ROME, May 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — On June 23, 2018, an international group of theologians, philosophers, historians and other scholars will gather in Rome for a one-day conference dedicated to exploring the roots of the current crisis in the Church.
The international symposium, titled “Old and New Modernism: the roots of the Church’s crisis,” is being organized by the promoters of the 2017 “Filial Correction,” which charged Pope Francis with permitting the spread of seven heresies, at least by omission. Submitted to the Pope on August 11, 2017, the Correctio filialis was signed by 250 clergy and lay scholars from prestigious academic institutions around the world.
According to the organizers of the June symposium, the rejection of the errors that have penetrated the Mystical Body of Christ, and the return, with God’s help, to complete Catholic truth believed and lived, are the necessary conditions for the Church’s renewal.
LifeSiteNews spoke with the prime mover behind the conference, Professor Roberto de Mattei, about the event, the issues it will explore, and what its organizers seek to to achieve.
Roberto de Mattei is an Italian historian and president of the Lepanto Foundation. He has taught at various universities and has served as vice-president of the National Research Council, Italy’s leading scientific institution. De Mattei was one of the principal promoters of the Correctio filialis submitted to Pope Francis in 2017.
LifeSite: Professor de Mattei, what is the aim and goal of the conference being held in Rome on June 23?
De Mattei: The June 23rd study day is meant to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of the crisis in the Church and, on the basis of this analysis, to identify the most effective remedies for overcoming it. The pontificate of Pope Francis has brought this crisis to light in a dramatic way. But the process of the self-demolition of the Church had already been denounced by Paul VI in 1968, after the opposition to Humanae Vitae. Today the heirs of that opposition occupy the highest positions in the Church. The authors of the Correctio filialis identified in that document a series of errors and heresies propagated by Pope Francis. But none of the authors, I believe, thinks that Pope Francis is the only one responsible for the situation of doctrinal and pastoral confusion in which the Church is immersed today. Let us imagine that Pope Francis, for whatever reason, leaves the scene overnight and a new Pontiff is elected. Would everything get back in order? No, of course not. The crisis has a synchronic dimension, which is its spread throughout the whole body of the Church, from top to bottom, including entire episcopal conferences. But it also has a diachronic dimension, which makes it a process over time. Pope Francis is the historical product of this process.
Why has the conference been titled ‘Old and New Modernism: the roots of the Church’s crisis’?
The term modernism was coined by Saint Pius X to define a whole set of theological, philosophical, and exegetical errors that arose during the pontificate of his predecessor Leo XIII. In 1907, Pius X condemned modernism with the encyclical Pascendi and the decreee Lamentabili. Following this condemnation and the disciplinary measures that followed, modernism seemed to disappear, but it re-emerged in the 1930s and penetrated every sphere of the Church, especially after the death of Pius XII.
Modernism was influenced by liberal Protestantism and was a synthesis of ancient errors such as Gnosticism, Pelagianism and Arianism. Neo-modernism, in a particular way, adopts old modernism’s primacy of praxis, and has become a philosophy of life and pastoral action, even before being a doctrinal school.
What questions will the conference explore?
The speakers will address the epistemological, theological and philosophical roots of the religious crisis of our time. We will speak about modernism, nouvelle théologie, the Second Vatican Council and its consequences and, of course, the pontificate of Pope Francis, but without concentrating on this last point.
The international symposium will also present an interesting opportunity to discuss the theological and canonical hypothesis of a heretical Pope. But it is clear that it’s impossible to exhaust such vast and complex issues in one day. We will therefore limit ourselves to offering some ideas, in the hope that other scholars will study them more deeply, and above all that bishops and cardinals will take them into account.
Will any cardinals or bishops be addressing or attending the conference?
We would be delighted to have the presence of a cardinal or bishop at the conference, but it is not an ecclesiastical initiative. I believe that it’s necessary to distinguish the role of pastors, who are to teach and guide the disoriented flock, from that of theologians and philosophers, who are tasked with providing those who govern the Church with the necessary elements to better carry out their pastoral duty.
Who are the featured speakers?
On this point, I should exercise some discretion until the program has been finalized. What I can say is that scholars of different nationalities will be participating, who teach or have taught in public and private, civil and ecclesiastical institutions in Italy and abroad. Most, but not all of them, are signatories of the Filial Correction.
What do you hope to achieve?
First and foremost, we want to do our duty, which is not to remain silent, but to witness to the Church’s Faith and to denounce the errors opposed to it, as well as identifying those who are responsible for them. We are certainly not the ones who will save the Church. But without the militant commitment of each individual, according to his own role and capacities, the intervention of Divine Grace, which is the only means to resolve the situation, will not occur. Our study day follows the conferences, appeals, declarations, initiatives, each of which has contributed to a climate of renewed fidelity to the Church and of firm opposition to the process of self-dissolution that is attacking it. The Correctio filialis and the conference on 23 June are an expression of the vitality of the Mystical Body of Christ, and they nourish our supernatural hope in a future rebirth of the Church.
How will the day be structured? And how do people register?
The conference will be held on Saturday, June 23, from 9am to 6pm and will feature a series of talks, some of them longer and some shorter, each followed by discussion. A round table discussion is also being planned at the conclusion of the conference. Each speaker will deliver his talk in his or her own language. However, we plan to translate the talks, distribute them to those present at the conference, and publish them afterward. Those who wish to register for the conference are invited to do so online. We recommend that people register soon as places are limited.
NOTE: Register for the conference here.