The ‘New Theology’ on steroids!
‘Paradigm Shift’: Francis Issues Disastrous Motu Proprio Aimed at Theological Revolution
An extremely significant development took place in the Vatican on Nov. 1, 2023: The apostate Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio, more commonly known under his stage name ‘Pope Francis’, published a so-called Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio — Latin for ‘on his own initiative’ — approving new statutes for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, originally founded by Pope Clement XI in 1718.
In this fairly brief document, so far available on the Vatican web site only in Italian, the false pope calls for nothing less than a revolution in theology, a ‘paradigm shift’ that will have incalculable, frightful consequences in the long term. Whatever remnants of real Catholicism might still be found in Novus Ordo theology, this ‘new approach’ will drown them in a deluge of error:
- Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter Ad Theologiam Promovendam (Italian original)
- Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter Ad Theologiam Promovendam (Unofficial English translation)
This Motu Inapproprio, if you pardon the moniker, gives the Neo-Modernist academics in Rome the marching orders they needed to finish, under cover of ‘being loyal to the Pope’, the revolution in theology begun at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
The following links provide news reports from various sources about the new ‘Apostolic Letter’:
- Pope: Theology must interpret the Gospel for today’s world (Vatican News)
- Pope Francis gives new statutes (and mission) to the Pontifical Academy of Theology (Zenit)
- New Motu Proprio: Pope calls for “courageous cultural revolution” (Katholisch.de)
- Pope Francis aims to put his stamp on Catholic theology (La Croix International)
- Pope Francis calls for a new theology not always ‘corresponding to the Christian face of God’ (Life Site)
- New papal document reads like a conclusion in search of an argument (Catholic World Report)
- Pope Francis and the Cultural Revolution (Monday Vatican)
- ‘Ad theologiam promovendam’: A brief guide for busy readers (The Pillar)
- Pope Francis’ new relational theology (La Croix International)
- Three Theologians on the Pope’s ‘Paradigm’ Shift in Theology: Chapp, Echeverria, Weinandy (The Catholic Thing)
- The Last Gasp of Our Akhenaten (Unam Sanctam Catholicam)
- Basta dogmi: è la nuova socio(teo)logia di Francesco (La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana)
Rome Reports has put together a brief video clip on it:
Let us now examine the explosive paragraphs of this document, which is but waiting to be implemented. As no official English translation has been released yet, we will use the text generated by the excellent online translator DeepL.
The Document Examined: 5 out of 10 Paragraphs
The first paragraph reads as follows:
Promoting theology in the future cannot be limited to abstractly re-proposing formulas and schemes of the past. Called to prophetically interpret the present and glimpse new itineraries for the future in the light of Revelation, theology will have to confront profound cultural transformations, aware that: “What we are living through is not simply an era of change, but a change of epoch” (Address to the Roman Curia, Dec. 21, 2013).
This opening paragraph very much reflects Bergoglio’s style: He makes a declarative statement assertively but without sufficient evidence, simply expecting everyone to accept it. To strengthen the point he’s making, he quotes none other than himself. Such an approach is not terribly convincing, but since people believe him to be the Pope of the Catholic Church, most of his underlings will simply assent to it.
The very first sentence in the paragraph reflects the false pope’s contemptuous hatred of Scholasticism, of theology as a systematic science with principles and proofs, axioms and deductions, premises and conclusions. Modernists, after all, detest immutable and perennially valid truth, and no less do they hate objective certainty. For them, everything must constantly evolve, and nothing is ever fixed. Novelty is their god. They love to generate doubt and confusion, and their ideas thrive on metaphorical expressions and ambiguity.
Wisely did St. Pius X condemn them:
Against scholastic philosophy and theology they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt. Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is tending to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for the scholastic method. Let the Modernists and their admirers remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX: “The method and principles which have served the ancient doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science” [Syllabus of Errors, Error No. 13].
