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Below are a few facts about Pope Francis:

He was quite the imp in primary school. Martha Rabino is five years younger than Jorge Bergoglio but recalls that he used to visit one of his schoolteachers, Sister Rosa, who died recently at the age of 101. Sister Rosa, according to Sister Martha Rabino, told Bergoglio that he was ‘a devil’ and asked him whether he got any better. Sister Martha, incidentally, taught Argentina’s President Christina Fernandez (Mrs Kirchner) catechism many years ago.

He had his first — and only — crush, it would seem, at the age of 12. His young ‘girlfriend’ was the same age. Her parents put an end to their puppy love, but not before he drew the girl a picture of the house they would live in once they were married. He said that if she wouldn’t be his girlfriend, he would become a priest.

He is known for his austere style of living, declining to reside in the Cardinal’s mansion. Instead, he lived in a small flat in downtown Buenos Aires, cooked for himself and relied on public transport. He is no stranger to the slums and has a keen interest in the poor.

– He loves Argentina and believes that Great Britain has usurped the Falkland Islands.

He chose his name in memory of St Francis of Assisi rather than St Francis Xavier, one of the seven original Jesuits who journeyed to the Far East as a missionary in the Middle Ages.

– His sister believes he will have a life of ‘infinite loneliness’ in the Vatican and confirms he did not want the post.

President Christina Fernandez has asked the Pope to intervene in the Falklands dispute, after residents overwhelmingly voted — 99% — to remain British.

On Tuesday morning, March 19, 2013, I watched the Pope’s installation Mass on BBC1. In 2005, I watched Pope Benedict XVI’s, which was glorious. Pope Francis’s was quite different and left me uneasy. I took several pages of notes which contain many exclamation marks.

Jon Sopel, who normally presents political programmes, led the panel of Archbishop Peter Smith of the Roman Catholic diocese of Southwark (London), Joanna Moorhead of Faith Today and Dr Eamon Duffy, prominent papal historian.

They made little mention of Pope Benedict, who, by the way, did not attend the Mass. The only time his name came up was when the panel discussed the paedophilia scandals. The Archbishop thought that it was time to stop talking about the issue, a sentiment I have read from other Catholics lately. It seems to be a new meme. That said, the Archbishop said that the scandals would continue to come to light.

Let’s not forget that this was John Paul II’s mess which he refused to clean up and left Benedict XVI to do it. John Paul II thought many of these incidents were fiction based on Communist propaganda techniques used against Catholic clergy behind the Iron Curtain in the old days.

I find it disappointing that the media gave John Paul II a pass on everything because he looked so good on television. He should have; he was a stage actor before becoming a priest.

Still, the question remains — and many Protestant ministers have blogged on it — where is the church discipline? There has been some, but the stories which reach the press are those where secret or quiet deals have taken place where these priests — and now a cardinal — are still allowed to exercise their office.

Now on to highlights of the Mass and the BBC’s commentators.

– Pope Francis’s ring is recycled. Normally, these are made new for each Pope from gold and a precious stone. Francis’s does not appear to have a jewel and is silver-plated.

– Pope Francis will not be wearing the traditional red slippers nor will he continue with Benedict XVI’s penchant for the traditional fur-trimmed red cape. Francis reportedly said, ‘Carnival time is over‘. I’m not so sure that Benedict intended his revivals of traditions as a circus but rather as reverence for papal history.

– Francis’s papal vestments for Mass are off-white with black and gold trim.  They looked very austere and depressing. The use of black is no doubt a nod to the Jesuits, whose colour is black. His pallium — a papal stole with a collar, to represent the Good Shepherd with a lamb around His neck — has a long black tip. The Black Pope?

This AFP graphic based on information from the Vatican illustrates the differences between Francis and Benedict with regard to their attire. N.B.: If there is a large gap after the image, please scroll down to continue reading the post. Apologies for the formatting problems!

Pope attire 2013 AFP photo_1363680589061-3-0

Before Mass, the cameras showed Francis going to visit St Peter’s tomb underneath the eponymous basilica. Afterward, on the steps of St Peter’s, he was presented with his aforementioned pallium, which was made by the Sisters of St Agnes, traditional weavers of this papal vestment.

After the pallium placement, Francis sat down and rubbed his nostris with his right thumb and forefinger. Errgh. He would go on to shake cardinals’ hands and celebrate the Mass using his right hand.

He next received his ‘recycled’ (the BBC’s words) papal ring.

Whereas the liturgical music used for Benedict’s first papal Mass was glorious, Francis’s sounded as if it was from the usual Vatican II Mass Catholics hear every week. The choirs sounded flat; the only singing ‘star’ was the soloist choirboy who sang between the first two readings. Well done, that lad!

By contrast, Benedict’s 2005 Mass was so uplifting that when I went to the supermarket later, one of the clerks — a Muslim lady — told me that she watched the whole Mass and was very moved by it. She said, ‘I was only going to watch a few minutes of it out of curiosity. Instead, I watched all of it before coming to work. It was beautiful. I was transfixed.’ I pray that God watches over her and brings her to life in Christ.

What follows are what I could derive from the Scripture passages, none of which had a clear specification. My apologies if I got these wrong vis à vis my notes.

