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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Why is God, Our Loving Father, Permitting the Worsening Crisis in the Church and World?

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Why is God, Our Loving Father, Permitting the Worsening Crisis in the Church and World?

In his message to end 2022, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò invoked the image of God as a loving Father:

“The Lord is our Father, and as Father He punishes us so that we understand our faults, repent of them, and change our lives. Deus, qui culpa offenderis, pœnitentia placaris, says a prayer of Lent: O God, who is offended by guilt and appeased by penance. Wherever there is guilt, wherever the Majesty of God is infinitely offended, there is the need of a punishment. Flagella tuæ iracundiæ, quæ pro peccatis nostri meremur: the scourges of Your indignation, which we merit because of our sins – just as so often happened to the people of Israel.”

Unlike the spoiled children who applaud Francis’s unholy attempts to change the Church, faithful Catholics yearn to be God’s loving and obedient children, even though we may fail a thousand times a day. And so, reading Archbishop Viganò’s words, we naturally ponder the ways in which the “Majesty of God is infinitely offended” today, as we feel the loving Father’s punishments.

The fact that we have so many villains in positions of leadership is itself a severe punishment, so we must try to better understand the conditions that allowed Francis, Biden, and their collaborators to gain such power. And, because the grave crisis in the world has been so greatly exacerbated by the crisis in the Church, we can focus on what has gone wrong in the Church.

All of us can identify ways in which those in control of the Church and world today offend God, and so we might be tempted to say that God is punishing us because Francis, Biden, etc. are serving the prince of this world rather than God. But the fact that we have so many villains in positions of leadership is itself a severe punishment, so we must try to better understand the conditions that allowed Francis, Biden, and their collaborators to gain such power. And, because the grave crisis in the world has been so greatly exacerbated by the crisis in the Church, we can focus on what has gone wrong in the Church.

In this regard, it is useful to reflect initially on a few passages from A Bitter Trial: Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan on the Liturgical Changes (edited by Dom Alcuin Reid). Even though his Helena (about the discovery of the True Cross) and biography of St. Edmund Campion are brilliant and edifying, Evelyn Waugh was no saint: he described himself as “typical of that middle rank of the Church, far from her leaders, much father from her saints . . .” As such, we can read his concerns, and the responses of Cardinal Heenan, as somewhat representative of most Catholics who loved the Church and wanted to do God’s will.

The first passage to consider relates to ecumenism. Waugh’s November 23, 1962 essay in The Spectator, “The Same Again, Please,” is worth reading in its entirety, but his comment on the relations between Christian denominations is especially relevant:

“The popular newspapers have caught at phrases in the Pope's utterances to suggest that there is a prospect of the reunion of Christendom. Most Christians, relying on the direct prophecies of Our Lord, expect this to occur in some moment of historical time. Few believe that moment to be imminent. The Catholic aspiration is that the more manifest the true character of the Church can be made, the more dissenters will be drawn to make their submission. There is no possibility of the Church modifying her defined doctrines to attract those to whom they are repugnant.”

As Waugh asserted, it is impossible for the Church to modify its defined doctrines to attract non-Catholics. This is the immutable Catholic position even though it is now rejected, at least implicitly, by most Catholics. In his response to Waugh’s essay in The Spectator, Cardinal Heenan noted that some of the Council Fathers were pushing for the false ecumenism we know so well today, which runs counter to Waugh’s Catholic understanding:

“The real difficulty (I think) is that Continentals are twisting themselves inside out to make us look as like as possible to the Protestants.” (November 25, 1962)

Thus, even before John XXIII died, Waugh and Cardinal Heenan — and presumably a signifiant percentage of other faithful Catholic laity and clergy — realized there was some threat from the Council related to the push toward false ecumenism.

Thus, even before John XXIII died, Waugh and Cardinal Heenan — and presumably a signifiant percentage of other faithful Catholic laity and clergy — realized there was some threat from the Council related to the push toward false ecumenism.

In Waugh’s letter to Lady Daphne Acton, dated March 15, 1963, we can already see his distaste for the role the Germans were playing in reshaping the Church, particularly the Liturgy:

“I think it a great cheek of the Germans to try and teach the rest of the world anything about religion. They should be in perpetual sackcloth and ashes for all their enormities from Luther to Hitler.”

