I am certain that when in the Council I pronounced the ritual words ‘Exeunt Omnes’ (everyone out), one who did not obey was the Devil. He is always there where confusion triumphs, to stir it up and take advantage of it.
Cardinal Pericle Felici, Secretary-General of the Council.
With a truly amazing foresight that was born of confidence, the secret societies had long since made up their minds how they would bring about changes in the claims and character of the Catholic Church, and ultimately its downfall. More than a century ago they recognised that the policy of infiltration, by which their own men were entering the highest places in the ecclesiastical structure, had met with success; and now they could outline the nature of the next stage to be accomplished.
Speaking as one of the arch-plotters who was ‘in the know’, Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72) said: ‘In our time humanity will forsake the Pope and have recourse to a General Council of the Church.’ Mazzini was not immune to the drama of the anticipated situation, and went on to speak of the ‘Papal Caesar’ being mourned as a victim for the sacrifice, and of an executed termination.
A similar note was struck by Pierre Virion who wrote in Mystere d’Iniquité: ‘There is a sacrifice in the offing which represents a solemn act of expiation…. The Papacy will fall. It will fall under the hallowed knife which will be prepared by the Fathers of the last Council.’
A former canon-lawyer, Roca, who had been unfrocked for heresy, was more explicit. ‘You must have a new dogma, a new religion, a new ministry, and new rituals that very closely resemble those of the surrendered Church.’ And Roca was not merely expressing a hope, but describing a process. ‘The divine cult directed by the liturgy, ceremonial, ritual and regulations of the Roman Catholic Church will shortly undergo transformation at an ecumenical Council.’
One evening early in 1959, when he had been Pope for scarcely three months, John XXIII was walking in the Vatican Gardens.
His slow and weighty perambulations under the oaks and horse chestnuts, where Pius IX had ridden on his white mule, were suddenly broken in upon by what he was to call an impulse of Divine Providence, a resolution that reached him from beyond, and whose impact he recognised. A Council – he almost breathed the words – he was to call a General Ecumenical Council of the Church.
Later he said that the idea had not been inspired by any revelation of the Holy Spirit but through a conversation he had with Cardinal Tardini, then Secretary of State, towards the end of the previous year. Their talk had turned on what could be done to present the world with an example of universal peace. But there was still some confusion as to the origin of the thought, for Pope John subsequently said that he framed it himself, in order to let a little fresh air into the Church.
Councils in the past had been called to resolve some crisis in the Church, some burning question that threatened a split or to confuse opinion. But no such question, related to doctrine or discipline, was pressing for an answer in the early part of 1959. The Church was exacting its traditional dues of loyalty, neglect, or antagonism. There appeared to be no need to summon a Council. Why cast a stone into peaceful waters that, sooner or later, were bound to be disturbed by obvious necessity? But Pope John, on January 25th, announced his intention to the College of Cardinals; and the response it evoked in the secular world soon made it clear that this was to be no ordinary Council.
The same measure of unexampled publicity that marked the election of John XXIII, welcomed the plan. It was made to appear a matter of moment not only to the non-Catholic world, but to elements that had always strongly opposed Papal claims, dogma, and practice. But few wondered at this sudden show of interest on the part of agnostics; still fewer would have suspected a hidden motive. And if a small voice expressing doubt managed to be heard, it was soon silenced as preparations for the first session of the Council went ahead.
They occupied two years, and consisted of the drawing up of drafts, or schemas, on decrees and constitutions that might be deemed worthy of change. Each member of the Council, which would consist of Bishops drawn from every part of the Catholic world, and presided over by the Pope or his legate, could vote for the acceptance, or rejection, of the matter discussed; and each was invited to send in a list of debatable subjects.
Some days before the Council opened, it appeared that the authorities responsible for it had been assured that this mainly Catholic affair would be given more than its usual share of normal publicity. A greatly enlarged Press office was set up facing St. Peter’s. Cardinal Cicognani officiated at its opening and gave it his blessing; and the gentlemen of the Press poured in.
They included a surprising number of atheistic Communists who arrived, like hunters, expecting to be ‘in’ at a kill. The Soviet Literary Gazette, which had never before been represented at any religious gathering, took the surprising step of sending a special correspondent in the person of a certain M. Mchedlov, who smoothed his way into Rome by expressing the most heart-felt admiration for the Pope. Two of Mchedlov’s fellow-countrymen were there, in the shape of a reporter from the Soviet newsagency Tass, and another from the Moscow periodical which was frankly named Communist. Another prominent member of the Bolshevik clan was M. Adjubei, who, besides being editor of Izvestia, was son-in-law to the Soviet Prime Minister, Khrushchev.
He was given a warm welcome by Good Pope John, who invited him to a special audience at the Vatican. News of this promising reception was sent to Khrushchev, who straightway noted his intention of sending greetings to the Pope on November 25th, 1963, his next birthday. An unknown number of Italians, when they recovered from their surprise at seeing the Head of the Church on friendly terms with its enemies, decided to cast their votes in favour of Communism at the next opportunity.
