Monday, July 29, 2013


As I have mentioned time and again, this pope has had the temerity to name the heresies in the Church today, unlike Pope Benedict, the Emeritus Bishop of Rome who never called anyone heretics as far as I know. But please correct me if I am wrong.

The two heresies that Pope Francis, the current Bishop of Rome has named explicitly are modern forms of gnosticism and Pelagianism. He's done it several times, but never so clearly at he did on Sunday in speaking to to the Bishops of South America and the Caribbean. We must keep in mind he is speaking to the Latin America context which he knows very well.

Here is what the Holy Father Francis said:

The Gnostic solution. Closely linked to the previous temptation, it is ordinarily found in elite groups offering a higher spirituality, generally disembodied, which ends up in a preoccupation with certain pastoral “quaestiones disputatae”. It was the first deviation in the early community and it reappears throughout the Church’s history in ever new and revised versions. Generally its adherents are known as “enlightened Catholics” (since they are in fact rooted in the culture of the Enlightenment).

The Pelagian solution. This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in (exaggerated) tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past.

MY COMMENTS: I know that many who read my blog or at least comment here are traditionalists. So are you the Pelagians? MAYBE! But don't get all bent out of shape. Keep in mind that Pope Benedict chastised you too but in a more delicate papal, monarchical sort of way, not with the non-monarchical street language of the current South American Bishop of Rome. Pope Benedict called for Vatican II "reform in continuity" that avoided the gnostic rupture of the early post-Vatican II period. But Pope Benedict did not want to go back and restore the Church as it was prior to Vatican II.

Who wants to do this? It usually is the SSPX and other splinter groups like them. These groups would be the extreme.

But apart from them, there are those who want to excommunicate everyone to make the Church purer. But keep in mind that Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication on the SSPX bishops, although not the suspension "ad divina" of them and their priests.

So I think Pope Francis also means religious orders like the Legionaries of Christ, who are far from SSPX liturgically, but quite rigid and based their religious life upon a flawed, sinful and perverted founder who seduced many in the order and in the highest levels of the hierarchy, even Pope John Paul II in thinking he was the way, the truth and the life.

But I also think of Charismatic Covenant Communities and maybe even the neo-catechumenal way who, like the legionaries of Christ, place a powerful emphasis on submission to the will of others. For example the Alleluia Community in Augusta, Georgia at one time and maybe even today builds a cult of the personality with its elders and leaders and had/has what is called "headship and submission" where lay people were submitting to the religious authority of other lay people. This would be one of the "small groups" that the Holy Father refers.

I do not think that Pope Francis is referring to the FSSP or traditional Catholics who love Vatican II as it is meant to be interpreted but prefer a more traditional Ordinary Form of the Mass and now the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

I don't think he is referring to restoring Catholic identity. Pope Francis wants a strong post-Vatican II Catholic identity and he wants all of us youth and not so youthful to be revolutionaries in this regard by taking our strong Catholic identity to the streets, to our secular culture and our politics! In fact this speech to the Bishops is to do this. His off the cuff remarks not printed in the actual talks derides and ridicules the Enagram, which I took many years ago--the psychologicalization of our faith. There are other forms of silly things from the 70's too that are in this category.

I won't say much about the Gnostics other than he links them to the Enlightenment which Pope Pius X condemned as "Modernism." That should make traditionalists feel good as these Modernists are in our Catholic academic institutions pushing for reforms that go way beyond Vatican II. They want to undo how the Church teaches as it concerns Natural Law, Scripture and Tradition. They want to change these things like the Episcopal Church has and is doing. They want women's ordination, same sex marriage, Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried and those living in sin, and they want the Church to be pro-choice, pro-artificial contraception and all the other things that go with the culture of death and functionality.

However, the pope's comments on gnosticism is related to the Enlightenment and its "religious" counterpart called "Modernism" which Pope Pius X condemned in 1907. Many traditionalists feel that much of post-Vatican II interpretation in rupture, not continuity is pure Modernism and they are correct. The Holy Father Francis though, calls it Gnosticism.

This is what Wikipedia says about Modernism linked to the Enlightenment and liberal Protestantism in the Catholic Church. This is an eye-opener folks as this is what Pope Francis is condemning!:

"...A rationalistic approach to the Bible. The rationalism that was characteristic of the Enlightenment took a protomaterialistic view of miracles and of the historicity of biblical narratives. This approach sought to interpret the Bible by focusing on the text itself as a prelude to considering what the Church Fathers had traditionally taught about it. This method was readily accepted by Protestants and Anglicans. It was the natural consequence of Martin Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine[citation needed], which asserts that Scripture is the highest authority, and that it can be relied on alone in all things pertaining to salvation and the Christian life.

