Wisdom For The Ages (Particularly This One).

Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Dietrich von Hildebrand.

 

“One of the most horrifying and widespread diseases in the Church today is the lethargy of the guardians of the Faith of the Church. I am not thinking here of those bishops who are members of the “fifth column,” who wish to destroy the Church from within, or to transform it into something com­pletely different. I am thinking of the far more numerous bishops who have no such intentions, but who make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship. They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God. The words of St. John Bosco apply to them: “The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.”

Dietrich von Hildebrand

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Posted on May 10, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. awkwardcustomer

    Is there any chance of a reference for this quote? I’m particularly interested in von Hildebrand’s mention of a “fifth column” among the bishops, ‘who wish to destroy the Church from within, or to transform it into something completely different.’

    I’ve heard traditionalists refer to the infiltration of Freemasons into the Church, and to Bella Dodd’s claim that the Communist Part of America placed 1100 men into Catholic seminaries in order to undermine the Church. And of course, Pope Pius X in his 1907 Encyclical ‘On the Doctrine of the Modernists’ is explicit in his claim that Modernists are in the very bosom of the Church, seeking Her ruin. Then there are more recent claims of an infiltration of homosexuals into seminaries.

    And yet it is quite difficult to make the leap from these claims to the local priest or bishop. But given what I have witnessed over the years, sometimes it seems that the infiltration of the Church on a significant scale is the only explanation for Her current state.

    • To me it is far easier to imagine a corrupt or faithless or outright evil bishop as an individual phenomenon (albeit repeated in a number of cases) than a remotely planned “great conspiracy”. In my eyes, most great conspiracies exist only in the fantasy of excited minds, but the weakness of each and every one of us and the works of the devil trying to destroy us are very real in every individual case.

      The average bishop has been in the seminary in times where not even Latin (let alone theology) was properly taught; has become priests in times of “wreckovation”, and has gone with the flow; has soon understood that to be silent and acquiescing to the new ideology was the only way to get a comfortable chance and career chances; and has had his own appointment to bishop or cardinal due to this mentality and some luck, or right acquaintances.

      I think this accounts for 80-90% of the appointments to bishop and cardinal, and is alone more than sufficient to explain the crisis of the Church without theorising that the Kremlin or the Freemasons be more smart than the clergy (which certainly isn’t the case).

      M

  2. That’s a great quote from St John Bosco.

    • Isn’t it surprising how all problems, and all mistakes, in the end all remain the same?

      But then in the end it should not be surprising at all, as human nature never changes. Nothing of the V II crowd makes me laugh so much as this idea we now live in a age of more refined humans, who do not need death penalty, penances or Rosaries…

      M

  3. awkwardcustomer

    Mundabor, I didn’t say anything about a ‘remotely planned great conspiracy’. I was asking about the source of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s quote, since he referred to a ‘fifth column’ among the bishops. Or does the fifth column he refers to only exist in the ‘fantasy’ of his ‘excited mind’.

    I was brought up a Communist and spent years associating with the left as they planned their destruction of the West, its culture and its values. I was party to their discussions and agreed with many of their aims. So I have no trouble believing that ‘a corrupt or faithless or outright evil bishop’ is ‘an individual phenomenon’, but that he might like to meet with other individuals with similar views to discuss ways and means of furthering their agenda.

    Sorry Mundabor, but I have known a lot of wicked people in my time and they do not work in isolation. But any suggestion of cooperation between them is immediately denounced as conspiracy theory lunacy. Any explanation for the current state of the Church which does not acknowledge the existence of individuals, yes, individuals, who cooperate with other individuals in order to further their destructive agenda is, to my mind, inadequate.

    Again, any chance of you giving me the source of von Hildebrand’s quote?

    Oh, and the KGB, the Freemasons and the Modernists might not be smarter than the clergy. But they are far more cunning. Infiltration is one of their primary tactics and guess what, it works. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s ‘long march through the institutions’ has been underway for decades, the aim being to destroy the West from within.

    • The way I read it as that every bishop who has lost the faith is part of the “fifth column”. It is not necessary that he knows all the others, or can act in concert with them.

      Similarly, I do not think acting in small groups (as for example the “gay mafia” within the Vatican does) would justify the claim of great conspiracy. Individuals will always copperates with other individuals, but this is much different from the creation of a vast net of people all linked to each other and aware of each other, without which there can be no conspiracy, but diffused malcontent at most.

      The same goes for Gramsci and the Communist influence in Italy, which peaked in the Seventies, was decisively defeated in the Eighties and is now irrelevant. What these days is eating the Italian society like a cancer is secularism, not communism. I blame the V II Popes and clergy for this far more than I would ever dream of blaming Gramsci, who has been six feet under since 1937 and irrelevant since 1929 at the very latest, or the Communists, who really have nothing more to say.

