“For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Tim 4:3)
Truth is NOT a “System of Doctrines and Dogmas”
In his magnificent 1907 encyclical letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis against Modernism, Pope St. Pius X wrote that Modernists “pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion…” (n. 13).
A good example of just how they do that was on display yesterday, May 16, in the Vatican, when the Argentinian antipope Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) proclaimed during a sermon:
Jesus asks the Father to consecrate his disciples in truth as they will be sent throughout the world to carry on his mission. Keeping the truth does not mean defending ideas, becoming guardians of a system of doctrines and dogmas, but remaining bound to Christ and being devoted to his Gospel. Truth, for the apostle John, is Christ himself, the revelation of the Father’s love. Jesus prays that his disciples, although living in the world, will not follow the criteria of this world. They are not to let themselves be enticed by idols, but to keep their friendship with him; they are not to bend the Gospel to human and worldly ways of thinking, but to preserve his message in its integrity. To keep the truth means to be a prophet in every situation in life, in other words to be consecrated to the Gospel and bear witness to it even when that means going against the current. At times, we Christians want to compromise, but the Gospel asks us to be steadfast in the truth and for the truth, offering our lives for others. Amid war, violence and hatred, fidelity to the Gospel and being peacemakers calls for commitment, also through social and political choices, even at the risk of our lives. Only in this way can things change. The Lord has no use for the lukewarm. He wants us to be consecrated in the truth and the beauty of the Gospel, so that we can testify to the joy of God’s kingdom even in the dark night of grief, even when evil seems to have the upper hand.
(Antipope Francis, Homily for Solemnity of the Ascension, May 16, 2021; underlining added.)
This oh-so pious-sounding gibberish is typical for the New Theology of the Second Vatican Council.
On the one hand, when it comes to pointing out what the truth supposedly is not, Francis manages to be quite clear: It is not the very thing that the Catholic Church had always taught it to be, namely, her doctrines and dogmas. Yet, when it comes to explaining what the truth is instead, the Jesuit antipope suddenly gets lost in a fog of vague or ambiguous ideas that allow for multiple interpretations and even appear contradictory. In the end, the only clear and memorable message Francis succeeds in communicating is that the truth is not a collection of Catholic dogmas.
For the purposes of this post, we need not dwell much on the colossal hypocrisy the false pope displays as he pays lipservice to the Gospel’s condemnation of idols and “worldly ways of thinking” — when it is he himself, of course, who encourages, permits, tolerates, and minimizes idolatry even in the Vatican. Moreover, his exhortation Amoris Laetitia is nothing if not an exercise in adapting the Gospel to the ways of the world by presuming to establish what amounts to a “hardship exemption” from the Sixth Commandment, and by essentially reducing all of God’s commandments to mere suggestions aimed at leading an “ideal” life that is not attainable except for the heroic.
We must, however, look closely at the apparent contradictions displayed in the above-quoted paragraph from Francis’ sermon, and this we will do now.
On the one hand, Bergoglio rejects the notion that guarding the truth is defending a system of ideas, doctrines, and dogmas, when that is precisely what it is. In fact, that is one of the reasons for which Christ established His Church, which “by divine institution has the mission not only to guard and interpret the deposit of divinely revealed truth, but also to keep watch over the philosophical sciences themselves, in order that Catholic dogmas may suffer no harm because of erroneous opinions” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 34; underlining added).
On the other hand, Francis does acknowledge that Christ commissioned His disciples to “preserve his message in its integrity.” So, which is it?
What appears as a contradiction at first sight is quickly resolved once one understands that for the Argentinian Jesuit the Gospel itself is not a matter of ideas, doctrines, or dogmas. That, of course, is pure Modernism. It is also hypocritical of Francis to attack the Gospel in this manner because naturally he has his own system of ideas — it’s just the Catholic system he has a problem with.
It is one thing to say that to be saved, one must do more than just believe and profess the true Faith. No Catholic could have a problem with that, for not merely Faith and hope are necessary for salvation but also charity (see Mt 7:21; 1 Cor 13:2; Jas 2:24). However, that’s not what Francis said. Rather, he said that “[k]eeping the truth does not mean defending ideas, becoming guardians of a system of doctrines and dogmas….” That is entirely in line with what he had said during an address in Morocco on Mar. 31, 2019, namely, that “being a Christian is not about adhering to a doctrine….” But is that really so?
