The history of the Paul VI’s Credo of the People of God is rather unusual.  Jacques Maritain was praying one day and had the idea that what the Church needed in its post-conciliar turmoil was for the pope to make a profession of his faith, but without condemning any errors. He told Charles Journet, newly a cardinal, about his idea, and Journet was enthusiastic, as he always was about Maritain’s ideas.  A bit later, Paul VI said to Journet, ‘What do you think we should do to mark the end of the Year of Faith?’  Journet said, ‘Why don’t you make a profession of your faith, suited for the times?’ The pope said, ‘Not a bad idea, can you draft something for me?’  Journet went away and told Maritain, and Maritain drafted it.  Journet then went back to the pope, and said, ‘Here it is.  I didn’t know what to put, so I got our friend Jacques to do it’ (the discerning reader may see that I am paraphrasing a bit).  Whether the Supreme Pontiff was at all embarrassed at having a profession of faith written for him by a lay man, history does not relate.  But he obviously liked it, since almost all of the Credo that he pronounced on 29th June 1968 in St Peter’s Square is taken from what Maritain had written, even word for word.  Yet there are some things which Maritain wrote which didn’t get in.  Here are some of the main differences:

The pope said: “We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity”.  Maritain had mentioned the Jews and Muslims explicitly; the pope took this out.

Speaking of our Lord, Maritain had written ‘this man was aware from on high of his divinity’.  Paul took this out, presumably because it had not been defined as dogma.

Maritain got in a plug for Journet’s book at one point by using the phrase “the Church of Word incarnate”; Paul changed this to ‘the Church’.

Speaking of our Lady’s perpetual virginity, Maritain said that Muslims believe in this, and that this fact is a sign of hope amid the sadness of our world.  Paul took this out, and it does seem a bit out of place in a creed.

Speaking of the Assumption, Maritain said that Jesus and Mary are ‘this centre of world of the beyond (ce monde de l’au-delà) that we metaphorically call heaven’. Paul took this out, perhaps because he didn’t quite know what it meant.  On the other hand, he added: “The Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.”

Maritain mentioned the fall of the angels, and the fact that they tempt us.  Paul took this out.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps he thought it would provoke ridicule; or perhaps it was because no other creed has mentioned this.

Maritain said some things which didn’t quite teach the evolution of men from apes but suggest it, especially about how Adam and Eve ‘appear at the summit of animality’.  Paul took these things out.

Maritain had a lot of anonymous Christianity, about how people who didn’t know Christ could still be living in grace and charity and were invisibly members of the Church.  He even wanted the pope to say of the phrase ‘out of the Church no salvation’ that “it is true in itself but has often been badly understood in the past”.  Paul made sure that he didn’t say anything that went beyond Lumen gentium.

Talking of the Blessed Sacrament, Maritain wanted him first to use the language of substance and accidents, then to say that the doctrine of transubstantiation was expressly taught by the Council of Trent, and then (inadequately, as far as I can see) to say that if to-day any misguided philosophers refused the concept of substance, they still have to maintain that the bread and wine which exist independently of our minds cease to exist after the consecration.  The Pope removed the mention of people denying the notion of substance, saying that all philosophical accounts of the mystery must maintain that the bread and wine which exist independently of our minds cease to exist after the consecration.

Maritain, which I didn’t realise, used the rather beautiful phrase about the Blessed Sacrament being the living heart of each of our churches.  Paul kept this, though for some reason he removed another phrase, about Christ’s presence being a mysterious sign of His love for each person.  Perhaps he thought that this was too personal an addition of Maritain’s, rather than a simple repetition of past teaching.

Where the difference is really apparent is toward the end.  Maritain went into full throttle integral humanism mode about three-quarters of the way through his draft, saying that the Church passes through different historic ages in which she frees herself from everything which obscures her true countenance, and that “the second council of the Vatican has inaugurated one of these new ages of the Church”, and that the Church has “definitively renounced all claim of authority (apart from moral and spiritual) over the governance of the things of the world”, so as to “manifest henceforth her own freedom in its fulness”.  He also says that parallel with this new historic age of the Church, there is also a new historic age of the world and of culture going on.   This must have all appealed to Papa Montini, but none of it appears in the Credo.  I suspect that Ottaviani told him that it wouldn’t do.  One imagines Paul looking on rather wistfully as the cardinal scrunched up that particular sheet of paper and dropped it calmly into the nearest bin.

