article is an answer to a letter to the Editor written to
Courrier de Rome, the French translation of Si
Si No No. The letter, written by a bewildered priest,
precedes the article.
clarify me on the following. In the editorial of Fr.
Giancarlo Politi in the bulletin Mondo e Missione
(Feb., 1995), I read on the subject of our four Catholic
missionaries slain in Algeria. I quote verbatim:
were not in that part of Africa to conduct crusades
or to proselytize, an objective that the Church nowhere
have read the same thing in the newsletter of Fr.Van
Straaten whom I have always admired and even supported
in a modest way. I would like to know if the injunction
of Jesus to his apostles “Go and teach all nations….”
no longer implies proselytizing, and, if it doesn’t,
since when. I have always believed that that was indeed
the task of the apostles. Has the mission of the priesthood
(Signed by Fr. X)
editor answers.]...To help you to understand, let's recall
two pontifical texts. The first is taken from the encyclical
Pascendi of Pope St. Pius X against Modernism:
we should act without delay in this matter [to condemn
Modernism] is made imperative especially by the fact that
the partisans of error are to be sought not only among
the Church's open enemies; but what is to be most dreaded
and deplored, in her very bosom,…We allude...to many who
belong...to the priesthood itself, who, animated by a
false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards
of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued
with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of
the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves
forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more
boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred
in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of
the Divine Redeemer, Whom, with sacrilegious audacity,
they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary
man…Enemies of the Church they certainly are, nor indeed
would he be wrong in regarding them as the most pernicious
of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have
said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing,
not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is
present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church,
whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that
their knowledge of her is more intimate. Moreover, they
lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the
very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers.
And once having struck at this root of immortality, they
proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that
there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched,
none that they do not strive to corrupt [from Daughters
of St. Paul edition. - Ed.].
was in 1907. Forty years later, Pius XII in his encyclical
Humani Generis against neo-Modernism or the "New
is apparent, however, that some today, as in apostolic
times, desirous of novelty, and fearing to be considered
ignorant of recent scientific findings, try to withdraw
themselves from the sacred Teaching Authority and are
accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealed
truth and of drawing others along with them into error.
is another danger all the more serious because it is concealed
beneath the mask of virtue. There are many who, deploring
disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through
an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and
ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides
good and honest men. These advocate an eirenism
by which they set aside questions dividing men and aim
not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism,
but also at reconciling things opposed to one another
in the field of dogma…Through their enthusiasm for an
imprudenteirenism they consider as an obstacle to fraternal
union things founded on the laws and principles given
by Christ and on institutions founded by Him, or which
are the defense and support of the integrity of the Faith,
the removal of which would bring about the union of all
but only to their destruction. [from the Daughters of
St. Paul edition - Ed.]
XII tells us these ruinous opinions were then being disseminated
"among the secular and regular clergy, in seminaries
and religious institutions."
was in 1950. Today those Churchmen, deformed by neo-Modernism
in the seminaries and religious institutions and having
stage-managed the last Council, are in power in the Church
and occupy the key positions in the Catholic hierarchy,
putting to work their "counsels of destruction"
to unify the human race "in a common ruin." "Blind
and leaders of the blind...," says St. Pius X:
up with the proud name of science, they have reached that
pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept
of truth and the true meaning of religion; in introducing
a new system in which "they are seen to be under
the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty,
thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of
truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions,
they embrace other and vain, futile, uncertain doctrines,
unapproved by the Church, on which, in the height of their
vanity , they think they can base and maintain truth itself”
this Modernism, resistance by a Catholic, and most particularly
by a priest, is a duty. It's a matter of choosing between
aberrant and erroneous human judgments and the infallible
judgment of the Church, which for 2000 years has taught
which pertains to the perennial and certain doctrine of
the Church and which, in any way whatsoever, direct or
indirect, relates to the truths of faith or morals, nothing
of the constitution of the Church, nothing of that which
has been fixed by Christ and, through His mandate, by
the holy Apostles is subject to change (G .Siri, La
Giovinezza della Chiesa, ed. Giardini, Pisa, 1983).
repeat to these destructive clerics the words of St. Edmund
Campion, martyr of the Anglican schism:
condemning us, you condemn the Church of all times. For
what is there that She believed and taught that we also
do not believe?"
current ordeal is one of extreme severity because "the
masterstroke of Satan," as Archbishop Lefebvre has
called it, has placed the authority of popes at the service
of neo-Modernism, and therefore the deception is much more
grave and widespread. Nevertheless, the problem is not insurmountable.
