THE HERESY OF AMERICANISM & VATICAN II
by His Excellency Richard Williamson
The fundamental argument of the conference should be familiar to followers in recent years of the Society of St. Pius X in the United States: the central idea behind the founding of the United States and the central idea behind Vatican II have much in common. Extrinsically, this is because both ideas originate in Freemasonry. Intrinsically, this enables much light to be thrown on each by the other. In Italy, the idea of American served to illustrate Vatican II. Here perhaps let Vatican II illustrate the idea of American.
Nevertheless, the Masonic idea is especially strong in the USA, and it has over the last two centuries succeeded in corrupting generations of authentically Catholic immigrants. The Masonic idea is all around us, day by day it threatens to corrupt our own Catholic Faith, and if it is allowed to have its way, it will utterly destroy Catholic Tradition. With Vatican II it penetrated into the Catholic churchmen with the result that great parts of the church have disintegrated before our eyes. So we may and we must love the country of our birth as God meant us to do, but that will not stop us from examining the godless idea which will, left to itself, destroy our nation, our Church, our souls.
Two kingdoms clash: on the one side, the kingdom of Christ, Christian civilization; on the other side, the kingdom of Satan, anti-Christian, or rather anti-civilization, the new Judeo-Masonic order, the so-called New World Order.
In this clash, the Second Vatican Council played a decisive part. At the Council the two kingdoms clashed with one another, and poor Paul VI was under the illusion that they had come to an agreement. In no way. What happened was that the principles of anti-civilization, or rather its anti-principles, were welcomed within the Church of civilization with the results we now know - the ruination of that Church.
Notice, what we have on Satan's side is not an opposite civilization, but the opposite of civilization; not opposite principles, but the opposite of principles. Conversely Joseph de Maistre said: "Against the Revolution Christians must make not a counter-Revolution but the contrary of a Revolution." That is a deep saying. Satan may begin by setting up a false principle opposite the true principle, but his aim is to arrive at the dissolving of all principles, because that is the ultimate in confusion.
So this conference will argue that at the heart of Vatican II is not a system contrary to Catholicism, but the break-up of all system; not a thought opposed to the Catholic Faith, but the dissolution of all thinking; in brief, Vatican II was not even an Anti-council, it was an explosion. If you wish for the proof, look around you.
Now that explosion which is the true spirit of the Council, is hidden in three ways beneath the letter or documents of the Council. Firstly, the documents contain many ancient and unattackable truths alongside the new doctrine. Secondly, the new doctrines are often presented beneath ambiguous formulae which allow the conservative Catholics to state there is no problem in the documents of the Council, the whole problem is in the so-called after-Council or aftermath of the Council. Thirdly, the novelties, once you draw them out of the documents, have their own coherency, and so the appearance of a system. So the novelties of Vatican II look like a system, but in fact it is the systematicness of an explosion.
Now no stationary or still photograph can capture the dynamic movement of an explosion. We think that many good Catholic heads are too good to be able to understand Vatican II. Take for instance the dilemma of the so-called sedevacantists, namely, "Popes as liberal as these recent popes could not be true popes." Is this dilemma not false because these popes do not even realize the contradiction going on inside their own heads? And so rather than a theological stillshot, let us take rather a moving film from history in order to put before you an error which is a sister error of the Sillonism and Modernism of the beginning of this century. Modernism is the father of today's neo-modernism, so a sister of modernism would be an aunt of today's neo- modernism - the aunt I mean is Americanism.
Let us distinguish Americanism in the narrow sense if you like, namely, the particular error of certain American Catholics at the end of the last century, who were condemned gently by Leo XIII in 1899 in his encyclical Testem Benevolentiae; and Americanism in the broad sense, that is to say the new life of the New World, the precursor of the New World Order. In other words, Americanism in a very broad sense, the Masonic idea, if you like, as concretized in America. That broad Americanism had already been exploding for a century before 1899 and was at the very most gently tickled by Leo XIII. And yet the mushroom cloud of this broad Americanism is extending over the whole world. Ten years ago, an Ecône professor told me, the young Swiss in Valais used to dress like young Swiss, but today they are all dressed like Americans.
The Winona seminarians that were over in Europe in the summer of 1995 got a good chance to see today's Europe. They said that the young Europeans do not make good Americans. If Americans are accused of being shoddy, then americanized Europeans are much shoddier! The seminarians that went over to Europe got a good idea of what the real problem is. The real problem is not the United States of America, because the Americans are in many ways better off than today's Europe which is deeply corrupt. The real problem is the Masonry which launched the United States but which is now re-launching Europe.
Americanism in the broad sense is what interests us here because it throws a great deal of light on the Second Vatican Council and the United States. It can light up, as few other concrete examples can light up, the explosion that was Vatican II. So let us see in order the origins of the American spirit; then at length, the new man, the new world, the new life that this spirit has engendered; then its more recent history, ending in its entry into the Council; its contamination of the Council; and finally, the resemblance between the new life coming out of the Masonic United States and the New Church coming out of Vatican II.
But firstly, let me open a parenthesis on America and Americans.
