15 Cloisters Dissolved: What Remains of the Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate?

 

(Rome) How far has the destruction of the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate progressed? This is the updating of a chapter that is like a dark shadow on the pontificate of Pope Francis.
In 1969 two Fathers Minor, Stefano Maria Manelli and Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, asked the Father General of the Order, after a thorough study of Fontes Franciscani, to be allowed to start a “new experience of Franciscan life” back to its original rigor. In 1970 an abandoned monastery of the Order was made ​​available to them where they gathered more men over time, and with the establishment of a female branch, women also joined. In 1990, the Community was canonically recognized as a separate order.
The Peculiarity of the Young Order
The Order represented an anomaly of Catholic orders until July 2013. While the old religious orders steeped in tradition suffer decline and waste away, the young Franciscan Order saw a veritable blooming of vocations.

Its peculiarity was that the founders did not turn to liberal openings after the Council, but returned to the rigor of the Franciscan ideal. The sensibility which unfolded there led to a return to the traditional rite under Pope Benedict XVI. The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were thus the only new rite order, which moved to the traditional form of the Roman Rite and the rigor of its life, attracted many young people, while other orders starved.
The particularity which defined this Order as community of the old rite, is that it did not belong to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, but the Roman Congregation for Religious, which is otherwise only concerned with the new rite.
Another peculiarity distinguished the young, blossoming order from the Ecclesia Dei- communities. Besides the charism of the order, the Franciscan ideal of Marian devotion, love for tradition and the traditional rite, there was a missionary zeal.
While the Ecclesia Dei communities are enclosed in garden preserves, where in some dioceses they are tolerated more than accepted, the Franciscans of the Immaculate had the freedom of new rite communities to openly develop their apostolates freely and to be especially active in mission.
With its turn to the old rite, the first difficulties began with the diocesan bishops. Of the three known friaries established in German-speaking countries, only Kitzbühel (Archdiocese of Salzburg) established in 2002, was successful. The two other, more recent attempts (diocese of Bolzano-Brixen, and Linz Diocese) were rejected.
The Reversal Upon the Election of Pope Francis
The young religious order enjoyed papal benevolence under Benedict XVI., which suddenly changed under Francis. In July 2013, just four months after his election, the Religious Congregation completely overturned the order’s leadership with papal approval. The Order was placed under provisional administration. The Commissar, Capuchin Father, Fidenzio Volpi, who was no friend of the traditional rite, began a veritable destruction. Father Volpi, who died in June 2015, was replaced by the Salesian and canon lawyer, Sabino Ardito. The destruction of the Order has continued nevertheless, unabated.
Reasons for radical intervention in the blossoming religious were still not known. Behind closed doors the Commissioner and the head of the religious congregation confirmed that which observers had suspected from the start: The reason was the aforementioned feature of the Order. A new rite order, which had moved to the traditional rite, attracted numerous vocations of young people and aroused growing attention from other new rite orders, which began to be interested in this “success story”, could not be.
The decree by which the provisional government was established, only contained a detailed determination. But it revealed the thrust of the action: Despite anything to the contrary that had been issued by Benedict XVI. with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, it was determined that no priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate be allowed to celebrate the traditional rite any longer. Anyone who wished to celebrate the old rite had to make a private application, which had to be approved by the Commissioner. More contempt for the traditional rite could not be demonstrated.
Under Pope Benedict XVI. it had not been possible for hostile forces to take action against the order. With the election of Pope Francis, who commented disparagingly in June 2013 about traditional circles, the situation had changed in one fell swoop.
Because of his power, Pope Francis prevented that the leadership of the order could turn to the Apostolic Signatura against the actions of the Congregation of Religious. The order had no legal recourse. It had to endure.
No Benevolent Father
Since the beginning of the act of dismemberment, 14 monasteries were dissolved by the commissioners. Currently, even the dissolution of the monastery of Florence is being prepared, which was a center of the order before the provisional administration. It will be the 15th Monastery closure since the beginning of the provisional administration. The commissioners have proven to be employed against the order not as benevolent fathers, as Cardinal De Paolis was, whom Benedict XVI. placed at the top of the Legion of Christ in 2010 when the order had fallen into a spiral by uncovering of the double life of its founder.
The commissioners of the Franciscans of the Immaculate were employed, rather more like liquidators. Three and a half years after his establishment at the Legion of Christ, Cardinal De Paolis ended his administration with the election new leadership for the order. There is no end of the apostolic administration for Franciscans of the Immaculate. The poignant question now arises, what will then be left of the former order?
Alfonso Bruno and His Campaign
With the death of the first Commissioner, at least, the influence of Father Alfonso Bruno seems to have declined. Alfonso Bruno was the Media Representative of the order’s earlier leadership. He is considered the real brains behind the rebellion against the founders and the charism of the order. Officially, he does not seem to be among the five brothers, who had turned to the Congregation of Religious with a letter to complain against the exclusive use of the traditional rite in the order. In the concern for pastoral care, the order had actually remained biritual. Yet the letter was the incentive to intervene by the Congregation of Religious.
Commissioner Volpi appointed Alfonso Bruno Secretary General and was influenced by him. Otherwise, the Commissioner had mad false claims against Founder Stefano Maria Manelli, for he was convicted of defamation in a state court judgment. The execution of punishment was kept from him only by his unexpected death. The new Commissioner, Ardito, did not make the same mistake obviously. While Volpi was the sole Commissioner, Father Ardito has employed a Jesuit and Capuchin as assistants besides. He thus has dispensed with a General Secretary and sent Alfonso Bruno in September 2015 to be the head of a religious house in Messina, Sicily. However, he is set to continue his campaign against the former Superior General, Father Manelli, who was deposed in 2013. He is, according to rumors, behind a blog which is called “The Truth about the Provisional Administration of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate” and is only overflowing with malicious articles.
Abolition of the Fourth Marian Vow
Meanwhile, the first vows were conducted without the typical consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brazil and the Philippines. It was replaced by a simple expression of willingness to go on mission. The consecration to Mary is a fourth vow a characteristic of the order. In addition to the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, which is common to all religious communities, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate make a fourth Marian vow which precedes the others.
The abolition of the consecration to Mary is the second concrete imposition upon the charism of the order. “It raises the question: Was this consecration the problem? And if not: Why do you force upon the order such a change of its original charism,” wrote Libertà e Persona.
The canon lawyer continues to debate whether the Decree of the Congregation of Religious of July 2013 is at all lawful or not. Opinions vary. The same applies to specific interventions such as the abolition of Consecration to Mary. Some canonists think that such an intervention could be resolved legally only by the General Chapter of the order. Again, opinions differ. Since Pope Francis forbade the courts to hear the discussions of the canonists, whatever conclusions they reach, for now, have no actual impact.
Forbidden Reestablishment
Since the provisional administration, numerous brothers have wanted to leave the Order. They want to maintain the lifestyle to which they have committed themselves through their vows. The planned start-up of an old rite order was banned by the Congregation of Religious. It’s another indication that it is opposed to tradition and the traditional rite. Commissioner Volpi threatened the bishops not to allow Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, leaving their order. At the same time he presented accused those “entrusted” to him, of wanting to overthrow Pope Francis.
The brothers want to remain faithful to their consecration to Mary, the full devotion to the Immaculate. Its abolition represents a serious encroachment on the identity of the order. It is a cause of uncertainty and anger that there is no recognizable connection between the abolition and the introduction of the provisional administration.
According to credible sources this intervention is to be extended to the female branch and thus also to the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate to place them in a moral dilemma, who have vowed loyalty to a particular charism that has been accepted and confirmed by Pope John Paul II in 1998. The media always finds new horror stories to publish about the Order. Comparable hate campaigns had appeared in the German language are endured by the Opus Dei, the Engelwerk that Auerbacher SSND and also includes The Work. Monastery walls seem to inspire outlandish fantasies not only for journalists.
With the cloister in Florence, 15 convents have been closed. The provisional administration is leaving a veritable trail of destruction.
60 brothers have officially asked to be released from their vows to leave the order. Since Rome fears the establishment of a new order, the applications are not being accepted. The majority of them have been blocked for almost three years. As this path has proved a dead end, more brothers have given up an application.
Papal Centralism
With a Rescript ex audientia from April 4, 2016, which was made ​​public only last May 11th, Pope Francis has revoked the previously self-evident right in church history of the right of diocesan bishops to recognize new religious communities. On June 1st received the approval by the Holy See. With the Rescript, Francis noted that the establishment of an order by a diocesan bishop without the consent of Rome is null and void.
The centralization ordained by Francis is the exact opposite of the other “decentralization” represented by him for the Church is as it carried out concerning the nullity of marriage, where the diocesan Bishop alone can decide today, or aiming for the admission of remarried divorcees to Communion.
Bishops close to Francis confirm, as the progressive magazine Il Regno reports, that although much of collegiality and synodality is talk, that the concentration of power in the hands of the Pope had never been so great in Church history.
Libertà e Persona presented the question in this context: “Is a federation of the Congregation for Religious preparing a common formation for all religious orders with their different charisms? Is a leveling of all charisms into a sort of syncretism of religious life what is desired? ”
Giuseppe Nardi

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Open Letter to Pope Francis From a Former Member of the Roman Curia

The following letter originally appeared in a German language magazine called ‘Focus’.  It neatly describes the pontificate of Pope Francis thus far.  With thanks to One Peter Five.

Holy Father,

On the occasion of your Christmas Allocution in 2014, you called on your curial employees to make first an examination of conscience. Indeed, Advent is an occasion to reflect upon the promises of God and what He expects from us. You claimed that your employees had to be an example for the whole Church, and you then listed a several “illnesses” from which, in your view, the Curia is now suffering. At the time, I had considered this statement to be rather harsh – yes, even unjust – against so many in the Vatican whom I know personally – while you were talking, instead, as if you knew the Vatican, but either only from the outside or only from above. Nevertheless, this speech of yours has actually inspired me to write this letter to you. Following your own example, I shall omit to speak about all the good that you are doing and are speaking and I shall thus only list those aspects of your exercise of the papal office which seem to me to be problematic:

1. An emotional and anti-intellectual attitude of yours which is often tangible and which has difficulties in dealing with theories and doctrines

The alternative to the Teaching Church is the Arbitrary Church, and not the Merciful Church. Among not a few of your own chosen employees and close counselors, there is to be found a true lack of competence, both in teaching and in theology; these men often have behind them a career within the Church’s government or in a university’s administration, and they think rather all too often in pragmatic and political terms. You, as the Supreme Teacher of the Church, thus have to make clearer the primacy of the Faith – for your own sake, and for the sake of all Catholics. Faith without doctrine does not exist.

2. Authoritarianism

You are distancing yourself from the wisdom which is preserved in the Church’s traditional discipline, in Canon Law, and also in the historical practices of the Curia. Together with your disdain for (supposedly) theoretical teaching, this propensity leads to an authoritarianism of which even the founder of your Order of Jesuits, St. Ignatius himself, would not approve. Do you really accept those admonitory voices who say what you, personally, do not immediately see nor understand? What would happen if you were now to know my own name? It would be helpful to act in a less authoritarian way in order to change the current climate of fear.

3. A populism of change

Today, it is popular to call for change. However, especially the Successor of Peter has to remind himself and others of that which changes only slowly, and even more so of that which does not change at all. Do you really believe that the approval which you receive from the opinion-makers in the realm of politics and of the media is a good sign? Christ did not promise or prophesy to Peter popularity in the media and status in a star cult (John 21:18). A great many of your statements awaken wrong expectations and give the harmful impression that the teaching and discipline of the Church could and should be adapted to the changing opinions of the majority. The Apostle Paul is here of another opinion (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:14)

4. Your own conduct is seen as a critique of how your (often canonized) predecessors have lived, talked, and acted

I cannot recognize how this attitude comports with the humility which you have so many times invoked and demanded. Such humility is indeed needed, especially when it is about continuing the tradition which goes back to the Apostle Peter. Your conduct implicitly proposes the idea that you intend to re-invent somehow the Petrine Office. Instead of preserving faithfully the heritage of your predecessors, you want to acquire it [the heritage] in a quite creative way. But, did Saint John not say: “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)?

5. Pastoralism

Only recently, you said that you especially like those parts of the papacy where you can act like a pastor. Of course, neither a pope nor a pastor should raise any doubts as to whether the Church is following the teaching of Christ in everything she currently does (Pastoral Care, Sacraments, Liturgy, Catechesis, Theology, Caritas); finally, everything depends upon the revealed Faith as it comes to us in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and which is thus binding upon the consciences of the faithful. We cannot even live the Faith and pass it on to others, if we do not know it. Without a good theory, we are – in the long run – not able to act in a good manner. Without teaching in the field of pastoral care, we shall only have emotional and largely adventitious successes.

6. Exaggerated display of the simplicity of your own way of life

Of course, you want to set an example – but is it better for you yourself to take care of all kinds of daily chores? In ascetical questions, the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing (Mt 6:3); otherwise, the whole thing appears somehow to be insincere. If you really want to drive cars that are ecological, you have to invest, by the way, much more, or to ask someone to give you as a gift the more expensive technology that is thus needed: for. ecology has its price.

