By Joseph Andrew Settanni
Who was once, ultimately speaking, meaning as the Vicar of Christ on earth, responsible for the physical blasphemy, sacrilegious action, and ugly profanation of the sacred altar at the church at Assisi, Italy when a statue of Buddha, an idol, was deliberately placed on it? One wonders if that person, who was ultimately responsible, is now paying an extended visit to Purgatory for that and many other highly questionable actions of his strange and uneven, amazing and incredible, pontificate.
Of course, many rather convenient and bizarrely convoluted rationalizations as complex explanations have been given for Assisi, including outright denials that it ever happened, for such an event contrary to Roman Catholic religious teachings and, one might assume, just plain common sense – if one believes that Jesus Christ is God, meaning the only God that there is, by definition of the Supreme Being, the Lord God Almighty.
Otherwise, of course, anything goes. The Neo-Pelagianism, dominated by nominalism in thinking, corrupting the postmodern world had cheered in favor of the wildly absurd and contemptible Assisi fiasco and the wreckage left in its wake.
Was it known to that pope that on September 8, 1907, Pope Saint Pius X wrote Pascendi Dominici Gregis, an incisive attack on the modernist movement’s entire nominalist agenda and brilliant affirmation of the Church’s traditional teachings? However, Pope John Paul II had, one can note, unwittingly implemented most of what the modernists had, in fact, really wanted.
In his defense, he had badly translated things into terms that he had understood from both his personal and pastoral experience in his native Poland. For instance, the communists had often falsely accused many loyal and good Polish priests of being homosexuals so as to wrongly discredit them; thus, he thought (incorrectly) that the real homosexual crisis/scandal within the Church was almost entirely faked by the enemies of the Church, meaning regardless of all the mounting and objective, highly credible and overwhelmingly extensive, evidence to the contrary.
So, as a direct consequence of having once dealt with communists as real enemies, he did virtually nothing to halt or check the very harmful and evil growth of the gay priesthood and even its vile continuance within much of the hierarchy itself.
Much the same can be fairly said of how he often naively thought that his many international youth rallies were just simply larger versions of the events done at a more local and, thus, controllable level during his years in Poland; he apparently had never sufficiently realized that the great change in scale of such events had then necessarily resulted in ruining the intended consequences; this was by perverting significantly the actual things that had then occurred at such morally twisted events.
Regardless, measurements of much supposed “success” in the early 21st century are, nevertheless, truly strange to see and experience. Since the Roman Catholic religion, however, is still fundamentally sacramental in its integral nature and structure as firmly opposed to, for instance, Protestantism, then the best measurement of true success is the actual forwarding of that so essential and ever truly vital sacramentalism.
The fundamental pivot or main, key, stone as it were of that noted and notable fact is the necessary institution of the priesthood, meaning those properly chosen (one hopes) to be seen as embodied fulfillments and rightful transmitters of the holy sacraments to all of the believing faithful. Horror, therefore, necessarily awaits the possible reader of this article evaluating a man (and his activities) who was also a rather odd and international phenomenon in himself, one who experienced great adulation. Pope John Paul II, amazingly, had reigned so dramatically over a most notable and documented decline in the priesthood, which, one supposes, is not really thought to be a very great scandal, as so perceived by, one assumes, his many (deluded?) admirers. Moreover, by various secular and other empirical measurements of assumed earthly success, he is regarded, by his avid supporters, as being truly worthy of being called “the Great” as to his now valued memory and various observed accomplishments.
So, yes, he had helped, to a certain extent, to defeat the evil and tyrannical Soviet Empire and, in general, the overall evil menace of world Communism; he, moreover, created greater degrees of fair understanding with many peoples of other faiths, especially, in particular, the Jews; he had easily demonstrated an openness to the various and sundry new techniques and advanced technologies for evangelization, inclusive of the dynamics of the internet, etc.
And yet, Catholicism itself is a truly world-encompassing religion that is supposed to ever surpass any merely or simply present reality, meaning in its strident path toward an always needed and permanent spiritual transcendence and transformation in, through and by Christ. So … what really had happened during his disastrous and shocking pontificate? Despite Pope John Paul II’s personal and here totally unquestioned holiness and also quite abundant sanctity notwithstanding, nonetheless, by truly Catholic measurements of spiritual, transcendent, achievement, his odd time as the chosen Vicar of Christ on earth had actually made his pontificate a tragic failure, which yet must properly reflect upon the entire image of the man negatively.
