|Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.|
"Where is the New Theology leading us to? It is taking us in a straight line right back to modernism by way of whims, errors and heresy." - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
I’m in the process of researching what very well could become a book length treatise on the influence of World War II on the Catholic Church and the role it played in bringing about the current Modernist crisis. In that process I've come across the work of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. For many traditionalists the name hardly needs explanation, but this theologian, quite possibly the most important theological voice of the 20th century, was a great mystery to me for most of my life; he was a personage that didn’t even register a blip on my seminary professors’ syllabi. A significant portion of his academic work was intended to counter the re-emergence of Modernism in what was styled the “New Theology”. The New Theology was the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin propagated in the post-war years by theologians such as Henri De Lubac, Karl Rahner, Hans Von Balthasar, Edward Schillebeeckx, and, yes, Joseph Ratzinger. Of course, I was taught Von Balthasar and Ratzinger (though not with as much enthusiasm) during my seminary days, but I was never once introduced to the name Garrigou-Lagrange.
What I’ve uncovered in this research was really no great surprise. The roots of the current Modernist crisis can be found in the early 20th century, in the pre-war years, in the misguided notions of Teilhard, who had accepted without question the Hegelian dialectic merged with a rather ridiculous pseudo-biological rhetoric inspired by the secular myth of evolution. This way of thinking was accelerated in the post-war years by Jesuits such as De Lubac, Rahner and Pedro Arrupe, all of whom were reacting to their experiences of the horrors of World War II. Those horrors crystalized their desire to bring about the evolutionary perfection of the human race, so that such horrors could never occur again. Their philosophy and theology was a philosophy and theology of becoming, becoming that would take man beyond the horrors of Hitler and the guilt of that generation.
The problem inherent in their thinking, from the very beginning, is an error regarding the supernatural. For Hegel, the supernatural reveals itself in the material and rational world through a historical process of becoming. Divination is a process of evolution by which man becomes god. The theologians of the New Theology, to summarize, accepted this concept and applied it to Catholic doctrine, retaining the terminology, but redefining the terms according to this notion of becoming. For these theologians, Christ was the epitome of this becoming, He was perfect Man, and on account of being perfect Man, He was necessarily God.
This is a far cry from the Church’s Christological definitions of Ephesus, Chalcedon and Constantinople V. The Church has always defined that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man by taking on a human nature while at the same time retaining intact His divine nature, in one Person: the hypostatic union. Most Catholics who are serious about their faith, both traditionalists and novus ordo conservatives, still cling to this truth of the faith. However, for the new theologians it is completely the opposite. Man becomes God by becoming, to borrow the term from Nietzche, uberman; Christ is divine because He is the uberman in history. When the new theologians rejected the Thomistic theology of being for the Hegelian theology of becoming and the pseudo-science of evolution, monistic and pantheistic conclusions emerged (Humani generis, 5). Most Catholics who are serious about their faith, both traditionalists and novus ordo conservatives, are repulsed by this kind of thinking.
|Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger. They were close|
collaborators during Vatican II.
The problem is, just like in the fourth century in regards to Arianism, a majority of powerful prelates are not repulsed by this error, and, in fact, many of them have embraced it and vehemently defended it. One such example is the current pope, Benedict XVI, who’s Christology as explained in his The Christian Faith, exuberantly embraces this theology of becoming. He claimed that by man becoming “completely and authentically man” he is God, and that God is, “simply, authentic man” (130, 140). Ratzinger’s thought completely does away with the total transcendence of God, which had been so carefully preserved in the Church’s definitions regarding the hypostatic union. This embrace of the theology of becoming, which was always at the heart of the New Theology, is still very much at the center of Ratzinger's thinking, which was made evident in his recent Christmas address to the Roman Curia. Because Ratzinger understands Christ as the epitome of man's "becoming", the Truth, which is Christ, is not something found by believing what the Church teaches and practicing what the Church has always stipulated (both liturgically and morally), as Catholics have always believed, but the Truth is something sought after in a process of becoming, which requires the guidance of not only what the Catholic Church teaches, but what others outside the Church can offer us, to include Talmudic Judaism, Islam, Paganism and Protestantism. This theological liberalism flows logically from the pope's flawed Christology.
In the post-Vatican II Church a virtual army of prelates who ascribed to the same notions were placed, one after another, into positions of authority: Karl Lehmann, Christoph von Schonborn, Walter Kasper, and now Gerhard Müller. What’s more, these were often styled as “conservatives” by mainstream Catholics. Indeed, to some extent they weren't as radical as some who emerged from the Second Vatican Council. However, to consider theologians who hold such notions about the Person of Christ and the supernatural as “conservative”, and that they have ascended to the highest offices of the Church, only demonstrates how grave the current crisis is.
