APOSTASY By Don Pietro Leone part 1.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Here in Italy the summer has reached its height: the sun beats down on the city and on the countryside by day, and by night the elderly sit outside and watch the people passing by.
To the eyes of the Faith, by contrast, the whole of mankind is plunged in the most profound darkness, for both the Church and the World are in the throes of the gravest and most profound crisis in the history of their existence. The crisis is one of Apostasy, not so much in the formal sense of the explicit rejection of the Catholic Faith, but rather in the general sense of the falling away from God.
To help us understand the nature of this apostasy we shall make a brief meditation on the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (vv. 17-32), in which St. Paul refers to this same phenomenon in his own epoch. Holy Scripture is widely applicable to the events of human history: we shall see how the passage in question may usefully be applied to the circumstances of our contemporary world.
The elements which we propose to consider in this essay are the following:
- I) The suppression of the Truth about God;
- II) The refusal to honour God;
- IV) Idolatry;
- V) Depravity.
I The Suppression of the Truth about God
St. Paul writes (v.18) of ‘those men that detain the truth about God in injustice’. ‘Detain’ (detinere in the Latin, catechein in the Greek) signifies the suppression of that which moves the agent to the good; ‘in injustice’ signifies that this suppression is in opposition to the order that God has established; ‘the truth’, as the context shows and as we proceed to explain, is both the supernatural knowledge of God, namely the Faith, and the natural knowledge of God which is acquired by the use of reason.
The Truth about God which is suppressed in the contemporary world belongs, like the Truth of which St. Paul treats, both to the supernatural and the natural orders.
- The Suppression of the Supernatural Truth about God
We see that St. Paul, when he speaks of the ‘Suppression of the Truth’, refers (at least in part) to the Faith, since he speaks in verse 16 of the Gospel as ‘a power of God unto salvation to every-one that believeth’, and in verse 17 mentions the word ‘Faith’ three times and states that ‘the just man liveth by Faith’.
In this section we shall therefore speak of the suppression of articles of the Faith in the contemporary Church.
Now clearly the Faith may be suppressed in one of two ways: either by denying it explicitly by formal heresy such as in the ‘39 Articles’ of Martin Luther, or by obscuring it. As we attempted to set forth in our essay on Modernism, it is principally by obscurantism that the Faith is attacked in the present age. As we further explained in the same essay, this obscurantism may take one of two forms: the passing over of a doctrine in silence, and equivocation. We return to this theme now in virtue of its relevance to apostasy.
Here we limit ourselves briefly to the obscuring of one of the two core articles of the Catholic Faith, namely the existence of the Most Blessed Trinity. We observe that recent Popes refer but rarely to this dogma, preferring to speak simply of ‘God’ – as though as a gesture towards paganism and heresy.
As we have explained in detail in our short work: ‘The Destruction of the Roman Rite’, the prayers of Adoration of the Triune God have been almost entirely abolished from the Novus Ordo. The Doxology Gloria Patri… which appeared thrice in the Old Rite has been entirely removed; the Trinitarian formula per Dominum Nostrum Jesum Christum… which concluded many of the prayers in the Old Rite has been removed in all cases except one; the prayer at the Offertory Suscipe Sancta Trinitas and the prayer at the end of the Mass Placeat Tibi Sancta Trinitas have been excised; the Preface of the Holy Trinity which was used in the former rite almost every Sunday of the year now appears only once, that is on the respective Feast-day.
Furthermore the invocation of the Most Blessed Trinity (Pater de caelis Deus…) at the beginning of the public litanies was officially eliminated by Pope Paul VI in Lent 1969. Similarly one observes that the Trinitarian doxology has been removed from the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (at least in the Italian version), thereby incidentally reducing the number of verses from the symbolic 7 to 6.
Equivocation on the part of the Magisterium typically takes the form of an ambiguous statement favouring heresy. In the article ‘How to Regard the Second Vatican Council’ we gave as an example the statement: ‘The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church’. This statement is ambiguous in that it could mean that the Church of Christ is either greater than, or identical to, the Catholic Church. It favours heresy inasmuch as it suggests the former sense. Otherwise why not simply re-state the dogma that the two are identical?
- a) Changes to Catholic Doctrine
Such equivocal statements not only favour heresy but also represent (putative) changes to Catholic doctrine: The Church of Christ is no longer identical to the Catholic Church: it subsists in the Catholic Church.
