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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

This is Bergoglio's Game

How many times have you heard people say things like: "Bergoglio is really very traditional--he talks about the devil all the time?"

Today at Catholic World Report you can read in an article about reform of the Roman Curia--yes, a joke topic if ever there was one--the following:

[Bergoglio's] constant recommendation to pastors, that they foster and encourage popular piety and private devotion among the faithful, is water in the desert.

OK, so what's "popular piety and private devotion"?  For the sake of argument, let's say that a major form would be Marian piety and especially, saying the rosary.  That seems to be what the author has in mind, since he cites Bergoglio's "personal simplicity and deep devotion to Our Lady."

Question: Does "deep devotion to Our Lady" preclude a determination to utterly sweep away every vestige of an objective moral order?  It would seem not, based on Bergoglio's own example.  After all, Amoris Laetitia to one side, we've all seen his interviews with the atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari, Bergoglio's chosen mouthpiece to the world.  In them we can read such nuggets as this:

Bergoglio: “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”
Scalfari: Your Holiness (sic), you wrote that in your letter to me. The conscience is autonomous, you said, and everyone must obey his conscience. I think that’s one of the most courageous steps taken by a Pope (sic).
Bergoglio: “And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

Is anything more clear than that the cause dearest to Bergoglio's heart is ... homosexuality?  Even more than divorce and remarriage?  I mean, there must be a reason that all his closest associates are perverts or men of, at best, ambiguous sexuality.  There must be a reason that he regularly invites perverts to his luxury hotel in the Vatican, that in front of cameras he embraces the boy-toy of his friend.

Is there anything in saying a daily rosary that would preclude that?  In frequenting shrines?  Per se?  It would seem not.

What would preclude that?  How about this: a deep intellectual committment to an objective moral order and a committment to upholding the faith handed down from the Apostles.

And that's why Bergoglio encourages piety and devotion that is essentially devoid of intellectual content, while consistently and relentlessly denigrating doctrine, characterizing those who study the teachings of the Church as rigid, narcissistic, Pharisaical.  The less intellectual committment, the easier it is for him to advance his anti-Christian agenda.

So, no, there aren't "two Bergoglios," one traditional and one "progressive."  There's just one: cynical, manipulative, betraying.  The periodic appeals to "popular" piety are precisely appeals to the sensibility of the Peronist pueblo--a ploy to work through those sensibilities to draw the intellectually unsophisticated pueblo into Neo-Gnostic and Modernist political action, not to conscious and informed Christian faith.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another Attempted Defense of Ratzinger's Orthodoxy

Sandro Magister has published a second blog defending Ratzinger's orthodoxy against Antonio Livi's initial critique of RatzingerWhy Ratzinger Is Not a Heretic. As in the case of the first defense of Ratzinger that Magister published, this defense is written by a non-professional, Francesco Arzillo, "an administrative magistrate of Rome who is also an esteemed author of works of philosophy and theology." While avoiding addressing the specifics of Livi's critique of Ratzinger--which revolve around Ratzinger's concept of faith--Arzillo attempts to portray Ratzinger's views as substantially identical to those attributed in Acts to St. Paul in his address to the Greeks at the Areopagus. This metaphor has a certain significance. Paul's address at the Areopagus is regarded as a model for the Church's outreach to non-believers and an expression of the Church's natural theology, so Arzillo is using this metaphor to suggest the same regarding Ratzinger: not only is he a bulwark against heretics but he's a model for outreach to non-believers. As we will see, however, Ratzinger's attempts to assimilate Paul's views to his own simply don't work Arzillo begins by quoting a number of passages from an address Ratzinger gave in Paris as Benedict XVI.

NEITHER KANT NOR HEGEL. BETTER PAUL IN ATHENS
by Francesco Arzillo

"I think that the final part of the unforgettable address by Benedict XVI at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris on September 12, 2008 could offer a decisive key for understanding succinctly - but also retrospectively - the true core of the thought of the “pope theologian.” "These are his exact words:
The fundamental structure of Christian proclamation “outwards” – towards searching and questioning mankind – is seen in Saint Paul’s address at the Areopagus. We should remember that the Areopagus was not a form of academy at which the most illustrious minds would meet for discussion of lofty matters, but a court of justice, which was competent in matters of religion and ought to have opposed the import of foreign religions. This is exactly what Paul is reproached for: “he seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities” (Acts 17:18). To this, Paul responds: I have found an altar of yours with this inscription: ‘to an unknown god’. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you (17:23). Paul is not proclaiming unknown gods. He is proclaiming him whom men do not know and yet do know – the unknown-known; the one they are seeking, whom ultimately they know already, and who yet remains the unknown and unrecognizable. The deepest layer of human thinking and feeling somehow knows that he must exist, that at the beginning of all things, there must be not irrationality, but creative Reason – not blind chance, but freedom.
It’s instructive to read Paul’s actual words (Acts 17:22-31) and compare them to Ratzinger’s selective and tendentious presentation:
So Paul stood up in the middle of the Areopagus and said, "I can see that you Athenians are extremely religious, for as I walked about and observed your places of worship I also found an altar on which was written, 'To the unknown god.' What you worship without knowing is what I proclaim to you. For God Who made the world and everything in it--the Lord of heaven and earth--does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor does He need anything we can do for Him since He gave life and breath to everyone and everything. [Is 42:5] From one man He made every nation that dwells on the face of the earth, after determining the exact periods and boundaries for their dwelling places, so that by groping about after Him they might search for and find God, for He isn't far from any of us. 'In Him we live and move and exist,' as some of your poets have said, 'For we too are His offspring.' So since we are God's offspring we shouldn't regard images of silver and gold and stone--which bear the stamp of human skill and imagination--as being divine. God has overlooked our periods of ignorance and now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has fixed the day on which He will judge the whole world with justice through the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all of us by raising that man from the dead."
Contrary to what Ratzinger states, Paul is telling the Greeks something that is very foreign to them. Admittedly, the Greeks were likely aware of Jewish notions of creation—“God who made the world and everything in it”--but this was a view that was explicitly rejected by Greek thought and all thinking in the “classical” world (cf. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture). Paul recognizes this with his reference to their “ignorance”: contrary, again, to what Ratzinger states, Paul is not saying that all men know God in some way—only that if they “search” they are capable of “finding” God. In other words, we see here in Acts, in speaking to Gentiles, Paul is presenting in short form an articulate natural theology or metaphysics—one that was probably familiar to most Jews of the time and which we will see Paul substantially repeat in his Letter to the Romans. Aquinas, too, echoes these ideas at the beginning of his Summa Theologiae when he maintains, not that all men already know God, but that while it’s possible to come to a relatively clear notion of God by the use of reason, it is likely that most men will reach mistaken conclusions or that their correct conclusions will be mixed with errors. Ratzinger has misrepresented the true import of what Paul was saying and bent him to his own purposes—purposes that were foreign to Paul and have been foreign to the Christian theological tradition. The author presents a second paragraph drawn from the same address by Ratzinger, and once again we will contrast Ratzinger's words with what Paul actually wrote, this time in his Letter to the Romans.

