Meltdown of the Church
Most of those who have distanced themselves from the articles by Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro published in “Il Foglio” have limited themselves to a condemnation in principle, but they avoid going deeper into the matters touched on by the two Catholic writers. And yet the issues raised by Gnocchi and Palmaro, do not only express the discomfort of many, but highlight a series of problems that go beyond the person of Pope Francis and invest the past fifty years in the life of the Church.
The same writers brought these problems to light in a book which did not receive the attention it deserved: La Bella addormentata. [Sleeping Beauty. Why the Church went into crisis after Vatican II. Why She will awaken.]. The “Sleeping Beauty” is the Bride of Christ, which in Her Divine aspect maintains Her beauty, unaltered, but seems to be immersed in a deep sleep. In Her human aspect, Her countenance is disfigured by a disease which would appear mortal, if we did not know that immortality has been promised to Her.
The illness that the Church is suffering from has its beginnings in the distant past and exploded at the Second Vatican Council, whose 50th anniversary is being commemorated this year. Vatican II, which opened on October 11, 1963, was a pastoral Council, devoid, by explicit declaration, of voluntas definiendi, i.e. the intention of defining dogmatic truths in a formal manner.
Nonetheless, this pastoral aspect, had an anomalous quality, as the philosopher Paolo Pasqualucci outlines in a book recently published (Cattolici in alto i cuori! Battiamoci senza paura per la rinascita della Chiesa [Catholics lift up your hearts! Let us fight without fear for the rebirth of the Church], Fede e Cultura, Verona 2013). In fact, Vatican II did not limit [itself] to expressing traditional doctrine in a “new way” , but in some points, wanted also to teach “new things”. None of these novelties, were given the seal of dogmatic definition, but overall they constitute a true and real magisterium, which was presented as an alternative to the traditional one.
In the name of Vatican II, the innovators expected to reform ab imis the whole Church. In order to achieve this goal, they moved, above all, along the lines of praxis, in other words, of pastoral application, and, by activating it, made it into doctrine. It is not by chance, that Giuseppe Alberigo and his disciples from the “ School of Bologna ” see in “the pastoral” , the constitutional dimension of Vatican II. In the name of “the spirit of the Council”, sent forth by its pastoral aspect, the “Bolognesi” were opposed to “the reform in continuity” advocated by Benedict XVI and now today they welcome with enthusiasm the ministry of Pope Francis.
Benedict XVI exposed the heart of his thesis in two discourses which open and close his pontificate and offer a guiding thread: the first to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005 and the other to the Roman Clergy on February 14, 2013, three days after he announced his resignation. This last discourse, articulate and ample, was given “off the cuff” , ex abundantia cordis, and represents perhaps, Benedict XVI ‘s doctrinal testament. The Pope acknowledges the existence of a crisis in the Church, connected to Vatican II, but he attributes the cause to a “virtual” Council, which had superimposed the real one.
The virtual Council is the one imposed by the instruments of communication and of certain theological environments, which in the name of a misunderstood “spirit” of Vatican II, had distorted the intentions of the Council Fathers. Abusive post-council praxis, had betrayed the truth of the Council, expressed by its theological documents, and it is to these same texts that we should return in order to find its authenticity: the problem of the Council for Pope Benedict, is hermeneutic, before being historical or theological: the problem of a false hermeneutic which opposes the authentic interpretation, not only of the texts, but of the concliar event itself. Pope Ratzinger’s thesis is not new. It is the basic idea of those theologians who, in 1972, after having participated at the birth of the magazine “Concilium” together with Karl Rahner, Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeeckx, abandoned it to give life to the “Communio” magazine. Father Henri de Lubac, in a famous interview given to the then Monsignor Angelo Scola (Viaggio nel postconcilio (A Post-Council Journey), Edit, Milano 1985, pp, 32-47), coined the expression “para-council” to indicate the movement that had deformed the teaching of the Council through a tendentious interpretation of the event. Other theologians use the name “meta-council” and Joseph Ratzinger himself, in the famous Rapporto sulla fede of 1985, anticipated the thesis of the virtual Council, and afterwards formulated this many times during his pontificate.
The discourse in 2013 is however the sorrowful confession of the crisis of the hermeneutic of the “reform in continuity.” The awareness of this failure certainly weighed on Pope Bendect’s renunciation in February 2013. Why could the “Benedictine” line of interpretation not be enforced, and was defeated by the theses from the “school of Bologna” which spread unopposed in Catholic universities and seminaries?
