18, 1992, the Italian journal Civilta Cattolica ran
an editorial entitled "The Preaching of Hell Today."
In it we read the following:
Church's Solemn Magisterium (teaching) on the question of
hell, nearly always refers to the existence of a fiery torment.
However, it does not expressly say that this is a real fire.
Nor does it state that this 'pain of the senses' could not
be reduced to a mere 'pain of loss,' while still recognizing
the distinction between the two penalties.
in the teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church,
there is no metaphorical 'watering-down' of the fires of hell.
On the contrary the distinction between the fires of hell
and the pain of loss is quite clear!"
same page (p.113) we also read:
is always good to remember the importance and dignity of the
Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, wherein the frequent repetition
of the same teachings demands, from the minds and hearts of
Catholics, a holy respect and adherence to those teachings."
as we shall see a little further on, the Ordinary Magisterium
of the Church turns out to have a role far distant from the
role of importance mentioned by the Civilta Cattolica
- which merely stops at Vatican II and its Lumen Gentium,
ignoring all previous teaching!
the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church can, of itself, elevate
a truth to the status of a divinely revealed dogmatic truth.
It does not need the assistance of any solemn definition.
Remember, that the Church wasn't initially formed through
solemn papal or Church Council definitions. In his book, The
Ordinary Magisterium of the Church and its Organs,
J. M. Vacant says "that the Church established itself
and the doctrine of Christ was given to the world before
the solemn definitions and pronouncements of Pope and
Council and (the Ordinary Magisterium of
the Church) is the primary rule of faith whose authority
was constantly invoked by the Fathers of the Church."
know why the Civilta Cattolica deliberately alluded
and stressed the importance of the Ordinary Magisterium of
the Church, because its readers were in for a surprise. The
fact is that, two months later the Civilta Cattolica
published another editorial entitled: "The 'heaven'
of Paradise and the 'fires' of hell - Symbols and Realities."
second editorial on heaven and hell, the reality of the fires
of hell mentioned in the first editorial, now becomes a mere
symbol of fire, which "serves to illustrate, not some
physical pain which accompanies the exclusion from the
Kingdom of God, but rather the emptiness
of life without communion with God." Instead
of the Ordinary Magisterium's "clear teaching on the
real and non-metaphorical sense of the 'fire' of hell"
the editorial now speaks of a symbolic, metaphorical fire
that "Man wrapped up in the selfishness of his sins,
whom death has taken by surprise, now eternally loses
all contact with the Lord. Consequently, man, who wanted to
be the center of his own life and the creator of his own personal
law, will now eternally find himself isolated and alone in
the egoism or self-centeredness he had chosen." This
novelty that extinguishes the fires of hell, obviously met
with approval on the part of both the world's press and the
pseudo Catholic press.
to Civilta Cattolica, this interpretation still conserves
the distinction between the pain of loss of God and the pain
of the senses inflicted by the "fires" of hell.
Yet in reality, this interpretation is a denial of the reality
of the fires of hell. Even though there has been no solemn
Magisterial pronouncement on the fires of hell, the Ordinary
Magisterium of the Church has always taught that the fire
of hell is real, not metaphorical.
FIRE - REAL BURNING
fire of hell is not the only pain of sense suffered by the
damned, but it is the principal pain of sense endured by the
damned. This is the teaching of Christ as related by the Gospels.
This is the unanimous teaching of the Church. The Church Fathers
taught this. So did all the various schools of theological
thought throughout the history of the Church. In 1890, the
Sacred Penitentiary ruled that penitents who denied the existence
of the fires of hell were not to be absolved from their sins.
There exists a real fire in hell, even though its nature might
not be exactly the same as earthly fire; it is nevertheless
a real fire. Consequently, Catholic theology has always rejected,
as contrary to Faith, any interpretation such as the Dominican
Politi’s, which held the fires of hell to be a metaphor or
a symbol of the psychological sufferings of the damned.
this material fire, felt by the senses, torment souls and
demons - which are spirits, not bodies? There rests a mystery,
but nevertheless still a reality. Just because it is a mystery,
it is does not permit us to come up with a metaphorical or
symbolical explanation, simply because we cannot fully understand
the mystery. Theologians have discussed this question and
it remains open. However, Catholic theologians have never
felt themselves authorized to explain away the fires of hell
symbolically. Yet this is what the Civilta Cattolica
has taken upon itself to do, in order to appease proud minds
that refuse to bow down before a mystery of God's. In this
way, Modernism is slowly coming to the stage where, by the
erasure of mysteries, it will erase the whole of Divine Revelation.