We now know from Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows into the Tiber that the German-speaking bishops played a profound role in most of the Conciliar innovations, and Waugh saw it while the Council was still in its early stages. Then, as now, the Church’s hierarchy neglected to effectively oppose the anti-Catholic innovations emanating from Germany.

Cardinal Heenan’s Pastoral Letter on the Vatican Council from February 2, 1964 tried to paint a reassuring picture of the Council in the face of reports of major changes:

“The Church will, of course, make certain reforms. That is one of the reasons why Councils are held. But nothing will be changed except for the good of souls. With the Pope we bishops are the Teaching Church. We love our Faith and we love our priests and people. We shall see that you are not robbed. Loyal to Pope John and Pope Paul, the Council will bring all in the Church closer to Christ, and the world itself closer to the Church of Christ. . . . The Church will emerge from the Council stronger than ever. We must prepare ourselves to be worthy of that great hour.”

The shepherd saw that his flock was alarmed by the changes, and he reassured them that the pope and bishops would never make changes “except for the good of souls.” As we can see, though, from Waugh’s August 25, 1964 letter to Cardinal Heenan, such assurances did not sooth the threatened flock:

“[L]iterally every day I get letters from distressed laymen who think I might speak for them. The distress is not caused by the modest changes in the Mass threatened in Advent but by the tone of the ‘progressives’ who seem to regard these as a mere beginning of radical changes. I detect a new kind of anticlericalism. The old anticlericals, by imputing avarice, ambition, immorality etc. to the priesthood at least recognised its peculiar and essential character, which made lapses notable. The new anticlericals seem to minimise the sacramental character of the priesthood and to suggest that the laity are their equals.”

We have already seen Waugh express concerns about false ecumenism and the changes to the Mass, and here he decries the push toward elevating the laity to the level of the clergy, which we see so clearly now in the Synod on Synodality. Waugh, and apparently many others, saw all of this before the Council even entered its final year.

We justifiably detest the evils we see from Francis, but it seems that he is simply a predictable fruit of the Council.

Cardinal Heenan responded as follows to Waugh’s letter on August 28, 1964:

“Of course you are right. That is why they are playing up this People of God and Priesthood of the Laity so much. The Mass is no longer the Holy Sacrifice but the Meal at which the priest is the waiter. The bishop, I suppose, is the head waiter and the Pope the Patron.”

This is quite a different tone than the optimism and confidence he expressed in his February 2, 1964 pastoral letter above, in which he wrote, “nothing will be changed except for the good of souls.” His pastoral letter from February 27, 1965 revealed the growing pessimism about the Council:

“Hard things have been said about this Second Vatican Council. Some go so far as to say that they heartily wish it had never taken place. They have been disturbed by the criticisms of the Church made by her own children. They suspect that some Catholics, mistaking the nature of ecumenism, are seeking to water down the truths of Faith—especially those relating to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Mother of God. Converts complain, not without bitterness, that what attracted them to the Church is now being taken away. They have in mind the spiritual security given by the voice of a Church speaking with authority. There can be no doubt that this distress of mind and soul is genuine.”

It is worth noting that this was still several months before the Council closed (December 8, 1965), and over four years before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was ordained to the priesthood (December 13, 1969). We justifiably detest the evils we see from Francis, but it seems that he is simply a predictable fruit of the Council.

As a final entry from Waugh, we can sense his intense contempt for the Council in a February 7, 1965 letter to Lady Diane Cooper:

“They are destroying all that was superficially attractive about my Church. It is a great sorrow to me and for once undeserved. If you see Cardinal Bea spit in his eye.”

This man who loved his Church so dearly, and recognized how indispensable it is to the entire world, could not stand the fact that anti-Catholic villains were destroying it. Those who have even a passing familiarity with the role of Cardinal Augustin Bea in facilitating the crisis in the Church likely understand that Waugh’s anger was well placed, even if it might have been more charitably expressed.

