Soviet Canonizations

Posted in English, Sects on 07/15/2014 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta

I’m on my summer vacation in my home country Finland, which has spent the centuries of its existence in the shadow of its ”big brother” Russia. In the 20th century this big brother was known as Soviet Union. This Red Empire was well known (among other things) of its well oiled propaganda machine, which systematically presented a lie as truth.

The art section of this propaganda machine was known as Socialist Realism. A sample of this is a movie called Bezhin Meadow. It was a 1937 movie by Sergei Eisenstein. The original was destroyed during the World War II but a 25-minute reproduction was made in the 1960’s using survived stills, and the Internet version resembles old silent movies.

Bezhin Meadow tells the story of a famous Soviet ”Saint” Pavlik Morozov, although in the movie he is called Stepok. Pavlik lived in a small village called Gerasimovka. According to Soviet legend, he genuinely believed in Communism, led the Pioneers (Communist youth) of his school and supported the collectivization of farms. When he was 13, he noticed that his father, who opposed the collectivizations, was sabotaging the harverst. Pavlik reported his father’s action to the GPU (Stalin’s police, later the KGB), and was for revenge killed by his own family.

Movie also shows a scene (starting at 14 minutes) when the villagers get sick to the schemes and tricks of the ”reactionaries,” and turn the village church into a clubhouse.

Out with the old and in with the new was the policy after the Communist Revolution of 1917. Anything which was for religion, private property or traditional family values was labelled as ”reactionary”, that is against revolution and therefore evil.

The movie ends to the homage given to the murdered martyrs by his comrades, and children reverently raise their arms to the Pioneer salute. Also in real life the Soviet Union declared Pavlik Morozov a martyr who had been murdered by anti-revolutionary conspirers. Statues of Pavlik were raised, schools named for his honor, and his home village and school he attended became national shrines.

That was the ”canonized” version of the story of Pavlik. And, like most of the propaganda released by Soviet Union, it was almost completely fabricated.

According to several non-Soviet researchers, Pavlik Morozov never even belonged to the Pioneers. And he did not report his family’s schemes to Soviet authorities, but was most likely killed after a fight with the other youths of his village. The resistance for forced collectivizations had been very fierce in that particular region, so it was useful for the GPU to prepare an own Saint to present as a martyr and model for the masses.

Soviet Union is no more but KGB-style ”canonization” is still in practice, though. The post-Vatican II ”Church”, which claims to be the Catholic Church, has practiced the Soviet canonization system with its canonizations of John XXIII, John Paul II, and now with Paul VI, scheduled to be beatified later this year. These men are presented as Saints, i.e. as models for Christians to follow in the road of sanctification and salvation.

While in reality, they were not.

The website Novus Ordo Watch has prepared a detailed study about the ”canonization” of John Paul II which is worth of reading. This kind of eye-opening is usually more in need for Catholics than Protestants. I remember when the news of John Paul II’s canonization was published in one Finnish Christian news site. It featured both in the news itself and in the comment section some exciting and praising statements from Novus Ordites about John Paul II. And then one Protestant visitor – apparently in perfectly good faith – wrote as his comment: ”I really don’t understand how the Catholic Church can canonize John Paul II as Saint. Didn’t he publicly support the worship of pagan gods?”

How sad it is, that one needs a Protestant to say the obvious?

The Soviet canonization of John Paul II is fictional and nothing to do with how a Saint is made or what a Saint is. A real Saint keeps and lives the Catholic Faith. Many of them are catalogued in the Roman Martyrology. On 21st of February, the Martyrology tells about St. Peter Mavimeno, who was killed in the year 743:

At Damascus, holy Peter Mavimeno. Some Arabs came to see him while he was ill, and to them he said, ”Whoever does not embrace the Catholic Christian religion will be damned, as your false prophet Mohammed is,” whereupon they killed him.

Of another great martyr, St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, the Catholic Encyclopedia tells:

At Sevis he entered the church and began to preach, but was interrupted by a sudden tumult both within and without the church. Several Austrian soldiers who were guarding the doors of the church were killed and Fidelis himself was struck. A Calvinist present offered to lead him to a place of security. Fidelis thanked the man but said his life was in the hands of God. Outside the church he was surrounded by a crowd led by the preachers who offered to save his life if he would apostatize. Fidelis replied: ”I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it”, whereupon he was struck down.

Also, the Soviet canonizations of post-Vatican II ”Popes” are lies. They are blasphemies too, since pretending that persons, who openly preach that other religions are roads to sanctity and salvation are saints, makes a mockery of the true Saints and Martyrs of the Church. By mocking God’s true Saints, who died for the Holy Catholic Faith, one mocks God Himself.

Novus Ordo Church, which is built upon lies, will one day collapse, when its old priests die and its members don’t go to church anymore.

On a side note, after the collapse of Soviet Union in August 1991, the statue of Pavlik Morozov in Moscow was among the first to be toppled.


Sergei Eisenstein’s film Bezhin Meadow (.avi)
The Canonization of John Paul II – Novus Ordo Watch (PDF)


The Cause of Pope Pius X and Devotion to the Holy See

Posted in Classic Articles, English on 06/16/2014 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


The website published recently an interview of Fr. Bernard Ardura, who is the president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

In this interview Fr. Ardura says, among other things, that the life of Pope St. Pius X, whose 100th anniversary of death occurs this August, has been ”obscured” by his condemnation of modernism. Fr. Ardura also advises everyone to forget about the condemnations of different doctrines, because St. Pius X was ”working in a particular context.”

To counteract this lessening of Pope St. Pius X’s condemnation of modernism, I reproduce here the text written by Archbishop Cardinal Cushing of Boston, himself a liberal during his reign, but who still had to follow the official line of the Church while functioning under the rule of Pius XII. Of special interest are the two quotes Archbishop Cushing gives from St. Pius X, first one condemning all relativism concerning truth, and the second one explaining, how inconsistent and absurd is the view held by many Catholic Traditionalists, that one can ”recognize but resist” the clear orders coming from the Holy See.


The Cause of Pope Pius X and Devotion to the Holy See
By Archbishop Richard J. Cushing
American Ecclesiastical Review, March 1949

Last Summer it was the writer’s privilege to lead a pilgrimage to Rome in pledge of devotion to the Holy Father and in prayer for the ”cause” of Pope Pius X. The saintly Pius X is a modern-day patron of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and so the idea of the pilgrimage appropriately originated at the National Catechetical Congress.

Appropriate, too, was the presence on the pilgrimage of priests active in the Confraternity on both a national and a diocesan level led by the zealous Bishop of Kansas City, Bishop O’Hara, and the genial Bishop of Manchester, Bishop Brady. Bishop Ryan of Burlington and Bishop Wright, auxiliary of Boston, together with sixty other prelates and priests and more than five hundred devout laity made up this first important post-War pilgrimage to the Eternal City, perhaps the largest pilgrimage of its kind ever led from the United States.

The pilgrimage itself culminated more than a year of prayer for the eventual canonization, if it be God’s holy Will, of the truly pastoral Pope Pius X, so lovable, so gentle, yet so firm in his preaching of Jesus Christ to an unbelieving generation. As a record of these prayers, the pilgrims brought with them a Spiritual Bouquet to which our American Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops all contributed fervent letters of petition for the Holy Father’s august consideration of the merits of this ”cause.”

It was one of the thoughts of those who went in pilgrimage to Rome that the canonization of a modern Pope, a Pope who had reigned within the memory of so many living men, might wonderfully strengthen the hand of our living High Priest in his valiant resistance to the onslaught of those who hate the Christ whose Vicar he is. The canonization of an almost contemporary Pope would undoubtedly add further lustre, as if from on high, to the See of Peter in these days when the daily work of the Holy Father is accumulating for the presidency of charity such praise from men.

In no respect has the Church been more blessed in our century than she has been in the character and the quality of the Popes whom the Holy Spirit of God has given her. The universal-minded Pope Benedict XV in the days of the fratricidal divisions of the first World War; the indomitable, stout-hearted Pope Pius XI in the decades of insurgent Fascism, Nazism and Communism; the seraphic, sensitive Pope Pius XII gloriously reigning in these dark hours of suffering and confusion which have followed upon the collapse of the world’s empires and institutions. Never did the Church have Chief Shepherds of whom she could be more proud!

In our petitions to the Holy Father in behalf of the ”cause” of his revered predecessor we pilgrims of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine had in mind not merely the inspiration and direction Pope Pius X gave our Confraternity, but also the saintly simplicity he brought to the solution of every problem of the age and every solicitude of the Church.

For example, our age, when it tolerates preaching at all, asks that preachers of the Gospel confine themselves to pleasing generalities. In its false liberalism, the generation in which we live is intolerant of the unshamed preaching of the Word of God as that Word has been transmitted through the Sacred Scriptures and the Inspired Traditions of the Catholic Church. If we turn to the fearless counsel of the saintly Pope of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, we find him exhorting his priests to a new boldness in preaching, saying:

Do not let yourselves be hindered from this by any fear of dampening popular enthusiasm or of arousing hostility against yourselves. Truth always makes enemies; and if it is at all times a noble act to bear witness to the truth, how much more in times like these when the salvation of souls is at stake.

Our boldness in presenting the Faith needs only the tempering of a prudent and loyal submission to the directives of ecclesiastical authority. The age is impregnated with a poisonous suspicion of all authority and above all of religious authority. There is no religious authority more sacred or more ancient than that of the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and so the Sovereign Pontiff is the principal object of the attacks of those who would reduce all Heaven-inspired religion to the earth’s dead level.

It would be bad enough if disloyalty to the Holy See were formented only by the totalitarians of the hour, but unfortunately, even among some Catholics there is a lamentable tendency to ”tone down” loyalty to Rome and to the authority of the Bishop of Rome. On this point, again, we priests may well make our own the understanding of Catholic adherence to the teachings of the Holy See proclaimed by the great priest who was destined himself to be Pope. As Patriarch of Venice, little suspecting that one day he would claim the loyalty that he advocated at all times, the future Pope Pius X had said:

When there is a question of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, it is not the time to examine, but to obey; we must never weigh critically the extent of the order given so as to limit the obedience we owe him; we must not carp at his clear meaning in order to disguise it; we must not interpret the will of the Pope by popular prejudice and thus destroy its evident substance; we must not falsely marshal other rights against the right of the Pope to teach and to command; nor must we measure his judgments or debate his orders, unless we wish to offer a direct affront to our Divine Lord Himself. The whole body of society is sick; all its most noble parts are affected, the very sources of life are tainted. The one refuge, the one remedy is in the Vicar of Jesus Christ!

Please God that out of the devotion of millions throughout the world to the ”cause” of Pope Pius X, a typical modern Pope, there may come an increased fidelity to his teachings, the teachings of all the Vicars of Christ, and to the Holy See itself! Through such fidelity will all Catholics, all who love God, be promted the more fervently to pray for our present beloved Holy Father, so courageously walking in the way of the saints amidst the evils of this fateful hour, so valiantly promoting the principles of peace and true liberty for which his venerated predecessor died.

+ Richard J. Cushing
Archbishop of Boston

Holy Saturday: Is It the Vigil or the Easter Feast?

Posted in English, Liturgy on 04/19/2014 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta



One of the differences I wondered, when I left Novus Ordo and became a Traditional Catholic, was why ”the Trads” did not have Easter Midnight Mass. Our greatest liturgical feast of the year, that of Holy Saturday, is celebrated in the morning, and ends in daylight.

This is all the more confusing, since the liturgy is filled with references of light overcoming darkness. The Exsultet speaks of ”this sacred night”, and the Preface also says we should extol God’s glory ”especially on this night.”

The Easter Vigil Mass then certainly does not belong to Lent. And in the early Church, Mass was usually said only on Sundays, and on week-days Mass was not celebrated. What then is the Mass of Holy Saturday, which is clearly intended for Easter, doing in Lent?

In the early ages, there was no Mass on Holy Saturday. That was the night, when the catechumens, who were to be received into the Church, assembled for a vigil service. This service lasted throughout the night. After a number of readings from the Bible (each of which was followed by a prayer), the water to be used for baptism was blessed and the converts were baptized and confirmed. And as it was now far past midnight – and therefore Easter – Mass was celebrated and the neophytes received their first Holy Communion.

Now it becomes clear then, that the Holy Saturday Mass, which follows the blessing of the fire, long readings, baptisms, and the litany of Saints, does not belong to Holy Saturday at all but to Easter morning. But in that case, what is it doing here on Saturday?

The answer to this question lies in an ancient Eastern tradition. According to this tradition, Christ will come again as Judge on the anniversary of His Resurrection from the tomb. The early Christians of course wished to be prepared for His coming. But as they did not know the exact hour of Christ’s Resurrection, they wished to make sure they were ready at the right moment by staying awake, watching and praying all through the night.