It is sufficient to recall that in the conflict between
Faith and authority the Faith will prevail because authority
is at the service of the Faith and not the contrary.
we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the
truth (II Cor. 13:8).
us take the case of Fr . Werenfried van Straaten in the
article "A Fruit of the Heretical Post-Conciliar Ecclesiology:
the New Charity of Fr. Van Straaten" (Courrier
de Rome, March, 1995). To justify his total reversal
of direction, he echoes Pope John Paul II:
the Pope has forbidden all forms of proselytism. In that
case we must help in the formation of Orthodox priests
in order that they would be capable of instructing those
that they are going to baptize (L 'echo de l'amour,
premise must be proven and to prove it one must prove that
the Vicar is superior to the Invisible Head of the Church,
who has commanded that which John Paul II forbids! Now,
in the conflict between an inferior authority (a pope) and
a superior authority (Our Lord Jesus Christ), obedience
is owed to the superior authority. It is Catholic moral
theology which teaches this. In such a case the subject
does not disobey the Superior, but he obeys an authority
higher than the Superior: "I owe you my love,"
St. Bruno writes to Pope Pascal II, "but I owe a greater
love to the One who has created both you and me" (P.L.
163 col.463). But Leo XIII writes in two encyclicals:
order of authority is contrary to reason, to the eternal
law, to the authority of God, then we wish to make it
known, it is legitimate to disobey in order to obey God
(Libertas Praestantissimum, 1888).
it would not be just to accuse those who act in this manner
of disregarding the duty of submission to authority; for
the princes whose wills are in opposition to the will
and the laws of God, thereby over-step the limits of their
power. (Diuturnum Illud).
to the pope, the prince of the Church, does not evade the
moral law: the duty to obey him always supposes that his
order would be both licit and lawful, that is to say that
it would not be in opposition to reason, to the eternal
law and to the divine order. On the other hand, the principle
according to which one must "obey God rather than men"
applies to the pope just as to any other authority on earth.
On this point Catholic theologians, although differing widely
on the question of an "heretical pope," are in
yesteryear, it is necessary today to have these principles
clearly in mind so one does not risk justifying what is
contrary to the Gospel (as Fr. Van Straaten does) solely
because the pope said it, even though it means abandoning
the Faith of the Universal Church to follow the private
thought of a man simply because he sits on the chair of
Peter while Peter is not speaking by his mouth. St. Thomas
teaches (Summa Theologica II, II, Q.2a) that the
subjects also sin against the Faith when they follow the
"authorities in the Faith" [bishops and popes],
even if at the same time they warn these authorities that
they are falling away from the Faith of the Universal Church.
In this case, subjects are released from their normal ties
of subjection and obedience and they have the duty and the
right to defend their own Faith.
the shepherd changes into a wolf, the first duty of the
flock is to defend itself. Normally, without doubt, doctrine
descends from the bishops to the faithful, and those who
are subjects, in the order of the faith, are not to judge
their superiors. But in the treasure of revelation there
are some essential points which every Christian, by the
very fact of his title as Christian, is bound to know
and defend (The Liturgical Year, Vol. IV, Dom Guéranger;
Feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria).
THE POPE IS INFALLIBLE"
will object, "But the pope is infallible." Be
careful! First of all, infallibility has not been promised
in order to add "novelties" to the "deposit
of the faith," but solely to preserve, explain and
defend the truths already revealed:
Holy Spirit has been promised to the successors of Peter
not that they may make known, under His revelation, a
new doctrine, but in order that, with His assistance,
they may piously preserve and faithfully set forth the
revelation transmitted by the Apostles, that is to say
the deposit of the faith. (Vatican I, Constitution
De Ecclesia Christi, D.1836).
the pope can express himself at four very distinct levels:
the level of the extraordinary infallible Magisterium
( ex cathedra).
2. at the level of the
ordinary infallible Magisterium.
the level of the ordinary non-infallible Magisterium.
4. at the level of the
theologian or of the private person.
(This is the case in Crossing the Threshold of Hope,
Pope John Paul II's recent book-interview.)
immediately exclude from infallibility this last level,
because it is evident that infallibility has not been promised
to the pope as a private person.
extraordinary infallible magisterium (ex cathedra)
applies when the pope "fulfilling his charge as pastor
and teacher of all Christians;...defines, in virtue of his
supreme apostolic authority, that a doctrine on faith or
morals must be held by the entire Church" (Pastor
Aeternus, see also Vatican I, D.1839, etc.).
ordinary infallible magisterium applies when the truth being
taught is proposed by the pope...:
having been previously defined, or as having always been
believed or acknowledged in the Church, or as being attested
to by the unanimous and continuing consent of theologians
as Catholic truth (Dictionnaire de théologie catholique,
t. VIII col. 1705).
for example, Leo XIII is infallible when, in the encyclical
Providentissimus, he teaches as always believed by
the Church the absolute absence of errors in the faithfully
preserved texts of Sacred Scripture.
is only at these two primary levels
that the teaching the pope exposes is guaranteed to expose
faithfully that which is truly contained in divine Revelation.
