"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

14 Steps to a More Self-Centered Church

A Satirical Look at Worship Space and Liturgy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 11:54 AM Comments (103)
“In the time since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, but certainly not because of the teaching of the council, there has been exaggerated attention on the human aspect of the sacred liturgy,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke in his address at the Thomistic Institute on May 11.
“Are not the Church herself and her worship by definition directed toward God?” he asked, noting the 50-year trend of self-centered liturgy.
In keeping with Cardinal Burke’s observation, I offer a satirical primer for those Catholic churches seeking to become more self-centered and culturally Catholic.

Since my conversion to the Catholic Church 16 years ago, I’ve had the privilege of worshiping in a variety of Catholic churches, chapels, basilicas, shrines and cathedrals all around the world. Most of them have been majestic and awe-inspiring; others, not so much. The Mass is the Mass is the Mass, but a church is not always a Church.

14. Community Center
Rather than describing your parish as a Church, adopt the practice of naming yourself simply a “community” (e.g. Holy Spirit Community). Evangelical Christians anxious to disassociate themselves from anything too closely resembling any kind of traditional Church—and bearing such names as Hosanna, The Vine, The Door, The River, Joy Center, or Tree of Life, will especially welcome this change.
13. Move the Music to the Front
Make music the focal point of Mass. Place the musicians as close to front and center as possible. Eschew the choir in place of a band. Situate a drum set right within the sanctuary, and specifically implement this step in conjunction with Step #1 for full impact. Make the music as banal and silly, and self-centered as possible. Applause—for songs meant for God—is mandatory.
12. No More Smells and Bells
Bells, clappers, Holy Water, candles, incense … It’s all rather archaic isn’t it? Throwbacks to a medieval Church, really. Incense is incredibly insensitive to those with allergies. The bells are insensitive to those who are noise intolerant. The use of so many candles is neither earth- nor bee-friendly. Holy Water places an incredible demand upon our clean water supply. Just do without.
11. Ditch the Artwork
Remove the church’s artwork. It’s expensive to begin with and costly to maintain. Rather than putting money into keeping up the church’s artwork, statuary, stained-glass windows, altars and altar-ware, simply jettison it. Give the money to the poor, and embrace a low-maintenance, all-white worship space that isn’t at all discernible from most non-Catholic worship spaces.
10. Remove the Stations of the Cross
Remove the Stations of the Cross, if possible. They, along with the crucifix, only remind the parishioners of sacrifice, suffering and death. If it’s impossible to remove the Stations, find a set done in an abstract art style so that people won’t even know what it is that they are looking at. Even better … find a wealthy donor who can provide your Community Center with a “resurrecifix,” rather than a crucifix. Remove any last semblance of the “suffering servant.” It’s just too scandalous, especially for small children.
9. Scrap the Kneelers
While you’re at it, remove the kneelers. They’re hard on the knees. They’re probably old, the vinyl is cracking, and they likely need to be replaced. We’re a “Resurrection People,” so we can stand instead of kneeling. Once they’ve been gone for a few years, no one will even recognize that they are gone or why they were used in the first place.
8. Favor the Horizontal over the Vertical
Overemphasize the horizontal relationship between parishioners rather than the vertical relationship between the individual and God. There are many ways to do this, but perhaps one of the most effective is to create worship spaces that more closely resemble theaters or warehouses than churches. Situate the pews in-the-round so that parishioners can look at one another, rather than focusing their attention on what’s taking place on the altar.
7. Technologize
Add a large projection screen to the altar area, so you can project the song lyrics or close-up shots of the band. Invest in stage lights so parishioners can enjoy a light show with the band. Place power outlets in the pews so that parishioners can charge their cell phones, iPads, and smart phones. The technologically advanced parishes might also consider adding a voting system, so parishioners can vote for their favorite hymns, Gospel readings and favorite homilists. Think of it as “Catholic Idol.”
6. Better Bread
Rather than crisp, tasteless wafers, offer something more like bread during the Eucharist. Try something that’s spongy or maybe even sweetened a bit with honey. Contract with Panera to provide some “Harvest Wheat.” If the bread crumbles when distributed, don’t worry. You can simply use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the crumbs.
5. Turn the Mass into a Talk Show
Oprah’s the accepted new “spiritual” guru, so why not style the Mass after a talk show? Begin by leveling everything. Bring the altar down so that it’s at the same level as everything and everyone else, and transform the large marble altar down to more of a coffee table. Encourage the priest to come out into the audience … um … congregation as often as possible. He can come out and sit with the parishioners to listen to the readings. He can deliver his homily, preferably with a microphone in-hand, pacing up and down the aisle, connecting with individual parishioners.
4. Get Rid of Reconciliation
Few people make use of this Sacrament anymore. Make it virtually impossible to attend by a) having it only 15 minutes per week at the most inconvenient time available (e.g. 2 or 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon is ideal), or b) better yet, make confession available by appointment-only.
3. Social Center
Disregard the sanctity of worship space by encouraging parishioners to visit in the sanctuary before and after Mass, rather than taking their conversations out into the lobby, entrance space, or outside. As much as possible, make the church a social center rather than a place of worship. If you remove the artwork, modernize the stations, get rid of the crucifix, move the tabernacle, and use primarily off-white paint in decorating, your liturgical space will resemble a large living room. That’s what we’re aiming for. Consider replacing the pews with cushioned lounge chairs, something along the lines of a recliner or movie theater seats. Best of all, make your worship-space multi-function, so you can move out the chairs and use it for receptions, dances, etc.
2. Play with the Liturgy
Give people what they want to hear, not necessarily what they need to hear. Remove those things that are liturgically required, and add things that aren’t required (think: liturgical dance). Shake things up so that people never know what to expect.

Liberate the language, alter the altar, skip Scripture! Gender neutralize all of the Church prayers, the Creed, and Scripture readings. Male and female are merely meaningless human constructs. If there’s something too difficult in the Gospel reading, just pass it over.

1. Move the Tabernacle
Move the tabernacle and its contents from the front and center of the church off to some other space, preferably another room entirely or perhaps a small broom closet.

Follow these 14 simple steps, and in no time, you’ll have a modern, progressive, local Catholic community center—a place where people of all ages can gather for fellowship, a place where all are welcome and no one is ever made to feel uncomfortable in any way. In fact, the more you’re able to make your community center into just another local coffeehouse, the sooner you’ll be bringing in greater numbers. Follow these steps and you’ll soon have a liturgical space that has all of the feelings of a Catholic Church, but without all the extras.
Feel free to add steps of your own, below.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/14-steps-to-a-more-self-centered-church/#ixzz1QmInY44A

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A "Disappointed Great" Breaks His Silence. With an Appeal to the Pope

The ills of the Church and the "supernatural way" to heal them, in a shock manifesto written by Enrico M. Radaelli, a philosopher of aesthetics and champion of Tradition. The thirteenth installment in a discussion that is anything but concluded. In a POSTSCRIPT the replies of Arzillo e Cavalcoli

by Sandro Magister

ROME, June 16, 2011 – Among the "disappointed greats" of Pope Benedict XVI, cited in an article from www.chiesa two months ago, there is one who had not spoken up until now.

That article has given rise, in fact, to a learned and passionate discussion on the magisterium of the Church, whether or not its teaching can change, and how, with particular reference to the transformations of Vatican Council II. A discussion in which scholars of various tendencies have participated.

But not, until now, Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli, a philosopher of aesthetics and a disciple of one of the greatest traditionalist thinkers of the twentieth century, Switzerland's Romano Amerio (1905-1997).

To judge by his latest book, "The beauty that saves us," Radaelli is certainly one of those most "disappointed" by the magisterium of the popes of the Council and postcouncil, including the current one.

Radaelli charges these popes and the Catholic hierarchy as a whole with having abdicated a full exercise of the magisterium, made up of clear definitions and condemnations, in the name of a vague "pastoral" approach viewed as giving free rein to confusion and errors.

Nonetheless, this disappointment does not keep Radaelli from continuing to hope in a return of the Church to the fullness of its "munus docendi," by virtue of pope Joseph Ratzinger above all.

In the text reproduced further below – with which he breaks his silence in the dispute – Radaelli condenses both his diagnosis of the ills of today's Church and the "supernatural way" to heal them, with a specific proposal made to the "highest Throne," meaning the pope.

It is a proposal that Radaelli calls both "traditional and audacious," and will include from now on in his book "The beauty that saves us," as an essential addition.

This book was the focus of the following article from www.chiesa:

> Only Beauty Will Save Us (6.6.2011)

But before giving the floor to Radaelli, it is helpful to review all of the previous installments of the discussion, with repeated contributions from Francesco Arzillo, Francesco Agnoli, Inos Biffi, Agostino Marchetto, Martin Rhonheimer, Roberto de Mattei, David Werling, Giovanni Cavalcoli, Masssimo Introvigne, Basile Valuet, Stefano Ceccanti, Alessandro Martinetti, Giovanni Onofrio Zagloba.

In order, on www.chiesa:

> High Up, Let Down by Pope Benedict (8.4.2011)

> The Disappointed Have Spoken. The Vatican responds (18.4.2011)

> Who's Betraying Tradition. The Grand Dispute (28.4.2011)

> The Church Is Infallible, But Not Vatican II (5.5.2011)

> Benedict XVI the "Reformist." The Prosecution Rests (11.5.2011)

> Religious Freedom. Was the Church Also Right When It Condemned It?