The first reading featured verses from II Samuel 7, among them:

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 

The second reading was taken from Romans 4:

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

The Gospel reading came from Matthew 1 and specifically concerned St Joseph as March 19 is his feast day — a public holiday in Rome:

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Afterward, Pope Francis delivered his first Vatican homily. As it was the feast of St Joseph, he began by exhorting those in attendance to emulate his example. Francis spoke of Joseph’s obedience to God in his role as protector of Mary and Jesus. He added that this can be extended to the Church. Francis said that Joseph carried out this responsibility ‘discreetly’ and with humility, even when he found his duty ‘hard to understand’. Yet, Joseph was present in fidelity and ‘loving care’ through times good and bad. Francis emphasised that Joseph was open to God’s presence, not his own wishes.

That was a good message which spoke to everyone — the ordained, heads of state, Catholic religious and laity. It also gave an indication as to how Francis would exercise his responsibilities as Pope — discreetly and humbly.

Then, Francis discoursed on the Catholic responsibility to the world’s poor and urged heads of states and governments to ensure the poor had more. He banged home the message that we all had to DO SOMETHING about poverty.  Yet, Jesus Himself told us that poverty was intractable. Many non-Catholics press the Catholic Church to start selling off the Vatican’s ‘riches’. It is possible that Francis will consider this. Unfortunately, such a gesture would not cure poverty. The proceeds would be spent within a couple of hours and probably only buy every poor person one small meal.

His next action point was environmentalism: ‘We are called to protect all creation!’ This reminded me of the big Gaia movement in South America which revolves around the Earth mother, Pachamama, and has enticed left-wing governments and Catholic religious towards new rights for nature and Pantheism (a heresy, for those who don’t know).

Therefore, two-thirds of the homily was directed towards the developing world, particularly South America.

Francis’s homily was also an excellent example of nouvelle théologie, where dogma changes with the world. Benedict XVI also espoused this way of thinking, saying that the Church is communitarian and that we must avoid strict biblical interpretations which would fossilise the Church or place Christ in ‘yesterday’.

This is Modernism, which St Pius X — the last Pope to be canonised — declared a heresy in 1907 (read here, here and here).

Francis’s homily had no mention of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the Cross, no mention of God’s grace, no mention about spreading the Gospel — by which I mean the Good News, not wealth redistribution or environmentalism.

This is why I felt so queasy afterward. It was not helped when Archbishop Smith said (only somewhat paraphrased) of Francis’s redistribution and environmentalism:

That’s the Gospel we will be judged on now.

To which Joanna Moorhead added (again, only somewhat paraphrased):

The environment is a very unifying message for the Church.

You don’t have to be Catholic or Christian to be part of these movements. During Francis’s first weekend as Pope, the BBC broadcast Comic Relief, a charity effort featuring top British entertainers, while France’s TF1 showed the annual benefit concert by Les Enfoirés, a pop group whose proceeds go to the charitable organisation Les Restos du Coeur (Restaurants of the Heart), where the poor are guaranteed a hot meal, a kind word and a smile as often as they need it.

It would not surprise me if Francis really were the last Pope, although perhaps not in the apocalyptic ways which St Malachy imagined. Archbishop Smith and Eamon Duffy both said afterward that Francis would attempt to reform the Curia and decentralise the administrative authority, devolving it to bishops. The Archbishop reminded us that the first bishops in the Church were elected by their congregations.

More urgent than that, however, is their need for the Gospel. It matters not how many Masses Catholic clergy and the Pope celebrate. For them and for too many Catholics, Jesus Christ is but a backdrop, overshadowed by the world.

Over the past few days, I have seen several searches for my Mariology dossier from November 2010.  No one has found all of them, so to make things easier, here are links to the entire set.

Informative and educational, these will no doubt answer a number of questions you might have about how Mary is viewed within Christianity:

A summary of Mariology and the Church – November 17, 2010

John MacArthur on Mariolatry – Part 1 — November 18, 2010

John MacArthur on Mariolatry – Part 2 — November 19, 2010

Emotion, sensation, Mary and ecumenism = One World Religion — November 21, 2010



What follows is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of Catholic and Reformation views of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  However, it attempts to illustrate a timeline and cautiousness of beliefs, particularly in the papacy, about her role.  (Pictured at left is Our Lady of the Way, the Madonna della Strada.  She is the patron saint of the Jesuits.)

The Catholic Church

It should be noted that various popes viewed the role of Mary differently:

Popular views like the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception developed into Papal teaching over time. In 1674 Pope Clement X (1670–1676) indexed books on Marian piety.[2] After the Council of Trent, Marian fraternities were founded, fostering Marian piety [3], some of which were outlawed by Popes. Not all Popes viewed Marian belief identically. Louis de Montfort was condemned in a Papal bull by Pope Clement X only to be praised by Pope Clement XI, canonized by Pope Pius XII and adored by Pope John Paul II.

431: The Council of Ephesus approves devotion to Mary as the ‘mother of God’.

1265-1268: Pope Clement IV composes poem about the seven joys of Mary.

1603: Pope Clement VIII’s papal bull Domenici Gregis condemns negations of Mary.  His papacy supports the creation of Marian congregations and praying the Rosary.

1673: Pope Clement X issues a papal bull condemning the type of Marian piety which Louis de Montfort would later embrace and outlaws certain Marian devotions.  However, other bulls encouraged the recitation of the Rosary.

