Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee.
– Eph. 5:14
Despite the tremendously destructive threat posed by the Synod on the Family, it has accomplished – even before its completion – something of real value: it has given the entire world a front-row seat in the Modernist operating theater as they attempt to empty a well-established Church teaching of its authentic meaning and replace it with what can only be described as a diabolical lie. Day by day, more faithful Catholics are waking up to the fact that the Church’s hierarchy has become infested with an intellectual and moral corruption of truly biblical proportions. And for that awakening, we should be genuinely thankful.
Now that we can all see how the Modernist prelate operates – how he twists the meaning of words, exchanging clarity with duplicity; how he places his accomplices in key positions to ensure a predetermined outcome while paying lip service to openness and dialogue; how he cloaks his actions in secrecy while claiming to promote transparency – we would be fools if we failed to acknowledge the obvious traces of his nefarious work all about us. For this is by no means the Modernist’s first rodeo, nor shall it be his last.
Of all those changes bearing the marks of Modernist corrosion which have occurred in the Catholic Church over the last 50 years, one in particular stands out by virtue of its close analogy to the matter of the so-called “divorced and re-married”: the new ecumenism. Even a cursory examination of the version of ecumenism which became popular after Vatican II shows all the tell-tale signs of manipulation and perversion which we currently see being applied to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage, the objective sinfulness of adulterous and homosexual acts, and the requirement of true repentance and hatred of sin for justification.
The reason for the success of any Modernist undertaking is because, at some level, it appeals to the heart of the lay faithful in its desire for something that is essentially good. Now, all Catholics desire to see an end of the schism and heresy by which our Orthodox and Protestant brethren have cut themselves off from communion with the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, authentic Catholic teaching, such as that set forth in Pope Pius XI’s 1928 Encyclical Mortalium Animos, clearly states that such a reunion cannot be accomplished unless and until the schismatics and heretics renounce the errors which separated them in the first place and submit to the magisterial, sacerdotal, and pastoral authority of the Catholic Church. After condemning at length the many errors threatening to enter the Church through an ill-conceived pan-Christian ecumenism inspired by a misinterpretation of Our Lord’s prayer “that they all may be one” (John 17:21), Pius XI writes:
So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the Mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: “The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly” (De Cath. Ecclesiae unitate, 6). The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that “this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills” (Ibid). For since the Mystical Body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one (1 Cor. 12:12), compacted and fitly joined together (Eph. 4:16), it were foolish and out of place to say that the Mystical Body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head (cf. Eph. 5:30; 1:22).
Despite this clear instruction, the traditional teaching was effectively abandoned by nearly the entire prelature – sometimes explicitly – after Vatican II. Cardinal Walter Kasper, for example, once infamously opined:
Today, we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would be “converted” and return to being “Catholics.” This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.
This was not a random, off-the-cuff comment from some obscure prelate. On the contrary, Cardinal Kasper was President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 2001 to 2010, and this was the modus operandi of that dicastery under his direction. To clarify this position further, he added:
The Catholic commitment to ecumenism is not based on wanting to draw all Christians into the Catholic fold, nor does it seek to create a new church, drawing on the best of each of the ecumenical partners.
He certainly was not alone in this view. Pope John Paul II himself expressed essentially the same sentiment in his 1995 Encyclical entitled Ut Unum Sint, i.e. “That They Be One” – quoting the very same passage Pope Pius XI said was being used to promote a false ecumenism which threatened to undermine the integrity of the Catholic faith.
To be perfectly fair, one would have to engage in a very lengthy and detailed discussion to explain what, exactly, Pope John Paul II was promoting in that document and how it can be seen as consistent with the perennial teaching of the Church, just as one would have to enter into an equally lengthy discussion to determine the real meaning of Unitatis Redintegratio, the text on ecumenism promulgated at the Second Vatican Council. But to do so would run the very real risk of missing the point, i.e., that such a discussion – a “hermeneutic,” if you will – should not be necessary at all. The reams of paper which have been spent on interpreting these texts merely help to underscore the fact that the clarity and logical consistency of the authentic Magisterium on this point has become so thoroughly muddled in the documents produced at and since Vatican II that anyone promoting the false ecumenism explicitly proscribed by Pope Pius XI can now do so with impunity.
Observe that we have a nearly exact analogy with regards to the reception of Holy Communion by the so-called “divorced and re-married”: All Catholics desire to see everyone living in a state of grace and therefore capable of receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Nonetheless, authentic Catholic teaching requires that everyone – without exception – living in an adulterous and objectively sinful union must repent, discontinue the sinful behavior, and receive absolution through the Sacrament of Confession before being allowed to receive Holy Communion. The Council of Trent is so clear on this point that it places the penalty of excommunication on anyone who publicly maintains the contrary (Session 13, Canon 11):
lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burthened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.
Yet, despite this very clear teaching, we see it being abandoned by nearly one quarter of the bishops currently attending the Synod on the Family, with some of them spouting theological garbage the likes of which would have resulted in their immediate dismissal in a more orthodox age. And not a few of them express genuine surprise when confronted with the scandal such comments cause among the faithful. We know that the surprise is genuine because what has been called the “Kasper Proposal” is really little more than the analogous extension of the policy which has been adopted regarding the Church’s relationship to schismatic and heretical bodies. That is to say, they are no longer viewed as having a need to be called to repentance of their error and conversion to the One True Faith. Instead, they are to be engaged with in dialogue, in a spirit of mutually self-critical compromise, as part of an ostensibly already-existing communion within the one (though regretfully fragmented and separated) Church.
The faithful have ingested that particular bit of Modernist poison with relatively little dyspepsia over the last 50 years. Why should they balk now that the same thing is being done to the Sacrament of Marriage?
Of course, we can and should continue to pray that Pope Francis will produce a text at the conclusion of the Synod which will confirm the traditional teaching and proscribe the many errors we have seen emerge as the poisoned fruit of these three weeks of discussion. But let’s not blind ourselves to the almost inevitable outcome: more muddled obfuscation which will effectively overturn the thing it claims to uphold and permit the thing it pretends to prohibit.
The lesson to be learned from this examination is not that one who objects to the notion of unrepentant adulterers and active homosexuals being allowed to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Blessed Host should also object to the notion of viewing unrepentant schismatic and heretical bodies as being in communion with the Catholic Church. That much should be obvious to all who frequent these pages. Instead, it is an invitation to widen our horizon.
There is, at present, a certain momentum which should not be squandered. For the first time in 50 years, the Catholic laity is in a position to see behind the curtain which has been concealing the machinations of those intent upon conforming the Church to the world rather than conforming the world to the Church. By the providential design of God, their devices and stratagems have been exposed to the scorn and derision of the world. Now, therefore, is the time for an unfettered examination of the many errors of the post-conciliar era with a view towards identifying and correcting the ambiguity and equivocation, the dubiety and vagueness which plague the documents of that most fateful of Ecumenical Councils.
Let us all – professors and intellectuals, journalists and bloggers, catechists and pewsitters alike – seize upon of the sudden, terrifying awareness which this Synod has generated among the faithful Catholic laity to aid us in accomplishing that end.
Matthew Karmel is the nom de plume of a teacher, freelance writer and translator living in Zurich, Switzerland with his wife and four children. A lifelong Catholic, he is also the author of the blog The Radical Catholic.