And more on SETTIMO CIELO, the companion blog to www.chiesa:

> Francesco Agnoli: il funesto ottimismo del Vaticano II (8.4.2011)

> La Chiesa può cambiare la sua dottrina? La parola a Ceccanti e a Kasper

> Ancora su Stato e Chiesa. Dom Valuet risponde a Ceccanti (30.5.2011)

> Padre Cavalcoli scrive da Bologna. E chiama in causa i "bolognesi" (31.5.2011)

> Può la Chiesa cambiare dottrina? Il professor "Zagloba" risponde (6.6.2011)

> Tra le novità del Concilio ce n'è qualcuna infallibile? San Domenico dice di sì

Adding it all up, this is the thirteenth installment in a discussion that is anything but concluded.


A proposal for the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II


by Enrico Maria Radaelli

The discussion that is taking place on Sandro Magister's website between schools of different and opposed positions on recognizing continuity or discontinuity with Tradition in the ecumenical council Vatican II, in addition to referring to me directly right from its opening salvos, touches closely on some preliminary pages of my recent book "The beauty that saves us."

By far the most significant feature of the book is the demonstrated identification of the "origins of beauty" with those four substantial qualities – true, one, good, beautiful – which Saint Thomas Aquinas says are the names of the Only-Begotten of God: an identification that should clarify once and for all the fundamental and no longer avoidable link that a concept has with its expression, meaning the language and the doctrine that uses it.

It seems obligatory for me to step in and make some clarifications here for those who want to reconstruct that "City of beauty" which is the Church, and so return to the only road (this is the thesis of my book) that can lead us to eternal happiness, that can save us.

I will complete my contribution with the suggestion of the request that deserves to be made to the Holy Father so that, recalling with Brunero Gherardini that the fiftieth anniversary of the Council will fall in 2015 (cf. "Divinitas," 2011, 2, p. 188), the whole Church may take advantage of that extraordinary event to restore the fullness of that "munus docendi," of that magisterium, suspended fifty years ago.

Regarding the topic under discussion, the question has been summarized well by the Dominican theologian Giovanni Cavalcoli: "The heart of the debate is here. We all agree, in fact, that the doctrines already defined [by the dogmatic magisterium of the former Church] present in the conciliar texts are infallible. What is in discussion is if the doctrinal developments, the innovations of the Council, are also infallible."

The Dominican realizes, in fact, that the need is to "respond affirmatively to this question, because otherwise what would happen to continuity, at least as the pope intends it?" And not being able to make, as is obvious, the statements that he would like to make, Fr. Cavalcoli turns them in the opposite direction, to which I will respond here with the answers that would result from following the "alethic," verifying logic taught to us by philosophy.

First question: Is it admissible that the development of a previously defined doctrine of the faith or close to the faith may be false?

Dear Fr. Cavalcoli, in reality you would have greatly preferred to have said: "It is not admissible that the development of a previously defined doctrine of the faith or close to the faith may be false." Instead the answer is: yes, the development can be false, because a true premise does not necessarily lead to a true conclusion, but can also lead to one or more false conclusions, so much so that in all the Councils of the world – even in the dogmatic ones – the most widely divergent positions were pitted against each other precisely because of this possibility. In order to have the desired development in continuity with the truths revealed through grace, it is not enough to be theologians, bishops, cardinals, or popes, but it is necessary to ask for special divine assistance, given by the Holy Spirit only to those Councils which, having been declared solemnly and unquestionably as dogmatic at their opening, have formally guaranteed this divine assistance for themselves. In these supernatural cases, it happens that the development given to supernatural doctrine will be guaranteed as truthful just as its premises were divinely guaranteed as truthful.

This did not happen at the last Council, formally declared as exquisitely pastoral in nature at least three times: at its opening, which is the one that counts, then at the opening of the second session, and finally at the closing; such that in this assembly, true premises sometimes led to conclusions that are at least questionable (to conclusions that, canonically speaking, belong to the third level of magisterial constraint, the one that, dealing with topics of a moral, pastoral, or juridical nature, requires only "religious submission") if not "even mistaken," as Fr. Cavalcoli himself recognizes, contradicting his central thesis, "and in any case not infallible," and that therefore "can also be changed," such that, even if disgracefully they are not formally but only "morally" binding on the pastor who teaches them even in cases that are less than clear, providentially they are not at all obligatorily binding for the obedience of the faithful.

Moreover, if the different levels of magisterium do not correspond to different levels of assent of the faithful, it is not clear what the point is of the different levels of magisterium. The different levels of magisterium are due to the different levels of proximity of knowledge that these have with the first reality, with the revealed divine reality to which they refer, and it is obvious that the doctrines revealed directly by God demand a completely obligatory submission (level one), as do the related doctrines if they are presented through dogmatic definitions or definitive acts (level two). Both the first and the second distinguish themselves from those other doctrines which, not being able to belong to the first group, can be numbered among the second only when multiple prudent, clear, irrefutable arguments can demonstrate their intimate, direct, and evident connection with it in the greatest respect for the principle of Vincent of Lérins ("quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est"), thus guaranteeing that the faithful can also gain a closer knowledge of God through these. All of this, as can be understood, can take place only in the more conscious, intentional, and plaintive exercise by and on the Church of the "munus," of the dogmatic magisterium.

The difference between the doctrines of level one and two and those of level three is given by the certainly supernatural character of the former, which is not guaranteed in the third group: maybe it's there, but maybe it's not. What must be grasped is that the dogmatic "munus" is: 1) a divine gift, and therefore 2) a gift to be requested expressly and 3) when the gift is not requested, it does not offer any guarantee of absolute truth, a lack of guarantee that disconnects the magisterium from any obligation of exactness and the faithful from any obligation of obedience, although requiring their religious submission. Level three could include indications and conjectures of naturalistic origin, and the sieve to verify if, purified from any microbial infestations, it is possible to raise them to the supernatural level can be applied only by bringing them into contact with the dogmatic fire: the straw will burn, but the divine iron, if it is there, will certainly shine in all its splendor.

This is what happened with the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and of the Assumption, now dogmas, or articles of faith now belonging by right to the second group. Until 1854 and 1950 respectively, these belonged to the group of questionable doctrines, the third one, to which nothing is due but "religious submission," just like those novel doctrines which, listed further below here in a brief and summary inventory, would be bundled into the more recent teaching of the Church since 1962. But in 1854 and 1950, the fire of dogma surrounded them with its divine and peculiar marking, it scorched them, it sifted them, it branded them, and finally it sealed them for all eternity as they had been "ab initio" in their most intimate reality: absolutely certain and universally established truths, so that they belong by right to the supernatural branch (the second) even if until then they had not been formally recognized under that splendid vestment. A happy recognition, and here it is necessary to emphasize that it was a recognition of the observers, of the pope in the first place, and not at all a transformation of the subject: as when critics of art, after having examined it from every point of view and approach useful for verifying or disqualifying it – certificates of origin, of transfers of ownership, tests of pigmentation, of glazing, revisions, radiography and reflectography – recognize in a painting the artist's unquestionable and most personal authenticity.

Both of those doctrines reveal themselves to be of divine craftsmanship, and of the most exquisite kind. So if any of those more recent doctrines are of the same sublime hand, this will be discovered calmly through the most splendid of means.

Second question: Can the new dogmatic field be in contradiction with the old?

Obviously no, it cannot in any way. In fact, after Vatican II we did not have any "new dogmatic field," as Fr. Cavalcoli puts it, even if many want to pass of the conciliar and postconciliar innovations as such, although Vatican II was a simple, though solemn and extraordinary, "pastoral field." None of the documents referred to by Dom Basile Valuet in his note 5 declares an authoritativeness of the Council greater than that with which it was invested from the beginning: nothing other than a solemn and universal, meaning ecumenical, "pastoral" gathering intended to give the world some purely pastoral guidelines, refusing explicitly and pointedly to define dogmatically or to issue any sort of anathema.

All the neomodernist luminaries or simply innovators, call them what you will, who (as Professor Roberto de Mattei emphasizes in "Vatican Council II. A story never written") were active in the Church from the time of Pius XII – theologians, bishops, and cardinals of the "théologie nouvelle" like Bea, Câmara, Carlo Colombo, Congar, De Lubac, Döpfner, Frings with his peritus, Ratzinger; König with his, Küng; Garrone with his, Daniélou; Lercaro, Maximos IV, Montini, Suenens, and, almost a group of its own, the three leaders of what is called the school of Bologna: Dossetti, Alberigo, and today Melloni – in the undertaking of Vatican II, and afterward used every sort of expedient to ride roughshod over the rupture with the detested previous doctrines on the same subject, misapplying the uncontested solemnity of the extraordinary gathering; the result of which was that all of them in point of fact produced rupture and discontinuity while proclaiming in words steadfastness and continuity. That there is on their part, and then universally today, a desire for rupture with Tradition can at least be verified: 1) from the most destructive pillaging ever perpetrated on the magnificence of the ancient altars; 2) from the equally universal contemporary refusal of all the bishops of the world except for the very few who give the minimum room to the Tridentine or Gregorian rite of the Mass, in foolish and open disobedience of the directives of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum." "Lex orandi, lex credendi": if all that is not a rejection of Tradition, then what is it?