Centuries later, when Christianity became the prevailing religion, many lukewarm and careless men were numbered among its members. To such men, the midnight vigils offered an opportunity for excesses. Mainly because of such abuses (and also because the number of adults to be baptized became fewer), the Church finally advanced the vigil service to the afternoon of Holy Saturday. But this proved very inconvenient, so the services were again advanced, this time to the morning. By the end of 12th century, the Vigil started at 11 AM on Holy Saturday, and by 1570, at the publication of the Missal of St. Pius V, it had been advanced to the early hours of the morning. St. Pius V also made this so far established practice of early morning Vigil a universal law for the Roman rite.

Therefore, in the timing of Holy Saturday Mass we have an example, how an alteration in the liturgy – in this case the changing of the date of the Mass to another day, can make a liturgical text and ritual puzzling.

This puzzling was the reason, why Pius XII in 1951 restored the Easter Vigil to its place at night. He wanted to emphasize the fact, that had became obscured with the passing of time: that the Easter Vigil is the Easter Feast. Thus in 1951, the law of St. Pius V was annulled, and Easter midnight Masses started again.

Here we see the reason – or one of them – why our parish of St. Gertrude the Great does not celebrate the midnight Vigil, and why we abolish also the rest of the Pius XII Holy Week changes. Not because they are evil in themselves, but for the reason, that they were the first steps of changing the rite of the Tridentine Mass, codified by St. Pius V, into the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI. This unfortunate principle, which governed both the changes of Pius XII and that of Paul VI was: ”Out with the old, in with the new,” – although it was usually camouflaged as ”restoration.”

There’s no denying, that some of the practices of the Church and of her liturgy caused confusion among the faithful. But there was a reason why that happened. The Church in her divine wisdom was always reluctant to give up any of her ancient customs. When it became expedient for her to do so, she always relinquished as little as possible, so that she could retain as much of the old as possible.

We see this prudency of the Church in a striking manner in her liturgical practice. Repeatedly it became expedient for her to condense – or even abandon – some old practice. But whenever she did so, she always retained some vestige of that ancient ceremony as a reminder to her children of her former practice.

To the end, I’ll add a great defense of the Missal of St. Pius V, written by Rev. William R. Bonniwell, O.P. in his book Interpreting the Sunday Mass (1949):

One may ask why is not the missal revised so as to eliminate the obscure passages? Perhaps a comparison will answer that question.

In the days of Constantine, there was built over the tomb of St. Peter a basilica that was nearly four hundred feet long and over two hundred feet wide. It was regarded as a spacious edifice in the days of Pope Sylvester; but as the centuries elapsed, the huge building became too small for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who annually flocked to it from every country in Europe. Many changes, additions, and alterations were made to the building; but none of them solved the fundamental problem. Yet one Pope after another shrank from the only logical solution – to raze the edifice and build a larger one. Such a thought was regarded as almost sacrilegious because the venerable building had been associated with so many sacred memories of the early Church.

So too the missal. This venerable book speaks to us of the early ages of the Church, of her sufferings, of her sorrows, of her triumphs. Many of the greatest saints and many of the most talented Catholic scholars of sixteen hundred years have contributed their best efforts to its pages, making it a book unsurpassed, save for the Bible, in the whole realm of religious literature. To rewrite the missal would mean to surrender, in many instances, the exact phrases used in ancient and mediaeval Christianity. Well might even the holiest and most exalted personages shrink from attempting to improve a volume so sacred in itself, so hallowed in its memories, so eloquent of the loftiest ideals of Christianity.

Have a Blessed Easter.

Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Posted in Classic Articles, English on 03/10/2014 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta

Bishop Edward Thomas O’Dwyer


The following article was originally a booklet, published by Bishop Edward Thomas O’Dwyer (1842-1917) of Limerick, Ireland. He was born at Holy Cross, Co. Tipperary, and educated at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was ordained in June 1867. Having served as CC in Rathkeale, Bruff, St. Patrick’s Adare, Newcastle West and St. Michael’s, he was appointed bishop in May 1886. One of the most famous Irish bishops of the late nineteenth century, Bishop O’Dwyer was also one of the most controversial. He was honored by Pope Leo XIII for his part in the Plan of Campaign for the poor Irish tenant farmers. He ended his life with approval from his people for his stand against General John Maxwell in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising. He is buried in St. John’s Cathedral.*1

Bishop O’Dwyer wrote his text in defense of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), who in the wake of the rise of Modernism had wrongly been adapted by some of the Modernists as their sympathizer. Among those people who really had known Cardinal Newman, there had been no doubt, that his writings were in harmony with the traditional teaching as Catholic Church had always passed it on. The following words were made by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892), after the death of Newman in 1890:

We have lost our greatest witness for the Faith, and we are all poorer and lower by the loss. – – I am not come to pronounce orations or panegyrics. I would not, if I could. I could not, if I would. The memories of an affectionate friendship, as I have said, of more than sixty years, and the weight of old age put it beyond my power. – – But we cannot forget that we owe to him, among other debts, one singular achievement. No one who does not intend to be laughed at will henceforward say that the Catholic religion is fit only for weak intellects and unmanly brains. This superstition of pride is over. St. Thomas Aquinas is too far off and too little known to such talkers to make them hesitate. But the author of the Grammar of Assent may make them think twice before they so expose themselves. – – His writings are in your hands. But beyond the power of all books has been the example of his humble and unworldly life; always the same, in union with God, and in manifold charity to all who sought him. He was the centre of innumerable souls, drawn to him as Teacher, Guide, and Comforter through long years, and especially in the more than forty years of his Catholic life. To them he was a spring of light and strength from a supernatural source. A noble and beautiful life is the most convincing and persuasive of all preaching, and we have all felt its power. Our Holy Father Leo XIII knew the merits and the gifts, both natural and supernatural, which were hidden in his humility, and to the joy of all he called him to the highest dignity next to his own. The history of our land will hereafter record the name of John Henry Newman among the greatest of our people, as a confessor for the faith, a great teacher of men, a preacher of justice, of piety, and of compassion.*2


1. Foreword

It is no exaggeration to state that the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis is one of the most important documents that have been published by the Holy See in our time, and that its consequences will be felt throughout the whole extent of the Church, and outside her pale, in every community that professes the Christian name.

One may apply to it without irreverence the words of Simeon, positus est hic in ruinam et resurrectionem multorum in Israel (”this is set unto the ruin, and unto the resurrection of many in Israel,” Luke 2:34). This Encyclical will, I believe, act as a touchstone of faith; it has been already rejected by some unhappy men, and as time goes on, will, in all probability, be rejected by many more; they pronounce their own condemnation, but, for all who believe, it will be found, in its clear, authoritative, and magisterial statement of the unquestionable doctrine of the Church, on the great fundamental truths of all religion, the power of God unto salvation.

To multitudes of good Catholics the revelation which this Encyclical makes of the terrible lengths which professing members of the Church, and, as the Pope in sadness adds, many of them priests, have gone in the denial of the first principles of Christian belief, has come with a shock of surprise and intense pain. There was a vague feeling abroad that some Catholic writers, in their anxiety to harmonise the teaching of the Church with what is called the progress of modern science, were going somewhat too far, and were making dangerous concessions, but it was assumed that, at the same time, they held unimpaired and intact, above and beyond all controversy, the defined faith of the Holy Catholic Church.

On such questions as the precise reach of the definitions of the Councils of Trent and the Vatican on the authenticity and inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, people knew that discussions were going on, and that different schools of thought were being formed amongst Catholic theologians, but few suspected that there was a movement on foot, not for dealing, with more or less independence of thought, with particular questions on which the Church had not spoken her final and definite word, but for shifting the whole foundations of religion, and substituting for the lapis angularis which God had set in the building, some theories that have had their origin in the schools of free-thought and infidelity of the modern world.

When we are told, authoritatively, by the Pope that these men formally and explicitly deny that the very existence of God is knowable by the intellect of man, that they deny that Jesus Christ our Lord was, literally, and truly, the Son of God, we cannot help a sense of horror and indignation against the impieties which have been perpetrated, and the insidious and treacherous spirit which would hide the machinations of their authors under the profession of the Catholic faith.

If a man has come to that stage of mental blindness that he believes that he cannot know, by the light of his intellect, that there is a God at all, and if he has lost, if he ever had it, the faith of the Church in the Divinity of Christ our Lord, that man is no longer a member of the Catholic Church, and if, while he is in that frame of mind, he professes to be a Catholic, he is a cheat or a hypocrite. It requires no ecclesiastical sentence, no pronouncement of authority, no infallible definition of the Church to condemn him. He stands condemned in his own person by his own deed.

”And this is life everlasting that they know thee, the only true God, and whom thou hast sent Jesus Christ.”*3 This is the faith of the Catholic Church. All religion, natural and supernatural, rests on these truths, and no matter under what form of words, or what jugglery of thought, they are denied or questioned, the person who does so, may be what you will, but he is not a Catholic.

Before I proceed to the precise view on this great Encyclical, which I desire to submit to the readers of this Review, I wish to make one or two preliminary remarks. The first is, that I presume that I am justified in accepting, for the purpose of discussion, even against those whom the Pope condemns, the substantial accuracy of his exposition of their opinions. Prima facie, this in itself is probable. Then, during the weeks that have elapsed since the publication of the Encyclical, none of these men have come forward and said: ”These are not our views; we hold, as all Catholics hold, and as the Pope teaches, that the human intellect, by its natural powers, can know God; we do not question, God forbid, nor doubt the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ; whatever our faults or errors, we are not guilty of these things”. It was open to them to take up this position, but they have not done so. They have railed against the Pope, in every mood and tense, and practically made themselves the champions of the opinions which he condemns. Nay, more, some of them, with a temerity which has its uses, have proclaimed that the Encyclical displays the work of one unusually well versed in their literature; so I take it for granted that we may regard the statement of their doctrines which the Pope makes in the Encyclical, as just and accurate, and as representing to the faithful, truly, the changes in the doctrines of the Church which these people desire to bring about.

Another preliminary remark which I have to make is this, that we have to deal, as the Pope makes perfectly clear, not with a number of individuals, working in isolation from one another, nor with fragmentary opinions, held here and there by different persons, but with a system, complete in itself, starting from fundamental principles, and carrying them to their logical consequences in religious belief and practice. The denial of the knowledge of God, and of the Divinity of Our Lord, rests on precisely the same principles as the attempts to eviscerate the Scriptures, to deform and distort the truths of Revelation, and to pervert the whole Christian Faith. It is all one, and whoever touches it has to remember that it hangs together as a whole, and consequently is one of those cases where ”it is only the first step that costs anything.”*4

I do not propose to discuss the teaching of the Encyclical, or the errors that it condemns, in themselves. As far as they are concerned, causa finita est. Indeed, encyclical or no encyclical, this cause was ended 1900 years ago.

But I observe that some of the persons who feel the severity of the Pope’s condemnation try to shield themselves under the venerable name of Newman. They would make believe that, in his writings, they can find, if not in express terms, at least in germ and embryo, the very doctrines for which they are now condemned, and they seem to hope that, in England, the name of Newman will be more authoritative on Catholic doctrine than the teaching of the Holy See.

It is an uncatholic position, in principle, but it is as untrue to fact as it is unsound in faith. There is nothing in Newman to sustain, or extenuate, or suggest a particle of their wild and absurd theories.

2. The Firm and Solid Background of Cardinal Newman

Newman was a Catholic to the tips of his fingers. Years before he thought of entering the Holy Catholic Church, he got a firm grip, by the grace of God, of some of the first principles of Catholic faith, and he never let them go, until by the same grace, they led him into the true fold. And for us, who have been reared in that fold, and have had the blessing of living in a land where the spirit of faith, like an atmosphere, like the light of heaven, as with a robe, invests the very material world around us, it has always been a source of wonder and admiration to observe the extraordinary insight of Newman into Catholic theology, and the almost preterhuman power and grasp – at  the same time, prevision and caution – with which he, a convert, dealt so fully with almost every phase of Catholic life.

Manning, in his striking funeral oration, said that by Newman’s death we had lost a great witness to the faith. In a sense it was true. But yet that witness lives. It speaks in the great works which for several generations have been a help and a consolation to many; and what I propose to do now is to set his views, and opinions, on the questions involved in the errors of the Modernists, side by side with the teaching of our Holy Father, the Pope, and then I think it will appear that, as if by prophetic vision, he foresaw the evil with which we are now confronted, and bore his witness against it.

