As we saw in the previous posting on this subject, private property is so important to a just society that it was included in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 17), for which Pope Pius XII had been pushing and was joined by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt.
Of course, private property in capital was also the cornerstone (as Fulton Sheen called it) of the social doctrine of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI. It’s not a religious thing, however, but a human rights thing, fundamental to what it means to be a human person.
This makes what happened at the Second Vatican Council even more puzzling. For Catholic and non-Catholic alike, the Council was a watershed, a revolutionary event that has been completely misunderstood.
Although by 1950 the Catholic Church, especially in the United States, appeared to have achieved a very agreeable and quite comfortable accommodation to the modern world, this was deceptive. The modern Welfare State to which the New Deal gave birth was an indication of serious problems.
|Msgr. John A. Ryan|
Thanks to Msgr. John A. Ryan, many people considered the New Deal the very essence of Catholic social teaching. Nevertheless, this new form of the Servile State was based on a “concept of society . . . utterly foreign to Christian truth.” (Quadragesimo Anno, § 117.) It was a complete and total rejection of respect for the dignity of the human person under God and a shift from the sovereignty of individual human beings to that of some form of the collective.
This becomes clear when we expand the timeframe of analysis to find out “What Happened to Vatican II.” Virtually everyone begins with the presumably halcyon days of the 1950s, little realizing that a superficial compliance to traditional forms papered over some very large cracks caused by moral relativism and socialism.
Vatican II was not intended as the precursor to the Great Reset and similar proposals, however, but as a counter to the “Kingdom of God on Earth” that had been the goal of the modernists and socialists from the very beginning. That, at least, was the opinion of Evelyn Waugh, who believed John XXIII worked to reverse the gains made by adherents of the new things in the century and a half before the Council.
Waugh saw great significance in John XXIII’s choice of name on his election, as John XXII — excoriated by the Fabians — was the pope who dealt with the Fraticelli, whom the Fabians venerated. (Evelyn Waugh, The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh. London: Penguin Books, 1983, 616-617.) John XXIII had to deal with a global society formed in large measure by Fabian socialism and the New Deal, sold to American Catholics by Coughlin and Ryan and from there to the world.
|Fulton J. Sheen|
Although it was confined to the little-understood field of the Church’s social doctrine, the triumph of Ryan and his carefully selected associates and students at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, had taught dissenters an important lesson. Dissent was feasible, even profitable, if proper precautions were taken and a base of support organized before taking open action.
Lip service had to be paid to orthodoxy, outward forms of obedience maintained, and the attack presented as the true orthodoxy in conformity with what Jesus (or whatever authority was cited) “really meant.” Innovative theories (such as the abolition of private property and the sovereignty of the collective) could then be rebranded as true Christian doctrine. This would enable someone not only to dissent from fundamental Catholic doctrines and remain in the Church, but to be revered as a virtual prophet of the New Christianity . . . which according to Fulton Sheen, wasn’t really a religion at all.
|Félicité de Lamennais|
As Ryan’s attacks on Sheen demonstrated, this fostered a unique climate of dissent in Catholic Academia, especially at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. During the New Deal many American Catholics had been convinced by the repeated assurances from credible authorities that de facto socialism is compatible with Catholic teaching. As a result, many people now viewed adherence to traditional concepts of faith and morals on which the Church’s social teachings are based as somehow heretical or at the very least un- or anti-Christian.
In the minds of dissenting theologians of the mid-twentieth century, what Saint-Simon, de Lamennais, and others had proclaimed at the dawn of the nineteenth century was nothing less than a religious Declaration of Independence. This could have been taken entirely from “A Declaration of Mental Independence,” Robert Owen’s talk on July 4, 1826, in New Harmony, Indiana, in which he identified the three great evils of the world as private property, organized religion, and marriage. (Oakley C. Johnson, Robert Owen in the United States. New York: Humanities Press for the American Institute for Marxist Studies, 1970, 67-72.)
This was what Sheen, who saw the implications beyond the Church’s social teachings, had protested in radio broadcasts, newspaper columns, and books. It was the creation of a “religion without God,” as he put it in the title of his second book . . . which helped him about as much as it did the people on whom the dissenting theologians, intent upon changing what it meant for something to be a religion — or to be human — forced their innovations.