1. It is never inopportune to declare the truth. Cardinal Newman - was one of the leaders of this faction.
2. Approaches, (Ayrshire, Scotland), No. 89, 1985
3. Cardinal Henry Manning (an Anglican Convert), Three Pastoral Letters to the Clergy of the Diocese, several editions.
4. Rev. M. Muller, C.SS.. Familiar Explanation of Catholic doctrine, Benzinger: N.Y., 1888
5. The infallibility of Council teachings is dependent upon the Pope's approbation. The pseud-Council of Pistoia never received this and was never recognized as a Council. The post-Conciliar 'popes' have declared Vatican II (all of it) to be the 'highest form of the Ordinary Magisterium.'
6. An important consequence of the declaration on infallibility at Vatican I was that the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX was clearly declared to fall within the realm of the Ordinary Magisterium. Prior to this many attempts were made to examine the sources of the condemned errors in order to show that they were not 'worded' in such a way as to make them binding. It also protected the list of errors - Lamentabili - associated with Pope St. Pius X's Pascendi. Here again the modernists tried the same tactics, forcing Pius X to declare them to be binding in his Moto Proprio 'Praestantia Scripturae '(18, Nov. 1907). ('anyone having the temerity to defend any proposition, opinion or reproved doctrine will ipso fact incur ... excommunication latae sententiae simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff.') Again, the Oath against Modernism has been dropped. Despite this, anyone who cannot give his assent to this Oath, once required of every prelate at every step in his journey towards the priesthood or episcopacy, places himself outside the true Church.
7. op. cit. No 16.
8. New York: D,J. Sadlier, 1887, pp. 95-96.
9. Exposition of Christian doctrine - Course of Instruction written by a seminary professor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, McVey: Phil., 1898.
10. op. cit. No. 14.
11. Cardinal Henry Manning, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, Burns, Oates: London, 1909.
12. Quoted by Jorgensen in his Life of St. Catherine of Sienna.
13. W. Wilmers, S.J., Handbook of the Christian Religion, Benzinger: N.Y., 1891. This manner in which the Church sees itself is a far cry from the teaching of Vatican II and the post-Conciliar 'popes'. The Document The Church Today teaches 'Christians are joined with the rest of men in search for truth' and Paul VI tells us that today 'the Church is seeking itself. With a great and moving effort, it is seeking to define itself, to understand what it truly is...'
CHAPTER II, Part 4
In the last analysis, man must in religious matters, rely upon some authority. Either this derives from some objective 'teaching authority' that is independent of himself, or else it derives from an 'inner feeling' that can be characterized as 'private judgment'(1). Clearly, the prevailing basis for religious beliefs in the modern world - be they Protestant or 'modernist-Catholic' - is private judgment, which is to say that paramount authority resides in that which at any moment commends itself to the individual or group most strongly(2). According to Vatican II, man's dignity is such that in religious matters, he is to be guided by his own judgment(3). Such a principle by its very nature represents a revolt against the Church (and Christ), for it proclaims that what the Church teaches is not morally obligatory. Vatican II seems to have forgotten that man's freedom resides, not in his being at liberty to believe anything he wants, but in his ability to accept or refuse what God teaches; that his dignity resides, not in acting like gods, but in his conforming himself to divine principles.