3. The Condemnation of Modernism

I begin, then, with the root error of the Modernists which the Pope proscribes, in exposing and condemning the Agnosticism, from which they derive their philosophy of religion:

According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject.*5

Now it happens that, on almost every page of Newman’s writings, we find the clear and unmistakable refutation of this shocking error. Newman held that God is the object direedy of human science, and that this human science of God, and the first truth of all, that He exists lies at the very foundation of all religion.

For those who are familiar with his writings, it is hardly necessary to adduce evidence in support of these propositions, but, as his venerable name has been dragged down, as a cover for error, it may be as well to let him vindicate himself. At the time that the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis came into my hands, I was engaged reading for another purpose Newman’s incomparable Discourses on the Idea of a University, and I asked myself can the men who invoke his name for their Agnosticism have read the third of these discourses, and understood its argument. There he claims, as a right, a place amongst human sciences for theology, ”insisting simply on Natural Theology,” on the grounds that it is a true science, and that its exclusion from any course of studies that pretend to deal with all human knowledge contradicts that very idea. He writes:

If we would not be beguiled by dreams, if we would ascertain facts as they are, then, granting Theology is a real science, we cannot exclude it, and still call ourselves philosophers.*6


Let us see, then, how this supercilious treatment of so momentous a science, for momentous it must be, if there be a God, runs in a somewhat parallel case.*7

Then he asks ”Now what is Theology?” and his answer ought to be clear enough, even for the Modernists. He mentions some senses in which the name is used, and proceeds:

I mean none of these things by Theology, I simply mean the Science of God, or the truths we know about God put into system; just as we have a science of the stars, and call it astronomy, or of the crust of the earth, and call it geology.*8

He then develops the idea of God, as known to Natural Theology, in those well-known pages, which I believe approach to the sublime as nearly as anything in all literature and then asks about that science:

Can we drop it out of the circle of knowledge, without allowing, either that that circle is thereby mutilated, or on the other hand, that Theology is really no science? And this dilemma is the more inevitable, because Theology is so precise and consistent in its intellectual structure.*9

And he ends this marvellous discourse with this passage:

In a word, Religious Truth is not only a portion, but a condition of general knowledge. To blot it out is nothing short, if I may so speak, of unravelling the web of University Teaching.*10

If there were no other evidence of the absolute harmony of Newman’s views with the teaching of the Pope, this discourse would be decretorial on the point. Why, if it were written as a detailed argument in defence of the Pope’s actual teaching, it could hardly be more clear and explicit.

Newman’s foundation for the philosophy of Natural Religion, and indeed of all religion, is the doctrine that God is the object, directly, of human science, and, consequently, his whole system is the very logical contradictory of that which the Modernists propound.

4. Evidence of the Existence of God

As to the proofs by which Newman would establish the truth of the proposition, God exists, it is an interesting thing to note that nowhere in his writings, at least as far as I know, does he of set purpose, and formally state, and develop them, but it is no less interesting and important that he leaves no doubt as to his conviction that the proofs were there. Another point of interest is the unquestionable fact that the proof of the existence of God, drawn from the phenomenon of Conscience, was that which had the greatest hold on him, personally, and, as he vividly expresses it, warmed him. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that he either denied or undervalued the proofs which are to be drawn for the same truth from God’s visible creation. Let me just quote a short passage from one of his sermons:

Now first consider that reason teaches you there must be a God; else how was this all-wonderful universe made? It could not make itself; man could not make it, he is but a part of it; each man has a beginning, there must have been a first man, and who made him? To the thought of God then we are forced from the nature of the case; we must admit the idea of an Almighty Creator, and that Creator must have been from everlasting.*11

And again in the same sermon:

This is what you may be tempted to say, my brethren, not without impatience, while you contemplate the Almighty, as the conscience pourtrays Him, and as reason concludes about Him, and as creation witnesses of Him.*12

And again a little further on:

Lift up your eyes, I say, and look out upon the material world, and there you will see one attribute above others on its very face which will reverse your sad meditations on Him who made it. He has traced out many of His attributes upon it, His immensity, His wisdom, His power, His loving-kindness, and His skill; but more than all, its very face is illuminated with the glory and beauty of His eternal excellence.*13

In the face of these passages, to which numbers of others to the same effect could be added, one may venture to hope that we have heard the last of the misrepresentation that Newman did not recognise the validity of these reasonings, or that there was a hair’s breadth of difference between his views and the teaching of the Catholic Church, as formulated by the Vatican Council, and now reaffirmed by our Holy Father the Pope, in his condemnation of these Modernists.

This does not make it the less true, that the argument from the phenomenon of conscience appealed to Newman with a peculiar force, and was entirely congenial to his own personal temperament and the cast of his genius. But the people, who in these days set such store by this preference, really take little by it. This proof of God’s existence tells against them quite as much as any other, and Newman’s statement of it is equal to a formal refutation of their views. They do not seem to understand that proof of any kind is an appeal to the intellect, which is the one thing which it is essential to them to invalidate; and this proof from conscience has a force peculiarly its own against them.

In the Grammar of Assent, Newman discusses this question at great length and with singular acumen, and, while avoiding any formal statement of the proof for the existence of God, attempts to show how men can give a real, as distinguished from a notional assent to the proposition, God exists.

Through the intimations of conscience he holds that this is possible, and he gives us to understand that it is through them also that he looks for the proof of the proposition considered as an inference. To those who know their Newman it is unnecessary to explain his distinction between notional and real assent, or apprehension, but for others it may be useful to transcribe the following passage:

The proposition that there is One Personal and Present God may be held in either way; either as a theological truth, or as a religious fact or reality. The notion and the reality assented to are represented by one and the same proposition, but serve as distinct interpretations of it. When the proposition is apprehended for the purposes of proof, analysis, comparison, and the like intellectual exercises, it is used as the expression of a notion; when for the purposes of devotion, it is the image of a reality. Theology, properly and directly, deals with notional apprehension; religion with imaginative.*14

Before entering on Newman’s argument, I wish to premise that its direct and immediate purpose is to show that the proposition that there is One Personal God, which the intellect can infer, admits, under the form under which the phenomenon of Conscience enables us to infer it, of being also grasped, and held by the imagination. This is most important, for it is the explanation of the highly figurative and metaphorical terms in which he works out his thesis, and the key, which some Modernists seem to have lost, to his true meaning.

In itself the argument is very simple. It starts with the assumption that men have a conscience – a faculty which yields specifically distinct feelings in presence of human actions; that these feelings include a moral sense which distinguishes right from wrong by a judgment of the reason, and moreover a moral dictate which commands some actions, and forbids others, and it is in this respect that it seems to Newman to point to the existence of God. As a dictate it commands and forbids, carries a sanction in the pain which follows its violation, and these feelings, in Newman’s opinion, carry the mind forward to some Being outside itself, which ”vaguely reaches forward to something beyond self, and dimly discerns a sanction higher than self for its decisions.”*15 In this way Newman holds that the human intellect can arrive at the knowledge of God, and can even image the thought of Him in the definite impressions which conscience makes. Whether these thoughts and beliefs are in any sense innate, or come from association and other external stimuli, he does not determine, but finds it enough for his argument, while it is fatal to the Modernists who would use him, to point out that if a very young child is ”able to handle and apply them familiarly, according to the occasion, as principles of intellectual action, those beliefs at the very least must be singularly congenial to his mind, if not connatural with its initial action.”*16

In summary, that is Newman’s argument from Conscience (1) for the proposition that there is One Personal God, and (2) that we may not only hold that proposition by a notional assent in natural theology, but, through the images which it presents to the mind, by a real assent, as an act of religion. And what is most important, the two are inseparable. The notional, abstract, scientific inference which theology draws, is the condition on which religious assent is possible. Nay more, it is a cause of it Until the intellect, contemplating the mental phenomena, which we call Conscience, infers by a process of reasoning, although not always explicitly, that there is One Personal God with attributes such as our moral sense postulates, for its explanation, there can be no assent of religion to the same truth as a reality.

The case stands thus: As to our power of distinguishing right from wrong Newman asks, where does it come from? Then the human mind not only discriminates right from wrong, as the eye discriminates between different colours, but together with the difference, recognises the further note of authority. Whence, he asks, comes its sanction? These things point to the Author of the moral law, as its ultimate source and its true sanction.

That would be the theological argument. It is parallel to the argument from causation, or rather is a part of it. As the material universe leads the human intellect to seek and to find a First Cause which is adequate to account for the facts, so the moral universe which exists in the consciences of men, points to something above and beyond itself which the intellect pronounces to be the One Personal God.

Then Newman conceives that, in this process of ratiocination, the intellect presents God to the mind in a way on which the imagination can fasten and work, for it points to Him as a Person supremely good, who approves what is right and condemns what is wrong, and thus the mind is led to recognise an external Master, in the dictate of conscience, and to image the thought of Him in the definite impressions which conscience makes.

That is Newman’s argument. Looking into his own mind a man sees, not God, not religion, but the mind’s own operations, which, by their very nature, lead him to infer the existence of their Author, and that under aspects which appeal to the imagination and minister to its functions.

5. No Contradiction Between Dogma and Living Religion

The whole process is carried on, from first to last, under the direction and control of the intellect. Its suggestions and presentations feed and sustain the imagination and feelings. Sentiment, and feeling, and all such activities of the human mind are, in themselves, blind, and may lead us in any direction, the wrong as well as the right, unless they are guided and regulated by the intellect. And in reference to this let me quote a supremely important passage which is saturated with the spirit of the Encyclical Pascendi:

Here we have the solution of the common mistake of supposing that there is a contrariety and antagonism between a dogmatic creed and vital religion. People urge that salvation consists, not in believing the propositions that there is a God, that there is a Saviour, that our Lord is God, that there is a Trinity, but in believing in God, in a Saviour, in a Sanctifier. – – They [the propositions] are useful in their dogmatic aspect as ascertaining and making clear for us the truths on which the religious imagination has to rest. Knowledge must ever precede the exercise of the affections. – – We love our parents, as our parents, when we know them to be our parents; we must know of God, before we can feel love, fear, hope, or trust towards Him. – – It seems a truism to say, yet it is all that I have been saying, that in religion the imagination and affections should always be under the control of reason. Theology may stand as a substantive science, without the life of religion; but religion cannot maintain its ground without theology.*17

Now, this is, to the letter, the doctrine laid down by the Pope in this Encyclical, not merely on an incidental error of the Modernists, but on the very foundation of their whole system. He condemns them for attempting to do what Newman maintains is impossible, namely, to found true religion on the feelings, sentiments, or whatever else they call them of men without the stimulating and guiding influence of intellectual knowledge. They reverse the process. They begin with sentiment and feeling, and in them find belief They cut off the intellect of man from its rightful place in determining his highest beliefs, and send him adrift with no objective criterion to test and control the impulses of feeling. Let us contrast the following statement of the Modernists’ position, taken from the Encyclical, with all that we have seen of Newman’s views:

Now if We proceed to consider him [a Modernist] as a believer, and seek to know how the believer, according to Modernism, is marked off from the philosopher, it must be observed that, although the philosopher recognizes the reality of the divine as the object of faith, still this reality is not to be found by him but in the heart of the believer, as an object of feeling and affirmation, and therefore confined within the sphere of phenomena; but the question as to whether in itself it exists outside that feeling and affirmation is one which the philosopher passes over and neglects.*18

If this fundamental error was allowed to stand, then all the Theology of Natural Religion should go by the board, and, with it. Revelation, of which it is the indispensable foundation, but what I want to point out now, as being directly to my immediate purpose, it would run the pen through the Grammar of Assent from first to last, and the whole philosophy of religion as expounded by Newman.

When then these Modernists, having cut the ground effectually from under their own feet, are faced by the difficulty of finding a basis for religious truth, and for the belief in the Divine reality, which they allege is unknowable, they fall back upon individual experience, and affirm that:

In the religious sense one must recognize a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God’s existence and His action both within and without man as far to exceed any scientific conviction.*19

Here is the very antithesis of Newman; here is the supremacy of pure subjectivism, with intellect put aside as incompetent. As the Pope unanswerably points out, under such a system all religious experiences of individuals would be equally valid; the contradictions of all religions might at the same time be held to be true, and there is nothing more evidently true than Newman’s saying that on these terms religion could not maintain its ground at all. For a generation, the belief in God might survive in men who thought that they had found it in their personal experience, whereas they got it in their rearing and education, but, with one generation, that force would be spent, and men would reject with contempt a religious system which had no intellectual basis, and appealed for its credentials to a sentiment, and alleged experience which is denied at least as broadly and as confidently as it is affirmed.

