The Synod of Bishops
And the Loss of the Catholic Mind
Because of the immediacy of the threat posed by the upcoming Synod on the Family, I am posting this article to my homepage, and intend to leave it here for some time. It is my belief that a widespread blindness and superficiality largely reigns among traditional Catholics as to the roots of this crisis.
Presently, this superficiality would seem to extend to two primary errors. These errors, in turn, are prohibitive of that true understanding necessary to effect a solution.
The first of these errors sees the source of this crisis as being Vatican II and its consequences. When seen rightly, however, the negative phenomena of Vatican II and its aftermath are the cancerous excrescence which burst forth after a long infidelity and prostitution of the Church to the world, especially the world of reductive science.
The second error views the Papacy of Pope Francis as a unique abnormality, and pines for a return to the Papacy of Benedict XVI. This is a delusion which fails to understand that the words and actions of the former are the fully “natural” consequences of the philosophical and theological principles extensively laid out in the writings of the latter. As clearly documented below, Joseph Ratzinger was in fact a primary architect of the poisonous philosophical and theological thinking which has created this crisis. Traditional Catholics have been blinded to this fact largely because of Summorum Pontificum and the increased accessibility to the Traditional Latin Mass which this has enabled. However, if “having” the Traditional Mass did not prevent Vatican II and its consequences, it will not by itself prevent what is now in the making.
Most of what is contained here is to be found in my other writings. I have labored to bring them together in this present context simply as an effort to make a more concise argument as to the cause of our present dilemma, and the course which must be taken.
Three Foundational Principles:
What seems most extraordinary about the proceedings of the recent Synod on the Family is that it exposed the fact that the majority of bishops, while acknowledging the indissolubility of marriage, yet were willing to consider a pastoral practice which would readmit to Holy communion divorced and remarried persons. That such a position involved stark contradiction was noted by some commentators. How such a contradiction could come to exist within the minds of so many Catholic bishops (including Pope Francis) has not, as far as I have seen, been explained.
It is easy, I think, to fall prey to superficial answers to this question. It would be naïve, for instance, to conclude that such a widespread phenomenon should be wholly attributed to the conspiratorial efforts of a few persons. Manipulation and conspiracy do indeed seem to have played a significant role, but they do not explain the submission of the minds and hearts of so many bishops (and presumably many priests and innumerable laity) to such self-contradictory folly.
It is also true that many explanations, while seemingly true, somehow do not penetrate to sufficient depths in order for us to be able to understand exactly how this has happened To conclude for instance that such stark self-contradiction is due to relativism offers little satisfaction in this regard. Something profound has happened deep within the sensus fidei fidelium in order to make such relativism (if we choose to thus label it) possible. We need to penetrate further.
The answer, I believe, lies in the almost universal loss or weakening of three foundational principles of all of Catholic thinking (and consequently all of Catholic dogma). These three principles are: 1) The Catholic concept of Divine Revelation; 2) the Principle of Non-Contradiction; 3) the Catholic concept of Substantial Being.
The violation of each one of these principles is amply illustrated in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. What follows is a brief examination of his writings concerning these principles. While his views are not unique, and are quite representative of a mushrooming process of philosophical and theological thinking during the 20th century and the first part of the 21st, it might well be considered true that he is the primary architect of a mode of presentation of these views by which they are promoted as “essentializations” (the alleged hermeneutic of continuity) of the faith, rather than radical departures or change. And if we consider the sheer volume of his writings, his reputation as probably the greatest living theologian, and the tremendous influence which his being elected Pope lent to the influence and dissemination of his writings, we are justified I think in considering him a premier architect of our present quandary.
Rejection of the Catholic Concept of Divine Revelation:
The first principle resides in the truth that God has revealed the fullness of His Truth to man in Catholic Revelation (contained in both Scripture and Tradition), and that this Revelation ceased upon the death of the last Apostle. It is this Catholic doctrine which is the foundation of the immutability of all of Catholic Dogma, and it is this which is denied in the evolutionary theology of Joseph Ratzinger. The following is from his 1998 book Milestones (he is here discussing his early work on Bonaventure):
“At this time [during the writing of his habilitation] the idea of salvation history had moved to the focus of inquiry posed by Catholic theology and this had cast new light on the notion of revelation, which neoscholasticism had kept too confined to the intellectual realm. Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled. Therefore, I was to try to discover whether in Bonaventure there was anything corresponding to the concept of salvation history, and whether this motif – if it should exist – had any relationship with the idea of revelation.”(p.104) [all bold emphasis mine].
Three pages later he reaches the following conclusion:
“I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of 'revelation', by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as 'revelation'. Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, 'revelation' is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act, [read 'Dogma']. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of 'revelation'.”
It is first necessary to state that the basic thesis presented here – that the High Middle Ages (the 13th century) knew nothing of a concept of Revelation as being constituted by “all the revealed contents of the faith”, which are revealed by God to the intellect of man, is simply not true. St. Thomas, who represents the essence of 13th century theology, writes:
“It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee (Isa. lxvi. 4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. (ST, Pt. I, Q.1, A.1.)