EDITORIAL APPROACHES HERESY
a fact that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church can impose
upon the faithful a truth that must be believed - if that
truth has been constantly and universally taught by the Church.
To oppose such a teaching would be to commit a grave sin against
the Faith. The teaching on the fires of hell falls into this
category. Some theologians even argue that, since this teaching
on the reality of the fires of hell is accepted by almost
all theologians, it is a revealed truth, though not yet officially
defined as such by the Church. Such a solemn definition would
make it a dogma. In the theological classes of the Jesuit
Order at Wurzbourg, we read that the fires of hell are "certain
and clear in the judgment of the Church, even if it
has not yet been expressly defined as such." It is,
therefore, a truth close to being defined as "of faith
" and thus the denial of something close to being "of
faith" is consequently close to being heretical.
This is the case with the above quoted editorial of the Civilta
the novel opinions of the Civilta Cattolica drift away
from certain Catholic truths, the more it drifts towards the
errors of Protestantism - which makes the fire of hell to
be a merely metaphoric fire. Thus we have here, as also in
the New Order of Mass and Bible exegesis, as well the whole
of this New Theology, a remarkable abandon of Catholic
theology, which now finds itself sliding down towards the
errors of Protestantism. Msgr. Heiner, referring to Modernists,
wrote in 1908: "These people have one foot in the
Catholic Church and the other in Protestantism, whose essence
is subjectivity - which is a religion without any religious
authority." Today, Neo-Modernism is leading us that
same goal - a religion with no religious authority. The way
to get there is to use the same system used by the Civilta
Cattolica in extinguishing the fires of hell:
starting with the theory, you belittle and knock down the
Ordinary Magisterium of the Church in making people believe
it is inferior to the solemn Magisterium of the Church,
you put this theory into practice and openly ignore the
Ordinary Magisterium as though it did not oblige in conscience
and as though it did not even exist at all!
UNACCEPTABLE ATTACK ON THE FAITH
is all very grave when we remember the true teaching of the
Church. Truths revealed by God, which we must accept and believe,
can be and are presented by the Church to us in two equivalent
in an extraordinary manner when dealing with difficult
or controversial questions. This is done by a solemn definition
of Pope or Council, or
in the ordinary manner through the constant and universal
magisterium, which nevertheless is no less forceful or obligatory
than the solemn and extraordinary magisterium. Nor is it
any less infallible.
Council Vatican I (1869-70) solemnly defined that "We
must believe with a faith both divine and Catholic, all that
is contained in the word of God, whether written or otherwise,
and which is presented to us by the Church as being divinely
revealed, either by solemn definitions
or by its ordinary and universal magisterium."
(Denzinger 1792). This indicates the fact that the Ordinary
infallible Magisterium of the Church is on the same level
of authority as the solemn definitions of Popes and Council,
even if it not as solemn in presentation as the latter. To
deny or refuse to believe in truths constantly and universally
presented by the Ordinary Magisterium as divinely revealed,
is as serious a heresy as it is to deny the solemnly proclaimed
truths of Pope and Council.
is not all! The "deposit of Faith" is a vast
field of definable and well-defined truth. These truths are
all and always explicitly presented. Furthermore,
the "deposit of Faith" is not made up of
only solemnly defined truths, it also consists of truths presented
for belief semper et ubique (always and everywhere)
by the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church - not only explicitly
(e.g. catechism, sermons, etc.), but also implicitly (liturgical
practices, disciplinary norms, etc.) and even the silent teaching
drawn from examining historical monuments, churches, cathedrals,
works of art or the lives of saints.
and modernist pretension of reducing our obligation to believe
"with faith" only those truths that have
been solemnly defined by the extra-ordinary magisterium of
the Church is, therefore, an unacceptable attack upon the
deposit of the Faith. Such a pretentious attitude would
have expelled from the deposit of Faith such dogmas as the
Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, etc. before they were
solemnly defined dogmas, and only implicit objects of faith.