"Slay errors, but love those who err," says St. Augustine. As much as we may detest the United States as a Masonic idea, so much we may love it as a concrete country whose inhabitants have enough natural virtues to have set up the most powerful republic in all history, and enough supernatural gifts to set up today the second most numerous country in the world from the point of view of Catholic Tradition. This last year by chance, the seminaries in the rest of the Society did not have as many seminarians as Winona did. It is in Europe that the American error began. It is Europeans who brought Americans into their three World Wars, the third war, as Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, being Vatican Council II. And it is Europeans who brought each of these wars to an end with a Masonic and American solution. It is Europeans who are choosing today to Americanize themselves. Nobody is forcing Europeans to do so, and so I hope it is well understood that what follows is going to be an attack not on the United States or Americans as a nation, as a concrete nation or country, but as the first incarnation of a Masonic ideal which is now triumphing throughout the world, including inside the Catholic Church. That is where the problem is. Close parenthesis.
Let us begin by saying that the key to the kinship between the American spirit and the spirit of Vatican II is religious liberty, which is the foundation of the United States as it is the crowning of Vatican II. In order to grasp the fundamental importance of the part played in the formation of the United States by religious liberty, let us recall a little history. You will remember that the first Europeans to land on the territory now called North America were the Spaniards in the South and the French in the North. But between Spanish Florida to the South and French Quebec to the North on the Eastern seaboard of the continent, it was the English heretics who founded the thirteen colonies which at the time of the American Revolution in 1776 were set up as a new nation. Now these English heretics, whether they were violent Protestants like the Puritans of New England in the North, or moderate Protestants like the Anglicans and Episcopalians of Virginia, either way, did not believe in religious liberty. In the North, the Puritans chased out or executed religious dissidents, and in the center, they oppressed the few Catholics in Maryland as soon as they were numerous enough to do so.
But, when it came to constituting the old English colonies into United States, a few years after the successful revolution of 1775 to 1783, political union was put in front of everything else. As Benjamin Franklin said, "If we do not hang together, we will hang separately." And so in drawing up the new Constitution, strongly influenced by Freemasons who were present and powerful, they passed over religious union, and in order to guarantee that religious divisions would not upset political union, at the head of the list of fundamental rights of citizens of the new federation, which was added a few years later, as the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, there was established the principle of religious liberty; namely, that the government of this federation would never be able to impose on the federation as such an official religion. (Some American patriots state that the particular states or individual states are not bound by this federal regulation. That was true up to the Civil War of 1861-1865; it has been false since, because the federal government acquired, following on that war, a crushing power in relation to the governments of the particular states.)
Let us see now the fruits borne by this choice of religious liberty as the foundation stone of the new nation. And we will see that, speaking concretely, it is difficult to exaggerate just how far personal life, family life, social life and national life change when the regime of a national religion is replaced by a regime of religious liberty; or, to put it more exactly, when religious liberty is raised up into being the national religion.
The Founding Fathers of the United States were very well aware of the fact that by the Constitution of 1787 they were doing something entirely new. And they were proud of it. "We are setting up a New World on a new basis without any need of cardinals or princes," they told the world, "and we are going to show that what we are doing is superior." It is new, certainly, and it is so different from every other previous civilization that one may hesitate to give to what these innovators did the name of civilization. But is it superior? Let us see how under the new regime of religious liberty God is emptied out, religion is gutted, man is deified, truth is discredited, good is undermined and culture is vulgarized.
Firstly, the substance of God is emptied out, He becomes a mere mockery of the true Divinity. If the new nation gives in its Constitution the prime place to national union, then the interests of God and of the truth take second place. Now, God either takes the first place or He is nothing at all. According to religious liberty, people will be free to give Him all the honors they like, but they will no longer be free to give Him the first place because that would risk upsetting national unity. Now the true God does not enter into that sort of combination and hence the true God may bless this or that individual, this or that family for their objective or subjective merits in the new nation, but the national and social life, as such, under this Constitution, will be struck by a divine curse. Indeed, public life in the United States is accursed. It is an avalanche of lies, a series of false wars followed by false peaces. Strong words - Card. Pie, I think, spoke just as strongly against the Masonic republic in France of the last century. So the problem is not the United States, the problem is Masonry. There is no use closing our eyes to the damage done by Masonry.
Then as God is no longer God, man must take His place, and just as politics become the true religion under a regime of religious liberty, so man becomes god. Now there can be no sin innate in God, so, man being god, there is no sin innate in man. Hence original sin is denied, and every man becomes intrinsically good. The average American is profoundly Rousseauist (Rousseau was not an American but a Frenchman). The average American is profoundly Rousseauist; that is, he believes in the noble savage. As democrats, Americans believe in educating the people, but as Rousseauists, they destroy education because if a savage is noble, why educate him? Hence, the wretched spectacle of a system of education swallowing every year more and more fabulous sums of money in order to advance only in rottenness. Because, for example, in a democracy, there is no longer any question of admiring what is noble. Nobility of class is forbidden under the 1787 Constitution, and moral nobility is banned because it would condemn democratic lowness. Man is king and every ideal is going to be leveled downwards.