The above quote from St. Thomas comes from the very first Article in Question I of Part I of the Summa Theologica. St. Thomas was concerned to immediately establish the absolute foundation upon which our faith is founded – Objective Revelation. In fact, in the very first line of his reply found in the Second Article, he quotes St. Augustine:
“Augustine says (De Trin. Xiv. 1), to this science alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected, and strengthened. But this can be said of no science except sacred doctrine. Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.”
Once Revelation becomes a matter of “gradual unveiling”, any individual doctrine sacrifices its claim to be “written in stone”, and therefore loses all absoluteness and immutability in regard to either its formulation or meaning. Further, once the “receiving subject” becomes “part of the concept of ‘revelation’”, then all of Revelation loses absoluteness and becomes subject in its content to finite individual subjectivity. All of Truth becomes a matter of the development of an evolutionary relationship between God and man.
Obviously, however, neither Joseph Ratzinger, nor any person who claims to be Catholic, can totally dismiss the importance of Catholic doctrine. While having lost its objective “absoluteness” in the act of faith, it therefore must be brought back in “by arts entirely new” (Pope Pius X’s phrase from Pascendi) in a relativistic and relationalistic role. The following passage from Introduction to Christianity ( p. 96-98) constitutes Joseph Ratzinger’s “art” in this regard:
“Our consideration of the history of the Apostles' Creed has led us to the recognition that here, in the baptismal formulary, Christian doctrine stands before us in its original shape and, thus, also in its primitive form, what we today call 'dogma'. Originally there was no such thing as a series of doctrinal propositions that could be enumerated one after another and entered in a book as a well-defined body of dogmas. Such a notion, which today may be difficult to resist, would have to be described as a misconception of the nature of the Christian assent to the God revealed in Christ [out the window goes the Baltimore Catechism, not to mention the Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent].The content of the Christian faith has its inalienable place in the context of the profession of faith, which is, as we saw, in the form of assent and renunciation, a conversion, an about-turn of human existence into a new direction of life. In other words, Christian doctrine does not exist in the form of discrete propositions but in the unity of the symbolum, as the ancient Church called the baptismal profession of faith. This is probably the moment to look rather more closely at the meaning of this word.
Symbolum comes from symballein, meaning in English: ‘to come together, to throw together’. The background to the word's etymology is an ancient usage: two corresponding halves of a ring, a staff, or a tablet were used as tokens of identity for guests, messengers, or partners to a treaty. Possession of the corresponding piece entitled the holder to receive a thing or simply to hospitality. A symbolum is something that points to its complementary other half and thus creates mutual recognition and unity. It is the expression and means of unity.
“Thus in the description of the creed or profession of faith as the symbolum we have at the same time a profound interpretation of its true nature. For in fact this is just what the original meaning or aim of dogmatic formulations in the Church was: to facilitate a common profession of faith in God, common worship of him. As sym-bolum, it points to the other person, the unity of spirit in the one Word. To this extent, dogma (or symbol, respectively) is also always, as Rahner has rightly pointed out, an arrangement of words that from a purely intellectual point of view could have been quite different yet, precisely as a form of words, has its own significance – that of uniting people in the community of the confessing word. It is not a piece of doctrine standing isolated in and for itself but is the form of our worship of God....”
This reduction of creeds and dogmas to intellectual forms which “could have been quite different”, and which merely facilitate unity as a common “form of our worship of God” clearly amounts to a denial of the Catholic teaching concerning Dogma as a Deposit of Faith which is Absolute and Immutable. As Vatican I teaches:
“For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention, to be perfected by human ingenuity; but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our holy Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.”
Joseph Ratzinger continues:
“This discovery also points, it is true, in another direction: even the Church herself, as a whole, still holds the faith only as a symbolum, as a broken half, which signifies truth only in its endless reference to something beyond itself, to the entirely Other. It is only through the infinitely broken nature of the symbol that faith presses forward as man's continual effort to go beyond himself and reach up to God.” [author – all bold emphasis in the above quotes is mine – italics are Joseph Ratzinger's]
The Church, sent by Christ, is the formulator of creeds and symbolum. If the creed, and the truths it contains, is always a broken thing and incomplete, always in “endless reference to something other”, always something which “could have been quite different”, then this is justification for the Church herself to be considered the supreme agent of doctrinal change and evolution. And the Pope becomes the master change-agent and essentializer.
It is profoundly tragic that Fr. Ratzinger never seems to have understood the real and very profound nature of the symbolum. Our confession of faith is called a symbolum not because doctrine is always a broken and incomplete thing, but rather because we are broken. The subjection of our minds and hearts to the objective truth which constitutes the creed and other revealed truths of our faith is what heals our brokenness and ushers us into union and wholeness with God. It is revealed, purely-objective Truth, which not only sets us free, but makes us whole. The past fifty years of chaos in the Church are the fruit of having rejected this simple fact.
