LIBER ACCUSATIONIS IN PAULUM SEXTUM
1. Heteropraxy : Religious Liberty
EVEN while the Council was still heatedly arguing about the matter, you were already referring to Religious Liberty as though it formed part of common teaching, as though there were no particular difficulty about it. It might perhaps be conceivable that a doctrine to this effect should be solemnly defined by the Pope, and proclaimed with his infallible authority – but in that case you would have had to show that it was already contained in the deposit of Revelation and that it had formed part of the Tradition of the Church. Now such a demonstration is manifestly impossible, inconceivable. And so you make indirect allusions to it, in passing, when you address audiences who are incompetent or indifferent in the matter, or who are accomplices. That the principle of Religious Liberty has been thus illicitly imposed upon the Church is your doing.
You refer to it, on the occasion of your Opening Discourse of the Second Session of the Council, as one of the “ fundamental human rights ” and again, on December 8, 1965, at the Closing of the Council, as one of the “ legitimate and sacred rights due to every honest human being. ” But the turning point was your visit to the UN, on October 4, 1965, when, anticipating any decision by the Council, you proclaimed it in the presence of that Masonically inspired Assembly, using the term in the sense in which your audience would interpret it : “ It is your task here to proclaim the basic rights and duties of man, his dignity and liberty, and above all his religious liberty. We are conscious that you are the interpreters of all that is paramount in human wisdom. We would almost say : of its sacred character. For your concern is first and foremost with the life of man, and man’s life is sacred : no-one may dare to interfere with it. ”
The “ wisdom ” of that Assembly – your Predecessors would have called it rather a delirium – asserts that man is free and that this freedom is sacred. That nothing on this earth is greater, that no God on High can impose His Rule upon man’s liberty, nor any man exercise authority over another, to teach or govern, to judge or even to punish him in the name of God. And this is what you acknowledge as the first and foremost among the “ Rights of Man ”, speaking both in your own name and also – as though entrusted with its blank cheque – in the name of the Council.
This new liberalism had already appeared, though somewhat disguisedly, in your radio message for Christmas 1964 and in your Allocution of June 26, 1965. The one thing the faithful would gather from it is contained in this sentence : “ This important doctrine can be summed up in these two propositions : that in matters of faith no one must be hindered, and no one must be forced. Nemo impediatur, Nemo cogatur. ” All constraint is to be banished from this domain where, according to you, it is love alone which commands. Any public authority which would claim to intervene “ thereby arrogates to itself the right to penetrate into a domain which lies outside its competence ”. But you would allow the requirements of public order to impose restrictions upon this individual liberty ; in doing so you are submitting religion to the control of the State police ! And this conviction which you have professed yourself and imposed in advance upon the Council, when the latter was still seriously divided upon the matter, is one which your Predecessors had always condemned. It is because we are faithful to their Magisterium that we have from the first refused to accept it.
THE ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH’S MAGISTERIUM
As part of the application of this new-found liberalism, you renounce the exercise of your Supreme Magisterium. You tell us that man is free in matters of religion and so you think it better not to make use of authority to tell him God’s Truth. Already on September 29, 1963 you deflected the Council from any idea of promulgating “ dogmatic definitions ”, or “ solemn formulations ”. The reason why you wished to give up the exercise of this authority is made clear in your words : “ We do not wish to turn our Faith into a cause of polemics against our separated brethren. ” (Discourses to the Council – In French, Centurion publications, p.117)
Similarly, your Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam does not lay claim to any binding authority : “ Nor do We propose to make this encyclical a solemn proclamation of Catholic doctrine or of moral or social principles. ” What then is its purpose ? “ Our purpose is merely to send you a sincere message, as between brothers and members of a common family. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No.7) But this essentially liberal or permissive attitude takes away from the binding character of even the most solemn of your teachings on matters of dogma or morals. What is the point of a Credo if it is not to be looked upon as infallible ? Or of an Encyclical Humanae Vitae if there is no obligation or penalty attached to it ? And today, when our theologians are coming out in favour of abortion, you do, admittedly, speak out against it very firmly, but in the context of a discourse addressed to jurists instead of definitively condemning these child murderers and excommunicating the theologians who make themselves into their accomplices. You are so afraid of encroaching upon man’s sacred freedom to think and do as he likes that you are not willing to speak to any human being with the Authority of God !
