Humanae Vitae: 40 Years On.
Introduction: On Human Life
It is now forty years since the Roman Catholic Encyclical ‘Humane Vitae’ condemned ‘artificial’ contraception (ignoring that all contraception is artificial). Although it is no bad thing to affirm the Christian ideal of not using contraception, it is curious that an elderly celibate cleric in Rome should have made the condemnation. Only a bishop without an understanding of married clergy could make such a statement. It is the perfect example of loveless legalism and clueless clericalism.
The question of contraception is a pastoral, not a dogmatic, matter and is better left to priests who know their flocks and parish realities. Little wonder that Humanae Vitae is ignored by 99% of Roman Catholic couples, from the slums of the Third World to the middle-class homes of the Western world. In so doing, these Roman Catholics also reject the dogma of papal infallibility, bringing them close in this respect to the two thousand year-old faith of the Orthodox Church.
The Second Vatican Council
It is commonly said that the Second Vatican Council, of which Humanae Vitae was the last gasp, threw out the baby with the bath water. This is incorrect. Sadly, it would be more accurate to say that it threw out the baby, but kept the bath water.
True, the Second Council’s decision to replace dead Latin with living languages was a good thing, although it was 1500 years overdue. But most of the translations used were appalling and soon many began to regret the absence of the incomprehensible, but old and familiar Latin phraseology. As regards the ditching of sixteenth to nineteenth century Roman Catholic liturgical traditions, vestments, music, art and architecture, the Council was a catastrophe. The sixteenth to nineteenth centuries left monuments to be conserved, the 1960s left structures to be dynamited and the Second Vatican Council was one of them.
The attempt to replace them with ‘traditions’, supposedly taken from ‘early’ (= Orthodox) Christianity, presupposed that late twentieth-century Roman Catholics shared the faith of ‘early’ (= Orthodox) Christians and that Roman Catholicism had conserved within it the traditions and faith of the ‘early’ (= Orthodox) Church. Both presuppositions were clearly false and not at all constructive. Constructive means not destroying something until you have something better with which to replace it. The Second Vatican Council was not constructive, but destructive, for it led simply to the Protestant-style spiritual impoverishment of modern Roman Catholicism.
The real result of the Second Vatican Council was the defection of tens of millions of faithful Roman Catholics as a result of the uglification of everything they had once loved. Some of them left and sought solace in all manner of sects, which at least provided a sense of mystery, a sense of the sacred. For it was this sense that is so completely lacking in the modernist Roman Catholicism, as devised by the liberal and faithless intellectual clerics who manipulated the agenda of Vatican II. Other Catholics created a ‘traditionalist’ schism, led by the former French Archbishop of Dakar, Mgr Lefevre. Most of them, however, simply lapsed, giving up on a denomination which had rendered unrecognisable and utterly insulted the faith of their childhood, their parents and their grandparents.
In an act of tardy regret, ‘too little too late’, as the refrain goes, the present Pope, Benedict XVI, is attempting to turn the clocks back and retrieve something of what was lost through Vatican II. But forty-five years of Protestantising impoverishment will not be made up for by the efforts of a frail, eighty year-old caretaker Pope in the short time left him.
The Future and Relations with the Orthodox Church
What could happen after him? The present Pope could be succeeded by a conservative Italian or European bureaucrat with the vacuous smile and vacuous policies of so many such clerics. This would simply prolong the agony, leading to the further emptying of Roman Catholic churches worldwide. But it could be even worse. Pope Benedict could be succeeded by a spiritually empty, politically correct, pro-secularist bishop from among the Catholic episcopate in, say, the USA, Holland or France.
The only real hope is that Pope Benedict will be succeeded by a radical African bishop, who could call for an authentic return to the roots of the faith, without all the historic secularist cultural baggage of Western intellectuals. Roman Catholics in Africa know that the atrocious cruelty of both pagan Rome and the pagan barbarians was not defeated by wimpish, wishy-washy secularist or pietist modern Catholicism, but by the faith in Christ that comes from the guts. And many of them, both African and white missionaries working in Africa, like Fr Pedro in Madagascar, have such a faith.
Such a hopeful statement is not without foundation. Only recently, one enlightened Roman Catholic spokesman, commenting on the Anglican decision to introduce ‘women-bishops’, said that the Anglican decision goes not only against Roman Catholicism, but against ‘the Church of the first millennium’. By this he meant, perhaps without himself realising it, the Orthodox Church. If this is the level of consciousness of at least one Vatican official under Pope Benedict, we should not yet despair for the future.
