From the latest of the series of installments of Sandro Magister's Chiesa on the hermeneutics of renewal in continuity, rupture, and the concerns of Traditional Catholics - Dr. Enrico Maria Radaelli, disciple and guardian of the legacy of Romano Amerio, speaks:
A proposal for the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican IITHE SUPERNATURAL WAY TO RESTORE PEACE BETWEEN THE PRE- AND POST-COUNCILby Enrico Maria RadaelliThe discussion that is taking place on Sandro Magister's website between schools of different and opposed positions on recognizing continuity or discontinuity with Tradition in the ecumenical council Vatican II, in addition to referring to me directly right from its opening salvos, touches closely on some preliminary pages of my recent book "The beauty that saves us." [La bellezza che ci salva]By far the most significant feature of the book is the demonstrated identification of the "origins of beauty" with those four substantial qualities – true, one, good, beautiful – which Saint Thomas Aquinas says are the names of the Only-Begotten of God: an identification that should clarify once and for all the fundamental and no longer avoidable link that a concept has with its expression, meaning the language and the doctrine that uses it.It seems obligatory for me to step in and make some clarifications here for those who want to reconstruct that "City of beauty" which is the Church, and so return to the only road (this is the thesis of my book) that can lead us to eternal happiness, that can save us.I will complete my contribution with the suggestion of the request that deserves to be made to the Holy Father so that, recalling with Brunero Gherardini that the fiftieth anniversary of the Council will fall in 2015 (cf. "Divinitas," 2011, 2, p. 188), the whole Church may take advantage of that extraordinary event to restore the fullness of that "munus docendi," of that magisterium, suspended fifty years ago.Regarding the topic under discussion, the question has been summarized well by the Dominican theologian Giovanni Cavalcoli: "The heart of the debate is here. We all agree, in fact, that the doctrines already defined [by the dogmatic magisterium of the former Church] present in the conciliar texts are infallible. What is in discussion is if the doctrinal developments, the innovations of the Council, are also infallible."The Dominican realizes, in fact, that the need is to "respond affirmatively to this question, because otherwise what would happen to continuity, at least as the pope intends it?" And not being able to make, as is obvious, the statements that he would like to make, Fr. Cavalcoli turns them in the opposite direction, to which I will respond here with the answers that would result from following the "alethic," verifying logic taught to us by philosophy.First question: Is it admissible that the development of a previously defined doctrine of the faith or close to the faith may be false?Dear Fr. Cavalcoli, in reality you would have greatly preferred to have said: "It is not admissible that the development of a previously defined doctrine of the faith or close to the faith may be false." Instead the answer is: yes, the development can be false, because a true premise does not necessarily lead to a true conclusion, but can also lead to one or more false conclusions, so much so that in all the Councils of the world – even in the dogmatic ones – the most widely divergent positions were pitted against each other precisely because of this possibility. In order to have the desired development in continuity with the truths revealed through grace, it is not enough to be theologians, bishops, cardinals, or popes, but it is necessary to ask for special divine assistance, given by the Holy Spirit only to those Councils which, having been declared solemnly and unquestionably as dogmatic at their opening, have formally guaranteed this divine assistance for themselves. In these supernatural cases, it happens that the development given to supernatural doctrine will be guaranteed as truthful just as its premises were divinely guaranteed as truthful.This did not happen at the last Council, formally declared as exquisitely pastoral in nature at least three times: at its opening, which is the one that counts, then at the opening of the second session, and finally at the closing; such that in this assembly, true premises sometimes led to conclusions that are at least questionable (to conclusions that, canonically speaking, belong to the third level of magisterial constraint, the one that, dealing with topics of a moral, pastoral, or juridical nature, requires only "religious submission") if not "even mistaken," as Fr. Cavalcoli himself recognizes, contradicting his central thesis, "and in any case not infallible," and that therefore "can also be changed," such that, even if disgracefully they are not formally but only "morally" binding on the pastor who teaches them even in cases that are less than clear, providentially they are not at all obligatorily binding for the obedience of the faithful.Moreover, if the different levels of magisterium do not correspond to different levels of assent of the faithful, it is not clear what the point is of the different levels of magisterium. The different levels of magisterium are due to the different levels of proximity of knowledge that these have with the first reality, with the revealed divine reality to which they refer, and it is obvious that the doctrines revealed directly by God demand a completely obligatory submission (level one), as do the related