First Ratzinger:
Yet even though all men somehow know this, as Paul expressly says in the Letter to the Romans (1:21), this knowledge remains unreal: a God who is merely imagined and invented is not God at all. If he does not reveal himself, we cannot gain access to him. The novelty of Christian proclamation is that it can now say to all peoples: he has revealed himself. He personally. And now the way to him is open. The novelty of Christian proclamation does not consist in a thought, but in a deed: God has revealed himself. Yet this is no blind deed, but one which is itself "Logos" – the presence of eternal reason in our flesh. "Verbum caro factum est" (Jn 1:14): just so, amid what is made (factum) there is now "Logos", "Logos" is among us. Creation (factum) is rational. Naturally, the humility of reason is always needed, in order to accept it: man’s humility, which responds to God’s humility.
And now Paul:
God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all the wickedness and evil of those who obstruct the truth by their evil, because what can be known about God is evident to them, since God has revealed it to them. For from the creation of the world God's invisible attributes--His eternal power and divine nature--have been accessible to the understanding through the things that God made, and so they have no excuse. Although they knew God they didn't honor Him as God or give Him thanks; instead, their reasoning became foolish and their senseless hearts were darkened. They claimed they were wise but they became foolish, and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image in the likeness of mortal man, birds, four footed animals, or reptiles. And so God handed them over to the impure desires in their hearts, which led them to the degrade their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for falsehood, they worshipped and served creatures instead of the Creator, Who is blessed forever, amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
Here again Ratzinger’s interpretation is off the mark. While Paul is indeed presenting a thumbnail sketch of his natural theology—God as the Creator is knowable from the visible things of his creation—the main emphasis here is a moral one. Paul’s point is not that the Gentiles know God but that the knowledge “remains unreal” because it is gained by reason (“merely imagined or invented”). What can be known about God from creation is real knowledge—Paul is very clear on that: contrary to Ratzinger, we can gain access of a sort to God by reason. But Paul’s main focus is on the reason that the Gentiles went astray, despite the fact that the things that man is able to know about God are there to be seen. The answer is that the truth was “obstructed” by their evil, their refusal to submit to God, and so “their reasoning became foolish.” In the next paragraph, which I will omit, Ratzinger goes on to bemoan the negative influence on Western culture of “positivism,” which claims that “the question concerning God” is to be confined to “the subjective realm, as being unscientific.” Characteristically, however, Ratzinger offers no concrete solution to this influence. We know that in his address at Subiaco (2005) just before becoming pope the solution he offered was to treat God as an hypothesis, and will return to that later. Having gotten this far, Arzillo attempts to sum up, but instead lands himself in the soup:
“In the address of Benedict XVI in Paris, somewhat subtle but also very concrete, one can therefore find “in a nutshell” truly everything. There is a realistic understanding of the “preambula fidei.” ...
“But it does not contain any preliminary barrier of a Kantian nature, or in any case of irrational, pragmatic, or antimetaphysical origin."
It all sounds good. In fact, it’s too good to be true. Let’s take a closer look at Ratzingers address in Guadalajara (1996), which Arzillo cites, because in that address Ratzinger is more forthcoming, less guarded, than usual. In this address Ratzinger, as is typical for him, attacks “modern exegesis” as at the root of the Church's current crisis of belief--in this case, those forms of exegesis that embrace “relativistic theories.” In doing so Ratzinger correctly traces the intellectual origins of the relativistic theories of exegesis that he criticizes, pointing out that they arise from Kantian philosophy:
The problem of exegesis is connected, as we have seen, with the problem of philosophy. The indigence of philosophy, the indigence to which paralyzed, positivist reason has led itself, has turned into the indigence of our faith. The faith cannot be liberated if reason itself does not open up again. If the door to metaphysical cognition remains closed, if the limits of human knowledge set by Kant are impassable, faith is destined to atrophy: It simply lacks air to breathe.
But what is Ratzinger’s remedy for this sad predicament? A return to the sound philosophical principles of Thomas Aquinas? Not at all. From all that has come before we might have expected that, and certainly Arzillo suggests that Ratzinger is open to something of the sort. But in two short sentences Ratzinger blows any notion of that sort completely out of the water:
I am of the opinion that neo-Scholastic rationalism failed which with reason totally independent from the faith, tried to reconstruct the pre-ambula fidei with pure rational certainty. The attempts that presume to do the same will have the same result. [The praeambula fidei are truths that Man is able to grasp by reason, truths which prepare the way for Christian faith, properly speaking.]
Boom! Out go the praeambula fidei, up go barriers of a Kantian nature—any attempts to “reconstruct the praeambula fidei” will all fail, so don’t even try. But then how is the faith to be “liberated?” Sadly, all Ratzinger has to offer is a "new dialogue between faith and philosophy." Yet he can’t be serious, because he doesn’t even offer or describe what the basis for such a dialogue could possibly be. He simply presents us with the bare unsupported statement that “Man is something more than what Kant and the various post-Kantian philosophers wanted to see and concede.” Why would modern Man want to enter into a “new dialogue” with someone who seemingly has so little to offer? As of 2005, the eve of his papacy, Ratzinger still had come up with nothing better than “Pascal’s wager”: God as hypothesis or postulate—a Kantian position if ever there was one:
Echoing Pascal's wager, Ratzinger proposes that nonbelievers should adopt elements of the Christian faith hypothetically, as a position that produces a better outcome than the altemative. But while Pascal, perhaps ironically, justified the benefits of Christianity by reference to the next life, Ratzinger sincerely proposes that the person and the state are better here and now for wagering that God exists. A believer may wonder whether such a utilitarian appeal has not conceded too much to the very values of modernity it attempts to counter. (From a review by Paul Sullins of Ratzingers Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures in the “Journal of Church and State”)
What then are we to make of Arzillo’s attempt to portray Ratzinger as a scholasticism-friendly kinda guy? Ratzinger’s lifelong hostility toward “scholasticism” is well known—he himself acknowledges that his antipathy for scholasticism began in his seminary days. His statement above amounts to a Kantian style a priori veto on any philosophy of that sort. Nevertheless, Arzillo plunges ahead:
In this latter regard it is opportune to point out that in the address “The faith and theology of our days” delivered in Guadalajara, Mexico in May of 1996, ... Ratzinger did not limit himself to criticizing certain forms of neo-Scholastic rationalism, citing as “more well-founded historically and objectively the position of J. Pieper” (who was in any case a thinker of Thomistic origin), ... ”
Arzillo is referring to footnote 20, in which Ratzinger states:
Even though in the thinking of H.J. Verweyen ... many important and valid elements can be found, to me its essential philosophical error consists in the fact of attempting to offer a rational foundation of the faith independently of the faith, an attempt that, however, cannot convince in its pure abstract rationality. ... To me the position of J. Pieper (Schriften zum Philosophiebegriff, Hamburg 1995) has better foundation and is more convincing from the historical and objective point of view.
That, I submit, is as luke warm an endorsement as you’re likely to find. It absolutely cannot be taken to override his previous statements but instead must be placed within the context of Ratzinger's emphatic rejection of “scholastic” philosophy. Nevertheless, some might object that Ratzinger has been known to make positive statements regarding Aquinas, and to distinguish his thought from that of the “bad” scholastic manuals of philosophy that he studied in seminary. The truth is, again, that those “positive” statements are a decidedly mixed bag. To take a quite recent example:
“When, in the 13th century, Aristotelian thought entered into contact with Medieval Christianity, formed by the Platonic tradition, and when faith and reason were at risk of entering into an irreconcilable opposition, it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who played the role of mediator in the new encounter between faith and philosophy, thus placing faith in a positive relation with the form of reason dominant in his epoch. […] With Vatican Council II the moment when a new reflection of this type was necessary arrived. […] Let us read it and welcome it, guided by a just hermeneutic.” [26] Benedict XVI, speech of December 22, 2005.
We see from this that what Ratzinger regards asAquinas’ positive contribution is strictly time conditioned—it’s relevance lies in the distant past, centuries ago. Further, however, Ratzinger clearly implies that Aquinas’ philosophy has no particular relevance to the Church of the 21st century, when the Church must let go of Thomism and seek a “positive relation” with the latest “form of reason” that is currently “dominant.” And we have seen that he, correctly, sees Kantian forms of thought as currently “dominant.” That, for him, was the great task of Vatican II-- to reconcile the Church to Kantian thought, and like it. Considering that Ratzinger regularly attacks the "dictatorship of relativism, there is more than a whiff of relativism in Ratzinger's own thought.

