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Pius XIV: the Smoke of Satan & the Man of God

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Editor’s note: below we publish the introductory material to a traditionalist text from one of our Trad godfathers, Don Giuseppe Pace, brought into English for the first time by our friends at Arouca Press. Thank you to Alex Barbas for his kind permission of this publication. -TSF

Translator’s Foreword

In Pius XIV, author Walter Martìn, pen name for the Italian priest, Don Giuseppe Pace, provides welcome clarity for our ambivalent and uncertain era. In a simple and straightforward style, he appeals for the full and uncompromising restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass and, in fact, the complete liturgical life of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. He premises this call on his observation that the Council has been disastrous for individual believers and the Church. The novel’s articulate and authentic dialogues on the Council, covering its famous spirit and revolutionary impact on Catholicism, strongly suggest that the author as a priest witnessed or even participated in such conversations among Church leaders.

Alongside his strong advocacy for the Traditionalist position, Martìn provides insight into the proponents of reform and revolution. He reveals the clericalism behind the zeal for Vatican II. The stubborn ideology, love of power, and tendency to acquiesce to the world brook no dissent from the faithful, who are expected to obey all revolutionary ideas. Unsurprisingly, it often seems that the novel’s characters are referring to current events in the Church. Martìn also reveals the impact of the Council on priests and bishops at the psychological and spiritual levels after they traded the Catholic tradition for the spirit of the world. They replaced metaphysics with evolution, St. Thomas with Teilhard de Chardin, and the Person of Jesus Christ with the abstraction of humanity. Martìn memorably depicts the resulting sharp decline in spiritual life and moral virtue in such individuals and the Church as a whole.

The fact that the adoption of a pro- or antitraditional stance leads to grave spiritual, psychological, and moral consequences reflects the reality that this spiritual battle offers no neutral position. This is because of the nature of the Tradition of the Church. Tradition fosters certain virtues, such as humility, acceptance of God’s will, and dependence on God through prayer. The rejection of this makes the heart restless. This restlessness works to turn the Church into a social service agency and advocate for perpetual revolution. The mentality of the reformers of Vatican II involves the spirit of protest and the attempt to build something of substance from the ruins that are left behind. But what they end up building reflects the utilitarian, pragmatic, and anti-metaphysical mentality of the twentieth century:

They changed the Mass as one changes attire. The most dismayed faithful were comforted by being told, “Here is finally a clean shirt, lighter, if you like, but functional.”

These men of restless and proud protest, as depicted in Pius XIV, possess an unreasonable hostility towards the Latin liturgy. Their revolution has become the new normal, the new tradition, that regards the Latin Church as something to be overcome and left behind.  Conversion triggers a return to Tradition, as Martìn demonstrates, with certain characters undergoing spiritual and psychological changes brought on by their interactions with Pope Pius XIV.

The dialogues between traditionalists and Vatican II enthusiasts revolve around the organic development of the Mass versus the notion that the liturgy can be changed at will in order to fit into the spirit of the world. The Church no longer informs the world, but is informed by the world. This is the Protestant spirit: The Church does not change the believer; the believer changes the Church. One can even say that Martìn wrote an anti-woke novel avant la lettre, before wokism existed in its current form. The author would likely be unsurprised by the nonsense we are currently living through. The novel reveals how the Council allowed the Church to turn from a pillar against revolution into a pillar of wokism itself. The Church became subversive against itself, against its own tradition.

Much of the Church is therefore enemy-occupied territory. The reader gets the impression that the Pope and his few supporters have sequestered themselves off from the Vatican’s notorious intrigues. These intrigues are not of the Spirit, but of the world, particularly in the past few decades. Even in the Vatican itself, then, it is the world, it is modernity, that holds sway. The author notably avoids directly depicting the intimidating Vatican machine aside from an episode with the Vatican post office when the Pope decides to see what has happened to all his mail and finds that a hidden hand has been misdirecting all but the most harmless of correspondence. Soon after his election, Pope Pius XIV leaves his Vatican apartments for a simple cell in the monastery of a humble order, where he eats his meals and becomes part of the community.