In spite of that, and the gravity of all that, one can still not speak of rupture in any way: the Church is "for all days" under the divine guarantee given by Christ in his oath in Matthew 16:18 ("Portæ inferi non prævalebunt") and in Matthew 28:20 ("Ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus") and that shelters it metaphysically from any fear in that sense, even if the danger is always at the gates, and the attempts are often underway. But those who maintain that there has been a rupture – as do some of the aforementioned luminaries, but also the sedevacantists – fall into naturalism.

But neither can one speak of steadfastness, or continuity with Tradition, because it is plain for all to see that the most varied doctrines that emerged from and after the Council – ecclesiology; panecumenism; relations with the other religions; the equation of the God worshiped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims; correction of the "doctrine of replacement" of the Synagogue with the Church into the "doctrine of the two parallel salvations"; unicity of the sources of Revelation; religious freedom; anthropocentric anthropology instead of theocentric; iconoclasm; or what gave rise to the "Novus Ordo Missæ" in place of the Gregorian rite (now slung alongside the former, but subordinately) – are all doctrines that, one after another, would not stand up to the test of the fire of dogma, if one had the courage to try to dogmatize them: a fire that consists in giving them theological substance with a specific request of assistance from the Holy Spirit, as happened back in their time with the "corpus theologicum" placed at the foundation of the Immaculate Conception or of the Assumption of Mary.

Such fragile doctrines are alive only because of the fact that there is no dogmatic barrier raised to disallow their conception and use. But then their false continuity with dogma is imposed in order to demand for them the assent of faith necessary for unity and continuity (cf. pp. 70ff., 205, and 284 of my book referred to previously, "The beauty that saves us"), so that all of them remain on the dangerous and "fragile borderline between continuity and discontinuity" (p. 49), but always on the near side of the dogmatic limit, which, in fact, if applied, would determine their end. Even the affirmation of continuity between these doctrines and Tradition, in my view, commits the offense of naturalism.

Third question: If we deny the infallibility of the doctrinal developments of the Council that depart from previous doctrines of the faith or close to the faith, won't we weaken the power of the continuist thesis?

Of course you weaken it, dear Fr. Cavalcoli, and even more: you annihilate it. And you strengthen the opposite thesis, as it should be, that there is no continuity.

No rupture, but also no continuity. So what then? The way out is suggested by Romano Amerio (1905-1997) with what the author of "Iota Unum" calls "the law of the historical preservation of the Church," revisited on page 41 of my book, according to which "the Church would not be lost in the case that it did not 'match' the truth, but in the case that it 'lost' the truth." And when does the Church not match the truth? When it forgets its teachings, or confuses them, muddies them, mixes them up, as has happened (not for the first time, and not for the last) from the Council until today. And when would it lose the truth? (In the conditional: it has been seen that it cannot in any way lose it.) Only if it struck it with anathema, or if vice versa it dogmatized a false doctrine, things that could be done by the pope and only by the pope, if (in the metaphysically impossible hypothesis that) his dogmatizing and anathematizing lips were not supernaturally bound by the two aforementioned oaths of Our Lord. I would insist on this point, which seems decisive to me.

Here hypotheses are advanced, but – as I say in my book (p. 55) – "leaving to the competency of the pastors any verification of the matter and any subsequent consequences, for example of whether and to what extent anyone may have been or is now involved" in the designated acts. In the very first pages, I show in particular how it is not possible to raise the banks for the river of a salvific beauty except by clearing the mind of any ambiguity, error, or misunderstanding: beauty accompanies only truth (p. 23), and restoring beauty to art, at least to sacred art, cannot be done except by working in the truth of liturgical teaching and action.

What in my view has been perpetrated in the Church for fifty years is a deliberate amalgamation of continuity and rupture. It is the studied government of spurious ideas and intentions in which the Church has been changed without changing it, under the cover (as Monsignor Gherardini neatly illustrates even in his most recent books) of an intentionally suspended magisterium – beginning with the opening discourse of the Council, "Gaudet Mater Ecclesi" – in a completely unnatural and completely invented form, called, with deliberate theological imprecision, "pastoral." The Church has been emptied of the doctrines hardly or not at all fit for ecumenism, and thus disliked by the luminaries seen above, and has been filled with the ecumenical ideas of these same persons, and this has been done without touching in any way the metaphysical vestment of the Church, which is dogmatic by nature (cf. p. 62), meaning supernatural by nature, but working only in that field of its magisterium which impinges only on its "historical preservation."

In other words: there is no formal rupture, nor formal continuity, only because the popes of the last fifty years have refused to ratify in the dogmatic form of level two the doctrines of level three that under their reign are devastating and emptying the Church (cf. p. 285). That means that in this way, the Church no longer matches the truth, but neither does it lose it, because the popes, even on the occasion of a Council, have formally refused both to dogmatize the new doctrines and to strike with anathema the nonetheless disfavored (or corrected, or spun) former doctrines.

As can be seen, one can also maintain that this deplorable situation would constitute a sin of the magisterium, and a grave one, both against faith and against charity (p. 54): it does not seem, in fact, that we may disobey the commandment of the Lord to teach the nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20) with all the fullness of the gift of understanding bestowed upon us, without thereby "deviating from the rectitude that the act – that is, the 'teaching instructive in right doctrine' – must have" (Summa Theologiae I, 25, 3, ad 2). A sin against the faith because it puts it in danger, and in fact the Church over the past fifty years, emptied of true doctrines, has been emptied of faithful, of religious and priests, becoming a shadow of itself (p. 76). A sin against charity because the faithful are deprived of the beauty of the magisterial teaching and the visual beauty with which only the truth shines, as I illustrate in the whole second chapter of my book. The sin would be one of omission: it would be the sin of "omission of the dogmaticity proper to the Church" (pp. 60ff.), with which the Church intentionally would not supernaturally seal and thus would not guarantee the guidelines for living that it gives us.

This state of sin in which the holy Church would be plunged (this always means: of some men of the holy Church, or the Church in its historical component), if found, should be lifted and even penitentially cleansed, since, as Cardinal José Rosalio Castillo Lara wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988, its current stubborn and culpable stance "would favor the deplorable tendency [. . .] toward an ambiguous government called 'pastoral', which at bottom is not pastoral, because it leads to overlooking the due exercise of authority to the detriment of the common good of the faithful" (pp. 67f).

In order to restore the Church's parity with the truth, as it has been restored every time it has found itself in such dramatic tempests, there is no other way than to return to the fullness of its "munus docendi," putting through the sieve of dogma, and turning 360 degrees, all the false doctrines with which it is drenched today, and resuming as a "habitus" of its most ordinary and pastoral teaching (in the rigorous sense of the term: "transfer of the divine Word in the dioceses and in the parishes all over the world") the dogmatic stance that supernaturally led it through the centuries until now.

Restoring the suspended magisterial fullness would restore to the historical Church the metaphysical essence virtually taken away from it, and with that would bring back to the earth the divine beauty in all its most distinctive and savory fragrance.

To conclude, a proposal

We need audacity. And we need Tradition. In view of the occasion in 2015, the fiftieth anniversary of the Council of discord, it is necessary to promote a strong and broad request to the highest Throne of the Church, so that, in his kindness, not wasting the truly special occasion of such an exceptional anniversary, he may consider that there is a single act that can bring back peace between the teaching and doctrine dispensed by the Church before and after the fatal assembly, and this one, heroic, extremely humble act is that of bringing close to the supernatural fire of dogma the doctrines mentioned above that are disliked by the faithful on the traditionalist side, and the opposite ones: that which must burn will burn, that which must shine will shine. From now until 2015, we have three full years in front of us. They need to be used to the best advantage. Prayer and intelligence must be brought to maximum pressure: white-hot fire. Without tension, nothing is obtained, as in Laodicea.

This act that is being proposed here, the only one that could bring back into a single wax, as it should be, those two powerful souls that throb in the holy Church and in the same being, one recognizable in the men "especially faithful to what the Church is," the other in the men whose spirit is more bent to its future, and the act that, putting a decisive end to a rather uncharitable and insincere fifty-year situation, summarizes in a supernatural government the holy concepts of Tradition and audacity. In order to rebuild the Church and return to producing beauty, Vatican II must be read through the grid of Tradition, with the fiery audacity of dogma.

So all the traditionalists of the Church, to whatever order, level, and ideological segment they may belong, must come together in a single request, in a single project: to come to 2015 with the most broad, considered, delineated petition that this anniversary may be for the highest Throne the most proper occasion to restore the divine "munus docendi" in its fullness.


The book by Enrico Maria Radaelli "La bellezza che ci salva" (preface by Antonio Livi, 2011, 336 pp., euro 35.00) can be requested directly from the author (enricomaria.radaelli@tin.it) or through Libreria Hoepli of Milan (www.hoepli.it).



L'appello del professor Enrico Maria Radaelli, accorato e sofferto, suscita simpatia ma anche qualche perplessità sia di contenuto sia di metodo.

Partirei dalla coda, ossia dai tempi. Radaelli pone l'anno 2015 quale orizzonte temporale di riferimento per un pronunciamento di carattere dogmatico sulle questioni pendenti. Tuttavia egli richiama quale esempio la proclamazione dogmatica dell'Immacolata, per la quale la Chiesa ha invece atteso non pochi secoli. Gli storici del dogma conoscono le resistenze dei domenicani, che solamente nell'Ottocento furono definitivamente superate: il plurisecolare lavoro teologico e spirituale favorì in tal modo una proclamazione quasi unanimemente condivisa nella Chiesa.

