(Image: From left to right, Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar)
Editor’s note: The author of this essay is, according to his own words, “not a certified academic, let alone theologian. These thoughts are simply the opinion of a Catholic artist who, having studied the deprivations of ‘Modern art,’ is concerned about the current state of the Catholic Church and how the same alien, even diabolical influences seen in art, seem to have crept into the Church since the Second Vatican Council.”
As reported in the New Oxford Review online edition of February 22, 2017, the superior general of the Society of Jesus has said that all Church doctrine must be subject to discernment.
In an interview with a Swiss journalist, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal said that the words of Jesus, too, must be weighed in their “historical context,” taking into account the culture in which Jesus lived and the human limitations of the men who wrote the Gospels.
In an exchange about Church teaching on marriage and divorce, when questioned about Christ’s condemnation of adultery, Father Sosa said that “there would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said.” He continued:
At that time, no one had a recorder to take down his words. What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized, they are expressed in a language, in a specific setting, they are addressed to someone in particular.
Father Sosa explained that he did not mean to question the words of Jesus, but to suggest further examination of “the word of Jesus as we have interpreted it.” He said that his new process of discernment should be guided by the Holy Spirit.
When the interviewer remarked that an individual’s discernment might lead him to a conclusion at odds with Catholic doctrine, the Jesuit superior replied: “That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it [replace the] Holy Spirit.”
The views held by Fr. Sosa did not spontaneously generate out of a vacuum.
At the time of the Second Vatican Council (Oct. 1962–Dec. 1965), leaving aside the traditionalists faithful to the vision of Pope Pius XII and his predecessors, the Church split between “Conservative” and “Progressive” factions led by the speculative theology of leading contemporary Catholic thinkers. The progressives, at the closing of Vatican II in 1965, began publication of a scholarly journal titled Concilium featuring the writings of Yves Congar, Hans Küng, Johann Baptist Metz, Karl Rahner S.J., and Edward Schillebeeckx. among others. In contrast, a group of the more conservative modern thinkers, including Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper, Marc Ouellet, Louis Bouyer and others, founded a counterpart journal in 1972, called Communio.
While the writings of the progressives such as Hans Küng, Schillebeeckx, and especially Karl Rahner S.J. have had a heavy influence on contemporary Catholic thought, in order to understand the quote above by the Jesuit Superior General, one must look also to the so-called “conservative” Jesuit theologian, Henri de Lubac S.J. and the ex-Jesuit Hans Urs von Balthasar for the ultimate demolition of pre-Vatican II theology.
Henri de Lubac, who went on to be Cardinal under Pope John Paul II in 1983, had earlier come under suspicion of the pre-Vatican II authorities (Holy Office) and, although not specifically named, was known to be the promoter of the heretical ideas denounced in the encyclicals Mystici Corporis (1943) and Humani Generis (1950) of Pope Pius XII.
These following words of the Pope, taken from Mystici Corporis, “There is… a false mysticism creeping in, which, in its attempt to eliminate the immovable frontier that separates creatures from the Creator that falsifies the Sacred Scriptures” were directed in response to de Lubac’s yet unpublished essays; these had spread especially among his colleagues at the Jesuit Theologate, La Fourvière, and they were summed up in his controversial book, Surnaturel published in 1943. The thesis of these essays was that all men, according to their very nature, possessed one supernatural end with the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision without need of the added gratuitous graces obtained through sacramental incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ.
In June of 1950, as de Lubac himself said, “lightning struck Fourvière.” He was removed from his professorship at Lyon and his editorship of Recherches de science religieuse, and he was required to leave the Lyon province. All Jesuit provincials were directed to remove three of his books – Surnaturel, Corpus Mysticum and Connaissance de Dieu – because of “pernicious errors on essential points of dogma.”
In 1962, well after the death of Pius XII, de Lubac wrote the book Teilhard de Chardin: The Man and His Meaning, extolling the writings of the pantheist paleontologist whose notes he had studied along with his colleagues at La Fourvière. De Chardin himself had been censured and stripped of his teaching position already in 1925 for denying Original Sin and the existence of Hell. His writings are still officially proscribed, but remain, however, immensely popular today among Jesuits and even within some of the highest ranking circles of the contemporary Roman Catholic Church.
Following the above-mentioned books, in 1979–1981 de Lubac wrote an enthusiastic book on the 12th-century monk and mystic Joachim da Fiore, entitled La Posterité Spirituelle de Joachim de Flore.
While this book, written in French, and as yet untranslated into English, remains relatively unknown to the general readership, most “conservative” commentators speak favorably of it as a denunciation of secular utopian dreams.
Joachim da Fiore’s dream was, however, anything but materialistic. His vision was that there existed a divinely inspired historical progression, as noted by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: “From the Church visible to the Church of the spirit. From the historic Gospel to the eternal one. Not “anti-” but “trans-Catholic.”
According to Joachim, salvation history was divided into three periods: the Old Testament or age of the Father with its rigorous Mosaic law; the New Testament as the age of the Son embodied in the Roman Sacramental Church founded on Peter; and a final age of the Holy Spirit, a “tempus amplioris gratiae,” a time of universal convergence and freedom from the law, symbolically identified with St. John the Evangelist, “the apostle of love.”
In this vein, de Lubac’s book speaks, enigmatically but more or less favorably, of an 1884 speech to the College de France by the Polish historian of Slavonic literature (occultist Martinist and Freemason) Adam Mickiewicz, on his vision of the future Church:
“Christmas. At St. Peter’s in Rome, the Pope says Mass surrounded by tired old men. Suddenly in their midst a young man dressed in purple enters: it is the Church of the future in the person of [St.] John. He tells the pilgrims that the times are fulfilled… He calls the head of the apostles by name (Peter) and tells him to leave the tomb … (He comes forth).… The cupola of the Basilica cracks open and splits and Peter goes back into his tomb having given his place to John. The faithful pilgrims die under the ruins… Peter has died forever. The Roman Church is finished, its last faithful are dead. ….They (a group of attending Polish peasants according to Mickiewicz) shall open this cupola to the light of heaven so that it looks like that pantheon of which it is a copy: so that it may be the basilica of the universe, the pantheon, the pan cosmos and pandemic, the temple of all spirits; so that it gives us the key to all of the traditions and all of the philosophies.”
“An ecumenism without boundary stones, with a total opening to the future, still within the Church of Christ, moved to enlarge itself without ceasing to be the immortal dream of remaining Catholic.” (emphasis in original)
This passage clearly relates to Joachim’s historical vision, taken up by Hegel and the pantheistic Freemasons Friedrich Schelling and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wherein, prior to the end of the world, there would be a final immanent “Age of the Holy Spirit” composed of absolute freedom wherein all would have direct access to the guidance of the “Holy Spirit” without the necessity of recourse to the doctrinal or moral teachings of Holy Mother Church.
Is this not what Fr. Sosa is proposing?
Among de Lubac’s younger contemporaries whom he mentored at La Fourvière was Hans Urs von Balthasar (S.J.) whom many, if not most, “conservatives” consider the foremost theologian of the post-Conciliar Church.
Having finished his seven years of training at La Fourvière, Balthasar was ordained a priest in 1936. He then worked briefly in Munich, for the Jesuit journal Stimmen der Zeit. In 1940, with the Nazi regime encroaching on the freedom of Catholic journalists, he left Germany and began work in Basel as a student chaplain.
It was there that he met the twice-married Protestant mystic, Adrienne von Speyr, whom he converted to the Catholic Faith. In 1945, they founded together a religious society called the Community of St. John to promote the visionary theology of Frau von Speyr. Due to incompatibility of doctrine, von Balthasar left the Jesuits in 1950 to continue in earnest his collaboration with von Speyr. According to Von Balthasar in his book Our Task (Il nostro compito), “her work and mine are not at all separable: neither psychologically nor philologically. For they constitute both halves of a whole which has as its center a unique foundation” ….”The main goal of this book is simply to prevent any attempt of separating my work from that of Adrienne von Speyr, after my death.”
Adrienne maintained that Heaven had entrusted an ecclesiastical mission to von Balthasar and to herself. In a “Marian” vision, Adrienne says to God: “We both (Adrienne and von Balthasar) wish to love You, to serve You, and to thank You for the Church You have entrusted to us.” These last words, Adrienne continues, were uttered in an improvised manner and were dictated by the Mother of God, that is to say, by us (the Mother of God and Adrienne); “we spoke those words both of us together, and for a fraction of a second, she placed the child in my arms, but it was not only the child, it was the Una Sancta (the Church) in miniature, and seemed to me, to represent a unity of everything that has been entrusted to us and which constitutes a work in God for the Catholic [Faith].”
This claim that the Blessed Mother herself had entrusted the future of the Church into their (Hans and Adrienne’s) hands, that is to say, in a private revelation, independent of the hierarchy and magisterium, is suspicious and highly irregular. That the hierarchy and magisterium should take these controversial revelations to be authentic at face value is inexplicable.
Von Balthasar is best known to general audiences for his controversial 1986 book, Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?, which is based, in part, on the speculation of the brilliant Greek theologian Origen (185–253) whose thoughts contained in his treatise De Principiis 1.6.-3, however, on apokatastasis (universal salvation, including the devil), were condemned at the Second (5th Ecumenical) Council of Constantinople (583).
In this work, von Balthasar states in his epilogue that Origen, as well as Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor based their circular theory of history leading to apokatastasis on neo-Platonic and Gnostic theories prevalent in the Eastern Empire at that time. He also suggests that these ideas reemerge in the works of Meister Ekhart and Teilhard de Chardin.
Lesser known is his elegiac postscript (foreword in the German edition) to Valentin Tomberg’s 1985 book titled Meditations on the Tarot, a Journey into Christian Hermeticism.
Lack of space prohibits a full treatment of this book, which deserves a thorough review, but there are some salient quotes that will give a quite accurate idea of the general tone of the work. The “anonymous” author, Valentin Tomberg, presents Gnosticism, Magic, Kabbalah (Cabala), and Hermeticism as not only compatible, but essential to true Catholic belief. While he quotes St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist and extols the visions of such Catholic mystics as St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Francis of Assisi, as well as quoting from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he gives equal coverage to Masonic Martinist Saint Yves d’Alveydre, the acknowledged Luciferian Stanislau de Guaita, the Satanic Magician Eliphas Lévi, as well as the Kabbalistic false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Madame Blavatsky, Swami Vivekananda, Rudolf Steiner, Teilhard de Chardin, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Carl Jung, and a host of others.
Von Balthasar has nothing but praise for this work. In his foreword (in the German edition) /afterword (in the English edition), he has the following to say:
A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us the symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis and magic, taking in also the Cabbala (Kabbalah) and certain elements of astrology and alchemy….. the so-called “secret wisdom of the Egyptians …. (emphasis added)
Professor von Balthasar continues, saying: “… However, just as strong in its creative power of transformation is the incorporation of Jacob Boehme’s Christosophy ….”
….A third, less clear-cut transposition will be referred to briefly: that of the ancient magic/alchemy into the realm of depth psychology by C.G. Jung.
….The mystical, magical, occult tributaries which flow into the stream of his (Tomberg’s) meditations are much more encompassing; yet the confluence of their waters within him, full of movement, becomes inwardly a unity of Christian contemplation. …. Repeated attempts have been made to accommodate the Cabbala and the Tarot to Catholic teaching. The most extensive undertaking of this kind was that of Élephas Lévi (the Pseudonyme of Abbé Alphonse-Louis Constant) whose first work (Dogma et ritual de la haute magie) appeared in 1854.
The list of “spiritual” seekers promoted in this glowing afterword to Tomberg’s book goes on, however, a brief introduction to some of those listed above will suffice to show their incompatibility with Catholic Faith and morals.
First off all, Jacob Boehme (1575–1624), a Bohemian shoemaker, from a Lutheran family, who – like Frau von Speyr – was subject to visions, starting in 1600 wherein he saw a great light reflected in a dark pewter plate which led him to proclaim the following:
The being of all beings is but a single being, yet in giving birth to itself, it divides itself into two principles, into light and darkness, into joy and pain, into evil and good, into love and wrath, …Creation itself as his own love-play between the qualities of both eternal desires.
(Jakob Böhme, Sämtliche Schriften ed. W. E. Peuckert, vol. 16 (Stuttgart: Frommann, 1957), p. 233.)
Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) renowned Swiss psychoanalyst, son of a pastor of the Reformed Swiss Church began hearing voices and having visions in 1913. His religious conclusions contain the following quote:
In our diagram, Christ and the devil appear as equal and opposite, thus conforming to the idea of the “adversary.” This opposition means conflict to the last; and it is the task of humanity to endure this conflict until the time or turning-point is reached where good and evil begin to relativise themselves, to doubt themselves, and the cry is roused for a morality ‘beyond good and evil’.
(Carl Gustav Jung, Zur Psychologie der Trinitätslehre, translated in vol. 11, 2nd ed. of his Complete Works (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 174)
Éliphas Lévi, a.k.a. Abbé Alphonse-Louis Constant (1810–1875), French occultist, born Catholic, ex-seminarian, best known for his work Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854):
What is more absurd and more impious than to attribute the name of Lucifer to the devil, that is, to personified evil. The intellectual Lucifer is the spirit of intelligence and love; it is the paraclete, it is the Holy Spirit, while the physical Lucifer is the great agent of universal magnetism.
(Éliphas Lévi, The Mysteries of Magic, p. 428; emphasis added)
The created principle is [yod] the divine phallus; and the created principle is the formal [cteïs] female organ. The insertion of the vertical phallus into the horizontal cteïs forms the cross of the Gnostics, or the philosophical cross of the Freemasons.
(Éliphas Lévi, Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (Paris: Chacon Frères, 1930), pp. 123-124.)
The image below signed by Lévi, with goats head, erect phallus and female breasts, is the classic depiction of Satan. 
All of the above authors are in agreement that to achieve universal or divine harmony, apokatastasis, there must be an interplay and unification between the forces of male and female [androgyny], light and dark, and of good and evil – God and the Devil.
This is the express doctrine of the Cabbala (Kabbalah), as promoted by both esoteric mystical Judaism and Freemasonry, and, again, as extolled above by von Balthasar. Below are two interesting references to the Cabbala, the first by the Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges, and the second by Éliphas Lévi:
Kabbalah considers the necessity of evil, theodicy, which, along with the Gnostics, equates with an imperfect God of creation who is not the final God. …. [that is to say] the doctrine of the Greeks called apokatastasis, that all creatures, including Cain and the Devil, will return, at the end of great transmigrations, to be mingled again with the Divinity from which they once emerged.
The Lucifer of the Kabbalah is not an accursed and stricken angel; he is the angel who enlightens, who regenerates by fire.
Or, as Albert Pike in his authoritative Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry explains in chapter XXII “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret”:
“The primary tradition of the single revelation has been preserved under the name of the ‘Kabalah’ (sic.)…. of that Equilibrium between Good and Evil, and Light and Darkness in the world which assures us that all is the work of the Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love.”
This “theodicy” is totally alien to orthodox Catholicism and blasphemous in the extreme, for as St. Paul warns us, not by tape recorder, but via his written instruction, “… For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Beliel?” (2 Corinthians” 6:14,15)
While the personal faith and devotion to Christ and Our Lady of Hans Urs von Balthasar are in no way to be questioned, his pantheon, deduced from the above, appears to include Lucifer/Satan and the fallen angels as necessary participants’ in the divine drama of universal salvation.
The thoughts contained in this afterword to Tomberg’s Meditations on the Tarot were written in 1985, that is to say, one year prior to the original 1986 German edition of Dare We Hope? To what extent did Tomberg’s occult theosophy influence von Balthasar’s view of salvation, and how deeply has the Cabbalistic occult doctrine of a binary God composed of both good and evil penetrated the Jesuit order as well as the Church at large?
 “ …concealed beneath the mask of virtue, there are many, who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an ‘eirenism’ according to which by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma….today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology…should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.” H.H. Pope Pius XII, Human Generis, 1946 art. 11
 H.H. Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, Art. 6, Vatican 1943, English translation, St. Paul Editions.
 Henri de Lubac, At the Service of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), p. 67.
 Henri de Lubac, La Pensée Religieuse du Père Teilhard de Chardin (Paris: Aubier, 1962), English translation: The Man and His Meaning, (New York: New American Library, 1964)
 Monitum: “Several works of Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, some of which were posthumously published, are being edited and are gaining a good deal of success. Prescinding from a judgment about those points that concern the positive sciences, it is sufficiently clear that the above-mentioned works abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine. For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers. Given at Rome, from the palace of the Holy Office, on the thirtieth day of June, 1962. Sebastianus Masala, Notarius.”
Communiqué of the Press Office of the Holy See (appearing in the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano, July 20, 1981): “The letter sent by the Cardinal Secretary of State to His Excellency Mons. Poupard on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin has been interpreted in a certain section of the press as a revision of previous stands taken by the Holy See in regard to this author, and in particular of the Monitum of the Holy Office of 30 June 1962, which pointed out that the work of the author contained ambiguities and grave doctrinal errors. The question has been asked whether such an interpretation is well founded. After having consulted the Cardinal Secretary of State and the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which, by order of the Holy Father, had been duly consulted beforehand, about the letter in question, we are in a position to reply in the negative. Far from being a revision of the previous stands of the Holy See, Cardinal Casaroli’s letter expresses reservations in various passages – and these reservations have been passed over in silence by certain newspapers – reservations which refer precisely to the judgment given in the Monitum of June 1962, even though this document is not explicitly mentioned.”
 Georg W. Friedrich Hegel, quoted by Massimo Borghesi, “Joachim and his Spiritual Sons,” 30 Days, No. 3 – 1994, p. 56
 Ibid., “Joachim and his Spiritual Sons,” pp. 57-61
 Henri de Lubac, La Postérité Spirituelle de Joachim de Flore (Paris: Lethielleux, 1981), pp. 270-271
 Ibid., p. 275; emphasis in the original French
 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Our Task (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), p. 130
 Ibid., p. 51
 One example of von Balthasar’s and von Speyr’s theology based on the latter’s visions concerns the Catholic doctrine contained in the Creed concerning Christ’s descent to the underworld (ad inferos). Following the view of John Calvin, von Speyr maintains that Christ suffered total alienation and suffering in the Hell of the damned as distinct from the traditional Catholic view held by St. Thomas Aquinas that Christ did not enter the Hell of the dammed , but the limbo of the Just in order to release them (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, 52 part ll). Another glaring contradiction is her Protestant view of the Eucharist explained in her book The Passion from Within (published in English in 1998) wherein she claims that Christ in the Eucharist becomes bread and is bread: “Having become flesh, he now becomes bread…. he gives his body to the bread.” And again, she says, “he gives to the church the act of his becoming bread as well as the state of being bread,” reiterating, “The bread is not part of his body; it is his whole body…and thus he achieves the full identity between the two forms of his body.” (pp. 24, 31, 37, cit. Ann Barbour Gardiner, New Oxford Review, Sept. 2002)
 Mgr. Philip Hughes, History of the Councils, http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/coun6.html
For von Balthasar, the “devil” is not save as (he-it) is not truely a person as (he-it) is not truly a person as being incapable of love.