7. A particularism which often subjugates the goals and purposes of the Universal Church under the viewpoints of only a part of the Church

This attitude appears nearly comical with regard to a pope. Additionally, our world is now much more interconnected, more mobile, and more proximate than ever. Especially today, it is a treasure that the Catholic Church is throughout the whole world always the same. It corresponds to the global life realities that Catholics in all countries live, pray, and think in a similar vein (and with each other together).

8. An urge for constant spontaneity

A lack of professionalism is not a sign for the working of the Holy Ghost. Expressions like “to breed like rabbits,” or “Who am I to judge…?” might possibly impress some kinds of people, but, in reality, they lead to grave misunderstandings. Constantly, others have to explain what you really meant to say. To act without a plan and outside of the protocol has its time and place – but it should not become the standard. You owe this respect to your employees (in Rome and in the whole world). The measure of spontaneity is much smaller among popes than among pastors.

9. Lack of clarity about the interconnectedness of religious, political, and economic freedom

Many of your statements indicate that the state should rule more, control more, and be responsible for more areas, especially in the economic and social field. We in Europe are used to very strong states. However, history has proven wrong the idea that the state can take care of everything. The Church has to defend non-governmental institutions which can provide things that the state could not provide (in that way). Against the tendency to expect everything from the state, the Church has to help people to take care of their own lives. The welfare state can also become too powerful, and with it, too paternalistic, authoritarian, and illiberal.

10. Meta-Clericalism

On the one hand, you show very little interest in the clergy, on the other hand, you criticize a clericalism which is more of a phantom than something that is real. One cannot compensate for this lack of interest with a good intention or with statements in front of smaller groups. The bishops and priests have to know again that the pope stands behind them when they defend the Gospels “in season and out of season,” even if it is done in a way that does not personally please the pope. It is not good that some think that the pope sees many things quite differently from the Catechism, and that others then imitate him in order to make a career under this pontificate. As a pope, you of necessity have to serve the continuity and Tradition of the Church – even non-Catholic Christians are of this opinion. It may well be better for you to cut back on your innovations and provocations; we anyway already have many people who do that. Your Magisterium, as such, is already in itself the ultimate provocation and innovation – after all, you are the Representative of Christ and the supreme teacher of our supernatural Faith. “Grace, Mercy, and Peace” are coming “from God, the Father, and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in Truth and Love” (2 John 1:3); and they only come together in a complete package. If, during this coming Year of Mercy, you are now preparing yourself for Christmas, please take this occasion as an incentive to find out for yourself what you have yourself neglected in the recent past. Let yourself be helped by your own employees who will only learn from you if you are willing to learn something from them. Like me, many others have difficulties with the way you sometimes talk and act. But that can be fixed, if it becomes clear that you listen to what others have to tell you. Unfortunately, I know that you are not yet capable of dealing well with such criticism – that is why I do not put my name on this letter. I want to protect my superiors against your wrath, especially the priests and bishops with whom I have worked for many years in Rome and from whom I have learned so much. You might want to work on taking away such fears – from me and from others – or, even better, to make such letters as this one superfluous, namely, by learning something from others.

In this spirit, may you have a blessed and contemplative Season of Advent!

A Chaplain of Your Holiness

Resistance and Fidelity to the Church in times of crisis

With thanks to Rorate Caeli

Prof. Roberto de Mattei

1.The infallibility and indefectibility of the Church

The Church has been through the gravest crises in the course of Her history: external persecutions like those which characterized the first three centuries of Her life and since then have always accompanied Her; internal crises, such as Arianism in the fourth century and the Great Western Schism. However, the process of the Church’s “self-demolition” “struck by those who belong to Her” which Paul VI spoke of as far back as 1968[1], appears to be a crisis without precedent because of the extent and depth of it.

We say this in a spirit of deep love for the Papacy, rejecting every form of anti-infallibility, Gallicanism and conciliarism; in a word, every error that would diminish the role and mission of the Papacy. We profess with the entire Church, that there is no higher authority on earth than that of the Pope, since there is no mission or office more elevated than his. Jesus Christ, in the person of Peter and his successors conferred to the Roman Pontiff, the mission to be the visible head of the Church and His Vicar[2]. The dogmatic constitution Pastor aeternus of the First Vatican Council defined the dogmas of the Roman Primacy and papal infallibility[3]. The first asserts that the Pope has supreme power of jurisdiction, both ordinary and immediate, over individual Churches, individual pastors and all the faithful. The second dogma teaches that the Pope is infallible when he speaks “ex cathedra”, which is to say when in his function as Supreme Pastor, he defines that a doctrine in matters of faith or morals must be held by the entire Church.

The authority of the Pope has precise limits however, which cannot be ignored. Javier Hervada in his well-known manual on Constitutional Canon Law, writes: “The power of the pope is not unlimited: it is circumscribed within determined limits. The limits may regard the validity or lawfulness in his exercise of power. The limits regarding validity are given as: a) of the natural law: b) of the positive Divine law; c) of the nature and the ends of the Church”[4].

 

If the Pope oversteps these limits he deviates from the Catholic Faith. It is common doctrine that the Pope as a private doctor, may deviate from the Catholic Faith, falling into heresy[5]. The hypothesis of a heretic Pope is treated as [a]“scholion” in all theological treatises[6].

It should be emphasized that the expression “private doctor” does not refer to the Supreme Pontiff’s acts of a private nature, but to his “public” function as supreme Pastor of the Church[7]”. In his final relatio on the dogma of infallibility at the First Vatican Council, Monsignor Vincenzo Gasser (1809-1879), representative of the Deputation of the Faith, stated precisely that as a “public person” it must be understood that the Pope is speaking ex cathedra, with the intention of binding the Church to his teaching[8]. The theological hypothesis of a heretical Pope does not contradict the dogma of infallibility, since the infallibility concerns the person of the Pope only when he acts ex cathedra. Further, also those who deny that the Pope can fall into heresy admit the possibility that he can express himself in an erroneous, misleading or scandalous manner. Furthermore, if the problem of a heretic Pope poses the problem of the loss of the Pontificate, the presence of a Pope fautor haeresim[9] poses equally grave theological problems.

In order to better clarify this question, we must remember that alongside the dogma of the Roman Primacy and Papal infallibility, a third exists, not yet defined by the solemn Magisterium, but, in a certain sense, it is the origin of the previous two: the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church.

Indefectibility is the supernatural property of the Church, and thanks to this She will never disappear, but will arrive at the end of time identical to Herself, with no change in Her permanent essence, that is, Her dogmas, Rites (the Mass and the Sacraments), and the Apostolic succession of Her hierarchy. The Augustinian theologian Martin Jugie (1858-1954), in the Catholic Encyclopaedia entry dedicated to indefectibility, writes that this is a truth of the faith clearly contained in Holy Scripture and taught by the Ordinary Magisterium[10]. Modernism opposed the indefectibility of the Church, and had, and still has, theological, philosophical evolutionism as its basis[11].

Indefectibility includes not only the infallibility of the Pope, but of the entire Church. The Pope is, under certain conditions, infallible, but not indefectible. The Church, which includes the Pope, bishops and ordinary lay-people, is infallible and indefectible. Theology differentiates between essential or absolute infallibility and shared or relative infallibility: the first is God “qui nec falli nec fallere potest”[12] ; the second is the charisma from God bestowed on His Church.

From the First Vatican Council onwards the infallibility of the Pope has been discussed a lot, both affirming or denying it. Little to nothing has been said about the indefectibility and the infallibility of the Church. Yet, the combination of papal infallibility and the infallibility of the Church, notes Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, is conformable to Tradition and was confirmed by Vatican I: “Definimus Romanum Pontificem… ea infallibilitate pollere, qua divinus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam… instructam esse voluit”[13].

“Two infallibilities which are added or subtracted from each other are not at stake here, – specifies the Roman theologian – ; but [it is] the one and the same charisma, which has, in the Church, in the Pope and in the bishops, collegially considered in communion with the Pope, its lawful authority. This charisma is expressed in a positive form, prior to and perhaps more than a negative form. It is at work when the Magisterium in announcing the Christian truth or settling eventual controversies, remains faithful to the ‘depositum fidei’ (I Tim. 6, 20; 2 Tim. 1,4) or discovers new implications up until that moment unexplored”[14].

Theologians refer to the infallibility of the Church when they speak of an infallibility in docendo and an infallibility in credendo. The Church, in fact, is made up of a teaching part (docens) and a taught part (discens). It is only for the Church docens to teach revealed truth infallibly, whereas the Church docens receives and conserves this truth. However, alongside the infallibility in teaching, there is also the infallibility in believing, since neither the corpus docendi, invested with the power of teaching the entire Church, nor the universality of the faithful in believing, can fall into error. If, in fact, the flock of the faithful, as a whole, could fall into error, believing something to be of Revelation which is not, the promise of Divine assistance to the Church would be frustrated. St. Thomas Aquinas refers to the infallibility of the Church as a whole, when he affirms: “it is impossible that the judgment of the universal Church is wrong in that which is referred to the faith[15]”.

The ‘Church learning’ in so far as it believes, belongs not only to the faithful, but also to priests, Bishops and the Pope themselves, since everyone is required to believe the truths revealed by God – superiors no less than inferiors. In the Church, there is however, only one infallibility of which all Her members share in an organic and different way: each one according to their ecclesial office. Individual Christians can err in matters of faith, even when they hold the highest ecclesiastical offices, but not the Church as such – She is always immaculate in Her doctrine.

This infallibility is expressed in the so-called “sensus fidelium”[16], of which the entire people of God enjoy infallibility not only by reflex, but also pro-actively, as often they anticipate Church definitions, or contribute in making them clearer: for example, this occurred before the Council of Ephesus proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of God. St. Cyril[17] and St. Celestine[18] attest that the Christian populace already acknowledged belief in the Divine Maternity as “the faith that the Universal Church professes”[19]. In the history of the Church, devotion to the Blessed Virgin was the field whereby the influence of the Holy Spirit on the faithful was manifested with force majeure.

 

  1. The sensus fidei in the history of the Church

The first author who uses the term “sensus fidei” seems to be Vincent of Lerins (who died around 445 AD). In his Commonitorium he proposes as normative, the Faith observed everywhere always and by all, (quod ubique, quod semper, quodo ab omnibus creditum est)[20]. The first historical manifestation of the sensus fidei however, may be regarded as the Arian Crisis in which, according to the careful reconstruction by Blessed John Henry Newman[21] (1801-1890), the ‘Church teaching’ appeared often uncertain and lost, but the sensus fidelium preserved the integrity of the Faith, so much so that St. Hilary was able to say: “Sanctiores sunt aures fideles populi labiis sacerdotum”[22]. Card. Newman writes: “There was a temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens. The body of Bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, once against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years”. During this period, he adds, “the Divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate”[23].

All of the great modern councils have referred to the sensus fidei. The Council of Trent made appeal repeatedly to the judgment of the entire Church in defending articles in contrast to the Catholic Faith. Its decree on the Sacrament of the Eucharist (1551), for example, invokes specifically “the general consensus of the Church” (universum Ecclesiae sensum) [24]. The Dominican Melchior Cano (1509-1560), who took part in the Council of Trent, in his treatise De locis theologicis, for the first time treated the sensus fidelium extensively, defending, against the Protestants, the values Catholics recognize regarding the power of Tradition in theological argument[25].

Also the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus of the First Vatican Council, which defined the Pope’s infallible Magisterium, presupposed the sensus fidei fidelium. The original project of the Constitution Supremi pastoris, which served as the base for Pastor aeternus, had a chapter on the infallibility of the Church (c. IX)[26]. Nonetheless, when the agenda for the day was discussed with the aim of addressing the question of pontifical infallibility, the discussion of this principle was adjourned and never taken up again. In his final relatio, Monsignor Gasser, cites the example of the Immaculate Conception to show that the Pope deemed consultation with the Church necessary, before reaching the definition of the dogma. The research of Father Giovanni Perrone (1794-1876), on the patristic conception of the sensus fidelium had a strong influence on Pope Pius IX’s decision to proceed with the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception[27]. In the apostolic constitution which contains the definition Ineffabilis Deus (1854), Pius IX uses the language of Perrone to describe the concordant testimony of the bishops and the faithful[28].

Like Pius IX, also Pope Pius XII, before defining the dogma of the bodily Assumption of Mary Most Holy, wanted to consult the bishops of the entire world, who, besides voicing their opinion, had to testify to the devotion of their faithful[29]. In those years, the sensus fidei, was the object of some important studies, in particular, those by Franciscan Father Carlo Balić and the Redemptorist Clement Dillenschneider, the Dominican Claudio Garcia Extremeno and the Servite Tommaso Maria Bartolomei[30].

Also the Second Vatican Council dealt with the sensus fidei or communis fidelium sensus. In particular, Chapter 12 of Lumen Gentium, asserts in fact: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Ts. 2, 13). Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints (cf. Gdc. 3), penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully to life”.

