After 50 Years of Vatican II and the New Theology…
In Germany, the Novus Ordo Sect is Finished
On December 29, 2014, the German mainstream paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) released a hard-hitting article describing the sorry state of “Christianity” in its nation. In the well-written and somewhat lengthy piece, journalist Markus Günther gives a candid assessment of what has become of the Novus Ordo Church and its Protestant counterpart in the nation that gave birth to such philosophical and theological malpracticioners as Luther, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Rahner, and Ratzinger, and is home to the world’s most ridiculous liturgical anarchy.
The author accurately identifies the symptoms as well as the underlying malady and also unmasks the popular excuses that are often made to keep the facade alive that has been keeping people attached to the idea that all is well or at least that not all is lost. On the other hand, what the author does not do — and what he does not pretend to do — is pinpoint the cause of it all, nor does he offer a cure; but the fact that he has so accurately and courageously pointed out the politically incorrect and inconvenient truth about how things really are in the formerly somewhat Christian nation is worthy of special recognition.
Gunther’s article is entitled “Diaspora Deutschland” (“Germany’s Diaspora”)
and not available in English at this point (update: the article is available in English here). We would like to draw your attention to it, not only for its spot-on analysis and merciless rapping of the German spiritual wasteland that “modern Christianity” has brought about, but especially also for its beginning two paragraphs, which read as follows:
The night between December 13 and 14, almost exactly 50 years ago to the day, a student by the name of Franz was roaming through the streets of Münster. He couldn’t sleep. He was too shaken by the sermon he had heard at the cathedral that evening, given by a young priest and professor, just a few years older than himself, who interpreted Advent and Christmas in a wholly new, nay revolutionary way: The old teaching according to which human history is divided into an age of darkness and an age of salvation, to wit, the time before and after Christ’s birth, can no longer be taken seriously today, the young theologian said. After the world wars, after Auschwitz and Hiroshima, who would want to speak of an era of salvation that began 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem? No, the line that separates darkness from light, captivity from redemption, doesn’t cut through history but right through our souls. Advent doesn’t take place on our calendars but in our hearts — or gets abandoned right there, without any fruit. That’s an incredible thing to say, and one can easily imagine that the student had trouble sleeping after that sermon and wanted to be alone in order to think through all this for himself.
Today the two are elderly, the student and the preacher of this memorable evening in Münster, Franz Kamphaus, who experienced a sleepless night then, and Joseph Ratzinger, who, as a 37-year-old academic rising star, shook up the students of theology. It’s amazing how both of these men’s paths then crossed for the first time. In retrospect, it is precisely these two names, Ratzinger and Kamphaus, that represent two [different] currents of the Church in Germany, which need not be identified as “left” or “right”, but which were certainly clear opposites. Both attempted to proclaim Christianity anew under changed circumstances and in some way salvage it for the modern world — and they fought intransigent battles about which compromises are licit and which are illict when it comes to a Christian’s relationship to the world. But now, at the end of their lives, the one thing that unites them both beyond all differences is a common profile of failure: Christianity in Germany is spiritually bankrupt.
(Markus Gunther, “Diaspora Deutschland”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dec. 29, 2014; our translation.)
These are refreshingly clear and candid words from a journalist about the fruits of modern “Catholicism”: Christianity in Germany — and in pretty much all European nations — is spiritually bankrupt. Indeed!
How did this happen? Since the author only restricts himself to describing the effect and not the cause of the problem, we will be happy to supply what is lacking by identifying what lies at the origin of contemporary “Catholicism’s” spiritual bankruptcy. The root cause of the inability of the Novus Ordo religion to be relevant to modern man is precisely its attempt to be relevant to modern man. Before we discuss this in greater detail, however, let’s have a quick look at the two protagonists in the above anecdote, Kamphaus and Ratzinger.
