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Why this woman is so blind to spiritual evil… From Orthodoxy To Heresy: The Secularizing of Catholic Universities

Notre Dame Redux…

Margo Howard, daughter of advice columnist Ann Landers, who identifies herself as Jewish, though actual beliefs fall somewhere between humanism, agnosticism and atheism...

“I mean no disrespect to those who take the Bible literally, but Satan?

By now – the 21st century – Satan, to me, is like a character in a play or a puppet show; a metaphor for bad and evil things. It is hard to imagine a senior prelate of a major religion actually saying with a straight face that “we are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan,” as though he were a person running an organization, if you will, that stands for everything the Catholics don’t.”

Margo Howard, on Bishop Robert W. Finn, wowOwow

Screwtape: “The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of some¬thing in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”

C.S. Lewis, The ScrewTape Letters

Isn’t it interesting–as some believe–that with the passage of time and  ”progress of man” in the modern world that the existence of Satan and spiritual evil become less and less real? That somehow through intelligence we’ve outgrown that foolish notion? So it is for souls hindered by secularism in America, they know neither the works of the Holy One of Israel in Spirit and Truth nor the enmity of the Devil to God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. The reality for these, of course, as you’ll read below, is that “truth being relative, their own individual conscience reigns supreme in establishing their own standards concerning God, faith and morals” as Margo so exemplifies.

No, this is not an attack on Margo Howard

It’s not just the spiritually ignorant, however, who hold notions devoid of authentic divine revelation and truth concerning faith and morals, but entire generations–of Catholics.

This, I submit, is the great tragedy concerning the Notre Dame scandal-that the Church, (and thus her learning institutions), as the pillar and bulwark of God’s truth on earth has succumbed to secularism, failing not only her own students but her mission, the Margo Howard’s of the world.

Below is an explanation of how:


From Orthodoxy To Heresy: The Secularizing of Catholic Universities

By Michael V. McIntire – newoxford review

Forty years ago the major Catholic universities in the U.S. decided that the Catholic Church needed to reform her teachings, especially that of sexual morality, to conform to the times, and that they should lead that reform. In 1967, at Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, they declared their independence from the Church, exchanged the faith of their founders for an evolutionary heresy, proclaimed themselves to be an alternate magis terium, and transferred control from their founding religious orders to secular boards of trustees. Not coincidentally, by these actions they qualified themselves for lucrative financial grants from foundations controlled by leaders of the Culture of Death.

For forty years the true nature and intent of this revolution has been disguised. As a result, generations of Catholic students and graduates have been and are being ill formed and misled in their faith, or have lost it altogether.

It is time for the story to be told.


The last half of the 19th century saw two currents of intellectual thought advancing contemporaneously. With the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man in 1871, the eugenics movement became the darling of the sophisticated elite of England and the U.S. Around the same time, reformers within the Catholic Church argued that traditional moral teachings must be modernized to conform to modern science and sociology. Both of these viewpoints directly contradicted Church teachings. However, in less than a century, American Catholic universities would accept and unite both of them.


In his January 1899 apostolic letter Testem Bene volentiae Nostrae, Pope Leo XIII warned the U.S. bishops of a heresy sprouting in Catholic hearts in this predominately Protestant country. The heresy asserts that Christianity is a philosophy that has evolved over time and must continue to do so, that truth is relative, and that individual conscience is supreme in establishing one’s standards of faith and morals. Because this heresy resonated so strongly in the U.S., Pope Leo called it “Americanism.”

Pope Leo’s warning went largely unheeded. Only eight years later that heresy had matured and spread throughout Europe as well as the U.S., generating another more profound and more urgent warning from the Holy See. Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope St. Pius X’s September 1907 encyclical, was an in-depth explanation of the heresy, its underlying philosophy, and the deceit by which it was promoted. The encyclical made clear that all of the various heretical views are interrelated and “solidly joined so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all” (#39). At its core, the heresy holds that religion is a subjective “sentiment” arising solely from an individual’s perceived need for a god, which he then creates and which he “knows” only through his subjective experience. From this root, a number of other errors follow: Truth is relative; Jesus is not divine; Scripture is neither divinely inspired nor true; “faith” has no place in man’s search for knowledge. Pope Pius described this heresy as “the synthesis of all heresies,” naming it “Modernism.” It also goes under the name “evolutionary theology,” and is the root of moral relativism.

