A Catholic Answer for Karl Keating

Apparently, Karl Keating of Catholic Answers is concerned about me; so concerned, in fact, that he took to FaceBook on Friday to ask the people on his “friends list” (of which I am one), “Can anyone explain what’s going on with Louie Verrecchio?”

Though I’ve already provided this answer directly to Karl (as men, at least where I come from, are accustomed to addressing one another), I do so publicly as well since that was the venue in which the query was posed. In truth, this topic concerns all who sincerely wish to follow the way of salvation given by Christ through the Holy Catholic Church alone.  It is a public matter.

Karl’s specific concerns and my response follow:  

Dear Karl,

You are correct, the work I began in 2003 (the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series) has “achieved some level of notoriety for [my] positive work on behalf of the Church … seconded by the episcopal endorsements.”

This recognition remains as the content and value of this work also remains.

Though you are also correct in recognizing a shift in the focus of my writing, what you refer to as “apparently new views” are really better understood as simply a continuation of the original purpose of my apostolate; namely, to shine the light of sacred Tradition upon the conciliar text, so that it may be evaluated and understood for what it truly is.

This work entails measuring the individual propositions set forth in the Council documents, not by anything mutable, but by the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles, the same that is transmitted by this Tradition, the same yesterday, today and always.

More broadly speaking, my work has always been motivated by a desire to “safeguard” from all corruption and misunderstanding, “the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine,” whether such be invited explicitly through error, or implicitly by way of ambiguity and imprecision, regardless of the source. This, incidentally, is exactly what Pope John XXIII instructed the Council Fathers to do as their “greatest concern.”

Initially, my writing on the Council focused primarily on refuting the “spirit of Vatican II” wherein the Council is often misquoted or misunderstood.

Today, I tend to focus more on that much smaller portion of the conciliar text, those that are sources of doctrinal confusion, not based on a misrepresentation, but for what they actually say. This text represents “a little leaven” indeed, but has created much difficulty in the Church. A number of examples exist that I will not list here, but many are treated on this blog. (Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Cardinal Walter Kasper have both spoken out on this problem with the text as well. Their comments are worthy of examining if you haven’t already.)

You wrote, “Recently Verrecchio has been posting jabs at the last few popes and at the Council.”

Again, I must clarify; what you call “jabs” are not properly aimed at the person of the pope, but rather at individual statements or actions of the pope that run counter to the doctrine of the faith, inviting misunderstanding and confusion. Likewise, with regard to the Council.

Let’s look at the latter first. You point as an example to my FaceBook post of Oct. 11 where I wrote:

“Fifty-one years ago today, as the Church celebrated the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Second Vatican Council opened. On December 8, 1965, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Council would close, the work of dethroning her Son having been completed.”

You then ask, “So the purpose of Vatican II was to ‘dethrone’ the Son of God?”

My statement concerns one rather specific, and very tragic, result of the Council’s work; namely, the effective dethronement of Christ the King, otherwise understood as the tacit rejection of what is called His Social Kingship. (A point that Bishop Schneider also notes.)

This incredibly important topic cannot be properly addressed in just  a few paragraphs. In fact, I provided a much more detailed treatment in that very same post, but perhaps you missed it.

Below is a video of a talk that I gave on this topic. It runs approximately 45 minutes and is really just a good start. Beyond that, I would invite you to read (or reread as the case may be) the Encyclical Quas Primas in which Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King.

Religious Liberty: In Defense of Christ the King from Louie Verrecchio on Vimeo.

Though there is much more one might explore in order to grasp this matter, having done just these two things, it should be clear based upon the contents of Dignitatis Humanae (the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican II) and the way in which this document has been interpreted and implemented by the popes since the Council (as evidenced by their treatment, or lack thereof, of humankind’s obligation to recognize the Social Kingship of Christ) that indeed the work of the Council has effectively resulted in His dethronement. (Of course, I speak figuratively since no one – not a pope and not a council – has the authority to truly dethrone Him. Our Lord’s reign is an enduring reality even if the men of our age choose to ignore it, as indeed they do.)

Unfortunately, apart from taking considerable time to become familiar with the doctrine articulated in the pre-conciliar magisterium on the topic of religious liberty and Church-State relations, (as articulated in such documents as Immortale Dei, Libertas, Vehementer Nos, Quanta Cura, for example) a meaningful conversation on the subject will not be possible. Then again, neither will it be possible to apply the “hermeneutic of continuity” that was urged by Pope Benedict XVI, as the traditional teaching is precisely that which provides the basis for continuity.