After Pope Benedict there will be a chance for repentance. And any repentance would entail a return to Tradition, which would involve developing relations with the Orthodox Churches, the repository of the Tradition. Such relations would be completely different from those that exist now. At present the Papacy cultivates close relations only with the tiny Patriarchate of Constantinople, failing to understand that it is basically irrelevant to the contemporary Orthodox Church. The New Rome of Constantinople fell in 1453, largely as a result of the betrayal of Orthodoxy by the elite of Constantinople at the Council of Florence. Only St Mark of Ephesus defended the faith of the people, the parish priests and the monastic order. Thus, New Rome was replaced by its only legitimate heir, the Third Rome, Moscow.
It was only thanks to the generosity and goodwill of the Russian Church that all the ancient but tiny Patriarchates, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, even survived through the centuries of the Turkish Yoke. They depended for all those centuries on Russian Orthodoxy. To assert anything else would be a denial of historical fact and sheer ingratitude. The fact is that Greek nationalist Constantinople is not at all the Mother-Church of Orthodoxy. Only Jerusalem can claim this. If post-Benedictine Roman Catholicism wished to entertain serious relations with the Orthodox Churches, then it would have to abandon its flattery of Phanariot vanity and Greek nationalism, which lives in its own little world of the past, as if 1453 had never happened. Constantinople is largely irrelevant in the contemporary Orthodox world, a captive of Turkish politics and American foreign policy, no more free than the Church in the Soviet Union was.
True, Constantinople was given a chance to play a role during the Soviet captivity of the Russian Orthodox Church after 1917. Unfortunately, it did not use that period to witness to Orthodoxy, but to play at Balkan politics. It took the period of atheist captivity and persecution in Russia to divide the Russian emigration in Western Europe, giving head to Russian freemasons. At the same time it interfered in Russian Church affairs in the USA, Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, causing schisms, and also co-operated with the Soviet oppressors of the Church inside Russia. Thus, in the 1920s it chose to attack the Church inside Russia led by St Tikhon, supporting the Communist-backed Renovationist schism instead. Supported and sponsored by British and, after 1945, American Imperialism, it failed to spread Orthodoxy or publicise the martyrdom of the Russian Church - and later that of the Serbian Church, which had suffered Catholic Croat genocide. Instead, it compromised itself politically and spiritually, generating any number of old calendarist schisms among the deeply wounded Greek faithful.
Instead of looking in the direction of Istanbul, post-Benedictine Roman Catholicism could at last begin to cultivate serious relations with the multinational Russian Orthodox Church. It should even now be dawning on the Vatican that the now free Russian Church, with its tens of thousands of saints of the twentieth century, represents 75% of all Orthodox Christians. In establishing serious relations with Russian Orthodoxy, it would at last be obeying the voice of the Mother of God, who at Fatima in 1917 called on Roman Catholicism to repent for the murderous attack on Russian Orthodoxy in 1914.
The First European War had, after all, been launched by the very Catholic Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was against the fraternal warnings of Tsar Nicholas II, with the encouragement of the Kaiser’s aggressiveness. The Austro-Hungarian attack on Russia, with the Hapsburg genocide in Carpatho-Russia, was to lead to the fall of the Christian Russian Empire. And it fell to Western Marxist materialism and massive persecutions of the Russian Orthodox Church. True, in 1917 the Vatican under Pope Benedict XV initially rejoiced at the fall of Orthodox Russia and then under Mgr D’Herbigny it treacherously tried to cultivate relations with the satanic Bolshevik regime. However, the Vatican, like Austria and Hungary, came to regret their foolish enthusiasm and were later punished for it by the Second War and then the Cold War, exactly as the Mother of God had warned them and all Western Europe at Fatima.
Changes in Direction
Of course, to seek serious relations with the Russian Church would mean the Vatican doing the honourable thing and at last abandoning Uniatism. Together with the Crusades and the Inquisition, this Counter-Reformation act of aggression has been one of the worst political disasters in the tragic thousand-year history of Roman Catholicism. The four hundred years of the foolish Uniat game of divide and rule played by the Vatican with Ukrainian nationalism is essentially already over. Even senior figures in Roman Catholicism are now beginning to realise that they can never have normal relations with over 75% of the Orthodox world until they abandon the Uniat myth.