What anguished Pope Pius and created the urgency of his warning was not that the Church was being attacked, but that this attack was coming from within the Church. The betrayers, the Pope said, are prominent members of the clergy and the laity, men whom the Pope branded “the most pernicious” of the “enemies of the Church” because they are so difficult to detect, like the “wolves in the sheepfold” of which Christ Himself warned. They are industrious, intelligent men, knowledgeable about the Church and possessed with a mania for reform. Disguised as orthodox Catholics, the Pope warned, “they seize upon chairs in the seminaries and universities,” from which they “scatter” the “seeds of their doctrines” through “books, newspapers, [and] reviews” (#42).

Although the Pope’s warning somewhat attenuated the visible growth of modernism in the American Church for several decades, the heresy did not die. As the Pope had feared, the wolves had clothed themselves like the sheep and remained in the sheepfold, in faculty positions in Catholic universities, where they quietly nourished and advanced the cancer.

The Eugenics Movement

Following the publication of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories in The Origin of Species in 1859, and his application of those theories to mankind in The Descent of Man in 1871, the evolutionary philosophy he advocated became the cause celèbre of the wealthy sophisticates of England and the U.S., where it caught the attention of John D. Rockefeller. Reduced to its essentials, Darwin’s philosophy holds that man, who has naturally evolved from lower life forms, has now attained the ability to control and accelerate his further evolution into a more perfect species through controlled breeding, just as he has done with cattle and plants. The name given to this proudly atheistic movement was “eugenics.” Darwin and his disciples proposed to achieve this “noble” aspiration in two ways — first, by applying Darwin’s rule of “survival of the fittest” to eliminate the weak, disabled, and undesirables; second, by creating stronger, more intelligent humans through controlled breeding and manipulation of genetics. The means to these ends were to be contraception and abortion, forced sterilization, euthanasia, and genetic manipulation, to be accomplished by “education” if possible, but by compulsion if necessary.

The eugenics cause captured the attention of John D. Rockefeller when he was seeking a philanthropic identity. His son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., became a zealot for the cause, which he promoted by creating and funding hundreds of trusts, foundations, bureaus, and institutes devoted to eugenics. He lavished funds on universities for eugenics research, on eugenics advocates such as Margaret Sanger, and on German eugenicists and institutions that built the labs used in the Holocaust. He drew Protestantism into his camp by creating and funding the Federal Council of Churches, which later merged into the National Council of Churches.

In the 1930s his son, John D. Rockefeller III, dedicated his entire philanthropic life and his millions to the promotion of birth control, which he pursued with such fervor that he became known as “Mr. Population.” Predictably, the Rockefellers’ money and influence attracted other influential names to the cause so that, by the early 1950s, the trustees, directors, and advisors of the Rocke fellers’ vast network of trusts, foundations, and institutes included top executives of the nation’s largest media outlets, banks, industries, and government. Later, this list would include the name of the president of one of the nation’s most visible Catholic universities.

After World War II, when the horror of Germany’s “eugenics-oriented” society was exposed, the eugenicists changed their marketing strategy: The term “eugenics” was dropped. In 1952 Rockefeller III established “The Population Council” to promote birth control under the euphemism of “population control.” With religious fervor, population control was promoted as an “environmental” issue essential to the preservation of mankind, under the alarmist banner that the earth had neither the space nor the resources to sustain the growing human population.

By the end of the 1950s, the campaign had persuaded the major Protestant denominations to accept contraception as a moral practice. But the Catholic Church stood her ground. In those days, faithful bishops courageously proclaimed Catholic truth — and Catholics listened.

The Alliance

By the early 1950s, both the evolutionary theories of eugenics and the heresy of evolutionary theology were prominent in American culture. In those postwar years, secular universities were growing in wealth, power, and reputation, largely through funds from foundations controlled by members of the American Eugenics Society. Catholic universities, because they were Catholic, were excluded from this cornucopia. In 1961 that changed.

Within many Catholic universities were prominent faculty who publicly criticized Church teaching on sexual morality and advocated their “reform” to conform to the times. These dissident voices, coupled with their universities’ yearning for a place at the table of foundation funding, gave Rockefeller the opportunity to neutralize the Church’s opposition to his eugenics agenda. The initial gesture came, unexpectedly, from the University of Notre Dame.