All of the above is much more extensively discussed in my article The Quintessential Evolutionist, which is to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article12
Rejection of the Principle of Non-Contradiction:
The second foundational principle absolutely necessary for “thinking with the Church” is the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Joseph Ratzinger’s denial of this principle is well-illustrated in one of his most famous and pivotal works, Introduction To Christianity:
“The Jansenist Saint-Cyran once made the thought-provoking remark that faith consists of a series of contradictions held together by grace [author's note: We do well here to remember de Lubac's statement that “paradox exists everywhere in reality, before existing in thought.... Oppositions in thought express the contradiction which is the very stuff of creation.” This notion that contradiction is the very fabric of created reality is extremely popular in Modernistic theology and philosophy. It is this theological position which facilitates Modernism being the “synthesis of all heresies”, since many heresies are obviously in contradiction to one another]. He thereby expressed in the realm of theology a discovery that today in physics, as the law of complementarity, belongs to the realm of scientific thought. The physicist is becoming increasingly aware today that we cannot embrace given realities – the structure of light, for example, or of matter in general – in one form of experiment and in one form of statement; that, on the contrary, from different sides we glimpse different aspects, which cannot be traced back to each other. We have to take the two together – say, the structure of particle and wave – without being able to find a comprehensive explanation – as a provisional assessment of the whole, which is not accessible to us as a unified whole because of the restrictions implicit in our point of view. What is true here in the physical realm as a result of the limitations in our ability to observe is true to an incomparably greater degree of the spiritual realities of God. Here, too, we can always look from one side and so grasp only one particular aspect, which seems to contradict the other, yet only when combined with it is a pointer to the whole, which we are incapable of stating or grasping. Only by circling round, by looking and describing from different, apparently contrary angles can we succeed in alluding to the truth, which is never visible to us in its totality.” (p.173-74).
Father Ratzinger does not leave us totally in the realm of the abstract. The doctrine which he is specifically discussing, and to which he applies these criteria of understanding, is the Trinity. He first informs us that dogmatic terms used to define the Trinity (he specifically mentions the terms persona, homousious, and the concept of “proceeding.”) were all once condemned as being heretical. He then states: “One must say, I think, that these condemnations of the later formulas of faith form an intimate part of them: it is only through the negation, and the infinite indirectness implicit in it, that they are usable. The doctrine of the Trinity is only possible as a piece of baffled theology, so to speak.”
In other words, we can only approach the depths of the Trinity by understanding it through the Principle of Contradiction. As Pope Pius X said, in discussing the incredible audacity of the Modernists:
“In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory statements! But when they justify even contradictions, what is it that they will refuse to justify?” (Pascendi, #36).
We need to understand the profound distortion contained in Joseph Ratzinger’s statements concerning Trinitarian dogma. The theological concepts mentioned by Fr. Ratzinger were all condemned when used falsely or confusedly in earlier controversies. However, any honest historical examination of this subject reveals the nature and sources of such confusion, while at the same time it also reveals the profound aptness and intellectual acuteness of the final employment of these terms in formulating doctrinal definitions concerning the Trinity. Thus, when used rightly in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, they are not in any way mere pieces of “baffled theology,” but are technical theological terms which profoundly reveal truths which supply us with very real and essential, if limited, positive knowledge of the Trinity.
Having said this, let us proceed with Father Ratzinger's analysis of the role which modern physics plays in our contemporary understanding of the faith:
“The intellectual approach of modern physics may offer us more help here than Aristotelian philosophy was able to give. Physicists know today that one can only talk about the structure of matter by approaching the subject from various angles. They know that the position of the observer at any one time affects the result of his investigation of nature. Why should we not be able to understand afresh, on this basis, that in the question of God we must not look, in the Aristotelian fashion [and, obviously, criticism of St. Thomas is also here intended], for an ultimate concept encompassing the whole but must be prepared to find a multitude of aspects that depend on the position of the observer and that we can no longer survey as a whole but only accept alongside each other, without being able to say the final word on the subject? We meet here the hidden interplay of faith and modern thought. That present-day physicists are stepping outside the structure of Aristotelian logic and thinking in this way is surely an effect already of the new dimension that Christian theology has opened up, of its need to think in 'complementarities' [which, as Fr. Ratzinger has already noted, are often contrary to one another and are therefore also “contradictories”].
“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as 'parcels of waves' and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent 'substantiality' really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely 'in act' (and not 'in potency'), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply 'waves', and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being....” (Ibid, p. 176-77)
And, having dissolved all substantiality in our concept of God, Father Ratzinger then moves on to denying the possibility of our possessing any purely objective knowledge of God:
“We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity even in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature's answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself; it reflects not only nature in itself, in its pure objectivity, but also gives back something of man, of what is characteristically ours, a bit of the human subject. This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. One can even say that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it penetrates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholders individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity.” (p. 175).
Since God is by definition infinitely “higher” than everything, then according to the logic of Joseph Ratzinger's criteria there can be no “objectivity” whatsoever in our understanding of God. He must always, in the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, remain totally baffling to us. And what is most tragic about all this is that if God is totally baffling, then human beings created as they are in God’s image must also always remain baffling. There can be no complete clarity about anything human – about his nature or his actions.
