Saturday, December 14, 2013


We continue with Arnaud de Lassus' monumental study of one of the worst scourges the Church has had to suffer in its two millenia of history.  You can read Part One here.  Part Three follows here.

by Arnaud de Lassus

II - Neo-Modernism during the papacy of Pius XII

Vigorously fought by Saint Pius X, Modernism pursued its activities in a discrete manner. It reappeared in force at the time of the Action Française affair (1926). It profited from the passion for novelties which characterised the immediate post-war period (1940-45) to reinforce its position; from this was born the movement of ideas which would be called Neo-Modernism.

• General climate in the years 1945-1958

It was marked by:

• Increased penetration of Catholic milieus by Protestant and Marxist ideas, a penetration facilitated by the double victory over Germany by the USA and the USSR;
• The weakening of traditional Catholic milieus resulting in a double purging, that (of an ecclesiastical nature) which followed the condemnation of Action Française in 1926 (33) and that (of a political origin) which accompanied the liberation of 1944-45;
• A certain intellectual deterioration of leading Catholic milieus, allowing the success of inconsistent systems like those of Teilhard de Chardin. (34)

How the weakening of traditional Catholic milieus was effected.

It was principally by an ecclesiastical path, in discrediting Action Française by an arbitrary condemnation, that this weakening had occurred in the years preceding the pontificate of Pius XII (Pope from 1939 to 1958).

It was effected by a classic method which the Modernists had used in the case already cited (that of Action Française in 1926) and resumed several times later (in 1962 against La Cité Catholique, in 1966 against Itinéraires, and in 1969 against the Abbé de Nantes):

‘Condemnations of this sort have never been gratuitous. One learns after the blow that they have served, in each occasion, to prepare the paths for a well planned Modernist offensive. The condemnation of Action Française in 1926 served to install a Catholic Action in the form of philosophical societies, and the instilling of a Masonic ethos in Christian temporal structures. In 1962 to open the doors to the conciliar plot there was a worldwide campaign against La Cité Catholique with the watchword universally taken up: “The integrists are the worst enemies of the Church, more dangerous than the Communists”. This was the hateful and vengeful reversal of the sentence of St Pius X on the Modernists, the worst enemies of the Church. This reversal contained in substance the opening to the world, the opening to the Left, the replacement of Tradition by Modernism, the historic compromise with Communism. In 1966, to inaugurate the post-conciliar era and to prepare for the suppression of the Catechism, we saw the condemnation of Itinéraires by the French episcopate. During the summer of 1969, a reprimand by cardinals occurred while consideration was taking place of the means necessary to ensure that the celebration of the traditional Mass would not be stopped; the disqualification of the Abbé de Nantes came to present an analogous diversion with the precedents of 1966, 1962 and 1926, seeking once more to focus the faithful on the defence of unjustly attacked individuals, during which the essential evil blows were delivered elsewhere. (35)

We know the results of these arbitrary condemnations:

To weaken the traditional milieu with a view to breaking it up;
To purge (If it had not already been done) - or at least to neutralise – those persons holding posts of influence and who were hostile to Modernism;
To operate a diversion ‘seeking once more to focus the faithful on the defence of unjustly attacked individuals, during which the essential evil blows were delivered elsewhere.’

Such was the case with the condemnation of Action Française in 1926. In the years 1927-1930, many churchmen who were fundamentally anti-Modernist had resigned their posts at the time of this affair ( for example, take Cardinal Billot and Abbé Le Floch, Director of the French Seminary in Rome). The posts left empty were often occupied by Modernists.

Elsewhere, at the end of 1927, the anti-Modernist reaction (at the religious level) and counter-revolutionary action (at the political level) weakened. So much so that Jean Calbrette in his book la crise actuelle du catholicisme français (The current crisis in French Catholicism) p.29, was able to write with proof to support it:

‘Just as the Dreyfus affair has torn France apart, the Action Française affair has broken apart Catholicism. It has resulted in what Dansette calls with pride a “second ralliement (36)” – to democratism.’

A ralliement to democratism, in other words to the ideas which had been condemned by St Pius X in his letter on the Sillon of 25th August 1910.

The neo-Modernist doctrines of the period 1945-1958

These had developed under the influence
• Of an old Modernist current which had always remained;
• Of the general climate which prevailed after the 1940-45 war;
• Of new thinkers such as Fr de Lubac, Fr Teilhard de Chardin, Emmanuel Mounier…

From this we have the system – called neo-Modernism – made up of errors in philosophy, theology, exegesis, bringing in its trail errors in the liturgy, the priesthood, the Magisterium; a system which helped spread Marxist ideas in Catholic circles.