In closing I will include a somewhat lengthy excerpt from a much longer blog, The Heart of Betrayal. In this blog the author draws out the implications of statements by Ratzinger in his book: Many Religions – One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World (originally published in Germany in 1997, and then published by Ignatius Press in 1998). The author demonstrates that there is what I would call a “darker” aspect to Ratzinger’s thought, one that is shared by virtually all the “New Theologians”: those whose thought Livi maintains has achieved a hegemonic status in the Church in the wake of Vatican II. That darker aspect is a strong tendency toward Pantheism and Gnosticism. We can see this tendency manifest itself in Ratzinger's thought in his passionate attachment to the Gnostic speculation of Teilhard de Chardin and his regular references to the Teilhardian notion of “cosmic transubstantiation.” Of particular relevance is the comparison that can be drawn to St. Paul’s address on the Areopagus, cited above:
For God Who made the world and everything in it--the Lord of heaven and earth--does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor does He need anything we can do for Him since He gave life and breath to everyone and everything.
So … A "self-enclosed relationally bound" God? On page 76 of the Ignatius Press edition we read the following:
"Thus the God of the Bible is a God-in-relationship; and to that extent, in the essence of his identity, he is opposed to the self-enclosed God of philosophy (p. 75)."
The notion that the God of Thomistic philosophy and theology is "self-enclosed" is one of the grandest absurdities ever penned. We shall examine this "self-enclosed" God of St. Thomas shortly. Meanwhile, we need to persevere with more of Cardinal Ratzinger:
"As a result of this struggle [between faith and reason], a new philosophical category – the concept of "person" – was fashioned, a concept that has become for us the fundamental concept of the analogy between God and man, the very centre of philosophical thought….The meaning of an already existing category, that of "relation", was fundamentally changed. In the Aristotelian table of categories, relation belongs to the group of accidents that point to substance and are dependent on it; in God, therefore, there are no accidents. Through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, relation moves out of the substance-accident framework. Now God himself is described as a Trinitarian set of relations, as relation subsistens. When we say that man is the image of God, it means that he is a being designed for relationship; it means that, in and through all his relationships, he seeks that relation which is the ground of his existence. In this context, covenant would be the response to man’s imaging of God; it would show us who we are and who God is. And for God, since he is entirely relationship, covenant would not be something external in history, apart from his being, but the manifestation of his self, the "radiance of his countenance (p. 76-77)."
Now, I realize at this point that many of us might be having an attack of the fuzzies. I have placed several phrases of the above in bold print in order to help us discern a pattern. Hopefully this will become even more clear after one more quote, and the discussion which follows:
"It belongs to God’s nature to love what he has created; so it belongs to his nature to bind himself and, in doing so, to go all the way to the Cross (p. 73-74)."
Gratuitous relationship

We will begin by stating flatly that it does not belong to God’s Nature "to bind Himself" to what He has created. At the very centre of the absolute distinction which exists in Catholic theology between the Being of God and the being of all things created, is the gratuitousness of all the relations between God and man. We may certainly speak of the necessary faithfulness of God to His promises to man (since God is Truth and cannot lie), but we may never speak of any such bond as belonging "to His Nature." All of God’s acts of mercy towards man, including the Incarnation and Death of Our Lord, are acts of His gratuitous mercy.

St. Thomas’s very clear teaching on this point is in full contradiction to that of Cardinal Ratzinger:
"As the creature proceeds from God in diversity of nature, God is outside the order of the whole creation, nor does any relation to the creature arise from His nature; for He does not produce the creature by necessity of His nature, but by His intellect and will…." (Summa, I, 28,1&3).
Pantheistic and Gnostic

Firstly, we should note that any denial of this absolute discontinuity between the Nature of God and His creature must always end up in some sort of pantheism. This discontinuity must always remain, even in our consideration of the full depths of the meaning of the Incarnation and the fact that in Christ God has also taken on our nature. God has indeed become man, but man will never become God, regardless of how much we may speak of the "divinization" of man in the Beatific Vision.

Secondly, to be faithful to the Church-embraced philosophy of St. Thomas does not at all mean that we are embracing a "self-enclosed" God. Anyone familiar with St. Thomas’s philosophy and theology must know the absolute absurdity of this claim.

 ...

However, God’s creation (and God’s love for His creation), is not to be seen in any way a necessity of His Being, or any kind of necessary bond - but rather an extraordinary, mysterious, and entirely gratuitous "overflowing" (for want of a better word) of His merciful Love. For Cardinal Ratzinger to make God’s Nature to be entirely relationship and His covenant with man to be a manifestation of his self (sic) is to destroy this absolutely foundational distinction between God and man. This is the core of all pantheistic belief systems. And as we have already noted (but I believe it bears repeating) the Incarnation and Death of Our Lord does not erase this distinction.

Throughout history it has always been the dynamic of pantheistic and Gnostic heresies to do just this: to erase the absolute distinction between God and man; to turn Jesus Christ into a Man-God (as versus the God-Man) Who leads the rest of us up through evolutionary progress to "become as Gods."

Friday, January 5, 2018

Bergoglio And Ratzinger: Two Peas In A Pod?

So, on January 2, "theologian" and internet gadfly Massimo Faggioli (aka "Maximum Beans) presented what appears to be the new Bergoglian talking point: an attack on Bergoglio is ipso facto an attack on Ratzinger--darling of Vatican II "conservative" Catholics.  And an attack on Ratzinger is, ipso facto, an attack on Vatican II itself, since Ratzinger was one of the Modernist clique that led the directed the Council to their desired end.  So, lay off Bergoglio unless you want to jeopardize the entire Ratzingerean legacy or--God forbid!--position yourselves on the "the wrong side of history":



This "narrative" that Faggioli deprecates is, of course, exactly that of Antonio Livi, the Italian philosopher whose book review, L'eresia al potere (Heresy In Power), we translated and examined a couple of days ago.  Livi, reviewing the new book by Enrico Maria Radaelli, Al cuore di Ratzinger. Al cuore del mondo (At the heart of Ratzinger, at the heart of the world), makes the irrefutable--because so obvious--case that Ratzinger, far from being "a providential bulwark against what he himself called the dictatorship of relativism," was (with Wojtyla) in effect a Great Enabler of Modernism in the Church in the decades that followed Vatican and throughout his own papacy:

... the theology that Ratzinger has always professed and which is found in all his writings, even those that he signed as Benedict XVI (the three books on 'Jesus of Nazareth' and sixteen volumes of 'teaching'), is not substantially different from the theology of his 'Introduction'.  It is a theology of an immanentist stamp [which is to say, it is fundamentally opposed to all Catholic thought], in which all the traditional terms of Catholic dogma remain linguistically unchanged but their meaning has changed: the conceptual framework of Scripture, of the Fathers, and of the Magisterium have been set aside ...
The reality is that neo-modernist theology, with its clear heretical drift, has gradually assumed a hegemonic role in the Church (in the seminaries, in the pontifical universities, in the doctrinal commissions of the episcopal conferences, in the dicasteries of the Holy See), and from these positions of power has influenced the themes and the language in the different expressions of the ecclesiastical magisterium, and this influence infected (in various degrees, naturally) all the documents of Vatican II and many of the teachings of the Post-Conciliar popes ...