All of this represents both Catholic theology and human psychology turned upside-down.
God is indeed infinitely beyond total human comprehension. But, with the help of true theology and right human understanding, He should in no way be baffling to us. By definition, anything which is baffling brings confusion in understanding, and lack of clarity in regard to choosing the proper course of action. The truths about God which we are given through Revelation and the Church, on the contrary, are not a source of self-contradictory confusion, but rather represent a clarity which introduces the human soul into the life of truth and freedom of the children of God
Rejection of the Catholic Concept of Substantiality:
The third foundational principle of all Catholic thinking is that both God and man must be seen as possessing substantial natures. If God does not have an immutable, substantial Nature, then there can be no such thing as Revealed Truths concerning that Nature, and as contained in an immutable Deposit of Faith. There can only be evolving Relationship.
If man does not possess a substantial nature, common to all men at all points in history, then every Catholic doctrine dealing with such things as “Original Nature”, “Original Sin”, “The Fall”, “Sanctifying Grace”, and therefore the entire Sacramental System, is destroyed. It is absolutely integral to all such doctrine that man be seen as having been created with an original, fully-developed, spiritual nature established in original justice and the preternatural gifts.
The fact is, that for Joseph Ratzinger, the entire concept of “substance” has become “inaccessible” to modern man because of the findings of modern physics. In Faith and the Future, in specific reference to our alleged modern quandary in regard to explaining transubstantiation, he writes:
“…the medieval concept of substance has long since become inaccessible to us. In so far as we use the concept of substance at all today we understand thereby the ultimate particles of matter, and the chemically complex mixture that is bread certainly does not fall into that category [he is thus here denying the concept of Transubstantiation as involving “substantial” change].” (p. 14). [this subject is covered far more extensively in my article: The Rosmini Rehabilitation: When To Be is Not To Be, also to be found on my website].
It is reductive physics which has profoundly eroded any concept of substance in the minds of virtually all men and women who possess even minimal education. This process began centuries ago. Recent research conducted in the Vatican archives unearthed a document which proves that Galileo, for instance, rejected the distinction between real substantial and real accidental being. He saw all of physical reality as reducible to atoms and their actions, which thus made it impossible for such things as the color, taste, touch (and ultimately of course even the substantial dimensional appearances) of bread and all other “things” to be anything other than names which we subjectively applied to the effects of such interplay among atomic realities. In other words, none of the “substantiality” that we perceive in our daily lives has any real correspondence with objective reality. Everything is reducible to atomic realities (or quantum energy), everything is constantly in motion, and all, of necessity, is immersed in change and evolution. Consequently, there can be nothing fixed about the human soul or human nature.
This rejection of the concept of substance is applied by Joseph Ratzinger not only to physical objects such as bread, but also to God. Here I repeat a passage quoted above:
“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as 'parcels of waves' and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent 'substantiality' really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely 'in act' (and not 'in potency'), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply 'waves', and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being....” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 175).
In the above passage, Joseph Ratzinger appears to accede to the Thomistic concept of God as being pure Act. But the Thomistic concept of God as Pure Actuality is in direct opposition to any notion that He “can subsist only in a multitude of relations”. Rather, it means that He is purely actuated and subsists totally in His own Supreme Being. The only “necessary” relations for God lie within the Godhead itself, between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In other words, Joseph Ratzinger’s claim that “God can subsist only in a multitude of relations” implicitly constitutes a denial of the Supreme Being of God Himself.
It remains for us, finally, to examine Joseph Ratzinger’s denial of substantial nature to the human soul. In his book Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, He writes:
“’The soul’ is our term for that in us which offers a foothold for than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal.” (p. 259).
“The challenge to traditional theology today lies in the negation of an autonomous, ‘substantial’ soul with a built-in immortality in favor of that positive view which regards God’s decision and activity as the real foundation of a continuing human existence.” (p. 150).
The primary consequence of this rejection of all substantiality is the embrace of evolution in regard to all things both physical and spiritual. Joseph Ratzinger, in agreement with Teilhard de Chardin (see my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution In the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin, to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/40 ), views matter as “the pre-history of spirit” (Credo for Today, p. 45). It follows upon this that the “emergence” of the human soul is also an evolutionary phenomenon. Following are Joseph Ratzinger’s words from Credo for Today:
“This would then lead to the insight that spirit does not enter the picture as something foreign, as a second substance, in addition to matter: the appearance of spirit, according to the previous discussion, means rather that an advancing movement arrives at the goal that has been set for it….The clay became man at that moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought ‘God.’ The first ‘thou’ that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” ( p. 46-47).
One can only surmise that Adam’s next act after his initial dim and stammering thought of God was a puzzled grunt. There is here no Adam and Eve created in the fullness of sanctifying grace, possessing the infused gifts, both natural and supernatural, necessary for what has traditionally been known as the state of “Original Justice.” There can be no loss of this state through Original Sin. There can be no restoration to a state of sanctifying grace through any of the sacraments. There can be no real, absolute, unchangeable moral responsibility for a human mind and will living in such dimness and stammering. There can be no substantial marital bond which is indissoluble. There is only evolution and becoming.
