Oh, the pontifical
prophets of doom and gloom! Reading pre-conciliar encyclicals could lead
one to believe that the Church has been led by a succession of papal
pickle-pusses. Those serious, aware-of-the-existence-of-evil Popes simply
weren't as fun and entertaining as those who go on world tours to offer paganized
Rock and Roll Masses, and their style of dour warnings against Freemasonry,
the machinations of usurers, the doings of "impious men," Communism, Nazism
-- and in such dramatic, passionate language -- were, once upon a glorious
time, par for the Encyclical course.
From Pope Gregory XVI's Mirari Vos (1832):
You know what storms
of evil and toil, at the beginning of Our pontificate, drove Us suddenly
into the depths of the sea. If the right hand of God had not given Us strength,
We would have drowned as the result of the terrible conspiracy of
... Now is truly the time in which the powers of darkness winnow
the elect like wheat. "The earth mourns and fades away....And the earth is
infected by the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws,
they have changed the ordinances, they have broken the everlasting
...We see the destruction of public order, the fall of principalities,
and the overturning of all legitimate power approaching. Indeed this great
mass of calamities had its inception in the heretical societies and sects
in which all that is sacrilegious, infamous, and blasphemous has gathered
as bilge water in a ship's hold, a congealed mass of all filth.
From Leo XIII's
Humanum Genus (1884):
The Roman Pontiffs
Our predecessors, in their incessant watchfulness over the safety of the
Christian people, were prompt in detecting the presence and the purpose of
this capital enemy immediately it sprang into the light instead of
hiding as a dark conspiracy; and , moreover, they took occasion with
true foresight to give, as it were on their guard, and not allow themselves
to be caught by the devices and snares laid out to deceive them.
The first warning of the danger was given by Clement XII in the year
1738, and his constitution was confirmed and renewed by Benedict XIV.Pius
VII followed the same path; and Leo XII, by his apostolic constitution, Quo
Graviora, put together the acts and decrees of former Pontiffs on this subject,
and ratified and confirmed them forever. In the same sense spoke Pius VIII,
Gregory XVI, and, many times over, Pius IX.
Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Dominici
There has never
been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary
to the Catholic body, for owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human
race, there have never been lacking "men speaking perverse things," "vain
talkers and seducers," "erring and driving into error." It must, however,
be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase
in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely
new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the
Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom
...That We should act without delay in this matter is made imperative especially
by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the
Church's open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in
her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the
open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity,
and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated
by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy
and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines
taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty,
put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly
into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ,
not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious
audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.
Pope Pius XI in
Divini Redemptoris (1937):
struggle between good and evil remained in the world as a sad legacy of the
original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter ever ceased to deceive
mankind with false promises. It is on this account that one convulsion following
upon another has marked the passage of the centuries, down to the revolution
of our own days. This modern revolution, it may be said, has actually broken
out or threatens everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence
anything yet experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against
the Church. Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back
into a barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the
world at the coming of the Redeemer.
This all too imminent danger, Venerable Brethren, as you have already
surmised, is bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims at upsetting
the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian
...There is another explanation for the rapid diffusion of the Communistic
ideas now seeping into every nation, great and small, advanced and backward,
so that no corner of the earth is free from them. This explanation is to
be found in a propaganda so truly diabolical that the world has perhaps never
witnessed its like before. It is directed from one common center.
It is shrewdly adapted to the varying conditions of diverse peoples. It has
at its disposal great financial resources, gigantic organizations, international
congresses, and countless trained workers. It makes use of pamphlets and
reviews, of cinema, theater and radio, of schools and even universities.
Little by little it penetrates into all classes of the people and even reaches
the better-minded groups of the community, with the result that few are aware
of the poison which increasingly pervades their minds and hearts.
...A third powerful factor in the diffusion of Communism is the conspiracy
of silence on the part of a large section of the non-Catholic press of
the world. We say conspiracy, because it is impossible otherwise to explain
how a press usually so eager to exploit even the little daily incidents of
life has been able to remain silent for so long about the horrors perpetrated
in Russia, in Mexico and even in a great part of Spain; and that it should
have relatively so little to say concerning a world organization as vast
as Russian Communism. This silence is due in part to shortsighted political
policy, and is favored by various occult forces which for a long time
have been working for the overthrow of the Christian Social Order.