Faggioli has a point, of course.  Ratzinger's theology is in essentials that of Bergoglio and that of the major innovative documents of Vatican II.  Indeed, Ratzinger's longtime secretary, Georg Gaenswein, has publicly confirmed this essential identity of theological views and even labeled those who sought to find distance between the two as "stupid people."  Faggioli may think that his narrative is a winning one--framing it as "Francis and Vatican II against all others," but I would suggest that this reading of the signs of the time is being done through rose colored glasses.  There is a spirit abroad that is finally open to a reassessment of the historical record, that sees the destructive intent of Bergoglio and is determined to get to the source of it all.  I think Faggioli is mistaken in his assessment of the devotion the Catholic faithfull feel to a Council that most of them know nothing about.
















Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ratzinger and Scientific Method

Having written the previous post in response to the Italian lawyer who attempted to criticize Antonio Livi's critique of Ratzinger's views on faith, I did a few online searches.  Those searches confirmed a number of things.  One is that the world has become a very small place, indeed, with the advent of the internet.  I came across an article in the New York Times by the Professor (now emeritus) whose course on Philosophy of Science I took as an undergrad.

The paper I wrote for that course argued that there is not, in fact, any such thing as "scientific method."  Rather, I argued, science is simply a refinement and quantification of "common sense" methods of knowledge common to all humanity, i.e., a careful utilization of the normal methods we all use in coming to know the world around us, extended and refined by the use of instrumentation and mathematics.  I received a B for that effort.

Over forty years later, my former professor authored the article I just read: There Is No Scientific Method.

A survey of Ratzinger's writing over the decades since Vatican II leads to the conclusion that his views remain essentially unchanged.  Unfortunately, his views are clearly based on German philosophy from the 18th century that is accepted only by philosophically naive people--such as scientists and theologians.  Oh--and Italian lawyers.  The truth is that "modern" philosophy doesn't explain "modern" science.  Kantian agnosticism is, as Etienne Gilson pointed out, an unjustifiable presupposition.  Would that Ratzinger had bothered to read the Thomist Gilson rather than grousing about his scholastic textbooks in seminary.

The conclusion to my former professor's article is worth quoting:

If scientific method is only one form of a general method employed in all human inquiry, how is it that the results of science are more reliable than what is provided by these other forms? I think the answer is that science deals with highly quantified variables and that it is the precision of its results that supplies this reliability. But make no mistake: Quantified precision is not to be confused with a superior method of thinking.
I am not a practicing scientist. So who am I to criticize scientists’ understanding of their method?
I would turn this question around. Scientific method is not itself an object of study for scientists, but it is an object of study for philosophers of science. It is not scientists who are trained specifically to provide analyses of scientific method.
...

Some readers claimed that I was denying the existence of a method that science employs. I was not. I was arguing against the claim that only science employs it.
The importance and effectiveness of scientific inquiry is not in question here.
...
Suggesting that the method science uses is its exclusive property is an inflationary claim that doesn’t serve science well. Science is a form of human knowledge. But there’s more to knowledge than science. The differences, of course, have to be preserved, but we won’t know what the defining differences are until we identify what it is that scientific and nonscientific inquiry have in common. This short article was a modest attempt to explore that question.



More Ratzinger, Modernism, and Livi - with Legal Input!

On Sandro Magister’s blog this morning there’s a reply to Antonio Livi's critique of Ratzinger, which I covered yesterday. Tellingly, the reply is by a lawyer–not a philosopher. Once again, the blog is in Italian: Joseph Ratzinger teologo. Non “modernista” ma moderno: “Joseph Ratzinger, Theologian: Modern but not ‘Modernist’.” The lawyer/author starts by pronouncing himself “not convinced” by Livi, but then goes on to confirm exactly what Livi said: Ratzinger rejects Thomism, rejects the very notion of praeambula fidei, and adopts instead a “modern”, i.e., Kantian, approach. In essence the lawyer is saying: It's true that Ratzinger is not Thomist and is Kantian--but (the lawyer simply asserts) that's just being "modern," (i.e., it's a good thing), not "Modernist" (which, he presumably agrees, is a bad thing, and is therefore to be denied). In fact, however, it's simple historical fact that Kantian thinking is the very basis of Modernism (cf. the links in yesterday's post, cited above).  It's important to further note, however, that in attempting to make this case the lawyer quite mistakenly identifies modern science with a “methodological atheism.”

Now, it’s quite true that a scientist–insofar as he is a scientist–need not be a metaphysician nor need he explicitly hold any metaphysical principles in order to conduct scientific inqquiries. But by that very same token, there is nothing necessarily atheist about the scientific methodology insofar as it is scientific (as the history of science amply demonstrates). It may be fair to call the scientific method “agnostic”, but even so it is not methodologically or consciously agnostic any more than it is methodologically atheist. Which is to say, a scientist can engage in valid science as a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic simply because such considerations don’t affect his methodology in practice–although the scientific methodology very arguably arose from theistic principles (cf. the work of Stanley Jaki).

What Ratzinger does, and the lawyer is quite explicit about this, is to accept this supposedly methodological atheism of modern science (or, more properly, its “agnosticism”) as controlling for philosophy. IOW, he accepts that "science" in the modern sense of the word is the only truly valid form of human knowledge, and he insists that the man of faith must bow to the scientific method as exclusively valid in all areas of human inquiry. Therefore, in Ratzinger’s view, belief that there is a cause for the existence of all that exists, which we call God, is and can only be an hypothesis. It cannot be a certainty because it is not subject to experimental verification, which Ratzinger implicitly accepts as the only valid form of “modern” knowledge. In this Ratzinger is both very modern and very Modernist, exactly as Livi says. (Parenthetically, it's worth noting that these views are at the bottom of Ratzinger's extreme--and frequently expressed--skepticism regarding the validity of historical critical study of both Scripture as well as history more generally, and it amply explains his preference for subjective, allegorical approaches to Scripture.) 

Without getting too far into the weeds, I’ll simply point out the misguided notions in the concluding paragraph by the lawyer. Bear in mind, however, that this is an accurate representation of Ratzinger’s own misguided ideas–which are both modern and Modernist and are deeply destructive of Christian faith:
“Between the ontological truth of the creative Reason and the transcendental presuppositions of science there is no logically necessary relationship. As stated above, scientific laws prescind from the question of the existence of God and the origin of reality. For this logical reason Ratzinger maintains that God’s remains “the best hypothesis, although it is a hypothesis” (J. Ratzinger, “Benedict’s Europe in the crisis of cultures”, Siena 2005, 123).”
Now, it's not exactly true to say that “scientific laws prescind from the question of the existence of God and the origin of reality.” It might be acceptable to state that “scientific method prescinds from the question of the existence of God and the origin of reality.” Be that as it may, it is not logical to conclude from this that the existence of God is purely hypothetical. In point of fact, that statement–that the existence of God is and can only be an hypothesis–is itself a non-scientific assertion that is not susceptible of experimental verification. That is, while purporting to represent scientific method it is actually an unscientific statement by the standards that the lawyer espouses.

For anyone who wishes to really get into this topic, I recommend two classic works by Etienne Gilson: The Unity of Philosophical Experience and Thomist Realism and the Critique of Knowledge. “Critique of Knowledge” simply refers to Kantian Agnosticism. Gilson systematically dismantles the claims of Kantian thought to be either scientific or philosophical.

It may be worth noting, in light of the fact that Livi approves a form of what he calls "common sense," that in Thomist Realism Gilson devotes a chapter to rejecting certains forms of "common sense" as espoused by Thomas Reid in the 18th century as well as by some 19th and early 20th century "scholastic" thinkers. Gilson's critique is based on what he sees as the failure of these thinkers to properly distinguish between the Aristotelian (and Thomist) idea of a "principle" as opposed to a "presupposition" or hypothesis. I believe a distinction can be drawn between those thinkers and Livi and that Livi's views are probably very close to what Gilson might refer to as a principled "immediate" realism. For what it's worth, Livi's view is cited by the lawyer as follows:
Livi takes the path of a metaphysics of "common sense", defined by him as "the organic whole of those certainties about the existence of the beings of immediate experience that are always and necessarily the basis of every other certainty, that is, of every other claim of truth in judgments, both of existence and of attribution." (A. Livi, Philosophy of common sense, Logic of science and of faith, Rome 2010, page 7).

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Heresy, Thy Name Is Benedict. Or Ratzinger.

Yesterday, the Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister--a generally mainstream, Vatican II-ish commenter whom I've always regarded as generally sympathetic or respectful towards Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI--hosted a remarkable essay at his Italian language site.  The essay is alluded to on the English version of his site, in the blog titled: Ratzinger Rehabilitates Müller. But the Pope Emeritus Himself Is Being Hit with Accusations of Heresy, but the essay itself, L'eresia al potere, has so far only appeared in Italian.  That essay appears below in my English translation, with my own comments interjected (in brackets) and with links to other sites that provide some additional information regarding persons and topics that are mentioned.

The essay is written by Antonio Livi, and is introduced by Magister as follows:

The attack in recent days on Ratzinger as theologian comes in a book just off the press that has as its author Enrico Maria Radaelli, known as the most faithful disciple of Romano Amerio (1905-1997), the Swiss philosopher who in 1985 published in “Iota Unum” the most systematic and detailed accusation against the Catholic Church of the second half of the twentieth century, for having subverted the foundations of doctrine in the name of modern subjectivism.
Radaelli’s book is entitled “Al cuore di Ratzinger. Al cuore del mondo,” ...
What led Radaelli to the decision to accuse Ratzinger’s theology of being subversive as well was the reading and analysis of his [Ratzinger's] best-known and most widely read theological work, ... “Introduction to Christianity” ... 
Now, what is most most striking is that Radaelli ... received immediate support from a theologian and philosopher among the most decorated, Monsignor Antonio Livi, dean emeritus of the faculty of philosophy of the Pontifical Lateran University, a pontifical academic and president of the International Science and Commonsense Association.
In Livi’s judgment ... Ratzinger and his theology ... contributed to the ... ever more hegemonic role in the seminaries, in the pontifical universities, on the doctrinal commissions, in the curia dicasteries and at the highest levels of the hierarchy up to the papacy, of what he calls “the modernist theology with its evident heretical drift.”

I take this as a very positive development--both that an academic as eminent as Livi has put his name to such accusations as well as that his essay has appeared on such a widely read and respected blog as Magister's.  It appears that the shock of Bergoglio's manifest heresy has sunk deeply enough that intelligent observers--who initially may have thought that the Church's crisis began only with Bergoglio--have begun to think this whole thing through and have come to the realization that the Bergoglio phenomenon can only be the fruit of long development.  Livi places blame squarely on Ratzinger, who has supported heretical positions throughout his long career, beginning even in his seminary days.  Of course, the roots of this crisis go much deeper even than Ratzinger and the Modernist clique that hijacked Vatican II.  But this is an excellent start for reflection and important enough that I feel justified in reproducing Livi's essay in toto.

I have written a number of blogs regarding Ratzinger/Benedict destructive influence, beginning in 2008.  My focus has been on the strong Kantian influence on Ratzinger with its subjectivist orientation, as well as Ratzinger's very obviously Lutheran notion of "faith" as a subjective feeling rather than the Catholic idea of faith as reasoned belief.  These are all themes that Livi takes up.  Below, preceding Livi's essay, is a list of my previous blogs re Ratzinger, as well as a link to a very lengthy account that delves into the historical origins of Modernism.

Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The 1988 Erasmus Lecture

Benedict at Regensburg

Popes Say The Darndest Things

Cardinal Ratzinger On Europe's Crisis of Culture

Jean Guitton and the Modernism on II Vatican Council: Reply to the Report from Brescia



by Antonio Livi
I believe that it is indispensable, in the current theological-pastoral milieu, to take into account what Enrico Maria Radaelli has extensively demonstrated in his latest work ("At the heart of Ratzinger, At the heart of the World," Editions Pro-manuscripto Aurea Domus, Milan 2017). [Radaelli's thesis] is that the hegemony (first of fact and then of law) of progressive theology in the teaching and governing structures of the Catholic Church is owing--and perhaps dominantly so--to the teachings of Joseph Ratzinger during his time as a professor. Ratzinger has never renounced these teachings nor even corrected [updated] them: not as a bishop, not as a cardinal, nor as the pope. [We might add that this is also true of Ratzinger as "Pope Emeritus."] This thesis, which might seem unacceptable to many when stated in these terms (I refer to all those who have previously regarded Ratzinger--in his roles as cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith and then as Pope Benedict XVI--as a providential bulwark against what he himself called the "dictatorship of relativism"), receives its proper scientific justification in Radaelli's book, in which he conducts a page by page analysis of Ratzinger's fundamental work: Introduction to Christianity ("Einführung in das Christentum: Vorlesungen über das apostolische Glaubensbekenntnis"), which was published in 1968 as a re-elaboration of the Theology lectures held in the previous semester by the then young professor at the University of Tubingen. It has gone through twenty-two editions in the original text, the most recent in 2017.
Enrico Maria Radaelli is known as the foremost disciple and interpreter of Romano Amerio, who in 1985 published Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century, which I consider to be the first, courageous, serious, and documented report of the presence of theological modernism in the form (rhetoric) and in the (ideological) substance of "Gaudium et spes" and other fundamental Conciliar documents. Imitating the scrupulous exegetical and intellectual honesty of his teacher, Radaelli carefully studies Ratzinger's text, citing the fundamental passages from a recent Italian edition (see "Introduction to Christianity: Lessons on the Apostolic Symbol", Queriniana, Brescia 2000) and quickly notes - and this is one of the data points supporting Radaelli's thesis - that Joseph Ratzinger, even when he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, never felt the need to revise or modify the content [of this book]. In fact, in 2000 he wrote that his book could well be titled "Introduction to Christianity, yesterday, today and tomorrow", adding:
"The basic orientation was, in my opinion, correct, hence my courage today in once again placing the book in the hands of the readers" ("Introductory essay to the new 2000 edition", in "Introduction to Christianity", and cit., p.24).
Radaelli's conclusion is that the theology that Ratzinger has always professed and which is found in all his writings, even those that he signed as Benedict XVI (the three books on 'Jesus of Nazareth' and sixteen volumes of 'teaching'), is not substantially different from the theology of his 'Introduction'.  It is a theology of an immanentist stamp [which is to say, it is fundamentally opposed to all Catholic thought], in which all the traditional terms of Catholic dogma remain linguistically unchanged but their meaning has changed: the conceptual framework of Scripture, of the Fathers, and of the Magisterium have been set aside, because they are deemed incomprehensible today (in other words, because they presuppose what Bergson called the ' spontaneous metaphysics of the human intellect '). In Ratzinger's theology the dogmas of faith are re-interpreted within the conceptual framework of modern subjectivism (from Kant's transcendentalism to Hegel's dialectical idealism). This is done at the expense--as Radaelli rightly observes--of what is the most fundamental concept in Christianity, that of faith in the revelation of supernatural mysteries by God, namely the "fides qua creditur"This concept is irremediably deformed, in Ratzinger's theology, by the adoption of the Kantian scheme of the impossibility of a metaphysical knowledge of God, and the consequent recourse to the "postulates of practical reason". The result is the negation of any rational premises for faith and the replacement of the "reasons to believe", which constituted the classic subject of apologetics after Vatican I (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange), with nothing but a "will to believe", which derives from the speculation of pragmatist types of philosophy of religion (William James).
[I would interject here that this subjectivism of Ratzinger is on full display--paradoxical as it may seem to many of his fans--in one of his most "traditional" sounding addresses, one which was in point of fact his campaign speech for the papacy:  Europe's Crisis of Culture.  In this address Ratzinger openly invokes the notion of faith espoused by the Jansenist heretic Pascal, actually naming Pascal.  In this Ratzinger reveals his own Lutheran conception of faith, which is antithetical--as Livi states--to any Christian understanding.]
Ratzinger has always maintained, even in his most recent addresses, that the Christian's act of faith has as its specific object, not the mysteries revealed by Christ but the person of Christ, known in Scripture and in the liturgy of the Church. But it is an uncertain and contradictory knowledge, too weak to resist the critique of contemporary thought. So today's theology, according to Ratzinger, cannot speak of faith except in ambiguous and contradictory terms:
"The problem of knowing exactly what the content and meaning of the Christian faith is today is enveloped in a hazy halo of uncertainty like never before in history" ("Introduction to Christianity", Preface to the first edition, trad. , p.25).
In fact, today's theology is forced to admit that, in the soul of the believer, doubt is always associated with the act of faith (an act desired, even if unfounded). This happens because now the foundation for the act of faith is no longer, as Vatican I taught, "the authority of God, who cannot be deceived nor deceive men", but is instead Man himself, who wants to build himself an idea of ​​God that satisfies his spiritual needs. But this idea of ​​God, which the religious man of today has forged in his own image and likeness, is inevitably uncertain and problematic, and the theologian feels its radical incompatibility with contemporary culture:
"Those who try to spread the faith among the men who live and think today can really have the impression of being a clown, or even someone who was resurrected from an ancient sarcophagus. [...] He will see the condition of insecurity into which his own faith is placed, the almost unbelievable power of unbelief, which opposes his willingness to believe ... [...] The threat of uncertainty weighs on the believer [...] The believer is able to live his faith only and always by hovering on the ocean of nothingness, of temptation and doubt, finding the sea of ​​uncertainty assigned as the only possible place of his faith" ("Introduction to Christianity", Preface to the first edition, Italian translation, cit., pp. 34- 37).
Radaelli shows how the same expressions are found in the popular journalism of the [notoriously heretical] Jesuit cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, archbishop of Milan, who incessantly repeated: "Each of us has in himself a believer and an unbeliever, who question each other". I would add that these are the same expressions that Gianni Vattimo uses in theorising about the belief of the Christian as forming part of his "weak thought". But it is precisely this substantially skeptical notion of faith in Revelation that, according to Ratzinger, allows theology to enter into a fruitful encounter with the philosophy and science of today, despite explicitly granting to them the epistemological presupposition of the impossibility of rational knowledge of God and of a natural moral law. In fact, if not even the believer is certain of the existence of God and his visible presence in Christ, then in the Church's dialogue with the modern world we will need to speak of God as a mere hypothesis.  Kant regarded such an hypothesis as necessary as a foundation for religious piety, but not as evidence that natural reason could serve as the basis for asserting that it is reasonable to believe the word of Christ, the revealer of the Father. And this explains for me how Ratzinger, in his commendable commitment to pastoral dialogue with secularist culture, asked his interlocutors to design a public morality based on the hypothesis of the existence of God (cf. Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, "Reason and faith in Dialogue", translated by G. Bosetti, Marsilio, Venice 2005).
[Again, the best explanation for what Ratzinger means by this hypothesis is to be found in Europe's Crisis of Culture--which Livi quotes immediately below--in which Ratzinger embraces the notion of "Pascal's wager," the idea of faith as a safer bet than unbelief.  His call to modern man is to live as if God exists, while repudiating even the possibilityof rational belief.  His appeal, instead, is to the Christian life as more aesthetically attractive than alternatives. This, I submit, is anything but Christian faith.]
"We should then reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: even those who cannot find the way to accept God [as existing] should still try to live and direct his life 'veluti si Deus daretur'as if God were there. This, the advice that Pascal already gave to non-believer friends, is the advice we would like to give today to our friends who do not believe, so no one is limited in his freedom, but all our things find a support and a criterion they urgently need" ("Europe in the crisis of culture", conference held in the evening of Friday, April 1, 2005 in Subiaco, at the Monastery of Santa Scolastica, on the occasion of the San Benedetto Prize" for the promotion of life and the family in Europe ").
I have read with particular care those pages of Radaelli's book in which this concept of "weak faith" is properly documented. It involves a philosophical-theological problem which, because of its importance from the pastoral point of view, has always been at the center of my study interests:
(cf. Antonio Livi, "Rationality of Faith in Revelation. A Philosophical Analysis in the Light of the Aetic Logic ", Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2005; "Logic of testimony: when to believe is reasonable ", Lateran University Press, Vatican City 2007; "Philosophy of common sense, Logic of science and faith", Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2010; "What claim of truth can be recognized in the philosophical demonstrations for the existence of God", in "The existence of God. An undeniable truth of common sense that receives a full dialectical justification from its metaphysical formulation", by F. Renzi, Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2016, pp. 19-36).
Radaelli's analyses of Ratzinger's writings have brought me to understand why this great theologian [Great theologian? Ratzinger has always been an ideologue, a neo-gnostic!] has accepted as inevitable, nowadays, the fideist interpretation of Christianity and has banned as useless 'neo-Scholastic apologetics'--the return to the classical doctrine of 'preambula fidei,' which is certainly the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas but was also incorporated into the dogmatic documents of the Council of Trent and Vatican I. [This doctrine is prominent in Scripture, above all in Acts and Romans.] The reason lies in the fact that from the very beginning, i.e., from 'Einführung,' Ratzinger participated in that highly efficient cultural operation that Cornelio Fabro described as 'an adventure of progressive theology' and that has as its sole protagonist Karl Rahner.
[One ought not] accord too much importance to the doctrinal disagreement between Ratzinger and Rahner, which resulted in Ratzinger leaving the position of editor of "Concilium" and joining the contributors at "Communio". The truth is that the disagreement was only one of dialectical methodology and wasn't a disagreement on the basic content of the "anthropological turn" that both men intended to impress on Catholic theology with a view toward a radical reform of the Church. [The "anthropological turn" finds its roots in Kantian thought.] To convince oneself of this it will suffice to reread what Ratzinger writes about his initial collaboration with his Jesuit colleague during the work of the ecumenical council:
"Working with him, I realized that Rahner and I, although we agreed on many points and in many aspirations, from the theological point of view, lived on two different planets. He too, like me, was committed to a liturgical reform, to a reorientation [new positioning] of exegesis in the Church and of theology and of many other things, but his motivations were quite different from mine. His theology - despite the patristic readings of his early years - was totally characterized by the tradition of Suarezian scholasticism and its new version in the light of German idealism and Heidegger. It was a speculative and philosophical theology, in which, in the end, the Scriptures and the Fathers did not play an important part, in which, above all, the historical dimension was of little importance. Precisely because of my formation I had been marked above all by the Scriptures and the Fathers, by an essentially historical thought" (Josef Ratzinger, "My Life, Autobiography", Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2005, page 123).
This digression allows me to return to affirming that the theme dealt with in Radaelli's essay and the critical acumen with which it is treated render a great service to the understanding of what has been happening in the Church from the 1960s [i.e, from V2, but the reality is that the roots go much further back, as Ratzinger's embrace of Pascal clearly shows.] to the present. These are events that I have often summarized in terms of "heresy in power". I express myself in terms that may seem simplistic or exaggerated, but they are fully justified by the facts. The reality is that neo-modernist theology, with its clear heretical drift, has gradually assumed a hegemonic role in the Church (in the seminaries, in the pontifical universities, in the doctrinal commissions of the episcopal conferences, in the dicasteries of the Holy See), and from these positions of power has influenced the themes and the language in the different expressions of the ecclesiastical magisterium, and this influence infected (in various degrees, naturally) all the documents of Vatican II and many of the teachings of the Post-Conciliar popes (cf. Antonio Livi, "How neomodernist theology has passed from the rejection of a Magisterium that is still dogmatic to the exaltation of a deliberately ambiguous Magisterium", in "Theology and Magisterium, today", Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2017, pp. 59-86). 
The popes of this period have all been conditioned, in one direction or another, by this hegemony, which Joseph Ratzinger, just before his election to the papal throne, designated as "the dictatorship of relativism". Paul VI certainly presided over and expertly directed the Council after the death of John XXIII, and he should be mentioned in connection with some providential interventions--such as the drafting of the 'Nota explicativa praevia (Explanatory Note) which is affixed to the dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen gentium', as well as the exclusion of the themes of priestly celibacy and contraception from the debate in the main hall [of the Council] (themes that were subsequently addressed in the encyclicals Humanae vitae and Sacerdotalis caelibatus).  But at the same time [this hegemony] has supported the interpretation of the Council as an 'anthropological turn' in Ecclesiology, as the supreme instance of a recognition of the humanistic values of modernity, based on a "common religion of man". 
John Paul II certainly had the courage to condemn theological deviations in the moral field (see the encyclical "Veritatis splendor") and resumed the teaching of Vatican I against fideism (see the encyclical "Fides et Ratio"), but he permitted Karl Rahner to consolidate his hegemony over ecclesiastical studies and publicly honored both Rahner (with a commendation letter for his eighty years) and other important exponents of progressive theology (naming cardinals Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar). At the same time he was deaf to the appeals of many authoritative representatives of the world episcopate who asked him to effectively counter the heretical drift of the ecumenical movement and relations with the Jews (cf. Mario Oliveri, "A Bishop writes to the Holy see on the pastoral dangers of dogmatic relativism', Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2017). There is no need to speak of the current Pope. Radaelli's punctilious citations of his words in this very useful book will suffice.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Rorate Caeli Promotes A Modernist Theology of the Church

Today at the supposedly traditionalist website Rorate Caeli there appears an essay, On the nature of schism, which promotes a false theology of the Church--one which bears a strong similarity to the Rahnerian notion of the "anonymous Christian" as well as other Gnostic influenced Modernist ideologies.  The essay begins with a quote from the German theologian, Karl Adam (1876 - 1996), a professor at the University of Tuebingen:

“The Church, though certainly achieving full historical actuality only with the association of Christian believers, was already in existence, fundamentally and in germ, and in that sense is a divine creation. For she is the unity of redeemed humanity, a unity made possibly by the Incarnation of the Son of God; she is the kosmos of men, mankind as a whole, the many as one” (Karl Adam, The Spirit of Catholicism).

We see in this quote several non-Catholic propositions that are characteristic of Modernist thinking, of ideologues such as Karl Rahner and Teilhard de Chardin.

The Church attained "historical actuality"--which I take to mean something like "institutional reality"--after the death and resurrection of Jesus "with the association of Christian believers--which I take to mean those who have an explicit faith in Jesus.

However, Adam claims, the Church came into existence as "a divine creation" at the Incarnation.

Why is this so?  Because, says Adam, the Church is "is the unity of redeemed humanity, a unity made possibly by the Incarnation of the Son of God."

Does this mean, as Gnostics such as Teilhard would claim, that the redemption occurs not as a result of Calvary but at the Incarnation?  That certainly seems to be implied and is explicit in most Modernist or "Nouvelle" theology.  In fact, Adam goes on to assert that the Church ("she") is "the kosmos of men, mankind as a whole, the many as one.” In other words, Adam is flatly asserting that the Church is the unity of mankind as a whole, not simply of believers.  Why should this be so?  Because, Miss Arntz helpfully explains (in true Rahnerian and Teilhardian fashion), all mankind "long[s] to be united to the Savior, Jesus Christ."  And so "all mankind" is redeemed and belongs to the Church--and presumably all are saved as well.

From this we see the significance of Adam's use of the word "kosmos".  This usage is not merely redundant, not merely a repetition of "mankind as a whole."  It is intended to add a flavor to "mankind as a whole." That flavor is the Gnostic concept that the Incarnation is part of a cosmic process by which all men, the "kosmos of men," are united and become one.  We see the same idea expressed in liturgical terms by B16 when he extols the notion of the Eucharist as a "cosmic host":

"It's the great vision that later Teilhard de Chardin also had: At the end we will have a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host."

Thus, the Eucharist is no longer the non-bloody recreation of Calvary.  It is an expression of the Incarnation, by which Man becomes one with the cosmos and offers the cosmos to God--thereby, in a magico-gnostic fashion, becoming One with both God and the cosmos.

I would also like to point out that anyone claiming to be following Apostolic Tradition--rather than the "Nouvelle" theologians whom Miss Arntz follows--should be troubled that Rorate Caeli would publish any article that uncritically cites Cardinal Journet.  It is now well known that Journet was a behind the scenes dissenter from Humanae Vitae, along with his good friend Jacques Maritain.  This is hardly surprising, given that Journet seems to have never rebuked Maritain for the travesty of marriage that Maritain and his wife lived--they lived as "brother and sister" so as better to pursue what they saw as a higher vocation.  Of course, Journet and the Maritains seem to have adopted the Modernist Vatican II view of marriage (as opposed to the Catholic view) as equally a companionate relationship as one designed by God for the procreation of the species.

Naturally this is not to suggest that Journet and Maritain had nothing to say during their lives that was worthwhile.  Nevertheless, if their views on a matter so basic to human nature as marriage were so misguided one should approach their views on the Church with great caution.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

UPDATE: Opus Dei's Pope

Within the past week the Italian website InfoVaticana published an interview with Mariano Fazio, the Vicar General of Opus Dei--which is to say, the #2 guy at Opus Dei.  Fazio took the occasion to harshly criticize the members of Opus Dei who have signed the recent Filial Correction.  That would include Dr. Gerard J. M. van den Aardweg, although only Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, former president of the Institute of Works for Religion (IOR, the Vatican Bank), was mentioned by name.  With regard to the Filial Correction, Fazio set forth this blanket position, that would condemn any number of saints of the past: 

"Any faithful, bishop, cardinal, lay person has the right to tell the pope what he sees fit for the good of the Church, but it seems to me that he has no right to do so publicly and to scandalize the whole Church with these manifestations of disunity."

Fazio specifically included Gotti Tedeschi--as well as all the other signatories:

"I think he was wrong, too, like the others who signed."