doctrines if they are presented through dogmatic definitions or definitive acts (level two). Both the first and the second distinguish themselves from those other doctrines which, not being able to belong to the first group, can be numbered among the second only when multiple prudent, clear, irrefutable arguments can demonstrate their intimate, direct, and evident connection with it in the greatest respect for the principle of Vincent of Lérins ("quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est"), thus guaranteeing that the faithful can also gain a closer knowledge of God through these. All of this, as can be understood, can take place only in the more conscious, intentional, and plaintive exercise by and on the Church of the "munus," of the dogmatic magisterium.The difference between the doctrines of level one and two and those of level three is given by the certainly supernatural character of the former, which is not guaranteed in the third group: maybe it's there, but maybe it's not. What must be grasped is that the dogmatic "munus" is: 1) a divine gift, and therefore 2) a gift to be requested expressly and 3) when the gift is not requested, it does not offer any guarantee of absolute truth, a lack of guarantee that disconnects the magisterium from any obligation of exactness and the faithful from any obligation of obedience, although requiring their religious submission. Level three could include indications and conjectures of naturalistic origin, and the sieve to verify if, purified from any microbial infestations, it is possible to raise them to the supernatural level can be applied only by bringing them into contact with the dogmatic fire: the straw will burn, but the divine iron, if it is there, will certainly shine in all its splendor.This is what happened with the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and of the Assumption, now dogmas, or articles of faith now belonging by right to the second group. Until 1854 and 1950 respectively, these belonged to the group of questionable doctrines, the third one, to which nothing is due but "religious submission," just like those novel doctrines which, listed further below here in a brief and summary inventory, would be bundled into the more recent teaching of the Church since 1962. But in 1854 and 1950, the fire of dogma surrounded them with its divine and peculiar marking, it scorched them, it sifted them, it branded them, and finally it sealed them for all eternity as they had been "ab initio" in their most intimate reality: absolutely certain and universally established truths, so that they belong by right to the supernatural branch (the second) even if until then they had not been formally recognized under that splendid vestment. A happy recognition, and here it is necessary to emphasize that it was a recognition of the observers, of the pope in the first place, and not at all a transformation of the subject: as when critics of art, after having examined it from every point of view and approach useful for verifying or disqualifying it – certificates of origin, of transfers of ownership, tests of pigmentation, of glazing, revisions, radiography and reflectography – recognize in a painting the artist's unquestionable and most personal authenticity.Both of those doctrines reveal themselves to be of divine craftsmanship, and of the most exquisite kind. So if any of those more recent doctrines are of the same sublime hand, this will be discovered calmly through the most splendid of means.Second question: Can the new dogmatic field be in contradiction with the old?Obviously no, it cannot in any way. In fact, after Vatican II we did not have any "new dogmatic field," as Fr. Cavalcoli puts it, even if many want to pass of the conciliar and postconciliar innovations as such, although Vatican II was a simple, though solemn and extraordinary, "pastoral field." None of the documents referred to by Dom Basile Valuet in his note 5 declares an authoritativeness of the Council greater than that with which it was invested from the beginning: nothing other than a solemn and universal, meaning ecumenical, "pastoral" gathering intended to give the world some purely pastoral guidelines, refusing explicitly and pointedly to define dogmatically or to issue any sort of anathema.All the neomodernist luminaries or simply innovators, call them what you will, who (as Professor Roberto de Mattei emphasizes in "Vatican Council II. A story never written") were active in the Church from the time of Pius XII – theologians, bishops, and cardinals of the "théologie nouvelle" like Bea, Câmara, Carlo Colombo, Congar, De Lubac, Döpfner, Frings with his peritus, Ratzinger; König with his, Küng; Garrone with his, Daniélou; Lercaro, Maximos IV, Montini, Suenens, and, almost a group of its own, the three leaders of what is called the school of Bologna: Dossetti, Alberigo, and today Melloni – in the undertaking of Vatican II, and afterward used every sort of expedient to ride roughshod over the rupture with the detested previous doctrines on the same subject, misapplying the uncontested solemnity of the extraordinary gathering; the result of which was that all of them in point of fact produced rupture and discontinuity while proclaiming in words steadfastness and continuity. That there is on their part, and then universally today, a desire for rupture with Tradition can at least be verified: 1) from the most destructive pillaging ever perpetrated on the magnificence of the ancient altars; 2) from the equally universal contemporary refusal of all the bishops of the world except