As the general perception of reality is usually greater than reality alone, the observed lack, in the pope’s lexicon, of the ever affirmative pronunciation and demonstration of the irrepressible defense of Christendom, the spiritual reign of Christ, became merely translated, in the warped secular mind, as simply a competing ethics and not really much more than that.
This was and is known as the culture of life; this is where always strident and adamant Catholic truth qua the Faith is not put forth urgently as the only and absolute reality in and of itself being always, forever, superior to any other beliefs whatsoever. And so, the alternate and proclaimed culture of death is then simply just another opposed ethics; the latter proposition or attitude perceives itself as at least equal to or greater in full status; and, as such, this, thus, finally constitutes and substantiates the ultimate formal failure of his, at best, sadly ambiguous and troublesome pontificate.
No strong bulwark was, in short, erected by him to fully fight against the Neo-Pelagian heresy, the denial of the doctrine of Original Sin that makes people believe in the perfectibility of Man (a god-term if there ever was one) on earth. Thus, a great apostasy had occurred in the Western world of an enormous magnitude; millions of people left the Church and, also, repaganization of millions of others massively happened. One can here easily cite such a work as Kenneth C. Jones’ Leading Index of Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II; if genuine charity, it can be said, is traditionally stated to need to begin at home, the pope had a terribly and oddly poor sense of true charity; and, this was to the ever maddening point of tremendously absurd neglect of Church affairs so dreadful as to truly leave open a proper suspicion of naïve unconcern.
So, one may say, as but one simply important consequence and result among many, there are now many more actual mosques being planned and built in Europe than, for instance, churches. The Western world is, needless to say, in rather urgent need of a massive evangelization to combat the Neo-Pelagianism and its resultant neopaganism.
George Weigel’s The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God easily offers very eloquent and fully massive testimony of this, by now, quite obvious fact that ought to need no explanation; though not at all intended by the author, who was a notably ardent and dedicated admirer of the pope, it is, nevertheless, a unique kind of justifiable and massive indictment of the pope as to his horrible and disgusting failure as the pontiff of the Church for about 26 years and the true Vicar of Christ, not just simply the Bishop of Rome. The enormous and glorious Petrine Power of the Keys was sadly wasted and wrongly deformed almost beyond proper recognition. But, this cited and provable enormous spiritual/religious failure, a momentous event, incredibly and obviously presided over by him has, one guesses, been sickly transmogrified into a truly bizarre kind of yet ugly and supposed success. At his funeral Mass, one easily heard many chants raised demanding his future sainthood much sooner rather than later.
John Paul II “the Great” reigned impressively over a monumental and still continuing disaster the true magnitude of which may take some centuries to properly assess and analyze, after much of the initial euphoria has appropriately ended in the deluded minds of so many of his (blindly?) admiring contemporaries. It has, one can add, been well said that he thought of his significant time as pope in explicit terms of a “sign of contradiction,” which does properly express the ever odd reality involved in much abundant terms of free and imaginative reference.
One easily notes that the tide has not yet been turned against the denounced culture of death. (Pope Benedict XVI certainly knows this truth only too well. Thus, his condoning of a greater freedom, a universal indult in effect, for the traditional Latin Mass [wrongly often cited as the Tridentine Latin Mass as if it only originated after/at the Council of Trent] that will come to surely undermine, one fervently hopes, the horrid results of Vatican Council II and its forever weird New Mass that can never, in fact, be reformed.) Shock and horror, therefore, ought to rightly, correctly, greet and instruct the minds of truly informed observers, meaning those in the minority who were not so wildly dazzled and blinded by the assumed brilliance of the earthly, terrene, signs of the warped era he occupied, while he sat in the ever illustrious Chair of St. Peter.
Yes, admittedly, he had impressive and substantial rhetorical and other important gifts and related abilities beyond normal that were superbly added to his always most evident charisma and much noted personal charm.
And yet, for instance, his various youth day rally events were, one can note, more like strange rock concerts that had wondrously attracted his groupies; the kids had obviously admired the man; they, nonetheless, really did not heed his religious-oriented words, for where were the seen and missing enormous numbers of religious vocations – these vocations that ought to have so appropriately developed in various and sundry mighty waves of such perceived and genuine enthusiasm?