 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dare We Hope That All Men Are Saved? English translation Dr. David Kripp and Fr. Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), Epilogue
 Anonymous (Valentin Tomberg), Meditations on the Tarot (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putman, 1985)
 The complete text of this book in English translation by Arthur Waite is available in pdf format at: http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1896__levi___transcendental_magic.pdf
 This and more quotes may be found at: “Eliphas Levi.” AZQuotes.com. Wind and Fly LTD, 2017. 10 March 2017. http://www.azquotes.com/author/8769-Eliphas_Levi
 Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854), English translation by Arthur Waite as Transcendental Magic http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1896__levi___transcendental_magic.pdf (p. 174)
 Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights (New York: New Directions, 1984), cited in The University Bookman, ed. Russell Kirk, Winter 1987, p. 15, review by Anthony Kerrigan
 Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854), English translation by Arthur Waite as Transcendantal Magic (London: George Redway, 1896), p.177
 Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry (Charleston: Southern Jurisdiction, A\M\ 5680), pp. 841, 859
Reed Armstrong is a Catholic artist (sculptor) living in Front Royal, VA whose work is displayed in churches, public spaces and private collections both here and abroad. He is also a writer and lecturer on religion and art, often with a focus on occult, or diabolical influences on art starting in the Renaissance and proliferating in the 19th and 20th centuries. His writings have appeared in Crisis Magazine, Communio, Latin Mass and the Journal of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, among others. Some of these essays, along with examples of his sculptural endeavors, may be found on his website www.agdei.com .
A lot of this is genuinely new to me. While I know the Church Herself remains indefectible, it’s astonishing that some of her most prominent and highly regarded members could in our modern times be turning to borderline worship of Satan. When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on Earth?
These are the men over whom the devil was granted greater power as recorded in Pope Leo XIII’s late 19th century vision. When right order and discipline are restored to the Church all of this garbage will be condemned. God hasten the day.
There was a LaStampa reported instance last December 14th of Francis stating “God the Father was unjust…” and in light of this fine article the statement is perhaps better understood.
I think this is “fake news.” If I remember correctly, Francis merely said that such-and-such a claim was false because it would lead to the conclusion that God was unjust. Nothing blasphemous about that.
More evidence that the Modernist Vatican II Catholic Church has been profoundly influenced by Satan. All the writers mentioned above should be avoided at the risk of one’s faith. There used to be an index of forbidden books which would have warned us of such works that undermine our faith. But like so much else good and holy the Index became a casualty of Vatican II as, of course it had to, so the devil would not be inhibited in his work.
Emphasis on the profoundly.
Indeed, how sad.
When the Great Stalin is elected as Comrade Pope Sophronius, one of his first acts will be the full suppression of the Jesuits and the removal of all of them to the inner headwaters of the Amazon and to desolate regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. One can then piously entrust them to the mosquitoes, snakes and other fauna of those places.
These writers are of course all lauded by Benedict XVI. Remember that, all those who are tempted to see in him the paragon of all virtues, including Catholic orthodoxy.
One can see from all this that the ‘New Theology’ has its origins in Gnosticism, the Kabbala and the theosophism of people like Madame Blavatsky. All of it condemned either by Scripture or by Councils.
Pope St. Pius X was of course spot on: Modernism contains within itself all other heresies.
How the heck do we get out of this mess?
“How the heck do we get out of this mess?”
faith, hope, and charity
we won’t get out of this by any human power
It is a temporary suffering we all must endure in the same manner our Lord suffered in Gethsemane. Pope Paul VI said: «da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio». The smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God through some cracks. We are in the middle of a great trial. Let us pray like Jesus prayed in his last hours.
God. The great power, love, mercy, and justice of God. We must continue to beseech him with our prayers, fasting, and sufferings.
You put Scripture first and take a big step away from all human writers. Christ said, ” many will seek to enter on that day and will not be able to.” Why read Rahner and Von Balthasar hoping for an empty hell when Christ already told you that it won’t be empty. They felt free to doubt that passage I guess. St. JPII and Benedict both stated in low venue contexts that we could not be sure Judas was in hell. Christ praying to His Father said…” those whom you gave me I guarded and not one of them perished ( was destroyed ) except the son of perdition”. Two Popes ignored that passage in the way that the above theologians ignored Christ saying many would reach hell. Solution…put His words first….theirs on hold til you check them with his words. Stop paying for books that are longer than the Bible when Catholics rarely read the entire Bible but they’ll read human books front to back.
Agreed. All we need is the Bible, Scripture and the spiritual works of the Saints.
It has always astonished me that Vatican II is based upon speculative theology. What is a Holy Ecumenical Council doing pushing speculative theology at all?
I’ve heard my share of words that warn of taking the possibility of an eternal suffering unseriously. However, over time what has been appearing in my thoughts increasingly is the possibility of a special kind of intervention, and one which derives directly from a revelation which should comprise an important part of our heritage and practice.
I am thinking specifically of the brief prayer that was supplied by Our Lady at Fatima to the children, and which is commonly incorporated into the Rosary recitation: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”
It strikes me that such a prayer is asking us to request that ALL souls be led to salvation — not just some. Hence, I would never consider that our Lady would deceive us by supplying us with such a prayer — which actually contains such a hope — if it were not indeed possible.
Mary can’t contradict scripture which is from God so her words would have to be understood of the time period after the prayer makes its appearance in the twentieth century. But are you aware that the Catholic Church does not hold private revelation ..even Fatima…to be binding on Catholics? Go to the new advent website and search ” private revelation “. It will affirm what I just said by giving the Catholic Encyclopedia on that topic. None of the private revelations to saints are binding. That is partly because the human psyche can mix into a revelation and color it with elements of the saint. So that parts may be truly from Mary but other parts could be the mixing in of the saint’s subconscious. If a private revelation makes you in this case feel free to ignore words of Christ,
I’d say that is a real red flag if I ever heard of one. Show this my post to your pastor and see what he says….and I’m hoping he is not heretical.
Please – let us dispense with “private revelation” arguments here, this is not the point at all. How do you pray? And for what?
It is not so much about Mary or Fatima here, since the prayer formula is not directed towards her, but addresses our Lord directly, so let’s not be disingenuous.
Are you saying that you do not recite this formula as part of your rosary, or even more so that it means nothing in itself? That you would never ask Jesus to save all souls – simply because you don’t believe they can be? “Oh ye of little faith” would seem to apply here. If so, why bother praying?
You appear to lack a fundamental sense of understanding: namely, that even if God has spoken something, God can certainly change His mind. However, the dogmatic adherence of the human mind cannot be easily changed…
Be faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ and obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Let us follow the message of Fatima and do what Our Lady asks from us: Traditional Holy Mass, prayer of the Rosary, devotion to Her Immaculate Heart and reparation for the sacrileges against God. God is sovereign over His Creation and the Book of Revelation is being unraveled. By adding 666 with itself we can assume: 666 -> Islam, 1332 -> Gnosticism, 1998 -> The Antichrist. Time will tell. As the Lord said: STAY AWAKE AND PRAY.
Yvonne, I really do wish Traditionalists would not involve themselves with numerology, a form of divination which we Catholics are forbidden to touch with a barge pole.
The author refers to Martinist Freemason, Adam Mickiewicz.
The influence of this Polish Poet on Pope St John Paul II has been well documented, notably in the article linked to below from the journal Sodalitium. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the author of this article hadn’t made use of that earlier article – although there are no references in the footnotes to it. Obviously, it is more sensitive a matter to link such currents of thoughts to such a giant figure in the Church’s history rather than to various theologians, no matter how significant. But In ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope’ in the chapter on The Church and the Council, Pope John Paul II is very clear about the lasting debt and influence Cardinal de Lubac had on him:
“I enjoyed a special friendship with Father de Lubac”
Thanks. This is very troubling to me. I wish someone would help me to understand. I really thought Mary, our Mother would keep Her devotees free from error like this. This shakes my confidence. I have s great devotion to Our Mother and love Truth! But, who am I? Why would I merit being preserved in truth when others greater than I fell into such dangerous poison?
Dear Lynn, please don’t be troubled, nor lose confidence in the Holy Virgin. Those who want their ears itched will have them itched; this grave fault affects the intellectuals just as much as anyone else. Be grateful to Our Lady that she has kept you in the Truth.
“To those whom much has been given, much will be asked.” These ‘great men’ will have to answer to God. But St John Paul II is a saint – the Church’s – the Holy Spirit’s! infallibility is engaged. That doesn’t mean that he got everything right, neither in his personal judgement (and this book of his was not a magisterial document) nor in the execution of governing in his pontifical office. But he was a saint.
So give thanks, then, in your littleness that the Good God, in His Providence raised up for the Church such a saint as Thérèse of Lisieux, whose Little Way (to be lived in secret hiddeness) shows us how to live the Gospel in these dangerously confused days.
“Courage et confiance” as she says.
Or, you know, maybe Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger understand Catholic theology better than you do.
Hmmm. Well, surely they do. That said: surely you know the sensus fidei is something distinct (though not separate) from theology.
And that sense of the Faith shouldn’t be discounted. Not only that, the theology is in the service of the doctrine of the Faith – not the other way round. Simple folk, then, keep the Faith just as importantly as the theologians.
St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila and St Thérèse of Lisieux are all Doctors of the Church not because they were theologians but because of their co-operation with the graces they were given on the level of Faith: the gifts of wisdom, intelligence, counsel etc.
1000 up votes!
“As reported in the New Oxford Review online edition of February 22, 2017, the superior general of the Society of Jesus has said that all Church doctrine must be subject to discernment.” That this was published on February 22, the Feast Day of the Chair of Saint Peter, is yet another indication that those who advance the De Lubac & Von Balthasar Agenda, have no fear of arousing the correction of the current occupant of the Chair of Saint Peter. I have often heard of these two characters, but this is the most informative article I have read in regards to them. Perhaps that is because the article was written by a non theologian and a non certified academic. In the times where theology and academia are so riddled with error, perhaps we should seek out authors who lack those credentials. This is definitely a good start.
“When the discussion turns to difficult and obscure things, people choose to condemn them rashly and ignorantly, rather than to learn their meaning by study and diligence.” (Rufinus, apud Origen, De principiis III, preface)
Good point, Adam. All of these men clearly had great difficulty accepting the hard teachings of the faith once delivered to the saints. Sadly, then, as the essay demonstrates, they chose to forsake the path of wisdom and humility, and, as you point out, turn rashly and ignorantly to the doctrines of devils.
Henri Cardinal de Lubac, S.J. – The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin, 1968 —“We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard, in whom emotion has blunted intelligence”.
Bishop Fulton J Sheen – Footsteps in a Darkened Forest, (New York: Meredith, 1967) page 73. —
“It is very likely that within fifty years when all the trivial, verbal disputes about the meaning of Teilhard’s vocabulary will have died away or have taken a secondary place, Teilhard will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century.”
Flannery O’Connor – The Presence of Grace — “It is doubtful if any Christian of this century can be fully aware of his religion until he has seen it in the cosmic light which Teilhard has cast upon it.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 1968 —
* We shall return later to discuss today this enlarged perspective which is at last beginning to gain currency in the Western consciousness as well, especially as a result of stimuli from the work of Teilhard de Chardin. Page 85
* It must be regarded as an important service of Teilhard de Chardin’s that he rethought these ideas from the angle of the modern view of the world … Page 236
* This leads to a further passage in Teilhard de Chardin that is worth quoting … Page 238
* From here it is possible to understand the final aim of the whole movement as Teilhard sees it … page 238
* The first of these two concepts can be accepted again today without argument; and after what we have learned from Teilhard, the second should no longer be entirely incomprehensible, either. Page 318
The praise of neo-Modernists and half-Modernists for a heretic?
You offer this to give credibility to Teilhard?
ca 1964 – Francis Cardinal George. — His master thesis in theology at the University of Ottawa, was The Eschatology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Pope Paul VI — “Fr. Teilhard is an indispensable man for our times; his expression of faith is necessary for us!”
Pope John Paul II, Gift and Mystery, page 73 — “The Eucharist is also celebrated in order to offer ‘on the altar of the whole earth
the world’s work and suffering’ in the beautiful words of Teilhard de Chardin.”
Avery Cardinal Dulles – A Eucharistic Church: The Vision of John Paul II – McGinley Lecture, University, November 10, 2004. — “. . .
Teilhard correctly identified the connection between the Eucharist and the final glorification of the cosmos.”
You continue to prove my point. Thanks very much.
I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised by those words of Bishop Fulton Sheen here. That said, no one ever claimed he was infallible, least of all himself.
Sure. And he did go very “juztiz n’ peas” towards the end.
It is outrageous. There is poison everywhere. In the old times you needed not to worry about learning deep theological concepts or ideas. It was enough to be faithful to the Church teaching, go to Mass, frequent the Sacraments pray, have a life of charity and penance, etc. Today we can’t navigate through this confusion unless we spend an incredible amount of time learning these deep concepts… and yet, being careful not to fall into bad stuff.
“The thesis of these essays was that all men, according to their very nature, possessed one supernatural end with the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision without need of the added gratuitous graces obtained through sacramental incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ.”
That doesn’t sound correct. There is one supernatural end (no pure nature) for de Lubac but all men do not have “by their very nature” “the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision.” I’ve read his ‘Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace’, and I do not recall anything that would lend itself to this interpretation.
Well, he did say he is ignorant of theology. But then that raises the question why this rubbish was published in the first place.
Hi Adam – Could you recommend a few modern theologians you consider to be sound and thus worthy of listening to?
I’d recommend all the theologians condemned in the post! 🙂
Hi Adam – Were they accurately portrayed in the article?
Hi Adam – What do you think motivated the author of this article to inaccurately portray the theologians he highlighted in this article? Malice of some sort?
The post is mostly just “guilt by association,” and by his own admission he doesn’t really know theology. His summary of Surnaturel is just wrong, as he makes it sound like a form of Pelagianism. He wants to tear down La Nouvelle Theologie because he wants to tear down Vatican II, and he correctly notes that the two go together. I think that’s his motivation.
Hi Adam – Do think that an unfaithful theologian is more credible than a faithful non theologian? Do you believe that any theological errors might have been introduced by the non catholic theologians present at the Council?
I’m not sure I understand the question. (You certainly are inquisitive!) If you want to accurately understand what theologians say in their works, another theologian, even an “unfaithful” one, is going to be in a better position to explain the words. Just believing the Catholic faith doesn’t give one theological credentials, nor does being a theology automatically give one faith. Right?
The non-Catholics at the council couldn’t address the council or vote, so I highly doubt they had a significant influence. They were observers. The theological architects of the council’s thoughts were the very theologians unfairly condemned in this post, including, it should be said again, Joseph Ratzinger.
Hi Adam – I know I try your patience, but I appreciate the fact that you are willing to answer me. I am not a theologian, and I do believe that JPII and Benedict were good Popes, who lived through the most evil event in human history – WWII, and that informed their approach to Vatican II and their Papacies. I also believe that the Novus Ordo is a legitimate form of the Mass,. But. I also acknowledge there have been many errors associated with all of the above which opened the Church to unsound practices and the very real possibility of Schism under the Papacy of Francis, whom I consider to be determined to undermine the teachings of the Church and the Sacraments and willing to integrate the Church into an unholy globalist agenda. If the non Catholic theologians had a significant influence on the Council, would that make you more wary of the Council? Was Martin Luther a good theologians?
I don’t know because that’s a counterfactual, but the documents of the council are certainly open to theological critique. To me they are a first step and kind of foundation stone for doing Catholic theology in the modern world; they are not a last word.
The word ‘good’ is equivocal. Certainly Martin Luther was a skilled theologian, who was well versed in the Bible and the theological tradition, especially St. Augustine. So if a ‘good’ theologian is one who is skilled and knowledgeable, then he clearly was. But as a Catholic I fundamentally disagree with some of his ideas, such as that there are only two (or three) sacraments. So in that sense a Catholic could say he was not a ‘good’ theologian, since he rejected the authority of the ecumenical councils.
Hi Adam – Thank You for responding to my posts. I think we agree that novelty is never inspired by the Holy Spirit. What offends God can not change with the times, nor can the consequences for unrepentant sinners change since that would not reflect the quality of Perfect Justice. Those who love their sins more than the God they offend can be sure they will be separated from Him for Eternity. Thanks Again, Adam, especially for your patience in dealing with my endless questions.
I’m with Adam. I love Balthasar, Bouyer, Blondel, and others associated with ressourcement theology, which was the de facto theology informing the St. John Paul II papacy and, of course, his successor. We can still be critical, of course, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is worthy of some significant caution. By the way, many of the current ressourcement theologians have been part of a John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, such as D. C. Schindler.
Hi Kevin – Does Pope Francis reflect this ressourcement theology?
In word – hell no. An obvious example would be Francis’ blatant crackdown on the JPII Institute for Marriage and Family Studies which is perhaps the foremost purveyor of Balthasar/De Lubac in the Church today. Also note that Cardinal Caffara, one of the Famous Four Cardinals, was the first chancellor of the JPII Institute and entrusted by JPII himself to promote its mission in support of the Church. At the deepest levels, Francis is the living contradiction of what ressourcement theology seeks to promote.
Hi c86 – “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” That Francis is the living contradiction of ressourcement theology speaks well of it.
Hey, fniper — Pope Francis reflects ressourcement in part, but I would say that his sympathies (and certainly his rhetoric and posturing) are more with the Concilium journal, namely Schillebeeckx, Küng, etc., and much of liberation theology. Without a doubt, these theologians and movements were given a cold shoulder during the JP2/B16 papacies but now sense, rightly or wrongly, that their time has finally come, with Pope Francis.
Hi Kevin – How would we know their time of triumph of these theological movements had finally come? Is there one theological point they wish to establish, more than all others? Is Cardinal Burke wrong to ask Pope Francis for the clarifications he seeks in the Dubia? I believe we must be children dependent on the Truth, not of ambiguity, do you agree?
How would we know their time of triumph of these theological movements had finally come?
There is no way to know, and we know from history that theological movements can ascend and then decline and vice-versa. Thomism, for example, has had its up’s and down’s for centuries.
Is there one theological point they wish to establish, more than all others?
There is usually a set of points, not reducible to one, and varying among theologians within any given movement. Ressourcement theologians targeted (rightly in my opinion) a rationalistic metaphysics that had dominated Catholic theology and apologetics, including a too clean separation between nature and grace, to name one controversy among others. Theologians and philosophers like Maurice Blondel, Etienne Gilson, Henri de Lubac, et alia, did not agree in details, but they rigorously tried to avoid both fideism and rationalism, and this attracted the young Karol Wojtyła, influencing his entire papacy. His encyclical, Fides et Ratio, is a fine statement of this theology.
Is Cardinal Burke wrong to ask Pope Francis for the clarifications he seeks in the Dubia?
No, he is not wrong. Cardinal Burke is perfectly sensible in asking for clarification. There is a separate question of whether the dubia should have been publicized, but there is nothing wrong with the dubia itself.
I believe we must be children dependent on the Truth, not of ambiguity, do you agree?
I agree, but we must recognize that the Truth is not always as perspicuous as we would like. As Aquinas taught, our knowledge of God is analogical, not univocal, and that is a humbling reality. Yet, I think Pope Francis goes too far in his zealotry for ambiguity, and I certainly miss the days of his two predecessors. I am not nearly as anti-Francis as the folks here at 1P5, but I do have concerns about his overall sense of things and leadership of the barque of St. Peter.
Hi Kevin – Thank You for your responses. Do you believe the events that occurred at Fatima legitimately undermined those who rely on a sense of rationalistic metaphysics? Do any of the Ressourcement Theologians comment on the events of Fatima? Thank You for your patience Kevin.
The scholastic Thomism of the 18th-19th centuries, against which ressourcement (or nouvelle theologie) was reacting, made a clear place for the supernatural and miraculous. Thus, the Fatima events posed no problem. Yet, I do think it’s interesting that so many of the leading ressourcement theologians had a strong mystical side and offered profound studies on the saints. Hans Urs von Balthasar is the best example of this, and it is characteristic of Henri de Lubac and others. I am not aware of what they may have written on Fatima, but I can say for certain that ressourcement is concerned about a rationalism that closes off modern man from the supernatural. This concern also was at the heart of the liturgical studies of Louis Bouyer and Joseph Ratzinger, among others.
Hi Kevin – I am glad to hear that. I know all who trust the message of Our Lady of Fatima, are fully aware of the existence of the literal fires of hell and the reality that the great majority of mankind will end up in the flames of hell. Sins of the Flesh being the cause of a great number of the damnations, destruction of the Family being the great wound of our age, and the great loss of Faith that would result in confusion due to the establishment of false teachings in the Church. I also wonder what role the rosary played in the spiritual life of these theologians.
