Cato the Elder
There are those among you who will perhaps recognize what I have just quoted as coming from Cato the Elder, who held the post as Censor of Rome (essentially the overseer of Roman public morality) during the middle of the second century B.C. Cato’s hatred for Carthage (which was in modern Tunisia) and the phrase “Carthago delenda est!” with which he ended every speech in the Roman senate, whether or not his speech had anything to do with Carthage, have become iconic.
Carthage had long been Rome’s competitor and rival in commerce and trade, and had, during the first two of the Punic Wars (which, incidentally, Rome won), inflicted a series of setbacks and humiliations on Rome which Rome neither forgave nor forgot; and so Cato’s invariable conclusion to all of his speeches became a forceful reminder to his audiences of the perceived threat Carthage posed to the peace, the stability and even the continued existence of the Roman republic.
Cato, as the guardian of the public moral consciousness, had no tolerance whatever for pacifists – opportunists, quislings and traitors, as he termed them – who advocated striking a deal with Carthage, arguing that a negotiated compromise with her was more to Rome’s benefit than apparent ceaseless warfare. Thus Cato made “Carthago delenda est!” the rallying cry to Romans to do their duty, and utterly to exterminate the pest that was Carthage; and which Rome finally did during the third Punic war, going so far in their victory as to salt Carthage’s fields, and to sell her surviving citizens into slavery.
Cato’s phrase, “Carthago delenda est!” has survived its author to this day, principally as an expression which vigorously underscores the correctness of one's conviction regarding a necessary course of action. Perhaps not surprisingly, then or today, Cato was regarded, even in his own time, by many of his fellow Romans, as a bigot, which is why one rarely hears his signature phrase quoted anymore. Today, rather than Cato’s “Carthago delenda est!” we are more likely to hear the now equally iconic plea, “Can’t we all just get along?”
October of three years ago marked two events of special significance: the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council; and, deliberately timed to coincide with that anniversary, the second synod on marriage and the family, called by Pope Francis, the bitter fruits of which are only now being realized in another nefarious document, Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Luv, which is the illegitimate child of that synod.
At the end of the day, however, we may point to the Second Vatican Council itself, as the grandmother of the child – as the baneful root of all of the evils of our present already too long post-conciliar age – and well it should be identified as such since the Second Vatican Council is the Magna Carta of all which the conciliarists and their allies (the Zionists and the Freemasons) hold near and dear. One thing made quite clear from the failed negotiations in 2012 between the Society and Rome was that, whatever else may have been brought up for discussion, the Council was off the table, full stop.
At the end of it all, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, fired last year by Pope Francis from his position as Prefect of the CDF, whether intentionally or unintentionally, did us – did the Society – a huge favor. As he departed his post, his Eminence reinforced by reiterating in a letter addressed personally to Bp. Fellay what he had said in 2012, namely that, before any so-called “regularization” of the status of the SSPX could be possible, the Society must accept the Second Vatican Council, as well as all of the documents subsequent and consequent to that council; and we must also accept both the liceity and validity of the Novus Ordo Mass and of all the reformed Sacraments. This has effectively ended the quest (on both sides) for rapprochement between the Society and Rome, at least for the foreseeable future.
It must be admitted, however, that one of consequences of this quest has been a fair amount of softening on the Society’s attitude towards the ongoing modernist devolution of Holy Mother Church, and towards that devolution’s chief engine, the Second Vatican Council. In attempting to make the Council more palatable, some on our side have even taken to slicing and dicing it, identifying 95% of it as more or less acceptable, but the remaining 5% contrary to what the Church has always taught; and, therefore, to be rejected. The 95% deemed more or less acceptable was then further dissected into two more parts: the larger part said to be comprised of direct quotations of earlier orthodox magisterial documents; while the remaining smaller part was deemed ambiguous, and in need of clarification to bring it into line with traditionally accepted doctrine.