Moreover, Newman’s whole argument for the truth of Natural Religion, as set forth in the Grammar of Assent, is in every line, and in its general scope a further contradiction of these Modernists’ theories. His very definition of religion reveals this fundamental opposition. He writes:

By Religion I mean the knowledge of God, of His Will, and of our duties towards Him.*20

And it is most interesting in relation to the precise question which we have in hand, and in particular in its bearing on the assertion that God cannot be the subject-matter of History, to read Newman’s views as to the channels through which by the mere powers of nature, this knowledge can be acquired by men.

And there are three main channels which Nature furnishes for our acquiring this knowledge, viz. our own minds, the voice of mankind, and the course of the world, that is, of human life and human affairs.*21

According to these Modernists, nature has not supplied us with any channel by which we can acquire that knowledge, for the simple reason that God, Who is supposed to be its object, is unknowable. Whatever they mean by the belief in the Divine reality, of which they say that we have an immediate sense, or experience, it has nothing in common with Newman’s knowledge of the same, and could never be gathered by human reason from things which belonged to the order of phenomena, such as the records in History of human life and affairs.

What Newman always maintained, and what the Pope now insists on, is the recognition of the truth that the human reason, by its natural powers, can raise itself up to God, and know Him, but that truth being once established, as a first principle, he does not interfere with our freedom of view on a number of questions which arise in connection with it. There have always been different schools of Catholic Theology, and it has not been customary for the Church to define scholastic questions. Different men have adopted different arguments, and different presentations of the same argument to establish the truths of Natural Religion. Newman met all its questions with his own peculiar cast of thought. His mind was extremely subtle; it took account, in religious matters, of man’s whole concrete nature, his moral and spiritual, as well as his intellectual powers, and he recognised their mutual relations, and interactions. He was more influenced in practical matters, such as those of religion, by the certitude arising from a number of converging probabilities than by a clear-cut syllogism; he recognised that there are functions of the intellect that are sure and valid, such as our perception of beauty, although their processes cannot be set forth in words. In discussing human affairs, he dwelt on the idea of antecedent probability, as well as on that of consequential evidence, and applied all these principles, and views, and prepossessions to the study of religious problems. He may have been right or wrong in these peculiarities, but the condemnations of the Encyclical Pascendi have nothing to say to them, because they have nothing in common with the theory which, in their informations as to God, would cut them all off, as being mere ”intellectualism,” and would throw us back upon the heart, whatever that may mean, for an experience, or a sentiment, which, to any one who wants things, not words, is equally enlightening.

I should hope that it is now pretty clear that, on all the great truths of Natural Religion, Newman’s position is utterly irreconcilable with that of the Modernists’ as exposed and condemned by the Pope. The opposition between him and them is not less fundamental on the questions of Revealed Religion, into which they bring their root error that man’s intellect cannot know God, and are driven to conclusions which are simply so many impieties. Here, again, between them and Newman, as indeed all Catholic theologians, there is an impassable chasm. It is not a difference in detail, nor in point of view, but essential and total. If the system which these Modernists propound were a true representation, even in substance, of Christianity, then Newman would not have been a Christian; nay, more, the Catholic Church would have been a gigantic deception, teaching for centuries a body of doctrine that, from the first, was false and impossible.

6. Cardinal Newman in Total Disagreement with the Modernists

For both these inferences I should hope no further proof will be required than a simple collation of what Newman held as to the principal truths of revealed religion with the statement of the Modernists’ errors which the Pope has condemned.

(1) The starting point of all religion for Newman was the doctrine that the human mind could and did, by the exercise of its intellectual faculties, know the existence of One, Personal, Infinite God, who existed in Himself from eternity, and in time created all things.

This, as we have seen, the Modernists deny as an impossibility; God according to them is unknowable in this sense.

(2) Newman held that God, thus known to man, made at various times revelations ab extra, of specific truths to be believed by men, that is, assented to, on the authority of God. Revelation on the part of God meant that communication of definite truths, e.g., the truth of the Blessed Trinity which God revealed, in the sense that He made it known as truly as. if I revealed a secret of my own mind to my fellow-man, and it was in that sense only that Newman understood the doctrine of revelation.

The Modernists deny all revelation of this kind. According to them God never communicated in this way with man. According to their principles He could not do so, because man has no faculty which would enable him to recognise that it was God who spoke to him. Hence revelation with them is something purely subjective. It is some kind of religious sense, which arises in consciousness, and grows somehow or other, as a sense or a feeling of the Divine reality. It is altogether from within; it does not follow on any intellectual assent to a proposition made known by God and to be believed on His Word.

(3) Newman held that the Christian revelation was made by Christ our Lord to His Apostles; that He, in human language, conveyed His teaching to them; that the definite body of doctrines which He thus taught to the Apostles is the total and complete Christian revelation which was then made, once for all.

The Modernists deny all this; no such thing as a full revelation was ever made in any sense; it is a thing of growth; it is going on always; between our Lord, and Mohammed, and Buddha it was only a difference of degree; and, for the matter of that, it is the same with all men.

(4) Newman held that Jesus Christ was the Second Person of the Adorable Trinity, made man; that He was consubstantial with His Father, by whom He was sent into this world to redeem mankind; that He wrought miracles as evidences of His mission, and of His claims to be recognised as the Incarnate God; that the records of His life, which are contained in the Gospels, are true and veracious history, and that we now, by a genuine and legitimate act of our intellects, can know Him to be our Lord and our God.

The Modernists deny, and that by the force of their principles, every line of this. They deny the true Divinity of our Lord; they blot out His miracles from the records, and consequently they are driven to deny that His words were the words of God, and the revelation of any truths to men.

(5) Newman held that the assent which the minds of the Apostles gave to the truths which our Lord made known to them was, simply on the grounds that it was given in reliance on His authority as God, an act of faith; and that, for all time, these are the essential conditions of Divine faith.

This, too, all goes by the board in the system of the Modernists. Faith with them, as an act, is not an assent of the mind to an external revelation. It is the growth of a religious sense. In their desperate irreligion, Christ our Lord was a man in whom the Apostles might have felt, through their religious sense, that there was something of the Divine, whatever they mean by this, but looking at Him, with their intelligence, they saw in Him a mere man, albeit a very great one.

(6) Newman held that Christ our Lord sent the Apostles into the world to teach men the precise doctrines which He had taught themselves, and invested them with the gift of infallibility, to protect them from error in the discharge of that duty. The Modernists hold that Christ, not being God, made no revelation of Divine truth to the Apostles; gave them no definite message to men; nor could He give them the gift of infallibility in teaching.

(7) Newman held, with the Apostles, fides ex auditu, that the Church as a teacher held a Divine commission; that the body of doctrine which Christ revealed to the Apostles, and which, in Catholic theology, is called the depositum fidei, was the subjectmatter of the Church’s teaching.

All of this is rejected by these Modernists; with them fides is not ex auditu; its matter is not ab extra; it grows in the heart under the influence of various stimuli.

(8) Newman means by dogma a proposition setting forth, on the authority of the Church, some doctrine as being contained in the deposit of faith, and consequently to be believed on the authority of God.

Dogma, with the Modernists, is a totally different thing, and is utterly unknown to Catholic theology. According to their subjective principles dogma grows in the individual mind, in which it is at first inchoate, then by the mind is elaborated and expressed in what they call secondary propositions, and finally, if it is approved of by the Church, becomes a dogma.

(9) Newman held with the Catholic Church, that the full revelation of the Christian faith and doctrine was made, once for all, by Christ to the Apostles; that it can never change; that the Catholic Church is semper eadem, and that the definitions of faith which are made from time to time by the infallible authority of the Church do not conflict with this truth.

On the other hand, the Modernists are driven by their principles to hold that religious truth, as being a part of human life, is subject to the processes of evolution, and change with the subject in which it resides, and the conditions of human existence.

These are profound and fundamental differences, and, if it were only necessary to vindicate Newman’s well-known and venerable name from any share or part in this mass of Modernist errors, which the Pope so truly designates a ”the synthesis of all heresies”, there would be no need of further discussion. But it has been suggested that some passages in the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, if not intentionally pointed at Newman, at least, by implication, touch, and to some extent discredit some of the principles of his theology, and their application to the practical uses of religion. In my humble opinion there is not the smallest grounds for this suggestion, which seems to me to have come from people who would wish to create a prejudice against the Encyclical, particularly in England where Newman’s name is held in such veneration.

I have read this Encyclical, again and again, with the utmost care and attention, and during all my life long I have been a student of Newman’s writings, and it is my opinion, given, of course, under correction, that there is not a page of them, written after his conversion, which is not conceived in the full spirit of this great Encyclical.

When he wrote, he had no reason to suspect the rise of this particular attack upon the very foundations of the Christian faith, and consequendy he had no need, in choosing his language, to pay any heed to its tenets. Phrases may possibly be picked out here and there, which, taken out of their context, and their fair meaning, in sensu auctoris, may be turned to uses which he would reprobate. He notes himself a similar thing in the history of the early heretics who used to turn to the purposes of their particular error some passage or other in a Father of the Church, in a previous epoch, whose whole mind was directed against some heresy that went in the opposite direction. It is something of the same now, and therefore I think it well to examine in relation to the teaching of the Encyclical Pascendi some parts of Newman’s theological views and opinions that may lend themselves to deliberate, or unconscious, misrepresentation on the part of disputants at the present time. These I conceive to be his views (1) on the relation between the Natural and the Supernatural in religion; (2) on the evidences of Christianity, and their bearings on faith, and (3) on the question of the development of doctrine.

In the Encyclical Pascendi, the Pope rebukes Catholics who, although they reject the doctrine of Immanence,

employ it as a method of apologetics, and who do this so imprudently that they seem to admit, not merely a capacity and a suitability for the supernatural, such as has at all times been emphasized, within due limits, by Catholic apologists, but that there is in human nature a true and rigorous need for the supernatural order.*22

What the Pope here rebukes is the admission that, in human nature there is a something to which the supernatural is strictly due, by its own nature. In the system of the Modernists, this, and even more, is involved. The supernatural in man is the development, by evolution, of an original germ which is in his very nature. It is a growth, as a man’s intelligence is a development of the child’s, or as a tree is of the seed. Now what the Pope insists upon is the clear recognition, in all Catholic apologetics, that the supernatural is not germane, that is of a kind, in any sense with the natural, and that there is in human nature nothing which could claim the possession of it by any, much less by a rigorous title.

7. Cardinal Newman in Accordance with Pope St. Pius X

Now it seems to me that this doctrine governs all Newman’s views. We find it running through all his discussions in the Grammar of Assent on Natural and Revealed Religion. His whole conception of them is based on their essential difference in kind, although they are found in the same subject. He describes natural religion as that which is within the reach of man’s natural powers, and is acquired by their legitimate exercise; it is from within. On the other hand, the supernatural is from without; it is the gift of God; it is a part of the revelatio revelata, that is the message from God to man; it is an addition to the religion which we may have by nature, and it is interesting to note, that one of his reasons for disliking, but not impugning, William Paley’s (1743-1805) argument for Christianity was that it had a tendency to make men forget that supernatural religion was a boon from God.

To illustrate what I have been saying I take the following extract from one of his sermons:

There is no truth, my brethren, which Holy Church is more earnest in impressing upon us than that our salvation from first to last is the gift of God. It is true indeed that we merit eternal life by our works of obedience; but that those works are meritorious of such a reward, this takes place, not from their intrinsic worth, but from the free appointment and bountiful promise of God; and that we are able to do them at all, is the simple result of His grace. That we are justified is of His grace; that we have the dispositions for justification is of His grace. – – He holds the arbitration of our future in His hands; without an act of His will, independent of ours, we should not have been brought into the grace of the Catholic Church; and without a further act of His will, though we are now members of it, we shall not be brought on to the glory of the kingdom of Heaven. Though a soul justified can merit eternal life, yet neither can it merit to be justified, nor can it merit to remain justified to the end; not only is a state of grace the condition and the life of all merit, but grace brings us into that state of grace, and grace continues us in it; and thus, as I began by saying, our salvation from first to last is the gift of God.*23

I presume that this passage, which is typical, will be accepted as decretorial, and a demonstration that on this most important point Newman’s theology is in absolute harmony with the teaching of the Encyclical. Let me, however, quote another beautiful passage, which I shall take from the Apologia to illustrate the same idea of the essential difference between the natural and the supernatural orders:

She [that is the Catholic Church] has it in charge to rescue human nature from its misery, but not simply by restoring it on its own level, but by lifting it up to a higher level than its own. – – Such truths as these she vigorously reiterates, and pertinaciously inflicts upon mankind; as to such she observes no half-measures, no economical reserve, no delicacy or prudence. ”Ye must be born again,” is the simple, direct form of words which she uses after her Divine Master:  ”your whole nature must be re-born; your passions, and your affections, and your aims, and your conscience, and your will, must all be bathed in a new element, and reconsecrated to your Maker, – and, the last not the least, your intellect.”*24

It may seem superfluous to go at such length into this point, which is elementary in Catholic theology, but it is at such points that these Modernists attack the foundations of faith, and it serves my purpose to let Newman, in his own eloquent words, exhibit the profound difference which separates him from them.