One found there tendencies which had marked Modernism at the beginning of the century, in particular:

• A passion for novelties
• A contempt for scholastic philosophy and by contrast the promotion of erroneous philosophical systems (idealism, immanentism…);
• Confusing the natural with the supernatural (to which Fr de Lubac had brought a new lustre).

The loss of the sense of truth

This is what resulted from the contempt for scholastic theology indicated above; one finds, in the neo-Modernism, of the time of Pius XII, a concept of truth as harmful as the agnosticism described in Pascendi (§6) (37). It was explained thus by Fr Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. in the appendix to his works La synthèse thomiste. (38)

‘Where is the new theology going? It is returning to Modernism. Because it has accepted the proposition that was made to it39: that of substituting the traditional definition of truth: adaequatio rei et intellectus (the conformity of intelligence with the thing), as if it was chimerical, with the subjective definition: adaequatio realis mentis et vitae (the conformity of intelligence with life) (…) Truth is no longer the conformity of judgement with extramental reality and its immutable laws, but the conformity of judgement with the exigencies of action and human life which is always evolving. For the philosophy of being or ontology has been substituted the philosophy of action which defines truth no longer as a function of being but of action.’ (40)

Neo-Modernist methods and behaviour

These are the same as those outlined below:

• To act within the bosom of the Church

A method exposed by Fr Teilhard de Chardin:

‘I still do not see any better means of bringing about what I anticipate than to work towards the reformation from within: that is, by remaining sincerely attached to the “phylum” whose development I expect to see…I find only the Roman stem, taken in its entirety, can provide a biological support vast enough and varied enough to carry out and underpin the transformation to which I look forward.’

• The methodology of philosophical societies

Let’s go back to Jean Madiran’s remark:

‘The condemnation of Action Française in 1926 served to install a Catholic Action in the form of philosophical societies, and the instilling of a Masonic ethos in Christian temporal structures.’

This has been noted by an author who would never be classed as anti-Modernist, Joseph Follet, in Chronique sociale of 30th October 1958:

‘In certain groups of Catholic Action, in particular at the local level, I have been able to verify the observations made by Augustin Cochin on the philosophical societies (41) which preceded the French Revolution – notably the tendency for the group to close in on itself in an ideological orthodoxy (I’m not speaking here, of course of Catholic orthodoxy, but of a added or supererogatory group orthodoxy) inspired by a small central group of which the members found themselves, some in relation to others, in a state of constant one-upmanship.’

If a part of Catholic Action was oriented towards Modernism and towards an opening to socialism and to communism, it is that it has been remote-controlled in this sense, something made possible by the technique of philosophical societies and directing nuclei.

Can one not see behind all this the “clandestinum foedus”, otherwise known as the secret society of Modernists?

Pius XII’s counter-attack: the encyclical Humani generis

By his encyclical Humani generis, of 12th August 1950, bearing the sub-title ‘Concerning some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine’, Pius XII reacted vigorously on the intellectual level.

• Content of the encyclical

Msgr P. Parente synthesizes the content in the Catholic Encyclopedia as follows:

‘Pius XII had had a prompt and precise intuition of the danger and in the encyclical Humani generis, he diagnosed the virus and its way of development; he had known himself to apply useful remedies, detecting very quickly the march of modern culture in the direction of universal evolutionism, existentialism and historicism, which led towards the negation or devaluation of the absolute in being and in thought, to the benefit of a philosophy of contingence, of a positivism and of a relativism, which made metaphysics and thus theology impossible.

"Under the pretext of a return to sources, scorn was cast upon systematic theology with its technical notions and terminology; the more simple and more flexible language of the Fathers was preferred. The solid doctrinal corpus defined by the Church in the course of the centuries was neglected in favour of an appeal to Scripture, in explaining it by an arbitrary symbolism, as if Jesus Christ had not instituted the Church the sole depository and interpreter of the Word of God. By this process dogmatic formulae were devalued, reducing their content to a minimum so that they could be adapted to no matter what philosophical or religious system. Dogmatic relativism which had already begun to produce its poisoned fruits.