Connecting the Dots:
This brings us to the “logic” of the present contradiction between claiming to accept the “immutability” of the Church’s doctrine concerning the indissolubity of marriage, while at the same time promoting a pastoral practice which readmits at least some of the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion.
The traditional sacramental theology which has blocked these people from receiving Holy Communion up until now is firmly rooted in the traditional doctrine concerning sanctifying grace; along, of course, with all the doctrines concerning God and man which, as we have seen, are the foundations of such a concept. Abandonment of the three principles examined above not only destroys any reasonableness involved in such concepts, but also demands pastoral practices which contradict such previously held, “pre-scientific” concepts and their “static”, and therefore “rigid”, “non-loving” consequences. In other words, it demands a false “mercy” running parallel to, and even superseding, Catholic doctrine in regard to pastoral practice.
What all of this comes down to is that the traditional distinction between either possessing or not possessing sanctifying grace has been largely confined to the category of outmoded sacramental theology. In God and the World (Ignatius Press, 2002), Cardinal Ratzinger is asked the following question by Mr. Seewald: “In canon 849 of Church canon law it says: ‘Baptism…[is] necessary to salvation in fact or at least in intention.’ But what happens, when a man dies unbaptized? And what happens to the millions of children who are killed in their mothers’ wombs?” The Cardinal’s answer runs as follows:
“The question of what it means to say that baptism is necessary for salvation has become ever more hotly debated in modern times. The Second Vatican Council said on this point that men who are seeking for God and who are inwardly striving toward that which constitutes baptism will also receive salvation. That is to say that a seeking after God already represents an inward participation in baptism, in the Church, in Christ.
“To that extent, the question concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation seems to have been answered, but the question about children who could not be baptized because they were aborted then presses upon us that much more urgently.
“Earlier ages had devised a teaching that seems to me rather unenlightened. They said that baptism endows us, by means of sanctifying grace, with the capacity to gaze upon God. Now, certainly, the state of original sin, from which we are freed by baptism, consists in a lack of sanctifying grace [the reader is reminded at this point that Cardinal Ratzinger is here summarizing the “unenlightened” view which has prevailed in the past – this is not his view; as documented in my article The Point of Departure, he considers the traditional view of original sin ‘misleading and imprecise’] –Children who die in this way are indeed without any personal sin, so they cannot be sent to hell, but, on the other hand, they lack sanctifying grace and thus the potential for beholding God that this bestows. They will simply enjoy a state of natural blessedness, in which they will be happy. This state people called limbo.
“In the course of our century, that has gradually come to seem problematic to us. This was one way in which people sought to justify the necessity of baptizing infants as early as possible, but the solution is itself questionable. Finally, the Pope made a decisive turn in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a change already anticipated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when he expressed the simple hope that God is powerful enough to draw to himself all those who were unable to receive the sacrament.” (p. 401-402).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quite to the contrary, asserts just the opposite:
“Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.” (#250).
In God and the World, each of the sacraments is discussed over the space of 43 pages. The fact that any of these sacraments imparts sanctifying grace is never discussed – except in the particular passage quoted above, wherein Cardinal Ratzinger uses the term to characterize a view of baptism which he considers “unenlightened, “problematic”, and “questionable.”
All of this, as I have examined in many of my articles, is attributable to the effect of the ambience of reductive science upon the thinking of modern man. Satan has devised a strategy which (through violation of the three foundational principles of Catholic thought examined above) has no need of direct denial of the Magisterium in order to bring virtually every Catholic to that state described by the apostle James, which he compares to “a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.” (James 1: 23-24). In considering the present crisis – the possibility of a pastoral practice being instituted which implicitly contradicts Church doctrine concerning the indissolubility of marriage and the necessity of being in the state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Holy Communion – we need therefore to understand that we are not primarily in combat with flesh and blood, but with “principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places”.
The deepest root of this present crisis lies not within conspiratorial agendas of those who have ascended to power within the present ecclesial establishment. Nor does it lie in Vatican II. What is now occurring is the fruit of a profound penetration into the collective Catholic conscience (so to speak) of ideas, ambiences, world views, and especially syncretism of Catholic truth with the errors of science, which for centuries have been penetrating into the depths of the Catholic perception of reality, and are now achieving consummation. It may indeed happen that, through the workings of God’s grace, the present crisis may be averted in the coming Synod. But it is also true that this particular situation represents only one foray by the enemy among many to be expected in the future, and employing the same strategy as described above. God therefore surely expects us to do our part – to engage the enemy directly, and unmask the deceits of the Evil One. This can only be done by engaging in combat with all the destructive reductionism of modern Science. The primary strategists and leaders in this battle, if it is to be successful, must be the Catholic hierarchy.