Pope Pius XII's
Humani Generis (1950):
error among men on moral and religious matters have always been a cause of
profound sorrow to all good men, but above all to the true and loyal sons
of the Church, especially today, when we see the principles of
Christian culture being attacked on all sides.
But then comes
John XXIII, the "Good Pope," as the press called him (clue number one that,
in spite of the level of his personal holiness, his Pontificate would be
dangerous to the Faith). In his opening address
to the Second Vatican Council, he said:
In the daily exercise
of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret,
to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with
too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see
nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison
with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned
nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They
behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph
for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.
We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting
disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.
Well, was John
XXIII right or were two millennia of his predecessors right? After the Council
he convened -- the Council that he optimistically thought would bring on
a new, glorious dawn -- what happened? The "Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out" 1960s;
the "Me Generation, Do Your Own Thing, I'm OK, You're OK" 1970s; the
materialistic and drug-ridden 1980s; the decadent, Jerry Springer 1990s with
its incredible coarsening of popular culture; radical feminism; the sexual
revolution which had no winners, the rise of AIDS; the abortifacient Pill;
the legalization of abortion; pornography's not only easy availability but
its being shoved in our faces every time we open our e-mail boxes or turn
on our televisions; the demise of the family; the "celebration" of homosexuality
and sexual depravity; drug abuse entering middle class life and becoming
as common as Big Macs; the secular Press attacking the Church with a vehemence
-- and Hollywood doing the same; the rise of neo-paganism, Wicca, and New
Age theosophy; the loss of national sovereignty...
And in the Church Herself? The near-death of the Roman Rite, except in the
SSPX and Brazil, until we were granted an indult to pray
the way Pope Saint Pius V (another Chicken Little,
no doubt) said we could forever; homosexualist invasion of our seminaries
and pulpits; the destruction of church buildings, overt Modernist dissent
by priests, religious, and hierarchs; the -- well, you know the drill.
Why would John XXIII believe (or feel) that his predecessors were, at the
least, silly in their warnings to the faithful? What had changed by 1962
that would lead His Holiness to consider his predecessors a bunch of Scrooges?
Why was he so quick to write off those who warned him that convening
a Council would be an entrée for Modernist corruption?
Christians in the West are, generally, so "fat and happy" with our fast food
and technology that we look back at the past and think, "Yup, the world must
be a better place 'cause I'm so fat and happy," and in measuring man's "progress"
(ahem) solely in terms of creature comforts, one could say that we are "better
off." We have to get off the couch less often than we did before to change
channels. That's an improvement. And so few people in the West are starving;
that is certainly good. But, though technologies have their benefits, true
progress can't be measured in such terms; it can only be measured in terms
of souls brought to Christ through His Church -- His true Church with Her
ancient teachings and Sacraments.
We've been brainwashed enough by "history" textbooks and civics courses that
we actually believe we've defeated Communism. But that's a load, my friends.
Communism -- which has never been a foe to the usurious, fiat-money
Capitalism which funded its revolutions -- has merely changed its name; it
is now the United Nations, diversity and sensitivity training, gender feminism,
high taxes, violations of the principle of subsidiarity, the "Third Way"
without Catholic doctrine and recognition of Christ's Kingship,
neo-conservatism, the Democratic and Republican Parties, and so on. It's
the stuff of which NPR, PBS, public school education and the like are made,
and its spirit is seen in the NY Times and Boston Globe every single day.
And, lest we forget, North Korea exists, Cuba exists, Brazil just "elected"
a Communist president to match those of many of her Latin neighbors, huge
chunks of Africa are de facto Communist (or Muslim, name your poison), and
Communism-qua-Capitalism is still the governmental form in China, home to
a billion souls (and a place which has a government led, pro-abortion, anti-Pope,
"official Catholic Church" (the CPA) while the real Catholic Church there
is underground -- persecuted by the government and ignored by "Rome" who
courts the CPA!)
Yeah, we defeated Nazism, but since the publication of leftist Rolf Hochhuth's
1963 play slandering Pope Pius XII (a play heavily publicized by Communist
governments, and cultural Marxists in the West), an entire industry has sprung
up blaming the Church for the existence of Nazism in the first place. In
the second place, the Nazi anti-Jew racist idealogy has been replaced by
racist Zionism, all funded by the U.S.of A. and cheered on by a goodly-sized
segment of American Protestants.
