Abp. Viganò: Abolition of anti-Modernist Oath is ‘a desertion, a betrayal of unheard-of gravity’
January 6, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – In a new statement, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò presents the history of Pope Saint Pius X's Oath Against Modernism, with the help of which this Pope tried to fight back against heresy in the Church. The Italian archbishop praises this attempt and adds that the 1967 abandonment of this oath by Pope Paul VI was a “desertion,” and a “betrayal,” suggesting that Modernism was no longer rejected. Those clergymen who participated at the Second Vatican Council and were involved in its innovations, such as then-Professor Joseph Ratzinger, all had still taken that anti-Modernist Oath. Viganò explains that Ratzinger “‘played a crucial role in overturning the preparatory schemas of the Council and initiating a completely new approach,’ and that in doing so he violated the Oath.”
Archbishop Viganò adds: “It would, however, be desirable that he, above all in consideration of the Divine Judgment that awaits him, would definitively distance himself from those theologically erroneous positions – I am referring in particular to those in Introduction to Christianity – which are still disseminated today in universities and seminaries which boast to call themselves Catholic.”
Archbishop Viganò kindly responded to a set of questions that I, together with my husband Dr. Robert Hickson, presented to him in a published September 28, 2020 article. In our set of questions, we highlighted the close proximity between the July 23, 1967 Land O'Lakes statement of leaders of U.S. Catholic educational institutions who declared their independence from the Church's magisterial authority and the abandonment of the 1967 Oath Against Modernism only a few days earlier.
We had also reviewed aspects of a new biogaphy of Pope Benedict XVI, in which its author, Peter Seewald, showed the crucial role of then-Joseph Ratzinger at the Second Vatican Council's reform and change of spirit. Thus, we had asked Archbishop Viganò whether then-Professor Ratzinger not effectively perjured himself, since he himself also had taken previously the Oath Against Modernism.
In a wide-ranging response, Archbishop Viganò not only covers the history of the 1910 Oath Against Modernism and its abrogation and replacement by another formula of profession of faith, but he also discusses the influence of Jacques Maritain upon Pope Paul VI, the Gramscian-Communist method of cultural infiltration and subversion of the Catholic Church, and the person of Joseph Ratzinger as such.
First, the Italian prelate honors the Oath Against Modernism, which was demeaned as a sort of “a climate of witch-hunting,” but which “unquestionably had the merit of flushing out the enemies of the Church who lurked within her,” he explains. “If we think of heresy as a pestilence that afflicts the ecclesial body,” Viganò continues, “we ought to recognize that Saint Pius X acted with the wisdom of a doctor in eradicating the disease and isolating those who contributed to its spread.”
But with the 1967 abandonment of the Oath Aginst Modernism, as well as the Index of prohibited books the year before, the Church abandoned her combat against heresy in the Church. Here, Archbishop Viganò refers to one of the founders of the Communist Party in Italy, Antonio Gramsci, and his method of a cultural revolution that takes over a culture and with it the minds of the people. He states: “If we apply Gramsci’s recommendations to what has happened in the heart of the Church in the last century, we can see that the work of conquering the ecclesiastical 'casemates' was conducted with the same subversive methods; certainly the infiltration of the deep state into civil institutions and of the deep church into Catholic institutions corresponds to this criterion.”
The prelate reminds us that “all the bishops who participated in the Second Vatican Council and all the clerics with positions in the commissions swore the Iusiurandum Antimodernisticum together with the Professio Fidei.” That means that “those who at the Council rejected the preparatory schemas prepared by the Holy Office and played a decisive role in the drafting of the most controversial texts violated their oath sworn on the Holy Gospels.”
Furthermore, explains the Italian prelate, the abolition of the Oath Against Modernism “was part of a plan to dismantle the disciplinary structure of the Church, precisely at the moment in which the threat of the adulteration of Faith and Morals by the Innovators was greatest.” The abolition of this Oath “deprived the Hierarchy of the disciplinary means with which to guard and defend itself,” and therefore it “was a desertion, a betrayal of unheard gravity, especially in those terrible years: as if in the middle of full combat the commander-in-chief ordered his men to lay their arms down before the enemy just as they were getting ready to invade the Citadel.”