The ultimate object of conquest necessary for the final and total triumph of Atheistic Scientism over the entire social order is, of course, the family. The entire structure of the family is built upon one fine line of ontological truth – the absolute indissolubility of the marriage bond (except through the death of one of the spouses) which constitutes a valid marriage. This, in turn, has been protected over all these centuries only by the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church. It is this sense of absoluteness and immutability in relation to all of Catholic doctrine which now hangs upon a delicate thread. And the means which Satan is using in his desperate effort to finally sever this thread is the Catholic episcopate itself.
It has been repeated ad nauseam over recent decades that the Catholic world got along just fine without Thomistic Metaphysics for twelve or thirteen hundred years. Such persons fail to realize that for all those centuries, the world was substantially real to all men. Their eyes, their senses of touch, smell, taste and hearing, all spoke of a substantial world, as did their natural minds. All this has been profoundly eroded by modern science. Spiritual childhood – and the innocence and simplicity of spirit which is truly natural in all that is human, and therefore absolutely necessary for perceiving and defending what is real and true – cannot be restored except through a fully conscious war being conducted against the effects of reductive modern science upon man’s mind, spirit, and heart.
The primary weapon which must be used in this struggle is the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. I have explored the parameters of this in my article The Restoration of the Supernatural in Accord with the Teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/partix. The teaching of Thomas not only liberates the human mind to the vision of the supernatural present to all of human life, but also provides the only comprehensive intellectual framework absolutely essential to even being able to perceive who the enemy truly is. The real enemy is not Cardinal Kasper or any other particular individual or group of individuals, be they lay persons, bishops, or Popes. We do better in perceiving such persons as being more victims than villains. Rather, the enemy is Satan, who hundreds of years ago celebrated the nuptials between the Church and the world of secular, reductive Science, and now awaits the birth of his favored son.
What is most important to understand is that this adulterous relationship between the Church and science was not achieved through the voice of the magisterium, but by way of its silence. In all the time during which reductive atomic and quantum physics has been eating away at human perception of the real substantiality of God and His creation, there has not been one magisterial document that has met these errors head-on in any truly comprehensive manner.(1) What is most tragic about this silence is the ease with which Thomistic metaphysics, epistemology, and cosmology can be employed to make a total mockery of such reductionism, even to a young child.
As I have pointed out in other articles, I fully believe that this subject is not reserved to intellectuals, but that the truths involved here can be very effectively presented to young children as soon as they begin to encounter the elementary principles of chemistry and physics. I always use the example of the substance water. For the physicist-chemist, water is reducible to the molecule H2O. This in turn is reducible to atoms consisting of a nucleus with electrons spinning at comparatively astronomical distances around this nucleus, the entire thing being comprised of 99.999999999 % void. In other words, there is, in direct contradiction to normal human perception, no substantiveness (no water) here at all. Any child can understand the absurdity of this. It then becomes easy to explain that science can offer us no explanation for any substance. It only offers analysis of accidental being. The only explanation for the substantial being of any real thing lies in its creation by God from nothing. To see this is to restore the presence of the supernatural to all of creation. Here, we are restored to both reality and spiritual childhood.
If a child can understand this (and I have direct teaching experience in this regard), certainly adult lay persons, priests, bishops, and Popes can be brought to understand. In other words, there is no reason for any of the mental gymnastics and bogus “essentializations” which I have examined above in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger. Further, once substantiality is restored to our perception of both God and man, then all those concepts integral to proper understanding of man and his relationship to God – such things as original justice, original sin, the reality and consequences of mortal sin, the necessity of being in a state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Holy Communion – follow as obvious consequences. Any attempt to promote a false mercy which violates immutable truth will then be seen as not only a mockery of God, but as an assault upon man’s dignity.
It is this truly Catholic sanity for which we must do battle. It is to this war against the spirit of this world that every bishop needs to be fully committed.
For a bishop to engage in this struggle will require extraordinary heroism. It is one thing to defend marriage against the powers of this world. To do so can of course result in persecution, even to the loss of prestige and position. But there is still enough rudimentary Christianity remaining that such a bishop would retain devotees and friends. He would, for instance, remain a hero to traditional Catholics, and he will continue to be wined and dined. Science on the other hand, like Moloch, is a god which devours its enemies. And unlike Moloch, virtually all persons on earth are now its subjects. To say No to this god, to expose the soul-destroying lust of this Beast, will expose any Catholic bishop to a depth of ridicule and contempt that only a true child of Christ can withstand. Yet, timidity or cowardice can make no valid excuse for avoiding this battle; for inwardly we must all know that it is not a question of our own personal bravery or fortitude, but rather whether or not we truly love, and wish to bring to the liberating truth of Christ, the children of God. Once we make the choice for this love, Christ will surely provide the grace.
Finally, it needs to be said that the analysis provided in this article applies to betrayal of the Gospel in the intellectual realm. There is also a corresponding (and interlaced) betrayal in the realm of the will (the living of the Beatitudes) which is also integral to the present crisis. This has been covered especially in my articles The Return to God, and St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You. These are also to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/46, and: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/45.