The fact that at times, the progressives have used this passage to contest the ecclesiastical authorities, doesn’t mean that it is false and that it cannot be understood, like many other passages from the Council, in conformity with Tradition. It should be noted, moreover, that in the modern age the doctrine of the sensus fidei, has been explored mainly by great theologians of the Roman School, such as Father Giovanni Perrone (1794-1876) and Father Matthias Joseph Scheeben (1836-1888) Cardinals Baptiste Franzelin (1816-1886) and Louis Billot[31] (1846-1931). Cardinal Franzelin in particular, underlines the role of the Holy Spirit in forming and maintaining the conscientia fidei communis of the Christian people, and like Melchior Cano, judges the sensus fidelium, as one of the organs of Tradition, to which it is a faithful echo[32]. I am reminded of Monsignor Gherardini, the latest brilliant exponent of the Roman School, who gave me a gift in the ‘Eighties of a study dedicated to the sensus fidei, entitled Infalibilidad del Pueblo de Dios, by Don Jesús Sancho Bielsa, published by the Faculty of Theology at the University of Navarra[33]. There are other authors belonging to the same Opus Dei school who have given ample space to the sensus fidei, like the theologians Fernando Ocàriz and Antonio Blanco[34].

Nonetheless, throughout history, the sensus fidei has been made manifest in the minds and hearts of ordinary lay-people before being written by theologians, as Benedict XVI recalled with these words[35]: “Important theologians like Duns Scotus enriched what the People of God already spontaneously believed about the Blessed Virgin and expressed in acts of devotion, in the arts and in Christian life in general with the specific contribution of their thought. […] This is all thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit that qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith with humility of heart and mind.[…] May theologians always be ready to listen to this source of faith and retain the humility and simplicity of children! I mentioned this a few months ago[36] saying: There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture, of the history of salvation but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus. […] The essential has remained hidden! On the other hand, in our time there have also been ‘little ones’ who have understood this mystery. Let us think of St Bernadette Soubirous; of St Thérèse of Lisieux, with her new interpretation of the Bible that is ‘non-scientific’ but goes to the heart of Sacred Scripture”.

 

3.The nature of the sensus fidei according to the teaching of theologians

In 2014, the International Theological Commission, presided by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, published a study, entitled The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, interesting, most of all for its references to St. Thomas Aquinas[37]. In these pages it is made clear, that unlike theology, which can be described as a scientia fidei, the sensus fidei is not a reflexive, conceptual knowledge of the mysteries of the Faith, but a spontaneous intuition, with which the believer adheres to the true Faith or refuses what opposes it[38]. It therefore derives from the Faith and is a property[39] thereof. It is compared to an instinct since it is a type of spontaneous intuition which comes from the innateness (connaturality) the virtue of faith establishes between the believer subject and the object of the authentic Faith. The theologians Ocàriz and Blanco define it as the: “capacity of the believer, not only to believe what is presented to him by the Church as truth of the Faith, but also and above all the facility of discerning, as if by instinct, what is in agreement with the Faith from what is not, and also the facility of drawing greater in-depth conclusions from the truths taught by the Magisterium, not by way of theological reasoning, but spontaneously, through a sort of innate (connatural) knowledge. The virtue of faith (habitus fidei) produces in fact an innateness (connaturality) of the human spirit with revealed mysteries, so that the supernatural truth attracts the intellect”[40].

The doctrine of knowledge per quandam connaturalitatem is a form of interior intelligence that springs from the faith as instinctus or lumen fidei: St. Thomas Aquinas explains it in the Summa Theologiae, when he asserts that the “rectitude of judgment is twofold: first, on account of perfect use of reason, secondly, on account of a certain connaturality with the matter about which one has to judge. Thus, about matters of chastity, a man after inquiring with his reason forms a right judgement, if he has learnt the science of morals, while he who has the habit of chastity judges of such matters by a kind of connaturality”[41].

The reason is that the virtuous man has a stable disposition (habitus) in exercising a certain type of behaviour. The chaste man loves instinctively what is pure and in a likewise immediate manner experiences a repugnance for what is turbid and impure. This “spiritual instinct” allows him to discern how to behave in the most difficult situations and thus resolve in practice, problems which for moralists can remain abstract. “The habitus of faith – explains the Angelic Doctor – possesses a capacity whereby, thanks to it, the believer is prevented from giving assent to what is contrary to the faith, just as chastity gives protection with regard to whatever is contrary to chastity[42]”. Thus, in agreement with the connaturality that comes to him from this habit (habitus), “man adheres to the truths of the faith and not to the contrary errors, through the light of the faith infused in him by God”[43].

The supernatural capacity that the believer has in perceiving, penetrating and applying to his life the revealed truth that comes from the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas takes as a starting point the fact that the universal Church is governed by the Holy Spirit, Who, as Jesus Christ promised “will teach (Her) the entire truth” (John 16, 13)[44]. “Showing the truth –says the Angelic Doctor – is a property of the Holy Spirit, because it is love which brings about the revelations of secrets”[45].

This sense of the faith exists in all believers, including sinners, even if he who is in a state of Grace has a deeper and more intense insight of the dogmas of faith than he who is in sin; and among those who are in a state of Grace the insight is proportionate to the level of sanctity. Such insight in fact is an illumination that comes from the grace of the faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the soul, especially those of intellect, knowledge and wisdom[46].

This Christian sense has nothing whatever to do with the religious sentiment of the modernist type, condemned in the encyclical Pascendi by St. Pius X and even less so with that facultas appetendi et affectandi which the encyclical Humani generis by Pius XII[47] makes mention of. The sensus fidei, in fact, is not a product of the sensibilities, but of the faith, grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which enlighten the intellect and move the will[48].

The Holy Spirit Who dwells in the faithful does not remain inactive. He lives in the soul, like the sun, to illuminate it. The inspirations of the Holy Spirit are a reality which can accompany the ordinary life of every Christian, faithful to the action of Grace. The Divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as Father Arnaldo Maria Lanz S.J. explains, must not be confused with interior revelations and locutions, which communicate new ideas through an extraordinary influence, but it is a Divine “instinct” which helps us know and act better under the influence of God[49]. “Now – writes Father Balić – this Spirit of the Seven Gifts Who dwells in us, not as in the midst of ruins, but as in a temple (1 Cor. 3, 16-17; 6, 19) is the Spirit of Pentecost; He is the Spirit of Truth (John 14, 17) whose special mission consists in revealing to the world the full substance of Christ and all the wonders the Son of God had kept hidden or had not completely and clearly revealed”[50]. Thanks to the sensus fidei the believer perceives the truths preserved in the revealed deposit [of the faith]. Like this, the promise of St. John is fulfilled: “The unction from the Holy One: that is grace and wisdom from the Holy Ghost” (1 John 2, 20).

  1. Sensus fidei, Magisterium and Tradition

Father Balić also calls the sensus fidei “Catholic common sense” or “Christian sense” (sensus christianus)[51]. In philosophy, ordinary common sense is the intelligence and natural light which men are normally endowed with: a quality which permits the understanding of the notions of good and evil, true and false, beauty and ugliness[52].

“Catholic common sense”, is the supernatural light which the Christian receives at Baptism and Confirmation. These sacraments infuse us with the capacity to adhere to the truths of the faith through supernatural instinct, even before that of theological reasoning.

In the same way that common sense is measured by the objectivity of the real, the sensus fidei is measured by the objective rule of the truths of the faith contained in the Church’s Tradition. The proximate rule of the Faith is the infallible Magisterium of the Church, which is the task only of those, by Christ’s will, who have the right and the office to teach: the Apostles and their successors. The mass of the faithful have no part in this official teaching, and is limited to receiving it. “They would err, however, – writes Father Balić – those who think that this mass is in a merely passive and mechanical state in regard to this doctrine. And in fact the faith of the laity, like the doctrine of the shepherds, is sustained by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and the faithful by their Christian sense and profession of Faith, contribute to the exposition, publication, manifestation and testimony of the Christian truth”[53].

The faithful, although they have no mission to teach, have the function of preserving and propagating their faith. The theologians Ocàriz and Blanco write, citing Cardinal Franzelin: “The infallibility of the ‘sensus fidei’, manifested by the ‘consensus fidelium’ exists even when it refers to a truth not yet infallibly taught by the Magisterium. In this case the ‘consensus fidelium’ is certain criteria of truth since it is criterion ‘divinae traditionis’”[54], sub ductu magisterii, under the control of the Magisterium. The Magisterium nevertheless is not the source of Revelation, as opposed to Scripture and Tradition which constitute the “remote rule” of the faith and of which the Magisterium is nourished. In this sense Cardinal Franzelin, citing St. Irenaeus, defines Tradition as “immutable rule of truth”, since it is nothing other than the Church’s integral doctrine which comes to us from the successors of the Apostles with the assistance of the Holy Spirit[55].

Cardinal Franzelin cites St. Athanasius, St. Epiphanius and St. Hilary in support of his thesis. The latter speaks of the “conscience of the common faith”, opposed to the “impious intelligence” of the heretics[56]. Also St. Augustine defines “the rule of faith” that “faith of which we have been nourished”[57] and designates it as an objective truth which is found in the Church, where we have received it[58]. Cardinal Billot defines Tradition as “the rule of faith anterior to all the others”, a rule of faith not only remote, but also close and immediate, depending on the point of view which is being proposed to us[59]. Monsignor Brunero Gherardini offers this definition: “Tradition is the official transmission on the part of the Church and Her organs which are divinely instituted, and infallibly assisted by the Holy Spirit, of Divine Revelation in [the] spatial-temporal dimension”[60].

It should be remembered that the Church is the Mystical Body of which Christ is the Head, the Holy Ghost the Soul, and all the faithful, from the Pope down to the last baptized person, are the members. The Church, however, as a whole should not be confused with the Churchmen that form Her. The Church is impeccable, infallible, indefectible. The Churchmen, individually taken, are not, with the exception of the person of the Pope, or a Council gathered under his name to define solemnly a question of faith and whose task, under the proper conditions, has the privilege of infallibility. In the absence of the required conditions, the Pope or a Council can err and those who consider them always infallible, fall into the error of papolatry (or councilatry) which leads to wrongfully attributing to the Papacy, or the Church, per se, the responsibility of many failures, scandals and errors by some popes that have governed Her[61].

The Vatican Theological Commission stated that: “Alerted by their sensus fidei, individual believers may deny assent even to the teaching of legitimate pastors if they do not recognise in that teaching the voice of Christ, the Good Shepherd[62]”. In fact as the Apostle John recalls “and the sheep follow him (the Good Shepherd) because they know his voice. But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10, 4-5).

For St. Thomas Aquinas, even if a believer lacks theological competence, he can and actually must resist in virtue of his sensus fidei his bishop, if the latter is preaching heterodox things[63]. Again St. Thomas teaches that in extreme cases it is licit and actually right and proper to resist publically even a papal decision, as St. Paul resisted St. Peter to his face “Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says, ‘Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects’ (Gal. 2, 14)”[64].

The sensus fidei can induce the faithful, in some cases, to refuse their assent to some ecclesiastical documents and place themselves, before the supreme authority, in a situation of resistance and apparent disobedience. The disobedience is only apparent since in these cases of legitimate resistance the evangelical principle that one must obey God rather than men prevails (Acts 5, 29)[65].

Legitimate “disobedience” to an order unjust in itself, in nature of faith and morals, can be induced – in particular cases – even to publically resisting the Supreme Pontiff. Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira, in a study dedicated to the Public Resistance to the Decisions of the Ecclesiastical Authority[66], demonstrated this very well, by citing quotations from the saints, doctors of the Church, illustrious theologians and canon lawyers.

The Code of Canon Law actually in vigour, from canon 208 to canon 223, under the title De omnium christifidelium obligationibus et iuribus outlines the common status to all the faithful and ascribes to the laity the responsibility of intervening in the problems of the Church. In canon 212 it says that the faithful “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons”.

  1. Rules to discern and foster the sensus fidei

What is the criteria to discern and foster the authentic sensus fidei? We have said many times that the sensus fidei is in no way a subjective sentiment, it is not the free examination of the Protestants, it is not a charismatic experience. It is a supernatural instinct rooted in the objective faith of the Church expressed by Her Magisterium and Tradition.

The Magisterium can be understood in two senses: as an act of the ecclesiastical authority which teaches a truth (subjective Magisterium) or as an object believed, a set of truths which are taught (objective Magisterium). In the first case the Magisterium is a function exercised by the ecclesiastical authority to teach revealed Truths, in the second case it is an objective deposit of truth which coincides with Tradition.

The sensus fidei plays a decisive role during times of crisis in which an evident contradiction between the subjective Magisterium and the objective one is created, between the authorities that teach and the truths of the faith they must guard and transmit. The sensus fidei induces the believer to reject any ambiguity and falsification of the truth, leaning on the immutable Tradition of the Church, which does not oppose the Magisterium, but includes it.