Next, truth is radically discredited because not only does man, being king and god, become the measure of what is true and what is good and what is beautiful, but also, national unity having been preferred to the truth of any particular religion because all religious division based on considerations of truth could harm national unity, then truth is degraded like religion. But by its nature, truth is absolute in its demands or it is nothing. From which it follows that in the new nation, at least in the religious and spiritual domain, truth will no longer have any importance; every contradiction will become acceptable; human reason, the reasoning faculty, will be discredited, and there will remain nothing in American heads except the single idea that ideas are worthless; hence the national anti-intellectualism. For the American intelligence there remains only the domain of matter in which thought can be taken seriously. But the human intelligence retains its thirst for truth, and hence in the United States, from the very beginning, the strong thrust towards the material sciences, the superiority of Americans in technology, materialism, commerce, comfort, material well-being and also the thrust towards sexualism; because as Malcolm Muggeridge said, "Sex is the mysticism of materialism."
Notice that all these tendencies are as much at work in Europe, because Freemasonry is at work on both sides of the ocean. But between Europe and America there is this enormous difference, that in all the countries of Europe there were centuries, sometimes centuries and centuries, of Catholic life and Catholic culture before Protestantism arrived, whereas the United States were born as colonies in Protestantism because of the English heretics. This means that in every European there is an old instinct, an after-taste or traces of Catholicism and the old Catholic order which act more or less as a brake to prevent certain liberal principles deploying all their poison, whereas in the United States these harmful principles have nothing to check their harmfulness. But, notice also this other difference between Europe and America, that since America did not have these centuries of Catholicism, Americans are that much more innocent subjectively when they objectively do evil. They commit evil more freely, but also more innocently.
However, truth being objectively discredited has nonetheless grave consequences; firstly, subjectivism. If unity takes precedence of truth, what value can truth still have other than the value of utility? Truth becomes what suits me. Of such a people Dante said, "The unhappy people that have lost the good of the intellect." It is an unimaginable evil to lose truth, which is the good of the intellect. Hence, when the intellect and ideas and reason lose their value, in the United States it is sentiments which take over. A catastrophic sentimentalism takes over minds and falsifies judgments at every point on the road, except in questions of money, where people remain strictly realistic. In accordance with this sentimentality, people refuse to recognize the reality of evil or suffering. They put on pink spectacles and pretend that everybody is nice, everybody is sweet, everybody is gentle in the best of all possible worlds.
This sentimentalism further unmans men because the primacy of sentiment is the privilege of women. Hence religious liberty unmans men. And it is religious liberty which is the profound reason for the feminism presently ravaging the United States. Here, too, as far as I know, Europe is following the United States because Europe is also believing in religious liberty. It is adopting religious liberty especially since the Catholic Church, itself, is now pushing religious liberty, and so the men are being unmanned in Europe at least as much as over here.
And as a regime of religious liberty discredits truth and falsehood, it also undermines good and evil. As the intellect is deprived of truth, so behavior is cut off from objective morality, except, again, in material questions. (On the English stock exchange, a man can lie about anything but he will not lie about a stock or bond transaction. There you can be sure of his word. That is England.) Hence the American becomes capable of committing what are objectively the most terrible stupidities or betrayals, even while he remains subjectively convinced that his action is just. And this he can do to a degree and to a depth profoundly incomprehensible for any European who still retains any sense of objective morality. In turn, Americans are liable to say, "These Europeans are incapable of understanding us," and it is not entirely false when they say that.
Finally in a regime of religious liberty, culture is vulgarized. Fine arts become ugly arts. After all, man being god, and the people being sovereign, not only can there be no further question of any standard or measure of beauty which imposes itself on the liberty of man, but also any so-called beauty which would indicate there was a God, or anything above man, would be an offence against man's royalty. I am king, I am by my lowness king, and I will emphasize my lowness in order to emphasize my kingship, and I will defy anybody who denies it. Hence, the rejoicing in ugliness, especially in clothing. For instance, these baseball caps put on back to front. There was a photograph in the newspaper once of a Negro who was trying to start a fashion of trousers put on back to front but the fashion does not seem to have caught on!
This anti-culture is as ugly as you like, but it is nonetheless all-conquering and it is presently conquering "cultured Europe." Truly the walls of the old civilization are cracked. Why so? Why is television in Europe, and in fact throughout the world, flooded with American programs to the point that a few years ago the French government tried to intervene to protect French culture on French television? Interesting question. The answer may be as follows: New wine calls for new bottles. It is our Lord who said new wine does not go in old bottles. America is a New World, on a new basis, pouring out a new wine, preaching a new crusade, in two words, the crusade of religious liberty and democracy. To make the world safe for democracy - famous battlecry of President Wilson for the holy war of liberals - the First World War. The word of crusade is not too strong, because religious liberty is in fact a new religion. New wine we have then which calls for new bottles.