(Pope Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, n. 42)
So Francis claims that theology is “[c]alled to prophetically interpret the present and glimpse new itineraries for the future in the light of Revelation”, whatever that might mean. Notice he conveniently uses passive voice, claiming theology “is called” to that. But is it really? By whom and to what end?
Of course Sacred Theology must also consider the theoretical and practical problems of the times, but then that is always the case. For example, in the 20th century moral theology had to respond to the question of the use of nuclear weapons. That was a new moral problem that had not existed before. However, neither the principles of morality nor the theological method changed. Rather, it was a matter of analyzing the moral elements and then applying the unchangeable truths of the Faith and of reason to the new problem at hand. No ‘paradigm’ had to be invented, changed, or abandoned.
If Francis is looking for a “prophetic” interpretation of the present, we suggest he look at the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians:
Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, 10 And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3-11)
For an understanding of this passage based on Sacred Tradition and the Church’s best authorities, we recommend Cardinal Henry Edward Manning’s outstanding treatment:
“Glimpsing new itineraries for the future” is not a theologically meaningful expression. It is poetry at best, and people like Bergoglio love to use it as a replacement for real theology because it lends itself to being understood in more than one way, sounds smart, and is useful as Modernist code for getting a message across to those who know how to read it.
As one of his justifications for calling for a new theological approach, Francis cites the “profound cultural transformations” theology will have to confront. Certainly, such transformations are trying to impose themselves on us, but let us not forget that this is to a considerable extent the Vatican II Sect’s own doing — if not always actively and directly by its happy cooperation in the secularization of the world and the promotion of false theological principles, at least passively and indirectly, by means of weak, insufficient, or altogether non-existent resistance to social, cultural, philosophical, and theological errors.
We will skip the second paragraph of Ad Theologiam Promovendam. The third paragraph reads:
After nearly five five decades, it is time to revise these norms, to make them more suitable to the mission that our time imposes on theology. A synodal, missionary and “outgoing” Church can only be matched by an “outgoing” theology. As I wrote in my Letter to the Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Argentina, addressing professors and students of theology, “Do not be content with a desk theology. Let your place of reflection be the frontiers. […] Good theologians, like good pastors, also smell of the people and the street and, by their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men.” Openness to the world, to man in the concreteness of his existential situation, with its problems, wounds, challenges, and potential, cannot, however, be reduced to a “tactical” attitude, extrinsically adapting now-crystallized content to new situations, but must urge theology to an epistemological and methodological rethinking, as indicated in the Proem of the apostolic constitution Veritatis gaudium.
These are words of revolution. Of course the rhetoric about an “outgoing theology” (alternatively rendered a “theology that goes forth”), is rather amusing, considering that there is nothing “outgoing” about Bergoglian theology in terms of true missionary action. All it really does is ensure that people move away from real Catholicism.
All the flowery rhetoric about a “desk theology” vs. an “existential theology” is code for throwing out objective, scientific theology that concerns itself with unchangeable truth, in favor of what could be considered a kind of theological sociology, an existentialist pseudo-theology whose chief task it is to replace perennial Catholic doctrine with extremely ‘merciful’ and politically-correct alternatives that meet the needs of the moment, under the pretext that God is somehow speaking through the “wounds of men”.
When Neo-Modernists crank out metaphors like that, one will be well-advised to pay close attention because chances are that some revolutionary concept is being put forward, carefully hidden under the inoffensive cloak of figurative speech, which is always ambiguous. After all, who would not want to “pour oil and wine on the wounds” of suffering humanity?
Francis’ aims here are clear. He states that he is not simply looking for the ‘old’ theology to be applied to new situations, which would be the traditional approach. No, he wants a revolution in the method and epistemology of theology, that is, in how theology is done and in what constitutes and validates meaningful theological knowledge.
Such smelly ‘street theology’ simply bears the stench of Modernism. Bergoglio’s theology that goes forth is one to run away from.