This resolve was strengthened when a special number of Propaganda, the organ of the Italian Communist Party, helped to swell the chorus of praise for the coming Council. Such an event, it said, would be comparable to the opening of the States General, the curtain raiser to the French Revolution, in 1789. With the same theme in mind, the paper likened the Bastille (which fell in that same year) to the Vatican, which was about to be shaken to its very foundations.
More Left-wing approval came from Jacques Mitterand, Master of the French Grand Orient, who knew that he could safely praise, in advance, Pope John and the effects of the Council in general.
Among the Russian Orthodox observers was the young Bishop Nikodim who, in spite of maintaining a strict religious standing, was apparently free to come and go through the Iron Curtain. Two other Bishops from his part of the world, one Czech and one Hungarian, joined him and Cardinal Tisserant at a secret meeting that was held at a place near Metz, shortly before the Council’s first session. Nikodim, a somewhat shady figure, needs to be remembered since he appears later in these pages.
We know now that the Russians dictated their own terms for ‘sitting in’ at the Council. They intended to use it as a means for broadening their influence in the Western world, where Communism had been condemned thirty-five times by Pius XI, and no less than 123 times by his successor Pius XII. Popes John and Paul VI were to follow suit, but each, as we shall see, with tongue in cheek. It was now Russian policy to see that the Bulls of Excommunication issued against Catholics who joined the Communist Party were silenced, and that no further attack on Marxism would be made at the Council. On both points the Kremlin was obeyed.
The Council, made up of 2,350 Bishops, sixty from Russian-controlled countries, opened on October the 11th, 1962.
They formed an impressive procession, with the greatest array of mitres seen in our time as their wearers passed through the bronze door of St. Peter’s; guardians of the Faith, protectors of tradition, on the march; assertive men, confident of their stand, and therefore capable of inspiring confidence, and opposition… Or so they were in appearance. Few who saw them could have guessed that many of those grave and reverend Fathers were, according to the rules of the Church whose vestments they wore, and at whose bidding they had come together, excommunicate and anathema. The mere suggestion would have been laughed at.
With the preliminaries over, the Council members were free to question, discuss, and compare notes as they met at the various coffee bars that had been opened; and already a more sober and reflective mood, distinct from that with which many had greeted the calling of the Council, was passing over the assembly. In some cases it was near disillusionment. It was not only a matter of language, though many different ones were, of course, being spoken. But some of those present seemed to have had little grounding, not only in Latin, but in the essentials of their Faith. Their background was not that of the orthodox, traditional Catholic; and those who were part of that background, and who were familiar with the writings of Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre could detect, in the statements and even casual remarks made by all too many prelates, the equivocations and lack of authority habitual to men who are the products of modern thought.
More than that, some let it be known that they did not believe in Transubstantiation, and therefore not in the Mass. But they held firmly by Nietzsche’s pride in life, and the deification of human reason, while rejecting the idea of an Absolute, and the concept of creation.
One Bishop from Latin America expressed his bewilderment mildly by saying that many of his fellow prelates ‘appear to have lost their faith.’ Another was frankly horrified to discover that some to whom he had spoken, and who had but temporarily put aside their mitres, scorned any mention of the Trinity and the Virgin Birth. Their background owed nothing to the Thomist philosophy, and one veteran of the Curia, inured to the firmness of the Roman pavement, made short work of the Council Fathers by summing them up as ‘two thousand good-for-nothings’. There were some among the bitterly disillusioned who said they would merely put in a token appearance for a week or two, and then go home.
Representatives from the Middle East recalled a warning that had been uttered by Salah Bitah, the Premier of Syria, when first he heard that the Council was being called. He had reason to believe that the Council was nothing but an ‘international plot’. Others supported that definition by producing a book, which had been handed to them on landing at the airport, in which it was said that the Council was part of a plan to destroy the Church’s doctrine and practice, then, ultimately, the Institution itself.
The general tone of the Council was soon set, with the ‘good-for-nothings’, or progressives, as they came to be called, clamouring for modernisation and a revision of values within the Church, and a far less active, and much less vocal opposition, offered by their traditionalist, or orthodox, opponents. The difference between the two sides was stressed at the opening of the first session, when the progressives addressed their own particular message to the world, to ensure that the Council ‘started off on the right foot’.
Pope John followed that up by declaring that the ashes of St. Peter were thrilling in ‘mystic exaltation’ because of the Council. But not all his listeners, and certainly not the conservatives among them, were smiling. Perhaps they already sensed defeat as they looked at some of the Cardinals, Suenens, Lienart, Alfrink, and such prominent theologians as the Dominican Yves Congar, who contributed to French Left-wing papers; the ultra-liberal Schillebeeckx, also Dominican, and Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Nijmegen; and Marie-Dominique Chenu whose writings, as when he said that ‘Marx’s great analysis enriches both today and tomorrow with his current of thought’, had brought a frown to the forehead of Pius XII; all hot in pursuit of progress, and none too careful in the choice of weapons they used to attain it.