Moving on to the pope, you pointed out:

Two days ago Verrecchio wrote this, “Does the pope really believe that the entire human race enjoys, in some form or fashion, communion with the Church? Well, yes, apparently so, which explains why he has so much difficulty accepting the Church’s mission as the Lord plainly gave it.”

About which, you declared, “What hubris.”

I agree. One of us, either me or the pope, is guilty of hubris, but before I address this concern directly, let me first say that I was pleased to see that you had made mention in this same FaceBook post of the Arian heresy since it provides a rather poignant historical precedent for the very serious situation of a legitimate pope embracing doctrinal error to the harm of the faithful.

As you know, during the Arian crisis, Pope Liberius and the majority of bishops fell into this error, with the pope even going so far as to condemn St. Athanasius for upholding the truth! (Notice which one is a saint.)

This, of course, is just one such incident in the history of the Church wherein a pope has publicly invited harm upon the faithful by either his words or his deeds. The first, needless to say, is recorded in Sacred Scripture in the rebuking of St. Peter by St. Paul.

In any event, your mention of the Arian heresy points to the widely unrecognized fact that popes can in fact depart from the doctrine of the faith, and when they do (as Aquinas and others have made very clear) we are obligated to oppose their errors for our own good and for the good of others. I would even say that those, like us, who have a public voice are all the more obligated in this sense.

Now, back to Pope Francis and his difficulty accepting the mission of the Church. (This response is long already, so I will give this an abbreviated, but adequate treatment.)

What is the mission of the Church? We both know that it is, as recorded in Matthew 28, properly summarized as converting the nations to Christ and His Holy Catholic Church, baptizing, teaching all that He commanded; bringing the peoples of the world into the Catholic Church. Simple enough.

I think you would agree with me in saying that St. Peter gave an excellent example of what the Lord expects of His Church on Pentecost when he taught very plainly and very directly, calling the people to baptism, in charity, that they may live.

To this point in his papacy, Pope Francis has made any number of false and misleading statements on this note, one building upon the other, to the point of doing serious harm to the faithful and to unbelievers alike. I offer just a few examples:

“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.” (Pope Francis, as reported by CNS, August 7, 2013)

In another venue he said, “Proselytism is solemn nonsense. It makes no sense.”

What is proselytism? Seeking proselytes; i.e., converts. This is, quite simply, the mission of the Church. It most assuredly is not nonsense. Many martyrs died doing exactly this, as you well know.

These are not just isolated incidents.

On a related note, we find another, related, very harmful statement made by the pope in which he called “diversity of religions” whilst addressing a gathering that included Muslims and other non-Catholics, “a gift.”

Now that is hubris. Imagine, a pope daring to profess to the world that false religions, those that honor false gods and cannot save, the same that supplant the worship due as the first demand of justice to Our Lord, is a gift. A gift!

This is a terrible, terrible offense against God and a gross distortion of the faith of the Church. It also endangers the souls of many.

How can a faithful Catholic not combat such poisonous prose as this?

Is one constrained simply because it comes from a pope? Certainly not.

If a Protestant caller to Catholic Answers Live insisted on these very same things, (religious diversity is a gift, there is no need to for you to labor for converts to the one true faith, proselytism is nonsense) you would reject such propositions plainly and firmly, as you should.

Likewise, if some liberal Notre Dame theology professor was teaching the same, you would rebuke him.

Yet, how much more danger is posed when the pope, the Vicar of Christ, makes such unbelievable statements? We both know that the answer is much, much more. It is a terrible thing, a very painful thing, when these offenses against the faith come from the pope.

As we both know, these kinds of things and worse have happened in ages past. Why Catholics today are willing to check their intellect at the door, as if we are magically immune from such things, is a mystery to me.

In conclusion, while I am flattered by your concern, my loyalty is to Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.

Where the Council invites error and confusion, I will address it head on. Likewise, if the pope or anyone else does the same, even if he be an angel from heaven, as St. Paul said, I will combat that as well.

In other words, I will always do my best to defend the truths of our faith as they have been handed down to us through the centuries, not because I happen to like them, but because they come from God.

Those who maintain that we must accept with docility everything the pope states, even when such is clearly not Catholic, simply do not know what the papacy truly is. Those who believe the same regarding the Council likewise haven’t a clue what the Council is.

Whether you or anyone else finds what I’ve offered here compelling is of no consequence. My role isn’t to change anyone’s mind, it is simply to defend the truth, and I will gladly relinquish every accolade and endorsement in the process.

Will you?

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