Now the bottles containing what we call culture are eminently the arts; for instance, literature, music and painting. Notice that the arts already evolved greatly within Christendom, with the evolution of Christendom. But when anti-Christendom arrives, are not the bottles going to evolve to the point of bursting? That is exactly what we have observed. Whoever had any talent for words in Europe, used to write poetry. Today in America he writes advertisements. They are the geniuses of Madison Avenue who write jingles that will make people buy. On Madison Avenue they have a real sense of words and it is all harnessed to commerce. Whoever had a talent for songs in Europe used to make classical music, but today in America, it is rock music, and you have the world's stars of rock-and-roll. The guitar has burst, it has gone metal, it has gone metallic, it has gone electric and there is very little resemblance between the rock-and-roll guitar and the old guitar. Whoever had a talent for colors used to practise the fine arts, today in America you practise photography. Whoever had a talent for telling stories or for acting, in Europe used to write novels, but today in America it is the cinema and above all, television. Of course this is over-simplified, but nevertheless, a New World calls for new arts. A new message calls for new media. (Even in America, it is not the medium which is the message, as Marshall McCluhan once said in a provocative way.) It is still the message, or lack of message, which governs the very structure of the medium. When Beethoven hit the piano so hard, they had to make pianos tougher to stand up to his hammering. The medium evolved with the message. If he had not wanted to hit the piano hard, the piano would have stayed a gentle instrument. (Beethoven, of course, had nothing to do with the United States.) What is true in what Marshall McCluhan said is that the message of religious liberty is a hollow message because it emptied out God, and if man is empty of God, there is nothing left. And the message is hollow, therefore all that remains is the medium and in that sense the medium becomes the message. From religious liberty comes the relative emptiness of art and artists in the United States, in any Masonic country in fact.)
"So the problem is not the United States,
the problem is Masonry. There is no use cosing our eyes to the damage done
"Europe is following the United States because
Europe is also believing in religious liberty especially since the Catholic
Church, itself, is now pushing religious liberty..."
But that is a judgment based on the old standards, the artistic standards of the Old World. According to those standards, what we are calling the Europeans are the masters and the Americans come nowhere. But supposing we change the standards. Supposing the measure of the use that one makes of one's talents is no longer the old beauty but money and usefulness. Then aren't the roles reversed? At that moment the Americans become the masters and the Europeans, concretely speaking, become the disciples.
Indeed, the new arts so to speak, advertising, television, rock music, are practised by Americans with a religious conviction, with a proud taste and with a zeal of pioneers, because they are the arts of the new life, the arts of religious democracy, the arts of this liberty which, for the American, takes the place of religion, and by which he has in so superior a fashion left behind the futile problems of religious divisions which remain insoluble in the Old World, Yugoslavia for instance.
And so, still schematizing, just as Europeans are the masters of the old arts, Americans are masters of the new arts. And Europeans, if they retain only a little of the old sense of nobility and beauty and discipline, will never be able to let themselves go with the lowness, superficiality and indiscipline of the new arts without letting a little of their scorn appear. And that little bit of scorn will have the effect on the final product of a few drops of gasoline in a barrel of whiskey. In other words, viewers viewing a European film may well sense something half-hearted in the Old World's handling of the New World's medium, invented by Thomas Edison, whereas viewers may sense that Americans are completely at home in this medium of their own world. Thus a respectable American writer, Norman Mailer, being interviewed in a television show 20 years ago with a very popular, but rather less-respectable writer, Mickey Spillane, was asked why he did not write best-sellers like Mickey Spillane - "Oh no," he replied, ";in order to write like that you have to believe in it." In other words, to be a successful practitioner of trash, you have to believe in trash. Harsh words, but Catholic priests in a Masonic world are constantly up against the temptation to start praising what is Masonic or accepting what is Masonic, at which instant they start degrading what is Catholic.
In other words, if the inhabitants now of the entire world wish to live the new life, if they wish to give themselves over to materialism, if they wish for the fruits of religious liberty, they will not want the new arts practised with a slightly uneasy conscience or without conviction. They wire want total rock music, convinced cinema and whole-hearted television such as the Americans produce. And that is why we have this flood of products of American television throughout the world. All the world wants to hear the new life preached by whole-hearted crusaders, and the whole-hearted crusaders will be the Americans for whom religious liberty is their religion.
Because what we are in the presence of is a new life, a new world, a new humanity, directly opposed to the old life, the old world, the old humanity by an opposition based on religious liberty. For indeed, the classical Protestant is a heretic and a hypocrite, objectively speaking, refusing to serve God while seeming to do so. But as a classical Protestant, he nevertheless keeps certain fixed and even true beliefs. For instance, he may still believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if his beliefs are false, they can still be fixed in the head of the classical Protestant. In other words, the head of this Protestant keeps a measure of the stability of truth which is to be found in the Catholic Church. Of course, the instability intrinsic to error will finish in the Protestant head by undermining the measure of stability which is still there, just as it will eat up what is still true in his head. And that is the slide from Protestantism to Liberalism. But in the meantime, looking at it from the point of view of stability, the classical Protestant head more resembles the Catholic head than it resembles the Liberal head. In the same sense, a Protestant European more resembles a Catholic European than he resembles an American. This is a way of describing the gulf that there is between the American head and the European head, between the liberal head and the classical head, between the new head and the old head.
