Dr. Rudolf Graber, Bishop of Regensburg, Germany and one of the "Council Fathers" of Vatican II, sent shockwaves around the world when on May 2, 1973, the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Athanasius, he issued a short book entitled, Athanasius and the Church of Our Time. In this brief work, Dr. Graber revealed the true roots of the Council and the "diabolical plot" of the enemies of the Catholic Church to infiltrate her ranks and attempt to destroy Her from within. The book has been largely ignored, but fortunately an English translation was published.
Having recalled the aims of Modernists such as Antonio Fogazzaro, and the efforts of Pope St. Pius X to thwart them, Dr. Graber then shows, by quoting from the Encyclical Pascendi, the similarity between the doctrines of the Modernists and the theology of Vatican II:
The parallelism to the present day is evident above all in the Modernists' utterances on the subject of the Church: "In earlier times it was erroneously thought that the Church had been invested with authority from outside, that is directly by God. Hence it was possible to consider it autocratic. This view has now become antiquated. Authority, like the Church, is hence the product of religious awareness and must therefore be subordinated to the latter. If it refuses to comply, it turns into tyranny. But today we are living in an age in which the sense of liberty is at its height. In the life of the State, democracy has won through... Therefore ecclesiastical authority must also assume democratic forms, the more so because otherwise it is doomed to downfall. For in view of the present development of the idea of liberty, it would be folly to conceive of reactionary measures. A repression and restriction by force would lead to an explosion and sweep away the Church and religion."
The basic constituents of the theology of revolution are already to be found here. It would surprise us if the alleged triumphalism of the Church had not already been militated against at that time. It is demanded along these lines that the Church "should abandon all outward pomp which strikes the eye as being far too grand since the Church's power only extends to tasks in the spiritual domain." Pope St. Pius X sums up the modern theology by quoting its own words: "Here the general principle holds true: For a religion to be living, everything must be intelligible and must therefore change. Hence they hit upon the idea of evolution, as it were the quintessence of the whole doctrine. Dogma, Church, religious worship, the books we revere as sacred, indeed even the Faith itself must, if we do not wish to declare them all defunct, be subject to the laws of evolution." This evolution proceeds "from the clash between two opposing forces, one pressing for progress and one conservatively holding back. The conservative element is very strong in the Church; it is inherent in tradition... On the other hand, the force which presses for progress and adapts itself to the deepest needs lives and works in the awareness of the layman..." Once again we come across a comment which seems tailored for our times: the Modernists are of the opinion "that their place is and remains within the Church in order to gradually transform the general awareness," that is, the current subversive changing of the functions of existing institutions.
Pope Pius X sets out the goals of the Modernists' "reform" in a kind of catalogue. He explains: "What has been said up to now is already more than sufficient to demonstrate the unbounded, burning mania for change in these people: a mania which extends to absolutely everything Catholics possess. Philosophy is to be reformed, especially in clerical seminaries; Scholastic philosophy is to be banished into the history of philosophy to join the other outdated systems and in its place the young people are to be lectured on the only real modern philosophy appropriate to our times (nowadays 'Existentialism'). Dogmas and their development must be reconciled with science and history... Catechetic writings are to deal only with those dogmas which have been modernized and are in keeping with the powers of comprehension of the people... The system of government of the Church is to be reformed in every respect, especially on the disciplinary and dogmatic sides. It has to adapt both inwardly and outwardly to the modern awareness, which is thoroughly inclined to democracy... The Roman congregations for various kinds of Church business, especially those for the Holy Office and the Index, must be changed. In the moral sphere, the principles of Americanism are to be adopted, which gives active virtues precedence over passive ones and requires that the practice of the former be encouraged before that of the latter... There are even those who, as willing pupils of Protestantism, wish to see the celibacy of the priest abolished. Nothing whatsoever is left in the Church which they do not consider in need of reform; a reform, that is, according to their recipe."
The Pope then investigates how Modernism came about and has this to say: "There are above all three things which the Modernists know to stand in the way of their undertaking: the Scholastic method in philosophy, the authority of tradition and the Fathers, and the Church's Magisterium. Their fiercest battle is against the last of these. Hence Scholastic philosophy and theology are universally derided and despised. Whether this is done out of ignorance or fear or more probably from a mixture of both, one thing is certain: 'Innovation' mania is always associated with a hatred of Scholasticism; and there is no surer sign of the beginnings of a tendency towards Modernistic doctrines than when an aversion to Scholastic methods begins to be felt."
"In order to increase the number of their supporters the Modernists leave nothing untried. At the clerical seminaries and the universities they lie in wait for professorships so as to pervert them visibly into chairs of corruption. In church sermons they make known their doctrines, even if more covertly; they speak more openly in meetings. In short, they launch into truly feverish activity everywhere in their agitation, in both the spoken and the written word."
It almost seems as if this Encyclical was intended to hit our present Modernism much more than the Modernism at the beginning of the 20th century, which had penetrated the faithful far less deeply and extensively. What St. Pius X said in his concluding assessment of Modernism is really only coming true today: "Protestantism was the first step, then came Modernism; the end is atheism." We are experiencing it today in the "God-is-dead-theology." But what Fogazzaro said was equally correct: it took, after all, about fifty years for the ideas expressed in a small circle to lead to the crisis in the Church, which far outstrips the one at the time of the Reformation.
The Syllabus Lamentabili of July 3rd, 1907 is very closely related to the Encyclical Pascendi. In it, 65 Modernist tenets or doctrines are condemned. A few of them are particularly striking:
Condemned Tenet 30: "In all the texts of the Gospel, the name 'Son of God' is simply synonymous with the name 'Messiah' and on no account means that Christ is in reality and in substance the Son of God."
Condemned Tenet 37: "The belief in the Resurrection of Christ originally applied not so much to the fact of the Resurrection as such, but more to Christ's immortal life with God."
Condemned Tenet 49: "As the Christian Lord's Supper gradually assumed the form of a liturgical act, those who were accustomed to preside over the Lord's Supper acquired a priestly character."
Condemned Tenet 53: "The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable, but Christian society, like human society, is subject to permanent evolution."
Condemned Tenet 58: "Truth is no less immutable than man himself since it develops with him, in him and through him."
Let that suffice. When we glance through all the 65 tenets, we are filled with righteous anger that people have the audacity to put all this forward as new and modern and progressive and in keeping with the spirit of Vatican II, whereas it is merely warmed-up, linguistically reformulated, 50-year-old Modernism in modern dress. It remains incomprehensible that in ours of all times the Oath Against Modernism, prescribed on September 1, 1910, has been abolished!
It should be noted again that Dr. Rudolf Graber did not seem to comprehend fully the extent to which Modernism was indeed not only "in keeping with the spirit of Vatican II," but also promulgated by its Decrees.
(To be continued in future issues.)
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