1712: Pope Clement XI instructs the Holy Office not to persecute anyone using the words ‘Immaculate Conception’ when referring to Mary.  He lays the groundwork for — although does not institute — the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  He establishes the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for the whole Catholic Church.  He advocates the Marian teachings and devotions of Louis de Montfort (1673-1716).

1748: Pope Benedict XIV expands indulgences connected with praying the Rosary and furthered the congregations dedicated to the Sodality of Our Lady.

1769-1775: Pope Clement XIV decreed that only the Franciscans in Palermo could celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  This came after much popular unrest in the south of Italy surrounding the feast.  He later granted permission to other orders for private Masses only on this feast.  Interestingly, it is said that he pledged to dogmatise the Immaculate Conception, however, this did not happen.

1848: Pope Pius IX, bowing to popular clamour, appoints a theological commission to study a possible dogma around the Immaculate Conception.  He issues an encyclical, Ubi Primum, in which he asks for his bishops’ views on the Immaculate Conception.

1852: Pius IX appoints a commission of theologians to draft the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  Later that year, he asks a group of selected cardinals to finalise the text.

1854: Pius IX declares the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  He opposes petitions that this dogma be included in the creeds.

1869-1870: Pius IX opposes moves for a dogma of the Assumption (Mary’s physical ascent into Heaven upon her death).  Yet, he believed that Mary was a Mediatrix of salvation, as stated in Ubi Primum.

1878-1903: Pope Leo XIII issues a record 11 encyclicals concerning the Rosary.  He institutes the Feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.  He beatifies Louis de Montfort, referring to his Marian teachings, saying that a revival of the Catholic faith (weakening because of Modernism) would not be possible without Mary’s help.  He writes that Mary is Mediatrix and co-Redemptrix and is the first pope to fully embrace her role as Mediatrix.  He says that she administers all graces on Earth.  He relies on the writings of Thomas Aquinas in his justification of Mary as co-Redemptrix and mother of Christians everywhere.  Where the Church verified Marian apparitions, Leo XIII supported veneration at those sites.

1903-1914: Pius X affirms that Mary is the spiritual mother of all Christians.

1914-1922: Pope Benedict XV has a strong devotion to Mary and placed the world under her protection during the Great War (WWI).  Among other things, he promoted Louis de Montfort’s Marian devotions during the month of May.

1922-1939: Pope Pius XI engages in discussions about a dogma of the Assumption.  He often quotes Bernard de Clairvaux, who said that we have everything spiritual we need in Mary.

1944: Pope Pius XII declares the universal feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

1947: Pius XII canonises Louis de Montfort.

1950: Pius XII announces the dogma of the Assumption.  He leaves the Mediatrix question open.

1962-1965: The Second Vatican Council declares Mary the Mother of the Church.

1965: Pope Paul VI writes in his encyclical Mense Maio that Mary is the pathway to Christ.  Anyone who follows her will encounter Him.

1974: Paul VI promotes Marian devotions and declares that she is the mother of graces and has a special role to play in redemption.

1987: Pope John Paul II affirms Mary as the Mother of the Church in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater.

1997: John Paul II, addressing a public audience, re-emphasises Mary’s role.

Redemptoris Mater reads in part:

The Church teaches that Mary appeared on the horizon of salvation history before Christ. [57]
If the greeting and the name “full of grace” say all this, in the context of the angel’s announcement they refer first of all to the election of Mary as Mother of the Son of God. But at the same time the “fullness of grace” indicates all the supernatural munificence from which Mary benefits by being chosen and destined to be the Mother of Christ. If this election is fundamental for the accomplishment of God’s salvific designs for humanity, and if the eternal choice in Christ and the vocation to the dignity of adopted children is the destiny of everyone, then the election of Mary is wholly exceptional and unique. Hence also the singularity and uniqueness of her place in the mystery of Christ. [58]

2002: John Paul II publishes his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, which cites St Louis de Montfort’s God Alone:

Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ.
Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.[59]

I have highlighted dates concerning St Louis de Montfort to show how certain perspectives can be in out of favour depending on popes or social movements at the time.  More importantly, it is worth noting how long it actually takes for a new dogma to be instituted.

Perspectives of the Reformers

Martin Luther

The LCMS (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod) states (emphases mine throughout):

Like Luther himself, Lutherans hold Mary in high esteem for the chosen role she played in God’s plan of salvation. Lutherans have never objected to denoting Mary as the “Mother of God” (theotokos, “God-bearer”), since she was the mother of Jesus and Jesus was and is indeed God. Since the Son of God was and is sinless, it is evident that some miraculous “exception” was made in the conception of Jesus through Mary that prevented original sin from tainting the Christ-child. This accounts for Luther’s comments about Mary being “entirely without sin” (as far as the conception was concerned). Lutherans today are not bound to Luther’s personal views regarding how this was accomplished; in any event, it is clear from Luther’s other and later writings on Mary that he did not hold to the view that Mary was personally devoid of all sin (which would mean that she would have had no need of forgiveness or salvation). Luther also held to the semper virgo (the perpetual virginity) of Mary. This, again, is a personal view to which Lutherans today are not bound. Scripture is not clear on this matter, and Lutherans do not regard it as a theological issue.