È da ammirare questo modo di procedere, che fa della Chiesa cattolica – per dirla paradossalmente – l'opposto di quella monarchia autoritaria che non pochi tra i non cattolici immaginano. Una cosa è infatti il potere del Magistero supremo, un'altra cosa è la questione del modo e dei tempi del suo esercizio, che sono soggetti a ovvi canoni prudenziali.

C'è quindi da chiedersi: se ci sono voluti secoli per una proclamazione dogmatica in un contesto caratterizzato ancora da una certa omogeneità di linguaggio e di formazione teologica, come si può pensare che le odierne dispute possano risolversi con atti dogmatici nel giro di pochi anni, in un contesto di radicale pluralismo culturale ed epistemologico? La definizione dogmatica presuppone infatti, di regola, una preparazione niente affatto semplice.

La linea di Benedetto XVI appare diversa: seminare – come nel caso del ripristino del rito antico – e attendere che la semina porti frutto a suo tempo.

Un secondo punto. Si potrebbe di certo – dopo attenta indagine – riconoscere che alcune delle nuove dottrine conciliari e postconciliari siano collocate nel II livello, come sostiene il padre Giovanni Cavalcoli. Ma anche se ciò non fosse, la cosa non dovrebbe turbare più di tanto il fedele cattolico, anche se teologo. È bene ribadire che lo Spirito Santo non assiste i pastori solamente nel momento della definizione (di I o di II livello, per esprimersi secondo la nota scala di durezza richiamata dal professor Radaelli). Lo Spirito li assiste sempre, anche nei pronunciamenti di III livello, ai quali, come Radaelli stesso riconosce, è dovuto un "religioso ossequio dell'intelletto e della volontà" (art. 752 del codice canonico).

La necessità di questo assenso anche interno è il punto più trascurato, oggi, sia dai neomodernisti sia dai tradizionalisti. Il fatto che si tratti di pronunciamenti non irreformabili non significa che i fedeli non debbano seguirli come espressione della via più sicura. Ciò non esclude la possibilità che le persone competenti sollevino qualche dubbio nelle forme e nei modi propri, tali da non turbare l'ordinato svolgimento della vita ecclesiale. Ma ciò non può di certo comportare l'instaurarsi di magisteri paralleli, neppure sul fronte tradizionalista: effetto che sarebbe paradossale, dopo le giuste polemiche contro il consolidato magistero parallelo dei teologi progressisti sui mass-media.

Un terzo punto, infine. Il bel dibattito in corso su www.chiesa e sul blog Settimo Cielo dimostra che è possibile approfondire la portata dell'ermeneutica della continuità solamente entrando nel merito dei singoli problemi. La discussione sulla libertà religiosa lo ha rivelato assai chiaramente. È evidentemente fruttuoso lo sforzo volto a capire e a individuare esattamente il nocciolo che attiene all'essenza della dottrina sotto la mutevolezza degli accidenti storici: fermo restando, ovviamente, che questo nocciolo ci deve essere e deve essere mantenuto fermo, per evitare il rischio di cadere nel relativismo.

Questo esame delle dottrine "al microscopio", ma anche "al telescopio" della profondità storica, riserverebbe piacevoli sorprese, nel senso auspicato dall'ermeneutica della continuità. Esso potrebbe mostrare che lo Spirito Santo non ha abbandonato la Chiesa cinquant'anni fa. E che non è certo venuta meno la promessa del Signore: "Ed ecco, io sono con voi tutti i giorni, fino alla fine del mondo" (Mt 28, 16-20).

Roma, 16 giugno 2011



Caro professor Radaelli,

ho letto con molto interesse le sue considerazioni e le sue proposte circa l’autorevolezza delle dottrine nuove del Concilio Vaticano II, che lei pone, con dom Basile Valuet, al III grado, mentre io, almeno per alcune, la porrei al II.

Il III grado contiene sia dottrine "de fide et moribus" che disposizioni pastorali. Qui il Magistero, trattando materia di fede o prossima alla fede, non intende definire che quanto insegna è di fede, per cui non definisce se si tratta di dottrine definitive o infallibili oppure no. La dottrina della fede è di per sé è infallibile perché assolutamente e perennemente vera, ma qui la Chiesa, pur trattando di materia di fede o prossima alla fede, non chiede, come Lei ben riconosce, un vero assenso di fede, ma un semplice "ossequio religioso della volontà" per il fatto che qui la materia trattata non appare con certezza essere di fede. Questo ovviamente non vuol dire che possa essere sbagliata.

Viceversa, al II grado la Chiesa richiede un vero e proprio atto di fede, benchè non si tratti ancora della fede divina e teologale con la quale aderiamo alle dottrine del I grado, che sono i veri e propri dogmi definiti. La fede richiesta al II grado si chiama "fede ecclesiastica" o anche semplicemente "cattolica" ed è quella fede che abbiamo nell’infallibilità del Magistero della Chiesa in quanto assistito dallo Spirito Santo.

Qui aderiamo con la fede, perchè qui appare con chiarezza, magari per mezzo di opportune dimostrazioni, che si tratta di materia di fede e, se si tratta di dottrine nuove, è possibile mostrarle come chiarificazione, esplicitazione o deduzione di o da precedenti dottrine definite o dati rivelati. È questo il caso delle dottrine nuove del Concilio, se non tutte, almeno di alcune, le principali, come per esempio la definizione della liturgia, della rivelazione, della Tradizione o della Chiesa.

Quanto alla "pastoralità" del Concilio, è vero, è stato un Concilio pastorale, ma non solo pastorale, bensì anche dottrinale e addirittura dogmatico: basterebbe citare il titolo di due suoi documenti, chiamati appunto "Costituzioni dogmatiche". Questo i papi del postconcilio lo hanno detto più volte, anche se hanno detto con altrettanta chiarezza che il Concilio non ha definito dichiaratamente o esplicitamente nuovi dogmi, quindi è indubbio che la sua dottrina non si pone al I grado.

È importante questa distinzione tra il dottrinale e il pastorale, perché, quando un Concilio presenta un insegnamento dottrinale, attinente benchè indirettamente alla Rivelazione, non può sbagliare. Anche se si tratta di dottrine nuove, non può tradire o smentire la Tradizione. Viceversa, le direttive o disposizioni di carattere pastorale o lo stesso stile pastorale di un Concilio non sono mai infallibili, a meno che non si tratti di contenuti di fede concernenti l’essenza dell’azione pastorale, ed anzi sono normalmente mutevoli e rivedibili, possono essere meno opportune o addirittura sbagliate, per cui devono essere abrogate. Questa può essere la "paglia" del III grado, ma non certo eventuali pronunciamenti dottrinali! Questi, accostati al "fuoco" del dogma, splendono di maggiore bellezza!

Anche certe disposizioni pastorali del Concilio potrebbero essere "paglia". Ed anzi, secondo me e non solo secondo me, lo sono state e lo sono per il fatto che, messe alla prova dei fatti, dopo quarant’anni, richiedono di essere riviste o corrette per i cattivi risultati che hanno dato. Mi riferisco per esempio a quanto anche lei dice: l’eccessiva indulgenza del Magistero nei confronti degli errori o l’eccessivo ottimismo nei confronti del mondo moderno, nonché l’eccessiva esaltazione dei valori umani e la debole esaltazione dei valori cristiani, soprattutto cattolici.

Ciò ha consentito la penetrazione dappertutto, anche nella gerarchia, di queste tendenze, ulteriormente esasperate da una ben concertata macchina pubblicitaria internazionale organizzata dal centro-Europa (per esempio la rivista "Concilium"). I vescovi, come osservò a suo tempo padre Cornelio Fabro, ne restarono intimiditi, sicchè oggi è assai difficile liberarsi da questa situazione, perché chi dovrebbe intervenire è egli stesso connivente con l’errore.

Altro errore pastorale del Concilio è stato quello di indebolire il potere del papa rafforzando eccessivamente quello dei vescovi, col risultato che si è verificata quella "breviatio manus" del papa, della quale parlava Amerio: il pontefice è rimasto isolato nello stesso episcopato. Ovviamente, grazie all’assistenza dello Spirito santo, egli conserva ed applica il suo ruolo di maestro della fede e nemico dell’errore; ma purtroppo spesso gli interventi della Santa Sede in questo campo – che non mancano affatto – hanno scarsa per non dire scarsissima eco nell’episcopato e fra i teologi, quando a volte non si hanno addirittura delle opposizioni, ora subdole, ora sfrontate.

Su questa materia occorre recuperare un certo stile precedente il Concilio, che portava buoni risultati, ovviamente senza cadere in certi eccessi di severità e di autoritarismo del passato. I papi del postconcilio sono papi crocifissi, abbandonati come Cristo dai suoi. Altro che "trionfalismo"! È uso dei prepotenti fare le vittime.

Sono d’accordo con lei nel sostenere o meglio nel constatare con Amerio che dall’immediato periodo postconciliare a tutt’oggi il Magistero dice sì la verità – e come non potrebbe? – ma non la dice tutta. Tace alcune verità per un eccessivo timore dei non-cattolici e di non apparire abbastanza moderno. Le preoccupazioni ecumeniche, e peraltro di ecumenismo troppo pacifista e accondiscendente, sembrano prevalere sul dovere di evangelizzare e di correggere chi sbaglia, invitandolo all’unità "cum Petro e sub Petro".