There is, on the other hand, the ordinary magisterium non-infallible,
simply authenticated, wherein...:
teaching is praised, recommended, or simply affirmed [by
the pope] without any indication of its belonging to revelation
or to the constant and universal Catholic tradition and
without any indication of strict obligation imposed by
the faith or by the submission due to the sovereign authority
of the Roman Pontiff (Dictionnaire de théologie catholique,
to VII col. 1713).
one also owes obedience, even if it is neither unconditional
nor absolute, to the non-infallible and merely authentic
magisterium of the pope. However, one does not owe him any
obedience whatsoever when, opposed to a non-infallible judgment
of the Church or even of the constant and universal faith
of the Church. In this case, resistance is not only justified,
it is a duty. It is born not of a spirit of error nor of
rebellion, but rather of charity.
Van Straaten’s project to finance the Russian Orthodox
Church did not go down well with some benefactors of
the association he founded, “Aid to the Suffering Church.”…
“They sustain that it would be wrong to finance a ‘schismatic’
Church, separated from Rome and a slave to the former
Communist regime.”… “The former Soviet Union is a mission
field and the western Church is not up to evangelizing
this vast territory,” he said. “Only the Orthodox Church
can do that and we should help it with all the means
- financial and non - we have at our disposal.” He is
certain that the Pope will approve his initiative. “John
Paul II has said that reconciliation with the Orthodox
Church is the greatest task entrusted to us at the end
of this second millennium. He has been informed of
this initiative of ours to guarantee an annual wage
of $1,000 to each of the 6,000 priests of the Russian
Church and he has urged us to press on,” said Fr. Van
Straaten. “They used to call me the last Cold War general,”
he said. “I have always had many enemies some of whom
are priests with progressive ideas. Now they are saying:
look at that old conservative….what a surprise he has
turned out to be.”
(30 Days, No.12, 1994)
gravity of the current crisis is precisely owing to the
lack of security in the faithful that, in normal times,
was offered to them by the ordinary non-infallible magisterium
of the popes. It is true, however, that, at this level,
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not promise any infallibility
to Peter (Mt. 16: 18; Lk. 22:22) or to his successors “according
to the constant interpretation of theologians," but
only concerning his ex cathedra teaching (Dictionnaire
de théologie catholique, t. VII col. 1717). The assurance
which in normal times is derived from the non-infallible
magisterium of the pope is only linked to the care that
he takes not to deviate from the doctrine transmitted by
the Apostles. Today this care has disappeared because that
"unchecked passion for novelty" of which St. Pius
X spoke also corrupts the mentality of the one who sits
on the throne of Peter and who so wrongfully affirmed it
at the beginning of his pontificate:
the Lord has called me "with such thoughts...with
such sentiments, it is in order that they ...find a resonance
in my new and universal ministry (The Angelus,
is the same as saying, "It is no longer the pope who
must conform himself to Tradition, but Tradition which must
conform itself to the mentality of the pope."
risks tremendous aberrations if these sad realities are
ignored and one conducts himself as if all goes well without
hindrance in the current ecclesiastical situation. From
his unproven and erroneous premise - "Rightly the Pope
has forbidden all forms of proselytism" - Fr. Van Straaten
deduces that Catholics must subsidize the proselytism of
the Orthodox churches, in aiding "the formation of
Orthodox priests in order that they would be capable of
instructing those that they are going to baptize."
It is no indifferent matter to God whether souls should
be baptized in His one and only Catholic Church or in schism
Church has always condemned the subsidizing of non-Catholics
as a grave sin against truth and charity (see Encyclopedia
Cattolica, under the word Cooperation, col. 498).
Fr. Van Straaten has forgotten his dogmatic and moral theology.
He no longer seems to have the Faith which tells us the
pope is there to keep and promote the Catholic Faith and
not to demolish it (II Cor. 10:8). All this because of a
false concept of obedience improperly raised to the level
of a theological virtue. Yet, it is a moral
virtue in which one can sin, yes, by default, but also by
excess, in obeying "in matters contrary
to a law or to a superior precept." This constitutes
an "improper obedience" or, more accurately, "servility"
(Roberti-Palazzini, Dizionario di teologia morale,
we have written:
practice, no one has ever explicitly imposed upon a Catholic
in the name of obedience a denial of his very Faith…But
they have and do impose on him a new "course for
the Church" which, in implying the negation of everything
that the Church has taught and done on the basis of the
doctrinal principles up until Vatican Council II, leads
straight to apostasy. (Courrier de Rome, March,
1990, "The Duty to Resist!").
other words, to apostasy by way of "obedience,"
which is by nature a denial of reason. - Hirpinus
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)