We continue with a look at those subjects the treatment of which stand out as prime examples of a Concilium contra Papa Ratti [Part One]:
“On the 6th day of January, on the Feast of the Epiphany of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the year 1928,” Pope Pius XI promulgated his Encyclical on Religious Unity, Mortalium Animos; inarguably the most important piece of papal magisterium of the last century on the topic of ecumenism.
The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio, footnotes this supremely important reaffirmation of immutable Catholic doctrine precisely zero times, and the reason is rather obvious:
The teaching expressed in Mortalium Animos, based as it is upon Scripture and Tradition, is a crystal clear condemnation of the ecumenical aims of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, it reads as if the Holy Father, Pius XI, had the specific activities of today’s Roman ecumenists in mind as he wrote.
For instance, the Holy Father states:
And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion … For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: “That they all may be one…. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd,” with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. [Mortalium Animos]
Oh, how many times do our churchmen, including Pope Francis, misappropriate Our Blessed Lord’s prayer (as recorded in Gospel according to St. John, chapter 17) in support of their unbridled ecumenical aims!
Pope Pius XI continues:
For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. [ibid.]
This, my friends, is precisely the mindset of the disciples of Roncalli’s Council, who labor to encourage earthbound expressions of human cooperation under the guise of “Christian unity.”
In truth, as Pope Pius XI states with unassailable precision, there is but one way to unity:
The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. [ibid.]
By contrast, how did the Council choose to proceed?
In answer to this question, I can perhaps do no better than to provide firsthand testimony from someone who was involved from the earliest days of the newly established Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, all the way to the Council’s conclusion and beyond:
“No one can tell us this is the way they did it last year…” – Cardinal Augustine Bea
Of even lesser concern still was the way Pope Pius XI “did it” back in 1928; with “it” meaning defend the Apostolic faith with “wondrous wisdom and heroic courage, to enlighten the minds and strengthen the wills of the shepherds of souls and of the faithful,” to quote Cardinal Ruffini yet again.
The work of the Council with respect to ecumenism would be “a completely new tradition” indeed.
Unitatis Redintegratio fails to suggest even once that the goal of authentic ecumenism is the conversion of heretics and schismatics to the one true faith; instead it issues more than ten calls for “dialogue” in order to “prepared the way for cooperation between” Catholics and all manner of self-identified “Christians” in supposed service to the common good.
Pope Pius XI understood very well the grave dangers associated with such activities, and so he declared:
It is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies [those wherein Catholics join forces with the heretics and schismatics], nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. [ibid.]
Today, with the Council’s winds in their sails, our churchmen do not hesitate to travel the world in order to take part in such interreligious services; in fact, all-too-often, it is the pope himself who leads the way.
As for what is at stake in the matter, Pope Pius XI left no room for doubt:
The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind. [ibid. NOTE: Here Pope Pius XI quotes Lactantius, a fourth century Christian apologist]
Did you get that?
At stake here is nothing less serious than “the hope of life and salvation,” to which those outside the Church are “strangers.”
As for the Council’s treatment of ecumenism under the direction of Cardinal Bea whose secretariat, let us recall, was given a mandate from Pope John XIII to operate unconnected to any tradition?
It gave schismatics and heretics every reason to remain within their defective communities – outside of the fount of truth, the house of Faith, and the temple of God that is the Holy Catholic Church alone:
The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion … These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation … For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them [the communities of the schismatics and heretics] as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.
The question must be asked, if indeed the liturgical services and communities of the “brethren divided” are “means of salvation,” why should they depart from their comfortable confines in favor of the Catholic Church?
The answer: There is no reason beyond mere preference.
If the Council is to be believed, membership in the Holy Catholic Church versus a protestant community is rather like the difference between traveling by boat or by raft – regardless of choice, either one will suffice in reaching the desired destination; salvation.
To be clear: Be not fooled by the qualifier “which derive their efficacy…”
The reality is that the liturgies and the communities of the “brethren divided” have no efficacy as liturgies and communities. It is for this reason that Pope Pius XI, a truly Holy Father indeed, expressed a longing for the day when:
Those who are separated from Us: if these humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity. [ibid.]