In the fourth paragraph, Francis gets even more candid:
Theological reflection is therefore called to a turning point, to a paradigm shift, to a “courageous cultural revolution” (Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 114) that commits it, first and foremost, to be a fundamentally contextual theology, capable of reading and interpreting the Gospel in the conditions in which men and women daily live, in different geographical, social and cultural environments, and having as its archetype the Incarnation of the eternal Logos, its entering into the culture, worldview, and religious tradition of a people. From here, theology cannot but develop into a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian denominations and different religions, openly confronting everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Indeed, the need for dialogue is intrinsic to human beings and to the whole of creation, and it is the particular task of theology to discover “the Trinitarian imprint that makes the cosmos in which we live ‘a web of relationships’ in which ‘it is proper to every living being to tend toward another thing'” (Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium, Proem, 4a).
So Francis wants a ‘contextual’ theology, which we can also call a ‘paradigmatic’ theology.
Let us make no mistake about it: Francis wants to read the Gospel in, that is, from the concrete human situation, he does not want to apply the timeless Gospel to the situation. That is the essence of the revolution being presented here: It’s not people’s lives that are to be understood and evaluated in light of the Gospel; rather, it is the Gospel that is to be understood in light of people’s lives. God is claimed to reveal Himself in and through the individual human predicament, not by means of intellectual truths handed down through Scripture and Tradition and as interpreted by the Church’s magisterial authority.
This ‘contextual theology’ is how such aberrations as Liberation Theology come about, of which both ‘Pope’ Francis and ‘Cardinal’ Gerhard Ludwig Müller are big fans. The following book, written by a Peruvian author who is not a sedevacantist, takes Liberation Theology to the woodshed:
- Liberation Theology: How Marxism Infiltrated the Catholic Church by Julio Loredo de Izcue (commission link)
In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII condemned the ‘New Morality’, another name for situation ethics. What situation ethics is to moral theology, Bergoglio’s contextualism is to theology in general. Both are a type of existentialism that places all (or at least much greater) emphasis on the concrete situation rather than on immutable theological principles, which are considered too theoretical, rigid, and impersonal, and therefore simply foreign to life as actually experienced by individuals. Subjective experience takes precedence over objective truth.
Looking at what Pius XII said about situation ethics, we can understand how the Holy Father’s condemnation applies just as much to contextual theology in general:
The distinctive mark of this morality is that it is not based in effect on universal moral laws, such as, for example, the Ten Commandments, but on the real and concrete conditions or circumstances in which men must act, and according to which the conscience of the individual must judge and choose. Such a state of things is unique, and is applicable only once for every human action. That is why the decision of conscience, as the advocates of this ethic assert, cannot be commanded by ideas, principles and universal laws.
…[The New Morality] does not deny outright general moral concepts and principles (although at times it comes very close to such denial). It may happen often that the decision of conscience will be in harmony with them. Yet they are not, so to speak, a body of premises, from which conscience draws logical conclusions. In a particular case, the case which “happens only once.” Not at all! At the center is found the good, which must be actuated or preserved, in its real and individual value—as, for example, in the domain of faith, the personal bond which links us with God. If a seriously trained conscience decided that abandoning the Catholic faith and joining another religion brings it closer to God, then such a step would be “justified,” even though it is generally classified as “giving up the faith.” Or again, in the domain of morality, another example is the corporal and spiritual gift of one’s self among young people. Here, a seriously trained conscience could decide that, because of a sincere inclination, physical and sensual intimacies are in order, and these, although allowed only between married persons, would become allowable expressions of this inclination. The open conscience of today would decide in this way because from the hierarchy of values it draws the principle that personality values, being the highest, could either make use of lower bodily or sensual values, or rule them out, according to the suggestions of each individual situation. It has been insistently claimed that, precisely in virtue of this principle, in what concern, the rights of married person, it would be necessary, in case of conflict, to leave to the serious and upright conscience of the parties, according to the demands of concrete situations, the power to frustrate directly the realization of biological values, for the benefit of personality values.
Such judgments of conscience, howsoever contrary they may seem at first sight to divine precepts, would be valid before God, because, they say, in the eyes of God a seriously formed conscience takes precedence over “precept” and “law.”