The main reason is in the reality that history is not made by theological debate, and even less so by that of hermeneutic. The hermeneutic debate places accent on the interpretation of a fact, more than the fact itself. But as soon as different hermeneutics are compared, the objectivity of the fact is removed, superimposing subjective interpretations of the event, reducing it to opinions.
With the existence of this plurality of opinions, a decisive word could be pronounced by a supreme authority who would define, without a shadow of equivocation, the truth that is to be believed. But in his speeches Benedict, like the Popes before him, never wanted to attribute a magisterial character to his interpretative theses. In the hermeneutic debate which [still] continues, the criteria of the ultimate judgment rests therefore in the objectivity of the facts. And the undeniable fact is that there was a virtual Council and it was not less real that that which is enclosed in its documents.
The texts of Vatican II were put in a drawer, while its “spirit”, with arrogance, entered history. It was a human spirit – not very holy, expressed through lobbyism, political pressures and the media, which directed the unfolding of the events. And because the language was deliberately ambiguous and indefinite, the virtual Council offered the authentic key to the reading of the final documents. The Council of the texts, cannot be separated from history, and the school of Bologna is not wrong when it emphasizes the revolutionary novelty of the event. It is wrong when it wants to give a “theological place” to this event, making it the supreme criteria in judging history.
The hermeneutic of Benedict XVI did not manage to explain history, that is to say, what happened from 1965 to the present day. The conciliar texts were crushed by post conciliar praxis, a reality that cannot be questioned if you want to contest it with only one hermeneutic. Besides, if Vatican II cannot be criticized, but only interpreted in a different manner, what is the difference between theories of discontinuity and those of the reform of continuity? For both, the Council is an event that is irreversible and cannot be judged, as [it] itself has become the final criteria for doctrine and behavior. Whoever denies the possibility of debate on the Second Vatican Council, in the name of the Holy Spirit which guarantees it, makes the event infallible and turns it into a super-dogma, an immanent fact in history.
For the Christian, history is instead the result of an intricacy of ideas and facts that have their roots in the tangle of human passions and the powers of supernatural and preternatural action which are in perennial conflict. Theology must make itself a theology of history in order to understand and dominate human vicissitudes; otherwise it is absorbed into history, which becomes the supreme measure of judging the things of the world. Immanentism is nothing other than the loss of a transcendent principle, which judges history without itself being judged. Under this aspect, the intentions of the Council Fathers and the texts that they produced are only a part of reality. Vatican II is, like the French Revolution or the Protestant one, an event that can be analyzed at different levels, but it constitutes an unicum, with its own specification and, as such, represents a moment of un-doubtable, and in certain terms, apocalyptic, historical discontinuity.
The “school of Bologna’s victory was sealed by the election of Pope Francis, who, speaks little of the Council because he is not interested in theological discussions but in the reality of the facts and it is in the praxis that he wants to show that he is the true accomplisher of Vatican II. Under this aspect, it could be said, he incarnates the essence of Vatican II, and makes it doctrine, by fulfilling its pastoral dimension. Theological discussion belongs to modernity and Pope Francis presents himself as a post-hermeneutic pope and thus post-modern. The battle of ideas belongs to a phase in the history of the Church which he wants to go beyond. Francis will be a conservative or a progressive, according to the historical and political demands of the moment.
The “pastoral revolution” is, according to Alberto Melloni, the primary characteristic of Francis’ pontificate. “Pastoral” – the Bolognese historian writes – is a key word in understanding Pope Francis’ ministry. Not because he was a teacher of pastoral theology, but because when he interprets it, Francis evokes with amazing naturalness the pulsing heart of the Gospel at the crossroads of receiving (or refusing) Vatican II. “Pastoral” comes from the language of Pope John: it was thus that he wanted “his” Council, - a pastoral Council - and Vatican II was just that.” (L’estasi pastorale di papa Francesco disseminata di riferimenti teologici, in “Corriere della Sera”, 29 marzo 2013).