The same permissive spirit led you to abolish the Anti-Modernist Oath ordered by St. Pius X and remaining in force from 1910 until our own day, and the Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent, introduced by Pius IV and in force ever since. Your new formula is worded so that it cannot embarrass anybody and no one in fact takes it the least bit seriously. Its only function was to cover up the abolition of the others. Under Paul VI, you are free to think just as you please, at whatever level of the Hierarchy !
On the other hand, believing yourself illumined by the Holy Spirit, you have not been afraid to ascribe to your sayings and to those of the Council a certain form of extra-canonical infallibility, or supposed divine inspiration. This has no lawful basis, and you do not indeed pretend to found it on your proper authority, but rather on a force of love that binds not through obligation but because its power is irresistible ! Later, you put it into words : that you saw the reconciliation between obedience and individual liberty, not in divine Authority and Infallible Truth of doctrine, but in love. (Address given on October 16, 1968) This is the result of your Immanentism.
NO MORE PROHIBITIONS OR EXCOMMUNICATIONS
Having proclaimed Religious Liberty to be a sacred and inalienable right of man, you are no longer able – indeed you do not wish to do so – to exercise any legislative, judicial or coercive power even inside the Church. You would rather be loved than obeyed, and to charm rather than command.
You do not see anything which requires to be suppressed ; you are not concerned about “ removing any specific heresies concerning the Church, or… remedying any public disorders – for disorders of this sort have not, thank God, raised their head in our midst. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 44) But they exist, surely, within secular society ? Admittedly. “ The Church … might content itself with conducting an inquiry into the evils current in secular society, condemning them publicly, and fighting a crusade against them… But it seems to Us that the sort of relationship for the Church to establish with the world should be more in the nature of a dialogue, though theoretically other methods are not excluded. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 78)
On February 17, 1969 you admitted that grave errors and serious disorders were indeed widespread in the Church. But even then, you preferred to let things take their course : “ It would be easy, and even perhaps our duty to rectify…but… ” But… you would let “ the good people of God do it themselves ”; and why ? “ You will have noticed, my dear friends, ” you were to say, “ to what extent the style of Our government of the Church seeks to be pastoral, fraternal, humble in spirit and form. It is on this account that, with the help of God, We hope to be loved. ” (Address to the Roman Clergy)
On 9th July of that year you announced a further stage in the liberalisation of ecclesiastical discipline : “ We are about to see a period of greater freedom in the life of the Church and, therefore, in that of each of her children. This freedom will mean fewer formal obligations, and fewer inward inhibitions. Formal discipline will be reduced, all tyranny will be abolished… Every form of intolerance and absolutism will similarly be abolished. ” And so, at a time of the gravest crisis of Faith and Morals, you inaugurate the anarchy of a “ permissive society ” where all are free to follow the desires and promptings of their private conscience !
It was for the same reason that you decided, very early on, to reform the Curia, the Holy Office in particular. (Discourse to the Council on November 18, 1965) On June 15, 1966 the Index was abolished. Soon the Holy Office changed its name and its function ; it would no longer condemn but devote itself to constructive research ! The time of interdicts and excommunications had passed. That was why I had all the difficulty in the world in obtaining my request to be “ judged ” by Rome, because “ that was no longer done ”, as Cardinal Lefebvre explained to me.
DIALOGUE : “ THE CHURCH ENGAGES IN CONVERSATION ”
The new form of religious contact, both between those within the Church and between the Church and those outside, is that of dialogue. In your eyes, it was soon to become the only lawful means of such contact. You announce it in Ecclesiam Suam as the great novelty of your Pontificate and indeed as the form of the Church’s apostolate in this new stage of her history. What is the great thing about it ? That dialogue excludes every appearance of authority, superiority, or obligation or, as you prefer disparagingly to say, of fanaticism, intolerance, or tyranny. It represents a human and brotherly, free and equal, exchange of opinions : “ It is a way of making spiritual contact… avoids peremptory language, makes no demands. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 81)
You claim that this was also the way of Our Lord : “ No physical pressure was brought on anyone to accept the dialogue of salvation ; far from it. It was an appeal of love. True, it imposed a serious obligation on those towards whom it was directed (cf. Mk 10.21), but it left them free to respond to it or to reject it… Hence, although the truth we have to proclaim is certain and the salvation necessary, we dare not entertain any thoughts of external coercion. Instead we will use the legitimate means of human friendliness, interior persuasion, and ordinary conversation. We will offer the gift of salvation while respecting the personal and civic rights of the individual. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 75)
Here I object that you have misrepresented toe Gospel, ascribing a false meaning to Mark 10.21. Moreover, such an interpretation would amount to a condemnation of the teaching and practice of the Church throughout the ages. Finally, I maintain that it is a contradiction in terms to “ proclaim certain truth ” and “ necessary salvation ” in the manner of “ ordinary conversation ”. “ It would indeed be a disgrace if our dialogue were marked by arrogance, the use of barbed words or offensive bitterness… It is unencumbered by prejudice. It does not hold fast to forms of expression which have lost their meaning and can no longer stir men’s minds. ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 85) Such terms would put in the wrong all who, burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, would testify to Jesus Christ like the Apostles and the Saints of God.