Another of those influential figures was Montini, Archbishop of Milan, who drew up and supervised the documents relating to the early stages of the Council. His reputation was increasing daily. He was obviously a man of the future.
The silence of the passive minority, a silence that admitted defeat at the outset, was communicated to Pope John, who put it down to the awe and solemnity inspired by the occasion.
These pages will not attempt to summarise the day-to-day work of the Council. They will instead seek to point out how faithfully the Council fulfilled the purposes of those progressives, liberals, infiltrators (call them what you will), who had brought it into being; and the less efficient, less determined attitude of their opponents.
The former group, made up largely of German-speaking Bishops, had from the first been active behind the scenes. They had audiences with the Pope and discussed changes in the liturgy and other subjects they had in mind. They altered the rules of procedure to suit their policy, and ensured that the various commissions were made up of those who shared their outlook. They distorted, or suppressed, any issue that did not suit their purpose. They blocked the appointment of opponents to any position where their voices might be heard, discarded resolutions that did not please them, and took over the documents on which deliberations were based.
They were supported by the Press, which was, of course, controlled by the same power as that which added fuel to the flames of infiltration. Apart from that, the German Bishops financed their own news agency. And so, in reports that reached the public, the Left-wing Bishops were depicted as honest, brilliant, and men of towering intellect, whereas those in the opposite camp were stupid, feeble, stubborn, and out-of-date. The Left, moreover, had the might of the Vatican behind it, and a weekly newsletter, written by Montini, which set the tone of the way in which debatable issues would be resolved by the Council. His remarks on liturgical reform were popularised by the Press and welcomed by those who wished to see the Mass reduced to the level of a meal between friends.
On looking back at this time of day, one is forced to wonder at the negligence, or weakness, with which their traditional or orthodox opponents confronted moves that, to men of their profession, threatened the very purpose of their existence. They were not ignorant of what had been planned, and of what was then going on. They knew that a forceful Fifth Column, many of them mitred members of the hierarchy, were working for the downfall of the Western Church. But they did nothing beyond observing protocol, and overcoming whatever resentment they felt by an inbred obedience. It was almost as though (allowing that morality was on their side) they wished to exemplify the saying: ‘Good men are feeble and tired; it is the blackguards who are determined.’
A factor that helped to decide the situation was that of age. Most of the Council Fathers belonging to the old traditional school had passed their prime; and they now, like Cardinal Ottaviani, whose name had once been weighty in the Curia, counted for little more than an almost despised rearguard. An unconscious recognition of this was made by another of their number, the aged Bishop of Dakar, who shook his head over the dictatorial method by which the modernists, even in the preliminary stages of the Council, swept all before them. ‘It was’, he said, ‘organised by a master mind.’
For their part, the modernists were frankly contemptuous of everything mooted by the orthodox elements in the Council. When one of their propositions came up for tentative discussion, one ‘updated’ Council Father declared that those who put it forward ‘deserved to be shot to the moon.’ But even so the Russian observers, despite early signs that the Council was prepared to toe the Communist line, were not wholly satisfied, though John XXIII was praised for maintaining his independence, and for not becoming a cats-paw of the Right.
But the Tass correspondent regretted the presence of too many ‘obvious reactionaries’ in the assembly, a sentiment that was echoed by M. Mchedlov who added: ‘So far the die-hard conservatives have failed to carry the day. They have not succeeded in turning the Church into a tool of their reactionary propaganda.’
Between the ending of the first session of the Council on the 1st of December 1962, and the opening of the second session on September the 29th of the following year, Pope John, after a protracted illness, breathed his last on the evening of Monday, June the 3rd, 1963; and every form of publicity, which over the past weeks had delivered a breath-by-breath account of the death-bed in Rome, again swung into action to extol a man who had faithfully served the purpose for which he had been given the occupancy of Peter’s Chair, and set in motion a series of events that were directed to fulfil, at the expense of the Church, a large part of the aims determined by secret societies over the centuries.
A prominent member of the conspiracy that had fostered John XXIII, the ex-doctor of Canon Law, Roca, commented drily: ‘The old Pope, having broken the silence and started the tradition of the great religious controversy, goes to his grave’; while a revealing tribute, which should open the eyes of anyone who still finds offence in the mention of a plot, was written by Charles Riandey, a sovereign Grand Master of secret societies, in his preface to a book by Yves Marsaudon1, State Minister of the Supreme Council of French secret societies: ‘To the memory of Angelo Roncalli, priest, Archbishop of Messamaris, Apostolic Nuncio in Paris, Cardinal of the Roman Church, Patriarch of Venice, Pope under the name of John XXIII, who has deigned to give us his benediction, his understanding, and his protection’ (my emphasis).