The ultimate rule of the faith is not the contemporary ‘living’ Magisterium, in what it contains as non-defining, but Tradition, or rather the objective and perennial Magisterium, which constitutes, along with Holy Scripture, one of the two sources of the Word of God. Ordinarily the Magisterium is the proximate rule of faith, inasmuch as it transmits and applies infallible truths contained in the deposit of Revelation, but in the case of a contrast between the novelties proposed by the subjective or “living” Magisterium and Tradition, the primacy can only be given to Tradition, for one simple motive: Tradition, which is the “living” Magisterium in its universality and continuity, is in itself infallible, whereas the so-called “living” Magisterium, meant as the current predication by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, is only so in determinate conditions. Tradition, in fact is always divinely assisted; the Magisterium is so only when it is expressed in an extraordinary way, or when, in ordinary form, it teaches with continuity over time, a truth of faith and morals. The fact that the ordinary Magisterium cannot constantly teach a truth contrary to the faith, does not exclude that this same Magisterium may fall per accidens into error, when the teaching is circumscribed in space and time and is not expressed in an extraordinary manner[67].

This does not mean in any way that the dogmatic truth must be the result of the sentiment of lay-people and that nothing can be defined without first hearing the opinion of the universal Church, as if the Magisterium was simply a revealer of the faith of the people, quasi-regulated by them in its magisterial function[68]. It means, however, as Padre Garcia Extremeno asserts, that the Magisterium cannot propose anything infallibly to the Church, if it is not contained in Tradition, which is the supreme regula fidei of the Church[69].

Tradition is maintained and transmitted by the Church, not only through the Magisterium, but through all the faithful, “from the bishops down to the laity”[70], as the famous formula by St. Augustine, cited in Lumen Gentium no. 12 expresses. The doctor from Hippo makes an appeal in particular to “the people of the faith”[71], who do not exercise a Magisterium, but on the basis of their sensus fidei guarantee the continuity of the transmission of a truth.

It is evident from what we have said that the sensus fidei, like the act of faith for that matter, has a rational foundation. When the sensus fidei points out a contrast between some expressions of the living Magisterium and the Tradition of the Church, its foundation is not the theological competence of the believer, but the good use of logic, illuminated by grace. In this sense, the principle of non-contradiction constitutes a fundamental criteria of verification of the act of faith as is the case in every intellectual act[72]. Everything that appears irrational and contradictory repels the sensus fidei. The faith is based on reason since the act of faith, by its very nature, is an act of the intellectual faculties. “The noblest act of the intellect that a man can make in this mortal life, is most certainly the act of faith”, observes Padre Christian Pesch[73] (1835-1925), who explains that the act of faith cannot be freed from the intellect, by replacing the essence of the faith with an irrational abandonment to God, in the Lutheran manner. He who denies the evidence of reason falls into Fideism, which has nothing whatever to do with the true faith.

Also the adhesion of the conscience to the principles of faith or morals is always rational. The conscience is in fact the judgement of the practical intellect which, grounded in the light of the prime rational principles, evaluates the morality of our acts in their concrete singularity[74]. Our conscience does not have its objective rule in the person of the Pope or bishops, but in the Divine and natural law, which the supreme authorities of the Church have the task of transmitting and defending. Therefore, as Cardinal Newman says “conscience is the first among all the vicars of Christ”[75]. Faced with a proposition that contradicts faith or morals we have the moral duty to follow our conscience which opposes it. Nobody can be obliged to adhere to a principle he retains false, nor commit an act that in conscience he retains unjust.

            The faith, which is illuminated by grace, nurtures moreover the interior life of the believer. Without an interior life one does not obtain the help that comes from grace, which has its only source in Jesus Christ. The Pope, the Vicar of Christ, but not His successor, is not in himself a source of divine grace. Regarding this Father Roger Calmel writes: “It is necessary that our interior life be directed not to the Pope, but to Jesus Christ. Our interior life, which evidently includes the truths of Revelation about the Pope, must be directed purely to the High Priest, Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ in order to triumph over the scandals that come to the Church from the Pope”[76].

God acts in history as exemplary cause of the universe, in His own attribute of Divine Wisdom. The sensus fidei is nurtured also in this exemplarity, by imitating the models the history of the Church has offered us. The first and most excellent imitation is Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, above all in the Agony in Gethsemane; imitation afterwards, of the Blessed Virgin, above all on Holy Saturday, when Her faith summed up that of the Church: “apostolis fugientibus, in Passione Domini fides Ecclesiae in beatissima Virgine sola remansit”[77]; the imitation of the Saints like St. Athanasius, St. Bruno of Segni, St. Peter Damien, St. Brigit, St Catherine, St. Louis Maria Grignion de Monfort, who were illuminated by the Holy Spirit during dramatic times in Church history The Saints, writes St. Bernard of Clairvaux, appear on earth to be [our] models and are taken to heaven to be our patrons[78]. And today more than ever we need models and patrons.

The sensus fidei in the end, has to be transformed into that confidence which, as Father de Saint-Laurent, citing St. Thomas, states, represents the summit of the two theological virtues of faith and hope[79]. The problems we are faced with, like the presence of heresies in pontifical documents and the hypothesis of a heretic Pope, are of enormous importance. We do not claim to resolve them at a conference, in an article, in a book or a conversation. But neither can we recoil from the evidence of the facts. The questions of a heretic Pope and heretical magisterial documents can give rise to distress of a psychological more than a theological order, when it passes from the abstract level to the concrete one. At times we are terrified when faced with the consequences that can open up in the life of the Church as well as each one of us, at the idea of a Pope a fide devius. But denying the evidence for fear of the consequences, would be a lack of confidence in Divine Providence which will allow us to resolve these problems one moment at a time, by abandoning ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls.

Sufficit diei malitia sua: sufficient for the day is the evil thereof (Mt 6, 34). We needn’t expect to resolve tomorrow’s problems today without the grace that tomorrow brings. All of the Saints lived in this spirit of abandonment, fulfilling the Divine Will in the way it was made manifest [to them] moment by moment, without allowing themselves to worry about the future. “Their secret – writes Father Garrigou-Lagrange – was living moment by moment what the Divine action wanted to make of them”[80].

It will be the Blessed Virgin Mary, the destroyer of all heresies, Who will show us the way to continue professing the true faith and resist evil actively in ways that the situation will impose [on us]. We are not infallible and the Pope is, only under determined conditions. But the Divine Promise is infallible: “Ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi” (Mt 28, 20). “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”. This is the source of our unshakeable confidence.

[Translation: Rorate Contributor Francesca Romana]

 

 

[1] Paul VI, Discourse to Lombard Seminary in Rome, December 7th 1968, in Insegnamenti, vol. VI (1968), pp. 1188-1189.

[2] Cf. my synthesis Il Vicario di Cristo. Il Papato tra normalità ed eccezione, Fede e Cultura, Verona 2012.

[3] Vatican Council I, Sess. IV, Denz-H, nn. 3059-3075.

[4] Javier Hervada, Diritto costituzionale canonico, Giuffré, Rome 1989, p. 273.

[5] See the recent studies of Arnaldo Xavier Vidigal da Silveira, Ipotesi teologica di un Papa eretico, Solfanelli, Chieti 2016; Robert Siscoe-John Salza, True or False Pope? Refusing Sedevcantism and Other Modern Errors, Stas Editions, Winona (Minnesota) 2015.

[6] Cf. for example Card. charles journet, L’Eglise du Verbe incarné, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 1941, I, p 626 and II, pp. 839-841.

[7] Umberto Betti, The Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus of the First Vatican Council Pastor Aeternus, Pontificio Ateneo Antoniano, Rome 1961, pp. 644-646.

[8] “Pontifex dicitur infallibilis cum loquitur ex cathedra…scilicet quando.,. primo non tanquam doctor privatus…aliquid decernit, sed docet supremi omnium christianorum pastori set doctoris munere fungens” (Giovanni Domenico Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima Collectio, by Louis Petit e Jean-Baptiste Martin, Paris-Arnhem-Leipzig 1901-1927 (53 voll.), vol. 52, col. 1225 C.) The words we will find again in the dogmatic definition: “cum ex cathedra loquitur, id est cum omnium christianorum pastoris et doctoris munere fungens”.

[9] On the notes of doctrinal censure inferior to heresy, cf. S Antonio Piolanti, Pietro Parente, Dizionario di teologia dogmatica, Studium, Rome 1943, pp. 45-46; Lucien Choupin, Valeurs des décisions doctrinales et disciplinaires du Saint-Siège, Beauchesne, Paris 1913; H. Quilliet, Censures doctrinales, in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, II, coll. 2101-2113; Marino Mosconi, Magistero autentico non infallibile e protezione penale, Edizioni Glossa, Milan-Rome 1996.

[10] Martin Jugie a.a., Indefettibilità, in Enciclopedia Cattolica, Città del Vaticano 1951, vol. VI, coll. 1792-1794. Father Jugie records that the First Vatican Council had prepared a definition schema regarding this.

[11] “The decree Lamentabilis explicitly condemns it in proposition n. 53 Constitutio organica Eccle siae non est immutabilis; sed societas christiana perpetuae evolutioni, aeque societas humana, est obnoxia”, Denz-H, n. 3453.

[12] Conc. Vatic. I, Sess. III Constit. Dogm. Dei Filius, Denz-H, n. 3008.

[13] Conc. Vatic. I, Sess. IV, Constit. Dogm. Pastor aeternus, cap. IV, Denz-H, n. 3074.

[14] Mons. Brunero Gherardini on Canonization and Infallibilty, in http://chiesaepostconcilio glogspot.it/2012/02/mons-brunero-gherardini-su.html.

[15] “Certum est quod iudicium Ecclesiae universalis errare in his quae ad fidem pertinent, impossibile est” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Quodlibet, 9, q. 8 a 1).

[16] Theology differentiates between sensus fidei fidelis to make reference to the personal attitude of the believer and that sensus fidei fidelium to make reference to the instinct of faith of the Church Herself.

[17] St. Cyril, Epist. IV to Nestorius in PG, 77, coll. 47-50; Epist. II ad Celestinum, in PG, 77, col. 84.

[18] St. Celestine, Epist. XII ad Cyrillum, in PG, 77, coll. 92-99.

[19] Ivi, coll. 92-93.

[20] Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, II, 5, PL 64, 149.

[21] John Henry Newman, The Arians of the IV Century, Italian tr. Gli Ariani del IV secolo, Jaca Book-Morcelliana, Milan 1981.

[22] St. Hilary of Poitiers, Contra Arianos, vel auxentium, n. 6, in PL, n. 10, col. 613.

[23] John Henry Newman, On consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Geoffrey Chapman, London 1961, pp. 75 and 77.

[24] Conc. Trid., Sessio XIII, 11 October 1551, Decretum de ss. Eucharestia, Denz –H, n. 1637.

[25] Melchior Cano, De locis theologicis, edited by juan belda plans, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid 2006, Book IV, c. 3.

[26] Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et amplissima collectio, III (51), coll. 542-543.

[27] Giovanni Perrone, De Immaculato B. V. Maria Conceptu. An dogmatico decreto definiri possit, disquisitio theologica, Marini, Rome 1847, pp. 139, 143-145.

[28] Cf. Pius IX, Epist. apost. Infallibilis Deus, of December 8th, 1854, in Pii IX Acta, 1 (1854), col. 597; Pius XII, Apostolic Costitution Munificentissimus Deus of November 1st, 1950, in AAS, 42 (1950), pp. 753-754.

[29] Cf. Pius XII’s Letter Deiparae Virginis of May 1st, 1946, in AAS 42 (1950), pp. 728 and foll.

[30] Cf. Carlo Balić o.f.m., Il senso cristiano e il progresso del dogma, in “Gregorianum”, XXXIII, 1 (1952), pp. 106-134; Clément Dillenschneider, Le sens de la foi et le progrès dogmatique du mystère marial, Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, Rome 1954; T. M. Bartolomei, L’influsso del “Senso della Fede” nell’esplicitazione del Dogma dell’Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine degna Madre di Dio, in “Marianum”, 25 (1963), pp. 297 and foll.; Claudio García Extremeño o.p., El sentido de la fe criterio de tradición, in “La Ciencia Tomista”, 87 (1960), p. 603 (pp. 569-605).

[31] Walter Kasper, Die Lehre von der Tradition in der Römischen Schule, Herder, Friburg 1962, above all pp. 94-102.

[32] Cf. Card. Jean-Baptiste Franzelin, De divina Traditione et Scriptura (1870), tr. fr. annotated by Abbé J.-M. Gleize, La Tradition, Courrier de Rome, Condé sur Noireau (France) 2009, theses XI and XII, pp. 131-196.

[33] Jesús Sancho Bielsa, Infalibilidad del pueblo de Dios. “Sensus fidei” e infalibilidad orgánica de la Iglesia en la constitución “Lumen Gentium” del Concilio Vaticano II, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona 1979. Dario Vitali, Sensus fidelium. Una funzione ecclesiale di intelligenza della fede (an ecclesial function of intelligence of the faith), Morcelliana, Brescia 1993; Christoph Ohly, Sensus fidei fidelium, EOS Verlag, St. Ottilien 1999; Gerardo Albano, Il sensus fidelium. La partecipazione del popolo di Dio alla funzione profetica della Chiesa, Pontificia Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Meridionale, Extract from his doctorate dissertation, Naples 2008.