Occorre allora recuperare verità dimenticate, delle quali dò solo qualche esempio, sapendo bene, con lei, di sfondare una porta aperta: il valore realistico della verità, il valore intellettuale-concettuale della conoscenza di fede, il valore sacrificale, espiativo e soddisfattorio della redenzione, la natura e le conseguenze del peccato originale, la congiunzione della giustizia e della misericordia divine, gli attributi divini dell’impassibilità e dell’immutabilità, la distinzione fra natura e grazia, la predestinazione, l’esistenza di dannati nell’inferno, la possibilità di perdere la grazia col peccato mortale, l’esistenza dei miracoli e delle profezie, il dovere di lavorare per la conversione dei non-cattolici al cattolicesimo.

Vorrei dirle, però, caro professore, che non deve credere che dottrine conciliari come quelle della prospettiva universale della salvezza, del dialogo con la modernità, dell’ecumenismo, della libertà religiosa o delle verità contenute nelle altre religioni contrastino con le precedenti verità, anche se si tratta di dimostrare la continuità. Si tratta solo di una migliore conoscenza o di aspetti nuovi di quelle medesime verità che vengono insegnate in quelle dottrine.

Vorrei dire inoltre che oggi la debolezza del papato non dipende da difetti personali dei singoli papi, ma è un difetto istituzionale ("pastorale") introdotto o quanto meno consentito dallo stesso Concilio. Forse per rimediare a tale difetto occorrerà un altro Concilio. Del resto sempre nella storia un Concilio ha dovuto rimediare ad errori commessi da un Concilio precedente. Per questo mi pare francamente ingiusta l’accusa che lei fa ai papi del Concilio e del postconcilio, tra i quali abbiamo due beati e un servo di Dio, di "aver peccato contro la fede e la carità" nella conduzione del Concilio e del postconcilio. La loro "debolezza" non è colpa loro; sono le stesse istituzioni che non mettono nelle loro mani gli strumenti sufficienti per far valere la loro autorità.

Riconosco inoltre che anche lo stesso linguaggio "pastorale" dei documenti dottrinali non brilla sempre per chiarezza e precisione. Qui ne hanno approfittato i modernisti per interpretare a loro modo questi testi, con risultati disastrosi dal punto di vista dottrinale e morale. Bisognerebbe qui, come ha proposto di recente l’arcivescovo Atanasio Schneider, che il Santo Padre emanasse un sillabo degli errori di interpretazione delle dottrine del Concilio. Inoltre io ritengo che sarebbe bene che il papa presentasse le dottrine vincolanti (siano di II o siano di III grado) sotto forma di "canoni", come è sempre usato nei Concili. Questo metodo, come dimostra l’esperienza, dà chiarezza ed impedisce di giocare sull’equivoco e consente eventuali opportuni provvedimenti canonici.

Dopo studi quarantennali, mi sono fatto la convinzione che la forma più grave di modernismo che oggi bisogna eliminare, anche per l’influsso e prestigio che possiede in molti ambienti, è quella rahneriana. L’operazione non sarà facile, ma è necessaria, se vogliamo fermare l’attuale processo di corruzione della fede e dei costumi, anche se ovviamente esistono altre cause di questa decadenza o falso progresso. Si tratterà di un’operazione chirurgica dolorosa, complessa e radicale, perché il male ha preso radici e nell’operare il rischio è quello di ledere organi vitali. Ma per il bene della Chiesa dev’essere fatta e non va ulteriormente procrastinata.

Si potrà condurre l’operazione scaglionandola nel tempo, come si fa in interventi chirurgici complessi, ma la cosa dev’essere condotta in modo inflessibile e sistematico, succeda quel che succeda. Cristo, per fondare la Chiesa ci ha rimesso la vita: e noi per salvarci non dobbiamo fare qualche sacrificio, non dobbiamo vincere forze avverse? L’importante è combattere con l’apparente Sconfitto che in realtà è il Vincitore.

Per quanto riguarda la "continuità" delle dottrine nuove con quelle antiche, della quale ci hanno sempre assicurato i papi del postconcilio, il buon cattolico deve credere al papa sulla parola e non avere diffidenze, come fanno i lefebvriani, che accusano i papi di volerli circonvenire. Indubbiamente questa continuità non è sempre così perspicua, ma starebbe ai teologi dimostrarla con un serio confronto di testi magisteriali fra quelli del preconcilio, quelli del Concilio e quelli del postconcilio.

È possibile dimostrare che la "novità" non è rottura, non è caduta nell’errore, non è smentita della Tradizione, ma sviluppo omogeneo della Tradizione, migliore conoscenza della medesima immutabile verità della Parola di Dio consegnata una volta per tutte da Cristo alla sua Chiesa. Bisogna ricordarsi che esiste ed è sempre esistito un progresso dogmatico, ossia una sempre migliore e più esplicita conoscenza delle medesime verità "eodem sensu eademque sententia".

Ciò che occorre evitare e contro cui metteva in guardia san Pio X, è la concezione modernista del progresso dogmatico, fondata sull’idea di una mutabilità della verità di fede: un’eresia che è propria anche dei modernisti dei nostri giorni. Non è la verità di fede che cambia: essa resta sempre la stessa ("veritas Domini manet in aeternum"); è la nostra conoscenza che "muta", nel senso che progredisce nel tempo per l’assistenza dello Spirito Santo, che "conduce alla pienezza della verità". Essere moderni non vuol dire essere modernisti. Il sano tradizionalismo non è restare indietro, ma andare avanti.

Conosco bene la sua fede di cattolico, appresa dal suo maestro Romano Amerio, che la Chiesa è indefettibile maestra di verità e non potrà essere vinta dal potere delle tenebre. Apprezzo molto il taglio "estetico" col quale lei contempla la bellezza della verità cattolica. Ripeto con lei: la Bellezza sarà la salvezza del mondo.

Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli, OP

Bologna, 17 giugno 2011


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A scholar examines the root cause of present tensions within the ranks of faithful Catholics.


Father Chad Ripperger, F.S.S.P.

In 1996, a group of friends had lunch in Rome at the Czechoslovakian college. One of the priests who offers Mass according to the New Rite was a bit dumbfounded. He had written an article in which he had discussed certain aspects of the liturgical reform. His puzzlement came from the fact that the traditionalists had attacked his article and he could not understand why. A seminarian, who was a traditionalist, said to the priest, "we agree that something has to be done about the liturgy, but we do not agree on what should be done." Traditionalists(1) and neo-conservatives(2) often find each other mystifying and the reason for this has to do with the relationship each position holds with respect to ecclesiastical tradition.


In classical theological manuals, textbooks and catechisms, the word "tradition" was given a twofold meaning:

  • The first signification of the term "tradition" was taken from its Latin root word which is tradere, which means "to pass on"(3). In this sense, the word tradition refers to all of those things which are, in any way, passed on from one generation to the next. This would include all of the divine truths which the Church passes on to the subsequent generations in any way(4), including the Scriptures(5).
  • The second sense or more restrictive sense of tradition refers to a twofold division within that which is passed on and not written down,(6) viz. divine tradition(7) and ecclesiastical tradition(8).

Divine tradition is that tradition which constitutes one of the sources of revelation, i.e. a source of our knowledge about those things which were revealed to man by God. This means that divine tradition is intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, which constitutes all of the divinely revealed truths necessary for salvation and passed on by the Church in an uninterrupted tradition. Since it is intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, this form of tradition is sometimes called intrinsic tradition, a prime example of which is the magisterium of the Church and the sacraments since they were established by Jesus Christ and passed on and will be passed on until the end of time(9).

Ecclesiastical tradition is all of those things which are not intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, but which form the heritage and patrimony of the work of previous generations graciously passed on by the Church to subsequent generations for their benefit. Because it is extrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, ecclesiastical tradition is also called extrinsic tradition, examples of which include the Church's disciplinary code as set out in canon law and non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium. This would include those things contained in Apostolic exhortations and encyclicals in which infallibility is not enjoyed, e.g. Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei asserts that the Church is a perfect society.

Because God Himself entrusted the Deposit of Faith to the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church is inherently traditional. Since all men by nature desire to know(10),the Church cannot help but develop an ecclesiastical tradition. Once man was given the Deposit of Faith, he naturally reflected upon the Deposit resulting in a greater understanding of it. That understanding was then passed on. This also means that the Church herself would pass judgment upon the Deposit in magisterial acts(11) and these magisterial acts become part of the ecclesiastical tradition. The ecclesiastical tradition, therefore, was formed over the course of time i.e. in the life of the Church throughout the twenty centuries of its existence.