A second preface to the book was addressed to ‘his august continuer, His Holiness Pope Paul VI’.
Never before had the passing of a Pope, in the person of John XXIII, been so extensively covered. Tough reporters wept at the news. The fingers of sensation-hardened columnists fumbled over their typewriter keys. Only a very few, who knew what had happened in the dark room in Istanbul, stood with heads unbowed and with minds uncluttered by propaganda, reflecting that Angelo Roncalli had indeed, as the pious used to say, ‘gone to his reward’.
The question of his successor was never seriously in doubt. The calling of a conclave was little more than a formality. The same voices that had eulogised the Rosicrucian John XXIII now clamoured for Montini, Montini of Milan. Anglicans, who had no time for a Pope of any or of no policy whatever, agreed that Montini was the man.
He had, in fact, been prepared and coached for the office by Pope John, who created Montini his first Cardinal, whereas Pius XII had always withheld the red hat from one whom he knew to be pro-Communist. Montini had been the only non-resident Cardinal whom John invited to live in the Vatican, where they exchanged intimate and unofficial talks over the results they both anticipated from the Council; and Pope John packed the College of Cardinals to ensure that Montini, as his successor, would continue to promulgate the heretical decrees that they both favoured.
The most spirited protests against the election were made by Joaquin Saenz Arriaga, Doctor of Philosophy and of Canon Law, who scented danger in the fact that a large part of Montini’s support came from secular commentators who were not concerned with the welfare, but with the downfall of the Church. Some of his credentials and qualifications were said to have been exaggerated, or false.
However, the decision of a conclave, established by usage, could not be questioned; and Montini, who took the name of Paul VI, was elected on June the 23rd, 1963.
Giovanni Battista Montini was one of those socialists who, although born in far from humble circumstances themselves, are quick to resent the slightest sign of privilege in others. He was born on September 26th, 1897, in Northern Italy, into a highly professional family (of likely Hebrew origin) that, more than a century before, had been accepted into the annals of Roman nobility.
His father, Giorgi Montini, a prominent Christian Democrat, in all probability belonged to a secret society, which would partly account for his son’s later commitment. Showing early signs of wishing to enter the Church, the young Giovanni was of such a delicate constitution that he was allowed to study at home instead of at a seminary, which left him free to develop social and political trends that were not those of a normally trained and disciplined servant of the Church.
By the time he entered upon his first regular appointment as a university chaplain in Rome he was an established man of the Left. But that did not prevent his steady and undoubted ability to rise in a conservative atmosphere, and he became acting Vatican Secretary of State under Pius XII.
Montini had long been an admirer of the works of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, whose system of ‘Integral Humanism’, with its rejection of authoritarian and dogmatic belief in favour of a worldwide fraternity which would include non-believers, had earned the approval of John XXIII. Man, according to Maritain, was essentially good, an outlook that made him less responsive to the vital distinction that exists between man-made secular forms of existence and the demands made by belief in the divine nature of Christ and of the Church.
Both Maritain and Montini rejected the traditionalist view of the Church as the one means of attaining true world unity. It might have appeared so in the past, but now a new world, more sensitive to and capable of solving social and economic problems, had come into existence. And Montini, whom Maritain regarded as his most influential disciple, spoke for all of their persuasion when he said: ‘Do not be concerned with church bells. What is necessary is that priests are able to hear the factory sirens, to understand the temples of technology where the modern world lives and thrives.’ There is a document the contents of which, so far as I know, have seldom if ever been made available to the public. It is dated September the 22nd, 1944, after having been reported on the previous August 28th, and based on information given on July 13th of the same year. It is now among the records of the Office of Strategic Services, which later became the Central Intelligence Office, the CIA.2
It is headed: ‘Togliatti and the Vatican make first direct contact’, and deals with the plans for social and economic revolutions that were being worked out between the Church and one of its most consistent enemies, the Communist Party.
Here it is quoted: ‘On July 10th, at the house of a Christian Democrat Minister, the acting Vatican Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, conferred with Togliatti, Communist Minister without Portfolio, in the Bonomi Government. Their conversation reviewed the grounds out of which have grown the understanding between the Christian Democratic and the Communist Parties.
‘Since his arrival in Italy, Togliatti had private meetings with politicians of the Christian Democratic Party. These contacts constituted the political background of Togliatti’s speech at the Teatro Brancaccio on Sunday, July 9th, and account for the warm reception the speech received from the Catholic Press.
‘Through leaders of the Christian Democratic Party, Togliatti was able to convey to the Vatican his impression of Stalin’s opinion on religious freedom, as now accepted by Communism, and of the democratic character of the agreement between Russia and the Allied nations. On the other hand, the Holy See reached Togliatti through the same means, and expressed its opinion regarding the future agreement with Soviet Russia on the matter of Communism in Italy, as well as in other nations.