One properly knows, as the Gospel rightly teaches, a good tree by the good fruit it thus then naturally produces and a bad tree by the opposite, to paraphrase Jesus Christ. Therefore, exactly where was the to-be-expected “good fruit” of all such amazing and presumably inspiring pontifical labors? Look for it ever in vain dear reader. It becomes a then so noted and sad part of the dreadful myth of John Paul II, similar, in many ways, to the ugly myth of the Spirit of Vatican II. Meanwhile, of course, the so-called Second and Third Worlds are now where the observed majority of converts have actually come from, especially as seen in Africa. Ironically, however, many in the Church do urgently wish to raise the standard of living in those areas to, therefore, someday match that of the (degenerate and nihilistic) West; the latter region is significantly where affluence, on the whole, has mainly been the cause of the nihilism fed by philosophical nominalism that then eagerly encourages: secularism, sadism, homosexuality, atheism, naturalism, relativism, liberalism, humanism, materialism, and hedonism.
Oh, what a surely dubious and strange blessing at best the non-Western world is to supposedly look forward to in the yet unknown future, as the Western sector of a vile humanity falls ever deeper into an evil apostasy that results in both the horrors of repaganization and Weimarization of thought and action, society and culture.
The devastating depths of degeneracy and depravity are, moreover, to be ever insanely deepened with each passing generation, if nothing is not done to both vigorously and substantially reverse the previously noted evil and vile trends.
Question: Will the West’s so evident nihilism and neo-Pelagianism, the dictatorship of relativism as well noted by Pope Benedict XVI, be merely exported eagerly to the Second and Third Worlds? Such important matters as, for instance, the Neo-catechumenate movement seen now among the missionaries reaches the yet to be converted on a supine level of primitivism that ends up, in stark retrograde fashion, seeming to stupidly teach the Western world its odd brand of minimalist religiosity; this, too, rather obscenely creates an unneeded philosophical neo-primitivism in Catholic theology that, for instance, constantly seeks to thus supposedly “innovate” the liturgy continuously with novelties.
This, among other dreadful consequences, is so that the New Mass, the Novus Ordo, becomes ever a mere work-in-progress, not ever, one knows, a true, definitive, and absolute exposition of needed manifest dogma, doctrine, and tradition upheld permanently, forever, by a certainly universal Church, not an ad hoc religious happening.
The traditional Latin Mass, on the other hand, always offers the proof that a genuine alternative has and will exist to fight against the postmodern darkness examined in this presented article looking into the essentially failed pontificate of this pope. Perhaps, the perceived periphery of the Church in the Second and Third Worlds is, thus, oddly expected to somehow or other save the continuingly rotting core in Europe, especially Western Europe and Italy in particular, since Vatican City, of course, resides within the bounds of Rome itself. The Holy See, if this is the supposed case anticipated, must surely be then expecting an amazing miracle of truly vast and unpredictable proportions to then hopefully reverse the observed repaganization, the continuing spread of the culture of death.
All this happened vigorously, one must add, since the terrible calamity of Vatican II and its horrendous aftermath. This charismatic pope had actively sought to expound upon and clarify the dubious “teachings” of Vatican II, in his many encyclicals, and to supposedly seek its ever greater fulfillment within the Church – as the perceived rot and evident decay continued mightily, strongly, in the very heart of the West, of Western civilization and culture.
There is, after all, e.g., a mosque present in Rome itself. Affluence and its often necessarily resulting secularization has, one sadly notices, debased European Christianity, as it has impoverished that same civilization and culture tremendously, as, among others, Christopher Dawson would have agreed. The late pope’s debatable achievements, nonetheless, are still exceedingly lauded to the heavens above; but, responsibility, dear readers, is still ever a double-edged sword of tremendous import; if he is to be, in point of fact, so well praised for any genuine accomplishments, how is it then that the same Holy Father is to be, one assumes, exempted wondrously, magically, from any guilt or blame at the same time? Such is an odd and disgusting spectacle to behold, to say the least, in an astonished and queer amazement. If a parent’s child, as an analogy, becomes a straight A student in grade school but, nevertheless, ends by simply dying as a very youthful drug addict, is the same parent only to be then applauded and praised for the child’s observed success and not, however, held as ever having any necessary and equal responsibility for the noted and unfortunate and premature death of that child? The answer, dear readers, ought to be too obvious without need of further comment on the analogy. So ends the grand, world-historic tragedy, it must be surely said, of the horrifying pontificate of Pope John Paul II whose persona notably impressed literally millions, while, in observed contradistinction, almost all of those same millions discounted or simply ignored his noted Catholic culture of life advocacy – in the very midst of often wildly and warmly greeting the man himself; he himself , therefore, was truly a great and perceived sign of contradiction and, in strict terms of the Faith, a certainly tragic failure of terrible proportions.