[34] Fernando Ocáriz-Antonio Blanco, Rivelazione, fede e credibilità. Corso di teologia fondamentale, Edizioni Università della Santa Croce, Rome 2001.

[35] Benedict XVI, Audience of July 7th 2010, in Insegnamenti, Libreria Editrice Vatican, Vatican City, vol. VI (2010), pp 30-31.

[36] Benedict XVI, Homily for the Holy Mass with members of the International Theological Commission, December 1st 2009, in Insegnamenti, vol. V, 2 (2009), p. 634.

[37] the international theological commission The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 2014.

[38] Ivi, n. 54.

[39] Ivi, n. 49.

[40] F. Ocáriz – A. Blanco, Revelation, Faith and Credibilty, p. 84.

[41] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II-IIae, q. 45, a. 2. See also: José Miguel Pero-Sanz, El conocimiento por connaturalidad, Eunsa, Pamplona 1964.

[42] St. Thomas aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, q. 14, a. 10 ad 10.

[43] Id., Summa theologiae, II-IIae, q. 2, a. 3 ad 2.

[44] Id., Summa Theologiae, II-IIae, q. 1, a. 9.

[45] Id., Expositio super Ioannis Evangelium, c. 14, lectio 4.

[46] Tommaso M. Bartolomei, Natura, realtà, genesi e valore del “Sensus fidei”, p. 270.

[47] Pius XII, Enc. Humani Generis of August 12th, 1950, in AAS 42 (1950), pp. 574-575.

[48] C. Balić, Il senso cristiano, pp. 113-114.

[49] Arnaldo Maria Lanz, Ispirazione divina, in Enciclopedia Cattolica, vol. VII, coll. 326-327.

[50] Ivi, p. 110.

[51] C. Balić, Il senso cristiano, pp. 112-113.

[52] Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange o. p., Le sens commun: la philosophie de l’être et les formules dogmatiques, Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, Paris 1922 ; mons. Antonio Livi, Filosofoia del senso commune. Logica della scienza e della fede, Edizioni Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2010.

[53] C. Balić, Il senso cristiano, pp. 125-126.

[54] F. Ocáriz – A. Blanco, op. cit., p. 85.

[55] Card. Jean-Baptiste Franzelin, La Tradition, annotated translation of the latin text of 1870 by abbé Jean-Michel Gleize FSPX, “Courrier de Rome”, n. 184, p. 134.

[56] Ivi, n. 188, p. 136.

[57] St. Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Treatise 18 n. 1, in PL, vol. 35, col. 1536.

[58] J. B. Franzelin, La Tradition, n. 192, p. 138.

[59] Card. Louis Billot s.j., De Immutabilitate traditionis (1907), french tr. with footnotes of abbé J.-M. Gleize, Tradition et modernisme. De l’immuable tradition, contre la nouvelle hérésie de l’évolutionnisme, Courrier de Rome, Villegenon 2007, pp. 32, 37.

[60] B. Gherardini, Quaecumque dixero vobis, Lindau, Turin 2011, p. 170.

[61] See P. Enrico Zoffoli, La vera Chiesa di Cristo, Pro manuscripto, Roma 1990; Id., Chiesa e uomini di Chiesa. Apologetica a rovescio, Edizioni Segno, Udine 1994; Id., Potere e obbedienza nella Chiesa, Maurizio Minchella Editore, Rome 1996.

[62] The International theological commission, The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, n. 63.

[63] St. Thomas Aquinus, Sup. III Sententiarum, d. 25, q. 2, a. 1, sol. 2, ad 3.

[64] Id., Summa Theologiae, II-III, q. 33, a. 4, ad 2.

[65] See, for example, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s manifesto, A política de distensão do Vaticano com os governos comunistas. Para a TFP: ometir-se ou resistir (in “Catolicismo”, n. 280 (April 1974), pp. 4-5, published in 57 newspapers of 11 countries; and the letter sent on 21 November 1983 by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre and Antonio de Castro Mayer to Pope John Paul II regarding some errors in the New Code of Canon Law and the ceremonies performed on occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of Luther (Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Marcel Lefebvre. Une vie, Clovis, Etampes 2002, pp. 559-560).

[66] A. Xavier da Silveira, Resistenza pubblica a delle decisioni dell’autorità ecclesiastica, in Ipotesi teologica di un Papa eretico, cit., pp.141-156. Cf. also Id., Can Documents of the Magisterium of the Church contain errors?, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, Spring Grove, Penn. 2015.

[67] R. de Mattei Apologia della Tradizione, Lindau, Turin 2011, pp. 146-147.

[68] The decree Lamentabili n. 6 condemns the modernist proposition according to which “In definiendis veritatibus ita collqborant discens et docens Ecclesiae, ut docenti Ecclesiae nihil supersit, nisi communes discentis opinationes sancire” (Denz-H, n. 3406) (“in defining the truth the ‘Church learning’ and the ‘Church teaching’ collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the ‘Church teaching’ to sanction the opinions of the ‘Church learning’”).

[69] C. García Extremeño o.p., El sentido de la fe criterio de fradicio, p. 602.

[70] St. Augustine, De Praedestinatione sanctorum, 14, 27, in PL, 44, col. 980.

[71] Id., Contra secundam Iuliani responsionem imperfectum opus, tr. it. Polemica con Giuliano, II/1, Città Nuova, Rome 1993, pp. 203-205.

[72] J.-M. Gleize, Magistère et foi, in “Courrier de Rome”, n. 344 (2011), p. 3.

[73] P. Cristiano Pesch s.j., Il dovere della fede, F. Pustet, Rome 1910, p. 41.

[74] Ramon Garcia de Haro, La Vita cristiana. Corso di teologia morale fondamentale, Ares, Milan 1995, pp. 377-378.

[75] J.-H. Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, italian tr. Paoline, Milan 1999, p. 219.

[76] R. T. Calmel o.p., Breve apologia della Chiesa di sempre, italian tr. Edizioni Ichthys, Albano Laziale (Rome) 2007, p. 121.

[77] Carolus Binder, Thesis, in Passione Domini Fidem Ecclesiae in Beatissima Virgine sola remansisse, iuxta doctrinam Medi Aevii et recentioris aetate, in Maria et Ecclesia. Acta Congressus Mariologici Lourdes, vol. III, Academia Mariana Internationalis, Rome 1959, pp. 389-487.

[78] St. Bernard of Chiaravalle, In Natalis S. Victoris, s. 2, 1 in PL, 183, col. 174, quoted by mons. Antonio Piolanti, Il mistero della comunione dei santi nella rivelazione e nella teologia, Descléé, Rome 1957, p. 786.

[79] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-IIae, q. 129, art. 6 ad 3. Cf. Thomas de Saint Laurent , Il libro della fiducia, Ed. Fiducia, Rome 1991.

[80] Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange o.p., La Providence et la confiance en Dieu, Les Editions Militia, Montréal 1953, p. 256.

Socci: Is the “God” of “Avvenire” and Communion and Liberation now Allah?

Yesterday ‘Avvenire’ published an editorial (an editorial expresses the official line of a newspaper) and at the heart of this editorial is such rubbish, undeniably extraneous to the Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, this editorial bears the signature of a friend of mine from Communion and Liberation, but we need to be friends first and foremost of the truth, thus – with regret – I must point out that if the Bishop’s Conference newspaper proposes such an idea in its editorial, we are a step away from the abyss (and also the ridiculous). Here are the sentences upon which ‘Avvenire’ builds all its Bergoglian theorem:

‘In fact, for those who believe – Christian or Muslim or Jew – God is one, great, omnipotent, merciful. The difference, if any, regards the ‘I’.’

As you can now see ‘the Bergoglio effect’ is running wild. We are now at “parole in libertà”* Reading the CEI’s newspaper editorial, in fact, the faith of Catholics and Muslims would seem to be the same and their conception of God would seem to be identical.

Has the director of ‘Avvenire’ Tarquinio, a onetime Ratzingerian, ever heard of the Most Holy Trinity which is the heart of the Christian Faith and which Muslims consider to be the worst kind of blasphemy?

In the Dome of the Rock, built by Muslims over the Jewish holy place, replacing the Old Temple of Jerusalem, an inscription which precisely denies the Trinity stands out. Islam proclaims in that inscription: “God has no son.”

Islam was born precisely in negating the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the Triune God. It is the most radical and violent attack at the heart of the Christian Faith that has ever been seen.
Can we then say that there is no difference in the conception of God between Christians and Muslims? It is St. John the Apostle who clarifies that those who do not acknowledge the Son, do not possess the Father either:

“Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also”. ( 1 John 2 vv 22-23).

It seems very clear to me. Further, it’s obvious that the abysmal difference in the conception of the ‘I’ (of the person), between Islam and Christianity, comes exactly from the abysmal difference in their conception of God.

“Avvenire” however, ignores all this. I know for sure that the editorialist has at least heard of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Trinitarian credo of Christians. Nevertheless, the times – in the Church and in Communion and Liberation – are such that the Truth of the Faith is now happily dumped in the trash, to give voice to the most utterly absurd nonsense.

It appears to me, seeing what is happening in the Church (and also in the pitiable ‘Meeting 2016’**, it can be said that many “are ashamed of Christ”, as Don Giussani *** bitterly complained about in his last interview. Today this tendency has become dominant both inside C.L. and the Church.

Simply as a memorandum I’ll report here below some passages from DOMINUS JESUS which should remind everyone what the faith of Catholics consists of:

“The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle).

As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.

As a remedy for this relativistic mentality, which is becoming ever more common, it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ
In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), the full revelation of divine truth is given: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:27); “No one has ever seen God; God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18); “For in Christ the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9-10).

Faithful to God’s word, the Second Vatican Council teaches: “By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines forth in Christ, who is at the same time the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.

Furthermore, “Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word made flesh, sent ‘as a man to men’, ‘speaks the words of God’ (Jn 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf. Jn 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see his Father (cf. Jn 14:9). For this reason, Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially through his death and glorious resurrection from the dead and finally with the sending of the Spirit of truth, he completed and perfected revelation and confirmed it with divine testimony… The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tim 6:14 and Tit 2:13)”.

Thus, the Encyclical Redemptoris missio calls the Church once again to the task of announcing the Gospel as the fullness of truth: “In this definitive Word of his revelation, God has made himself known in the fullest possible way. He has revealed to mankind who he is. This definitive self-revelation of God is the fundamental reason why the Church is missionary by her very nature. She cannot do other than proclaim the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself”. Only the revelation of Jesus Christ, therefore, “introduces into our history a universal and ultimate truth which stirs the human mind to ceaseless effort.”

* Parole in libertà – Words in Freedom – from the Futuristic art and literary movement (1912-1919)– in this case refers to– ‘a rejection of intellectual and academic jargon’ and free association. Founder:Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
**Communion and Liberation in Rimini
***The founder of C.L

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana

Published by Rorate Caeli 20th August 2016

The Modernist Ruse Behind the Bergoglian Pontificate

by Christopher A. Ferrara
July 15, 2016

The very essence of Modernism is to deny what the Modernist appears to be affirming.  Doubletalk is the language of Modernist theology.

A classic example of this Modernist deception is a recent article by Thomas Rausch, SJ which appeared in Civiltà Cattolica, the supposedly authoritative pontifical Jesuit magazine whose contents are vetted by the Vatican. The title alone alerts the attentive reader that another Modernist con job is in the offing: “Doctrine at the service of the pastoral mission of the Church.”

Of course, the pastoral mission of the Church is at the service of doctrine, not the other way around, for it is doctrine — that is, the Truth — that makes us free.  The pastoral mission launched for all time by Christ Himself with the divine commission is precisely to free the lost soul from the darkness of error by preaching the truth — Catholic doctrine and dogma — not to accommodate those in darkness or, to allude to the preposterous theme of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, “integrate weakness” in the Church.

In typical Modernist fashion, Rausch affirms a Catholic truth in order to deny it throughout the rest of the article.  He quotes Saint Vincent of Lerins for the fundamental Catholic truth that legitimate development of Catholic doctrine leaves intact “the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import­” (or more accurately, “the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding”) — precisely as the First Vatican Council affirmed — and that in the course of its legitimate development, meaning only its fuller expression, doctrine “becom[es] firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.” That is, there is no change in doctrine, either in content or understanding, but only strengthening and growth of expression. Hence St. Vincent’s famous formula: “We hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all [quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est].”  There is no “God of surprises” in the thought of St. Vincent nor in the tradition of the Church.

Having affirmed this truth, however, Rausch promptly denies it, quoting his fellow Modernist Jesuit, Fr. Spadaro, for the following proposition:

St. Vincent of Lèrins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the depositum fidei [deposit of faith], which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and, so too is human consciousness deepened. In this regard we could think of the time when slavery was considered acceptable, or the death penalty was applied without question. So, too, this is how we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the Church to mature in her own judgment. The other sciences and their development also help the Church in its growth in understanding. There are secondary ecclesiastical rules and precepts that at one time were effective, but now they have lost their value and meaning. The view that the Church’s teaching is a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

Note the stealthy non-sequitur smuggled in via the italicized phrases:  from St. Vincent’s biological analogy regarding the growth and development of the same, unchanging doctrine in the Church, Rausch (citing only his fellow Modernist for authority) leaps to the conclusion that just as “human self-understanding changes with time” so the Church’s teaching is subject over time to “different understandings.”  Of course, that is exactly the opposite of what Rausch affirmed only a few lines earlier: i.e., St. Vincent’s insistence on “the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding” down through the ages.  God does not change His understanding of the truth, and neither does the Church change her understanding of faith and morals.