In his early years Luther was still greatly influenced by his rigorous Roman Catholic and monastic training. In his later writings he clearly rejects invocation to Mary and/or the saints as having no Scriptural mandate or promise. None of this undermines the opening sentence of this e-mail, which should be underscored as the final word on this issue.

Update: I am grateful to Dr Gregory Jackson of Ichabod for a clearer view of Lutheran beliefs about Mary —

GJ – I omitted … the part copied from the LCMS website, because I thought it was too mixed around to clarify matters. That was not Churchmouse’s fault, but Missouri’s. The LCMS cannot get justification by faith right, so we can hardly expect them to deal with lesser matters.
The early Luther still preached on the Assumption of Mary, but his later sermons declared she was a sinner. The Medieval exaggerations had Mary without any actual sin (Immaculate Conception of Mary – try to get that right, Lutherans) and rising into heaven (the Assumption).
Conservative Lutherans have agreed in the past that Mary never had children after Jesus (perpetual virginity) but that is a historical opinion and not a Biblical doctrine.
Obsession with Mary grew after 400 AD and transported newly invented opinions and events back to Biblical times. Many fables grew up about Mary and still exist in traditional Roman Catholic literature.
Pope John Paul II increased the emphasis upon Mary during his pontificate.


John Calvin

From Wikipedia:

Although Calvin shows considerable hostility to Roman Catholic mariology, he has a decidedly positive view of Mary herself, and he did not hold to a number of the Protestant views on her that became common after the Reformation …

To Calvin, Mary is an idol [as represented by] the Roman Church, and she diminishes the centrality and importance of Jesus. Hence, his Genevan Catechism not only outlawed Marian veneration, it also punished related behavior, such as carrying a rosary, observing a saints day, or possessing holy relics.[2]

In the Genevan Catechism, Calvin writes of Mary that she gave birth to Jesus through the Holy Spirit without the participation of any man, following both the account in the Gospels and the words of Martin Bucer and Heinrich Bullinger, and hence he held her to be a virgin during her pregnancy. He rejects the idea that references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters in the New Testament prove that Mary was not a perpetual virgin, citing flexibility in the terms used.[4] Likewise, he argues that in Matthew 1:25 (“[Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son”) neither the term “firstborn” nor the conjunction “till” certainly contradict the doctrine of perpetual virginity.[5]

At the same time, Calvin argues that the claims that Mary took a vow of perpetual virginity in Luke 1:34 (“How shall this be, since I know not a man?”) is “unfounded and altogether absurd,” and moreover he says that, had she taken such a vow, “[s]he would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage….”[6]

Mary is, in Calvin’s view, properly called the Mother of God. Commenting on Luke 1:43 in which Elizabeth greeted Mary as “mother of my Lord,” he takes note of the divinity often associated with the title Lord, saying: “[Elizabeth] calls Mary the mother of her Lord. This denotes a unity of person in the two natures of Christ; as if she had said, that he who was begotten a mortal man in the womb of Mary is, at the same time, the eternal God…. This name Lord strictly belongs to the Son of God ‘manifested in the flesh,’ (1 Timothy 3:16,) who has received from the Father all power, and has been appointed the highest ruler of heaven and earth, that by his agency God may govern all things.”[9]

Taking into account Calvin’s belief in headship, this means that Mary could have original sin and not pass it on to Jesus, considering the male is the one who passes on original sin in the doctrine of headship. Since Jesus was conceived by God himself and not by a human man, original sin was not passed on

To call on Mary for salvation is nothing but blasphemy “exsecrabilis blasphemia”, because God alone has predestinated the amount of grace to each individual in his absolute will…

… the graces of Mary are seen as a gift of God attributed to her.[16] On the other hand, Calvin called Mary a treasure of grace[17], because, Mary preserved in her heart not only for her own use but for the use of all things entrusted to her. She preserved things in her heart, not just for herself, but for all of us. “She has preserved in her heart the teachings which open the heavenly gates and lead to Christ”.[18] God wanted to determine the time in which they would be revealed.[19]

Calvin considered himself the real follower of Mary, because he freed her from undeserved Papist honour which is due only to Jesus Christ, and for returning this honour to Him alone.[20] Calvin stated that Mary cannot be the advocate of the faithful since she needs God’s grace as much as any other human being[21] If the Catholic Church praises her as Queen of Heaven, it is blasphemous and contradicts her own intention, because she is praised and not God.[22]

English Reformers

From Wapedia:

One aspect of the English Reformation was a widespread reaction against Mary as a mediatrix alongside Christ, or sometimes even in his place. Such exaggerated devotions, in part inspired by presentations of Christ as an inaccessible Judge as well as Redeemer, were criticized by Erasmus and Thomas More and rejected by the Church of England. Together with a new emphasis on Scripture as the fundamental standard of faith, there was a renewed devotion by the Reformers to the belief that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God the Father and humanity. This rejected any overt devotion to Mary and diminished her place in the life of the Church.

The English Reformers’ positive teaching about Mary concentrated on her role in the Incarnation. It is summed up in their acceptance of her as the Mother of God, because this was seen to be both scriptural and traditional. Following the traditions of the Early Church and other Reformers like Martin Luther, the English Reformers such as Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel accepted the perpetual virginity of Mary. They neither affirmed nor denied the possibility of Mary having been preserved by grace from participation in original sin. The Book of Common Prayer in the Christmas collect and preface refers to Mary as “a pure Virgin”.