‘The discussion between Monsignor Montini and Togliatti was the first direct contact between a high prelate of the Vatican and a leader of Communism. After having examined the situation, they acknowledged the practical possibility of a contingent alliance between Catholics and Communists in Italy, which should give the three parties (Christian Democrat, Socialist, and Communist) an absolute majority, thereby enabling them to dominate any political situation.
‘A tentative plan was drafted to form the basis on which an agreement between the Christian Democrat Party and the Communist and Socialist Parties could be made. They also drafted a plan of the fundamental lines along which a practical understanding between the Holy See and Russia, in their new relations, could be created.’
To sum up, Montini informed Togliatti that the Church’s antiCommunist stand should not be considered as something lasting, and that many in the Curia wished to enter into talks with the Kremlin.
These meetings with the enemy displeased Pius XII, who came to eye his Secretary of State with a growing disfavour; and Montini, for his part, searched for a chink in the Pope’s armour. He found one in the fact that Pius had secured lucrative posts for some of his nephews; and Montini played upon this evidence of Papal nepotism for all it was worth, much to the delight of his socialistic, anti-clerical comrades.
Pius responded by dismissing Montini from his confidential post, and sending him north as Archbishop of Milan. That office had previously been filled, as of right, by a Cardinal; but there was no red hat, until 1958, for Montini.
There he was free to make full play with his political sympathies, which came to shift more obviously to the Left. Some of his writings, which appeared in the diocesan paper, L’Italia, made some of his priests wary of their superior, and before long more than forty of them withdrew their subscriptions to the paper. But their disapproval meant little or nothing to Montini who, with Maritain in the background, had come upon a more active supporter of his ultra-liberal opinions.
This was Saul David Alinsky, a typical representative of the agitator type who affect to nurse a deep-seated grievance against the capitalistic circles in which they are always careful to move, and on whose bounty they flourish.
Montini was so impressed by Alinsky’s brand of revolutionary teaching – he was known as the Apostle of Permanent Revolution – that the two spent a fortnight together, discussing how best to bring the demands of the Church, and those of the Communist unions, into line with each other. It must be remarked that Alinsky was as singularly fortunate in his personal relations as he was in his financial backers. For at the end of their talks Montini declared that he was pleased to call himself one of Alinsky’s best friends; while Jacques Maritain, in a mood that revealed the softening up process that his philosophic outlook must have undergone, said that Alinsky was one of the ‘few really great men of the century.’
One of Alinsky’s rich backers – and this advocate of the class warfare had several, including such odd combinations as the Rockefeller foundation and the Presbyterian Church – was the millionaire Marshall Field. This latter contact had served as a further aid to strengthen Alinsky’s image in Montini’s eyes, since Marshall Field, who had published a Communist newspaper, sponsored various subversive movements, and had waltzed his way through two divorce courts and three matrimonial cases, had remained a faithful son of the Church – his bank balance saw to that – and was an intimate friend of Bishop Shiel of Chicago.
At the same time Montini established a relationship, at first merely business, that was to have far reaching effects throughout much of Italy, including the Vatican, in the not too distant future. In the course of dealing with the complicated financial affairs of the Church he encountered a shady character, Michele Sindona, who was running a tax consultant’s office (that at least was part of his many-sided operations) in Milan.
Sindona was a Sicilian, born in 1917, a product of the heterogeneous Jesuit training, who was studying law when British and American troops invaded the island during the second world war. Another scourge that the war enabled to renew itself in Sicily was the Mafia. Driven underground by Mussolini, it had since emerged, with its proverbially strong American support and an obliging hand provided by President Roosevelt who, like practically every one of the American presidents since the time of Washington (himself an Illuminatus) was an active supporter of secret society ramifications. One of Roosevelt’s several titles was Knight of Pythias, which proclaimed membership of a society based on the mythical pair of pagans, Damon and Pythias; while he was also a wearer of the red fez as one of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
Sindona thrived on the ugly conditions engendered by the Mafia and the war. He obtained a truck, and made a good living by peddling oddments and minor necessities to the troops. It is doubtful whether, as some say, he took part in lodging information against the Germans, and helping to sabotage their positions. But he soon became one with the gangster element surrounding the American army commanders, who made their rounds in a luxury car presented to them, in return for services rendered, by the Mafia.
Protected and patronised by the Allies, Sindona was soon at the head of a flourishing black market racket; and when the war ended, following the trail of those who had sharpened his appetite for money, he turned his back upon the indigent south and went to Milan, where he met an apt collaborator in the Archbishop.
Montini’s coming to power was marked by the arrival in Rome of people who fairly dismayed the more conventional lookers-on at Vatican ceremonial; and since the Roman nature is too sharp for simple hypocrisy, they more than sniffed disapproval of the pimpish publicity men, pseudo-artists of every type, out-of-conscience clerics, and miscellaneous hangers-on who flocked south and pitched their metaphorical tents under the shadow of St. Peter’s cupola.
