Yet the priest does not stop with suggestions. At the end of the book, in a frank epilogue to the reader, the priest reveals modernism’s true intentions. Intentions that go far beyond the more superficial changes he calls for in the letters. For the modernists knew, and still know, that changes to discipline eventually lead to changes in doctrine. That is where they were headed in 1911, and, as the Synod on the Family opens more than a century later, where they are still headed today.
As one reads the excerpts below, one cannot help but feel the echoes of a demonic inspiration. As the serpent in the Garden, the author manufactures a false crisis and then sells a false solution. A false solution that the Conciliar Church has sadly bought hook line and sinker.
Without further ado, I present to you excerpts from “Letters to Pope Pius X, by a Modernist.” (Note: The bold faced headings are my own. The rest of the texts are direct quotes.)…Chris Jackson
The Modernists Understood the Future of the Church Was at Stake
...before going to the heart of the matter, a word must be said concerning the magnitude of this question of Modernism...It has brought a crisis perhaps of life and death to the mightiest religious organization that has ever existed among men. It aims at a restatement of the creed, a revolutionary change in the external polity, and a regeneration of the inner spirit of the mother-church of Christendom. Upon the issue of it depends, to an extent which those who know the movement best are most inclined to magnify, the future place of Roman Catholicism in the history of civilization.
Will the Church, which was once the arbiter of Europe, 'turn aside from traditions of secular ambition and authority? Will the great tribunal which retains its Index, still a power, and its Inquisition, now a shadow, say to the scholar: "I will not interfere with you; be free!" and to the heretic: "I will not anathematize you ; be sincere !"? Will the institution which, claiming absolute infallibility, has molded the minds of its devout adherents to total submissiveness, modify its claim, and relax the obedience in which it holds half the civilized world? These are the questions raised by Modernism. This is the crisis which has wrung a cry of terror from the present Pope. And the crisis is of so impressive a magnitude, extending indeed to other orthodoxies over and beyond the Roman; it is so full of possibilities for the religious history of the future that the interest in it must appeal not only to the Roman Catholic, but to every man reflective enough to read history in the events that happen before his eyes.
A Deal with the Devil Proposed
Your Holiness: It is my purpose to tell you why the modern world rejects and distrusts Roman Catholicism. Until we know the answer to that question Catholics are in a fool's paradise, their apologetics are inept, their dreams of conversions only hallucinations, their wider religious activities almost ridiculous. I am aware that in the marvelous mentality of the strict Roman theologian, the question is summarily answered. The most highly enlightened nations of the world have cast off Roman Catholicism because they are under the power of Satan, and of his chief instruments, the Free-Masons. Voila! The problem is solved. This solution I have no intention of refuting. It would degrade the intellect of a grown man to discuss it. Merely let me say, Your Holiness, that the educated minds of Germany, France, England, and the United States, have not set the Father of Falsehood upon the altar of the God of Truth ; and that whenever the Catholic religion shall appear before them as a purely spiritual society, existing for no other purpose whatsoever than to reproduce the Christ-life upon earth, they will turn to her with overflowing hearts, will merge all their differences in a world-wide spiritual brotherhood, and will recognize with new ardor the supreme leadership of Jesus Christ.
The Church Must Progress!
The Catholic Church has reached a crisis in comparison with which every peril of her past history was insignificant. She is now in conflict with ideas. She is now striving to justify herself in the face of science. She is now called to account before the stern tribunal of peoples who have grown to intellectual and ethical maturity. She is now wrestling with the problems of that insistent Freedom, that vast Liberty, that militant Democracy, that sovereign Individuality, into which the modern world has grown. To adopt your own word, O Roman Pontiff, she is in the storm and stress of conflict with Modernism. Never, let me repeat, has the world gone back over traversed paths of progress. Never has history permanently reversed its course. Onward, onward, irresistibly swing the marching hosts of men. Thus they fulfil their destiny. Thus God has made provision for their education. Thus must the germs of higher life grow into richer fruit. The past must teach the present, but so teach it that it may grow away from the past to a nobler future. This is life; this is progress; and only in life and progress is there righteousness and truth.
