Part 1: Wake Up, Catholics
Part 2: Cookie Cutter Common Core & Private Education
Part 3: The People's Church
Part 4: The Theology of Community Organizing
Part 5: MODERNISM AND NOUVELLE THEOLOGY
By Betsy Kraus, 3D Research Group
"Of all the conceivable forms of enlightenment the worst is what the people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within…That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon…cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within."
~ G. K. Chesterton
~ G. K. Chesterton
“Come, Let us write a new theology”
By the 1940s, a new Neo-Modernist Theology was becoming established, especially in France. “Not only Marxism, but Freudianism, Existentialism, Liberalism, Relativism and Subjectivism, Phenomenology, Structuralism, insinuated themselves everywhere, infiltrating even in the seminars. Worse than all these philosophies was the expansion of modernist errors spread by the so called New Theology that was already censored – but not crushed – by Pius XII in the encyclical Humani Generis.” (1)
New Theology was to be in constant transformation, patterned after all other things of the world. Therefore this theology had to be in a constant state of flux and movement with no end. With “flux” came “on becoming” which excludes any possibility of lasting truth. Theology was to be the life of the members of the Church, rather than conclusions drawn from revealed data with the aid of reason. Revealed truths should not necessarily be permanent and they should change with time and circumstances. [Greenstock]
The Nouvelle Theologians consisted of a group of European clergy, mostly Jesuits and some Dominicans, head-quartered mainly in France and Germany, in the early and mid-20th Century. As per the tenets of Modernism, the neo- modernists included goals of reforming Scholasticism, the bedrock of the Church, which existed from the time of Aquinas up to the Renaissance. It was attacked during that period, and then restored by the Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent. The new theologians did not care for the reemergence of Scholasticism and opted instead, for pseudo-Scholasticism. Their plans included a pursuit of “Ressourcement”, meaning a return to the “sources” of the faith: Scripture and writings of the Greek Church Fathers. They focused on ancient Christians and their “diversity”. They favored the Greek Church Fathers, and some medieval theologians. They seemed to bypass Church Synods and Councils, where truth has always been sifted from heresy, and where Dogma and Doctrine have been defined and defended. “By immersing themselves in the forms and categories of ancient Christianity in all their diversity and concrete specificity, these theologians hoped to discover and imbibe that Spirit, which was their common inspiration and source. Hans Urs von Balthasar, referring to the Greek Fathers, said: ‘We would rather hope to penetrate to the vital source of their spirit, to the fundamental and secret intuition which directs the entire expression of their thought.’” (Emphasis, Ed.) (2) Many of the French theologians thought that the “Hegelian philosophical experience” was best in moving man to “spiritual heights”. Urs von Balthasar employed the dialectic in his Trinitarian doctrines.
These theologians were seeking the “vital sap” of the ancient Christians. What was that vital sap? Perhaps they were speaking of their concept of the pantheistic or panentheistic “Vital Immanence” of God in the world, or pursuing a direct knowledge of the Holy Spirit, through ancient mysticism.
No doubt the Nouvelle theologians were aware of a “vital sap” of the early Christian “Enthusiasts”. The Enthusiasts of “Ultrsupernaturalism” were at work even then creating a new approach to religion. These Enthusiasts, led by Montanus, placed the emphasis on mystical and direct personal access to God. By the second century. Montanus established his brand of ecstasies and “speaking in tongues”. This pursuit of Enthusiasm has continued throughout history, presently manifested in the Holiness, Pentecostal, and Charismatic Movements. Such movements, along with beliefs in “the Age of the Spirit”, gave rise to such movements as Joel’s Army, Latter Day Rain, Holy Laughter, and the Dominionists. The Roman Catholic Church, along with St. Augustine’s teachings, holds that the miracles and extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit ended with the apostolic age, with the exception of miracles in the lives of later saints. The Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church was a direct outgrowth of the Protestant Pentecostal movement. Catholics who had received the full gifts of the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, were now accepting a protestant, Pentecostal “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”. Just as with Charismatics today, the ancient enthusiasts expected “special graces from God”, more so for themselves than for others, which would result in signs and wonders. Today, Ultrasupernaturalism expects a latter day, or end-time outpouring of grace by the Holy Spirit. However, the end-times began with the New Covenant, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred at Pentecost. There can be no further outpouring of the Spirit, as per the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Socrates on “Affairs of the Heart”
For the Nouvelle theologians, what had been a matter of outward forms and ordinances, became an affair of the heart. “Sacraments were not necessarily dispensed with; but the emphasis lies on a direct personal access to the Author of our salvation with little intellectual background or of liturgical expression…An inward experience of peace and joy is both the assurance which the soul craves for and its characteristic prayer-attitude. But the implications of enthusiasm go deeper than this; at the root of it lies a different theology of grace. The Catholic Church’s traditional doctrine is that grace perfects nature…but leaves it nature still. The assumption of the enthusiast is... grace has destroyed nature, and replaced it. The saved man has come out into a new order of being”. (3) This is what lies at the heart of New Theology – there is no separation between nature and grace. Human reason as a guide to any sort of religious truth can be spurned, and man saved becomes fully man or fully human, and therefore divine through upward and inward or” inner experience”.