Private Judgment always starts out by accepting some of the teachings of the established faith and rejecting others - it is only a matter of time before the 'new' suffers in turn from the same principle. Within Luther's own lifetime dozens of other Protestant sects were formed, and one might add that within the post-Conciliar church the same thing has happened. That this is less obvious is because this Church blandly accepts the most divergent views - other than traditional orthodoxy - as legitimate. St. Thomas Aquinas said, 'the way of a heretic is to restrict belief in certain aspects of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure' (Summa II-II, 1.a.1). Obviously, this 'picking and choosing' is nothing other than the free reign of private judgment. And as sects give rise to other sects, it soon happens that all truth and falsehood in religion becomes a matter of private opinion and one doctrine becomes as good as another. Again, it is only a matter of time before all doctrinal issues become irrelevant (who can ever agree about them anyway?). What follows is that morality loses its objective character, and being based on 'social contract', can alter in accord with prevailing social needs(4). Man, not God, becomes the center of the universe and the criteria for truth; doing good to others becomes his highest aspiration, and 'progress' his social goal. The idea of 'sin' is limited to what 'hurts' our neighbor or the 'state'. What need is there for God, for truth, for doctrines, for authority, for the Church and for all the 'claptrap' of the ages that has held man back from his worldly 'destiny'? All that is asked of modern man is that he be 'sincere', and that he not disturb his neighbor excessively. If in this milieu he manages to retain any religious sense at all, it is considered a 'private matter'. Man's 'dignity', which traditionally was due to the fact that he was 'made in the image of God', is now said to derive from his independence of God. In reality, man has been so seduced by the serpent - 'Ye shall be as Gods' - that he has proclaimed himself his own God. (As Paul VI said on the occasion of the moon landing, 'honor to man... king of earth,... and today, prince of heaven!'). He lives by his own morality and only accepts the truths that he himself has established. (It used to be said of the Protestants that 'every man was his own Pope'.) A satanic inversion has occurred and man cries out, as did once the Angel of Light - Non Serviam - I will not serve any master other than myself(5).
Of course, all this occurs in stages. What is remarkable is the similarity of pattern seen in all 'reformation movements'. What starts out as the denial of one or two revealed truths (or of truths derived from revelation), progressively ends up in the denial of them all(6). Similar also are the various subterfuges by which this is achieved. Almost all reformers declare that they are 'inspired by the Holy Spirit' (and who can argue with the Holy Spirit?) and end up by ignoring or denying His existence. All claim to be returning to 'primitive Christianity', which is nothing other than Christianity as they think it should have been all along. All, or almost all, claim that the are adapting the Faith to the needs of modern man, which is nothing else than an appeal to the pride and arrogance of their followers and an attempt to make Christianity conform to their personal needs(7). All quote Scripture, but selectively and out of context, and never those parts that disagree with their innovative ideas - thus it follows that they reject the traditional interpretation given to the sacred writings by the Church Fathers and the Saints. All mix truth with error, for error has no attractive power on its own. All attack the established rites, for they know that the lex orandi (the manner of prayer) reflects the lex credendi (the manner of believing); once the latter is changed, the former becomes an embarrassment to them(8). All use the traditional terms of religion: love, truth, justice and faith, but attach to them a different meaning. And what are all these subterfuges but means of introducing their own private and personal judgments on religious matters into the public domain? Finally, none of the reformers fully agree with each other except in their rejection of the 'fullness' of the established Catholic faith, for error is 'legion' and truth is one. As one mediaeval writer put it, 'they are vultures that never meet together except to feast upon a corpse'(9).
The traditional Church has of course always eschewed the use of 'private judgment' in religious matters. From a traditional point of view, man should seek to 'think correctly' rather than to 'think for himself'. (What kind of mathematician would a person be who computed for himself and considered the correct answer to be a matter of 'feeling' arising from his subconscious?) The Jewish fathers considered private judgment the greatest form of idolatry because it made oneself rather than God the source of truth. As has been pointed out above, man's 'liberty' lies, not in his freedom to decide for himself just what is true and false, but in his freedom to accept or reject the truth that Christ and the Church teach and offer. It is a saying of common wisdom that no man should be his own advocate or physician, lest his emotions interfere with his judgment(10). If we are careful to obtain authoritative advise and direction in the management of our physical and economic well-being, it becomes absurd for us to relegate the health of our soul to the 'whims' of our emotions. As Socrates said, 'Being deceived by ourselves is the most dreadful of all things, for when he who deceives us never departs from us even for a moment, but is always present, is it not a most fearful thing?' (Cratylus, 428, D). As soon as we make ourselves rather than God speaking through the Church, the criterion of truth, we end up by making man qua man the center of the universe and all truth becomes both subjective and relative. This is why Pope Saint Pius X said 'we must use every means and bend every effort to bring about the total disappearance of that enormous and detestable wickedness so characteristic of our time - the substitution of man for God' (E Supremo Apostolatu).
