Naturalism under the guise of conservative Catholicism…
Dangerous Heresy in attractive Wrapping Paper:
“Abp.” Viganò’s Letter to President Trump
‘Abp.’ Carlo Maria Viganò at the 2015 Walk for Life in San Francisco
(AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
The former Vatican nuncio to the United States, “Archbishop” Carlo Maria Viganò, has been hiding at an undisclosed location since August of 2018, after he publicly accused “Pope” Francis of having known about and covered up sexual abuse perpetrated by “Cardinal” Theodore McCarrick.
On June 6, 2020, Fr. Viganò — he’s a valid priest but not a bishop — released a 3-page open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, in which he encourages him to stay the course against malicious, infernal forces trying to overturn the current social order and impose what amounts to a globalist secular Marxist tyranny. The letter has been hailed by Viganò’s usual supporters — Life Site, The Remnant, Catholic Family News, etc. — and has been circulated widely around the internet.
So far, so good. The problem, however, is that in his letter Vigano promotes dangerous and significant theological errors that apparently none of his cheerleaders has picked up on, even though they are promoted in fairly plain sight.
In what follows, we shall provide a critical commentary on “Abp.” Vigano’s letter. But first, some links:
- Full Text: Letter of Carlo Maria Viganò to President Donald Trump
- PDF version of Vigano’s letter on original stationery
- Commentary by retired Novus Ordo bishop René Gracida: ‘reads like a letter from a future Pope’
- Commentary by The Remnant‘s Michael Matt: “Catholics need to get the Archbishop’s urgent message through to Donald Trump”
- Commentary by Catholic Family News’ Matt Gaspers: “Catholic Family News stands with Archbishop Viganò and applauds his extraordinary letter”
- Commentary by Taylor Marshall: “a wonderful letter… written like an Apostle”
- Commentary by Giuseppe Pellegrino at Church Militant: “a light shining in darkness”
Before we proceed, a brief clarification is in order: Some people will want to dismiss our critique by rashly claiming that it has its origin in a mere desire to oppose Vigano because he is not a sedevacantist. That is definitely not the case. If that were our only objection, we would first commend him for a well-written letter and then get on his case about not being a sedevacantist. No, the reason for being critical of his open letter to the president is quite simply that it is imbued with a most dangerous heresy, a heresy so obvious that it is greatly alarming to see that those who consider themselves the “remnant” of traditional Catholicism failed to notice it: We are speaking of the heresy of Naturalism, as will be explained.
Let us begin now with an examination of Fr. Viganò’s letter (all italics are Vigano’s; all underlining is ours):
In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.
(“Abp.” Carlo M. Viganò, Open Letter to President Donald Trump, June 7, 2020)
Referencing Sacred Scripture, “Abp.” Viganò divides humanity into two groups: the good and the bad, the “children of light” and the “children of darkness.” That distinction is justified — the problem is how Viganò defines these groups. Given what he says in the above paragraph, the author seems to consider all those to be Children of Light who are of good will, as though nothing more were required to be actually good. Vigano fails to draw the absolutely essential distinction between people who are naturally good and those who are supernaturally good. Yes, it is an essential distinction since, claiming to be “biblical” about it, he is introducing divine revelation into the topic and thus claims to be teaching revealed truth.
In John 12:36, our Blessed Lord instructs His disciples: “Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.” Christ Himself being the Light of the World (see Jn 1:4; Jn 8:12; 1 Jn 1:5), those who follow Him are rightly called the Children of Light, and are exhorted to walk in a way that befits them:
For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light. For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth; proving what is well pleasing to God: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light.
But who are the true followers of our Lord? They are those who have joined His supernatural society on earth, the Roman Catholic Church. That Church alone is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), if we’re going to be biblical about it, and it alone Christ has established as the congregation of the faithful. Hence neither public heretics nor schismatics can be a part of her: Schismatics are not congregated and heretics are not faithful. “In fact there is only one true and holy religion, founded and instituted by Christ Our Lord,” Pope Pius IX teaches. “Mother and Nurse of the virtues, Destroyer of vice, Liberator of souls, Guide to true happiness, she is called Catholic, Apostolic and Roman” (Allocution Iamdudum Cernimus; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 230).