May we live to see the day when Our Lord will grant us a faithful pope who loves the “brethren divided” enough to speak likewise.
“On the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, on the 19th of March, 1937,” Pope Pius XI issued the Encyclical Divini Redemptoris in order to “expose once more in a brief synthesis the principles of atheistic Communism as they are manifested chiefly in bolshevism.”
Note well that the condemnation of Communism to follow was not an entirely new initiative, but rather an attempt to “once more” warn the faithful of its dangers.
Why reiterate this warning then?
As the Holy Father explains, it was necessary in order to counteract “the insidious deceits with which Communists endeavor, all too successfully, to attract even men of good faith.”
Pope Pius XI could have hardly spoken more clearly in describing the Communist menace:
Communism offers the world as the glad tidings of deliverance and salvation! It is a system full of errors and sophisms. It is in opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation. It subverts the social order, because it means the destruction of its foundations; because it ignores the true origin and purpose of the State; because it denies the rights, dignity and liberty of human personality. [ibid.]
Leaving no room whatsoever for misunderstanding, the Sovereign Pontiff ordered the bishops throughout the world to protect their flocks from any temptation to believe that they may fruitfully cooperate with the Communists:
See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. [ibid.]
As every Catholic worthy of the name surely knows, it is never permissible to collaborate in any endeavor that is intrinsically wrong, and yet, in its approach to Communism, the Second Vatican Council chose the path of cooperation in pursuit of yet another “dialogue” partner.
According to Franco Bellegrandi, longtime L‘Osservatore Romano journalist, Vatican insider, and former member of the Vatican Noble Guard during the pontificates of Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI:
In the course of the Council, firmly bridled in the large hand of Roncalli, when it comes to the “Church of Silence” the password is “hold-your-tongue.” Certain things, unpleasant and irritating to the “conciliatory” at all costs, must not be uttered. So that the men of the West believe in the communist “good will,” even toward religion. Therefore, the directive in the Council is to keep quiet, if not smile, before the incredible evolution of that communism in respectable disguise that now claims to be ready to deal with the Vatican. [See Bellegrandi, Nikita Roncalli, pg. 134]
John XXIII, you see, had dispatched Dean of the College of Cardinals, Eugène Cardinal Tisserant to make a deal with the Devil:
In a 2007 book called The Metz Agreement, veteran French essayist Jean Madiran gathers a number of sourced claims, testifying that a deal was hatched during Soviet-arranged secret talks in 1962. The meeting, Madiran says, took place in Metz, France, between Metropolitan Nikodim, the Russian Orthodox Church’s then-“foreign minister,” and Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, a senior French Vatican official. Metropolitan Nikodim was, according to Moscow archives, a KGB agent.
Various sources have since confirmed that an agreement was reached, instructing the Council not to make any direct attack on Communism. The Orthodox then agreed to accept the Vatican’s invitation to send a number of observers to the Council. [Edward Pentin, Catholic World Report, 10 December, 2012]
And so it is that Communism, the system described by Pope Pius XI as “full of errors and sophisms … in opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation,” was never directly addressed, much condemned, at Vatican Council II.
It is often assumed that an examination of religious liberty as traditionally understood versus the novelties that emerged from the Council is rather complex. Indeed, volumes have been written by Catholic scholars seeking to reconcile the two approaches for more than fifty years now.
In truth, however, the matter is really quite simple and easily understood once one comes to recognize the disparate foundations upon which these two irreconcilable propositions are built.
The conciliar approach is constructed squarely upon the “dignity of the human person” and the rights of man as the very title to the conciliar document, Dignitatis Humanae, suggests.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with recognizing and asserting the rights that belong to man; the same being reflective of human dignity. A problem arises, however, when these rights are asserted apart from their corresponding duties.
When this approach prevails, one risks losing sight of the reality that all authentic human rights come from God. In other words, one may fall prey to the lie that man’s rights flow directly from himself and his dignity.
In truth, God is the Source of both human dignity and human rights, and each of these can be lost as man wanders far from Him and His Divine Law.
