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Monday, May 13, 2024

Francis’s “Creative Fidelity to Tradition” and the Complete Impotence of the Vatican II Religion

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Francis’s “Creative Fidelity to Tradition” and the Complete Impotence of the Vatican II Religion

“For you know, venerable brothers, that these bitter enemies of the Christian name, are carried wretchedly along by some blind momentum of their mad impiety; they go so far in their rash imagining as to teach without blushing, openly and publicly, daring and unheard-of doctrines, thereby uttering blasphemies against God. They teach that the most holy mysteries of our religion are fictions of human invention, and that the teaching of the Catholic Church is opposed to the good and the prerogatives of human society.” (Blessed Pope Pius IX, Qui Pluribus)

 

In his May 10, 2024 address to members of the International Network for Societies for Catholic Theology (INSeCT), Francis discussed three guidelines for his theology:

"I would like to point to three guidelines for theology: creative fidelity to tradition, a cross-disciplinary approach and collegiality. These are the essential ‘ingredients’ of the vocation of Catholic theologians in the heart of the Church.”

What did Francis mean by “creative fidelity to tradition”? In his description of each of the three guidelines, he replaced the “creative fidelity to tradition” phrase with the concept that “tradition is living”:

“As we all know, Tradition is living. Consequently, it must increase and incarnate the Gospel in every land and in all cultures.”

Many Traditional Catholics have heard this concept before — usually expressed as “living tradition” — and may even know about its pre-Vatican II theological origins. In equating “living tradition” with “creative fidelity to tradition,” though, Francis effectively admitted what the proponents of the Vatican II revolution have denied since the Council: he made it evident that when the innovators use the term “living tradition” they mean that they are actually departing from tradition while “creatively” trying to maintain an appearance of adhering to it.

John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei provided a concrete example of how the innovators actually implement their “creative fidelity to tradition”.

In this light, we can better interpret the most contentious use of the concept of “living tradition,” which John Paul II included in his 1988 apostolic letter, Ecclesia Dei, relating to the “excommunication” of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for his consecration of four bishops without approval from Rome:

“The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, ‘comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.’”

From the perspective of Archbishop Lefebvre, John Paul II was using “living character of tradition” in the same way that Francis spoke of “creative fidelity to tradition.” If John Paul II had used the latter phrase, though, he would have lost all credibility with many who ultimately agreed with him.

Somewhat ironically, John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei provided a concrete example of how the innovators actually implement their “creative fidelity to tradition”:

“I should like to remind theologians and other experts in the ecclesiastical sciences that they should feel themselves called upon to answer in the present circumstances. Indeed, the extent and depth of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council call for a renewed commitment to deeper study in order to reveal clearly the Council's continuity with Tradition, especially in points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the Church.”

We can summarize the points of this paragraph as follows:

  • Vatican II taught things that are not immediately reconcilable with Catholic tradition.
  • As such, John Paul II called upon theologians and experts to have a “renewed commitment to deeper study” to reveal how the Council’s teachings were in continuity with Catholic tradition.
  • John Paul II said that this was necessary because some of the Council’s doctrines were “new,” and thus not yet “well understood by some sections of the Church.”
  • John Paul II — who himself was an influential expert at the Council — issued this call for “deeper study” over twenty years after the conclusion of the Council.

In other words, John Paul II pleaded for theologians and experts to engage in “creative fidelity to tradition” to help those sympathetic to Archbishop Lefebvre understand why they should not oppose the Council’s “new” teaching. But isn’t that something the theologians and experts should have done during the Council, before foisting the new teachings on the Church?

John Paul II admitted that the Council taught “new doctrine,” which did not have any evident continuity with Catholic tradition (otherwise there would be no need for theologians to search for that continuity, over twenty years after the Council).

To appreciate the grave scandal of this concept of “creative fidelity to tradition,” we need only consider the words of Vatican I’s Pastor Aeturnus:

“For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the Apostles.”

John Paul II admitted that the Council taught “new doctrine,” which did not have any evident continuity with Catholic tradition (otherwise there would be no need for theologians to search for that continuity, over twenty years after the Council). According to Vatican I, and the entirely of Catholic tradition, the Holy Ghost does not guide the Church in this activity — and, indeed, it is blasphemous to assert that the Holy Ghost guided the Council in developing and promulgating new doctrines.