From 1561, the calendar of the Church of England contained five feasts associated with Mary: The Conception of Mary, Nativity of Mary, Annunciation, Visitation, and Purification. There was, however, no longer a feast of the Assumption (August 15): not only was it not found in the Bible, but was also seen as exalting Mary to a level above Christ. Scottish and Canadian revisions of the Prayer Book restored August 15 as the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Despite the novel lack of devotion to Mary, starting in the 16th century, reverence for her continued in the use of the Magnificat in Evening Prayer, and the naming and dedication of ancient churches and Lady Chapels. In the 17th century writers such as Lancelot Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, and Thomas Ken took from catholic tradition a fuller appreciation of the place of Mary in the prayers of the Church. Andrewes in his Preces Privatae borrowed from Eastern liturgies to deepen his Marian devotion. This re-appropriation can be traced into the next century, and into the Oxford Movement of the 19th century.

In 1922 the creation of a new statue of Our Lady of Walsingham under the aegis of Father Alfred Hope Patten, reignited Anglican interest in a revival of the pre-Reformation pilgrimage. From the early 1930s Walsingham became a centre of Anglican as well as Catholic Marian pilgrimage …

Much has been made of the difference between the Mariology of Anglicans and that of Roman Catholics. Because Anglicanism does not have an official view about these doctrines, it can be difficult to say with precision what Anglicans believe. The description here attempts to sketch out the areas where Anglicans are in agreement that there is no official binding doctrine.

In addition to the worship (latria) properly given only to God, Roman Catholic Mariology contends that a greater veneration (hyperdulia) is given to Mary than the dulia given to the other saints. While Anglicans can agree that God alone is to be worshipped, many do not agree that Mary should receive a degree of veneration above the other saints. Many Anglicans agree with the Eastern Orthodox, that Mary is simply the greatest of all the Saints, and that she should be venerated as such.

Anglicanism also does not accept the doctrines of the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception as binding, though some Anglicans do accept these doctrines, particularly the former. Even then, they are not held to the particular forms used by the Roman Catholic Church to define them. Many agree with the Eastern Orthodox rejection of the Immaculate Conception, while agreeing that Mary was without actual sin during her life. Many also are more in agreement with the Dormition of Mary as understood by the Orthodox.

Tomorrow’s post explores changes over the past decade or so to increase Mary’s role and make it official Roman Catholic dogma.

Further reading:

‘Mariology of the Popes’

‘Immaculate Conception’

‘Assumption of Mary’

‘St Louis de Montfort’


You might not be familiar with the name, but you will certainly know of the effect this group of professors has had on 20th century Western society.  Before we look at just who they were, let’s look at ideas and quotes that helped develop their Marxist worldview:

– Karl Marx advocated a ‘community of women’ in his Communist Manifesto.   

– Friedrich Engels promoted matriarchy in ‘The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State’.

– Wilhelm Wundt, who largely devised the methodology used in behavioural psychology, proposed in the 1870s that man was nothing more than an animal and, as such, could not control his impulses.  He believed that children could be trained only through a stimulus-response approach via the nervous system.

– A group of intellectual socialists founded the Fabian Society in London in 1884. Its goal was to gradually transform society through left-wing ideology; Fabians founded the London School of Economics in 1895 and Britain’s Labour Party in 1900.

– Georg Lukacs, as Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary in 1919, set about de-Christianising the nation and sexualising its children.   

Needless to say, much thought and activity abounded between the mid-1800s, giving rise to Modernism and Communism, which would see its fruition in 1917 and the development of a Soviet state.  Pope St Pius X and some Protestant theologians, such as the Lutheran Charles Porterfield Krauth and the Presbyterian John Gresham Machen, condemned Modernism.  Pius X declared it a heresy in 1907 and advised Catholics to avoid joining labour organisations which went against Church teaching. 

After the Soviet state took root, Marxists and Communists in the West were confused as to why other countries weren’t undergoing similar transformations.  Antonio Gramsci was one of these.  His contemporaries in Germany at the University of Frankfurt am Main (on the Main River) wondered similarly.  Gramsci and this group of Marxist professors at the University’s Institute for Social Research would independently theorise how to advance Marxist praxis (practice) in Western society. 

But, before we look at the Frankfurt School, let’s study another contemporary of the period, Georg Lukacs.  Almost 20 years before the publication of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, which advocated a de-Christianised and totally transformed culture comprised of criminals, women and racial minorities, Lukacs had already implemented these in what was up to that time, a highly traditional Hungary.  Linda Kimball explains in her essay on Cultural Marxism for American Thinker:

Reasoning that if Christian sexual ethics could be undermined among children, then both the hated patriarchal family and the Church would be dealt a crippling blow. Lukacs launched a radical sex education program in the schools.  Sex lectures were organized and literature handed out which graphically instructed youth in free love (promiscuity) and sexual intercourse while simultaneously encouraging them to deride and reject Christian moral ethics, monogamy, and parental and church authority.  All of this was accompanied by a reign of cultural terror perpetrated against parents, priests, and dissenters. 

