In a little over one month’s time, on September 8, all Catholics who rejoice in Pope Pius X’s resistance to modernism will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of his great Encyclical letter, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (in English, “Feeding the Lord’s Flock”).
I think it is essential to come to grips with the central doctrine of Pascendi if one does not wish to lose one’s footing in today’s crisis of the Church, ongoing and by no means over, on the contrary.
In brief, Pius X says that thanks to delinquent modern philosophy (both reflecting and promoting modern living), the human mind has become unhooked from objective reality, and is spinning around inside the subject, fabricating whatever he wants and then imposing it on his surroundings. One name for this stupendous error is “subjectivism.” Truth becomes what I say it is. This is such insanity that I can only survive by applying it only selectively. For instance two and two will be four when I need them to be (e.g. in designing an aeroplane); they will be five when I want them to be (e.g. in choosing a religion).
Now when this error began in the universities, over 200 years ago, a lot of peasants living on the land still had a lot of common sense. But today a lot of city-dwellers have little or no common sense left, and a mass of quite ordinary people are subjectivists, indeed so many that they are no longer the exception, they have become the rule. Whereupon it is that much more difficult for them to realize that they are – objectively – insane. They can well think – subjectively – that they are perfectly sane.
Such is surely the case with many – not all – modernist churchmen, and I would include Pope Benedict XVI amongst them. So he can be objectively insane from the standpoint of the Catholic Faith, and yet subjectively in a kind of good faith. What does this “good faith” matter if he is objectively way off the mark? What matters is that he thinks he is normal and in the truth, so he behaves as though he is, and so he persuades many Catholics that he is. Here is why this crisis of the Church is so terrible – so many cardinals, bishops and priests cannot believe that they or their Pope are in any way off the mark.
Conclusion? – I need not believe that they are not at all cardinals or bishops or Pope, because when virtually everybody is insane, they are that much less necessarily aware that they are not sane. So I can treat the Pope with all the charity and respect due to his exalted position, and I can rejoice in all the objective good that he does, for instance in the recent Motu Proprio but I will do nothing, but nothing, to associate with his insane Conciliar belief-system until it is clear as clear can be that he repudiates both Vatican II and his subjectivism.
Read Pascendi! Kyrie eleison.