Writing this weblog involves enquiry: What to say, what not to say.
There is always temptation to write that which I am not sufficiently competent, at least as yet, to write.
Still, I pray the following fragments will not be amiss.
Not so long ago, Pope Francis spoke about his problems as Pope:
The problem is not having this [homosexual] orientation. No, we must be brothers and sisters.
The problem is lobbying for this orientation, or lobbies of greed, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me.
It was a relatively rare reference to something Popes once invoked far more regularly – and with much greater solemnity. For Popes once addressed this ‘most serious problem’ in Papal Encyclicals – the most solemn expression of Papal Authority (apart from, of course, that rarest of cases where the Holy Father speaks ex cathedra – invoking Papal Infallibility, as happened once in the last century in 1950).
Yes, apart from these very rare instances of speaking ex cathedra, the Encyclicals are the most important statements of Papal teaching – far more significant than off-the-cuff comments, for example.
What Pope Francis recently said off-the-cuff only echoes problems – again most serious problems – that were once spoken of very solemnly by Popes.
For example, one can profitably expand on Pope Francis’s comments above by turning to Pope Leo XIII in the 1884 Encyclical Humanum Genus.
Therein we find the following statements:
There are several organised bodies which, though differing in name, in ceremonial, in form and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by community of purpose and by the similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind of centre whence they all go forth, and whither they all return …
No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom.
And Pope Leo XIII makes clear the philosophy that animates this endeavour. He calls it naturalism – saying that:
The fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide.
In other words, naturalism denies anything which might transcend things like rationalism and empiricism – such as Christian Revelation. And Pope Leo XIII goes on to say, in the same encyclical:
Their ultimate purpose forces itself into view – namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism.
They thereby teach the great error of this age – that a regard for religion should be held as an indifferent matter, and that all religions are alike.
This manner of reasoning is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which … cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions.
They reject from the laws and from the commonwealth the wholesome influence of the Catholic religion; and they consequently imagine that States ought to be constituted without any regard for the laws and precepts of the Church.
Nor do they think it enough to disregard the Church – the best of guides – unless they also injure it by their hostility.
Indeed, with them it is lawful to attack with impunity the very foundations of the Catholic religion, in speech, in writing, and in teaching; and even the rights of the Church are not spared …
The teaching of morality which alone finds favor with the sect of Freemasons, and in which they contend that youth should be instructed, is that which they call “civil,” and “independent,” and “free,” namely, that which does not contain any religious belief.
But, how insufficient such teaching is, how wanting in soundness, and how easily moved by every impulse of passion, is sufficiently proved by its sad fruits …
For, wherever, by removing Christian education, this teaching has begun more completely to rule, there goodness and integrity of morals have begun quickly to perish …
Moreover, human nature was stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. For a virtuous life it is absolutely necessary to restrain the disorderly movements of the soul …
But the naturalists and Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned …
So very much of our modern age is prefigured here, dear Reader, including what my beloved has called New Age Denial of the Fall.
For our present culture has not evolved naturally.
No, our present culture – with its materialism, sexualisation, libertarianism, utilitarianism, New Age-ism and so much else that correlates with denial of the Fall – has been manufactured.
It has been manufactured by ongoing efforts that already long existed before Pope Leo XIII tried to warn people in 1884.
Now, it is not easy for many people today to trace back Pope Francis’s Twenty-First Century comments to a long, long line of Nineteenth Century Papal warnings – of the which the above is but one. For our understanding of Western culture prior to the 1960s is generally woeful indeed.
This state of affairs completely clouds of our ability to comprehend many sentences from the above (such as those involving ‘despoiling the nations of Christendom’).
Valentin Tomberg on Manufacturing the Destruction of Christendom
All this, however, connects with what I have quoted from Valentin Tomberg elsewhere at this website:
The French Revolution was but a stepping stone – a stepping stone that demonstrated with alarming clarity the great trend of revolutions which began with humanism in the Fourteenth Century, then resulted via the Reformation in the Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century, which in turn, took “fleshly” form in the revolution of 1789.
From there it advanced via 1830 and 1848 to the international community of 1871 [when the Third French Republic arose, among other things – RB] – and to the Russian revolutions in 1905, February 1917 and October 1917.