Granted, mere membership in the Church is not sufficient for salvation; but it is necessary to be either a member of the Church or, at the very least, to be joined to the Body of the Church by an efficacious desire through Faith, hope, and charity (see Holy Office Letter Suprema Haec Sacra, Aug. 8, 1949). Hence the Church is truly called the the “Ark of Salvation” (Pope Pius IX, Allocution Singulari Quadam), such that “whosoever turns his back on the Church cannot be near to Christ” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Rerum Novarum, n. 30).
“Abp.” Vigano leaves all of this supernatural truth out of account and accepts the Naturalist lie that all those who “mean well” are the Children of Light. In other words, he promotes the idea that regardless of their religion or personal sinfulness — that is, regardless of whether they possess Faith, hope, or charity — all “good people” are on God’s side, are part of the Church, are part of His Kingdom. What is this but a conservative version of “all nice people go to Heaven”?
Vigano’s erroneous theology results in him making the foolish declaration that “the children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity”! While it may be true that they are conspicuous (cf. Mt 5:14-16), they are definitely not the majority, which is what Vigano appears to imply, since he immediately contrasts what he says with the Children of Darkness being “an absolute minority”: “How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!” (Mt 7:14).
Continuing now with the letter:
These two sides, which have a Biblical nature, follow the clear separation between the offspring of the Woman and the offspring of the Serpent. On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money: for them the fallacious illusion of temporal well-being will one day – if they do not repent – yield to the terrible fate that awaits them, far from God, in eternal damnation.
(“Abp.” Carlo M. Viganò, Open Letter to President Donald Trump, June 7, 2020)
Here Fr. Vigano confirms his intent to be teaching revealed truth, and he fails miserably. The offspring of the Woman (cf. Gen 3:15; Jn 19:26-27; Apoc 12:1) are those supernaturally regenerated in grace — “in Christ a new creature” (2 Cor 5:17), for which the virtue of Faith is absolutely indispensable: “But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him” (Heb 11:6). But there is only one true Faith, which is the Roman Catholic Faith: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity” (Athanasian Creed; Denz. 39).
Yes, there are mitigating factors with regard to those who are in invincible ignorance. However, such factors, while diminishing guilt, cannot dispense with the absolute necessity of the virtue of Faith for salvation; although not all dogmas must be known and believed explicitly (cf. Pope Clement XI, Response of the Holy Office to the Bishop of Quebec; Denz. 1349a). As Pope Pius IX taught, “The arms of the Lord are not shortened, and the gifts of the heavenly grace are never wanting to those who sincerely wish for them, and who beg for the assistance of that light” (Allocution Singulari Quadam).
Thus it is utterly absurd for “Abp.” Vigano to suggest that, essentially, all who are not malicious are “motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven”, albeit with “a thousand defects and weaknesses.” This is Pelagianism! By entirely leaving out of account the necessity of divine grace and the supernatural virtues of Faith, hope, and charity, Fr. Vigano is promoting a dangerous Naturalism that is at the root of the very Antichrist movement he is supposedly trying to oppose!
Rightly did Fr. Frederick Faber warn us:
We must beware then of dangers from within. We must be upon our guard even against catholic books, periodicals, journals, and pamphlets, however specious they may be. Our Blessed Redeemer said of the false prophets of the last days (St. Matt. xxiv. 24.) that they should “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Now we must remember, that if all the manifestly good men were on one side, and all the manifestly bad men on the other, there would be no danger of any one, least of all, the elect, being deceived by lying wonders. It is the good men, good once, we must hope good still, who are to do the work of Antichrist, and so sadly to crucify afresh the Lord whom they do more than profess to love. Bear in mind this feature of the last days, that their deceitfulness arises from good men being on the wrong side.