Melloni, as always, forces reality, but basically he is not wrong. The pontificate of Pope Francis is the most authentically conciliar one, in which praxis is turned into doctrine, and which attempts to change the image and reality of the Church. Today the hermeneutic of Benedict has been archived and out of the new Pope’s pastorale (praxis) new surprises must await us. The director of “Il Foglio”, in carrying Gnocchi and Palmaro’s articles, sensed it, by instinct, that this case is both theological and journalistic. But one more question needs to be asked. Why do the most relentless defenders of Vatican II and the most severe critics of Gnocchi and Palmaro come from the cultural area of Communion and Liberation? It is not difficult to answer if one remembers the origins of CL and the roots of its founder ‘s ( Don Luigi Giussani) thought. The CL horizon was, and has remained that of the progressive “nouvelle thèologie”. In a famous article which appeared in 1946 with the title La nouvelle théologie” où va-t.-lle, the Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, indicated as characteristic of the “nouvelle théologie” the reduction of truth to “religious experience.” “ The truth – he wrote- is no longer the conformity of judgment with objective reality and its immutable laws, but the conformity of judgment with the demands of action and human life, which is continually evolving. The philosophy of being or ontology is substituted by the philosophy of action, which defines the Truth no longer according to being, but according to action.”
Again we find this characteristic in the language and practice of many CL members. It is sufficient to remember their continuous reference to the faith as “an encounter” and “experience” with the consequent reduction of principles to mere instruments. In fact, it is true that there is no Christianity if it is not lived, but a faith cannot be lived if it is not known, unless one retains, as modernism and the nouvelle théologie do, that the faith gushes forth from the vital experience of the subject. An “experience” that would be possible in all religions and which would reduce Christianity to pseudo-mysticism or purely moral praxis. The historian, Cristina Siccardi, in another very good book just published (L’inverno della Chiesa dopo il Concilio Vaticano II. I mutamenti e le cause, [The Winter of the Church after the Second Vatican Council. The Changes and Causes] Sugarco, Milano 2013) analyzes in detail the consequences of this pastoral of “experience”, recalling the words of another great Dominican theologian of the twentieth century, Padre Roger-Thomas Calmel: “Doctrines, rites and the interior life are submitted to a liquefying process so radical and so perfected, that you can no longer distinguish between Catholic and non-Catholics. Since a yes and a no, the definite and definitive are all considered old-fashioned (outdated), we ask ourselves what is there to impede the other non-Christian religions of being part of the new universal Church, continuously updated by ecumenical interpretations.” (Breve apologia della Chiesa di sempre, Editrice Ichtys, Albano Laziale 2007, pp. 10-11).
Paraphrasing Marx’s affirmation, according to which it is in the praxis that the philosopher shows the truth of his doctrine, we could recognize in the post-conciliar theology the principle by which it is in the “religious experience” that the believer shows the truth of his faith. It is, in nuce, the predominance of the praxis in modern secularist philosophy. This philosophy of religious practice was theorized by the most radical sects of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, such as the Anabaptists and Socinians. For them faith is measured by its intensity: what is important is not the purity and integrality of the truth which is believed, but the intensity of the act with which you believe. The faith, then has its measure, not in the doctrine believed, but in the “life” and action of the believer: it becomes religious experience freed from any objective regula fidei whatever. We find these tendencies again in the progressive theology which prepared, guided and in part, actualized the Second Vatican Council.
The progressive “nouvelle théologie” had its main exponents in the Dominican, Marie-Dominique Chenu and in the Jesuit Henri de Lubac. It is not by chance that Chenu was Giuseppe Alberigo’s mentor and that de Lubac was the point of reference for the disciples of Don Giussani. And it is not by chance, that among the first official texts from Communion and Liberation, at the beginning of the ‘70s , the study entitled La questione di cristianesimo e rivoluzione, by the theologian Giuseppe Ruggieri emerges. Ruggieri, who at that time directed the theological collection at Jaca Book, today directs “Christianity in History” and is, with Alberto Melloni, the leading exponent of the “ School of Bologna ” . There is no incoherence in his intellectual itinerary presented by Melloni himself, in the volume Tutto è grazia (Jaca Book, Milano 2010), as is there is no incoherence in the positions of yesterday and today in some (not all) of the exponents of Communion and Liberation. What unites the theology of CL with that of the School of Bologna is the “theory of the event”, the primacy of praxis above doctrine, of the experience of truth, which CL situates in the encounter with Christ and the School of Bologna in the encounter with history.
Giuseppe Ruggieri was the theologian of Communion and Liberation and today he is the theologian of the School of Bologna. And today the CL and the Bolognese meet once again in demonizing Gnocchi and Palmaro, not as critics of Pope Francis and Vatican II, but as “ethical” Christians who re-propose the primacy of the Truth and the Law. And yet, Jesus said, “ those who love me keep my commandments” (John 14, 15-12). There is no love of God outside the observance of the natural and divine law. The observance of this truth and this law is the measure of Christian love.