And so, at the end of the day we are left with what might be called the good, the bad, and the ugly: the good allegedly comprising the bulk of the Council, and being perfectly orthodox, therefore, to be assented to with supernatural faith, failure to do so implying heresy, or at least schism on the part of the one dissenting. The bad, of course, is to be passed over entirely, while the ugly must somehow be beautified. If this sounds like “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, who could blame you for thinking it?
But is this proper? If the Council is indeed an authentic expression of the Magisterium; if it is truly doctrinally and historically contiguous with all that makes up the deposit of Faith before it (as Benedict XVI, the current Pope emeritus, once asserted it to be), who are we to pick and choose what of it we will accept, what we will re-interpret, and what we will reject? Is this not precisely the essence of heresy? In her condemnation of this tactic, at least, if in nothing else, Rome is both consistent and even Catholic. We must look then at this curious notion of “dissecting the Council”.
The article first appeared in The Remnant back in September.
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It is asserted by those who would pick and choose what they see to be good in the Council documents that we must likewise acknowledge in these documents the presence, even the preponderance, of orthodox magisterial statements and teaching. That being so, the argument continues, we are not free to question these, even less may we reject them, as this would be tantamount to heresy. This is what those say who would dissect the Council into mostly good, and just a little bad. Whether or not this be true, suffice it to say, there are no quotations in any of the so-called good parts of the Council documents from the so-called “harder” traditional magisterial sources, such as the “Syllabus of Errors”, Mirari Vos, Immortale Dei, Pascendi, or Lamentablili, to name a few, all of which so urgently warn against the modern and modernist errors which flourish today even in Rome as the fruits of that same Vatican Council II.
Fine. Conceding their argument – conceding the argument of the dissectors – can we at least ask why these supposed traditional, orthodox, even infallible Catholic doctrines might have been salted in among the bad and the ugly? In doing this, did the Council intend thereby to clarify, to re-emphasize, to highlight, to reaffirm these allegedly Catholic dogmas? Is this in fact what has happened? Are the faithful – is the Body of Christ – as a consequence of the Council, more knowledgeable and better informed about their faith? Are they holier, more devout, more charitable, more authentically Catholic thanks to the Council? Can we say that the four marks of the Church – One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – are more gloriously evident today than they were before the Council? Rhetorical questions, all. You know well the answers.
So, presuming that such authentic traditional Catholic doctrine is indeed present throughout the Council documents, what was the purpose of including them with the bad and the ugly, these latter two being asserted by the dissectors to compose but a miniscule portion of the Council? The Gospel of today’s Mass could not be more dead on in answering this question: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Mt. 7:15 – 20)
So, let’s back away a bit to look at the bigger picture. What are the fruits of the Second Vatican Council? What did the conciliarists celebrate in 2015 during the golden anniversary of the Council’s close in 1965? Does Rome rejoice in the abundance of flourishing religious orders; of overflowing seminaries; in the plenitude of Catholic institutions dedicated to the performance of the corporal works of mercy – Catholic hospitals, orphanages, schools, etc.? Do they celebrate mass conversions to the Faith; is holy mother the Church honored by prominent Catholic social, political, commercial and cultural leaders who are actively building a vibrant Christendom? Are these the fruits of the Council? That my questions mock the actual tragic reality should be answer enough, and we may conclude from this that the Council is a bad tree, a tree that (in the words of today’s Gospel) must be cut down entirely and cast into the fire.
Thus, again we must ask, why the good doctrine alleged to be in the Council since it is not that which is being promoted, clarified or realized, even if it is known by its promoters to be there? I’ll tell you why. This good among the bad and the ugly in the Council, which the dissectors insist we accept under pain of being judged unfaithful and heretic, has been planted there so “as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” (Mt. 24:24)
We may say, therefore, that, whatever good doctrine might be in the Council, was put there to a bad use; and of this St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived during the 4th century of the Christian era, who was also the brother of St. Basil the Great (whose feast day we recently celebrated), in speaking of that infamous tree of the knowledge of good and evil which was the downfall of our first parents, and, consequently of us, St. Gregory says, “[Genesis] speaks of the fruit of the forbidden tree not as a thing absolutely evil (because it appears very good); nor as a thing purely good (because there is real evil hidden in it); but as a thing compounded of both, and thus, the tasting of it brings death to those who touch it.” To paraphrase St. Gregory then, may we not therefore say of the Council, it is a “thing compounded of both good and evil, and thus, the tasting of it brings death to those who touch it?”
