In June 2013, we re-published a letter written by Martin Blackshaw, aka Athanasius, to the Scottish Catholic Observer, correcting certain errors proposed by Dr Harry Schnitker in a series of articles published in the SCO, on the history of the papacy. Click here to read that letter and blog discussion. We were more than a little surprised that the letter was published, but hey, if that sounds like a complaint, scrub it. Credit where it’s due.
Now, today, however, Martin writes in an email to my unworthy self: In the March 18th edition, Dr. Schnitker began another of his back page serialisations, this time on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si. Upon reading his first instalment, it became evident that he was up to his old tricks of trying to make Catholic that which is not Catholic. He has set himself up as an apologist for Pope Francis’ environmentalist screed, attempting to bend it to Church teaching by any and all means.
It’s more than a little disappointing, therefore, not to say shocking, that the editor, Liz Leydon, is now refusing to publish Martin’s latest corrections to Dr Schnitker’s misleading musings. At Catholic Truth, however, we share Mr Blackshaw’s concern that Catholic newspapers must not be permitted to publish uncorrected error, so we’re happy to allow publication of his articles here…
Reiterating unseasonable truths
By Martin Blackshaw
I have followed with interest these past months the various articles of Dr. Harry Schnitker in the SCO. The experience, sad to say, has been neither educational nor uplifting.
The reason for this is that Dr. Schnitker is more of a revisionist than an historian. In other words, he is an apologist for the modernist/liberal mindset of these tragic times and he moulds history in this image rather than in the true image in which it was framed.
Hence it was, for example, that in his series treating of contemporary Church Councils up to and including Vatican II, he made it appear that there exists doctrinal consistency in teaching on such as ecumenism and religious liberty when in fact no such consistency exists. These two doctrines are entirely innovative, unique to Vatican II and contradictory of past magisterial teaching.
Pope Francis was more honest in this regard when he wrote of these novelties in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Nowhere in that lengthy Papal document is there a single supportive reference to pre-Vatican II magisterial teaching, because none exists.
I could provide other examples of this jiggery pokery in Dr. Schnitker’s past writings but space is short and so I must come to the point, which is that Dr. Schnitker has now begun a new series of articles examining Pope Francis’ latest Encyclical Laudato Si, and he seems to have got off to a very bad start.
First, credit where it is due. Dr. Schnitker rightly points out that this Encyclical of Pope Francis has left many Catholics bewildered and many others angry. Why? Because the mission of the Church on earth is to save souls, not the planet.
We are witnessing in our time a crisis of faith in the Church and in the world that is unprecedented in 2000 years of Christian history. God is either rejected completely today or is paid lip service for His mercy while His justice is conveniently omitted from the conversation.
The result is that people are now generally comfortable with sin, and in particular with sins that were once unmentionable. And so, while increasing numbers of souls are merrily winding their way to Hell in a handcart, the Pope writes about saving the planet.
Let us make no mistake about this, Pope Francis did not restrict himself to ecological teaching in his Encyclical, as Dr. Schnitker declares. On the contrary, the vision expressed by the Pontiff went way beyond ecology to encompass the environmentalist agenda.
And it is replete with errors. For example, the earth is not, as Pope Francis declares and Dr. Schnitker re-echoes, “our common home”. Heaven is our common home. Earth is our exile. Hence the petition we make in the prayer to Our Lady “…and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb…”
Nor is the earth our “Mother”. This turn of phrase properly belongs to the worshippers of Gaia, a pagan cult. We Catholics supernaturally have the Church and Our Lady for our Mother, not the earth. God created the earth and He sustains it by His Divine Power. Perhaps a little more trust in Him and a little less of the humanistic hand wringing over today’s extremely controversial, not to mention tax lucrative Gospel of man-made climate change would re-introduce some sanity back into this liberal world gone mad. God made the world for man, not man for the world.
I mean, does anyone actually care any longer about the salvation of immortal souls through membership of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, as the infallible dogma declares, or is it now all about happiness in this world?
Whatever happened to the Traditional Catholic teaching that we live in the world but are not of the world? Our Lord declared that He is not of this world. Consequently, if the conciliar reformers assert that the Church must embrace the world, then what becomes of its embrace of the crucified Christ?
I’ll tell you by observation what becomes of it, it weakens until there is nothing of the Cross left in the lives of Catholics. The dignity of God gives place to the dignity of the human person, divine charity grows cold and is replaced with philanthropy, religious truth gets muddled with error, zeal for souls becomes a crusade for social justice and divine mercy is preached in presumptive isolation from a necessary repentance for sin and firm purpose of amendment.
Our Lord said to His Disciples: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me first”. This is the real truth about the world, it is a fallen world in need of Redemption yet hostile to the light of Christ. It is therefore in perpetual need of missionary evangelisation, not modernist embracing.
In other words, what the Church is crying out for right now is proper supernatural leadership from its shepherds, as of old. Embracers of the world, of false religions, of trees or of anything else that is not Christ we can live without, as also their apologists.
