- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
- PRAYER & DEVOTION
In his book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Council Father Bishop Rudolf Graber observed that "the great revolutions ... are preceded by a subterranean phase, which is followed by a second, that of incubation, before the eruptionthen takes place."43 (emphasis added)
For nearly sixty years the neo-modernist revolution had been held in its incubation phase, prevented from erupting by the stern measures Pope St. Pius X had imposed with the full weight of the Petrine office. In his monumental encyclical Pascendi, Pius X had taught that the only way to deal with modernists is to expose them, root them out of the Church and suppress their works, because if left at liberty "there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt."44 In his decree Lamentabili the last canonized Pope declared that the world's bishops must "trample underfoot all fleshly imprudence and, heedless of the outcry of the wicked, proscribe and tear from the hands of the faithful all bad books and writings." language which even so-called "conservative" Catholics today find embarrassing.45 For the protection of the faithful, Pope St. Pius had ordered the erection of diocesan vigilance committees, the careful examination and censorship of all publications which contained modernist theses or even savored of modernism, the placing of modernist texts on the Index of Forbidden Books, and the removal of all modernists from religious orders, seminaries and university faculties. And, in his Motu proprio entitled Sacrorum antistitum, His Holiness commanded that every priest and theologian in the Catholic Church be required to sign the Oath against Modernism which he composed. Despite a storm of protest, to which Protestant theologians added their outrage, only two dozen priests throughout Europe refused to sign the Oath.46 The revolution was routed for more than 50 years.
Then came Pope John XXIII. We have seen that in his opening address to the Council Pope John disparaged "those prophets of gloom [including Pius XI], who are always forecasting disaster". Riding a wave of euphoria induced by the magnificent spectacle of the assembled bishops, Pope John described his Council as a "new Pentecost". On the final day of its First Session in 1962, His Holiness exclaimed that "the heavens are opened above our heads, and the splendor of the heavenly court shines down upon us."47
Six months later Pope John was dead, but the Council went on ... and on and on. Once the Council had finally ended in December of 1965, however, it did not take long to discover that the "prophets of gloom" had been right, and that far from being a "new Pentecost", Vatican II was in truth a self-inflicted wound in the Body of Christ, through which neo-modernist agents of destruction had gleefully entered the bloodstream of the Church, declared victory, and begun to do precisely what Pope St. Pius X warned they would do if they were ever given liberty: spread their poison "in the very veins and heart of the Church".48
It is a fact of history that Vatican II was largely an exercise in tearing down the bulwark Pope St. Pius X had erected. To confirm this one need look no further than the eyewitness testimony of Msgr. Rudolf G. Bandas, himself a Conciliar peritus. Only two years after the Council had ended Msgr. Bandas was constrained to ask: "How could our Church be so profoundly blighted in so short a time?"49 Answering his own question, Msgr. Bandas cited progressivist Bishop Helder Camara's praise of Pope John for his "courage on the eve of the Council in naming as conciliar experts many of the greatest theologians of our day. Among those whom he appointed were many who emerged from the black lists of suspicion" that is, from the censures and condemnations of Pius XII and the Holy Office.
Two of those who emerged from the "black lists of suspicion" to take key roles at the Council were Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Küng. It was Schillebeeckx who wrote the crucial 480-page critique employed by the "Rhine group" bishops to coordinate their public relations campaign against the wholly orthodox preparatory schemas for the Council, which led to abandonment of the Council's entire meticulous preparation.50 Schillebeeckx was later placed under Vatican investigation for his outrageously heterodox views on the historicity of the Virgin Birth, the institution of the Eucharist, the Resurrection, and the founding of the Church. He dared to argue that the words "This is My Body ... This is My Blood" were never actually spoken by Our Lord, and that Our Lord never planned to found a Church.51 Despite his fulminating heresy, this leading peritus of Vatican II has never been subjected to any canonical penalty. Küng, of course, was finally condemned after an eleven year investigation and stripped of his license to teach theology in 1979. Yet he remains a priest in good standing who is still an academic.