Rome, Montini’s critics declared, was again being invaded by barbarians from the north. Others said it was the Mafia. They were not far wrong. For among the new arrivals was Michele Sindona, no longer trundling a barrow, but lolling in a shiny chauffeur-driven car and doubtless appraising the Papal and imperial monuments he passed with the eye of a businessman.
Pope John, speaking for the Council he had called and referring to its purpose, had said: ‘Our greatest concern is that the sacred deposit of Catholic doctrine should be guarded.’ The Church must never depart ‘from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers.’
There was nothing strange or revolutionary in that. So much had been taken for granted from generation to generation. But as the Council got underway the Pope changed his tune, and spoke of the Church not being concerned with the study of old museums or symbols of thought from the past. ‘We live to advance. We must evermore move forward. The Christian life is not a collection of ancient customs’; and Pope Paul, not many hours after being elected, announced his intention of consolidating and implementing his predecessor’s Council, and in a way, as we shall see, that endorsed the second of Pope John’s statements.
So far as the general reader is concerned, the most outstanding result achieved by the Council was the changed relationship between atheistic Communism and the Church; and the fact that such a surprising turnabout was effected shows that Mazzini and his fellow conspirators had not miscalculated when, so many years before, they had pinned their hopes of fatally undermining the Church on a General Council. It also illustrates the methods employed by those who, however exalted their ecclesiastical titles, were first and foremost the endorsers of the secret revolutionary creed.
The schema on Communism was welcomed by the Polish Cardinal Wyszynsky, who had had personal experience of life behind the Iron Curtain. Six hundred Council Fathers supported him, and 460 signed a petition requesting that condemnation of the atheistic materialism, that was enslaving part of the world, should be renewed.
Yet when the Commission’s report on the Church in the modern world was made known, the substance of the petition was not referred to; and when those responsible for it pressed for an explanation, they were told that only two votes had been cast against Communism.
But what, asked some of the astonished and disappointed signatories, had happened to the much greater number who had favoured the petition? They were informed that the matter had not been brought to the notice of all the Council Fathers, since some 500 of them had gone to Florence, where celebrations in honour of Dante were being held.
Still not satisfied, those who had been so obviously outmanoeuvred pressed the Jesuit Robert Tucci, a prominent member of the appropriate Commission, for an explanation. Their suspicions were groundless, he told them. There had been no bargaining, no back-stairs intrigue. It could only mean that the petition had ‘run into a red light on the way’, and so had come to a standstill. Another explanation was that the intervention had not arrived within the prescribed time limit, and so had escaped notice.
The argument went on, with two of the Council Fathers declaring that they had personally delivered the signed intervention to the General Secretariat on time; and when that was proved to be correct, there was a climb-down on the part of those who had so far blocked the condemnation of Communism.
Archbishop Garonne of Toulouse was called in to square matters, and he admitted the timely arrival of the petition, together with negligence on the part of those who should have transmitted the matter to members of the Commission. Their failure to do so meant that the petition had not been examined. But there was more inconsistency even on the part of those who admitted error. The Archbishop said that 332 interventions had been handed in. Another quoted the number of 334, but that was also contradicted when it was announced that the total to arrive on time had been 297.
There was one more attempt on the part of those who wished the Church’s original condemnation of Communism to be reaffirmed. It figured as a request to check the names of the 450 prelates who had signed the petition. But that was turned down. The petition had been added to the collected documents relating to the case, and they were simply not available. So, as in all such matters, the traditionalists lost heart. Their cause flickered out and the modernists, confident as ever, remained in possession of the field.
Their victory, and that of the secret societies who manipulated the Council, had been pre-figured by Cardinal Frings, one of the German-speaking consortium, when he said that any attack on Communism would be stupid and absurd, sentiments that were echoed by the internationally controlled Press. And at the same time, as though to cast light on the far reaching surrender made by the Church to its enemy (which many people, a few years back, would have judged unthinkable), Josef Cardinal Beran, the exiled Archbishop of Prague who was then living in Rome, received a cutting from a Czecho-Slovakian paper.
In it, one of their political creed boasted that Communists had been able to infiltrate all the Commissions that were steering the course of the Council; a claim that was well borne out when tactics similar to those described were employed, with equal success, at every stage of the sittings.
A typical instance was during the debate on the Religious Orders. Right-wing speakers, who had previously made known their intention to speak, were not allowed the use of the microphone. But it was made available to their opponents of the Left whose names had only been handed in that morning. Those indignant at having been silenced pressed for an official investigation. It was denied them, whereupon they demanded to see the prelate who had acted as Moderator on the occasion, Cardinal Dopfner. But he was not available, having gone to Capri for a long weekend.
When they succeeded in gaining an interview the Cardinal apologised, and then coolly asked them to resign their right to speak. That was naturally turned down, whereupon the Cardinal promised to read aloud a summary of the speeches they had prepared. But those who gathered in the Council Hall could hardly recognise the versions they heard. They had been considerably shortened, their meaning was confused and, in some cases, falsified. Then, after the manner of their kind, the objectors gave up, defeated by their own lethargy – or was it by the shifts and persistence of those who had come to the Council with a set purpose and a pattern that was being repeated again and again throughout the sessions?