Let us repeat: It is a very grave error to think that all who are of good will — who work for a living, strive not to hurt anyone, and help the poor — are the spiritual progeny of the Blessed Mother, are the Children of Light, are part of the Kingdom of God. It is heresy! That is the sort of theology one expects to get from “Pope” Francis, but not from a man who has recently been profiling himself as the orthodox antidote to Francis, even to the point of rightly calling into question the Second Vatican Council. What is going on here?!
In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies. And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of already having everything under control that they have laid aside that circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. We will probably find that in this colossal operation of social engineering there are people who have decided the fate of humanity, arrogating to themselves the right to act against the will of citizens and their representatives in the governments of nations.
Here the Unholy See’s former nuncio to the United States narrows his definition of “Children of Darkness” further and identifies them with the American deep state. By the laws of logic, this would mean that whoever isn’t part of the deep state is part of the Kingdom of God, since whoever isn’t in one camp is necessarily in the other. Can it get any more absurd?
Continuing with the open letter:
We will also discover that the riots in these days were provoked by those who, seeing that the virus is inevitably fading and that the social alarm of the pandemic is waning, necessarily have had to provoke civil disturbances, because they would be followed by repression which, although legitimate, could be condemned as an unjustified aggression against the population. The same thing is also happening in Europe, in perfect synchrony. It is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state and who expresses those goals faithfully and with conviction. It will not be surprising if, in a few months, we learn once again that hidden behind these acts of vandalism and violence there are those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom: Solve et Coagula [dissolve and coagulate], as the Masonic adage teaches.
Although it may seem disconcerting, the opposing alignments I have described are also found in religious circles. There are faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ, but there are also mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves. It is not surprising that these mercenaries are allies of the children of darkness and hate the children of light: just as there is a deep state, there is also a deep church that betrays its duties and forswears its proper commitments before God. Thus the Invisible Enemy, whom good rulers fight against in public affairs, is also fought against by good shepherds in the ecclesiastical sphere. It is a spiritual battle, which I spoke about in my recent Appeal which was published on May 8.
Here Viganò is creating even greater confusion. Addressing a man who is a Presbyterian, he speaks rather generically about “the flock of Christ” and about “faithful Shepherds”, “mercenary infidels”, and “ravenous wolves”. Instead of giving these terms clear and orthodox Catholic definitions, however, he gives them a political spin by making them the spiritual equivalents of the deep state, “allies of the children of darkness [who] hate the children of light”.
This is just theological chaos. Is Fr. Vigano saying, for instance, that a Presbyterian pastor who is “motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work”, etc. is therefore a true shepherd of the flock of Christ? Is he out of his mind?! Or, if that’s not what means, isn’t that nevertheless what President Trump must understand him to be saying?
The way Vigano defines and separates the good and the bad is not at all biblical but entirely Naturalistic, based on natural considerations and not on supernatural divine revelation and grace (cf. Mt 7:21-23).
Continuing with the letter:
For the first time, the United States has in you a President who courageously defends the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship. Your participation in the March for Life, and more recently your proclamation of the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, are actions that confirm which side you wish to fight on. And I dare to believe that both of us are on the same side in this battle, albeit with different weapons.
For this reason, I believe that the attack to which you were subjected after your visit to the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II is part of the orchestrated media narrative which seeks not to fight racism and bring social order, but to aggravate dispositions; not to bring justice, but to legitimize violence and crime; not to serve the truth, but to favor one political faction. And it is disconcerting that there are Bishops – such as those whom I recently denounced – who, by their words, prove that they are aligned on the opposing side. They are subservient to the deep state, to globalism, to aligned thought, to the New World Order which they invoke ever more frequently in the name of a universal brotherhood which has nothing Christian about it, but which evokes the Masonic ideals of those want to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.
This is fair enough, but Fr. Vigano should be aware of the fact that the American constitution is based on Masonic ideas — such as religious liberty, Indifferentism, and freedom of speech. These are not Catholic notions but ideas condemned by the Popes (for example, by Gregory XVI and Pius IX), so it makes little sense to warn a Protestant President of the United States about Masonic ideals.