St. Peter Damien
St. Peter Damien, another Doctor of the Church, echoing St. Gregory in speaking of the corruption of ecclesiastical law which was rampant in his day, could have just as well been speaking of the Second Vatican Council when he said, “I ask, to what pages of sacred eloquence coincide these tiresome frivolities, which so evidently contradict even themselves. Who does not consider, who does not clearly see, that these and others like them which have been falsely mixed with sacred canons are devilish inventions and have been created to deceive the minds of the simple by clever machinations? For like honey [. . . ], the poison is fraudulently infused, so that, while the sweetness of the food entices one to eat, the poison, which lies hidden, enters more easily into the entrails.
“And so”, St. Peter Damien concludes, “these deceitful and erroneous inventions are slipped in with sacred texts so as to escape the suspicion of fraud; and they are smeared, as it were, with a certain kind of honey, and flavored with the sweetness of a false piety. Avoid these things, whoever you may be, lest the Sirens’ song charm you with false sweetness, and the soul of your ship plunge into the pit.”
St. Gregory elaborates further, “This fact also clearly demonstrates the reality – the doctrine – that whatever is purely good is always so, simply and uniformly, free from all duplicity or ambiguity; while, on the other hand, whatever is evil is chameleon-like, and ever beautifully adorned, cherished as one thing, but shown by experience to be another; and the knowledge of which is the beginning and antecedent of death and destruction.”
He continues, “Knowing this about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent cleverly masked the evil fruit of sin under the glamour of a certain beauty, and conjuring into its taste the seduction of sensual pleasure, he seemed to Eve to speak convincingly, ‘and’ as the Scripture tells us, ‘the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes to behold, and fair to see; and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat,’ and in that eating became the mother of death to men.
From this St. Gregory draws the conclusion, “This, then, is that fruit of mixed character, where the passage clearly expresses the sense in which the tree was identified as capable of the knowledge of good and evil, because, like the evil nature of poisons that are prepared with honey, it seems to be good in so far as it affects the senses with sweetness. But in so far as it destroys him who touches it, it is the worst of all evils.”
Do we not, then, see in St. Gregory’s commentary on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and in St. Peter Damien’s commentary on corrupt ecclesiastical law, how perfectly, we may even say, how prophetically, 1,650 years before the fact, they condemn the Second Vatican Council as the masterpiece of duplicitous and poisonous heresy which it is?
And so, to conclude, we may judge, using the universal solvent which our Lord enunciated in today’s Gospel, “By their fruits you shall know them,” we may conclude that the Second Vatican Council, being compounded of good and evil, inasmuch as it bears entirely evil fruits, must itself be judged and reprobated as entirely evil. In saying this, we are far from rejecting whatever authentic Catholic doctrine may be in that Council, since, in rejecting the Council, we do not reject anything good, but rather the abuse of that good for the purpose of deceiving “(if possible) even the elect.”
Can we not also conclude that the Second Vatican Council was therefore a false council, a robber council, neither an ecumenical council, nor, therefore, was it an act or exercise of the authentic Magisterium? My dear friends, our Divine Savior certainly has not given any of us the competence or the authority to make such judgments, but only the grace to judge when the wolf is about, and our own salvation be in peril. These other matters we must leave to those competent by their office, and specifically called by our Lord to judge them; and these have not yet been revealed to us.
In the meantime, to paraphrase Cato the Elder, we may – nay, we must insist, Concilium Vaticanum Secundum delendum est – The Second Vatican Council must be destroyed! Amen.