Returning to the Church in Corinth, it split its loyalties between the Apostle Paul, and other factions. One faction, with the rallying cry “I am for Christ”, drove a wedge between the Christianity of Christ and The Christianity of the Church. This meant that even then there was a move away from the ecclesiastical authority of the Church, and to the validation of private revelation. Therefore, it would be a mistake to view the early Church through rose-colored glasses. During this period, doctrinal “diversity” and heresy flourished. “Yet these priest-teachers are not yet called Fathers, and the greatest among them, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Hoppolytus, Novatian, Lucian, happened to be tinged with heresy; two became antipopes; one is the father of Arianism, another was condemned by a general council”. (4)
Both Tertullian (160-225) and Origen (185-254) slipped into heresy. as did Gregory of Nyssa (335-395). Origen’s doctrines of the Holy Trinity were based upon Middle Platonic triadic emanation schemes: the pre-existence of souls, transmigration of souls, and the eventual restoration of all souls to a state of dynamic perfection, in proximity to the godhead. Did it matter to the neo-modernists that some of these early Fathers, models of Ressourcement, were in heresy? Perhaps not, as elements of these concepts appear to have seeped into the New Theology. [Fedili]
Though brilliant, Gregory of Nyssa was influenced by Neoplatonism and Plotinus, and he believed in the heresy of universal salvation following Origen. Plotinus was one of the philosophers of Neoplatonism at the pagan Platonic Academy in Athens, which was closed by Justinian in A.D. 529. Neoplatonism will be discussed in a later issue. Another favorite of the new theologians appeared to be Nicholas of Cusa, a Renaissance thinker who was part of the Platonic Academy of Florence, and whose leaders delved in the Kabbala, magic, and the occult.
Some of the Nouvelle theologians also subscribed to the doctrine of Kenosis, proclaimed wicked by Pius XII. Kenosis is a sort of self-emptying existent in Buddhist and Christian spirituality. Apparently it has being currently disseminated in teachings of some in the Church. Pius XII addressed this heresy in his Encyclical Semipternus Rex Christus, concerning the natures of Jesus Christ: “29. There is another enemy of the faith of Chalcedon, widely diffused outside the fold of the Catholic religion. This is an opinion for which a rashly and falsely understood sentence of St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (ii, 7), supplies a basis and a shape. This is called the kenotic doctrine, and according to it, they imagine that the divinity was taken away from the Word in Christ. It is a wicked invention, equally to be condemned with the Docetism opposed to it. It reduces the whole mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption to empty the bloodless imaginations. 'With the entire and perfect nature of man'--thus grandly St. Leo the Great--'He Who was true God was born, complete in his own nature, complete in ours' (Ep. xxviii, 3. PL. Liv, 763. Cf. Serm. xxiii, 2. PL. lvi, 201). 30. While there is no reason why the humanity of Christ should not be studied more deeply also from a psychological point of view, there are, nevertheless, some who, in their arduous pursuit, desert the ancient teachings more than is right, and make an erroneous use of the authority of the definition of Chalcedon to support their new ideas.” (5)
As these Modernist and Nouvelle concepts continued to root and grow in Europe, despite efforts on the part of the Church to crush them, it was then that Pope John XXIII called for an Ecumenical Council.
By 1950 the Vatican had gagged the Modernism of French Nouvelle Theologie, however it continued to expand elsewhere. Portions of the work of most of the major Nouvelle theologians, were proscribed by their Superiors and the Magisterium, and probably none of them or their predecessors, escaped the sweeping condemnations of their thinking by Pius XII in his encyclical Humani Generis. Nevertheless, a number of these theologians were invited to be “periti” (advisors) to Vatican II.
