A Column of Catholic Orientation
Everyone Isn't Good
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
On a visit to Dallas, a friend, Jan, approached me with many questions about the revolution in the Church. She said she realized that since Vatican II things have changed for the worse in the Catholic Church, but she didn’t have the time to read and keep up so that she could explain to her family and friends why the Novus Ordo Mass is not as good as the Traditional Mass, what is wrong with what this Pope is doing, why ecumenism is not good, and so on.
“I’m not a theologian, but a laywoman, a busy housewife with children and hardly time to read the paper. Could you explain some of these things simply for women like me, because there are a lot of us? Can you help me develop criteria for analyzing things myself, because I don’t feel secure in criticizing the religious authority or Church?”
I wholly understand your problem, Jan, and I would like to try to help, as far as I can, even though I am not a theologian either. That is what I hope to do in opening this column.
How should I begin these conversations with you, Jan? A first datum to consider is your time, which is short, as you said. So I won’t make a treatise.
Next, we need to establish one important presupposition for our conversations. For this, I thought it would be helpful to point out a fundamental problem of Americans in general that we need to face if we want to talk honestly.
For various reasons, the idea of human evil is not very deeply rooted in the spirit of the North American. “Good” people are those who think only the best of another person whenever they can. They have the notion they can’t criticize anyone who seems to be sincere or pious or trying to be “good.”
Often, we ladies in particular, think that this is to practice the virtue of charity, which it is not. It is not charity to hide or veil objective facts, the truth of a situation. It is a principle of charity that one is obliged to point out the error so it is not permitted to take root, grow and do damage to a soul, a community, or a whole society.
Nuns smile and show their co-naturality with the modern world - Parade Magazine, December 9, 2001
Let’s apply this more concretely for a mother.
Is it a charity to your child to “pretend” he isn’t developing the habit of lying or stealing? Is it charity to cover for his tendency to be lazy or sloppy? You are a mother, Jan. You know from the experience of child-rearing that you have the obligation, rooted in charity, to face the situation objectively and apply the necessary discipline. If you don’t, I don’t need to tell you that the evil that is beginning to show its face in that soul will progress.
Why is that? Because every one of us is conceived in original sin, which means that we have a strong natural tendency to do what is wrong. And if a person doesn’t make an effort to fight against a bad tendency, it will grow and dominate the soul.
This same tendency that moves an individual toward error and sin can also move a whole ensemble of men to accept error. It was whole groups of peoples, even whole countries that accepted the errors of Humanism, Protestantism, Communism, etc.
Now, up until Vatican II, the clear teachings of the Church preached against and combated the errors of the modern world in which she lived. She acknowledged the existence of error and evil, and fought it, and taught her children to do the same. For this reason, a Catholic could follow the teachings of the Church, and never doubt that they were off track.
What happened to this Catholic spirit of vigilance against evil?
Something changed at Vatican II. One would have expected that the Bishops of the whole world who gathered at the Council would have continued the same age-old tradition of establishing even more safeguards for the Faith, since it was evident that the secular world was increasingly decadent, and the opposition between the principles of the Faith and those of the modern world could not be more complete.
Instead, the Council, controlled by a clique of Progressivist theologians and Prelates, did the opposite and showed a giddy enthusiasm for the modern world. It called for aggionamento, which means an opening – and even adaptation to the modern world. (1)
The Council ended with a progressivist victory, and suddenly those same Modernist errors St. Pius X was warning Catholics about at the beginning of the 20th century were being accepted and promoted in the name of approved concliar documents. Overnight, it seemed, the Church was promoting the very evil that before she was warning against. Is it any wonder that the Church entered a period of crisis and confusion that has not ended yet?
|A post-conciliar guitar Mass celebrated at World Youth Day. Is it a good change? - The Leaven, August 23, 2002|
We know that the perennial teaching of the Church did not change. We also know that what was once wrong did not suddenly and magically become right. What happened? Did Vatican II abandon the doctrine of the Church regarding original sin and take up the false notion that all men are good?
It is a serious question. And no, Jan, not just a question for the clergy and theologians. But a necessary question for any serious Catholic. It is the obligation of every Catholic to try to answer it, given our duty to maintain the integrity of the Faith, especially when the Church is in crisis.
Therefore, Jan, before we start our conversations in earnest, it is good to establish some guidelines. It would not be an honest procedure to avoid analyzing this problem by saying that everyone is well-meaning or “good.” It is not a lack of charity to question the bad or erroneous actions of Progressivist theologians and Prelates. We have not only the right but duty to do so to prevent the error that we can objectively recognize from spreading or taking root in our own spirit. (2)
Therefore, let us begin to analyze the crisis in the Church without optimism, without a false charity, but in the spirit of humility and truth.
1. For more on this topic see A. S. Guimarães, Animus Delendi II, “Introduction,” and “First Premise: The Traditional Teaching of the Church regarding the Modern World.” He shows that the Council’s euphoric enthusiasm for the modern world was particularly evident in a document, the Constitution Gaudium et spes, and a symbolic act, Paul VI’s visit to the United Nations to offer complete solidarity to the world organization that preaches a pan-religion and one-world order.
2. This is demonstrated in We Resist You to the Face in the three articles by A.S. Guimarães, “The Duty to Resist,” “Resistance: Historical Precedents,” “Lessons from the Past.”
In “The Duty to Resist” (pp. 153-55), for example, Guimarães shows how we find ourselves today in the sad circumstance of defending the Papacy but resisting the progressivist teachings of the conciliar Popes. Faced with the dilemma: "Fidelity to principles or to persons? Orthodoxy or obedience?" we should adhere to the principles and resist the unorthodox authority.
Doing this, he shows, we absolutely do not stand in judgment of the Pope or place ourselves outside the Church. The doctrine on the right of the faithful to resist decisions of ecclesiastical authorities that are dangerous to the Faith and objectively erroneous has been expounded by many Saints, Doctors of the Church, and famous theologians cited in these articles.
Posted September 1, 2003
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