Looking back on the Council, Monsignor Bandas was forced to conclude that the amnesty Pope John had naively extended to "great theologians" like Schillebeeckx and Küng was a catastrophic mistake:
"No doubt good Pope John thought that these suspect theologians would rectify their ideas and perform a genuine service to the Church. But exactly the opposite happened. Supported by certain Rhine Council Fathers, and often acting in a manner positively boorish, they turned around and exclaimed: 'Behold, we are named experts, our ideas stand approved.' ... When I entered my tribunal at the Council, on the first day of the fourth session, the first announcement, emanating from the Secretary of State, was the following: 'No more periti will be appointed.' But it was too late. The great confusion was underway. It was already apparent that neither Trent nor Vatican I nor any encyclical would be permitted to impede its advance."52
In other words, Pope John had played with dynamite. The resulting explosion was uncontainable. Immediately after the Council, the Oath Against Modernism was abolished, along with the Index of Forbidden Books a decision that Bishop Graber rightly describes as "incomprehensible".53 Yesterday's heretics became today's executors of the Council.
By Providence the Council had expressly disclaimed the note of infallibility. In an utterly unprecedented nota praevia (preliminary note), the conciliar Theological Commission described the Council as "pastoral", and assured the Council Fathers that they were not defining doctrine unless they openly professed to be doing so:
In view of the conciliar practice and pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Synod defines matters of faith and morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.54 [emphasis added]
Never in the history of the Catholic Church had a Council taken pains to declare that it was not teaching infallibly. In fact, nowhere in any of its documents did the Council "openly declare" that the faithful were bound to adhere to any of its ambiguous and confusing formulations, especially those relating to "ecumenism", "collegiality" and "dialogue" novel terms which elude any precise definition. Nor could the assent of faith, or even an assent of prudence, be demanded for the manifestly dubious sociological and geopolitical assertions of Gaudium et spes, which claims that mankind is experiencing "an advance toward maturity" and that there is a duty to establish a "universal public authority" with "effective power to safeguard, on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice and respect for rights".55 No one in possession of his senses believes that mankind has advanced in maturity during the past century (the very notion of a maturing human race implicitly contradicts the doctrine of Original Sin and explicitly contradicts Sacred Scripture). Nor is the Magisterium competent to prescribe world government as the solution to our temporal problems.
The nota praevia undoubtedly relieved the anxiety of many Council Fathers about what exactly they were propounding in some of the Council's verbose and ambiguous documents. This is borne out by the testimony of Bishop Thomas Morris, which at his request was not unsealed until after his death:
"I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council documents as tentative and liable to be reformed."56
Bishop Morris also testified to the manner in which the liberal periti manipulated the sentiments of the Fathers toward acceptance of the novel texts they had drafted to replace the "rigid" and "sterile" schemas prepared by the Curial Fathers before the Council:
"A speech was written, perhaps of a Council Father (he was the only one who could speak), but all the periti were massed in the lobby or on the stairs to hear this statement. They would applaud vigorously and the Presiding Chairman would say 'No applause in Church', but that was all stage-managed."57
This is not to say that the post-conciliar debacle has been the work of a few neo-modernist conciliar periti let loose upon the Church. On the contrary, every one of the disastrous innovations which make up "the great confusion" now afflicting us from the new Mass, to communion in the hand, to altar girls, to interfaith prayer meetings has been approved by either Pope Paul VI or his successor in the name of the Council, and implemented by post-conciliar curial commissions acting with papal authority. Indeed, it was Paul VI himself who declared in L'Osservatore Romano that a vast program of innovation was the very purpose of the Council:
"The important words of the Council are newness and updating ... the word newness has been given to us as an order, as a program."58
Following this program of newness, Paul VI presided, first of all, over what Msgr. Klaus Gamber has rightly described in his Reform of the Roman Liturgy as "the real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman rite with a history of more than one thousand years".59 It must be noted here that the French preface to Gamber's book was written by none other than Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, who called Gamber "a true prophet" with "the courage of a true witness ..." In his recent memoirs Cardinal Ratzinger agrees that the imposition of the new Mass was a "break in the history of the liturgy, the consequences of which could only be tragic ... [S]uch a development had never been seen in the history of the liturgy ..."60
In his general audience address of November 26, 1969, Pope Paul offered a public justification for his unprecedented act of destruction. His words are amazing and profoundly disturbing, for no Pope in the history of the Church has ever dared to say such things.
