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Coptic Orthodox Expose Vatican’s Naked Modernism

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Above: Pope Francis and Baba Tawadros II in Cairo in 2017. © L’Osservatore Romano

The Coptic Orthodox Church has now suspended its ecumenical dialogue with Rome. This is in the context of a decades-long struggle for true Eastern ressourcement, in the face of the false Neo-Modernist Ecumenism. Let’s have some of the context to shed light on what just happened.

The Complicated Place of Eastern Catholicism since Vatican II

At the second Vatican Council, the Eastern Catholic bishops came seeking solutions to two of the most pressing problems that they saw in the Church in 1960: hyperüberultramontanism, and the environment of “no salvation outside Thomism” created by the excesses indirectly caused by Pope St. Pius X’s anti-Modernist crusade. This was part of an overall problem, since Trent, of “Latinisations” – which were mostly opposed by Rome (until Pius X) – but resulted in a scandal to the east-west debate, since some overzealous Jesuits and other Catholics were treating Eastern Christians like they were treating Protestants, and disrespecting Holy Tradition as it was contained in the east.

As a result of problems such as this, the Eastern Catholic bishops found no allies among our Trad godfathers – The Coetus – but found common cause, rather, in the nascent “Nouvelle théologie” movement which included a spectrum of thinkers from rank Neo-Modernists – like Hans Küng – to orthodox Augustinians (suspected of Modernism) like Joseph Ratzinger.

The messy, revolutionary chaos that was Vatican II was no environment conducive to correcting Latinisations, but nevertheless the Council produced several outstanding passages and documents in this regard, especially those against hyperüberultramontanism (Lumen Gentium, 27), the utilisation of an Augustinian Personalism (in addition to Thomism) in documents like Dei Verbum and Gaudium et Spes, and a full defence of Holy Tradition in the east in the document Orientalium Ecclesiarum.[1]

There is much more to this that I have treated elsewhere in more detail.[2] For these and other aspects of Vatican II, traditional Eastern Catholics are grateful, because Vatican II restores a more traditional stance of Rome toward the east, which reflects more the balance of Lyons and Florence rather than the excesses after Trent and especially Vatican I.

But very soon after this the traditional Eastern Catholics realised that many of the allies they had chosen at Vatican II were in fact not interested in the eastern tradition in the slightest. Their aim was not to restore the integrity of the eastern traditions, but rather to use and abuse the east to promote Modernism in the west.

This was on display in the implementation of the Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments, which was accompanied by a full scale Third Iconoclasm, which the Eastern Catholics recognised as a horrible re-enactment of the Iconoclasm of Constantinople (726-842) as well as the Protestant Iconoclasm. The Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments represented the most excessive exercise of Papal power that the Eastern Catholics had ever seen, where the Papal office was used to encourage and decree the destruction of the Roman liturgical tradition and construct something almost entirely new (87% new to be exact).

Among the traditional Eastern Catholics, this was an insane abuse of power which had to be utterly rejected and opposed. Still, this was ultimately a controversy among the Latins, and did not directly affect them. As regards eastern ressourcement, Eastern Catholicism could be thankful to Vatican II for a re-balancing of a true phronema patrum which gave equal weight to the Latin and Greek Fathers, in a way that better reflected St. Thomas and the best scholastics anyhow.

Checking the Advance of Neo-Modernism

But as the days since Vatican II drew on, Eastern Catholicism found that the Iconoclasm was worse than first seen. The Novus Ordo was obviously a disaster, but it became apparent that the Iconoclasm was not just liturgical but also theological. Neo-Modernism was taking hold of Rome, so that the Romans even abandoned their own language and adopted German for their theological discourse. Paul VI was weak and did almost nothing to stop it.

Then came the Slavic pope John Paul II. He was a champion of true Eastern Catholicism, and promoted a true Ecumenism with the east. The Eastern Catholics were unjustly excluded from this, but like so many sufferings before for the sake of unity, the Eastern Catholics bore this affrontery with Christian patience. Under the Slavic pope and his German successor, the advance of Neo-Modernism was quelled but not destroyed.