The beginning of the revolutionary development is harmless humanism, the swooning over laical [i.e. from the French laicité and meaning roughly secular – RB] culture; and it ends with Black and Red Bolshevism – as the final result of the destruction of the great temple of piety, in which and from which the soul of the occident draws its life-force.
The joy of thinking and researching without God in laical humanism led to the first push in the direction towards further “emancipations”, i.e. the severing of the bonds of reverence: reverence for the Church´s tradition, including her saints and sages; reverence for the tradition of chivalry, including its reverence for women and the sancity of word and honour, finally reverence for the human being itself, with its right to life, liberty and property.
One started thinking without God and one ended up with life without God, the push to liberate oneself from one bond (research liberated from religion) led ultimately to the liberation from all bonds.
Thus was created a human without reverence, the psychological Bolshevik … [Tomberg’s emphasis in bold, mine in italics]”
Now, Tomberg was gravely concerned by the emergence of this human being sans reverence, sans piety – this is to say: filled with despair and cynicism.
To counteract this, Tomberg issued a powerful call to return to Catholic tradition, to the Sacraments, to the Rosary and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary – alongside so much else that was lost or destroyed in the wake of the various revolutions. He summons us back to the life-source of the West before the age of revolutions …
But, as I have also written in the same post as the above:
In itself, this calling back to Catholic piety is not so very controversial.
What is controversial is much that can be found in Tomberg’s legal-political works. At least, they are very controversial to the modern mind.
Yet it is perhaps in his legal-political writings most of all, that one can feel the urgency Tomberg felt in not letting the world be drowned in a de-Christianised materialism.
In these works, Tomberg praises political figures of the Nineteenth Century, who were willing to go so far as to use military force to preserve Christianity. These are figures that we moderns tend to write-off as nothing but arch-conservative reactionaries or power-crazed fools.
Valentin Tomberg clearly felt differently.
One such figure was Prince Clemens Metternich of Austria, who pioneered the Holy Alliance after Napoleon had destroyed Europe.
Now Tomberg writes to clarify the aim of “Metternich, who was villified so much [but] who recognised the true scope of the danger which it was the duty of the alliance to prevent …
The [Holy] Alliance owed … to Metternich the knowledge of its necessity: to save European Christianity from the danger of being swept under a wave of irreverence.” …
And [Tomberg] clearly regrets the final failure of the Holy Alliance (after the revolutions in 1848, which again, in his view led to further degeneration).
For Tomberg, the Holy Alliance was a failed step in the right direction …
Now, in Foundations of International Law, Tomberg asks why the Holy Alliance failed. And he supplies the following answer:
As then, so now there is a lack of good will. A system, an order may be as useful and good as can be – ultimately it depends on people, who abandon, relinquish, reinterpret, falsify or simply betray it.
And the number of a system’s (loyal or disloyal) ‘guardians’ need not be be large: Often it only takes a few dozen people to destroy a generally recognised order …
The Holy Alliance did not ‘fail’ because it was fanciful, or weak, or in itself morally insufficient, but because it was betrayed [Again, bold emphasis is Tomberg’s, my own is in italics]
Valentin Tomberg would appear to be saying that the Holy Alliance was founded under a vision of its necessity: to save European Christianity …
And that this vision of Metternich’s Holy Alliance was ‘morally sufficient’ – given the very real danger of de-Christianisation.
And that danger is such that only a few people are needed to destroy an entire system. Such people, no doubt, lobby … (And they certainly work through methods such as falsifying and reinterpretation!)
Today, dear Reader, I stare at Pope Francis’s comment about lobbies as his ‘most serious problem’.
Today, I stare at all that has happened since the Nineteenth Century: this still-ongoing project to manufacture de-Christianisation.
And I look to Valentin Tomberg, who helped to rescue me from New Age Denial of the Fall.
For when one denies the Fall, one denies Redemption …
I see that the threat to the Church was very grave even in the Nineteenth Century, else I trust the Popes would not have spoken as they did.
I indicated at the outset of these fragments that I barely felt competent to speak of these matters as yet.
Thus, I shall leave you to ‘connect the dots’ as you see right and fitting.