Surely fifty years of utter devastation in the Church is evidence enough that something has gone seriously wrong since Vatican II. We need only review the unparalleled global decline in priestly and religious vocations in the decades since that reformation to realise that it has been less a “New Pentecost” than a new Passion of the Mystical Body of Christ.
The universal loss of countless tens of thousands of seminaries, religious houses, parish churches and priests is hardly consistent with the influence of the Holy Spirit, now is it? Nor is the apostasy of millions of Catholics from the faith since the Council, or of a younger generation so deprived of Catechetical formation that it can barely recount the Decalogue, consistent with an outpouring of divine grace on this new conciliar entity.
Well did Cardinal Suenens, no friend of Tradition, publicly assert that Vatican II reform is the French Revolution in the Church. This is the real apocalyptic climate change that Catholics should be beating their breasts over, a seismic shift in teaching from Divine Revelation to doctrinal relativism and moral reductionism.
In respect to the latter, Our Lord says “if you love me you will keep my Commandments”. There is no muddying of the waters about access to Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, co-habiting couples, practicing homosexuals, etc., in that clear declaration of what constitutes true charity! His teaching was firm and unambiguous, “you are either with me or against me”. The house divided is a house of desolation.
This is the teaching Catholics need to hear again, and quickly. Sending out confused messages to those estranged from the Sacraments is not the answer to this crisis, nor is a fast track marriage annulment service.
It should be remembered that Pope John Paul II tightened the rules of annulment in response to the great U.S. scandal that saw annual annulments rise from around 700 in 1969 to more than 50,000 by the late 1980s.
Neither is there a recovery of lost grace and virtue to be had from Papal Encyclicals endorsing unqualified scientific declarations of an impending ecological or environmental apocalypse.
To quote Our Divine Saviour again: “Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat; nor for your body, what you shall put on. The life is more than the meat, and the body is more than the raiment. Consider the ravens, for they sow not, neither do they reap, neither have they storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much are you more valuable than they? And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit?
If then ye be not able to do so much as the least thing, why are you solicitous for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. Now if God clothe in this manner the grass that is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more you, O ye of little faith? And seek not what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: and be not lifted up on high. For all these things do the nations of the world seek. Your Father knows that you have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.“
Pope Francis has declared that he is open to respectful correction by subordinates at all levels in the Church. Well I am respectfully correcting His Holiness, not by my own opinion but by the constant teaching of the Church up to the fateful Vatican II.
To this end I leave the final word to his predecessor Pope Gregory XVI, who prophetically warned thus in his Encyclical Mirari Vos of 1832: “To use the words of the Fathers of Trent, it is certain that the Church “was instructed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles and that all truth was daily taught it by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain “restoration and regeneration” for her as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a “foundation may be laid of a new human institution,” and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing “may become a human Church…”
And now to Martin’s second reply – this time to Dr. Schnitker’s second SCO article in the Laudato Si series (March 25). Here he expresses his admiration for one Dorothy Day, a U.S. “Catholic” Socialist activist whose cause for beatification has begun. Pope Francis likewise praised Dorothy Day along with Martin Luther King and Thomas Merton during his recent visit to America. As Martin notes, what follows will surely make a few jaws drop in shock…
[Dear Editor, SCO]
“I see that Dr. Schnitker is up to his old tricks again this week. His article begins by pulling out a one-liner about sin and fallen nature from the Pope’s Encyclical to demonstrate that it is not fundamentally about climate change and environmentalism.
The problem with this is that almost everyone else on the planet has focussed their attention on the several hundreds of other lines that are clearly environmentalist. This makes Pope Francis’ document more naturalist than supernatural, which is not what we Catholics are used to in the writings of our Popes.
The atheistic media and environmentalist anarchist groups are far more at home with Pope Francis’ doctrine than the faithful, and that is extremely worrying.
But apart from the first couple of paragraphs of Dr. Schnitker’s latest offering, what he effectively proposes to us again is his own theological interpretations and presumptions. There is very little in that lengthy piece that actually comes out of Laudato Si. This is not the correct way for Catholics to interpret Papal documents.
There is only one way to commentate on Papal writings and that is in accordance with the constant teaching of the Magisterium throughout the centuries. In the case of Laudato Si, the inconsistencies are far more numerous than the consistencies, rendering impossible any positive Catholic spin on it. So why is Dr. Schnitker attempting the impossible?
And why his introduction and adulation of Dorothy Day, the renowned American Socialist activist? This only confirms in my mind that Dr. Schnitker has a particular take on Catholicism that is not only not Traditional but is dangerous to unwary souls.
Dorothy Day fits very well with today’s Modernist liberal Catholicism, which is more interested in this world than the next. The reality about Dorothy Day is that despite her “conversion” to the faith, she remained until death committed to the Communist ideal.
I urge you to study her life a little more closely, whereupon you will discover that she consistently aired her public admiration for, and empathy with, the most brutal Communist dictators, including Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. If her loyalty was somewhat tempered by a certain regret over the methods employed by these butchers, she nevertheless applauded their revolutionary spirit and their demonic anarchies. She also consistently praised the ideas of Karl Marx.