The address begins with an almost incredible admission:
"A new rite of Mass: a change in the venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead." [emphasis added]
The Pope then explains that what seemed to be traditional, venerable, untouchable, a link with our past and part of our heritage as Catholics, is in reality quite dispensable and will now be dispensed with:
"This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed [!] ... This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor."
So the Mass would be changed to draw the faithful out of the "torpor" in which they had been languishing for centuries.
"We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset that is caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits.
Never in the entire history of the Catholic Church had the Roman Pontiff ever attempted to impose a "novelty that breaks in on our habits" that is, disrupts the settled form of divine worship in the Church.
"We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect."
A "novelty" that disturbs pious persons most, and annoys even priests! The Church must brace herself:
"So what is to be done on this special and historical [!] occasion? First, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful, we should find out as much as we can about this innovation ...
But why must we have this nuisance, this innovation? Because of an unfounded claim that Our Lord Himself and the Holy Spirit are demanding a new rite of Mass!
"It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit, which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body (sic) of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer."
But that is not all. "Conservatives" never tire of claiming that Sacrosanctum Concilium, the conciliar decree on the liturgy, "mandates" the use of Latin in the Mass. In truth, Bugnini's craftily worded document actually opened the way to the complete vernacularization of the liturgy.61 Thus, Pope Paul, dropping any conciliar pretense of preserving intact the Latin Mass, declared in his address that the "prophetic moment" now "shaking" the Church required that Latin be abandoned immediately as the language of divine worship:
"It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power, and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. Why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values?
Why indeed? Here is the Pope's answer:
"The answer will seem banal, almost prosaic. Yet it is a good answer because it is human, it is apostolic. Understanding of prayer is more important than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech."
So we must have a new Mass for the "human" (yet "apostolic"!) reason that we did not understand the Mass that Holy Mother Church had already given us! The sacred liturgy of the Catholic Church was incomprehensible to her own members!
But was it really? As Cardinal Ottaviani had noted in his famous intervention protesting imposition of the new Mass, the people themselves "never, absolutely never, asked that the liturgy be changed or mutilated to make it easier to understand."62 Indeed, had not Pope Paul himself admitted in the very same address that the people, especially the pious, would find the changes disturbing, annoying, inconvenient and even a nuisance? What is more, did not the Roman Missal already contain a faithful vernacular translation for those who could not follow in the Latin? What in heaven's name was motivating this sudden change, which the faithful themselves had never asked for?
Examining the text of Pope Paul's address today, one can scarcely believe that it was uttered by the Roman Pontiff, divinely appointed guardian of Tradition and the common good of the Church.63 It defies comprehension that the Vicar of Christ could, in such ironic tones, exhort us to behave "like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance"; to abandon "the language of the angels"; to reject something of "priceless worth", the "loftiest of our Church's values"; and to accept instead a new rite of Mass concocted by an obscure Monsignor named Bugnini, with the aid of a liturgical committee assisted by six Protestant advisors!64
The mystery deepens even further when one considers that only a year before this address Pope Paul had lamented the "auto-demolition" of the Church in the aftermath of the Council. Did Pope Paul think that this process of auto-demolition would be arrested by what Gamber called "the real destruction of the traditional Mass"? Stranger still, three years after he had imposed the Bugnini rite upon the Church, Pope Paul would lament that, "From somewhere or other the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God."65 From somewhere or other.
When viewed from the perspective of Fatima, the uncanny papal address of November 26, 1969 calls to mind several apparently unrelated events: the mysterious suppression of the Third Secret in 1960; Sister Lucy's repeated statements that Our Lady wished the Secret to be revealed not later than that year; and Pius XII's declaration shortly before his death in 1958 that the Message of Fatima is "a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith and [the] liturgy."66 Did the Third Secret of Fatima predict the very act that Paul VI committed in 1969? Does it also predict the tidal wave of unprecedented reforms which has swept the Church since the Council?