Among Notre Dame’s vocal dissenting theologians was Fr. John A. O’Brien, C.S.C. When Rockefeller’s Population Council and Planned Parenthood invited him to a conference to discuss ways to promote contraception, the invitation was answered from the assistant to Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame’s president, who offered Notre Dame’s campus as the venue for the conference, provided it was funded by a foundation grant. Rockefeller agreed to the funding on condition that only Catholics who believed as Rockefeller did were to be invited, a condition to which Notre Dame brass readily agreed. Notre Dame went further, arranging that the conference be unpublicized to avoid opposition from the bishop and loyal Catholics. Planned Parenthood’s list of Catholics with acceptable views on contraception included Fr. Hesburgh, who chaired the first conference. Two follow-up conferences were held expressly to formulate a document justifying a reform of Church teaching on contraception which would then be widely published. All the conferences were held on Notre Dame’s campus and all were funded by foundation grants.

In the summer of 1965, after the conferences had ended but before the preordained report was finalized, Fr. Hesburgh arranged a private audience for Rockefeller with Pope Paul VI in an unsuccessful effort to sell the Pope on the value of contraception and his newly perfected IUD, after which Rockefeller arrogantly offered to draft a papal encyclical on the subject — an offer which the Pope, of course, declined.

That fall, seven months after the Population Council conferences had concluded, the hand-picked conferees signed and publicized a proclamation attacking the Church’s teaching on contraception. Popularly called “The Notre Dame Statement,” the document declared that the Church’s teaching was out of date and inconsistent with modern psychology and sociology, and that the morality of contraception was not based on divine law but solely on one’s opinion. The Statement asserted that it was wrong to teach that contraception was objectively sinful, and that Catholics who so believed had no moral right to impose that view on others. Thus was inaugurated the “personally opposed, but…” philosophy.

The Notre Dame Statement was a direct attack on the Magisterium of the Church. To accept it is to accept moral relativism and to deny that the Catholic Church teaches divine truth. Nevertheless, the Notre Dame Statement was enthusiastically endorsed by both the secular and the Catholic media. It did not matter that, in December 1965, the Second Vatican Council concluded without making the reforms called for by Rockefeller and the Notre Dame Statement. All that mattered was that some prominent theologians and academics had issued the Statement, which Catholic colleges and universities immediately embraced and began to teach as an acceptable moral code for Catholics. Thus was “Cafeteria Catholicism” legitimized.

Notre Dame demonstrated that a Catholic university willing to compromise its principles could qualify for lucrative foundation grants, for which its president was rewarded with a position on the Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees (he would later serve as its chairman).

The Land O’Lakes Statement

The heretical seeds of modernism that had long been nurtured in U.S. colleges and universities broke ground with the Notre Dame Statement. Only two years later, the bitter fruit was produced. On July 23, 1967, at Notre Dame’s retreat center in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, the executives of the major Catholic universities in the U.S. and their sponsoring religious orders met, signed, and adopted a revolutionary document entitled “The Land O’Lakes Statement: The Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University,” which has subsequently been referred to simply as “The Land O’Lakes Statement.” The signing universities were Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College, Seton Hall, Catholic University, St. Louis University, Fordham, the University of Puerto Rico, Pontifical University of Peru, LaValle University, and the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. Significantly, the Land O’ Lakes Statement was also signed by the Assistant General of the Society of Jesus and the Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, both of whom were based in Rome. Signing the document for the University of Puerto Rico was the Rt. Rev. Theodore E. McCarrick, later to become Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Contrary to the disinformation from its apologists, the focus of the Land O’Lakes Statement was not academic freedom. Its focus was solely and exclusively the manner in which Catholic universities would deal with questions to which “science” was incapable of providing answers; questions of faith and morals; questions traditionally addressed by philosophy and theology; questions ultimately involving the relationship between faith and reason. In these contexts, the Land O’Lakes Statement declared the universities’ independence from the teaching authority of the Church, which put them in schism, and replaced Catholic theology with heretical modernism as their governing doctrine.

Land O’Lakes as Schism

The Land O’Lakes Statement declared the universities’ independence from the Church in its first paragraph, which states that “the catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself ” (emphasis added). The reference to “lay” authority is disingenuous. In forty years of application, no university has ever claimed “autonomy” from “lay authority,” least of all from the “lay authority” of foundations that impose anti-Catholic conditions on financial grants. The only yoke of authority these rebellious institutions intended to cast off was the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. In his book Contending With Modernity: Catholic Education in the Twentieth Century (Oxford Univ. Press, 1995), Philip Gleason wrote that the Land O’Lakes Statement was never intended to be anything other than “a declaration of independence from the hierarchy” of the Church.