[Corrispondenza Romana – November 12, 2013 - Translation - Francesca Romana]
In response to criticisms to the article above, Prof. de Mattei wrote the following:
The Process that has led us to the New Modernists
Yesterday the Lutherans and the Ambiguous Jesuits,
today the Ciellini and the Rossomalpeli
This is the way you have distorted the Catholic Faith
The reaction in this journal of Monsignor Luigi Negri, of Don Francesco Vetorino, and of Professor Massimo Borghesi, to my article on the “Meltdown of the Church”(Il Foglio, November 12, 2013), makes it necessary for me to turn to a question that is at the heart of the contemporary Catholic debate: the question regarding the definition of faith, without doubt the foundation of the Christian life.
The fact from which one begins, and on which I hope even my companions in dialogue agree, is the collapse of faith, which has come about in the last fifty years in the Church. When he was inaugurating the Year of Faith on the 27th of January, 2012, Benedict XVI expressed himself in these terms:
As we know, in vast areas of the earth the Faith runs the risk of being extinguished like a flame that no longer finds nourishment. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense that makes up the greatest challenge for the Church today. The renewal of the Faith must therefore be the priority in the commitment of the whole Church in our days.
But the Year of Faith has ended—it is necessary to say this—without glimpsing in any way a strong response from the ecclesiastical authorities in the face of this crisis in progress. The encyclical Lumen Fidei itself ignores in an astonishing way this dramatic problem. But what is the Faith? The response to this question does not admit of ambiguity after the definition given by the First Vatican Council and restated in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church: Faith is the adherence of reason, moved by Grace, to the truths revealed by God, through the authority of God himself who reveals them to us. The revealed truths are called this because they are contained, in an explicit or implicit way, in divine revelation, which ended with the death of the last Apostle. Sacred Scripture and the Tradition gather these truths that form the objective and immutable Faith of the Church. In each case such truths surpass our reason and are called mysteries. The two central mysteries of Christianity are the Trinity and the Incarnation of the Word. They are above our reason but they do not oppose it. We believe these truths, because they have been revealed by God. But the existence of God before being a truth of faith, is a philosophical truth that can be shown by reason. In this way as well, the existence of and the immortality of the soul can be demonstrated. The Faith has to do not only with theology but also philosophy, as Antonio Livi shows (this can be seen, for example, in his Rationality of the Faith in Revelation, Leonardo, Rome 2005). The unknowability of the nature of God is not to be confused with the certainty of His existence arrived at through reason. Only after having ascertained that God exists can we believe in Him and his revelation. Relating to this matter, St. Augustine says that we must “Credere Deum, Deo, in Deum”, that is, we must believe in God as the object of our faith; we must believe in God as the motive of our faith, and we must believe in God as our final end.
Luther first overturned the traditional concept of faith. Man, wholly corrupted by original sin, is, for him, incapable of knowing the truth and loving the good. Faith does not lie in the reason and in the will, made putrid by sin, but in “fiducial faith”, which is born from a feeling of deep desperation and has its proper object the mercy of God, instead of the truths revealed by Him. Appealing to this pietistic and individualistic vision of faith, Luther and his followers make religious experience the only criterion of the Christian life. In the evangelical-Protestant tradition as a whole, religion is seen as a salvific “encounter” with God, in which subjective faith absorbs and dissolves objective faith. In the Esquisse d’une philosophie de la religion (1897) written by Auguste Sabatier (1836-1901) this writer follows through to the end the Protestant reduction of faith to feeling. The act of faith is understood as an encounter with the dark and mysterious power on which the soul depends and on which depends its destiny. All that is dogma and theological reflection is nothing other than the symbolic transcription of a collective religious experience in continual evolution.
In the same years in which the work of Sabatier appeared, Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) published Action (1893), the first expression of that philosophy of action, that, with liberal Protestantism, laid the immediate background of Modernism. According to Blondel, action, and not thought, draws out the truth of Being. The traditional maxim according to which “agire sequitur esse” is stood on its head: action precedes Being, and man finds truth and faith itself in action. Action is the synthesis of thinking and acting, the bond between the thinker and Being. Blondel wants to substitute for the traditional apologetics that proposes the rational demonstration of the truth of Christianity, a new apologetic based on the principle of immanence. The method of immanence claims to find the truth of religion and the mysteries of faith starting from the consciousness of man, from his needs, his aspirations, from all that springs from his experience of life.