Viganò goes on to discuss also the crucial role of then-Professor Joseph Ratzinger who, as peritus of Cardinal Josef Frings, was deeply involved in the changes that were worked out at the Council. Referring back to the protective discipline established by Pope Saint Pius X, the prelate points out that they were also applied to Ratzinger who in 1955 “himself was accused of Modernism by the assistant supervisor of his dissertation for his teaching habilitation, Professor Michael Schmaus, against his colleague Gottlieb Söhngen, who shared the opposite approach with Ratzinger. The young theologian had to correct his dissertation in the points in which it insinuated a subjectivization of the concept of Revelation.”
Viganò goes on to state: “It is obvious that Joseph Ratzinger is to be counted among those who swore the Oath; that he “played a crucial role in overturning the preparatory schemas of the Council and initiating a completely new approach,” and that in doing so he violated the Oath, is equally indisputable. Whether in doing this Ratzinger had full knowledge of committing sacrilege, only God knows, who scrutinizes the depths of the heart.”
While we do not know Ratzinger's heart at the time and today, Viganò faces the fact that Ratzinger's own writings have been influenced by Modernist thoughts: “It also seems to me undeniable that there are many of his writings in which both his Hegelian formation as well as the influence of Modernism emerge, as Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli has illustrated very well in his essays and as the new biography of Pope Benedict XVI by Peter Seewald confirms with an abundance of particulars and numerous sources.” In light of these facts, for the Italian prelate it seems “obvious that the declarations of the young Joseph Ratzinger reported by Seewald largely contradict the hermeneutic of continuity which Benedict XVI later theorized, perhaps as a prudent retraction of his former enthusiasm.” (See here an analysis of Ratzinger's role at the Second Vatican Council as described by Peter Seewald.)
Ratzinger, in Viganò's eyes, seems to have changed his heart during his ecclesiastical career, “his role as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,” and “his election to the Throne” having contributed “to at least some sort of a change of heart about the mistakes he committed and the ideas he professed.” However, Viganò still hopes that Ratzinger “above all in consideration of the Divine Judgment that awaits him, would definitively distance himself from those theologically erroneous positions – I am referring in particular to those in Introduction to Christianity – which are still disseminated today in universities and seminaries which boast to call themselves Catholic. Delicta juventutis meae et ignorantias meas ne memineris Domine (Ps 25: 7).”
This new statement by Archbishop Viganò is of great historical and moral worth and hopefully will help many Catholics to understand more deeply the history of Modernism and the Church's abandonment of resisting it, with major Modernist thinkers becoming the leading figures and inspirations of the modern hierarchy.
Please see here Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's full statement:
After I turned away, I repented;
When you made me understand, I beat my breast;
I am ashamed and confused,
because I carry the infamy of my youth.
In an article that appeared on LifeSiteNews last September 28, Dr. Maike Hickson asked me some questions to supplement my statements concerning the Second Vatican Council reported by Marco Tosatti.
THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM
The points made in this analysis refer to the Oath against Modernism, which Saint Pius X promulgated with the Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum of September 1, 1910, three years after the publication of the Decree Lamentabili and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Article VI of Pascendi established the institution, “as soon as possible [quanto prima]” of a vigilance commission in every diocese, while article VII ordered that a “diligent and sworn statement” be sent “to the Holy See” within a year, and then every three years after that, on the implementation of the prescriptions of the Encyclical and “on the doctrines that run among the clergy,” later simply known as the “Pascendi report.”
It will be noted that the Holy See had a quite different approach to the very serious doctrinal crisis of those years, as compared to the totally opposite approach adopted after the end of the pontificate of Pius XII.
The Innovators complained about what they called “a climate of witch-hunting,” but which unquestionably had the merit of flushing out the enemies of the Church who lurked within her, by means of an action of control and prevention. If we think of heresy as a pestilence that afflicts the ecclesial body, we ought to recognize that Saint Pius X acted with the wisdom of a doctor in eradicating the disease and isolating those who contributed to its spread.
