Rorate Caeli

“A profound de-rationalization of Catholicism” is under way: Polish professor of philosophy

A contributor to the Polish traditionalist journal Christianitas, Justyna Melonowska is a philosophy lecturer from Poland who published the following text in the Polish bulletin “Filozofuj!” The translation was sent to Rorate by the author. - PAK

Filioque XXI
Justyna Melonowska

It is difficult to disagree with historians—such as Donald Kagan[1]—who emphasize that we do not know a single example of an areligious civilization until modern times. Civilization stands—at least this is the experience of history—on religion as its primary source of vitality and strength, and as a reservoir of goals.

Not one, but two conclusions are drawn from this.

The first, rather obvious one, is that the West, having got rid of Christianity, will cease to exist. (Or, in a milder variant, it will induce its own “agonic survival” by submitting itself to being pupated by another transcendent religion which it will bring to its territory and which it will adopt.)

Second, our civilization still stands because it has some religion. What is it? With a journalistic shortcut, I propose the thesis that emancipation is the modern religion of the West. At the same time, emancipation is not so much an ideology as a totem. Such an approach allows us to understand why the violation of the first commandment of any serious religion, “you shall have no other gods before me,” is prosecuted as a fundamental crime. The new, constituting religion must sweep away competing cults, especially those that reigned in this area before it. She must—properly—trample them. Therefore, further, by destroying other people’s statues (treated as golden calves), she guards her own iconic sphere, the violation of which is not an offense, but literally blasphemy.[2] Hence the great severity of emancipation in tracking dissenters and at the same time demanding maintenance of orthodoxy, that is, the worship and glorification of new gods (or demons, as they may be).

Turning to a different aspect, as a researcher of the spiritual history of the West I see it as my duty to answer the question “What, from the perspective of the centuries to come, will turn out to be the ‘Filioque’ of the 21st century?”—what is the cause of the internal schism in the bosom of contemporary Catholicism and the civilization standing on it?[3] And how is it possible for one side of the accomplished silent Catholic schism to join this totemic, anti-Catholic dance of emancipation?

I guess I know the answer. “Filioque XXI”—devoid of articulation, quiet but laborious—is a question of the historicity of Revelation.

Now, traditional Catholicism taught (and still officially continues to do so) that Revelation ended with the death of the last of the Apostles. Joseph Ratzinger repeats this view in his study of the theology of history in St. Bonaventure. An attentive and honest reader, after a moment of reflection, will probably come to the conclusion that he or she has not heard this statement about revelation ending with the death of the last Apostle at all or has not heard it for a very long time. It can also arise as a statement that is immediately called into question.

Developing and gaining momentum is the view according to which Revelation has not so much ended and can therefore be subject only to further discernment (this was once a rudimentary teaching of Catholic catechisms), but rather that it continues.

Since 2018, we remember soberly, thanks to the Jesuit superior, Father Arturo Sosa, that in Jesus’s time there were no recording devices; but this anecdote only shows the operation of the gate hinges in the fence of faith. The new uncertainty about what has been said allows emancipation from the words of Jesus, denounced or not. (Interestingly, it is difficult to break the consensus attacked by Sosa, according to which Jesus’ moral teaching on family matters was demanding and tightened the norms whose relaxation was “because of the hardness of your hearts,” Mk 10: 1-12). The thing, however, has further implications.

First, the question of Revelation-which-continues will come up more clearly, and the discourse of “inspirations” almost parallel with it. We can already observe this phase: more and more often it is said that Pope Francis acts under a special action of the Spirit (it is assumed here that it is the Holy Spirit, although in light of the traditional teaching of the Church such a statement should arouse vigilance and consternation). He is also supposed to be a worker of miracles.[4] In the second phase, the community will be separated from the “old” Revelation and new paths in the moral teaching of the Church will be set.

Catholic teaching is a compact system of theorems, so there will also be doctrinal changes. Since it will be difficult to contradict the principle of non-contradiction (something cannot be sin and not be sin at the same time), this principle will instead be silently passed by.[5] The community will become more and more charismatic and less and less intellectual. The new reasons will not actually be conveyed. The old ones will begin to be silenced and exterminated. Tradition will be denied in its role as a vehicle of Revelation. Revelation will be updated more frequently than Microsoft Windows. In order that Tradition not bother it, not inhibit or censor the new “inspirations,” Tradition will first be neutralized, and then liquidated.

We are just witnessing one phase of this violent, paroxysmal process in the effort by the pontiff and his acolytes to liquidate the immemorial rite of Holy Mass, the so-called “Tridentine rite,” and the whole traditional sacramental life.

To the extent that these actions are carried through, there will be a profound de-rationalization of Catholicism. As the “new laws” will be influenced by the current “inspirations” of the pontiff and other “authorities” broadly understood (including Catholic “experts” who gained power after Vatican II), they will be able to synchronize at last with what Catholicism had, for centuries, called “the world.” This will lead to the fascinating phenomenon whereby part of one and the same community will diagnose a state of “post-Christianity” or a “New Reformation,” while the other part will proclaim the extraordinary “Christianization” of the world (the opinion “the West has never been so Christian before” can be heard more and more often in my native Poland).

For the latter part of the Church, the question “Is this according to God or according to the world?” will disappear, and the scope of synchronization will be a derivative of the force of pressing the world—its laws and truths—on the Church domain and the aforementioned interpretation of Catholicism. The power of acceptance for emancipatory postulates will therefore be a function of the decline of the intellectualism of faith, although at the same time it will present itself as an “enlightened and progressive” faith, even as a “new orthodoxy.”

Here we come to the bottom line. A similar course of events may ultimately mean a denial of the Logos, the nature of God. For God will be perceived as somewhat “imprisoned” in the nature of the Logos, which corresponds to the ordered natural reality cognizable by reason. If, for working purposes, we accept Ratzinger’s distinction in the Regensburg lecture between the God-Logos of Christianity and the God-Strength of Islam, a strange “Islamization” of Catholicism will take place. Henceforth, God will be able to contradict Himself, make conflicting claims, legislate lawlessly according to his capricious will. In our own history of Catholicism, we would speak of a return to the well-known Ockhamist voluntarism.

And yet noticing it is happening would require a real intellectual flourishing the existence or arrival of which we have no reason to think will happen, at least not outside of traditionalist circles, laboriously rebuilding themselves—against which, however, “led by the Spirit,” the pope has formed ghettoizing and exterminating plans, as shown in the motu proprio Traditonis Custodes.

Perhaps some salvation for the Logos tradition may be the question asked many thousands of times by searching, brave human minds, from Socrates to—a good example of this kind of anguish—Hannah Arendt: Does God command A because A is good, or is A is good because God commands it? Does God forbid B because B is bad, or is B evil because God forbids it?

In both cases, accepting the second answer means starting some odyssey on the waves of faith... But while faithful Penelope will sit patiently at the loom, Odysseus... well... Odysseus will meet his death on the high seas. 


[1] Whose jokes about Christianity have something of the almost dogmatic, proud ignorance of confessional matters so typical today of the Western academic class, and which also shows a kind of devastating carelessness in the staff’s approach to the student as a being—perhaps—endowed with an immortal soul.

[2] By writing this, I do not equate religions, nor do I deny that religion and its claims are true as criteria, or that one religion is true and the others are superstition.

[3] By “Filioque” I mean here a point of contention which generates a lasting schism.

[4] The current pope has been said to have healed more than one child. One of them was said to have been healed from cancer, although a slightly more detailed inquiry reveals that it is about the (unconfirmed) disappearance of the symptoms of the alleged cancer.

[5] For example, adding a vaguely and indirectly revising footnote in some high-ranking papal document…