Kevin said: “Thomism, for example, has had its ups and downs for centuries.”
Yet Thomism has been given pride of place in the Catholic Church – and for good reason. A sane, that is, a truly rational, perception of metaphysics is central to his philosophy. The importance of this centrality was recognised by a number of Pontiffs, amongst them St Pius X who wrote:
“But we warn teachers to bear in mind that a slight departure from the teaching of Aquinas, especially in metaphysics, is very detrimental. As Aquinas himself says, ‘a slight error in the beginning is a great error in the end.’ ” (Encyclical Pascendi et Sacrorum Antistitum.)
He also said: “In the future the doctorate in theology or Canon Law must never be conferred on anyone who has not first of all made the regular course in scholastic [Thomistic] philosophy. If such a doctorate is conferred, it is to be held as null and void.” (Oath Against Modernism)
And further: “To deviate from Aquinas, in metaphysics especially, is to run grave risk” (Pascendi)
About the special place of Aquinas in the Church Pope Pius XI declared: “Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest.” (encyclical Studiorum Ducem,#11).
Pope Pius XII added: “One thing is clearly established by the long experience of the ages – that St. Thomas’ philosophical system is an unrivalled method … Deplorable, that a philosophy thus recognized and received by the Church, should, in our day, be treated by some minds with contempt.” (Encyclical
And further: “The greatest stress must be laid on philosophy and theology ‘according to the conceptualization of the Angelic Doctor,’ (C.I.C., Canon 1366, n. 2), with such additional matter as the needs and errors of the day require. These subjects are of the greatest consequence and advantage both to priests and people.” (Menti nostrae).
To dismiss the rational metaphysics of Thomism by slightingly calling it ‘rationalistic’ – in a way that amounts to a kind of verbal sleight of hand – is to kick against the goad. Nevertheless, even prior to Vatican II, the progressivist proponents of the New Theology scorned scholasticism.
As early as 1950, keen Thomists such as Father David Greenstock warned against this new development: “We are asked to accept, in exchange for this solid foundation [of Thomism], the fluid concepts of a new philosophy, destined to change with time – we are told – like everything else in this fluid world. This, to our way of thinking, is not merely unreasonable, but also very dangerous.” (From A Great Thomist is Gone By John Vennari)
It is precisely by abandoning the firm path underfoot that Thomism provides that ‘Catholic’ philosophy runs the risk of devolving into systems that embrace elements of the ‘mysticism’ of Gnosticism, Kabbala, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, and other more or less occult movements. Its ‘fuzziness’ of thought and language make it prone to fall into such a trap. Regarding the verbal ‘fuzziness’ in the New Theology Cardinal Siri said: “the words flee.”
And from then on the path leads further and further into the mire.
The Popes on Thomism:
” … ressourcement theology, which was the de facto theology informing the St. John Paul II papacy and, of course, his successor ..”
And there we have it. The current crisis explained.
He never claimed to be ignorant of theology, but just not a theologian. Please add meaningfully to the conversation or don’t post at all. These chiding comments don’t help anyone.
It’s nice for the advocates of this problematic school of thought to show their true colors, though, isn’t it? I think he should keep going.
I suppose it does discredit their nu-theology… this sort of obstinacy without substance really ruffles muh jimmies if you know what I mean.
The first red flag:
“Christmas. At St. Peter’s in Rome, the Pope says Mass surrounded by tired old men. Suddenly in their midst a young man dressed in purple enters: it is the Church of the future …”
The juxtaposition between old and young is shallow and silly. The old men were tired because it was late at night, moreover they had spent decades fighting off rubbish like this. Whenever a bright young thing comes in to school his elders, we should be on our guard. The rest cited above are simply the ancient lies gussied up in modern frippery. The Church herself is ever ancient, and ever new. There’s no such thing as a ‘Church of the future.’ There is the culmination of all things at the wedding feast of the Lamb, but until then we need the sacraments and the unchanging truths taught through the ages by (dare I say) “tired old men.”
The author of this article mis-names the anonymous author of ‘Meditations on the Tarot’ as Valentin ‘Thornberg’, it is Tomberg.
He does not treat this work fairly but uses it as a cudgel to hit Balthasar by means of guilt by association.
He doesn’t tell us that the Meditations is dedicated to Our Lady of Chartres, or that there are many orthodox and traditional Catholics who have become so through encountering this book while wandering in the wastelands of the New Age movement.
This passage from the Meditations is worth considering to get a better context for this imperfect work:
“The way of Hermeticism, solitary and intimate as it is, comprises authentic experiences from which it follows that the Roman Catholic Church is, in fact, a depository of Christian spiritual truth, and the more one advances on the way of free research for this truth, the more one approaches the Church. Sooner or later one inevitably experiences that spiritual reality corresponds—with an astonishing exactitude —to what the Church teaches: that there are guardian Angels; that there are saints who participate actively in our lives; that the Blessed Virgin is real, and that she is almost precisely such as she is understood, worshipped and portrayed by the Church; that the sacraments are effective, and that there are seven of them — and not two, or three, or even eight; that the three sacred vows —of obedience, chastity and poverty—constitute in fact the very essence of all authentic spirituality; that prayer is a powerful means of charity, for beyond as well as here below; that the ecclesiastical hierarchy reflects the celestial hierarchical order; that the Holy See and the papacy represent a mystery of divine magic; that hell, purgatory and heaven are realities; that, lastly, the Master himself—although he loves everyone, Christians of all confession as well as all non-Christians —abides with his Church, since he is always present there, since he visits the faithful there and instructs his disciples there. The Master is always findable and meetable there.”
The author of the Mediations died an orthodox traditional Catholic who was critical of the innovations coming out of the Second Vatican Council. Rodger Buck’s book gives a very fair treatment of Tomberg’s work as he (like I) was helped out of the New Age movement and into the heart of the Catholic faith through the aid of this extraordinary book: Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed.
Tomberg’s name has been corrected. The misspelling of Valentin falls on the shoulders of this poor editor; he had it spelled correctly in another instance but I failed to note the discrepancy.
Also, I’d hope that the Thornberg/Tomberg mistake is forgivable without diminishing the credibility of the analysis, inasmuch as he wrote his meditations anonymously and his name still does not appear on the book.
FYI, within French hermeticism, there is a tradition of writing belle letters of esoteric reflection anonymously or under a pseudonym.
Perhaps this is not unlike the Eastern Iconographic tradition of writing the icon anonymously. The idea being that the artist/author is in service to the matter being rendered, rather than using the matter to serve the personality of the artist/author.
This essay touches on important matters that have not had the exposure they deserve in the Catholic blogosphere. I hope it has opened a Pandora’s box which needs to be opened.
However, the name of the author of the book “Meditations on the Tarot, a Journey into Christian Hermeticism” has been wrongly given as Thornberg. It should be Tomberg; and it’s not Valerin either, but Valentin.
Tomberg was a convert to Catholicism after being a prominent anthroposophist in his own right – he was once named a bodhisattva by a fellow esotericist – and a disciple of that most famous anthroposophist, Rudolf Steiner.
He can rightly be regarded as a ‘Catholic’ anthroposophist, that is, someone who professes the Catholic Faith, but at the same time holds anthroposophical beliefs as well.
There have been a number of these ‘Catholic’ anthroposophists in the past and it seems that they are still around. It is very disconcerting that in recent times a traditional Catholic blogger of some note openly praises Tomberg’s book and says that it is “replete with Catholic Mystery” !!! No, it is replete with Heterodoxy.
Even more disconcerting is that the blogger’s own books, recently written, have been given glowing endorsement by a number of traditional Catholic heavyweights. If someone by his praise of a heterodox book leads Catholics to read it as an orthodox book I would not trust that person to teach Catholics anything else.
Many years ago a lady called Carrie Tomko, who, like the author of this essay, was not a certified academic, let alone a theologian, researched these matters very thoroughly on her blog “Still Running Off at the Keyboard”. That was in 2005.
Although Carrie succumbed to cancer in 2009 and went to meet her Maker, her blog is still there. If anyone goes to the trouble of investigating what she has written they will understand why she, who always ended her pieces with the words, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! sometimes added the following:
The question I can’t answer is what a Roman Catholic in the pew should think and/or do about this.
Is this the future of the Roman Catholic Church?
When Christ returns, will He find any faith on the earth?
Where have you taken us John Paul II? Where are you taking us Benedict XVI?
Where to begin…
All of the points made in the article are certainly worth making. It is undeniable that portions of both De Lubac’s and Balthasar’s works are bombastic, confusing, and on occasion, difficult to square with settled dogma. These should be rejected!
It is vital though to understand that the Church has rejected or, at the very least, sidestepped portions of the works of DOCTORS of the Church. Perhaps the most stunning example is that of St. Augustine’s work on predestination and the massa damnata. To make a long story short, the Church in Her infallibility has judged Augustine to have erred significantly in regard to his theories on predestination which, although slightly different, align much more closely with Calvin’s cruel double predestination than the teaching of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church which endorses a noticeably different position on God’s predestining of the elect and the impact of the freedom/merits of those who end up in hell. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s very own article on predestination admits this fact. Augustine screwed up on this one. Does that mean he is no longer the doctor of grace? No! Would Augustine have fully accepted the Church’s ruling of his theories should he have lived to see the day? I don’t doubt it for a second! He was a man of the Church, obedient in all things. He remains a true gift from Heaven for the Church at all times in all places. To a lesser extent we have the conundrum of Aquinas’ error on conception, ensoulment, and when a person is really a person in the womb. His opinions run counter to settled Church teaching on the beginnings of human life. That is OK! It pales in comparison to the extraordinary contribution to saving souls that his entire body of work is.
I am not proposing that De Lubac and Balthasar are on the level of Aquinas and Augustine but try to think of them in a similar vein. These were men of the Church who if they lived to see the day would happily embrace any correction from the Magisterium to their theology. The core of their work though, De Lubac on nature and grace, Balthasar on…well…almost everything, is a true demolition of modernism and Protestantism. Did they have an almighty distaste for expression of neo-Thomism and manualist theology which was so dominant in the post-Tridentine period? Absolutely! But when they engaged with these theological schools they “out-Aquinas” the neo-Thomists by reading more thoroughly and connecting more deeply with Thomas’ own writings than the neo-Thomists themselves!
De Lubac and Balthasar would spit on something like the comments of Fr. Sosa, who reduces Christ to an irretrievable historical relic and the Spirit to the whims of the current political climate. They would likewise spit on Francis’ recent (purported) comments about his style of theology (a political theology in which new syntheses arise from deliberately created conflict through the Spirit) as reflecting the life of the Holy Trinity who, again in Francis’ reported words, “are always fighting behind closed doors but on the outside give the appearance of unity”. While they were Jesuits you won’t find too many modern Jesuits of Sosa’s and Francis’ ilk gleefully soaking in De Lubac’s and Balthasar’s ideas because they are too essentially Catholic, utterly rooted in Aquinas, the Church Fathers, and the Scriptures.
Above all, it was the determination of both John Paul II and Benedict that these two men proposed a theology which, at its core, is essentially Catholic. The article points to a deeper argument in the on the pages of 1P5 and in many other spheres of the Church: do we essentially reject JPII and BXVI? Are their pontificates and theology utterly corrupted by the blatant errors of modernism present within Church circles, particularly since Vatican II? Because it must be known, the core of these two popes, how they thought, the way they governed, was formed in large part (though not exclusively) by De Lubac and Balthasar and others in the Communio school. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, for example, is really just a more concentrated application of the Communio school and the thought of Balthasar on the Trinity, self-gift, and the relationship between the evangelical counsels and marriage.
My advice: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Reject what is evil and hold fast to what is good.
Reject the teaching of JPII and BXVI? Ultimately – YES. Even a drop of poison makes a bucket of water unfit to drink, and both drank deeply and eagerly from the poisoned wells of Vatican II.
So does the drop of poison in St. Augustine’s teaching spoil his entire bucket of teachings on grace and salvation?
He gave an opinion which the Church later discounted. The intellectual sources for those mentioned in the article were not those of St. Augustine. The two cases are far from analogous.
Not perfectly analogous but for crying out loud Augustine had a PROFOUNDLY skewed view of salvation, sin, and man with his proposals on predestination and the massa damnata. These views when presented to the faithful can be deeply scandalizing, potentially leading to the sin of despair or a conception of God that is simply not in line with what Christ reveals in the Gospels. They are the types of views that arch-heretic/demon influenced crackpots like Calvin gleefully devoured and turned into centerpieces of his own thought.
Still, this doesn’t change the fact that Augustine is a hero of the Church for all ages because the vast majority of his work is rightly seen as essential theology which the Church relies on so deeply for its proposal of truth to the world. Don’t ditch folks who fell into error and assume that they would have obstinately resisted correction by the Church. St. Peter himself fell into grave theological error as evidenced by Galatians and Paul’s correction. His interpretation of Christianity’s relationship to the Law I imagine, for a time however brief, had a detrimental effect on people he we preaching the Gospel to in the late 40s – 50sAD. He’s still St. Peter though and he corrected his errors!
You actually accept that arch-heretics and demons exist then? One must be thankful for small mercies I suppose.
These men were mostly all proscribed before Vatican II, until the idiot John XXIII let them loose again. It seems that none of them ever did anything but “obstinately resisted correction by the Church”.
We are all utterly sick of the Revolution and we want it overturned. If that means that some good as well as all the bad that came from their pens is dumped, then so be it.
Yes, let us reject the teachings of the popes! Let’s see who can be the most “Catholic”!
Hi Adam – The one most Faithful to the Words of Christ? That seems to be a pretty good measuring stick these days. Do you agree, that the one less faithful to the Words of Jesus Christ is the lesser Catholic?
Well, I’d like to think that all Catholics strive to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus, however much we may disagree and debate their meaning. It’s not as if the Fathers and Doctors of the Church never argued about things, sometimes even very weighty matters like predestination and grace.
Hi Adam – I believe all things must first be resolved to the Words of Christ. He spoke them for a reason, as if they are the ultimate bulwark defining the boundaries of Authentic Belief in Him. They are for all times and for seasons, and thus are the Arbiter of all theological disputes. Do you think the theologians you trust share my belief?
No, nor would I agree with you, at least if I understand you correctly. According to both Dei Verbum and traditional doctrine, judgments about the Bible and sacred tradition are ultimately subject to the teaching authority of the Church. That includes the words of Christ in the four gospels. Now, that doesn’t mean the magisterium is above Christ, as DV also points out. The magisterium serves the Church by interpreting the Bible. All of the Bible requires interpretation, and that means the words of Christ also require interpretation.
Hi Adam – This is what Jesus said –
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,[b] 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
I don’t see how these Words of Jesus could be open to misinterpretation. That is why the teaching of the Church is clearly defined and unchanging. If you can offer a different interpretation to verses 11-12, different from the interpretation the Church has offered for 20 centuries, please do, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, Sometimes the novelty makes impossible demands on those who wish to persuade those who Trust Jesus more than they do the men who seek to contradict Him, knowingly or unknowingly.
AL doesn’t even call the traditional Catholic interpretation of these words into question. It in fact explicitly states that the doctrine remains the same (e.g., AL 307). What it does do is address how to minister to people in objectively adulterous situations (remarried people), when their culpability is reduced or mitigated, such that they are still in the Church in the state of grace. This is all quite clear from chapter 8.
Hi Adam – If it is all quite clear, shouldn’t the Dubia be a joy for Francis to respond to? Do you think those in an adulterous relationship are incapable of repenting of that sin and living as brother and sister? Jesus did teach us to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” doesn’t that indicate that God will give us the Grace to overcome sins such as adultery? Why did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery to “Go and Sin no more” ? Should we feel that we have the authority to modify that command to any degree?
I don’t think this conflict is joyful for anyone involved. Pope Francis doesn’t want to cause a schism, and I believe he thinks responding to the dubia would risk that. I believe he also thinks that he has made his position clear enough, and that he doesn’t want to respond to a document that was intended as a test of his orthodoxy. The traditional “dubium” is submitted when a bishop is uncertain about how to proceed, and the presumption is that the bishop will follow whatever the Vatican says. But absolutely no one thinks that the four cardinals would accept responses from the pope different from what they believe. So I think it’s justified not to respond.
Yes, they are objectively capable of ceasing sexual relations. This is obvious, as some couples do precisely that. However, in certain situations some couples consider this an unreasonable notion, especially when they feel they have made a new family for themselves, with children, that has lasted for a long time after a disastrous early marriage that ended. Especially if the other spouse is not Catholic, the Catholic party may feel that to refuse sex to their spouse would be a grotesque betrayal that could destroy their lives. In some cases they can foresee that it would result in divorce, which would gravely harm the children. For them, this does indeed seem subjectively impossible because it seems an immoral betrayal of their oath.
Yes, God offers grace to help us, but human experience makes it clear that we often sin anyway! Praying the Lord’s Prayer does not make a person impeccable. Not even the saints became impeccable. The Church does not reject people simply because they sin and say, “Ah, too bad! God gave you enough grace not to sin, so it’s your fault.” There’s a saying in the Apophthegmata Patrum that I love: “A brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest; Abba Bessarion got up and went with him, saying, ‘I, too, am a sinner.'”
No, we cannot change Jesus’ exhortation that you cite. In fact, AL literally cites it twice (27 and 64). AL in no way proposes to change the Church’s doctrine about remarriage, but only to treat those who fall short in extenuating circumstances with greater compassion for human weakness. Allow me to quote from AL: “In every situation, when dealing with those who have difficulties in living God’s law to the full, the invitation to pursue the via caritatis must be clearly heard. […] In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur” (306, 307).
We must also look at how Jesus treats the Samaritan woman who had remarried many times. He did not condemn here, but spoke lovingly and clearly to her. He offered her the living water of salvation, and then sent her off to tell others about him. Honestly, just reading the various sermons and texts of Francis will present much more eloquent and better answers than I can give. When it comes to him, I’m quite the papist.
Hi Adam – The Samaritan woman might have been at the well during the heat of the day because it was clear that she was considered a sinner, a reality Jesus confirmed as He pointed out the state of sin she was in at that time. I think that is what both surprised her and convinced her that Jesus was the Messiah, able to comment on her sins with such authority. Regardless, I believe it is a stretch to that Jesus was endorsing divorce and remarriage, especially considering that he commanded the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more a few chapters later in the Gospel of John. We are more fortunate than the woman at the well, because we have the Words of Jesus spoken in Mark10:1-12 to guide us directly in a way she did not previous to her meeting with Jesus. I would find great comfort if Francis gave a sermon about those who love their sins more than they love God. That would be a most welcome sermon in an age where habitual sin is accommodated rather than condemned. Thank You for you responses, I have a greater insight in to the issues and the sincerity of those on the opposite side of the argument than myself.
Clearly, Jesus does not endorse or approve her sin, but neither does he cast her aside or condemn her. I’m glad you see my sincerity. I’m quite convinced that the bishops who support AL (a strong majority, I suspect) are equally sincere. The Church will never be within controversy and disagreement, even at the highest levels on matters of the greatest importance.
Hi Adam – Let’s hope those Bishops Love the Word more than they Love the World, for that, I fear, will be the choice to be made, and that choice has eternal consequences. None of us will be able to evade deciding which of those two kingdoms we desire to build, there is no compromise possible in this matter. I choose the Word, and will pray for those who choose the World.
Why is it a grotesque betrayal for a person to not have sex with someone they aren’t married to? I thought that is what we are all called to do…
Also, what is the significance of their “oath”? It’s a civil, invalid, illicitly contracted faux-marriage. That’s the precise nature of their union. They might feel all the feels in the world toward one another, have great kids, and not be validly married to any other people but that doesn’t change the fact that they are not married to one another. What’s more is that they are perfectly aware (in the vast majority of cases) that they are NOT actually married to one another.