But then if the Natural and Supernatural Orders are thus as distinct from one another as the heavens are from the earth, the question arises how can they be found together in man, and covering, so to speak, much of the same ground in his activities. The Pope’s answer is simple and direct, because God in His mercy has given our nature a capacity to receive the supernatural, and has done more, by superadding a fitness, which he calls a convenientia.

This, too, is Newman’s theology to the letter. Revealed does not supersede Natural Religion; grace does not do away with nature, but purifies and raises it. This relation of the Orders to one another is well expressed in the following passage:

Christianity is simply an addition to it [Nature]; it does not supersede or contradict it; it recognizes and depends on it, and that of necessity: for how possibly can it prove its claims except by an appeal to what men have already?*25

In this system Christianity does not spring up in men from within, but has to prove its claims, and present its credentials, and although man cannot, by his mere natural powers, accept them salutariter, but needs the grace of God, neither on the other hand will they be forced on him against his will, or without the assent of his own mind. Now for the reception of these evidences, Newman holds that Natural Religion is the natural preparation; that beginning with an intellectual assent to the truth of God’s existence, and passing through the effects of that knowledge on the imagination, and feelings, man reaches Natural Religion, in which God with our duties to Him is the supreme fact. For Newman himself, that knowledge, as we have seen, originates in the very intimations of duty by conscience, and he holds that, as these intimations are more fully obeyed, not only does the knowledge of God from within become clearer, and His image more vividly reflected from the external world, but the whole man, intellect, will, and feelings comes more fully under the influence of religion; the sense of sin is borne in more oppressively upon him; the recognition of his own corruption more deeply pierces him; in a word, he finds himself in the frame of mind described by St. Paul, in chapter 6 of the Romans, of one who felt the conflict between his higher and his lower nature, in which he cries out quis liberabit? And it is Newman’s view that, if to a man so disposed, the truth of Our Lord’s Gospel were presented, he would respond to it, or rather he would have the natural preparation for responding to it, not merely by a dry assent of the intellect, but by an act of moral duty which, by God’s grace, would include intellect, and will, and heart, that is the whole man.

That is the convenientia – the aptness, or fittingness of human nature to receive the Divine gift. It recognises the moral worth of Man’s natural being, such as it is, the validity of its intellectual acts, the freedom and responsibility of its will, and the aspirations and longings of its heart. Without all these, there could be no such thing as Natural Religion at all, and it is through them that there exists, as Newman holds, and the Pope teaches, a convenientia on the part of man towards the Supernatural Order.

But with reference to all this, it may be well to add Newman’s characteristically cautious remark:

Such, then, in outline is that system of natural beliefs and sentiments, which, though true and divine, is still possible to us independently of Revelation, and is the preparation for it; though in Christians themselves it cannot really be separated from their Christianity, and never is possessed in its higher forms in any people without some portion of those inward aids which Christianity imparts to us, and those endemic traditions which have their first origin in a paradisiacal illumination.*26

(2) In this Modernist system, the main error from which, as from a root, all its ramifications spring, is the denial of its due place in religion to the intellect of man. In presence of the developments of modern science, a number of persons have lost faith in the power of Christianity to justify its claims to the reason, and the intellect, and they seem to imagine that by surrendering the traditional ground of Catholic apologetics, they can escape the attacks of science, and retain their religion in security in the region of mere sentiment. In a sense they are right. You cannot defeat a man in argument who denies the appeal to reason. Religion, in that position, is out of the reach of attack. Those who entrench themselves there, are as safe from the assaults of the human intellect as the late Mr. John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907) of Chicago, or the various sects that since the Reformation have subsisted, for longer or shorter periods, on the sustainment of merely subjective feelings. But to suggest to Catholics to save themselves from the advance of scientific criticism, by such a surrender, is pretty much like asking a man to commit suicide in order to save his life.

In the Encyclical Pascendi the Pope exposes, from its very roots, this fundamental error as to the nature and origin of religion in man. I quote the following rather long passage, as it is important that people should know distinctly the far-reaching, and fatal character of the attack on Christianity with which we have to deal:

It [the explanation of religion] must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of religious immanence. Moreover, the first actuation, so to speak, of every vital phenomenon – and religion, as noted above, belongs to this category – is due to a certain need or impulsion; but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sense [sensus]. Therefore, as God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine. This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favorable circumstances. cannot of itself appertain to the domain of consciousness, but is first latent beneath consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and undetected.

It may perhaps be asked how it is that this need of the divine which man experiences within himself resolves itself into religion? To this question the Modernist reply would be as follows: Science and history are confined within two boundaries, the one external, namely, the visible world, the other internal, which is consciousness. When one or other of these limits has been reached, there can be no further progress, for beyond is the unknowable. In presence of this unknowable, whether it is outside man and beyond the visible world of nature, or lies hidden within the subconsciousness, the need of the divine in a soul which is prone to religion excites – according to the principles of Fideism, without any previous advertence of the mind – a certain special sense, and this sense possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the divine reality itself, and in a way unites man with God. It is this sense to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this is what they hold to be the beginning of religion.*27

This is the stuff which the Pope so justly styles their ravings rather than their philosophising, and I wonder if any man in Europe could be got to say that he found it, or any semblance of it, in Newman.

The important words in the above quotation, in relation to the precise point which I wish to discuss, that is, as to Newman’s views on the Christian evidences and their relation to faith, are ”with no antecedent judgment of the mind.” With that judgment eliminated nothing remains but sense, feeling, sensus. If on the other hand, faith is, in Newman’s view, and, as all Catholic theology teaches, an act of the human intellect, which follows on a judgment of the mind, based on evidence that what is proposed to be believed is true, because it has been revealed by God, then here again a wide gulf separates him from these Modernists. As to the fact that Newman held that Christianity made its claim on the acceptance of men by an appeal to their intellects, and by the presentation of evidence that it was what it claimed to be, it is written broadly over all his works. You find no discussions in him of the ”unknowable,” nor of what goes on in the hidden recesses of ”subconsciousness,” nor of faith as ”a sentiment,” but intelligible argument, carried on under the same rules of reasoning, and common-sense as govern our dealings with all other branches of human knowledge. He writes:

In consequence, the exhibition of credentials, that is, of evidence, that it is what it professes to be, is essential to Christianity, as it comes to us. – – Be it [Christianity] ever so miraculous, it cannot dispense with nature; this would be to cut the ground from under it; for what would be the worth of evidences in favor of a revelation which denied the authority of that system of thought, and those methods of reasoning, out of which those evidences necessarily grew?*28

It is unnecessary to multiply quotations. The simple fact that he recognised the necessity of evidence at all, settles the whole question, because evidence of its nature is an appeal to the intellect. And, if we wish to get at Newman’s inmost mind on this point, we have only to read his account of the last stages of his own conversion to the Catholic Church. It would be easy to quote passage after passage from his writings to illustrate this, but what piecing of the kind can approach the following revelation of his thoughts and their progress:

On the one hand I came gradually to see that the Anglican Church was formally in the wrong, on the other that the Church of Rome was formally in the right; then, that no valid reasons could be assigned for continuing in the Anglican, and again that no valid objections could be taken to joining the Roman. Then, I had nothing more to learn; what still remained for my conversion, was, not further change of opinion, but to change opinion itself into the clearness and firmness of intellectual conviction.*29

Surely these Modernists may well sneer at Newman as an ”intellectualist”.

8. Faith Grows from Understanding

Years after his conversion he used for the guidance of others the principle which he had found serviceable for himself, namely, that conviction, intellectual conviction, must precede an act of faith in the Catholic Church and her teaching. What can be clearer than the following:

And now, my brethren, who are not Catholics, perhaps you will tell me, that, if all doubt is to cease when you become Catholics, you ought to be very sure that the Church is from God before you join it. You speak truly; no one should enter the Church without a firm purpose of taking her word in all matters of doctrine and morals, and that, on the ground of her coming directly from the God of Truth. – – Be convinced in your reason that the Catholic Church is a teacher sent to you from God, and it is enough. I do not wish you to join her, till you are. If you are half convinced, pray for a full conviction, and wait till you have it.*30

But while every one who knows Newman must know that all this action of the human intellect in the reception of faith, runs through the very web and woof of his theology, yet some persons whose minds lean to these Modernist irrationalities, if I may use the word, give the go-by to all that is fundamental, and fasten on accidental details as to the particular kind of evidence which Newman felt most available for himself, and relied on for others. But they forget that to require evidence at all, as a necessary precedent to an act of faith, is the central position. Whether that evidence is of one kind or another, is entirely unessential; and what the Pope now insists on, and what Newman always held, is that a judgment of the mind, based on sufficient evidence that God has spoken, is essential to an act of faith.

But even as to the nature of the evidence which is available for Christianity, there is the same irreconcilable difference between Newman and the Modernists. One of their favourite points is to deny the evidential character of the Christian miracles, yet, on this issue, nothing can be more clearly defined than the identity of Newman’s views with the traditional teaching of the Church. He wrote his Essay on Miracles while he was yet a Protestant, but the only change in his views which followed on his conversion was as to the authenticity of ecclesiastical miracles. But up to his death he maintained that miracles had been wrought by God as evidence of the truth of His revelation. As he wrote:

Catholics believe that miracles happen in any age of the Church, though not for the same purposes, in the same number, or with the same evidence, as in Apostolic times. The Apostles wrought them in evidence of their divine mission.*31

And again he lays down unequivocally in the Grammar of Assent:

In fact, all professed revelations have been attended, in one shape or another, with the profession of miracles; and we know how direct and unequivocal are the miracles of both the Jewish Covenant and of our own.*32

But while all this had Newman’s own personal assent, and he knew that ”the fact of revelation was demonstrably true,” he preferred, as he had a perfect right to do, to choose for the purpose of argument that portion of the Christian evidences which was most congenial to his own mind, and most likely to be efficacious with others as it had been with himself. In stating the broad argument for revelation he thought it well to avoid as far as possible assuming facts, and to rely on what was ”patent and notorious”.

Thus, instead of advancing to certitude by way of demonstration, in the strict sense, he chose probability as his line, and, founding himself for this on the German Catholic theologian Eusebius Amort (1692–1775), he says:

I prefer to rely on that of an accumulation of various probabilities; but we both hold (that is, I hold with him [Amort]), that from probabilities we may construct legitimate proof, sufficient for certitude.*33

For one who would understand Newman, it is most important to keep this in mind, and to note the strictly intellectual character of the process. Then, in concrete reasoning, he relied very much on antecedent probabilities. For instance, he held that the expectation of a revelation is so congenial to Natural Religion, as to predispose a man in favour of the evidence for it; that the frame of mind which the knowledge of God, the sense of sin, the desire of forgiveness, would naturally create would, when Christianity came, with its definite message, and its positive corroboration of everything that was good in man by nature, and its offer of remedies for his maladies, of itself, be quick to feel these several lines as so many strands of probabilities which would lead up to the certitude that it was a message from God, and, ultimately, by God’s grace to the act of faith itself. All this seems to be perfectly true. To embrace the Christian Religion is not like a mere mathematical problem, in which given the premises we cannot refuse the conclusion. Nor, on the other hand, is it a blind impulse, or a mere feeling, or sentiment, but it is a free act of the human will, based on a reasonable certitude that it is from God. The motives that lead up to that certitude, have always in the individual a large personal element, which has its roots in his whole being, his intellect, his will, his feelings; some of them can be definitely stated in words; others, that in themselves are not less cogent, are often outside the range of language, but nevertheless whencesoever they come, or whatever their nature, they must make for the individual, hic et nunc, the materials for a definite judgment of the mind and certitude that this message comes from God.

Yet while all this is supremely true, it is not less true, as Newman, almost from the beginning, saw clearly, that the act of faith, in itself, is full of mystery. It must be preceded by an intellectual conviction that that which is proposed has been revealed by God, yet that conviction does not coerce the mind, because the act of faith is free; nay more, it consists together with the essential obscurity of faith, and nevertheless the assent of faith transcends the mere argumentative value of the motives of credibility which preceded it, and belongs to the highest order of certitude. If people would keep these principles in mind when reading Newman’s writings upon faith and reason, they would see the explanation of how he seems now to exalt one, and now the other, whereas in reality he is but looking at one facet of the truth at a time.