But, to return to Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange: toward the end of his illustrious academic career he became more and more concerned with the new theology in the post-war years. He perceived, I think, that Modernism was becoming resurgent in the Church, especially from corners close to home, from former students such as Yves Congar. We can be sure he was at odds with a certain group of prelates in the Vatican of Pius XII, and the situation probably became such that Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange became one of the few voices of reason close to Pope Pius XII. The errors of the new theology were easy enough to identify, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange had done as early as 1946. These errors were spelled out in Humani generis in 1950 (of which Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange was the primary contributor). Many of the new theologians were silenced. Why then was the influence of the new theologians growing rather than subsiding? How then did they manage to usurp an Ecumenical Council and apparently become triumphant in the post-Vatican II Church?
|Pope Benedict XVI seems obsessed, not just with "ecumenism",|
but especially with Catholic-Jewish "relations".
What was underestimated, I think, by the older prelates during the pontificate of Pius XII was the impetus provided by the holocaust. There was an unholy drive, instigated by the direct influence of Satan in the 20th century, which drove, first the Jesuits, and then the rest of the Church’s academics to pursue the “perfect man”. Hitler could never happen again. Everything that came before him, that caused him, even Christianity, had failed and needed to be jettisoned. Hegelianism (ironically that which constituted the most significant contribution to the socialism of Adolf Hitler) had to be given its day in the sun to correct all that had gone wrong before. Tradition, dogma, the Catholic Church, they all needed to be sacrificed on the altar of the “perfect man”.
Indeed, the New Theology did triumph, but straightaway many supporters of the New Theology perceived something was terribly wrong. One such person was Pope Paul VI, whose entire ecclesiastical career was driven by sacrificing traditional Catholicism on the altar of the uberman. When the triumph came, simple-minded, useful idiots, like Paul VI really did expect a flowering of the visible Church, a new grand era of growth and revitalization. What happened, in the immediate aftermath of the New Theology’s triumph was an incredible falling off. The pews emptied, priests and religious in the thousands left the priesthood and the monasteries and the convents. Discord followed. The Jesuits abandoned the pope, and no longer took orders from Rome. Instead they took up arms with the Communists in Central America and spouted the most scandalous and scurrilous things from their pulpits. Catholic education at all levels failed to pass on the faith. Perhaps this is not the Great Apostasy that will herald the End Times (though prudent men shouldn't rule it out), but most certainly this has been a disaster of faith of epic proportion.
|The "Benedictine Altar Arrangement".|
Putting lipstick on a pig?
This great disaster hasn't inspired the disciples of the New Theology to abandon their errors. It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Instead during these decades following the great disaster they have been endeavoring to save their sinking ship by attempting to enmesh their Modernism even deeper into the trappings of Catholicism. There seems to be a lot of concern in mainstream “conservative” Catholic circles about rediscovering a “Catholic identity”. What doesn't seem to dawn on these "conservative" Catholics, is that never before in the history of the Church has a rediscovering a “Catholic identity” been proffered as a means of overcoming error or a crisis.
What is this Catholic identity? If one were to look beyond the rhetoric, what one discovers are the trappings of Catholicism, such as vestments, altar arrangements, quaint practices, and political positions, but not authentic Catholicism that comes from faith. What is missing is a serious consideration of the faith! At no time in history has a rediscovery of Catholic identity been the answer to a crisis; rather, what has always been the remedy to heresy and the confusion it causes is the rediscovery of the faith. Anything else would be to simply wrap error up in Catholic vestments. Thus, a new translation, or a new altar arrangement, or embroidered vestments will never make the New Theology anything other than what it is: whims, errors, and heresy, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange put it. Such an effort, which has become one of the core objectives of the Ratzinger papacy, is just putting lipstick on a pig, as the saying goes.
|Despite being placed in a position of great authority,|
Archbishop Müller hasn't been able to effectively
thwart criticism of his out and out Modernistic opinions
regarding the Eucharist or the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady.
It is a futile task to make the New Theology into something Catholic, as this current pontificate is proving. Despite all its initial promise, the pontificate of Benedict XVI is proving to be just as ineffective in turning the tide of the great disaster as was the long and meandering pontificate of John Paul II, the pop-star. The Modernism of the New Theology is an unholy edifice, and God will not be mocked. The prelates of the New Theology are still in their seats of power, but they are increasingly pressured by a voice of protest and criticism from a growing community of traditionalists. Even now, Tradition is re-emerging as the errors of the New Theology are revealed for what they are. Tradition is buttressed by an ever growing number of faithful who still hold fast to the ancient teachings and liturgy of the Church. The travesty that has wrecked the Church militant since the “triumph” of the New Theology belies the fact that there is no growth or vitality, but only rot and death, in the wake of error and heresy. It is only a matter of time before this is realized by sincere Catholics of all stripes. Thus, there is hope.
A future will come, no doubt, wherein there will be leveled a devastating condemnation of the prelates of the New Theology, and we can be sure that even the popes will not escape that condemnation, even though it is not our generation’s place to do so. The solution may be a long time in coming, but it must and it will come from Rome. However, in the meantime there are still happy pockets made up of traditional Catholic homes and communities, and while the tide is turning, we can rejoice in this at least.
|A dramatic restoration, a true restoration, is occurring in traditional Catholic communities and families that|
have rejected the New Theology.