Even those familiar with Bea’s role at Vatican II may not appreciate how important he was to almost all components of the current crisis in the Church. As discussed below, his influence began with Pius XII and extends to Francis’s Synod on Synodality. If we want to truly understand how we got to this point, and where Francis and his collaborators want to take us, we must know about Bea’s work.
Even though we rightly give Bugnini the treacherous distinction of causing the most harm to the liturgy, it appears that Bea was an able, and perhaps even essential, accomplice.
Confessor to Pius XII. As Bea’s longtime secretary, Fr. Stjepan Schmidt, related in his Augustin Bea: Cardinal of Unity, Pius XII needed to have a German-speaking confessor: “[S]ince he had three German nuns to keep house for him, he decided to call a German-speaking priest who could act as confessor both for the sisters and himself.” Pius XII’s first two german-speaking confessors died, so Pius XII chose Fr. Bea as his confessor in 1945. From that point, Bea had a meaningful influence on Pius XII:
“[F]rom the time that he chose him as his own confessor, the pope took to asking his advice more and more often. He wanted to be able to discuss with Bea the serious problems that were submitted to him by the Holy Office, and therefore wanted him to be fully involved as consultor [at the Holy Office] so that he would be fully conversant with these matters, both through personal study and through participation in the regular weekly meetings of that department.” (p. 144)
Although we have no definitive confirmation of Fr. Bea’s influence on Pius XII, Fr. Karl Stehlin speculated that Bea might have had some impact on the pope’s positions regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“[Around 1952], Pius XII began to change his position towards Fatima and he practically never spoke of Fatima again. . . . [I]n his encyclical Mystici Corporis in 1943 he presents Our Lady as Co-redemptrix, as the New Eve and Mediatrix of all graces. Since 1950 he avoids these terms and insists more on her power of intercession. Father Bea had already a very ecumenical attitude towards the Protestants, and certainly wanted to please them. Maybe his influence on the Pope could have provoked this change of attitude.” (Fr. Stehlin, The Great Secret of Fatima, Volume III, p. 42)
Of course this does not prove that Bea had an adverse influence on Pius XII’s papacy. However, as we survey Bea’s involvement in so many destructive changes, it seems improbable that Pius XII could have escaped his toxic influence.
Through the initiative of Bea, John XXIII established the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and appointed Bea as its president.
Liturgical Reform. All of us know the disastrous fruits of the liturgical reform that took place after Vatican II, but signifiant changes already occurred during the papacy of Pius XII, including changes to Holy Week. As Fr. Schmidt describes, Bea played an important role in that process:
“Although he was not a ‘professional liturgist,’ he was given the opportunity to give a decisive spur to the beginning of liturgical reform. And this was one of the reasons why Pius XII assigned him to the ‘Commission of Eight’ which was responsible for this reform in the ten years prior to the Council.” (p. 216)
As the infamous (and likely Freemasonic) secretary of the “Commission of Eight,” Annibale Bugnini, described, Bea’s importance to the liturgical reform resulted, at least in part, from his relationship to Pius XII:
“Everybody eventually came to wait for and welcome his contributions, in which he would make observations that were always pertinent, firmly based and very prudent, and suggest orientations in which various people often thought they could recognize or at least glimpse the thought of the Holy Father Pius XII, to whom he was one of the few to have frequent access.” (p. 146)
Fr. Schmidt also provided two quotes from German liturgist J. Wagner, which give us a deeper appreciation for Bea’s work:
“I can certainly suppose that two great services and thus merits [of Father Bea] as concerns liturgical renewal are known to wider circles: his leading position in preparing the new Latin translation of the psalter, which set consideration of the reform of the breviary in motion, and then his work concerning the reform of the Easter vigil, which acted as a signal for the general liturgical reform.” (p. 235)
“It was an unforgettable moment for me when he [Bea], during the discussion of the Ordo Missae and the need for the reform of the Roman canon, stated with total clarity and without beating around the bush that the vernacular was also necessary in the context of the eucharistic prayer — and this was before anything of this kind had ever been imagined.” (p. 544)
Thus, even though we rightly give Bugnini the treacherous distinction of causing the most harm to the liturgy, it appears that Bea was an able, and perhaps even essential, accomplice.
As more and more faithful Catholics have realized, the evils we see now from Francis’s Synod on Synodality have their roots in Vatican II.
Eucharistic Fast. Fr. Schmidt also pointed to Bea’s role in persuading Pius XII to allow evening Mass and shorten the duration of the Eucharistic fast. In connection with the latter change, we can see Bea’s aptitude in overturning ancient tradition:
“[Bea] said that in view of the fact that a radical change in a very ancient tradition was involved, they must move very cautiously and examine practical results before taking further steps. However, he immediately referred to such further steps: ‘The main thing is that the stone has been set rolling; everything else is simply a question of time. We must earnestly pray that the development will not take too long.’” (p. 221)
This skill would later allow Bea to become one of the most important figures at Vatican II and the cause of so much of the crisis we see today.