Hungary’s youth, having been fed a steady diet of values-neutral (atheism) and radical sex education while simultaneously encouraged to rebel against all authority, easily turned into delinquents ranging from bullies and petty thieves to sex predators, murderers, and sociopaths.

Gramsci’s prescription and Lukacs’ plans were the precursor to what Cultural Marxism … later brought into American schools.


Lukacs was a primary influence, along with Marx, Hegel, Freud, Kant and others on the Frankfurt School.  These social theorists, some of whom were only loosely affiliated with each other, had in common a strong desire for social change.  Many of their influences and much of their work was based on countering the positive aspects of Western society.  Their approach was a fluid one to counter their opponents.  If an argument supported Marxism, they called it logical.  If an argument supported capitalism or maintaining the status quo, they termed it illogical.  Opponents were termed mentally unstable.  Eventually, ideas put forth by the Frankfurt School from the Institute for Social Research’s inception in 1923 eventuall evolved into today’s political correctness, but more on that later.

The tradition of thought associated with the Frankfurt School is known as critical theory, in an allusion to Kant’s critical philosophy.  Cultural Marxism, also primarily associated with the Frankfurt School, is the application of critical theory to social matters — what we would see as social engineering.       

By the early 1930s, the Frankfurt School members — principally, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Wolfgang Fritz Haug and Jürgen Habermas — realised political change was afoot in Germany.  Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933 and the institute left for Geneva (Switzerland) that same year.  In 1934, Columbia University in New York City offered the theorists an academic home.  And so, instead of transforming German society, they set about putting their ideas in place to transform American society.  They published a journal called Studies in Philosophy and Social Science.  The articles explored American culture, especially its more populist aspects.  American academe gave the professors a warm and welcome response. 

Linda Kimball writes:

The school was a multidisciplinary effort which included sociologists, sexologists, and psychologists.

The primary goal of the Frankfurt School was to translate Marxism from economic terms into cultural terms. It would provide the ideas on which to base a new political theory of revoltuion based on culture, harnessing new oppressed groups for the faithless proletariat. Smashing religion, morals, It would also build a constituency among academics, who could build careers studying and writing about the new oppression.


After the Second World War ended, many of the theorists returned to Europe, namely West and East Germany.  Adorno and Horkheimer re-established the Institute in Frankfurt in 1953.  Marcuse, however, stayed behind in America, where his ideas largely shaped the sexual revolution and student protests of the 1960s.   

Kimball describes this period and its aftermath:

Toward this end, Marcuse-who favored polymorphous perversion-expanded the ranks of Gramsci’s new proletariat by including homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals.  Into this was spliced Lukacs radical sex education and cultural terrorism tactics.  Gramsci’s ‘long march’ was added to the mix, and then all of this was wedded to Freudian psychoanalysis and psychological conditioning techniques. The end product was Cultural Marxism, now known in the West as multiculturalism.

In short, anything that represented historical Western culture was viewed as ‘authoritarian’.  Americans — and others — who upheld Western traditions and family values were labelled as intolerant or mentally disturbed:

In 1950, the Frankfurt School augmented Cultural Marxism with Theodor Adorno’s idea of the ‘authoritarian personality.’  This concept is premised on the notion that Christianity, capitalism, and the traditional family create a character prone to racism and fascism.  Thus, anyone who upholds America’s traditional moral values and institutions is both racist and fascist.  Children raised by traditional values parents, we are told to believe, will almost certainly become racists and fascists.  By extension, if fascism and racism are endemic to America’s traditional culture, then everyone raised in the traditions of God, family, patriotism, gun ownership, or free markets is in need of psychological help.

And this is where political correctness comes in.  Kimball goes on to say:

The strong suggestion here is that in order for one not to be thought of as racist or fascist, then one must not only be nonjudgmental but must also embrace the ‘new’ moral absolutes: diversity, choice, sensitivity, sexual orientation, and tolerance.  Political correctness is a Machiavellian psychological ‘command and control’ device.  Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.

In its nihilism critical theory, in turn, promotes political correctness (emphasis in the original):

Critical Theory is an ongoing and brutal assault via vicious criticism relentlessly leveled against Christians, Christmas, the Boy Scouts, Ten Commandments, our military, and all other aspects of traditional American culture and society. 
Both political correctness and Critical Theory are in essence, psychological bullying.  They are the psycho-political battering rams by which Frankfurt School disciples such as the ACLU are forcing Americans to submit to and to obey the will and the way of the Left.


If political correctness relies on critical theory, then critical theory relies on what is known as cultural determinism.  Cultural determinism is essentially identity politics.  In a Godless world the Frankfurt School and its present-day adherents say we have nothing more to rely on than our physical characteristics and sexual preferences.  Those determine who we are.  Without a God, there is no morality, so we cannot change what or who we are.  This opens the door to postmodernism and all the relativism associated with it, which we’ll look at in Monday’s post.

For now, here is a 10-minute overview (probably from the 1980s) which summarises the Frankfurt School and their influence on American society:

Further reading:

American Thinker: ‘Cultural Marxism’

‘What is the Frankfurt School?’

Frankfurt School

Cultural Marxism

Last year, Churchmouse Campanologist featured two posts on Modernism: Pius X’s declaring it a heresy in 1907 and how Modernism works.  