Aelianus remarked to me the other day that Pope Francis is not just extraordinarily bad in comparison to other popes, but extraordinarily bad in comparison to other erring popes.  The ohters had some famous error which they favoured under pressure (Liberius, Honorius I), or from an affectation of scholarship (John XXII), or bamboozled by some great name.

With Francis it is different.  Everything is thrown into the Bergoglian liquidizer and comes out unrecognizable: Christology, Mariology, the theology of grace, the ten commandments, marriage, the nature of faith, the nature of tradition.  He seems, we might say, to have no supernatural protection at all.  Is this a sign that his election was invalid?

I don’t think we need conclude this.  It is simply that he is not attempting to use his magisterium.  He is not trying, that is, to declare the truth that has been delivered to the saints once for all from the time of the apostles.  But the power to do this is what the magisterium is.

He does not believe that there is such an unchanging revealed truth, and therefore naturally he does not seek to declare it.  And since the divine protection is given to a pope in the exercise of his magisterium, he does not receive it.

Yet before proceeding to explain these matters, that principle which Leo XIII so clearly established must be laid down at the outset here, namely, that there resides in Us the right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social and economic matters.[Cf. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 24-25] Certainly the Church was not given the commission to guide men to an only fleeting and perishable happiness but to that which is eternal. Indeed “the Church holds that it is unlawful for her to mix without cause in these temporal concerns”[Pius XI, Encyclical, Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922.]; however, she can in no wise renounce the duty God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped nor endowed by office, but in all things that are connected with the moral law. For as to these, the deposit of truth that God committed to Us and the grave duty of disseminating and interpreting the whole moral law, and of urging it in season and out of season, bring under and subject to Our supreme jurisdiction not only social order but economic activities themselves.

Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 41

The present Encyclical seeks to show the fruitfulness of the principles enunciated by Leo XIII, which belong to the Church’s doctrinal patrimony and, as such, involve the exercise of her teaching authority. But pastoral solicitude also prompts me to propose an analysis of some events of recent history. It goes without saying that part of the responsibility of Pastors is to give careful consideration to current events in order to discern the new requirements of evangelization. However, such an analysis is not meant to pass definitive judgments since this does not fall per se within the Magisterium’s specific domain.

John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 3

I confess that all men from Adam, even to the consummation of the world, having been born and having died with Adam himself and his wife, who were not born of other parents, but were created, the one from the earth, the other, however, from the rib of the man [cf. Gen 2:7], will then rise again and stand before the Judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he has done, whether it be good or bad [Rom 14:10, 2Cor 5:10]; and indeed by the very bountiful grace of God he will present the just, as vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory [Rom 9:23], with the rewards of eternal life; namely, they will live without end in the society of the angels without any fear now of their own fall; the wicked, however, remaining by choice of their own with vessels of wrath fit for destruction [Rom 9:22], who either did not know the way of the Lord, or knowing it left it when seized by various transgressions, He will give over by a very just judgment to the punishment of eternal and inextinguishable fire, that they may burn without end. This, then, is my faith and hope, which is in me by the gift of the mercy of God, in defence of which blessed Peter taught [cf. 1 Peter 3:15] that we ought to be especially ready to answer everyone who asks us for an accounting. 

– Pope Pelagius I, Humani Generis, 557 [D228a/DH443]

CLEMENT XI 1700-1721

Concerning Truths which Necessarily Must be Explicitly Believed

[Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703]

1349a Whether a minister is bound, before baptism is conferred on an adult, to explain to him all the mysteries of our faith, especially if he is at the point of death, because this might disturb his mind. Or, whether it is sufficient, if the one at the point of death will promise that when he recovers from the illness, he will take care to be instructed, so that he may put into practice what has been commanded him.

