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Monday, September 13, 2021

The Devious Bad Will of Vatican II’s “Men of Good Will”

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The Devious Bad Will of Vatican II’s “Men of Good Will”

Faithful Catholics have penned mountains of books and articles describing the infiltration of the Catholic Church leading up to Vatican II and the seemingly unlimited anti-Catholic fruits that have followed. As the picture of treachery and incompetence becomes clearer, more Catholics have (properly) started to evaluate Vatican II in light of tradition instead of evaluating the Church’s pre-Vatican II history entirely in light of the Council. Unfortunately, the picture is still as complex as it is unpleasant. For better or worse, though, we can get a surprisingly accurate glimpse of the crisis with a simple examination of the evolving use of the phrase “men of good will.”

 

Beginning with the announcement of Our Lord’s Nativity to the shepherds by the good angels, and extending to pronouncements of those apparently led by a different set of angels today, we can trace the meaning and use of the phrase “men of good will.” As we would expect, the phrase has evolved most dramatically since Vatican II, so the chronology that follows focuses primarily on John XXIIII and his successors. When we reach Francis, we must consider the use of “men of good will” thematically rather than chronologically — in so doing we will see the endgame planned by those who seek to place the Church at the service of a New World Order.

As with so many other novelties from Vatican II, though, the architects understood exactly how they would use the ambiguous formulations to inflict damage on the Church.

The chronology begins with the angels’ song of praise:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.” (Luke 2:13-14)

St. Thomas Aquinas’s Catena Aurea and Cornelius à Lapide’s commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke each present differing interpretations of the phrase, but the following are most relevant to discerning who qualifies as “men of good will”:

Cornelius à Lapide: “Peace be to men, and yet not to all men, but to those that are of good will. Thus S. Ambrose.” “Bede says, “those who receive Christ.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: “BEDE. For whom they ask peace is explained in the words, Of good will. For them, namely, who receive the new born Christ. For there, is no peace to the ungodly, (Isa. 57:20.) but much peace to them that love the name of God. (Ps. 119:165)”

So “men of good will” does not encompass all men; and from Venerable Bede we get the sense that “good will” must entail some love of God and willingness to “receive Christ.” This makes sense when we consider that the “peace" announced by the angels would apply to those who would eventually follow Christ. As Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

We see this same sense in Pope Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical, Divini Redemptoris (on Atheistic Communism):

“In teaching this enlightening doctrine the Church has no other intention than to realize the glad tidings sung by the Angels above the cave of Bethlehem at the Redeemer’s birth: ‘Glory to God . . . and . . . peace to men . . .,' true peace and true happiness, even here below as far as is possible, in preparation for the happiness of heaven — but to men of good will.

As described in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, John XIII adopted the new practice of addressing “all men of good will” and calling them to solve the world’s secular problems:

“With the Encyclical Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope John XXIII brings to the forefront the problem of peace in an era marked by nuclear proliferation. Moreover, Pacem in Terris contains one of the first in-depth reflections on rights on the part of the Church; it is the Encyclical of peace and human dignity. It continues and completes the discussion presented in Mater et Magistra, and, continuing in the direction indicated by Pope Leo XIII, it emphasizes the importance of the cooperation of all men and women. It is the first time that a Church document is addressed also to ‘all men of good will,’ who are called to a great task: ‘to establish with truth, justice, love and freedom new methods of relationships in human society.’”

With Paul VI’s 1964 encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, we can see a further development:

“Speaking in general on the role of partner in dialogue, a role which the Catholic Church must take up with renewed fervor today, we, should like merely to observe that the Church must be ever ready to carry on the dialogue with all men of good will, within and without its own sphere.”

Some Catholics may be a subset of “men of good will,” but the category now includes all men who might have good will, even outside of the Church’s “sphere.” In all likelihood, few Catholics would have been alarmed by this seemingly minor shift.

The following year, Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, included the pivotal statement on “all men of good will”:

“Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope. All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”

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We may wonder whether any of the Council Fathers understood the far-reaching implications of this statement. Indeed, it may seem relatively benign even for many of us who readily question the Council’s novelties.

As with so many other novelties from Vatican II, though, the architects understood exactly how they would use the ambiguous formulations to inflict damage on the Church. Non-Catholics often saw this more clearly than Catholics. Here, for instance, we have a summary from a 1993 article from the (non-Catholic) Christian Research Journal:

“From the time of Cyprian until modern times, the Catholic church has affirmed the slogan — extra ecclesiam nulla salus — (no salvation outside the [visible body of the one institutional] church). Vatican II affirms, however, that salvation is ‘not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.’ These statements of Vatican II clearly opened the door for German theologian Karl Rahner's ‘anonymous Christianity’ — the belief in the possibility of salvation without explicit Christian faith, even through non-Christian religions.”