Vatican II, “Unlike previous councils… did not issue any new dogmas, declare any anathemas, or settle any grave heresies prevailing at the time. Instead, the council became known for its renewal of Catholic Doctrine in a modern timeline and perspective.” (6) The key words are “renewal” and “modern timeline and perspective.” Did such words give an opening for the neo-modernists to inject concepts of evolution, vital immanence, Kenosis, and their concept of no separation between nature and grace into Vatican documents?
Some participants came to the council with demands of “Academic Freedom”, but technically no Dogma or Doctrine was changed, as it was a “Pastoral” Council only. What then did happen? Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen’s book, The Rhine flows into the Tiber, A History of Vatican II, gives a detailed chronology of what took place. Ann Muggeridge reported that, “At the early stage of the Council, few of the Council fathers were sufficiently aware of the facts to be able to take seriously Cardinal Ottaviani's warning that a revolution was being unleashed. ‘By the end of the Council, their innocence lost,’ the bishops could at least have insisted on safeguards, but they did not … The truly revolutionary proposals were rejected by the Council, but innovators on the drafting commissions had couched passages in deliberately ambiguous language, in order to win wide Conciliar support, and the disaffected intellectuals used these ambiguous expressions to promote the revolution after the decrees had been passed.” [Emphasis, Ed.] (7)
“With the war cry ‘Liberty in danger,’ they will whip up public opinion outside the Church in their favor, and eventually extort from frightened and more or less reluctant ecclesiastical authority the de facto permission they now possess to attack and undermine Catholic belief from within the Church while still officially acting as the Church’s representatives, thus creating the impression that almost every article of Faith (God’s existence not excluded) is under consideration and may one day be junked”. (8)
Jean Guitton, a highly acclaimed French philosopher and who was appointed by Pope John XXIII to participate in the Council, made the following incredible comment regarding Vatican II: “When I read the documents relative to the Modernism as defined by Pius X, and when I compare them to the documents of II Vatican Council…what was condemned as heresy in 1906 was proclaimed as what is and should be from now on the doctrine and the method of the Church…the modernists of 1906 were, somewhat, precursors to me. My masters were part of them. My parents taught me Modernism.” (9)
Surely Guitton was a Modernist. as one of his masters was French philosopher Henri Bergson. Bergson under the influence of William James, Harvard philosopher, renounced both the intellectualist method and logic. Bergson’s disciples included the neo-Catholic or modernistic movements in France and the socialistic system of syndicalism. Bergson, who was Chair of Modern Philosophy at the College de France, retained his position, but his work was turned over to Edouard LeRoy, whose work was placed on the Index. Three of Bergson’s books were also placed on the Index of forbidden books by the Catholic Church. They were proscribed for teaching pantheism, which conceived God as immanent to his Creation and being himself created in the process of Creations.
Jürgen Mettepenningen, who seems to favor the Nouvelle Theologians’ thought, is a research fellow at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. With regards to these theologians’ work, he says: “In spite of their rejection by their superiors and the magisterium, the core of their aspirations was to be assimilated during Vatican II at which the sources of the faith served as the primary basis for Catholic theology and Neo-Scholasticism was dethroned” (10).
Father Schillebeeckx, who was one of the most influential modernist experts at Vatican II, wrote: “Vatican II was a kind of confirmation of what the theologians had done before the Council: Rahner, Chenu, Congar, and others…the theologians that had been condemned, kept away of their teaching cathedras, sent into the exile…their theology was the one that triumphed at Vatican II.” (11)
And what were the after-effects of this “revolution”? How accurate is the following assessment of German Redemptorist, Bernard Haring’s view of the “new mission” of the Church? (Keep in mind that Haring was one of those along with Charles Curran and Richard McBride etc. who protested Humane Vitae.) “This new theology is essentially an about face; away from God and toward the world. This is made clear in Father Bernard Haring’s book Toward a Christian Moral Theology. The first Chapter ‘The Impact of Vatican II’ tells the story…It’s primary concern is not to save your soul, your individual soul, but to acknowledge the loving presence of Christ in the world, the loving presence of the Church and all the faithful of the human family among the People of God. It will open the Church to the values of the modern world….This constitution will treat the total vocation of man, including the value of earthy goods and the earthly task involved in this total vocation, thereby giving a positive answer to the desires of the Communists and Marxists. Karl Marx, Engels, and so many other of the early generations of Communists always had the impression that pious Christians because of the piety neglect social justice and the zeal for a better, more fraternal world. This impression was given by so many Christians, egotists, worried only about saving their own souls through certain religious practices and by observing the thousand and one positive laws…” (Emphasis, Ed.) (12)
According to Fedeli, Vatican II changed the concept of Revelation from a doctrinal, intellectualistic concept to an historical-salvific concept, and the result is a personalistic perspective of Revelation.