Resp. A promise is not sufficient, but a missionary is bound to explain to an adult, even a dying one who is not entirely incapacitated, the mysteries of faith which are necessary by a necessity of means, as are especially the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

[Response of the Sacred Office, May 10, 1703]

1349b Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given to him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes, especially His justice in rewarding and in punishing, according to this remark of the Apostle “He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder’; [Heb . 11:23], from which it is inferred that a barbarian adult, in a certain case of urgent necessity, can be baptized although he does not believe explicitly in Jesus Christ.

Resp. A missionary should not baptize one who does not believe explicitly in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is bound to instruct him about all those matters which are necessary, by a necessity of means, in accordance with the capacity of the one to be baptized.

Nothing about heresy today, just prose-style.

  1. Remove all instances of the word ‘concrete’. For example, ‘a concrete possibility’ is a possibility. Again, ‘concrete words’ are words.
  2. Change all instances of the word ‘eventual’ into the word ‘possible’.
  3. Change all instances of the word ‘dramatic’ and ‘drama’ into ‘tragic’ and ‘tragedy’.
  4. Change the phrase ‘the logic of X’ into X. For example, ‘the logic of the gospel requires us to forgive’ means ‘the gospel requires us to forgive’.
  5. Lament the days of Leo XIII.

It is not only the possibility of keeping God’s commandments when in a state of grace which is undermined by this document, but other parts of the revealed word of God also:


 Saint Paul recommended virginity because he expected Jesus’ imminent return and he wanted everyone to concentrate only on spreading the Gospel: “the appointed time has grown very short” (1 Cor 7:29). . . . Rather than speak absolutely of the superiority of virginity, it should be enough to point out that the different states of life complement one another, and consequently that some can be more perfect in one way and others in another (AL 161)

The first part of this passage is contrary to the teaching of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in the days when it was an organ of the magisterium, that St Paul “said nothing at all in his writings that is not in perfect harmony with the ignorance of the time of the Parousia which Christ Himself declared to be part of man’s condition” (Dz. 3629).

The second part is contrary to the 10th definition of the 24th session of the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity than to be joined in marriage, let him be anathema”. The only way that you could save the pope’s words here from the charge of heresy would be if you were to understand ‘it should be enough to point out’, as meaning ‘it is enough for our present purposes to point out’; this may be how it got past the CDF. But what a shocker, to mention a dogma, and then to refuse to assert it.

Capital punishment

 “…The Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia”, but likewise “firmly rejects the death penalty”. (AL 83)

The quotations in this passage come from the final report after the 2015 synod, which itself, absurdly, cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2258. CCC 2258 says that no one may directly destroy an innocent human life. This has nothing to do with capital punishment, which the CCC, in line with the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church, explicitly declares lawful in para. 2267.

Headship of the husband

 Every form of sexual submission must be clearly rejected.  This includes all improper interpretations of the passage in the Letter to the Ephesians where Paul tells women to “be subject to your husbands” (Eph 5:22).  This passage mirrors the cultural categories of the time, but our concern is not with its cultural matrix but with the revealed message that it conveys. . . .

The biblical text is actually concerned with encouraging everyone to overcome a complacent individualism and to be constantly mindful of others: “Be subject to one another” (Eph 5:21).  In marriage, this reciprocal “submission” takes on a special meaning, and is seen as a freely chosen mutual belonging marked by fidelity, respect and care (AL 156).

Again, this is absurd, though to be fair it is the same as what John Paul II did in Mulieris Dignitatem. As if only the ‘be subject to one another’ counted as the word of God, and ‘wives, be subject to your husbands’ were just words ‘mirroring a cultural matrix’, and of no more relevance now than the kind of ink that the scribe of the Letter to the Ephesians used when he wrote them.

Enough is enough. These errors need to be publicly denounced by bishops before this parallel universe anti-magisterium gets any stronger.

I recently heard some lectures on religious liberty aimed at showing that there was no contradiction between the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae and earlier magisterial documents. They were learned and plausible. But they seemed to me to have a defect. They appeared to assume that it would be enough to demonstrate the absence of any such formal contradiction, in order to affirm that Dignitatis Humanae, taken to be declaring a right not previously taught by the Church, was a legitimate “development of doctrine”.

