Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth


``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


John "The Cup's Half Full" XXIII


 
 
Oh, the pontifical prophets of doom and gloom! Reading pre-conciliar encyclicals could lead one to believe that the Church has been led by a succession of papal pickle-pusses. Those serious, aware-of-the-existence-of-evil Popes simply weren't as fun and entertaining as those who go on world tours to offer paganized Rock and Roll Masses, and their style of dour warnings against Freemasonry, the machinations of usurers, the doings of "impious men," Communism, Nazism -- and in such dramatic, passionate language -- were, once upon a glorious time, par for the Encyclical course.

From Pope Gregory XVI's Mirari Vos (1832):
You know what storms of evil and toil, at the beginning of Our pontificate, drove Us suddenly into the depths of the sea. If the right hand of God had not given Us strength, We would have drowned as the result of the terrible conspiracy of impious men....

... Now is truly the time in which the powers of darkness winnow the elect like wheat. "The earth mourns and fades away....And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinances, they have broken the everlasting covenant...

...We see the destruction of public order, the fall of principalities, and the overturning of all legitimate power approaching. Indeed this great mass of calamities had its inception in the heretical societies and sects in which all that is sacrilegious, infamous, and blasphemous has gathered as bilge water in a ship's hold, a congealed mass of all filth.

From Leo XIII's Humanum Genus (1884):

The Roman Pontiffs Our predecessors, in their incessant watchfulness over the safety of the Christian people, were prompt in detecting the presence and the purpose of this capital enemy immediately it sprang into the light instead of hiding as a dark conspiracy; and , moreover, they took occasion with true foresight to give, as it were on their guard, and not allow themselves to be caught by the devices and snares laid out to deceive them.

The first warning of the danger was given by Clement XII in the year 1738, and his constitution was confirmed and renewed by Benedict XIV.Pius VII followed the same path; and Leo XII, by his apostolic constitution, Quo Graviora, put together the acts and decrees of former Pontiffs on this subject, and ratified and confirmed them forever. In the same sense spoke Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and, many times over, Pius IX.


Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907):

There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body, for owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking "men speaking perverse things," "vain talkers and seducers," "erring and driving into error." It must, however, be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ....

...That We should act without delay in this matter is made imperative especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.

Pope Pius XI in Divini Redemptoris (1937):

Nevertheless, the struggle between good and evil remained in the world as a sad legacy of the original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter ever ceased to deceive mankind with false promises. It is on this account that one convulsion following upon another has marked the passage of the centuries, down to the revolution of our own days. This modern revolution, it may be said, has actually broken out or threatens everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence anything yet experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against the Church. Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back into a barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the world at the coming of the Redeemer.

This all too imminent danger, Venerable Brethren, as you have already surmised, is bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization...

...There is another explanation for the rapid diffusion of the Communistic ideas now seeping into every nation, great and small, advanced and backward, so that no corner of the earth is free from them. This explanation is to be found in a propaganda so truly diabolical that the world has perhaps never witnessed its like before. It is directed from one common center. It is shrewdly adapted to the varying conditions of diverse peoples. It has at its disposal great financial resources, gigantic organizations, international congresses, and countless trained workers. It makes use of pamphlets and reviews, of cinema, theater and radio, of schools and even universities. Little by little it penetrates into all classes of the people and even reaches the better-minded groups of the community, with the result that few are aware of the poison which increasingly pervades their minds and hearts.

...A third powerful factor in the diffusion of Communism is the conspiracy of silence on the part of a large section of the non-Catholic press of the world. We say conspiracy, because it is impossible otherwise to explain how a press usually so eager to exploit even the little daily incidents of life has been able to remain silent for so long about the horrors perpetrated in Russia, in Mexico and even in a great part of Spain; and that it should have relatively so little to say concerning a world organization as vast as Russian Communism. This silence is due in part to shortsighted political policy, and is favored by various occult forces which for a long time have been working for the overthrow of the Christian Social Order.

Pope Pius XII's Humani Generis (1950):

Disagreement and error among men on moral and religious matters have always been a cause of profound sorrow to all good men, but above all to the true and loyal sons of the Church, especially today, when we see the principles of Christian culture being attacked on all sides.

But then comes John XXIII, the "Good Pope," as the press called him (clue number one that, in spite of the level of his personal holiness, his Pontificate would be dangerous to the Faith). In his opening address to the Second Vatican Council, he said:

In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.

