Roberto de Mattei
June 27, 2014
The ultimate criteria of judgment for a Catholic must be the one of the Church: to love and hate what the Church loves and hates: loving the truth in all of its uniqueness and integrity and hating error in all of its multiplicity of expressions. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy remain the final measure of judgment which Christian Reason must be subject to.
In 1542, Pope Paul II, instituted the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, afterwards called the Holy Office and nowadays named the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the aim of guarding the purity of orthodoxy. In 1571, Saint Pius V, supported it with the Congregation of Index which had the task of indicating all the books deforming correct Catholic Doctrine. In 2002, L’Index Librorum prohibitorum 1600-1966 was published by the Centre d’Études de la Renaissance at Sherbrooke University, and gathers together all of the condemned works until the suppression of the Index, which Paul VI wanted in 1966. From Protestantism to Illuminism, from Catholic liberalism to modernism, there is not one heterodox writer that has not been singled out and condemned for the good of the Church and for the salvation of souls.
The Index established a precious instrument to help Catholics know and detest errors and heresies. The Holy Office was the supreme tribunal which every Catholic could turn to when they had doubts and perplexities in matters of faith and morals. To the Congregation for the Faith, which followed the Holy Office, we owe, in recent years, a number of notifications, such as Dominus Jesus in 2000 or Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Homosexual Unions in 2003.
After the disturbing declarations by Cardinal Kasper at the Consistory in February 2014, on the theme of the divorced and remarried, and the equally disquieting document Instrumentum laboris, presented on June 26th, in preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Family, it would be right to expect a clarifying statement from the Congregation (today presided over by Cardinal Müller) about the grave problems on the table in matters relating to the family and sexual morality.
Today, however, there is an attempt to substitute orthodoxy with “orthopraxy”.
The international theological publication “Concilium” dedicated its latest number to the theme: From “anathema sit” to “Who am I to judge?” starting with Pope Francis’ famous sentence on homosexuality: “who am I to judge,” pronounced during the return flight from Brazil in July 2013. The authors define orthodoxy as “metaphysical violence”. They retain that the formulas and dogmas cannot comprehend historical evolution, but each problem must be collocated in its historical and socio-political context. The concept of orthodoxy must be surpassed, or at least re-dimensioned, since, it is used as “a point of reference to suffocate freedom of thought and as a weapon to control and punish.” (“Concilium”, 2/2014, p.11). The primacy of doctrine must be substituted by pastoral praxis, as Father Juan Carlos Scannone explains, intervening in support of Cardinal Kasper, in the article Serene Theology On One’s Knees found in the “Civiltà Cattolica” of June 7, 2014.
The categories of orthodoxy and heterodoxy are being set aside as antiquated. And new semantic expressions are emerging. One of the most curious is “crypto-lefebvrianism”:a term that Father Angelo Geiger F.I. recently used on his American site to discredit, not only myself, but also Rorate Caeli, a praiseworthy Catholic site, guilty of having expressed its concern about what is happening to the Franciscans of the Immaculate. For Father Geiger, it is all normal, and whoever places this normality in doubt is a “crypto-lefebvrian”.
Who are the “crypto-lefebvrians”? They are those who, in the present state of confusion, even if they are not part of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, look to Catholic Tradition as a point of reference. They are the Catholics that want to stay orthodox and, to do so, they call on the definitive Magisterium of the Church, not less “living” and current than the indirect or non-defining Magisterium of the bishops and Pope presently reigning.
Father Geiger accuses the Franciscans of the Immaculate faithful to Father Manelli, Rorate Caeli and myself of being against the Pope, the bishops and Vatican II. We urge him to read the volume published by his confrere, Father Serafino M. Lanzetta, Vatican II: A pastoral council: Hermeneutic of the conciliar doctrines, Cantagalli, Siena, 2014. This work, conducted under the guidance of Professor Manfred Hauke, earned the author qualifications to teach at the Faculty of Theology in Lugano [Ticino, Switzerland].
Father Lanzetta explains that the teaching of Vatican II is placed on the lines of the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium, without demanding adherence of faith to it. “The most adequate theological qualification on the documents examined by us, salvo meliore iudicio, seems to be that of sententiae teologicae ad fidem pertinentes: questions on which the magisterium has still not pronounced itself definitively, of which negations could lead to placing in danger other truths where truth is guaranteed in its intimate link to Revelation.” (pp. 430-431). The discussion on these theological theses is still free and open. The doctrines given by Vatican II, writes Father Lanzetta, must be read in the light of the perennial Tradition of the Church and the Council can do nothing but join this uninterrupted Tradition. (p.37) “The only thing that can be the guide in our understanding of Vatican II is the entire Tradition of the Church: Vatican II is not the first nor last council in the Church, but a moment in Her history.” (pp. 74-75). “The perennial Traditio Ecclesiae, is, therefore, the first hermeneutical criteria of Vatican II.” (p.75).
Is Padre Lanzetta, one of the Franciscans of the Immaculate who asked for dispensation to leave the Institute, a “crypto-lefebvrian”? If he is, then the head of the “crypto-lefebvrians” is Benedict XVI who proposed the reading of the Second Vatican Council in the light of Tradition and not Tradition in the light of Vatican II, as the School of Bologna would like it to be. Moreover, if Father Geiger wants to set Father Lanzetta against Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, defined by Pope Francis as “the best hermeneut of Vatican II,” he should know that Father Lanzetta and Professor de Mattei are part of a group of scholars which includes Archbishop Marchetto and that for more than two years, each with their own theological and historical identity, these have been examining in a constructive manner an in-depth study of the Second Vatican Council, with no mutual demonization. The phrase In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas, dear to John XXIII, is rejected by those who use the Novus Ordo Missae and the Second Vatican Council to shut the mouths of the ones who ask questions in the interest of correct Catholic Faith.
Let us urge Father Geiger to substitute the false classifications with good arguments - if he is able to find them. What credits or discredits us before the Truth and Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Way the Truth and the Life (John, 4, 1-6) are not the denominational disputes, but the good use of our reason, which can never be in contradiction to our faith.
To the accusations from the nominalists, we respond with the words of St. Pacian of Barcelona: - Christianus mihi nomen est, catholicus cognomen. [Christian is my name, Catholic my surname.]
[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana. Roberto de Mattei, Italian historian and scholar, is the author, among many other books, of "The Second Vatican Council: an unwritten story" - for which he won the most prestigious Italian History prize, the Acqui Storia, in 2011. The object of his exemplary admonition above is self-confessedly one of the five Dissident friars who called for the intervention of the Congregation for Religious in their institute, with consequences, including of a liturgical nature, well known by all Catholics who love the Church.]