Commentary on Benedict XVI's Homily

Source: FSSPX News

In the panegyrics of his predecessor, Benedict XVI claims: “society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible.” 

The inversion he is speaking of here is that of a relation of strength between Christianity on the one hand, and Marxism and the ideology of progress on the other.  Indeed, for Benedict XVI, “he (John Paul II)rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress.”  In other words, the hope that had been laicized in favor of a political messianism, was once again turned to the service of Christianity by John Paul II, who gave it back its authentic physiognomy.  Is this really the theological virtue of hope?  Fr. Patrick de La Rocque, in his recently published study, John Paul II, Doubts on a Beatification (Clovis Editions), shows that the Polish Pope's hope is centered on what he has himself “called the human element of the Redemption, this hope that has for object the edification of the civilization of love; for means, prayer considered as religious sentiment – and consequently religions taken in all their plurality and religious liberty –; and for motif, hope in man.”

On this point, it is particularly instructive to refer to the first encyclical of the last canonized Pope.  In E supremi apostolatus, St. Pius X explained his motto “Instaurare omnia in Christo, to restore all things in Christ” (Ep. 1:10): “It is a question of bringing human societies, that have strayed far from the wisdom of Christ, back to obedience to the Church; the Church in turn will submit them to Christ, and Christ to God”, for “to restore things in Christ and to bring men back to divine obedience are one and the same thing.”

Whereas St. Pius X wanted to restore all things in Jesus Christ (according to the original in Greek: to recapitulate, to place Christ at the head),  John Paul II only wanted to open things up to Christ, by simply proposing Him to society, to culture, to political and economical systems, – and that in the name of a religious liberty paradoxically conceived as a dogma by an officially pastoral council.

In an attempt to justify this mutation – which is a rupture – , one might present a pastoral objection, saying that with the heirs of the revolutions of these last two centuries, it is illusory to pretend to restore  a hierarchical relation between Christ and society, and that consequently it is more efficacious to content oneself with exercising a certain influence.  St. Pius X, who was not unaware of the difficulties of apostolate today, did not for all that diminish the exigencies of the faith, but he precised in the same encyclical: “in order for this zeal for teaching to produce the fruits that we hope from it and to serve to form Christ in all, nothing is more efficacious than charity (…).  In vain would one hope to draw souls to God by a zeal borrowed from bitterness; reproaching errors harshly and correcting vices with bitterness very often causes more harm than profit.”  In other words, pastoral care in the service of the dogmas of the faith, and not the other way around.