Pius XII’s Humani Generis. The final topic to consider in connection with Pius XII is the pope’s important 1950 encyclical on the errors threatening Catholic doctrine, Humani Generis. As Fr. Schmidt described, Bea did what he could to help others navigate the “negativity” of the encyclical:
“A fellow Jesuit confides his bitterness over the fact that ‘some Roman censor’ of the order is hostile to the works of certain people and has been preventing their publication. Bea answers with a long letter, saying that it is not a question of hostility or ill-will, but rather of the fact that we are still in the shadow of the encyclical Humani Generis, and that since the order has suffered considerably from its effects, the superiors — and consequently also the censors — must be doubly prudent and cautious.” (pp. 256-257)
Bea evidently understood that he could not openly defy Pius XII. As he expressed, the better path was to proceed cautiously, with hopes that they would not long remain in the shadow of Humani Generis.
Ecumenism. With the death of Pius XII, the “shadow” of Humani Generis disappeared and Bea began his true work of “Christian Unity” in earnest. As Fr. Schmidt described, Bea’s position in the Holy Office played a significant role in this work:
“As concerns the general context in which Bea approached the question of Christian Unity, we must start with an observation that will surprise more than one reader: the immediate context that led to Bea’s increasingly close involvement was in fact his work at the Holy Office . . . at that time (i.e., prior to to the creation of the Secretariat for Christian Unity), the Vatican department had exclusive authority in all questions concerning other Christians (‘heretics’ or ‘schismatics’ as they were then called). Bea’s relations and contacts, both official and non-official, with brethren in other churches or ecclesial communities were thus occasioned by his position as consultor to this congregation.” (p. 237)
Fr. Schmidt also noted the way in which Bea’s involvement with the Holy Office coincided with a change in the approach to ecumenism:
“[I]t was during the first months of Bea’s work at the Holy Office that the latter had issued its first positive document on the ecumenical movement, in the form of the instruction of December 1949. A bare year previously, with a view to the first (and constituent) assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam, the same Vatican department had issued a sharp and decidedly negative ‘warning’ that anyone wishing to attend such ecumenical gatherings had to have explicit authorization from the Holy See, and even if they obtained such permission Catholics could only attend in the neutral guise of ‘journalists.’ The new instruction, on the other hand, recognized that the ecumenical movement had been born under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit . . .” (pp. 237-238)
Fr. Schmidt admitted that he had no direct evidence that Bea changed the Holy Office’s stance on ecumenism. At the very least, however, this involvement allowed Bea to better understand the obstacles he would face in attempting to reshape the Church’s views on Christian Unity.
Bea also helped push the introduction of the concept of the “People of God,” which plays prominently in the Synodal documents.
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Through the initiative of Bea, John XXIII established the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and appointed Bea as its president. On the fiftieth anniversary of Bea’s death, one of the lectures celebrating his life highlighted the vast importance of this role:
“Not only was he a member of the central preparatory commission, he also exercised significant influence via the Secretariat for Christian Unity on the creation of important Council documents, such as the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, ‘Dei verbum,’ the Decree on Ecumenism ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions, ‘Nostra aetate’ and the Declaration on Religious Freedom, ‘Dignitatis humanae.’”
Because John XXIII presented Christian Unity as the primary objective of Vatican II, Bea was undeniably one of the most important figures of Vatican II.
Vatican II — Ecumenical Influence on Today’s Synod. As more and more faithful Catholics have realized, the evils we see now from Francis’s Synod on Synodality have their roots in Vatican II. In this regard, Fr. Schmidt listed four ecclesiological focus areas for Bea’s work, three of which are cornerstones of the Synodal Church:
“[F]rom the start of its preparatory work the secretariat had included various ecclesiological subjects in its program: the church-membership of baptized non-Catholics, the hierarchical structure of the church, the common priesthood of the faithful and the position of lay people in the church, as well as the fraught subject of mixed marriages.” (p. 364)
The Synod does not appear to have focused on mixed marriages, but the other three areas — Church membership of non-catholics, the Church’s hierarchical structure, and the common priesthood of the laity — are essential building blocks of the Synodal Church. Bea also helped push the introduction of the concept of the “People of God,” which plays prominently in the Synodal documents:
“Let us start with the concept of the People of God. Referring to the first two chapters of the draft constitution on the church presented by the Doctrinal Commission (under Cardinal Ottaviani), the president of the secretariat started by stressing that the subject was of major importance for all baptized people. . . [Bea observed that] ‘it is the people itself — and each member of the people, according to his or her own position and vocation — that has as such, as people of God, received the promises; it is the people of God that has been entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the gospel; it is the people of God that has the task of consecrating the world.” (pp. 364-365)
It is difficult to overstate the significance of this concept of the People of God: if the Synodal Church is actually comprised of all baptized people, most of whom actively oppose Catholicism, then it should come as absolutely no surprise that Francis wants the Synodal Church to be open to such things as the blessing of same-sex marriage, Communion for all people, or anything else we see in Protestant religions.
This mentality animates the Synod on Synodality, with Francis and his collaborators ready to change “disciplinary matters” to accommodate non-Catholics, all in the name of inclusivity.
