Editor’s note: This article was originally published by kath.net in German and was translated and republished with permission from Bishop Marian Eleganti.
(LifeSiteNews) — For the philosopher of religion and priest Romano Guardini, Tradition was the richness of the knowledge of the many who preceded us in faith. Their insight into faith, which has entered into the faith Tradition of the Church in relation to many questions that still concern us today, proves to be the superior experience of faith and insight into faith, coming from a long history, compared to a single person or generation or time. Therefore, the Church sees diachronically (through the ages) more than synchronically (only today).
Why? Because the object to be conceived — Jesus Christ, i.e., God — presupposes a subject which, according to Guardini, unites all possibilities of human experience and knowledge, a community of understanding that extends through all of history and gathers the yield of different times to form Tradition.
This diachronic community of faith sees more. In this sense, the faith Tradition of the Church is always superior to any era. This is also true for our time. The popes have therefore always referred to their predecessors and the previous teaching of the Church in order to update it for our time and to interpret it ever more profoundly, without ever contradicting it or declaring it inadmissible. Here Guardini also sees the importance of dogma, liturgy, and law for a “sociology of Catholic cognition, acting, and being.” Guardini calls them the three “building laws” of the Church.
It is therefore a kind of hubris and self-delusion for an age to want to reinvent the wheel regarding the Church and its teachings on many essential issues of the day, such as marriage or the priesthood (to name just two areas). As the saying goes, you can’t reinvent it. And also new human science theories, which are always valid until they are falsified, do not force the Church in this respect to a revision of revealed truths of the faith. A departure from them is doomed to failure, and coming generations will state as much.
My assertion has absolutely nothing to do with traditionalism because I am not a traditionalist, but an advocate of Tradition (Traditionis Custos). According to Traditionis Custodes, this is the task of every bishop. So it is about what has always been believed everywhere and by everyone (Vincent of Lérins): the treasure of faith of the Church (the so-called Depositum Fidei [deposit of faith]), which we must not give up. It is a treasure for every generation, an enrichment for all humanity.
The deposit of faith of the Church, not the processes, are irreversible. If a propagated reform of the Church departs from it, it will fail, not without first having caused much unrest and chaos and divisions. The faith of the Church of all times remains the foundation of unity. And all those who have lost the latter have moved away from it and abandoned it in revolutionary processes (cf. Reformation).
I simply observe: since the 1970s, the renewers have wanted the same thing: democratic majority decisions on bishop appointments and questions of doctrine (participation); married priests (abolition of celibacy); a revision of sacramental practice with regard to the indissolubility of marriage (Holy Communion for remarried divorced persons; remarriage); the relativization of the essential difference between the sacramental priesthood and the general priesthood of the baptized (flat hierarchy; functionalization of the ministry); the priesthood of women or women in all ministries; a revision of sexual morality in relation to contraception and procreation; the revision of the condemnation of homosexual or intrinsically bad acts (the so-called “homosexual marriage”). In addition, today there is the dissolution of the normativity of heterosexuality; transgenderism and polyamory. The relativization of the universal significance of Jesus Christ as the only mediator between God and man was already propagated in my first study seminars; the relativization of baptism and the plurality of religions as equal paths to God are a consequence of this and are also not new. The list does not claim to be exhaustive. In essence, it has been the same for decades.
I, at least, have known these demands since my youth and am now 68 years old. However, they are packaged in ever-changing, sophisticated semantics. It is a huge effort of words and directed processes to finally be able to implement the same old demands and to produce a protestantized, unsuccessful church that conforms to the spirit of the age as desired: Let us call it somewhat polemically the synodal one.
Because everything also has something true. But that is not the point. At the end of the seventies, I heard lectures in Innsbruck about the four attributes of the Church: una, sancta, catolica, et apostolica (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic). The synodal one, in which everything is supposed to be fluid and debatable, therefore open and inclusive to dissenters, diverse and equal, has not yet appeared in the creed of the Church. What is forgotten: The doctrine and morality of the Church at all times also meant “exclusivity” or “exclusion.” Errors were excluded and condemned; sins were never blessed, but called by name; moral wrongs were not approved, but condemned; the order of creation was not dissolved, but upheld; heresy was not declared the (new) truth, but rejected. Those were the days! The Church fought: for the truth! The latter makes martyrs.
What shocks and amazes me is the perfidy, cunning, and intelligence of how the new postulates are implemented and linguistically disguised. I have always considered theologians to be the greatest and most gifted of the sophists. The phenomenon always makes me think of the Antichrist, who in Soloviev appears very friendly and inclusive; does not hurt anyone’s feelings; lets everyone have his opinion; does not condemn anyone; fraternizes everyone; only guts the faith from the claim of absoluteness and exclusiveness of Jesus Christ and therefore is radically inclusive, a friend of diversity and equality, a fraternization of all. Only, he must be recognized. There is no way around that. On this point, he knows no compromise.
For years, the Church has been preoccupied with itself and its structures. She only talks about her modus operandi (listening). Questions, not answers, are important to her; feelings, not the hard truth. She excludes no one and has thus called all the spirits that cavort unhindered within her. She does not teach but listens and learns from those who reject her faith. The latter should participate in the decision-making or at least have a voice (it depends on the issue).
Christ, however, she no longer proclaims as the only valid and definitive revelation of God, as the door past which no one comes to the Father, as the unique pearl (singularity) that eclipses all the rest, which Jesus called thieves and which concerns all people.
This would not be contemporary and could offend or devalue someone. But perhaps it offends Him, Jesus Christ, Who has given her the mission to make all men His disciples and to teach them to keep all that He has commanded and revealed to us. This is her mission. No one can change it. But previous generations, and especially the martyrs, put us to shame in this regard and leave us feeling poor today. Instead of Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher or Pillar of Truth), the Church has become a debating society in which everything starts all over again. Because already the preceding Synods on Family, Amazon, and Youth have tried the same thing as far as the revision of the previous doctrine is concerned. It has never been uncontroversial. It has always been intended to be changed from the point of view of the world. Tragically, the reformers want the same thing. Their hopes are directed forward again: to 2024. The Holy Spirit is invoked, Who has never contradicted Himself as far as the faith of the Church is concerned. HE leads her in the truth. She has Him, but not all do. Whoever invokes HIM too confidently remains suspicious. I do not do so, I only hope and give my opinion.