Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Six Critiques of the Mentality of the Church since the Second Vatican Council: Part One

1) Since the Council, there has been a profound lack of awareness on the part of the Church that the devil is, indeed, real, coupled with an over-emphasis that all men, in a shadowy and incomplete way, partake of the Logos. Furthermore, there has been a complete ignoring of the fact that the evil one and the demons are really and truly active outside of the safe and sanctified boundaries of the Catholic Church, hence why we have powerful weapons against evil like the Holy Mass, the Rite of Exorcism, the Charismatic Gifts, the Holy Rosary, and many others. The devil and the many demons are at work to varying degrees in various religions and groups of men, but rest assured, all error that is outside the Catholic Church and her absolute Truth is ultimately due to sin, and sin is ultimately the domain of the devil. This means that any religion or group of men that is outside of the Church and that contains error is to a certain extent and as allowed by the Triune God, under the devil's power. Even the various groups of Protestants are, to varying degrees corresponding to their level of divergence from Catholic Truth, under this category; hence, St. Ignatius of Antioch clearly declares that if anyone does anything relating to the Faith without the lawful Bishop, he does in reality do service to the devil.

You can clearly see a number of ways that this skewed mentality has played out in the Latin Church, from the removal of the office of Exorcist from the Church, to the editing of the sacramental blessings, to the tinkering with the Rite of Exorcism, to the over-openness to other religions, to the dropping of the term Church Militant, and too many other horrible litanies of doing away with or radically altering many of our greatest weapons and holiest possessions. In the Byzantine and other Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglo-Catholic Rite, thanks be to God, there hasn't been nearly as much of a disaster; both have kept the purity of their Faith largely intact. This issue mainly affects the Latin Church. In the Second Vatican Council itself there is a repeated obsession to be overly-reverential of other religions to the point where the Church was almost tripping over herself to respect and reverence other religions. The reason why the Council was declaring this reverence was because of the elements of grace that exist outside of the Church's visible boundaries, and the universal enlightenment of the Logos to all men born into the world. The problem with this attitude is that it was never counterbalanced in the Council's documents, nor in the mentality of the Church since the Council, with the reality that the devil is active in promoting error and that he is very much present in religious error and, yes, blasphemy. For instance, wherein Islam blasphemes Jesus Christ by denying that He is the Son of God, true God and true man, this is the evil one at work in this religion to present to them a warping of the Truth and keep them from the grace of the Catholic Church. Hence does the St. Paul the Apostle say:

And if our Gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world (the devil of Hell) hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the Light of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ, who is the Image of God, should not shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus. For God, who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the knowledge of the Glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.- 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

St. Paul also continues this theme in another place, confirming moreover that we are in a constant spiritual warfare with the devil and the demons for the souls of men, and that we are also in warfare to be salt in our society and prevent it from rotting under the weight of sin:

Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.- Ephesians 6:10-13

The problem is, you never hear this truth from the Catholic Church today; her hierarchy is completely silent on this matter. There is an entirely lopsided and unbalanced focus on part of this truth told to us by St. John:

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto his own, and his own received Him not... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw His Glory, the Glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.- The Gospel according to St. John 1:1, 9-11, 14

St. John here tells us that the Logos does indeed enlighten and guide every man that comes into the world, and calls all men by His grace. He does all this outside of the visible boundaries of the Church, even though the grace that He dispenses to all men is mediated mysteriously through His Church, which is His Body and completely united to Him. This activity of Logos outside of the visible boundaries of the Church clearly justifies the Second Vatican Council declaring as much, and thus, at least theologically and relating to Faith and Morals, the Council is accurate. St. John also clarifies, however, that the world did not (and still does not) know the Logos personally and perfectly, this knowledge of the Logos brings holiness and sanctity, and it is precisely for this reason that the Logos was made man, in order to join Himself in righteousness to His Church and make Himself known in holiness to her. It is this balance that is missing, this understanding of both the theological truth that the Logos and His grace is active outside of the visible boundaries of the Church, and on the other hand, that the devil is also at work outside of the Church viciously spreading error and encouraging sin and blasphemy against Jesus Christ among men and religions. Ignore this truth to your own peril, for it is very real. The longer we refuse to balance our vision in this regard, the longer we will be willingly ignorant of the devices and practices of the devil, as St. Paul encourages us not to be. Both truths are indeed complementary and based on Apostolic Christian doctrine taught in Scripture, but there must be a clear hierarchy to these two truths; the activity of evil in this world and the sinister nature of the evil one's work in other religions is no mere fairy tale, and it must be firmly believed and must inform and restrain our understanding of the presence of the Logos, together with the Church's grace, throughout the whole world. We must embrace and reverence those elements of truth and grace outside of the visible Catholic Church only because they are in fact the Church herself; we must not embrace nor reverence the other religions of the world as themselves; for as themselves, they are a gross blindness imposed by the power that the evil one has over this world. The lack of this common sense and essential understanding of Christianity is alarming when your read the Council's documents, as there is a very strong emphasis on embracing other religions and reverencing them without due caution being taken to emphasize the reality of the evil one acting to sow blasphemy and error against the Triune God. Indeed, when you take this unbalanced attitude into perspective together with the "pious pelagianism" and completely unwarranted optimism of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (as Cardinal Ratzinger put it) regarding culture in the West, you get a glimpse of an almost naive vision on the part of the Council Fathers that is dangerously dismissive of evil, as if we had already entered Heaven and positive, supernatural evil was now a fairy tale to be remembered no more. When we understand this essential mindset starting in the Council's documents themselves and bleeding over in tenfold strength into the later decades, we can understand the complete collapse of Latin Catholic worship, identity, and life: the Latin Catholic Church let her guard down almost entirely and allowed the evil one to strip her down to shameful nakedness.

Let me be clear, I do not mean to claim that the Second Vatican Council is heretical. All of its Magisterial teachings on Faith and Morals are sound and within the scope of Catholic orthodoxy, and they are faithful to Sacred Scripture as well. However, the manner in which these truths were presented, the language that was used to present them, and the undue reverence and naivete that was shown to other world religions and secular Western culture in the Council without the counterbalancing emphasis that sin, error, and blasphemy are the domain and power of the devil in the world, are all truly frightening and dangerous to good Faith in Christ and His Church, which is His fullness and His Body.


  1. Very thoughtful...i am going to have to re-read this (happy 4th)

    1. Happy 4th to you too, S :) hope the holiday is fun with the family.

      And yes, this has been on my mind lately because I've been in-depth reading through Nostra Aetate, Dignitatis Humanae, Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium, and the other Council Documents. The state of Latin Catholic identity, worship, and level of awareness that the world in general is not our friend and will "hate you, just as it hated Me first" has been troubling me ever since I began converting. I would feel troubled in conscience if I didn't share how my thinking has developed on this issue of the modern Latin Catholic Church, even if there is room for improvement as I learn more.

    2. One thing that's even more scary, personally, is that in the landmark Magisterial clarification to some of the teachings within the Second Vatican Council, Dominus Iesus, (which I have read through over halfway now and scanned the other half) there is still the same conspicuous absence of warning regarding the actual and living reality of evil in the world and in other religions, and in Christian schism. Dominus Iesus in wonderful in that it reiterates the truth regarding the Church herself, and clarifies some of the more egregious errors that had developed since the Council, but it says next to nothing to counterbalance this Logos-emphasis with the reality of supernatural evil.