The Modernists’ Anserine Theology
What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander: How the October Synod Refutes Vatican II’s False Ecclesiology
When the so-called “Synod on the Family” met at the Vatican this past October, a lot of people were outraged when they heard about the midterm document (relatio) that attempted to dissect mortal sins — including those that cry to Heaven for vengeance — into positive and negative “elements”. This idea, however, was not entirely new — it was simply the extension of a concept endorsed at the Second Vatican Council, according to which there exist “elements” of the Catholic Church in other religions, specifically Protestant sects. The synod went one step further and applied this erroneous concept to sexual morality.
To understand this better, let’s have a quick look at the relevant text produced by Vatican II:
This [one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic] Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.
Perhaps the best or most straightforward rebuttal to the council’s patchwork ecclesiology comes from Pope Pius IX, who, in an Apostolic Letter convoking the First Vatican Council, appealed to the Protestants to return to the Catholic Church:
Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity.
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes, 1868; underlining added.)
It is beyond the scope of this post to offer a complete refutation of Vatican II’s false ecclesiology. The above quote as well as the following links will provide sufficient evidence of the falseness of the council’s doctrine on the Church, sometimes referred to as “Frankenchurch”, according to which there is a little bit of the Catholic Church in every religion:
- The New Ecclesiology: An Overview
- The New Ecclesiology: Documentation (PDF)
- Frankenchurch Rises Again: Ratzinger on the Church
- Does the Church have the “Fullness” of Truth and other Religions “Partial Truth”?
- Debate: Is Vatican II’s Teaching on the Church heretical? (Video)
- Conference on the Ecclesiology of Vatican II (Video)
- Instruction to Puseyite Anglicans (Pope Pius IX)
- Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes (Pope Pius IX)
- Encyclical Letter Praeclara Gratulationis (Pope Leo XIII)
- Encyclical Letter Satis Cognitum (Pope Leo XIII)
- Encyclical Letter Mortalium Animos (Pope Pius XI)
- Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis (Pope Pius XII)
- Instruction Ecclesia Catholica on Ecumenism (Pope Pius XII)
With Vatican II’s false teaching on the Church in mind, let us take a look at what the October 2014 Synod on the Family produced with regard to the sins of adultery and fornication and, though only hinting at it, also with regard to the sin of sodomy (which would simply be another mere extension of the same principle):
In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).
In this light, the value and consistency of natural marriage must first be emphasized. Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements [in] even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. The doctrine of levels of communion, formulated by Vatican Council II, confirms the vision of a structured way of participating in the Mysterium Ecclesiae by baptized persons.
In the same perspective, that we may consider inclusive, the Council opens up the horizon for appreciating the positive elements present in other religions (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2) and cultures, despite their limits and their insufficiencies (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 55). Indeed, looking at the human wisdom present in these, the Church learns how the family is universally considered as the necessary and fruitful form of human cohabitation. In this sense, the order of creation, in which the Christian vision of the family is rooted, unfolds historically, in different cultural and geographical expressions.
Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.
Truth and beauty of the family and mercy
The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.
In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage.
A new sensitivity in today’s pastoral consists in grasping the positive reality of civil weddings and, having pointed out our differences, of cohabitation. It is necessary that in the ecclesial proposal, while clearly presenting the ideal, we also indicate the constructive elements in those situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to that ideal.
It was also noted that in many countries an “an increasing number live together ad experimentum, in unions which have not been religiously or civilly recognized” (Instrumentum Laboris, 81). In Africa this occurs especially in traditional marriages, agreed between families and often celebrated in different stages. Faced by these situations, the Church is called on to be “the house of the Father, with doors always wide open […] where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47) and to move towards those who feel the need to take up again their path of faith, even if it is not possible to celebrate a religious marriage.
In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.
All these situations have to be dealt with in a constructive manner, seeking to transform them into opportunities to walk towards the fullness of marriage and the family in the light of the Gospel. They need to be welcomed and accompanied with patience and delicacy.With a view to this, the attractive testimony of authentic Christian families is important, as subjects for the evangelization of the family.
Caring for wounded families (the separated, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced who have remarried)
What rang out clearly in the Synod was the necessity for courageous pastoral choices. Reconfirming forcefully the fidelity to the Gospel of the family, the Synodal Fathers, felt the urgent need for new pastoral paths, that begin with the effective reality of familial fragilities, recognizing that they, more often than not, are more “endured” than freely chosen. These are situations that are diverse because of personal as well as cultural and socio-economic factors. It is not wise to think of unique solutions or those inspired by a logic of “all or nothing”….
Each damaged family first of all should be listened to with respect and love, becoming companions on the journey as Christ did with the disciples of the road to Emmaus. In a particular way the words of Pope Francis apply in these situations: «The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment”, which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3,5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life» (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).
In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.