"Even more audacious was the attack against scholastic philosophy, which, according to the innovators, did not respond to the exigencies of modern thought irritated by rigid metaphysics and fixed outlines. The enemy of immutable truth, it all tended towards the flux of life in the future. The devaluation of reason and first principles, of theodicy and ethics, the fideist option of truth through sentiment and will, the alliance of the most opposed systems in the attempt to express an elusive truth. Such was the vital philosophy which they wanted to substitute for scholastic philosophy.
From there comes the famous “living tradition” invented in our days against the immutable, unique
apostolic tradition, the depositum fidei as St Paul said.
Humani generis confirmed Catholic doctrine, defined clearly by the First Vatican Council, and then by St Pius X, reaffirming the validity of Thomism, the immutability of doctrine, the primordial importance of the pontifical Magisterium, the norm of truth, the absolute inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, the historic value of the first chapters of Genesis …

• The attitude towards truth

In the encyclical, Pius XII put in relief the attitude which the faithful must have regarding truth (philosophical and religious):

‘God, the highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth.’ (Humani Generis §30).

• Despite the encyclical, Modernism continued on its way

Badly helped by certain episcopates, in which many held to certain Modernist positions, scarcely able to count on the support of milieus controlled by Catholic Action, having only a little support from the traditional milieus weakened as we explained below, Pius XII was not able to create a strong anti-Modernist reaction. The encyclical was not accompanied by disciplinary measures. Modernism continued to progress.


Go to Part Three here.


33 See No. 128 of AFS (December 1996) the article, Un anniversaire instructif – La condamnation de l’Action Française.

34 Cf. this remark by Etienne Gilson: ‘Fr Teilhard de Chardin’s thought does not seem to me to have attained the minimum degree of consistency to enable one to speak of it in terms of a doctrine; that is why I speak only of the case of Teilhard de Chardin’. (Les tribulations de Sophie, p.73).
Regarding Teilhard de Chardin, see the brochure by Dom Frenau, Pensée philosophique et religieuse du père Teilhard de Chardin and the article by Daniel Jacob Une figure moderne de l’Anti-Christ available from AFS.

35 Jean Madiran, Éditions et chroniques, Vol III, p. 177 (Article Mutinerie à bord of Dec. 1978 – our emphasis.

36 [ The first “Ralliement” or rallying was that of Leo XIII towards the French Republic. See “The Ralliement (1892)” pp. 271-272 in the article “The Fundamentals of Democracy” in Apropos 19/20 Pentecost 1999. Ed. Apropos.]

37 See p.143.

38 This appendix is reproduced in appendix V of the book La nouvelle théologie published by Courrier de Rome.

39 In particular by Maurice Blondel (1861-1949). Regarding his philosophy see Chapter 3 of La nouvelle théologie.

40 Text quoted in La nouvelle théologie p.193 [Regarding action, one should recall the influence of Maurice Blondel’s book, l’Action. Published when he was only thirty-two years of age, Maurice Blondel's 1893 work, entitled l’Action., has been very influential upon this new orientation of thought and its newly proposed criterion of truth, especially in Modernist circles. Later in his life, Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) revised his seminal, but deleterious, book, l'Action: Essai d'une Critique de la Vie et d'une Science de la Pratique, and expanded the original single volume into two volumes, publishing them sequentially in 1936 and 1937, respectively. Literally rendered, the full English title of the original 1893 volume is: Action: An Essay on a Critique of Life and on a Science of the Practical. The title itself already implies a Policy (and Strategy) of Expediency! Addition to footnote by Editor of Apropos]

41 We know the structure and techniques of philosophical societies were systematically adopted by Freemasonry. On this subject see Apropos 22 (Elementary Guide to Freemasonry by Arnaud de Lassus) pp. 97-98, and the brochure, Groupes réducteurs et noyaux dirigeants by Adrien Loubier (available from AFS). See also pp. 227-242 of Fundamentals of Democracy by Arnaud de Lassus which appeared in Apropos 19/20. ‘Philosophical societies’ was translated as ‘consensus societies’ in the last.]

42 Msgr. Spadafora, Dom Francesco Putti, founder of Si Si No No, héraut de la foi catholique, p.148. Published by Les amis de St François de Sales, Case postale 2346, 1950-Sion 2, Suisse. Our emphasis.

1 comment:

aly said...

Aged parent, Like many or most people perhaps I usually don't comment unless it is spontaneous.
Other times like others I will later comment after something meanders around in my mind. This is meandering. It's all so familiar to us because it is the life of the Church in the day to day. These writings are like a montage illuminating each piece that illuminates the whole. Back to my immediate point I sometimes
respond as a wish to acknowledge that good efforts are always worthwhile. I am appreciating these very much.

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