Well, was John XXIII right or were two millennia of his predecessors right? After the Council he convened -- the Council that he optimistically thought would bring on a new, glorious dawn -- what happened? The "Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out" 1960s; the "Me Generation, Do Your Own Thing, I'm OK, You're OK" 1970s; the materialistic and drug-ridden 1980s; the decadent, Jerry Springer 1990s with its incredible coarsening of popular culture; radical feminism; the sexual revolution which had no winners; the rise of AIDS; the abortifacient Pill; the legalization of abortion; pornography's not only easy availability but its being shoved in our faces every time we open our e-mail boxes or turn on our televisions; the demise of the family; the "celebration" of active homosexuality1 and sexual depravity; drug abuse entering middle class life and becoming as common as Big Macs; the secular Press attacking the Church with vehemence -- and Hollywood doing the same; the rise of neo-paganism, Wicca, and New Age theosophy; the loss of national sovereignty...

And in the Church Herself? The near-death of the Roman Rite, except in the SSPX and Brazil, until we were granted an indult to pray the way Pope Saint Pius V (another Chicken Little, no doubt) said we could forever; homosexualist invasion of our seminaries and pulpits; the destruction of church buildings, overt Modernist dissent by priests, religious, and hierarchs; the -- well, you know the drill.

Why would John XXIII believe (or feel) that his predecessors were, at the least, silly in their warnings to the faithful? What had changed by 1962 that would lead His Holiness to consider his predecessors a bunch of Scrooges? Why was he so quick to write off those who warned him that convening a Council would be an entrée for Modernist corruption?

Christians in the West are, generally, so "fat and happy" with our fast food and technology that we look back at the past and think, "Yup, the world must be a better place 'cause I'm so fat and happy," and in measuring man's "progress" (ahem) solely in terms of creature comforts, one could say that we are "better off." We have to get off the couch less often than we did before to change channels. That's an improvement. And so few people in the West are starving; that is certainly good. But, though technologies have their benefits, true progress can't be measured in such terms; it can only be measured in terms of souls brought to Christ through His Church -- His true Church with Her ancient teachings and Sacraments.

We've been brainwashed enough by "history" textbooks and civics courses that we actually believe we've defeated Communism. But that's a load, my friends. Communism -- which has never been a foe to the usurious, fiat-money Capitalism which funded its revolutions -- has merely changed its name; it is now the United Nations, diversity and sensitivity training, gender feminism, high taxes, violations of the principle of subsidiarity, the "Third Way" without Catholic doctrine and recognition of Christ's Kingship, neo-conservatism, the Democratic and Republican Parties, and so on. It's the stuff of which NPR, PBS, public school education and the like are made, and its spirit is seen in the NY Times and Boston Globe every single day. And, lest we forget, North Korea exists, Cuba exists, Brazil just "elected" a Communist president to match those of many of her Latin neighbors, huge chunks of Africa are de facto Communist (or Muslim, name your poison), and Communism-qua-Capitalism is still the governmental form in China, home to a billion souls (and a place which has a government led, pro-abortion, anti-Pope, "official Catholic Church" (the CPA) while the real Catholic Church there is underground -- persecuted by the government and ignored by "Rome" who courts the CPA!)

Yeah, we defeated Nazism, but since the publication of leftist Rolf Hochhuth's 1963 play slandering Pope Pius XII (a play heavily publicized by Communist governments, and cultural Marxists in the West), an entire industry has sprung up blaming the Church for the existence of Nazism in the first place. In the second place, the Nazi anti-Jew racist idealogy has been replaced by racist Zionism, all funded by the U.S.of A. and cheered on by a goodly-sized segment of American Protestants.

And then there's anti-West, anti-Catholic Islam to deal with (another 1 Billion souls, another fifth of the world's population); about the only things Islam gets right are that there is one God (not that they know Him), that usury and abortion and contraception and pornography suck, and that men and women are different. And in getting these things right, these anti-Christians get more right than does the typical American or European "Catholic" Bishop.

Aside from technological advances, the only real improvements have been in the area of race relations in the West, but racial hypersensitivity, identity politics, forced "diversity," cultural relativism, the racism that is called, for some reason, "reverse racism," and religious indifferentism have taken the place of that "old-fashioned" bigotry born of ignorance of the other and the felt "need" for scapegoats.

Yup, the world is doing fine.

And here is the point of my tale: one of the Church's main problems is that Her hierarchs have forgotten that She had always had, now has, and will have an Enemy until Jesus Christ comes again in glory at the Last Judgement:

Matthew 10:16-18-36
Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men. For they will deliver you up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles... And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved... Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.

According to Our Lord's prophecies concerning the nature of the Christian life, those old Popes weren't so "pessimistic" and "gloomy" as the Pollyanna, "Gee, ain't things swell? Mass is so 'fun' nowadays" types believe. The old Popes knew that the Evil One has plans and, rightly perceiving the various ways those plans were being carried out, had the guts to preach the Truth about them. That's not being "pessimistic"; that's called being realistic and a true Christian.