And I hope once again it is understood that here I am talking materially about the American head, while I am formally talking about the Masonic head. Because if I kept on saying the Masonic head, the Masonic head, the Masonic head, people would say, that has nothing to do with us. They would say ah, that is Masonry, I do not know what he is talking about. But if one says American, people have to recognize their own world.
Hence a profound mutual incomprehension, reaching as far as mutual scorn between the two worlds, materially speaking, between the American world and the European world. As the old European is apt to scorn novelties, machines and technology, so the American is apt to scorn history, culture, the past. As everyone admires what he feels he is gifted in and he deprecates what he feels he is lacking in, so the American pushes towards the future. He is persuaded that everything that is new is better, that everything that is old is more or less out of date. Hence a scorn for the past is the last feature of the American spirit that we will pick out for the moment in the analysis of this spirit.
But let us underline once more just how difficult it is for a religious liberty head to understand a fixed religion head. For example, sincerity. What is the sincerity of a liberal, unconscious of being a liberal but born in a liberal nation like America? In classical Europe, in other words when Europe was not yet liberal, sincerity meant the correspondence between the outside of a man and the inside of a man, and this inside was stable because it was, for instance, anchored to the morality of the ten commandments, which do not float. But supposing the inside is unstable; supposing the inside of the man is not anchored in the ten commandments but is anchored in religious liberty .In that case, the inside of the man can slide. In that case, if the exterior and the interior slide at the same time, you have all the appearances of sincerity, because the man is aware of himself, of his inside corresponding to exactly what he is showing on the outside. Therefore a man can change his behavior from one moment to the next without ceasing to be sincere, at least in his own eyes. But this apparent sincerity, which is a true sincerity for the liberal because he conceives no other sincerity, is false for the non-liberal who cannot conceive that a spirit can drift and float to that point. Hence a European cannot understand that an American can in such a case think that he is sincere, whereas the American understands just as little that one may question his sincerity. Imagine what that can produce by way of misunderstanding! And notice that such misunderstanding can only take place where a whole environment has been won over to liberalism, that is to say, where the floating in depth is a feature of the large majority of people, in other words, where it is so normal for minds to float in depth, that it is the opposite which seems abnormal, in such a way that the measure of mental sanity, which is provided by normality, instead of playing for the stable mind, plays for the unstable or floating mind. In other words, the floating mind is the normal mind.
Compare the problem of Vatican II. Here is one way to read the problem of Rome, for instance, Card. Ratzinger: the mind unhooked from the truth has become so normal in Rome that Card. Ratzinger cannot conceive of a Tradition being anchored to an unchanging Truth because that has become so abnormal, because his German philosophy has become so normal.
By way of example, America as a nation, for the reasons given above, is an environment in which the normal mind is the mind that floats. At that point there is between the American and the European a misunderstanding in depth which, if it is in the process of disappearing, is only disappearing because Europeans are Americanizing themselves. For between the two minds, the floating mind and the stable mind in the pure state, an understanding is impossible. One of them affirms and the other ignores, does not even deny, the Principle of Non-contradiction. Imagine a gangrene taking over a healthy body even while leaving the appearances of health. That is an image of this new life, this new world, this new mankind as seen by a man of the old world.
But, you object, it is not just as seen by the old world, it is the objective truth, please do not devalue objective truth. Agreed. But we are in the process of trying to grasp, to understand the new man, the American spirit insofar as it is the spirit of the new man, and we will never understand it as long as we do not grasp the normality of this mentality. To enter into this mentality without coming back out again would be a disaster. But not to enter into this mentality will be to fail to understand the world which is all around us. Here, and not elsewhere, is the great obstacle today to the apostolate.
But let us continue to draw light from the example of the American spirit by picking up again in the 19th century the story of the clash between the Americanist spirit and the Catholic Church.
The problem of the Catholic Church in the United States goes back to the origin of the Republic. Tired of their persecuted existence in the Protestant colonies, a handful of Catholics at the time of the beginning of the United States came to an understanding with the founders of the Republic that in exchange for their giving their loyal support to the Republic, they would be sure of being tolerated under the new regime of religious liberty. This understanding did not fail to mark the Catholic Church in the new nation with an affection for the Republic and with a veneration for religious liberty as a principle, a veneration repeatedly expressed in the 19th century by the bishops in the growing Church, growing at the speed of the United States at that time. That is what brought about, that when the German immigrants from Bismarck's Kulturkampf, fleeing religious persecution in Europe towards the end of the 19th century, landed in the United States, they brought with them a Catholicism which did not fit very well with that of the Americans convinced for tens of years by now, of the holiness of religious liberty.
The most famous clash between these two versions of Catholicism took place in the 1890's in connection with the Catholic University being founded near the capital city, Washington, and which had been equipped with a team of professors half European and half American. A division so violent arose between the professors of the Old and the New World, that Rome had to intervene by sending over a special delegate, Msgr. Sattolli. When he arrived in the United States, he had at first wanted to support the Americans, but after studying the evidence he had to admit it was the Europeans who were right, and the Rector of the University, Msgr. Keane, an American and an Americanist, had to be removed as Rector.
