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"Considering the tumultuous pontificate of Paul VI, and the confusing signals he was giving, e.g.: speaking about the 'smoke of Satan that had entered the Church,' yet refusing to condemn heresies officially; his promulgation of Humanae Vitae (the glory of his pontificate), yet his careful avoidance of proclaiming it ex cathedra; delivering his Credo of the People of God in Piazza San Pietro in 1968, and once again failing to declare it binding on all Catholics; disobeying the strict orders of Pius XII to have no contact with Moscow, and appeasing the Hungarian Communist government by reneging on the solemn promise he had made to Cardinal Mindszenty; his treatment of holy Cardinal Slipyj, who had spent seventeen years in a Gulag, only to be made a virtual prisoner in the Vatican by Paul VI; and finally asking Archbishop Gagnon to investigate possible infiltration in the Vatican, only to refuse him an audience when his work was completed – all these speak strongly against the beatification of Paolo VI, dubbed in Rome, 'Paolo Sesto, Mesto' (Paul VI, the sad one)"...Dr. Alice von Hildebrand


Stuff and Nonsense:

Year-End Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Vatican II

Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 12/29/12


( On the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the aging conciliar diehards in the Vatican apparatus, desperate to shore up the Council’s crumbling legacy, have dared to revive and advance at breakneck speed the long dead cause for the “beatification” of Paul VI. John Paul II initiated the cause at the diocesan level in 1993, but it failed to advance any further for reasons that should be obvious. (Among the many less obvious reasons was Montini’s dismissal from the Vatican Secretariat State by Pius XII in 1954 on account of his compromising secret correspondence with Russian and other communist officials in defiance of a papal ban on relations with communist governments.)

Another Rush Job at the Saint Factory

Just last week, however (December 10), the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints announced its unanimous decision in favor of the “heroic virtues” of the Pope who presided over the worst collapse of faith and discipline in Church history, approving or tolerating all of the reckless innovations that brought it about and then doing nothing to close the resulting “fissure” through which, as he himself publicly lamented, the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church.  “The opening to the world became a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking. We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent,” Pope Paul admitted.  Apparently, papal weakness and imprudence leading to an invasion of the Church by worldly thinking now qualify as “heroic virtues” according to the current members of the Congregation, which became a saint factory during John Paul II’s pontificate.

But we know what is going on here: This surprise “beatification” would rather conveniently complete a “fast track” Trifecta of all three conciliar Popes, thus “canonizing the Council,” as Robert Moynihan has put it, at the very moment its troubled legacy is falling to pieces. The Congregation has obviously navigated around such speed bumps as serious objections to the posited “heroic virtues”—John Paul II having abolished the traditional devil’s advocate—and real proof of miracles attributed to Paul’s intercession.

In a mockery of the requirement of a miracle—only one being required, as John Paul II also abolished the traditional requirement of two—the postulator, Father Antonio Marrazzo, seriously proposes the alleged healing of a child in the womb through Pope Paul’s putative intercession. This “miracle,” which involves a vaguely described “serious problem” with the foetus, is patently suspect given the limitations of fetal-stage diagnoses of medical conditions, which are often proven wrong at the moment of birth. Worse, the “miracle” could not even be confirmed at birth because “the family has to wait until the child reaches the age of fifteen before confirmation of complete healing can be given.” More than 34 years after Paul’s death, this is the postulator’s best evidence for the “miraculous intercession” of Paul VI.

Meanwhile, the beatification of Pius XII, an undeniably heroic Pope with numerous attested miracles to his credit, remains stalled at the “Venerable” stage, where it has been since 2009. Moynihan asks: “Why is Pope Paul’s cause apparently proceeding more quickly than that of Pope Pius, declared ‘Venerable’ in 2009?”  Answer: the Council must be canonized so as to obscure the fact of its catastrophic failure.

Pius XII has been shunted aside because he was not involved in Vatican II. Quite the contrary, he decided against convoking an ecumenical council after convening a commission to consider it, a decision whose admirable prudence has been revealed by subsequent events. Indeed, it was the future Pius XII, speaking as Cardinal Pacelli, who uttered this prophecy of revolutionary upheaval in the Church only thirty-one years before Vatican II provided the very opening the revolutionaries had long been waiting for:

I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucia of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul…. I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past....


A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted.  She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “Where have they taken Him?”

Clearly, Pius XII is not a Pope the partisans of the Council have any interest in seeing beatified.  Paul VI, however, is a Pope according to their needs.