However, any-one with even a minimal theological formation knows that Tradition has a binding force. All Catholic dogmas and doctrines belong to Tradition, and none of them can change over time. The Second Vatican Council, however, declared new doctrines, doctrines which did not belong to Tradition: doctrines which represent changes to traditional teachings.
As is explained in the same article, Catholic doctrine cannot change except in the depth or clarity of its expression. The changes in the Council were not, however, of this type, but rather were substantial changes: changes in substance.
Apart from the example just cited, there are many other examples, such as the assertion that there are elements of Truth and Sanctity outside the Catholic Church, that the Pope shares jurisdiction over the entire Catholic Church with the Bishops (‘collegiality’); that the Mass is ‘the Paschal Mystery’, and so on. Such assertions represent changes to Catholic dogma, which is, however, immutable. The Church teaches immutably and infallibly that outside the Church there is no salvation, that the Pope possesses absolute jurisdictional primacy, that the Mass is in its essence the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary.
- b) Contradictions of Catholic Doctrine
Now the change to a statement purporting to express a truth constitutes a contradiction of that statement. The equivocations that we have cited therefore represent not only changes, but also contradictions, of traditional teachings.
It is true that they are not formal contradictions, formally denying the Catholic dogma by saying, for example: ‘The Church of Christ is not identical to the Catholic Church – otherwise they would have been tantamount to formal heresy, and would not have been accepted by the majority of the Council-members. Rather they are effective and veiledcontradictions: that is to say contradictions for all intents and purposes, and contradictions veiled in obscurity, as we were at pains to explain in the article on Modernism.
Such contradictions are manifest when we compare the modern doctrines with doctrines taught by the Magisterium previously as we have just done, but also when we compare amongst themselves Council texts or contemporary teachings (whether on the Magisterial, Episcopal, or parochial level). In the latter cases we may speak of ‘doctrinal syncretism’.
- c)Doctrinal Syncretism
Since the Second Vatican Council does not wholly consist of new, but also of traditional, doctrines, it follows that contradictions may be found within the Council texts themselves. In the text Presbyterorum Ordinis one reads for instance (§ 2) that the priest ‘in virtue of his sacred ordination has the power to offer the Sacrifice and forgive sins’ (the Catholic doctrine), and in another place (§ 4) that ‘the priest’s first duty is to announce God’s Gospel to all’ (the Protestant doctrine).
In the period subsequent to the Council, the Church, or more precisely the men of the Church, have continued to teach a mixture of Catholic and non-Catholic doctrine: Truth and Falsehood: paragraphs, sentences, words, and letters all jumbled up meaninglessly together as it were: nonsense, senseless sounds, flatus vocis, a morass, quicksands in which a man can lose his life.
The syncretism has entered into the Magisterium – and continues to flourish there to the present day; into all the Pontifical Universities – the Lateran, the Gregorian, the Angelicum and so on – as well as into all the diocesan seminaries in the entire world. No Institute is uncontaminated, except for those few ‘Traditionalist’ ones, with their Traditional teachings and the Old Mass.
This syncretism has filtered down to the parish level, so that it is not surprising to hear one and the same parish priest announce at one moment that death is followed by Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, and at another moment (at a funeral Mass for a non-believer for example) that every-one goes immediately to Heaven. This mixture of True and False has found its ultimate expression in ‘Ecumenism’, where the true Christian confession makes common cause with the false confessions, and the true Faith with the false ‘Faiths’.
Meanwhile the Hierarchy has not sanctioned either group, and by allowing the two rites of Mass, one of which expresses the Catholic Faith, and the other heresy, as we attempted to explain in the essay on the Roman rite, it has in effect given equal rights to both Truth and Falsehood.
We could sum it up like this: the Church is not using its three offices of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying in favour of the Faith: she promotes both Truth and Falsehood doctrinally; she tolerates both juridically; she celebrates both liturgically. She is no longer interested in the Truth.
What is She interested in? What was She interested in ‘the Council’ and subsequently? The answer cannot be other than a peaceable co-existence with the World. But for the Church this is a work of self-destruction. Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. Rome… creates a desert and calls it peace.’ (Tacitus, De Agricola)
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.