All Uniats of all nationalities would have to be told by the Papacy that either they must return to Orthodoxy or else they must become normal Roman Catholics. Only this would clear the air with the Russian Orthodox Church and open a new era of relations with World Orthodoxy. From that point on it would be possible to envisage ever-increasing co-operation between Roman Catholicism and the Russian Orthodox Church - and other Local Churches, like the Serbian, which are free and not captive Orthodox. This co-operation would be based on common resistance to the policy of global secularist hegemony, as pursued by the post-Protestant Anglo-Saxon world, led by the USA.
In a world where Roman Catholicism was led by a radical African bishop, let us call him Pope Peter II, with real faith and seeking the Tradition, a new scenario can be envisaged. Divorced from the imperialistic psychology of Western arrogance, an African Pope could show the same manly faith as African Anglican bishops, who have been so shocked by the promotion of sodomy implicit in the colonial attitudes of the white Anglican Establisment. (They cannot forget how many of their Ugandan ancestors, both Anglican and Catholic, were martyred in the nineteenth century for refusing to be sodomised). Surely a common sense African Pope would therefore abandon the absurd practice of Roman Catholic compulsory celibacy. In Africa, and Latin America, most native Roman Catholic clergy are openly married and always have been. Not for them the Western clerical perversions of sodomy and pedophilia.
Thus, men married to pious wives could be allowed to become clergy and there could be a renewal of parish life in Roman Catholicism, which in an increasingly priestless Western Europe is now dying out. Having returned to the normality of married parish clergy, the universal practice of the Church of the first millennium, it would only take one more step to erase the filioque from the Roman Catholic confession. This would amount to a return to the Creed of the Church in the first millennium and the rejection of post-Apostolic Western Imperialism enshrined in the filioque distortion of the Creed. (For if the Spirit proceeds from the Son, then the Spirit must also proceed from all who represent the Son, be they pope, bishop, priest or simply laypeople. This human arrogation of the Holy Spirit in the filioque is merely the dogmatic expression of the Western superiority complex, inherited from pagan Rome and incarnated in imperialistic papal supremacy).
From here it would only take one more step for Roman Catholics to begin to understand the real role of a Christian Papacy, as in the first millennium, and so the real meaning of Unity, Catholicity and Apostolicity. At this point, Roman Catholics might also begin to understand the remaining attribute of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - Holiness. The Church is the body that produces saints. Without the Church, there is no Holiness and without Holiness there is no Church. And by holiness, we mean neither the mere righteousness of a Maximilian Kolbe (no greater than the righteousness of tens of thousands of others who also gave up their lives), nor the mere pietism (and psychic self-delusion) of scores of Catholic ‘mystics’ and ‘saints’ since the twelfth century, when this distortion first started appearing, a consequence of the spiritual deformation implicit in the filioque. Holiness is the reception of the Holy Spirit by human beings and their transfiguration by the Divine Light. This is possible only within the Body of Christ, transfigured, crucified and risen. This is authentic Holiness – unknown for a thousand years in Western Europe, but well-known to this day in the Orthodox Churches.
Towards the Restoration of the Patriarchate of Rome
It is in this way that the Bishop of Rome could once more merit the title, his only legitimate one, only recently renounced and so now available, that of ‘Patriarch of the West’. However, for any of the above to happen, it would require a whole chain of miracles. Indeed, many readers would say that in generously allowing Roman Catholicism a last chance to repent and return to Orthodoxy, we are dreaming. None of the above is at all likely to happen. What then is more likely?
In reality, what is more likely is that the Vatican proudly refuses to repent and return to the fullness of Orthodoxy, renouncing even its final vestiges of Orthodoxy. It is more likely that the title of ‘Patriarch of the West’ will legitimately fall to a Metropolitan, let us call him Pope Peter II, of the future Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe (R.O.M.E.), as we have proposed since 1988 and as was proposed five years ago by the Patriarch of Moscow, His Holiness Alexis II. At that point, that Metropolia would receive its autocephaly from Moscow and so would take up the mantle of the canonical Church in Western Europe. Thus, Russian Orthodoxy would fulfil its messianic destiny in the West, so long thwarted by the forces of darkness, whether outside the Church or having infiltrated inside it. Thus would be re-established the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome, bringing the repentant of the Western world to salvation before the end.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Priest Andrew Phillips
25 July/7 August