Let’s examine what Sacred Scripture has to say about it, and then we will look at the Church’s magisterium:
And they were astonished at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes. (Mk 1:22)
Jesus answered them, and said: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (Jn 7:16)
The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. (Jn 18:19)
And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying: Commanding we commanded you, that you should not teach in this name; and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you have a mind to bring the blood of this man upon us. (Acts 5:27-28)
Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. (2 Jn 9-10)
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. (2 Tim 4:1-4)
Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle. (2 Thess 2:14)
I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. (Gal 1:6-9)
Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. (Rom 16:17)
Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Cor 2:13)
These things proposing to the brethren, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished up in the words of faith, and of the good doctrine which thou hast attained unto. Till I come, attend unto reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. (1 Tim 4:6,13)
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing… (1 Tim 6:3-4)
Exhort servants to be obedient to their masters, in all things pleasing, not gainsaying: Not defrauding, but in all things shewing good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (Titus 2:9-10)
So defending the truth does not mean defending doctrine, huh? It really shouldn’t be surprising that the man who’s been attacking dogmatic and doctrinal truth since the beginning of his false pontificate should have a problem with the proper notion of truth and its defense.
Various magisterial pronouncements of Holy Mother Church likewise repudiate Francis’ error.
The First Vatican Council in 1870 made clear that “assent to the preaching of the Gospel” is precisely “consenting to and believing in truth” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Ch. 3; Denz. 1791), which is of the greatest importance because it is necessary for salvation.
In 1907, Pope St. Pius X condemned the following proposition as Modernist: “The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort” (Lamentabili Sane Exitu, error no. 22).
In 1910, the same Pope Pius X instituted the Anti-Modernist Oath, which was required to be sworn “by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries” — until it was conveniently abolished by the false pope Paul VI in 1967. The oath contains the following lines:
I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.
(Pope St. Pius X, Oath against Modernism, included in Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum)
Here Saint Pius is clearly tying the concept of dogma to the concept of truth, from which it follows that to defend dogma is to defend truth.
In 1950, Pope Pius XII denounced “a certain historicism, which attributing value only to the events of man’s life, overthrows the foundation of all truth and absolute law both on the level of philosophical speculations and especially to Christian dogmas” (Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 7).
Sound familiar? Francis is all about man’s “lived experience” and is not ashamed to maintain that “Tradition is a living reality”, condescendingly adding that “only a partial vision regards the ‘deposit of faith’ as something static” (Address to Participants in the Meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Oct. 11, 2017). Of course that is a dogma he believes in, quite rigidly and statically!
The reason why Francis has no problem spurning the Catholic “system of doctrines and dogmas” is because like other innovators he holds that
the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they [the Neo-Modernists] do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 15)
This, Pope Pius XII adds, implies “dogmatic relativism” (n. 16), which “overthrows the foundation of all truth” (n. 7). To affirm it would mean the end of Catholicism and of the concept of revealed religion in general — and that is exactly why Francis promotes it sometimes more, somtimes less openly.
So, now that we know what Francis believes revealed truth is not, we must also examine what he claims it is instead. And that is where he becomes very vague. He says it is “remaining bound to Christ and being devoted to his Gospel” and also “Christ himself, the revelation of the Father’s love”. He adds that “[t]o keep the truth means to be a prophet in every situation in life, in other words to be consecrated to the Gospel and bear witness to it even when that means going against the current” and “to be steadfast in the truth and for the truth, offering our lives for others.” In themselves, these words may not seem terribly obscure, but when contrasted with defending Catholic dogma, one is left to wonder just what they should mean: What does it mean to be devoted to the Gospel without being devoted to its dogmas? What does it mean to bear witness to the Gospel if not to bear witness to Christ’s doctrines?
Bergoglio himself hints at the answer when he makes reference to the Gospel and its truth but does so only in the context of “offering our lives for others”. In this manner he suggests that the Gospel consists exclusively or at least chiefly in helping the needy.