But such absence of contradiction is not enough. If I were to say, for example, that it is more virtuous to sit on the epistle side of church than on the gospel side, or more important for an island nation to have a good army than a good navy, then neither of these statements would contradict earlier magisterial teaching, as far as I know. Yet neither of them could therefore become objects of later magisterial teaching. Why not? Because they are not part of the revealed deposit that was complete with the death of the last apostle.

Since the revealed deposit cannot grow, development of doctrine can only mean expressing more clearly something which was found really, but less clearly, in the earlier tradition of the Church. One has to imagine someone at an earlier stage in the Church hearing the later formulation, for example St Ignatius of Antioch reading the Tome of Leo. If the earlier person would have said, “Yes, that’s just what I meant, only I never put it so well”, then we have a legitimate development. But if the earlier person would have said, “Well, I never heard anything like that before”, or “what on earth are you talking about?”, then it is no legitimate development, even if it is not in contradiction with what came before, and even if it is true.

Those who want to want to maintain that the earlier and later teachings on Church and State are both true and both authentic magisterial teachings, but that the later teaching is nevertheless importantly new, are faced with a problem. If it is new, how can it be the object of a magisterium whose sole duty is to expound the revealed deposit given once for all to the saints? They sometimes seek to resolve this problem by appealing to the notion of human dignity. The thought seems to be this. “Human dignity is part of the revealed deposit, and has always been upheld by the Church. In more recent times, the Church has become more conscious of the demands of human dignity. So at Vatican II she was able for the first time to teach the right to religious liberty. So the teaching is new, but we do not thereby fall into the error of continuing revelation, since the notion of human dignity, from which the teaching comes, was there from the beginning.”

There are two problems with this. First, there is the rule-of-thumb already mentioned. If the Fathers of the Church would have said “I never heard anything like that before”, then it is not a legitimate development. But if Vatican II was saying, as many people think, that pagans and heretics have a God-given right to be allowed to meet together for their worship and to be allowed to encourage others to join them, albeit a right that in some cases may be trumped by other rights, then I think the Fathers of the Church might well have said “where on earth do you get that idea from?” At least I know of nothing in them to think that they would have said, “yes, that’s just what I think, but I had never expressed it so clearly.”

Secondly, how, precisely, are we supposed to go from the notion of “human dignity” to the notion of religious liberty just outlined? Human beings have three modi sciendi, as far as I know: that is, three ways of going from less clear to more clear knowledge. These are traditionally called definition, division (e.g. triangles are isosceles, scalene or equilateral) and inference. Which one of these three is employed in going from “human dignity” to “right to religious liberty”? Is this right a part of the definition of human dignity? But people have had a concept of human dignity for centuries without grasping it by means of this right; and people today can still have the concept without accepting the right; so it does not look like part of the definition of an idea that was already generally accepted as belonging the revealed deposit. Again, “division” seems to have no place here. In what sense would one divide the notion of “human dignity” into “the right to religious liberty”, and what would the other members of the division be?

That leaves only the last modus sciendi, inference. Inference is either induction or deduction. But induction belongs to the world of experimental, empirical science, which is out of place here. So it must be deduction. But in that case, what are the two premises, certainly contained in the deposit of faith, from which the right to religious liberty is deduced?

It seems in reality as if the proponents of this kind of development of doctrine are imagining a kind of angelic intuition, whereby one would contemplate an essence (“human dignity”) and behold in it a property (“right to religious liberty”). But that is not given to mortals to do.

This last week has brought not one but two statements presented as being from Pope Francis which seem to be – how shall I put it? – heteredox.

The first is indisputably his. It is the Letter to the International Commission against the Death Penalty. A somewhat clumsy Zenit translation is given here. We might have expected simply a repeat of what is in the Catechism – that the death penalty can be justified as a matter of social self-defence (which doesn’t imply self-defence only against the man who is executed, but could include self-defence by deterrence or by the very visible upholding of the moral law), coupled with a prudential judgement, to which no Catholic is bound, that today it will very rarely if ever be the case that the death penalty is necessary.