Given that the Holy Ghost does not guide the Church in promulgating new doctrines that have no legitimate continuity with Catholic tradition, it should come as no surprise that the new orientation flowing from Vatican II has not produced the effects that the innovators promised. However, the problem is far worse than merely failing to achieve desirable effects: Vatican II’s process of developing new teaching transformed the resulting religion into one made by man rather than God. And, in the process, the new Vatican II religion lost all of the potency of the actual Catholic religion.

While there are, of course, supernatural reasons for the man-made Vatican II religion losing the sanctifying power belonging to the holy Catholic religion, we can readily identify purely natural reasons for it to become comparatively impotent. As we know from the closing words of the Act of Faith, we believe the truths of the Catholic Faith because God has revealed them:

“I believe these and all truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”

Catholics believe Catholic truths because God has revealed them. But we know this cannot be said of the Vatican II religion because its “truths” contradict what the Church had always taught in numerous ways, which would make God a deceiver. Thus, the primary motive for believing the Catholic Faith is absent from the Vatican II religion, because it is from man rather than God.

The upshot of Paul VI’s promulgation of Humanae Vitae was to demonstrate conclusively that Rome did not really care if anyone followed the religion.

Moreover, Paul VI and his successors have permitted the majority of Catholics following the Vatican II religion to reject its teachings with impunity, at least those teachings that the Vatican II religion retains from the Catholic religion from which it departed. For example, we tend to applaud Paul VI for upholding the Church’s teaching on contraception; but the reality is that he did little to actually encourage Catholics to follow that teaching. Therefore the upshot of Paul VI’s promulgation of Humanae Vitae was to demonstrate conclusively that Rome did not really care if anyone followed the religion.

The Synod on Synodality takes all of this to its logically absurd and malicious conclusion, such that we could formulate the respective motives of belief for the Catholic Church and Synodal Church as follows:

Catholic Church: “I believe these and all truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”

Synodal Church: “I pick and choose between the ideas that the Synodal Church teaches because they are fabricated by heterodox Catholics who have rejected what the Catholic Church always taught.”

The difference between these is not subtle. And the results are even more apparent: no reasonable person truly believes Synodal religion, which is simply an advanced form of the Vatican II religion. The Synodal religion is from hell and leads to hell, but we should be grateful to it for showing us the wicked insanity of the “creative fidelity to tradition,” which is simply a more honest way of describing the way in which the innovators have thought of “living tradition.”

Simple Catholics who humbly adhere to what the Church has always taught have been persecuted by Rome ever since Vatican II, and yet their communities have steadily grown in every important metric in that time: numbers who attend Mass on a weekly basis; numbers of churches; vocations to the priesthood and religious life; marriages; and baptisms.

It appears that God permits all of this so that more souls will realize that humble fidelity to tradition is the path He wants us to follow. Michael Matt recently provided an example of this humble fidelity in his homage to his father, Walter Matt:

“My father used to refer to himself as a ‘pick and shovel’ editor. He didn’t reinvent the wheel. He just chained himself to the traditional Catholic Faith and never let go. He was a journalist whose every line demonstrated that he was a Catholic who lived in the world but not of it. He didn’t care what the world thought of him; he only cared what God thought. He was a man who called a spade a spade no matter who was using it to bury God.”

Walter Matt founded The Remnant but did not consider himself to be the founder of any new religious movement — he did not “reinvent the wheel.” Instead, as almost the entire Catholic world either abandoned the Faith or chased an adulterated version of it, he “chained himself to the traditional Catholic Faith and never let go.” He did this because actual Catholic tradition has been faithfully handed down through the centuries from Christ and His Apostles. It is not the content of the Faith that matters, it is the fact that it comes from God.

Simple Catholics who humbly adhere to what the Church has always taught have been persecuted by Rome ever since Vatican II, and yet their communities have steadily grown in every important metric in that time: numbers who attend Mass on a weekly basis; numbers of churches; vocations to the priesthood and religious life; marriages; and baptisms. For those who pay attention to how Jesus Christ told us to judge — by the fruits we see (Matthew 7:16-20) — this tells us all we need to know. The Catholic Faith is not impotent or irrelevant today, far from it; it is the ridiculous and blasphemous Vatican II religion that is impotent and irrelevant, and fit for nothing but to be cut down and cast into the fire (Matthew 7:19). Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

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Last modified on Monday, May 13, 2024
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.