Rorate Caeli

The Council and the Eclipse of God by Don Pietro Leone: CHAPTER VIII: THE COUNCIL’S VIEW OF MAN IN HIMSELF (part 1)

 We have divided Chapter VIII into three parts, the text being exceedingly rich in content: part 1 – The Nature of Man and The Anguish of Man; part 2 – The Dignity of Man; part 3 –  The Deification of Man.  With the reading of this Chapter it seems we have arrived at a watershed moment.  In this analysis of the Council’s documents it becomes clearer that there was deliberate intent (whether malicious or philosophically  ingenuous sleight of hand – let God be the Judge) to change the very foundations of the Roman Catholic Church and create something entirely novel – thus initiating a willful break with the past.   It will be difficult to prove otherwise after the careful  reading of this Chapter, which will be posted in its entirety over the next few days.                             





Chapter VIII



Having seen how the Council has attempted to amalgamate the Church and the World, we shall now see more closely how it informs this construct not with the spirit of the Church, the Spirit of Truth and of Sanctification which is in effect the Holy Spirit, Her Soul; but with the spirit of the World, the spirit of fallen man. This spirit, as we said in the Preface, we consider the key to understanding the Council. Consequently we shall proceed to present Council teaching on man: man in himself in the present chapter; in the next chapter, man in the two forms of life in which he may realize himself on this earth: the married and the consecrated life, whether that of the priest or that of the religious; in the subsequent chapter we shall consider man in his relation to God. In this second part of the book we shall witness the work of destruction of Catholic doctrine, which we have seen in regard to the Faith and the Church, continue in regard to the priesthood and religious life, and to the sacraments of marriage and the Holy Eucharist.

In this chapter we shall consider the Council’s theories concerning:


A.   The Nature of Man;

B.   The Anguish of Man;

C.   The Dignity of Man;

D.   The Deification of Man.

A.                      The Nature of Man

Now the Council’s view of man is composed of elements taken variously from Church teaching, from worldly thinking, and from conciliar reflections. Aristotle teaches that we understand by means of the causes, so, in order to understand this conciliar construct, we shall now analyze in turn the Catholic, and then the conciliar, teaching, in terms of the Aristotelian four causes: the efficient [1], material [2], formal [3], and final [4] causes.


a)     Now the efficient cause of the (Catholic) Christian [5] in Church teaching is the act of union with Christ, that is to say Baptism;


b)    The material cause of the Christian [6] in Church teaching, as also of man in the World’s and in the Council’s view, is his human personhood;


c)     The formal cause of the Christian [7] is his continued state of union with Christ deriving from baptism, which consists in his Faith and in his submission to the Pope;


d)    The final cause of the Christian, his goal, is his sanctification in this world (including dying in the state of Grace) and his attainment of Heaven in the next world: all to the glory of God.


We shall now see how the Council views man in the light of the causes, leaving aside the material cause which is the same from the perspective of the Church, the World, and the Council.



1.     The Efficient Cause


 ‘Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed in him, has been raised in us to a dignity beyond compare. For by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each individual (cum omni homine quoddammodo se univit)’ (GS 22).


As we have just explained, the efficient cause of the Christian, that which makes him a Christian and a member of the Church, is that act of union with Christ which consists in the act of Baptism. The Council, while taking for granted that an act of union with Christ is necessary for man, identifies this act of union with the simple fact of the Incarnation. This text imputes to the Incarnation, in other words, what is true only of baptism. Hereby every-one effectively becomes Christian [8], and the World effectively becomes the Mystical Body of Christ.


The author of this text seems to refer back to the patristic concept of the Incarnation effecting a form of ‘simple’ or ‘dead’ union between Our Lord and the whole human race as a preparation for His later ‘living’ union with it through baptism and Faith. He seems to have then understood this former union nominalistically: as a union between Our Lord and every individual. The metaphysical error here is to suppose that a subject can be united to a substance rather than to a nature; the error derives from the nominalist substitution of nature with substance. For Our Lord, as a Subject, united himself to a nature at the Incarnation, that is to say to human nature, and not to a substance, that is to say to a human being (or indeed to each human being) [9].


2.     The Formal Cause


‘In the human nature united to himself, the Son of God, by overcoming death through his own death and resurrection, redeemed humanity and changed it into a new creation’ (LG 7).


We explained above that the formal cause of the Christian, that which determines his nature, is his state of continued union with Christ deriving from baptism, which consists in his Faith and submission to the Pope. In this text, by contrast, the Council, while taking for granted that man is in need of a state of union with Christ, suggests that such a union is effected simply by the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord.


3.     The Final Cause


We have shown above that the Church teaches that the final cause of man in this life is his sanctification (including his death in the state of Grace); and that the final cause of man in the next world is Heaven. We showed in the last chapter, by contrast, how the Council locates the final cause of the Church in this life (and thereby also the final cause of every man) in his earthly well-being, or hedonism, while maintaining that his final cause in the next world is Heaven.


This is purely worldly thinking, since well-being in this life is the goal uniquely of the ‘Man of the World’; and if, moreover, his hedonism is colored in any way by Christianity (like that of the Council members responsible for these doctrines), then he will also aspire to Heaven in the next life. If, by contrast, his hedonism is colored by atheism, then clearly he can harbor no goal beyond the limits of the present life. 




We shall proceed to represent our findings in schematic form, placing the Catholic teaching first and the conciliar teaching second:



1.     Efficient Cause:


a)   the act of union with Christ through Baptism;

b)   the act of union with Christ through the Incarnation.


2.     Formal Cause:


a)     the state of union with Christ through Faith and through submission to the Pope;

b)    the state of union with Christ through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.


3.     Final Cause:


a)   Sanctification (including death in the state of Grace) in this life, Heaven in the next;

b)    Hedonism in this life, Heaven in the next.


The scheme portrays clearly what the Council has taken from Catholic teaching, namely the doctrine that an act and state of union with Christ is necessary for man, and that his final goal is Heaven. It portrays equally clearly what the Council has substituted for Catholic teaching: first, its own attitude that this act and state of union with Christ is effected by the mere facts of His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection; second, the worldly view that the goal of life is hedonism here and Heaven hereafter.


In summary we can then say: the Church teaches that in order to be a Christian and to be saved, it is necessary to be baptized, to have the Faith, to be subject to the Pope (and thereby also a member of the Church) and to die in the state of Grace; She teaches furthermore that the purpose of life is our sanctification before death, and Heaven after death. The Council teaches, by contrast, that to be saved there are no obligations for mankind at all: the facts of the Incarnation and of the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord are sufficient on their own to make every man a Christian, as well as definitively to redeem him. Man’s goal is hedonism both here and hereafter.


Just as the Council, in its heterodox free-thinking, has amalgamated Church and World, so it amalgamates their respective members: the Christian and the non-Christian. We find ourselves deep in the Aristophanic clouds of pseudo-intellectual fantasy, though without the humor.


 A.  The Anguish of Man


i) ‘Christians are joined to others in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems...’ (GS 16);


ii) ‘The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time… are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well’ (GS 1);


iii) ‘Modern men have been so profoundly changed in their social and cultural aspects, that we can speak of a new age in human history’ (DV 54)



The Dead Mother and Little Girl (Edvard Munch - 1893)

We have already considered text (i) in the first chapter of this book, when meditating upon the scepticism of the Council. Now an obvious consequence of scepticism concerning objective reality is to take refuge in the world of the emotions; an obvious consequence of scepticism concerning the objective Good particularly, and under its aspect of Finality more particularly (in other words in the face of the question of the meaning of life), is anguish. This explains the Council’s preoccupation with emotions, above all that of anguish, in the opening words of Gaudium et Spes, in text (ii). 


Monsignor Lefebvre remarks [10]: ‘… a large number of Bishops, especially those who were chosen as members of the commissions, were men who had been formed in existentialist philosophy, men who knew nothing of Thomist philosophy…’ And indeed the vision of modern man here expressed is an existentialist vision: where man, in the modern and brutalizing, communist-inspired cosmopolis finds himself alienated from God and from Truth, prey to existential anguish in a world become both meaningless and terrifying. We are talking here of a vision of the World and of man no longer Catholic, but atheist.

Seemingly unable to comprehend this state of affairs, the Council tends to derive it, in text (iii), from a change in the nature of man himself [11]. Similar sentiments may be found in the document for the reform of religious life [12] and in the phrase of Pope John XXIII in his opening address to the Council: ‘In the present state of human events, in which humanity appears to be entering into a new order of things…’   


Edvard Munch 'Melancholy'



Part 2 of Chapter VIII :The Dignity of Man

Part 3 of Chapter VIII: The Deification of Man

[1]cause’ in the common usage of the term, namely that which makes a thing to come into being

[2] the material of which a thing consists

[3] the principle which determines the nature of a thing

[4] the goal of a thing

[5] that which brings him into being as a Christian

[6] that in which he consists

[7] that which determines what he is, in other words his Christianity

[8] albeit an ‘anonymous Christian’

[9] for further comments on this passage from the patristic standpoint, see our book ‘The Family under Attack’ ch.2.s.3

[10] MD pjc p.36, Un Evêque Parle. We noted the reference to existentialism in the mouth of Henri Fesquet above.

[11]we shall see the deeper meaning of this in our metaphysical analysis of the Council in chapter 9

[12]see our discussion in the next chapter