Protestantism, Modernism, Atheism

“The reality of the apostasy of faith in our time rightly and profoundly frightens us,” said Cardinal Burke in honor of Fatima’s centenary.

In 1903, Pope St. Pius X declared himself “terrified” by humanity’s self-destructive apostasy from God: “For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish” (Ps. 72:27). How much more “daunting,” said Cardinal Burke, is today’s “widespread apostasy.”

In 1910, St. Pius X condemned the movement for a “One-World Church” without dogmas, hierarchy, or “curb for the passions”—a church which, “under the pretext of freedom,” would impose “legalized cunning and force.” How much more, said Cardinal Burke, do today’s “movements for a single government of the world” and “certain movements with the Church herself” disregard sin and salvation?

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In Pascendi, St. Pius X named the trajectory toward the “annihilation of all religion”: “The first step … was taken by Protestantism; the second … by [the heresy of] Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism.”

So let us, said Cardinal Burke, heed Fatima’s call for prayer, penance, and reparation. Let us be “agents” of the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

A few weeks after that speech, the Vatican announced its shining tribute to the Protestant revolution: a golden stamp with Luther and Melanchthon at the foot of the cross, triumphantly supplanting the Blessed Virgin and St. John.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has asked how the Vatican can call Luther a “witness to the gospel” when he “called the Mass … a blasphemy” and “the papacy an invention of Satan.” The signatories of the filial correction have expressed “wonderment and sorrow” at a statue of Luther in the Vatican—and documented the “affinity” between “Luther’s ideas on law, justification, and marriage” and Pope Francis’s statements.

At a 2016 joint “commemoration” of the Protestant revolution, Pope Francis expressed “joy” for its myriad “gifts.” He and pro-abortion Lutherans with female clergy jointly declared that “what unites us is greater than what divides us.” Together they “raise[d]” their “voices” against “violence.”   They prayed for the conversion of those who exploit the earth. They declared the “goal” of receiving the Eucharist “at one table” to express their “full unity.”

In Martin Luther: An Ecumenical Perspective, Cardinal Kasper confirms that the excommunicated, apostate monk is now a “common church father,” a new St. Francis of Assisi. This prophet of the “new evangelization” was “forced” into calling the pope the Antichrist after his “call for repentance was not heard.” But Kasper finds ecumenical hope in Luther’s “statement that he would…kiss the feet of a pope who allows and acknowledges his gospel.”

Kasper says Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium, “without mentioning him by name,” makes Luther’s concerns “stand in the center.”

So it’s Luther’s “gospel of grace and mercy” behind, apparently, the high disdain for “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianis[ts]” plagued by a “soundness of doctrine” that’s “narcissistic and authoritarian” (EG 94).

So it’s Luther—the bizarre protagonist of “ecumenical unity”—behind the demand for a “conversion of the papacy” that gives “genuine doctrinal authority” to episcopal conferences (EG 32). Sandro Magister says the pope is already creating a “federation of national Churches endowed with extensive autonomy” through liturgical decentralization.

So it’s Luther behind the demand to “accept the unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our…ways of thinking” (EG 22). Kasper says Luther’s faith in the “self-implementation of the word of God” gave him a heroic “openness to the future.”

Ultimately, Kasper’s Luther—a prophet of “openness” to futurity, a “Catholic reformer” waiting for a sympathetic pope—emerges as a symbolic father for Modernism’s struggle to change the Church from within. Modernism falsely claims that God evolves with history—making truth utterly mutable. So Kasper the Modernist says dogmas can be “stupid” and Church structures can spring from “ideology” and denying the Eucharist to adulterers because of “one phrase” from Christ is “ideological,” too.

Kasper baldly calls the “changeless” God an “offense to man”:

One must deny him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honor that belong by right to man….

We must resist this God … also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God … who is not himself history is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new.

A shocking ultimatum from the man hailed as “the pope’s theologian”: either embrace a mutable God who’s not an “enemy of the new”—or profess “absolute,” unflinching, hardcore atheism.

Kasper says the Church must be led by a “spirit” that “is not primarily the third divine person.” That ominous “spirit,” says Thomas Stark, is apparently some Hegelian agent of creation’s self-perfection. Pope Francis, against all the “sourpusses” (EG 85), describes our “final cause” as “the utopian future” (EG 222). Because God wants us to be “happy” in this world, it’s “no longer possible to claim that religion … exists only to prepare souls for heaven” (EG 182).

But Christ said, “In the world you shall have distress” (Jn. 16:33). The 1907 dystopian novel The Lord of the World hauntingly imagines the travails of history’s last days, when humanity has heeded Kasper’s call to “resist” God with absolute atheism if necessary. By this point, “Protestantism is dead,” for men “recognize at last that a supernatural religion involves an absolute authority.” Those with “any supernatural belief left” are Catholic—persecuted by a world professing “no God but man, no priest but the politician.”

More and more clergy apostatize. Man “has learned his own divinity.” Yet Fr. Percy Franklin still adores the Eucharistic Lord, still believes that “the reconciling of a soul to God” is greater than the reconciling of nations. He secretly hears a dying woman’s confession before the “real priests”—the euthanizers—come.

Her daughter-in-law, Mabel, scoffs that the new atheism has perfected Catholicism:

Do you not understand that all which Jesus Christ promised has come true, though in another way? The reign of God has really begun; but we know now who God is. You said just now you wanted the forgiveness of Sins; well, you have that; we all have it, because there is no such thing as sin. There is only Crime.

And then Communion. You used to believe that that made you a partaker of God; well, we are all partakers of God, because we are all human beings.

Mabel and the rapt multitudes ritually worship Man. God was a “hideous nightmare.” Their spirits swoon before a politician promising “the universal brotherhood of man.”

That “savior of the world” is the Antichrist. All must deny God or die.

For history, like the novel itself, ends not with rapturous utopia but with tribulation, apostasy, martyrdoms, and “God’s triumph over the revolt of evil [in] the form of the Last Judgment” (CCC 677). In the throes of his own tribulation, Fr. Franklin calls us to cling to the faith and those refuges of old:

The mass, prayer, the rosary. These first and last. The world denies their power: it is on their power that Christians must throw all their weight.

(Photo credit: Screenshot of Cardinal Kasper on EWTN.)


  • Julia Meloni

    Julia Meloni writes from the Pacific Northwest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale and a master’s degree in English from Harvard.

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