As the dialogues, intrigues, events, and works of restoration unfold over the course of the novel, the author successfully conveys a sense of what was lost and how worldly banalities, such as jazz and other contemporary music, replaced the previous majesty. Jazz is the least of it, as ecumenism, evolutionism, and liberation theology characterize the new Catholic Church. In opposition to this, the author develops an ecclesiology that traditionalists will welcome: The Church is here to proclaim the Good News and provide the sacraments. It is not here to push for social and political revolution or act as a social service agency. Yet the warmth of the traditionalist characters refutes the accusation of indifference to the poor. They are not rejecting the needy, but the Marxist abstractions of humanity and sinful structures, neither of which have anything to do with the Gospel or with real humans. The guiding philosophy in the novel is realism, which Martìn portrays well.

If Vatican II was a rupture that overturned the spiritual lives of the vast majority of priests, religious, and the laity, Latin offers the key to restoration. Romanitas includes all the treasures that the outsider Osiris Market has purloined from indifferent priests and other parish leaders who operate in the Vatican II spirit. Interestingly, this dishonest and greedy entrepreneur knows more about the true value of these sacramentals and other items than the churchmen do. He is aghast when the traditionalist Pope means to put an end to his sacrilegious selling off of these articles—candlestick holders, chalices, old missals—and wants the Church to put them back into their rightful places. He is as viciously dead set against the Pope as the liberal churchmen are. Like them, he has a worldly agenda.

Market and the liberal clerics recognize that the traditionalists are about to ruin their common agenda. This is a significant insight of the author. Agendas tend to run and ruin certain aspects of Church life. Hardly any sunlight exists between the agendas of the churchmen and that of Osiris Market. The latter’s worldliness is obvious. But the anti-traditionalists are just as worldly by adopting the materialist ideologies of the twentieth century. The author covers this horizontal spirit exceptionally well. He shows the revolutionary agenda, the revolutionary spirit, of the anti-traditionalists. Market wants to sell off the material patrimony of the Church, the physical traces of its tradition, while the anti-traditionalists resolutely oppose many elements of the spiritual and moral patrimony of the Church.

Despite all this, Pius XIV offers hope because it is a book of faith. The love and perseverance of Pius XIV and his supporters easily triumph over the agendas and treachery of their opponents. Pius and his supporters rely on prayer and their love for the Church and its Tradition. They rely on Christ. They are not easily moved to action, but when they do act, it is with singleness of purpose, peace of mind, and a focus that is unswayed by all the maneuvering and hostility of their adversaries. They are confident of their future victory because they are serving Christ, not the world and its ideologies. The laity’s active participation in this, largely through devotion to the Latin liturgy, is an invitation to the reader to lend tangible support to Tradition. This is the book’s call to action. The author does not see the Catholic layperson as a passive observer of this spiritual battle, but as closely involved. Perhaps it is not too much to say that the reader will come away from this book with the sense that we are all playing a role in some cosmic drama.

Brian Welter

Preface (Italian Edition)

At the dawn of the third millennium, the genre Vatican-fantasy means little more than Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons. Apart from rare jewels of doctrine and narrative such as Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, the genre refers to anti-Catholic nonsense at the bookstore that readers with middling literary and theological tastes might make into a success as they participate in a sort of common ownership of bad taste, bad culture, and bad faith.

The genre has had other ancestors. In 1914, André Gide tried his hand at it with the nihilistic and irreverent The Vatican Cellars that was, at least, produced by a future Nobel Prize winner. But the genealogical tree of this genre can be traced back in another direction Over the centuries it is not far-fetched to find the archetype in the so-called Gnostic gospels, of which the most emblematic example is the Gospel of Judas, discovered every two or three hundred years by anti-Christian propaganda.

All this is to say that Vatican-fantasy normally means hatred for the Roman Catholic Church, with certain exceptions, but an old and never-eclipsed editorial law teaches that there are no exceptions in the history of the printed word. However, from time to time an isolated case comes along, a gold nugget that reveals a precious vein to which only the good have access. It didn’t take much, therefore, to convince the Italian editor Fede & Cultura to publish Habemus Papam, which is a real and authentic nugget of Catholic Vatican-fantasy.

This wasn’t the publisher’s first step in this direction. In a way, it took its first step with Rosa Alberoni’s Intrigo al Vaticano II (2010). But Alberoni’s novel, as a fictional reconstruction of a real event, is a reflection on the past. In contrast, Habemus Papam depicts a fictional present and future.

Let us turn to the history of this book, which technically was never published even after some had already read it. Carlo Rasellis, long-term president of the Turin section of “Una Voce” and a protagonist in this little literary case, reveals the mystery in his notes. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Una Voce of Turin printed the novel, then entitled Pius XIV,[1] for non-commercial purposes in “pro manuscripto” form. The author, the Salesian Don Giuseppe Pace, chose the pen name Walter Martìn.