The Strangest of Councils

But no number of quick-draw beatifications—even should they beatify every single Council Father (traditionalist dissenters excluded, of course)—can alter the reality of what happened during and after what is fairly, if flippantly, called the Second Vatican Disaster. On this fiftieth anniversary of the disaster it would be well revisit some keynotes of two of the vexed documents of this anomalous Council: Gaudium et spes and Dignitatis humanae (DH).

In Gaudium, the very manifesto of the conciliar aggiornamento, the Council declared its aim to be “scrutinizing the signs of the times.” This was a dubious and unprecedented venture for an ecumenical council, whose province is not the assessment of contingent facts concerning a world called “modern,” but rather the safeguarding of faith, morals and discipline in every age. That scrutinizing temporal “signs” is not within the charism of infallibility that protects the Magisterium from promulgating error is demonstrated by the Council’s manifest failure to read the signs of the times correctly.

Consider this whopper from DH, the most controversial of the Council’s documents: “A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man…” No it hasn’t! The crisis of “the modern world” is precisely that  “contemporary man” has completely lost sight of his infinite dignity as a being created in the image and likeness of God, with an eternal destiny that should inform all earthly relations and the laws and institutions of civil society. According to DH’s rosy view of political modernity, however, “the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty.”  On the contrary, “contemporary man” has no interest whatever in “responsible freedom,” nor any “sense of duty” to anything higher than his own will or that of the relevant electoral majority.

The correct diagnosis of the modern notion of freedom was furnished by Pope Leo XIII in Libertas (1888), wherein the Roman Pontiff condemned the already prevalent idea that “the efficient cause of the unity of civil society is not to be sought in any principle external to man, or superior to him, but simply in the free will of individuals; that the authority in the State comes from the people only; and that, just as every man’s individual reason is his only rule of life, so the collective reason of the community should be the supreme guide in the management of all public affairs. Hence the doctrine of the supremacy of the greater number, and that all right and all duty reside in the majority.”  DH somehow overlooked this disastrous worldwide outcome of the violent revolutions born of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment liberalism.

Pope Leo, in line with all of his predecessors and successors before John XXIII, saw in the modern age “the evils by which the human race is oppressed on every side: the widespread subversion of the primary truths on which, as on its foundations, human society is based” and a “deadly kind of plague which infects in its inmost recesses, allowing [the human race] no respite and foreboding ever fresh disturbances and final disaster.”  But DH, steeped in a conciliar “optimism” that was manifestly a delusion, saw a “demand for freedom in human society [that] chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit” and “desires in the minds of men” that the Council “proposes to declare… to be greatly in accord with truth and justice.”

In developing nations, the Council opined in Gaudium,  “peoples, especially those among them who are attached to older traditions, are simultaneously undergoing a movement toward more mature and personal exercise of liberty.” No they aren’t!  They have been abandoning traditional moral strictures and murdering each other by the millions in “democratic revolutions” and civil wars that have produced brutal dictatorships, ranging from Communist to radically Islamist.  Respecting the spread of Communism as prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima, the Council actually agreed to blind itself to the single most dramatic sign of the times. The Vatican-Moscow Agreement, negotiated at Metz, France, required the Council to observe a shameful silence concerning communist totalitarianism in order to placate the two Russian Orthodox observers John XXIII dearly wished to attend the Council.  Jean Madiran rightly called the Metz pact “ecclesiastical treason.”

Praising advances in the physical sciences, the Council further opined in Gaudium that  “a more critical ability to distinguish religion from a magical view of the world and from the superstitions which still circulate purifies it and exacts day by day a more personal and explicit adherence to faith. As a result many persons are achieving a more vivid sense of God.” No they aren’t!  On the contrary, even as militant scientism has declared the definitive disproof of God’s existence, false religions born of superstition and diabolical influences have persisted and even flourished everywhere on the planet.

Indeed, since the Council launched the novelty of “inter-religious dialogue,” the “representatives” of precisely those religions characterized by a “magical view of the world and… superstitions”—literally everyone from the Animists to the Zoroastrians—have received personal invitations from the Pope himself to form motley assemblies with Catholics and Protestants at Assisi in order to “pray for peace.” At the same time, precisely as a long line of pre-conciliar Popes had warned—warnings the Council resolutely ignored in its almost fatuous proclamation of the “joys and hopes” of “contemporary man”—former Christendom has completed its descent into the “silent apostasy” even John Paul II was forced to recognize after decades of hailing the “new Pentecost” of Vatican II.