Ecclesiastical (or extrinsic) tradition developed according to two principles:

  • The first principle, was the Deposit of Faith itself. The members of the Church used the teachings within the Deposit to develop schools of spirituality, Church discipline and legislation, as well as all of the other things which pertain to ecclesiastical tradition. Since the teaching of Christ must govern the life of the Church, it was necessary for any authentic extrinsic tradition (e.g. Canon Law) to be consistent with those teachings. Anything that was contrary to the teachings contained in the Deposit caused the Church great affliction but over time it was cut off from the life of the Church(12).
  • The second principle was the nature of man. Since Scripture itself tells us a great deal about man and as philosophical systems advanced in an understanding of the nature of man, especially in the medieval period, the extrinsic tradition was fashioned based upon the knowledge of that nature. Furthermore, it was known to be a wounded nature, i.e. one affected by Original Sin and so the extrinsic tradition was designed to aid man in his condition. For example, many schools of spirituality and rules of the religious orders were designed in order to help man overcome his proclivity to self-will and concupiscence in order to conform himself to the ideals taught within the Deposit. Those who fashioned the extrinsic tradition were often saints who were guided and helped by divine aid in establishing some custom or aspect of the extrinsic tradition which was passed on to subsequent generations. The extrinsic tradition came to form a magnificent patrimony and heritage of all Catholics.


As the Modernist crisis grew under the impetus of modern philosophy, the extrinsic tradition was eroded and subverted due to several factors. The first was a change of view about the nature of man. With the onslaught of rationalism(13),then empiricism(14) and later Kantianism(15) and other modern innovations about the nature of man, the Thomistic view, i.e. the realist view of man, was supplanted. At first, this occurred outside the Church and was kept at bay by formal teaching within the Church which maintained a proper view of man. The Protestants, not having an intellectual heritage, quickly succumbed to the modern philosophies. As the Modernist crisis spread within the Church and the curiosity and fascination with modern philosophy grew, the view of man held by Catholics began to change in the latter part of the nineteenth century and during the twentieth century.

Rationalism also changed how man viewed revelation. Since rationalists do not believe that one can come to true intellectual knowledge by means of the senses, then that which pertained to the senses was systematically ignored or rejected. Since revelation is something introduced into sensible reality(16), revelation came under direct attack. Moreover, if one is cut off from reality, then one is locked up inside oneself and so what pertains to one's own experience becomes paramount. After Descartes(17), came Spinoza(18) who systematically attacked the authenticity of oral tradition regarding the Scriptures(19) and through his philosophy he began to change people's view of the world. As empiricism rose, the view of man as simply a material being led to fixing man's meaning in the "now" or always in the present. Since for the empiricist, man's meaning is found in what he senses and feels, this led eventually to a lack of interest in the past since the past as such (and future for that matter) cannot be sensed nor fulfil our sensible desires(20). With the advent of Hegel(21), the intellectual groundwork was laid for a wholesale lack of interest in and distrust of tradition. With the scepticism of Spinoza about the sources of Scripture,(22) coupled with the Hegelian dialectic, the past (including all forms of tradition) was now outmoded or outdated and tradition was to be distrusted. As a consequence, those who wanted to impose some religious teaching based upon tradition or history became suspect.

At the same time in which the intellectual underpinnings for trusting tradition collapsed in the minds of modern intellectuals under the impetus of modern philosophy, a growing immanentism(23) arising from three sources(24) became entrenched.

  • The first was Kant, who, through an epistemology(25) which was founded on Cartesian and empirical scepticism of the senses(26), left one locked into one's own mind, logically speaking(27). This meant that everything is within oneself or one's own mind which means that man's experiences are essentially immanent, i.e. they are within or remain within himself(28).
  • The second source of immanentism was the location of the theological experience within the emotions and this was done by Friedrich Schleiermacher(29). For Schleiermacher, religion was primarily an expression of piety and piety is found only in the emotions. Religion could not be satisfied with metaphysical treatises and analysis, i.e. a rational approach to religion; rather, it had to be something emotional. This led to the immanentization of religion since piety or religious experience was something within the individual. We often see this today: people expect the liturgy to be conformed to their emotional states rather than they conforming themselves to an objective cult, which conforms itself to God.
  • The third source which led to immanentization and therefore provided an intellectual foundation for acceptance only of the present and a rejection of the past was the work of Maurice Blondel(30). Blondel held that:

"modern thought, with a jealous susceptibility, considers the notion of immanence as the very condition of philosophizing; that is to say, if among current ideas there is one which it regards as marking a definitive advance, it is the idea, which is at bottom perfectly true, that nothing can enter into a man's mind which does not come out of him and correspond in some way to a need for expansion and that there is nothing in the nature of historical or traditional teaching or obligation imposed from without that counts for him..."(31) For Blondel, only those things which come from man himself and which are immanent to him have any meaning. No tradition or history has any bearing upon his intellectual considerations unless it somehow comes from himself.

These three sources of immanentism as they influenced the Church during the waning of an intellectual phase of Modernism in the 1950s and early 1960s(32) provided the foundation for a psychological break from tradition as a norm. As Peter Bernardi observes, Blondel was "working at a time when the Church was just beginning to become conscious of a certain break in its tradition"(33). The work of Blondel and the influx of the other modern philosophical points of view, which were antithetical to the ecclesiastical tradition(34), had a drastic impact on Vatican II(35). By the time Vatican II arrived, all of the intellectual foundation was in place for a systematic rejection of all of the aspects of ecclesiastical tradition.

In summary: Blondel and others, under the influence of modern philosophy, thought that modern man could not be satisfied with past ways of thinking. They provided an intellectual foundation upon which the Church, with a Council as a catalyst, could "update" itself or undergo an "aggiornamento"(36). With the foundations for the extrinsic tradition having been supplanted, the extrinsic tradition was lost. In other words, since the view of man had changed and since the view of the Deposit of Faith was subjected to a modern analysis, the extrinsic tradition, which rested upon these two, collapsed. We are currently living with the full blown effects of that collapse(37). The members of the Church today have become fixated on the here and now and the past traditions are not only irrelevant but to be distrusted and even, at times, demonized.


This has had several effects on the members of the Church. The first is that those things, which pertain to the extrinsic tradition and do not touch upon the intrinsic tradition, are ignored. This manifests itself in the fact that some ecclesial documents today do not have any connection to the positions held by the magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents which deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions, viz. Satis Cognitum by Leo XIII or Mortalium Animos by Pius XI. The approach to ecumenism and other religions is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II(38). Moreover, the problem is not just with respect to magisterium prior to Vatican II but even with the magisterium since the Council(39).

This type of behaviour coupled with the modern philosophical encroachment into the intellectual life of the Church and the bad theology resulting therefrom has led to a type of "magisterialism"(40). Magisterialism is a fixation on the teachings that pertain only to the current magisterium. Since extrinsic tradition has been subverted and since the Vatican tends to promulgate documents exhibiting a lack of concern regarding some of the previous magisterial acts, many have begun ignoring the previous magisterial acts and listen only to the current magisterium.

This problem is exacerbated by our current historical conditions. As the theological intellectual community began to unravel before, during and after Vatican II, those who considered themselves orthodox were those who were obedient and intellectually submissive to the magisterium since those who dissent are not orthodox. Therefore, the standard of orthodoxy was shifted from Scripture, intrinsic tradition (of which the magisterium is a part) and extrinsic tradition (which includes magisterial acts of the past, such as Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors), to a psychological state in which only the current magisterium is followed.

Neo-conservatives have fallen into this way of thinking i.e. the only standard by which they judge orthodoxy is whether or not one follows the current magisterium. Traditionalists, as a general rule, tend to be orthodox in the sense that they are obedient to the current magisterium, even though they disagree about matters of discipline and have some reservations about some aspects of current magisterial teachings which seem to contradict the previous magisterium (e.g. the role of the ecumenical movement). Traditionalists tend to take not just the current magisterium as their norm but Scripture(41), intrinsic tradition, extrinsic tradition and the current magisterium as the principles of judgment of correct Catholic thinking. This is what distinguishes traditionalists and neo-conservatives i.e. their perspectives regarding the role of ecclesiastical tradition and how the current magisterium relates to it.

Inevitably, this magisterialism has led to a form of positivism(42). Since there are no principles of judgment other than the current magisterium, whatever the current magisterium says is always what is "orthodox." In other words, psychologically the neo-conservatives have been left in a position in which the extrinsic and intrinsic tradition are no longer included in the norms of judging whether something is orthodox or not. As a result, whatever comes out of the Vatican regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past. Since non-infallible ordinary acts of the magisterium can be erroneous, this leaves one in a precarious situation if one only takes as true what the current magisterium says. While we are required to give religious assent even to the non-infallible teachings of the Church, what are we to do when a magisterial document contradicts other current or previous teachings and one does not have any more authoritative weight than the other? It is too simplistic merely to say that we are to follow the current teaching. What would happen if in a period of crisis, like our own, a non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching contradicted what was in fact the truth? If one part of the magisterium contradicts another, both being at the same level, which is to believed? Unfortunately, what has happened is that many neo-conservatives have acted as if non-infallible ordinary magisterial teachings (e.g. the role of inculturation in the liturgy as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) are, in fact, infallible when the current magisterium promulgates them. This is a positivist mentality(43).


As the positivism and magisterialism grew and the extrinsic tradition no longer remained a norm for judging what should and should not be done, neo-conservatives accepted the notion that the Church must adapt to the modern world. Rather than helping the modern world to adapt to the teachings of the Church, the reverse process has occurred. This has led to the neo-conservatives being overly concerned about politically correct secular matters. Rather than having a certain distrust of the world which Christ exhorts us to have(44), many priests will only teach something from the pulpit as long as it is not going to cause problems. For example, how many priests are willing to preach against anti-Scriptural feminism? The fact is that they have adopted an immanentized way of looking at what should be done, often from an emotional point of view. And this coupled with political correctness has incapacitated ecclesiastical authorities in the face of the world and within the Church herself where the process of immanentization, with its flawed understanding of the nature of man and his condition as labouring under Original Sin, has severely undermined discipline. Even those who try to be orthodox have become accustomed to softer disciplinary norms, which fit fallen nature well, resulting in a lack of detachment from the current way of doing things and a consequent reluctance by neo-conservatives to exercise authority - precisely because they lack the vital detachment required to do so.