Of all the Ecumenical dialogues since Vatican II, the dialogue with the eastern Christians is perhaps the only one that has borne any positive fruit. The reason is because only Eastern apostolic Christians can truly be called “separated brethren” since they have valid Sacraments. They have the basics of what it means to be Christian, unlike the Protestants, unfortunately. They were treated like separated brethren at Lyons and Florence, and restoring that attitude by means of Vatican II is restoring a traditional attitude. (I can credit my own conversion to Rome from Eastern Orthodoxy in part to this attitude, attributable to the traditional side of Vatican II.)

I have treated the ecumenical dialogues with the east in greater detail in my forthcoming book about the Orthodox churches, but I will hazard a summary here: the foundational issue (especially with the Greeks and Russians) is bad blood and unforgiveness. That is what has clouded our minds and re-enforced the divisions. Vatican II has made the most progress since Florence in healing the schism between Rome and the Chalcedonian churches.

As regards the Non-Chalcedonian and Assyrian Orthodox churches, the ecumenical dialogue has been even more fruitful, since these churches have less anti-Papal bias like the Greeks and Russians. A fruit of the latter was the reconciliation of Mar Bawai Soro and his book The Church of the East: Apostolic & Orthodox.

As a result of Vatican II, the Miaphysite controversy has been generally resolved so that the Copts today reject the heresy that we reject – monophysitism – and are willing to accept an orthodox formulation of the Faith, provided their traditional customs are respected (no Latinisations).[3]

Neo-Modernist, False Greek Ressourcement Reborn

In regards to the Miaphysites churches, we have seen three dramatic gestures from Pope Francis: one is the declaration of Gregory of Narek as a doctor of the Church in 2015, and then, for the Copts, there was the inclusion of the 21 Coptic martyrs in the Roman Martyrology as well as the celebration of the Coptic liturgy at St. John Lateran by Coptic Pope Tawadros II.

It seems that these gestures have been more than symbolic, but have complicated the relationship with the east. This is because under Pope Francis we have seen the triumph of the false Greek ressourcement of the Neo-Modernists. The most conspicuous example of course is Cardinal Kasper who tried to promote Greek-style divorce and false Synodality and was opposed by John Paul II and Benedict. But Pope Francis has rehabilitated and promoted Kasper and all the Neo-Modernists who got a slap on the wrist under the last two popes.

What the Coptic Church has done is take a stand for Tradition. For that we should be thankful. When I was in college I lived for two summers with the Copts of Cairo and I witnessed firsthand their zealous dedication to the keep the Faith against Muhammadan domination. This breaking off of dialogue is also something that costs the Copts, since they can use any Christian allies they can against the burden of Islam. But not at the cost of accepting the new gender tyranny that is the worst fruit of this horrible Neo-Iconoclasm.

What the history of Eastern Catholicism since Vatican II shows us is that these Neo-Modernists have no interest in a true dialogos with the East in order to heal these old divisions. They only want to use the eastern tradition to promote their Iconoclasm in the west. They want dialogue with the Devil, not dialogue with the east for the sake of unity in Truth. This is what the Coptic Church understands now, and has taken action accordingly.

For Trads, it’s very important that we understand this traditional Eastern perspective of things, so that we don’t fall into a superficial critique of Vatican II, which fails to take into account this traditional perspective coming out of the eastern traditions. This also helps us defend the Roman rite from the Novus Ordo Iconoclasm, since much of this is based on a false Greek ressourcement, for example in the new Confirmation rite. My forthcoming books will treat this issue in more detail. Ahead of Passiontide, let’s take refuge in Our Lady of Fatima and pray for the conversion of Russia.

T. S. Flanders
Tuesday in the 4th Week of Lent

[1] I use the term “Augustinian Personalism” to distinguish a Personalist philosophy which is Realist from any other form of Personalism which is anti-Realist and thus incompatible with the Faith. For an introduction to what Personalism is, see J. F. Crosby, The Personalism of John Paul II. Personalism as a Catholic response to Liberalism and Communism was pioneered by the Augustinian Phenomenologist and Trad Godfather, Dietrich von Hildebrand.

[2] See my book, City of God vs. City of Man.

[3] For an introduction to the Miaphysite dialogue as it regards the Chalcedonian churches, see my essay, “10 Lessons the Chalcedonians can learn from their rapprochement with the Miaphysites.”

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