Saturday, February 9, 2013


Obedience and the Power of the Modernists: understanding the resurgence of Modernism in the past 50 years is an article by Father Giovanni Cavalcoli, O.P., Th. D., who is an Italian theologian currently residing in the Convent of Saint Dominic, in Bologna,home of that famous spaghetti sauce that my mom made so well and mine is only a faint resemblance! But I digress. You can read the entire article by pressing this entire paragraph.

I offer some excerpts from the article which I italicize and offer interspersed my comments in bold:

Father Giovanni speaks of the trends in modern theology as promoted by modern theologians as "the “work of auto-demolition”, that Paul VI had spoken about."

The first period is characterized by the famous chaotic and disordered contestations of 1968 and, at that same time, the wild, uncontrolled spreading of heretical doctrines in dogma and morals among seminarians, youth, priests, religious and theologians. The bishops, taken by surprise, and not wanting to be labeled “prophets of doom” or pre-conciliar conservatives, more or less allowed them free rein, at times with the formula ad experimentum (“Let’s see how it goes.”); as if the truth of a doctrine depended on the success it meets.

The disobedience to the Magisterium and to the Pope himself, either openly or covertly in the name of an unspecified “spirit of the Council” began to be a habit which spread among the faithful, intellectuals and people, the clergy, theologians and moralists. [Thus] the so-called “Catholic dissent” was born, and Paul VI spoke about “a parallel Magisterium”.

My comments: I was in the seminary between 1976 and 1980. Yes the academic theologians of that day starting presenting themselves as the "parallel Magisterium" that Pope Paul VI described and they did so proudly as the "loyal opposition!" In terms of experiementation with liturgy and church structures, indeed, this was allowed by the Magisterium and the pope, although I think Paul VI later came to regret his liberalism in this regard. Like Joseph Ratzinger who embraced the Council and some of its modern "spirit" he and Pope Paul VI quickly became very disillusioned with what was happening that the Council Father's never foresaw, yet Pandora's Box had been opened by them or the toothpaste was out and shoving it back in and closing a door that was too heavy and doing so quickly were not options.

Heretical and modernist ideas, especially those along Protestant lines, started to be taught freely, tranquilly and with impunity in Catholic schools and were also found in the publications and press of many so-called “Catholic” publishers. The scandal and anxiety of the devout and orthodox among the faithful, were considered with derision and superciliousness by the modernists – those so-called “progressives” increasingly sure of themselves and convinced they were the new Church of the future and modernity: “in the heart of the world”, in “the Church of the poor” in “the Church of dialogue”, guided directly by the Spirit, truly evangelical, attentive to the “Word of God” and the “signs of the times” and so on.

Throughout this first period, the modernists had the opportunity of becoming more and more dominant in social communications, thus infiltrating into families, in culture - schools, universities, workplaces, parishes, movements, academic environments and Catholic education, seminaries and religious institutes, thus forming an entire generation of new priests, new religious, new leaders, new bishops and even new cardinals. All of this in the face of extremely weak resistance on the part of good pastors and the Holy See, itself weakened and contaminated through ultra-recommended infiltrators by ambitious prelates of dubious orthodoxy.

What was the catastrophic outcome of all this? We see it today before our eyes, growing in proportions, and it could have been but figured out - as it had indeed been figured out and foreseen by those many clear-sighted “prophets of doom”. (We should better say: the “unheeded sentinels”). Or let us say more simply, it was foreseen by those endowed with common sense: that gradually from the modernists and false teachers, free to spread their errors, there would have risen (as indeed it has) a generation or a category holding ecclesiastical power at various levels, more or less ruthless or convinced, more or less oscillating and double-crossing, imbued with their own ideas and therefore, not only able to spread modernist ideas, but order their implementation, subject to disciplinary sanctions, in the name of “obedience” or even, persecution against those that wanted to remain faithful to the Church’s Magisterium.

My Comments: The greatest damage that seminary of the 1970's did was in the area of Scripture Studies and Moral studies. In the area of Scripture, the historical/critical method of studying it was borrowing heavily from the mistakes of liberal Protestants of the late 1800's and 1900's which thus led to the deconstruction of the Scriptures which then led to the questioning of core dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church such as miracles in general, angels and demons, Immaculate Conception, Virgin Conception and birth, much of what was purported to be the ministry of Jesus Himself including his miracles, His divinity, his nativity and yes, His resurrection. The door to questioning all these dogmas and doctrines had been opened wide with the eye to preparing seminarians, the future priests, theologians and bishops of the Church, to redefine these dogmas and doctrines in accord with the narrow presentation of the "critical-historical" method of interpreting the Scriptures. Fortunately Pope Benedict XVI has laid to rest such nonsense in his books and given us the correct hermeneutic in using the historical critical method.