Land O’Lakes stated that “the critical reflective intelligence” of the Church is now found, not in the Magisterium of the Church, but in the “modern catholic university,” in which is vested the duty to judge Church teachings and promote their reform. In “University Identity Crisis,” a 1996 analysis of Land O’Lakes published in Crisis magazine, Kenneth D. Whitehead put it bluntly: The essence of Land O’Lakes, he wrote, is “a decision not to be Catholic…. These Catholic colleges and universities are in effect declaring that they simply decline to be Catholic as the Church defines that term.” Under Land O’Lakes, he said, “it is the Catholic university itself that now is to decide what is, and what is not, ‘Catholic.'” Fr. Hesburgh, to whom the primary authorship of the Land O’Lakes Statement is attributed, boldly admitted as much when he wrote in America magazine in 1986 that a true university cannot allow the Vatican to define what is and what is not authentic Catholic teaching.

In Church parlance, the word historically used to describe such a broken relationship with the Church is “schism.” Feminist theologian Rosemary Ruether openly applied this term to Land O’Lakes, writing in a 1980 article in Journal of Ecumenical Studies that Land O’Lakes created “an internal schism…. between two magisteria, the magisterium of the professors and the magisterium of the pope and the hierarchy.” Msgr. George Kelly, an apologist for the Church, agrees with her. Msgr. Kelly wrote in The Catholic World Report in 1995 that Land O’Lakes has “largely succeeded in creating a two-headed church,” rooted in Catholic colleges and universities, one of which is “an anti-church…in which the definitive teaching of the magisterium can be, and often is, contradicted, doubted or explained away. This ‘second magisterium,’ as it has sometimes been called, has its base in the Church’s college system.”

Land O’Lakes as Heresy

The “contemporary catholic university,” as defined by Land O’Lakes, is neither contemporary nor Catholic. The Land O’Lakes Statement is nothing more than an acceptance of the tenets of modernism as described by two popes a century ago.

Students of the Land O’Lakes Statement and its effects are in agreement that the intent of Land O’Lakes was to replace orthodox Catholicism with liberal modernism as the defining philosophy of Catholic higher education. As Gleason put it, the intent of Land O’Lakes was to make clear that “the Church’s cold war with modernity was definitely over.” David O’Brien, in a 1998 analysis of Land O’Lakes in Boston College Magazine, wrote that Fr. Hesburgh and his colleagues believed that the time had come for Catholic educators to accept modernism instead of challenging it, as the Church has historically done.

Land O’Lakes declared, “There must be no theological or philosophical imperialism.” Theological imperialism refers to the belief that the Catholic Church is the true Church through which the fullness of God’s Truth is revealed and proclaimed. According to O’Brien, the framers of Land O’Lakes believed that the religious principles of their universities’ founders were out of date. Their intent was to give “learning” priority over “growth in faith and morals,” and to downgrade theology to just another academic discipline without special emphasis or status. This is why courses in Catholic apologetics are no longer offered on most Catholic campuses.

Land O’Lakes describes in some detail how a “contemporary catholic university” is to facilitate the “experience” of religion. Basically, anything and everything goes — except, of course, “theological imperialism,” which is absolutely prohibited. Nothing is to be “outlawed,” and there are to be “no boundaries and no barriers.” The university’s primary characteristic is that it be “modern” in the “full sense of the word”; its mission is to provide an “education geared to modern society.” Students learn to “understand the actual world” by being exposed to all aspects of it, free from doctrinal moral constraints. Religion is experimental and experiential: Students will “find the meaning of the sacraments for themselves.” They will “express [their] Christianity in a variety of ways and live it experientially and experimentally,” and will discover for themselves “new forms of Christian living.” Tinkering with Catholic liturgy is encouraged. Land O’Lakes proclaims that the “best” liturgies are those that are “creatively contemporary and experimental.”

And so, at the “contemporary catholic university” described in Land O’Lakes, moral relativism is the rule; individual conscience is the determinant of “right” and “wrong”; religion is a subjective sentiment; God is known through one’s experience; faith and reason are separate and distinct; faith adds nothing to reason.

One cannot exaggerate the destructive impact of this culture of relativism on the transmission of the Catholic faith, a culture that has been deliberately cultivated by the Land O’Lakes Statement. Twenty-eight years after Land O’Lakes became the article of faith for Catholic universities and colleges, Msgr. Kelly observed that, at most of them, “the most serious and fundamental teachings about the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, the nature of the Church, the priesthood and the Eucharist” are disparaged and reduced to “optional theological opinion.” Is it any wonder, then, that the results of recent surveys of graduating seniors at Notre Dame, published in 2004 in Notre Dame’s Scholastic magazine, disclosed that the students who lost some or all of their faith while at Notre Dame (37 percent) outnumbered those who grew in their faith (16 percent) by more than two to one, or that for the overwhelming plurality (46 percent) the “Catholic identity” of that institution was simply irrelevant. There is no reason to believe that similar surveys at other “contemporary catholic universities” would be more positive.