One senses easily that the man had, thus, become somehow greater than his message ever was, yet, no disciple is supposed to be truly capable of actually ever surpassing his master, as the original Master Himself has, in fact, said; boorish deconstructionism in most current quasi-philosophy notwithstanding. Self-evident truths will, finally, prevail against the grave errors. Regardless of how much he was sincerely loved, esteemed, admired, praised, welcomed, hailed, and respected, all of that is not the significant nor salient issue in fundamental debate here. And, contrary to all his putative and real achievements, the still proper and appropriate Catholic, not secular, standard of permanent and valid measurement (read: actual Catholicism) is how well a particular pope solidly advances the ever main reality and fundamental meaning and substance of the Faith, of the Eternal Word that is, was and be always Christ and His Kingdom. Catholicism is, therefore, an exoteric, not any supposedly esoteric or neo-Gnostic, religion; it, for instance, strongly defends the classical Natural Law Tradition by, among other reasons, its adamant opposition to all the errors of nominalism; the highest ontological cognition yet obtainable by mortal man has been, moreover, superbly developed by the Church’s own development of theological and metaphysical understanding as axiology logically rises to epistemology and then, ultimately, to ontology.
Opposition, for instance, to any form, shape, or type of syncretism is, therefore, axiomatically necessary; this is surely, one knows, because the Faith is nothing if it is not supremely incarnational in both word and deed, as it necessarily affirms the true Word and the Word made Flesh, the Deed, the Christ.
As the generally enthusiastic and so dedicated apostle of Vatican II, however, what then did this much celebrated pope do to firmly halt or reverse the easily observed and massive theological, liturgical, architectural, and other destruction deliberately, moreover, brought on by that council as to its consequences? One rather doubts that it, meaning a negative reply, can be fairly observed by most of his still dedicated and major or main supporters around the world. Great authority, it need be openly said, must ever assume to itself equally great responsibility; and, what authority and cognate power in the valued spiritual realm is, moreover, ever greater than that of the chief prelate, the pope, of the entire Roman Catholic Church? By certain definition, there is no such authority and power resident on earth that can seem to fully surpass that of the pope. So, this is not to be finally turned, however, into any simply discrete judgment of the man himself or, perhaps, even the possible condition of his own individual soul.
It is, nevertheless, a most requisite and informed judgment and most useful evaluation of the presented troubling impact of his tragic papacy upon the fundamental welfare and true substance of the Church he had guided and held sway over for over 25 years. Tragedy and failure, charged here, do thus mark sadly those forever frightening years; this is, moreover, when considered both seriously and strictly from a traditionalist and historical Catholic point of view objectively freed from any possible subjective personal adulation, media-driven glorification, or, ever much worse still, doctrinal reification. Proof with elaborated and many needed extrapolations as to important facts, dates, figures, statistics, arguments, and ever much more, can be readily found by studiously reading the pages of such worthy publications as: The New Oxford Review and The Latin Mass, besides such very good books as: Robert Phillips’ Last Things First: A Traditionalist Surveys the Wreckage of Vatican II. Equally, the known and virulent threat of Islam was mainly met, by this pope, with much observed appeasement and noted accommodation, not any real and much needed and righteous opposition.
One wonders, in addition, if John Paul II had ever actually read such important works as: The Life and Religion of Mohammed by Fr. J.L. Menezes, The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic, and Robert Spencer’s Islam Unveiled. If anyone still quite ignorantly doubts the basic truth and extent of the many problems and terrors facing many millions of Christians, then that person ought, one hopes, to become acquainted with such very worthy organizations as The Voice of the Martyrs. Did he, moreover, pay any real and necessary attention to good and informative books such as: The Charitable Anathema by Dietrich von Hildebrand and, also, his Trojan Horse in the City of God, and The Church Confronts Modernity by Thomas E, Woods, Jr., Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia by A. S. Guimaraes, among many others that could, therefore, realistically be properly cited. The known metaphysical and dogmatic claim to true and universal spiritual authority on earth as the Vicar of Christ must, logically, severely entail a genuinely grave responsibility; this is, among other reasons, since the exercise of power done without true authority is tyranny (spiritual or otherwise). The actual authority and integral responsibility of any pope are necessarily indivisible, or else they, in fact, are then nothing.