The references to slavery and the death penalty are red herrings.  The Church has always condemned chattel slavery (the purported ownership of another human being and control over his natural right to marry and have children) while tolerating certain forms of bonded servitude in practice, without any “change” in the “understanding” of doctrine.

As for the death penalty, the Church has never changed her teaching on its moral legitimacy in appropriate cases.  As even the new Catechism states concerning the Fifth Commandment:  “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

No matter what Francis thinks to the contrary, he cannot alter (to quote St. Vincent) what in the Church has “been believed everywhere, always, by all” regarding capital punishment; he cannot now simply declare, contrary to all of Tradition, that capital punishment violates the Fifth Commandment.  He may pronounce those words, as he has in fact done, but they cannot change a constant teaching based on Revelation itself.  The words spoken are merely the errant opinion of one Pope; and this is not the first time an outlier Pope has expressed an errant opinion.

The Catechism’s further statement that the cases in which the death penalty would be appropriate “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” is not a constant teaching of the Church or a change in doctrine but merely a factual contention based on an opinion concerning current penal conditions: “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime,” etc.  The Church’s doctrine does not involve surveys of worldwide penal conditions and “possibilities… for effectively preventing crime,” as to which the Magisterium has no competence.

Thus, having begun by appearing to affirm, quoting St. Vincent, that doctrine and dogma do not change, Rausch ends by affirming exactly the opposite: “The rule of faith in its essence does not change, but the expressions of the doctrine and its spontaneous understanding marked by the culture do change, and for this reason the magisterium and the councils must ensure the correct formulation of the faith.”

That “the spontaneous understanding” of doctrine as “marked by the culture” changes over time, and must be “corrected” by “the magisterium and the councils” over time to reflect these supposed changes in understanding, is pure Modernism.  With this notion, to quote Saint Pius X in his landmark encyclical on the errors of the Modernists, “the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion.”

But, no matter what Francis’ subjective intentions may be, the ruination and destruction of all religion appears to be precisely the program of this pontificate, with its constant demagogic attacks on “rigorism” and “monolithic” doctrine and its relentless attempt to loosen the Church’s teaching and pastoral practice concerning sexual immorality.  As Francis declared in an address quoted by Rausch: “Christian doctrine is not a closed system, incapable of raising questions, doubts, inquiries, but is living, is able to unsettle, is able to enliven. It has a face that is supple, a body that moves and develops, flesh that is tender: Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ.”

Actually, no.  Christian doctrine is not the literal flesh of Christ, which grew and changed as the Christ child became a man, suffered and died and then rose from the dead, but rather the Word Incarnate, which never changes and has existed from all eternity, even before it became Incarnate in the human nature the Son assumed: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God (John 1:2).”

But here, sad to say, we have more Modernist doubletalk from another Jesuit, the one who sits on the Chair of Peter.  The one who has surrounded himself with the likes of Rausch and Spadaro. The one who has, incredibly enough, commenced “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan,” the battle against marriage and family of which Sister Lucia warned us and which is now being carried forward under the upside down slogan of “Doctrine at the service of the pastoral mission of the Church.”

May God defend His Holy Church against this onslaught, the likes of which she has not witnessed in 2,000 years.

A Historic Indictment

A Review of Antonio Socci’s La Profezia Finale

by Christopher A. Ferrara

www.cfnews.org

Introduction

Again and again the Italian Catholic and public intellectual Antonio Socci has shocked the Catholic “mainstream” with explosive exposés that confirm the diagnosis of the current crisis in the Church in “traditionalist” and “Fatimite” circles. Unlike so many of his colleagues in the Catholic commentariat, Socci will not refrain from publishing what intellectual honesty demands respecting our situation. Hence his Fourth Secret of Fatima, which placed the massive evidence of the Vatican’s failure to disclose the entire Third Secret squarely before the public eye, where it will simply not go away. Likewise, his Non é Francesco (It’s Not Francis, a play on the title of an Italian pop song) fearlessly confronted the disaster of the current pontificate, even if one demurs from Socci’s dubious arguments against the validity of Cardinal Bergoglio’s election (as Socci himself has apparently since done).
Now comes La Profezia Finale (The Final Prophecy), which consists principally of an open letter to Francis following an introductory review of approved Marian apparitions and other prophecies, especially the Message of Fatima and the integral Third Secret, which converge on each other and “indicate our time as the time of an almost apocalyptic turning point.”
As this book has thus far appeared only in Italian, and may never see an English edition—the translations herein are mine—what seems appropriate here is a book review that is more a tour of the text than a mere summary description. What elevates the work to the status of an historical document is the open letter to Francis. Here we encounter a text beneath which simmers barely concealed but entirely justified fury over the baneful effects of what Socci has dubbed “Bergoglianism”—a mixture of popular piety, leftist ideology, disdain for strict adherence to the traditional doctrines and disciplines of the Church, and a personality cult fomented and sustained by a mass media delighted with a Pope who, as Socci writes, seems to have “set about attacking the Church” rather than defending her against attackers.
The title of the open letter, “A terrible responsibility before God,” sets the tone for what is a scathing indictment of the entire pontificate, which, precisely on account of its perceived hostility to Tradition, enjoys “the unbearable general adulation of the media, above all the laicists and enemies of Christ, who propagate with regard to you a veritable cult of personality” (p. 92).
Francis, says Socci, is promoting the error of a “pure” Christianity (quoting Andreas Hoffer), “a sort of ‘superchristianity’ that purports to be “more good than even Jesus Christ himself” because it holds that “it is no longer enough to love the sinner… It is necessary even to love the sin (98).” Not without reason has the ironically entitled “Synod on the Family” been widely disparaged as “the Sin-Nod” and “the Synod Against the Family.” Indeed, as I write this piece the Catholic world awaits with dread a 200-page “Apostolic Exhortation” that may accomplish what the Synod failed to approve despite its blatant manipulation by Francis and his fiery denunciations of the “rigorists” and “Pharisees” among the Synod Fathers: the admission of public adulterers in second or even third “marriages” to Holy Communion and a greater “acceptance” of those involved in cohabitation and even “homosexual unions.”
In sum, Socci alleges, Francis has engaged in the “abolition of the external enemy and the fabrication of an internal enemy”—not the Modernists, but the defenders of the Faith in all its integrity, whom Francis habitually mocks and derides as “rigorists and fundamentalists (p. 99).” Socci charges that in the midst of the “dictatorship of relativism” lamented by Benedict XVI, which “is now consolidated in the West,” the Catholics who oppose it are “beaten with a cane and emarginated from the highest summit of the Church: by you [emphasis added, here and throughout].”
Yet, with the Church facing an apocalyptic turn of events in the realm of the spiritual, Francis has published an encyclical on ecology, addressing “the separation of waste and the abuse of plastic bottles and air conditioners.” Socci asks: “Are you sure that this is the response a Vicar of Christ should give to a truly apocalyptic spiritual crisis…?”
Socci provides a bill of particulars for his indictment under a series of headings that represent various aspects of the Bergoglian program.

Bergoglian Confusion

Under the heading “Confusion” Socci remarks the unprecedented nature of the “Jubilee of Mercy,” the first Jubilee in Church history that “does not involve the memory of the earthly life of Jesus…. [and] celebrates only an ecclesial event: the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council (p. 108).”
Mercy, Socci writes, “was not invented in 2013,” but this event—with its thousands of “mercy doors” and no clear requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence, seems to suggest (quoting Sandro Magister) “the total cancellation of sin, no longer with any hint of the remission of the consequent penalty. The word ‘penalty’ is another of the words that have vanished (p. 113).” Even the call for repentance and conversion is “set aside because you—as you have said publicly—do not wish to convert anyone and consider proselytism to be nonsense.”
Socci cites Francis’s homily of December 8, 2015 wherein he declares how wrong it is affirm of God “that sinners are punished by His judgment, without preferring instead that they are pardoned by His mercy.” The impression is that God “has pardoned everything ‘a priori’ and that it is not even necessary to amend one’s life.” Socci notes that Our Lord Himself lamented this “terrible self-deception” in an interior locution recorded by Saint Bridget of Sweden, wherein He tells her that the Church’s foundation in the Faith has been undermined “because everyone believes in me and preaches mercy, but no one preaches and believes that I am the just judge… I will not leave unpunished the least sin, nor without a reward the least good.”
Socci asks: “But why has your pontificate taken this turn?” The rest of the open letter presents the evidence for what he believes to be the answer to that question, and the answer could not be more explosive:

“… [I]nstead of combatting errors (and certain of the erring) you have set yourself to combatting the Church…. I would remind you that the Church is the bride of Christ for which He was crucified, and the servant who has received from the King the task of defending pro tempore His bride cannot humiliate her in the public square, treating her like a naughty child…. It is necessary to kneel before the Lord, not the newspapers” (pp. 119-120).

Synod of Subversion

Under the heading “Bewilderment,” Socci trains his sights on the tempestuous Synod, which he rightly describes as “a deadly attack on the family and on the sacrament of the Eucharist that was systematically… carried forward by the Vatican summit,” “assisted for two years in the overturning of the perennial Magisterium of the Church” and was “promoted by the one who should be the custodian and defender of that teaching (p. 126).”
Socci quotes Cardinal Pell’s observation that the Synod was a “theological war” in which the indissolubility of marriage was like a flag to be captured in the “battle between what remains of Christianity in Europe and an aggressive neopaganism. All the adversaries of Christianity want the Church to capitulate on this point.”
But, writes Socci, while Francis “should have headed the resistance to the forces that wanted the Church’s capitulation, instead everyone—with ever-greater evidence and force—saw you heading the revolutionary faction (pp. 126-127).” Thus Ross Douthat of the New York Times was able to write: “in this moment the first conspirator is the Pope himself.” No wonder, Socci notes with disgust, even Newsweek magazine ran a cover story entitled “Is the Pope Catholic?”—a question that “was never posed as to your predecessors and no Catholic would ever have posed, but with you we find ourselves before a Pope who, as reported by a noted laicist daily [La Repubblica], declared literally ‘A Catholic God does not exist.’” In the same vein, The American Spectator depicted Francis “sitting atop a wrecking ball that was reducing a building [a church steeple] to dust” (p. 124).

A Meteorological Pope?

Under the heading “Climate Obsession,” Socci contrasts the apocalyptic decline in faith and morals throughout the West with this Pope’s inexplicable obsession with a supposed “climatological apocalypse.” Socci’s question is devastating: “Does the Church really have need of a climatological and meteorological Pope? (p. 131).” Noting that there is “no scientific certainty which proves indisputably that today there is a catastrophic change in climate and that this is imputable to human activity,” Socci declares to Francis:

“Yet you, Holy Father, who are always cold and detached regarding the dogma of the Church, have uncritically wed yourself to absurd ecological dogmas … making a granitic profession of faith in that absurd climatist ideology… [I]t is improper and ridiculous that a Pope makes the climate and the environment (to which he dedicated the first encyclical he penned) the heart of his preaching… The Lord did not say: ‘Convert and believe in global warming,’ but rather: “Convert and believe in the Gospel.” And He never commanded: ‘Separate your refuse’ but rather ‘Go and baptize all peoples'” (p. 134).

Socci’s scalding conclusion (quoting an editorial by Riccardo Cascioli) is that “One has the impression that the fundamental message of the Church has changed: ‘From the savior of men to the savior of the planet.’”

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Under the heading “Disturbing Show,” Socci denounces the preposterous and scandalous ecological light show projected onto the façade of Saint Peter’s on no less than the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Entitled Fiat Lux (Let there be Light), the show was “a mocking challenge and a parody of the Gospel in which the expression indicates the act of the Creator and then identifies the Light that is Christ who has come to illuminate the darkness.”
Replete with pictures of animals but devoid of even a hint of Christian symbolism, this spectacle represents a complete reversal of the message of the Gospel: “the world projects its light on the Church immersed in darkness. And in that show the Church receives the light of the world (p. 138).” And as the world’s imagery was cast onto the basilica that stands at the heart of the Church, the light on the crèche in Saint Peter’s Square was extinguished because “the light of the Baby Jesus must never disturb the staging of the new ecological religion (p. 139).”
Here Socci points to a stunningly appropriate passage in Scripture, from the Epistle to the Romans: “For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things (Rom. 1:22-23).” And here yet another devastating assessment thrown at the feet of Francis:

“But above all, Father Bergoglio [a reference to the Pope’s penchant for introducing himself thus], how is it possible that you do not notice and do not indicate other emergencies than those of the climate, or at least with equal insistence? The apostasy of entire peoples from the faith of the true God is not a drama that merits your most ardent appeals? The war against the family and against life? The neglect of Christ and the massacre of Christian communities? It seems that only the environment and other themes of the religion of political correctness merit your passion.