The Growth of Land O’Lakes

The Land O’Lakes Statement was implemented immediately. Within six months of its drafting, the religious orders that owned Notre Dame and St. Louis University had given away governance of those universities to self-perpetuating boards of trustees, the majority of whom are lay men and women over whom the religious orders have no control. By 1972 nearly all Catholic colleges and universities had followed suit. This is why appeals to fundamentals of the Catholic faith are largely ineffective; they do not affect the bottom line. However, the name “Catholic” is still a positive asset that attracts money and students from those who still believe that the university stands for Catholic truth.

The Vatican has never approved the Land O’Lakes Statement — not that it matters. In 1976 the Land O’Lakes Statement was formally adopted by the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), which purported to represent 223 Catholic colleges and universities.

In 1990 Pope John Paul II promulgated Ex Corde Ecclesiae (ECE), his apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, which defined the nature and purpose of a Catholic university and established measurable standards such a university was to follow. It was dead on arrival in the U.S. Vigorously opposed by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the College Theology Society, the liberal Catholic media, and the universities themselves, ECE has had no impact on the corporate owners of the rebellious colleges and universities that have prospered under the Land O’Lakes philosophy. After eighteen years, the U.S. bishops who have the responsibility to enforce ECE have yet to summon the courage to do so.


With the Land O’Lakes Statement in 1967, which sprang from an alliance with the Culture of Death, the major Catholic universities in America discarded orthodox Catholic teaching as their raison d”tre and replaced it with heresy. Since that time, two generations of Catholics have graduated from America’s Catholic institutions of higher learning without knowledge or understanding of their faith, believing that one can be Catholic while disbelieving or even opposing Church teaching. Yet these generations of ill-formed, sometimes disbelieving, and often rebellious Catholic graduates are touted as the leadership and the future of the Catholic Church in the U.S. Small wonder, then, that the Church in the U.S. is experiencing a crisis of faith. Laity are uncatechized, clergy are unwilling to instruct them, and quisling bishops are afraid to proclaim the Gospel. A case can be made that a substantial factor causing all of this was, and continues to be, the betrayal of the faith by Catholic academics with the Land O’Lakes Statement in 1967, which has metastasized like cancer throughout the Church ever since.

As Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, has noted, heresy is cured by “obedience and repentance.” The sooner the history and causal relationship between Land O’Lakes and the secularization of Catholic universities is known and accepted, the sooner this cure can be applied by attentive Catholics, concerned alumni, and courageous bishops.


Michael V. McIntire is a 1957 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. During the turbulent 1970s, he joined the faculty of the Notre Dame Law School as Associate Professor of Law, where he witnessed the beginnings of the secularization of that university. An Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict and an RCIA catechist, he lives and practices law in Big Bear Lake, California.

Catholics and Socialism by Stephanie Block


       One of the interesting discussions following the wake of this year’s political campaign has been about Catholics and socialism. Is it OK to be a Catholic socialist? (Wonder what sparked this line of thought?)

       Despite Pope Pius XI saying, back in the 1930s, that “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist”, some Catholics want to argue the point. They claim the “Christian socialism” described in Acts, in which “All those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need,” is the inspiration for the “scientific socialism” espoused by Marx and Engels. After all, Marx and Engels say it is.

       Well, of course Marx and Engels say their inspiration for the socialist ideal was early Christianity. It gives their theories authority and respectability. As Saul Alinsky drily exhorts young radicals, “… you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.” [Rules for Radicals] Marx and Engels are simply clothing socialism with Christianity, the wolf in a sheepskin.

       At the blog called Catholic America: A closer look at Church, Culture and Change, which is a feature of Newsweek/Washington Post, writer Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo recognizes that the salient component of “Christian socialism” is choice. He glosses over this, however, and only a paragraph later is reminding the reader that he must also bear in mind another Christian principle, namely that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” We see where this is going.

