My statement of November 21, 1974,
which triggered off the proceedings of which I have spoken, ended
with these words: “In doing so... we are convinced of remaining
loyal to the Catholic and Roman Church and to all the successors
of Peter, and of being faithful dispensers of the Mysteries of
Our Lord Jesus Christ.” When publishing the text, the Osservatore
Romano omitted this paragraph. For ten years and more our
opponents have been set on casting us out of the Church’s communion
by presenting us as not accepting the Pope’s authority. It would
be very convenient to turn us into a sect and declare us schismatics.
How many times the word schism has been applied to us!
I have not ceased repeating that
if anyone separates himself from the Pope, it will not be I. The
question comes down to this: the power of the Pope within the
Church is supreme, but not absolute and limitless, because it
is subordinate to the Divine authority which is expressed in Tradition,
Holy Scripture, and the definitions already promulgated by the
Church’s magisterium. In fact, the limits of papal power are set
by the ends for which it was given to Christ’s Vicar on earth,
ends which Pius IX clearly defined in the Constitution Pastor
aeternus of the First Vatican Council. So in saying this I
am not expressing a personal theory.
Blind obedience is not Catholic;
nobody is exempt from responsibility for having obeyed man rather
than God if he accepts orders from a higher authority, even the
Pope, when these are contrary to the Will of God as it is known
with certainty from Tradition. It is true that one cannot envisage
such an eventuality when the Papal infallibility is engaged; but
this happens only in a limited number of cases. It is an error
to think that every word uttered by the Pope is infallible.
Nevertheless, I am not among those
who insist or insinuate that Paul VI was a heretic and therefore,
by that very fact, no longer Pope. John Paul I and John Paul
II would then not have been legitimately elected. This is the
position of those called “sede-vacantists.”
It has to be admitted that Paul VI
has posed a serious problem for the consciences of the faithful.
This pontiff has done more harm to the Church than the French
Revolution. There are definite acts of his, such as his signature
to Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis of the new Mass,
and likewise to the Council’s document on Religious Liberty, that
are scandalous. But it is not a simple problem to know whether
a Pope can be a heretic. A good many theologians think he can
be as a private teacher but not as a teacher of the Universal
Church. We have to consider the degree to which the Pope intended
to involve his infallibility in cases such as those I have quoted.
Now, we have already been able to
perceive that he behaved more like a liberal than as one attached
to heresy. In fact, as soon as the danger he risked was brought
to his attention, he rendered the text contradictory by adding
a formula meaning the contrary of what was already in the draft.
A well-known example is the explanatory foreword to the Council’s
Constitution Lumen Gentium on collegiality.
Paul VI's liberalism, recognized
by his friend Cardinal Daniélou, is sufficient to explain the
disasters of his pontificate. The liberal Catholic is two-sided;
he is in a state of continual contradiction. He would like to
remain a Catholic but he is possessed by a desire to please the
world. Can a Pope be a liberal and still remain a Pope? The Church
has always severely reprimanded liberal Catholics, but has not
always excommunicated them. Another argument put forward by the
sede-vacantists is that the exclusion of Cardinals of eighty years
and over, and the secret meetings which preceded and organized
the last two conclaves render the election of those two Popes
invalid. To assert that they were invalid is going too far; doubtful,
perhaps. Nevertheless, the subsequent unanimous acceptance of
the elections by the Cardinals and the Roman clergy suffices to
validate them. That is the opinion of theologians.
The reasoning of those who deny that
we have a Pope puts the Church in an inextricable situation. The
visibility of the Church is too necessary for its existence for
it to be possible that God would allow it to disappear for decades.
Who would be able to tell us where the future Pope is? How can
he be elected if there are no more Cardinals? We detect a schismatic
spirit behind those reasonings, and our Society utterly refuses
to follow them. While rejecting Paul VI’s liberalism, we wish
to remain attached to Rome and the Successor of St. Peter out
of fidelity to his predecessors.
It is obvious that in matters such
as religious liberty, eucharistic hospitality as authorized by
the new Canon Law, and collegiality considered as the affirmation
of two supreme powers within the Church, it is the duty of every
priest and every faithful Catholic to refuse obedience. This
resistance must be made public if the evil is public and constitutes
a cause of scandal for souls. This is the reason why, taking
our line from St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop de Castro Mayer and I
on November 21, 1983 sent an open letter to Pope John Paul II
begging him to denounce the principal causes of the dire situation
which is dividing the Church. All the steps we have taken in
private during the last fifteen years had proved unavailing; yet
to remain silent would have seemed to make us accomplices in the
unsettling of the faithful that is a fact throughout the world.
“Most Holy Father,” we wrote, “it
is an urgent matter that this unrest be quieted, because the flock
have scattered and the abandoned sheep are following hirelings.
We urge you, for the well-being of the Catholic faith and the
salvation of souls, to re-affirm the truths contrary to these
errors.” Our cry of alarm was rendered even more urgent by the
errors in the new Code of Canon Law, not to say its heresies,
and by the ceremonies and speeches marking the fifth centenary
of the birth of Martin Luther.
We have had no reply, but we have
done what we ought to do. We must not despair as though it were
a human undertaking. The present convulsion will pass away just
as all heresies have passed away. One day a return will have
to be made to Tradition: in the Papal authority the powers signified
by the tiara must again re-appear; a tribunal for the protection
of the truths of faith and morals must be restored permanently,
and bishops must regain their powers and their personal initiative.
