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A LITTLE LIGHT ON THE PRESENT CRISIS IN THE CHURCH March 7th, 1968 I am asked to define more exactly and

to describe the evil which is creeping into the Church today. How well I understand this desire on the part of many Catholics or non-Catholics who are left stunned, indignant or dismayed as they see spreading within the Church--through the voice of its ministers--doctrines casting doubt on truths hitherto regarded as immutable foundations of the Catholic faith. While the intelligence of these unworthy pastors rebels against the authority of the Church's infallible teaching, their will rebels equally against those who hold authority in the Church. If it be true that all authority whatsoever shares in the authority of God, how much clearer this becomes when the authority in question is that conferred on Peter and the Apostles! The Lord said: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." (John XV. 16). It has always been thus within the Church. Even if Peter's successor is chosen by election, his authority does not therefore derive from his electors. All authority implies, to some extent, three powers: legislative, executive and judicial. Bishops hold these powers in relation to their office and dudes, that is, preaching, sanctification and government. The structure of the Church is an admirable institution, truly divine, so well does it answer the need for both centralisation and unity and for decentralisation, with its great opportunities and freedom of action. Adding to that all the organisations for consultation and brotherly help among bishops and those between the bishops and the Pope, laid down by Canon Law, the divine institution of the Church has lived through the centuries, ever remaining herself, yet adapted to all places and all circumstances with remarkable realism and unity. It is this unity in multiplicity which enables its magisterium, its teaching, to extend through all space and time with an amazing permanence of doctrine. Whole branches have broken away from the trunk, but have never damaged the structure of doctrinal substance. Serious errors or heresies have seemed to put the Church in danger, but, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, the institution and the word have never varied. It is precisely this which arouses the sovereign displeasure not only of the traditional enemies of the Church, inspired by the Prince of this world, but, be it said, of our fallen human nature, ever rediscovering in herself that wretched upsurge of rebellion against authority, that is, against God. The "non serviam" is still within our souls, even after baptism. When the assaults of the enemies of Our Lord and His obedience find an echo in the ranks of the faithful and the shepherds of the Church, a new rent in the fabric of the Church is beginning, a new heresy, a new schism. A few years ago, speaking to students at the University of Louvain, Garaudy put it well. "We can never truly collaborate until the Church modifies its magisterium and concept of authority." It could hardly be better expressed. When one knows that in the eyes of those who seek to dominate the world, the Communists and technocrats of international finance, the only real obstacle to the enslavement of humanity is the Roman Catholic Church, the united efforts of the Communists and freemasons to change both the teaching and hierarchical order of the Church are not surprising. To gain a victory in the Near or Far east is something, but to paralyse the Magisterium of the Church and change its constitution would be an unprecedented victory, for it is not enough to conquer peoples in order to abolish their religion; sometimes, on the contrary, it takes deeper root. But to destroy the faith by corrupting the teaching of the Church, stifling personal authority by making it dependent on the many organisations far easier to infiltrate and influence, would make the end of the Catholic religion seem a possibility. By means of this group-teaching doubts could be cast on all the problems of faith and a decentralised Magisterium would paralyse the Magisterium of Rome.