In Newman’s view, for the first assent to the evidence for revelation, mere intellect is not enough, but it must be informed by natural religion; when, by God’s grace, the voice of the Divine Informant is recognised, reason as a critic is deposed; it can no longer pick and choose, but must simply believe, and, what he did not know when he wrote his University Sermons, ”with no aid from Anglican, and no knowledge of Catholic theologians,” it has, for its protection against imposture and abuse, the evidence that God has spoken, and this guaranteed by the infallible magisterium of the Church.

9. The Development of Doctrine

(3) With regard to the theory of the development of Christian Doctrine, two questions entirely distinct from one another have to be considered in relation to Newman: (a) is his theory admissible according to the principles of Catholic Theology, and (b) is it covered, or touched in any wise, by the condemnations of the recent Encyclical.

The first of these questions I leave on one side now, venturing merely to express, with all submission, my personal opinion, little as it is worth, that in its broad outlines it is thoroughly sound and orthodox, and most serviceable for the interpretation of the facts of the history of dogma.

As to the second, I cannot see how there can be room for doubt. Newman’s whole doctrine was not only different from that of the Modernists, but so contrary to it in essence and fundamental principle, that I cannot conceive how, by any implication, it could be involved in their condemnation. Nothing less than an explicit statement by the supreme authority of the Holy See would convince me to the contrary. I see no common ground in both systems. The word development is the only thing which they hold in common. They do not mean the same thing by Christianity, by dogma, by religion, by Church. They do not start from the same first principles, and consequently they are as separate as the poles.

Just see how the case stands. Newman starts with the revelation of the Christian faith by Christ Lord:

It is a ”Revelatio revelata;” it is a definite message from God to man distinctly conveyed by His chosen instruments, and to be received as such a message; and therefore to be positively acknowledged, embraced, and maintained as true, on the ground of its being divine, not as true on intrinsic grounds, not as probably true, or partially true, but as absolutely certain knowledge, certain in a sense in which nothing else can be certain, because it comes from Him who neither can deceive or be deceived.*34

Consequently he holds that, whatever may be the processes of development with regard to that message, they are bound to it, and become a corruption if they change it. In other words, his theory is governed by the doctrine of the deposit of faith – the great body of truths which make up the complete system, if I may use the phrase, of the Christian faith, e,g., the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, the Sacraments, the Church; these and many other great truths would constitute, in Newman’s view, the contents of the Divine message, that is,

the whole revealed dogma as taught by the Apostles, as committed by the Apostles to the Church, and as declared by the Church to me.*35

Now the whole scope and purpose of the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine was to show that in the Church this original revelation has been preserved, that whatever definitions have been pronounced, in the course of ages, they but declare authoritatively, what it has contained from the beginning, and, consequently, that the faith of every Catholic of the present day is identical with that of the Church from the Apostolic times. As this is important let me quote his own words:

That the increase and expansion of the Christian Creed and Ritual, and the variations which have attended the process in the case of individual writers and Churches, are the necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which takes possession of the intellect and heart and has had any wide or extended dominion; that, from the nature of the human mind, time is necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and that the highest and most wonderful truths, though communicated to the world once for all by inspired teachers could not be comprehended all at once by the recipients, but, as received and transmitted by minds not inspired and through media which were human, have required only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation. This may be called the theory of developments.*36

Now whether this theory be sound or not, and mind it is put forward only as a theory, and whether one is willing or not to admit implicit revelation to the extent which it postulates, it presents to the mind a well-defined view, which is based on the assumption that Christianity was revealed as a complete system, analogously to a philosophical system, with its own special doctrines, which required time for their comprehension and elucidation, but being revealed once for all in their fulness, could never admit any addition or change.

One may ask, then, what on earth has a theory such as this to do with the views of these Modernists, which the Pope condemns? They begin with no deposit of faith; they do not admit any revelation in the Catholic sense; they deny the existence of any body of objective truth, authenticated for us by Divine revelation, as the source from which faith has to draw its doctrines and the criterion by which all human speculations as to faith are to be tested. With Newman the one question to be put to every proposition which claimed to be accepted on Divine faith was, is it in the primitive revelation? Does the infallible Church so teach? But the Modernists put these questions on one side, as irrelevant, and ask instead, has this sentiment or feeling sprung up in man’s consciousness, having emerged from below its threshold, and having been elaborated by the intellect, is it, for the time being, in accordance with the dominant belief amongst the majority of the members of the Church? In a word, it is not has it been taught by Christ our Lord as true, and does it represent objective, absolute truth for all time, but has it grown, by a process of immanence, in the human mind, and has it, for the time being, the upper hand in the Church?

Surely it is an unwarrantable abuse, and deception to isolate a few conditions in one of these systems, and on the strength of a superficial, and mere verbal similarity to pretend to find them in the other. Because Newman speaks of the influence of the living thoughts and feelings of men who are the recipients of Christ’s revelation, we are not justified in identifying him with those who repudiate his whole doctrine, because they harp upon the phrase that religion is vital. Vitality is common to all things that live, religion as well as the rest; but that tells us nothing of the living things in themselves. Positive, definite, explicit truths, revealed by God to man, have a different vitality, and operate in the human mind by different processes from the sensus, sentiment, or whatever else they call it, of these latest heretics; and one clear difference, which they do not seem to realise, but which Newman saw, and all Catholics set store by, is that, in the one case, the human mind is anchored to, and secured by objective Divine truth; but, in the other, it is at the mercy of its own fluctuations; and besides that, according to Newman, development of doctrine is the work of the teaching Church, not of individuals, much less of the laity, although every member of the Church may, under her guidance, help to prepare the way for her definitions, but, on Modernist principles, individuals, good and bad, the revolting heretic, as well as the saint, Arius as well as St. Athanasius, by their own vital action, not only contribute to, but constitute the very process of development.

Having written so much about this system of Modernism, which is heading straight for Atheism, or Pantheism, as far as it is intelligible at all, I should wish to add a word about those who profess it. Of them, personally, I do not wish to entertain, much less express, one unkind thought. He that sees their hearts, with larger, other eyes than ours, will, we may hope, make allowance for the special difficulties and temptations by which they are beset. That special difficulties, of a new and peculiar character, have arisen from scientific developments in our time, no one can deny, and it is extremely probable that, in the near future, they will increase in number and intensity. But surely if there are any men on earth who can face these trials in patience and confidence, it is the members of the Church, which has the pledge and promise of infallibility for all time. This is not the first occasion on which the human mind has set difficult problems to her to solve, but what is the history in all the ages of her superhuman existence, if not the record of the fulfilment of the Divine promise? Why then should men now lose heart, and shift their ground, and despair of the ancient faith which comes to them with the strength of countless victories? ”O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?”

Then on the issues themselves, not only in their dogmatic, but in their disciplinary bearings, we hold, as Newman would say, with the Fisherman. He is our teacher, our guide, the living instrument of God’s government and direction of His Church. Surely it is as uncatholic, as it is anarchical, to set him at defiance, to answer him, in the face of the world, and under the influence, again to use a phrase of Newman’s, of ”a proud fiend” to pretend that it is a handful of persons in the Church, and not its divinely constituted Head and Chief Pastor, that are to preserve and interpret her doctrines. The Pope has gone astray, and the Modernists will bring him back. The good sheep in search of the lost shepherd is a rather grotesque presentation of the Catholic Church. It is as absurd as it is irreligious, and recalls the old line of Virgil:

Not such aid nor such defenders does the time require.

Finally, I should wish to quote one passage from Newman that seems to be singularly apposite at the present time, and to breathe not only the spirit of faith in the Church’s dogmatic teaching, but to be instinct with the humility, and obedience, and loyalty of a true member of her fold, and to be marked by the wisdom which is never far from these virtues:

And now, having thus described it, I profess my own absolute submission to its claim. I believe the whole revealed dogma as taught by the Apostles, as committed by the Apostles to the Church, and as declared by the Church to me. I receive it, as it is infallibly interpreted by the authority to whom it is thus committed, and (implicitly) as it shall be, in like manner, further interpreted by that same authority till the end of time. I submit, moreover, to the universally received traditions of the Church, in which lies the matter of those new dogmatic definitions which are from time to time made, and which in all times are the clothing and the illustration of the Catholic dogma as already defined. And I submit myself to those other decisions of the Holy See, theological or not, through the organs which it has itself appointed, which, waiving the question of their infallibility, on the lowest ground come to me with a claim to be accepted and obeyed. Also, I consider that, gradually and in the course of ages, Catholic inquiry has taken certain definite shapes, and has thrown itself into the form of a science, with a method and a phraseology of its own, under the intellectual handling of great minds, such as St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas; and I feel no temptation at all to break in pieces the great legacy of thought thus committed to us for these latter days.*37


Newman, John Henry
1845 An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. London: James Toovey.
1849 Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.
1865 History of My Religious Opinions. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green.
1870 An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. New York, NY: Catholic Publication Society.
1873 The Idea of a University. Defined and Illustrated. Third Edition. London: Basil Montagu Pickering.

Pius X, St.
1907 Pascendi Dominici gregis. On the Doctrine of the Modernists.

Purcell, Edmund Sheridan
1895 Life of Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster. Vol. II. Manning as a Catholic. London: Macmillan & Co.


*2 Purcell 1895, 749-752.
*3 John 17:3.
*4 Ce n’est que le premier pas qui coute, Voltaire.
*5 DS 3475.
*6 Newman 1873, 52.
*7 Newman 1873, 53.
*8 Newman 1873, 61.
*9 Newman 1873, 67.
*10 Newman 1873, 70.
*11 Newman 1849, 303.
*12 Newman 1849, 312.
*13 Newman 1849, 313.
*14 Newman 1870, 114-115.
*15 Newman 1870, 103.
*16 Newman 1870, 107-108.
*17 Newman 1870, 115-116.
*18 Pascendi.
*19 DS 3484.
*20 Newman 1870, 378.
*21 Newman 1870, 378.
*22 Pascendi.
*23 Newman 1849, 132-133.
*24 Newman 1865, 247-248.
*25 Newman 1870, 376-377.
*26 Newman 1870, 396-397.
*27 Pascendi.
*28 Newman 1870, 376-377.
*29 Newman 1865, 200.
*30 Newman 1849, 245-247.
*31 Newman 1865, 298.
*32 Newman 1870, 416.
*33 Newman 1870, 400.
*34 Newman 1870, 375-376.
*35 Newman 1865, 250-251.
*36 Newman 1845, 27.
*37 Newman 1865, 250-251.

Stan Freberg Syndrome

Posted in English on 12/01/2013 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta

Father Anthony Cekada recently sent a tweet, where he shared a video of a Mass procession led by a joggler:

The video is accessible here. One would think, that after following many years the excesses of the ”Church” which is now lead by ”Pope” Francis, one would get use to everything. And of course we Traditional Priests would get use to them, if these false pretenders would not on regular basis break all their former achievements.

Father Cekada’s words ”beyond parody” are true indeed. The Novus Ordo Church is suffering from multiple liturgical and doctrinal symptoms, which unite themselves to one big mess. This mess can be called Stan Freberg syndrome. Stan Freberg is a comedian, who made many satires and parodies from rock music and rock singers in the 1950’s, including Elvis Presley and The Platters. Here’s how he parodied The Platters’ The Great Pretender:

Even though Mr. Freberg was very popular in his parodies, his music satire career came to an end in 1960’s. One day he happened to hear from radio the latest hit song, the newest favorite of the young people. It was The Trashmen’s piece Surfin’ Bird (available here though not recommendable). After hearing that, Mr. Freberg decided, that his music satire days were over. The music had gone so strange and weird, it was impossible to parody it anymore.

When things go so weird, that one can even make jokes about it anymore, the patient is suffering from Stan Freberg syndrome. The abominations both in liturgy and in doctrine, which Novus Ordo Church makes on regular basis, are so blunt and open, that anyone with eyes to see has to realize, that this ”Church” of Francis cannot be the Church which Christ established, and which He, through the office of St. Peter, the Papacy, protects and sustains. Sadly, most of the Traditionalists deliberately fail to see the symptoms, and abandon Novus Ordo Church.

Despite all the actions of Francis exposing himself a Modernist, and a hater of Traditionalism, most of the Traditional Catholics continue to live in the state of denial. They prefer to live in a world, where Francis is not this determined opponent of the Faith, but a true Pope and defender of the Church and her doctrine. It is a same kind of denial, where Duke of Buckingham, who is madly in love with the Queen, lives, in the classic novel The Three Musketeers. The Queen has done everything she can in order to persuade him to abandon her, but he does not let ever her own words shatter his dreams:

Speak on, madame, speak on, queen. The sweetness of your voice covers the harshness of your words. If I am happy in an error do not have the cruelty to deprive me of it. You have told me yourself, madame, that I have been drawn into a snare, and I, perhaps, shall leave my life in it.