Certainly, the corporal works of mercy are an essential part of the Gospel (see Mt 25:31-46; Jas 1:27); however, they are of no avail if divorced from the supernatural Faith in the doctrines of Christ (cf. Heb 11:6):
No, Venerable Brethren, there is no genuine fraternity outside Christian charity. Through the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ Our Saviour, Christian charity embraces all men, comforts all, and leads all to the same faith and same heavenly happiness. … But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors. Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them.
(Pope St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique; underlining added.)
The object of the theological virtue of Faith is the truths God has revealed and the Church has proposed for our belief. These we call dogmas, and God requires us to uphold them even at the cost of our own lives (cf. Mt 10:39; Mt 16:25).
Thus it turns out that Francis actually denies the teaching of the First Vatican Council that “the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted” (Dei Filius, Ch. 4; Denz. 1800; underlining added).
On May 8, 2013, Francis had told the hapless souls gathered for his morning worship service at the Casa Santa Marta: “The truth is an encounter – it is a meeting with Supreme Truth: Jesus, the great truth. No one owns the truth” (source).
Profound though it may sound at first, it is hogwash. The truth is not an encounter. The Truth is indeed a Person, the Son of God (see Jn 1:14,17; Jn 14:6), who is “the Word” (Jn 1:1) that has existed from all eternity and by Whom God has spoken to us in these latter times (see Heb 1:2). His teaching, therefore, is necessarily the objective truth: “Thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). The Catholic Church truly possesses or owns this truth because it was given to her by God: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you” (Jn 16:13; cf. Jn 14:16-17).
To redefine truth as an encounter makes truth subjective, because an encounter is an experience and therefore necessarily the experience of a subject. Such a subjective notion of truth-as-encounter eliminates the need for a Teaching Church, for then each soul has his very own experience of the Truth, which, we have been told, no one “owns” anyway. In such a scenario, the Church might still be found useful for facilitating that personal encounter of each soul with Christ, but little more.
If the truth, then, is all about a personal experience, we must ask with St. Pius X:
What is to prevent such experiences from being found in any religion? In fact, that they are so is maintained by not a few [Modernists]. On what grounds can Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? Will they claim a monopoly of true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true.
(Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi Dominici, n. 14)
That, of course, is exactly what Francis has been communicating to the world, if not always in words, certainly always in his actions. That is why he has now expanded the “People of God” to include members of all religions; it is why he doesn’t care what religion children are raised in as long as they have enough to eat; it’s the reason why he tells Muslims to cling to their religion and assures Protestants that he doesn’t want to convert them. Francis boldly defines “true religions” (yes, plural!) as “the development of the capacity that humanity has to transcend itself towards the absolute” and seriously maintains that “[e]ngaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute”.
“What is truth?”, Pontius Pilate asked our Blessed Lord on the first Good Friday (Jn 18:38). It was a rhetorical question that, alas, still reverberates today in the Modernist contempt for Catholic dogma.
It is to uphold the True Faith with its divinely-revealed dogmas, we might add, that countless martyrs have endured the most barbaric tortures and died the cruelest of deaths. They didn’t suffer and die for encounter, for dialogue, or for soup kitchens, as legitimate and important as these may be in certain contexts.
The fact is that there is no Faith without the Gospel, and there is no Gospel without revealed truths — without true ideas, without doctrines, without dogmas: “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth” (Jn 18:37). By attacking the notion of revealed truth, the concept of dogma, Francis is doing precisely what he claims to be fighting against: He is “bend[ing] the Gospel to human and worldly ways of thinking”!
But that is no mistake. He does it with full deliberation, for he must dilute the last remnants of Catholicism to the point where everything people believe will fit neatly into that interreligious “fraternity” that cares nothing for divine truth in any meaningful way and reduces all doctrines and dogmas to personal opinions and religious traditions that must be valued as a matter of diversity — a diversity, we must recall, that he blasphemously claims is actually positively willed by God!
Now that is a system of doctrines and dogmas he is enthusiastic to defend, and from which he tolerates no dissent!
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