November being the month of the Holy Souls we have asked that a traditional Mass be offered for the repose of the souls of all deceased Apropos and Approaches readers, subscribers and benefactors. We ask our readers to pray too for that intention. Thank You.
Hermeneutic of Discontinuity in Papal Statements
Many Catholics have been dismayed by statements made by Pope Francis in recent interviews which seem to have greatly heartened progressives within the Church. But, as Sandro Magister reported very recently in his article ‘Even the Pope Critiques Himself’, the Pope or his representatives have begun back-tracking even to the extent of the Pope acknowledging and welcoming criticism from a hierarchical friend. The notorious interview with Scalfari has been removed from the Vatican website and an admission has been wrought from Scalfari that his record of what the Pope said was not exactly accurate. Magister also indicates that the Pope appears to have retracted part of his interview to La Civilta Cattolica which so alarmed traditionalists. He now appears to be back on message with the hermeneutic (interpretation) of continuity of his predecessor; giving fulsome praise to his critic, Archbishop Marchetto, as the ‘best hermeneut of Vatican II’. On November 18th the Pope also appeared to withdraw from his October 17th ‘progressive tone’, as Magister puts it; in November he gave a ‘tongue lashing’ of ‘adolescent progressivism’.
In addition others have seen in a recent Marian sermon his criticism of the alleged multiple appearances of Our Lady associated with the Medjugorje phenomenon.
While we welcome this apparent drift of papal direction and the Pope’s willingness to acknowledge his own errors (of judgement too), we do not cease to pray that he may become a Pius IX.
Alas, we must not delude ourselves that, even were he to continue with the hermeneutic of continuity of his predecessor, that this represents anything other than business as usual. If perhaps he had addressed Mgr Gherardini in the terms addressed to Archbishop Marchetto then indeed we may have had grounds for optimism. For Mgr. Gherardini, in his book, The Ecumenical Vatican Council II – A Much Needed Discussion. asked Benedict XVI:
‘Most Holy Father (…)
For the good of the Church (…) it seems to me that it is urgent that You offer some clarity by responding in an authoritative manner to the question about the Council’s continuity with other Councils – not, with declamation, but by demonstration – and about its fidelity to the ever vigorous Tradition of the Church.’
Until that request is met by this pontiff or another we suspect that the progress of Modernism in what Arnaud de Lassus described as ‘a gradual and pragmatic manner’ will continue apace.
Modernism in the post-conciliar Church
We have included in this blog another article by James Larson, ‘I know not the Man’ which addresses the problem that Modernism presents in the post-conciliar Church and aspects of same which some traditionalists are not comfortable in considering. Parts of that article may present a little difficulty to those of us who are not trained in philosophy but the gist of it can still be grasped.
This edition of the blog contains two iconic articles (later produced as supplements) by Approaches in the later 1960s.
The IDO-C Dossier
Sandro Magister in his article ‘Even the Pope critiques himself’ refers to the ‘“school of Bologna” – founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Guiseppe Alberigo and today directed by Professor Alberto Melloni – which has the worldwide monopoly on the interpretation of Vatican II, in a progressive vein.’ Professor Alberigo of Bologna was a founder member of IDO-C which then sought to control the expression of ‘Catholic’ opinion throughout the world. As Magister indicates its influence still pervades through the “school of Bologna” and other networks. The IDO-C dossier first appeared in Approaches No 10-11 in January 1968. It sought to expose the network of individuals and publications which had become the ‘progressive’, global, Catholic establishment; an establishment which controlled the expression of ‘Catholic’ opinion throughout the world, becoming a veritable parallel hierarchy. Although many of the individuals and publications have ‘moved on’, some still persist, as Magister attests, and continue to exercise the role they did in the immediate post-conciliar period.
The Strange Faith of Teilhard de Chardin
This article by Henri Rambaud first appeared in Approaches No. 3, March 1966. As Hamish Fraser stated at the time of publication: ‘It is not our normal function to discuss theological speculations concerning which Rome has issued a solemn warning. But when such speculations [those of Teilhard de Chardin] are publicised as though they were already de fide, we feel it our duty to show that this is far indeed from being true. Hence our decision to publish Henri Rambaud’s article, The Strange Faith of Teilhard de Chardin together with a translation of the Monitum issued by the Holy Office in 1962.’
We reproduce the latest collections of the Apropos columnist’s musings:
A permissible speculation?
Baptism can be by Water, Blood or Desire. As Archbishop Sheehan remarks in Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, the latter is more aptly described as Baptism of the Holy Ghost ‘because the Holy Ghost causes grace in the soul directly and not through the medium of any sacramental rite.’
