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Americanism and the Church universal July 24, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, shocking, Society.

I said yesterday that I would follow up on the post that defined the Americanist heresy.  In that post, I noted that Pope Leo XIII identified certain doctrines which defined the heresy.  Those include:

  • Christian perfection can be attained without external spiritual guidance (revived Pelagianism, and certainly very ecumenical, very “universal salvationist”)
  • natural virtues are superior to supernatural ones and should be extolled over them. And active virtues like social justice are superior to “passive” ones like prayer, contemplation, etc
  • Religious vows are out of ken with the times in which we live because they limit human liberty
  • traditional methods of evangelization should be replaced with new ones

As I alluded to yesterday, adherents to Americanism were numerous and influential at the time the heresy was defined by Leo XIII. They included the most influential prelate in the country – Cardinal Gibbons – and much of the hierarchy.  These men did not want to challenge the dominant culture in Pope_Leo_XIIIthis country regarding either its religious beliefs, or it’s erroneous faith in the enlightenment ideals of “religious liberty” and the “rights of man.”  They certainly did not want to proclaim such essential beliefs as no salvation outside the Church, the Social Reign of Christ the King, and the Primacy of Peter.  All these critical elements of the Faith were dramatically downplayed to the point that, in the United States, they were never strongly taught. Even Orestes Brownson, one of the earliest famous Catholic apologists, lamented on his deathbed in 1876 that he had failed in much of his mission of evangelization, as he had avoided those key components of the Faith listed above, out of fear of inciting protestant – and episcopal –  ire.  Like so many of our famous Catholic speakers today!

Unfortunately,  Testem Benevolentiae, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical defining and condemning the Americanist heresy, was successfully ignored and pushed aside as a dim footnote in American Catholic history.  Suffice it to say, the condemnation of this heresy did nothing to stop its spread. In fact, by the mid 1940s, Americanism, coupled with modernism, was becoming rife at all levels of the Church, but especially among images%257Ccms-image-000169396the clergy and episcopate.  And due to the effects of WWII and its aftermath, which included the collapse of the Faith in much of Europe, its historical stronghold, the American Church, through money and cultural influence, was entering a phase where it would have unprecedented impact on the Church at large.  This impact was largely hidden and muted during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, but it would explode throughout the Church and world during the 1960s.

If we look at the errors Pope Leo condemned, and compare that to the dominant beliefs professed by laity, clergy, and bishops in the post-Vatican II Church, I believe certain similarities are obvious.  For instance, there is a straight line from “perfection can be obtained absent external guidance” to universal salvation. The connection should be readily apparent, but if it is not, the logic works like this: if you can obtain perfection absent external guidance, you don’t need the Church, or Sacraments, or anything save “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” (and, again, what does that sound like?  Evangelicalism, anyone?).  If anyone can work themselves to salvation (Pelagianism), anyone can be saved, which is a very short step from everyone will be saved – thus, universal salvation.

But if you take this belief to its final end, you don’t even need Jesus Christ or Grace, because, as the Pelagians argued 1600 years ago, “good” people can work themselves to salvation, so even the Incarnation, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ become unnecessary.  Now we’re well into modernism, too, where Christ is easily converted into a particularly wise human being, only, and even the most perverse and eror-filled sects and religions are all but automatically saved.  Or are automatically saved. In practical terms, the vast majorit of today’s Catholics are universal salvationists, even though VaticanoIIsuch belief is directly contrary to Christ’s own words as recorded multiple times in Sacred Scripture.

Preference for natural and active virtues over the supernatural ones has lead to today’s very strong preference for reducing the Church to a worldly do-good society – what Pope Francis described as “just another NGO.”  Again, the supernatural is undermined in favor of the natural, and the necessity and efficacy of Grace is reduced, as well.  This also plays, in a way, towards working one’s way to salvation.  Understand, none of this is to say that active virtues aren’t vital, nor that there isn’t work performed for salvation (there is – cooperation with Grace). But the tenets of Americanism, through the documents of Vatican II (especially Guadium Et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae), have now been unleashed on the universal Church, so that the vast majority of Catholics have a gravely deficient understanding of what constitutes virtue, vice, the economy of salvation, and even the reality of the Person of Jesus Christ.

The final item that Pope Leo identified – the need for “new methods of evangelization to replace old ones” – this has been the constant drumbeat in the Church ever since Vatican II.  We are on the third “new evangelization” since I joined the Church in 1999. I don’t know how many there were before that, but I think it was several.  All these “new evangelizations” replace previous ones, because all the previous ones failed – and badly.  The question is, was the old, pre-VII evangelization really deficient?  The available data makes that a troubling case to prove, but the point is, as Pope Leo XIII proclaimed, the “new evangelization” isn’t really predicated on need, it’s an end to itself.  There are many who, both then, in 1890s America, and in today’s Church, want to use the “new evangelization” to push their vision of the Faith, one that contains numerous other Americanist/modernist elements.  But the statistical data, as well as countless anecdotes, indicate that whatever the new evangelization is, it has been a massive, unprecedented failure. Every year, more and more parishes close, more souls lose the Faith, and the Church shrinks in influence.  Much of that collapse can be traced to the failure to teach the “hard” truths of the full Faith, the truths denied by the Americanists.

A final brief note: Pope Leo did not directly address the acceptance by the Americanists of the revolutionary, enlightenment thoughts upon which this nation was founded.  But accept them they did, and it is a known fact that the bishops of the US at Vatican II drove, very hard, to get the Americanist image004beliefs regarding “religious liberty” and “primacy of conscience” inserted into a declaration specific to that end at VII, in spite of the fact that such a declaration would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the then extant Magisterium. That declaration was, of course, Dignitatis Humanae, and it was by far the most contentious document approved at Vatican II. I should add, that this document was only approved by a form of subterfuge, in which many hundreds of protests against the document were conveniently “lost” shortly before the vote to approve the document.  A member of the progressive elements at VII deliberately memory-holed those protests, to allow what many consider to be the most problematic document of Vatican II to go forward. The last, major effort to stop the ascendancy of the Americanist beliefs was blocked.

And so, the Americanists now reign triumphant in the Church.  As their adversaries from 100 years ago feared, however the broad-scale acceptance of Americanist beliefs has had devastating consequences for the Church as a whole, and for millions of individual souls.  Catholics often have little or no interior life, because prayer is rarely emphasized.  Most Catholics embrace a neo-protestant view of their faith.  Adherence to timeless Church belief and practice is at a deep nadir. And the culture continues its accelerating collapse, utterly cut-off from that transcendent vision of government under the yoke of Christ, which vision led to the birth of Christendom/European civilization in the first place.

O pray that awareness of all this, can start to bring change.




1. Marie Dean - July 25, 2013

Thanks for reviving the discussion. In 2007, I did an in-depth study of Americanism, after realizing that the heresies plaguing my home diocese for years were partly owing to the fact that some of the Americanist, heretical bishops were purposefully sent west of the Mississippi, to get them out of the big urban areas in the east.

Rot set in after that, and the dioceses in Iowa just east of the river have the on-going effects of that heresy. Thanks for this, and there is so much more one could write on this, as you know.

I would only add that the first condemnations of these were earlier than you think, beginning with St. Pius X, who condemned the European versions of this in his works against modernism.

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