THE ABOLITION OF THE OATH AND INDEX
In taking up the ideological link that I had highlighted between the Council and the Land O’Lakes Statement of July 23, 1967, Maike and Robert Hickson opportunely pointed out another interesting “coincidence”: the abolition, on July 17, 1967, of the obligation for all clerics to swear the Oath against Modernism which had been prescribed up until that time. An abolition that passed almost in silence, by means of replacing the preceding formula – which called for the Professio Fidei and the Jusjurandum Antimodernisticum – with the Nicene Creed and this brief phrase:
Firmiter quoque amplector et retineo omnia et singula quae circa doctrinam de fide et moribus ab Ecclesia, sive solemni iudicio definita sive ordinario magisterio adserta ac declarata sunt, prout ab ipsa proponuntur, praesertim ea quae respiciunt mysterium sanctae Ecclesiae Christi, eiusque Sacramenta et Missae Sacrificium atque Primatum Romani Pontificis. [I also firmly embrace and hold each and every thing which has been set forth and declared by the Church regarding the doctrine of the faith and morals, whether by a solemnly defined judgment or by the ordinary magisterium, especially those things which have reference to the holy Church of Christ, her Sacraments and the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff.]
The explanatory note of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated: “Formula deinceps adhibenda in casibus in quibus iure praescribitur Professio Fidei, loco formulae Tridentinae et iuramenti antimodernistici [Henceforth this formula is to be used in cases in which the law prescribes the Profession of Faith, in place of the Tridentine formula and the Oath against Modernism].”
It should be noted that this innovation followed the abolition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which took place on February 4, 1966, after Paul VI redefined the competencies and structure of the Congregation on December 7, 1965, and changed the ancient name of the Holy Office to its present name, with the Motu Proprio Integrae Servandae:
But, because there is no fear in love (1 Jn 4:18), the defense of the faith is now better served by promoting doctrine, in such a way that, while errors stand corrected and those who err are gently called back to the truth, heralds of the Gospel may find new strength. Moreover, the advance of human culture, whose importance the religious field must not overlook, is that the faithful follow the directives of the Church with greater adhesion and love, if, insofar as in matters of faith and morals it is possible to make clear to them the reasons for definitions and laws.
The abolition of the Iusiurandum Antimodernisticum was part of a plan to dismantle the disciplinary structure of the Church, precisely at the moment in which the threat of the adulteration of Faith and Morals by the Innovators was greatest. This operation confirms the intention of those who, in the face of the ultra-progressive attack initiated at the Council, not only allowed the enemy to have freedom of action but also deprived the Hierarchy of the disciplinary means with which to guard and defend itself. And it was a desertion, a betrayal of unheard gravity, especially in those terrible years: as if in the middle of full combat the commander-in-chief ordered his men to lay their arms down before the enemy just as they were getting ready to invade the Citadel.
THE INADEQUACY OF THE NEW FORMULA
The inadequacy of the 1967 formula was also admitted by Father Umberto Betti, O.F.M., in the Doctrinal Considerations which appeared in 1989 after the promulgation of the new formula of the Profession of Faith:
This all-encompassing affirmation, if commendable for its brevity, was not immune to a two-fold disadvantage: that of not clearly distinguishing the truths proposed for belief as divinely revealed from those proposed in a definitive way even though not divinely revealed; and that of passing over in silence the teachings of the supreme magisterium which do not have the connotation of the divinely revealed or the definitive proposition.
It seems to understand that the solicitude of the Congregation was motivated by the necessity of including in the Oath of Fidelity both the Council itself and the Magisterium that does not have “the connotation of the divinely revealed or the definitive proposition,” after which with lightness – on the wave of the conciliar dismantling – the first formula had substantially allowed it to be understood that the content of the Oath against Modernism no longer had any value, and that therefore one could adhere – as effectively happened – to the heterodox doctrines of Modernism.
THE REBELS MAKE THE APPLICATIONS OF COMMUNISM THEIR OWN
I cannot affirm with certainty that Father Theodore M. Hesburgh was aware of the imminent abolition of the Professio Fidei and the Oath against Modernism when he prepared the Land O’ Lakes Statement. Nonetheless, I believe it is evident that the climate of rebellion of those years in Europe and the United States largely contributed to the belief that Rome approved, if not the most scandalous excesses, certainly the forms of compromise with progressivism.