On a day late in October the attention of the Council was concentrated on a figure who rose to speak. He was Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, one of the ablest members of the Curia, who carried with him a sense of the great days of Pius XII, on which account he was respected by some, and feared or disliked by others. Some shrank from his glance, which, said his enemies, was due to his possessing the evil eye. His stare could indeed be disconcerting, since he had been born in the poverty-stricken Trastevere quarter, where an eye disease, which had raged unattended, had afflicted many, and now, at seventy odd years, he was nearly blind.
When he rose the progressives in the Council exchanged meaning looks. They knew what was coming. He was about to criticise the new form of the Mass, the work of Monsignor Annibale Bugnini (which we propose to look at a little more closely later). Acclaimed by the progressives, and deplored by the traditionalists as a fatal innovation, it had brought about a deeper rift within the Council than any other topic.
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind as to the side on which Ottaviani would be ranged, and his first words made that clear: ‘Are we seeking to stir up wonder, perhaps scandal, among the Christian people, by introducing changes in so venerable a rite, that has been approved by so many centuries, and is now so familiar? The rite of Holy Mass should not be treated as if it were a piece of cloth to be refashioned according to the whim of each generation…
The time limit for speakers was ten minutes. The finger of Cardinal Alfrink, who had charge of the proceedings, was on the warning bell. This speaker was over earnest, and what he had to say was displeasing to many. The ten minutes passed. The bell rang, and Cardinal Alfrink signalled to a technician who switched off the microphone. Ottaviani confirmed what had happened by tapping the instrument. Then, totally humiliated, he stumbled back to his seat, feeling with his hands and knocking against the woodwork as he went. There were those among the Council Fathers who sniggered. Others clapped.
These pages are not intended to be concerned with Papal authority. But it has to be dealt with, however briefly, as those who may still doubt the secret society involvement, and the degree of power with which I have invested it, may point to the fact that one of their most extreme claims, ‘The Papacy will fall’, has not been borne out. For the Papacy is still in existence.
In existence, yes. But it has yielded place to a spirit of collectivism that would never have been credited in the days when Peter and his successors, by virtue of the authority vested in Peter by Christ, were known to have been given supreme jurisdiction over the Church.
Even while the Council was still in session many of its members, led by the Bishop of Baltimore, were negating the doctrine of Papal infallibility which, by relating specifically to faith and morals, was much more restricted than many think; and similar moves elsewhere led to its replacement by a new and clumsy definition – the Episcopal Collegiality of the Bishops.
Such a delegation of authority has now come about. More responsibility has passed to the Bishops, and the general acceptance of such a change has been followed by a corresponding decline in the Papal monopoly of power.
That may be no more than a first step towards the fulfilment of the confident boast: ‘The Papacy will fall.’
Annibale Bugnini, created Titular Archbishop of Dioclentiana by Paul VI in 1972, had every reason to be pleased. His life-long service to the Church in the field of liturgical studies and reform had been rewarded. He was now, as Secretary to the Commission for the implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, a key figure in the revolution which had been pending for the past thirteen years. Even before the opening of the Second Vatican Council he had been bidding fair to play a decisive part in the future of the Church, much of which hinged upon the Mass, for which he had compiled new rites and a new order ‘as a sign of further progress to come.’
His work entailed a reform of liturgical books and the transition from Latin to the vernacular, all to be achieved by easy stages that would not alarm the unsuspecting. The imposition of new and different rules was being accomplished so successfully that Cardinal Villot, one of their promulgators, could state that no fewer than a hundred and fifty changes were, after only twelve months, already in circulation; while as to the outdated stipulation that ‘the use of Latin will be kept in the Latin rites’, Mass was already being said in thirty-six dialects, in patois, even in a kind of everyday slang.
Bugnini had, in fact, with the approval of Paul VI, put into practice Luther’s programme, in which it had been recognised that ‘when the Mass is destroyed, the Papacy will have been toppled, for the Papacy leans on the Mass as on a rock.’ It was true that an orthodox opponent, Dietrich von Hildebrand, had called Bugnini ‘the evil spirit of liturgical reform.’ But no such consideration figured in the Archbishop’s mind as, on a day in 1975, he left a conference room where he had attended a meeting of one of the Commissions where he had a voice, and started to climb a staircase. Suddenly he stopped. His hands, which should have been carrying a brief case, were empty. The case, containing many of his papers, had been left in the conference room. Never one to hurry, for he was a heavy man and needed exercise, he now fairly ran back and cast his eye over the chairs and tables. The brief case was nowhere to be seen.
As soon as the meeting broke up, a Dominican friar had gone in to restore the room to order. He soon noticed the brief case, and had opened it in the hope of finding the name of its owner. He put aside the documents relating to the Commission, and had then come upon a folder that contained letters.