As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
Welcoming homosexual persons
Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
(Relatio Post Disceptationem, in “Family synod: full text of the mid-term report”, Catholic Herald, Oct. 13, 2014; some minor formatting and typographical edits made. These paragraphs, though they did not receive the required two-thirds majority, nevertheless received the approval of more than half of the synod’s participants, and were retained in the final document at the specific behest of “Pope” Francis. Our critical commentary on the document can be found here.)
We can see here that what the authors of this document are doing, and what they are explicitly admitting they are doing, is taking Vatican II’s doctrine of ecclesial elements and extending it to the moral life. But if it should appear outrageous and absurd when applied to the moral life — as though there could be elements of holiness and virtue in detestable and shameful sins — this is so because the doctrine of elements it is based on is inherently flawed.
It is this application of Vatican II’s doctrine to moral theology that really shows how absurd the council’s new ecclesiology is. Sometimes it takes an analogy with sin, especially sexual sin, to make people aware of how boneheaded a concept is. Lots of “Catholics” in the Novus Ordo Church are upset at this disgusting idea of “virtue in vice”, yet somehow most people never once balked at the council’s perversion of doctrine with regard to the nature of the Church.
The notion of Church is naturally a lot more abstract to people than the notion of sexuality, which is probably what accounts for everyone’s fairly peaceful and docile acceptance of Vatican II’s novel teaching about ecclesial elements. Now that the Vatican’s “experts”, however, have extended the concept to the moral life, the error “hits home”, and people are beginning to notice. But instead of simply being outraged at this particular application of the doctrine, people ought to take issue with the underlying doctrine itself and its root cause: Vatican II.
In other words: If it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander, as the saying goes. But if it is clear that it is not good for the gander, then it’s also not good for the goose. Everyone can now see how preposterous the council’s ecclesiology is, by applying it, in a logically correct and consistent way, to sexual and other moral matters. This exposes Vatican II because it illustrates the inanity of its “elements theology” in ideas that people are more familiar with and can better relate to.
To demonstrate this even better, let’s take things a step further. Why stop at finding positive elements in fornication, adultery, or sodomy? Why not also in murder? Take, for example, the slaying of St. John the Baptist on the order of King Herod:
And when a convenient day was come, Herod made a supper for his birthday, for the princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee. And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod, and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he swore to her: Whatsoever thou shalt ask I will give thee, though it be the half of my kingdom. Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? But she said: The head of John the Baptist. And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad. Yet because of his oath, and because of them that were with him at table, he would not displease her: But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish. And he beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a dish: and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother.
Using Vatican II’s patchwork theology, as suggested by the October 2014 Synod, we can now “reflect” upon King Herod’s action and, in typical Modernist fashion, come up with some real nonsense, sufficiently verbose, that sounds like it came straight from a Vatican document. We suggest the following:
Without denying the moral problems associated with taking the life of an innocent person, which the church has referred to as a “sin”, the People of God, called to be “Children of Light” (cf. Jn 12:36; Lk 16:8), nevertheless recognize that sinful human beings often live in imperfect situations. Inasmuch as “all have sinned” (cf. Rom 3:23) and the fullness of virtue is but found in the fewest of people (cf. Mt 19:21-22), we cannot focus merely on the negative aspects of King Herod’s decision to shorten the earthly life of St. John the Baptist, as though this constituted the entirety of the matter. The church rejects as simplistic and pharisaical any attempts to reduce what is in reality a complex and multi-faceted ethical problem, to a self-righteous and ready-made black-and-white logic that exhausts itself in accusing and judging rather than in treating and curing.
For despite his shortcomings and limitations, even in Herod’s conduct there may be discovered some traces of that perfection to which all men are called (cf. Mt 5:48). Did he not show great kindness to the daughter of Herodias, not only by inviting her to take an active role in a royal birthday celebration — a sign of great personal esteem founded on mutual respect — but even more so by vowing to selflessly grant her every wish, even to the half of his kingdom? And did he not express sadness at the request of the damsel, manifesting his inward disapproval and displeasure at her desire for the head of St. John? Although the king’s order to decapitate the Baptist cannot be considered on an equal footing with allowing him to go free, is it not true that the motivation for Herod’s decision was the direct result of his desire to honor the oath he had sworn, the breaking of which would have constituted an injustice in its own right (cf. Eccl 5:4)?
The People of God must reject as one-sided any approach to this question that would view Herod’s action merely from a rigorist point-of-view as the trespassing of a commandment, leaving out of account the many positive elements that can be found in his conduct considered in its entirety, however imperfect it may have been. Rather than allowing these seeds of holiness manifested by Herod to dry up and wither away, the church prefers to build upon them, urging all to take a positive approach towards anyone who may find himself in a similar situation, lest such people should feel excluded or unwelcome, in a manner similar to the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:3), in a church where “there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47).