I recall that Cardinal Alfrink, on October 9, 1966, had presented the Dutch “New Catechism” in Utrecht, as an expression of all the errors that the spirit of the Council considered by then to have been established. The following year, on October 10, 1967, during the Third World Congress for the apostolate of lay people reunited in Rome, the death of Ernest Che Guevara was commemorated after he had died the previous day in a guerrilla action. In the following months there followed the violent student occupations of the universities, including the Catholic University of Milan, in protest against the Vietnam War. And on December 5, 1967, thanks to the offices of [Secretary of State] Agostino Casaroli, the president of the student body of the Catholic University of Milan, Nello Canalini, was received in audience by the Substitute of the Secretary of State, Msgr. Giovanni Benelli. On December 21, 1967, despite the appeals of their Order, three priests and a sister joined the guerrillas in Guatemala, and two days later, on the occasion of the visit of President Lyndon Johnson to the Vatican, there were protests from progressive Catholics, including the Maritain Circle of Rimini. There followed the condemnation of the Vietnam War by Cardinal Lercaro (January 1, 1968) and the anti-imperialist proclamation of Fidel Castro, written by four priests. On January 31, 1968, the Brazilian bishop Jorge Marcos defended the revolution during a television interview. On February 16, 1968, the national presidents of FUCI [Italian Catholic Federation of University Students], Mirella Gallinaro and Giovanni Benzoni, sent an open letter to the university professors in which they laid out the reasons for the student protest. From that point on, the protests multiplied, including violent ones, giving rise to the sadly famous “1968 Movement” [in which all Italian universities were occupied]. No wonder: Che Guevara was formed in a Jesuit College in Santiago, Cuba, and the revolution in the political sphere always proceeds from a revolution in the theological sphere.
THE SURRENDER OF THE HIERARCHY TO SUBVERSION
It is obvious that the political climate of those years was the breeding ground of the Revolution, and equally evident that the Church did not react with the firmness and determination that would have been necessary; moreover, even on the part of national governments the response was entirely ineffective. It is therefore understood that the climate of rebellion in which the heretical instances of Catholic progressivism could not fail to involve the self-styled intellectuals and theologians both of Land O’Lakes as well as of many universities throughout the world. The hierarchy, instead of asking itself about the cause of such agitations, clumsily sought merely to deplore the excesses, precisely because the cause lay in Vatican II and in its protesting thrust, despite the proclamation of Paul VI:
After the Council the Church enjoyed, and still is enjoying, a great and magnificent awakening, which we are the first to be pleased to recognize and favor; but the Church has also suffered and still suffers from a whirlwind of ideas and facts, which are certainly not according to the good Spirit and do not promise that vital renewal which the Council has promised and promoted. An idea of double effect has also made its way into certain Catholic circles: the idea of change, which for some has replaced the idea of aggiornamento, foreshadowed by Pope John of venerable memory, thus attributing, against the evidence and against justice, to that most faithful Pastor of the Church criteria that are no longer innovative, but at times even subversive of the teaching and discipline of the Church herself.
These “criteria that are no longer innovative, but at times even subversive of the teaching and discipline of the Church herself” are today right before our eyes, and they were there just a few years later, when the new Mass was imposed on the entire Christian people, the summa of subversion in the liturgical sphere.
I recall very well the climate of those years, and the dismay of so many pastors, professors, and theologians in the face of the arrogance of the rebels and the violence of their supporters. But I also recall the timidity and fear of fueling the clashes: the fruit of that sense of inferiority which had afflicted above all the highest levels of both Church and State. On the other hand, after the operation undertaken by Roncalli and Montini to dismantle the solemn and sacerdotal nature of the pontificate of Pius XII, that feeling of failure was the only response on the part of an episcopate habituated to blind obedience, especially in the face of the impunity enjoyed by their brother bishops who were Modernists. It was the era in which the Benedictine abbot of Michaelsberg (Germany) asked for reduction to the lay state in order to protest against the “authoritarian methods” of the Vatican, and ended up getting married shortly thereafter. It was the era of the Letter of the Seven Hundred, in which 774 French priests and laity wrote to Paul VI to challenge the positions of the hierarchy, asking it to renounce temporal power and be closer to the poor. Today these seven hundred insurrectionists would carry Bergoglio in triumph, who has brought to completion what the Council suddenly began.