Hence such a decision is “active” and “productive.” It is not “passive” and merely “receptive” of the decision of the law which God has written in the heart of each one, and still less of the decision of the Decalogue, which the finger of God wrote on tables of stone, making it a duty of human authority to promulgate and preserve it.
The new ethic (adapted to circumstances), say its authors, is eminently “individual.” In this determination of conscience, each individual finds himself in direct relationship with God and decides before Him, without the slightest trace of intervention by any law, any authority, any community, any cult or religion. Here there is simply the “I” of man and the “I” of the personal God, not the God of the law, but of God the Father, with whom man must unite himself in filial love. Viewed thus, the decision of conscience is a personal “risk,” according to one’s own knowledge and evaluation, in all sincerity before God. These two things, right intention and sincere response, are what God considers! He is not concerned with the action. Hence the answer may be to exchange that Catholic faith for other principles, to seek divorce, to interrupt gestation, to refuse obedience to competent authority in the family, the Church, the State, and so forth.
All this would be perfectly fitting for man’s status as one who has come “of age” and, in the Christian order, it would be in harmony with the relation of sonship which, according to the teaching of Christ, makes us pray to God as “Our Father.”
This personal view of things spares man the necessity of having to ask himself, at every instant, whether the decision to be taken corresponds with the paragraphs of the law or to the canons of abstract standards and rules. It preserves man from the hypocrisy of pharisaical fidelity to laws; it preserves him both from pathological scruples as well as from the flippancy or lack of conscience, because it puts the responsibility before God on the Christian personally. Thus speak those who preach the “new morality.”
Stated thus expressly, the new ethic is so foreign to the faith and to Catholic principles that even a child, if he knows his catechism, will be aware of it and will feel it. It is not difficult to recognize how this new moral system derives from existentialism which either prescinds from God or simply denies Him, and, in any case, leaves man to himself. It is possible that present-day conditions may have led men to attempt to transplant this “new morality” into Catholic soil, in order to make the hardships of Christian life more bearable for the faithful. In fact, millions of them are being called upon today, and in an extraordinary degree, to practice firmness, patience, constancy, and the spirit of sacrifice, if they wish to preserve their faith intact. For they suffer the blows of fate, or are placed in surroundings which put within their reach everything which their passionate heart yearns for or desires. Such an attempt can never succeed.
(Pope Pius XII, Address Soyez les Bienvenues; underlining added.)
To call for a ‘paradigm shift’ in theology, as Francis does so nonchalantly and unabashedly, is therefore to call for a revolution that will turn the Gospel inside out. And indeed, Francis himself is not afraid to associate both ideas — paradigm shift and revolution — in the same breath.
The concept of ‘paradigm shift’ appeared first in the early 1960s in the works of Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922-1996), an influential philosopher of science and de facto relativist. It denotes a transition from one set of theological principles, assumptions, and methods to another. The old is to be abandoned, the new is to be embraced.
Even if, in the new theological paradigm, certain orthodox conclusions are confirmed and held on to in specific instances, any continuity of orthodoxy will be merely accidental and therefore quite illusory inasmuch as these conclusions derive from false theological principles. This was the problem with Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968). The moral prohibition of artificial contraception remained, but it now rested on false premises, which had the potential to wreak havoc on morality at a later time. They were theological ‘time bombs’ ready to detonate at any time.
In pushing for his contextual theology, Francis is being extremely candid. Not only do his words imply or suggest that there be openness to non-Catholic (i.e. heretical) ideas, they explicitly call for it: “From here, theology cannot but develop into a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian denominations and different religions, openly confronting everyone, believers and non-believers alike.” What could possibly go wrong?