      Yes, communists tend to infiltrate, but there is no way this infiltration has the characters of a conspiracy, that is: proceeds unnoticed through people bound by a secret vow and programme. In fact, in the case of the Communist the infiltrations of some sectors (trade unions, teachers) was evident to the blind. It wasn’t a subterranean manouvre at the end of which there would be, say, a golpe; it was rather a steamroller trying to flatten everything it found before itself.

      I do not have the quote. The source whence I took it from also did not have it. You may have some luck by googling intensely.

      M

  4. radjalemagnifique

    To awkwardcustomer

    I have been raised in Germany after World War II and therefore during the Cold War. I understand quite well your arguments. So I have tried to find the source of the quotation and make here a “copier-coller” of what I have found. I have not read the entire article (it’s a bit late for me this evening) but it looks very interesting.

    To Mundabor

    Please feel free to cut off the (very long) text and to leave only the links.

    http://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/dietrich-von-hildebrand-on-church-leadership/

    Dietrich von Hildebrand on Church leadership June 25, 2010
    Posted by tantamergo in awesomeness, General Catholic, scandals.
    trackback

    Dietrich von Hildebrand has been described by Pope Benedict XVI as the premier Catholic philosopher of the 20th Century. Initially a huge supporter and enthused about the direction of the second Vatican Council, he later became severely disenchanted and felt that the results of the Council were badly hurting the Church. I don’t have much time to write more commentary at present, but thanks to my main man Steve B, I can post the entire first chapter. The chapter deals with Hildebrand’s great concern at the direction of the Church in the years immediately following the Council, and what he felt was a profound lack of ecclesial leadership from those charged most with supporting and defending the Faith, the various bishops of the world. This is long for a blog post, but I think his words are most worth reading. This is Chapter 1 of von Hildebrand’s work, The Devastated Vineyard, entitled The Lethargy of the Guardians:

    ONE OF THE MOST horrifying and widespread diseases in the Church today is the lethargy of the guardians of the Faith of the Church. I am not thinking here of those bishops who are members of the “fifth column,” who wish to destroy the Church from within, or to transform it into something com­pletely different. I am thinking of the far more numerous bishops who have no such intentions, but who make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship. They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God. The words of St. John Bosco apply to them: “The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.”

    It is certainly true that the lethargy of those in positions of authority is a disease of our times which is widespread outside the Church. It is found among parents, college and university presidents, heads of numerous other organizations, judges, heads of state, and others. But the fact that this sickness has even penetrated the Church is a clear indication that the fight against the spirit of the world, has been re­placed with swimming along with the spirit of the times in the name of “aggiornamento.” One is forced to think of the hireling who abandons his flocks to the wolves when one reflects on the lethargy of so many bishops and superiors who, though still orthodox 4 themselves, do not have the cour­age to intervene against the most flagrant heresies and abu­ses of all kinds in their dioceses or in their orders.

    But it is most especially infuriating when certain bishops, who themselves show this lethargy toward heretics, assume a rigorously authoritarian attitude toward those believers who are fighting for orthodoxy, and who are thus doing what the bishops ought to be doing themselves! I was once allowed to read a letter written by a man in high position in the Church, addressed to a group which had heroically taken up the cause of the true Faith, of the pure, true teaching of the Church and the Pope. This group had overcome the “coward­ice of good men” of which St. John Bosco spoke, and ought thus to have been the greatest joy of the bishops. The letter said: as good Catholics, you have to do only one thing: just be obedient to all the ordinances of your bishop.

    This conception of a “good” Catholic is particularly sur­prising at a time in which the coming of age of the modern layman is continually being emphasized. But it is also com­pletely false for this reason: what is fitting at a time when no heresies occur in the Church without being immediately condemned by Rome, becomes inappropriate and
    unconscion­able at a time when uncondemned heresies wreak havoc within the Church, infecting even certain bishops, who never­theless remain in office. Should the faithful at the time of the Arian heresy, for instance, in which the majority of the bishops were Arians, have limited themselves to being nice, and obedient to the ordinances of these bishops, instead of battling the heresy? Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop? Is it not precisely by virtue of their obedience to the revealed truths which they received from the magisterium of the Church, that the faithful offer resistance? Are the faithful not supposed to be concerned when things are preached from the pulpit which are completely incompatible with the teach­ing of the Church? Or when theologians are kept on as tea­chers who claim that the Church must accept pluralism in philosophy and theology 5 or that there is no survival of the person after death, or who deny that promiscuity is a sin, or even tolerate public displays of immorality, thereby betraying a pitiful lack of understanding for the deeply Christian virtue of purity?