An American Bishop Speaks against Francis

Posted in Classic Articles on 09/16/2013 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta

O God, the Gentiles are come into thine inheritance, they have polluted thy holy temple: they have made Jerusalem as a watchtower of fruits. (Ps. 78:1, from the Introit of today’s Mass)


Below I reproduce an article called The Dogmatic Authority of the Papacy from North American Review, April 1908. The writer is John Ireland (1838-1918), who was the Archbishop of St. Paul, MN in the years 1888-1918. There he gives an overview about Pope St. Pius X’s Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907), which condemned the errors of Modernism.

This article is of historical value, because it shows very well, how the teachings of ”Pope Francis” and Vatican II in general are in total contradiction to the true Catholic religion, taught by St. Pius X, the Apostles and Christ Himself.

For further reference, here are two audio files to listen:

Basis For Faith

The sermon of Fr. Anthony Cekada about false and true principles of Faith, given at St. Gertrude the Great Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

True Restoration XXVIII: Can Atheists go to Heaven?

A Recent radio program featuring Bp. Donald Sanborn and Fr. Cekada, where they talk in great detail about the errors of Francis.

For the reproduction, I have added subtitles to ease the reading, as well as the Bible verses which were missing from the original publication. To emphasize some parts of the article of special importance, I have bolded them.

Today is the feast of St. Cyprian, the great Bishop of Carthage during the Roman persecutions. He wrote once these strong words, which are in strong condemnation of Vatican II ”popes”, who have attempted to destroy the true Mass and true priesthood:

There is one God, and one Christ, and but one episcopal chair, originally founded on Peter, by our Lord’s authority. There cannot therefore be erected another altar, or another priesthood. Whatever any man in his rage or rashness shall appoint, in defiance of the divine institution, must be a spurious, profane, and sacrilegious ordinance.

The Dogmatic Authority of the Papacy
The Encyclical on Modernism

by the Most Reverend John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul

1. Modernist objections to Authoritative Teaching

The article in the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW for last December, from the pen of Mr. Charles Johnston, ”The Catholic Reformation and the Papacy,” covers much ground, nearly the whole history of the Papacy. Lest I be unreasonably lengthy in my reply, I will confine myself to what I take to be the main point at issue, ”the dogmatic despotism of the Papacy,” with particular reference to the recent Encyclical on Modernism.

The term ”despotism” is too violent to be accepted, without due reservation, even for argument’s sake: it is, at first encounter at least, too redolent of arbitrariness and of assumed power to suit my Catholic taste. I should prefer the term ”authority,” and to say, instead of the dogmatic despotism, the dogmatic authority of the Papacy. But with this remark I let the matter pass.

According to Mr. Johnston the Papacy is wrong when, at any time, it undertakes to be dogmatic, to teach, to impose upon the human intellect dogmas of religion: it is stopped, he maintains, from doing so by the example of Christ and the Apostles, by the fact that Christianity is not a religion of dogmas or creeds, but, instead, a life, a hope, an inspiration. Mr. Johnston adopts as his own the words of the Milanese Review, Il Rinnovamento:

Christianity is life: it is unquenchable aspiration; it is hope; it is a striving of the whole being towards that which in life partakes of the eternal. – – It is in vain that we try to enclose Christianity in intellectual systems and definite expressions of development. – – And if we deem possible a new Christian civilization it is on one condition: that the spirit of Christ signifies the spirit of liberation, no one seeking to confine it to his own theories, hypotheses or systems; but each one feeling it as an imminent command in his heart to uplift his life in all its activities.

Doubtless, if religion is merely ”life,” dogmas and creeds are doomed: a teacher of positive, objective doctrine is at once ruled out of court. And this, I may be allowed to note, is the popular religion of the day. Today the cry is: ”No dogma, no creed! Only the life of the spirit, the good man following out in daily practice the rulings of conscience.”

2. True Religion is Dogmatic Religion

But is this creedless, undogmatic religion the Christian religion? Il Rinnovamento, again quoted approvingly by Mr. Johnston, continues:

Where do we find Jesus claiming despotic authority over men’s intellects, and demanding that they shall renounce their convictions? – – Jesus does not say: ”Whoever dares to talk otherwise than I, let him be anathema.” He does say: ”Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – – Jesus does not say: ”Whosoever does depart from the orthodox faith, let him die the death.” He does say: ”He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me.”

Unhappily for Mr. Johnston and Il Rinnovamento, and also for the popular religion of the day, what is given as not said by Christ is precisely what Christ did say. The commission to the Apostles was: ”Going into the whole world preach the Gospel to all creatures. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not, shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:15-16) Or, as King James’s version reads, ”shall be damned.” The Apostles are bidden to preach, to teach: to their preaching and teaching intellectual assent must be given: where such assent is refused, ”anathema” is pronounced, damnation is threatened.

The religion put forth by Christ was a dogmatic religion – a series of facts and principles, to which, under severest penalty, absolute submission of mind must be accorded. Christ was the teacher, the bearer of a message, to which the mind of the hearer was to be set in unison, and, afterwards, under the influence of the mind, the other faculties of the soul. The faith required from disciples was, before all else, an assent of the intellect. ”For this was I born, and for this came I into the world: that I should give testimony to the truth.” (Jn. 18:37) ”If you abide in my word, you shall be my disciples in deed; and you shall know the truth.” (Jn. 8:31-32)

Christ taught His personal rank and dignity, His Messiahship, His divine sonship, His oneness with the Father: He taught His right to revise and reinterpret the Mosaic Law, His power to forgive sins: He taught the establishment of His Church, the giving of His flesh to eat and of His blood to drink, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the communication of His own mission to the Apostles. We need not now discuss the precise meaning of those several preachings of Christ: but a meaning to them there surely was, and that meaning, such as He intended it, was to be accepted, believed, even though the announcement was a ”hard saying” (Jn. 6:60-61) from which the multitude had turned in scorn. The faith Christ called for was belief in His words, submission to His authority as Master and Teacher.

3. Apostles taught with Authority

The Apostles knew of none other than a dogmatic religion; they allowed none other to their disciples. Theirs was a religion of faith of faith that came from hearing: ”Faith then, is by hearing: and hearing is by the word of Christ.” (Rm. 10:17)

The purpose of the Apostolic preaching was to destroy ”all loftiness extolling itself against the knowledge of God,” and to bring ”into captivity all understanding unto the obedience of Christ.” (2. Cor. 10:5) What the Apostles taught was the ”deposit,” a substantial doctrine, no mere aspiration of the soul: it was ”that faithful word which is according to doctrine.” (Titus 1:9) It was ”the sound doctrine” (2. Tim. 4:3) by which the gainsayers were to be convinced; it was the ”form of sound words.” (2. Tim. 1:13) The disciples were exhorted to walk ”confirmed in the faith” as they had ”learned” it, (Col. 2:7) not cheated ”by philosophy and vain fallacy,” (ibid. 2:8) not ”carried about with every wind of doctrine.” (Eph. 4:14) Whenever necessary, they were to be rebuked sharply, ”that they may be sound in the faith.” (Titus 1:13) Were any one, ”we, or an Angel from heaven, evangelize to you beside that which we have evangelized to you, be he anathema.” (Gal. 1:8) Whoever departs from the faith, who ”persisteth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” He is to be avoided, not even noticed with a friendly salute. (2. John 9-10) And ”the faith” was ”once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3) It was to be transmitted to others with most sacred care: ”O Timothy, keep the depositum, avoiding the profane novelties of voices, and oppositions of falsely called knowledge.” (1. Tim. 6:20)

Plainly, the religion preached by the Apostles was a dogmatic religion, having a well-defined creed, a ”faithful word,” a ”form of sound words”; and the prime duty imposed upon succeeding Christian teachers was to guard well this ”faithful word,” this ”form of sound words,” to hold it unsullied by vain philosophies and profane novelties of words. What else, we may say, is Pius X doing in his Encyclical but obeying those solemn injunctions? Paul speaks; Pius X follows out his injunctions.

4. Faithfulness to Christ Himself

Christ, indeed, was ”the life”: He came to beget in humanity a new life, arousing it from sinfulness and lethargy, lifting it towards the skies, quickening it into the very life of the Godhead. But before Christ was the life, He was the truth: ”I am the way, and the verity, and the life.” (Jn. 14:6) He first addresses the intellect, laying before it the principles and truths, through which the heart and the will are to be moved into life and action. Any other course of evangelization were a lowering of human dignity, a treatment of man as if man were merely a creature of sense and emotion: and it were, also, a mere beating of the air, necessarily void of substantial and enduring effect. Of itself, the will is blind: it requires illumination and guidance from the intellect. A mere call to regeneration is sterile sound. There is no real moral elevation that is not based upon principles; there is no life-giving religion that is not endowed with a fertilizing creed.

In teaching a dogmatic religion, Pius X has fullest warrant from Christ and the Apostles. Indeed, did he not teach, did he not raise aloud the cry of alarm when peril is nigh, he would be faithless to his trust, heedless to his commission: ”Teach ye all nations.” (Matt. 28:19) The hour came to the Papacy when speech was an imperative duty: the Encyclical on Modernism followed.

5. Papacy Is Not Reactionary

The Encyclical is not, as some have imagined who judged it from its title without a glance through its contents, a condemnation of the Twentieth Century of the material and social progress which is the proud boast of the age. Far from this: the Encyclical applauds our material and social achievements. Quoting the words of his predecessor, Pius X writes:

Apply yourselves energetically to the study of natural sciences: the brilliant discoveries and the bold and useful applications of them made in our times which have won such applause by our contemporaries will be an object of perpetual praise for those that come after us. (Source)

Nor in any sense is the Encyclical what Mr. Johnston asserts it to be – a repulse of intellectual life:

It is both interesting and ominous to find the Vatican seeking thus to stem the tide of intellectual life, and ordering the combating of error even to the shedding of blood.

If Mr. Johnston has in mind the tide of intellectual life outside the region of divine revelation, he may lay down his fears. Divine revelation alone enters into the province of Papal vigilance. Other branches of knowledge the Church leaves to their own methods and their own ambitions. Whenever it is found in contact with them, it is only for the purpose of stimulating them to more fruitful growth: and how beneficial in this regard its co-operation has been history bears ample testimony. True, in the Syllabus condemning the errors of the Modernists, given out by a Roman Congregation shortly before the appearance of the Encyclical, a condemned proposition reads as follows: ”Under no respect does it appertain to the Church to pass judgment concerning the assertions of human sciences.” (DS 3405) But Mr. Johnston misreads the proposition when he renders it into this general form, ”The Church has the right to pass judgment on natural sciences.” Upon the rigid, well-ascertained discoveries and conclusions of science the Church passes no judgment; what it arraigns before its tribunal, and with plenary right on its part, are ”the assertions” of certain scientists, in contradiction with the teachings of revelation, whose sayings, far from being well-established conclusions, are simply, as the Encyclical calls them, ”opinions” and ”vagaries.”

6. Ongoing War against Modern World

The Encyclical is a defence of religious truth against certain vital errors that have come into vogue, inside and outside the Catholic Church, in these modern times. Against those errors it declares a relentless war, in which, however, the arms brought into use will be those of reason and of revelation – not those of human blood, as Mr. Johnston has been tempted to imagine. The words that have frightened my esteemed friend – ”Even unto the shedding of blood” – were spoken by the Pope during an allocution to a gathering of French bishops, a year or so ago, in the Palace of the Vatican. But the blood which the good Pope called for, in case blood were to be at any time the order of the day in France, was that of the bishops themselves, whom he fain would have imbued with the spirit of martyrdom. It was not in the intention of the Pope, we may be quite sure, to invoke a war of extermination against the enemies of the Church seated in power upon the banks of the Seine, or against heretics and unbelievers elsewhere in the world.

The Encyclical condemns the ”New Theology,” as it is called in England, where the Protestant E.J. Campbell and the Catholic George Tyrrell have been its leading protagonists. The same theory of religion had found utterance in Continental countries of Europe under varied names – ”The Religion of Immanence,” ”The Religion of Action,” ”The New Apologetics.” Who, specifically, the writers are whose teachings are placed under censure, and to what degree each one has given cause for condemnation, the Pope does not say. It is quite possible that the one or the other may not have held to all the errors now gathered together and mutually interconnected in the Encyclical under the name of Modernism. But that with the one or with the other the errors, as rehearsed, did come to the front, none will deny who has at all kept himself au courant with the religious literature of recent times.

