Cardinal who runs the Synod (“walking together”): “It is a grace that today Christendom is no more.”

Corriere della Sera

The man who runs the Synod (“walking together”), Mario Card. Grech.

“It is a grace that today Christendom is no more. Because we felt we had arrived: the Church as a” perfect society “.  And whoever is perfect doesn’t feel the need to seek, to improve, to convert, to set out on the path listening to the Spirit, wheras this is the Gospel.”

“È una grazia, che oggi non ci sia più la cristianità. Perché ci sentivamo arrivati: la Chiesa come “società perfetta”. E chi è perfetto non sente il bisogno di cercare, di migliorare, di convertirsi, di mettersi in cammino in ascolto dello Spirito, mentre questo è il Vangelo».

By “la cristianità”, he means “Christendom”, not just generic “Christianity”.  He absolutely would think that “Christianity” is no more: Rather, our separated brethren and sistren are ahead of us on the cammino and we have a lot of catching up to do!  He means “Christendom”, no question, and my Romans agree.

We deny his absurd premise, of course: Christians of Christendom never thought themselves “perfect”.

Aren’t writers from those dark days constantly criticized by more woke moderns as being pessimistic about man, concerned about outdated things like “sin” and “propitiation”?  If the liturgical worship of Christendom, as it was raised to God for a thousand and more years, was concerned about guilt, sin and propitiation, that suggests that Christians didn’t see themselves as not needing to change.

Moreover, that is not what was meant by “perfect society”.

If Grech knows where the ecclesiological formulation “perfect society” comes from, given the present Traditionis Open-Season ethos he is perhaps taking a cheap shot the post-Tridentine ecclesiology of figures such as St. Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church… which Grech ain’t… and anyone who values all that sort of stuff, like traditional Mass and sacraments.

Grech was Card. Baldisseri’s Number Two at the Pachamama Amazon Synod (“walking together”) and he was one of the writers of the Post-Synodal (“walking together”) Exhortation.    In October 2020, by the way, when COVID-1984 was ramping up, churches were being closed and people were being denied the sacraments, Grech said in an interview with Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro, Jesuit editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and adminstrator of a site in honor of Pier Vittorio Tondelli:

It is of concern that someone feels lost outside of the Eucharistic or worship context, for it shows an ignorance of other ways of engaging with the mystery. This not only indicates that there is a certain spiritual illiteracy, but is proof of the inadequacy of current pastoral practice. It is very likely that in the recent past our pastoral activity has sought to lead to the sacraments and not to lead – through the sacraments – to Christian life.

Those silly people who are so backward that they just want to go to Mass and confession. Our pastoral activity should help them not to need to go to Mass and confession so much!  There are other ways, after all.   I’m reminded of a song by the Official Parodohymnodist here, about the old program “RENEW”, just the sort of thing that bishops are doing again for the sake of “evangelization”, reliving the 70’s and 80’s.  To the tune of the old Burt Bacharach song…

♫ What do we do when we do RENEW?
We get together and we drink some coffee.
We read some Scripture and we hug each other.
I’ll… never go to Mass again.
I’ll never go to Mass again. ♫

Enough of Bacharach and more Bellarmine.

For Bellarmine, “perfect society” did NOT mean perfected and completed such that nothing else was to be done.  It meant that the Church, as founded by Christ, had all the elements necessary to guide all men to salvation.  This ecclesiology was absorbed, not rejected, by later writers such as Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi and it was a foundation in Lumen gentium.  Vatican II embraced and expanded the view that the Church is a “‘community brought together by the profession of the same Christian faith and conjoined in the communion of the same sacraments, under the government of the legitimate pastors and especially the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff.”

Note Lumen gentium 14:

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.” All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

This does not reject the image of the Church as “perfect society”, it expands it.

But that’s not popular today, especially when certain people seem not to care that formal membership in the Catholic Church is of any particular advantage.

Enough of that for now.

I would ask the Cardinal about that horrible time of Christendom and the missionary orders of men and women there were, the saints who were willing to go to the ends of the earth – never to see their homes again – and risk death to bring the Catholic Faith to others.