You speak of the situation when analyzed objectively in the light of Catholic doctrine. But that is not how the non-Catholic (and quite possibly the Catholic) spouse will see it. They will see their marriage oath as something to which they are bound in conscience, and Catholic doctrine says that even an erring conscience binds! While their situation remains irregular, it is unlikely that they sin mortally. In fact, it’s hard to see how one could even argue that in such situations they sin mortally. If they are in the state of grace and remain unconvinced that abstention is really God’s will, they may in the meantime receive the sacraments. This doesn’t mean changing the objective analysis (which AL explicitly maintains), but accommodating human weakness and error in an effort to spread abroad the mercy of God. Previous popes already affirmed this underlying reality, which is why spiritual Communion is possible. AL extends the implications a little through the “internal forum”, and, yeah, contradicts the absolute prohibition also found in FC. One may disagree with this decision of the Supreme Pontiff, but it’s not heretical, nor does it change the Church’s doctrine on remarriage.
AL may not be heretical of itself but the problem is that certain Bishops in Malta and Germany have interpreted it in a way which is heretical. The unanswered question is whether that was the intention of Pope Francis.
While their situation remains irregular, it is unlikely that they sin mortally. In fact, it’s hard to see how one could even argue that in such situations they sin mortally.
This is heresy. If they know their situation is “irregular,” it logically follows that they know their marriage is invalid, and if their marriage is invalid, then their sexual acts are sinful. There is no way that a person can have sexual relations with a person who is not their spouse with full knowledge and consent of their will can somehow not be mortally sinning. Full stop. Justify it all you want, it’s wrong. Period. End of discussion. Sexual acts, at an absolute minimum must cease.
And this is exactly what Francis/Bergoglio should say. But he won’t. Instead, he and his surrogates insinuate that refraining from sex is just too hard, and that it’s completely unrealistic to expect people to do so. Hence, we have people like Adam here tying themselves in mental knots to try and create hypothetical scenarios in which someone could not be culpable for objectively adulterous acts, to the point that they argue, whether explicitly or implicitly, that it is actually more sinful to not have sex with their not-spouse than to commit objective adultery. It’s insanity.
But not RE-interpreted according to the tastes of each generation.
In the final analysis, the teaching of the post-Conciliar Church is replete with poison. Those elements that are truly Catholic will have to be, and one day will be, set aside too because the springs from which the relevant documents – Encyclicals etc. – came (Vatican II and the New Theology) were totally untrustworthy.The Council itself will be dumped officially at some point.
The Great Stalin has spoken!
I would say… mmmyyea….. no.
Because of the God that the Bible reveals changes evil into good (Genesis 39 I think). Not because evil is good, but simply because God is God.
If you were right (and I have the tendancy to think as you think…), God would have done nothing good with the fact that the patriarch Joseph was sold by his brothers to become a slave.
God’s providence is greater than human mistakes and misdeeds. And at the end, the ennemy will end up confused and wordless.
So yes, the council will probably be rejected, but God will do good even through all this confusion.
*moderator hat on*
The above comment was flagged awaiting moderation. While I, personally, disagree with the ideas proposed here, there is nothing here that violates our comment policy and is an excellent piece to begin the conversation and debate this subject warrants. As long as everyone plays nice, and no clearly heretical propositions are asserted without a spirit of conversation to be made, moderation is not necessary. Whoever flagged it, thank you for trying to stay on top of things. Carry on!
*moderator hat off*
I would caution anyone reading this post (if they aspire to intellectual honesty) against taking this well-written but vastly misleading essay as an accurate depiction of the persons and thought of De Lubac, Von Speyr and Balthasar. Anyone who has had the patience to actually read these figures with fairness and thoroughness will know a) that Mr. Armstrong has not read them with any such thoroughness so as to be qualified to comment on what they have to say, and b) that his account here depends on lifting partial fragments from their context in the whole and applying a suspicious and uncharitable hermeneutic. This behavior cannot be excused by a brief disclaimer stating that the author is not an “academic theologian.” He is making theological claims of significant import for the reputation of men and women of the Church, claims that amount to unjust defamation.
Not much “quality control” going on at this blog, it seems.
I’m not surprised to see the apologists for the nouvelle theologie school out in force. What would the contemporary Church be if it weren’t in bed with the world in the name of dialogue?
You mean, like, John Paul II and Benedict XVI?
Hi Adam – Do you believe Pope Francis is a sound theologian?
Hi. I don’t think he is a theologian in the technical sense, but I do think he’s a good pope.
And that’s pretty much everything anyone needs to know.
Hi Adam – Is it reasonable for Pope Francis to refuse to answer the questions submitted to him by Cardinal Burke? Would a good pope avoid answering legitimate questions asked by a Cardinal seeking clarification of that pope’s teaching? Do you see this as the actions of a man filled with the Holy Spirit?
I think it’s reasonable, yes, since they were presented as a test of orthodoxy for the pope, and the cardinals would not have accepted his answers if they disagreed with their own. That said, I think it would be better for the whole Church if the pope would clearly answer the first dubium with a yes. He’s already made it plain that that is how he thinks, and the classic Vatican tactic of never directly acknowledging that Vatican II and post-conciliar teaching contradict previous magisterial statements has long ago outworn its welcome. But all the popes since the council have lived in terror of the prospect of schism, and that’s no doubt the same rationale that keeps this tactic going.
Hi Adam – Since you wish the answer to the first dubium would be yes, can you explain how this is not a position which directly contradicts the Words of Jesus which identify those who divorce and remarry while the original spouse is still living commit adultery? Are you arguing that mortal sins no longer offend God? I should have asked you this earlier, are you a Roman Catholic?
I’ll refer you to the apostolic exhortation by the Roman pontiff, Amoris Laetitia, ch. 8, for that one. Of course I’m a Catholic! Do any non-Catholics ever comment on this blog?
EDIT: The very sentence that contains the controversial footnote honestly already explains the reasoning clearly: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end” (AL 305). In other words: while AL left the actual doctrine about remarriage untouched, such that one can say that, while the sexual acts in such situations are, considered in the abstract, adulterous, the persons performing those acts may be guilty of only venial sin, or even no sin at all. So while their objective state is contrary to the teaching of Jesus, as interpreted by the Church, they remain in the state of grace. All of this is explained in the document itself, with quotations from the Catechism and other sources. The principle is also the basis for why such people can make spiritual communion, which is impossible for people not in the state of grace.
The whole question of conscience vis-a-vis the moral law has been with the Church since it was emphasized at Vatican II. The fifth dubium is about this, and while I doubt that the pope would agree that conscience “legitimates” objectively immoral acts, I’m not sure how exactly he would word a response. I’d love to see another synod called to deal with the issue of conscience and morality, as it looms rather large in these discussions.
Hi Adam – Whether non Catholics comment on this blog, is an open question, at best, in my mind. I, for one, am very appreciative to have you opening yourself to questions. Dialogue is always better than supposition regarding the position of those we potentially disagree with. Would you embrace a theology that makes the claim that the Holy Spirit could legitimately inspire opposing understandings of what offends God? Isn’t that what leads to the division found in Protestantism? Isn’t it a form of arrogance when man feels he can challenge the authority of God to determine what offends Him? As though we need to depend on Jesus to contradict Himself when He mediates for us before the Father? Isn’t this a simple case of hubris?
Since you seem sincere, I’ll continue. I’m not sure what you are referring to. Magisterial documents contradicting previous teaching? It’s demonstrably happened, and not just at Vatican II. The magisterium is assisted by the Spirit, but not preserved from error except in solemn definitions. Again, AL doesn’t say that adultery isn’t a sin, but only treats how to minister to those who commit it inculpably or in extenuating circumstances. As it says, the fact that someone is objectively contravening God’s law doesn’t mean that person automatically loses God’s grace.
Hi Adam – Can you point to any verses in the Old Testament, New Testament, or teaching of the Church pre Vatican II that establishes that God is compelled to forgive an unrepentant sinner?
God isn’t “compelled’ to forgive anyone, even if they do repent! But God promises to forgive those who repent. The call to repentance is at the very heart of the gospel. I’m not sure why you asked this question. Catholic doctrine is perfectly clear that not all sins are culpable, and that venial sins don’t bar a person entering heaven. You don’t have to repent of venial sins to be saved, let alone of sins for which you are inculpable. These are firmly established principles in Catholic doctrine, which can be found in the Catechism or any number of Catholic documents.
Hi Adam – I can tell you that one of the great benefits of going to Church every Sunday is that our venial sins are forgiven during the Penitential Rite. That is a good deal, and if not confessing our venial sins did not carry very real consequences, especially as we prepare to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, I doubt that would be a part of the mass. I am also certain that when the Priest absolves me of my sins, they are forgiven in the Name of Jesus who died so that my sins could be forgiven. That they can be retained always leads to an interesting conversation with those who claim that once they are saved they don’t need to confess their sins any more. Those are the children of Luther, who might find Francis’ thoughts on the forgiveness of sins quite acceptable.
The catch is that if we are so busy promoting reasons why souls might be “inculpable” so that we neglect to educate souls in Faith and Morals then we ourselves have become culpable.
“Since you seem sincere, I’ll continue. I’m not sure what you are
referring to. Magisterial documents contradicting previous teaching?”
See the dubia.
“Again, AL doesn’t say that adultery isn’t a sin, but only treats how to
minister to those who commit it inculpably or in extenuating
Once their consciences are properly formed – by a priest, who is ‘authentically’ accompanying them, or by some other means – according to the words of Jesus, the 2,000 year teaching of the Church on the subject, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1650, then they will understand that every sexual act with this person to whom they are not married is a grave violation of the 6th Commandment – a mortal sin. It is a mortal sin because the matter is grave and they now commit the act with full knowledge and consent of the will. But the Sacraments are not closed to them. In fact, the Sacraments are closed to nobody; we may just need to make ourselves disposed to receive them in some way. They receive the Sacraments like everybody else: cease committing these acts of adultery, go to Confession, receive absolution, and then they can receive Our Lord at holy mass. If there are no kids involved, they can separate (really, must – what justification is there to continue living with the person to whom they are not married? it’s at least a near occasion of sin) and possibly even go back to the person to whom they are married. They can always see if their previous marriage was, in fact, a valid one.
Even if (and I in no way grant that it is) the sexual acts with the person to whom they are not married are only venial sins, does that mean they can go on committing them? It’s still sin. Venial sin is also an offense against God and something we must root out of our lives. Is it not so?
God bless you
If they are sinning venially, then reception of the Eucharist would actually help them to move toward abstinence.
It’s impossible to continue to sin venially once they are fully informed because, as has been posted above, they do so with full knowledge and consent of the will and it is a grave matter. It becomes a mortal sin subjectively once they know it’s a mortal sin.
Besides, this whole idea of a venial sin being “not so serious” is preposterous anyways… mortal sin kills the life of grace, but venial sin maims us… sure, the life of grace still remains, but we are mangled by each sin until, eventually, the life is snuffed out.
“If they are sinning venially, then reception of the Eucharist would actually help them to move toward abstinence.”
This is misleading. Holy Communion is not like taking an antibiotic when you’re sick but instead involves a relationship with the living God. Even for venial sin we ought to be contrite before this loving God who wants to communicate Himself to us. The only thing that “would actually help them to move toward abstinence” is a real formation in the Faith and a real desire to please God. Reception of the Eucharist is not some impersonal application of a remedy that will automatically “fix” your life.
Actually, Benedict XVI- as Cardinal Ratzinger – already wrote “On Conscience”. …
To me, Pope Francis is flatly contradicting the principle of non-contradiction. God is not schizophrenic,…though one might never guess that from what Pope Francis says.
Only if Catholic moral principles also contradict the law of non-contradiction. It is long established that an act can be at the same time objectively evil and subjectively inculpable. For example, marrying your own sister is evil, but siblings separated at birth could do so inculpably. (Extreme example just for clarity of illustration.)
Good Lord, you sound like one of those Doctors of the Law he’s always ranting about.
The whole principle is couched in the idea of “discernment” in the “internal forum” with the “help of a pastor.” Would not the first obligation of such a pastor be to tell such couples that continuing in the “conjugal” act (quotation marks since the couple is not actually married and therefore it is not a conjugal act) is mortally sinful? If, by some strange miracle of negligence, the couple didn’t know that the sex act is gravely sinful in their situation and thus are not culpable up to that point, it is the pastor’s duty to inform them that it is and they cannot continue or their souls are in jeopardy. How can it be discerned that it’s ok for them to go on like they’re actually married? This is what the various “pastoral guidelines” issued by a number of bishops’ conferences have said, and what Pope Francis praised in the Argentinian Bishops’ case.
Besides, not all ignorance is invincible. If you could and should know that something is wrong, then you’re culpable… as is the case with the remarried and divorced.
And I agree, if Francis really believes that the answer to the first dubia is yes, he needs to say it. Then we can get on with what needs to happen. A formal correction of the error of a pontiff on a clear matter of heresy. And whatever comes forth from that.
P.S. – yes, non-catholics do occasionally post here, usually they’re some form of Eastern Orthodox or protestants with an armchair theology hobby. Then there’s the sedevacantists, which you can decide for yourself whether they’re Catholic or not… I’d go with seriously misguided Catholics who have sadly ended up in schism.
Expecting him (Adam and possibly Francis) to answer the dubia as Aquinas would is akin to asking a cat to bark. Perhaps the question we need to ask is what philosophy does the magisterium proclaim?
Hi Julius – Adam gave it a shot. Francis won’t even do that. I hope that Adam stay on this thread and opens a dialogue with you and others more learned than myself on this topic, that might end up advancing the dialogue and lead to some much needed consensus.
Of course they would have accepted his answers.
Would they have agreed with the answers? I all likelihood, giving Francis the benefit of the doubt, that he would have (or will) answer honestly — no. And that is why Pope Bergoglio remains mum.
Its call self-preservation.
In the context which he inhabits, its called cowardliness. That is the kindest term for his comportment.
He is a theologian in no sense. Of that there is no doubt at all.
You said it. Not me.
Hi Steve – Do you think Francis is carrying on the teachings of JPII and Benedict?
I think he’s the logical conclusion of that kind of thinking. I think a good example of this can be found here:
Another example might be the gradualism of Familiaris Consortio 84, which allows these invalidly remarried couples to live together, allegedly for the good of the children, in a constant occasion of grave sin. I think that’s one of the elephants in the room, and it never would have been tolerated in the past. In fact, while I haven’t had the time to research it yet, I’ve been told that previously, couples who obtained a “remarriage” after a sacramental union was abandoned were excommunicated. (Correct me if I’m wrong, please.) So simply living “as brother and sister” would not have remedied the problem with recourse to the sacraments.
Of course, Cardinal Kasper rightly made a claim along these lines last year:
These are of course just examples that apply to recent events. I’m certain we could find many more.
Hi Steve – Thank You for your response. Do you think Cardinal Burke ever considered submitting a Dubia to JPII or Benedict?
Probably not. Modernism is a helluva drug, and everyone has a different tolerance level.
Hi Steve – That is a good point, when does one officially find themselves Crossing the Threshold of this form of Dope, when does one’s sobriety come into question. Are there secondhand effects of being in the presence of the smoke of Satan? I trust Cardinal Burke, though, regardless of his former level of tolerance, it is obvious his level of tolerance has been exceeded. Praise be to God.
Wait, do you mean that even Cardinal Burke is infected by some (albeit very low) level of modernism?
Look at the warnings against Modernism in Pascendi in, what was it, 1905? Pope St. Pius X was talking about something that had already taken root. So yes, I think every single one of us who was formed past the mid-way point in the 20th century has imbibed a great deal of the modernist poison, wittingly or not. It has its effects on all of us.
Interesting idea. So even this blog is a little bit modernist, I guess?
I can virtually guarantee that I, at least, make mistakes along these lines. Yes. I got a theology degree from Franciscan University. I’m still re-learning. I will be for the rest of my life.
So are you the founder of this blog? Why did you start it?
We have an “about” page for just these sort of questions.
I wish I could find it again, but I read somewhere that a dubia was submitted to JPII and Benedict (who was head of the CDF) at the time. I think I read it on The Remnant, and I believe it was submitted by the SPPX. There was no response. That is my understanding – for what’s worth.
That bothers me, because recently, I was talking to a devout young Catholic, who himself was bothered by Pope Francis’ non-response to the dubia. So, he went to his spiritual director, a priest (I believe it’s a priest in the charismatic movement), who cheerfully told him not to worry – there have been non-responses to dubia before (and I believe the priest mentioned Benedict and JPII in relation to non-responses to the dubia – but I don’t quite remember the total conversation)….
Here you go, http://cfnews.org/page10/page18/page18.html
It was submitted by Abp Lefebvre to the CDF in October, 1985.
The brother-sister solution in marriages where the couple needed to stay together for a grave reason predates Vatican II and therefore the pontificates of JP ll and Benedict XVI. I have seen it explained in old catechisms and in moral manuals from the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was also taught to me by nuns in grade school and high school during those years.
“I’ve been told that previously, couples who obtained a “remarriage” after a sacramental union was abandoned were excommunicated.” I ran across that somewhere before as well… I’d need to research the exact place but I’m certain this wonderful document has it in there. My initial thought is that was the case right after Trent? Not totally sure of the timeline though.
That said, I’m not certain that, strictly speaking, there is a fundamental problem with living together as brother and sister. To put it in context, here’s the appropriate passage:
Taken in its entirety and, I think, as intended the obligation is to separate. If there are serious reasons, like having a number of children together, they can live as brother and sister. Taken in its whole that also necessitates separating once that serious reason is no longer a factor (the children have grown.) The problem with this proposal, though, is that just living in continence is “good enough” without the intention to separate when it is less problematic. I’m not saying that this proposal wasn’t the first step toward what we’re seeing today and thus saying it’s a good idea. I’m just saying that, technically, without looking at the pastoral aspect, if proper precautions are taken to avoid grave sin, avoid scandal, etc. (if that’s even possible, I don’t know) then there isn’t a technical problem with the idea.
Thanks for your quote above (Familiaris Consortio 84). Just to be abundantly clear: Pope JPII was not giving remarried couples permission to live together; he was stipulating the requirement for genuine “reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist”. I think this is what you’re getting at.
Thanks for confirming that !
So was JPII on the periphery of the whole mess discussed in the article above during his early years or what?
Steve, with all due respect, I think that the emphasis in JPII’s words (Familiaris Consortia 84) is on the requirement for authentic “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist”, not on handing out permission for “invalidly remarried couples to live together.”
I did, indeed! Just hope that’s clear to this blog’s faithful followers.
I hope it will soon become clear to everyone. We didn’t wind up in this mess all of a sudden. It’s been steadily progressing for a long time.
Yup. This is not a wrong turn. We are confused and we have lost our way in the dark. Our Blessed Mother warned us of these times.
It’s been clear for a long time to most of us. Pope St. John Paul II’s pontificate was extremely problematic and I’m currently sorting through, in my own thoughts, those things in Theology of the Body that don’t square with Catholic doctrine. I was once an avid fan and devout follower of JP2, even positing he was the next Augustine or Aquinas. Not so much anymore. Benedict’s pontificate was considerably less problematic (the shorter length may have helped) but his earlier ecclesiastical career takes a bit more sifting. I do have to say, though… The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger is what put me on the path to authentic Catholicism, so it’s certainly not all bad.
Could you please tell me what of TOB does not square with Catholic doctrine? I have read that elsewhere, and if true it would kinda blow up youth group if ya know what I mean… : (
Yep, this answers it better than anything I could’ve said. Actually made some points I didn’t know about. Thanks for sharing, Tommy!