Ordinarily we would not rely too much on a non-Catholic journal’s opinion of Church teaching, but sometimes the outsider sees what those of us inside simply cannot or will not see. Moreover, it accurately reflects the mindset we see from some of the highest ranking Catholics today, almost three decades later.

Jumping ahead to the 2000 declaration from the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Jesus, we can see Cardinal Ratzinger’s congregation saying essentially the same thing as the 1993 non-Catholic journal (without the comment about Rahner’s “anonymous Christianity”):

Furthermore, the salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity. Speaking of the paschal mystery, in which Christ even now associates the believer to himself in a living manner in the Spirit and gives him the hope of resurrection, the Council states: ‘All this holds true not only for Christians but also for all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. . . .’”

So according to the future Benedict XVI, the “salvific action of Jesus” extends beyond the Church to all humanity. Is it surprising that Ratzinger, as brilliant as he is, did not choose another citation to support this proposition other than the Gaudium et Spes assertion?

Before considering how Francis has adapted “men of good will” to his own purposes, it is worth reflecting on a passage from Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics:

“The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit—baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church. The error consists in thinking that they are saved by their religion. They are saved in their religion but not by it. There is no Buddhist church in heaven, no Protestant church. This is perhaps hard to accept, but it is the truth.”

In this we see some of the same general ideas about the possibility of salvation outside the Church, but — critically — with the requisite Catholic qualifications: such persons are saved “in their religion but not by it” and their salvation requires them to do "the will of God.” A responsible Catholic authority (especially the pope or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) cannot in good faith assert that there is salvation outside the Church without adding these critical points. After Vatican II, however, the exception became the rule and “all men of good will” are saved by whatever religious beliefs they follow.

Francis calls upon all men of good will to support his initiatives to abolish capital punishment, protect marine areas, end hunger and poverty, fix the economy, and bring down the walls (national borders) that divide the world.

Turning to Francis, we can see three general themes in his widespread use of “men of good will”: the advance of a secular agenda, universal salvation, and the framework of a one world religion.

Secular Agenda: In several instances, Francis has called upon men of good will to advance his secular agenda:

“All Christians and men and women of good will are called today to work towards abolishing the death penalty, as well as improving prison conditions, in respect of human dignity and of those people deprived of freedom.” (Angelus, 21 February 2016)

“There is need for an effective cooperation between men and women of good will in assisting the ongoing work of the Creator. Sadly, all too many efforts fail due to the lack of effective regulation and means of control, particularly with regard to the protection of marine areas beyond national confines.”  (1 September 2018)

“The world is looking to us; it asks us to work together and with all men and women of good will.  It looks to us for answers and a shared commitment to various issues: the sacred dignity of the human person, the hunger and poverty which still afflict too many peoples, the rejection of violence, in particular that violence which profanes the name of God and desecrates religion, the corruption that gives rise to injustice, moral decay, and the crisis of the family, of the economy and, not least of all, the crisis of hope.” (Address to Korean Council of Religious leaders, 2 September 2017)

“Let us pray that, with the help of the Lord and the cooperation of all men and women of good will, there will spread ever further a culture of encounter, capable of bringing down all the walls which still divide the world, and that no longer will innocent people be persecuted and even killed on account of their belief and their religion. Where there is a wall, there is a closed heart.” (Angelus, 9 November 2014)

So Francis calls upon all men of good will to support his initiatives to abolish capital punishment, protect marine areas, end hunger and poverty, fix the economy, and bring down the walls (national borders) that divide the world. Setting aside the demerits of some of these initiatives, is it inherently sinister for a pope to enlist the support of “all men of good will”? Of course not — if he also encouraged these men of good will to become Catholic and save their souls we would have little reason to criticize calls to secular action, especially if they involved actual corporal works of mercy. As we will see with the discussion of the one world religion, though, Francis’s secular focus portends something far less benign.

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Universal Salvation: One of the quotes frequently cited to demonstrate Francis’s advocacy of the heretical notion of universal salvation appears to conflate the concepts of “Objective Redemption” (i.e., Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to save all men) and “Subjective Redemption” (i.e.,  each man must cooperate with God’s grace to be saved). And yet, one could also read it as setting forth a distinctly non-Catholic conception of what one needs for Subjective Redemption: 

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! . . . We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” (May 2013 homily)

Thus, although Francis does not use the “men of good will” phrase, we get a better idea of how it applies to universal salvation: men of good will need to “do good” to be saved. They do good by following Francis’s secular agenda.