All of the aforesaid has resulted in the neo-conservatives rejecting the extrinsic tradition as the norm. This is why, even in "good" seminaries, the spiritual patrimony of the saints is virtually never taught. Moreover, this accounts for why the neo-conservatives appear confused about the real meaning of tradition. Since it is not a principle of judgment for them, they are unable to discuss it in depth. In fact, they ignore extrinsic tradition almost as much as the "liberals." Even when neo-conservatives express a desire to recover and follow the extrinsic tradition, they rarely do so when it comes to making concrete decisions.

It now becomes clearer why there is a kind of psychological suspicion between neo-conservatives and traditionalists: they have fundamentally different perspectives. The neo-conservatives have psychologically or implicitly accepted that extrinsic tradition cannot be trusted, whereas the traditionalists hold to the extrinsic tradition as something good, i.e. something which is the product of the wisdom and labour of the saints and the Church throughout history. For this reason, the fundamental difference between neo-conservatives and traditionalists is that the neo-conservative looks at the past through the eyes of the present while the traditionalist looks at the present through the eyes of the past. Historically, the mens ecclesiae or mind of the Church was expressed through the extrinsic tradition. That is to say that the Church, since it receives both its teaching from the past and the labour of the saints and previous magisterium by tradition, always looked at the present through the eyes of the past. In this, she looked at the present not as man under the influence of modern philosophy looked at the present(45), but through the eyes of her Lord Who gave her His teaching when He was on earth (i.e. in the past). Only at the time of Christ, is it possible to look authentically at the past through, what was then, the eyes of the present, since Christ was the fulfilment of the past. But once the work of Christ became part of history and He ascended into heaven, we must always look back to Christ and to our tradition for an authentic understanding of the present(46).

This fundamental shift in perspective has left the traditionalists with the sense that they are fighting for the good of the extrinsic tradition without the help of and often hindered by the current magisterium. Liturgically, traditionalists judge the Novus Ordo in light of the Mass of Pius V and the neo-conservatives judge the Tridentine Mass, as it is called, in light of the Novus Ordo(47). This comes from the Hegelianism which holds that the past is always understood in light of the present, i.e. the thesis and antithesis are understood in light of their synthesis. This leads to a mentality that newer is always better, because the synthesis is better than either the thesis or the antithesis taken alone. Being affected by this, the neo-conservatives often assume or are incapable of imagining that the current discipline of the Church may not be as good as the prior discipline. There is a mentality today which holds that "because it is present (Hegelianism), because it comes from us (immanentism), it is necessarily better."

Furthermore, neo-conservatives love the Church and have a strong emotional attachment to the magisterium which causes them to find it unimaginable that the Church could ever falter, even with regard to matters of discipline. Like the father who loves his daughter and therefore has a hard time imagining her doing anything wrong, neo-conservatives have a hard time conceiving that the Holy Ghost does not guarantee infallibility in matters of discipline or non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching. Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere. As a result, they are, I believe, more sober in assessing whether or not the Church exercises infallibility. That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps the traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present to justify itself, not the past.

The dominance of Hegelianism and immanentism also led to a form of collective ecclesiastical amnesia(48). During the early1960s, there existed a generation which was handed the entire ecclesiastical tradition, for the tradition was still being lived. However, because they laboured under the aforesaid errors, that generation(49) chose not to pass on the ecclesiastical tradition to the subsequent generation as something living. Consequently, in one generation, the extrinsic tradition virtually died out. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, seminary and university formation in the Catholic Church excluded those things which pertained to the ecclesiastical tradition. Once the prior generation had chosen this course, not to remember and teach the things of the past, it was never passed on and so those whom they trained i.e. the current generation, were consigned to suffer collective ignorance about their patrimony and heritage.

A further effect of what we have considered is that no prior teaching is left untouched. In other words, it appears as if more documentation has been issued in the last forty years than in the previous 1,960. Every past teaching, if the current magisterium deems it worthy of note to modern man, is touched upon anew and viewed through the lens of the present day immanentism. The impression is given that the teachings of the previous magisterium cannot stand on their own and so they must be given some form of "relevance" by being promulgated anew in a current document. Moreover, the current documents often lack the clarity and succinctness of the prior magisterium(50), and, with relatively few exceptions, are exceedingly long and tedious to read in their entirety. As a result, the frequency of the documents taken together with their length have eroded their authority because, as a general rule, people simply do not have the emotional or psychological discipline to plough through them.


The differences between traditionalists and neo-conservatives are rooted in their respective attitudes to extrinsic or ecclesiastical tradition. Even if a neo-conservative holds notionally(51) that the extrinsic tradition is of value, nevertheless in the daily living of his life and in his deliberations, he simply ignores a large portion of it, if not completely. But there is hope, even outside the circles that hold to tradition. Many of the young, even those in neo-conservative seminaries, are no longer weighed down by the intellectual baggage which afflicted their counterparts in the previous generation. Because they have been taught virtually nothing about religion, they lack a perspective that might influence them negatively in favour of one particular view of extrinsic tradition. Many of them are eager to learn the truth and do not have any preconceived ideas about the current state of the Church. As a result, if they are provided with or are able to arrive at the knowledge of their patrimony, many of them seeking it out on their own, then we can be assured of a brighter future. But this requires knowledge of the problem and the willingness to adopt or connect to the extrinsic tradition by embracing it as something good. It is unlikely that the role of ecclesiastical tradition will be sorted out soon, but we can hope that its restoration is part of God's providential plan.

Father Ripperger teaches moral theology and philosophy at the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Nebraska. Email: cripperger@alltel.net

* * * * *


(1) The term "traditionalist" has two different meanings. The first is the heresy condemned by the Church i.e. a philosophical/religious system which depreciates human reason and establishes the tradition of mankind as the only criterion for truth and certainty. This heresy denies the ability of reason to know the truth and so it must be gained through tradition alone. It is different from the current movement in the Church which clearly recognizes the ability of reason to know the truth but which sees the good of the tradition of the Church and would like to see it re-established.

(2) The term "neo-conservative" refers to those who are considered the more conservative members of the Church. More often than not, they are those who hold orthodox positions, but they would not assert that it is necessary or a good idea to reconnect with ecclesiastical tradition. The prefix "neo" is used because they are not the same as those conservatives in authority in the Church right before, during and after the Second Vatican Council. The current conservatives, i.e. the neo-conservatives, are different insofar as the conservatives of that earlier period sought to maintain the current ecclesiastical traditions which were eventually lost. Obviously all of these labels have a certain inadequacy, but since they are operative in the current ecclesiastical climate, we will use the terms here in order to denote certain theological and philosophical positions. It should be noted, however, that the term "liberal" is often misleading. Many "liberals" are, in fact, unorthodox and do not believe what the Church believes. One can legitimately be a liberal, if and only if, one upholds all of the authentic teachings of the Church and then in matters of discipline or legitimate debate, one holds to a more lenient view. But often liberalism is merely another name for what is really unorthodox.

(3) Ad. Tanquerey observes (Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae, Desclée et Socii, Roma, 1927: vol. I, p. 635) that the word tradere comes from "trans" and "do" (dare) which literally means to give across or to give over.

(4) See ibid.

(5) The irony of Protestantism is that while rejecting tradition, it, in fact, employs tradition in order to pass on from one generation to the next the Scriptures and its teachings about the Scriptures. This leads one to conclude that the Protestants were not so much against tradition as such. Rather, they were (are) against Catholic tradition.

(6) In this case, Scripture is distinguished from tradition as Scripture is written, whereas tradition, in the stricter sense, refers to those things passed on which were not written down.

(7) Divine tradition is further divided according to dominical tradition (that which was given directly by Our Lord while on earth) and apostolic tradition (that which the Apostles passed on under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost).

(8) Tanquerey, op. cit., p. 636f and Christian Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae (Herder & Co., Friburgus, 1924), vol. I, p. 397f.

(9) Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, chpt. 2 (Denz. 1825/3058).

(10) Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. I, chpt. 1 (980a22).

(11) This indicates that one must distinguish between that which pertains to the Deposit and that which does not. The Church sometimes passes judgment on the Deposit of Faith in order to clarify the teaching contained within the Deposit for the good of the Church, e.g. when Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Other magisterial acts are merely extrinsic to the Deposit of Faith and do not necessarily point to anything within the Deposit, but which may be connected to the Deposit in some way. This would include some ordinary magisterial acts as well as matters of discipline. However, more is contained in ecclesiastical tradition than just the acts of the magisterium.

(12) Here we have in mind those who develop heterodox teachings of their own (heresies), spiritualities and customs which are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(13) Rationalism is any one of the views that attribute excessive importance to human reason. Often rationalists hold that all of our knowledge is innate, i.e. we already have all our knowledge within ourselves from the beginning and that knowledge is not acquired by means of the senses.

(14) Empiricism is a system which holds that the sense knowledge is the only form of knowledge. Empiricists do not hold that there is anything beyond the material or if there is anything beyond the material, we are incapable of knowing it because our only form of knowledge is sense knowledge.