And a bit more here
C’mon Steve. The Communio theologians are as “in bed with the world in the name of dialogue” as Aquinas was in bed with paganism with his use of Aristotle. Seeing as you’re in the D.C. area, arrange a sit-down with David L. Schindler up at the JPII Institute who is among the most respected English speaking interpreters of Balthasar in the world. See if you find a “typical” VaticanTwo-er in Schindler or anyone else doing work at the Institute and with Communio these days.
I discussed the problems contained in von Balthasar’s afterward to Meditations on the Tarot,
with David Schindler (whom I most certainly respect ) some years ago and he admitted that these writings had perplexed him and that he had looked into them himself. I am not denouncing von Balthasar “tout court,” but saying that some very strange ideas appear to have some how wormed their way into his thought.
cf. this analysis: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2007/scaldecott_hubtarot_apr07.asp
I don’t know mr. Caldacott, but have heard many praise his knowledge and insights.
Be that as it may, Thomberg’s book is a classic of New Age Kabalistic thinking that combines Catholic piety with Luciferian elements. The “complete “God” is the source of both good and evil. The image below is No. VI “the lovers” (Adam and Eve in the Garden, replete with serpent in tree and Lucifer as the rising sun) from Arthur Waite’s popular Tarot deck.
Also please checkout Eliphas Levi’s “Histoire d’haute Magie” in its English translation by Arthur Waite. : http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1896__levi___transcendental_magic.pdf .
This screed is straight from Hell and Von Balthasar highly recommends it. As HH Paul VI lamented back in 1972 that The smoke of Satan has some how entered the Temple of God, and again, .” Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others. It is a terrible reality, mysterious and frightening. The wiles of the Evil one can enchant even the most brilliant of me, perhaps more so than te rest of us poor ignoramuses.
Well, then, it appears we have two contradictory accounts of Thomberg’s book: is he a convert to Christianity seeking to undermine his former paganism, or a pagan mole seeking to undermine Christianity? I assume that you have read the book thoroughly and have a thorough argument for your view. I confess I haven’t read the book, so I can’t pretend to know which account is correct. I have read a fair bit of Balthasar, though, and i find it difficult to believe that he suddenly lost his mind so as to recommend new age spirituality (something that would be diametrically opposed to the dominant thrust of his thought); thus I find Caldacott’s report immediately more plausible. I could be wrong in that assessment, but I’d want a more thorough argument from you to be convinced. If a rapprochement with paganism is automatically to be condemned, then how do we spare St. Paul at the Aeroapagus? …As for Levi, I struggle to find his relevance to the conversation about Balthasar. Did Balthasar recommend Levi? Or did he simply praise a book that quotes Levi? If the latter, must we not also hold Aquinas accountable for all the people cited by Aristotle, or Avicenna, or Maimonides?… Sincere questions
Please excuse my delay in responding, I have been having some medical issues of late, however, to continue our discussion, please note that I have read Thomberg’s book, cover to cover, and offer the following synopsis with appropriate page references.
The general premise of the book – dedicated to the Virgin of Chartres – is that
there is a general cosmic energy labeled egregore
[God?] that runs through all religions, as well as Freemasonry.
This unified energy is manifested in duality: light-dark, male-female,
good-evil, etc. which in Hinduism is called Advaita Vedanta, Monism to the
Spinozist, and in the Christian tradition (quoting St. John out of context),
are united by “Love” (p. 32). All spiritual masters enter mystically into this
cosmic spirituality by initiation, understood as “the state of consciousness where all, eternity and the present moment are one.” In this state of consciousness, magical powers are acquired (p. 87). Jesus was an initiate, as were those who came before him, i.e. the Hebrew Moses and the Egyptian Hermes Trismejistis, as well as such people as Eliphias Lévi, (self professed Satanist) Stanislaus de Gauita, and Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, etc. Reincarnation is “simply a fact of experience” (p. 93), for example, Jesus was aware of his “magical” powers and the theurgist Monsieur Philip “made himself an instrument of the divine magic of Jesus Christ” (p. 193). The Holy Trinity is made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or, Father, Mother, and Son interchangeably. The cross is the symbol of the marriage of opposites (p. 259) and the Virgin Mary is “A cosmic entity, Wisdom, the “Virgin of Light of the [Gnostic] Pistis Sophia,… the Shekinah of the Cabbalists. (pp. 547-549, 582)
“The great Many [founder of Manichaeism] taught a synthesis [that] the good
will of the whole of mankind – Pagan, Buddhist and Christian – for a single
concerted and universal effort of yes towardsthe eternal spirit and no towards the things of matter.” (p. 471)
The following quotes are from Von Balthasar’s afterward, p. 662, as presented in my essay, along with verifiable quotes from Boheme, Jung, and Levy as well as the Cabala.
“Professor von Balthasar continues, saying: “… However, just as strong in its creative power of transformation is the incorporation of Jacob Boehme’s Christosophy ….”
“….A third, less clear-cut transposition will be referred to briefly: that of the ancient magic/alchemy into the realm of depth psychology by C.G. Jung.”
“….The mystical, magical, occult tributaries which flow into the stream of his (Thomberg’s) meditations are much more encompassing; yet the confluence of their waters within him, full of movement, becomes inwardly a unity of Christian contemplation. …. Repeated attempts have been made to accommodate the Cabbala and the Tarot to Catholic teaching. The most extensive undertaking of this kind was that of Élephas Lévi (the Pseudonyme of Abbé Alphonse-Louis Constant) whose first work (Dogma et ritual de la haute magie) appeared in 1854. ”
The list of “spiritual” seekers promoted in this glowing afterward to Thomberg’s book goes on and on, however, a brief introduction to some of those listed above will suffice to show their incompatibility with Catholic Faith and morals.
First off all, Jacob Boehme (1575–1624), a Bohemian shoemaker,
from a Lutheran family, who – like Frau von Speyr – was subject to visions, starting in 1600 wherein he saw a great light reflected in a dark pewter plate which led him to proclaim the following:
” The being of all beings is but a single being, yet in giving birth to itself, it divides itself into two principles, into light and darkness, into joy and pain, into evil and good, into love and wrath, …Creation itself as his own love-play between the qualities of both eternal desires.”
(Jakob Böhme, Sämtliche Schriften ed. W. E.Peuckert, vol. 16 (Stuttgart: Frommann, 1957), p. 233.)
Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) renowned Swiss psychoanalyst, son of a pastor of the Reformed Swiss Church began hearing voices and having visions in 1913. His religious conclusions contain the following quote:
“In our diagram, Christ and the devil appear as equal and opposite, thus conforming to the idea of the “adversary.” This opposition means conflict to the last; and it is the task of humanity to endure this conflict until the time or turning-point is reached where good and evil begin to relativise themselves, to doubt themselves, and the cry is roused for
a morality ‘beyond good and evil. ‘
(Carl Gustav Jung, Zur Psychologie der Trinitätslehre, translated in vol. 11,
2nd ed. of his Complete Works
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 174)
Éliphas Lévi, a.k.a. Abbé Alphonse-Louis Constant (1810–1875),
French occultist, born Catholic, ex-seminarian, best known for his work Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854)[i]:
” What is more absurd and more impious than to attribute the name of Lucifer to the devil, that is, to personified evil. The intellectual Lucifer is the spirit of intelligence and love; it is the paraclete, it is the Holy Spirit, while the physical Lucifer is the great agent of universal magnetism.”
(Éliphas Lévi, The Mysteries of Magic, p. 428; emphasis added)
“The created principle is [yod] the divine phallus; and the created principle is the formal [cteïs] female organ. The insertion of the vertical phallus into the horizontal cteïs forms the cross of the Gnostics, or the philosophical cross of the Freemasons.”
(Éliphas Lévi, Dogme et rituel de la haute magie[ii] (Paris:
Chacon Frères, 1930), pp. 123-124.)
What one finds as the common denominator of these
authors’ “spirituality” is a belief in a “Binary God” as the source of both good and evil. This is the express doctrine of the Cabbala (Kabbalah), as promoted by both esoteric mystical Judaism and Freemasonry, and, again, as extolled above by von Balthasar.
Below are two interesting references to the Cabbala, the first by
Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges and the second by Éliphas Levi:
“Kabbalah considers the necessity of evil, theodicy, which, along with the Gnostics, equates with an imperfect God of creation who is not the final God. …. [that is to say] the doctrine of the Greeks called apokatastasis, that all creatures, including Cain and the Devil, will return, at the end of great transmigrations, to be mingled again with the Divinity from which they once emerged.[iii] ‘
” the Lucifer of the Kabbalah is not an accursed and stricken angel; he is the angel who enlightens, who regenerates by fire.[iv]”
Or, as Albert Pike in his authoritative Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry explains in chapter XXII “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret”: “The primary tradition of the single revelation has been preserved under the name of the ‘Kabalah’ (sic.)…. of that Equilibrium between Good and Evil, and Light and Darkness in the world which assures us that all is the work of the Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love.”[v]
The above image is once again, by Éliphas Levi from his Dogma et rituel de la haute
magi, praised by von Balthasar. It is, visual presentation of the key occult doctrine called the Emerald Table of Hermes Trismagistus, Quod Superius – Quod Inferius “So above as below – so below as above as was mentioned in Stratford Caldecott’s article.
This “theodicy” is totally alien to orthodox Catholicism and blasphemous in the extreme, for as St. Paul warns us, not by tape recorder, but via his written instruction, “… For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath
light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Beliel?” (2
I am not particularly interested in debating this topic. The essay was not written to particularly attack either de Lubac or von Balthasar, but as a prophetic warning, so to speak, that this Kabalistic/Masonic religion of “Antichrist” t has been infiltrating the church for some time now.
Unfortunately, via their insubordination and defiance of the commands of the then reigning pontif, HH Pius XII, the Jesuits of La Fourvierre, of which de Lubac and von Balthasar formed a part, share in the responsibility for this demonic infestation of the
Mystical Body of Christ.
 Anonymous, (Valentin Thomberg) Meditations on the Tarot (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putman, 1985). P. 136 – page numbers from this book are henceforth placed in parenthesis.
 Although the process of “initiation” remains a secret in all cults, both
ancient and modern, there is sound evidence that either phallic worship and
sexual rituals as seen in the Pompeian frescos, or blasphemous acts such as the
Masonic degradation of consecrated Hosts. See: “Cardinal Eduard Gagnon reflects
on Masonry,” Soul Magazine, July-August, 1991 p. 22
 These words are neither little more nor less than those proposed by the
excommunicated Abbé Roca, “Mary is the manifestation of the feminine principle
itself, immaculate wisdom incarnate… rising up from the holy Gnosis.” Glorieuse Centenaire . ( p. 147). As cited by Pierre Virion in Mystère D’Iniquité
[i] The complete text of this book in English translation by Arthur Waite is
available in pdf format at: http://www.iapsop.com /ssoc/1896__levi___transcendental_magic.pdf
[ii] This and more quotes may be found at: “Eliphas Levi.” AZQuotes.com. Wind
and Fly LTD, 2017. 10 March 2017. http://www.azquotes.com/author/8769-Eliphas_Levi
[iii] Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights (New York: New Directions, 1984), cited in The
University Bookman, ed. Russell Kirk, Winter 1987, p. 15, review by Anthony
[iv] Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854), English translation by
Arthur Waite as Transcendantal Magic (London: George Redway, 1896),
p.177, available in pdf format at: http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1896__levi___transcendental_magic.pdf
[v] Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish
Rite of Free Masonry (Charleston: Southern
Jurisdiction, AM 5680), pp. 841, 859
Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. I hope that your health has improved. I will have to take a look at the book and the preface/afterword at some point. Insofar as your review here accurately represents its contents (and I have no reason to doubt this aside from the very different review of Mr. Caldacott) I am at one with you in condemning its positions. What Fr. Balthasar was up to in his appreciation of the work is a mystery to me, since the teachings you have outlined here run directly contrary to his own, as articulated throughout his corpus (e.g. he is very much opposed to gnosticism in all of its variants, and these teachings stink of gnostic influence, among other things). Often in his writings, Balthasar offers lengthy appreciations of positions that are at variance with his own without immediately criticizing their errors or shortcomings, and this can sometimes give the impression that he is embracing positions which does not in fact, and which he actually goes on to condemn. I wonder if that is what is going on here. Caldacott mentions that some of Balthasar’s criticisms and qualifications were omitted the english translation of the original Forward. In any case, I am with you in condemning the things you mention here. In reading such things back into Balthasar’s and de Lubac’s theological projects, however, in accusing them of insubordination to Pope Pius XII, and in relating Adrienne von Speyr to the occult, I must be against you.
Just a note to say that I did not accuse Adrienne von Speyer of occultism. I simply question why we should take her private visions any more seriously than those of Medjugore, Garabandal, or Bayside. Private visions are usually tested on their conformity with the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. Her “revelations” on the Eucharist – Christ becoming bread for us – and the descent to the lower regions , “ad inferos” of the Creed meaning that Christ suffered total alienation from the Father –
temporary damnation – , are Protestant concepts and do not conform to Sacred
Tradition. Also, that she, with a living husband, declared herself a spiritual virgin in a mystical marriage with von Balthasar and that the Blessed Mother physically handed the future of the Church into their hands test one’s credulity.
Once again, I am not judging the sanctity, honesty nor motivation of von Speyer, von
Balthasar or de Lubac, but simply pointing to the sea change in the concept Catholic
thought and identity since the inception of “resourcement” theology stemming from the Jesuit theologate of La Fourviere in the face of HH Pope Pius XII ‘s condemnation. By the way, Have you ever read His Holiness Pius XII s encyclicals Mystici
Corporis and Humani Generis? I met Pope Pius XII in 1950 when I was 12 years old and received his personal blessing at his insistence, not mine, and over the years I have been his student and ardent defender. I do, needles to say, respect your opinions and do not really wish to denigrate them. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter.
Thank you. A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you as well.
“The general premise of the book – dedicated to the Virgin of Chartres – is that there is a general cosmic energy labeled egregore” I question whether you have properly read the book. An “egregore”, in the occult tradition, is a spiritual entity allegedly created by man’s own activity and these are dealt with by Tomberg in the meditation upon the arcanum of “the Devil” , where he writes of men creating and enslaving themselves to these creatures by idolatrous practices as, for example, in the case of the Canaanites with Moloch or, more recently, to such ideologies as National Socialism or Communism, which appear to literally take on a life of their own and drive their. Who knows. These are legitimate hypotheses concerning the nature of reality which do not appear to conflict with any dogma of the Church. I’m not defending the book in all its parts; there are a handful of definite material heresies contained within it that would have seen it placed upon the Index once upon a time; but the thrust of the books is certainly not in any way, shape or form what you claim in this sentence.
I’d say the communio theologians have substituted dialog for evangelization. How that’s workin’ out depends on your perspective, eh?
How convenient, that when enemies of the Faith were most anxious to destroy it, that a “more authentic” version of the writings of the Early Church Fathers suddenly showed up and it became the standard. It seems to me that Nouvelle Theologie/Ressourcement is just a modernist invention used to to make modernism seem original and therefore true.
And none whatever in the work of the Revolutionaries who seek to overturn our Holy Faith.
Are you, like, for real? Or is this some sort of deep-level meta-trolling?
You claim to be the theologian, matey.
NOTE TO READERS
TGS is a character originally created, some years ago, after I left Russia – I lived there for twelve years – to take the p*ss out of everything Russian. He’s mostly serious now, but not always. So less of the “eccentric” if you don’t mind, Comrade Jafin 🙂
I’m a fan of eccentricity! 😉 But very well!
You get used to The Great Stalin after awhile. It’s the internet. Lots of eccentrics here. 🙂
Would you care to enlighten us with what the errors are in the above piece and provide citation and proof of your work? Perhaps a counter article you can direct us to once you’ve written it?
Still trying to figure out the footnote function in the com-box. Sorry. Until I get that squared away, I guess you’ll just have to take my comment as a word of caution.
Since everything is open for “discernment,” when will the Jesuits call into question the Eucharist?
Hi hCEO – Perhaps that is now a mere formality for many who claim to be of that disorderd order.
You are wright, think the same.
In this context it is very helpful to read what James Larson says about De Lubac, Von Balthasar and others of that circle. Larson has read their works. He analyses them from a Thomistic point of view. His Thomism follows in the footsteps of theologians like Garrigou-Lagrange, Regis, Geiger, Woodbury and Waters, all outstanding Thomists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
It will then become clear, that, far from making “claims that amount to unjust defamation”, the author of this essay, though not a theologian, demonstrates that his ‘sensus catholicus’ is leading him in the right direction.
From the information Larson provides it is interesting to note the close links of De Lubac and Von Balthasar with the likes of Schönborn and Kasper, two ‘leading lights’ of the progressivist interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.
I am familiar with the Thomist critiques of these authors, and, while I may not agree with all of them, I can respect them as intellectually serrious. This piece, however, deserves no such respect. It is riddled with misleading falsehoods. To assert, for instance, that De Lubac simply endorsed Joachimism, or that Balthasar sympathized with kabalism or gnosticism or tarrow…these are ludicrous claims that betray a shoddy journalism. Moreover, the notion that the troubles in the present-day Society of Jesus stem from these figures is laughable: their influence among Jesuits is quite marginal, as they are generally dismissed as conservatives in those quarters.
I have also read Larson’s piece from 2008. Its reading of Balthasar and De Lubac is tendentious, to say the least. But that is a whole other can of worms…
Jacques Mauritian was introduced to Teilhard by de Lubac who
praised Teilhard to the skies. Maritain did not approve of
Theihard and rightly so.
“The Phenomenom of Man” is a mass of confusions and impossible to
Those posters claiming to be theologians (nu-Church theologians – do such things exist or is it a contradiction in terms?) – reading your posts, you shout “ignorance!” on all sides, yet none of you have refuted one part of what the writer of the article has suggested or claimed. This tells one much …
Let’s take Balthasar’s “Dare We Hope” proposal. It should be cast aside! While it is not a pure representation of Origen’s position, it ventures far too closely to be considered compatible with Catholic dogma. Does the proposal emerge in part from Balthasar’s more foundational ideas replete throughout his works, particularly in the his trilogy on the three transcendentals? It definitely does. It’s rooted in just how deeply Balthasar integrates the events of Holy Thursday – Easter Sunday, the complete self-offering of Christ, and what it means to really consider the relations of the Holy Trinity.
But the “Dare We Hope” proposal is not a NECESSARY conclusion of Balthasar’s bigger conclusions. It’s an error, an unfortunate outgrowth but not representative of an entirely poisoned chalice. Much like Augustine’s unfortunate error with regard to predestination is not proof that his whole approach to theology was satanic.
Von Balthasar’s proposal strikes at the very root of the Incarnation itself. St. Augustine’s error did not.
Of course, I would agree that the problem in all this is one of discipline. Even Ratzinger called on theologians to illuminate the faith more deeply, not seek to change it (a case of the pot calling the kettle black if there ever was one).
When the Church gives up disciplining its own theologians, it has given up guarding the Deposit of Faith.
St. Augustine’s error and Balthasar’s error are about the EXACT same thing: the extent and nature of man’s salvation. They are for the most part, polar opposite answers to the same question but BOTH necessarily strike at the very heart of Christology and soteriology, essential elements of Catholic dogma.
Did St. Augustine blatantly set aside the words of Our Lord Himself about hell, the wide road that leads to destruction, the many who walk that road, as did Balthasar? I doubt it.
Why do you take these so-called theologians seriously? Why is the Novus ordo Church so enamoured by them? Why can’t you people draw from the wells of 2,000 years of Catholic thought rather than just that of the suited representatives of the Revolution?
Possibly because so many Catholic apologetics web resources and media outlets, no matter how well-intentioned, act as if every theological writing and teaching prior to c. 1960 is irrelevant, and that the 1997 CCC is the definitive authority for all matters of dogma and doctrine.
That, and the fact that to actually study the pre-Vatican II teachings of the Church is to force oneself to go down the rabbit hole and realize just how much really is different in the post-Conciliar era. And I can say from experience: Once a man actually does that, he cannot overlook the inherent contradictions. That fear plays a part in it, I think, along with a combination of genuine and willful ignorance.
