Pius XII and Modernism

From Twentieth Century Harbingers (pages 1094-1099)

The Revolution Takes Hold Under Pius XII

Both advocates and critics of the Revolution of the Second Vatican Council agree that the role of Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Cardinal Pacelli, who ascended the Chair of Peter on March 12, 1939, as Pope Pius XII was instrumental in securing the revolutionaries a foothold on the papacy. As Martinez solidly documents, and as inveterate collaborators of New-Church like Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, C.M., reaffirm, Pius XII opened the Church to "Progressivism" both politically and theologically.

Under his 19-year-pontificate, the foundation and stepping-stones for the futuristic Newchurch were laid. The following is a short list of decrees and movements initiated by Pope Pius XII that propelled Newchurch forward:

The Destruction of the Liturgy

As Archbishop Annibale Bugnini records in his opening chapter to The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 on the well-springs of "liturgical reform," as early as 1942, less than three years into his pontificate, Pope Pius XII assigned a project for liturgical reform (liturgical codification) to Benedictine Father Pio Alfonzo, a liturgist who taught at the College of the Propaganda and advised the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Fr. Alfonzo's "General Norms," however, was not acted upon at that time.

It was not until four years later, on May 10, 1946, in an audience with Carlo Cardinal Salotti, Prefect for the Congregation of Rites, that Pius XII instructed Salotti to begin a study of the general reform of the liturgy.

On July 17, 1946, Pius XII determined that a Commission for General Liturgical Restoration be established to consider that nature and substance of a general reform of the liturgy and offer concrete proposals. On May 28, 1948, the pope selected the members of the Commission. Father (later Cardinal) Ferdinando Antonelli, OFM, was named General Director and Fr. (later Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini named Secretary. When the Commission was dissolved in 1960, to make room for the Pontifical Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy established in connection with the forthcoming Second Vatican Council, Bugnini was again appointed to serve as Secretary for the new assembly. After the opening of the Council in 1962 by Pope John XXIII, until its closing in 1964 under Pope Paul VI, Bugnini continued to function in the capacity of peritus (expert) to the Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy. From 1964 to 1969, Bugnini again served as Secretary to the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 4, 1963.

These seemingly mundane facts are presented here so that there can be no question that Annibale Bugnini knew of what he spoke when he made the following confession:

In the twelve years of its existence (June 28, 1948 to July 8, 1960), the commission held eighty-two meetings and worked in absolute secrecy. So secret, in fact, was their work that the publication of the Ordo Sabbati Sancti instaurati at the beginning of March 1951 caught even officials of the Congregation of Rites by surprise. The commission enjoyed the full confidence of the Pope (i.e. Pius XII), who was kept abreast of its work by Monsignor Montini and even more, on a weekly basis, by Father Bea, confessor of Pius XII. The first fruit of the commission's work was the restoration of the Easter Vigil (1951). It was a signal that the liturgy was at last launched decisively on a pastoral course. The same reforming principles were applied in 1955 to the whole of Holy Week, and in 1960, with the Code of Rubrics, to the remainder of the liturgy.
The second force operative in ensuring the coming of liturgical reform found its mature expression at Assisi (1956). This International Conference Congress on Pastoral Liturgy, was, in God's plan, a dawn announcing a resplendent day that would have no decline. Who would have predicted that three years later the greatest ecclesial event of the century, Vatican Council II, would be announced? Pope Pius XII gave a fine address. In his introduction he made a historic remark: "The Liturgical movement is a sign of the providential dispositions of God for the present time [and] of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church."
It is clear today the reform was the fruit of a long period of maturation, a fruit produced by the thought and prayer of elite minds and then shared with even wider circles of the faithful.

In The Murky Waters of Vatican II, Catholic writer Atila Guimaraes cites the works of the frequently quoted Post-Conciliar writer Antonio Acerbi who confirms that long before the Second Vatican Council opened, a "synthetic school" existed that attempted to integrate two currents acting on the Church -- one "progressive" and the other "conservative." This "synthesis," Acerbi suggests, inspired Pope Pius XII's Encyclical (1943).

The draft of Mystici Corporis was actually prepared by Dutch Jesuit theologian Fr. Sebastian Trump. Its publication was a watershed event -- a major paradigm shift in redefining the juridical and societal role of the Catholic Church. Commenting on the revolutionary nature of Mystici Corporis, Father Avery Dulles, SJ, noted that an attempt to introduce the same concept of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ was rejected in 1870 at the First Vatican Council as being "confusing, ambiguous, vague, inappropriate, and inappropriately biological."

In History of Vatican II-Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II, editor Joseph A. Komonchak states that Pius XII led the Revolution under the banner of "reform."

Komonchak credits Pius XII's Encyclical on Biblical Studies Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943) that was prepared from a draft written by German Jesuit Augustin Bea, then Director of the Biblical Institute, with the freeing of Biblical scholars from former restrictions and opened up Biblical Studies to progressive thought.

"Less open, because it attacked the two fronts of spiritualism and juridical formalism" Mystici Corporis Christi, issued in that same year [1943], replaced a purely conceptual ecclesiology with an organic one, even while asserting that the Roman Church is coextensive with the Church of Christ," claims Komoncha. "The masterpiece of these reforms was the restoration of the feast of Easter to its ancient splendor by assigning the central role once again to the Vigil, the nocturnal service celebrated between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday," he explained.

Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, a major architect of the Novus Ordo, confirmed that Pius XII's action was seen as a step "leading gradually to the new structuring of the liturgical year on its traditional foundations."

Other reforms instigated by Pius XII, said Komonchak, included the establishment of secular institutes such as Opus Dei, the restoration of the permanent diaconate as an "ecclesiastical office independent of the priesthood," and the internationalization of the Curia, more by the Consistory of 1946 than the Consistory of 1953.

Bugnini credited Pius XII with putting "the seal of his supreme authority" on the Liturgical Movement in his Encyclical Mediator Dei of November 11, 1947.

He also notes that in 1945, two years before the encyclical appeared, Pius XII commissioned a new Latin version of the Psalms under the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

"This work, which had been brought to completion by the tenacious determination of the rector, Father (later Cardinal) Augustin Bea, helped ripen in the pope's mind the idea of a reform of the entire liturgy; the new Psalter would be simply the first building block of the new edifice," claimed Bugnini.

In the United States, as early as 1940, the Benedictines at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. were hosting "Liturgical Weeks." At such avant-garde gatherings, "NewMass" was said in the vernacular with the "presider" facing the people and concelebration the norm. Chewy bread replaced the host. Private devotions were discouraged.

From the beginning, homosexual clergy and religious like Archbishop Rembert Weakland were greatly attracted to the concept of "liturgical reform" as a vehicle of doctrinal and moral change. Catholic historian, Joseph White was very perceptive when he noted that "Liturgical activists were concurrently social reformers."

The Undermining of Seminary Life

Before Pope Pius XII issued Menti Nostae On the Development of Holiness in Priestly Life on September 23, 1950, members of the Curia informed the pope that the wholesale changes embraced by the apostolic exhortation, especially those tied to the "updating" of seminary life, would adversely affect the priesthood.

The concerns of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities centered on the predictable erosion of spirituality and seminary discipline likely to result from Menti Nostae's novel emphasis on new methods of training and courses of professional studies that mimicked secular education. Pius XII ignored the Curia's warning.

Under the guise of "seminary reform," all forms of discipline including prayer life and dress were relaxed to enable seminarians to break out of their "isolation" and fraternize with the "modern world." The decline in seminary discipline and morale was also mirrored in the general priesthood as the Holy See began to receive increased numbers of requests for laicization i.e., reduction to the lay state, by priests.

In the seminary classroom, especially in the United States, the mandatory use of Latin, the universal language of the Church, was already in precipitous decline by the early 1950s. Giuseppe Cardinal Pizzardo, the Prefect for the Congregation correctly claimed that without Latin the sources of the Catholic tradition would become inaccessible to upcoming seminarians and priests -- a thoroughly delicious thought to the architects of NewChurch. The replacement of Latin with the vernacular anticipated a number of other important "reforms" already on the drawing boards including the use of the vernacular in Sacred Liturgy and the internationalization of the Roman Curia.

Up until the start of the Second World War, the Italian-dominated Curia and College of Cardinals remained Catholic, that is, universal, competent, and faithful to Tradition. Like the Legislative branch of government, the Holy Office has offered a system of checks and balances in the governance of the Church and has served as a counter-weight to papal abuse of power especially when it threatened the Deposit of Faith.

No less an authority than Rev. Thomas J. Reese, SJ, the sympathetic chronicler of AmChurch, acknowledges that the internationalization or de-Romanization of the Curia began under Pius XII. In 1946, the pope raised the overall number of the Sacred College of Cardinals from 36 to 70 and in 1953 he added 24 more cardinals with an eye fixed on breaking the historic dominance by Italians in the Curia.

The Promotion of Episcopal Conferences

Closely connected to the de-Romanization of the Curia, was the expansion in scope and power, of Episcopal National Conferences under Pius XII.

While Cardinal and Secretary of State from 1930 to 1939, Eugenio Pacelli backed the creation of a centralized Church bureaucracy within each nation or groups of nations, a practice begun under Pope Benedict XV.

Today every nation has its "Bishops Club" such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or a super-structured bureaucracy such as CELAM created in 1955 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that today represents some 22 Episcopates in Latin America and the Caribbean.

By the time Pius XII's successor, Pope John XXIII, gave formal approval to the structure of National Episcopal Conferences in Annuario Pontificio (1959), 40 such bureaucracies were already in place.

As noted in Chapter 11, there was justifiable concern among American bishops when the NCCB/USCC was created in 1966, that the new Episcopal bureaucracy would undermine the authority of the individual bishop and interfere with the age-old line of transmission that has existed between a bishop and the Holy See in the person of the pope.

The creation of NewChurch would have been very difficult, if not impossible, without the existence of these vast and universal bureaucratic structures. In the U.S., the Homosexual Collective personified by New Ways Ministry, could hardly have had its way with the Church had it not been for the cooperation and resources of the NCCB/USCC and its successor, the USCCB.

One could cite numerous other examples, including the ill-fated "updating" of religious orders, to document the unhappy fact that the current Revolution sweeping the Roman Catholic Church today began, in earnest, at the top, with Pope Pius XII.

The completion of the Revolution would have to wait for Pope Paul VI with Pope John XXIII serving as the bridge between the two pontiffs.