The Roots and Historical Consequences of Modernism (concluded)

The Roots and Historical Consequences of Modernism (concluded)

Roberto De Mattei – June 23, 2018

Neo-Modernism in the Church today 

How extensive is the presence of Neo-Modernism in the Church today? It is difficult to find a seminary or a Catholic university that is immune from it. The question ought to be turned around: Which seminary or Catholic university is faithful to the Magisterium of the Church? Unfortunately, it is not difficult to answer this question. Modernism pervades the Church, even if few explicitly claim it. Among those who do is Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who in an article which appeared in the newspaper Sole-24 Ore affirmed that the intuition at the foundation of modernism “was linked to the necessity of a cultural and systematic ‘aggiornamento’ of the analysis and communication of the Christian message” and that “in itself this undertaking was not only legitimate but necessary.” In Ravasi’s interpretation, Loisy, Tyrrell, and Buonaiuti were “theologians of great intellectual quality who were attacked by the anti-Modernist repression of the Church.”[50]

Furthermore, Cardinal Ravasi, affixed his preface to La vita di Antonio Fogazzaro[51], a book by Tommaso Gallarati Scotti (1878-1940) which was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books (9 December 1920), for its apologia of an author who had been repeatedly placed on the Index, the Vicenzan author Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911). The names of Fogazzaro and Gallarati Scotti accompany each other in the pages of Cardinal Ravasi along with other Modernists, such as Tyrrell, Loisy, Murri, Buonaiuti, all of whom were excommunicated and all of whom are remembered by Ravasi as interpreters “of the ferment that was then developing in society and culture.”[52]

Cardinal Kasper does not claim Modernism as explicitly as Ravasi does, but his philosophical and theological vision is imbued with the same errors. His teachers are Schelling and Hegel, Heidegger and Rahner. From these authors he takes up the idea of a “renewal of the theological method” in which becoming prevails over being, time over space, history over nature, Scripture over Tradition, praxis over doctrine, life over truth.

In the presentation with which Cardinal Kasper opened the the work of the Extraordinary Consistory on the family on 20 February 2014, Christianity is transformed into life without truth, or better still into life which produces the truth in the “becoming” of experience. Praxis becomes the measure of value, and since the life of many Christians today is immersed in sin to the point that they no longer consider it to be sin, the Church ought to adapt her doctrine to these lived convictions, negating the very concept of sin itself, deprived of any ontological significance. The ultimate criteria of truth becomes sociological reality.

The good rapport between Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper is well-known, but despite the fact that Padre Bergoglio spent a period of study in Germany, it is difficult to imagine that he had the intellectual tools to understand the most cryptic passages of Rahnerian-Kasperian theology. The culture of Bergoglio, more than it is indebted to his Jesuit brother Rahner, is indebted to another Jesuit brother, Father de Lubac, and through de Lubac, it is linked to Blondel, as many exegetes of Bergoglian thought assure us.

Among those who would attempt to exonerate Pope Francis from every stain of heterodoxy is Professor Massimo Borghesi; however, he contradicts himself when he assures us that Pope Francis is Blondelian, through father Gaston Fessard (1897-1978).[53] Maurice Blondel was in fact a Modernist because he created his philosophical method out of the principle of immanence, as Fathers Tonquédec[54], Réginald Garrigou Lagrange[55] and  Cornelio Fabro[56] have demonstrated in numerous writings. In 1924 the Holy Office condemned twelve propositions taken from the philosophy of Blondel, among which was the one concerning his notion of truth as “conformity of mind and life” and no longer as rational conformity of the intellect with the thing being inverstigated (adaequatio rei et intellectus).

The relationship of Blondel with Papa Bergoglio was brought to light by another one of his Argentine Jesuit brothers, Padre Juan Carlos Scannone, who in his volume François philosophe[57] dedicates many pages to the parallel between Bergoglian philosophy and “la dialectique blondélienne de l’action.”[58]

Francis and Blondel are united in their anti-intellectual conception of knowledge and in the reduction of truth to method or language. The formula, “God is not an equation”[59] expresses this conception, which Professor Gian Enrico Rusconi defines as “narrative theology.”[60] Rusconi recognizes that Pope Francis claims to change the paradigm of Catholic theology, from systematic theology to narrative theology, from argumentation to narration, in the attempt to redefine the very identity of Catholicism with new mythical or metaphorical semantic codes.

Pope Francis affirms in “Evangelii gaudium” (nn. 231-233) and in “Laudato si’” (n. 201) that “the reality is more important than the idea.” Padre Scalese has observed that the postulate “the reality is more important than the idea” has nothing to do with the ‘adaequatio intellectus ad rem.’ “Rather, it means we must accept reality as it is, without attempting to change it based on absolute principles, for example moral principles, which are only abstract ‘ideas,’ which most of the time risk becoming ideologies.”[61]

Papa Bergoglio is neither a theologian nor a philosopher, but the phrase which says that the reality counts more than the idea is a philosophical affirmation which overturns the primacy of being and contemplation which is the basis for all of Western and Christian philosophy. The contraposition between the theologian pope and the pastor pope signifies the end of dogmatic and moral theology as norms of action for the Christian person. Pastoral ministry, without theology, loses the absolute references of metaphysics and of morality and offers us instead an ethics of “day by day and case by case.” Human action is reduced to the choice of the individual conscience, based not in the objectivity of the divine and natural law, but in the “becoming” of history. But because every idea has consequences in reality, we must also resort to history to demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of these errors.

Just as it would be wrong to combat the symptoms of a revolution without addressing the ideological causes, it would also be erroneous to attempt to abstractly refute errors without considering their concrete consequences. Today we are facing a revolutionary process which ought to be evaluated at the level of thought, of action, and of deeper tendencies. This is one of the teachings which I owe to Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira, author of a book which appeared in 1943, Em defesa de Ação Catolica,[62] which constitutes one of the first wide-ranging refutations of the modernist deviations within Catholic Action in Brazil and in the world.

The problem which we are confronting is not an abstract question, but rather it touches concretely the way in which we live our faith at an historic moment described by Benedict XVI on the eve of his renunciation of the papacy in these words: “As we know, in large areas of the world the faith is in danger of being extinguished like a flame which no longer has any fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith , a loss of the religious sense, which constitutes the greatest challenge for the Church of today.[63]

I believe that at the roots of the abdication of Pope Benedict there may be also the awareness of having lost this challenge as a result of the inadequacy of the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a theological approach which makes the very same error which it wants to combat. It is necessary to oppose neo-Modernism, which presents itself as a changeable and subjective interpretation of Catholic doctrine, not with a contrary hermeneutic, but rather with the fullness of Catholic doctrine, which coincides with Tradition, maintained and transmitted not only by the Magisterium but by all the faithful, “from the bishops to the last layperson,” as expressed by the celebrated formula of Saint Augustine.[64] The sensus fidei impels us to refute every hermeneutical deformation of the truth, supported by the immutable Tradition of the Church[65].

At any rate, it is not enough to limit oneself to affirming that the doctrine of the Faith is immutable, it is also necessary to add to this that the Faith is not impractical and it does not admit of exceptions on the level of praxis. It is necessary to reintegrate the disassociation which the neo-Modernists have created between doctrine and praxis, restoring to Truth and to Life the inseparable unity expressed in those words of Jesus Christ which show us the only possible Way in the darkness of the present moment (Gv 14, 6).

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