The Pope Must Apologize to the World
Your Holiness: It would be ungracious to recall the past attitude of the Papacy toward freedom of conscience, if the Papacy had repented of that attitude, had disavowed and radically changed it. The world indeed would hardly credit Rome's repentance unless it gave forth some official and explicit declaration that it was ashamed of the blood upon its pontifical robes, and that henceforth it would recognize and respect religious liberty, not as an expedient merely, but as a principle and a truth. If ever retraction and apology be required of any institution, assuredly it is required of that one, the steps to whose throne of world-wide power are built of the bones of murdered men. Blood-guiltiness calls for avowed sorrow and express contrition, and until Rome shall speak of its Inquisition in the accents of contrition, the world will not forget the past.
The Liturgy Must Be Reformed
…Efforts towards simplicity and away from unreality in the Church's devotional life have been attempted by many modernists in the last two centuries, but both the efforts and the authors of them have gone the way of all reform and all reformers. The Synod of Pistoia pleaded for worship in the vernacular, and was condemned. Rather than allow the faithful that direct cooperation in divine worship which the early Christians enjoyed, and which gives to Protestant service so much attractiveness and sincerity, the Papacy compels them to be mere spectators at a show. The priest is as aloof from Catholic congregations in the acts of his ministry as were the pagan priests from theirs.
The instinctive need of genuine worship to express itself in words is held in check ; the very understanding of the prayers and petitions at the altar is either obscured or destroyed by the use of an ancient language. And if the function is "solemn", the sentiment of worship is itself annihilated by incensings, marchings, and a puzzling perplexity of maneuverings.
In certain ceremonies, a pontifical mass, the dedication of a church, the baptizing of a bell, the blessings of oils, and some others, what with the grotesque vestments, the senseless sprinklings, the unintelligible chanting, the putting on and taking off of hats, the kissing of rings and thuribles and cruets, it is impossible to be devout, and most assuredly it is impossible to discern anything of the spirit of the New Testament. Yet to every plea for sincerity, reality and truth in the great matter of common worship, Rome turns a scornful and angry face.
The Papacy Must Be Radically Changed
Your Holiness: In this endeavor of mine to inform you why the enlightened nations of today reject the Papacy, and what deep-seated changes the Papacy must undergo before the men of our time will give it the favor of their attention, I have pointed out that the first principle of our civilization, freedom of conscience, is violated and despised by the official teaching of your See.
I come now to the second great principle of civilized society, which is that non-representative autocracies are tyrannical, and representative government alone is right and just.
...It is not then, your Holiness, merely by condemning any particular excess...but by renovating the entire spirit of your Papal system, that you can gratify yourself with the hope of ever winning the modern world to Catholicism.
Not until free personality takes its place in the Catholic mind, not till character becomes honored in Catholic practice and worship, not till mechanism is replaced by individuality, automatic obedience by endeavor, and the Papacy's military discipline by Christ's inward kingdom, can there be aught but defeat and dissolution in the prospect of the Papacy.
The Church Needs Updating (Vatican II Envisioned)
...If you wish to make Catholicism respectable, and avert from it the ruin and death which now appear inevitable, is it possible for you not to see that no other means will avail to this end than the spiritualizing, and, let us not shrink from the word, the modernizing of the Church?...
