On June 10, 2019 the Vaticanist Edward Pentin published in the National Catholic Register, an eight-page document where two cardinals and three bishops reaffirm contested Catholic doctrine to Rome, in these times of “doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church,” as said in their own words. The five signatories are: Raymond Cardinal Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Auxiliary Bishop Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, Janis Cardinal Pujats, Archbishop Emeritus of Riga, Latvia, and Kazakh Archbishops Tomash Peta of Astana and Jan Pawel Lenga, Emeritus of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.
The Declaration deals first with the fundamentals of the Faith. Article 1 states that the expressions “living tradition,” “living magisterium,” “hermeneutics of continuity,” and “development of doctrine” must be understood in the sense of Vatican I, that is to say, as a homogeneous development of dogma. In other words, the Council must be interpreted in the light of tradition.
Article 2 rejects dogmatic relativism as condemned by Vatican Council I.
The text continues with the Creed. Article 3 denounces a utilitarian and secularized conception of the Faith, developed after the Second Vatican Council (the Council). It is erroneous to say “that God is glorified principally by the very fact of the progress in the temporal and earthly condition of the human race.”
Article 4 refers to Nostra ætate and especially its development by the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism which, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the conciliar text, stated: “In practice, this means that the Catholic Church does not lead and does not promote any specific institutional missionary action towards the Jews.” The document of the five prelates answers precisely: “After the institution of the New and Everlasting Covenant in Jesus Christ, no one may be saved by obedience to the law of Moses alone without faith in Christ as true God and the only Savior of humankind” (Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16).
By Article 5, even “Saint” John Paul II is targeted, intentionally or not, in his famous speech in Casablanca, in 1985, where he said: “We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings His creatures to their perfection. The article says: “Muslims and others who lack faith in Jesus Christ, God and man, even monotheists, cannot give to God the same adoration as Christians do.”
Article 6 states, “Spiritualities and religions that promote any kind of idolatry or pantheism cannot be considered either as ‘seeds’ or as ‘fruits’ of the divine word, since they are deceptions that preclude the evangelization and eternal salvation of their adherents.” These “seeds” are mentioned in two texts of the Council (Ad gentes, 11, Lumen Gentium, 17), are included in John Paul II’s encyclical, Redemptor hominis, and especially in his General Audience of September 9, 1998: “The ‘seeds of truth’ present and active in the various religious traditions are a reflection of the unique Word of God, who ‘enlightens every man coming into world.’”
On ecumenism, Article 7 states: “True ecumenism intends that non-Catholics should enter that unity which the Catholic Church already indestructibly possesses in virtue of the prayer of Christ, always heard by His Father, ‘that they may be one’” (John 17:11).
Article 8: “Hell exists and those who are condemned to hell for any unrepented mortal sin are eternally punished there by divine justice (see Mt 25:46). Not only fallen angels but also human souls are damned eternally,” seems to be well aimed at Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar—and all who followed him—who claimed that hell existed, but was empty.
Article 9 of this Declaration directly and literally refers to the phrase in the Abu Dhabi document, jointly signed by Pope Francis and Imam Al-Azhar on February 4, 2019, according to which God would like the diversity of religions: “The religion born of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God and the only Savior of humankind, is the only religion positively willed by God. The opinion is, therefore, wrong that says that just as God positively wills the diversity of the male and female sexes and the diversity of nations, so in the same way he also wills the diversity of religions.”
As for Article 11, it opposes Dignitatis Humanae head on: “The gift of free will with which God the Creator endowed the human person grants man the natural right to choose only the good and the true. No human person has, therefore, a natural right to offend God in choosing the moral evil of sin, the religious error of idolatry, blasphemy, or a false religion.”
The next part concerns the law of God and aims at the heterodox teaching of Amoris laetitia, as well as the attacks against life. Note Article 28 which refutes the change made by Pope Francis to n. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, refusing the death penalty.
Finally, the part on the sacraments recalls the doctrine on the Mass, the sacrament of Penance, and emphasizes the immemorial discipline of priestly celibacy.
To Denounce Error and its Causes
This important Declaration makes it possible to note that the study of the current evils progresses in the sense of calling into question the conciliar upheavals. However, it does not replace the penetrating analyses of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who still deserves to be known and taken up again.
Because unlike the founder of the Society of Saint Pius X, the authors of the Declaration never formally go back to the cause: the Second Vatican Council and the reforms that have come from it, as well as the post-conciliar magisterium that is its authentic interpreter. Admittedly, the texts and teachings of the Council are implicitly targeted, but it is our commentary that has explicitly brought them out into the light.
Moreover, this document, with its merits, which are not small, evades the question of the authority of this new magisterium. Archbishop Lefebvre did not just analyze, denounce, or make declarations; he embodied Catholic principles in his positions as well as in his actions. Finally, it was through his prudence and his speaking freely in the midst of the conciliar storm that he made such declarations possible today. Let us rejoice in this, hoping that such initiatives will finally lead to a healthy reaction at all levels of the Church.