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Monday, February 10, 2020

Is the "Twilight of Christian Civilization" upon us?

Pope Paul VI
I recently read an article in The Wanderer by Raymond de Souza, Our Responsibility to Defend the True Faith. He used several terms that struck a chord. First, he described the "historic moment" we are living in, as a "moment of apocalyptical magnitude: the twilight of Christian civilization." He went on to say, in the words of Pope Paul VI, that the Church has entered a "process of auto-demolition." It's ironic that the very pope who did so much to create the auto-demolition later lamented it. Physician, heal thyself, eh?

I have a hard time considering Pope Paul VI a saint. One good document, Humanae Vitae, published rather late into the push for approving contraception, does not a saint make, does it?

But must I call Pope Paul VI a saint? After reading Peter Kwasniewdki's article, Why We Need Not (and Should Not) Call Paul VI ‘Saint’, I think the answer is no. As he says, "The infallibility of canonizations is not taught by the Church, nor is it necessarily implied by any de fide doctrine of the Faith." He went on:

Catholics are therefore not required to believe it as a matter of faith and may even, for serious reasons, doubt or question the truthfulness of a certain canonization. This conclusion is rigorously established and defended in John Lamont’s “The Authority of Canonisations” (Rorate Caeli, August 24, 2018), which, in my opinion, is the best treatment of the subject yet published and well worth reading in full, especially by those who are troubled in conscience about this question [3].
I recommend the entire article which makes some excellent points.

But that's a diversion from my main point.

Back to those two phrases which invited me to reflect on the current state of affairs in the Church. We face a deepening "twilight" as the Body of Christ moves forward in a dark and glowering civilization almost devoid of light. (Thank God for the grace-filled points of light in our baptized and innocent children!) As our civilization sinks into darkness, the Church is oppressed by "auto-demolition" with many Judases in her midst set on destruction from within Holy Mother Church herself. The Amazon Synod and the current "synodal path" of the Church in Germany are just two alarming examples tempting one to hand-wringing despair. Some suggest that the end is near -- that we are about to face a Sodom and Gomorrah moment.

Are we in the end of the end times? Will we see the implementation of the Akita warning -- fire falling from the sky? Is the coronavirus the fulfillment of Revelation 6, the "sickly green" horse with its rider, Death, "given authority over one quarter of the earth, to kill with sword and famine and plague?"

I'm no prophet and I'm not an alarmist either. I embrace Padre Pio's motto, "Pray, hope, and don't worry!" Prudence is a necessary virtue, but some things, accidents for example, are beyond prudence. The big question for me at present isn't whether all the post Vatican II popes should have been canonized. (What was the rush after all, unless it was to canonize everything coming out of the Council?) No, the big question is how one responds to the growing darkness of the "twilight of Christian civilization" and the "auto-demolition" of the Church. We are, indeed, in crisis as a number of high level clerics are pointing out. Is this the end times? And if it is, what is the poor little Catholic in the pew, trying to be faithful, to do? Now that is a question worth pondering. I think the answer is the age old one: pray, fast, hope, love, and don't worry!


Dad29 said...

While I'm no fan of Paul VI.......that's not really the main issue.

Self-determination of "who's a Saint" is not prudent. One obvious reason is the common practice of quoting Saints in disputations.....

So if you quote, say, Bellarmine, I can argue that 'There's no authority there insofar as I don't have to believe in his sanctity; thus, I don't have to believe what he teaches.'

We wind up attempting to tease out the theology we want from Scripture (yes, it's all there, someplace), and that can be very ugly. Just ask any of the 8 Zillion Prot denominations.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

You may be right, Dad. Perhaps I should have left that question for another post since it distracted from my main issue at hand. We all have our favorite saints that we quote regularly and follow as role models. I love St. Francis de Sales for his meekness and the fact he regularly uses bees to make his points. It warms a beekeepers heart. I love St. Joan of Arc for her courage, her modesty, her fidelity -- so many virtues to imitate! I love St. Andrew for his simplicity and the fact that he brought his brother to Jesus and always was modestly in the background. Oh gosh! I could go on and on.

I do hope, however, that we won't see a cause for Pope Francis introduced five minutes after he dies!

Fr. VF said...

All of Bergoglio's canonizations will soon go poof.

The only two sources of Revelation are Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The writings of theologians, canonized or not, are not Magisterium.

Anonymous said...

St. Robert Bellarmine was a bad example to use because his authority and the sanctity and trustworthiness of his writing is not attributable to his canonization but rather to his being a Doctor of the Church. To be considered a doctor, there are three requirements:
1) holiness that is truly outstanding, even among saints;
2) depth of doctrinal insight; and
3) an extensive body of writings which the church can recom­mend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition.

(Courtesy of

So one probably ought to stick with doctors. I've certainly heard a lot from priests lately that they could've only gotten from Rahner, Teilhard, Schilleebeckx or Kung.

packin' sarcasm among other things said...

Pope Pius XII commissioned Fr. Luigi Villa to investigate Freemasonry in the Church. Here is a letter he wrote:

Chriss Rainey said...

Amen! I could not agree more. There is a great danger in following any person's teaching to the extent their point of view starts to overtake Holy Scripture and becomes for you a new religion or way of life.

Jose Escriva is an example. Those who follow him do so to the near exclusion of anything else.

Sainthood today is a weapon thrown up to protect error and confuse the faithful.

John F. Kennedy said...

Mary Ann,
What you describe is their Cult or Cultus.

One of the old defining elements in decided who was and wasn't a "saint" was whether or not they had established and devoted cults. There are no Cults for John XXIII or Paul VI. There are very few admirers for John XXIII, mostly people who are barely Catholic, and no one admires Paul VI.

It is very different for JP2. However, in my judgement, there are too many issues with JP2 to have been recognized by the Church as a "saint".

c matt said...

Calling HV a good document is generous. It actually changed Catholic teaching on the relative importance of the procreative and unitive aspects of the marital act. Used to be procreative was the primary end; HV put procreative and unitive on par. And now, look where we are.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

C. Matt,

Properly understood, don't you think both ends are equal? Dietrich von Hildebrand believed that and promoted it in his works on marriage. That old saying that the best thing a mother and father can do for each other is to love one another is so true. The love and unity of the couple comes first and the natural expression of their love brings the conception of the child.

It seems to me that if a couple loves each other as described in Scripture -- "Husbands love your wives like Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her." then procreation is the natural outcome of their love. I don't think they are in opposition to each other.

I used to teach NFP and saw the deep grief of couples with infertility issues. Saying procreation is the primary end rather than co-equal seems to me to relegate them to a second class marriage, inferior and a failure because it isn't procreative. Isn't that how the Jews felt about barren women? I think we are where we are today because of selfishness and greed.