7. The Main Principle of Modernism

The starting-point of Modernism is the assumption that, of itself, human reason is powerless to establish either the existence of God as a transcendent reality, or the divinity of the mission and the person of Christ. With some, the cause of this mental attitude is an adherence to the Kantian system of Philosophy, which teaches that human reason does not reach beyond ”phenomena” or appearances of things, that ”noumena,” or realities back of appearances, totally escape its grasp of vision. With others, it is what they term the weakness and insufficiency of intellectual proofs, available in favor either of natural religion or of Christian revelation. In both cases the conclusion is the same: intellectualism is abandoned as a basis of religion. Another basis must be sought: it is found in the inner sense and experience of the soul, in its cravings for life, in its motives of action. Feeling is substituted for reason: subjective emotion for intellectual assent.

To the new theology, God is unknown and unknowable. On this score it accepts the teachings of Comte, Hamilton and Spencer. But must we, it asks, overlook on this account God as a non-existent being or as one in whom we have no concern, towards whom we have no duties? No conclusion of this kind is allowed. Conscience, the Kantists say, clamors for the Supreme Legislator: therefore He is; therefore we accept Him. The idea of God is chief among ”the values” of life, say the Ritschlians of Germany, the Pragmatists of England and of America: God, as ”a value,” enters, of necessity, into the thoughts and the movements of the soul, and must therefore be taken as a reality. The throbbings of the heart, the thirstings of the soul, say the apostles of ”Immanence” and of ”Action,” imperiously tend towards the Infinite, who therefore must be and is a reality. Indeed, continue the latter, the deep experiences of the soul are such vivid revelations of God that they must be and are the very voice of God – God ”immanent” in us, the source within us of life and of action.

In those several views and theories we may see partial truths, that need by no means be brushed aside, when we are seeking to prove the transcendent reality of the Infinite. Conscience calls for a judge, who ought to be God: the exigencies of the soul clamor for satiety, which can come only from the Infinite. Facts those are that dispose the mind to search for an Almighty Being, transcending the soul of man, transcending the whole external universe, and beforehand prepare us to hold earnestly to Him, when once we have caught a glimpse of His glory. Serviceable they are as a starting-point for argument: but of themselves and in themselves they are not an argument to compel conviction. Emotions and experiences do not reach out into the objective; they do not establish the existence of a reality independent of the human soul. This the intellect alone can do. The radical mistake of Modernism and of its methods of apologetics is that it excludes or, at least, minimizes overmuch the functions of the intellect, thereby unduly reducing its theodicy to sentiment – to mere subjectivism.

8. Vindication of True Philosophy

Against this subjectivism Pius X appeals to the reasoning faculty in man, to the intellect, whose rights and convincing force he valiantly defends: he exhibits before us the Eternal and the All Powerful, as discovered by the intellect – the Supreme Being whom reason points out, above and beyond all contingent existences, whom, consequently, rational man can and must worship as Lord and Master. Pius X teaches as the Royal Prophet taught, as the Apostle Paul taught. ”The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the works of his hands.” (Ps. 18:1) ”For his invisible things, from the creation of the world are seen, being understood by those things that are made: his eternal power also and Divinity: so that they are inexcusable; because, whereas they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks.” (Rom. 1:20-21) The Encyclical of Pius is the defence of God in the Heavens and at the same time of the intellect in man.

9. Particular Errors of Modernism

The ”New Theology” brings its philosophy to bear upon supernatural revelation and the person of Christ – with a similar denial of the powers of the human intellect, and, in effect, with a similar effacement of the divine in revelation and in Christ. The divine is not denied; rather its defence, we are told, is the purpose of the ”New Theology.” But history, and reason working upon history, we are again told, do not, cannot, there discover the divine. So far as history speaks, what is called supernatural revelation is naught but the outpouring of the spiritual emotions and the experiences of certain souls rich and exuberant above the ordinary human soul: it is the gift to humanity, from favored sons of the race, of the plenitude of their conscious and subconscious store of sentiment and truth. Those favored ones were the prophets and the sages of the ages. Jesus is one of them – the highest, indeed, and the greatest: none other so perfect as Jesus was ever seen, none other is likely to be seen. Still, so far as history teaches, the voice of Jesus, as that of other prophets, is the voice of man – the divine is not manifest. Miracles may be quoted: but they are of no avail on the pages of history, they are merely extraordinary occurrences and extraordinary manifestations of inherent, though unknown, forces of nature: the divine is not manifest. What, then, of the divine heretofore believed to belong to prophets and to Christ? What of the divine person of Christ? Must His divinity be denied, accounted a vain fancy of His followers? By no means, replies the ”New Theology”: let us fall back upon ”Immanence,” and all is made right. The divine within us recognizes the divine in the prophets of the race – especially so in Jesus. Our own spiritual emotions and experiences are not only in unison with the emotions and the experiences expressed in their teachings, but are, truly, enriched and glorified to a degree most wondrous. The divine within us is the touchstone of the divine in others: it speaks, it teaches: the prophets become men of God; Jesus, who at first was seen and known as man, is now the Son of God, very God.

What, we ask, is all this talk of ”Immanence,” but subjectivism of the most impotent kind – mere individualism, of no effect whatever in arguing with others, who are free to say that no such emotions and experiences bubble up within their souls? No; sentiment is not argument, and the human intellect is not powerless to read the divine in history. The doctrine of fideism, of which the ”New Theology” is but a recrudescence, was long ago condemned by the Church: the Church scorns a foundation for its teachings which does not rest on reason and history: it demands as its credentials the testimony of the intellect. Christ wrought His miracles, physical and moral – works which no mere natural or human power could produce – and, then, He taught with authority, and we believe His words as those of One coming from the invisible world to teach and to reform humanity as the words of the Incarnate God, whom He declared Himself to be. This is the doctrine of the Encyclical on Modernism, and who among Christians will find fault with it?

”Immanence” moves apace. Scriptures, Church, sacraments, dogmas, pass through the same crucible and come out equally shorn of the divine splendor with which Christendom has heretofore adorned them. The Scriptures are the formulated thought and emotion of privileged prophets of humanity. The Church, as it comes before us in history, grew up with the years, in human fashion, gathering into its fabric elements from surrounding philosophies and institutions, widening its life and purposes as new needs pressed forward, or new opportunities for work unfolded themselves before its onward march. So far as history shows, it is an evolution from a natural beginning through causes and methods purely natural. Its sacraments are symbols of its natural life and aspirations, methods of its own choosing through which the individual enters into corporate union with his fellows, or expresses by outward act his continued participation in such union. Dogmas there are, but dogmas have no objective meaning save as they express the emotions and experiences of the soul, and as these emotions and experiences happen to respond to objective realities. Dogmas, too, change in form and expression, as new conditions of spiritual life and feeling arise, and new formulas are required to translate these new conditions into human speech. So far as realities may be said to underlie emotions and expressions, the realities do not change; but dogmas, the outward expression of them, do change, and are as fluctuating as were the emotions which they symbolized. The creed of Nicaea and Ephesus, good and serviceable, and in a manner true, centuries ago, may be, at a later period, out of joint with, the requirements of human consciousness: and a restatement of their terms becomes imperative.

Here, again, is a fatal, most effective effacement of the supernatural and the divine. Church and Sacraments are as nothing to us if they are only natural and human: and mere trust in our inner emotions and experiences can never lift them to the plane of the supernatural. The dogmas of religion, reduced to the conditions of temporary expedients of language, no longer convey to the mind assured realities: what today is said in one form is tomorrow said in another. Dogmas unstable and changing in their meaning are not symbols of stable and permanent realities, such as divine truths must be: they are of no value to the Christian soul. Very different, be it noted, is this Modernist evolution of dogma from the logical development of doctrinal expression allowed in the teaching of the Church. Here there is a widening, but no changing, of meaning. With time, revealed truth is more fully apprehended by the mind of the Church, and new formulas enter into its creeds to express its better understanding of divine truth. But former expressions do not lose their original meaning: they are ever true, ever immovable from their first intent and significance.

10. In Defense of Christianity

Is there wonder that the ”New Theology,” in its each and every bearing, as described in the Encyclical, has been solemnly condemned by Pius X? Could he, the guardian of the ”deposit,” have remained silent while the axe was laid to the very roots of the tree of Christianity, and the divine sap, which alone gives to it life and reason of being, was being violently denied to its trunk and branches? Who, worshipping a God in the heavens, and adoring a Christ in history, will cast a stone at His teaching?

This is an age of unbelief in the supernatural, an age of rebellion against a power above the earth, who dares to intervene, by special act or voice, in the affairs of men. Hence certain mental attitudes towards Christian revelation. One is that of the radical unbeliever, who incontinently brushes aside as fable and vain-imagining what has been heretofore held as supernatural – boldly removing God from the affairs of men, and sentencing Christ and the Christian Church to oblivion if not to contempt and opprobrium. The other, that of men unwilling to forego Christianity, wishing even to champion it against unbelief, who, in an imprudent anxiety to gain for it a hearing, adopt interpretations and explanations at variance with truth, more fitted to destroy than to upbuild. Against all enemies, avowed or covert, the Papacy raises its voice in tones most emphatic. It defends integral Christianity; it will allow none other.

It is not the Catholic Church alone that the Encyclical protects: it is the whole Christian religion, in its vital principles, in its foundation-stones in history and human reason. The Encyclical should be acclaimed by all Christians; by all, Pius X should be hailed as the champion of the sacred heritage in which they discern their hopes for time and eternity.

11. Solution Lies in the Papacy

The Princeton Theological Quarterly, reviewing the work of a French writer, a conspicuous exponent of Modernistic ideas since condemned by the Pope, printed these words in its late October (1907) number:

The criticism which he [the French writer] advocates is a criticism, in fact, which makes a clear sweep of all the historical foundations of the Christian system, and builds them with totally different materials and, of course, totally different results. – – Anti-supernaturalism is the very principle of presently prevailing criticism, and as supernaturalism is the very principle of Christianity this criticism and Christianity can live together in harmony just as little as fire and water. The Abbe Loisy and Abbe Houtin – – they may intend otherwise, they may fancy otherwise, but what they are doing – – is to implant within it [the Roman Communion] a leaven which, if it ever becomes active, cannot stop working until it drives out every vestige of Christianity itself. The cause of the Roman Curia in this battle is sadly confused with the cause of Christianity itself.

What the Princeton Quarterly wrote of certain phases of so-called Modernism before Pius had spoken, it ought to write textually of the whole system, as now reprobated in the Encyclical. Of course, the Pope is dogmatic – clear and precise, firm and authoritative: a teacher having authority, and speaking to be clearly understood, necessarily is dogmatic. The Papacy is dogmatic; so was Paul; so was Christ.

An objection against the Papal claim to dogmatic authority raised by Mr. Johnston is that, logically and in fact, a claim of the kind leads to religious persecution, as is proven by the wars of religion noted in the annals of past ages. That dogmatic teaching in faith and morals begets in the teacher the spirit of persecution, I very promptly deny. And there is no need that I discuss the wars of religion of which the story is evoked. To understand those wars we should understand the spirit of the times in which they occurred – times, happily, far removed from our own. And we should sift carefully the story of those wars, so as to give to the civil power and to popular uprisings their share of responsibility. I shall only remark that, besides quoting persecutions of heretics in Catholic countries, Mr. Johnston should have quoted also persecutions of Catholics under Protestant governments, some of which easily bear off the palm for unmitigated ferociousness, as Mr. Johnston’s own History of Ireland – an admirable and most fair-minded book – so clearly shows. But let us leave the past to bury its own dead. Today, certainly, dogmatic authority in the Papacy means naught save the right to defend, with the spiritual arms of truth, the religion of God and His Christ.

Lack of space forbids me from reviewing certain minor points in the Encyclical criticised by Mr. Johnston. I equally pass over the disciplinary parts of the Encyclical. These are of concern only to Catholics, ”affaires de famille” – of slight interest to the general public. The chief issue raised by Mr. Johnston was the dogmatic despotism of the Papacy. Well, so far as this despotism comes before us in its teachings on Modernism, we should gratefully accept it.

Never in Christian history was there an age of such religious restlessness as is witnessed today: never before were such deadly shafts aimed at Christ and His Gospel: never was there so much need of clear authoritative Christian teaching. Today, the Papacy is the sole teaching power in Christendom. The Papacy gone, no organic authority remains to defend Christ and His revelation: no solemn voice is heard speaking in tones not uncertain in behalf of the olden deposit of the Christian faith. The Papacy gone, Christianity is on the way to be, before very long, a faint whisper from the grave of a great religion that once taught and moved the nations.

Holy Mass offered in Nordic Countries

Posted in English on 06/10/2013 by Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


I will spend my vacation in Finland this month. My two weeks there are from June 12th until June 26th. I will also visit other Nordic countries as follows: Bergen, Norway, on June 27th and June 28th; Aarhus, Denmark, June 29th and June 30th; Stockholm, Sweden, July 1st until July 4th. Use the contact page for more detailed information, and follow the Twitter-page for updates.


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