There is no question that President Trump has done a considerable amount to significantly reduce the number of abortions in the United States in the long run. However, it must also be pointed out — simply because it too is part of the objective record — that the same president does not defend an unborn child’s right not to be murdered if the little one was conceived in the wrong circumstances or if his presence in the womb accidentally endangers the life of his mother. Then dismembering the baby is OK, he believes. Let’s just keep that in mind before proclaiming Donald Trump “a President who courageously defends the right to life.” He does courageously defend the right to life of most, but not of all, innocent people.
Viganò ends his open letter as follows:
The American people are mature and have now understood how much the mainstream media does not want to spread the truth but seeks to silence and distort it, spreading the lie that is useful for the purposes of their masters. However, it is important that the good – who are the majority – wake up from their sluggishness and do not accept being deceived by a minority of dishonest people with unavowable purposes. It is necessary that the good, the children of light, come together and make their voices heard. What more effective way is there to do this, Mr. President, than by prayer, asking the Lord to protect you, the United States, and all of humanity from this enormous attack of the Enemy? Before the power of prayer, the deceptions of the children of darkness will collapse, their plots will be revealed, their betrayal will be shown, their frightening power will end in nothing, brought to light and exposed for what it is: an infernal deception.
Mr. President, my prayer is constantly turned to the beloved American nation, where I had the privilege and honor of being sent by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio. In this dramatic and decisive hour for all of humanity, I am praying for you and also for all those who are at your side in the government of the United States. I trust that the American people are united with me and you in prayer to Almighty God.
United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity, I bless you and the First Lady, the beloved American nation, and all men and women of good will.
Here the former nuncio doubles down on his identification of the Children of Light with “the good”, who are all those, we are told, who reject the infernal globalist program of the deep state.
Vigano’s identification of basically all who mean well with the Children of Light spoken of in the Bible is an utter theological nightmare. We are not talking about a simple gaffe, the mere result of a quibble about a theological nuance. No, this is a huge heresy with tremendous practical repercussions, as it indirectly confirms all good-willed non-Catholics in their errors and promotes a sort of “generic religion of the good-willed” or a “generic Christianity” at best. But that is a false Christianity, because there is only one true Christianity, and that is the Roman Catholic religion, of which “Abp.” Vigano considers himself a representative. Ironically, this Indifferentism promoted by Vigano is one of the core doctrines of Freemasonry.
To summarize the Catholic position on the Children of Light vs. the Children of Darkness, we turn to Pope Pius IX:
Our most beloved Redeemer, Christ the Lord, willed as you well know, venerable brothers, to deliver all men from the captivity of the devil, free them from the yoke of sin, call them from darkness into his wonderful light and be their salvation. When he had blotted out the handwriting of the decree against us, fastening it to the cross, he formed and established the Catholic Church, won by his blood, as the one “Church of the living God,” the one “kingdom of heaven,” “the city set on a hill,” “one flock,” and “one body” steadfast and alive with “one Spirit,” one faith, one hope, one love joined and firmly held together by the same bonds of sacraments, religion and doctrine. He further provided his Church with leaders whom he chose and called. In addition, he decreed that the Church will endure as long as the world, embrace all peoples and nations of the whole world, and that whoever accepts his divine religion and grace and perseveres to the end will attain the glory of eternal salvation.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Amantissimus, n. 1; underlining added.)
Sadly, “Abp.” Vigano communicated none of this in his open letter to President Trump. Instead, he gravely distorted the supernatural truth about who are the Children of Light and who are the Children of Darkness. It is nothing short of alarming that this letter has been hailed by many semi-traditionalists as a terrific missive from a true ally in the cause of truth and salvation.
At The Remnant, Michael Matt encouraged his readership to share the open letter with as many as possible, commenting: “…we the Catholic faithful—the Catholic clans—must get the word out that we stand with Christ the King….” Standing with Christ the King is a most noble goal, but “Abp.” Vigano, for his part, did no such thing in his letter. He mentioned the Holy Name of Jesus Christ exactly once, telling President Trump: “For the first time, the United States has in you a President who courageously defends the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship.”