for the very few who give the minimum room to the Tridentine or Gregorian rite of the Mass, in foolish and open disobedience of the directives of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum." "Lex orandi, lex credendi": if all that is not a rejection of Tradition, then what is it?In spite of that, and the gravity of all that, one can still not speak of rupture in any way: the Church is "for all days" under the divine guarantee given by Christ in his oath in Matthew 16:18 ("Portæ inferi non prævalebunt") and in Matthew 28:20 ("Ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus") and that shelters it metaphysically from any fear in that sense, even if the danger is always at the gates, and the attempts are often underway. But those who maintain that there has been a rupture – as do some of the aforementioned luminaries, but also the sedevacantists – fall into naturalism.But neither can one speak of steadfastness, or continuity with Tradition, because it is plain for all to see that the most varied doctrines that emerged from and after the Council – ecclesiology; panecumenism; relations with the other religions; the equation of the God worshiped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims; correction of the "doctrine of replacement" of the Synagogue with the Church into the "doctrine of the two parallel salvations"; unicity of the sources of Revelation; religious freedom; anthropocentric anthropology instead of theocentric; iconoclasm; or what gave rise to the "Novus Ordo Missæ" in place of the Gregorian rite (now slung alongside the former, but subordinately) – are all doctrines that, one after another, would not stand up to the test of the fire of dogma, if one had the courage to try to dogmatize them: a fire that consists in giving them theological substance with a specific request of assistance from the Holy Spirit, as happened back in their time with the "corpus theologicum" placed at the foundation of the Immaculate Conception or of the Assumption of Mary.Such fragile doctrines are alive only because of the fact that there is no dogmatic barrier raised to disallow their conception and use. But then their false continuity with dogma is imposed in order to demand for them the assent of faith necessary for unity and continuity (cf. pp. 70ff., 205, and 284 of my book referred to previously, "The beauty that saves us"), so that all of them remain on the dangerous and "fragile borderline between continuity and discontinuity" (p. 49), but always on the near side of the dogmatic limit, which, in fact, if applied, would determine their end. Even the affirmation of continuity between these doctrines and Tradition, in my view, commits the offense of naturalism.Third question: If we deny the infallibility of the doctrinal developments of the Council that depart from previous doctrines of the faith or close to the faith, won't we weaken the power of the continuist thesis?Of course you weaken it, dear Fr. Cavalcoli, and even more: you annihilate it. And you strengthen the opposite thesis, as it should be, that there is no continuity.No rupture, but also no continuity. So what then? The way out is suggested by Romano Amerio (1905-1997) with what the author of "Iota Unum" calls "the law of the historical preservation of the Church," revisited on page 41 of my book, according to which "the Church would not be lost in the case that it did not 'match' the truth, but in the case that it 'lost' the truth." And when does the Church not match the truth? When it forgets its teachings, or confuses them, muddies them, mixes them up, as has happened (not for the first time, and not for the last) from the Council until today. And when would it lose the truth? (In the conditional: it has been seen that it cannot in any way lose it.) Only if it struck it with anathema, or if vice versa it dogmatized a false doctrine, things that could be done by the pope and only by the pope, if (in the metaphysically impossible hypothesis that) his dogmatizing and anathematizing lips were not supernaturally bound by the two aforementioned oaths of Our Lord. I would insist on this point, which seems decisive to me.Here hypotheses are advanced, but – as I say in my book (p. 55) – "leaving to the competency of the pastors any verification of the matter and any subsequent consequences, for example of whether and to what extent anyone may have been or is now involved" in the designated acts. In the very first pages, I show in particular how it is not possible to raise the banks for the river of a salvific beauty except by clearing the mind of any ambiguity, error, or misunderstanding: beauty accompanies only truth (p. 23), and restoring beauty to art, at least to sacred art, cannot be done except by working in the truth of liturgical teaching and action.What in my view has been perpetrated in the Church for fifty years is a deliberate amalgamation of continuity and rupture. It is the studied government of spurious ideas and intentions in which the Church has been changed without changing it, under the cover (as Monsignor Gherardini neatly illustrates even in his most recent books) of an intentionally suspended magisterium – beginning with the opening discourse of the Council, "Gaudet Mater Ecclesia" – in a completely unnatural and completely invented form, called, with deliberate theological imprecision, "pastoral." The Church has been emptied of the doctrines hardly or not at all fit for ecumenism, and thus disliked by the luminaries seen above, and has been filled with the ecumenical ideas of these same persons, and this has