In the January 2003 edition of Si Si, No No, the Society of St. Pius X published the first installment of an eight part series on “The Errors of Vatican II.”
This valiant effort to warn the faithful of the dangers posed by the conciliar novelties began, well, at the very beginning – with the Opening Address that was delivered by Pope John XXIII on October 11, 1962.
The very “first error” treated in the exposé concerns a so-called “pastoral” approach that not only continues to thrive in the Novus Ordo church to this very day, but one that has also come to infect any number of heretofore solid defenders of tradition.
As such, the insights provided in this article are as timely now as ever – nay, they are more important now than ever!
Let’s take a look…
Speaking to the more than 2,000 bishops assembled in St. Peters Basilica on the Council’s opening day, the pope said:
The Church has always been opposed to these errors [the false opinions of men.] She has often condemned them with the greatest severity. Now, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to employ the medicine of mercy rather than that of harshness. She is going to meet today’s needs by demonstrating the validity of Her doctrine, rather than by renewing condemnations.
The Si Si, No No article went on to state the obvious (or at least what was obvious to all lovers of tradition at the time):
With this renunciation of employing proper, God-given authority to defend the deposit of the faith and to help souls through condemning errors that ensnare souls and prevent their eternal salvation, Pope John XXIII kicked aside his duties as Vicar of Christ. In fact, condemning error is essential for maintaining the deposit of faith, which is the Pontiff’s first duty, and with it, always confirming sound doctrine, thus demonstrating the efficacy of doing so with timely application.
The words contained in this excerpt were very well chosen indeed:
Condemning error is essential; i.e., it’s not one option among many, like leather seats and a sunroof in an automobile. Rather, if one wishes to make any headway in the effort to defend the deposit of faith and to lead souls to their eternal salvation, it is not enough to simply confirm sound doctrine.
Underscoring the necessity of condemnations, the article continues:
Moreover, from a pastoral point of view, condemning error is necessary because it supports and sustains the faithful, the well-educated as well as those less so, with the Magisterium’s incomparable authority. [Emphasis added.]
Far from simply a matter of “shouting” down falsehoods (or whatever derogatory expression one may wish to assign to the act), condemning error is truly merciful:
By its exercise [condemnations] they [the faithful]are strengthened to defend themselves against error, whose “logic” is often astute and seductive. This is not the only point: condemning error can lead errant souls to repent, by placing the true sustenance of their intellect before them. The condemnation of error is, in and of itself, a work of mercy.
Certainly, the condemnation of error may be employed for the wrong reasons, but its intrinsic quality remains even if obscured; namely, to protect and to sustain the faithful in the face of danger.
One of the reasons why I chose to cite this article from Si Si, No No is because it explains the logic behind the editorial approach taken here at akaCatholic perhaps even better than I can.
While most everyone with a public voice in traditional Catholic media would have wholeheartedly agreed with the Si Si, No No article when it was written back in 2003, today that doesn’t appear to be so – and this in spite of the fact that the dangers we are facing are even more pressing now than they have ever been.
Sure, I can hear our growing list of detractors now:
But akaCatholic has no authority! This article is speaking about the pope and the Magisterium!
Indeed, which is why the astute reader will notice that even though the contributors and commenters here may not always get everything just right, we do not make claims based on our own authority. Rather, we claim recourse to tradition and the authority of the Church and her divine Founder.
Not only is condemning error “the Pontiff’s first duty,” as the article states, it is the duty of all “soldiers for Christ” to so defend the doctrine of the Faith to the best of their ability.
So, what exactly merits condemnation and what is perhaps best overlooked?
The article states:
Not only heresies and theological errors in the strict sense have been [throughout the Church’s history] objects of condemnation, but every one of the world’s ideas that is not Catholic, not only those adverse to the Faith, but also those to whom Our Lord’s words apply, “He who does not gather with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Mt. 12:30).
Certainly, one must be prudent concerning the way in which errors are condemned, but by this measure, all of them must be engaged. Overlooking error in the hope of a happy outcome isn’t just unrealistic; it is a dereliction of duty.
The article concludes its treatment of this novel “pastoral approach” wherein truth is preached apart from the condemnation of error saying:
The Church’s enemies-inside and out-appreciate this heterodox position.
Indeed, and I am certain that the Church’s enemies appreciate it even more today given the magnificent gains they have made since this article was written.
And this, my friends, is why we do what we do the way we do it.