Franz Kamphaus, ordained a priest in 1959, later became the ultra-liberal “Bishop” of Limburg, appointed to and kept in this position by “Saint” John Paul II, who had to intervene at some point to get around Kamphaus’ persistent refusal to stop issuing counseling certificates to women in a crisis pregnancy, without which they could not legally get an abortion. Kamphaus left his diocese a spiritual and theological disaster area. In 2004, he received and accepted the city of Frankfurt’s Ignatz Bubis Award, which is given to people who embody the socio-political values of Ignatz Bubis, the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Joseph Ratzinger, like Kamphaus a German, needs no introduction, though it will be useful to point out that as early as the 1950s — he was ordained a priest in 1951 — Ratzinger was already on the Vatican’s blacklist of people suspected of heresy. During Vatican II, where he was a peritus to Cardinal Frings, some French bishops called the young Modernist a “heretic who denies hell”.
It is noteworthy that the author of the article quoted above, Markus Gunther, tries to pin the two New Church theologians — Kamphaus and Ratzinger — against each other, as though they were not both cut from the same Modernist cloth. Yet, it is Gunther’s explicit characterization of Ratzinger as Kamphaus’ conservative counterpart that gives even more credence to his assessment of the spiritual state of Germany, for it shows that he is clearly not biased in favor of Catholic Traditionalism.
The primary vehicle or tool by which “Catholic” theologians have tried to make the Church and the Gospel relevant to modernity is the so-called Nouvelle Theologie. The Nouvelle Theologie, or “New Theology”, which first appeared in the 1930s and is rooted in the heresy of Modernism condemned in 1908, sought to essentially destroy the “old” (i.e. traditional) scholastic Catholic theology and philosophy under the false pretext of “rediscovering” the teachings of the Church Fathers and St. Thomas Aquinas.
The New Theology has been an avowed foe of the Neo-Thomist revival begun under Pope Leo XIII after the latter’s encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879) and stands in contrast to the teachings not only of Pope Leo himself but also those of Pius IX and Leo’s successors, all the way until the last known Pope, Pius XII (d. 1958). Works of various New Theologians were condemned before Vatican II and put on the Index of Forbidden Books (such as Chenu’s Une École de Théologie: Le Saulchoir), and some of the men themselves were censured or investigated for suspicion of heresy (Ratzinger among them as well). How genuinely submissive to the Church these men were can be seen in the example of the Dominican Fr. Yves Congar, later made a “cardinal” by John Paul II, who reportedly urinated at the walls of the Vatican’s Holy Office to show his contempt for Church opposition to him.
The New Theology is the predominant school of thought that was utilized at Vatican II to produce the sixteen documents which provide the doctrinal and pastoral underpinnings of the Novus Ordo religion. It is characterized by a disdain for scholasticism and its clearly-defined philosophical concepts, and it thrives on ambiguity and vagueness of terms and assertions. It endorses and makes use of the condemned historical-critical method in its theological analysis. The fact that it is the inheritor of Modernism and also the basis of Vatican II is not denied by its more upfront proponents. For example, the Modernist theologian Jurgen Mettepenningen wrote a book entitled Nouvelle Theologie – New Theology: Inheritor of Modernism, Precursor of Vatican II. Though himself a staunch defender of this destructive school of theology, Mettepenningen has no problem admitting to the historical facts concerning the origins, development, and condemnation of the Nouvelle Theologie.
Joseph Ratzinger has been one of the world’s leading proponents of this New Theology. The outrageous statement he made to the effect that we can no longer refer to the age that began with the birth of Christ as the age of salvation, is a direct product of this Modernist school of thought. In his famous 1968 work Introduction to Christianity, which was banned in the diocese of Warsaw, Poland by Cardinal Wyszynski for being a threat to the Catholic Faith, Ratzinger justifies the introduction of the New Theology by appealing to an analogy first drawn by Harvey Cox, based upon a story told by Danish Protestant philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Ratzinger writes:
According to this story a travelling circus in Denmark had caught fire. The manager thereupon sent the clown, who was already dressed and made-up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the village itself. The clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants to come as quickly as possible to the blazing circus and help to put the fire out. But the villagers took the clown’s shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed till they cried. The clown felt more like weeping than laughing; he tried in vain to get people to be serious, to make it clear to them that it was no trick but bitter earnest, that there really was a fire. His supplications only increased the laughter; people thought he was playing his part splendidly – until finally the fire did engulf the village, it was too late for help and both circus and village were burned to the ground.
