Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Saint Pius X versus the Worst Heresy of All Time Injected into the Veins of the Church to Destroy Her from the Inside
Excerpts from a lecture for Friends and Supporters, São Paulo, May 1, 1989
(What do you think about the crisis in the Holy Church?)
That is a tremendous question, and therefore, I will start with it, for one should first take the most difficult subjects and deal with them directly.
What should we think about the Church’s crisis? What is this crisis? Where does it lead?
The crisis in the Church consists of this. St. Pius X’s papacy lasted from August 4, 1903, to August 20, 1914, when he died mysteriously shortly after the First World War broke out.
A non-Catholic French mainstream journalist said very well that whoever went to the Vatican and met this pope had the impression of facing that angel whom Scripture describes as standing outside paradise holding a fiery sword and waiting to slash anyone who tried to enter.
Indeed, he was an angelic figure! A tall and powerful man, one of those northern Italians from the Veneto region, had a great personality and, above all, the fullness of purity, solid principles, and complete self-denial that characterize a true saint of the Catholic Church!
At a certain point in his pontificate [September 8, 1907], he issued an encyclical that stunned everyone. It was titled Pascendi Dominici Gregis, or “Feeding the Lord’s Flock.” Naturally, the Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ, and the flock is the Holy Catholic Church.
“Feeding the Lord’s Flock” were the words with which he began the encyclical. Every encyclical is named after the first words with which it begins. So was the famous Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
In this encyclical, he developed a conception, theory, and description of the state of the Church in his time. Later, he published an Apostolic Letter titled Notre Charge Apostolique [“Our Apostolic Mandate,” August 25, 1910].
It is the custom of the Holy See to write in Latin when addressing bishops of various nations. When addressing bishops of a single nation, the pope does so in their language out of paternal kindness. Notre Charge Apostolique, addressed to the French Episcopate, was written in French.
This apostolic letter more or less completed the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, giving a picture of the situation of the Church in those now remote times. After all, we are at the end of the last but one decade of our century. He was entirely in the second decade of this century, which had just begun, and we are in the last but one decade that precedes its end, so we are roughly 80 years, close to a century, apart.
Now, if we read both Pascendi Dominici Gregis and Notre Charge Apostolique, we realize they describe a state of affairs very similar to today’s situation. They go to the very heart of it. Nothing is more helpful to get to know today’s situation than reading these two documents.
What does Saint Pius X say in the Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique? I remember the gist of his thought, though not his exact words.
He says the Catholic Church in his time was immersed in a world with a mindset opposed to hers. It was a revolutionary world whose ideas came from Protestantism, the French Revolution, etc. –more or less as I explained in RCR [Revolution and Counter-Revolution]. Those ideas clashed with the Church’s conception of the world, and how Christian civilization should be organized.* Those tenets also clashed with the doctrine that the Church teaches about herself.
A Pan-Religion of a Nonexistent God
He also said that a colossal but hidden organization of heretics had spread worldwide and would remain hidden until they were strong enough to stick their heads out of the water and start proclaiming their heresies, and that it was a real conspiracy within the Catholic Church.
Of What Did These People’s Doctrine Consist?
Their doctrine asserts that God is not a Person. God is a force that exists in and merges with nature. This is equivalent to saying that there is no God, for if God is not a Person, there is no God. Things do have a cause, but one that does not think or reflect; it is only an impulse or instinct. It is neither a man nor a being endowed with intelligence; it is not God!
Therefore, they are essentially pantheists—those who think that God is something not distinct from the universe but mixed in it just as life, for example, exists in plants, animals, and men. God is not the life that exists in everyone, nor is the life in everyone equal to life in others. These are a bunch of lies to cover up atheism.
They also claim that the whole doctrine of the Catholic Church has been misinterpreted. The Church gives a wrong interpretation of Scripture and, therefore of the Gospel. If one interprets the latter properly, the world needs to undergo a complete overhaul. We must end the traditional adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Father, and the Holy Spirit; veneration of Our Lady, the saints, and the angels. Because deep down, God is a force that exists in all religions, and all religions are equivalent. They can amalgamate together becoming one and the same. It does not matter whether an individual is Protestant, Catholic, Greek-Schismatic, Buddhist, Taoist, or anything else because all religions are essentially the same.