This leads us on to the Limbo of the unbaptized, generally described as a place of perfect natural happiness without the Beatific Vision of the Trinity. Some recoil from this. However there is no automatic right to the Beatific Vision. Referring to the Summa of St Thomas, Archbishop Sheehan states that:
‘If Adam had remained faithful, each one of his descendants would have been subjected like himself to some trial of loyalty to God, before being confirmed in the possession of his gifts.’
The speculation in question is whether those enjoying the Beatific Vision can communicate with those in Limbo. Our Lord’s company was enjoyed by Our Lady, St Joseph, and the Apostles, when He had the Beatific Vision in His Sacred Humanity, and they did not. Messengers have come from Heaven to those not yet saved.
The editor of Apropos recently mentioned a growing preference for the Apostles’ Creed rather than the Nicene Creed, wondering whether this was to avoid such terms as ‘consubstantial’ and ‘Filioque’. Doctrinally however, they can run but they can’t hide. The Apostles’ Creed mentions the visit by means of His Soul of Our Lord to the Limbo of the Fathers. Who was there? King David and St Joseph, the Machabees and the Holy Innocents and so on. Why were they there? Because the work of the Redemption from Original Sin not yet having been completed, Heaven was not yet open to them. What was it like? Our Lord described it as ‘Abraham’s bosom’ in the story of Dives and Lazarus.
If we try for a greater understanding of the glory of God we may have a better understanding of Original Sin and Limbo. How many molecules are there in the Universe? What is one molecule compared with the rest? Divine omniscience alone can answer these questions. The difference between one molecule and the rest of the universe is finite. The difference between all creation visible and invisible and the Creator is infinite.
The Orb originally was a symbol of the Cosmos, later Earth. Iconography of Christ the King holding an orb is very apposite. Incidentally, this writer recalls hearing an apparently educated man on TV stating that until Christopher Columbus, the Church taught that the earth was flat. He did not explain why the likes of Charlemagne were depicted holding orbs rather than pancakes.
Raising the Bastions
The Duke of Wellington, commenting on a proclamation of his allies, The Portuguese Junta, in 1810, disliked its length and rhetorical emotionalism. He stated that such a proclamation should consist of practical points ‘and ought above all to be short’. Marshal Massena, striking for Lisbon, was brought to a halt when he discovered that Wellington had constructed three lines of very strong fortifications to protect Lisbon, the lines of Torres Vedras. After months of helpless misery before the lines, Massena limped back East.
Not of course a Catholic, the Duke managed some years later to outclass those at Vatican II devoted to ‘razing the bastions’ of the Church. (Stalin indirectly supplied the kindest summary of these types. When somebody said that a particular Balkan communist had brains, he replied, ‘Yes, but they’re stupid brains’.) The Duke stated that while in India, he’d commanded Hindu and Muslim soldiers, and they were fine soldiers, fully comparable to their Christian counterparts. It was not however, he pointed out, a question of that, but of orders. Were that today we would follow orders or a short proclamation: ‘Go forth and teach all nations.’
Suppose we were asked to give an above all short explanation of Purgatory. One of those who saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion had murdered his girlfriend, deceiving everybody into thinking it was suicide. He turned himself in. Although clearly penitent, he could hardly have been told to just go home. There being a debt to society, how much more so to God?
We have all felt shame, embarrassment. Even when no sin is involved, there is a sort of burning sensation. To put it very simply, those in Purgatory have a greatly enhanced appreciation of the glory of God, Whom they have offended and their debt, their imperfection, is burnt out of them. If we were all more or less going straight to Heaven, there would be a colossal amount of pointless waiting around and suffering. We can and should pray for the suffering on earth. Likewise those suffering in Purgatory. A question of orders: ‘’Tis a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.’
On 2nd December 1804, Napoleon was crowned. On 2nd December 1805, he won his most famous victory, Austerlitz. On 2nd December 1814, a man lay on his deathbed. He was in a lunatic asylum since the authorities didn’t know what to do with him. Away from the Church for over 50 years, bitterly hostile, he had wallowed in filth. The Chaplain approached to ask if he wanted the last rites. The Marquis de Sade did, and made a very Christian finish.
It is worth noting the distance in time and space from the Good Thief. No mere man could achieve such results. God is of course sovereignly free to remit some or all of the debt in any individual case. The tendency to ignore Purgatory is really to insult God, Who is Justice.