I would ask the Cardinal about the horrible time of Christendom, which developed the structures of society that improved human life at all levels, including economics, the sciences, archtecture, art, and music.

I would ask the Cardinal about the horrible Christendom that gave him everything he is now basking in, including what culture he has… not to mention his paycheck.

Does any of that sound like not seeking or converting or setting out on the path?  By the way, you have to know Italian Church jargon to hear how cliché laden this is… like with “cammino”, a word so over used that it is practically meaningless.

Speaking of cardinals…

Immundas ales, asserimus, quae suos stercorant nidos:
his plerique similes, qui nullam rem servant honestam.

The moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    People on the other side never build up, they only destroy what is.
    Too bad nobody told the men of Lepanto they didn’t have to bother fighting the Ottomans, it could have been over then. Don John of Austria and those thousands of Christian men went into battle under the banner of Our Lady, and won it for Christendom, so there could be a church to live off of in modern times. Or the French Missionaries in Canada, who went into Indian territories to spread the gospel, even though they knew missionaries were tortured, even had their fingers removed, and were killed. To share the gospel for Christ and for Christendom was worth it to them. The ones who give the most know it’s worth it, the ones who give the least don’t value it at all.

  2. TRW says:

    Grech and Scicluna were some of the first bishops to champion Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia. As bishops of Malta, they published a document on how Chapter VIII and its notorious footnotes could be applied pastorally. Sadly, it’s quite possible that the cardinal actually does not know what the Church means when She refers to Herself as a ” perfect society “. I’m not sure which is worse, a high-ranking prelate not knowing that, or being willfully obtuse in order to make an inane point.

  3. TonyO says:

    I get the sense that he has no clue of any of the history behind the phrase “perfect society”. It comes from a recognition that some societies are by their own nature partial, they can only exist in the context of a larger environment. A police department can only exist as a police department of some larger entity, it cannot be the entirety of the community. A family is part of a city, and a city is part of a state. A parish is part of a diocese, it does not exist on its own steam. But in both the civil order and in the ecclesiastical order, there is a “highest” level that DOES NOT need a higher entity to enclose it, because it is at the highest, most comprehensive level already. Since it is at the top of the hierarchical order, it does not rely on some other social being to complete it, it is complete (in its own order) just because it encompasses and includes all the parts that it needs. In the civil order, that’s what we mean by the “state” (in the older, pre-US sense). In the ecclesiastical order, it’s the Catholic Church. And the name given to that LEVEL of organizational structure, the highest level, the level that can indeed exist without relying on some other body to complete it, is “perfect”.

  4. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    “Gosh, isn’t it wonderful that we’ve done such a lousy job of things?! If we hadn’t failed so miserably over the last 70 years or so we’d still have lots of young priests and religious, lots of healthy Catholic marriages, full seminaries and Catholic schools, and governments willing to listen to the voice of the Church’s authority when it comes to making decisions that impact the lives of the faithful. Now, since we’ve thankfully botched things up so badly, we’re back to where we were in the times of the barbarians. Whew! I hope we continue to fail miserably until we get back to the catacombs and are a small, persecuted minority. Won’t that be wonderful?!”

  5. Pingback: Cardinal who runs the Synod (“walking together”): “It is a grace that today Christendom is no more.” | Fr. Z’s Blog – The Old Roman

  6. Lurker 59 says:

    It is worth noting that our Father does in fact will us to have “Christendom”. That we don’t have it is akin to why the Hebrews didn’t go into the Promised Land and why they couldn’t keep it once the Kingdom was established — to whit, unbelief in God’s promises and idolatry. God establishes His Kingdom which He invites us into, but it takes courage and faith to enter it. Once entered, one cannot continue to make alliances with Egypt and Babylon and especially not worship their demonic idols.