Here is what Pope John XXIII said regarding the convening of Vatican II, “The salient point of this council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all. For this a council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit of the whole word expects a step forward towards a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciences in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character. (Emphasis mine).” (13)
Pope Paul VI also noted that the Council was pastoral only. “There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualifications, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility. (Emphasis mine)” (14)
Cardinal Ratzinger, a periti at Vatican II, also stated that the Council was not dogmatic, and only pastoral: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.” (15)
In addition, Cardinal Ratzinger lamented the results of Vatican II in the following statement which appeared in L’Ossevatore Romano in December of 1984: “Certainly the results of Vatican II seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone, beginning with those of Pope John XXIII and then of Pope Paul VI: expected was a new Catholic unity and instead we have been exposed to dissension which, to use the words of Pope Paul VI, seems to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. Expected was a great step forward, instead we find ourselves faced with a progressive process of decadence which has developed for the most part under the sign of a calling back to the Council, and has therefore contributed to discrediting it for many. The net result therefore seems negative. I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Catholic Church.” (Emphasis added) (16)
What was the meaning of Paul VI’s statement in his closing speech at Vatican II: "The Church of the Council [Vatican II] (...) was also much attached with man as he really is today, with living man, with man totally taken up with himself, with man who not only makes himself the centre of his own interests, but who dares to claim that he is the principle and final cause of all reality... Secular, profane, humanism finally revealed itself in all its terrible stature and, in a certain sense, challenged the Council. The religion of God made man has come up against the religion -- for there is such a one -- of man who makes himself God.” (17)
And lastly there is this grave message in 1972 by Pope Paul VI: “‘from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.’ There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life…The Holy Father observes, ‘We believe in something that is preternatural that has come into the world precisely to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to impede the Church from breaking into the hymn of joy at having renewed in fullness its awareness of itself…’ ” (18)
Smoke of Satan?
What are Catholics to think after reading such comments? Surely Vatican II was indeed pastoral only and, since there were only reiterations of past dogma and doctrine which are de fide, the rest of the documents were not infallible. Vatican II is magisterially binding, however, can any parts not in keeping with past de fide documents, councils, and teachings of the Church, be binding?
For an in-depth understanding of effects of Nouvelle Theology on Vatican II and the Church, see Professor Orlando Fedeli’s report. (Footnote 1.) Professor Fedeli was from Sao Paulo, Brazil and during his lifetime he headed up the Montfort Cultural Association. He was a member, and an ardent defender of the Roman Catholic Church. He was not affiliated with the Pius X movement, which simply means that one does not need to distance themselves from the Church in order to address these issues.