THE “CASEMATES” IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL SPHERE
On the eve of ’68, cancelling the Professio Fidei and the Oath against Modernism was an unfortunate decision, because, like the storming of the Bastille, it was prepared in the secret meetings of the Masons, and thus the Revolution of 1968 found its ideological base in the Catholic universities and formed its most excited protagonists there, some of whom were political exponents of the extreme left. Not asking the professors of these universities and the chaplains of the lay associations to swear the Oath was the equivalent of authorizing them to transmit their heterodox ideas, suggesting that the condemnation of Modernism had fallen. This allowed the Innovators to take power, according to the methods analyzed by Antonio Gramsci, who identified in the apparatus of the State – schools, parties, trade unions, the press, associations – the “casemates” of the enemy to be conquered in a parallel action to the war in the trenches.
In this regard, Alexander Höbel notes in one of his essays on Gramsci, a founding philosopher of the Communist Party of Italy:
[The communist party], before taking political power, must fight for hegemony in civil society, which means hegemony on the ideological and cultural level, but which also means conquering – during a long “war of position” which alternates in phases with a “war of movement” – the “casemates” – the trenches, the myriad small and large centers of popular power (or resistance) which are the trade unions, the cooperatives, the local governments, the associations, and the entire network of structures that make our civil society today immensely more complex than that of Gramsci’s time. It is in the course of this process that the subordinate class “becomes a historical subject,” a class for itself; it thus becomes the ruling class and lays the foundations also to become the dominant class; that is, conquering political power on the basis of consensus and mass sharing, an expression of a new “historical block.” In this hegemonic battle the proletariat not only constructs a politics of alliances, but it brings to the light of the political conscience those changes that have already happened on the structural level, of the development of productive forces, making clear that political and social transformation is also not only possible but necessary. In this context, it is clear that in the approach with respect to potential allies “the only concrete possibility is compromise, since force can be used against enemies, not against a part of oneself that wants to quickly assimilate.”
If we apply Gramsci’s recommendations to what has happened in the heart of the Church in the last century, we can see that the work of conquering the ecclesiastical “casemates” was conducted with the same subversive methods; certainly the infiltration of the deep state into civil institutions and of the deep church into Catholic institutions corresponds to this criterion.
THE EXEMPTION FROM THE OATH FOR GERMAN UNIVERSITIES
With regard to the exemption from the Oath for the Catholic departments at German universities at the time of Saint Pius X, I seem to understand – from the documentation I consulted – that this derogation was not actually granted but rather was de facto extorted against the wishes of the Holy See, thanks to the indulgence of certain members of the German episcopate. Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has highlighted the consequences of this exemption on the theological school in Germany. For my part, I limit myself to noting that they are evident in the formation of Joseph Ratzinger, who attended the Higher Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Freising, the Herzogliches Georgianum Seminary of Munich in Bavaria, and Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In addition, the Jesuit Karl Rahner, among others, was formed in Germany: his curriculum earned him an appointment as peritus at the Council on the initiative of John XXIII, who was a friend of the Modernist Ernesto Buonaiuti.
In this regard it is interesting to note what Professor Claus Arnold has observed in his study The Reception of the Encyclical Pascendi in Germany:
From an overall investigation, it can be reconstructed that the encyclical Pascendi was implemented only in a very approximative way, at least according to the standards of a regular centralized bureaucracy. From this perspective, one recognizes a high level of indolence and episcopal resistance, also in Germany. Pius X had every reason to be disappointed: the suspected secret sect of the Modernists within the Church could not be discovered by the bishops, and the anti-Modernist Oath of 1910 can be seen as an expression of dissatisfaction over this episcopal blindness. However, the high level of deviation from the reporting obligation and the responses of the bishops that were often formalized and of an interpretative immunization should not lead us to undervalue the effect of the encyclical.