(1). In his magnificent encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, Pope Pius X establishes the subjection of faith to science as a primary tenet of Modernism, and states that “To the law of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death – dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself.” (#26). He also admonished professors “to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside Saint Thomas, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage.” (#45). Yet it still true that this metaphysical battle with reductive science has never been publicly engaged by the universal Church.
War Against the Papacy
Now in print, and available from Cruachan Hill Press
This book contains additional material to the work on my website bearing the same title. Following is an excerpt from the new Preface:
There is no more justification for the SSPX position during the pontificate of Pope Francis than there was during the reign of any previous Pope. Unquestionably, however, many who are “bent” towards an SSPX mentality, or even towards sedevacantism, find more excuses under the pontificate of Francis for such a move than under that of John Paul II.
I think it profitable, therefore, to speculate as to what would be the position of Archbishop Lefebvre himself towards such a pontificate as that of Francis. In an address to seminarians in 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre offered the following
“Now I don't know if the time has come to say that the Pope is a heretic; I don't know if it is the time to say that. You know, for some time many people, the sedevacantists, have been saying "there is no more Pope," but I think that for me it was not yet the time to say that, because it was not sure, it was not evident, it was very difficult to say that the Pope is a heretic, the Pope is apostate. But I recognize that slowly, very slowly, by the deeds and acts of the Pope himself we begin to be very anxious…. What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don't know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don't wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith - how can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.”
If Archbishop Lefebvre could propose such a thing during the pontificate of John Paul II (and even before Assisi), then it would not seem unreasonable to speculate that the pontificate of Pope Francis might very well have carried him over into sedevacantism. No one, of course, can be sure as to what his course of action might have been. But the interesting point for consideration is that each person who is an adherent of the SSPX’s position is now not only in the position of subjectively judging the Papacy (through defying Papal jurisdiction), but also finds himself necessarily forced into subjectivity in regard to what would be the position of the one man since the Council whom they most seek to emulate and follow – a subjectivity which has enormous consequences in terms of their own personal faith and their belief in regard to wherein the Catholic Church itself subsists.
Available from Cruachan Hill Press
Children’s Crusade of Prayer
For Our Holy Father, Pope Francis
Pope Francis has now declared a Jubilee Year dedicated to Mercy, to begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception next December 8th. The timing seems calculated in order to implement the agenda of false mercy towards which the Synod on the Family has been structured and manipulated. I would imagine that there also might be some sort of post-synodal document issued by the Pope in order to give moral force to this agenda - possibly an Apostolic Exhortation.
I believe that all faithful Catholics, as a necessary act of militancy in protection of their families and especially their children, should write Pope Francis in defense of the Sacrament of Marriage and the Holy Eucharist. I think that pictures (especially of their children, grandchildren, etc)) are crucial to this campaign. I further believe that every Catholic website and blog should promote such a "Children's Crusade" (variations are of course desirable) from now until the closing of the Synod. It might be difficult for Pope Francis to dismiss such children and their families as "Self-absorbed, Promethian, Neo-pelagians" (his terms for “traditional” Catholics), especially if such an effort is picked up by the larger media. The address of the Holy Father should also be provided. Following is a suggestion for such a letter:
His Holiness, Pope Francis
00120 Vatican City
Our children, and our entire family, are praying the rosary with the following intention:
"For Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he might not promote a false mercy, but that he might do what is necessary in order to protect both the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Marriage from sacrilege."
New Posting March 6, 2015: Receiving the Kingdom of God as a Little Child (See Part IV here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/57
There are two questions which have caused me uneasiness for some time, both involving little children and their education. In this article I hope to have provided the answer to these questions.
The first of these regards evolution. The culture of evolutionary belief is all-invasive in a child’s life. Creation scientists have done an admirable job of countering evolutionary theory in all the various branches of science involved in this question, but much of this science is beyond the average parents’ capabilities, and totally beyond those of a little child. How, therefore, do we protect our children from consciously and unconsciously falling prey to this virtually omnipresent culture of evolutionary thinking?
The second question, unfortunately, is intimately related to the first. Recent Popes have not only succumbed to physical evolutionary theory, but have destructively applied the implications of this theory, to one extent or another, to all of Catholic doctrine. How do we teach our children that recent Popes have been teaching and doing things that are very wrong? And, moreover, how do we transform this from what might be a scandal to little children into a deep form of charity and strength in their spiritual lives?
New Posting January 15, 2015: Our Lady of Good Success, And God's Secret Designs of Victory (See Part XIII here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/56.
Three questions hover behind the present crisis in the Church – questions which, in my estimation, have never been adequately addressed. This article constitutes my attempt to do so.
The first question is: “Why is all this happening?”
The second question: How can this situation possibly be remedied?
The third question: What are we – especially the laity – supposed to do?
New Posting" December 14, 2014: The Synod on the Family, Joseph Ratzinger, And the Loss of the Catholic Mind (see Part XII in Menu, or click here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/55). What is most extraordinary about the proceedings of the recent Synod on the Family is that it exposed the fact that the majority of Bishops, while acknowledging the indissolubility of marriage, yet were willing to consider a pastoral practice which would readmit to Holy communion divorced and remarried persons. That such a position involved stark contradiction was noted by some commentators. How such a contradiction could exist within the minds of supposedly intelligent Catholic bishops (including Pope Francis) has not, as far as I have seen, been explained. This article will attempt to fill the void.