The fifth paragraph of Ad Theologiam Promovendam reads:
This relational dimension connotes and defines, from the epistemic point of view, the status of theology, which is urged not to close itself in self-referentiality, which leads to isolation and insignificance, but to grasp itself as embedded in a web of relationships, first and foremost with other disciplines and other knowledge. This is the approach of transdisciplinarity, that is, interdisciplinarity in a strong sense, as distinct from multidisciplinarity, understood as interdisciplinarity in a weak sense. The latter certainly promotes a better understanding of the object of study by considering it from multiple points of view, which nevertheless remain complementary and separate. Instead, transdisciplinarity should be thought of “as the placement and fermentation of all knowledge within the space of Light and Life offered by the Wisdom that emanates from God’s Revelation” (Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium, Proem, 4c). Hence the arduous task for theology to be able to make use of new categories elaborated by other knowledge in order to penetrate and communicate the truths of faith and transmit the teaching of Jesus in today’s languages with originality and critical awareness.
Under the pretext of not wanting to end up in “isolation and insignificance”, Francis is willing to expose Sacred Theology to complete dissolution by making it transdisciplinary, that is, by mixing it with other fields of knowledge. It is a sure way of making theology as irrelevant as could be.
The erasing of borders — whether they be physical or conceptual — inevitably leads to dissolution precisely because any entity is defined, among other things, by that which sets it apart from everything else.
By becoming transdisciplinary, theology would then no longer be its own science proper but, in an effort to appear relevant to modern man and his obsession with natural science, be drowned in a sea of perpetual “dialogue” that would ultimately yield nothing but verbose pseudo-theology bound to alienate any clear-thinking human being.
Francis’ wish that theology “make use of new categories elaborated by other knowledge in order to penetrate and communicate the truths of faith and transmit the teaching of Jesus in today’s languages with originality and critical awareness” rests on a fundamental error of the New Theology (Nouvelle Théologie) that was condemned by Pope Pius XII in 1950, namely, that dogma exists independently of the concepts used to express it, and new concepts — more in line with the modern mind — can be substituted for the old ones:
In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.
Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold 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 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. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Ecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.
Hence to neglect, or to reject, or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. The contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians leads of itself to the weakening of what they call speculative theology, a discipline which these men consider devoid of true certitude because it is based on theological reasoning.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, nn. 14-17; underlining added.)
It is quite telling that the same people who have a hard time believing that the Church’s long-established ‘categories’ for expressing her dogma manifest the assistance of the Holy Ghost, have no problem finding ‘the Spirit’ at work in every synodal and ecumenical dialogue!
The sixth paragraph we will omit. The seventh paragraph we will also skip, except to note that in it ‘Pope’ Francis announces that a transdisciplinary “theology can contribute to the current debate of ‘rethinking thought’,” something he apparently considers a worthwhile endeavor.
The eighth paragraph reads:
It is a matter of the pastoral “stamp” that theology as a whole, and not only in one of its particular spheres, must assume: without opposing theory and practice, theological reflection is urged to develop with an inductive method, which starts from the different contexts and concrete situations in which peoples are inserted, allowing itself to be seriously challenged by reality, in order to become discernment of the “signs of the times” in the proclamation of the salvific event of God-agape [love], communicated in Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is necessary that the knowledge of people’s common sense, which is in fact a theological place in which so many images of God dwell, often not corresponding to the Christian face of God, only and always love, be privileged first. Theology is at the service of the Church’s evangelization and transmission of faith, so that faith becomes culture, that is, the wise ethos of God’s people, a proposal of human and humanizing beauty for all.
In case Francis wasn’t clear enough in the prior paragraphs, here he is leaving absolutely no doubt: He wants a theological method that is inductive, meaning one that reasons from particular to general. That is to say, he wants the starting point for theology to be a particular human experience and then use it to draw conclusions about God. This stands in contrast to the traditional deductive method, according to which the starting point is Divine Revelation (as found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition), and conclusions are drawn from it regarding what must be done or believed.
By its very nature, inductive reasoning yields conclusions that are more or less probable because it makes a general knowledge claim from what is observed only in the particular. Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, does the opposite: It yields conclusions that are completely certain because it simply applies to the particular what is known to be true in general. We don’t have to guess which method is preferred by the Neo-Modernist.