Analogous theses were expressed by the theologian of Modernism, George Tyrell (1861-1909), who after his conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism entered the Society of Jesus, but soon challenged the teaching of that Order. For Tyrell as well religion is a union of the heart with God that does without the truth of dogmas. The God of Tyrell, like that of Blondel, is immanent in the consciousness that recognizes Him in the religious experience itself. It is not truth that determines experience but experience makes up the supreme criterion of truth. The “trait d’union” between Blondel and Tyrell was Henri Brémond (1865-1930), also a Jesuit. The correspondence between Brémond and Tyrell is instructive on this subject (Lettres de George Tyrell à Henri Brémond, Aubier, Paris 1971). Prone to neurasthenia, Brémond confided in Tyrell that he wanted to leave the Jesuits to live, like Tyrell, with a lover. His ideal, he wrote, would be that of a “clerical life without dogma”. Tyrell responded to his confrère to be prudent and to leave the Jesuits without causing a ruckus. When Tyrell was dying a few years later, after he was excommunicated by St. Pius X, Brémond was at his bedside, and, following Tyrell’s counsel, lived after that in the world as a simple, crypto-Modernist priest and embarked on a literary career that would bring him to the French Academy. His powerful Literary History of Religious Feeling in France (1915-1933, 11 volumes), even in its title takes on again the theses of his friends Blondel and Tyrell: faith reduced to poetic intuition, experience of a mystical life that thwarts every dogmatic truth.
Among those who continued along this line of vital immanence was Father Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), belonging, like Brémond and Tyrell, to the Society of Jesus, but unlike them remained in the Jesuits for the rest of his life. De Lubac, like Blondel, places in the consciousness of man the possibility of encountering God by one’s own efforts, destroying the fundamental distinction between the natural and the supernatural. Cardinal Siri, in Gethsemane. Reflections on the Contemporary Theological Movement (Fraternità della Santissima Vergine, Roma 1980), fully refuted these theological errors. Pius XII, with his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), condemned the theses of de Lubac and the other exponents of the progressive nouvelle théologie. But after his death, it was these very same theologians who were the protagonists of the Second Vatican Council and gave the Council its basic orientation. De Lubac was created a Cardinal by John Paul II and is today often cited by Pope Francis, even if few have read his writings, which are cryptic and prolix.
In the post-Conciliar years, de Lubac belonged to the “moderate” wing of the new progressive theology. But his moderation was more in tone than in content. It is enough to compare his personal diary of Vatican II to that of the Dominican Yves Congar to become aware of the difference between his measured language and the violent and often coarse language of Congar. That did not stop de Lubac from being an enthusiastic admirer and popularizer of the works of his confrère Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, one of the extreme figures of heterodoxy of the twentieth century, towards whom Blondel himself showed reserve.
De Lubac belonged to that category of men that detest the consequences of ideas themselves. He criticized the post-Conciliar decomposition, but he would not admit that the roots of what happened lay exactly in the errors of the nouvelle théologie. In 1972, there were among the supporters of the journal “Communio”, and Don Luigi Giussani, who in the same years launched Communion and Liberation, recognized de Lubac as their teacher. The disciples of Don Giussani protest when I attribute to them an ambiguous notion of faith, and “Rosso Malpelo (Gianni Gennari) accuses me in “Avvenire” of telling lies, but the truth is consigned to history.
I invite everyone to read the book written by Don Guissani, The Event of Life, that is, a History. A Journey of fifteen years begun and lived, with an introduction by Cardinal Ratzinger (Il Sabato, Milano 1993). The book gathers together the interviews and public conversations that the founder of CL had given between 1976 and 1992. The book contains no explicit negation of the truths of the Faith and wants to show moreover the affection of Don Guissani for the Church. But at the end of five hundred pages one remains with a feeling of intellectual emptiness. For the reader there remains only this message: there is no need for apologetics nor for the rational study of the Faith in depth. What counts is “living” . But what is living”? It deals, explains Don Giussani, with “making faith an event” (p. 339). Communion and Liberation is born from an “intuition of Christianity as event of life and therefore as of history.” (p. 349). “The method consists in this: that intuition becomes experience….Experience is the place in which one sees whether what is intuited has value for life”P. 351). Faith is encountering Christ, to recognize his presence in history and in one’s own life. But who is Christ? The CL answer is disheartening: he is the one you encounter. The fundamental problem is that CL has never gone and will be unable to go beyond the tautology of the encounter, exactly because of its demand to reduce Christianity to pure experience and exigency of the spirit.