Baalderdash or Molochaos
At Vatican II, a Japanese bishop stated that the Sign of the Cross was alien to Japanese culture. (1) Needless to say, since so many Japanese martyrs died by crucifixion, the Sign of the Cross is a particular battle-honour of Japanese Catholicism.
This sort of absurdity abounded in Vatican II, not least in the infamous Dignitatis Humanae, the declaration interpreted as affording a right to liberty in public for false religions. This was claimed to flow from the dignity of the human person as shown by Scripture and reason.
One example. The Prophet Elias confronted 450 priests of Baal (also known as Moloch) on Mount Carmel. This was a very progressive religion, with much jumping up and down and sacrifice of babies. The decision having been made on the basis of One God/One Vote, Elias put the 450 to the sword. Note that it was 450 bishops at Vatican II who had their proposal for a specific condemnation of communism deliberately ‘lost’. Lucifer has a hellishly good memory.
There is nothing definitive on the subject, but some writers have suggested that Enoch and Elias will return towards the end of the world, being not yet in Heaven. Others have reckoned this a misinterpretation. Anyway, Elias did appear with Moses at the Transfiguration, acknowledging the Divine Messiah (for some not at all mysterious reason the Transfiguration is never depicted in films about Our Lord.)
The Atlantic Wall and other fortifications were built by the Todt Organisation named after Dr. Todt, whose name is from the German for ‘death’. Earlier, Field Marshal von Schlieffen had been the arch-advocate of encirclement battles of annihilation. His name is from the German for ‘sleep’. The story goes that at the Transfiguration Moses asked Our Lord the whereabouts of Elias – ‘Wo ist Elias?’ The response: ‘Er ist nicht Todt aber Schlieffen.’ Schlieffen, however, is very much todt – he lies in the Invalidenfriedhof cemetery in Berlin under a stone bearing the Sign of a Cross.
(1) Cf. The Rhine flows into the Tiber, Fr. Ralph Wiltgen, p. 37.
Attaining moral turpitude is not a sudden thing
But what most people do not see is that this dullness in diet, and similar things, is exactly parallel to the dull and indifferent anarchy in manners and morals. Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked….It may mean that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic. G. K. Chesterton
This essay by Dr Robert Hickson concerns Chesterton’s insights into ‘Evil Friendships in History’ and in particular that of Voltaire and Frederick the Great the consequences of which still affect us today. It also includes some telling observations regarding that slow and inevitable habituation to moral decadence which is a mark of society’s surrender to the forces of the Cultural Revolution.
Spare a thought on the Agony in the Garden, The BBC, the Savile affair and sinners generally.
(Following revelations of alleged multiple cases of sexual abuse and rape by Sir Jimmy Savile, a Catholic pop-celebrity and Papal Knight, the British media became involved in an internecine war regarding the responsibility of the press and broadcasters in suppressing exposure of sexual abuse of children, particularly within the BBC. Barely a month goes by without fresh allegations of sexual misconduct or crime being levelled against former celebrities of TV or Radio. This war also caused collateral damage to innocent parties whose reputations had been sullied as a result. These few reflections were made on trying to understand the agony of one such person (which occurred a year ago) in the light of Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.)
The Agony in the Garden of our Divine Lord one would think is not too difficult to meditate upon. In the Passion of the Christ the Satanic serpent is forever in the background while Our Lord is contemplating His impending passion. But a picture such as this, while displaying Our Saviour’s suffering, does not explain the cause of His torment which worsened despite the strengthening afforded by the Angel of Consolation ( Luke 22:43). In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius relates:
In fine, His desolation is such, that His heart appears to break; He suffers convulsions like a dying person struggling violently against death; it reduces Him to sweat blood from all His members; “His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the Ground” (Luke xxii:44).
And what are the causes of this desolation of the Saviour? The eternal misery that sin is preparing for us; this is the cause of His fear. The infinite injury that sin does to the majesty of His Father; this is the cause of His sorrow. The uselessness of His sufferings for so many miserable creatures who persist in the way of perdition; this is the cause of his weariness.
The sight of God basely insulted, and of so many souls miserably damned, is the cause of his agony…
We might try to understand Our Lord’s agony but as sinners ourselves, as the cause of His agony and fear, we cannot remotely fathom the depths of that agony and fear.
