Interview with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, from The Latin Mass magazine.

A Philosopher Remembers and Reminds

 The following conversation with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand opens our
discussion of this issues focus: The Crisis in the Church: Scenarios 
for a Solution. Dr. von Hildebrand, professor of philosophy emeritus 
of Hunter College (City University of New York), has just completed
The Soul of a Lion, a biography of her husband, Dietrich.

TLM: Dr. von Hildebrand, at the time that Pope John XXIII summoned the
Second Vatican Council, did you perceive a need for a reform within
the Church?

AVH: Most of the insights about this come from my husband. He always
said that the members of the Church, due to the effects of original 
sin and actual sin, are always in need of reform. The Church's teach-
ing, however, is from God. Not one iota is to be changed or considered
in need of reform.

TLM: In terms of the present crisis, when did you first perceive some-
thing was terribly wrong?

AVH: It was in February 1965. I was taking a sabbatical year in Flor-
ence. My husband was reading a theological journal, and suddenly I 
heard him burst into tears. I ran to him, fearful that his heart con-
dition had suddenly caused him pain. I asked him if he was all right.
He told me that the article he had been reading had provided him with
the certain insight that the devil had entered the Church. Remember,
my husband was the first prominent German to speak out publicly again-
st Hitler and the Nazis. His insights were always prescient.

TLM: Had your husband ever talked about this fear for the Church bef-
ore this incident?

AVH: I relate in my biography of my husband, THE SOUL OF A LION, that
a few years after his conversion to Catholicism in the 1920's, he be-
gan teaching at the University of Munich. Munich was a Catholic city. 
Most Catholics at the time went to Mass, but he always said that it
was there that he became aware of the loss of a sense of the supernat-
ural among Catholics. One incident especially offered him sufficient
proof, and it greatly saddened him.
 When passing through a door, my husband would always give precedence
to those of his students who were priests. One day, one of his collea-
gues (a Catholic) expressed his astonishment and disapproval: "Why do
you let your students step ahead of you?" "Because they are priests,"
replied my husband. "But they do not have a Ph.D." My husband was
grieved. To value a Ph.D. is a natural response; to feel awe for the
sublimity of the priesthood is a supernatural response. The profess-
or's attitude proved that his sense for the supernatural had been ero-
ded. That was long before Vatican II. But until the Council, the beau-
ty and the sacredness of the Tridentine liturgy masked this phenome-

TLM: Did your husband think that the decline in a sense of the super-
natural began around that time, and if so, how did he explain it?

AVH: No, he believed that after Pius X's condemnation of the heresy of
Modernism, its proponents merely went underground. He would say that
they then took a much more subtle and practical approach. They spread
doubt simply by raising questions about the great supernatural inter-
ventions throughout salvation history, such as the Virgin Birth and
Our Lady's perpetual virginity, as well as the Resurrection, and the
Holy Eucharist. They knew that once faith-the foundation totters, the
liturgy and the moral teachings of the Church follow suit. My husband
entitled one of his books THE DEVASTATED VINEYARD. After Vatican II,
a tornado seemed to have hit the Church.
 Modernisn itself was the fruit of the calamity of the Renaissance and
the Protestant Revolt, and it took a long historical process to un-
fold. If you were to ask a typical Catholic in the Middle Ages to name
a hero or a heroine, he would answer with the name of a saint. The 
Renaissance began to change that. Instead of a saint, people would
think of geniuses as persons to emulate, and with the oncoming of the
industrial age, they would answer with the name of a great scientist.
Today, they would answer with a sports figure or a cinema personality.
In other words, the loss of the sense of the supernatural has brought
an inversion of the hierarchy of values. 
 Even the pagan Plato was open to a sense of the supernatural. He 
spoke of the weakness, frailty and cowardice often evidenced in human
nature. He was asked by a critic to explain why he had such a low op-
inion of humanity. He replied that the was not denigrating man, only 
comparing him to God.
 With the loss of the sense of the supernatural, there is a loss of 
the sense of a need for sacrifice today. The closer one comes to God,
the greater should be one's sense of sinfulness. The further one gets
from God, as today, the more we hear the philosophy of the new age.
"I'm OK, You're OK." This loss of the inclination to sacrifice has led
to the obscuring of the Church's redemptive mission. Where the Cross
is downplayed, our need for redemption is given hardly a thought.
 The aversion to sacrifice and redemption has assisted the seculariz-
ation of the Church from within. We have been hearing for many years
from priests and bishops about the need for the Church to adapt her-
self to the world. Great popes like St. Pius X said just the opposite:
the world must adapt itself to the Church.