“The conviction grows,” quoth the Council in Gaudium, “not only that humanity can and should increasingly consolidate its control over creation, but even more, that it devolves on humanity to establish a political, social and economic order which will growingly serve man and help individuals as well as groups to affirm and develop the dignity proper to them.”  This is rubbish, of course. Rather than following any perceived duty to serve man by affirming and developing his dignity as an ensouled creature, the sociopolitical institutions of “the modern world,” from the secular state to the “free market,” have systematically disserved man and attacked his supernatural dignity from all sides. Pope after Pope condemned this development before the Council, but the Council saw no evil where evil abounded.

“The human race,” said the Council in Gaudium, “has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one.”  There has been no such “passage,” but only a rhetorical illusion imposed upon the public mind by the ideologues of social and political liberalism. There is only one valid “concept of reality,” the same one that has always obtained, and the only one that should have been of any account to the Council: that of a fallen world desperately in need of the redeeming grace of Christ in a Pelagian age that has rejected the influence of grace in the affairs of men.

For this very reason did the young Father Ratzinger write of Gaudium that it “presents a ‘colorless doctrine of freedom’ based upon ‘an unhistorical reading of Scripture but also an unhistorical and therefore unreal view of man,’ which ‘cannot therefore stand up to theological or philosophical criticism’” and that when the document speaks of human freedom, it “falls into ‘downright Pelagian terminology’…”  The same could be said of its companion, DH. In fact, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who described the two documents read pari materia as  “a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-syllabus,” which represents “an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” (Principles of Catholic Theology, 381-82). But, as I noted in The Great Façade, this very “reconciliation” was condemned by the Syllabus itself, wherein Blessed Pius IX enumerated as condemned proposition #80 the following: “The Roman Pontiff can and ought to reconcile himself and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.” We have seen the results of the attempted reconciliation, and they confirm that blessed Pope’s wisdom in condemning proposition # 80, and indeed the wisdom of the Syllabus of Errors as a whole.

Even when the Council acknowledged that “men continue to be afflicted by acute hardships and anxieties arising from the ravages of war or the threat of it,” it characterized the state of world affairs as one in which “the whole human family faces an hour of supreme crisis in its advance toward maturity.” What advance toward maturity? Was the human race less “mature” at the time of the Council of Trent than it was at the opening of Vatican II? To suggest this is implicitly to accept the meliorism that pertains to the essence of Liberalism: the inevitability of human progress through human effort over time.

True human progress depends entirely upon the operation of divine grace in souls, which is diachronic, possible at all times and under all historical contingencies. “Without me, you can do nothing,” said the Lord of History. By the standard of divine grace at work in the affairs of men, any intelligent layman was as competent as any Council Father to discern that in 1962 the signs of the times demonstrated, not any advance toward human maturity, but rather a nearly terminal regression of humanity since the time of the Protestant revolt, leading to a spiritual and moral infantilism so alarming that Pope Pius XII observed, only eleven years before the Council began, that “The human race is involved today in a supreme crisis, which will issue in its salvation by Christ, or in its dire destruction.”

Turning his back on his predecessors, however, Pope John XXIII, in his own fundamental misreading of the signs of the times, anticipated and summed up the Council’s misreading in his address at its commencement: “We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.”

One could go on for the length of a book analyzing the strange statements of this strangest of Councils, but the point is made. The question is: What possessed the Council Fathers and Pope John to promulgate such embarrassing pronouncements? In a remarkable passage of muted irony, Cardinal Ratzinger captured the rather pathetic essence of the thing:

something of the Kennedy era pervaded the Council, something of the naïve optimism of the concept of the great society…. It was precisely the break in historical consciousness, the self-tormenting rejection of the past, that produced the concept of a zero hour, in which everything would begin again, and all those things that had formerly been done badly would now be done well. The dream of liberation, the dream of something totally different, which, a little while later, had an increasingly potent impact on the student revolts, was, in a certain sense, also attributable to the Council; it was the Council that first urged man on and then disappointed him….” [Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 372].

This “dream of something totally different” is what took hold of the modernist Council Fathers, whose maneuvering in violation of the Council’s procedural rules (cf. Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber) resulted in the abandonment of the traditional preparatory schema and their replacement by such unprecedented oddities as Gaudium et spes. And it was this dream of something totally different that quickly became a nightmare for the Church, as the Church “opened itself” to the world and then was invaded by worldly thinking.