It is unclear, therefore, just how promoting Fr. Vigano’s letter would be a way to stand with Christ the King, for His Kingship was certainly not promoted or defended in that letter. Instead, we heard a lot about the need to oppose the deep state and the deep church, about freedom of worship, and about how all those who make an honest living and don’t want to convert society into a globalist hellhole are all Children of Light working for the Kingdom of God. The word “grace” was entirely absent. The letter promoted a lowest-common-denoninator “Christianity” at best, but certainly not the Catholic Social Kingship of Christ, as laid out by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
At Catholic Family News, Matt Gaspers took Vigano’s paradigm of the two opposing camps — Children of Light vs. Children of Darkness — and connected it to what St. Louis de Montfort spoke about in his phenomenal work True Devotion to Mary:
God has not only set an enmity, but enmities, not simply between Mary and the devil, but between the race of the holy Virgin and the race of the devil; that is to say, God has set enmities, antipathies and secret hatreds, between the true children and servants of Mary and the children and slaves of the devil.…
But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially shine forth in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel: that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him.
(St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, rev. ed. [Bay Shore, NY: The Montfort Fathers, 1946], n. 54, pp. 36-37)
Thus Gaspers fully adopts Vigano’s conflation of the good-willed people of the world, regardless of their religion or moral lives, with the biblical Children of Light who are part of the Kingdom of God. He even one-ups Vigano by calling them not only, somewhat obscurely, the “offspring of the Woman” but “the race of the holy Virgin” and “the true children and servants of Mary”!
Vigano’s letter to Trump, however laudable it may be in other respects, is a manifesto of Naturalism and Indifferentism. Our first loyalty must be to Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church, which is a supernatural society of the true followers of Our Lord, and not a natural amalgam of all who mean well:
Now there are three necessary societies, distinct from one another and yet harmoniously combined by God, into which man is born: two, namely the family and civil society, belong to the natural order; the third, the Church, to the supernatural order … into which man is born when through Baptism he reaches the divine life of grace…
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Divini Illius Magistri, nn. 11, 13; underlining added.)
Thus, while “Abp.” Viganò is getting kudos from all sides among the “traditional Catholics” of the Remnant stripe, he will get a harsh rebuke here. His open letter to President Trump was surely consoling to the intended recipient on a natural level, but on the much more significant supernatural plane, it accomplished absolutely nothing positive, not for the president and not for anyone else who read it.
Not once did Vigano even hint at President Trump’s need to convert to the only True Faith. This could have been done very kindly and diplomatically, to at least plant a seed. Instead, the former nuncio misled the president in this most serious matter, putting his soul in even greater danger than before. Viganò made it seem as though Trump was already fighting the battle of God against Satan and therefore, in a sense, was the ultimate representative of the Children of Light in civil society. And while God may indeed be using President Trump to ensure continued freedom for the Church and to prevent a complete social takeover of the forces of hell, this does not make him a member of the Church, of the Kingdom of God, or of the Children of Light. To suggest otherwise is to commit a grave uncharity against our current president.
Donald Trump is in great need of our prayers, for many reasons. The most important one pertains to the status of his own soul: He is in desperate need of the theological virtues of Faith, hope, and charity, which can only be had through the assistance of divine grace. Tragically, none of this was communicated to him in “Abp.” Carlo Viganò’s letter. “Satan everywhere combats and everywhere seeks to eliminate the Supernatural Life of Grace, participation in the Life of the Blessed Trinity”, Fr. Denis Fahey writes in his The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism ([Cork, Ireland: The Forum Press, 1943], p. 39). By casting the spiritual battle into thoroughly Naturalist terms, omitting any mention of the supernatural life of grace, “Abp.” Viganò is pandering to the very Invisible Enemy he is trying to combat.
We will end with the prophetic words of our Blessed Lord and Redeemer: “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand” (Mt 24:24-25).
Image source: Associated Press (cropped)