  7. pcg says:

    I am so sick and tired of these wolves in sheep’s clothing who parade around and spew nonsense as if they or what they had to say was genuinely important. Today at Mass, we had a young priest who has just learned the TLM and apologized if we could not hear him (no problem, I can still follow the Mass), as I think he’s a bit self conscience about making mistakes. He did very well, but I couldn’t help notice the cacophony of babies and young children filling that void of silence with their crying, gooing, squirming and just general natural noise that young human beings make. Not a distraction, just a pleasant observation. Better than the empty self aggrandizing coming from so many in red robes-

  8. Uniaux says:

    I’d like to think that he’s trying to say that as a church we need to root out spiritual complacency as if it were the plague. If he is saying that, it’s in possibly the worst way imaginable, by seemingly championing the destruction of moral society as a whole. Perhaps he’s trying to make use of the “good times make weak men, who make hard times, which make good men, who make good times” model.
    But what solution does he propose for the hard times? Given that he’s running the synod, I doubt his answer is prayer, fasting, mortification.
    Perhaps the going thought is that by holding banal conversation for long enough (this synod), the problems of the church and the world – the hard times – will just get bored and go away.

    By their fruits you shall know them…
    All of these prelates are in need of many prayers.

  9. monstrance says:

    Sung by Dionne Warwick.
    Another popular number – “Do You Know the Way to San Jose “.
    Could be the “Synodal Way….

  10. PeterN says:

    After reading the recent Crisis article on GC and the evangelization of the Jews this morning, on top of this, I can’t help but wonder why, if these people truly don’t believe what they profess every Sunday in the Creed, why can’t they at least be honest about it and leave their position in the Church? If you don’t believe in the institution you are a part of, have the courage of your convictions and leave. (I know why they don’t; it’s called “fifth column.”)

    Having just yesterday finished my first read through of all five volumes of Kenelm Henry Digby’s “The Broadstone of Honour,” his defense of Catholicism and Chivalry, I have been struck by just how much we lost with the disintegration of Christendom. Trading it for what? Noise. Dishonor. An atomized flock of consumers calling itself a society.

    “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou be angry forever?”

  11. TonyO says:

    “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou be angry forever?”

    Peter, I think that quote is for when the harsh stroke of punishment has been initiated, is ongoing, and is still being felt. Not for the period BEFORE God strikes us in correction, when He is patiently giving us time by calling us to repent and return, and we keep kicking him in the teeth, increasing his anger further.

    I shudder to think what Earthly chastisement we deserve, given the horrific sins of our culture. I pray that some other solution yet remains, other than the well-deserved chastisement that turns us back to God.

  12. Pingback: PopeWatch: Christendom is No More – The American Catholic

  13. aam says:

    Oh, no, another synod. This pope is the Eveready Bunny of synods.

  14. robtbrown says:

    Cardinal Grech is just a middle manager willingly saying whatever his superiors want him to say.

    I recommend The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

  15. pjthom81 says:

    A question that may not be as obvious an answer as when first posed. Is the Cardinal correct in his assertion that Christendom is no more? Liberals after all have become infamous in decreeing something at issue already settled and places such as Poland may give one pause. Bavaria and Hungary appear to be in the midst of doubling down on their Catholic heritage and secular politicians still use the term (I do of course think it fairly obvious Christendom is in retreat in much of the West..that appears obvious but a losing battle is not a lost battle.). If it did end when? Please know that these questions are sincere and that the answers do not appear obvious to me.

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “We deny his absurd premise, of course: Christians of Christendom never thought themselves “perfect”.” Indeed.

    Kathleen10 wrote: “Too bad nobody told the men of Lepanto they didn’t have to bother fighting the Ottomans, it could have been over then. Don John of Austria and those thousands of Christian men went into battle under the banner of Our Lady, and won it for Christendom, so there could be a church to live off of in modern times.”

    Good point. Christendom in Europe keep the faith alive when Christian churches and communities in Asia and Africa was being destroyed. Christian Europeans then defended the faith and their culture during a thousand years of invasions from Asia and Africa.

    The exertions of others allows Cardinal Grech to ignore history and indulge in intellectual laziness and feel-good sloganeering. This is Grech in 2017 supporting the flawed “Amoris Laetitia”:

    “Unfortunately, there exist prophets of doom who in their religious zeal are more prone to focus on the defect rather than the much good there is in man.”

    Grech prefers decadence to Christianity.

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