Pope Pius X in an early colour photograph, c. 1907 Wikipedia

Turning Vatican II into Modernist heresy

  • December 7, 2023

You might be a Modernist and not even know it. I was. Well, a quasi-Modernist at least. I’m talking here about the official heresy of Modernism, not the cultural and artistic movement. There is also the “Modern Era” (lasting roughly from 1500 to 1945). We are in the Postmodern or Post-Postmodern Era now, philosophically speaking.

It’s unfortunate that the moniker of this all-encompassing heresy is “Modernism,” because to be against “Modernism” makes it sound like we are against the art form, or simply against anything new, improved or current. Regarding the “Modern Era,” it can sound like the Modernist heresy is something of the past, which is anything but the case.

So, what the heck is the Modernist heresy? Let’s turn to Pope St. Pius X, who pinned it down incisively in his encyclical: Pascendi Dominici Gregis. The good pope called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies.” It digs down and attacks the very roots of Christianity and thus every branch of its great tree. Modernism rejects divinely revealed truths, permanency of any kind and is basically religious Darwinism: everything is evolving and, therefore, so should every aspect of the faith. Continuously. Ergo, anything goes. Modernism even boasts a bogus branch of theology called “process theology,” which holds that God Himself is evolving. I once had a theology prof who believed in process theology. I told him: “I will follow a suffering God, a poor God, a humble God, but I will not follow a clueless God.”

In the first half of the 20th century, it must have been relatively easy to spot a Modernist idea or concept because the Catholic Church was on high alert following Pius X’s and other papal documents condemning the notion that the Church needed to become more like the world. Starting in 1910, all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries of the Catholic Church were required to take an Oath Against Modernism. “Rome thinks in centuries” was in full swing. Things were pretty static (in a good way) — and bold innovations stuck out like a sore thumb. (Also, the Church and the world were dealing with two World Wars.)

Enter, the “spirit of Vatican II,” so widely bandied about after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), had little or nothing to do with Vatican II. It was basically anything goes in the name of Vatican II and general “renewal.” The “SoV2” was the great excuse and blanket self-permission for rampant religious experimentation, and very few Catholics pushed back. However, when people like myself who grew up in the wild and woolly aftermath of the Council actually laid eyes on the Documents of Vatican II, we  were shocked to find nothing remotely like the SoV2 in them. I maintain that the SoV2 was simply Modernism in groovy new packaging.

What is my story of being a quasi-Modernist for a certain stretch of my life? I fell for the following catchphrases which I now wholeheartedly disavow:

Don’t be so negative.

The Church dwells on sin too much.

We don’t talk like that anymore.

That was before Vatican II.

We don’t emphasize that anymore.

God is merciful.

Hell is probably empty.

We know better now.

That’s what the Church thought back then. We’ve developed beyond that now.

We don’t think the world is against us anymore.

We’re not antagonistic toward the world any more.

God doesn’t do chastisements any more.

That’s just private revelation. Prophecy was just for the earlier times.

The Church really used to keep people down.

We’re not children anymore.

Anything goes does not fly in the Kingdom of God. Our benign and beneficient King establishes “right order and good government,” in a divine way, through His perfect wisdom for the peace and flourishing of His subjects. Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith do not adapt to changing times. The changing times need to adapt to Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.

The program and motto for Pius X’s pontificate, “Restore all things in Christ,” is as relevant now as it ever was. The Catholic Church is a monarchy, the Monarchy. Christ is King. Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat!

Oh, and bring back the Oath, please.

(Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. HellBurns.com.   Twitter: @srhelenaburns  #medianuns)

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