LIBER ACCUSATIONIS IN PAULUM SEXTUM
2. Religion is becoming extinct
THERE is always some hidden cause underlying, the sudden and widespread collapse of the religion of an entire people. But when it is the Creation of the Holy Spirit – that which is eternal and ever new – which is thus affected, there must indeed be very grave human sin to explain it. Our sacred Religion cannot recede on a world-wide scale unless there has been serious failing in the sphere of Prayer, of Faith and of Morals.
PRAYER ? You yourself do pray, so we understand. Though this is a matter which concerns the public example set by the Pope, it is nevertheless so closely linked with his private spiritual life that I cannot say much on this sad aspect of the present Pontificate. What is clearly evident is that all forms of devotion and public prayer have as good as disappeared under your Pontificate and that you have done nothing to remedy the situation, apart from sometimes expressing vain regrets… Only the “ Eucharistic Celebration ” remains and that too tends to be replaced, on an equal footing, by “ celebrations of the word ” and “ ecumenical celebrations ” which are as empty as the “ divine worship ” of the Protestants. It is only in the private gatherings of traditionalists that you still find the Rosary being recited. In any case, unless I am mistaken, you are never seen praying in public ? During your visit to Fatima, we never saw nor heard you say so much as a single Ave Maria !
FAITH ? I have already had something to say on this subject earlier on. Here I will comment only on one aspect which seems to have passed unnoticed, though it is very significant. It concerns those Wednesday Allocutions, Most Holy Father, which seem to be full of piety but where nevertheless, you always give excessive emphasis to doubt, objections, hypotheses contrary to divine revelation… And then, when you come to the point where you must give the Christian answer and expound the true doctrine, there is never enough time left. Psychologically, you seem to make yourself into an apologist for doubt, and we are left wondering which side you are on – that of the objection or the Christian answer. It sometimes happens that the avowed enemies of the Faith quote your very words in order to make their point. So the Rock begins to crumble, and Faith to disappear the whole world over.
MORALS ! The heyday of the Council and your own accession seem to have coincided with a general decline in morals. Permissiveness began to spread rapidly throughout the world. Why this coincidence ? Perhaps people understand you better than you realise. They know that you are prepared to excuse any breaches of the moral law – out of pity for the poor unfortunates, no doubt – and that, however loudly you may speak against sin, you will never go so far as to take any canonical sanctions against the offenders or their accomplices.
In more general terms, it seems to be accepted today and, indeed, has been for a century or more, that “ progress ” in thinking goes hand in hand with relaxation of moral standards. That is why all your Predecessors fought heroically against this so-called “ progress ” as well as against the corruption of morals. In seeking to come to terms with modern standards and to open the Church to modern “ progress ”, you rule out the possibility of combating immorality with any hope of success. We all saw the pictures that showed you receiving Claudia Cardinale and Lollobrigida in St. Peter’s on the occasion of some “ Day ” of radio or cinema. You certainly showed yourself to be “ with it ”. Were you really glad to receive these idols of the cinema screens, public sinners showing no sign of repentance, who went so far as to come to the Papal audience wearing the shortest of miniskirts ? You paid your homage to the permissive society and from that day, indecency in fashion has won the day: for what priest would feel able to forbid something which the First among priests had considered acceptable in the chief Sanctuary of Christendom ?
I know that – in order to avoid such sacrilege taking place within the Basilica itself – you had built a vast modern audience hall. But the remedy is worse than the disease. The scope and licence allowed to immorality, in your very presence, has thereby been increased many fold, and what little of piety had previously remained, thanks to the sacred character of the place, has now gone by the board.
THE MARRIAGE OF PRIESTS
As in the decadent epochs of the past, it is through the marriage of priests that moral ruin has entered the Church. But today, for the first time in history, this has taken place with the consent – with the help even – of the Vicar of Christ !
Here, once more, your part in the scandal was played in an enigmatic manner, and scarcely anyone saw through your hidden intention. Though I myself had understood enough from reading your Encyclical Sacerdotalis Coelibatus (June 24, 1967), I did not wish to write anything about it, and refrained for a long time. For in that document you appear to be defending celibacy in what seems at first sight a firm manner. But the appearance serves to cover up your ulterior motive. First, and paradoxically, you expound the difficulties of celibacy, the objections and obstacles to it, but only to decide, for the present, “ to maintain intact the discipline concerning ecclesiastical celibacy ”. And then you list all the conditions which are necessary for it. The people concerned must be adequately prepared, well adapted, well tried and tested. So you believe that, provided celibacy is well prepared for – as it now will be, bearing in mind all the conditions you have listed – there will in the future be no more failures ? But what about the past ? In the days before the science of psycho-pedagogy had reached its present advanced state – before you came on the scene ? Here you give in, and show yourself ready to believe anything they may tell you. You would evidently have been prepared to release anybody who happened to ask (Sacerdotalis Coelibatus, No 84). And in that terrible paragraph 83 you ascribe “ the real responsibility ” not to the wretched priests who were defrocked, but to the Church herself, as she was before your day, to her wrong sense of values and to the difficult life she demanded from her priests.