This same expulsion they accord to a host of other dogmas,
even though they have been taught semper et ubique
(always and everywhere) -just because they have never been
solemnly defined by Pope or Council.
BRIEF DEFENDS THE FAITH OF ALL TIME
eve of Vatican I (1869), Pope Pius IX reacted strongly against
such liberal and modernist pretensions. In his Brief
to the Archbishop of Monaco, of December 21, 1863, Pius IX
echoes the whole of Catholic Tradition when he demands that
the modernist German theologians submit themselves to:
the ordinary magisterium of the Church
to the unanimous opinion of Catholic theologians
to the common and constant Catholic belief.
latter point, the common and constant Catholic belief,
is a faithful reflection of what the Church has always and
everywhere taught through its Ordinary Magisterium. It is
this fact that shows a truth as belonging to the "deposit
of the Faith. " Truths that are subsequently solemnly
defined by Pope or Council, first of all found themselves
commonly accepted - always and everywhere - in the Church.
This was the case with the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven
- before the Extraordinary Magisterium had proclaimed the
dogma, it had always and everywhere been admitted by the Church.
Such examples are numerous.
few remarks should sufficiently show the gravity of this Neo-
Modernist attack upon the Church of all time by the
Church of today. That which has been universally and
constantly taught by the Church of all time is and remains
the foundation and rule of Faith. These few remarks also authorize
us to assess the gravity of the Civilta Cattolica's
attack against the fires of hell - which they seek to extinguish.
Yet instead of extinguishing the fires of hell, they extinguish
the flame of our Faith. The fire of hell is materially a real
fire, a fire felt by the senses. Even if it is not identical,
only analogous, to earthly fire - it has been taught as such
by the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church - a fact proven
by the unanimous faith of Catholics of all times and all places.
A fact even admitted by the first editorial of the Civilta
Cattolica (April 18, 1992) only to be contradicted and
later denied by another editorial! It is a tragedy that a
journal that was once such a great champion of orthodoxy should
now have become the champion of the New Theology of
Civilta Cattolica – CATHOLIC OR TRAITOR?
Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization) is
an important Italian journal, founded by the Jesuits
in 1850, as a result of the wishes of Pope Pius IX.
It was a very prestigious publication until the time
of Vatican II - fighting Liberalism, Masonry, Modernism
and all modern errors.
1910, on the 60th anniversary of its founding,
Pope St. Pius X sent its editors a letter of congratulation
for their “firmness…and faithfulness in defending
and promoting Catholic doctrine…and successfully
fighting against the teaching of modernists and modernizers.”
of the reasons for its high esteem was the fact that,
before going to press, the entire publication was
proofread by the Secretariat of State in order to
receive its approval. Consequently, the Civilta
Cattolica was looked upon as expressing the thoughts
of the Holy See. Today, it has become a mouthpiece
for the new religion brought about by the New
Theology. It still is the mouthpiece of the
Holy See, but a Holy See far distant in belief and
practice to that of pre-Vatican II years.
is an extract taken from an editorial of Civilta
Cattolica almost 100 years ago, so different to
the kind of comments we see in the same journal today:
practical lesson to be drawn from the Apostolic Letter
of Pope Leo XIII is that Catholic principles do not
change - despite changing times, despite changes of
country, despite new discoveries, nor do they change
for the sake of practicality. They remain the same
as taught by Christ, as defined by Popes and Councils,
as kept by Saints and defended by the Doctors of the
Church. Whosoever accepts them in their fullness and
exactness is Catholic; whosoever hesitates, wavers,
adapts them to his age, compromises them - this person
can call himself what he will, but before God and
the Church he is a rebel and a traitor! (Civilta Cattolica,
March 6, 1899)”
from Courrier de Rome November 1992
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Kansas City, MO 64109
translated from the Italian
Fr. Du Chalard
Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14
Italia 00049 Velletri (Roma)