As sinners we might suffer a different agony of fear or shame. There is, of course, the mind tortured by conscience over sins committed past and present – particularly the mind of one who cannot seek forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance – not to speak of the mind which is, to outward appearances, unrepentant and guilty of abominable crime. Just as the Hound of Heaven pursues the soul, so too does conscience pursue to repentance unless it is blotted out by recourse to more and more sin or sheer pride. The truly penitent sinner is ashamed of his sins – a shame which increases in intensity according to the immensity of the sin, and while the graces of the sacrament may return the sinner to God, a God who never left him, the shame persists. The sinner cannot but reflect on that act of aggression, or cold-heartedness, unkindness, neglect of duty or moral lapse without a stirring of conscience and hopefully a resolve not to conduct himself thus again.
We sinners deserve to suffer shame, to have our conscience disturbed, to ache over wrong done – it is merely the slightest foretaste of what we might expect if blessed enough to merit purgatory. For there in purgatory, at least I imagine, (and pray that I am not in so doing straying from the mind of the Church), what will confront us is not the limited judgement of our own conditioned conscience but the searing fire of being faced with the consequences of our sins in the crystal clear infinitely intense light of the Divine will. If we consider the burden of agony, shame and conscience which we face now as a result of seeing them in the darkened mirror of our own ill-formed conscience, what pain can we expect to inflict upon ourselves in our zeal to purify ourselves in the face of Divine reality and to conform to the Divine will, knowing that this is our only passport to the intense Love which seeks to consume us? As humans surely such pain, such agony, is truly unimaginable because we cannot possibly conceive the absolute immensity of our sin in contrast to the Divine Will and Divine Love?
So too with the Agony in the Garden, we can only try to imagine the distress caused to Our Lord but we cannot possibly remotely suffer as He did there.
I suppose the nearest we might come to appreciate to any degree that agony could be found in the anguish felt by Lord McAlpine, the businessman, who was wrongly (and many might say, recklessly) accused of being a paedophile as a result of shoddy journalism and the bear-baiting antics of so-called self-righteous “social” media types who, in the words of Charles Moore, ‘most ready with child abuse accusations are some of the nastiest people in the world. They exploit our natural disgust at the crime to promote hatred while appearing righteous’.(1) In a subsequent interview with the BBC, which was largely responsible for the unleashing of this vile accusation against him, Lord McAlpine remarked that it got into his soul, agreeing, with the Mayor of London’s observation, that he had been cast into the lowest circle of hell while still alive. For a person to be accused of such an horrendous crime, which they did not commit, must be soul-destroying. And, as others have observed, even when the accusation is withdrawn there remains that psychological mind-game in which a nasty aphorism rises, even in the minds of those ill-disposed to malicious gossip: ‘No smoke without fire.’ Satan certainly knows how to take advantage of any situation.
Sir Jimmy Savile, on the other hand, is now dead and there appears to be a public presumption that he is guilty of every vile crime of which he has been posthumously accused. His headstone has been removed by his family and demolished, and his remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands has been vandalised. No doubt those of his family and friends who were unaware of his alleged crimes have also undergone an agony, a distress at learning, so suddenly and unexpectedly, of the vast catalogue of the allegations against him. None save his Maker or confessor will know whether Savile repented of his sins, and none other than his Maker will know whether those who howl against Savile’s sins may recoil themselves when faced with a “writing in the sand”.
I must admit that I never warmed to Jimmy Savile, nor his peculiar animal sounds. I recall, at secondary school, we were addressed by some ‘hip’ priest whose friendship with pop stars and Savile was meant to appeal to us. I was not impressed – it was the beginning of the fruits of Vatican II. And here lies the rub: Savile and Co. and the whole swinging-sixties era were part of a sex-obsessed industry which had literally possessed the country. This was an era of sexual liberation and it was not surprising that it would have evil consequences. The ‘enlightened’ told all to abandon their sexual ‘hang-ups’ in which they included modesty and chastity, particularly among the young. The reality of sin and occasions of sin were dismissed peremptorily. One cannot judge how many young girls were persuaded to throw themselves into the clutches of the idols of the age, but it is certain that many did so. One cannot but wonder about how many of those now found guilty of sexual abuse were treating their victims in a manner any different from the way in which allegedly compliant or willing groupies were – as mere objects of gratification, so debased had consciences become, so successful had been the abandonment of sexual ‘hang-ups’ and the moral law.
But all that apart, Our Divine Lord, in the Garden of Gethsemane, was not faced with the intense shame that we might feel as sinners, nor with the anguish of the falsely accused whose reputation has been sullied before all. No, He was faced with heaping upon Himself the shame and the effects of all our sins – the sins of all mankind – the foulest sins, the public sins, the private sins, the hidden sins – bearing that burden upon Himself, He who was without sin, He to whom sin was infinitely more repellent than would the most noxious, foul poison be to us. Let us spare a thought for that.