Cox cites this story [in his 1965 book The Secular City] as an analogy of the theologian’s position today and sees the theologian as the clown who cannot make people really listen to his message. In his medieval, or at any rate old-fashioned, clown’s costume he is simply not taken seriously. Whatever he says, he is ticketed and classified, so to speak, by his role. Whatever he does in his attempts to demonstrate the seriousness of the position, people always know in advance that he is in fact just — a clown. They are already familiar with what he is talking about and know that he is just giving a performance which has little or nothing to do with reality. So they can listen to him quite happily without having to worry too seriously about what he is saying. This picture indubitably contains an element of truth in it; it reflects the oppressive reality in which theology and theological discussion are imprisoned today and their frustrating inability to break through accepted patterns of thought and speech and make people recognize the subject-matter of theology as a serious aspect of human life.
(Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, trans. by J. R. Foster [New York: Herder and Herder, 1970], pp. 15-16.)
This, then, is the popular justification given for rejecting the “old” theology and coming up with the new: Modern man lives in a new intellectual paradigm, which is incommensurable with the old, and so in order to reach modern man, theology must speak his language and adopt his concepts, else we will lose him.
While this may seem convincing at first sight to the untrained layman, this is actually a most dangerous idea. The language and approach of the New Theology were employed by the New Church at the Second Vatican Council, and now, fifty years later, the fruits are evident: spiritual bankruptcy. The fabled “New Springtime” didn’t occur; the “prophets of doom” so scornfully denounced by John XXIII in his opening address [PDF here] turned out to be right. As anyone willing to look can see, the council was an unmitigated disaster (some juicy background on the battles fought at the council between traditionalists and Modernists can be found in the Personal Diaries of Mgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton).
Even so, Ratzinger’s rationale for the New Theology was not new in the 1960s. It is essentially the same as Error No. 13 condemned by Pope Pius IX in his famous Syllabus of Errors, namely: “The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences” (source).
Although in 1864, the year the Syllabus of Errors was published, this condemnation may not have appeared justified to some, now, in 2015, the proof is in the pudding: After 50+ years of free reign for the New Theology during and after the Second Vatican Council, Christian society has collapsed, and the true Catholic Faith of the ages is virtually extinct. Ratzinger is one of the men most responsible for this mass apostasy because he was more than just a champion of the New Theology: He played a major role in the drafting of the council’s documents.
The tide of apostasy that swept over the world after Vatican II was thus triggered to a significant extent by Ratzinger himself and his theology. It is no wonder that he was unable to stem it, even in the country of his birth. As Gunther says further on in his article, in the final analysis the only thing that remains of a “spiritual renewal” in Germany after the eight-year reign of “Pope” Benedict XVI is some national pride and a few beautiful photos — that’s it.
And how could it be otherwise? The Novus Ordo Church is the New Theology’s greatest achievement. What answers does it give to modern man that he can take seriously? Only a plethora of endless platitudes and worn-out slogans about love, dignity, dialogue, tolerance, peace, fraternity, liberty, and solidarity — and now also “encounter” and “climate change” — in short, nothing you wouldn’t also hear from the United Nations, at the local Masonic lodge, or printed on a Hallmark card. But if you want to feed the starving modern soul, offering sappy naturalist tripe in the wrapping paper of theology just won’t cut it. Modern man needs more than a clerical cover version of “We are the World.”