But I can say from experience what these Scripture scholars did to the Catholic faith of young seminarians during this time period screams for justice from heaven. Many left the seminary and some the Church in total disbelief and disgust.

Then on top of that the new was always taught by showing how bad the old was. Pre-Vatican II old and bad, Vatican II new and far superior!

Moral theology quickly became the most disoriented. I think what was being taught in this area would give license to those who might otherwise have had the capacity to embrace their vows or promises of chastity/celibacy to act out on their impulses no matter what, even if they could live chaste lives. I blame the confusion of the 1960's and 70's in terms of moral theology and sexuality for the breakdown of morality in the clergy and religious. Certainly there will always be people who have pathologies, but their pathologies shouldn't be fueled by false teachings in moral theology.

They are the first to disobey the truth and directives of the Gospel as well as the Supreme Pontiff, and they dare to dish out orders which clash with the sound doctrine or moral and judicial principles of the Church. These are the same ones that in 1968 or in its wake, who wailed against “the barons” and “authoritarianism”; they felt authorized to contest the Pope and bishops, and to enlighten them with expressions of such dogmatic rigor as: “the Church of the rich” of despotism and medieval theocracy from the “age of Constantine”, “Baroque triumphalism “, pharisaical legalism, the Inquisition, sex phobia, and so forth. Now, instead, they ask for absolute obedience and whoever contradicts them is compared to one that disobeys a divine precept. That is, if they still believe in the true God and do not make a god of themselves, along the lines of the sublime intuition of a certain Gnostic pantheist.

My comments: Yes, the new progressives of the Church who are really the ones my age and older trying as hard as they can to infect religious life and Catholic institutions, continue to use the dusty old mantra of accusing traditionalists and those who actually believe what the Church teaches by wailing "against “the barons” and “authoritarianism”; they felt authorized to contest the Pope and bishops, and to enlighten them with expressions of such dogmatic rigor as: “the Church of the rich” of despotism and medieval theocracy from the “age of Constantine”, “Baroque triumphalism “, pharisaical legalism, the Inquisition, sex phobia, and so forth. Now, instead, they ask for absolute obedience and whoever contradicts them is compared to one that disobeys a divine precept. That is, if they still believe in the true God and do not make a god of themselves, along the lines of the sublime intuition of a certain Gnostic pantheist.

The new clericalism or clericalist mentality is to be found primarily in progressive clergy and religious and to question them is forbidden as is calling them out in their clericalism. If you do, they will come down on you hard, harder than any pope or bishop would do in the legitimate sense. Look at rebel clergy groups in Ireland and Australia, men who have taken vows or promises of obedience to their bishop, who himself has taken a vow of obedience to the pope and see how they disobey and try as hard as they can to take others with them and in the most public way. If this isn't clericalism coupled with modernism, I don't know what is!


Gene said...

"Liberal theology has a God without wrath bringing men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through a Christ without a cross." H. Richard Niebuhr

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - I, too, studied scriptures using the historical-critical method in seminary and was never - not once - taught or led to think that miracles didn't happen, that the Lord did not rise bodily from the grave, or that Jesus was not divine.

To universalize your own experience is, well, dishonest.

It is also more than a little dishonest (but typically hyperbolic of you) to presume to know that such studies led to the loss of faith among your seminary classmates and acquaintances. You simply don't know that this is the case. However, because this assertion fits your views, you restate it repeatedly.

I, too, had classmates leave the seminary, but I don't pretend, as you do, to know the details of their hearts and minds.

THIS is an example of the kind of clericalism you pretend to abjure. You think that if a priest makes a statement, even one without any basis in fact, others must simply take you at your (clerical) word. "If Fr. McDonald has said it, it MUST be true and factual." No, it musn't.....

Clericalism is indeed alive and well. You exhibit it - in spades.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, apart from your rantings, you know full well that Mt. St. Mary's your alma mater, not mine, was vilified by the left during the time I was at St. Mary's in the 70's and you in the 80's. You were considered the pariah of the day preventing the full implementation of Vatican II, rigid, traditionalists who received an extremely poor, pre-Vatican II formation. Don't forget that as conveniently as you have!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I might add, that at the time and well into the 1990's I agree with what our seminary's top theologians and others we invited to our school were saying about the state of affairs at your seminary and the retros you were, especially the lack of academic honesty and integrity there.

rcg said...

I have heard priests explain miracles, especially the multiplication of the loaves as a miracle of the heart, the greedy people hiding food in their clothes finally sharing. While not universal, perhaps, I have heard very few openly correct that explanation, and am unaware of the priests being corrected.