I am sure you are right with these observations Comrade LB.
I’ll direct you to the following article to respond to the idea that Balthasar simply cast aside the words of Our Lord:
I take such theologians seriously because their works are essentially just intermittent commentaries with huge running block quotes of the Church Fathers, Aquinas, and Scripture. Seriously. Read De Lubac’s “Catholicism”. If you buy the English version well over half of the page space throughout the book is taken up by Latin and Greek quotations from the Church Fathers and Scriptures. Read almost anything from Balthasar. It’s the same. They are completely and utterly wedded to the entire span of Catholic Tradition. The only portion they have a bit of beef with is the neo-Thomist/manualist school of theology which became so dominant in the Church during the 18th and 19th centuries. With good reason I might add.
There’s something else to consider now though, and something theologians need to consider more deeply. That is the availability of theological works to the common man. Before the printing press, the works of theologians would make their way through the hands of the learned to be discussed, criticized and corrected before the contents were disseminated to the common man through homilies, sermons, and other teaching methods. Books used to be as valuable as a car is now.
Now, however, a book gets published (often without Imprimatur) and Bob from down the street can pick it up. In addition, those granting imprimatur these days are often, sadly, not faithful to the truth. Fr. Sosa, superior of the Jesuits and similar in dignity to bishops, is a great example of what many prelates look like today. So these errors get promulgated to the everyman. Would you drink a bucket of water or eat a cake with just a little bit of poison in it? No, you would cast it out. We must do the same with our spiritual food or we are in danger of spiritual death.
I definitely agree with the amount of caution required now for a theologian than in ages past. I also agree with the idea of not drinking a poisoned chalice. Luther for example is a poisoned chalice. He operates from such heretical premises which imbue every bit of his theological body of writings that he must be discarded of entirely. On occasion, Luther does say something true or perhaps even beautiful in his writings. Those things aren’t nearly enough to save him though as a theologian and they certainly don’t represent the overall deranged nature of his thought.
Sometimes though the poisoned chalice is the wrong metaphor to use. Sometimes it’s like picking seeds out of a watermelon or removing a splinter from your eye. If you can remove what is bitter or damaging from on overall beautiful thing then do so, hold on to what is good. This is possible for Balthasar. This is obviously possible for Augustine.
This is where we disagree. Luther is not a poisoned chalice. Luther is a chalice of poison, watered down a little bit, just enough to make it drinkable if you’re thoroughly parched. Balthasar is more like the poisoned chalice. St. Augustine’s work, in those errors regarding predestination, that are more like watermelon seeds.
In addition, we’re in such a state of confusion and disarray today that we need to be especially careful to avoid the errors of today. I used to be a huge fan of Ratzinger and John Paul, and total proponent of Vatican… and that led me to a large number of errors. Best to avoid errors or error prone arguments, especially as relate to the current crisis, and stick to what we KNOW is good… most of which, perhaps unfortunately, comes from before 1965.
Yea, I think your description of Luther as an chalice of poison is absolutely correct. I can respect resistance and suspicion of Balthasar/Communio and obviously we disagree to the extent of the errors present in them.
And I also agree that the current cultural/technological context make it much more necessary to side with prudence in accepting newer theological proposals of the Fathers-Tradition-Scripture. Still, there is a pernicious reluctance to look at the state of theology prior to 1965 in the post-Tridentine years and honestly assess just how much these systems of thought, rather than combating the Protestant/Enlightenment nightmare, had unwittingly bought into their underlying presuppositions. De Lubac’s work on nature-grace relationship is the most glaring example. The neo-Thomist school’s conception of the nature-grace relationship was far more akin to Cartesian dualism and indeed to Luther’s teaching on grace than proponents would like to admit. De Lubac’s work was a necessary re-thinking.
I pick on neo-Thomism not because I think it is rotten to the core but it’s obviously the paradigm that 21st century Traditionalist circles like 1P5 base themselves in (whether they are aware of this or not). Where I have the most sympathy for Communio folks is in their attempt to go to the roots of the post 16th century disaster and expose it for what it really is and expose how pervasive the principles are in modern civilization. They also have no fear in stating that the Church’s and Catholic theology’s response to these errors, most emblematically summed up by the Syllabus and Vatican I, while shining examples of infallible truth being boldly proclaimed, fell largely on deaf ears. Essentially they are fantastic re-statements of Gospel truths but they fail to engage, expose, and eradicate at their deepest roots, from the foundational core of Christian thought, the errors of Protestantism, nominalism, and the Enlightenment. The Communio school’s attempt is to do just that with no compromises. The Concilium school’s attempt is the opposite: to make peace with modernist errors and reconcile the Church with it.
Well, to be honest, I don’t have the time or, probably more accurately, the knowledge to challenge or agree with this with any substance. I am not well versed in the principles of neo-Thomism. What I can say, however, is that the whole church for the last 150+ years has been under direct assault from the inside. The heresy that is the main weapon used by the enemies is modernism and we have ALL been affected by it. You, me, everyone. We’re all trying to work it out of our systems. And that heresy has its root in the era and events you mention – protestantism, the Enlightenment, etc.
My thoughts regarding de Lubac, von Balthasar, even (or perhaps especially) Ratzinger essentially can be summed up as this – they saw the errors, they liked some of the novelties of the post-conciliar period, and tried to reconcile the long tradition of the Church with the new ideas of Vatican II (hermeneutic of continuity) and ultimately proved it can’t be done… even if they, themselves, didn’t or don’t realize it.
You seem to be quite reasonable…we are not only affected but all are infected to some degree. It is difficult for me to read von Balthasar or
Ratzinger because instinctively I find myself in unfamiliar territory As for
von Speyer, I find her writings quite compelling yet she assumes too much
….and with a touch of Protestantism. On the other hand she suffered a great
deal for the conversion of sinners and how many are willing to do that?
I, by no means wish to denigrate the person, or the many wonderful insights von Balthasar presented in much of his writings. One drop of poison, however, effects the whole chalice. Von Balthasar’s enthusiastic praise for Eliphas Levi, in his afterward to Meditations on the Tarot, is pure diabolical cyanide. You can check out Levi’s chef d’oevre in English at the site below. I am warning you ahead of time be careful, pray before hand and you might best keep some holy water near by.
Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1854), English translation by Arthur Waite as Transcendental Magic http://www.iapsop.com
Point taken. I appreciate your having consulted with Schindler as well.
“All of the above authors are in agreement that to achieve universal or divine harmony, apokatastasis, there must be an interplay and unification between the forces of male and female [androgyny], light and dark, and of good and evil – God and the Devil.”
In our own day, we see that Sexual Transhumanism is the agent of choice for Satan to raise up The Beast out of the great sea of the Human Race. This is the ultimate attack on the very image of God in man.
I pray that more people finally begin to understand that Sexual Transhumanism, with all its talk of diversity, inclusivity, orientations, and expressions, is the anti-christ that will prepare the Human Race to enter the mystical body of Satan.
If we are faithful Catholics who are pro-life and pro-family, then we must also be Pro-Human. Let us definitely reject Sexual Transhumanism, even at the cost of suffering, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and under the protection of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
May those in the grip of Sexual Transhumanism be delivered by God’s love and grace.
Very grateful for this expose;
but it does not present any coverage of Von B.’s masterpiece three section Glory of the Lord on organizing theology from Beauty , the Drama, the Last Act…
Like Origen, one can ignore the bad and discover real substance. This master work was published by Ignatius Press as a major project of Fr. Fessio, an orthodox priest as far as anyone can surmise.
And I wonder if there was a progression away from earlier thinking into later understanding?
Today the understanding that BEAUTY IS NECESSARY IN REFERENCE TO TRUTH AND GOODNESS is widespread and constantly referred to as needed to overcome the ugly church architecture, music and art for Liturgy as in the EF; also his individual works like the vocation of the papal vocation in reference to Mary, some theological essays. spiritual biography’s.
It’s as if two different individuals wrote what you review and Ignatius press published!!!
“BEAUTY IS NECESSARY IN REFERENCE TO TRUTH AND GOODNESS is widespread and constantly referred to as needed to overcome the ugly church architecture, music and art for Liturgy as in the EF. . . .”
I agree 100%. But isn’t it ironic that Von B never had a problem with “ugly church architecture” and he certainly was comfortable with the post-conciliar pseudo-liturgy.
Unlike von Balthasar, de Lubac became acutely pained by what happened after the Council:
“It is clear that the Church is facing a grave crisis. Under the name of *the new Church*, *the post-conciliar Church*, a different Church from that of Jesus Christ is now trying to establish itself; an anthropocentric society threatened with immanentist apostasy which is allowing itself to be swept along in a movement of general abdication under the pretext of renewal, ecumenism, or adaptation.”
— Henri de Lubac, S.J., at the Institute of Renewal in the Church at the University of Toronto, August 1967 (in: “Cahiers du Témoignage Chrétien”, September 1, 1967).
…which is why it is so agonizing when Bishop Baron quotes or references Von Balthasar.
I am at once appalled, fascinated and somewhat angered by what I have read.
My impulse is not to write a comment because the content of the article is truly overwhelming,
explains much, and is indeed quite frightening. In myself it appeals to a facet of my perception that something far bigger than we imagine is transpiring, but then one withdraws from that idea due to an inadequate grasp of the facts and material, and yes, fear.
Keeping in mind the esteem Trappists Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating expressed for “Meditations on the Tarot,” and knowing von Balthasar’s assessment, I purchased it years back but could not pick it up – there was something wrong about it – I sensed it without reading it. I eventually relinquished it to the garbage pail. It was just an intuition, and I struggled with that, but I did not want to read it or own it. Eventually I consigned it to the garbage. Not something I often do with a book.
The esoteric is not of the Gospel in my experience. The esoteric being something of a connived confection, while the unutterable depth of the Gospel is without pretense or obscurity. It is clear running life giving water and Light.
And then there is the respect John Paul had for von Balthasar and his work. He would have been elevated to the cardinalate had he not died unexpectedly.
What is one to make of all this?
There is much about the European Catholic engagement with spirituality, theology and just plain living in history about which Americans are not sufficiently familiar. Besides geography, perhaps this impediment is in place due to our native tongue, itself now a “protestant” mode of communication – if not post-protestant. A protestant American English speaking culture is perhaps not so favorable to understanding such a current of “intellectual” history as presented here.
It would be good to see this facet of the current crisis further explored.
That explains why all the Von Balthasar fans that occupy places of prominence at Catholic colleges are also the same people who dismiss Thomistic studies and “Tridentine” Catholicism.
The two theologians who have most successfully, and charitably, critiqued the teachings of both Fr. de Lubac, and Fr. von Balthasar are Laurence Feingold in his “The Natural Desire to See God: St. Thomas Aquinas and His Commentators” (2010); and Alyssa Lyra Pistick in her
“Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ’s Descent into Hell” (2007). The former deals with the subtle, but crucial, teaching on whether man’s natural desire for God is innate or elicited. De Lubac held that it was innate. Feingold shows he was wrong to do so since St. Thomas Aquinas taught that it is an elicited desire. The consequences of saying that man’s desire for God is innate leads to pantheism. The later work, which followed on from Alyssa Pistick’s licence dissertation which highlighted several erroneous propositions held by Fr. von Balthasar, deals with how his teaching is incongruent with Catholic teaching. Dr. Pistick’s work brought the ‘Communio’ Catholics into a state of confusion, while Dr. Feingold’s masterpiece ended the infamous ‘grace-nature’ debate. Unfortunately, the disciples of Frs. de Lubac and von Balthasar have been many (and many have tried to remain faithful to the Church’s teaching) but their theological positons contained within them the seeds of the present chaos with its creeping universalism. Many Cathoics today are, in a certain sense, a product of ‘Concilium-Communio’ dialectic: the errors on both sides having fed into synthesis of protestant-catholicism. Thankfully, however, it is possible to return to the use of faith and reason to find the Truth once more.
Bold claim to say that the “grace-nature” debate is over. I suspect as long as the Baltimore Catechism is still quoted we might have to say the question remains open:
6. Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.
Take part two of that answer as far as it can go: “God made me…to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” Natural, created man (God made me) is destined for a supernatural end (happy with Him for ever in heaven).
Dr. Feingold’s work clearly shows that St. Thomas’s teaching on man’s natural desire to see God, which the Baltimore Catechism summarizes from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, is an ellicited desire. Fr. de Lubac mistakenly claimed that St. Thomas taught it was an innate desire. The meticulous work of going through the texts of St. Thomas – and of his commentators – has been done by Dr Feingold and has charitably shown how Fr. de Lubac diverged from the teaching of the Angelic Doctor. With this work having been done it is fare to conclude that the “debate” is over – a debate that was more ideological for many than scholarly. Accepting that it has had profound consequences on Catholicism is difficult but now that it has been done there is the opportunity for intellectual honesty. As Dr. Feingold notes: “The crucial distinction between a natural and a supernatural love of God needs vigorous defense today”. Failure to accept that the natural desire for God is an ellicited desire leads to the confusion many souls are in today. Thankfully, scholars are beginning to admit that the wrong turn taken by Fr. de Lubac and his disciples can be overcome. When this is more widely known then seminarians will begin to recieve a better theological education, and the laity in turn begin to hear once again of the need to be in a state of grace rather than mistakenly think that loving God through the contemplation of nature is enough.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you…[provided such a desire for you has first been elicited; otherwise it would be totally fine without grace].” – #things augustine never said but surely would have said if he had met cajetan
Well, Bryce Evans, you seem to have no qualms about defaming one of the great theologians of all time, Cajetan. I suppose some would call that tendentious on your part – and perhaps a trifle arrogant.
The thing that made the great theologians of the past ‘great’ was that they dedicated their lives to defending the Deposit of Faith against attacks, and explaining it in the light of Scripture and Tradition. They took seriously their mission to give the faithful bread, and not a stone. Truth, not speculation.
In contrast some of the so-called greats of more recent times appear to have been more interested in tinkering with the perennial truths of the Church, and holding dialogue with its enemies, thereby sowing doubt wholesale. The faithful have been left hungry and confused.
Oh, come now, it was a playful jab. I respect Cajetan. My point was only to observe (briefly) that there are plenty of good, traditional reasons to critique him on the point of pure nature, and that it is a bit silly to declare the debate over (and your opponents heretics) on the basis of one book (however fine a contribution it might be). I apologize, however, for trying to be too cute in the com-box.
“No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day.”
“Many Catholics today are, in a certain sense, a product of ‘Concilium-Communio’ dialectic: the errors on both sides having fed into synthesis of protestant-catholicism.”
This is one of the most insightful comments I’ve read here or anywhere for a long time. Thank you.
This is the kind of comment that is attractive because it seems to wrap up the last 50+ years in a tidy little package. But in fact it fails to do so, and is not an insight but a misrepresentation.
Certainly the post-conciliar era is not so simple as “Concilium = villains, Communio = heroes.” But this comment is implying that the Communio authors (not only the original founders like DeLubac, Balthasar, and Ratzinger, but also more recent contributors to that journal influenced by the founders) are presenting what is ultimately a Protestantism masquerading as the Catholic Faith.
But this is not the case. The Communio authors are a mixed bag (e.g., Walter Kasper), and don’t present a single uniform school of thought. Yet it is ignorant and in fact mistaken to assert that Balthasar, DeLubac, Ratzinger/Benedict, etc. are teaching a disguised Protestantism. If you want to make a claim like this, back it up with an argument.
I don’t call it Protestantism; I call it something worse: Modernism. And yes, Sir: sometimes things CAN be summarized in neat, tidy packages. And yes, I label not a few of the writings of Wojtyla and Ratzinger as heretical as Kasper’s and Lehmann’s. All of them are responsible for the hodgepodge of mush that has passed for Catholic theology throughout the past 60 years. I’ve already been through the trauma of these type of discussions. I have no desire to repeat them. Let us agree to disagree.
Protestantism is the father of Modernism. Without Luther we would have never had Marx.
It’s absurd to say that Feingold’s book “ended” the nature-grace debate. Debate on a theological topic so fundamental is never simply ended; that’s as foolish as saying that St. Augustine “ended” debate on the Trinity with his masterwork De Trinitate (and with all respect, Feingold is not in a league even close to St. Augustine).
Feingold has made a notable contribution to the debate, and his contribution is generally acknowledged to be a strong and important one. Yet others have responded to Feingold since the book was published, and the debate continues (which is a good thing; a terminated debate is not the point of Catholic theology).
For my own part, I would argue that the doctrine of “two ends” is at variance with the teaching of St. Thomas (see for example ST I-II, 3, 8). In a certain sense, DeLubac is a red herring; it is Thomas who opposes the doctrine of “two ends,” not primarily DeLubac (of course, for me to argue this gets right into the thick of Feingold’s argument, which is that DeLubac misreads Thomas).
As for Pitstick’s book on Balthasar, she misrepresents Balthasar’s position, so her critique doesn’t land the punch she thinks it does. Balthasar’s teaching on Christ’s descent into hell is complicated, and in some places he could certainly have benefited from a greater precision in what he’s saying. But the overall thrust of his teaching is very different from what Pitstick claims. Because she misreads him, her conclusions are problematic.
It’s not that simple. Aquinas says in the De Veritate Q 14, a 2 that man has a twofold end:
“Man, however, has a twofold final good, which first moves the will as a final end. The first of these is proportionate to human nature since natural powers are capable of attaining it. This is the happiness about which the philosophers speak, either as contemplative, which consists in the act of wisdom, or active, which consists first of all in the act of prudence, and in the acts of the other moral virtues as they depend on prudence. The other is the good which is out of all proportion with man’s nature because his natural powers are not enough to attain to it either in thought or desire. It is promised to man only through the divine liberality: “The eye has not seen…” (1 Cor. 2:9). This is life everlasting.”
I don’t think this is at variance with St Thomas’ other writings once the right distinctions are made but that’s the difficulty of the discussion. But it’s not so easy to just say Aquinas would support such a reading.
Interestingly that’s the first quote from Thomas Feingold deals with.
Your post is a big simplification though. There are texts in Aquinas that teach man has an end proportionate to his nature and one above his nature to which God has in fact called him. They don’t cancel each other out however.
How is the post a big simplification?
I said that Feingold doesn’t “end” the nature-grace debate. No single book “ends” a fundamental theological debate. Feingold would never make such a claim about his own book.
I didn’t attempt to respond to the details of Feingold’s text. I voiced support for De Lubac, and I mentioned in an offhand way a passage from Thomas that does not lend itself to a “pure nature” reading. I certainly didn’t try to make that one little passage into a proof text, as if it cancels out Feingold’s whole argument.
Certainly Feingold discusses ST I-II, 3, 8. But that’s not the point; the point is whether Feingold’s revival of “pure nature” is authentically the teaching of St. Thomas, and more basically the teaching of Tradition (which is not the same thing; every word St. Thomas pens is not automatically equivalent to Tradition).
Saying that Feingold “deals with” the passage doesn’t constitute an argument for his conclusion, anymore than my offhand reference to the passage constitutes an argument against his conclusion. If I was going to make a real argument, I’d have to respond to Feingold’s whole book.
My post wasn’t dismissing Feingold’s book (if you notice, I said that his book is a strong and important contribution to the debate, by which I mean his argument should not be taken lightly by anyone). I was just rejecting the claim that Feingold “ends” debate on a fundamental topic.
I agree with you that the book does not end the debate and that those sorts of claims don’t do Thomists any favours. Unfortunately I wrote a longer post that didn’t show up that was more on the point I was responding to that there are two sets of texts in Thomas and places where he explicitly refers to a twofold end.