Clearly, the concept is a totally new one in the Church : “ All we ask for is the liberty to profess and propose to those who, in all liberty, wish to receive it, this religion, this new link forged between men and God by Jesus Christ Our Lord ”, is what you said in Bethlehem. You would extend your liberalism even to God Himself. No longer is there the one Revealed Religion, necessary for salvation, but merely one among many possible, for those who wish to choose it.
GOD’S RELIGION ECLIPSED BY MAN’S FREEDOM
If the Church is to “ engage in conversation ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 111), will this not involve her renouncing, at least for the moment, her divine authority ? Is it not inevitable that whether as part of her strategy or as a stratagem, she will obscure to some extent the absolute character of Revelation and of our Redemption ? Coming closer and establishing communication is, you would say, but the first step towards converting those outside… But is there no danger that your new method of free dialogue, instead of being a preparation for preaching and polemics, for announcing the need to believe under pain of damnation, will become a mere substitute for these, and that we shall be left with a mere exchange of views on a purely human level ? The discussion of individual tastes and points of view takes the place of the divine work of Grace and Truth ! Moreover, in your desire to please and flatter, you concede to everyone a part of the truth, leaving them to think that we too must correspondingly be in error to some extent. When you admit to all intents and purposes that all religious opinions have rights and respectability, a certain value even, and that they must form the object, not of condemnation, but of good-natured discussions, then your human goodwill takes precedence over divine truth – at least on a purely practical level.
Such a policy on the practical level inevitably leads to the acceptance of its theoretical counterpart. Before this your Encyclical, the Faith was something absolute, and unbelief was a disaster. Upon these hinged the eternal salvation of souls and also the temporal well-being of mankind. He who believes in everlasting Hell and, even more, in the Beatitude of Heaven, he who believes in Jesus Crucified, and that without Him we can do nothing, does not treat these mysteries as objects for mere casual talk. He will teach the sacred doctrine with authority, engage in polemics with heresy and rather use the force of laws to help men know the truth and keep the Faith, to be converted and lead virtuous lives, than to let them go to their damnation, and the world to its ruin, for the sake of “ liberalism ”.
You on the other hand are led by your exaltation of human freedom and by your constant search for that which flatters men in their error and even in their revolt, to exaggerate the importance of subjective dispositions at the expense of the Rights of God. If you allow the Christian Faith to become – at least to all intents and purposes – one opinion among many, then it will cease to rule over the world of men. Its objective quality will be clouded over. The distinction between Heaven and Hell, between the Grace of God and His Malediction, between piety and impiety, will pale into insignificance. You may well defend yourself in advance against criticism when you say : “ An immoderate desire to make peace and sink differences at all costs (irenism and syncretism) is ultimately nothing more than scepticism about the power and content of the word of God which we desire to preach ” (Ecclesiam Suam, No. 88), but your dialogue is bound to lead to irenism, syncretism, and eventually to scepticism, precisely because it gives a relative quality to the Absolute Truth of God.
The result is to increase man’s pride, for by your dialogue you have invited him to make himself judge of things divine. From the moment that you proclaimed dialogue as the only lawful tool of the apostolate, the world of Christianity began to shake in its foundations : for instead of God being the acknowledged Judge of man, it is now man who is called upon to judge God. And so your heteropraxy leads on to the heterodoxy of the Cult of Man.