If his dramatic pontificate is to then be supposedly praised for much, it can yet be properly denounced for much more as to much grave and really serious neglect; this is, therefore, ever regarding the defense and promulgation of unadulterated and actual Catholicism as the only and exclusive true Faith; all else, by definition, must then be necessarily and logically mere idolatry, ignorance, absurdity, superstition, or worse.
Any and all prevalent modernist or postmodernist subjectivism (read: nominalism) or relativism notwithstanding. Harsh truths, consequently, need to be urgently dealt with properly – and regardless of mere temporal consequences. His personal and genuine magnetism had, it is true, widely attracted millions to his side, especially many eager young people; but, the grand and lasting and peculiar paradox is that, nonetheless, the majority of those attracted cared not for any of his presented and orthodox moral teachings; and, as said properly before, they were and are still indifferent to seeking any religious vocations in observable or massive numbers.
His was, quite surely, a tremendously high-media papacy that, one knows, essentially added nothing, however, regarding the present and ever future exposition and demonstration of why the true Faith is of eternal and, thus, certainly highly paramount and appropriate importance. As well observed, for instance, especially in Western Europe, the lasting impact of his papacy will be, it can be fairly said, problematic at best.
The absolute rightness, spiritual correctness, of Catholicism qua Catholicism is, thus, the necessary and key spiritual issue that has, of course, many greatly critical implications, historical, cultural, ethical, and otherwise. Nothing less is to be simply implied, nothing really more can yet be legitimately held as of a truly larger magnitude of ultimate significance, of lasting value and fundamental worth, for all of mankind, past, present, and, of course, to come. As but one obvious and critical example, the current seen failure, therefore, to helpfully evangelize the Western world in adamant defense of a universal Christendom is hardly an “achievement “ worth mentioning.
In real terms of Catholicism, therefore, it truly matters not that he was certainly a true master of public relations and modern media who had then grandly popularized the papacy to a notably great degree and, moreover, had the then superbly rapt attention of the vast world arena of his era. Those seemingly important matters and any like them are just, in context, secondary, tertiary, or lesser in actual, meaning Catholic, importance. One must ever come to distinguish clearly, theologically speaking, the mere man from the true mission and purpose, authority and power, of the Roman Catholic Church, of the absolute truths that must be consciously defended unequivocally by the Faith. Perceived forever in that always particular and special light, his papacy, in fundamental and substantive terms, did not at all basically, meaning integrally, serve Catholicism well.
This then necessarily means and explicitly implies, one knows, that Catholicism and its always openly proclaimed reality forever surpasses and is ever greater than any and all popes put together; this surely, as to its higher importance, vital significance, and, moreover, proclaimed spiritual reason for being – that is the fundamentally main point, the manifest core focus, beyond all set rational and theological dispute whatsoever.
The once shining glow, though fading rapidly now, of his past pontificate may, therefore, prove to be just quite vaporous and transitory at best, while real and documented, actual and demonstrated, damage to Holy Mother Church was necessarily done in practice, regardless of the best intentions. In conclusion, Pope John Paul II was, of course, an admittedly towering and so rightly impressive a figure who was, at the least, superbly larger than life on the international stage; but, he progressed vainly, during his spiritually highly strange pontificate, as the Western world had obviously fell ever more into gross nihilism, hedonism, materialism, secularism, neopaganism, destruction, degeneracy, and decay. Calling him, prematurely at best, John Paul II the Great may come to be seen, sadly, as a kind of ironic sneer, finally at worst, put into words.
What is one, finally, to really make of the ugly paradox of a Holy Father who, in fact, had traveled to well over 100 countries – and never fully strayed, much less stayed, long enough in that one “country” that may be, perhaps with justice, denominated as the land of the deaf? It was, dear readers, and is wherever certain men give, in effect, mere lip service to the Truth but do not fully live it by a keen devotion to integral and fundamental duty; wherever assumed believers render odd praise for magnificent showmanship but do not genuinely listen because they cannot hear the substantive and spiritual fullness of the full Gospel.
Such was the certainly odd time and reign of one of the most seemingly remarkable and, yes, to speak the truth, pathetic and tragic pontiffs of the modern or, now, postmodern era. His was, in harsh point of fact, a – dare one say it? – basically and totally failed pontificate.
Athanasius contra mundum!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
By Joseph Andrew Settanni