       And so here it is: “At stake in contemporary Catholic America is a growing awareness that the U.S. economic system has serious flaws.” OK, Mr. Stevens-Arroyo, hold on there just a minute. Yes, the U.S. economic system has serious flaws but that’s the human condition. There has never been and never will be an economic system without serious flaws. But the US economic system, for all its flaws, has been the envy of the world…and has brought prosperity to the majority of its citizens.

       Stevens-Arroyo continues: “In addressing the financial system, “socialism” is not a dirty word for Catholics.” Um…yes, it is. Re-read the Pius XI quote, above. Or, read John Paul II, who, without any illusions about its imperfections, writes, “it would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.”

       John Paul is not so generous with socialism. “[I]n today’s world, among other rights, the right of economic initiative is often suppressed. Yet it is a right that is important not only for the individual but also for the common good. Experience shows us that the denial of this right, or its limitation in the name of an alleged ‘equality’ of everyone in society, diminishes, or in practice absolutely destroys the spirit of initiative, that is to say the creative subjectivity of the citizen.”

       Referring to Pope Leo XIII, he says: “His words deserve to be re-read attentively: ‘To remedy these wrongs (the unjust distribution of wealth and the poverty of the workers), the Socialists encourage the poor man’s envy of the rich and strive to do away with private property, contending that individual possessions should become the common property of all…; but their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that, were they carried into effect, the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are moreover emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community’. The evils caused by the setting up of this type of socialism as a State system – what would later be called ‘Real Socialism’ – could not be better expressed.” [Centesimus annus]

       It gets worse. The pope continues, “Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility that he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order.”

       Benedict XVI has some hard words for socialism, too. “Let us recall the fact that atheism and the denial of the human person, his liberty and his rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory…Moreover, to attempt to integrate into theology an analysis whose criterion of interpretation depends on this atheistic conception is to involve oneself in terrible contradictions. What is more, this misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of the person leads to a total subordination of the person to the collectivity, and thus to the denial of the principles of a social and political life which is in keeping with human dignity.”

       Why are we even discussing this? The answer is that you have a large body of people – the Catholics living in the US – who, if they knew their Church teachings, rather than what other Catholics say they say, might rebel at incoming socialist incursion. Socialism – the unchosen, forced-onto-society, “scientific” version that has martyred hundreds of thousands – is a really dirty word to Catholics.

Ahem. Let me try that again. Socialism is a really dirty word.