Secularism and other Enlightenment ideals. The ideal of secularism can be briefly stated as follows: the best course of action in politics and other civic fields is that which flows from a common understanding of the Good by various groups and religions. By implication, Church and State should be separated and the laws of the latter, for example that forbidding murder, should cover only the common ground of thought systems held by various religious groups. From the secularists’ point of view it was possible to distinguish between political ideas and structures that were religious and those that were not, but Catholic theologians in the mainstream argued, following St. Thomas Aquinas, that such a distinction was not possible, inasmuch as all aspects of society were to be organized with the final goal of Heaven in mind. The humanist model which had been in the forefront of intellectual thought since the Renaissance and the scientific revolution was however directly opposed to this view.

Modern philosophical systems. Philosophers such as Kant and Bergson inspired the mainstream of Modernist thought. One of the latter’s main currents attempted to synthesize the vocabularies, epistemologies, metaphysics and other features of certain modern systems of philosophy with Catholicism in much the same way as the Scholastic order had earlier attempted to synthesize Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy with the Church's teaching.

Theological rebellion in contradistinction or opposition to the Church's official policies, notably among Jesuits and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious..."


Gene said...

FR, none of us knows what he means because it is all very vague.

Marc said...

I am not a Pelagian. I am also not a Modernist. I think this pope is reckless in his words and will likely cause a tremendous amount of damage to the Church, especially by scandalizing countless souls.

Since today is the Feast of St. Martha, perhaps it is appropriate to note that our pope doesn't agree with our Lord on the difference of importance between action and contemplation. Alas, as one blogger put it, the Church has buried many popes and she will bury this one too.

I pray we all have the grace to endure and persevere in the true Faith even if the current Magisterium might try to put various policies in the way.

John Nolan said...

So, as I understand it, the neo-Modernists are 'gnostics' and anyone who believes that the history of the Church antedates the 1960s is a 'Pelagian'.

So the via media between orthodoxy and heresy, perfectly conveyed in most parish Masses in the USA and UK with their bland horizontal focus and appalling music, is to be the way forward?

If that is what Pope Francis means, then he is wrong.

Anonymous in Archdiocese of Detroit said...

The latest news bombshells from Francis:

Francis embraces gays:

Francis creates restrictions on celebrating the EF:

Pater Ignotus said...

Modern Pelagianism has several forms.

One is "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." This may be the idea Pope Francis references in his critique of "restorationists."

Another is Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism. Objectivism underlies much of the political thinking of the Libertarian movement and, inasmuch as that is found in Teabagistan, the quasi-populist Tea Party movement.

In American mythology, it is "Pull Yourself Up By Your Own Bootstraps."

Another is un-regulated capitalism.

Like many heresies, Pelagianism has many forms in the contemporary world.

Marc said...

And this morning, we get word that the Pope has ordered a growing religious order to say the Novus Ordo... See Rotate Caeli for more details.

I'm starting to understand how people felt during the reigns of Paul VI and JPII...

Hammer of Fascists said...

the Pope is redefining words, thus tarring with the brush of inapplicable heresies those whose opinion he dislikes.

I myself have been accused of being a gnostic by modernists. They sneeringly stated that I had some special knowledge inaccessible to the pope and everyone else who let me know and declare who was "really" catholic. (They then went on to declare, as good catholics, they fully supported "a woman's right to choose," not even having the guts to say what they wanted her to choose (i.e. to murder her child).

I pointed out there, as I point out here, that attempting to think with the mind of the Church as expressed through two thousand years of doctrine, and appealing to numerous statements of the Magisterium, hardly meets the definition of Gnostic as traditionally understood. This smokescreen about "questions disputable" to my knowledge has nothing inherently Gnostic about it, unless one side appeals to some special knowledge and/or a secret revelation that most are unfit for or incapable of.

As an illustration, Pater's questioning of my authority (and I say this without rancor) vaguely resmebles an accusation of Gnosticism, since it's a premise of his position that he is thinking with the mind of the Church whereas I'm trying to trump it with something non-doctrinal. Obviously I disagree.