A quick example will help to illustrate this.
If all cars are blue and I own a car, then the car I own is blue. That is, I infer that my particular car is blue from knowing the general truth that all cars are blue. This is an example of deductive reasoning. The conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true.
Now let’s try the inductive approach. If I continually observe many different cars over a long period of time, and they all happen to be blue, I can reason that the next car I see will also be blue. Eventually, I might even believe that all cars are blue because all the cars I have observed have been blue. However, this conclusion is by no means certain, it is only more or less probable. That’s because I am drawing a general conclusion from only particular data.
An inductive method is the proper method of empirical science. That is so because it is based on the analysis of observable phenomena. It observes facts and events and then comes up with a hypothesis based on such observation. The hypothesis is then tested, again and again, to see if it can be falsified. If it holds up, it becomes a theory, and a theory may eventually become a law. All such scientific knowledge is always, however, provisional. That is, by its very nature it is always and necessarily subject to falsification and revision, at least in principle.
The same is not true for theology, however; hence the inductive method can never serve as an adequate method yielding reliable and certain results in the sacred science. Any true results it may yield would be merely accidental, that is, a coincidence.
Francis knows this, of course, which is precisely why he is doing it. If a shift in theological method made no difference to anything, the false pope would not be insisting on it. It is because he wants different beliefs and different practices that he is mandating a theological method that will yield him the desired results.
To illustrate what a difference the deductive vs. the inductive method can make in Sacred Theology, we will use an example given by Pope Pius XII (see Address Vegliare con Sollecitudine):
Deductive Theological Method (TRUE)
Premise A1: God does not demand the impossible. [known from divine revelation and reason]
Premise A2: But God demands that people live in chastity. [known from divine revelation and reason]
Conclusion A: Therefore, living in chastity is possible for me. [infallibly certain inference]
Inductive Theological Method (FALSE)
Premise B1: Living in chastity is impossible for me. [alleged concrete human experience; “reality”]
Premise B2: But God does not demand the impossible. [known from divine revelation and reason]
Conclusion B: Therefore, God does not demand that people live in chastity.
[general claim made from particular premise; invalid inference; contradicts divine revelation]
Notice that the two approaches are incompatible with one another: If the one is true, the other must be false. That is because Conclusion A contradicts Premise B1; and Premise A2 contradicts Conclusion B. This example illustrates what disastrous results using the wrong theological method can have.
The following meme presents the matter succinctly (feel free to distribute widely on social media):
Frequent readers of this blog may recall that we have used this meme a few times in the past, for years. Bergoglio has just confirmed its truth, practically verbatim.
As regards Francis’ claim that “people’s common sense” is a “theological place”, that is complete nonsense, although he is speaking, of course, of his new theological paradigm, where anything goes.
What is a “theological place” (locus theologicus)? It is basically a data source valid for theology. Just as natural science needs data — such as the observable properties of a gas in a chemical experiment — so does the supernatural science of Sacred Theology need its own ‘raw material’:
The sources of theological argumentation, having borrowed the name from Rhetoric or from the work of the Farmer, De inventione dialectica (dialectic places), are called theological places. Therefore they are the sources of theological knowledge, whether to find it, or to pass judgment on what has been found; and they are like categories of arguments or homes and seats of arguments in order to prove or refute some point. The most famous and classical one is the work of Melchior Cano, De locis theologicis….
Some sources are proper, some are adjuncts.
Proper theological places are those sources of argumentation proper to theology, which manifest revealed doctrine itself. The fundamental and constituent sources are those that contain revelation and constitute it: Scripture and Tradition. Theological reasoning is a form of argumentation from a revealed premise and a rationally known premise; it shows the virtualities of revelation.
The adjunct places are those that contribute to a better understanding and confirmation of the revealed doctrine: Philosophy, history, etc.