Jordan, I should also say I should not have said “your post” as if to refer to it as a whole; I think the point you made regarding one book ending a debate is certainly correct (and I’ve followed the debate when I can following the release of the book). Perhaps I mistook your reference to a passage as an attempt to prooftext when you were not intending to. As far as the interpretative side of the discussion is concerned I believe it consists in finding the harmony, which I think can be found, between a significant grouping of two sets of texts. My sensitivity to that balance perhaps lead me to react the wrong way to your reference. Cheers.
Hey, not a problem. I for one think that the recent resurgence of the “pure nature” school (Feingold, Steven Long, et al) is a good thing for theology, even if I don’t agree with everything they say about DeLubac and Balthasar. Theology is doing its job when things are not lazily assumed just because so-and-so wrote it (in this case, lots of people assuming that DeLubac is right, without bothering to think through the things raised by Feingold). Even if it ultimately turns out that a counter-response to Feingold is appropriate, that counter-response itself benefits from his work. Theology develops through serious discussion (and by that I don’t mean a Hegelian dialectic).
Somehow I don’t think this has yet been addressed in these comments but let me quote the author’s summary of De Lubac’s central thought in Surnaturel:
“The thesis of these essays was that all men, according to their very nature, possessed one supernatural end with the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision without need of the added gratuitous graces obtained through sacramental incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ.”
No. Just no. Such a summary totally misrepresents the central conclusions of De Lubac in the grace/nature debate. To be brief, De Lubac in NO WAY proposes that man as a created being in his natural state possesses the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision without need of the gratuitous graces obtained through incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ. That, rather, is Karl Rahner’s implied conclusion in the way of his infamous “anonymous Christian” proposal.
De Lubac, however, was tireless in asserting that the Incarnation, Paschal Mystery, and subsequent outpouring of the graces of Christ’s life through the sacraments of the Church were all completely surprising, totally gratuitous, unmerited, and utterly necessary for man’s salvation. De Lubac sought to demolish the “pure nature” theory of Cajetan and the neo-Thomists which has such dangerous consequences in closing off the natural from the supernatural.
Read the man’s own words: http://www.communio-icr.com/files/delubac35-4a.pdf
Origen, Von Balthasar, Gnosticism, Kabalah, the kitchen sink…
Joachim’s vision of the final stages of the Church were that it would take place toward the very end; at that time, Catholics would stop marrying and instead become celibate, living a monastic life of penance and prayer. He would never have seen this period as a license to be a libertine.
Like Von Balthasar and De Lubac, St. Thomas also speculated, and there are some of his writings that we still do not quite understand. The Church leaves those writings aside for further study, and considers the truth of what she does understand and discern of his writing as it contributes to clarifying our doctrine. So, too, with other theologians.
This essay would have been more interesting if the writer had stuck to the subject of de Lubac and Von Balthasar only. I suggest Paul McPartlan’s, “Sacrament of Salvation” which reports on De Lubac’s contributions to theology:
– rejection of the “detestable ‘I’ in our spiritual life and the view of the Eucharist as nourishment for “my” salvation;
– digging up (literally) the works of the Church Fathers and having them translated (we take their writings for granted today);
– insistence on the common identity of the Church and the Eucharist because “the Eucharist makes the Church” (also in “Mystici Corporis” of Pope Pius XII);
– seeing the Eucharist not merely as a static object but, rather, as also the dynamic Presence of Christ;
– reviewing liturgical reform begun at the Council of Trent when Pius V sought “to restore the Mass to the form it had in the early Church.”
– bringing that reform forward so that the Eucharist as “source and summit” of our faith would regain a centrality that was overcome by centuries of liturgical fashions.
Many might say this has led to a lean and unlovely liturgy. I would agree. Sometimes I feel like the Sunday Mass is a sort of drive-thru, where I can feel good about being there and where the concept of adoration and worship in the Eucharistic Prayer is given the bum’s rush by most celebrants. Oh, well.
discernment and more discernment. What an affected discourse.
They have helped to destroy Venezuela. I very much prefer the clarity and beauty of Christ’ words because they go to the hearts, than the words of these arrogant Jesuits. The self repleted Jesuits (not all) seem to think that everybody but them are idiots. I like the light, not the darkness.
I’m not sure that you can talk about a literalist mystic. I think there’s a long tradition (small “t”) in religious circles to look at all kinds of ideas from all kinds of directions. There isn’t a comma existing in the New Testament that hasn’t generated at least an article. Both Lubac and Balthasar were extremely prolific and if you want to throw together a an argument that both or either were working for satan, I suppose it’s possible. In the world also lived in by people like Kung, those guys were heros.
I hardly think it matters that the author is not a “certified academic.” Met plenty of them that I wouldn’t feed. I often tell friends that in the forth century the cry was “all the world is Arian.” Now it should be “all the world is De Lubacian.” He was a certified academic, as are most of the profoundly ignorant individuals we currently have masquerading as Catholic Bishops and Cardinals. Hmmm. Give me the thinking layman anytime.
This article is unworthy of being on the same site as the good journalism that 1P5 usually provides. If the author thinks that he can excuse calumny by saying that he is “not a certified academic, let alone theologian,” he is mistaken. He may not be a theologian, but he is responsible for his own words.
One does not need a theology degree to speak intelligently and powerfully on theological topics. Any Catholic has the ability, and in fact the duty, to talk about theology when the situation arises. But if you’re going to accuse someone not only of theological error, nor even heresy, but of nothing less than promoting Satanism under the guise of pseudo-mysticism, then you have a serious obligation to back up that accusation with sufficient research. This article casually dispenses with that obligation, and moves forward with its intended goal, which is to deliver a venomous hit piece.
This hit piece consists of various insinuations, strung together so as to give the appearance of an argument. Balthasar wrote more than 100 books, and DeLubac was also a very prolific writer. Rather than making any attempt to seriously engage with what these men have written, this article attempts to smear both, presupposing an audience already conditioned to hate these authors.
– The article attempts to link DeLubac and Balthasar with Arturo Sosa, who has publicly denied the veracity of the Gospel accounts. Glaringly absent is any shred of evidence that either DeLubac or Balthasar in any way takes or moves toward such a position. Anyone even vaguely familiar with their writings knows that they don’t. Guilt by association, lacking any citation from any source whatsoever, either primary or secondary.
– De Lubac was not condemned by Pius XII. There is a reason his name is not mentioned in the encyclicals, and it is because the encyclicals are condemning positions, not individual authors. The positions condemned do not reflect De Lubac’s own position on nature and grace, as he confirmed repeatedly in subsequent writings. The so-called ‘new theology’ was never a homogeneous group with a single vision, either before or after the Council. The post-conciliar divide between Concilium and Communio is just one indication of this non-homogeneity.
– The article states that “The thesis of [DeLubac’s Surnaturel] was that all men, according to their very nature, possessed one supernatural end with the graces sufficient to attain the Beatific Vision without need of the added gratuitous graces obtained through sacramental incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ.”
This is false, and shows that the author of the article hasn’t bothered to familiarize himself with the original text, with more than 50 years of secondary literature about the text, nor with the ongoing debate about the “pure nature” thesis. De Lubac says no such thing. Show me in his text where he says that. You don’t need to be an academic theologian to write about theology, but if you are going to accuse a theologian of something seriously erroneous, then you are obliged to actually do the work of research, so that you don’t present a straw man (as you’ve done here).
– The article seeks to cast suspicion on DeLubac via the fallacy of guilt by association. DeLubac certainly wrote about Teilhard de Chardin and about Joachim of Fiore, and he found elements to affirm in the work of both men. But this in no way indicates that DeLubac fully embraced the theological claims of either; certainly he did not (to fully embrace Joachim would mean saying that the ‘age’ of Christ has passed, and that a new ‘age’ of the Holy Spirit has replaced it, effectively denying that the three divine Persons are always and everywhere unified in their work, even though each remains distinct in this one work). Again, an actual engagement with DeLubac’s own work is wholly missing from the article. DeLubac also wrote some things about Buddhism. Does this make him a Buddhist?
St. Thomas quotes extensively, and usually with approval, from Aristotle (pagan), from Averroes and Avicenna (Muslim), and from Maimonides (Jewish). Every one of these authors holds some major positions which are fundamentally contrary to the Catholic faith. Is St. Thomas guilty of their errors because he finds elements of truth in their works? Is St. Thomas a heretic because he engaged seriously with thinkers who were wrong in some very big ways?
– The article trots out the well-worn and false accusation that Balthasar teaches universalism, conveniently ignoring 30 years of academic literature on this topic. If the author bothered to look, he would find many people showing clearly that Balthasar is not positing apokatastasis. Once again, there is no effort made to do the research necessary to speak about these issues. But the charge is made nonetheless.
– Regarding the biggest focal point of the article, which is the postscript/foreward to the 1985 book on the Tarot, the article makes the claim that “Balthasar has nothing but praise for this work.” Yet the author expects the reader to take him at his word on this; the postscript/foreward itself is only quoted in bits and pieces; there is minimal context provided for the snippets offered. Having asserted this, Balthasar is summarily lumped in with a laundry list of pseudo-mystics and satanists apparently discussed in the book (“Masonic Martinist Saint Yves d’Alveydre, the acknowledged Luciferian Stanislau de Guaita, the Satanic Magician Eliphas Lévi, as well as the Kabbalistic false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Madame Blavatsky, Swami Vivekananda, Rudolf Steiner, Teilhard de Chardin, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Carl Jung, and a host of others.”).
Even though it may be readily admitted by even the most ardent supporters of Balthasar (in a reply on this comment board, you mention a personal conversation with David Schindler on this subject) that the existence of a postscript by Balthasar for such a text is off-putting and hard to grasp, reason and charity demand that a single small text from any man, theologian or otherwise, be understood in the context of other things he has written, other things he has said and done. Yet somehow this postscript to a 1985 text is presented as the secret key to Balthasar, the one best and most true source for knowing what he’s really about.
As noted above, Balthasar wrote more than 100 books, and numerous essays and articles; he was known personally by a great many people inside and outside of academic theology. If the content of the Tarot postscript runs contrary to virtually everything else the man wrote, then the matter ought to be weighed very carefully. If you had a close friend, and you believed this friend to be a man of true virtue and holiness, and then it was reported to you that this man had said something bizarre, would you immediately conclude that your friend had all along been fooling you and hiding his true identity? Or would you rather start by presupposing innocence until guilt is proven beyond all doubt, and take it for granted that you need to understand more clearly what your friend was saying? But there is no careful weighing here, because Balthasar is most certainly not your friend. You already know what you want to say about him, so as to fit the narrative you want to present about the post-Vatican II state of the Church and Balthasar’s supposed role in it. The Tarot postscript gives you all the pretext you need; why examine the issue further?
– The article seeks to connect all of these pseudo-mystic figures by the term apokatastasis, by which is meant here not only universal salvation, but the confusion of good with evil, of Christ with the devil, of worship with blasphemy; and you very clearly insinuate that Balthasar teaches the same apokatastasis. But then, after devoting the majority of the page length of the article to accusing Balthasar of being in alliance with satanists and false prophets, you make the ludicrous statement that “The personal faith and devotion to Christ and Our Lady of Hans Urs von Balthasar are in no way to be questioned.”
What can such a statement possibly mean, placed in an article wherein you accuse him of basing his work on the false visions of a false mystic with delusions of her own importance (von Speyr), and entering into alliance with the worst kind of demonic false mysticism? You openly say, immediately following, that “[Balthasar’s] pantheon [!], deduced from the above, appears to include Lucifer/Satan and the fallen angels as necessary participants’ in the divine drama of universal salvation.” So which is it? You can’t have it both ways. Either Balthasar is devoted to Christ and to Our Lady, or else he worships a “pantheon” that includes demons.
– Finally, you state “The thoughts contained in this afterword to Tomberg’s Meditations on the Tarot were written in 1985, that is to say, one year prior to the original 1986 German edition of Dare We Hope? To what extent did Tomberg’s occult theosophy influence von Balthasar’s view of salvation, and how deeply has the Cabbalistic occult doctrine of a binary God composed of both good and evil penetrated the Jesuit order as well as the Church at large?”
Here again, the insanity of the earlier statement (i.e., Balthasar’s faith and devotion are not in question) is plain. You are openly, directly accusing Balthasar of poisoning the Church itself (via his many fans in “conservative” circles, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI) with an occult doctrine that blurs God with Satan. Such a thing would not be ‘mere’ heresy; it would be a monstrous thing having no connection to real theology. Balthasar would in that case be not a theologian, but a horrific parody of a theologian.
So, to sum up: on the basis of a postscript to a single text, which postscript is only provided for the reader in tiny bits and pieces out of context, you accuse Balthasar of affirming what is basically Satanism, without citing from a text of his work other than the postscript itself and a block quote from a book about his collaboration with von Speyr. Aside from Balthasar’s own enormous output of writings, there is a huge secondary literature on his work, many hundreds of articles and essays spanning 40+ years. None of this is taken into account at all; you’ve decided that this 1985 book on the Tarot is the secret key to Balthasar, and so you’ll smear his name without bothering to look any deeper.
Again, don’t hide behind “I’m not a theologian, I’m just an ordinary lay Catholic sounding the alarm.” You’re a Catholic man who should know better than to lay these kinds of extreme charges without providing the most well-researched case, the most thorough examination of the evidence.
I hope that 1P5 is better than this article, and I believe it is. I pray that this site will continue to provide real Catholic journalism, and not devolve into something else.
Bravo, Jordan. You are a voice of truth.
Would you please direct us to something that clearly and unambiguously indicates von Balthasar, over the 30 years that you mention, rejected apocatastasis?
His own book, Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? No secondary literature is really necessary to see that he is not teaching apokatastasis.
Balthasar in this book does not say that all are saved. Rather, he says that we can and should hope that God might be able to somehow save everyone without destroying free will, and without calling evil good.
In terms of exegesis of the Gospel accounts, this means understanding the many, many statements of the Lord on hell (Jesus talks about hell very frequently) as very real and serious warnings, rather than predictions of a future that is already set. Balthasar in no way denies that the consequence of mortal sin is hell; nor does he say that one goes to heaven regardless of sin; nor does he teach that we should BELIEVE that hell is empty.
The key word of the book is on the front cover: hope. There is a significant difference between the theological virtue of faith and the theological virtue of hope. Both are essential, but they are not synonyms. Balthasar is not saying that we should believe (as a matter of faith) that all are saved. He is saying that — directly related to the Catholic teaching that God does not desire the damnation of any human person, and does not predestine anyone for hell, against the ‘double predestination’ error of Calvinism — we can hope in this way. Hope, not faith.
Now, someone might argue (and in fact, various people have argued) that Balthasar is quite wrong in this, and that Scripture and Tradition indicate that there are many people already in hell, or even that a majority of people will be damned and only a relative minority saved. My point is not to settle this debate, or to say that Balthasar’s whole position in the book is correct. My point is simply that Balthasar’s position, whatever one wants to call it, is not universalism (everyone goes to heaven).
Balthasar does not not teach this; he is saying that insofar as God does not seek the destruction of anything he has created (Wisdom 11:24-25), and insofar as God desires that all human persons be saved (1 Tim 2:4), we also ought to hope that somehow, even though it seems impossible, God may ultimately be able to bring it about.
Balthasar insists that hell is a very real possibility for all of us, that we must live in fear of hell, and fear sin and its eternal consequences. Basically, what Balthasar is saying is “We should never underestimate God. If we know that he desires the salvation of all, maybe somehow he pulls it off?” But there is no certainty of this in Balthasar’s position, only a hope, and he stresses that we must base our lives on what we know with certainty from the teaching of Christ: i.e., that mortal sin leads to damnation.
Whatever you want to call Balthasar’s position on this topic, it is not apokatastasis. Even if it can be shown that Balthasar’s position is wrong, it is not universalism.
Well he denied that he embraced apocatastasis, but in the end I think we’re talking about a distinction without a difference. The review of Von B’s position below is written by a man who is by no means a traditionalist. He is the author of several works, the most notable: “Hidden Manna.” The review is eminently fair and he arrives at the conclusion I just mentioned. To deny, however, that his opinion is so near to apocatastasis as to be easily mistaken for the embrace of it, is simply stretching your view beyond the bounds of credibility. Wojtyla’s policies were universalism put into practice without ever having to use the word. Whether von B uses it or not, the end result is the clear advocacy of universalism.
I read the whole article you linked to. O’Connor does not conclude that it is a distinction without a difference. Rather, he concludes that Balthasar’s position is not universalism, but that Balthasar is wrong nonetheless because he does not sufficiently account for elements of Scripture and Tradition (biggest point has to do with the grammatical future of Jesus’ statements on hell). His evaluation is, as you say, very fair, and his argument against Balthasar is well made.
Again, as indicated in the comment above, my position is not that Balthasar is certainly right (if you notice, I acknowledge that his position has been criticized by many, and I avoided taking a final side). I am pointing out that Balthasar is not in fact teaching universalism. Even if you argue that his position is wrong, at least present it accurately.
There is a real difference between
a) Without doing away with human free will or with his own justice, God somehow manages to convince all human hearts to open themselves to his offer of love
b) God does away with his own justice, and calls evil good and good evil
Of course, that’s a very big “somehow” in option (a). O’Connor and many other critics may be right in saying that Balthasar has failed to account for the grammatical future of Jesus’ own words on hell. But the basic point of Balthasar’s text — i.e., that if God desires all men to be saved, then we should share in this desire — is hardly deniable. Anyone who WANTS others to go to hell, who DESIRES that others be damned and separated forever from God, is no Christian. The point of O’Connor’s critique is that we have good reason to believe (drawing on Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium) that, tragically, damnation at this juncture in history is already a past tense kind of thing; i.e., that many are already damned, just as many are already saints, right now.
The distinction O’Connor draws at the very conclusion of his article, between a properly theological hope and a human hope, is interesting (though I’m not sure that these can be fully separated).
Can we simplify the argument a bit? Why, when the Church is stacked to the rafters with giants of theological thought, must we lionize these deeply controversial thinkers of the mid 20th century as though they were the luminaries the Church needed to usher in a new age?
From where I stand, Catholic theology is in shambles, as are our discipline and sacramental practices. We have essentially two competing (and irreconcilable) visions of what the Church is and should be, a hermeneutic of rupture that even the most fervent protestations of a pope cannot wipe away, and an ascendancy not just of heretical prelates, but of, quite likely, a Satanic, sexually perverse, freemasonic anti-Church within the Church.
Why must we take pains to salvage the work of von Balthasar, De Lubac, or the rest? What did they add to the body of Church teaching and thought that is so indispensable that we must sift through their garbage looking for pearls?
If their work is garbage, then you are right to say that no one should waste valuable time and effort (especially in the midst of a virtually unprecedented crisis) trying to find pearls.
But that’s the whole debate, correct? Obviously the people who write books and articles about these ‘Communio’ thinkers are convinced that these authors have something important to contribute to Catholic theology.
The truth is eternal, and does not change with the passing of centuries. But most Catholic doctrine has been developed in response to problems and challenges (e.g., St. Athanasius develops an explicit doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son in response to Arius; St. Leo the Great writes his famous Tome on Christology in response to the dual challenge of Nestorius and Eutyches; St. Thomas Aquinas produces a monumental synthesis of faith and reason in response to the challenge resulting from the renewed interest in Aristotle).
The challenges of this particular time period are manifold (the compounded effects of Protestantism, the Enlightenment, the scientific revolution, large-scale atheism, secularism, nihilism, relativism, the sexual revolution, etc.). These problems were already building centuries prior to Vatican II.
Seems to me that if the ‘Communio’ guys (De Lubac, Balthasar, Ratzinger, etc.) offer a response that actually helps to address these challenges in a good way, then their writings are worth studying and thinking about. Obviously, if their response either (a) fails to address the challenges, or (b) is a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution, then engaging with their work is a waste of time, or a terrible danger.
We always have to think in constant reference the giants (the fathers and doctors), but repeating them doesn’t fully solve the problem, not because their teaching is time-conditioned (the truth is eternal), but because we have to do our own work. St. Thomas didn’t just repeat the fathers, although he always looked to them for guidance at all times; he had no choice but to think very seriously about the claims of an emerging scientific revolution, and about Islam.