Certainly the discipline then in force both in the Roman Dicasteries as well as in the Dioceses of the world prevented the complete boycott of the provisions providentially imparted by Saint Pius X. So much so that in 1955 Joseph Ratzinger himself was accused of Modernism by the assistant supervisor of his dissertation for his teaching habilitation, Professor Michael Schmaus, against his colleague Gottlieb Söhngen, who shared the opposite approach with Ratzinger. The young theologian had to correct his dissertation in the points in which it insinuated a subjectivization of the concept of Revelation.
THE OATH AT THE COUNCIL
I confirm that, according to the canonical norms then in vigor, all the bishops who participated in the Second Vatican Council and all the clerics with positions in the commissions swore the Iusiurandum Antimodernisticum together with the Professio Fidei. Certainly those who at the Council rejected the preparatory schemas prepared by the Holy Office and played a decisive role in the drafting of the most controversial texts violated their oath sworn on the Holy Gospels; but I do not think that for them this posed a serious problem of conscience.
THE CREDO OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
The Credo of the People of God pronounced by Paul VI on June 30, 1968, in the Cappella Papale which concluded the Year of Faith was supposed to represent the response of the Apostolic See to the mounting wave of doctrinal and moral contestation; we know that it was strongly recommended by certain cardinals. Jacques Maritain collaborated in its drafting, who through Cardinal Charles Journet was received in audience by Paul VI between 1967 and 1968 and submitted a draft for a Profession of Faith that would in some way oppose the heretical Dutch Catechism which had just been published and was being examined during those months by a commission of cardinals which included Journet. Prior to this, also at the request of Paul VI, another profession of faith was prepared by the Dominican Yves Congar, which was rejected. But there is another detail:
...in one section, Maritain had explicitly mentioned the common testimony that Israelites and Muslims give to the unity of God together with Christians. In his Creed, however, Paul VI gives thanks to the divine goodness for the “many believers” who share with Christians faith in the one God, but without explicitly mentioning Judaism and Islam.
We thus discover that, if it were not for the providential revision of the Holy Office, the Credo would have introduced the doctrine of Nostra Ætate which was later taken up by the Successors of Montini and which with Bergoglio has met its coherent expression in the Abu Dhabi Declaration.
THE ABDICATION OF APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY
And here we discover another punctum dolens of the way of acting that united Maritain and Montini:
In the introduction to the text prepared at Journet’s request, Maritain added some suggestions regarding method. According to Maritain, it was opportune that the Pope would use a new procedure, confessing his profession of faith as a pure and simple witness: “The testimony of our faith, this is what we want to bear before God and men.” According to Maritain, the pure and simple “confessio fidei” would better help the multitude of troubled souls, without having to present the profession of faith as a mere act of authority: “If the Pope were to have the air of prescribing or imposing his profession of faith in the name of his magisterium, either he would have to speak the whole truth, thereby raising storms, or he would have to use consideration, avoiding dealing with the most dangerously threatened points, and this would be the worst thing of all.” The most efficacious and necessary thing was to confess clearly and strongly the integrity of the faith of the Church, without anathematizing anyone.
Saying the whole truth, according to Maritain, would have raised storms. The alternative, namely using consideration, “avoiding dealing with the most dangerously threatened points,” had already been adopted by the Council. Thus, once again, compromise was chosen. Mediocritas was erected as a method of governance in the Church, the sum total of the new merely propositional magisterium that avoided “any allusion to the anathematic form. But in the name of the one who presently occupies the Chair of the Apostle Peter. So that all ambiguities will be excluded.” The Holy Office also added an interesting comment that we can re-evaluate today, especially after Fratelli Tutti:
According to Duroux, the clarification should also be added that when the Church deals with temporal questions she does not aim at establishing a paradise on earth, but simply at rendering the present condition of men less inhuman. An insertion that would serve to clear the field of ambiguous interpretations regarding the positions taken by large ecclesial sectors, especially in Latin America in the face of political and social injustice.
