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If we compare the Church's present situation with the situation in 1967, the year in which I wrote The Trojan Horse, we will discover that, as we said at the beginning of this book, the comparison with the Trojan Horse is no longer apt. We must now speak of a devastation of the vineyard of the Lord, which is still advancing daily. But the situation has also changed inasmuch as the opposition to this devastation has greatly increased, and many voices are being raised in defense of orthodoxy. Indeed, we see an unmistakeable wave of awakening, of protest against heresies.
In many countries orthodox Catholics have formed associations which are courageously taking up the battle against the grave-diggers of the Church. Many of these Catholics, writing in various magazines, come to the defense of the undistorted faith, untarnished by compromises of any kind; they defend the primacy of the glorification of God through the sanctification of the individual soul, the conversion of all men to Christ, and salvation of souls. These people understand the magnificence of the holy Church, and her glorious past as proclaimer of the Revelation of God throughout 2000 years, as the fortress against all heresies, as the Mother of countless saints, and they are filled with a true love for her. Though there may be individual differences among these Catholics, they all are fighting the devastation of the vineyard of the Lord.
Furthermore, certain theologians who were at first infected by progressivism have in the meantime recognized the danger of the situation in the holy Church, and have returned to orthodoxy. And above all, we sometimes encounter saintly persons who have remained utterly unharmed in their faith by the devastation of the Church.
This is all a great consolation, and it is especially a hope for the future. This is real progress, progress in the ranks of the faithful who are fighting the devastation of the vineyard of the Lord which is raging under the influence of Teilhardism and such slogans as aggiornamento, and “adaptation to the spirit of the age.” In the Third Roman Synod in September and October, 1971, we already saw a conscious and successful opposition to the destructive tendencies of the modern “reformers.” Responding to the unambiguous position of the Holy Father, the majority of the College of Bishops followed the lead of Cardinals Bengsch and Hoeffner.
Another encouraging sign is the fact that Cardinal Suenens was sharply criticized in Osservatore Romano, and that Cardinal Daniélou publicly challenged him in Figaro. 46 This is an indication that one no longer refrains from unmasking even cardinals who are participating in the devastation of the vineyard.
The decree concerning the dress of religious (especially of nuns, which we have mentioned already) places limits on experiments.
But the General Catechetical Directory is a special indication that the hierarchy is becoming more and more conscious of the dangers and trying to fight them. Another very special sign of this is the letter from Cardinal Garrone to all seminaries regarding the role of philosophy and the disastrous effect of false philosophies on the seminarians and future priests. I quote from the letter sent in January:
“There can be no doubt-that modern culture, in closing its eyes more and more to the problem of transcendence, is becoming adverse to authentic philosophical thought, especially to metaphysics, which alone is able to reach absolute values. In this regard, first of all, one must mention the modern spirit of technology, which has a tendency to make a mere homo faber out of homo sapiens. . . . The unilateral emphasis which is laid on action directed to the future, and the optimism which is nourished by an almost boundless confidence in progress, which aimed at immediate and fundamental changes in the economic, social, and political realms, tend to overlook the unchangeable character of certain moral and spiritual values. Above all, authentic philosophical speculation, which has to be taught as the indispensable basis for these changes, is held to be superfluous, or even detrimental. In such a climate the serious investigation of the highest truths is not appreciated, and the criteria of truth are no longer the solid, indubitable principles of metaphysics, but rather the ‘present epoch’ and ‘success.’ Therefore it is easy to understand how the spirit of our time shows itself to be increasingly anti-metaphysical and thus open to all forms of relativism. . . . When one keeps all this in mind, one can ascertain in general that the true essence of the Judaeo-Christian Revelation is absolutely incompatible with all epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical relativism, as well as with all materialism, pantheism, immanentism, subjectivism, and atheism.” 47
In March of 1972 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose Prefect is Cardinal Seper, issued a document which was ratified, confirmed, and designated for publication by the Holy Father, and which was directed in a special way against certain errors which are endangering faith in the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Holy Trinity. It is to be hoped that this document will have further consequences.
And then on June 24, 1973, the same Congregation issued an important document (from which we quoted above) entitled, “Declaration in Defense of the Catholic Doctrine on the Church, against Certain Errors of the Day.” In this document it is first of all reaffirmed that the Roman Catholic Church is identical with the Church of Christ. Then the errors of Küng on infallibility are directly condemned, as are those errors'(also held by Küng) which say that new dogmatic formulations have to be found for the Revelation of Christ, or that no possible dogmatic formulations are strictly true.
But the most important thing is the intervention of the Holy Father in Holland when he appointed two orthodox bishops.
I would like to conclude these signs of hope with the words of the Holy Father in the audience already cited, on January 19, 1972, 48 in which he himself takes a position toward burning problems:
“So it is, beloved sons. And in affirming this, we repudiate those errors which were already in circulation formerly, which are running rampant again in the spiritual life of our time, and which could completely destroy our Christian understanding of life and history. Modernism was the characteristic expression of these false doctrines; it is, under other names, still influential today (cf. the decree Lamentabili of Pius X, 1907, and his encyclical Pascendi; Denz.-Sch., 3401 ff). We can now understand why the Catholic Church, now as in the past, attributes such importance to the strict preservation of the authentic Revelation, and views it as an inviolable treasure, and why she has such a strict notion of her fundamental duty to defend the doctrines of the Faith, and to transmit them in an unequivocal form. Orthodoxy is her main concern, and the pastoral office is her most important, divinely willed mission. The teaching of the Apostles in fact determines the canon of her proclamation. The instruction of the Apostle Paul, “Preserve what has been entrusted to you!” (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14) presents her with a duty which it would be betrayal not to observe. The Church as teacher does not invent her doctrine; she gives testimony, preserves, presents, mediates. If it is a matter of the truth of the message of the Gospel, the Church can be characterized as conservative and implacable. To those who would like to induce the Church to simplify her Faith and conform to the taste of the changeable spirit of the age, she replies with the Apostles, ‘Non possumus!’ ‘We cannot!’ ” (Acts 4:20).
46. Cardinal Daniélou clearly condemned “progressivism” in an important speech in Washington in 1970. Cf. Celibacy and the Crisis of Faith, p. 138.
47. From the letter of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, “To the Ordinaries of the World on the Study of Philosophy in Seminaries,” Prot. N. 137/65, dated Jan. 20, 1972; I, III, 2.
48. Quoted from Osservalore Romano, English edition, Jan. 26, 1972.