There is of course an area in which legitimate use can, and indeed must, be made of what is sometimes - though erroneously - called Private Judgment. In that case what are being made are not judgments in the Protestant sense, which are mere opinions, but rather objectively certain judgments which are nevertheless reasonable.(11) It must never be forgotten that the intellect of a private individual is capable in certain far from infrequent circumstances, of making judgments which are not liable to error, because within due limits the human intellect is infallible. As Father Hickey states in his Summa Philosophiae Scholasticae, 'the intellect is 'per se' infallible, although 'per accidens' it can err.' As Dr. Orestes Brownson states, 'private judgment (in the Protestant sense) is only when the matters judged lie out of the range of reason, and when its principle is not the common reason of mankind, nor a Catholic or public authority, but the fancy, the caprice, the prejudice or the idiosyncrasy of the individual forming it.'(12)
Such for example is the judgment a man makes use of in seeking the truth, and which makes him aware that in matters where he lacks full understanding, it is appropriate to use a guide. Again, there is the use of judgment in the application of principles to a given situation (conscience as the Catholic understands it), or in areas where the Church has never specifically spoken and where it allows for differences of legitimate 'theological opinion'. In all these situations there is a criterion of certainty beyond the individual and evidence is adducible which ought to convince the reason of every man, and which when adduced, does convince every man of ordinary understanding. Having stated the distinction between mere opinion and the proper individual use of judgment we can further add that such judgment can never rationally be used to abrogate principles or deny revealed truths. These same distinctions make it clear how false it is to accuse Traditional Catholics who adhere to the teachings and practices of the Church of All Times, and who reject innovations that go against the deposit of the faith, of using private judgment in a Protestant sense. To label them as 'Rebels' or 'Protestants' because they refuse to change their beliefs is either an abuse of language or pure hypocrisy.
Private judgment in the Protestant sense is inimical to the spiritual life not only because it denies the authority of Revelation, but because it also denies intellection. God gave us an intellect by means of which we can know truth from falsehood and right from wrong. Reason is normally the 'handmaid' of the intellect, which means its function is that of ratiocination or discoursing from premises to conclusions. Truth does not depend on reason, but rather truth becomes explicit with the help of Reason. We do not say something is true because it is logical, but rather that it is logical because it is true. Reason must then feed on some sustenance, and this it gets from above or from below; above from intellection and Revelation; below from feelings and sense perceptions. Modern man, while occasionally using his higher 'cognitive' faculties, in the practical order refuses to grant their existence. More precisely, being Nominalist, he refuses to accept any premises from above and limits the function of reason to dealing with what comes from below, from his feelings or sense perceptions. In this schema Reason is placed at the apex of man's faculties (Rationalism). Given these truncated principles, it follows that all truth is based on feelings and sense perceptions and hence is relative(13). Modern man lives on 'Opinions divorced from knowledge', which in Plato's words 'are ugly things.'(14) At the same time there was a parallel attack on the will. While mechanists and evolutionists deny free-will altogether, pseudo-theologians obliterated it in the name of a false concept of grace. (What else is 'justification by faith', but the denial of 'good works', those acts we 'willfully' perform. Surely grace builds on nature and will abandon us in proportion to our refusal to cooperate with it.)(15)
Those who see the futility of resolving religious issues on the basis of their (or someone else's) personal and subjective opinions, and who seek objective and external sources for the Truth, must inevitably turn to the various 'churches' for a solution. Of all the various 'ecclesiastical communities' that hold out the possibility of finding objective truth, only one has consistently rejected 'private judgment' as a source. Only one proclaims that God Himself (through Christ and the Apostles) has revealed the truth, and only one claims and can demonstrate that it has retained this 'deposit' intact from Apostolic times down to the present. This is of course, the 'One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church'. To quote St. Alphonsus Liguori: 'To reject the divine teaching of the Catholic Church is to reject the very basis of reason and revelation, for neither the principles of the one nor those of the other have any longer any solid support to rest on; they can be interpreted by everyone as he pleases; every one can deny all truths whatsoever he chooses to deny. I therefore repeat: If the divine teaching authority of the Church, and the obedience to it are rejected, every error will be endorsed and must be tolerated.'(16)
1. Atheists and those that deny the existence of any 'religious issue' also exercise private judgment - either their own or by submitting to the private judgment of others. Ultimately the only authority for private judgment is what an individual or group 'feels' is true. Some claim their beliefs are based on reason, but if reason were a sufficient guide to religious truth, and if all men reasoned alike, all would believe the same 'truths'. The Church teaches that we are not allowed to believe anything against reason, but at the same time offers to us many mysteries or truths which, even though they cannot be proved by reason, are in themselves reasonable. Such truths are said to be 'beyond reason' in the sense that they derive from Revelation. If neither Revelation nor reason is the source of our beliefs, then they must arise from our sub-conscious. Thus William James defines religion as the 'feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.' (quoted in Fulton Sheen, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy, Longmans: N.Y., 1925). The idea that religion is a feeling arising in the subconscious is a condemned proposition of Modernism (Immanentism).