The Worst of All Heresies Developed Quietly, Injected in the Veins of the Church to Destroy her from the Inside
Now, this global religion should gradually erode all religions from within and form a single and entirely new religion. A religion with a highly evolved morality, the moral precepts of which would be much easier to comply with and much more pleasant: it is immorality turned into morality.
On the other hand, complete equality between men would end all hierarchy. All differences in wealth, intelligence, social status, talent must disappear. All men should be entirely equal. Thus, we would have a new world of a new religion, establishing the Universal Republic. This would be the goal toward which the world must move.
Now, to pursue this goal, they adopted a crafty technique. If they ostensibly declared their objectives to everyone— says Saint Pius X—it obviously would provoke a revolt and harm their cause. Hence, they would only proclaim and teach people who they figured would easily believe their narrative. They would gradually present distorted images of the Catholic Church, making her doctrine appear less and less like the traditional doctrine and more like their new doctrine. Besides, the priests themselves had to be the leading artisans of this process!
Priests conquered for this new religion should continue exercising the priesthood in the old faith and start teaching these erroneous doctrines taking advantage of their priestly prestige. In this way, there would come a moment when the Church would be transformed completely.
They spoke about holding a great council or something of the sort—Saint Pius X is not entirely clear about this—in which they would proclaim the new religion. And the Catholic Church would be finished.
They formed a secret society whose members were obliged to keep this doctrine secret and help one another. Thus, when one of its members wrote a book, everyone would extoll it to high heaven: “What an extraordinary book! How magnificent!”—because it pushed their doctrine. On the contrary, when someone else wrote a book against that doctrine, they pretended they had not read it: “What book? I don’t know anything about it. It has had no repercussion! Who is the author? I’ve never heard of him! He does not exist!”
In newspapers and magazines under their control, they would remain silent about good Catholics and never mention attacks they themselves sustain. They should keep talking and talking about the new doctrine and religion in a veiled but ever less veiled way.
Saint Pius X called this the worst heresy of all time! The worst heresy! He added that it was the worst heresy because evil was not outside the Church seeking to enter, like in Luther’s time. Luther broke with the Church, left, and sought to attack her from the outside. St. Pius X says, “This evil is a poison injected into the very veins of the Church, which seeks to destroy her from the inside out!”
Saint Pius X’s Strong Action against Propagators of the “New Doctrine”
For this reason, he excommunicated many authors and followers of this doctrine, which he called “Modernism.” Some of them were priests and even famous priests. Ernesto Bonaiutti was perhaps the most famous. He was a professor at the University of Rome celebrated for his culture and education. A very tall man with a big black beard, he always wore a cassock, an ecclesiastical hat, etc. However, he propagated this false doctrine when teaching at the university, speaking from the pulpit, or hearing confessions.
Saint Pius X excommunicated many of these people—meaning he expelled them from the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. It was a tremendous excommunication called excommunicatio vitandus, meaning the person should be avoided. Anyone walking down the street who saw him coming on the same sidewalk and knew him was obliged to change sidewalk rather than walk by close to him. That shows that people held him in horror because of his heresy.
Excommunicated, this Bonaiutti continued to teach at the University of Rome, wear a cassock and a priest’s hat, and preach his errors until he died. At that point, as a worthy surgeon takes a gangrenous limb and cuts it off, Saint Pius X cut the Church in two by taking that rotten part and excommunicating it so the gangrene would not overtake the entire body. In so doing, he showed energy such as has rarely been seen in the history of the Church.
It turns out that excommunication reverberated all over the world like a lightning bolt. St. Pius X went even further by issuing a decree whereby every priest appointed to any post had to take an anti-modernist oath and fight Modernism in that position. Accordingly, in the course of his life, every priest would take several such oaths, hand on the Holy Gospels. I saw priests take the anti-modernist oath. St. Pius X thus appealed to the priests’ consciences, pressing them against the wall.
The Mysterious Death of Saint Pius X
One night, Saint Pius X went to bed in good health, as Cardinal Merry del Val, his Secretary of State, recounts. They worked together until late. He said goodbye to Saint Pius X and went to his house. Early in the morning, they awakened him with the warning that the pope was in horrible shape.
He dressed quickly and went to the Vatican. Arriving at the pope’s quarters, he found Saint Pius X speechless, attacked by some illness. He signaled that he wanted to write something. The cardinal got paper and pencil, and Saint Pius X tried to write but could not. His hand dropped, and he looked on as if saying, “There’s nothing I can do.”
