31. Against the Progressivism of Lamennais
Impatience, foolish dreams, revolutionary prophecy, then the kind of disappointment which leads implacably to apostasy – all find in Lamennais their matchless illustration. It was easy to foresee straightaway where his progressivism would lead him. For once it is admitted that Jesus, right down to our own days, has obtained and achieved nothing glorious in His Church through the power of His Spirit, then the necessary conclusion is that He is not God and that every effort inspired by Him is equally vain. Unless, that is, one judges oneself to be greater than Jesus Christ, and a true saviour and messiah !
1. To the progressivists afflicted by this revolutionary contagion, the holiness and apostolicity of the ancient, mediaeval, and classical Church appear all too imperfect to correspond to the divine mind and will. Arguing from the imperfections, the slowness, and the disorders of centuries past, and concluding that the Church has been radically unfaithful to the Spirit of Christ and to the inspiration of the early Christians, they reject the Church’s ancient institutions and her entire tradition. They then prophesy another future, a new age ; they demand and prepare for a global reform of all institutions, a mystical revolution of the peoples roused by the Spirit, which will open the millennium, the age of the Holy Spirit, the new Pentecost, new heavens and a new earth.
2. But the substitution of these fantastical visions for the reality of tradition is the work of human minds and innovators who are more subject to error than anyone, discontents who are stubborn and ambitious. Following their own unchecked inspirations, they dare to decide what is essential and what is ancillary, what is good and what is bad, what is divine and what is human, what is obsolete and what is permanent ! And in doing so, they cut into the very quick of a body and soul, the actual body and soul of the Church and Christendom ! A dangerous surgery. And then in the free space left after so many excisions, the visionaries arrange their ideal creations, one more inhuman and arbitrary than the other, as they vie with each other to make them as foreign and as contrary as possible to everything seen and done in a detested past.
3. That which is done in disregard of tradition or against it, is done in disregard of the Spirit of God and against Him. It can only be something wretched. And so it is that the progressivists, who are so good at destroying the works of God and all their great past, turn out to be incapable of building any holy or lasting works. If one honours them, they end up living as parasites on a Christendom which they have worked to destroy. If, on the other hand, one thwarts them and prevents from causing harm, then they will go away like Lamennais, despairing of the Church, to end their days in the despair and darkness of apostasy.
It is a lamentable story, this Christian progressivism. As is the drama of so many priestly souls who have been led astray and ruined by it. It is this same progressivism which is the main driving force behind the conciliar and postconciliar upheaval of Vatican II !