With that profession of faith, “without being a dogmatic definition properly so-called, and albeit with some development, required by the spiritual conditions of our time, there was an attempt to have the Pope say what the Council had been silent about: it will be noted that the text of the Credo contains 15 citations from Lumen Gentium, while it mentions the acts of the preceding infallible Magisterium 16 times, however only giving the reference number in Denzinger.
In any case, this Profession of Faith was never adopted along with the Oath, and served more to silence the exasperated souls of pastors and the faithful rather than to lead rebels back to Catholic orthodoxy.
I would like to point out another element present in Maritain’s declarations that should not be underestimated: “If the Pope were to have the air of prescribing or imposing his profession of faith in the name of his magisterium...” Here is the main point on which the whole question hinges: the abdication of authority on the part of authority itself. According to this approach, the pope must not give even the impression of prescribing or imposing anything, and if per accidens Paul VI did so, today we find ourselves in the situation that the French thinker hoped for fifty years ago: certainly Bergoglio does not have the air “of prescribing or imposing his profession of faith in the name of his magisterium,” and the use of “consideration, avoiding dealing with the most dangerously threatened points” has now changed into a blatant and brazen affirmation of a counter-magisterium which, despite being canonically devoid of any apostolic authority, nevertheless has the explosive power of the words of him whom the world recognizes as the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, the Roman Pontiff. Thus, despite not having the air of doing so, Jorge Mario Bergoglio exploits his authority and the visibility that the mainstream media give him to demolish the Church of Christ. And if error can assert itself with impunity “without anathematizing anyone,” the “anathematic form” is widely used against those who defend Catholic orthodoxy or denounce the fraud in progress. It goes without saying that the use of “consideration, avoiding dealing with the most dangerously threatened points” today includes not only doctrinal aspects, but also moral ones, supporting the very serious deviations in the area of gender theory, homosexuality, trans-sexualism, and cohabitation.
RATZINGER AND THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM
It is obvious that Joseph Ratzinger is to be counted among those who swore the Oath; that he “played a crucial role in overturning the preparatory schemas of the Council and initiating a completely new approach,” and that in doing so he violated the Oath, is equally indisputable. Whether in doing this Ratzinger had full knowledge of committing sacrilege, only God knows, who scrutinizes the depths of the heart.
It also seems to me undeniable that there are many of his writings in which both his Hegelian formation as well as the influence of Modernism emerge, as Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli has illustrated very well in his essays and as the new biography of Pope Benedict XVI by Peter Seewald confirms with an abundance of particulars and numerous sources. In this regard, I believe it is obvious that the declarations of the young Joseph Ratzinger reported by Seewald largely contradict the hermeneutic of continuity which Benedict XVI later theorized, perhaps as a prudent retraction of his former enthusiasm.
I think, however, that the passage of time, his role as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and finally his election to the Throne have contributed to at least some sort of a change of heart about the mistakes he committed and the ideas he professed. It would, however, be desirable that he, above all in consideration of the Divine Judgment that awaits him, would definitively distance himself from those theologically erroneous positions – I am referring in particular to those in Introduction to Christianity – which are still disseminated today in universities and seminaries which boast to call themselves Catholic. Delicta juventutis meae et ignorantias meas ne memineris Domine (Ps 25: 7).
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
7 December 2020
S. Ambrosii Episcopi et Confessoris
 Saint Pius X, Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum, quo quaedam statuuntur leges ad Modernismi periculum propulsandum, 1 September 1910. Note that the Holy See publishes this document on its website only in the Latin text, without translation into any current language, unlike all other recent texts.
 Cf. La Civiltà Cattolica, 1907, 4, 106: “We will and ordain that the Bishops of all dioceses, a year after the publication of these letters and every three years thenceforward, furnish the Holy See with a diligent and sworn report on all the prescriptions contained in them, and on the doctrines that find currency among the clergy, and especially in the seminaries and other Catholic institutions, and We impose the like obligation on the Generals of Religious Orders with regard to those under them” (art. VII of Encyclical Pascendi). See in this regard: Alejandro M. Dieguez, Tra competenze e procedure: la gestione dell’operazione, in The Reception and Application of the Encyclical Pascendi, Studi di Storia 3, edited by Claus Arnold and Giovanni Vian, Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2017.