TLM: From our conversation throughout this afternoon, I must conclude
that you don't believe that the accelerating loss of the sense of the
supernatural is an accident of history.

AVH: No, I do not. There have been two books published in Italy in
recent years that confirm what my husband had been suspecting for some
time; namely, that there has been a systematic infiltaration of the
Church by diabolical enemies for much of this century. My husband was
a very sanguine man and optomistic by nature. During the last ten 
years of his life, however, I witnessed him many times in moments of
great sorrow, and frequently repeating, "They have desecrated the Holy
Bride of Christ." He was referring to the "abomination of desolation"
of which the prophet Daniel speaks.

TLM: This is a critical admission, Dr. von Hildebrand. Your husband 
had been called a twentieth-century Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius
XII. If he felt so strongly, didn't he have access to the Vatican to
tell Pope Paul VI of his fears?

AVH: But he did! I shall never forget the private audience we had with
Paul VI just before the end of the Council. It was on June 21, 1965.
As soon as my husband started pleading with him to condemn the heresi-
es that were rampant, the Pope interrupted with the words, "Lo scriva,
lo scriva." ("Write it down.") A few moments later, for the second 
time, my husband drew the gravity of the situation to the Pope's att-
ention. Same answer. It was clear that the Pope was feeling very un-
comfortable. The audience lasted only a few minutes. Paul VI immediat-
ely gave a sign to his secretary, Fr. Capovilla, to bring us rosaries
and medals. We then went back to Florence where my husband wrote a 
long document (unpublished today) that was delivered to Paul VI just 
the day before the last session of the Council. It was September of
1965. After reading my husband's document, he said to my husband's 
nephew, Dieter Sattler, who had become the German ambassador to the 
Holy See, that he had read the document carefully, but that "it was a
bit harsh." The reason was obvious: my husband had humbly requested a
clear condemnation of heretical statements.

TLM: You realize, of course, Doctor, that as soon as you mention this
idea of infiltration, there will be those who roll their eyes in exas-
peration and remark, "Not another conspiracy theory!"

AVH: I can only tell you what I know. It is a matter of public record,
for instance, that Bella Dodd, the ex-communist who reconverted to 
the Church, openly spoke of the Communist Party's deliberate infiltr-
ation of agents into the seminaries. She told my husband and me that
when she was an active party member, she had dealt with no fewer than
four cardinals within the Vatican "who were working for us."
 Many a time I have heard Americans say that Europeans "smell conspir-
acy wherever they go." But from the beginning, the Evil One has "con-
spired" against the Church-and has always aimed in particular at dest-
roying the Mass, and sapping belief in the Real Presence of Christ in
the Eucharist. That some people are tempted to blow this undeniable
fact out of proportion is no reason for denying its reality. On the 
other hand, I, European born, am tempted to say that many Americans
are naive; living in a country that has been blessed by peace, and 
knowing little about history, they are more likely than Europeans 
(whose history is a tumultuous one) to fall prey to illusions. Rous-
seau has had an enormous influence in the United States. When Christ
said to His apostles at the Last Supper that "one of you will betray
Me," the apostles were stunned. Judas had played his hand so artfully
that no one suspected him, for a cunning conspirator knows how to cov-
er his tracks with a show of orthodoxy.