After that, Editiones Sancte Michaelis released three currently out-of-print, four-hundred page editions that recount the history of Pope Pius XIV after his election without much deep support as a way to end an interminable conclave. Pius is a transitional pope, as the subtitle of the 1979 manuscript declares. The electoral cardinals expect him to be as dull as he is old, to be a meek man who is to ferry the Church from one progressive papacy to the succeeding, more progressive papacy. But Pius XIV is so old and so enamored of the Church that he combines his own eternally young love for the Mystical Body of Christ with his own old age and restores the honor of Tradition.

To understand what is reserved for the reader of this novel, built with skillful narrative, suspense, sound theology, and good doctrine requires an explanation of who Don Giuseppe Pace was. When he died in 2000 at 89, he left behind a great quantity of writings on a wide variety of subjects, all chiseled with expertise and depth. But it is not for his erudition that his readers have come to love him. What aroused the veneration that only certain priests know how to inspire, was his attachment to Tradition, in a Church that was boldly marching towards the abyss of progressivism. It was his fidelity to the traditional Mass that his brothers made him pay bitterly. It was the ability to read the future that distinguishes those who do not forget the past and, indeed, love it. It was that goodness hidden in the heart of those who know how to combine Truth and Charity.

Habemus Papam contains all of this, embodied in Pope Pius XIV. This is a man who, step by step, puts back in their places of honor all that had been hidden in the previous few decades: the Mass, prayer, devotion, doctrine, theology, morality, and even good manners. It is a stainless repertoire of the fundamentals of the Catholic faith that, in certain pages, almost seems to be a prose version of Iota unum.[2]

Written at the end of the 1970s, Habemus Papam has not lost any of its freshness. Quite the contrary. It has more to say today than when it was published. It would be a shame if it were not put back into circulation, if only to explain what the hermeneutic of continuity is to the tin soldiers who, antagonistic to progressive tendencies only on the surface, still confuse this hermeneutic with the obligation to continually justify the current disorder. Armed with doctrine and the facts, Pius XIV explains that the hermeneutic of continuity is as simple as one can imagine: Not only can everyone see all the errors that were committed, but the truth must be restored for each of those errors.

At this point, who still has the courage to call it a Vatican-fantasy?

Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro

Historical Note

In 1978, the year of three Popes, a book entitled Pio XIV Pontefice di transizione[3] was published. Its author, Walter Martìn (the pen name for Don Giuseppe Pace), wanted it to be known as a novel, though in reality its fictional narrative contained an ample display of the logic and hopes of Catholic Tradition, which the liturgical reform of the post-Vatican II period had put to a harsh test.

Readers of this reissue of the third edition of the work might want to know the now-distant events of the era that led to its writing, since it contains brief hints to the direct participants of those events.

The promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae in 1969 sparked a widespread movement of protest of the clergy and faithful as represented by the Brief Critical Examination of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci and by the International Association “Una Voce, organized by the faithful.

In Italy, Rome, Bologna, and then Turin each saw an Una Voce group organized, in the latter city welcomed in the Church of the St. Trinity. There, the brave Monsignor Attilio Vaudagnotti, indifferent to the obvious and harsh hostility of the local Church, continued to publicly celebrate the only Holy Tridentine Mass in the city.

Very soon a Salesian, a man of great faith and inextinguishable literary streak, Don Giuseppe Pace, joined the Una Voce group. He also continued to celebrate the old rite, but was restricted to the catacombs. He began to collaborate with Monsignor Vaudagnotti in the celebrations at St. Trinity. When the small journal Notizie appeared next to that of Una Voce, he became the principal collaborator under the pen name Fra Galdino da Pescarenico. His articles defending Tradition and the Holy Mass brought great comfort to the readers.

The idea of bringing his thoughts on the subject together into a single work developed while he was collaborating with Notizie. The first edition of Habemus Papam was immediately followed by a second and then, at the beginning of the 1980s, a third one revised and with a new title.

May those who read these pages find spiritual comfort, consolation, courage, and perseverance in sustaining and defending the cause of the Traditional Holy Mass, the true fulcrum of our faith, for the greater glory of God and of His Church. One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Carlo Raselli

[1] As mentioned earlier, we have decided to use this title for the English edition.

[2] Iota unum, by Romano Amerio, critiques Vatican II and asserts that the Council caused a rupture with Tradition.

[3] Pius XIV: Transitional Pontiff

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