If you are unfamiliar with Modernism, which is awash in Catholic and some Protestant churches, Notre Dame alum Michael Voris at The Vortex explains it in a short video.  I have also included his followups to error in the Church.  Whilst this is Catholic material, Anglicans and Lutherans who are unhappy with what is happening in their denominations may also wish to watch these videos, each of which is between three and five minutes long.  Brief, concise and educational.

Modernism’s Full Impact:

Practical Catholicism:

The Social Justice Scam:


Real Clear Religion home page 26 May 09

Above is the home page at Real Clear Religion on May 26, 2009, 9:30 a.m. BST.

Pius X warned against this over 100 years ago: state interference in church affairs, relativist thinking and Marxism.

If you haven’t read the previous post wherein he denounced Modernism as a heresy in 1907, please do so before reading the following.

Using a summary of his encyclical, ‘Pascendi Dominici Gregis’, let’s examine what to watch for as we read present-day news and opinion:

  • Well-calculated audacity based on pride and obstinacy: The Modernist comes on strong — he is the expert; Christians are ‘idiots’, ‘ignorant’ or ‘deluded’.  For all his self-proclaimed intelligence, the Modernist actually has few argumental weapons in his arsenal.  He normally refers to the death tally in the Crusades, the persecution during the Spanish Inquisition and sacerdotal paedophilia.  He conveniently ignores the writings and study that religious orders did during the Dark Ages, the systems of government (e.g. British, American) which arose out of Judeo-Christian values and the Protestant work ethic which has informed and largely dignified employment from the Reformation to the present. 
  • Various ‘learned’ roles: The Modernist posits his arguments against the existence of God through science (‘no empirical evidence’), philosophy (questions about whether an omniscient God is possible) or history (misrepresenting quotes from American patriots who believed Biblical truths or citing events from 500 years ago to ‘prove’ that Christianity has remained static). 
  • The ‘truth’ of all religions: The Modernist in his relativism and superior intellect concludes that one world religion is just as valid as another.  His objective state of unbelief leads him to authoritatively draw that conclusion.  However, the only religion which he derides in his arguments is Christianity. 
  • Church subject to State: To ensure that the Church operates objectively, the Modernist lobbies for an objective watchdog — the State — to supervise its activities.  Whilst there is to be no symbolism at Christmas (a manger scene in a public place), for example, as that would be a combination of church and state, he feels free to support — demand — legislation which equates the Church to a pharmacy in offering ‘services’ not sacraments.   
  • Religion is ‘living’, therefore mutable: The Modernist believes that the Church must be brought ‘kicking and screaming’ into the 21st century.  He wants it to revise its teachings on marriage, family and liturgy to make it ‘relevant’ to young people and ‘move with the times’. 
  • Victimology: The Church must look at everyone as equals and compromise its own teachings to accommodate everyone.  Therefore, its principal goals should be marrying gays and promoting ‘social justice’ through Marxist beliefs.  Biblical teachings and salvation are non-starters and irrelevant, because the Modernist does not believe in God or an afterlife.
  • Hyper-criticism of Catholicism and Christianity: The Modernist focuses primarily on the failings — perceived or otherwise — of the Roman Catholic Church and, secondly, Evangelical Christianity, then, thirdly, Christianity in general.  Nowhere in his writings and pronouncements do we find any criticism of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism or Buddhism, just to name a few other world religions.
  • Moving towards atheism and heresy: The amorphous nature of agnosticism begets an apathy about God which leads to non-observance of religious rituals.  And, in successive generations, this leads to ignorance which results in a total disbelief in God — atheism — or heretical views about ‘what God should be’.  God is what we think He is based on our own philosophy, i.e. God is pre-occupied with saving the environment and overthrowing social order.  God likes a redistribution of wealth and supports collectivism. 

 This plays out in the following ways:

  • Media attention focusing on atheism with a subtle connection to intellectualism.  Big-name atheists have a full schedule on television, newspapers, speaking appearances and book signings.
  • Faux documentaries exploring ‘true stories’ such as the ‘Lost Gospels’ and the Da Vinci Code which elicit sympathy for heretics like the Knights Templar and ‘prove’ that Jesus and Mary Magdalene lived as man and wife.
  • Allowing commentators from other faiths to present documentaries on Christianity through a non-Christian perspective.
  • Giving the impression that the Church is immoral, corrupt and ‘past it’ through endless opinion-based articles deriding Christians, the clergy and the Church whilst at the same time ignoring shortcomings about other religions thereby making them appear morally equal or superior to Christianity.
  • Moral relativism in the realm of education, e.g. teaching five-year olds about sexuality and adult relationships, promoting early sexual congress over a mature relationship.
  • Weakening the family by encouraging mothers to leave their children at creche or at school for a longer time for their ‘convenience’ as working mums.
  • Proposing legislation that would directly impact the Church (see ‘Church subject to State’ above) yet leaving open the question whether other faiths would be subject to the same laws.
  • Lessening the importance of ecclesiastical hierarchy and parish structure through the promotion of emerging churches to ‘meet the needs of today’s young people’.
  • The downgrading of ‘mortal’, or serious, sin by excusing casual sex, abortion and controlled-substance abuse: ‘All the kids are doing it.  It’s just part of life.’
  • Incorporating New Age experiences into church liturgy to bring about a faux-mystical euphoria in an attempt to gain more parishoners. 
  • Offering alternative therapies and spa treatments at church sites to bring in more money.
  • Attempting to weaken Church finances and activity through legislation (the State of Connecticut and the Catholic Church earlier this year, Catholic adoption agencies in the UK, removal of ‘conscience clause’ in US hospitals).   