2. 'Groups' or 'ecclesiastical communities' may agree on broad issues, but never on detailed doctrine. The Protestant denominations early found it necessary to distinguish between 'fundamental' and 'non-fundamental' beliefs - the latter of which their followers were free to 'pick and choose'. Catholics are forbidden to make such distinctions. They must believe all that the Church teaches - even those things of which they may not be specifically aware. Yet this is the basic concept that underlies the modern ecumenical movements: as long as we are 'baptized in Christ', we are free to believe anything we want. In order to get around the difficulty Vatican II teaches that 'when comparing doctrines, they should remember that in Catholic teaching there exists an order or 'hierarchy' of truths, since they vary in their relationship to the foundation of the Christian faith' (De Oecumenismo). Dr. Oscar Cullman (one of the Protestant 'observers') considers this passage the 'most revolutionary' to be found in the entire Council, and Dr. McAfee Brown concurs while adding that the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption which are 'stumbling blocks in the ecumenical discussion' should clearly be well down on the scale of the 'hierarchy of truths'. (Michael Davies, Pope John's Council, Augustine: Devon, 1977).
3. Religious Freedom, Paragraph 11.
4. Consider the following statement given out in June 1978 by the Catholic Theological Society of America: 'Any form of sexual intercourse, including both homosexuality and adultery, could be considered acceptable, so long as it is self-liberating, other enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving and joyous.'' (The traditional Church considers Homosexuality a sin 'crying unto heaven for vengeance on earth' - Gen. 18:20-21; Rom. 1:26-32.) It will be argued that Rome protested against this statement - however all the individuals responsible are still functioning as Catholic priests with full faculties to hear confession and some of them teach in seminaries. No recantation was ever required. Much closer to the Catholic position is the statement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a black activist leader. 'One has to have an ethical base for a society. Where the prime force is impulse, there is the death of ethics. America used to have ethical laws based on Jerusalem. Now they are based on Sodom and Gomorrah, and civilizations rooted in Sodom and Gomorrah are destined to collapse.'
5. To quote Michael Davies (Pope Paul's New Mass, p. 140): 'It was the Council as an event which gave the green light to the process of the formal deification of man.' He quotes Father Gregory Baum, one of the periti (experts) at the Council, and currently head of the Congregation in charge of seminaries, as stating 'I prefer to think that man may not submit to an authority outside of himself.' Or again, John Paul II's statement: 'To create culture, we must consider, down to the last consequences and entirely, Man as a particular and independent value, as the subject bearing the person's transcendence. We must affirm Man for his own sake, and not for some other motive or reason; solely for himself! Even further, we must love man because he is man, by reason of the special dignity he possesses' (Address to UNESCO, June 2, 1980).
6. A Catholic cannot deny any truth the Church teaches. He must accept them all. As Pope Leo XIII said, 'To refuse to believe in any one of them is equivalent to rejecting them all' (Sapientiae Christianae).
7. Few recognize the internal contradiction between returning to primitive practice and adapting the faith to the needs of modern man. The combination attacks the faith at both ends and leaves very little in the middle.