been done without touching in any way the metaphysical vestment of the Church, which is dogmatic by nature (cf. p. 62), meaning supernatural by nature, but working only in that field of its magisterium which impinges only on its "historical preservation."In other words: there is no formal rupture, nor formal continuity, only because the popes of the last fifty years have refused to ratify in the dogmatic form of level two the doctrines of level three that under their reign are devastating and emptying the Church (cf. p. 285). That means that in this way, the Church no longer matches the truth, but neither does it lose it, because the popes, even on the occasion of a Council, have formally refused both to dogmatize the new doctrines and to strike with anathema the nonetheless disfavored (or corrected, or spun) former doctrines.As can be seen, one can also maintain that this deplorable situation would constitute a sin of the magisterium, and a grave one, both against faith and against charity (p. 54): it does not seem, in fact, that we may disobey the commandment of the Lord to teach the nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20) with all the fullness of the gift of understanding bestowed upon us, without thereby "deviating from the rectitude that the act – that is, the 'teaching instructive in right doctrine' – must have" (Summa Theologiae I, 25, 3, ad 2). A sin against the faith because it puts it in danger, and in fact the Church over the past fifty years, emptied of true doctrines, has been emptied of faithful, of religious and priests, becoming a shadow of itself (p. 76). A sin against charity because the faithful are deprived of the beauty of the magisterial teaching and the visual beauty with which only the truth shines, as I illustrate in the whole second chapter of my book. The sin would be one of omission: it would be the sin of "omission of the dogmaticity proper to the Church" (pp. 60ff.), with which the Church intentionally would not supernaturally seal and thus would not guarantee the guidelines for living that it gives us.This state of sin in which the holy Church would be plunged (this always means: of some men of the holy Church, or the Church in its historical component), if found, should be lifted and even penitentially cleansed, since, as Cardinal José Rosalio Castillo Lara wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988, its current stubborn and culpable stance "would favor the deplorable tendency [. . .] toward an ambiguous government called 'pastoral', which at bottom is not pastoral, because it leads to overlooking the due exercise of authority to the detriment of the common good of the faithful" (pp. 67f).In order to restore the Church's parity with the truth, as it has been restored every time it has found itself in such dramatic tempests, there is no other way than to return to the fullness of its "munus docendi," putting through the sieve of dogma, and turning 360 degrees, all the false doctrines with which it is drenched today, and resuming as a "habitus" of its most ordinary and pastoral teaching (in the rigorous sense of the term: "transfer of the divine Word in the dioceses and in the parishes all over the world") the dogmatic stance that supernaturally led it through the centuries until now.Restoring the suspended magisterial fullness would restore to the historical Church the metaphysical essence virtually taken away from it, and with that would bring back to the earth the divine beauty in all its most distinctive and savory fragrance.To conclude, a proposalWe need audacity. And we need Tradition. In view of the occasion in 2015, the fiftieth anniversary of the Council of discord, it is necessary to promote a strong and broad request to the highest Throne of the Church, so that, in his kindness, not wasting the truly special occasion of such an exceptional anniversary, he may consider that there is a single act that can bring back peace between the teaching and doctrine dispensed by the Church before and after the fatal assembly, and this one, heroic, extremely humble act is that of bringing close to the supernatural fire of dogma the doctrines mentioned above that are disliked by the faithful on the traditionalist side, and the opposite ones: that which must burn will burn, that which must shine will shine. From now until 2015, we have three full years in front of us. They need to be used to the best advantage. Prayer and intelligence must be brought to maximum pressure: white-hot fire. Without tension, nothing is obtained, as in Laodicea.This act that is being proposed here, the only one that could bring back into a single wax, as it should be, those two powerful souls that throb in the holy Church and in the same being, one recognizable in the men "especially faithful to what the Church is," the other in the men whose spirit is more bent to its future, and the act that, putting a decisive end to a rather uncharitable and insincere fifty-year situation, summarizes in a supernatural government the holy concepts of Tradition and audacity. In order to rebuild the Church and return to producing beauty, Vatican II must be read through the grid of Tradition, with the fiery audacity of dogma.So all the traditionalists of the Church, to whatever order, level, and ideological segment they may belong, must come together in a single request, in a single project: to come to 2015 with the most broad, considered, delineated petition that this anniversary may be for the highest Throne the most proper occasion to restore the divine "munus docendi" in its fullness.