Are other faiths experiencing the same things?  I doubt it, but, if so, please let me know. 

Meanwhile, it is incumbent upon Christians to stay vigilant and remain true to Scripture.

St Pius XMore than a century ago, Pope Pius X was sensitive to changes occurring in contemporary thought, among them agnosticism which was gaining hold of Western civilisation, including Catholic laity and priests.  He called these errors of thinking ‘Modernism’ and in 1907 declared it a heresy in the encyclical called ‘Pascendi Dominici Gregis’.

After his death, Pius X was canonised a saint, the first Pope since Pius V (1566-1572).  What about modern thinking at the turn of the 20th century displeased him so?  Whilst you read the post, please give some thought to the present day.

This post is long, so please grab a cuppa and a biscuit before you start reading.  If you’re really in a hurry, please note the passages highlighted in green on this page and the next.

Here is a summary of the encyclical:

Pius X notes that, whilst enemies of the Church have always existed, new adversaries have emerged with ‘arts entirely new and full of deceit’, who ‘are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ’.

He acknowledges that the Church has attempted to be fair-minded and correct these errors, but to no avail.  Therefore, he is obliged to reprove them formally and publically.  These people — laity and priests — ‘lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ … whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man’.

Pius X describes their artfulness, hence, his urgency in issuing the encyclical (emphasis mine throughout):

… they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality. Finally, there is the fact which is all but fatal to the hope of cure that their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

He then says they:

present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast

… it must first of all be noted that the Modernist sustains and includes within himself a manifold personality; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished one from another by all who would accurately understand their system and thoroughly grasp the principles and the outcome of their doctrines

Pius X moves on to discuss agnosticism through the Modernist role of philosopher:

According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things … It may be asked, in what way do the Modernists contrive to make the transition from Agnosticism … to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial … Let him answer who can. Yet it is a fixed and established principle among them that both science and history must be atheistic: and within their boundaries there is room for nothing but phenomena…

It then gets metaphysical, so you’ll want to read and digest Sections 8, 9 and 10 for yourselves during a quiet time.  Near the end of Section 10, he points out their error:

… it is affirmed that our most holy religion, in the man Christ as in us, emanated from nature spontaneously and of itself. Nothing assuredly could be more utterly destructive of the whole supernatural order. For this reason the [First] Vatican Council most justly decreed: ‘If anyone says that man cannot be raised by God to a knowledge and perfection which surpasses nature, but that he can and should, by his own efforts and by a constant development, attain finally to the possession of all truth and good, let him be anathema.’

… since sense is not knowledge, they say God, indeed, presents Himself to man, but in a manner so confused and indistinct that He can hardly be perceived by the believer… ‘Blind’- they [Modernist philosopers] are, and ‘leaders of the blind’ puffed up with the proud name of science, they have reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion; in introducing a new system in which ‘they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty…’

He goes on to describe the Modernist in the ‘believer’ role and adds reactions from Catholics:

Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true … In the conflict between different religions, the most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic has more truth because it is more vivid, and that it deserves with more reason the name of Christian because it corresponds more fully with the origins of Christianity. No one will find it unreasonable that these consequences flow from the premises. But what is most amazing is that there are Catholics and priests, who, we would fain believe, abhor such enormities, and yet act as if they fully approved of them. For they lavish such praise and bestow such public honor on the teachers of these errors as to convey the belief that their admiration is not meant merely for the persons, who are perhaps not devoid of a certain merit, but rather for the sake of the errors which these persons openly profess and which they do all in their power to propagate  For the Modernists, to live is a proof of truth, since for them life and truth are one and the same thing. Thus we are once more led to infer that all existing religions are equally true, for otherwise they would not survive.

Sections 18 through 24 you can read and digest, as they will take a while.  Pius X discusses what the Modernists believe about sacraments and the Scripture, which ties in closely to the passages above.  He then discusses the Modernist tenet of separation of church and state.  If you read one paragraph in this post, make sure it’s this one, especially if you live in an EU country:

But it is not enough for the Modernist school that the State should be separated from the Church. For as faith is to be subordinated to science as far as phenomenal elements are concerned, so too in temporal matters the Church must be subject to the State. This, indeed, Modernists may not yet say openly, but they are forced by the logic of their position to admit it. For granted the principle that in temporal matters the State possesses the sole power, it will follow that when the believer, not satisfied with merely internal acts of religion, proceeds to external acts — such for instance as the reception or administration of the sacraments — these will fall under the control of the State. What will then become of ecclesiastical authority, which can only be exercised by external acts? Obviously it will be completely under the dominion of the State … To prevent individual consciences from expressing freely and openly the impulses they feel, to hinder criticism from urging forward dogma in the path of its necessary evolution, is not a legitimate use but an abuse of a power given for the public weal. So too a due method and measure must be observed in the exercise of authority…

  Read the rest of this entry »

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