8. Pertinent is Paul VI's statement quoted in La Documentation Catholique of 3 May, 1970 to the effect that his Novus ordo Missae (the new mass) 'has imparted greater theological value to the liturgical texts so that the lex orandi conformed better with the lex credendi'. This is a frank declaration that either the liturgical texts in use for hundreds of years by the Catholic Church did not possess the degree of theological value which was desirable, or that his new 'mass' reflects a change in the lex credendi. Jean Madiran commented on this to the effect that 'the new Eucharistic prayers must conform better than the Roman Canon [did] with the true faith; this is also the opinion of the Taize community, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, and the World Council of Churches...' (Itineraires, Dec. 1973) I
9. 'the principal sin of heretics is their pride... In their pride they insist on their own opinions... frequently they serve God with great fervor and they do not intend any evil; but they serve God according to their own wills... Even when refuted, they are ashamed to retract their errors and to change their words... They think they are guided directly by God... The things which have been established for centuries and for which so many martyrs have suffered death, they begin to treat as doubtful questions... They interpret the Bible according to their own heads and their own particular views and carry their own opinions into it...' (Theological lectures on the Psalms, Dresden 1876; quoted by J. Verres,. Luther, Burns Oates: London, 1884). Ex ore tuo te judico!
10. It has also been said that a man who is his own spiritual guide has Satan for his spiritual director.
11. Cf. Dr. Orestes Brownson: 'Private judgement is only when the matters judged be out of the range of reason, and when its principle is not the common reason of mankind, nor a Catholic or public authority, but the fancy, the caprice, the prejudice or the idiosyncrasy of the individual forming it.' (Brownson's Quarterly Review, Oct. 1851). 'Here is the error of our Protestant friends. They recognize no distinction between reason and private judgment. Reason is common to all men; private judgment is the special act of an individual... In all matters of this sort there is a criterion of certainty beyond the individual, and evidence is adducible which ought to convince the reason of every man, and which, when adduced, does convince every man of ordinary understanding, unless through his own fault. Private judgment is not so called... because it is a judgment of an individual, but because it is a judgment rendered by virtue of a private rule of principle of judgment... The distinction here is sufficiently obvious, and from it we may conclude that nothing is to be termed 'private judgment' which is demonstrable from reason or provable from testimony.' (ibid, Oct. 1852).
12. 'Catholics establish with certainty, by objective criteria, the fact that the Church is infallible and then listen in docility to her teachings and at no point does mere opinion play any part in the procedure; whereas Protestants opine that Holy Scripture is Divinely revealed (this cannot be proved without the Church); they opine that it is to be interpreted by each individual for himself; they opine that their opinion as to its meaning will be sufficient for their salvation; and each and every interpretation they make of its meaning (except where no conceivable doubt exists from the text) is no more than an opinion.' John Daly, Michael Davies - An Evaluation, Britons Catholic Library, 1989. I am grateful to this author for his suggestions and corrections in this part of the text.
13. Father Smarius, S.J., puts it thus: 'The chief cause of this moral degeneracy may be traced to the principle of private judgment introduced by Luther and Calvin, as the highest and only authority in religion and morality. Since the time of these Reformers, religion ceased to be the mistress, and became the slave of man. He was no longer bound to obey her, but she was bound to obey him. His reason was no longer subject to her divine authority, but she became the subject of his prejudices and passions. The Scriptures although cried up as the supreme authority, lost their objective value, and men no longer listened to the words 'Thus saith the Lord', but gave ear to the freaks and fancies of every upstart prophet and doctor, whose best reason for the faith was, 'I believe so', 'it is my impression', 'it is my opinion'. Reason itself was dethroned, and feeling became the exponent of truth. Men judged of religion as they did of their breakfasts and dinner... new fashions of belief became as numerous as new fashions of dress...' Points of Controversy, O'Shea: N.Y., 1873.
14. Plato, Republic, IV, 506C.
15. The current expression of this error is the Protestant claim to be 'saved'. Those who are certain of their salvation would do well to consider the words of St. Paul: 'I fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway' (1 Cor. 10:1-5). The Church has always taught that as long as man has the use of his faculties, he is capable of denying God and falling from grace.
16. Appendix to his work on the Council of Trent