In an astonishing confirmation of what happened, no less than John Paul II, in his 1986 encyclical Dominum et vivificantem, cautioned that in assessing the Council’s supposed fruits “one must learn how to ‘discern’ them carefully from everything that may instead come originally from the ‘prince of this world.’ This discernment in implementing the Council’s work is especially necessary in view of the fact that the Council opened itself widely to the contemporary world, as is clearly seen from the important Conciliar Constitutions Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium.”  Incredibly, the Pope himself warned that precisely because of the conciliar opening to “the contemporary world” it was necessary to distinguish the Council’s work from the work of the devil!  The hierarchs responsible for this discernment—not required as to any other council in Church history—have manifestly fallen down on the job.

The conciliar “dream of something totally different” was realized beyond the wildest dreams of the modernists by Bugnini’s catastrophic “reform of the Roman liturgy,” whose liturgical mutilation and neo-iconoclasm afflicts the Church to this day.  The “collapse of the liturgy” is how Cardinal Ratzinger described it.  A “major conquest of the Catholic Church” is how Bugnini described  it before Pope Paul—far too late—sacked him on suspicion of Masonic affiliations and sent him off to Iran.

Is this legacy of confusion, drift and outright ecclesial auto-destruction—a “continuing process of decay” is what Cardinal Ratzinger so famously called it—what we are supposed to be celebrating on the fiftieth anniversary of the Council?  And if it is not the Council’s results we are to celebrate, then what is there to celebrate? A stack of ambiguity-laden documents representing the abrupt abandonment of years of careful preparation? Documents so difficult to reconcile with prior teaching that all the Pope can do is refer them to a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” he has yet to explain? There will be no celebration of the Council in the household of this Remnant columnist.  Given its results, the day of the Council’s commencement should be a day of mourning for the Church—mourning for what was taken from us in the Council’s name.  But now what was taken away is being restored.

A Return to Sanity

Thirty years ago my wife Wendy and I commenced the epic adventure of cooperating with God by bringing six souls into the world in the midst of the post-conciliar debacle in the Church.  Wendy is a Protestant convert who was confirmed by none other than Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1983.  I remember the searing pain I felt as I knelt before the Archbishop beside my confirmand wife on the hard plywood edge of the sanctuary in the chapel of the Society of Saint Pius X in Ridgefield, then still under construction. The building of that chapel was a protest in wood and stone against the folly of the post-conciliar “reforms.”

Those were the days of traditional Masses in hotels and independent chapels, where our family joined other traditionalists in seeking spiritual shelter during the still-raging ecclesial storm that Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” now describes thus: “Unfortunately, the effects as enumerated by Paul VI have not disappeared. A foreign way of thinking has entered into the Catholic world, stirring up confusion, seducing many souls, and disorienting the faithful. There is a ‘spirit of self-demolition’ that pervades modernism...”

In the early days of the storm, when it was at its height, Church authorities insisted that Rome had forbidden the Latin Mass of fifteen centuries’ standing, that Rome had forbidden the Roman Rite! The traditionalist response was born of the common sense of the faithful: We don’t think so. But since you insist on this insane proposition, we have no choice but to make provision for the Mass of the Ages on our own until you come to your senses.

It took some forty years for that to happen, but in 2007 Pope Benedict finally declared what we had known all along, and ordered the release of our Mass from its false imprisonment by bishops and bureaucrats who never had any real authority for what they did. And now—this was, of course, completely inevitable—it seems we traditionalists are being recognized, irony of ironies, as the avant garde in the Church.  An article in the London Economist entitled “A traditionalist avant garde” takes notice of what simply had to happen sooner or later:

Since the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church [sic] has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West—where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best—believers have left in droves…. Yet as the mainstream wanes, traditionalists wax….  Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church…. But for a church hierarchy in Western countries beset by scandal and decline, the rise of a traditionalist avant-garde is unsettling. Is it merely an outcrop of eccentricity, or a sign that the church took a wrong turn 50 years ago?

“It’s trendy to be a traditionalist in the Catholic Church” says the subtitle of the piece. No, it is not trendy, it is Catholic.  It always was Catholic; it always will be.

For nearly half a century traditionalists have been treated as outlaws because they refused to participate in a wild experiment whose massive failure was apparent from its improvident beginning. But now that sanity is slowly being restored, in spite of the best efforts of those who are still largely in control of the Asylum of the Reform, it is dawning even on non-traditionalists just who the outlaws were all along. That is a development we can celebrate on the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II.

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