How have the ideas of the Sillon, condemned by St. Pius X, affected the post-conciliar Church’s approach to the modern world?
The ideas of the Sillon have clearly invaded the Church in the modern world through the three major errors of Vatican II: collegiality, ecumenism, and religious liberty. We will examine the ideas put forth by the Sillon in context of how the Council has given those same ideas impetus and “official” recognition in relation to a “new approach” to the modern world.
This Sillon movement from the beginning had no formal link to the external Church hierarchy. It also had no internal hierarchy so the entire foundation was built on a false notion of democracy. The Sillon assumed the basic principle of universal education which would foster for every man the right and ability for self-government – hence a beautiful democracy. Within this notion of democracy we have two errors:
i) Ill-conceived love for the poor – because people are poor they are unhappy. The fruits of this movement can be observed in the so-called “liberation theology” of today.
ii) False sense of dignity – “it (The Sillon) understands human dignity…in the sense that, except in religious matters, each man is autonomous…people are in tutelage under an authority distinct from themselves; they must liberate themselves: political emancipation” (Mioni 248). Man’s dignity does not lie in political or social liberation, rather in the conforming of his life to Christ.
Since Vatican II these Sillonist errors have undergone a transformation and have grafted themselves into the hierarchy. Now the parish priest is subject to the committees at his parish level, the bishops are subject to priests’ councils, bishops are subject to National Conferences, and the Pope is subject to the Bishops. The idea of hierarchy has been literally overturned and authority now comes from the people and below. This is the first of the Sillonist errors that has transformed itself into acceptance and official approbation by the Conciliar Church.
Pope Pius X states: “…Catholic doctrine tells us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be…but in zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being” (Mioni 254). The Archbishop comments: “The Sillonists claimed to want to establish this false fraternity between all the religions, and between all ideologies…Error and truth would enjoy the same conditions and…privileges in society…This is what is advanced today under the name of pluralism” (263).
Fr. Schmidberger follows this line of thought: “Once it is established that these other religions also have a significance, an importance towards salvation, it is clear that Catholics are then invited to work together with these religions…But it is sure that the prayers of other religions, as other religions, are never agreeable to God…So, the prayers of these other religions as religions, are fruitless” (10).
The Sillonist error of pluralism, most clearly observed within the “Greater Sillon” in which the idea of the “little Catholic Sillon within the Greater Sillon of the World” was put forth has now transmuted into the false ecumenism and liberty advocated by and in the name of Vatican II.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY (LIBERTY)
Perhaps the most destructive and un-traditional doctrine of the Sillonists (and also manifested at Vatican II) is the notion of religious liberty. Archbishop Lefebvre comments: “They (the modernists) reproach us, when we speak of the Church, for placing outside her all those who do not belong to her, and of treating them as strangers, as if they were not our brothers…they should…return to the Catholic Church…(otherwise)…a sort of humanitarianism…will ultimately serve the society of Masonic nations” (297).
Catholic doctrine regarding religious liberty has always been clear. If it means that any religion has free reign and a right to exist, the Church certainly does not recognize it. There is “only one God, maker of all things, one Jesus Christ, one Church and that this Church and this Jesus Christ must be recognized by every creature, each and every individual and also by the social bodies: families, schools, states, etc.” (Schmidberger 23).
The Sillonists dream – that no one can be hindered from openly spreading his false religion – is now officially condoned by the Council.
FURTHER NOTES AND CONCLUSIONS
The evil aftermath of the bad Council documents still lingers on.
One of the most infamous phrases is in Lumen Gentium #8, “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.” Previous Church documents had always positively identified the Church of Christ as the Catholic Church. This amorphous “subsists” finds a home in the idea of the “Greater Sillon.” Nobody is excluded, all must be together, there must a great brotherhood of man. This error was most recently propagated in the Vatican document Dominus Iesus in which the famous “subsistit” was held up as the current teaching of the Magisterium. Two years ago the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” was signed by the Lutherans and Catholics. This document, couched in ambiguity, is a masterpiece in Vatican II doublespeak. Its sickening ambiguity allows both sides to take what it wants without compromising.
The “new approach” also found a home and impetus in Gaudium et Spes, a document quite plausibly drawn up with those very familiar with the ideas of the Sillon. This document speaks about the progress of man and the limitlessness of his achievements. Fr. Schmidberger comments: “So…by letting things go a bit further, every problem will be solved. There will be perfect paradise on this earth…we must collaborate with all men and understand their feelings, their thoughts and wishes, that we must live in very close union with the men of our time…Communists, Freemasons, heretics, materialists” (28).
By adopting this stance and new methodology the Church has completely abandoned her role as “Mater et Magistra.” She is now to be our equal, similar to the worker priests who sought to empathize with the workers by being workers themselves. Yet by removing the tiara and biretta, by taking off the cassock, and by using “comfortable” words the Church has lost her overwhelming authority. No longer is she “the voice” looked to in the world but simply one amidst many. Pope Paul VI in the 4th Session of the Council was remembered for saying that all the Church was asking for was “freedom.” Yet we know full well the Church has always had this freedom by the mandate of her mission here on earth. It is against men that we must fight – not with pretty ambiguous words and phrases but with the condemnations and anathemas of previous ages. Those days, during which Communism and Liberalism hatched and had their first fervor, were far more anticlerical than our modern times. The only difference is that the Church now has put her guards down, ceased her condemnations, and declared “no difference” between the light and the darkness. In open daylight the enemy has come in and behold, the flock has been betrayed by the very ones who should have watched it. In 1968 Frank Sheed said: “However clearly and honestly we speak our minds, a Catholic back after ten years on a desert island would find that our attitude to other Christian Churches has changed fantastically; Rome was never like this, he would feel” (134). His words are no less true today.
Lefebvre, Marcel. Against the Heresies. Kansas City: Angelus Press, 1997.
Mioni, Anthony J., ed. The Popes against Modern Errors, 16 Papal Documents. Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, 1999.
Schmidberger, Franz. The Catholic Church & Vatican II. Kansas City: Angelus Press, 1996.
Sheed, Frank J. Is it the Same Church? Dayton: Pflaum Press, 1968.
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