Indeed, at a time when Pope Pius XII was formally declaring that one cannot be at the same time Communist and Catholic, Dorothy Day was living precisely that very contradiction. Her publication, The Catholic Worker, took a decided pacifist stance on the Spanish Revolution, lamenting on the one hand the “martyrdom” of the priests and nuns at the hands of the Communist revolutionaries, while on the other recognising the legitimacy of the revolutionary uprising.
And if that is not enough to put any Catholic on their guard against this Socialist anarchist wrapped in Catholic tinsel, her opposition to the American government’s entry into the fight against the evil Hitler should clinch the case.
How anyone could believe, much less advocate, that pacifism in the face of such evil as the Nazi regime is the duty of all Catholics in accordance with the teaching of the Church is just perverse. But then she already held perverse views on the teachings of the Popes on Social Justice, going so far as to defend civil disobedience against legitimate authority in matters not pertaining to faith and morals.
In this regard the Jesuit priest Fr. Daniel Lyons S. J. called Day “an apostle of pious oversimplification.” He said that The Catholic Worker “often distorted beyond recognition the position of the Popes”. I suggest that Fr. Lyons’ critique was itself an oversimplification of Day’s erroneous position, though it could be satisfactorily applied to Dr. Schnitker’s.
Researching contributing columnists to her publication we find such names as Fr. Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose suspect relationship with a young nurse cast a dark shadow over his priestly celibacy. He more notoriously attempted to marry Catholicism with Eastern pagan mysticism. Then there was Fr. Daniel Berrigan S. J., who, together with other anarchists, broke into a U.S. nuclear facility damaging warheads and destroying files. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, a sentence he evaded by going into hiding until eventually tracked down and arrested by the FBI. Then there was Ammon Hennacy, another Socialist anarchist who “converted” to Catholicism in 1952 but abandoned the faith in 1965 claiming that St. Paul had spoiled the message of Christ. He subsequently divorced his wife and remarried. For the remainder of his life he called himself “a non-church Christian”.
These are only a handful of the people Dorothy Day surrounded herself with; all Socialist political activists known to each other who demonstrated against all forms of war, refused to pay their taxes, vandalised government property and generally agitated against the established order, including the order in the Church. One of the magazines Day wrote for – Commonweal – was a dissident liberal publication that opposed Paul VI’ Humane Vitae. She later founded her own Left Wing dissenting magazine called Liberation.
You really need to read about Dorothy Day, whose only daughter described in adult life how her mother’s activism had deprived her of her presence and love in childhood. Need I point out that a mother’s first duty before God is to love and care for her children.
It is a great shame on the Church that such a person as this is being considered for beatification, and that names such as Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, a non-Catholic advocate of contraceptive population control, are also exalted by our Popes in these confusing days. This kind of scandal was unheard of prior to Vatican II, which proves yet again that a major shift in belief has taken place in our Churchmen since that Council. They are now more Left Wing Socialist than Catholic, obsessed with that new doctrine called “integral humanism” which suppresses the supernatural mission of the Church in favour of a crusade for earthly social justice. The Communists preached that doctrine long before it was adopted by our post-Vatican II visionaries, and for very good reason. It destroys the supernatural spiritual life of Catholics, turning them into humanist activists and revolutionaries. That’s why the Popes pre-Council forbid any collaboration whatsoever between Catholics and Communists.
As a senior prelate once observed in this regard: “the martyrs sacrificed their lives for the faith. Now they sacrifice the faith”. It’s painful to admit, I know, but it is a reality, as Pope Francis’ Maundy Thursday washing of the feet of non-Catholics, non-Christians and women, against Our Lord’s own example, amply demonstrates.
This change is now being noticed by some senior prelates in Rome and elsewhere, who have very publicly expressed their fears over Pope Francis’s methods, his repeated dangerous statements to the press, his praise of the most suspect of theologians and activists, and his Encyclical on the environment. Popes are not impeccable, they make mistakes and we have a duty as subordinates to respectfully correct them, as did St. Paul with St. Peter. Only dead fish flow with the current! You have my permission to pass that line on to Dr. Schnitker.
Permit me one final observation in summation of this lengthy message. When Our Lady was appearing in Fatima in 1917, imparting a divine warning to the three children of impending world chastisement by means of “the errors of Russia,” Dorothy Day was celebrating the overthrow of the Tsarist government by Bolshevik forces in Moscow. Some 50 years later she visited Moscow and was “moved” to see the names of former Communist activist colleagues, C. E . Ruthenberg, founder of the Communist Party USA, Bill Haywood, key figure in the United States IWW labour movement, and Jack Reed, American Communist journalist and author of Ten Days That Shook The World, an eyewitness account of the Bolshevik uprising, inscribed gloriously on the Kremlin wall. All three betrayed their country and sought refuge in Moscow, where, upon death, they received burials with Communist honours. Does any of this make us think of the life of a Catholic saint in waiting?”