“A great French intellectual, Alain Finkielkraut, has described you as “Supreme Pontiff of the world journalistic ideology.” Is he wrong? Does he exaggerate?

“In effect, in ‘your’ Church it seems that the themes of separating refuse and recycling take precedence over the tragedy of entire peoples who, in the turn of a few years, have abandoned the faith. You sound the alarm over “global warming” while the Church for two millennia has sounded it concerning the fire of Hell” (p. 142).

From here, Socci launches into a discussion of the Message of Fatima and precisely its warnings about the loss of souls in Hell for all eternity. The Madonna of Fatima, he writes, “did not present the calculations of environmentalists on the climate of the planet, but caused the little children to see the eternal fire of Hell, and told them, sadly: ‘You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. Many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
This, Socci continues, “is the real tragedy, Holy Father, the eternal perdition of multitudes. Not—if you will permit me—the loss of biodiversity, or at least not for us Christians. Yet you never speak of it. Rather, sometimes you almost induce the belief that everyone will be saved because ‘God does not condemn. (p. 142-143).’”
Summing up his unconcealed contempt for the Pope’s preoccupation with global warming rather than the eternal fire of which Our Lady came to warn the world at Fatima, Socci writes:

“Before the spiritual catastrophe of the eternal perdition of multitudes, which induced the mother of God to come earnestly to Earth, I find it frankly incomprehensible that you preoccupy yourself for the most part—as you did in your encyclical Laudato si —with biodiversity, the fate of worms and little reptiles, the lakes, and the abuse of plastic bottles and air-conditioning” (p. 148).

A Pope Who Doesn’t Like Catholics?

Socci’s indictment next proceeds to the heading “Attack on the Faith,” a reference to enemies within the Church since Vatican II, whose subversion has been lamented (too little and too late) by every Pope since the Council, including Benedict XVI. It was Benedict who (during the Mass for the opening of the conclave that elected him) declared that today having “a clear and certain faith” is denounced as “fundamentalism.” Citing that testimony, Socci throws a series of gauntlets Francis’s feet:

“I invite you, Father Bergoglio, to reread attentively these words because they describe dramatically what is occurring during your pontificate. In fact, it is precisely you personally, Holy Father, who accuse of ‘fundamentalism’ those who have a clear and certain faith and bear witness to their fidelity to Catholic doctrine….

“You, curiously, are convinced that the danger for the Church of today is Christians fervent in their faith and those pastors who defend the Catholic creed. In your Evangelii gaudium you attack “some who dream of a monolithic doctrine” and those who “use a language completely orthodox.”

“Should we then prefer those who are carried here and there by every ideology and use heretical language? Evidently yes, seeing that they are never attacked by you.

“If one chooses any day, one will almost always find that you, in your discourse, attack those you call ‘rigorists,’ ‘rigid,’ that is, men with fervent faith, whom you identify with ‘Scribes and Pharisees'” (p. 153-155).

Socci does not mince words in addressing Francis’s well-known constant resort to a false antithesis between mercy and doctrinal rigor, citing one of the innumerable discourses in which Francis declares that so-called “doctors of the law,” who know doctrine well, are estranged from the mercy of God. “But you, Holy Father,” writes Socci:

“should overcome your personal resentment toward those who have studied; you should know that, in the Christian horizon, it is completely absurd to oppose mercy to Truth, because both are incarnated in the same Jesus Christ. Thus it is false to oppose doctrine to the pastoral, because that would be to oppose the Logos (doctrine) to the Good Shepherd (the Truth made flesh): Jesus is the Logos (the Truth made flesh) and, at the same time, the Good Shepherd” (p. 159).

Socci also focuses on Francis’s justly infamous speech attacking his conservative opposition at the close of Synod 2016, wherein he blasted the prelates who had resisted having the pre-written, heterodox Instrumentum laboris shoved down their throats as “the Synod’s” final report. As Francis declared in that harangue, his opponents had:

“… closed hearts that often hide even behind the teaching of the Church, or behind good intentions, to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superficiality and superiority, to judge difficult cases and wounded families….

“The true defenders of doctrine are not those who defend the letter but the spirit; not the idea but the man; not the formula, but the gratuitous love of God and of his pardon.”

Here we see the umpteenth example of Francis’ penchant for the false antithesis: the letter versus the “spirit” of doctrine; the idea versus the man; the “formula” versus the love of God and his pardon. But there is no opposition at all between these concepts; in fact, they are inseparable.
Socci has had quite enough of the past three years of this sort of Modernist sophistry, and he fires with both barrels:

“So doing, do you not think that you have disqualified your predecessors and all the Magisterium of the Church, in order to affirm your strictly personal concept of mercy different from the doctrine of the Church?…

“Evidently, even Jesus would have been, according to you, doctrinaire, a rigorist, one who defends the idea instead of the man.

“In effect—applying your criterion—we would have to say that Jesus would not have been accepted to a seminary during your pontificate because he was the most fundamentalist of all; in fact, not only was he certain of the truth, but he proclaimed himself the Truth made flesh (‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ Jn 14,6).”

Catholic Divorce?

Next in the dock, under the heading “Nullity,” is Francis’s surprise attack on the process for determining matrimonial nullity, which Francis “streamlined” with new canons devised in semi-secrecy and without consulting any competent Vatican dicastery. The net effect of the two motu proprios introducing these “reforms,” Mitis Iudex Jesus (for the western Church) and Mitis et Misericors (for the eastern Church) is, Socci writes, “a total overturning of perspective: no longer the defense of the sacrament above all (for the salvation of souls), but rather the ease and speed of obtaining an annulment (p. 168).”
Socci notes Francis’s curious insistence on the notion of “marital failure” in the sense of a breakdown in relations, which he seems to equate with grounds for nullity (original nonexistence) of the marriage. But, as Socci rightly observes, “there are many failed marriages that are perfectly valid” while, on the other hand, “there are many ‘null’ marriages (that is, they have never been such from the beginning) that are not failed” in terms of personal relations (p. 169). What Francis has done with his “reforms,” says Socci, is to authorize “imposition of a sentence of nullity as therapy for couples in crisis,” producing what many commentators have termed “Catholic divorce.”
The net result, Socci concludes, is “a true revolution in the history of the Church.” And the supreme irony of this revolution is that not even Cardinal Kasper called for it, but rather, in his intervention at the Consistory of February 2014, rejected precisely “the hypothesis of a generous broadening of the procedure for matrimonial nullity” because “it would create the dangerous impression that the Church is proceeding in a dishonest way to concede what are in reality divorces (p. 171).”
Incredibly, then, Francis has outdone even Kasper in his attack on the foundations of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. As I have noted elsewhere, Francis admits in his own motu proprio the danger of what he has done: “It did not however escape me that a shortened procedure may endanger the principle of the indissolubility of marriage…”
Returning once again to the theme of Fatima, Socci reminds us that Sister Lucia warned Cardinal Caffarra in a letter to the prelate that “The final conflict between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be over marriage and the family.” Socci here pleads with Francis to undo his improvident reform: “I fervently hope that you will withdraw everything. As soon as possible (p. 173).”

The Consequences of Liberalization

Reaching the climax of his long indictment, Socci, under the heading “A Catastrophic Balance,” drops one bomb after another in assessing the claim that Francis is merely attempting to attract souls by mitigating the Church’s supposed rigor. It suffices merely to recite Socci’s explosive remarks:

• “No one has ever held that in order to draw people to the Gospel it is necessary to disown or overturn the Gospel.”

• “Of the many saints and great Popes who have evangelized peoples and entire continents, no one has ever done it by watering down and adulterating the doctrine of the Faith.”

• “We must be the salt of the earth and the salt burns wounds. Like the truth. We must choose: either with Him or against Him. Either salvation or perdition.”

• “[W]henever a religious confession lowers the bar to accommodate worldly customs or to attract adherents it decrees its own suicide.” pp. 177-179.

Socci cites the study of a renowned sociologist whose data confirm that Christian religious confessions that liberalize begin immediately to decline, while those that maintain or return to their traditions thrive, and that this is precisely what has happened in the liberalized Catholic Church of the post-Vatican II epoch.
In this connection, Socci presents Francis with “heavily negative data regarding you personally,” showing that the vaunted “Francis effect” has really meant a steady decline in attendance at papal audiences, despite “the always more powerful planetary propaganda machine that daily hails and exalts your smallest gesture, mythologizing it more than any star.” In fact, he notes, despite the myth that Benedict was “a cold German professor, from whom the people felt distant, in reality the people were much more attracted by Benedict XVI,” whose audience addresses were far better attended. And even though, in contrast to Francis, the media were uniformly hostile to Benedict, “evidently the Christian people, even when bombarded by the media, recognized the authentic accent that its heart expected (p. 180-181). ”
In sum, Socci concludes:

“Evidently your message not only does not attract the distant, but even causes those near to run away… You speak instead to the elite, who have acclaimed you, feeling themselves confirmed in their laicist convictions. Your personal popularity has grown to excess. They call it the ‘Bergoglio effect,’ believing that the interested applause of unbelievers and the adulation of the media will fill the churches again.

“Instead, data in hand, we can say that for the Church the Bergoglio effect has been the contrary. The contents of your magisterium have distanced the people from religious practice rather than attracting them to it” (pp. 181-182).

The Franciscan Friars Affair

Socci next treats of the case of Francis’s brutal persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI), dismembered and destroyed by his personally appointed “apostolic commissioner” without any concrete reason ever having been given to the victims. Here Socci recalls the astounding remarks by Francis during a meeting with some members of the already-shattered FFI, wherein, at one and the same, he admits that he approved the FFI’s destruction but that the FFI has suffered persecution by “the demon” on account of its devotion to Mary! To which demon is Francis referring? Socci protests to Francis that

“their [the FFI’s] true ‘crime’ is that of being true Christians, fervent in the Faith, those you harshly describe as ‘fundamentalists’ and who are in reality only living the authentic Gospel. Dear Father, reverse a decision for which one day God could ask you to account…. You have many who adulate you, but few among your fans pray for you; surely very few pray for you as much as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate “(p. 186).

A Love Affair with Lutherans

After noting that Francis evinces no concern over the internal enemies of the Church who, as Saint Pius X warned, work to undermine the foundations of the faith, Socci next discusses how, on the contrary, Francis seems to have little regard for the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and the various forms of Protestantism.
Under the heading “In the House of Luther,” Socci recalls Francis’s scandalous appearance at a Lutheran church in Rome to participate in a Sunday service during which he rambled on for some ten minutes in answer to a woman’s question about why a Lutheran cannot receive Holy Communion. In the process he characterized the Catholic dogma on transubstantiation as a mere “interpretation” differing from the Lutheran view, ultimately rather coyly suggesting that the woman to “talk to the Lord” about whether she should receive Communion from a Catholic priest—an act of sacrilege. “I dare not say more,” said Francis, having already said quite enough.
Noting Luther’s venomous hatred of the Mass, Socci asks Francis: “how is it possible not to be disturbed? (p. 193).” Dialogue with Lutherans, he writes, must involve “reciprocal clarity, not tossing into the thorn bush the heart of the Catholic faith (p. 194).” Here Socci quotes what may be the single most outrageous remark Francis has ever made. Said Francis to the Lutherans on that occasion:

“The final choice will be definitive. And what will be the questions that the Lord will ask us that day: ‘Did you go to Mass? Did you have a good catechesis?’ No, the questions will be on the poor, because poverty is at the center of the Gospel.”

Socci reminds Francis of what any well-formed child would understand: the infinite value of the Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration, and its worthy reception as compared to even a mountain of good works for the poor:

“But instead you, Father Bergoglio, seem to affirm that what counts are humanitarian merits that we acquire ourselves with our activism, with our ‘service’ to the poor.”

“This would seem to be a Pelagian idea. But—I repeat—the most amazing thing is that you contrapose [yet another false antitheses] “serving the poor” to the Mass, which almost reduces it to something superfluous (along with catechesis)” (p. 197).

Quoting the famous saying of Padre Pio that “It would be better for the world to be without the sun than without Holy Mass,” Socci confronts Francis with the implications of his own words and deeds over the past three years, including his curious refusal to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament:

“Permit me to confide to you, Father Bergoglio, that—from the entirety of your words and gestures—one gets the impression that you have some problem with the Holy Eucharist, and that you do not really comprehend its value and its reality.

“There are so many facts and actions that raise this doubt. The most evident… is your decision not to kneel before the Sacrament during the Consecration at Mass, nor in front of the tabernacle, nor during Eucharistic adoration (moreover you do not participate in the Corpus Christi procession in which your predecessors, kneeling, always participated) (p. 200).

And yet, Socci notes, Francis had no problem kneeling when, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he knelt to receive “the laying on of hands at the convention of Pentecostals in the Luna Park Stadium… Suffice it to say that your intermittent pain in the knees, which seems to arise only when before the Most Blessed Sacrament, beyond seeming rather bizarre, would not appear to be an acceptable explanation (p. 201).”