It is easy to see that the learned attacks carried on in a world Press, even the Catholic, will further a diffusion throughout the whole world of opinion campaigns aimed at troubling the mind, all the truths of the Credo will be shaken, all God's commandments, the sacraments the whole catechism turned into a hotch potch. We have glaring examples. A decentralised magisterium loses immediate control of the faith. The manifold theological commissions of episcopal assemblies are slow to give judgement since their members are divided in their opinions and methods. Ten years ago, and even more twenty years ago, the magisterium of the Pope and the bishops would have reacted immediately even if, among the bishops and theologians not all were in agreement. Today the magisterium is subject to majorities. It is this paralysis which hinders immediate intervention or makes it so feeble and useless as to please all members of the Commissions or Assemblies. This spirit of democratisation of the Church's teaching is a mortal danger if not for the Church, which God will protect for ever, but for millions of helpless and poisoned souls to whose aid no doctors come. One has only to read the minutes of the Assemblies at all stages to realise that what may be described as the "colleglality of the magisterium" amounts to paralysis of the magisterium. Our Lord asked persons, not a collectivity, to feed His flock; the Apostles obeyed the Master's commands and did so till the 20th Century. Not till our day would one have heard the Church spoken of as a permanent Council, of the Church as in continual collegiality. The results were not long to await. Everything is a hugger-mugger the faith, morals, discipline. Examples might be multiplied indefinitely. Paralysis of the magisterium, watering down of the magisterium the latter characterised by an absence of clarity of ideas and terminology, a lack of accuracy and necessary distinctions resulting in the meaning of words being no longer intelligible. Consider the expressions human dignity, liberty, social justice, peace, conscience. Within the Church itself these words may henceforward be given with equal conviction a Marxist or a Christian meaning. Once the democratisation of the magisterium has been achieved, the democratisation of government follows naturally. Modern ideas on the subject are such that this result was even easier of attainment. Within the Church they are expressed in the famous slogan of "collegiality." Government had to be made collegial: that of the Pope or that of the bishops with a college of priests: that of the parish priest with a pastoral college of laymen, all flanked by commissions, councils, sessions, etc. before the authorities may dare to issue orders and directives. The battle for collegiality, supported by the entire Communist, Protestant and progressive press, will remain famous in the annals of the Council. Can it be said to have been held in check? To say ' yes' would be an exaggeration. Did it fully succeed in carrying out the wishes of those authors? Here too, one would not dare to agree, considering the dissatisfaction expressed on the occasion of the famous "explanatory note" added to the dogmatic Constitution on the Church, and, latterly, on the meeting of the episcopal Synod, which they wanted to be deliberative, not consultative. If, however, the Pope has kept some personal freedom of government, how can one avoid the conclusion that episcopal conferences singularly limit that freedom. Several specific instances might be quoted of the Pope's going back in recent years on a decision under pressure from an episcopal Conference. But his government extends not only to the shepherds but to the faithful. The Pope alone has a power of jurisdiction extending to the entire world. One far more obvious result of collegiate government is the paralysis of the government of each individual bishop in his diocese. How many and how instructive are the bishops' own reflections on the matter! Theoretically, the bishop may, in many cases, act against a vote of the Assembly, sometimes even against a majority, if the judgement is not referred to the Holy See. In practice, however, that has shown itself to be impossible. Immediately after the Assembly, the bishops publish their decisions. They are known by all the priests and faithful. In practice, what bishop could oppose these decisions without showing his disagreement with the Assembly and finding himself confronted by some revolutionary spirits appealing to the Assembly against him. The

bishop is a prisoner of this collegiality which should have confined itself to being a consultative organisation, a communal body, but not an organisation for the taking of decisions. True, St. Pius X had already approved episcopal conferences, but had not given them a precise definition which wholly justified those Assemblies. "We are convinced that these Assemblies of bishops are of the highest importance for establishing and spreading the Kingdom of God in every region and every province. When the bishops, the guardians of matters sacred, put their heads together, they not only gain a clearer view of the needs of their peoples and so choose the fittest remedies, but strengthen their links one with another" (To the Peruvian Bishops, 24th September 1905. (See. also the end of his letter of 5th May 1905 to the Portuguese Bishops). This collegialism applies likewise to the domestic administration of dioceses, parishes, religious congregations and all the communities of the Church, to such an extent that the exercise of government becomes impossible. Authority is constantly held in check. Whoever speaks of elections speaks of parties and consequently of divisions. When regular government is subjected to consultative votes in its normal exercise, it is made ineffective. It is then the collectivity which suffers, for the common weal can no longer be pursued efficiently and energetically. The introduction of collegialism in the Church results in a considerable weakening of her effectiveness, all the more so since the Holy Ghost is less easily saddened and wounded in a person than in an Assembly. When persons are responsible, they act, they speak, even if some keep silence. In an Assembly, it is a number which decides whereas, in a Council, it is the Pope who decides, even against the majority, if he sees fit. Number does not make truth. In this way dialectic was introduced into the Church by collegialism or democratisation, bringing as a result division, uneasiness and a lack of unity and charity. The enemies of the Church may rejoice in this weakening of a collegialised magisterium and government. It is a partial victory. They could, indeed, wish it more complete, but effects favourable to them may already be felt. The Church's power of resistance to Communism, heresy and immorality has greatly lessened. Such are the facts we have observed as causing a very serious crisis in the Church. The dire effects of this situation are, however, already giving rise to healthy reactions. The Spanish Episcopal Conference has just restored the responsibility for Catholic Action to diocesan Bishops, abolishing the ruling powers of the national organisation which is restored to its proper function, that is, to constitute a link or meeting place. Realism, good sense and, above all, the grace of the Holy Ghost, will help to restore to the Church those things which have always given her strength and flexibility apostles of a personal magisterium and government acting in accordance with the standards of holy prudence and the gift of counsel. It is thus that an Augustine, an Athanasius, a Hilary and many another such saint have succeeded in saving the Church.