In order to present the Roman position, Pope Leo XIII sent a little later to the Primate of the American church, James Card. Gibbons, the encyclical letter Testem Benevolentiae condemning false Americanism. Let us sum up Testem Benevolentiae, the gentle condemnation of Americanism in the narrow sense, as I said before.
This error, said the Pope, proceeds from a negative principle according to which the Church must adapt to modern and the Church must therefore imitate the admirable new liberty of the American state. And the encyclical continues with five positive conclusions equally false: 1) Catholics must more guide themselves (i.e., as opposed to receiving guidance of clerics); 2) the natural virtues must be given more emphasis in relation to the supernatural virtues; 3) active virtues should be given more emphasis in relation to the so-called "passive virtues"; 4) religious life should not be over-valued because there is so little liberty in it, and; 5) Catholic apologetics ought to go out more to meet the modern world.
What was the result of this gentle, yet clear call to order by Leo XIII? The prelates of the Church in the United States did a self-examination and they said, "But none of us are Americanists, in the sense in which Americanism is being condemned by the Pope, such an Americanism is a pure invention of French priests in Europe who love inventing quarrels. We have nothing to reproach ourselves with."
Hence those responsible for Americanism did not submit even in the external forum, but they announced to the world that they had no reason to submit, since not one of them professed any of the condemned errors. In the internal forum, they continued to believe that Rome did not understand them, of course; that was just normal they said, and that being the case, they were bound to continue their efforts to save the Church and the modern world by reconciling the Church with the modern world, only from now on it would be necessary to do it a little more discreetly since Rome had proved once more its inability to understand.
The comparison with the reaction of the leaders of Sillonism, sister error of Americanism, and condemned by the Church only a few years later, is revealing. Sillonism was a social reform movement for laymen arising in France in the 1890's and 1900's, and which, again notice, had nothing to do with the United States. Condemned head-on by the letter of Pius X in 1910 on Sillonism, their leader, Marc Sangnier and his lieutenants outwardly submitted, but inwardly they were no less convinced, and so they arranged their minds in such a way as to likewise continue their Sillonist crusade despite the Roman condemnation. Obviously, Rome had not understood. But it was completely normal that Rome should not understand, and so there was no need to stop, but rather continue under another form exactly the same movement. So that is what they did with such success that already in 1924 the reborn Sillonists boasted of having one of their members in every Roman dicastery.
Surely such a reaction is sheer villainy? Objectively, no doubt; subjectively, God knows. In any case, notice the strong parallel between Americanism in the United States and Sillonism in France, and notice that this shows that the problem is not America as such, and notice again the procedure of the villainy. The more the Old World disappears, the more watertight is subjective sincerity within the New World. And as difficult as it is for he who believes in religious liberty to even conceive that one may take seriously a unique and exclusive Truth, so difficult is it for he who believes in one religious Truth excluding all error, to conceive the depth of instability and subversion reigning in a religious liberty head, in which contradiction is no longer any problem.
Such instability and subversion so deeply rooted in the minds of our age is surely a sign of apocalyptic times. At the beginning of this century, Pius X wondered if the anti-Christ was not already born. At the end of this century we would say he must have made a mistake. But it was from fearing that the anti-Christ was born that St. Pius X governed the Church in such a way as to obtain for it like a reprieve of 50 years from his masterly condemnation of the Modernists in 1907 with the encyclical Pascendi. But the Modernists then reacted just like the Americanists or the Sillonists and since their villainy, their twistedness, suits the modern world down to the ground, it was simply a matter of time before the cunning patience and perseverance of the Modernists would achieve their purpose. And so the moment for the neo- Americanists, the neo-Sillonists, the neo-Modernists came when they obtained from John XXIII the summoning of a new council of the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council.
Of this Council they succeeded in kidnapping the direction almost as soon as it began. Now there is no question of blaming the Americans for the hi-jacking of the Council. It was the works of Europeans as is indicated by the title of the famous book of Fr. Wiltgen written on the Council: it was the Rhine and not the Potomac that flowed into the Tiber. But the Potomac flowed in a little later by bringing to Rome the expert and convinced crusaders of religious liberty, the Americans who succeeded in getting the great majority of the Council Fathers to accept the sixth and final text of the last document of the Council, Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Liberty. But notice once more, nobody was forcing the Europeans to follow the Americans and if the Europeans approved instead of rejecting the principle of all subversion, the fault lies entirely with those Europeans who had close at hand all the ancient wisdom and truth. Europeans have no business unloading their sins on the backs of Americans!
So let us recall briefly the history of the intervention of Americanists at Vatican II, admirably well told in Michael Davies' book Vatican II and Religious Liberty. Many know that the champion of religious liberty at Vatican II was an American priest, Fr. John Courtney Murray. What few people know is that the Jesuit superiors of John Courtney Murray forbade him to attend the Council and hence he missed the first of the four council sessions in 1962. It was on the insistence of Card. Spellman of New York that Fr. Murray was able to attend the Council from the second session onwards in order to guide on the floor of the Council the drawing up and presentation of the six successive texts of the Declaration on Religious Liberty. Now Card. Spellman passes for being a friend of Pius XII and a great conservative amongst American cardinals! This suggests just how much we need some revisionists to rewrite the true history of the Church before Vatican II.