By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and therefore falls away from human dignity, in so far as man is naturally free and exists for his own sake, and falls somehow into the slavery of the beasts… [Aquinas – Summa Theologica – II – II Q. 64 A. 2]
As for the loss of rights, even in civil affairs, men justly lose certain rights when acting outside of the law; e..g., the right to vote, drive, own a firearm, etc.
The Council’s treatment of religious liberty turns even these most basic truths on their head, beginning with its foundation:
The council declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. [cf Dignitatis Humanae]
Ah, the defenders of the Council will be quick to point out, but the document clearly says ‘as known’ through Divine revelation!
Again, be not fooled: While the inclusion of this phrase was evidently enough to placate the concerns of certain of the more tradition-minded bishops, it is one thing to say that our knowledge of human dignity, upon which this alleged right to religious freedom is supposedly founded, comes to us from God; it is quite another to affirm that He is the Source of said dignity, as well as the right in question.
The latter (the truth) places man’s obligation toward God where it belongs; in the first place – the former invites man to assert, as we shall see, an autonomy that is not his own.
The Council paid lip service to the traditional understanding of man’s obligation to seek the truth with respect to the right to religious liberty, saying:
[This Council] leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ. [ibid.]
Further in the text, however, the traditional doctrine is obliterated, even going so far as to declare that the right in question persists even apart from man upholding his duty toward God:
Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed. [ibid.]
In speaking of “immunity,” the Council is referring to man’s supposed freedom to embrace and publicly disseminate whatever religion he may so choose, even if it directly opposes Christ, the one true Church, and her divinely given mission; a concept that couldn’t possibly be further from the same “traditional Catholic doctrine” it claims to leave untouched.
In fact, this very idea has been consistently condemned by the Church. For instance, in his Syllabus of Errors, Pope Pius IX condemned the following proposition:
Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.
According to Pope Benedict XVI, however, at stake in the conciliar debate about religious liberty was precisely “the freedom to choose and practice religion, and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms.”
Did you get that?
The Council’s aim in the matter of religious liberty, founded upon “the very dignity of the human person,” is ordered toward protecting and preserving a “right” and a “freedom” that does not truly exist.
By contrast, let’s now turn to that upon which the traditional doctrine is founded:
It is founded upon the simple proposition that Jesus Christ is King; He to whom all authority in Heaven and on earth has been given.
No Roman Pontiff expressed the rights and prerogatives that flow from Our Lord’s Sovereignty more concisely and more clearly than Pope Pius XI in his magnificent Encyclical Quas Primas (which I invite you to explore in detail HERE.)
To summarize the traditional doctrine as briefly as possible:
Given that the Catholic faith is the one true faith, and the Holy Catholic Church is the solitary church established by Christ who is King, naturally, the Church and her members enjoy certain rights and privileges that do not properly belong to the false religions and to those who adhere to them – among these exclusive rights is the liberty to practice and profess the true faith free from any and all constraint.
This is why Pope Leo XIII could say:
The Church is a society eminently independent, and above all others, because of the excellence of the heavenly and immortal blessings towards which it tends. [Pope Leo XIII, Officio Sanctissino, 22 Dec 1887]
As for the other, “false religions” and their adherents, none can legitimately claim such an absolute right to freedom for the simple reason that the King of kings granted them no such thing. The Church, therefore, considers their activities to be at best tolerable under certain conditions, but otherwise subject to regulation and restriction for the good of society.
The text of Dignitatis Humanae would lead one to believe otherwise, which is precisely why the “sons of the Council” now in power in Rome treat Quas Primas as a dead letter.
As I write on Ash Wednesday of 2016, there are those in the Church who, meaning well, shudder at the very thought that the Second Vatican Council could possibly be, not just an exercise contra Pius XI, but, as Yves Congar plainly admitted, the Church’s “October Revolution.”
To these I would humbly suggest undertaking a journey of discovery this Lent; one that includes a firsthand examination of “the wondrous wisdom and heroic courage” of the pre-conciliar popes; in particular, the former Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti.
Pope Pius XI, pray for us!
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