(15) Kant held that we are incapable of knowing things in themselves, i.e. we do not really know things outside of ourselves. He held that any experience we have is received according to a priori categories which are in the mind and which impose structure and order on our experiences. As a result, man is essentially cut off from knowing anything in reality because his mind changes the experience according to these categories.

(16) When Christ was on earth, He used sensible signs that we could see and hear. He used sensible signs in order to teach us about spiritual realities which are not physical or material.

(17) Rene Descartes lived from 1596-1650. He was a rationalist who began his philosophy by systematically doubting the truth of the senses and so his philosophy starts in the intellect rather than in reality.

(18) Benedict Spinoza lived from 1632-1677. He held that there was one thing and only one thing, viz. God and all of us are merely part of God. Since God was eternal and did not change, then what we see in the world is not really changing. Spinoza used the phrase "Deus sive Natura" which employs the inclusive "or" (sive) in Latin to show that God and nature were the same thing. This notion that God is nature and nature is God is the intellectual foundation for the current New Age movement in the West and it was also partly responsible for the eroding of the notion of God's transcendence. Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jews because of the incompatibility of his views with Judaism.

(19) David Laird Dungan in his text A History of the Synoptic Problem (Doubleday, New York, 1999) recounts how Spinoza developed the historical/critical exegetical method and from that point on, Scripture studies began to deteriorate outside the Catholic sphere. Later, these same problems enter into the Church with the uncritical adoption of the same methods.

(20) What this means is that if someone is only interested in what is sensibly pleasing or if they lead their lives according to their sensible appetites, they will not be interested in the past because the appetites are not interested in the past as such.

(21) G.W.F. Hegel lived from 1770-1831. He, like Spinoza, held that there was one thing and only one thing. But the difference between Hegel and Spinoza was that Spinoza held that this one thing was static and did not change, whereas Hegel held that this one thing was in a constant state of flux. This one thing went from an original state, sometimes called a thesis, to its opposite which is sometimes called an antithesis. Then there is the merger of the two opposites within the one thing and that becomes the synthesis and the synthesis becomes the thesis in the next series of perpetual changes. This process was called the dialectic and it indicated that things were constantly advancing. Hence, the past became irrelevant.

(22) See Laird, op. cit.

(23) Immanentism is a philosophy which holds that anything of importance is contained within the individual, i.e. the individual becomes the measure or standard by which things are judged. "Immanent" comes from the two Latin words "in" and "manere" which means "to remain in." Immanentism essentially holds that exterior reality is not important except to the extent that we can express ourselves in it. What is really important is that which is within ourselves.

(24) There are actually more than three but these three are particularly important.

(25) Epistemology is the branch of philosophy in which we investigate how man knows the world around him.

(26) Descartes starts his Discourse on Method with a systematic doubt about everything which cannot be known with certitude. Since, for him, the senses can be deceived, he doubted them. The problem is that the senses put us into contact with reality and if we cut ourselves off from reality by doubting our senses, there is no epistemological foundation for being able to know reality. The empiricists held that we only know our sensations and not the things which correspond to those sensations. Hence, all we know is sense knowledge but not necessarily things outside of ourselves.

(27) Etienne Gilson in his various epistemological works demonstrated that Transcendental Thomism was untenable. Transcendental Thomism is a philosophical system in which the epistemology of Descartes is merged with Thomism. Gilson showed that once one accepts the cogito of Descartes (i.e. the beginning point of his epistemology, viz. one begins in thought and not in reality first) one is not able to get back to reality. In this respect, Gilson's works are of particular importance today.

(28) As this is transposed to the domain of theology, since one cannot know things outside of oneself, then God must speak to one directly through one's conscience or some interior experience. This Kantian notion provided the intellectual foundation for the Protestant's theory of the subjective religious experience.

(29) His work On Religion is where this finds a full expression.

(30) Maurice Blondel lived from 1861-1949.

(31) "Letter on Apologetics" as found in the article by Peter J. Bernardi, "Maurice Blondel and the Renewal of the Nature/Grace Relationship," Communio 26 (Winter 1999), p. 881.

(32) The heresy of Modernism has occurred in four phases. The first was the initial phase which began around 1832 when it was called liberalism until the beginning of the First Vatican Council in 1869. The second phase was the intelligentsia phase in which it began to infect the Catholic intelligentsia more thoroughly and this occurred from 1870 to 1907 at which time Pope St. Pius X formally condemned Modernism. Then from 1907 until about 1955 to 1960, the underground phase occurred in which the Modernist teachings were propagated by some of the intelligentsia in the seminaries and Catholic universities, though quietly. Then, in the latter part of the 1950s, a superficial phase began in which the intellectual energy was exhausted and what was left was the practical application of the vacuous teachings of Modernism which occurred during the period in which the Second Vatican Council was in session and persists until this date. Vatican II was the catalyst or opportunity seized by the past and current superficial intellectuals who teach things contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(33) Ibid., p. 806.

(34) Blondel, in fact, wanted to go back to an earlier tradition and ignore the tradition which was passed on to him. This essentially meant that Blondel and other Modernists wanted to get away from medieval traditions which begot the Mass of Pius V and go back to earlier traditions because they were congruent with the immanentized experiences of modern man.

(35) Bernardi observes this but in a positive way in loc. cit.

(36) This was John XXIII's word for updating the Church.

(37) That is we are living with the full effects of the superficial stage of Modernism. For example, unlike previous generations there are no great theologians; theological discourse and writing in scholastic journals lacks the depth afforded the subjects that were given to it, even just fifty years ago, and there seems, in general, to be a lack of intellectual advancement of the science of theology.

(38) While the current magisterium can change a teaching which is under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has a moral obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, e.g. as we see in Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion, infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification.

(39) For instance, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1975 (Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics as found in the official English translation of the Vatican by The Wanderer Press, 128 E. 10th St., St. Paul, MN 55101) asserts the following regarding masturbation: "The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty." This indicates that regardless of one's intention or motive, the act is in itself gravely immoral. Then in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (editio typica, Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1997) a definition is given which seems to allow for different intentions to modify whether such an act is evil or not: "Masturbationis nomine intelligere oportet voluntarium organorum genitalium excitationem, ad obtinendam ex ea veneream voluptatem," i.e. "by the name masturbation it must be understood as the voluntary excitement of the genital organs to obtain from it venereal pleasure." The last part of the definition therefore includes in the act of masturbation a finality, viz. "to obtain from it venereal pleasure." This appears to contradict the prior teaching of the Church as well as the teaching of the CDF. If one does not do it for the sake of pleasure, does that mean that it is not masturbation? For example, if one does it for the sake of determining one's fertility, does this justify it? One can rectify the situation by arguing that when it is done for the sake of pleasure it is an instance of masturbation, but that the actual definition is what the Church has always held. Clearly, however, this example is testimony to how careless the magisterium has become in its theological expression.

(40) The term is the author's own designation for this phenomenon.

(41) Neo-conservatives as a general rule accept Scripture and give it a rather prominent place. But Scripture along with intrinsic tradition are not that much of a norm for them except insofar as the current magisterium asserts the necessity for following them as a matter of orthodoxy.

(42) Positivism is a philosophical system in which one regards only the sensible, the particular (singular) experience, as real and holds that only the knowledge of such facts is certain because only they can be (physically) verified. This would mean any reality which is not physical is to be denied. Positivists tend to hold that legislation does not have to be founded on any other principle than the mere fact that a given authority promulgates it. Since tradition or past history is not something tangible, it is ignored.

(43) Many of the things which the neo-conservatives do are the result of implicitly adopting principles which they have not fully or explicitly considered. Many of them would deny this characterization because they do not intellectually hold to what, in fact, are their operative principles.

(44) The world which God created is not to be despised because it is evil but because it is a good, i.e. because it is good we can become attached to it rather than God and, as a result, it can lead us to moral ruin. This requires us to live in the world but be detached from it. Sometimes the term "world" is also taken to include man and his moral corruption due to sin.

(45) In fact, this seems to be the theme which is warned against by the magisterium prior to Vatican II.

(46) As the dictum says, he who does not study history is bound to repeat it. This is because if you do not look at the present through the experience or eyes of the past, you will not take heed of the lessons learned by past generations. Furthermore, man's identity is determined in part by the history from which he comes. As a result, we do not fully understand ourselves and our circumstances without knowing where (historically) we came from.

(47) This has caused many a traditional priest problems. Even when they are discussing liturgical matters with those who uphold the teachings of the Church, they are often faced with criticism of the Old Mass based upon principles which govern the New Mass. It is difficult even to discuss it coherently when the accepted principles or premises of those holding different views are fundamentally at odds.

(48) This can also be asserted of the customs, morals and culture in the secular sphere.

(49) This is, of course, a generalization. Not everyone of that generation agreed with the course of action that their own generation was taking.

(50) What this means is that there is a certain restlessness today in the Church and its members cannot seem to leave things in the past alone. Perhaps this is due to their perspective which holds that the past, i.e. the extrinsic tradition, was inherently inadequate.

(51) In philosophy, a distinction is made between notional and real assent. Notional assent is when the person may make an intellectual judgment that something is true, but it does not really determine his action or thinking. Real assent is when a person makes an intellectual judgment about the truth of some matter and actually lives and thinks according to it.