(Rev. Michaele Nicolau, Sacrae Theologiae Summa IA: Introduction to Theology, trans. by Rev. Kenneth Baker [original Latin published by BAC, 1955; English published by Keep the Faith, 2015], nn. 12-13; italics in original. Purchasing this book at the given link benefits Novus Ordo Watch.)
Of course, Francis knows that his theological revolution will be aided greatly by changing what constitutes valid data for theology in the first place. For that reason, he is looking to boost concrete human experience, people’s common sense, and other subjective criteria. There is no end to the doctrinal and moral aberrations that will be made possible using this approach.
We will skip the remaining two paragraphs, the ninth and the tenth, and only note that Francis ends his Motu Inapproprio with the usual wording that gives authoritative force to his edict, overriding anything that may contradict it: “All that I have decreed in this Apostolic Letter given motu proprio, I order to be of stable and lasting value, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.”
It is not difficult to predict that Ad Theologiam Promovendam will wreak even greater havoc on the mess that Novus Ordo theology is already. In fact, this ‘existentialist theology’ is already being practiced by many in the New Church, but now it seems it is being mandated specifically, at least for the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
Bergoglio’s henchman ‘Fr.’ Antonio Spadaro, S.J., who recently blasphemed Jesus Christ in a sermon, once gave the world a preview of what inductive theology that concerns itself with the “real lives of people” looks like: “Theology is not Mathematics. 2 + 2 in Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with God and real life of people…”, he tweeted on Jan. 5, 2017, no doubt believing himself to have made a brilliant remark. Of course 2+2 doesn’t equal 5 “with God” or “in real life” either, but then Spadaro’s real point was that theology is not a matter of deductively applying known truths to given situations, often with humanly undesirable but predictable consequences. Rather, his point was the reverse: Reinterpreting the Gospel in light of concrete situations of “real life” can yield surprising results!
To look for practical confirmation of this, we need look no further than Francis’ own execrable exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016), in which he makes the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”) give way to those extremely ‘complex limits’ imposed by daily human life:
Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized.
(Antipope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, n. 303; underlining added.)
There we have it: According to Bergoglio’s contextual theology, not only is mortal sin sometimes permitted by God, it is even desired by Him! This is more than a theology that ‘smells of the street’. It stinks to high heaven!
With this fashionable existentialist approach, the false pope tries to apply to theology as a whole, his dogmatic belief that “realities are greater than ideas” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 231); leaving out of account that this adage is itself an idea, and a rather lousy one at that.
Speaking of lousy ideas, we should note some of the condemned errors which Francis’ Motu Proprio seems to embrace, reflect, encourage, or imply:
ERRORS CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors (1864):
5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason.
9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of natural science or philosophy….
13. 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.
22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.
ERRORS CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X, Syllabus of Modernist Errors (1907):
6. The “Church learning” and the “Church teaching” collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the “Church teaching” to sanction the opinions of the “Church learning.”
20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired of his revelation to God.
21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed with the Apostles.
22. 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.
24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves.
53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.
54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.
58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him.
59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.
62. The chief articles of the Apostles’ Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.
63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.
64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.
Lastly, Bergoglio’s revolutionary Motu Inapproprio also runs afoul of the Oath against Modernism instituted by Pope Pius X in 1910, which states:
I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:19), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord.
Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality — that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.
Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact — one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history — the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. 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.
I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God…
(Source; underling added.)
It is being rumored that the text of Ad Theologiam Promovendam was drafted by ‘Cardinal’ Victor Fernandez, the man Bergoglio just made head of the Dicastery for the Destruction of the Faith, and that seems likely.
The document is the fiftieth (!) Motu Proprio Francis has issued in his ten-and-a-half year reign so far. For someone who keeps preaching fraternity, collegiality, synodality, and a church as an ‘inverted pyramid’ (see here, n. 57), that is an excessive amount.
But then, it’s really not about being a listening or serving church at all. It’s about destroying Catholicism in souls; and if it doesn’t go fast enough using a synodal-democratic process, then the autocratic-clericalist way will just have to do — anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
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