In June of 2013, a video was presented by Church Militant, whereby Roman Catholic Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, and Titular Bishop of Celerina, Switzerland, requested, in a most gracious manner, an official magisterial clarification of Vatican II regarding the ambiguity of the documents. The video of Bishop Schneider addressing this issue as well as a comprehensive treatise on this subject can be viewed at: http://catholicismhastheanswer.com/vatican-ii-must-be-clarified/
Philip Trower’s observations on Modernism, regarding the period preceding the Council, led him to say: “An understanding of them [two evils, Ed.] will possibly help to make clearer why an apostasy is taking place simultaneously with an attempted movement of reform. These two evils…were a tremendous decline in the spiritual vitality among the faithful of all ranks, clerical and lay…masked by a grand-looking/arcade of religious practice…and the spread of heresy, or of ideas tending toward heresy among a much higher clergy that anyone had realized. By higher clergy I do not mean cardinals and bishops, but theologians, scholars, thinkers at Catholic universities and institutes of higher studies; the Catholic intelligentsia, in fact, at its top level.” (Emphasis, Ed.) (19)
Did Nouvelle Theology, the inheritor of Modernism, along with its errors, enter Roman Catholic thought at Vatican II to suffocate her with the ambiguity of “words”? Has the beautiful faith that so many hold dear been contorted by Post Vatican II thinkers? Although there have been attempts to reign in the more radical aspects of Nouvelle Theology, how great are the inroads to turn the Church into a strategically planned, utilitarian, temporal organization to manage worldly affairs of mankind, and to guard the material concerns of only the poor and oppressed per Liberation Theology? Is the Church’s mission to now become “The People’s Church”, to function as a funded arm of government for social justice? Has worship and liturgy been so altered that personal salvation through the sacraments need not be emphasized? Through Pan-Christianism, i.e. one Christian Church only, are all inhabitants, Christians, anonymous Christians (non-Christians, and atheists) of the world to be ecumenically united, where no one Christian Church would dominate? Is this the scenario Karl Rahner had in mind with his concept of the “anonymous Christian”? Modernist thinker, Maurice Blondel, subscribed to Pan-Christianism as one of the most esoteric of his personal thought. Would Christian unity thus have to be accomplished esoterically through personal inner mystical experience, personal revelation, contemplation, reflection and action? Would this finally culminate in a spiritual evolution of mankind to Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point” where man on earth is deified? Would the Church then “wither away” in an Age of the Spirit?
Next: The Renaissance, “Inner Experience”, and Nouvelle Theology
1. Fedeli, Orlando, Jean Guitton and the Modernism of the II Vatican Council. http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/modernism/jeamodernism.htm
2. D’Ambrosio, Marcellino, “Resourcement Theology, Aggiornamento, and the Hermeneutics of Tradition”, Communio, Edition 18, Winter 1991. https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/54/Ressourcement_Theology__Aggiornamento_and_the_Hermeneutics_of_Tradition.html
3. Knox, Ronald A., Enthusiasm, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1950, page 2-3.
4. “Fathers of the Church”, New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06001a.htm
6. “Second Vatican Council, Wikipedia a free encyclopedia, Modified 12/4/2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Vatican_Council
7 McCarthy, John F, (Reviewer),” Reappraising the Liturgical Reform, Ann Roche Muggeride: The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church”, Living Tradition, Organ of the Roman Theological Forum, No. 27, 1990. http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt27.html
8. Trower, Philip, “The Church Learned and The Revolt of the Scholars”, Catholic Culture, Chapter 5, page 9. http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3745
9. Fedeli, Orlando, Jean Guitton and the Modernism of the II Vatican Council. http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/modernism/jeamodernism.htm
10.. Mettepenningen, Jürgen, Nouvelle Theologie – New Theology Inheritor of Modernism, Precursor of Vatican II, T & T Clark International, New York, NY, 2010
12. Miller, Ronald, “Evolutionism and Father Teilhard de Chardin – Part II”, Distant Drums, Vol. VII, No.4, Page 8, December 1985
13. Miller, Peter, “Differing from Other Councils”, The Seattle Catholic, 1/3/2003. http://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20030103_Differing_from_Other_Councils.html
15. Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph, “Cardinal Ratzinger’s address to the Bishops of Chili”, Una Voce America, July 13, 1988. http://unavoce.org/resources/cardinal-ratzingers-address-to-bishops-of-chile/
16. “Vatican II Must be Clarified”, Catholicism Has the Answer. http://catholicismhastheanswer.com/vatican-ii-must-be-clarified/
17. Fedeli, Orlando, Jean Guitton and the Modernism of the II Vatican Council. http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/modernism/jeamodernism.htm
18, McDonald, Fr. Alan J., “The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of the Church: Is the Devil Real?”, Southern Orders, 3/11/2010, http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com/2010/03/smoke-of-satan-in-temple-of-church-is.html
19. Trower, Philip, “The First Modernism, Chapter I”, The Church Learned and The Revolt of the Scholars, Catholic Culture, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3745
1. Greenstock, David L, T.O.P. “Thomism and the New Theology”, Thomist a Speculative Quarterly Review. 1950. http://www.u.arizona.edu/~aversa/modernism/Thomism%20and%20the%20New%20Theology%20%28Greenstock%29.pdf
2. Trower, Philip, The Church Learned and The Revolt of the Scholars, Catholic Culture, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3745
3. McCarthy, John F. “Is Modernism Still Active in the Catholic Church? (Part 1)”, Living Tradition Organ of the Roman Theological Forum, March 2004. http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt110.html