Saving the Baby
Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn
In a speech to the Curia, Benedict XVI uses desperate measures — including blasphemy — to try to save his baby, Vatican II, from the accusation of discontinuity with the past.
Benedict XVI gave a speech to the members of the Curia on December 22nd, 2005 which is very revealing. He was reminiscing about the year's events to them, among which was the fortieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, on December 7, 2005.
Ratzinger admitted, in his usual obscure and roundabout manner, that the effects of the Council have been, to a large extent, confusion and turmoil. He quotes Saint Basil, commenting on what happened after the Council of Nicea. Making an analogy to a naval battle, the Saint says: "The harsh cry of those who dispute with one another, the unintelligible chatter, and the confused noise of uninterrupted shouts have filled nearly the whole Church, falsifying the true doctrine of the Faith either by excess or defect." Ratzinger then offers an explanation for the disaster: that there are two interpretations of the Council, one bad, and the other good.
The "Bad" Interpretation of Vatican II
The bad interpretation, he says, is that of discontinuity and rupture. He blames the mass media and certain modern theologians for this. He says that the partisans of this interpretation see Vatican II as not having done enough, think that it retained far too much from the past, and interpret it as a new constitution for the Church, replacing the old one.
Ratzinger distances himself from this interpretation, saying: "The interpretation of discontinuity runs the risk of resulting in a rupture between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church." Such a rupture is the bête noire for the Modernists; it is their Godzilla. For they know that if ever Vatican II should appear to be a rupture with what has gone before, then everything they have done will end in ruin. Indeed, the sedevacantists, who today are considered to be on the outer edges of the theological solar system, will be proven right. Roncalli, Montini, Luciani, Wojtyla and Ratzinger will go down in history together with the false popes of the Great Western Schism, and the rest of similar ecclesiastical charlatans who made themselves absurd by trying to be real popes, when they were not.
But history is ruthless in its judgements, and when the propaganda and euphoria of a certain age have passed, — and its politically correct thinking — the tables can easily turn. The Modernists are playing with high stakes in this game of history, since they know that either they will win completely, or lose completely. A state or nation can tolerate political changes without losing its identity, but a 2,000-year-old Church, which claims to be founded by Jesus Christ, and to have the same nature and constitution which He gave it, cannot tolerate any substantial change in its doctrines, disciplines, or worship. All those who have attempted such changes have been consigned to the theological gallows: Arius, Eutyches, Nestorius, Luther, Cranmer, the Modernists.
In an effort not to end up with these people, Ratzinger offers a solution in order to save his Council, which is to him something like a baby. For it was he, together with the arch-Modernists Rahner and Küng, who worked tirelessly at the Council, telling their Modernist European bishops what to think and do, filling up the blank minds of the ignorant and undecided bishops with Modernist theology by means of a daily newsletter. They seized the moment, and they won. Küng said that they achieved far more at the Council than they had ever dreamed of.
The "Good" Interpretation of Vatican II:
The License to Contradict All Catholic Dogma
So in the speech Ratzinger strives to save the Council. He calls for the correct interpretation of the Council, which is the interpretation of the reform.
He skillfully proposes a way in which to place all of the traditional teaching of the Church into the dustbin. It is known as historicism. It consists in holding that the Church is always consistent in its fundamental principles, but the historical application of these principles could change from age to age.
"The nature of true reform lies in this combination of multi-leveled continuity and discontinuity. In this process of change through continuity, we had to learn how to understand better than before that the Church's decisions about contingent matters — for example, about actual forms of liberalism or liberal interpretations of the Bible — were necessarily themselves contingent because related to a reality itself changeable."
This gobbledygook means this: that the Church's decisions in the past were based on passing circumstances. As the circumstances change, so can the decisions of the Church change. He cites the very negative reaction of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) to liberalism as a case in point. This reaction was justified, says Ratzinger, because the principles of the French Revolution were so radical, that they gave no room to the practice of religion.
But now we understand better. Just as the modern world has moderated its hatred for religion, so it was necessary for the Church, he says, to moderate its attitude toward the modern world. "We had to learn how to recognize that in such decisions only principles express what is lasting, embedded in the background and determining the decision from within. The concrete forms these decisions take are not permanent but depend upon the historical situations. They can therefore change." [emphasis added]
Ratzinger in a single stroke relativizes every decision which the Church ever made. It makes no doctrinal decision of the past, no condemnation of any error, a permanent decision, but one which can and must change as historical circumstances change. This one statement gives the Modernists a license to alter any declaration of the Church in the past. It subjects the teaching of the Church to a perpetual evolution.
Ratzinger used this historicism in the Joint Declaration with the Lutherans in order to cast off the decisions of the Council of Trent, relegating the solemn condemnations to mere "salutary warnings." The same thing was done in the case of the doctrines of Antonio Rosmini, which were condemned by Leo XIII. In their historical context, they say, it was right to condemn these. But now we understand better, and we can lift the condemnations.
Ratzinger's Blasphemy Against the Martyrs
So Vatican II approved, on December 7, 1965, the Decree on Religious Liberty, which, he says, "recaptured a deeper heritage of the Church." What is this "deeper heritage?" It is that the martyrs were dying for religious liberty. "The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in which God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and indeed they therefore died as well for liberty of conscience and for the liberty to profess their own faith, a profession which cannot be imposed by any State, but can only be done with the grace of God, in the liberty of conscience."
Ratzinger would like us to believe that the liberty of conscience to hold to the one, true faith, the Roman Catholic Faith, and the liberty to profess it, which the martyrs were demanding, is the same liberty of conscience and liberty of profession which Vatican II called for. Thus he "saves" Vatican II, by attaching it to the early martyrs. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
It is all a crock of baloney. Vatican II does not claim the right of religious liberty for the Catholic Faith alone, but for every religion. "This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."1 "Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferal of their own ministers, in communicating with religious authorities and communities abroad, in erecting buildings for religious purposes, and in the acquisition and use of suitable funds or properties." 2
Does Ratzinger really expect us to believe that St. Peter was martyred for the right of Romans to offer without hindrance dead chickens to Jupiter? Or that St. Justin accepted death in witness to the right of the cultists of Mithra to sacrifice their sacred bull? 3
Listen to Pope Pius XII: "What does not correspond to the truth and to the moral law does not objectively have any right to existence, or to propaganda, or to action." 4
Listen to Pope Pius IX: "Contrary to the teaching of Scripture, of the Church, and of the holy Fathers, they do not fear to affirm that — the best form of government is that in which there is not conceded to the authorities the duty of curbing the violators of the Catholic religion with the sanction of penalties.' " 5
Ratzinger and other Vatican II apologists try to justify the heretical doctrines of this Council concerning religious liberty by attempting to confuse the right to religious liberty to profess the one true faith with a right to profess any religion whatsoever. It is a cunning lie, and they know it.
Listen to Pope Leo XIII: "Liberty of religion, considered in its relationship to society, is founded upon the principle that the State, even in a Catholic nation, is not bound to profess or to favor any religion; it must take them all into equal consideration legally. It is not here a question of that de facto tolerance which, in given circumstances, can be conceded to the dissident cults, but rather of the recognition granted to them of the very rights that belong only to the one true religion, which God has established in the world and has designated with clear and precise marks and signs, so that everyone can know it as such and embrace it. Furthermore such a liberty indeed places on the same level truth and error, faith and heresy, the Church of Jesus Christ and any human institution whatsoever; with this liberty is established a deplorable and wicked separation between human society and God, who is the author of it; it leads finally to the sad consequences of State indifferentism in religious matters, or what comes to the same thing, its atheism." 6
Listen to Pius VII: "By the fact itself that the liberty of all the cults without distinction is established, truth is intermingled with error, and the holy and immaculate Spouse of Christ, the Church outside of which there can be no salvation, is put onto a class with heretical sects and even the Jewish perfidyâ€¦It is implicitly the disastrous and forever deplorable heresy that St. Augustine mentions in these terms: â€˜It affirms that all the heretics are on the right path and speak the truth, an absurdity so monstrous that I cannot believe that any sect really professes it.' " 7
Ratzinger's blasphemy becomes clearly visible. According to him, the early martyrs died for a doctrine which is "contrary to the the teaching of Scripture, of the Church, and of the holy Fathers" (Pius IX), "the atheism of the State" (Leo XIII), and for a "disastrous and ever deplorable heresy." (Pius VII) Ratzinger would have been less blasphemous if he had said that they died for the right to fornicate, to commit adultery, or even for a woman's right to have an abortion.
Ratzinger Cannot be Taken Seriously
How can Ratzinger expect us to take him seriously when he tries to brush off this teaching of Leo XIII and other popes, indeed of all previous popes, as merely a reaction to a set of unique historical circumstances? Are not these teachings general moral principles presented to us in a calm and reasonable manner by these Roman Pontiffs? Ratzinger's attempt to discard them by means of historicism will end in failure.
I say end in failure, since there are millions who will defend anything which falls from his mouth, rather than face the specter of sedevacantism. If Ratzinger said Mass in the nude, they would say that he was wearing beautiful traditional vestments. This voluntary blindness will not pass the test of time, however.
An Admission that Vatican II Contradicts the Teaching of the Church
Ratzinger continues: "By defining in a new way the relationship between the faith of the Church and some essential elements of modern thinking, the Second Vatican Council revised and even corrected some past decisions." [emphasis added] We have finally an admission from them that Vatican II contradicts the teaching of the Church in the past. He tries to justify it in this way: "But in an apparent discontinuity it has instead preserved and reinforced its intimate nature and true identity. The Church is one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic both before and after the council throughout time." In other words, "despite the fact that the consistent teaching of Pius VI, Pius VII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII has been trashed by Vatican II, we can still consider ourselves Catholics."
Ratzinger delights in his middle-of-the-road approach to Vatican II, and devotes much time to its praise: "Thus we can today turn our eyes with gratitude to the Second Vatican Council: if we read it and receive it under the guidance of a correct interpretation, it can be and always become a greater force for the ever necessary renewal of the Church."
The Fruits of Vatican II
Turn our eyes with gratitude? Really? Let us look again at the fruits of Vatican II. A certain Fr. C J. McCloskey, in an article entitled "The Church in the US,"8 gives statistics from the past forty years:
"Let's look at the numbers in the US first. In 1965, at the end of the Council there were 58,000 priests. Now there are 41,000. By 2020, if present trends continue (and there is no sign of a dramatic upsurge in vocations), there will be only 31,000, and half will be over 70. To give an example, I was ordained in 1981 at the age of 27. Today at the age of 52, I can still attend priests' meetings and be one of the younger priests there. In 1965, 1575 new priests were ordained, In 2005, the number was 454, less than a third, and remember that the Catholic population in the US increased from 45.6 million in 1965 to the 64.8 million of 2005, almost a 50% increase. The Venerable John Henry Newman said, "Growth is the only evidence of life." By his definition, the Church in the United States has been and continues to be in sharp decline. Now, quite clearly, there has been a sharp decline in the number of seminarians over this time period. Between 1965 and 2005, the number of seminarians fell from 50,000 (some 42,000 high school and college seminarians, and 8,000 or so graduate seminarians) to today's approximate 5,000, a drop of ninety percent.
"The religious men and women (those taking vows) have even more precipitously declined in the US over this time period. In 1965, there were 22,707 priests; today there are 14,137 with a much higher percentage of them well over the age of 65. Religious brothers have gone from 12,271 to 5,451, and women religious from the astounding number of 179,954 in 1965 to 68,634 in 2005. I should mention here that the attrition in these numbers, as well as that of diocesan priests is not only due to deaths and a dearth of priestly or religious vocations, but also a massive defection, whether sanctioned or not by the Church. Again we do not have time to analyze the multiple causes that caused this precipitous decline in belief and practice; the doubting in questions of faith and morals that was widely spread in the post-conciliar Church after the Council also led many priests and religious to abandon ship into lay married life. Naturally this also has a depressing effect on the recruitment of response to a vocation by young men and women who had seen this exodus in full play. Quite clearly the abandonment or radical changes on the part of many religious congregations of their historical rules, community life, and clothing also had a deleterious effect both on perseverance and recruitment in vocations. There are many more women religious over the age of ninety than under the age of 30 in the US. The number of Catholic nuns, 180,000 in 1965, has fallen by 60%. Their average age is now 68. The number of teaching nuns has fallen 94% from the close of the Council. The number of young men studying to become members of the two principal teaching orders: the Jesuits and Christian Brothers, have fallen by 90 percent and 99%, respectively. There is little sign of growth in this part of the Church in the US. However there are some signs of hope with the arrival of some new religious congregations and revival of others.
"We can now examine the state of what was, in many ways, the pride and joy of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church in America: the educational system that extended from grammar school through hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Catholic colleges and universities. It is accurate to say that there had never been such an extensive, and at least in appearance, such a fundamentally sound, education system, in any place or at any time in the history of the Church. Elementary education was basically taken care of by the parish following the pioneering work of St. John Neumann. The parish also directed many high schools but there were also many directed by the armies of men and women religious. Virtually all of the high schools were single-sex while some were co-institutional i.e., boys and girls in the same building but educated separately. Naturally the combination of stable marriages, relatively large families, and strong catechesis produced not only vocations but also well formed men and women who lived their faith in a coherent way in their professional work, including politics and marital life. That is all virtually gone now.
"Almost half the Catholic schools open in 1965 have closed. There were 4.5 million students in Catholic schools in the mid-1960's. Today there is about half that number. What is even more troubling is that those children still attending Catholic schools (grammar and high) are taught by lay poorly formed Generation X Catholics who often themselves have serious difficulties with aspects of Catholic doctrinal and moral life. Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers accept Church teaching on contraception, 53 percent believed a Catholic woman could get an abortion and remain a good Catholic, 65 percent said Catholics have a right to divorce and remarry, and in a New York Times poll, 70 percent of Catholics ages 18-54 said they believed the Holy Eucharist was but a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus.
Such are the fruits of Vatican II. Consequently, we Catholics turn our eyes with disgust upon Vatican II, and curse the day that it was conceived in the Modernist brain of John XXIII. Our lives have been miserable ever since. What Ratzinger and his henchmen have done is to throw a wrench into a well-oiled and humming engine of truth, to smash a crystal-clear and precious vase of decency and righteousness, to defile a golden chalice of supernatural beauty by the turpitude of their heresies. They have destroyed our Catholic world and our Catholic lives. And after forty years, as the Catholic world falls down around them, they have nothing better to say or do than to tell us that it is all wonderful. It makes us sick to hear it.
Our Lord said: "By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them." (Matth. VII: 16-20)
Highlights of Ratzinger's Speech
The effects of the Council have been in great part negative. To my knowledge this is the first such admission.
The decisions of the Church in the past are "contingent because they are related to a reality itself changeable." This gives the Modernists the license to discard any of the Church's dogmas or condemnations of error, since they are all attached, in some way, to historical circumstances.
Vatican II "revised and even corrected some past decisions." This means that the pre-Vatican II decisions were wrong. This is the first admission that Vatican II has actually contradicted the Church's traditional teaching. This is very significant.
The early martyrs died for Vatican II's teaching on religious liberty. This statement is blasphemy, and is so absurd that no comment is necessary.
[MHT Seminary Newsletter, January 2006]
1 Dignitatis Humanæ, no. 2.
2 Dignitatis Humanæ, no. 4.
3 One of the central motifs of Mithraism is the tauroctony, the myth of sacrifice by Mithra of a sacred bull created by the supreme deity Ahura Mazda, which Mithra stabs to death in the cave, having been instructed to do so by a crow, sent from Ahura Mazda. In this myth, from the body of the dying bull spring plants, animals, and all the beneficial things of the earth. (Wikipedia)
4 Ci riesce
5 Quanta Cura
6 Ìl giunto
7 Post tam diuturnas
8 This article is available in its entirety at catholiccitizens.org. I have given excerpts here.