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Lightning strikes the Vatican, Feb. 11, 2013, hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.

October 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – ​A rash of pundits will always be on hand who tell us that talking about a “crisis” in the Church is needlessly emotional and polarizing language. They seem to be addicted to optimism at any price, not realizing that their message sounds increasingly hollow, their analysis fake, their smiles forced, and their applause lame. 

This becomes more and more apparent with the giant hammer-blows of the Viganò testimonies, with the third one (just released) shattering the feeble defenses of the ultramontanists for whom Pope Francis is the new Prophet who is leading us (at last!) into the Promised Land of the Second Vatican Council. In reality, never have the papacy and the Vatican been more corrupt in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church—and I say this as one who has read deeply about other moments of crisis and corruption in Church history. We have seen popes and curias of venality, ambition, and lust, but never those vices plus continual doctrinal innovations and oppressive liturgical banality. Even Alexander VI upheld Catholic doctrine and celebrated the solemn pontifical Mass with splendor!

It is true that elsewhere, to some extent, things are getting better—as, for example, in the religious communities and parishes that use the traditional Mass and sacramental rites—but we cannot honestly speak of a turnaround when every poll that is taken indicates fewer and fewer Catholics who accept the Church’s teaching (or who even know that teaching) on any issue remotely controversial, from the truth of the Real Presence to the evils of contraception, abortion, and homosexual acts. A majority of self-identified “Catholics” are in favor of legal recognition of homosexual “marriage” and many other sexual deviations contrary to biblical teaching and hitherto unbroken magisterial doctrine.

One could go on about the complete catastrophe in catechesis, the decline and fall of most of the Catholic schools, the self-serving bureaucratization of curias and chanceries, the abysmal state of sacred music and the fine arts—but what would be the point? Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear can tell that, apart from a remnant of more or less traditional Catholics, the Church is in the throes of a desperate disease called modernism, and the prognosis is looking grim.

I received this email from a priest in Europe and, from what I have seen, it may be taken for a typical situation—the very situation Viganò depicts in his latest testimony:

Dear Sir: English is not my mother language, so I apologize for the grammar mistakes. I am an assistant priest in a parish. The parish priest is gay and has a partner (not openly, but everybody knows). He has been the priest of that parish for more than 20 years. He is very diplomatic and he never proclaims any heresy. But after this 20 years, he has conveyed to the congregation a spirit of absolute moral relativism (and also of doctrinal relativism, since he never speaks about the doctrine of the Church). Last Sunday, I told the parishioners what is going on in the Church and I explained the letter of Mgr. Viganò. I also said that I had no trace of doubt that Mgr. Viganò is telling the truth. Many parishioners were not able to accept the message. They were furious with me and threatened to leave the Church if I continued to speak like that about the pope. It was a frontal attack to their “feel good gospel” that has been taught to them. It made me clear again how evil this homosexual practice is and what its effects are on the faithful, even when it is not explicitly proclaimed or defended. It is a worldly spirit that ruins the sound spirit of faith. I do not know how things will continue. I have said that I will not change my attitude towards this situation and that I will continue to tell the truth, even when this truth is inconvenient. I am sure that Heaven will help me, but still I am grateful for your prayers.

No, things are not getting better; they are getting worse, much worse under this pontificate than they have ever been in the history of the Church, as regards what is essential. Sure, in earlier centuries we may have suffered from axe-wielding barbarians torching villages, or immoral Renaissance pontiffs bestowing benefices on illegitimate offspring, plague-laden rats sowing foul disease across Europe, or charismatic heretics shattering the unity of Christendom, but never have we seen a pope gone so far off the rails, the magnitude of financial scandals involving the Vatican, the enormity of an embedded homosexual network across the globe—it is all rather like seven demons rushing in to fill an ecclesiastical house swept clean and left empty after the Council.

If we thought we had escaped or would escape post-Vatican II malaise by the contiguous pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as if finally the ship was going strong over the waves, the message of history has been: “Not so fast. You suffer from a lack of realism about how deep the rot had penetrated into the wood, how far the errors had extended, how much the ‘petty magisterium’ had deviated. It’s time to wake up.”

As for me, then, I regretfully but more truthfully stick with the language of crisis. And we will never find a solution to our crisis until we recover our Catholic identity through the celebration everywhere of the traditional Latin liturgy, with the doctrinal orthodoxy and moral strength it embodies, represents, and encourages. When the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, and the sacramental rites of the Church are once again offered in prayerful majesty to God’s glory and the benefit of Christians, then—and only then—will come that “new springtime” about which postconciliar Popes have spoken with such premature confidence. Only then will the New Evangelization begin in earnest, with the Mass of the Ages as its pulsing heart.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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