It is in the mind and writings of Joseph Ratzinger that we will find the explanation.
Part IX is a Primer on Thomism. I believe that once the truths discussed there are absorbed, a whole new world opens up before the human mind and heart.
”He who eats the Pope dies”
– German proverb
“A Voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great
mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not.”
All of the following is written in a spirit of charity. It is also written in a spirit of deep caution, and even trepidation. I sent many of my writings to Pope Benedict XVI ( in September, 2007), along with a personal letter. In the spirit of obedience, I publicly state that at his simple request, or that of his successor Pope Francis, I would cease writing and prevent the further spread of my writings as much as morally possible.
I believe that the Papacy is wounded and suffering and that this suffering has profoundly affected the philosophical-theological orientation of recent Popes. While leaving intact the prerogatives established by Christ for all times upon Peter and his successors, this philosophical and theological disorientation has affected virtually everything else, to the detriment of the Church and the salvation of souls
The reader will note that a number of my articles are deeply critical of the writings and statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. I wish to state that I can make no final or absolute judgment about the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. However,a fair number of my articles critical of his statements and writings were written after his ascension to the Papacy. They give evidence as to the continuity of his present thought with that of his past writings, but pretend to make no absolute judgment. I must add that I have seen no evidence on the part of Joseph Ratzinger of any renunciation of his previous thought and that, on the contrary, he has asserted the essential continuity of his thought up to, and even after, his elevation. As with any author, he would fall under the strong moral imperative to correct any serious errors in his past writings of which he became conscious. I am aware of no efforts on his part to do so.
I must also now add that in April of 2005, two weeks before the election of Benedict XVI, I sent my manuscript of The War Against Being and The Return to God" to then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, along with a letter stating that I believed he might be elected Pope. I received no reply. There are now two articles (Part I, Articles 24, 26) which contain analysis of Pope Francis' thinking and actions.
I call the reader’s attention to the two quotes which I have placed at the beginning of this short introduction. The first encapsulates in a startling manner the sense of caution, and even fear, which any person in the Church should feel in undertaking criticism of a person who has become Pope. The presence of this fear is always necessary in order to generate and maintain that charity towards the Holy Father which is always integral to the Catholic Spirit, no matter what personal faults the personality and thought of a particular occupant of the Chair of Peter might present as an impediment to the natural expression of this charity.
The second quote simply represents the reality which is the present moment in the life of the Church. We are faced with a holocaust of the spiritual life and well-being of children which is directly attributable to the chaos in religious instruction, sacramental life, and morality which has been the inheritance of post-Vatican II life in the Church. And this chaos in all things Catholic is directly attributable to the philosophical-theological orientation of members of the Catholic hierarchy, especially to the Popes who have reigned during and since the Council.
In this situation the tension between one’s natural Catholic love and respect for the Pope and the knowledge of what recent Popes have perpetrated, or allowed to be perpetrated, upon innocent children becomes almost unbearable. Ultimately the question as to whether to criticize or not comes down to the question of being a man. In the Old Testament the Lord says that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he shall send Elias the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.” (Malachias 4: 6). Surely, if we are men, and are to retain our manhood, then our hearts must turn to the defense of our children.
I think it is only at this point – once our hearts have truly turned to militancy in defense of our children – that our eyes become opened to perceive the extent to which the Papacy itself is really suffering, that this suffering must be a visitation upon us by God in chastisement for our sins and infidelities, and that charity for all – for Christ, for the Pope, for our children and our own souls – demands the full revelation of certain truths which are, indeed, very painful for us to face. If we remain silent the darkness can only deepen, and our cowardice and emasculation only become more pronounced.
Finally, I wish to state that I do not support in any way either the sedevacantist position, or that of the SSPX or any individual or group that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church. I have written a small book on this subject which is now available as Part X on this website. I wish also to state that many of my articles have appeared in Christian Order Magazine, the website of which is www.christianorder.com.
On the Use or Publication of these Articles:
I desire the widest possible dissemination of the articles on this website, but wish it to be done with integrity, and in accord with the following stipulations.
First, I emphatically state that I accept both Benedict XVI and his successor Francis I as legitimate Popes, and that I am not a sedevacantist and also do not support any group, especially the SSPX, that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church.
Second, I do not permit any critical analysis of any article using a technique to insert comments within the body of the article itself. I believe that any well-written article is a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts, that continuity in reading it is necessary in order to be able to understand the whole force of the argument or position, and that therefore such a technique does unjust violence to the integrity of the work. An honest critical analysis therefore demands a separate article or treatment. This, of course, does not preclude the use of individual quotations, as long as they are taken in context.
I also wish to recommend that Article 1 of Part 1 be read first, as it contains an analysis of philosophical and theological principles necessary for the understanding of the rest.
Authored by: James Larson
Continue to Article 1