That the changes which spirituality and scholarship demand from Roman Catholicism are profound and even perilous, there can be no denying. The perplexity indeed is awful. To remain as of old means certain death; to obey the summons of Reform may mean distress and scandal to many, and great injury to some. But surely we cannot lessen the gravity of the situation by not thinking of it. Think of it we must in prudence; provide for it we must in conscience. The adaptations called for need not after all, be the work of a day. Only let the Roman Church begin to show even common courtesy to our civilization, and in this, small as it is, we shall recognize the beginning of a better day, a sign of life in the midst of death. Let Catholics be allowed to hold that freedom of conscience is an inalienable right of man. Let some Pope speak out a brave word of execration upon the Inquisition. Let there be liberty for Catholic professors to teach that union of Church and State is not demanded by the Christian religion as an ideal.
Let indulgences and all other heathenism be abolished. Let a representative government, autonomous local synods, and home-rule generally, supersede the present Italian and Papal despotism. Let scholars hold the modernist views as to the nature of dogma and the function of authority. Above all — and this is the one condition which will prevent these concessions from resulting in any great measure of harm — let the whole endeavor of the Church and hierarchy be to promote the Christ-ideal on earth. Roman Pontiff, too seldom have you and your predecessors lifted the hand of healing; too often the brutal fist of tyranny. Go out among the poor. Fling aside these apostate ambitions for a Papal kingdom. Strip off the Church's death-clothes of formalism, intrigue, pomp, superstition. Turn the vast energies of official Catholicism toward simplicity, fraternity, sympathy…. Reform in the Roman communion is always from the people; never, until the coercion of public opinion becomes irresistible, from Curias and Popes.
The Mask Comes Off – First Change Discipline, Then Change Dogma
It may occur to some that there is a notable inconsistency in these letters. For whereas, in the first part of them I urge reforms that are merely of discipline and administration, I express views in the latter part which openly conflict with theological standards of faith. What possible interest can I have, it may be asked, in accidental reforms, when I have made shipwreck of orthodoxy itself? Suppose the Church made all the changes in non-essential points which are here suggested, it would not bring her one step nearer the more vital modification of dogma for which I have just been arguing.
This last statement I absolutely reject — and in rejecting it I think I avoid the inconsistent position which may appear on the surface. In pleading for charity, justice and simplicity in official Roman Catholicism, I profoundly believe that I am thereby urging the first step of a process that must end with destroying the existing rigidity of dogma...
...In urging, therefore, disciplinary and administrative reforms in the Roman Catholic division of Christendom, I have been aiming all along at the higher and holier end of hewing away the intellectual barriers which, to the most grievous injury of pure religion, are keeping Christians apart. Let charity but reign in the province of religion, superstition be cast aside, and secularity abolished, and I am convinced that dogmatic formulas, as finalities, will follow them in the course of time. The cleansing of the spiritual sense to the extent of enabling it to see that true religion must dispense with superstition and brutality, will also purify it in due season to the extent of revealing to it that our relations with Deity are too interior and too lofty to be shackled by the theologies of past ages immeasurably less enlightened than our own...
...This last step in the long evolution of religion will be hastened by every plea for fraternity, by every protest against tyranny, by every denunciation of superstition. Wherever there is a notable good-fellowship between Catholic and Protestant, there inevitably results, though, it may be, unconsciously to those directly concerned, a diminution of the importance of their respective theologies, and a recognition that with God sincerity and an upright conscience are of incomparably vaster importance than the official formulas of creeds. The logical end of this will be the placing of religion upon its proper basis of personality and character, and the considering of dogmatic metaphysics as merely subsidiary and unessential.In urging then, Popes, Curias and hierarchies, to cast aside their ancient tyranny, to abandon secular ambitions, to destroy superstitions, and to use their great power for the promotion of philanthropy, brotherhood, the cultivation of character, freedom social and freedom intellectual, I am convinced, as I have said, that I am recommending a great and necessary advance toward the day when transcendental speculations on the Inscrutable will dominate and divide us no longer; but the eternal principles of undefiled religion and Christ's blessed spirit will unite us in a federation of kinship to one another, and of sonship to God, freed forevermore from the dissensions born of creeds, and so often consummated at the stake, and going forward together in concord and peace, toward the divine event to which the whole creation moves.