Christianity, certainly, is also experience, but the experience is by its very self incommunicable; while what one is able to communicate are the principles that precede the religious experience and on which experience depends. No one doubts the existence of religious experience that, under certain aspects, is the highest form of the Christian life. The experience is, in fact, an immediate and direct awareness of reality. But the religious experience not only does not negate the rational credibility of faith, but also presupposes it. In the perspective of CL, to provide a demonstration of the existence of God and to the truth of the Church falls to apologetics and to life. The religious experience, however, has value only if it is subject to reason, to revelation and to the magisterium. Today the true idea of faith has been lost, because it has been reduced to the feeling of the heart, forgetting that it is an act of reason that has truth as its object. The intellect is the only spiritual faculty that can make the truths given by revelation one’s own. For the Modernists of today, like the Protestants at one time, faith belongs to the sphere of irrationality and feeling. The object of faith, the truths believed, becomes secondary. The Graeco-Christian realism is rejected as a whole, denying value to the Logos, to the first principles of reason and to the primacy of metaphysics. What counts is the individual experience of the believer, that which he lives in his emotional responses. The intimate experience of the subject becomes the unique experience of the Christian life and the religious consciousness the essence of the life of Grace. This “experience of faith” shuns dogmatic affirmations, in the conviction that what is absolute divides and only what changes and adapts can unite men between themselves and to God. In this religion of humanity characteristic of our times the clear affirmation of truth is an act of intolerance towards one’s neighbor, and compromise between faith and the world becomes the model of what is defined as the “encounter” with God. Faith, however, is not irenic. It grows with study, with discussion, even with polemic. When one discusses things with passion, this means that one believes, and the heat of the polemic is sometimes the measure of the love towards what one believes in. But within the clergy themselves, who believes today, and in what do they believe?
So that the religious experience be true and not an illusion, a criterion of truth is needed. The fundamental problem is how to determine the authenticity of experience. Religious experience can be only the experience of the true God and of the true religion. It is not a generic feeling of dependence on the Absolute. Is a Buddhist immersed in Nirvana a religious experience? De Lubac thinks so and perhaps some disciples of Don Giussani as well.
Every error has its consequences. The poor liturgical sensibility of CL is not by chance. The maxim of the Church according to which lex orandi expresses lex credendi presupposes the existence of an integral and coherent doctrine of which the liturgy is the visible expression. But if doctrine is absorbed by the act of living, the liturgy can only be condemned to extinction.
Love for the traditional liturgy presupposes necessarily a love for the truths of the Tradition. The much maligned “traditionalism” is nothing other than a love for the truth of the Church it all of its expressions, from liturgical to political and social. The so-called “traditionalists”, who are only Catholics without compromise, appeal to the unchangeable teaching of the Church. They do not idolize power, but they believe in the social Kingship of Christ, that is, in his right to reign over every man and the whole of society. The “religious experience” they follow is that of those who witness to their Christian vision of society with their blood, like the martyrs of Vendée in France and the Cristeros in Mexico. This has nothing to do with the amoral politics of which CL for years has given approval. It would be in vain to try to find a connecting thread among the illustrious guests at the annual CL meeting in Rimini from its origins to today: persons of the right and of the left, conservatives and progressives, all alternate with each other in a dosi-do dance of power, which, if it lacks intellectual and political continuity, is not lacking in intimate coherence in its radical pragmatism. The long-standing idyll of CL with Giulio Andreotti gives one pause. The man who went to Mass every morning did not hesitate to sign in 1978 the abortion bill in Italy. Faith decoupled from rational principles and from “nonnegotiable values” makes one well disposed to anything that comes along. In this way today Roberto Formigioni opens the way to giving custody of children to gay couples. This is not incoherent with the “philosophy of praxis” by which he is inspired.
Professor Massimo Borghesi believes that in the 1970s, it was “the pedagogy of experience of CL and not traditionalism that would save the Church.” I believe instead that CL simply tapped into the sane part of the Catholic world made “orphans” in the dark years after the Council without being able to give the youth of that time the theological and philosophical instruments that they needed, beginning with an honest idea of faith. Many of them, today no longer young, were and are of the best quality and it is to them above all that I address when I affirm that Communion and Liberation has not been a bulwark against the crisis of faith of our times, but has contributed to the weakening of the Faith and to its present state of crisis without denying, naturally, the good intentions of anyone and with the greatest respect for those taking part in this conversation, beginning with Monsignor Luigi Negri, to whom I return respect and friendship.
[Source: “Il Foglio”, November 26, 2013. Translation: Fr. Richard Cipolla.]