In any case at the second session of the Council, in the Secretariat for Christian Unity, a sinister organization according to Archbishop Lefebvre, and on the floor of the Council, it was the American bishops who upheld the new text of Fr. Murray on religious liberty, a liberal text which came to replace the orthodox schema already drawn up ule w the direction of Card. Ottaviani on religious toleration. At the third session of the Council, the declaration on religious liberty became a separate schema and was the subject of a bitter struggle stretching over the first three drafts of the text. In the fourth and last session of the Council in 1965, there were another three drafts, always bitterly fought over, but finally the sixth, received the approval of the Council Fathers in their large majority, of Pope Paul VI and Fr. Murray. That is how on December 7, 1965, Dignitatis Humanae became the last of the sixteen documents approved by the Council and the document which is like the crown of the Council. When Card. Bea had come to New York as the ecumenical delegate of the Pope in order to ask the Jews of B'nai B'rith what they would wish for as fruit of the Council taking place, the Jews had replied "We want religious liberty."
It is this principle of religious liberty which is the decisive contribution of Americanists to the Council. Not that the Americans and Americanism brought nothing else to the Council in any of its other documents, but the introduction of this principle within the Catholic Church is of such importance that it overshadows any other contribution of Americans to the course of the Council. Then let us examine briefly the text of this infamous Declaration in order to pick out the traces of what we have sketched above as the American spirit.
Let us notice firstly that if one wishes to treat the Declaration on Religious Liberty as a unified and coherent document, one will lose not only one's Latin, one will lose one's Catholic head. Any appearance of unity in the final document is only a deceitful appearance which deceives because its deceit, consisting in the reconciliation of irreconcilables, is common currency in the modern world. This famous reconciliation comes with a crusading conviction out of the soul of Fr. Murray and it is received with a sigh of relief on the part of many of the Council Fathers who long to get back in step with the modern world which they are tired of resisting, and who are insufficiently prepared and fortified by good doctrine to resist the harassment and seduction of this world which wishes to kill off their dioceses, their Church and the Truth.
In reality, beneath the appearances and in spite of the appearances, the document on religious liberty is totally double. It is a mixture of two perfectly opposed elements. And as soon as one sees it as such, then everything that was confused becomes perfectly clear and the contradiction is resolved precisely into contradictories, they resolve like dew resolves beneath the sunshine. But woe to anybody who would take seriously the unity of the document! At that moment the contradictions could only be resolved at the price of one's mental health, or of one's Catholic faith. We members of the Society of Saint Pius X a few years ago had two colleagues very gifted for analyzing such problems of this accursed Council. They saw very clear, they even wrote books, and then they themselves fell into the trap that they had so clearly denounced. Be careful. As far as confusion is concerned, this document on religious liberty is a masterpiece.
Comparison is not reason, but in order to illustrate in a vivid fashion the double character, the duplicity of the document, let me give you a picture. Perched on the spherical surface of a big atom bomb, there is a little boy in a little plastic toy car with a plastic brake. With his right hand, the little boy is pulling on a string, which for the purpose of my comparison, is going to detonate the bomb. And no doubt it will blast off in a few moments, but in the meantime he is pressing with his left foot on the little plastic brake of his little plastic car. And he always has a completely beatific expression on his sweet little face.
Surely no need for a long explanation. The atom bomb of Dignitatis Humanae is the repeated refusal of civil coercion in religious matters, and the repeated affirmation of the right of man to be exempt from any civil coercion in matters of religion. This right is inborn in man whatever use he may make of the right, or misuse, because he does not lose the right, even if he misuses it (Dignitatis Humanae §2). This is an atom bomb because this principle on its own is capable of blasting sky high the rights of God, hence the nature of God, hence God Himself, to say nothing of the rights of His Church, hence the complete Catholic religion. As we see, in the aftermath of the Council the mushroom cloud is still rising above the ruins of the Church in the atmosphere of the entire world.
On the other hand, the little plastic brake is, in the document, the little reminders of Catholic doctrine which pretend to put limits upon this sacrosanct liberty-right in matters of religion. For example the non-violation of other men's rights, public peace, public morality which are meant to constitute the norms of public order, to which the exercise of religious liberty is meant to be submitted. This is a plastic brake, because by what logic, internal to religious liberty, can one deduce from it the respect of another man's liberty in relation to the affirmation of your own? On the contrary, logically, affirmation of your own liberty to do what you like rides over any other man's liberty, logically. This old-fashioned respect for another man's liberty has no intrinsic tie with the new liberty and hence just interferes with it. So once one lays down as one's principle the liberty-right, sooner or later norms like public order will be blasted sky high. They will have no power to stand up to the consistent and logical affirmation of the new liberty-right. And that is exactly the behavior we observe in the chaotic youth of today's big cities. What divine justice! The oldsters preach the right to be free from everything and the youngsters duly liberate themselves from the oldsters by killing them off!