Fazio even put forth the tired argument that Bergoglio hasn't actually changed any doctrine--as if Bergoglio's Cultural Marxist tactics somehow immunize him from criticism for the predictable results.  "Feed my lambs," and if the lambs are fed poison, well, they're still being fed, right?  No one, according to Fazio, would have a right to criticize the shepherd publicly.

This is, I think, a significant development.  Opus Dei has taken an "under the radar" approach to Bergoglio from the very beginning--even allowing an Opus Dei member, Greg Burke, to serve as Bergoglio's spokesman.  The Three Monkey approach.  But of course, this is unacceptable for Modernist revolutionaries in the long run.  For Modernist revolutionaries push always comes to shove and the question posed in the old union song becomes theirs: Which side are you on.

It's clear that Bergoglio has been looking to discredit by any means possible the signatories of the Filial Correction.  His tools may attempt to make light of the Filial Correction--Greg Burke attempted to mock it based on the number of signatories--

​“You can’t really imagine we would do this [block the Filial Correction website] for a letter with 60 names,” he joked to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.)

but Modernist revolutionaries take all criticism very seriously indeed.  Which is why Fazio was trotted out to savage fellow members of Opus Dei: scandalizing the whole Church!  What's next?  Will Gotti Tedeschi have a millstone tied round his neck and be tossed into the depths of the sea?

But of course this goes far beyond attacking Gotti Tedeschi.  By agreeing to take this step, Opus Dei has given a clear indication of what side they're on: they're on Bergoglio's side.  They have revealed themselves as the GOPe of the Church.

Of course, Opus Dei--like so many, many "conservatives" in the Church--set themselves up for this over the decades after Vatican II.  Never speaking up while Wojtyla and Ratzinger pursued their Modernist agenda, setting the stage for Bergoglio. But the stupidity of this is still fairly breathtaking.  The fact is, Bergoglio--as bad as he's been--has yet to fully rip the mask off.  Count on this: given time, his assault on the Apostolic Faith will get worse--MUCH worse.  And at this moment in time, with the Filial Correction out there and the Dubia Brothers still to correct, with the future of the Church looking ever more parlous, Opus Dei jumped on the Bergoglio band wagon?  This was a signal not merely to two Opus Dei members--it was a signal to all "conservatives" and to the whole Church.  As Fazio would say, a scandal to the whole Church: If Opus Dei is down with Bergoglio, it's all over--right?

What does Fazio and the rest of the Opus Dei brain trust think this will do to the Opus Dei brand?  Yes, standing up to Bergoglio might have been very unpleasant, but look at the consequences, which we are starting to see already.  We all remember how it was, how Opus Dei built itself up into a power brokering organization.  For years they slyly whispered in people's ears: we're your only hope; everyone else has sold out--or are nasty schismatics.  We alone have kept the Faith!  So far I've only seen one comment on this, on a Spanish language website, but it's telling  The overall tone of the article is quite "moderate," but halfway through the author simply states as fact: 

Por eso el Opus Dei era un bastión de la ortodoxia, una guía firme … y hoy no lo es. Necesitan volver a San Josemaría. [That is why Opus Dei was a stronghold of orthodoxy, a firm guide ... and today it is not. They need to return to St. Josemaría.]

Look, this isn't something they'll ever be able to walk back. They've trashed their brand for well and good.  They've played right into Bergoglio's hand.  As Bergoglio's right hand, um, guy, and the actual author of most of Amoris Laetitia, has publicly stated:

"There's no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he has already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anybody can repeat those things without being sanctioned".

That's what Opus Dei has got on board with.  Even supposing a miracle in the short run that could somehow turn around or even just halt the runaway train that Bergoglio is, would anyone go back to trusting an organization that has been an enabler for so many years?  And after this?  Doubtful.  Very doubtful.

UPDATE: Just to be absolutely clear ... What Fazio was accusing Filial Correction signatories of was the serious sin of scandal--and not just any scandal.  He was accusing them of scandal against one of the Four Marks of the Church, its Oneness. That's a very serious accusation.  In the circumstances it should be considered as 1. a warning to all Opus Dei members to keep their mouths shut and offer no criticisms of Bergoglio, and 2. a warning to those of any stripe who would criticize Bergoglio that they should expect no support from Opus Dei.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What's Bergoglio's Gameplan for SSPX?

Lots of people are puzzled by the extraordinarily generous treatment that Bergoglio has afforded to SSPX.  After all, wouldn't SSPX be the epitome of the "rigid" and "Pharisaical" "doctors of the Law" that he so regularly excoriates?  And yet no terms of "regularization" appear too generous--it seems that anything SSPX asks for they'll receive.  However, if you keep before your mind the idea that Bergoglio has a specific goal always in view, matters become a bit more clear.

What is Bergoglio's goal?  To fully implement Vatican II--as he understands it.  And he has made no bones about the fact that his version of a true Vatican II Church would be in line with the views of the most radical of the New Theologians, such as Walter Kasper.  How could empowering an organization such as SSPX, which steadfastly rejects precisely those elements of Vatican II that are so central to Bergoglio's plans--ecumenism, religious "freedom"--possibly help Bergoglio fully implement his goals?

To come to an understanding of Bergoglio's strategy, the key provision of the proposed SSPX personal prelature is the one that allows SSPX to incorporate religious congregations.

My view is that Bergoglio wants to set up SSPX as a sort of cordon sanitaire for tradition minded Catholics--or a parallel Church, if you prefer.  At this point he is faced with constant conflict and resistance to his agenda within the Church.  Simply excommunicating his opposition isn't an option, so the next best option would be to marginalize them. What appears to be an option--to allow tradition minded Catholics to join with SSPX--may in practice turn out to be a requirement.  In other words, Bergoglio and his allies--to include local bishops--will in effect tell those who are tradition minded: it's our way or get on the highway to SSPX.  If you try to remain in the Vatican II Church and oppose my version of Vatican II reforms--women deacons, ecumenical liturgies, divorce in practice, etc.--you'll be subjected to draconian disciplinary measures.  SSPX beckons.

Yes, that will enlarge SSPX.  But Bergoglio, in my view, is betting that most Catholics presented with this choice will succumb to his pressure, remain in the Vatican II Church on his terms by keeping their mouths shut, and that those who do make the switch will be joining a marginalized group that will remain marginalized.  The proposed personal prelature will have bishops, of course.  Some bishops.  But don't expect to see any SSPX cardinals.  Bergoglio will continue packing the College of Cardinals with like minded prelates who will guarantee a like minded successor.

What could go wrong with Bergoglio's gameplan?  Two possibilities come to mind.

First, this Bergoglianized Church--in effect, a new Church of Man--could simply implode.  It could suffer an implosion similar to what the Church suffered in the decades after Vatican II only, given the cultural changes that have occurred since those years, the implosion could be even more drastic.  For instance, the current trend toward popularism that we see in both the US and in Europe could lead to rapid alienation with a Church that is ever more overtly aligned with globalist elite opinion.

Second, Fellay has openly stated that his goal in accepting regularization would be, in essence, to convert the Church--to call it back to Tradition.  At the same time however, he has quite candidly admitted that this can only happen gradually.  If, in fact, a Prelature of SSPX were to exhibit a creative flexibility in even relatively minor ways, it might well offer a welcoming environment to growing numbers of serious and (in a manner of speaking) dues paying Catholics.  Vernacular liturgies, for example, might be an accommodation that such a prelature might be willing to make, and there could be other similar initiatives that would not betray the legacy of Lefebvre while offering a halfway house to a full embrace of Tradition.

Interesting times.