That’s not what we find. Instead we read:-

(i) self-defence cannot apply in the case of the death penalty as it can in the case of enemy invasion, because the harm done by the criminal is now in the past, and can’t be changed;

(ii) the death penalty is a crime against the dignity of man;

(iii) the death penalty has no legitimacy, because of the possibility of error;

(iv) the death penalty deprives the criminal of the possibility of reparation (and, bizarrely, of the possibility of confession)

(v) the death penalty is contrary to divine mercy (if only Moses had known that);

(vi) the death penalty is worse than the crime committed by the criminal.

He says, “today, the death penalty is inadmissible”; but the points (i) to (vi) imply that it always was. He quotes our Lord saying “put your sword back into its sheath” and telling the one who was without sin to cast the first stone, but does not point out that neither of these involved a properly-constitued tribunal. He does not mention Christ quoting with approval the law, “He that shall curse father or mother, dying let him die” (Mk. 7:10), nor St Paul’s assertion that the civil ruler or “prince” does not bear the sword in vain, i.e. without good reason, but rather as God’s minister (Rom. 13:4).

Nor does he quote the statement of faith which Innocent III gave to the Waldensians, which includes the assertion:-

With regard to the secular power, we affirm that it can exercise a judgement of blood without mortal sin provided that in carrying out the punishment it proceeds not out of hatred, but judiciously, not in a precipitous manner, but with caution (Dz. 795).

Nor does he quote the teaching of the Roman Catechism of St Pius V, that:-

Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and eath, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this commandment which prohibits murder.

Apart from all these things, the legitimacy of the death penalty has been taught by the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church for many centuries and is therefore surely a matter of faith.

I can see no way to reconcile the pope’s statements listed above, with the possible exception of (iv), with this teaching of the Church.

That was the first thing.

The other thing is not an official statement, but another of these interviews with the Italian atheist chap. But it can’t be written off, because the previous interviews have been put in a book and published by the Vatican Press. So the pope presumably considers the Italian chap a reliable conduit for his own opinions. Part of it is in English here.

So, the unusal bit in this interview happens when the Italian atheist chap says to the Holy Father, “What about the souls that choose selfishness and put out the divine spark? Will they be punished?” And the pope is quoted as saying, “They won’t be punished but annihilated (non c’è punizione ma l’annullamento).” The chap says that the pope’s words were netta e chiara, “clear and distinct”.

Annullamento means annihilation or destruction. It can also be translated as cancellation, but what would that mean?

In other words, we have here the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that the wicked will not suffer after death, because they will no longer exist. Obviously this is contrary to Scripture, Tradition and many statements of the magisterium. To quote just one, from Lateran IV:-

All will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear to receive according to their works, whether these have been good or evil, the ones perpetual punishment with the devil and the others everlasting glory with Christ (Dz. 801).

I suppose it would be just about possible to interpret these words attributed to the pope in an orthodox way – ‘not punished’, because they will suffer the natural consequences of their own choices rather than a penalty arbitrarily imposed; ‘annihilated’ not ontologically but morally, in that they will no longer be capable of love etc. But frankly, would there be any point? If the words were not meant in their obvious sense, it is for an official spokesman to disavow them.

Of course none of these things touch the dogma of papal infallibility; the conditions for an ex cathedra judgement are not present. But we seem to have a pope who does not know the Catholic faith.

No doubt it was very wrong of Richard Williamson to have consecrated a bishop in that monastery in Brazil last week (and I was sorry to see him do it in such a-hole-in-the-corner way; that was not how Archbishop Lefebvre acted. Also, why on earth did he choose someone nearly as old as himself?) But in times like these, I find it difficult to be sorry that there is another orthodox bishop in the world; perhaps even a Catholic bishop, given how hard it is to excommunicate oneself under modern canon law.

Michael Davies once said that future Catholic apologists would have greater difficulties with the Eucharistic Prayers for Children than with the morals of the Borgias or the worst excesses of the Inquisition. Perhaps also they will have more difficulties with the present pope than with Popes Liberius, Honorius I and John XXII combined.

A  blessed Passion-tide to all.

65. Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.

66. Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind;[43] and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.


Next Page »