True apostolic work will have to
be freed of all the impediments that now are paralyzing it by
obscuring the essentials of the message. Seminaries must be brought
back to their true function, religious orders revived, Catholic
schools and universities restored by freeing them of secular State
curricula. Support must be given to employers’ and workers’ organizations
determined to collaborate in a fraternal manner, respecting the
duties and rights of all, and renouncing that social scourge the
strike, which is nothing better than a cold war within the nation.
It will be necessary, too, to promote civil legislation that is
in harmony with the laws of the Church, and to encourage the putting
forward of Catholics for public office, who are actuated by the
will to guide society towards the official recognition of the
social rule of Christ the King.
For, after all, what do we say each
day when we pray? “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth
as it is in heaven.” And in the Gloria of the Mass? “Thou alone
art the Lord, Jesus Christ.” We sing that, but as soon as we
get outside we say, “Oh no, these ideas are out of date: impossible
to think of talking about the Kingdom of Christ in the world of
today.” We are living a contradiction. Are we Christians or
Nations are struggling with insoluble
difficulties. There is endless war in many areas, and all mankind
trembles in contemplating the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe.
Solutions are sought that will restore the economy, stabilize
money, eliminate unemployment, and make industry prosperous. Well,
even from the economic point of view, it is necessary that Christ
should reign, because that means the reign of love and of the
commandments of God, which ensure a balance in society and bring
justice and peace. Is it a Christian attitude to set one's hopes
on this or that politician, or combination of parties, in the
hope that eventually one program or another will definitely and
finally solve our problems, when the one and only Lord is deliberately
excluded as if He had nothing to do with human affairs? What sort
of a faith have people who live their lives in two compartments
with a rigid barrier separating their religion from all their
political, professional and other preoccupations? Is not God,
who created heaven and earth, able to solve our wretched material
and social problems? If you have ever prayed yourself in difficult
moments of your life, you will know by experience that He does
not give stones when His children ask Him for bread.
The Christian social order is at
the opposite pole to the Marxist ideas which, in whatever part
of the world they have been applied, have never brought anything
but misery, oppression of the weakest, contempt for man, and death.
Christian social order respects private property, protects the
family against corrupting influences, and encourages large families
and the presence of the mother in the home. It allows private
enterprise a proper independence, and encourages medium and small
businesses. It is in favor of a return to the land and appreciates
agriculture as its true value. It supports professional associations,
freedom of education, and the protection of the citizens against
every form of subversion and revolution.
This Christian order is quite different
also from those liberal systems based on the separation of Church
and State, whose powerlessness to overcome crises becomes increasingly
obvious. How could it be otherwise when they have deliberately
cut themselves off from Him who is “the light of men?” How could
they muster the energies of their citizens when they have no ideal
to put to them beyond prosperity and comfort? They have been able
to maintain an iilusion for some time because the people have
retained Christian habits of thinking and their rulers have more
or less consciously kept some values. But at a time when everything
is being questioned, these implicit references to the Will of
God fade away. Liberal systems, when they are left to themselves
and are no longer motivated by any higher idea, become exhausted
and fall an easy prey to subversive ideologies.
To speak, then, of the Christian
social order is not to cling to an out-moded past. On the contrary,
it is a standpoint for the future which you should not hesitate
to adopt. You are not fighting a rear-guard action; you are among
those who know what's what because they take their lessons from
Him who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” We have
the advantage of possessing the truth. It is not our doing, we
must not be conceited about it; but we must act accordingly.
The possession of the truth is the advantage the Church has over
error. It is up to her, helped by the grace of God, to spread
it, and not timidly hide it under a bushel.
Still less should it be mingled with
falsity, though this is what we are constantly witnessing. I read
in L'Osservatore Romano (January 18, 1984) an interesting
article by Paolo Befani about the favor shown to socialism by
the Vatican. The author compares the situation in South America
and that in Poland, and he writes:
“Leaving aside the situation in Europe,
the Church finds herself confronted on the one hand by the situation
in the Latin American countries and the influence over them of
the U.S.A., and on the other hand by the situation of Poland in
the orbit of the Soviet empire. Faced with these two frontiers
the Church, which in Vatican II accepted and surpassed the liberal-democratic
conquests of the French Revolution, and in her forward march proposes
herself as the post-revolution to the Russian Marxist revolution,
now offers a solution to the failure of Marxism of which the key
idea is a post-Marxist, democratic, Christian-based, self-governing
and non-totalitarian socialism.
“The Church's answer to the East
is represented by Solidarity, raising the Cross in front of the
Lenin ship-yards. Latin America's mistake is to seek the solution
in Marxist communism, that is, in a socialism with anti-Christian
There we have a fine example of liberal
illusions, associating contradictory words in the conviction of
expressing the truth! It is to these adulterous dreamers obsessed
with the idea of marrying the Church to the Revolution that we
owe the present chaos in the Christian world which is opening
the doors to Communism. Saint Pius X said of the Sillonists, “they
hanker for socialism, their eyes fixed on a chimera.” Their successors
are continuing to do so. After Christian Democracy comes Christian
Socialism. We shall end up with Christian Atheism!
The solution that we seek must bring
the answer not only to the failure of Marxism but also to the
failure of Christian Democracy, which no longer needs proof.
There has been more than enough of compromise and of unnatural
unions. What is it we are fishing for in these muddy waters?
The Catholic holds the real key-idea; and his duty is to work
with all his might, either personally in politics or by his vote,
to provide his country with representatives, both at the local
and at the national level, who are resolved to re-establish a
Christian social order, such as is alone capable of bringing peace,
justice and true liberty. There is no other solution.