Sure enough, there was the name of the person to whom they had been sent, but – and the Dominican gasped – the mode of address was not to His Grace or to the Most Reverend Annibale Bugnini, Archbishop of Dioclentiana, but to Brother Bugnini, while the signatures and place of origin showed that they came from the dignitaries of secret societies in Rome.
Pope Paul VI who was, of course, tarred with the same brush as Bugnini, promptly took steps to prevent the scandal spreading, and to smooth over the dismay of those progressives who, innocent of guile, had no opinion other than that dictated by the media. Bugnini should have been removed, or at least taken to task. But he was, instead, for the sake of appearances, appointed Apostolic Pro Nuncio in Iran, a post where there was little or no call for diplomatic embellishment since the Shah’s government had no time for any Western religion, and where the priest who was unfortunate enough to be banished there, though only for a time, found his function as limited as his surroundings, which consisted of scanty furniture in two rooms in an otherwise empty house.
The unmasking of Bugnini was carried a step further when the Italian writer, Tito Casini, who was troubled over the changes in the Church, made it known in The Smoke of Satan, a novel that was published in April 1976. Then came the expected denials and evasions. A Vatican source declared that the reasons for Bugnini’s removal had to remain secret, though, it was admitted, the motives that prompted it had been ‘more than convincing’. Le Figaro issued a denial of any secret society connection on Bugnini’s behalf. The Catholic Information Office belied its title by professing total ignorance of the case. Archbishop Bugnini more than once denied any secret society affiliation. All of which appears very futile since the Italian Register reveals that he joined one of the societies on April the 23rd, 1963, and that his code name was Buan.
On the 8th day of December, 1965, Pope Paul confronted the assembled Bishops, raised both arms high in the air, and announced: ‘In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, go in peace.’
The Second Vatican Council was over; and those who heard Pope Paul gave vent to the feelings of victory, or defeat, that had sprung up among them during the meetings.
The conservatives were resentful, indignant, and hinted of a counter-offensive that was never to be mounted. They agreed among themselves that the Church’s progress had been halted by a move that was both unwise and unnecessary. One of their spokesmen, Cardinal Siri, spoke of resistance. ‘We are not going to be bound by these decrees’; but the decrees were, in fact, implemented, as Pope Paul had promised, to the growing bewilderment of Catholics for whom the Church, now a prey to novelties and disorders, had lost its note of authority.
The liberals or progressives, secure in having brought the designs of the secret societies to a successful conclusion, were exultant. The Council, said the Swiss theologian Hans Kung, had more than fulfilled the dreams of the avant-garde. The entire world of religion was now permeated by its influence, and no member of the Council ‘would go back home as he had come’. ‘I myself’, he continued, ‘never expected so many bold and explicit statements from the Bishops on the Council floor.’
In a similar mood the Dominican Yves Congar, a life-long Left-winger, announced that past failures in the Church had been brought about by its being imbued with the spirit of Latin-Western culture. But that culture, he was glad to announce, had had its day.
The most extreme reformer, Cardinal Suenens, executed a mental war-dance of triumph. He looked back to the Council of Milan, held in 313, by which the Emperor Constantine gave complete toleration to Christians, and made their faith equal to what, until then, had been the official State religion. That decree had always been a landmark in Church history. But now the Belgian primate who was known to his fellow conspirators as Lesu, could throw all such epoch-making reminders overboard. He was on the winning side. He bid defiance to those who differed from him. ‘The age of Constantine is over!’ Moreover, he claimed he would be able to draw up an impressive list of theses that, having been taught in Rome yesterday, had been believed, but at which the Council Fathers had snapped their fingers.
These danger signs were recognised by Malachi Martin, formerly a Jesuit and Professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. ‘Well before the year 2,000’, he said, there will no longer be a religious institute recognisable as the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church of today… There will be no centralised control, no uniformity in teaching, no universality in practice of worship, prayer, sacrifice, and priesthood.’
Can one detect the first signs of this in the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s report published in March, 1982?
A more precise assessment of the post-Conciliar period than that made by Malachi Martin appeared in the American Flag Committee Newsletter, 1967. Commenting on the ‘most marked and rapid deterioration in the Vatican’s anti-Bolshevik resolve’ since the time of Pius XII, it goes on to say that in less than a decade the Church has been transformed ‘from an implacable foe of Communism into an active and quite powerful advocate of co-existence both with Moscow and Red China. At the same time, revolutionary changes in its centuries-long teachings have moved Rome closer and closer, not to traditional Protestantism as many Catholic laymen suppose, but to that humanistic neo-paganism of the National and World Council of Churches.’
But if the Council accomplished nothing else, it enabled the caterers to flourish. For some half-a-million cups of coffee were disposed of at the bars.
2. It was brought to my notice by Mr. Michael Gwynn of the Britons Library.