In addition to this, you created an ad hoc Commission on February 2 (note the date !), 1964, and it began to be made widely known that the Pope was ready to permit the annulment of vows and to authorise the marriage – in a church, lawful and sacramental – of those priests who really wanted it. A certain Versailles priest, whose request had been rejected by Pius XII and by John XXIII, was formally informed that it was worth his while to apply again, for the new Pope, who had more generous ideas, was likely to accede to his request. He wrote about it in the papers and even made a book out of his story. A flood of applications followed and, when the judicial machinery became discredited, a veritable torrent of unofficial departures. It has become the high-minded and exalted task of the Sacred Congregation for the Defence of the Faith and indeed, your own, to make it possible for these precious priests to espouse their beloved. In 1972, there were 4,000 official dispensations – in other words, they were being dealt with at the rate of 11 cases a day. The total number who left may be nearer 10,000 – while the number of ordinations in that year was 2,800. Nobody can deny that you have been more successful than Luther ! (Acts of the Holy See in 1971 - 1972 Edition)
This, Most Holy Father, comes of your Cult of Man and human Love – which leads to disregard for God.
The question arises whether you have in fact the right to dispense from their vows those who have, as we say, espoused God. Of those theologians who do grant you such a right, the greater part consider that you should, as a matter of justice and fairness, make use also of that other, simpler right which would follow a fortiori – that of annulling unhappy marriages ! This too has become a matter for discussion, when you can claim the right to suppress the Index and the Holy Office, the right to change the Mass and to forbid the Old Rite – all those “ rights ” which you are the first in the history of the Church to lay a claim to, as part of that vast right which you have assumed – to “ reform ” the Church even to the extent of changing our very religion. What is beyond dispute – and scandal enough in itself – is that you are prepared in everything to go to the very limits of your right, if not beyond, in order to pander to the wishes and passions of men and women at the expense of the sacred Rights of God. It is enough for a priest to fall in love with a woman for you to give him, in the very name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that he had espoused, the discharge papers which he is asking for.
Because, according to the new form of dispensation, it is supposed to be God Himself who releases these priests from their vows when they receive, from the diocesan officials, their permission to marry. So, the very next day, they can go into a church and ask God, like the betrayed Spouse, to accord a cheerful blessing to their new union ! In the old days, when the contract was broken, this was an act of the human partner: today, it is supposed to be that of God and the Church ! In the past, the fellow priests of one who had thus repudiated his vows stood by waiting for his return and praying for him. That God kept faith with those who had espoused and afterwards betrayed Him served also as an example and encouragement to married people and to parents betrayed by their children; the prodigal son knew that there was a welcome for him on his return. But you have changed all this, and introduced into the mystical union between God and the priest, a form of divorce by mutual consent ! You will not have it that the Love of God should ever be seen to surpass that of the human creature, you will not allow the latter to be sacrificed for the greater Love of God. And so you arrange things so that it is God who, out of pity, agrees to give up His claim in order to ensure the creature’s happiness !
It is you who have put temptation in the way of your priests, who have made yourself the powerful accomplice of the Demon, the evil woman and the flesh. And for the fallen priest, you are indeed the greatest enemy who, in joining him sacramentally to the companion of a brief moment of folly, forbids him to return to his first and eternal Love.
It is through your permissiveness that the question of marriage for priests has become a constant subject for campaigns in the press, for public discussions and study groups. The faithful are acutely aware that the image of the priest, so exalted and pure before your day, has become tarnished and degraded. Unbelievers, non-practising Catholics, have reason to be pleased. For them, their parish priest, or the priest from whom they had once received their First Holy Communion, remained a living reproach to their own evil conduct and an incessant reminder of the need for their conversion. Today the priest is generally suspected of being just as much at the mercy of the flesh and its passions as any other mortal. He is no longer a reproach to anyone.
But what else could you have done ? Most Holy Father, there was only one thing to do and that was to say NO, like your Predecessors ! But that would have caused distress; it would have involved refusals and reprimands, even punishment. It would have meant insisting on self-denial, forcing chastity upon them. But that precisely is what Charity itself would have obliged you to do, Most Holy Father, were not the love which you have for others a form of pride and egoism, of self-love rather than true charity. You are prepared to consent to evil rather than risk your popularity. There can be no other way to save the Church from the disgrace involving her priests and religious than to make a clean break with all the new rules and customs, with the new mentality associated with this Pontificate, and to burn or disinfect everything with which this has come into contact. Unless it be cut short, how can the Church ever climb out of the present depths ?