TLM: Do the two books by the Italian priest you mentioned before the
interview contain documentation that would provide evidence of this

AVH: The two books I mentioned were published in 1998 and 2000 by an
Italian priest, Don Luigi Villa of the diocese of Brescia, who at the
request of Padre Pio has devoted many years of his life to the invest-
igation of the possible infiltration of both Freemasons and Communists
into the Church. My husband and I met Don Villa in the sixties. He
claims that he does not make any statement that he cannot substanti-
ate. When Paulo Sesto Beato? (1998) was published the book was sent to
every single Italian bishop. None of them acknowledged receipt; none
challenged any of Don Villa' claims.
 In this book, he relates something that no ecclesiastical authority
has refuted or asked to be retracted-even though he names particular
personalities in regard to the incident. It pertains to the rift be-
tween Pope Pius XII and the then Bishop Montini (the future Paul VI)
who was his Undersecretary of State. Pius XII, conscious of the threat
of Communism, which in the aftermath of World War II was dominating
nearly half of Europe, had prohibited the Vatican staff from dealing
with Moscow. To his dismay, he was informed one day through the Bishop
of Upsala (Sweden) that his strict order had been contravened. The 
Pope resisted giving credence to this rumor until he was given incon-
trovertible evidence that Montini had been corresponding with various
Soviet agencies. Meanwhile, Pope Pius XII (as had Pius XI) had been 
sending priests clandestinely into Russia to give comfort to Catholics
behind the Iron Curtain. Every one of them had been systematically
arrested, tortured, and either executed or sent to the gulag. Event-
ually a Vatican mole was discovered: Alighiero Tondi, S.J., who was a
close adviser to Montini. Tondi was an agent working for Stalin whose
mission was to keep Moscow informed about initiatives such as the sen-
ding of priests into the Soviet Union.
 Add to this Pope Paul's treatment of Cardinal Mindszenty. Against his
will, Mindszenty was ordered by the Vatican to leave Budapest. As most
everyone knows, he had escaped the Communists and sought refuge in the
American embassy compound. The Pope had given him his solemn promise
that he would remain Primate of Hungary as long as he lived. When the 
Cardinal (who had been tortured by the Communists) arrived in Rome,
Paul VI embraced him warmly, but then sent him into exile into Vienna.
Shortly afterwards, this holy prelate was informed that he had been
demoted, and had been replaced by someone more acceptable to the Hun-
garian Communist government. More puzzling, and tragically sad, is the
fact that when Mindszenty died, no Church representative was present
at his burial.
 Another of Don Villa's illustrations of infiltration is one related
to him by Cardinal Gagnon. Paul VI had asked Gagnon to head an invest-
igation concerning the infiltration of the Church by powerful enemies.
Cardinal Gagnon(at the time an Archbishop) accepted this unpleasant
task, and compiled a long dossier, rich in worrisome facts. When the
work was completed, he requested an audience with Pope Paul in order
to deliver personally the manuscript to the Pontiff. This request for
a meeting was denied. The Pope sent word that the document should be
placed in the offices of the Congregation for the Clergy, specific-
ally in a safe with a double lock. This was done, but the very next 
day the safe deposit box was broken and the manuscript mysteriously
disappeared. The usual policy of the Vatican is to make sure that 
news of such incidents never sees the light of day. Nevertheless, this
theft was reported even in L'Osservatore Romano (perhaps under press-
ure because it had been reported in the secular press). Cardinal Gag-
non, of course, had a copy, and once again asked the Pope for a priv-
ate audience. Once again his request was denied. He then decided to
leave Rome and returned to his homeland in Canada. Later, he was call-
ed back to Rome by Pope John Paul II and made a Cardinal.