The Church wanted to be mainstream and many priests and theologians embraced 'rational' explanations for miracles and worked to root out superstition, when both had already been done. Instead they threw out their heritage and the signs and proofs of their faith. I am not trained enough to compare this event to Gnosticism, but it does look related.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Many theologians of the 60's and 70's, Catholic and Protestant were questioning all the things I mentioned (the only seminary in the land that wasn't exposed to this was Mt. St. Mary's, PI's alma mater, so he is completely unaware of this and good for him that he is not only Father Unknown, kind of, but also theologically sophisticated unknown too! At least in the 80's!)
So miracles were not discounted outright but rationalized away, so that Jesus walking on water was Him actually stepping on unseen stones or the salt water was so thick, he could manage to walk on it and rationalistic explanations were given for the other miracles. As for the Resurrection, the foundation of our Catholic faith, we were asked would our faith be shaken if the bones of Jesus was found. We were told it shouldn't because the resurrection could have been a spiritual thing, not physical. Blah, blah, blah.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Clearly, as you do not pay attention now, you did not do so in seminary. The Modernist approach to theology and Biblical studies was pervasive during my time in seminary and grad school and during your's, as well. I was in school with many Catholic Priests and nuns from Catholic seminaries and grad schools who had been imbued with modernist thinking and whose faith had indeed been compromised by such influences. For someone of your background and leanings to deny the role of modernism in the loss of faith of so many in the Church...prot and completely disingenuous. Every post you make reeks of modernism/progressivism, even the books you choose for your so-called Bible studies. You are, perhaps, one of the most intellectually dishonest, theologically hypocritical clerics I have ever encountered. Your attacks on Fr. MacDonald are getting are not fit to lift his chausable and, speaking of the German historical-critical method, you are full of Geschichte.

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

I think it will take another 10-15 years before modernism withers away on its rotten vine. It had its day in the sun yet lingers today as many of its final adherents are in positions of power in our dioceses. Modernism's final days will be their most bitter.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - Since your time at St. Mary's and my time at Mt. St. Mary's did not overlap, I don't know what was said by the "left" in your time.

Mt. St. Mary's was always considered a more "conservative" school, but I would suggest that that was the conclusion of those who did not attend The Mount. I have always maintained that, in those days, The Mount was as middle-of-the-road as a seminary could get.

What visitors experienced, and what led them to conclude, I believe, that we were a "pariah, preventing the full implementation of Vatican II" was their experience of seminary masses celebrated in St. Bernard's chapel. The reality is that the chapel is tiny. The masses celebrated there were by-the-book, bare-bones celebrations, simply because there was physically no room for anything else.

Academically, the education was good, though not as good as at St. Mary's or other seminaries. It was also very moderate. We had more right-leaning professors in some areas and more left-leaning profs in others. It made for a good mix.

Gene - Your bullying has no effect on me. But if it makes you feel good to vent your spleen, have at it.

Be that as it may, I made no mention of the effects of modernism in my post. Rather I challenged Good Father McDonald's conclusions and the lack of any credible evidence offered to support them.

And I would point out that the historical-critical methodology for understanding scripture is one that is approved by Holy Mother Church. See CCC 105-108.

Gene said...

Ignotus,The historical-critical method is not the problem. I am sure I am more familiar with it than you are. The problem is how it is taught and the presuppositions of those teaching it. The Church teaches from the standpoint of belief; those we reference begin from a standpoint of unbelief.

I do not care what effect my comments have on you, Ignotus. It is others on the blog that I want to read my comments and understand clearly with whom they are dealing. I don't care if you never read them, in fact, if there is a way you can block my posts on your computer, please do so.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - I am sure you do NOT know more about the historical-critical method that I do, but we shall leave that for another time.

And I have no intention of blocking your posts. The personal attacks - what was the last, that I was a "pathetic nerd" in high school? - are a great source of humor for me. Although it saddens me that you find it necessary at you age to resort to bullying and name-calling, I do find humor in watching you.

Gene said...

So, Ignotus, there you go again. I did not say that you were a "pathetic nerd" in HS. I was responding to your own description of yourself as an oddball. My words were, "I don't care what kind of pathetic nerd you were in HS..." I did not know you in HS.
Now, about this so-called "bullying," what about your constant attacks on Fr. MacDonald and your bullying of him? Does that count?" LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Says, " I did not say that you were a "pathetic nerd" in HS." Pin/Gene then goes on to say that what he said was " My words were, 'I don't care what kind of pathetic nerd you were in HS...'

Curioser and curioser.....

Disagreeing with Good Father McDonald is not the same as attacking him.

Gene said...

Ignotus, My comment was dismissive, not accusative. Your disagreements with Fr. are hostile, angry, and demeaning of him. You are dishonest and prevaricating. Others on the forum know this, as well. Your continued presence here is merely an indication of your need for an antagonist and your self-serving role of pariah that you have created for yourself. Keep on...I love pariahs. LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Sorry, but, "I said you were a 'pathetic nerd' but I didn't say you were a 'pathetic nerd' just doesn't cut the mustard.

Pariah? To you, maybe. But in my judgment that's a good thing.