From this rapid presentation of the fundamental duplicity of Dignitatis Humanae let us pass through an equally swift comparison between the American spirit as sketched out above, and the spirit of Dignitatis Humanae, hence the spirit of the Council. The comparison will again be schematic, but we think it is essentially just.
God is emptied out, Dignitatis Humanae (§11). Men are not constrained by God, are not coerced by God. That is what the document says explicitly. Implicitly then, He does not constrain men by Hell, the God Who threatens us with the constraint of this Hell no longer exists. God is emptied out.
Religion is gutted. Dignitatis Humanae (§6) says explicitly that all religions must enjoy the right to religious liberty. Implicitly the prime value to be defended in human society then is no longer Truth, but liberty. At that point, unless you call liberty a religion, religion is gutted.
Man is dignified. Dignitatis Humanae (§2) says explicitly that the right to religious liberty, founded on the dignity of the human person, persists even if the person misuses his right to religious liberty. Human dignity replaces God as the measure of what is good. Human dignity, or man, is god.
Original sin is denied. Dignitatis Humanae (§7) says explicitly, "Man must be granted the maximum of liberty, and liberty must be restrained only when it is necessary and to the extent that it is necessary." Implicitly, leave men free, and good will take place because man does not incline by himself to evil. Implicitly, original sin is denied.
Truth is discredited. Dignitatis Humanae (§2) says explicitly the human person always has a right to religious liberty even if the human person ceases seeking the Truth. Implicitly, liberty is of greater value than Truth, Truth no longer has first place, Truth is discredited.
Reason is devalued. Dignitatis Humanae (§1) says explicitly that the doctrine of Dignitatis Humanae is in agreement with Catholic Tradition. Implicitly, what is new is not new, which is the suspension of the Law of Non-contradiction. Reason is unhinged.
Sentiment is up-valued. See the whole of Dignitatis Humanae (§11) for the sweet image of Christ, all gentleness, mercy, patience; never constraining, never threatening, absolutely not nasty; nice, nice, nice. Then since Christ no longer draws men to Truth other than by love, love, love; all you need is love, all Christ needs is love, love, love. Then men are unmanned and we have the dawn of priestesses because the poor women if they no longer have manly priests, are going to have to try to provide them themselves!
True morality is undone. Dignitatis Humanae (§7) says explicitly, it is no longer the common good but public order which constitutes the norm of the exercise of religious liberty. Implicitly, the sins which harm the public good without upsetting public tranquility, for instance, the tranquil propagation of error, are no longer sins against the common good. This is the subversion of the common good and the subversion of true morality.
Finally what is old is despised. Dignitatis Humanae (§ 12) says explicitly that the Church in history has not always respected religious liberty. Implicitly, that is to measure the Church by a false measure in order to condemn its past in order to introduce it into a false future where anything old is despised. In brief, the Catholic Church must enter by this new principle of religious liberty into a New Age. It will be a New Church, which will have for the Old Church, a condescending sympathy, or an open scorn; in any case a radical incomprehension or lack of understanding. What we are doing is new and it is superior, and we hardly need to prove it to you. Join us if you do not wish to disappear, says the New Catholic. And the Newchurch? - Dignitatis Humanae (§15) glorifies modern man: "It is, in fact, clear today that the consciousness of every man of his personal responsibility is increasing." Ah, what a misfortune, what a curse, the ease with which these flattering heresies get themselves greedily swallowed down by modern men!
What should be done? Firstly, not blame Americans for having brought to Vatican II the error which was first exported from Europe, notably from a country which I will not name, north of the English Channel. The problem is not there. Americans err with a relative innocence. It is the Church; especially in Europe, whose ignorance is grave, even inexcusable.
And so let us become aware of the particular character, unprecedented in all history, of the crisis caused by this spirit which we are calling American, but which became the spirit of the Council, which became at Vatican II, the spirit of the churchmen. When the Law of Non-contradiction is suspended in the head of the Vicars of Christ, we are getting close to the end. We are living either through the Apocalypse or the dress rehearsal for the Apocalypse. It is no longer in the categories of the Catholicism of the 1950's, so to speak, that one can classify the problem, nor is it by solutions of the 1950's that we are going to solve it. Let us do everything we can, but please let us not go on with "Fifties-ism."
In the same line of thinking, let us remain calm, but let us not be excessively well-behaved. Not only has the house caught fire, but the very Church is exploding. Let us groan, let us revolt and let us howl a little bit. Let us not capsize the lifeboat; but let us row and row urgently in order not to be swept beneath the waves by the structures of the great ship disappearing beneath the water. An unshakeable faith in the future of the Church, outside of which our lifeboat of the Society is nothing, and for love of the Church, a great sense of urgency in order to watch over the lifeboat; to protect it; and to keep rowing.
And then let us wait; because the hour of God will strike, it is His Church, His flock, His sheep and His Society. Let us not be afraid, it is He. At the moment He chooses, He will rise up to say His Word, and this great storm will drop down and come to lie docilely at His feet, like a little dog.
- CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS -