Despite all the Luthers, Voltaires, Mazzinis, Darwins, Marxes, Blavatskys, Freuds, Steiners, Crowleys, Teilhards and Hitlers of this world, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whatever gradually losing influence since the Middle Ages, nevertheless kept standing firm all the way up to (and including) the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, that ended on October 9, 1958. The “stubborn” maxim, coined by 17th-century Carthusian Dom Nicolas Molin, “Crux stat dum volvitur orbis”, meaning, “The Cross is steady while the world turns,” this clear-cut, transcendent maxim could be also a maxim for the entire Roman Catholic Church – that is, as it was until that autumn day in 1958, when “good Pope” John XXIII, after a fairly chaotic Conclave, succeeded “Pastor Angelicus”, Pius XII, the last angelic pope the world has had to this very day. The secular world’s journalistic profession – liberal to the core, then as now – showed an interest in Catholic matters never seen before. St. Peter’s Square was packed, on the day of the election of Cardinal Roncalli as new pope, with an estimated 400,000 souls (God knows how many of them actually belonged to the realm of the faithful). A strange sense of expectation, of optimism and indeed change, filled the air. The world (including the communist world) was looking at Rome with the greatest excitement (as if already in the know of the unlikely outcome).
Indeed, already in his time as Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria and Apostolic Delegate to Turkey in the 1920s and ’30s, then as Papal Nuncio to France from 1944, and beginning in 1953 as Patriarch of Venice (where he had been virtually banned by Pope Pius XII because of his heretical activities), Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, unlike his Papal predecessor, showed no signs whatsoever of being even remotely “angelic”. Rather, the man was driven by a modernist and Freemasonic outlook completely antagonistic to any and every Church teaching (an outlook he shared with his fellow conspirator and successor as pope, Giovanni Montini). Despite Pope John’s misleading “folkish” appearance and seeming traditional attitude, he was a dedicated (though sufficiently ambiguous) progressive, a friend of the Lodge and even of communism (by which fact, according to the standards of the Catholic Church, he was excommunicated “ipso facto” and thus, as standing outside the Church, in no way qualified to be a priest, let alone pope).
The more prescient immediately understood the fatal ramifications of this election (doubtful as it may have been). Deep down, they knew that the modernists, who were eager to take over and put everything Catholic upside down once and for all, had been preparing for this event over a long time. In fact, had it not been for the veto by the Emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph I, already in 1903 a modernist candidate, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, would have been Pope. Instead, Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, a saintly man of God and staunch defender of Catholic Tradition, was elected, to be Pope Pius X and become canonised in 1954. This narrow decision gave the Roman Catholic Church another half century to continue to be what it had been for nearly two thousand years. Now, in 1958, the die was cast, finally: A destructor was to take the Chair of Peter, with an army of well-organised “progressives” in his wake, and soon all hell would break loose.
How grave this new situation was can be found in Rama P. Coomaraswamy’s unmatched reference work, The Destruction of the Christian Tradition (first published in 1981, updated and revised in 2006). Coomaraswamy, a profound Catholic scholar, wrote about the situation leading up to Roncalli’s election:
Pope Pius XII who came to the papal throne in 1939 was certainly aware of the threat that modernism posed to the Church; not only did he complain about it being taught covertly in seminaries, he more than once was known to have stated that, even though he was the last Pontiff to hold the line on innovation, he would hold it firmly. To quote him directly, “après moi, le déluge” [i.e., ‘After me, the deluge’]. How prophetic such a stance was is only now obvious. Yet, surrounded as he was by men committed to “the revolution,” even he was often lacking in vigilance. He allowed men of dubious quality to rise to the top and gave his approval to liturgical changes of a most questionable nature – such as the new rites for Holy Week. (This occurred in November 1955 – when he was very ill, and one suspects, easily put upon.) He was followed in 1958 by Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli who took the name of John XXIII.
Something new now happened. For the first time we had a Pope that was welcomed by the liberal press, a man characterized as a “simple peasant,” and a “man of the people.” He was neither. Far more accurate is the evaluation of Robert Kaiser, the correspondent for Time Magazine accredited to Vatican II and an intimate of John XXIII. Kaiser describes him as “a political genius,” and a “quiet and cunning revolutionary.”
And what were the first acts of this “quiet and cunning revolutionary”? Well, already the name he gave himself, “John XXIII”, foreboded disaster: There had been, in the early 15th century, an anti-Pope named John XXIII (and, with eery precision, the 20th-century version turned out to live as pope for roughly five years, just like his predecessor’s pontificate in the Quattrocento lasted for five years). Also, as a most symbolic gesture, Pope John chose to throw open a window of the Vatican “to let in some fresh air”. The sarcasm was of course meant to denigrate the very Church he was now in charge of and which he was intent on destroying. Basically overnight, any criticism by the Church of communism, Freemasonry, and modernism ceased. Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, oppressed and persecuted under communism saw themselves abandoned by Rome and on their own. Roncalli’s papal motto, Oboedientia et Pax (i.e., obedience and peace) seemed to intend to forestall from the outset any resistance to his grand project of “aggiornamento”, of “updating” the Church’s style as well as teaching to put her in line with the whims and fashions of the modern world. He and his successor Paul VI, by opening the Church to the world, actually embraced the world (quote, Paul VI: “We want to be loved.”) But, the fruits of all this reforming, modernising and desacralising couldn’t have been more devastating and miserable: The world didn’t become more interested in Catholicism (which henceforth increasingly turned into an abominable clown-show); it lost interest. Significant and telling also the following incident, as described by Rama Coomaraswamy:
It seems clear that John XXIII set a pattern to be followed by all his post-Conciliar successors. Shortly after he became Pope he went to the Holy Office and demanded his dossier. Written on the cover was “suspected of modernism” which comment he crossed out and replaced with the statement: “I was never a modernist.”
Of course he was, and he knew it all too well. Coomaraswamy continues,
Roncalli also initiated the post-Conciliar policy of frequently breaking with Papal tradition—a process which has gone so far that when John Paul II came along, there were almost no Papal traditions left to break. Immediately upon election Roncalli refused to allow the cardinals to kiss the papal slipper (symbolizing their submission to the authority of Christ). He put aside his Papal Tiara (symbolic of “triumphalism”) on state occasions, had Peter’s throne lowered, and instructed those around him not to use his (really Peter’s) honorific titles. All these actions will of course appeal to modern man’s egalitarian prejudices, but the problem is that John XXIII was not an ordinary man; he was allegedly Christ’s representative on earth. To put such actions into a clearer perspective, one might try to imagine the Queen of England divesting herself of her royal robes to disco-dance with her subjects on state occasions. Hardly a dignified scene. Paul Johnson tells us about Roncalli’s attitude towards the Church he was commissioned to preserve, and towards his predecessors to whose stance he was indefectibly tied: “When necessary he simply contradicted previous Popes. He rejected in toto Gregory XVI’s Mirari Vos and Singulari Nos, and the Quanta Cura of Pius IX, to which was attached, as appendix, The Syllabus of Errors. John was ruthless in dismissing the views of his predecessors.” Finally, if any doubt remains, let me give you the response he is reported to have given a friend who asked him how he managed to follow in the footsteps of so great a man as Pius XII. “I try to imagine what my predecessor would have done, and then I do just the opposite.”
Before long, the new “Pope” (with him and his successors, we should always put the word Pope under apostrophes) announced he was thinking about convening an “Ecumenical Council”. The Church was in no crisis. On the contrary, following the horrors of World War II (and much to the credit of Pius XII) the Catholic Church saw record numbers of converts, including from the Anglosaxon world. It wasn’t a question of necessity anyway, but a plan to effectively revolutionise the Church and turn her against herself. After three years of preparation, the Council eventually began in October 1962. However, it soon became evident that a veritable coup had been thought out, very much supported of course by Pope Roncalli, who did his best though to appear neutral, which he never was (after all, it was his Council, in the first place). Indeed, the modernists were following a precise surprise tactic to outmaneuvre the traditionalist faction right from the get-go. Every trick in the book was used to push their agenda through, and push through they did. So much so that some of them even boldly proclaimed Vatican II, as it then became known, to be the French Revolution, or even the October Revolution, in the Catholic Church. Critics rather spoke of a “robber council”. Either way, the years 1962 to 1965 (during which the Council was held), even the time mark of 1958 (when the Council’s architect, Angelo Roncalli, was elected Pope), represent a colossal and absolutely monstrous watershed that separates this revolutionary “New Church” from its authentically Catholic predecessor, the Church of all times. Here is what famous book author, scholar and until 1965, Jesuit, Fr. Malachi Martin (1921 – 1999) said in an interview in early 1990:
So, if you want an overview of what’s happened, take it like this: How come, or take an image: I think it was in 1966, suddenly all electric power disappeared from the North-East corner of the United States. The reservoir filled with “juice”, as we say in the United States, suddenly was emptied. Nobody has as yet explained how it all disappeared like that. Similarly, if you look at the Church, between 1965 and 1975, suddenly Catholicity disappeared. Suddenly, priests left, nuns left. Suddenly, bizarre ceremonies took place. Suddenly, every practice, like devotion of the Sacred Heart, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, confraternities, sodalities, sending to the [?] work, pilgrimages, benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament, the habit of visiting the Blessed Sacrament, children’s first Holy Communion, marriage, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, everything was turned upside down, suddenly. The reservoir of Catholicism suddenly – shuu – was sucked out, disappeared. And the only theological way you can look at that – theology, not historical in the secular sense – is that God withdrew Grace. God withdrew Grace, sanctifying Grace, without which you can’t be Catholic.
What a devastating analysis, from a priest who knew! Let us look back to those late fifties, early/mid sixties, when the Roman Catholic Church, as a truly Catholic institution, ceased to exist:
Over night, as Rome no longer called communism out, the world revolution was given free rein. Unsurprisingly, mere two months after “good Pope” John XXIII’s election, Cuba, the first country in the Western hemisphere, fell to the communists. Once known as the “pearl of the Caribbean”, Cuba would soon be turned into a totalitarian hell on earth (and a powerful outpost for Moscow in spreading the revolution throughout Latin America, Africa and even into the United States). Khrushchev, at the same time, ran a merciless religious persecution in the Soviet Union itself. The Cold War was reaching fever pitch. President Kennedy’s failed attempt to topple Castro in April 1961 and his equally disastrous summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna two months later exposed America’s weakness for the whole world to see. Tragically, it was Kennedy, America’s first-ever Catholic President, who was then butchered less than three years into his presidency by an American communist under control of Soviet/Cuban intelligence. Kennedy’s Vice President and successor as President, Lyndon B. Johnson, chose to not rock the boat, as they say, and swept Lee Harvey Oswald’s Soviet/Cuban connections under the rug (which conveniently gave rise to all kinds of anti-American conspiracy theories regarding the JFK assassination).
Communist intellectuals, such as the members of the infamous Frankfurt School, had long been preparing the ground for a revolutionary breakthrough also in the industrialised countries. Theodor Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality was published in 1950; Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization, in 1955. French existentialist (and communist) Simone de Beauvoir came out with her cult book The Second Sex in 1949. Icon of American second-wave feminism (and also a communist), Betty Friedan, published her feminist “bible”, The Feminine Mystique, in 1963. And so, the “British Invasion” into the United States, starting in early 1964 with the Beatles and soon to be followed by the Rolling Stones and other bands, didn’t come out of the blue at all. Nor did the rising tide of nationwide unrest (that was as much about revolution as it was about civil rights), or the legendary 1967 “Summer of Love” or the 1969 Woodstock music festival. The way things were beginning to fall apart was clearly by design. And the post-Catholic “church” in Rome, part and parcel of the Revolution itself, found it all wonderful! Liberation across the board! Said the second Pope of the Council, Paul VI (who was a personal friend of the General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party, Palmiro Togliatti, and the translator of Jaques Maritain’s Integral Humanism into Italian) in his 1965 speech before the UN General Assembly in New York:
It is your task here to proclaim the basic rights and duties of man, his dignity and liberty, and above all his religious liberty. We are conscious that you are the interpreters of all that is paramount in human wisdom. We would almost say: of its sacred character. For your concern is first and foremost with the life of man, and man’s life is sacred. No one may dare to interfere with it. . . . The people turn to the United Nations as their last hope for peace and concord. . . . [The goals of the UN] are the ideal that mankind has dreamed of in its journey through history. We would venture to call it the world’s greatest hope—for it is the reflection of God’s design—a design transcendent and full of love—for the progress of human society on earth; a reflection in which We can see the gospel message, something from heaven come down to earth.
Wasn’t that a bizarre thing to say for a supposed Vicar of Christ? Praising the godless, socialistic United Nations as “the world’s greatest hope”? But he wasn’t a man of God, much less an authentic Pope, but a communist usurper, and the communists of Rome and Provincia, following his death in 1978, indeed plastered the house walls of Rome with sympathetic obituaries honouring “his passionate effort and elevated humanity with which he worked for the peace and progress of the peoples…”
And so, the world’s last line of defence against communism – which had very much been the old, pre-1958 Roman Catholic Church – had fallen, had been erased. The implications and consequences of this event were, naturally, absolutely catastrophic. If not even the Catholic Church criticises communism, maybe communism isn’t that bad, after all! If she avoids discussing religious persecution behind the then-Iron Curtain, maybe there is no religious persecution under communism! On top of it, if she herself promotes a secular “humanism”, maybe Christendom and communism are perfectly compatible! Perhaps, communism is really the true Christendom we’ve all been longing for for such a long time! You see: By turning the Catholic Church upside down, communism had rid itself of its fiercest and most serious enemy. And that’s where the resistance against all aspects of the revolution virtually collapsed. School prayer: gone: As a result, piety: gone. Humility: gone. Authority: gone. Connubial trust and fidelity: gone. Patriotism: gone. Self-reliance and individual responsibility: gone. Decency: gone. Courtesy: gone. Chastity: gone. Courtship: gone. Sacredness of the unborn: gone. Everthing gone!
Since that fabulous victory over the old Church, all that communism needed was some more time to fully consolidate its position and let the older generation who still was trained in the old ways die off. The height of irony was of course the alleged “collapse” of communism thirty years ago, by which the West lost any remaining focus whatsoever. Today, the once-free world lies in shambles, while the communist world has armed itself to the teeth with state-of-the-art weapons that the West, having lost its image of the enemy, failed to build.
And it all started with Roncalli & Montini’s questionable “aggiornamento” (i.e., updating) of the Church, the inevitable (and perfectly intended) result of which was a church embracing the world, rather than the world embracing Christ! Paul VI knew what he was saying when he spoke of the smoke of Satan having made its way into the Temple of God. What he didn’t say was that he himself served as the devil’s abominable master of ceremonies in this dreadful transformative operation…
As a reminder, here are some excerpts from Pope Pius XI’s crystal-clear encyclical, Divini Redemptoris – On Atheistic Communism, of March 19, 1937 (which should be read in full), that puts things back into proportion:
[…] Ever since the days when groups of “intellectuals” were formed in an arrogant attempt to free civilization from the bonds of morality and religion, Our Predecessors overtly and explicitly drew the attention of the world to the consequences of the dechristianization of human society. With reference to Communism, Our Venerable Predecessor, Pius IX, of holy memory, as early as 1846 pronounced a solemn condemnation, which he confirmed in the words of the Syllabus directed against “that infamous doctrine of so-called Communism which is absolutely contrary to the natural law itself, and if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, property and possessions of all men, and even society itself.” Later on, another of Our predecessors, the immortal Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, defined Communism as “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin.” With clear intuition he pointed out that the atheistic movements existing among the masses of the Machine Age had their origin in that school of philosophy which for centuries had sought to divorce science from the life of the Faith and of the Church. […] The Communism of today, more emphatically than similar movements in the past, conceals in itself a false messianic idea. A pseudo-ideal of justice, of equality and fraternity in labor impregnates all its doctrine and activity with a deceptive mysticism, which communicates a zealous and contagious enthusiasm to the multitudes entrapped by delusive promises. […] The doctrine of modern Communism, which is often concealed under the most seductive trappings, is in substance based on the principles of dialectical and historical materialism previously advocated by Marx, of which the theoricians of bolshevism claim to possess the only genuine interpretation. According to this doctrine there is in the world only one reality, matter, the blind forces of which evolve into plant, animal and man. Even human society is nothing but a phenomenon and form of matter, evolving in the same way. By a law of inexorable necessity and through a perpetual conflict of forces, matter moves towards the final synthesis of a classless society. In such a doctrine, as is evident, there is no room for the idea of God; there is no difference between matter and spirit, between soul and body; there is neither survival of the soul after death nor any hope in a future life. Insisting on the dialectical aspect of their materialism, the Communists claim that the conflict which carries the world towards its