This dimension of the complexity of ethical experience takes on a decidedly pastoral character when viewed within the context of social or cultural factors that often exert undue influence upon not a few individuals whose actions, though they are objectively disordered, nevertheless possess elements that are inherently ordered towards a moral good. For there are many who, while making choices the church cannot agree with, and the intrinsic moral insufficiency of which it would be wrong to deny, embrace a certain lifestyle not out of malice or depravity, but rather out of a desire to do good, as can be seen in the case of King Herod.
These positive elements found in Herod’s behavior are ordered by their very nature towards a life of sanctity. By valuing and emphasizing them instead of the negative aspects, and avoiding any harsh language and all unjust discrimination, a climate of openness and respectful dialogue can be nurtured, which provides the groundwork for an ongoing culture of encounter which the Holy Father exhorts all to continually foster. Thus the church, seeing in the circumstances surrounding such choices a ray of that light, goodness, and truth that enlightens all men (cf. Jn 1:9), recognizes that elements of virtue and goodness are indeed often found outside the visible confines of official sanctity. Our task as followers of the truth is to discover these traits wherever they may exist (cf. 1 Thess 5:21), without compromising Catholic doctrine or pretending that they exist in their fullness where they exist only in part. Though his actions did not correspond to the Christian ideal, the church strives to foster an attitude of openness and dialogue with King Herod and all who find themselves in situations comparable to his.
Are you nauseous yet? What you have just read is an application of Vatican II’s patchwork theology to the specific case of the murder of St. John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. But if you add enough Modernist mumbo-jumbo, as we did here, you can make it sound scholarly and serious, and make it palatable for the masses. This is the Modernist trick, and it has worked extremely well for decades.
Another example comes from “Saint” John Paul II. He claimed to find elements of truth, goodness, and beauty in the Satanic Voodoo religion. In 1993, he visited the African nation of Benin and praised the local idolaters for their belief in “a single god who is good”, for their “sense of celebration”, and for their alleged “esteem for the moral life and harmony of society.” If you’re feeling brave, you can read all the nauseating details here (keep a barf bag handy):
This is the fruit of Vatican II theology. Its magic theological wand turns everything upside down. In the end, good is bad, bad is good, true is false, false is true, the holy is profane, the profane is holy, and so forth. The council turns light into darkness, and darkness into light (cf. 2 Cor 6:14-15; 11:14).
It is quite amusing to see that while ever since the council closed in 1965, we’ve been told by various “Popes”, “cardinals”, Novus Ordo theologians, professors, commentators, and bloggers that we must understand Vatican II “in light of Tradition” utilizing a “hermeneutic of reform” (itself the Hegelian synthesis of a “hermeneutic of rupture” and a “hermeneutic of continuity”), at the same time the council itself is also used as a “key” to understanding more Novus Ordo teaching. So, if you want to understand the new “Catholic” patchwork morality of the synod, you first have to understand Vatican II, though of course even this is not enough. The official Vatican spokesman and press secretary, “Fr.” Federico Lombardi, identified a “key of faith” in Francis’ closing speech with which the October Synod was to be read and understood.
Ah, so many keys, so little time! Better keep them all in order so you know exactly which mumbo-jumbo text is supposed to help you understand which other mumbo-jumbo text. And if all else fails, look to the great hermeneutical locksmith, “Pope” Francis, who pens such eloquent lines as these:
A constant tension exists between fullness and limitation. Fullness evokes the desire for complete possession, while limitation is a wall set before us. Broadly speaking, “time” has to do with fullness as an expression of the horizon which constantly opens before us, while each individual moment has to do with limitation as an expression of enclosure. People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space.
(Antipope Francis, “Apostolic Exhortation” Evangelii Gaudium, n. 222)
It’s interesting that the one thing the Modernists never seem quite able to do is speak and write clearly, in such a way that no “keys” are needed from eight different sources every time a new document is issued. We know why that is, of course: The lack of clarity and precision, the presence of vagueness and ambiguity, are the vehicles, the catalysts, by which Modernism is transported into the minds and souls of the unsuspecting. Pope Pius VI warned against this in his bull Auctorem Fidei, and so did Pope St. Pius X, cautioning specifically against the Modernists’ “manner of speech” (Encyclical Pascendi, n. 3). The Modernists’ game isn’t new, it’s just a new set of players.
Everything considered, however, we really ought to be grateful for the October 2014 Synod. It accomplished one thing quite beautifully — it illustrated like never before the falseness of Vatican II’s teaching on the nature of the Church, its patchwork ecclesiology, by extending the underlying concept and applying it to the moral life. If elements of the true Church can be found in false religions, why not elements of fidelity in adultery? Virtue in vice? Truth in falsehood? Light in darkness?
Where will this end, and who’s to say? If one of these ideas is absurd, so are the others, because they are all based on the same philosophical concept. Holiness can no more be found in sin than the True Church can be found in heretical sects.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
And now that goose is cooked.