We must remember that the post-conciliar debacle is certainly not limited to what Gamber called "the real destruction of the traditional Mass" as if that were not enough. Although, as Cardinal Ratzinger observes in his memoirs, "the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy"67, this great debacle extends beyond that event to include what even "conservatives" admit was a "series of changes in ... official worship and practices which have scarcely left a single Catholic unaffected; and which, in many respects, have changed the external image of the Church ..."68
Far abler commentators than this author have assessed the full extent of the debacle with unimpeachable documentation for example, Michael Davies in his definitive trilogy on the Council and its reforms, and Romano Amerio in his master-work Iota Unum. For present purposes, a brief look at the empirical evidence, especially in the U.S., will suffice to demonstrate the utter catastrophe which has befallen us since that year when the Third Secret of Fatima was suddenly suppressed.
Beginning in 1960 every vital sign of the Church in America began to decline precipitously, and none of them has ever rebounded to pre-conciliar levels, or even near those levels. Consider the following data:
Weekly Mass attendance in the U.S. has declined from 71% of all Catholics in 1963 to only 25% in 1993 an astonishing 65% decline since the Council. The situation in Europe is even more catastrophic, with Mass attendance having declined since the Council to single digits.69
In 1960 the number of converts made in the U.S. was 140,000. By 1965 the number had dropped to 120,000, despite the population increase in the same period of time.
By 1970, with the population continuing to grow, conversions in the U.S. continued to plummet; there were only 90,000 conversions that year.
By 1975 conversions had plummeted still further, to only 80,000 per year.
Despite a brief surge to 85,000 in 1985, by 1995 the number of annual conversions had plunged to an abysmal 75,000-80,000 in the entire nation practically one-half the pre-conciliar level, even though the U.S. population has greatly increased since then.70
Despite the claim of some "conservatives" that the conversion of a number of American "evangelicals" signals the long-awaited "renewal" of Vatican II, it is undeniable that overall the Church has been suffering hemorrhagic losses of Catholics by the millions to the evangelical sects, especially in Latin America. Furthermore, The Wanderer reports that American evangelicals are now "pouring into the Antioch Orthodox Church" because they are drawn to its traditional and majestic forms of worship and its ancient doctrine! Meanwhile, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, after 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue" with the Vatican, chides the Catholic Church for "shun[ning] the correct glory of God".71 It is, ironically, the Bugnini "ecumenical" rite which poses the greatest obstacle to any possible reunion of the Orthodox churches with Rome, and which is now diverting evangelicals into Orthodoxy.
As we all know, the decline in conversions since 1960 has been accompanied by an unparalleled exodus from the priesthood, the seminaries, the monasteries, convents and Catholic schools. Here are some of the data:
In 1965 there were some 57,000 priests in America. By 1995, after 30 years of population growth, the number of priests had declined to only 49,000, leaving 8,000 fewer priests than there were 30 years ago. Many of the remaining priests are nearing retirement age. In fact, the number of priests per 10,000 Catholics has declined from 7.87 in 1965 to 5.46 in 1995, which means that there are 30% fewer priests available today than there were in 1965.
At the close of Vatican II in 1965, there were approximately 12,000 brothers. By 1995 there were only 6,000.
At the close of the Council there were approximately 180,000 sisters. By 1995 there were only 100,000.
Some 4,200,000 students attended Catholic elementary schools in the Council's final year. By 1995 there were only 1,800,000.
The situation is equally disastrous in the world as a whole. By the end of 1995 there were actually 44,000 fewer priests in the world than there were 25 years ago despite a doubling of the world's population in that time. [Source: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, August 13/21 1997]
Defenders of the post-conciliar state of affairs claim, however, that ordinations in the Third World have recently produced a dramatic rise in the number of priests worldwide, and that this, at last, is the hoped for "renewal". Not so.