 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Given Motu Proprio Integrae Servandae, 7 December 1965.
 Doctrinal considerations on the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity, in Notitiae 25 (1989) 321-325.
 Translator’s note: A casemate is a fortified position on a warship from which guns are fired, from the Old Italian casamatta.
 Cf. A. Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, edited by V. Gerratana, Turin, Einaudi, 1975, pp. 1566-1567.
 Cf. Alexander Höbel, Gramsci e l’egemonia. Complessità e trasformazione sociale.
 La Civiltà Cattolica, year 65, 1914, vol. 2, La parola del Papa e i suoi pervertitori, p. 641-650. In relation to the speech of Pius X at the Consistory of May 27, 1914, (AAS, 28 May 1914, year VI, vol. VI, n. 8, pp. 260-262): “The Pope here refers to the Oath against Modernism, which about five years ago was to be imposed on the professors of theology of the universities of the Empire” (p. 648). The passage of the speech of Pius X to the Consistory is this: “If you ever encounter those who boast of being believers, devoted to the Pope, and who want to be Catholic but would consider it the utmost insult to be called “clerical,” tell them solemnly that devoted sons of the Pope are those who obey his word and follow him in everything, and not those who study the means to evade his orders or to obligate him with insistence worthy of a better cause to grant exemptions and dispensations that are all the more painful the more they are harmful and scandalous.” On May 30, 1914, L’Osservatore Romano responded with a note: “We have seen that some newspapers, commenting on the speech the Holy Father gave on Wednesday to the new cardinals, have insinuated either to confuse ideas and disturb souls, or for other reasons, that His Holiness, speaking of harmful exemptions or dispensations which they insist on obtaining from him, was alluding to the Oath against Modernism in Germany. This is completely false, and it seems to us that the misunderstanding in this regard should not be possible. The only passage in that speech that refers specifically to Germany, even if not exclusively so, is the part about mixed associations, and in it the Pope only confirmed once again the principles which he laid out in the Encyclical Singulari Quadam.”
 “In a global survey it can be reconstructed that the encyclical Pascendi was implemented very inchoately, at least according to the standards of a centralized bureaucratic rule. In this perspective, a high degree of episcopal indolence and resistance can be acknowledged, even in Germany. Pius X had every reason to be disappointed: the suspected secret sect of the Modernists within the Church could not be uncovered by the bishops, and the Oath against Modernism of 1910 can be seen as an expression of dissatisfaction with this episcopal blindness. However, the high deviance from the reporting requirement and the often formalized and interpretative-immunizing responses of the bishops should not lead us to underestimate the effect of the encyclical” (p. 87). See Claus Arnold, The Reception of the Encyclical Pascendi in Germany (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany), in The Reception and Application of the Encyclical Pascendi, Studi di Storia 3, edited by Claus Arnold and Giovanni Vian, Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2017, p. 75 ff.
 “For Schmaus the faith of the Church was communicated with definitive, static concepts which define perennial truths. For Söhngen the faith was mystery and was communicated in a story. At that time there was much talk of the history of salvation. There was a dynamic factor, which also guaranteed an openness and a taking into consideration of new questions.” Interview with Alfred Läpple of Gianni Valente and Pierluca Azzaro, Quel nuovo inizio che fiorì tra le macerie, in 30 Giorni, 01/02, 2006.
 Sandro Magister notes: In the 1950s, Maritain was close to being condemned by the Holy Office for his philosophical thought, which was suspected of “integral naturalism.” The condemnation was not carried out, in part because he was defended by Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI, who at the time was the Substitute of the Secretariat of State and was tied to the French thinker by a long friendship.” Ibid.
 So the Dominican Benoît Duroux suggested on April 6, 1968, who at the time was a collaborator of the secretary of the former Holy Office, Msgr. Paul Philippe. Ibid.
 “We are aware of the restlessness that agitates some modern environments in relation to faith. They do not escape the influence of a world in profound transformation, in which such a large number of certainties are challenged or questioned. We also see Catholics who allow themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty.” Ibid.