John Rao | Remnant Columnist, New York
This week we are not just celebrating the octave of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is also the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Pius IX’s encyclical letter Quanta Cura and its accompanying Syllabus of Errors (December 8, 1864). This is a document that even a man as closely associated with modern experiments involving Christian Democracy as Don Luigi Sturzo (1871-1959) called a prophetic summary of an entire age of social apostasy from Christ.
Despite the libels of its opponents, the Syllabus is not merely “negative” with its eighty condemnations of modern errors. It stands tall at the head of a glorious line of march towards that more complete development of Catholic Social Doctrine that took place in subsequent pontificates—a Catholic Social Doctrine that the all too well-endowed schools of thought of Fr. John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, George Weigel, and Fr. Robert Sirico have done so much to disfigure and render impotent in our own day.
I have mentioned on a number of occasions my conversation with an Argentine friend just after the election of Pope Francis. Readers might remember that he made this rather ominous, though amusing comment: “If you try to understand him, you will lose your Reason”.
My friend uttered that phrase to underline his conviction that anyone trying to outline a heresy in the words of the pope would be barking up the wrong tree. As far as he could see, the pope’s “thought” is not “thought” in any traditional Greco-Roman-Catholic sense, and therefore cannot be held up for normal scrutiny as “orthodox” or “heterodox”. He assured me that anyone looking for orthodoxy or heresy would be able to find both, together, and even perhaps simultaneously. Take your pick.
May all you dead of the First World War rest in peace! May your death not have been in vain! Unfortunately, I fear that it was. You lived in a globe that could not accept the fact that God’s Creation is something other than a jungle ruled by the war of all against all.
November 11th marks the 96th anniversary of the end of what was simultaneously one of the most pathetic and yet most predictable conflicts in mankind’s tragic history. It was pathetic in the patent absurdity of its unfounded enthusiasms and goals, the unfathomable physical pain it inflicted, as well as its final wretched outcome. But it was all too predictable due to the logical development of a myriad of irrational principles that were Protestant in their origin, naturalist-Enlightenment in their maturation, and nationalist, racist, and class conscious in their specific emphases upon the way in which violent struggle would have a gloriously purgative and perfecting influence upon life.
Triple marriages, polygamy, homosexual unions—oh my! How horrible! Of course anyone with faith and sense would oppose them unless opposing the ideas concerned, and offending the people espousing them, might mean disturbing a pope or a bishop.
Chris Ferrara’s recent posting on Karl Keating reminded me that I wanted to weigh in on the dull, drab subject of Catholic “conservatives” just once more before the year’s end. In doing so, I would like to insist, yet again, and in all seriousness, that what we are dealing with in addressing this matter is a severe psychological problem; a particular illustration of the general mental illness from which all the varied representatives of “enlightened” modernity suffer.
I have asked Michael Matt to post this addendum to my View From Rocco’s “at the Front” due to the large number of negative emails I have received from people regarding what I said therein. Clearly, I did not get my message across. It seemed necessary, therefore, to add the following points as a footnote to my earlier report:
1) My statements regarding “awakening the pope” did not mean awakening him to the manipulations of the cabal responsible for the Synod. As I thought I had indicated, he is a willing and eager part of that cabal. Whether he or Kasper was its first creator I do not know. That he was happy with the horrible program his cabal proposed and promoted at the Synod is obvious.
War in Heaven and the City of Man: Laying the Groundwork for a Garden of Earthly Delights 1629-1689
Lecturer: John Rao, D. Phil., Oxford University
Associate Professor of History, St. John's University
September 7----Stairways to Heaven: The Baroque Cultural Environment
September 21-- Popes, Bishops, Religious, & Tridentine Reform: I
What is it that makes our Neo-Catholic brothers “comfortable” amidst all the ruins and stench? Why do they insist on remaining pathetic deniers of the great historian of the Council of Trent, Hubert Jedin’s, warning that nothing does more to abet a disaster than an unwillingness to recognize its real existence and character?
“Christ said ‘I am the Truth’. He did not say, ‘I am custom’.” (Tertullian)
How much time does it take for neo-Catholics to realize that they are dancing on a corpse? Apparently, the answer is “forever”, and this because their head is where their heart is.
The question popped into my head while sitting here at Rocco’s today, comparing this pastry shop’s situation with that of the Church in general, and wondering what I, as an historian, would write about news of the immediate collapse of both.
Editor’s Note: After long and inexplicable delays the great Pope Pius IX was finally beatified (alongside, incredibly, Pope John XXIII) on September 2, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. A few weeks from now, John XXIII is scheduled to be promoted again, this time as a canonized saint—despite the lack of any particular cult surrounding his cause, the required miracle or even a serious claim of heroic virtue. He is apparently being canonized on the grounds that during Vatican II, Yves Congar wrote in his diary that Cardinal Suenens “planned to conclude his ‘De Ecclesia’ speech asking for John XXIII’s immediate canonization by acclamation.” Evidently, John XXIII is to be canonized because his friends in the curia, mourning his death at the time, said they wanted his canonization recorded as a "Council decision". Fifty years later, they're still at it. Good for them! But on a more serious note and given Pius’ massive contribution to the Church’s heroic last stand against the very liberalism that is today tearing the world in half, some Catholics are wondering why the Vatican seems to have chosen style over substance once again. Could it possibly be that canonization has become somehow politicized? Meanwhile Pope Pius IX is again waiting in the wings, which is why even as he did for so many years back in the 1990s until Pio Nono was finally beatified, Dr. Rao is again calling for the Vatican to do the right thing. MJM
Conquered peoples frequently adopt their victors’ language, customs, religion and heroes as their own. Indeed, they often so reject their former ways as to wince with shame at the mere mention of the names of their past champions, or forget them entirely. We are rightly edified at the thought of a powerful barbarian tribe like the Franks under Clovis, Pippin, and Charlemagne being conquered by what it saw to be a superior Roman Catholic culture, and abandoning in horror its traditional pagan brutality.
“The Syllabus in complete form is already in La Civiltà Cattolica in 1850. It is nothing other than the codification, the unconditional approval, the supreme papal sanction of those principles and doctrines that, already at the time of the definition of the Immaculate Conception, that periodical had assumed the task of promoting, and which for years and years it tenaciously supported.” (A. Dioscordi, “La rivoluzione italiana e la Civiltà Cattolica”, Atti del XXXII congresso del Risorgimento italiano, Rome, 1956, p. 94.)
The Catholic world has been shaken by the recent interview with Pope Francis appearing in the Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica [Italian for Catholic Civilization, it is a periodical published since 1850 without interruptions by the Jesuits in Rome. It is among the oldest of Catholic Italian periodicals and is directly revised by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See before being published.] Having done my doctoral dissertation on the first twenty years of that periodical’s history, I thought it might be interesting to Remnant readers to know that they can find in its original articles—and, in fact, in its very reason for existence—all the grounds necessary for a faithful critique of the pope’s words. For La Civiltà Cattolica was founded in 1850 precisely to combat the obvious Church weakness and surrender to willfulness that were the inevitable by-product of the kind of “open” approach to “diverse” modern men that the Holy Father is now once again promoting. Perhaps recalling this life-giving lesson from the journal’s past may inspire second thoughts tempering the truly deadening effect of the words found in its current pages.