To Our Venerable Brethren, The Patriarchs, Primates, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See. Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.1. We have already had the opportunity on several occasions during Our Pontificate of bearing public testimony to that confidence and devotion towards the Blessed Virgin which We imbibed in Our tenderest years, and have endeavoured to cherish and develop all our life long. For, having fallen upon times of calamity for Christendom and perils for the nations, We have realised how prudent it is to warmly recommend this means of safeguarding happiness and peace which God has most mercifully granted to Mankind in His August Mother, and which hath ever been celebrated in the annals of the Church. The manifold zeal of Christian people has responded to Our desires and exhortations, most particularly in exciting a devotion to the Rosary; and a plentiful harvest of excellent fruits has not been wanting. Still we can never be satisfied with celebrating the Divine Mother, who is in truth worthy of all praise, and in urging love and affection towards her who is also the mother of mankind, who is full of mercy, full of grace. Yea, Our soul, wearied with the cares of the Apostolate, the nearer it feels the time of Our departure to be at hand, with the more earnest confidence looks up to her from whom, as from a blessed dawn, arose the Day of happiness and joy that was never to set. It is pleasant to us to remember, Venerable Brethren, that We have in other letters issued from time to time extolled the devotion of the Rosary; for it is in many ways most pleasing to her in whose honour it is employed, and most advantageous to those who properly use it. But it is equally pleasant to be able now to insist upon and confirm the same fact. Herein we have an excellent opportunity to paternally exhort men’s minds and hearts to an increase of religion, and to stimulate within them the hope of eternal reward.fatimabvm.gif2. The form of prayer We refer to has obtained the special name of “Rosary,” as though it represented by its arrangement the sweetness of roses and the charm of a garland. This is most fitting for a method of venerating the Virgin, who is rightly styled the Mystical Rose of Paradise, and who, as Queen of the universe, shines therein with a crown of stars. So that by its very name it appears to foreshadow and be an augury of the joys and garlands of Heaven offered by her to those who are devoted to her. This appears clearly if we consider the nature of the Rosary of Our Lady. There is no duty which Christ and His Apostles more emphatically urged by both precept and example than that of prayer and supplication to Almighty God. The Fathers and Doctors in subsequent times have taught that this is a matter of such grave necessity, that if men neglect it they hope in vain for eternal salvation. Every one who prays finds the door open to impetration, both from the very nature of prayer and from the promises of Christ. And we all know that prayer derives its chief efficacy from two principal circumstances: perseverance, and the union of many for one end. The former is signified in those invitations of Christ so full of goodness: ask, seek, knock (Matt. vii., 7), just as a kind father desires to indulge the wishes of his children, but who also requires to be continually asked by them and as it were wearied by their prayers, in order to attach their hearts more closely to himself. The second condition Our Lord has born witness to more than once: If two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. xviii. 19, 20). Hence that pregnant saying of Tertullian: Let us gather into an assembly and congregation that we may, as it were, make up a band and solicit God (Apologet. c. xxxix): such violence is pleasing to God; and the memorable words of Aquinas: It is impossible that the prayers of many should not be heard, if one prayer is made up as it were out of many supplications. (In Evang. Matt. c. xvii). Both of these qualities are conspicuous in the Rosary. For, to be brief, by repeating the same prayers we strenuously implore from Our Heavenly Father the Kingdom of His grace and glory; we again and again beseech the Virgin Mother to aid us sinners by her prayers, both during our whole life and especially at that last moment which is the stepping-stone to eternity. The formula of the Rosary, too, is excellently adapted to prayer in common, so that it has been styled, not without reason, “The Psalter of Mary.” And that old custom of our forefathers ought to be preserved or else restored, according to which Christian families, whether in town or country, were religiously wont at close of day, when their labours were at an end, to assemble before a figure of Our Lady and alternately recite the Rosary. She, delighted at this faithful and unanimous homage, was ever near them like a loving mother surrounded by her children, distributing to them the blessings of domestic peace, the foretaste of the peace of heaven. Considering the efficacy of public prayer, We, among other decrees which we have from time to time issued concerning the Rosary, have spoken thus: “It is Our desire that in the principal church of each diocese it should be recited every day, and in parish churches on every feast-day (Apostolic Letter Salutaris Ille, 24th December, 1883). Let this be constantly and devoutly carried out. We also see with joy the custom extended on other solemn occasions of public devotion and in pilgrimages to venerated shrines, the growing frequency of which is to be commended. This association of prayer and praise to Mary is both delightful and salutary for souls. We ourselves have most strongly experienced this – and Our heart rejoices to recall it – when at certain times in Our Pontificate We have been present in the Vatican basilica, surrounded by great crowds of all classes, who united with Us in mind, voice, and hope, earnestly invoked by the mysteries and prayers of the Rosary, her who is the most powerful patroness of the Catholic name.

3. And who could think or say that the confidence so strongly felt in the patronage and protection of the Blessed Virgin is excessive? Undoubtedly the name and attributes of the absolute Mediator belong to no other than to Christ, for being one person, and yet both man and God, He restored the human race to the favour of the Heavenly Father: One Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a redemption for all (1 Tim. ii. 5, 6). And yet, as the Angelic Doctor teaches, there is no reason why certain others should not be called in a certain way mediators between God and man, that is to say, in so far as they cooperate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God (Summa, p. 111., q. xxvi., articles 1, 2). Such are the angels and saints, the prophets and priests of both Testaments; but especially has the Blessed Virgin a claim to the glory of this title. For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind. hastening to eternal ruin, a Saviour, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the Angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race ( Summa. p. III., q. xxx., art. 1). She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly His mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable “Mediatrix to the Mediator.” As the various mysteries present themselves one after the other in the formula of the Rosary for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also elucidate what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation. No one can fail to be sweetly affected when considering her who appeared in the house of Elizabeth as the minister of the divine gifts, and who presented her Son to the Shepherds, to the kings, and to Simeon. Moreover, one must remember that the Blood of Christ shed for our sake and those members in which He offers to His Father the wounds He received, the price of our liberty, are no other than the flesh and blood of the virgin, since the flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary, and however much it was exalted in the glory of His resurrection, nevertheless the nature of His flesh derived from Mary remained and still remains the same (de Assumpt. B. V. M., c. v., among the Opera S. Aug).