    The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. 6 But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should by all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace. And should it happen that they get carried away in their zeal and express themselves in a tactless or exagger­ated manner, they are even suspended. This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops’ failure to use their authority. For they have nothing to fear from the orthodox; the orthodox do not control the mass media or the press; they are not the representatives of public opinion. And because of their submission to ecclesiastical authority, the fighters for orthodoxy will never be as aggressive as the so-called progressives. If they are reprimanded or disciplined, their bishops run no risk of being attacked by the liberal press and being defamed as reactionary.

    This failure of the bishops to make use of their God-given authority is perhaps, in practical consequences, the worst confusion in the Church today. For this failure not only does not arrest spiritual diseases, heresies, and the blatant as well as the insidious (and this is much worse) devastation of the vineyard of the Lord; it even gives free rein to these evils. The failure to use holy authority to protect the holy Faith leads necessarily to the disintegration of the Church.

    Here, as with the appearance of all dangers, we have to say, “principiis obsta” (“stop the evil at its source”). The longer one allows an evil to develop, the more difficult it will be to root it out again. This is true for the upbringing of children, for the life of the state, and in a special way for the moral life of the individual. But it is true in a completely new way for the intervention of the ecclesiastical authorities for the good of the faithful. As Plato says, “when evils are far advanced, . . . it is never pleasant to eliminate them.” 7

    Nothing is more erroneous than to imagine that many things ought to be allowed to rage and do their worst, and that one ought thus to wait patiently until they subside of their own accord. This theory may sometimes be correct with regard to youths going through puberty, but it is completely false in questions of the bonum commune (the common good). This false theory is especially dangerous when ap­plied to the bonum commune of the holy Church, involving blasphemies in public worship and heresies which, if not con­demned, go on poisoning countless souls. Here it is incorrect to apply the parable of the wheat and the tares.

    NOTES

    4. By “orthodox” we mean the belief in the unfalsified, official teaching of the holy Church. which represents the authentic, revealed Truth, guar­anteed by the Holy Spirit. The expression “orthodox” in no way refers here to membership in the schismatic Eastern Church.

    5. By “pluralism” I mean the notion that one can have different opinions and views with regard to defined truths of faith, or that every philosophy has a place in the Church — ultimately an absolute relativism. Of course as long as no definition has been given concerning a pure question of faith, different opinions may also be advocated by orthodox Catholics. Thus, with regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, contradictory opinions were held by St. Thomas and Duns Scotus. But after the definition of 1854 this would no longer have been possible. Similarly, as we will see, there are philosophical theses only one of which can be true, but neither of which is in contradiction to the Revelation of Christ. But this kind of pluralism is clearly different from the pluralism advocated by Rahner and others.

    6. A shocking example of the activity of the “fifth column” in the Church are the religion books recently introduced in Austria: Glaube Gefragt (“ Faith Questioned”) and Christus Gel ragt (“Christ Questioned”). These books are consciously aimed at the destruction of the Faith in the souls of the young. This is also a crass example of the lethargy of the guardians.

    7. Plato, Laws, no. 660.

    See also :

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_von_Hildebrand
    (in German)

    Dietrich von Hildebrand, 1973, Der verwüstete Weinberg, Josef Habbel, Regensburg.

  5. awkwardcustomer

    The influence of Gramsci goes far beyond Italy. In the 1950s and 60s his ideas were studied and adopted by Marxists across the West who came to realise that the Western nations were too powerful to challenge through protest and violence. And so according to Saul Alinsky, author of the revolutionary handbook ‘Rules for Radicals’, the 1960s radicals cut their hair, put on suits and set about becoming the Establishment.

    And now they are the Establishment, which means the media especially the BBC, academia, the law, local government, the schools and, yes, the churches. And their method is to relentlessly undermine and attack Western culture, tradition and values while promoting policies which reflect their ideas.

    Rather than a planned programme being carried out by a vast network of individuals and groups all linked to each other, there exists, instead, a body of thought, a set of ideas which tends to lead different individuals and groups in a similar direction towards a particular idea of how the world should be.

    All in all, Mundabor, I strongly suspect that in Britain, the Establishment is almost entirely theirs.

    • Oh yes, the old pothead runs the show in countries like the UK.

      But I do not think Gramsci has anything to do with that, rather human nature and demographics. The ambitious revolutionaries of the Sixties were obviously destined for politics with or without revolution, and most people are stupid sheep following the leaders of their day.

      The Sixties and Seventies have produced mainly potheads as political activists. They and their children are the one pushing for “same sex marriage” now.

      M

  6. awkwardcustomer

    Thank you, radjalemagnifique, for posting this reference. Much appreciated.

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