final synthesis can be accelerated by man. Hence they endeavor to sharpen the antagonisms which arise between the various classes of society. Thus the class struggle with its consequent violent hate and destruction takes on the aspects of a crusade for the progress of humanity. On the other hand, all other forces whatever, as long as they resist such systematic violence, must be annihilated as hostile to the human race. Communism, moreover, strips man of his liberty, robs human personality of all its dignity, and removes all the moral restraints that check the eruptions of blind impulse. There is no recognition of any right of the individual in his relations to the collectivity; no natural right is accorded to human personality, which is a mere cog-wheel in the Communist system. In man’s relations with other individuals, besides, Communists hold the principle of absolute equality, rejecting all hierarchy and divinely-constituted authority, including the authority of parents. What men call authority and subordination is derived from the community as its first and only font. Nor is the individual granted any property rights over material goods or the means of production, for inasmuch as these are the source of further wealth, their possession would give one man power over another. Precisely on this score, all forms of private property must be eradicated, for they are at the origin of all economic enslavement. […] When all men have finally acquired the collectivist mentality in this Utopia of a really classless society, the political State, which is now conceived by Communists merely as the instrument by which the proletariat is oppressed by the capitalists, will have lost all reason for its existence and will “wither away.” However, until that happy consummation is realized, the State and the powers of the State furnish Communism with the most efficacious and most extensive means for the achievement of its goal. Such, Venerable Brethren, is the new gospel which bolshevistic and atheistic Communism offers the world as the glad tidings of deliverance and salvation! It is a system full of errors and sophisms. It is in opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation. It subverts the social order, because it means the destruction of its foundations; because it ignores the true origin and purpose of the State; because it denies the rights, dignity and liberty of human personality. How is it possible that such a system, long since rejected scientifically and now proved erroneous by experience, how is it, We ask, that such a system could spread so rapidly in all parts of the world? The explanation lies in the fact that too few have been able to grasp the nature of Communism. The majority instead succumb to its deception, skillfully concealed by the most extravagant promises. By pretending to desire only the betterment of the condition of the working classes, by urging the removal of the very real abuses chargeable to the liberalistic economic order, and by demanding a more equitable distribution of this world’s goods (objectives entirely and undoubtedly legitimate), the Communist takes advantage of the present world-wide economic crisis to draw into the sphere of his influence even those sections of the populace which on principle reject all forms of materialism and terrorism. And as every error contains its element of truth, the partial truths to which We have referred are astutely presented according to the needs of time and place, to conceal, when convenient, the repulsive crudity and inhumanity of Communistic principles and tactics. Thus the Communist ideal wins over many of the better minded members of the community. These in turn become the apostles of the movement among the younger intelligentsia who are still too immature to recognize the intrinsic errors of the system. The preachers of Communism are also proficient in exploiting racial antagonisms and political divisions and oppositions. They take advantage of the lack of orientation characteristic of modern agnostic science in order to burrow into the universities, where they bolster up the principles of their doctrine with pseudo-scientific arguments. If we would explain the blind acceptance of Communism by so many thousands of workmen, we must remember that the way had been already prepared for it by the religious and moral destitution in which wage-earners had been left by liberal economics. Even on Sundays and holy days, labor-shifts were given no time to attend to their essential religious duties. No one thought of building churches within convenient distance of factories, nor of facilitating the work of the priest. On the contrary, laicism was actively and persistently promoted, with the result that we are now reaping the fruits of the errors so often denounced by Our Predecessors and by Ourselves. It can surprise no one that the Communistic fallacy should be spreading in a world already to a large extent de-Christianized. […] This, unfortunately, is what we now behold. For the first time in history we are witnessing a struggle, cold-blooded in purpose and mapped out to the least detail, between man and “all that is called God.” Communism is by its nature anti-religious. It considers religion as “the opiate of the people” because the principles of religion which speak of a life beyond the grave dissuade the proletariat from the dream of a Soviet paradise which is of this world. […]
© The Contemplative Observer 2021