Again, Waugh was no saint. But if he and many others saw the problems so clearly before the Council had even ended, then we ought to have little patience today with the “experts” telling us that the Council was good and the only problem is that it has not yet been fully, or properly, implemented. Such people are terribly mistaken at best; and many appear to be controlled opposition, cut from the same filthy cloth as the Freemasons who infiltrated the Church centuries ago.

God has allowed the evils of Vatican II to become more and more clear for the past sixty years, and yet so many faithful Catholics obstinately refuse to understand the true nature of the current crisis. And so our loving Father must permit matters to grow worse until we open our eyes.

In one way or another, most of the evils in the Church since the Council have flowed from the problems Waugh identified above: disastrous changes to the Mass, false ecumenism, and bringing the laity and clergy to the same level. These aberrations from Church teaching have hurt the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, but they offend God first and foremost.

Almost nobody in the hierarchy has unequivocally opposed these evils in the past sixty years, with the exception of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, who wrote the following in their November 21, 1983 letter to John Paul II:

“Thousands of members of the clergy, and millions of the faithful, are living in a state of anguish and perplexity because of the ‘self-destruction of the Church.’ They are being thrown into confusion and disorder by the errors contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the post-conciliar reforms, and especially the liturgical reforms, the false notions diffused by official documents and by the abuse of power perpetrated by the hierarchy. In these distressing circumstances, many are losing the Faith, charity is becoming cold, and the concept of the true unity of the Church in time and in space is disappearing.”

Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer were witnessing in 1983 an advanced stage of the destruction that Waugh already saw in 1962. Where were the other bishops then? Where are they now, when the destruction has only gotten worse?

Returning to Viganò’s message to end 2022, God is a loving Father Who “punishes us so that we understand our faults, repent of them, and change our lives.” God has allowed the evils of Vatican II to become more and more clear for the past sixty years, and yet so many faithful Catholics obstinately refuse to understand the true nature of the current crisis. And so our loving Father must permit matters to grow worse until we open our eyes.

So, with Archbishop Viganò, we should thank God for punishing the weaknesses that allowed the “principles of the Revolution into the Church” at Vatican II:

“We thank the Lord God for punishing us for our lukewarmness, our silence, our inclination to compromise, our hypocrisies, our yielding to the spirit of the world and the errors of the dominant ideologies. It was these sins and shortcomings that have allowed those who today impose the tyranny of the New World Order to flourish in the civil world, and those who excommunicate a pro-life priest and scandalously promote corrupt and heretical prelates and clerics to prevail in the ecclesiastical world. They have allowed, in the civil world, democracy to be transformed into the apostasy of nations and the cruel slaughter of the innocent. They have allowed, in the ecclesial body, the Second Vatican Council to introduce the principles of the Revolution into the Church, as a subversive lever to destroy it from within.”

If we see the Church as the entity established by God to protect and spread His grace and truth throughout the entire world, we can understand how calamitous it would be for the Church’s enemies to subvert the Church’s mission as they did at Vatican II. As Archbishop Viganò observes, we can directly tie the tyranny of the New World Order to the compromises that otherwise faithful Catholics have made with the Revolutionary spirit of Vatican II for the past sixty years. Thus, our punishment is to experience the consequences of allowing the Church’s enemies to remain essentially unopposed for sixty years.

At some point, enough Catholics will wake up to the fact that Francis is a logical fruit of Vatican II; when we do that, we will follow the counsels of Pius XII and his predecessors who insisted that we make no compromises with the Liberalism and Modernism that infected the Council.

At some point, enough Catholics will wake up to the fact that Francis is a logical fruit of Vatican II; when we do that, we will follow the counsels of Pius XII and his predecessors who insisted that we make no compromises with the Liberalism and Modernism that infected the Council. Until that happens, we should expect God to permit the crisis in the Church and world to grow worse until we can no longer afford to maintain “our lukewarmness, our silence, our inclination to compromise, our hypocrisies, our yielding to the spirit of the world and the errors of the dominant ideologies.” God is allowing this because, as a loving Father, He would rather us suffer and save our souls than comfortably slide to perdition.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, destroyer of all heresies, obtain for us the grace to return to God, our loving Father, with a firm desire to do everything we can to please Him, without counting the costs. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

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Last modified on Thursday, January 12, 2023
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.