Thus we can see the full program: men of good will are saved without being Catholic, but they must help with various secular tasks; and the new religion will have no doctrines or ideologies, only mercy and the willingness to collaborate with all men of good will to solve the world’s problems.

Other statements (with more theological sounding arguments) in favor of universal salvation rely explicitly on the concept of “men of good will,” including one citing the much used passage from Gaudium et Spes:

“Christians must also be prepared to establish a sincere and constructive dialogue with believers of other religions, confident that God can lead ‘all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way’ towards salvation in Christ. . . . Total salvation, of the body and of the soul, is the final destiny to which God calls all of humanity.” (Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, 16 February 2018, approved by Francis)

The Church’s mission, directed to all men and women of good will, is based on the transformative power of the Gospel. The Gospel is Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life: the life of the Risen Christ who, by bestowing his life-giving Spirit, becomes for us the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6). . . . The preaching of the Gospel thus becomes a vital and effective word that accomplishes what it proclaims: Jesus Christ, who constantly takes flesh in every human situation. . . . The Church’s mission, then, is not to spread a religious ideology, much less to propose a lofty ethical teaching.” (World Mission Day, 2017)

This last statement bridges the gap between universal salvation and the one world religion. According to Francis, the Church has a mission which does not include spreading religious ideology or ethical teaching. And yet the Church’s supposed mission is based on the “transformative power of the Gospel” — that offers the “life of the Risen Christ” — directed at all men and women of good will. What religion is this?

One World Religion. Although Francis does not directly state that he seeks to establish a religion to support the New World Order, he provides us with its contours and features. This one world religion would not necessarily abolish any religion other than actual Catholicism. Rather, the new religion provides the framework, inspiration, and ostensible moral authority to spearhead collaboration amongst all men of good will in the performance of the secular “good works” of the New World Order:

"The work of theological faculties and ecclesiastical universities contributes to the building of a just and fraternal society, in which the care of creation and the building of peace are the result of collaboration between civil, ecclesial and interreligious institutions. It is first of all a work within the ‘evangelical network,’ that is, in communion with the Spirit of Jesus who is the Spirit of peace, the Spirit of love at work in creation and in the hearts of men and women of good will of every race, culture and religion.” (Address in Naples, 21 June 2019)

“Every day we have the experience of fragility and weakness, and therefore we all, families and pastors, are in need of renewed humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to educate and be educated, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate all men of good will. I dream of an outbound Church, not a self-referential one, a Church that does not pass by far from man’s wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims the heart of the revelation of God as Love, which is Mercy.” (Letter, 25 March 2017)

“The world observes us, believers, to see what our attitude is to the common home and to human rights; it also asks us to collaborate among ourselves and with men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, so that we may give effective responses to the many scourges in our world, such as war, hunger, the poverty that afflicts millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, corruption and moral degeneration, the crisis of the family and of the economy and, above all, the lack of hope.” (Address at Clementine Hall, 18 November 2019)

Thus we can see the full program: men of good will are saved without being Catholic, but they must help with various secular tasks; and the new religion will have no doctrines or ideologies, only mercy and the willingness to collaborate with all men of good will to solve the world’s problems.

Francis and the fallen angels appear to the men of this world, barking lies about a false peace that flows from a false religion.

In all of this we can see the realization of the fears St. Pius X expressed in his 1910 encyclical, Notre Charge Apostolique:

“We fear that worse is to come: the end result of this developing promiscuousness, the beneficiary of this cosmopolitan social action, can only be a Democracy which will be neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish. It will be a religion (for Sillonism, so the leaders have said, is a religion) more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men to become brothers and comrades at last in the ‘Kingdom of God.’ – ‘We do not work for the Church, we work for mankind.’”

This describes what Francis has almost achieved: a religion led by nominal Catholics that is more universal than the Catholic Church and unites all men of good will to work for mankind.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but faithful Catholics are not invited to join Francis’s “outbound church” if they try to retain the rigid “religious ideology” and “lofty ethical teaching” the world identified with Catholicism before Vatican II. Such faithful Catholics are not, in the eyes of Francis, men and women of good will.

Francis and the fallen angels appear to the men of this world, barking lies about a false peace that flows from a false religion. But all men of good will see through these lies and are called to reject them entirely, without compromise. We must instead remain always in the Catholic Church, which alone can provide the peace actually announced to the shepherds by the angels. Heaven help us if we ever give Francis reason to think we will cooperate with his impious dreams. May Our Lord grant us the grace to stand by the Cross with His Mother and ours. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

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Last modified on Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.