In his memoirs, Cardinal Merry del Val says that we will only know what happened that night in the Vatican on Judgment Day. How did the pope, who went to bed healthy, wake up like that?
The Worst Heresy of All Time Spreads Over Many Years
The fact is that the pope died shortly afterward. Other popes came who were much less aware of the danger. The result is that the problem reemerged during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. This heresy kept spreading underground roughly from 1912 to 1939—about 27 years.
It expanded a lot at the beginning of Pius XII’s pontificate [Pius XI’s ended in 1939], giving rise to the current crisis in the Church. The same heresy that never ceased to exist but remained underground suddenly surfaced again because its leaders correctly figured it had achieved favorable conditions. Then, at a certain point in the pontificate of Pius XII, the Church began to fall apart.
Later, John XXIII and his successors have had this crisis in the Church to this day.
I am showing you that our present situation is a revival or rebirth of this terrible heresy, which a Pope whom Pius XII raised to the honor of the altars—Saint Pius X—called the worst heresy of all time, the summation of all heresies of all time—Modernism.
Today, Modernism is called “progressivism,” but it is the same thing. Liberation theology, Christian Base Communities, and all that are branches of progressivism, which, in turn, is Modernism renamed. All are the same current.
The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail Against the Church
As you can see, we have within the Church the worst of all heresies, which resurfaced in the 20th century and keeps eating away at the Church. This is the reality we have before us. This reality means that we are at the height of a crisis that Saint Pius X wanted to cut short but could not because he mysteriously died.
However, Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Church as a single, united organization with the mission to teach until the end of the world and promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against her. The metaphor “gates of hell” is much to the taste of Orientals—born in the East, Our Lord spoke to Orientals. Saying that the forces of hell “would not prevail” means they would not win.
Upon founding the Church, Our Lord established St. Peter as the first pope with these words: “Thou art Peter, and I will build my Church upon this rock. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
In other words, “Peter, you are a stone”—the Holy See is the rock on which the Church is built, and the gates of hell will not conquer her. All onslaughts of hell against the Church will not suffice to defeat her. This promise remains valid to the end of time.
Progressivists Want a Church Ruled by the People
What is progressivism, and how do they present it in the Church?
As Modernists did at St. Pius X’s time, progressivists aim to completely reform and transform the Catholic Church on the following points.
First, progressivism is profoundly imbued with and affected by the Communist mentality. Communists want complete equality among all men-- financial, economic, political, in the field of honors and distinctions men pay one another, and in all other realms of life. Likewise, they seek to transform the monarchic structure of the Church as established by Our Lord—the pope is the king of the Church, the one who commands, and the entire Church obeys—into a republican church in which the people command and the pope must obey; the people command, and the bishops must obey.
How will the people rule? How do progressives imagine tomorrow’s Church?
Here is how they imagine it. They think it is wrong to believe that the Holy Spirit favors especially the pope to prevent him from falling into error, and also assists bishops, continuators of the Apostles, and teachers and doctors of the Church. All this is wrong!
The Holy Spirit descends on all believers as they gather, shake hands, form a circle, and inspire everyone. The people must communicate to their pastors and bishops what the Holy Spirit has inspired them, and the bishops and pastors must do what the Holy Spirit taught the people.
In other words, what you have is a republic ruled by universal suffrage and an electorate. Both president and Congress must obey what the people have decided.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Instituted a Hierarchical Church
Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Church differently, and things in the Church have worked accordingly for two thousand years. The pope is the king, and the bishops are the princes of the Church. The clergy are the Church’s aristocracy. They rule! The pope rules over everyone, including bishops; the bishops rule over everyone, except the pope. They rule over each of their faithful, including priests. Priests rule over all their faithful, but not their bishop.
Thus, order is established within the Church by this hierarchy of power with the pope, bishops, and priests. That is why Our Lord likens the pope to a shepherd with his sheep. The pope is the shepherd of the Church in general; the bishop is the pastor in his diocese; the parish priest is the pastor in his parish. Since he is in charge of the sheep, the shepherd is the one who indicates where the sheep should go rather than the other way around. As shepherds, parish priests also hold authority in the Church.