It’s hard to know exactly how to respond to what you’re asking, because the thing is “Do these ‘Communio’ guys have anything valuable to contribute, or are they just a waste or time or, worse, a distortion of the Church’s theology?” Difficult to address that in a comment board.
I see the way ahead in theology as similar to the way ahead in liturgical reform: i.e., Thomists/Latin Mass types working together fruitfully with ‘Communio’/JPII types, with the fathers and doctors having pride of place over recent thinkers. This presupposes that the ‘Communio’ reaction to the Council is actually a good thing, at least in large part, and not just another flavor of Modernism.
O’Connor craftily points out the obvious level of anger with which von B addresses those who would disagree with his position. It is not typical of von B but is very reflective of someone who has been caught in the wrong and is furiously trying to mask the unmasking with an aggressive and pugnacious style of response.
But O’Connor’s money quote is this: “Nevertheless, although he rejects the theory of apokatastasis, von Balthasar is so categorical in denying that we know that there are or will be humans who are to be eternally damned, and so forceful in defense of a hope for the salvation of all that he appears to be saying that, in fact, no one will be eternally lost.”
To me, that is tantamount to drawing essentially the “distinction without a difference” conclusion.
Dr. Chris Malloy at the University of Dallas does not share your view of Bathasar’s work on Hell.
Malloy makes excellent points, and his argument is strong.
In particular, it is absolutely certain (and St. Augustine is the key author here) that evil is not a reality per se, but the privation of good, the distortion of something that has reality. As with other things in Balthasar’s work, there is a frustrating lack of precision on this notion of sin as a “reality.” I don’t think he’s trying to say that sin is a reality in that sense, but Malloy is quite right to call him out on it.
But again, as I said in my reply to Senrex, the point of my comment (i.e., the comment you are responding to) was that even if Balthasar’s position is wrong (and I explicitly stated that I am not taking a stance here in that debate), it is not universalism, as was casually claimed in the 1P5 article that these comments are under. Neither the article Senrex cited (from James O’Connor) nor the blog post you cited from Malloy indicates that Balthasar’s position simply reduces into universalism. It’s fair to say that Balthasar skirts perilously close to the edge of the cliff (i.e., universalism). I still would maintain, however, that he is articulating something important, which is that a Catholic doctrine of hell must always keep in full view God’s desire that all men be saved. Though a fan of Balthasar, I certainly don’t maintain that his theology is without mistakes. If this is one, he’s in good company (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
It is more than a little fallacious to place the blame for our post-Conciliar woes on the shoulders of these two men.
The fact is that even during the Patristic age, theologians have made some statements that the Church later had to clarify or even condemn.
St. Augustine held to double predestination, and the Calvinist heretics extracted much mileage out of this.
Origen (as mentioned in your article) taught the universal salvation, even of demons.
St. Jerome was an Origenist until the Church condemned that position.
St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that Our Blessed Mother “doubted” at the moment of Christ’s death.
St. Fulgence of Ruspe denied the Immaculate Conception.
St. Basil held that Christ paid the ransom for our sins to Satan.
For a contemporary example, even Romano Amerio, a conservative theologian much beloved by the SSPX, tried to soften the doctrine of Hell by speculating that souls in Hell could enjoy natural happiness, but not supernatural happiness, and even suggested that such a notion could be found in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. As a non-theologian, I refrain from commenting on the above, but I am sure that Mr. Amerio, whom I deeply respect, would have accepted any correction of these views if he had been called upon to make them.
A theologian’s job is to speculate, and as long as he does so within the parameters set by the Church and submits to their judgment (note that de Lubac did not apostatize when his writings were censored) such speculations are permissible to an extent. That others misuse them and take advantage of them is lamentable, but such a fault cannot be laid on their shoulders.
Our energies would better be spent uncovering and undoing the perfidies of infiltrators like Hans Kung and Gregory Baum, double agents like Malarkey Martin, and “useless shepherds” (Zechariah’s words, not my own) like Rembert Weakland and Roger Mahoney.
Amerio was probably echoing a theological idea proferred as a theory by Claude de Sessel in the 16th century and modified by the great Cardinal Billot in the 20th century.
And you’re wrong, Professor, about de Lubac and von Balthasar being mere speculative theologians. The former was corrected by the Holy See and yet continued to essentially write without alteration his heterodox views under the guise of conforming to the correction (cf. “Gethsemane,” by Cardinal Siri) and von Balthasar clearly and unambiguously contradicted a proposition that had already been condemned by the Church.
I don’t disagree with your premise above; I would just deny that such magnanimity should be applied to the two theologians who are the subject of this essay.
Amerio’s position regarding the prospect of natural happiness in Hell is well-rooted in Catholic speculative theology, having been a matter of discussion at the Council of Trent – most notably between the Dominicans and the Franciscans. It has nothing to do with “softening” the doctrine of Hell, but rather with the application of the magisterial distinction between poena damni and poena sensus indicated in the documents of the Council of Florence and the writings of Popes John XXII and Pius VI.
You are absolutely right. (I was not quoting Amerio to criticize him, but rather to give an example.) Jacques Maritain has also speculated along similar lines.
Modernist, a definition : somebody who writes an entire book to contradict one article of the Summa Theologica so that other modernists can pass their heresy as an honest intellectual quest, e.g. Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? by Hans Urs Von Balthasar. So many other examples but I’ll stop here.
Congratulations, Steve. You’ve won the attention of the Wojtyla/Ratzinger wing of the neo-modernist school of contemporary theological thought. The representative posters of this position below have been exactly the type I faced when attempting to intellectually claw my way back to authentic Catholicism. They hindered me at very intellectual turn. Where I saw contradiction, they saw “development” or an inability to appreciate “nuance.” They were so vociferously aggressive in their cult-like devotion to Popes Wojtyla and Ratzinger (or anything proferred as “Catholic” by the post-conciliar establishment and neo-con elite) that I confused myopic intransigence with orthodoxy. It was a very painful time. Reading some of the posts below brought back a lot of bad memories.
Thank you for posting this essay.
“Concilium bad, Communio good” seems to be the narrative of the neo-con elite that you mention. So where are the good fruits of Communio?
One of the most prominent fruits at present is the influential position Cardinal Kasper holds in the Church. I wouldn’t call that a good fruit.
It seemed an argument worth having. Thank you.
Just reading through these comments, many of which are truly engaging and informative, I notice that, and please correct me if I’m wrong, most commenters tend to place Wojtyla/Ratzinger in either the conservative or the progressive camp, or to group them together with the likes of St Augustine and St Thomas or alternately with the likes of Kung, Schillebeeckx, Martini. To me it seems not so simple.
It still astounds me that people cannot appreciate that they fall into neither category.
Wojtyla and Ratzinger, respectfully Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, did much to defend the Faith against modernist errors and to shine the light of the Faith in the whole world. Okay, I’m not trying to make the case that they were perfect in every sense–I’ll leave that question for another time. But how can one fail to appreciate that they carried the ancient Faith of the Apostles to the whole Church and the world, even if they tried to clothe the Faith in a new language, or to bring the Faith into dialogue with contemporary schools of thought, or to consolidate the doctrine of the Faith with new philosophical foundations?
To be sure, such a great undertaking is not easy and is possible to be misunderstood by both “conservatives” and “progressives”, especially in a world that is still permeated with Enlightenment ideas and forms of reasoning. But how can a well researched Catholic fail to appreciate the virtue of the Wojtyla/Ratzinger array of teaching documents which have done so much to defend and shine the light of the Catholic Faith in the world? It really escapes me…
In his encyclical,”Pascendi,” Pope St. Pius X says of Modernists: “Hence in their books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist.”
We have lived through 60 years where “better than most” is a sentiment which has enabled theologians who are Modernists to be popularly heralded as lions of orthodoxy. That is the case with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. (I usually refer to them by their pre-papal names because the bulk of their problematical writings were penned before their election to the papacy.) I have not the time to articulate their apparent heterodox positions, but a good internet search would reveal the problems.
Never in the history of the Church can one be “mostly orthodox” and still be considered a paragon of an authentic Catholic theologian. No one is saying that these were evil men, or that their legitimate contributions should not be appreciated. But that does not erase the terrible damage they either perpetrated (however non-maliciously) or permitted to be inflicted upon the Church’s theology and visible structure. Both these men would have been considered Modernists by Pope Pius X. Not as bad as Kung, Schillebeeckx or Martini — but Modernists nonetheless.
Hello Senrex, thanks for your considered response. I have to say, however, that that all depends on your definition of Modernism…….? I have heard a few accuse Popes JPII and BXVI of Modernism but I have never seen any proof of this.
“ But how can a well researched Catholic fail to appreciate the virtue of the Wojtyla/Ratzinger array of teaching documents which have done so much to defend and shine the light of the Catholic Faith in the world? It really escapes me…”
I am a well-researched Catholic, if you want to believe me on that – I have a few theology degrees, for whatever that is worth (because the vilest heretics have PhDs these days).
Anyway, my response is more directed at the imprudently canonized John Paul II. My studies of Ratzinger focused more towards liturgy, which he was very good with. But I do know he appears to reject a lot of Thomistic metaphysics which is the backbone of theology and said denial helps to fuel the current crisis.
Ratzinger was also in love with Teilhard, an apostate and heretic, as well as de Lubac and Balthasar (also a material heretic). But that is my extent of knowledge concerning Ratzinger. I could be wrong about the Thomistic thing, but one of my profs during grad school was taught by Ratzinger and Balthasar – for whatever that is worth.
I will complement JPII and Benedict XVI on this: they were pretty good when it came to morality issues. Very clear. And I think they were clear on this because the Second Vatican Council did not touch these issues that much. Moral issues dodged the bomb of ambiguity and hence, dodged future Popes malignant of them (until now, it seems).
Sure, JPII and Benedict will say good things but the overall in other non-moral areas, but the problem, at least with John Paul II, is the ambiguous and bizarre way his theology is sometimes expressed both in words and action. I will dwell more on the scandalous aspects later.
Wojtylism is excessive in its personalistic approach to the point where man becomes more the focus point than God (unintentionally). This is a virus of our age; it was a mistaken notion picked up by Wojtyla and others in thinking they were answering to the “modern world” but in reality it was a capitulation that abetted the further decay of the Church and civilization. The current program of theology and pastoral approach has gone on for a while now, in the age of super-media where information spreads quickly, and yet we still have a crisis like this. We should recognize that his theological approach is a failure along with its closely related cousin the New Theology (which had a huge influence during the Second Vatican Council). People don’t care about personalistic garbage, about being “fulfilled” because their hearts are hardened and they already feel “fulfilled” in all their worldly things.
Speaking of the New Theology; consider also that John Paul II made cardinals out of de Lubac, Congar, and attempted to make one out of Balthasar (he died before he can do it). Why them?
Congar stated that we need to take theology back 1,500 years; a protestant and antiquarian approach.
De Lubac conflated nature and grace, promoted a theology of self-contradiction, and promoted the apostate Teilhard.
Balthasar stated that Christ suffered the pains of hell and that Christ did not know who He was until He learned it in His earthly life. This doctrine has been condemned by the Church and it destroys the Catholic doctrine that Christ always possessed the Beatific Vision and the unity of the Holy Trinity. Balthasar also wrote a forward on a book about Tarot cards that he sent to John Paul II. What is the logical thing to do when faced with previously condemned heresy and receiving a book that is linked to demonic influences? Why, make him a cardinal of course! It’s just… things like this…. He promotes men who spread heresy and error to important status thereby strengthen their influence.
Oh, but that is the “administration” side – which is magically separated from the character, the virtue of prudence, and what the real John Paul II thought. Yes, it works like that right?
(I will get to the worst of it soon, bear with me)
Now, excessive personalism leads to an unhealthy and unintentional emphasis of theology on man himself; an imbalance between primary and secondary. For example, the language of Theology of the Body (not all of it is bad) concerning conjugal relations become a “total self-gift.” This is firstly impossible because no one can give totally to another human – metaphysically or spiritually – and further, one is supposed to give themselves totally to God before any husband or wife.
“But he didn’t mean it like that…”
Yes, of course. But that is the problem.
A lot of things he does are confusing and his lack of actions against heresy, bad theology, and false metaphysics speak volumes (sometimes he acted though, to be fair). Now, actions, especially in the context of administration of the Church, communicate a certain ideology and theological approach.
After 2,000 years of developed teaching, we should not go backward in action, speech, and writing into ambiguous formula.
Here are some other problems:
1. Papal Masses featuring liturgical abuse, having Marini Papal MC for years and having abuses throughout. Horrid World Youth Day Masses. Even a pagan “smudging” ritual that was performed don him in Mexico City in the year 2002.
2. Assisi meetings: Pagans where accommodated in breaking the first commandment on consecrated Church ground. John Paul II abetted in the breaking of the first commandment. NOT to mention how such an event would look to the world at large. Such a display teaches everyone indifferentism and it is an offense to God in breaking the first commandment. It is also, again, a way to expressing a certain theological and pastoral outlook that if priests and bishops examine, they will implement accordingly. Doubly so if the person is a liberal intent on twisting and misinterpreting things against the Catholic faith.
3. He asked St. John the Baptist to protect Islam. This is on the Vatican’s website; he asked for a saint to protect a false religion. A religion that leads people to hell. What is that? Again, the effects of this can be dangerous to onlookers or the innocent who wish to read more about their “saintly” hero and run into this garbage. It communicates a bizarre and unCatohlic theological outlook.
4. He gives Anglican “archbishop” Rowan Williams a pectoral cross – a sign of Apostolic authority – AND kisses his ring – a sign that he is a bishop. Williams is none of these. But once again, actions communicate a theological outlook, a pastoral approach that spreads confusion and error. How many Catholics think it’s A-OK for people to belong to protestant sects? Do these items help or hurt catholic doctrine concerning salvation and the nature of the Church? The answer is obvious.
5. In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, John Paul II states that we should have a “common martyrology” with non-Catholics. This is impossible, because one must die for the Catholic faith in order to be a martyr. People who die for other faiths cannot be called martyrs because we can only make a judgment on the visible circumstances – if they did not visibly die for the Catholic faith, it is unknown if they were a martyr. (I am not arguing against someone’s salvation here) This proposal by John Paul II indicates that non-Catholics, even though they are not visibly identified as being a part of the Church, can be saved. One cannot know the state of another soul in such a rash fashion, if you were to go around stating that everyone who *appears* to die outside the Church is a martyr, you are going to spread confusion concerning the dogma of No Salvation Outside the Church.
I say *appears* because God may bring people into the Catholic Church in some way before they die, hence they would cease to be non-Catholic and become Catholic – preserving the integrity of the dogma. YET, no one can say this for certain, especially for such a numerous amount of people who were killed during the last century. It is extremely imprudent and demonstrates a dangerous thought in his theology.
Most of the above concerning the doctrines of salvation and ecclesiology.
Now, in an age where people don’t think you need the Church to be saved or even be a part of religion, why on earth would someone who writes and acts like this be a great “light” on the world. IF anything he fuels the fire for this crisis. Not to mention he props up the New Theologians by awarding their decent, heterodoxy, and heresy with cardinal hats. AND his liturgical style was horrific, which communicates an objectively inferior theological and pastoral liturgical approach: a more personalistic and anthropocentric liturgy, which is a breeding ground for abuse, sacrilege, and harmful to truths like Transubstantiation.
That is what I can think of off the top of my head.
Here’s an image for the rest of us:
It’s difficult to make a coherent response to this hodgepodge of ideas and sweeping claims.
You make a couple of good points but you also make some misguided statements, such as “Ratzinger appears to reject a lot of Thomistic metaphysics” and “Ratzinger was also in love with Teilhard”.
Some claims are unsubstantiated, such as “Balthasar said that Christ did not know who He was until He learned it in His earthly life”. This is pure fabrication. Can you actually point to a reference in Balthasar that proves this?
Some of your statements are just plain incoherent, such as “And I think they were clear on this because the Second Vatican Council did not touch these issues that much. Moral issues dodged the bomb of ambiguity and hence, dodged future Popes malignant of them”.
And some statements prove nothing, such as “I could be wrong about the Thomistic thing, but one of my profs during grad school was taught by Ratzinger and Balthasar – for whatever that is worth.”
Ratzinger praised “The Divine Milieu.” He was a Teilhard fan.
I understood that Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) praised an aspect of Teilhard’s teaching but never endorsed all aspects of Teilhard’s thought.
Teilhard was a pantheist. What part of his teaching do you think is worthy of advocacy?
It seems to me that Ratzinger supported Teilhard’s view that the entire cosmos would be so transformed that it would eventually come to share in the sacrifice of praise and worship of God, as the long term result of Christ’s first coming to earth.
Teilhard espoused that, but this is not something that is peculiar to him. That particular spiritual cosmology has been around for a long time: perhaps Teilhard read the Pauline Christological hymns in Philippians and Colossians? Ratzinger did not require a citation from Teilhard to get that point across. But in doing so, he created the impression that Teilhard is generally legitimate. That sticks in my craw.
There is no need to simply call everything I have presented as “hodgepodge” if you cannot rebut them.
If you want good documentation, then check these out:
3. The Second Vatican Council did not reformulate much moral doctrine. Or rather, it did not interject much ambiguity into it. There are a few instances, such as the ends of marriage being obscured. But otherwise, it did not attempt to obfuscate morality. This is why future Popes were very clear on moral doctrine, but on matters of faith we see grater ambiguity and confusion.
4. “Some statements prove nothing.” I never said that particular statement proved anything. You questioned why well educated Catholics would make such statements: I am pointing out that I am well educated and even have small connections to the some of the men I disagree with. If my statement on my educate as no value, then don’t question why Catholics would be against men like Pseudo-saint John Paul II, Balthasar, and even sometimes Ratzinger.
Not fond of the crummy picture.
Not fond of the crummy theology.
I think the article misses some important points. For example Henri de Lubac never wrote any systematic theology but through the history of the Church and its characters revisited how the Church ‘thought’. He did not support Joachim de Fiore but rather just wrote on his thinking as in history Joachim has resonance.
The significant point of departure between neo-scholasticism as represented by Suarez (not the Council of Trent, St Thomas etc) and Henri de Lubac (whose thought is brought forward by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict) is the nature and grace debate.
Essentially neo-scholasticism holds to the two ends theory of man’s destiny as ordained by God. Karl Rahner held to the same but transposed it into the immanent with the supernatural existential.
Rather de Lubac’s historical recovery of the theological emphasis of St Thomas does not support a radical two end theory. But rather our destiny is deification in the Holy Trinity as the fullness of the imago Dei and made possible by the Redemptive work of Christ. (This is not determinism or ‘automatic’ entry to heaven on the ground of created Grace but requires the Redemptive turn toward Christ the theological virtues etc.)
For example Dante does indeed have the natural happiness experienced by Virgil and the philosophers including Adam and Eve. But these persons, though naturally happy experience a lack, a sorrow that they do not have the grace to attain to Glory. That they experience their situation, though happy, as ultimately unfulfilled and as a defect or lack cannot be the will of God….as God is perfection and in Him is not lack….so he could not have ordained it as an absolute end. Rather it is the consequence of the Fall etc.
But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils. 1 Corinthinas 10:20 — I will stay with St Paul on this one. We should be ignorant of those things that fall clearly within the realm of the devil. I am studying the miracle of Guadalupe (a.D. 1531) and the more I know of the circumstances of that miracle, the more I think that Our Lady appeared in Mexico because she is fighting the devil where he is stronger. I see nothing wrong in learning about that holy fight but one should not delve into the ideas that come from the devil’s mind.
[…] Urs von Balthasar. The late Swiss theologian and Cardinal-elect’s penchant for Tomberg (he called him a “thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity”) and his esoteric “Christian […]