And then there's anti-West, anti-Catholic Islam to deal with (another 1 Billion
souls, another fifth of the world's population); about the only things Islam
gets right are that there is one God (not that they know Him), that usury
and abortion and contraception and pornography suck, and that men and women
are different. And in getting these things right, these anti-Christians get
more right than does the typical American or European "Catholic" Bishop.
Aside from technological advances, the only real improvements have been in
the area of race relations in the West, but racial hypersensitivity, forced
"diversity," cultural relativism, and religious indifferentism have taken
the place of that "old-fashioned" bigotry born of ignorance of the other
and the felt "need" for scapegoats.
Yup, the world is doing fine.
And here is the point of my tale: one of the Church's main problems is that
Her hierarchs have forgotten that She had always had, now has, and will have
an Enemy until Jesus Christ comes again in glory at the Last Judgement:
Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as
serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men. For they will deliver you
up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall
be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake, for a testimony
to them and to the Gentiles... And you shall be hated by all men for my name's
sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved... Do not
think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but
the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in
law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.
According to Our
Lord's prophecies concerning the nature of the Christian life, those old
Popes weren't so "pessimistic" and "gloomy" as the Pollyanna, "Gee, ain't
things swell? Mass is so 'fun' nowadays" types believe. The old Popes knew
that the Evil One has plans and, rightly perceiving the various ways those
plans were being carried out, had the guts to preach the Truth about them.
That's not being "pessimistic"; that's called being realistic and a true
And now for the table of statistics which refute those happy-dappy
neo-conservative Catholic sentiments typified by the following, found in
a blog. The writer -- after quoting Pope John XXIII's
opening address to the Second Vatican Council
mentioned above, the speech that pooh-poohs those papal hand-wringers --
Oh, that we might now live up to that hope he expressed so beautifully!
Sure, there have been some bumps in the Church's path since those days. But
none of these -- not a one -- has been or could be sufficient to cause us
to doubt the inspiration of that Council which began forty years ago. It
was a good thing. It was the right thing. What the Church needs today is
not a reversal of the Council, but a deepened experience of life according
to its wisdom and vision.
There are some today who are angry. There are some who are disappointed.
There are some who can only mutter curses against the Holy Father or the
bishops. Some imagine that the promise of Vatican 2 was cut off. Some imagine
that Vatican 2 brought "the Smoke of Satan" into the Church [Editor: um,
yeah, that was Paul VI!]. Both the reactionary right and the reactionary
left are wrong. John Paul II has shown us the way toward an authentic living
out of the hope of Blessed John XXIII. May God give his Church the grace
to continue to walk in this path, guided by the Spirit which has guided the
Church since Pentecost.
Here is the dose
of reality concering the Church in the United States:
Mass attendance among Catholics:
1958: 3 out of 4
2002: 1 out of 4
Lay religious teachers who condone:
divorce and remarriage: 65%
missing Mass: 77%
Catholics aged 18-44 who don't believe in the Real Presence: 70% (that
is, 70% of Catholics in this age group are material heretics)
Priests in USA:
1930-1965 doubled to 58,000
Since 1965: 45,000
Projection: by 2020: 31,000, half over age 70
Ordinations in USA:
2002: 4,700 (down by 90%)
2002: 75,000, average age 68
2002: 8,200 (down by 94%)
Christian Brothers seminarians:
Number of Catholic High Schools: down 50%
Number of Catholic Parochial Schools: down by 4,000
Number of Catholic marriages: down 33%
Number of Annulments:
of Catholicism's Decline, by Pat Buchanan, who cites Kenneth C. Jones's
Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican
As to the blogger's
line, "May God give his Church the grace to continue to walk in this path,
guided by the Spirit which has guided the Church since Pentecost," I have
this to say: Why, in the name of all that is Holy, would we want to continue
in the path characterized by the statistics above -- the path that leads
to loss of faith, to the eradication of our liturgy, and to the destruction
of doctrine, the priesthood, the religious life, and Catholic culture?
Yes, the Holy Ghost was there at Vatican II. He prevented any of the
Modernist doctrines from being presented as solemn definitions. He was there
with those traditional (then "conservative") Bishops who, listening to Him,
barely kept things in check. He was there when the Nota Praevia to
Lumen Gentium was added. Since those times, He has been ignored in
favor of ambiguity and warmy-cozy feelings. The Holy Ghost can be
resisted, you know:
You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the
Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you also.
however, guide the Church until the end of time, and the gates of Hell will
not prevail. But He never, not once, promised us a rose garden of
springtimes. Quite the opposite.