Inversion of Values in the Church
Progressives want to change all that and more. Until now, the pope was considered the supreme teacher of the Church. No longer. The supreme teachers are the people, as they join hands expecting some divine manifestation. If it comes, they communicate it, and you have to obey.
Therefore, God speaks through the people to those who are to govern the Church. In other words, those supposed to govern the Church do not; they are nothing. The little people in the Church are those who govern. In charge are those with less education, less religious culture, and unable to command.
None of us in this room has the theological formation of a priest, bishop, or pope. We simply do not! We are not in a position to discuss or figure out how to solve Church issues. However, progressives claim that we are the ones who receive the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and the clergy have to obey us!
You can see how they are entirely upending the Church to make her like a Communist regime is purported to be. Communists present it as the government of the people, for the people, by the people. They want an order of things in which everyone is entirely equal, everyone commands, and no one obeys any authority. That is a deception because it does not happen in the real world. This is the first feature of the New Church.
The Revolution’s Goal: Anarchy and Return to Savagery
The second trait of the New Church stems from the quintessence of Communism, which is the 1968 Sorbonne Revolution of which you may have heard. It is a revolution more radical than Communism. Sorbonne is a famous Paris school founded in the Middle Ages but which later degenerated. One of the mottos the Sorbonne revolutionaries affixed to the university building when they took it over was this: “It is forbidden to forbid.” All prohibitions are prohibited. Everyone could and should do as they please.
Free love, absolute sexual promiscuity, incest, homosexuality, all this is fine because it is enjoyable, so they inaugurated the ‘reign of the enjoyable.’ Crime should no longer exist. Everyone is entitled to do whatever he or she wants. Nothing is a crime anymore. It was complete anarchy.
Applied to the Church, here is what this means: all perennial moral laws are eliminated. Women can walk in pants and wear shorts reaching far above their knees, no skirts, and ever more risqué cleavages. One cannot even describe how they show up on the beach.
A Paris TV network recently broadcast a sex act to all of France! They watched it in many other countries as television spreads images throughout Europe.
The French bishops kept quiet. Only one association protested, TFP-linked Avenir de la Culture. “The Future of Culture” combats such immoralities through direct mail, an exciting system, with excellent feedback from the moralized part of the French population.
On the other hand, part of the progressive doctrine is that, deep down, civilization, as it exists and everything it has—houses, machines, offices, museums, hospitals—must disappear. Man must go back to the wild because man’s perfect organization is that of natives. Therefore, we must value the role of natives and blacks who still live as natives in tribes here in the Americas and Africa. One must praise them because they are models for humanity. We, civilized people, are the wrong ones!
You can see that this ultimately is the destruction of all civilization, culture, and everything for the sake of a clearly satanic anarchic ideal.
The Cuban Regime’s Underconsumption and Vagrancy, the Revolutionary Ideal for the Church and the World
That leads to this conclusion, which you find, for example, in Frei Beto’s and Frei Boff’s works on Cuba. They have been visiting Cuba and figured that Communist Cuba gives its people much poorer living conditions than in the West, for example, in Brazil.
However, [they say], mind you that no one starves to death! The poverty they live in is good for men. A man living in poverty has no greed for earthly things. He understands that by working little, earning little, eating little and consuming little he leads a more relaxed, vagabond, happier life. For this reason, Cuba’s state of poverty is poverty only in our eyes but not theirs! They are the rich people who lead a more carefree life than any Western tycoon, who wrecks his brain to keep his fortune. A bum from Cuba lies on the beach all day. True, he eats only a roll at night, before bed, but what is so bad about it? Nothing! He has the delights of leisure!
His life is one of underconsumption. The world’s real purpose is underconsumption, the nonexistence of anything more refined, beautiful, or luxurious.
That is similar to what progressives want for the Catholic Church. They want to destroy the Catholic Church, make it a small handful of people living in poverty, in abject and ugly churches lacking all beauty, where the faithful whisper among themselves, wallow in inaction, and are entirely free from any morals! This is the church they want for the 21st century—the church that Saint Pius X denounced.
(*) In his Pastoral Letter on the Catholic Church, titled Parvenu à la vingt-cinquième année [“Having Reached the 25th Year of Our Pontificate”] Leo XIII addresses the revolutionary process started by the Protestant pseudo-Reformation, which paved the way for eighteenth-century Illuminism and led to nineteenth-century atheism and anarchy.