Between 1989 and 1995 the number of priests in the entire world increased by a grand total of 289! Priestly defections worldwide all but negated the additional few thousand ordinations in all of Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The proponents of the "great renewal" may say what they will, but the empirical data make a mockery of their claim that the Council has ushered in a new era of vitality for the Church. For the first time in her entire history, the Holy Catholic Church has ceased to grow and is undergoing a severe and prolonged contraction. [Even the loss of members during the Protestant revolt in the 16th Century was more than offset by the conversion of 7 million Mexicans through the miraculous intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.] As the world's population increases, the Catholic Church decreases.
It is no wonder both Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger have spoken in recent interviews of a "qualitative renewal" in the Church since the Council. But this is a most peculiar way to explain such a great loss of sheep (not to mention shepherds) over the past 35 years. How does one determine the "quality" of the souls who have remained in the Church? And how could the "quality" of these souls make up for the loss of so many other souls?
In any case, it is none other than Cardinal Ratzinger who said on a different occasion: "Certainly the results of [Vatican II] seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone ... I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: [It] is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Church."72
Yet the defenders of the current state of affairs perversely claim there is no proof of any causal connection between the Council, the reforms it engendered and the subsequent decline in the vital signs of the Church. Post hoc, non ergo propter hoc, they say. Please! The debacle indicated by the statistics tracks, measure for measure, with the entire program of Conciliar aggiornamento:
The reform of the Mass was followed by an unprecedented and quite sudden decline in Mass attendance, and a loss of belief in the Real Presence by those Catholics who still bother to attend Mass.
The reforms of the priesthood, including seminary formation, were followed by the sudden defection of thousands of priests and the virtual elimination of new vocations, so that there are fewer priests today than before the Council.
The reform of the religious orders was followed by the sudden emptying of monasteries and convents.
The abolition of Pius X's Oath against Modernism and the Index of Forbidden Books was followed by a vast profusion of heresy in the seminaries, Catholic academies and associations of laity and priests, who openly defy and undermine Magisterial teachings around the world.
The implementation of the new "ecumenism" which eschews any frank effort to convert non-Catholics was followed by a drastic decline in conversions, the massive defection of Catholics into Protestant sects, and a widening of the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and multiform Protestantism. For example, after 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue" between Rome and the Anglicans, the Anglican "church" decided to "ordain" women, deny the torments of Hell, and approve illicit cohabitation between unmarried couples. No Protestant sect has changed any of its false doctrines even one iota in response to more than 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue". On the other hand, the majority of Catholics who still occupy the pews in parish churches have become functional Protestants. Not only are they encouraged by their priests, and even the Vatican, to pray with Protestants and participate with them in joint liturgical services, they have adopted a wholly Protestant attitude toward the authority of the Magisterium, choosing to "disagree" with the Pope on birth control, divorce and remarriage, gay rights, priestly celibacy and a host of other issues.
As Bishop Graber observed, since the Council the Catholic Church has undergone a "kind of Copernican revolution", a revolution which he demonstrates was predicted and labored for by the leaders of the Masonic societies condemned in dozens of papal pronouncements before the Council.73 As that revolution unfolded, its effects were joyously hailed by Communists and Masons around the world in their various publications. Perhaps the most striking example of how the enemies of the Church were delighted by the fruits of the Council is the gratuitous advice given to Pope Paul VI by Izvestia, the newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party, on how to deal with, of all people, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:
"Be conscious of the danger that Lefebvre represents. And continue the magnificent movement of approach begun with the ecumenism of Vatican II."74
In view of this sort of praise of the post-conciliar Revolution by the Church's sworn enemies, Bishop Graber was constrained to observe that "If in the face of these unambiguous admissions anyone still holds the opinion that the events in the Church are marginal phenomena or transitional difficulties which will die down of their own accord in time, he is simply beyond hope. But all the greater is the responsibility of the leading men in the Church if they do not occupy themselves with these questions and imagine ... that everything can be repaired by patching it up here and there. No, it is a question of the whole thing: it is the Church that is at stake ..."75
This article was reprinted with permission from the
December, 1997 issue of Catholic Family News