Thursday, August 12, 2010

Humani Generis: The Antidote against the New Theology (Nouvelle theologie)

On the 60th Anniversary of Humani generis:
From the text Ven. Pope Pius XII's encyclical:

11. Another danger is perceived which is all the more serious because it is more concealed beneath the mask of virtue. There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate a "pacifism" [i.e., ecumenism] according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma

And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods, such as with the approval of ecclesiastical authority are found in our schools, should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.

12. Now if these only aimed at adapting ecclesiastical teaching and methods to modern conditions and requirements, through the introduction of some new explanations, there would be scarcely any reason for alarm. But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "pacifism" [i.e., ecumenism] seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction.

13. These new opinions, whether they originate from a reprehensible desire of novelty or from a laudable motive, are not always advanced in the same degree, with equal clarity nor in the same terms, nor always with unanimous agreement of their authors. Theories that today are put forward rather covertly by some, not without cautions and distinctions, tomorrow are openly and without moderation proclaimed by others more audacious, causing scandal to many, especially among the young clergy and to the detriment of ecclesiastical authority. Though they are usually more cautious in their published works, they express themselves more openly in their writings intended for private circulation and in conferences and lectures. Moreover, these opinions are disseminated not only among members of the clergy and in seminaries and religious institutions, but also among the laity, and especially among those who are engaged in teaching youth.


27. Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing [Cfr. Litt. Enc. Mystici Corporis Christi, A.A.S., vol. XXXV, p. 193 sq.]. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith.

28. These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of Our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science. To them We are compelled with grief to repeat once again truths already well known, and to point out with solicitude clear errors and dangers of error.


Visitors, please comment on the following:

-Has post-conciliar theology contradicted the teachings of Humani generis (i.e., has it fallen into the very errors that it condemns)? 

-If so, how is this possible that this Encyclical, published only 12 years before the opening of the Second Vatican Council, was so utterly ignored and even contradicted by the theologians of the age?
-What exactly was Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's role in the writing of this encyclical?

-Which doctrines of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's article "Where is the New Theology Leading Us? are present in the text of the Encyclical?


Geremia said...

John Vennari wrote a very good "Short Catechism of the New Theology." He quoted a 1950 The Thomist article by Fr. Greenstock, which I believe very succinctly summarizes the New Theology's strategy:

"Father Greenstock shows that modern philosophies cannot be 'synthesized' into Catholic theology because 'most people outside the Church suffer from an almost complete incapacity for logical thought. Their basis for argument is sentiment rather than reason. ... This incapacity (for logical thought) is a direct result of these modern philosophies which we are now asked to adopt and to baptize — an impossible task."

New Theology intentionally tries to be sentimental because somehow avoiding being logical will make converts? Far from it! I know many lapsed Catholics who would probably still be practicing precisely because they did not lose their ability for logical thought!

I will try to get a scan of the Fr. Greenstock article and give it to you all. Also, I found another interesting commentary by Garrigou-Lagrange on Humani Generis in Italian. I will try to get a scan of that, too. It should help.

Thanks for the posts on Humani Generis versus the "Nouvelle Théologie." This, I think, is the #1 issue impeding a sensible interpretation of Vatican II, and it needs to be resolved.

Geremia said...

Here is the Greenstock The Thomist article I mentioned in my previous comment; it is very good: "Thomism and the New Theology"

I'm still trying to get a hold of the Garrigou-Lagrange writing I mentioned in my previous comment. It shouldn't be too much longer.

Geremia said...

Here is the above-mentioned section from a Garrigou-Lagrange book in Italian:
"La struttura dell'Enciclica 'Humani Generis'"

Sorry I don't have the time now to translate it into English for all the non-Italian speakers, but if you are interested, please tell me.

Don Paco said...

I didn't know he ever wrote that. That is good news. I'm planning on publishing eventually a book of essays by Garrigou translated into English. So if you ever translate it, let me know, so I don't have to do it myself.

Geremia said...

I finally got around to translating "The structure of the encyclical 'Humani Generis'" by Garrigou-Lagrange. I thought it was pretty good. (Hopefully the translation reflects that; it's not as good as it could be if I spent more time on it, though, but it's adequate.)

Don Paco said...

May God bless you and repay you a millionfold!