Chapter I, Part 1 the problem: is it the same church? Vatican 2 can be described as a turning point in the history of the Catholic Church. Prior to this event the Church considered herself a 'perfect society' in no need of change


Rationalism and the origins of modernism



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Rationalism and the origins of modernism


In order to come to a fuller understanding with modern ways of thinking one must go back to the philosophical ideas embraced by Liberalism. The fundamental premise of Liberalism is that each individual human being is free to decide for himself what is true and false, what is right and wrong; that man can be bound by no higher law than his own reason and will. Tied to Liberalism are Naturalism (the idea that human nature is essentially perfect and that it's distortions are occasioned only by external forces) and Rationalism (the idea that reason is the highest faculty in man and that our own individual human reason is essentially perfect). These are the ideas of the so-called 'Enlightenment,' and are summarized by the catch phrase of the French Revolution: 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.'

Paramount and basic - indeed, at the root of all the other errors - is the concept of 'Liberty.' In its clearest form, this false idea proclaims the absolute sovereignty of the individual and his entire independence of God's authority. The absolute autonomy of man carries in its train the autonomy of society, of economics, of morality, and ultimately his autonomy in religious matters. Rejecting the divine truths of Revelation, modern man holds that every individual has the right to follow the dictates of his private judgment in religious matters. For a man to submit to any authority higher than, or outside himself, is for him to forfeit his 'dignity.' A person who does so is often described as 'rigid,' 'old-fashioned,' 'superstitious,' 'immature,' and 'unwilling to be a responsible person.' Those who wished to avoid such epithets often described themselves as 'Liberal Catholics,' but as Pope Pius IX pointed out, these two words cannot be placed in juxtaposition as they are mutually contradictory.

Father Felix Sarda, summarizes all this well. Liberalism calls for:
1) The absolute sovereignty of the individual in his entire independence of God's authority.
2) The absolute sovereignty of society in its entire independence of everything that does not proceed from itself.
3) Absolute civil sovereignty in the implied right of the people to make their own laws in entire independence and utter disregard of any other criterion than the popular will expressed at the polls and in parliamentary majorities.
4) Absolute freedom of thought in politics, morals, or in religion. The unrestrained liberty of the press.

All these false ideas were repeatedly condemned by the Holy Pontiffs. Pius VI (1775) referred to them as a 'pestilent disease which the wickedness of our times brings forth,' and as 'impiety concealed with the honorable name of philosophy.' Those that propagated such ideas were characterized as 'accursed philosophers' (Inscrutabile). Pius VII (1800) called them a 'defiling plague of false philosophy'(Diu Satis). Leo XII (1824) spoke of the 'mighty conflicts' that 'continue to rage against the Catholic religion' and criticized those that 'arrogated to themselves the name of philosophy' and 'aroused from the ashes the disorderly ranks of practically every error.' He spoke of their attempt to 'produce a gospel of man, or what is worse, a gospel of the devil!' (Ubi Primum). Pius VIII (1829) complained against those that taught 'numberless errors and perverse doctrines.' He specifically mentioned 'among these heresies' one that 'belonged to the foul contrivance of the sophists of the age who do not admit any difference among the different professions of faith and who think that the portal of eternal salvation opens to all from any religion,' and complained bitterly of their infiltrating the educational system - 'its cunning purpose [being] to engage evil teachers to lead the students along the paths of Baal by teaching them un-Christian doctrines' (Traditi Humilitati). Gregory XVI (1832) promulgated one of the most remarkable documents of the Church in his Mirari Vos - described as a 'forerunner of the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX,' this document exposes the Liberals for what they truly are, and should be read by all.

Pius IX started out as a 'liberal' pope, hoping to find a via media with revolutionary ideas. As long as he compromised, he had the support of the then modern world. But he soon realized they were using him for their own ends and that no compromise was possible. He described what followed as a 'horrid tempest stirred up by so many erroneous... monstrous and portentous opinions.' Among these he especially listed the separation of Church and State; the absence of any duty on the part of the state to protect the Church; the liberty of conscience and worship as an inalienable right belonging to every man and one that should be proclaimed by law; that the will of the people manifested by what was called public opinion, constitutes the supreme law; that the elimination of the religious orders was of benefit to the state and that education should be an entirely secular affair. After listing the entire program of Modern Liberalism in the province of religion and politics, he unequivocally condemned Socialism, Communism and pantheism (Quanta cura). He followed this up with his Syllabus in 1864 which specifically listed and proscribed a series of opinions ranging from Absolute Rationalism to Modern Liberalism.

Immediately there was a huge outcry of protest. He was accused of 'erecting a lasting monument of the Church's enmity to civilization.' It was said that the Syllabus was an 'ex cathedra condemnation of the freedom of science,' and that it 'cursed modern culture.' And what is sad is that much of this outcry came from self-professed Catholics. But the Syllabus was completely consistent with the traditional practice of the Church. In characteristic manner, and with a fearless love of truth, the then reigning Pontiff condemned the very errors of modern rebellion against the supernatural order that would, six years later, place him in prison. And to be sure that he was listened to, this same Pope in 1878 promulgated the doctrine of papal infallibility .

Every pope from 1775 onwards has spoken out against these errors. And after Pius IX, Leo XIII again did so in his Encyclicals Immortale Dei and Libertas. Thus we are brought up to the time of Pope Saint Pius X.




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