4. Yet another excellent fruit follows from the Rosary, exceedingly opportune to the character of our times. This we have referred to elsewhere. It is that, whilst the virtue of Divine Faith is daily exposed to so many dangers and attacks, the Christian may here derive nourishment and strength for his faith. Holy writ calls Christ the Author and finisher of faith (Heb. vii. 2), the Author, because He taught men many things which they had to believe, especially about Himself in whim dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (Colos. ii., 9), and also because He mercifully gives the power of believing by the grace and, as it were, the function of the Holy Ghost; the Finisher, because in Heaven, where He will change the habit of faith into the splendour of glory, He openly discloses to them those things which they have seen in this mortal life as through a veil. Now Christ stands forth clearly in the Rosary. We behold in meditation His life, whether His hidden life in joy, or His public life in excessive toil and sufferings unto death, or His glorious life from His triumphant resurrection to His eternal enthronement at the right hand of the Father. And since faith, to be full and sufficient, must display itself, – for with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. x., 10), – so have we also in the Rosary an excellent means unto this, for by those vocal prayers with which it is intermingled, we are enabled to express and profess our faith in God, our most watchful Father; in the future life, the forgiveness of sins; in the mysteries of the august Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word, the Divine Maternity, and others. All know the value and merit of faith. For faith is just like a most precious gem, producing now the blossoms of all virtue by which we are pleasing to God, and hereafter to bring forth fruits that will last for ever: for to know Thee is perfect justice, and to know Thy justice and Thy power is the root of immortality (Wisdom xv., 3). It is here the place to add a remark respecting the duties of those virtues which faith rightly postulates. Among them is the virtue of penance, and one part of this is abstinence, which for more reasons than one is necessary and salutary. It is true the Church is growing more indulgent towards her children in this matter, but they must understand they are bound to take all care to make up for this maternal indulgence by other good works. We rejoice for this reason also to propose particularly the use of the rosary, which is capable of producing worthy fruits of penance, especially by the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ and His Mother.

5. To those therefore who are striving after supreme happiness this means of the Rosary has been most providentially offered, and it is one unsurpassed for facility and convenience. For any person, even moderately instructed in his religion can make use of it with fruit, and the time it occupies cannot delay any man’s business. Sacred history abounds with striking and evident examples. It is well known that there have been many persons occupied in most weighty functions or absorbed in laborious cares who have never omitted for a single day this pious practice. Combined with this advantage is that inward sentiment of devotion which attracts minds to the Rosary, so that they love it as the intimate companion and faithful protector of life; and in their last agony they embrace and hold fast to it as the dear pledge of the unfading Crown of glory. Such a pledge is greatly enhanced by the benefits of sacred indulgences, if properly employed; for the devotion of the Rosary has been richly endowed with such indulgences by both our Predecessors and Ourselves. These favours will certainly prove most efficacious to both the dying and the departed, being bestowed as it were by the hands of the merciful Virgin, in order that they may the sooner enjoy the eternal peace and light they have desired.

6. These considerations, Venerable Brethren, move us incessantly to extol and recommend to Catholic peoples this excellent and most salutary form of devotion. Yet another very urgent reason, of which we have often spoken both in Letters and Allocutions, encourages us to do this. For that earnest desire, which We have learnt from the Divine Heart of Jesus, of fostering the work of reconciliation among those who are separated from Us daily urges Us more pressingly to action; and we are convinced that this most excellent Re-union cannot be better prepared and strengthened than by the power of prayer. The example of Christ is before us, for in order that His disciples might be one in faith and charity, he poured forth prayer and supplication to His Father. And concerning the efficacious prayer of His most holy Mother for the same end, there is a striking testimony in the Acts of the Apostles. Therein is described the first assembly of the Disciples, expecting with earnest hope and prayer the promised fullness of the Holy Spirit. And the presence of Mary united with them in prayer is specially indicated: All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus (Acts i., 14). Wherefore as the nascent church rightly joined itself in prayer with her as the patroness and most excellent custodian of Unity, so in these times is it most opportune to do the same all over the Catholic World, particularly during the whole month of October, which we have long ago decreed to be dedicated and consecrated, by the solemn devotion of the Rosary, to the Divine Mother, in order to implore her for the afflicted Church. Let then the zeal for this prayer everywhere be re-kindled, particularly for the end of Holy Unity. Nothing will be more agreeable and acceptable to Mary; for, as she is most closely united with Christ she especially wishes and desires that they who have received the same Baptism with Him may be united with Him and with one another in the same faith and perfect charity. So may the sublime mysteries of this same faith by means of the Rosary devotion be more deeply impressed in men’s minds, with the happy result that “we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.”

7. Meanwhile, as a pledge of the Divine Favours and Our affection, We most lovingly impart to You, your clergy and People, the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, September 20, 1896, in the 19th year of Our Pontificate.