And now for the table of statistics which refute those happy-dappy neo-conservative Catholic sentiments typified by the following, found in a blog. The writer -- after quoting Pope John XXIII's opening address to the Second Vatican Council mentioned above, the speech that pooh-poohs those papal hand-wringers -- writes:

<Blinders On>

Oh, that we might now live up to that hope he expressed so beautifully!

Sure, there have been some bumps in the Church's path since those days. But none of these -- not a one -- has been or could be sufficient to cause us to doubt the inspiration of that Council which began forty years ago. It was a good thing. It was the right thing. What the Church needs today is not a reversal of the Council, but a deepened experience of life according to its wisdom and vision.

There are some today who are angry. There are some who are disappointed. There are some who can only mutter curses against the Holy Father or the bishops. Some imagine that the promise of Vatican 2 was cut off. Some imagine that Vatican 2 brought "the Smoke of Satan" into the Church [Editor: um, yeah, that was Paul VI!]. Both the reactionary right and the reactionary left are wrong. John Paul II has shown us the way toward an authentic living out of the hope of Blessed John XXIII. May God give his Church the grace to continue to walk in this path, guided by the Spirit which has guided the Church since Pentecost.


</Blinders Off>

Here is the dose of reality concering the Church in the United States:

Mass attendance among Catholics:
  1958: 3 out of 4
  2002: 1 out of 4

Lay religious teachers who condone:
  contraception: 90%
  abortion: 53%
  divorce and remarriage: 65%
  missing Mass: 77%

Catholics aged 18-44 who don't believe in the Real Presence: 70% (that is, 70% of Catholics in this age group are material heretics)

Priests in USA:
  1930-1965 doubled to 58,000
  Since 1965: 45,000
  Projection: by 2020: 31,000, half over age 70

Priestless parishes:
  1965: 1%
  2002: 15%

Ordinations in USA:
  1965: 1,575
  2002: 450

Seminarians:
  1965: 49,000
  2002: 4,700 (down by 90%)

Seminaries:
  1965: 600
  2002: 200

Sisters:
  1965: 180,000
  2002: 75,000, average age 68

Teaching nuns:
  1965: 104,000
  2002: 8,200 (down by 94%)

Jesuits:
  1965: 3,559
  2000: 389

Christian Brothers seminarians:
  1965: 912
  2000: 7

Franciscans:
  1965: 3,379
  2000: 84

Number of Catholic High Schools: down 50%
Number of Catholic Parochial Schools: down by 4,000

Number of Catholic marriages: down 33%

Number of Annulments:
  1968: 338
  2002: 50,000

(Statistics from article Index of Catholicism's Decline, by Pat Buchanan, who cites Kenneth C. Jones's Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II.)

As to the blogger's line, "May God give his Church the grace to continue to walk in this path, guided by the Spirit which has guided the Church since Pentecost," I have this to say: Why, in the name of all that is Holy, would we want to continue in the path characterized by the statistics above -- the path that leads to loss of faith, to the eradication of our liturgy, and to the destruction of doctrine, the priesthood, the religious life, and Catholic culture?

Yes, the Holy Ghost was there at Vatican II. He prevented any of the Modernist doctrines from being presented as solemn definitions. He was there with those traditional (then "conservative") Bishops who, listening to Him, barely kept things in check. He was there when the Nota Praevia to Lumen Gentium was added. Since those times, He has been ignored in favor of ambiguity and warmy-cozy feelings. The Holy Ghost can be resisted, you know:

Acts 7:51
You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you also.

He will, however, guide the Church until the end of time, and the gates of Hell will not prevail. But He never, not once, promised us a rose garden of springtimes. Quite the opposite.


Notes:

1 Note the use of the word "active" here. Homosexuality, in itself, is not a sin. I repeat: homosexuality is not a sin. Homosexuality is the unchosen attraction to one's own sex. It is a temptation, a sexual orientation. Homosexuals qua homosexuals are no more sinners than anyone else. The Church teaches that homosexuals, like everyone else, should be treated with charity, and that any unjust discrimination toward them is not right. What is sinful is acting on homosexual desires. When talking about this Truth, one should refrain from judging others' souls, should not cast stones, should examine himself first before attempting fraternal correction, should refrain from scapegoating, etc. It would do traditional Catholics good, too, to study about the origins of homosexuality, stop equating "homosexual acts" with "sodomy" (and remember that heterosexuals engage in sodomy as well), and pray to develop a true and deep compassion for our homosexual brothers and sisters who struggle to remain chaste.


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