An Unconscious Joachimist?

This strange attitude toward the Holy Eucharist leads Socci to pose this challenge to Francis regarding his apparent affection for Protestantism:

“… one has the impression that behind your particular opening to the Protestant world and behind your hostility to the structure of the Church—that is, to the visible Church and her doctrine, which they would surpass by listening to the Holy Spirit—flickers a sort of “Church of the spirit,” longed-for in certain affirmations you made in the meeting with Pentecostals at Caserta, on July 28, 2014… As if the Catholic Church, with its doctrinal structure and hierarchy, would in some way supersede itself in the same way the Old passed to the New Covenant (and he who “lingers” to defend doctrine would be… like the ancient Scribes and Pharisees)” (p. 204-205).

Here Socci levels the stunning accusation that Francis exhibits a “sort of unconscious mitigated Joachimism”—a reference to Joachim of Fiore, the deluded 12th century “visionary” who imagined a coming new age of the Holy Spirit that would supersede even the New Testament.

Another Honorius?

Socci’s indictment (p. 207) reaches it climax with the suggestion that Francis, being a Pope who “promotes his own ideas,” may go the way of another Pope who did the same: Honorius (r. 625-628), who was posthumously anathematized by an ecumenical council—a sentence confirmed his own successor, Leo II—for aiding and abetting the spread of the “monothelite” heresy (denying any human will in Christ). Socci levels against Francis the same condemnation Leo II leveled against Honorius: “Those who aroused contention against the purity of apostolic tradition, at their death certainly received eternal condemnation, [including] Honorius who, rather than extinguishing the flame of heresy, as befits apostolic authority, fed it by his neglect.”

Paying Homage to Dictators

Socci nears the end of his indictment with a positively scalding account of Francis’s visit to Cuba, where he said nothing about the tyranny under which it suffers while he condemned the “god of money” in capitalist countries. Unlike John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who demanded the release of prisoners and met Fidel Castro on neutral ground (John Paul) or received him at the apostolic nunciature in Havana (Benedict), Francis made no demands on the Castro regime, either of Fidel or his brother Raul, and conducted a veritable pilgrimage to Fidel’s home, where the bloody dictator received the Pope in audience.
Socci expresses entirely appropriate disgust at Francis’s acceptance from Raul of the gift of a crucifix supposedly made from the oars of “refugee” rowboats in the Mediterranean—no rowboats were involved. Yet Francis ignored the 100,000 refugees who have drowned attempting to escape the Castro brothers’ communist prison state. Socci concludes: “These are the tyrants you to whom you have paid homage and who have given you the gift of your ‘migrants’ (p. 214).”

The Folly of “Open Borders”

The indictment proceeds to the heading “Walls,” wherein Socci dismantles Francis’s demagogic insistence on “an indiscriminate opening of the frontier that would destabilize peoples, states and systems.”
Socci points out that not only Saint Thomas but the Bible itself defends the use of “walls” to protect the integrity of nations and peoples from invasion and malign influences—the Vatican walls themselves being an example of this—and that the modern national frontier is not a “wall” to be denounced as unchristian.
Socci asks Francis: “Is it possible that you do not perceive a phenomenon as macroscopic as the failure of assimilation? And can you not see the unresolved problem that Islam has with violence, as Benedict XVI explained at Regensburg? (p. 217).”

The Summation

The indictment concludes under the heading “the Poor,” wherein Socci, son of a miner, protests Francis’s constant talk of the poor as “unacceptable: because it is in a mode that is ideological, demagogic and sociological…. But the Church does not dream of instrumentalizing the poor, making of them an ideological-theological category like that Argentine theology of liberation from which it emerges…”
Summing up his whole indictment, Socci writes:

“the first poverty of peoples is not to know Christ… This is the problem, Holy Father. It is necessary to announce to men the only one who can save them, because this is what really counts, as Jesus tirelessly warns: “What profit a man if gains the whole world but loses his soul?…”

“So, you should reverse the entire orientation of your papacy: Thus, instead of occupying yourself with separating refuse, you will defend sound Catholic doctrine against attacks by the world and by Modernism; instead of obsessively sounding the alarm about the climate, you will warn humanity about the overhanging threat of eternal damnation; instead of an encyclical on the fate of worms and little reptiles, you will write one on the persecuted Christians and the world’s hatred of the Savior….

“As Vito Messori said to then Cardinal Ratzinger: ‘Without a vision of the mystery of the Church that is also supernatural and not only sociological, Christology itself loses its reference to God: a purely human structure ends by corresponding to a human project. The Gospel becomes the Jesus Project, the social liberation project, or other historical projects… which seem religious only in appearance, but are atheistic in substance… ‘”(p. 224).

The closing words of this truly historic document are Socci’s personal plea to Francis to change his course before it is too late:

“Do not be afraid of disappointing the world, which until now has enthusiastically applauded you… The only fear to have is that of disappointing God….

“Dear Pope Francis, be one of our true pastors on the way of Christ, with Pope Benedict who assists you with prayer and advice: also assist the Church, today bewildered and confused, to recover the way of its Savior and thus reignite the light that will enable humanity not to lose itself in an abyss of violence. All of the saints of heaven pray for this….”

Francis Applies the Butter

Shortly after publication of La Profezia Finale, Socci received a handwritten letter from none other than Francis himself. Addressed to “dear brother,” the letter was not unlike the telephone call Francis made to Mario Palmaro, late co-author of another searing critique of the pontificate bluntly entitled “We Do Not Like This Pope.” The gist of the letter and the phone call alike was the same: I appreciate your criticism of me.
One can be forgiven for thinking that so clever an ecclesial politician as Francis might have in mind a bit of buttering up of his most effective and widely read critics. But the letter to Socci (as well as the phone call to Palmaro) puts to rest any suggestion that “traditionalists” offend the Faith when they publish strong criticism of this Pope. Francis himself explodes that contention.
In any case, Socci, while not unmoved by this personal attention from the Supreme Pontiff, has not backed even one step away from his indictment. His most recent column (as of this writing) laments the enormous damage “the ‘new Church’ of Bergoglio” is causing to “the Church of all time,” threatening to be “more devastating than Luther.”
In closing one must ask: Where are the prelates who, undoubtedly seeing what Socci sees, will come forward to stand with him—and with concerned laity around the world—in opposition to the rushing tide of “Bergoglianism,” a phenomenon unlike anything seen before in the annals of the papacy.
Whether or not you read Italian, buy this book.* You will be the owner of a piece of history. And may God bless and protect its courageous author.

* Book also available on Kindle (Italian only)

The Real Umberto Eco: How a deeply Catholic young man became an Apostle of Anti-Catholicism

Umberto Eco: the sad parable of a nominalist

Roberto de Mattei

Corrispondenza Romana

February 24, 2016 (Courtesy of Rorate Caeli)

On February 23rd 2016, the writer Umberto Eco, who passed way on February 19th at the age of 84, had his “non-religious” funeral. Eco was one of the worst products of 20th century Italian/ Turin culture. His Turin origins need to be emphasized as Piedmont was a mine of great saints in the 19th century and of secularist, anti-Catholic intellectuals in the 20th century.

The “Turin School”, described well by Augusto Del Noce, passed from idealism to Illuminist-Marxism, maintaining its anti-Catholic, immanentist essence, thanks to the influence of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) and Piero Gobetti (1901-1925). After the Second World War, this cultural line exercised such a strong influence which quite a few Catholics were attracted to.

Umberto Eco, born in Alessandria in 1932, a diocesan leader at the age of 16 in Catholic Action, was, as he himself reveals, not only an activist, but a “daily communicant”. He took part in the 1948 electoral campaign by putting up posters and distributing anti-Communist flyers. He subsequently collaborated with the presidency of Catholic Action in Rome, while studying at the University of Turin, where he graduated in 1954 with a thesis on the aesthetics of St. Thomas Aquinas, afterwards published in the only book of his worth reading (The Aesthetic Problem in St. Thomas, 1956). It was also in 1954 that he abandoned the Catholic faith.

How did his apostasy come about? Certainly it was reasoned, convinced and definitive. Eco said with derision, that he had lost the faith while reading Thomas Aquinas. However, you don’t lose the faith, you reject it and at the origin of his estrangement from the truth is not St. Thomas but philosophical Nominalism, a decadent and deformed interpretation of Thomist doctrine.

Eco was right to the very end, a radical nominalist, for whom there are no universal truths, but only names, signs and conventions. The father of Nominalism, William of Ockham, is portrayed in William of Basekerville, the protagonist of his most famous novel, The Name of the Rose (1940), which closes with a nominalist motto: «Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus». The essence of the rose (as in everything) is reduced to a name [a word]; we have but names, appearances, illusions, no truth and no certainty. Another character in the novel, Adso, states: «Gott ist ein lautes Nichts», “God is pure nothing”. Everything is, in the final analysis, a game, a dance, about nothing. The concept is the same in another philosophical novel of his, Foucault’s Pendulum (1989). Behind the metaphor of the pendulum there is a God who is merged with the void, evil and absolute darkness.

The true pendulum of Eco’s thought, was, in reality, his vacillation between the absolute rationalism of the Enlightment and the irrationality of occultism: the Kabbalah, gnosis, which he fought against but was nevertheless morbidly attracted to. If Nominalism empties reality of any meaning, the inevitable outcome is indeed a fall into irrationality. In order get out of this, all that’s left is absolute skepticism. If Norberto Bobbio (1909-2004) is the neo-Kantian version of Turin Enlightenment in the 20th century, Umberto Eco incarnates its neo-libertine version.

One of his last novels, The Prague Cemetery (2010) is an implicit apologia of the moral cynicism which necessarily follows the absence of what is true and good. In the more than five hundred pages of the book, there isn’t a single passionate ideal, nor a figure moved by love or idealism. “Hate is the true primordial passion. It is love that is an abnormal situation” Eco has Rachkovskij, one of the protagonists, say. In any case, with all the despicable characters and criminal activities the book is stuffed with, his pages lack that tragic note, which is the only thing that makes for a great literary work. The tone is sarcastic of the type of comedy where the author mocks everything and everyone, seeing that the only thing he really believes in are filets de barbue sauce hollandaise eaten at Laperouse al quais des Grands-Augustin, le écrevisses bordelaises or le mousses de Volailles at Café Anglais in rue Gramont and the filets de poularde piqués aux truffes at Rocher du Cancale in rue Montorgueil. Food is the only thing that emerges triumphant from the novel, and is continually celebrated by the protagonist, who confesses: “Food has always satisfied me more than sex. Perhaps an imprint left on me by the priests.” It is not by chance, that in 1992, Eco was taken to hospital and given to be almost dead as a result of colossal indigestion.

Eco was technically a great juggler, given that he made a mockery of everyone: his readers, his critics and most of all the Catholics who invited him to their conferences like he was some kind of oracle. At the time of the referendum for divorce in 1974, he spoke in jest to the supporters of divorce from the columns of “Espresso” * by appealing for intelligent planning in their propagandistic campaign, with the following words: “The referendum campaign will have to be free from supposed theories, unscrupulous, immediate and steered to have effect in a short period of time. Targeted especially at a public which is easy prey to emotive solicitations, it will have to sell a positive image of divorce which exactly overturns the emotive appeals of the opposing side […]. The themes of this “sales” campaign should be: divorce is good for the family, divorce is good for women, divorce is good for children […]. For years Italian advertisers have been experiencing a crisis of identity: well-educated and informed, they know they are the object of sociological criticism, which shows them as faithful servants of consumerist power […]. They attempt free -publicity campaigns in defense of the environment and for the donation of blood. Yet, they feel excluded from the great problems of their time and are condemned to the selling of soap. The battle for the referendum will be the proof of the sincerity of many, oft-declared, civic aspirations. All that’s needed is for a group of expert, dynamic, unscrupulous, democratic agencies to co-ordinate and auto-finance support of this type of campaign. All that’s needed is a round of telephone-calls, two meetings and a month of intense work. The destruction of a taboo in a few short months is a challenge that should make the mouth water of any advertising agent who loves his job […].

The taboo to destroy was the family, which for a relativist like him, had no reason at all to exist. Since 1974, the destruction of the family has continued in successive stages. Eco happily went along with it, leaving the scene [right] on the eve of the approval of homosexual unions – the final outcome of the introduction of divorce some forty years ago. The natural family has been substituted by an unnatural one. Relativism celebrates its apparent victory.

Umberto Eco contributed significantly to the work of desecrating the natural, Christian order of things, yet what he will have to answer for is not so much the evil he did, as much as the good he could have done if he hadn’t rejected the Truth. What’s the use of forty honoris causa degrees and the sale of thirty million copies of one single book (The Name of the Rose) if you don’t gain eternal life? The young, Catholic Action activist could have been a St. Francis Xavier in this mission land which is the Europe of today. Yet he didn’t accept the words that St. Ignatius said to St. Francis Xavier and that God has echoing in every Christian heart: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his own soul?”
[*Espresso –weekly magazine of the daily newspaper “La Repubblica” | Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana.]