The answer to the errors of Modernity are not found in the New Theology of the Neo-Modernists but in the Neo-Thomism of the Catholic Church, engendered by Pope Leo XIII, mandated by Pius X, and furthered by Pius XI. The latter, in 1923, published the beautiful encyclical Studiorum Ducem, in which he summarizes and praises the philosophical and theological patrimony of St. Thomas Aquinas and enjoins upon all students to draw from his teachings the wisdom needed to combat the spiritual and intellectual maladies of our times. His Holiness concludes: “It is therefore clear why Modernists are so amply justified in fearing no Doctor of the Church so much as Thomas Aquinas” (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Studiorum Ducem, n. 27).
True, just like today, there were many people opposed to the Catholic Church and her doctrine even before Vatican II. There were people who hated the Church; this is beyond doubt. But even though many rejected and loathed her, nevertheless they all took her seriously. This is because the magnificent institution of the Catholic Church, with her venerable 2,000-year-old history, her unchangeable teaching, her countless heroic saints and martyrs, her unyielding tenacity in opposing every worldly error, her rich and sublime liturgical splendor, and her defiance against any worldly power that would oppose her, commanded respect and admiration. She was not like the world and would not bend to it; she perferred to see virtually the entire English hierarchy defect into schism rather than grant King Henry VIII a false marriage annulment. People may not have agreed with the Church, but they took her seriously.
But now? The Vatican II Church is a theological madhouse teetering at the brink of complete meaninglessness and irrelevance, at her helm a blathering fool who promotes a “god of surprises” and denounces the “terrorism of gossip.” The whole thing is a joke, and deep down everyone knows it. What brought it on? The attempt to be relevant to modern man, the capitulation to modernity — that’s what. An institution that changes with the whims of the age and is afraid of offending its enemies is unsure of itself and not worth taking seriously. It certainly shows itself as not being of divine origin, because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Heb. 13:8).
For the common layman, perhaps the best answer to the false theology of Vatican II and the Modernist Church it engendered is found in a handy little book called Liberalism is a Sin. This work, penned by the Spanish priest Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany in 1886, was specially examined by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Index, which endorsed and recommended it fully. Though written in the 19th century, Liberalism is a Sin is as relevant as ever today; it reads as though it had been written specifically for our times. The author masterfully refutes the pernicious errors of the Modernists and unmasks the deceitful tactics and excuses used by them to advance their false principles and ideas. We highly recommend it. The book can be read online for free, or you can purchase it in paperback or Kindle format:
- Liberalism is a Sin by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany (Online Text)
- Liberalism is a Sin by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany (Paperback/Kindle)
The soul of modern man is starving. His advancements in technology, science, and medicine are only matched and exceeded by his philosophical, theological, and spiritual dullness. The Dark Ages are now. The Novus Ordo Sect cannot feed modern man with the spiritual nourishment of true doctrine, right morals, and sanctifying grace, for it cannot give what it does not have.
We are now entering the epoch in which the Modernist Church has to face the inevitable consequences of its own apostasy: Being irrelevant and unable to produce spiritual fruit, it will die (cf. Jn 15:6; Rom 6:23). May the good Lord hasten the day so that the true Catholic Church will finally be able to free herself from the eclipse caused by the Modernist anti-church ever since the election of “Pope” John XXIII.
Reality Check: The Catholic Church vs. the Errors of Modernity
- Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange: “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?”
- Fr. David Greenstock: “Thomism and the New Theology” [PDF]
- Encyclical Humani Generis (1950): Pope Pius XII condemns the New Theology
- Bull Auctorem Fidei (1794): Pope Pius VI condemns Proto-Modernist Tactics
- Encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879): Pope Leo XIII on the Neo-Thomist Revival
- Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici (1914): Pope St. Pius X imposes the Principles of St. Thomas Aquinas
- Encyclical Studiorum Ducem (1923): Pope Pius XI on St. Thomas Aquinas
- The Popes against Modern Errors – 16 Papal Documents from 1832 to 1950
- The Sacred Monster of Thomism: The Life & Legacy of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange by Rev. Richard Peddicord