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 on 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 vitaeand 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.


  1. Nearly thirty years ago ABS was part of a trad study group in Portland, Maine and we all read the book in question here and al of thought it heretical.

    Here is a quote fromThe Roman Catechism;


    Faith Excludes Doubt

    The knowledge derived through faith must not be considered less certain because its objects are not seen; for the divine light by which we know them, although it does not render them evident, yet suffers us not to doubt them. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath himself shone in our hearts, that the gospel be not hidden to us, as to those that perish.


    ABS sticks with the Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide and the Dogmatic Treatises of Rev Joseph Pohle because a soul is a terrible thing to waste

  2. Agreed, ABS. Of great importance is what Prof. Livi and many others have noted:

    "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).

  3. It is also important to consider how the young Joseph Ratzinger, coming of age in Germany, was an early victim of the weaponised propaganda of the CIA and corrupt clergy - Fathers Felix Morlion and John Courtney Murray.

    What he had to say publicly when he visited America was shocking in that it revealed his fundamental orientation - America as a model.


    P.S. ABS found this blog linked to a 1Peter5 and he will be reading it regularly.

  4. ABS, thanks for the link. It will take a while to work through, but a first glance says it looks provocative. To me it's hardly surprising that Ratzinger should be a fan of The American Proposition, since he and his Modernist co-believers would have seen the American Spirit as an ally in their war against the Establishment of Church and State--I write hastily. It's unfortunate that, while there are plenty of books out about the rise and origins of Liberalism (Pierre Manent comes quickly to mind, but there are many others) there appears to be so little written that specifically relates this to the Modernist movement in the Church.

    Re this blog, you will see that it isn't updated regularly, but there is (I hope) no lack of food for thought in the archives. Until recently I've avoided commenting on current Church affairs simply because it's too depressing. However, you'll also see (above) that I've long had these views re Ratzinger and have written about them in the past.

    Finally, I do highly recommend the link: Jean Guitton and the Modernism on II Vatican Council: Reply to the Report from Brescia. It was originally written in Italian by a Brazilian and the English version at the link can at times be a bit difficult to follow. So I'll make this offer to anyone who reads this: I've done a revision of the English version which I'll email to anyone who's interested.