The pope's definition of Pelagianism is at least as disturbing because it is wrong in so many ways. 1) it isn't purely disciplinary. he sets up a false dichotomy, it seems: there is Christ and there are disciplinary matters, and we ought to eschew Christ for disciplinary things. He misses the point that the trads argue that Christ is best knowable through at least some of the disciplines that he poo-poos. 2) Who says they are outdated and meaningless? If a devotion helps me to relate to Christ better, and has the potential to help many other Catholics today who may be ignorant of them relate to Christ better, they aren't meaningless. 3) The whole approach is relativistic. Discipline, he essentially says, not only can change but _must_ change. If it's old, it's bad. 4) He confuses discipline with doctrine, thus intimating that _everything_ can change. 5) His whole "love is all you need" approach is highly disturbing. Doctrine is not a hindrance to knowing Christ, it is a major _avenue_ to knowing Christ, for without it, it may not be the true Christ whom we know.

With statements such as this, the pope is moving beyond a vague endorsement of VII, as the two previous popes have done. He is actively dissing the past. Regarding that, I post a link that Marc recently shared with me that helps to get across my running concern with those who want to break from the past, both in terms of liturgy and doctrine:

Hammer of Fascists said...

And a brief bon mot: The cartoon Fr. McD has chosen in this post to illustrate Pelagianism actually seems to me to be an illustration of semi-Pelagianism. :-)

On reflection, I repeat, with greater emphases, a statement in my previous post. It's a dangerous and un-Catholic thing to set up doctrine as an obstacle to knowing Christ. It's a dangerous dichotomy to set up a choice between Christ _or_ doctrine. That's a very, very Baptist thing to do.

Gene said...

Pelagianism is a specific theological heresy that exalts man's works and denies the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice and saving grace. All these named modern ideas are types of Gnosticism issuing in humanisms of various sorts. Pelagianism is certainly implied by them, but they are not Pelagianism.

Gene said...

Oh, and true Capitalism is self-regulating...

Marc said...

Of course this group had to stop offering the Immemorial Mass of the Ages... They singlehandedly disprove the pope's proposed dichotomy between humility and service to the poor on the one hand and what he apparently sees as "Pelagian-restorationism."

Looks like this group is active in England... Maybe John Nolan has some more information for us.

William Meyer said...

It is good for the Pope to speak out about heresies. However, the most pervasive, at least in America, seems to be Modernism.

I have learned to check all questionable public statements by any ordained person against the CCC. Sad to have to do so, but none of these people can answer for me at judgment day.

Those who are quick to condemn capitalism fail to appreciate that it has not been free of government regulations for 150+ years.

Pater Ignotus said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with "communism" or "socialism."

She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.

Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market."

Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.

John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: "The tension between East and West is an opposition... between two concepts of the development of individuals and peoples, both concepts being imperfect and in need of radical correction... This is one of the reasons why the Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism."

What the Church condemns is not capitalism as a producing system, but, according to the words of Pope Paul VI, "the calamitous system that accompanies it," which is the financial system:

"This unchecked liberalism led to dictatorship rightly denounced by Pope Pius XI as producing ‘the international imperialism of money’. One cannot condemn such abuses too strongly, because — let us again recall solemnly — the economy should be at the service of man. But if it is true that a type of capitalism has been the source of excessive suffering, injustices and fratricidal conflicts whose effects still persist, it would be wrong to attribute to industrialization itself evils that belong to the calamitous system that accompanied it. On the contrary, one must recognize in all justice the irreplaceable contribution made by the organization and the growth of industry to the task of development." (Paul VI, encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, on the development of peoples, March 26, 1967, n. 26.)

Yes, by all means, check the magisterial sources . . .

Gene said...

Now, ya' see, there goes Ignotus parroting the "magisterial sources" again. Toss him a biscuit...

John Nolan said...

The FFI currently administer a parish at Burslem in the West Midlands which offers Mass on Sundays and weekdays in both forms. In addition there is a contemplative convent of sisters at Lanherne in Cornwall which decided to use only the older books and learned from scratch how to sing the Office. Although the dissidents who complained to the Vatican that the EF was being 'imposed' on them were apparently from North America, the ban on priests of the Order offering the Old Rite Mass applies to England. It's an extraordinary situation; a priest ministering to a parish where there is a 'stable group' wanting the TLM is told he can't offer it, which surely contravenes SP.

The nuns at Lanherne will need to find a secular priest to minister to them. Because the decree was specifically authorized by the Pope, no appeal to the Apostolic Signatura is possible.

Pater Ignotus said...

"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep."

Yes, I quote magisterial sources. You'd be surprised how much you can learn from them.

No biscuit required, thanks.

Gene said...

...and we asked you simple doctrinal questions and you did not answer...

Adlai said...

...and I asked a simple yes or no question a couple of years ago and he still refuses to answer...

Gene said...

Hi, Adlai. Glad you are still around...