scandalized, the faithful. The list of such things is too long to be recounted here. Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods have done an excellent job of doing so in The Great Facade. Father Paul Kramer, the editor of The Devil's Final Battle, has also compiled an impressive series of articles documenting the Vatican's efforts to deceive the faithful about the Third Secret of Fatima. The contradictions are there for all who have the honesty to admit that they exist and that they cannot be explained away by spin-doctoring.
Undaunted, though, Vatican officials, including curial cardinals, have and do attempt to explain away simple truths by making positivistic statements and defying the logic of the principle of non-contradiction. The aforementioned Cardinal Kaspar has said in so many words that Jews do not have to convert to the Faith, that they are saved by their belief in the Old Covenant, which he says has not been superceded by the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by the Divine Redeemer at the Last Supper and ratified by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. And there have been times when Cardinal Ratzinger, who has made statements about the Jews similar to those of Kaspar's, and Kaspar have engaged in a colloquy on various points of doctrine, something that has been pointed out in The Great Facade. This unprecedented sort of public disputation between two curial cardinals on matters of doctrine and praxis was actually defended by one critic of The Great Facade, a man who contended that the clash of views among prominent cardinals was one of the ways Pope John Paul II "got the best" out of his cardinals. Have we reached such a point that men who want to defend the indefensible (something I did myself in an article published in 1993) have to canonize a sort of Hegelian dialectic to justify the placing of heretics in positions of curial authority?
The novelties of liturgy and doctrine of the past forty years has produced, therefore, a situation where public comment by curial cardinals is expected and welcomed. The more these men talk, however, the more confusion is added, especially to those who follow these bewildering and scandalous developments on various services such as the Vatican Information Service (VIS) and ZENIT. This has led to a situation where Catholics who accept the Deposit of Faith-but who try very hard to convince themselves that the Pope has not undermined it-cite one set of cardinals to prove their points while those Catholics who are dissenters from the Deposit Faith cite yet another set of cardinals to prove their points. The sort of public visibility and conflict thus generated by the novelties of the past forty years has undermined the authority of the Church, leading many poorly catechized Catholics (who are themselves the victims of the revolutionary novelties of the past four decades) to conclude that not even the Church herslf has "any answers" to help "modern humankind" face the challenges of a "technologically advanced" world.
Although it will not happen in our lifetimes-or maybe even in our children's lifetimes, there will have to come a day when some Pope is going to put a stop to the nonsense of collegiality within the curial and within the world's episcopate. There is going to have to come a day when some Pope in the future is going to exercise papal authority monarchically, placing his subordinates under silence to carry out their work for the salvation and sanctification of souls in complete conformity with the Deposit of Faith the Divine Redeemer entrusted to Holy Mother Church. There is going to have to come a day when some Pope in the future will once again adopt the language of certainty and clarity that prevailed among popes and bishops from the very moment Saint Peter addressed the crowd in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost Sunday.