We should understand as well that Bea stressed that changing the Church’s disciplinary matters to accommodate non-Catholics was a way in which the Church should manifest its love for other Christians:
“One particular expression of the loving attitude of the Council will be its approach to what are referred to as 'disciplinary matters,’ in other words matters concerning canon law, the liturgy and various forms of piety. In this connection the cardinal observes: ‘Nor will it be forgotten in the Council that all these questions of language, rite, church singing and such things are marginal matters and must not constitute a reef on which the great cause of unity is wrecked.’” (p. 405)
This mentality animates the Synod on Synodality, with Francis and his collaborators ready to change “disciplinary matters” to accommodate non-Catholics, all in the name of inclusivity.
Broader Unity — Jewish Relations. Thus far we have seen how John XXIII and Bea focused the Council’s efforts on taking steps to unite all Christians. From that perspective, Fr. Schmidt’s description of Bea’s role in fostering relations with the Jewish people may come as a surprise:
“The secretariat had barely been set up and its president nominated when a further important sphere of activity was already being prepared for it — that of relations with the Jewish people. The biblical image of the mustard seed can very aptly be applied to the birth of this sector. At the beginning of such an historical undertaking, there were neither large organizations not mass movements, but three old men: Jules Isaac, Pope John XXIII and Cardinal Bea.” (p. 332)
We can assess the fruits of Bea’s labors if we simply consider the description of the “Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies”:
“The Cardinal Bea Centre of the Gregorian University — taking its name and inspiration from the farsighted vision of the Jesuit Augustin Bea, principal architect of the Declaration Nostra Aetate — promotes the knowledge of Judaism and its theological aspect starting from both a Jewish and a Christian perspective. This takes place through teaching, research, and academic exchange between Christians and Jews, aimed at fostering relationships that produce mutual enrichment.”
According to Fr. Schmidt, Bea’s work on Jewish relations involved not only removing suggestions of Jewish guilt in connection with Our Lord’s death but also stressing the horrors of the Holocaust.
Bea described the Church’s “duty” to affirm the “morally honest and healthy” things in false religions rather than try to convert those who belong to them... Translation: it is too hard to convert people to Catholicism so we must teach them why it is so good for them to keep their false religions. This is all blasphemous sophistry, and yet we see so many echoes from Francis and his Synod.
Complete Unity — Uniting All Humanity. Those who have followed the Synod on Synodality might have noticed that various statements relate to uniting all mankind rather than simply all Christians. Indeed, the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris cites Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium to suggest that the Church defines itself in terms of uniting all humanity:
“In a Church that defines itself as a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity (cf. LG 1), the discourse on mission focuses on the lucidity of the sign and the efficacy of the instrument, without which any proclamation lacks credibility.”
Fr. Schmidt quoted Cardinal Johannes Willebrands on how Bea saw this as part of his overall vision of ecumenism:
“Even in his ecumenical work, Cardinal Bea did not hold only Christians in mind; he always had the whole of humankind in view. Tirelessly he emphasized the fact that Christian Unity is not an end in itself, but that it is in the service of humankind.” (p. 572)
Lest we consider this desire to unite all humanity as purely aspirational, we can consider the way in which Bea described the Church’s “duty” to affirm the “morally honest and healthy” things in false religions rather than try to convert those who belong to them:
“Since in the normal way of things the conversion of non-Christians is a very difficult task, which is slow and often concerns relatively few converts, it follows that in actual fact for many people — in practice, for the majority — the only way to salvation is that of living in good faith according to the religion they have inherited from their fathers, and of following the moral code they know. Hence, if the church wishes to help them — as is its duty, by reason of its mission to be the salvation of all people — on the basis of real possibilities, the work it performs through the new secretariat will concentrate on the confirmation of what is naturally good, true, and morally honest and healthy in the religions and practical life of these non-Christians.” (p. 607)
Translation: it is too hard to convert people to Catholicism so we must teach them why it is so good for them to keep their false religions. This is all blasphemous sophistry, and yet we see so many echoes from Francis and his Synod.
If we want to find the common denominator in all of this, it is worthwhile to consider the point Michael Matt made in his recent Remnant Underground: the Synod’s focus on the brotherhood of all men is Freemasonic. Staggeringly, this reminds us of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s words about Bea in his They Have Uncrowned Him:
“‘Freemasons, what do you want? What do you ask of us?’ Such is the question Cardinal Bea went to ask the B’nai B’rith before the beginning of the Council. The interview was announced by all the newspapers of New York, where it took place. And the Freemasons answered that what they wanted was ‘religious liberty!’ — that is to say, all the religions put on the same footing. The Church must no longer be called the only true religion, the sole path of salvation, the only one accepted by the State.” (p. 214)
Today we are seeing the fulfillment of Bea’s work and the Freemasonic dream, which is ultimately demonic. We know that God will crush these enemies of the Church leading the Synod, but it remains to be seen how much more damage they can inflict on the Mystical Body of Christ. May God reward those faithful shepherds who are fighting against the Synodal wickedness, and soon give the Church many other shepherds to join their ranks! Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
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