TLM: Why did Don Villa write these works singling out Paul VI for

AVH: Don Villa reluctantly decided to publish the books to which I
have alluded. But when several bishops pushed for the beatification of
Pope Paul VI, this priest perceived it as a clarion call to print the
information he had gathered throughout the years. In so doing, he was
following the guidelines of a Roman Congregation, informing the faith-
ful that it was their duty as members of the Church to relay to the
Congregation any information that might militate against the candid-
ate's qualifications for beatification.
 Considering the tumultuous pontificate of Paul VI, and the confusing
signals he was giving, e.g.: speaking about the "smoke of Satan has
entered the Church," yet refusing to condemn heresies officially; his
promulgation of Humanae Vitae (the glory of his pontificate), yet his
careful avoidance of proclaiming it ex cathedra; delivering his Credo
of the People of God in Piazza San Pietro in 1968, and once again fai-
ling to declare it binding on all Catholics; disobeying the strict 
orders of Pius XII to have no contact with Moscow, and appeasing the 
Hungarian Communist government by reneging on the solemn promise that
he had made to Cardinal Mindszenty; his treatment of the holy Cardinal
Slipyj, who had spent seventeen years in a Gulag, only to be made a 
virtual prisoner in the Vatican by Paul VI; and finally asking Arch-
bishop Gagnon to investigate possible infiltration in the Vatican, 
only to refuse him an audience when his work was completed-all these
speak strongly against the beatification of Paolo VI, dubbed in Rome,
"Paolo Sesto, Mesto" (Paul VI, the sad one).
 That the duty to publish this depressing information was onerous and
cost Don Villa great sorrow cannot be doubted. Any Catholic rejoices
when he can look up to a Pope with boundless veneration. But Catholics
also know that even though Christ never promised He would give us per-
fect leaders, He did promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail.
Let us not forget that even though the Church has had some very bad 
popes, and some mediocre ones, she has been blessed with many great
popes. Eighty of them have been canonized and several have been beati-
fied. This is a success story that does not bear parallel in the secu-
lar world.
 God alone is the judge of Paul VI. But it cannot be denied that his
pontificate was a very complex and tragic one. It was under him that,
in the course of fifteen years, more changes were introduced in the
Church than in all preceding centuries combined. What is worrisome is
that when we read the testimony of ex-Communists like Bella Dodd, and
study Freemasonic documents (dating from the nineteenth century, and
usually penned by fallen-away priests like Paul Roca), we can see 
that, to a large extent, their agaenda has been carried out: the exo-
dus of priests and nuns after Vatican II, dissenting theologians not
censured, feminism, the pressure put on Rome to abolish priestly celi-
bacy, immorality in the clergy, blasphemous liturgies (see the article
by David Hart in First Things, April 2001, The Future of the Papacy"),
the radical changes that have been introduced into the sacred liturgy
(see Cardinal Ratzinger's book Milestones, pp.126 and 148, Ignatius
Press), and a misleading ecumenism. Only a blind person could deny
that many of the Enemy's plans have been perfectly carried out.
 One should not forget that the world was shocked at what Hitler did.
People like my husband, however, actually read what he said in Mein 
Kampf. The plan was there. The world simply chose not to believe it.
 But grave as the situation is, no commited Catholic can forget that
Christ promised that He will remain with His Church to the very end of
the world. We should meditate on the scene related in the Gospel when
the apostles' boat was battered by a fierce storm. Christ was sleep-
ing! His terrified followers woke Him up: He said one word, and there
was a great calm. "O ye of little faith!"

TLM: I take it by your remarks about ecumenism that don't agree with
the current policy of "convergence" rather than "conversion"?

AVH: Let me relate an incident that caused my husband grief. It was 
1946, just after the war. My huband was teaching at Fordham, and there
appeared in one of his classes a Jewish student who had been a naval 
officer during the war. He would eventually tell my husband about a
particularly stunning sunset in the Pacific and how it had led him to
the quest for the truth about God. he first went to Columbia to study 
philosophy, and he knew that this was not what he was looking for. A
friend suggested he try philosophy at Fordham and mentioned the name
Dietrich von Hildebrand. After just one class with my husband, he knew
he had found what he was looking for. One day after class my husband 
and this student went for a walk. He told my husband during this time
that he was surprised at the fact that several professors, after disc-
overing he was Jewish, assured him that they would not try to convert
him to Catholicism. My husband, stunned, stopped, turned to him and 
said, "They said what?!" He repeated the story and my husband told 
him, "I would walk to the ends of the earth to make you a Catholic."
To make a long story short, the young man became a Catholic, was ord-
ained a Carthusian priest, and went on to enter the only Charter House
in the United States (in Vermont)!

TLM: You spent many years teaching at Hunter College.

AVH: Yes, and several of my students became Catholics. Oh, and the
beautiful conversion stories I could relate if I had time-young people
who were swept up by truth!
 I want to make one point very clear, however. I did not convert my
students. The most we can do is pray to be God's instruments. To be an
instrument we must strive to live the Gospel every day and inevery 
circumstance. Only God's grace can give us the desire and ability to
do that.
 It is one of the fears I have about traditional Catholics. Some flirt
with fanaticism. A fanatic is one who considers truth to be his perso-
nal possession instead of God's gift. We are servants of the truth,
and it is as servants that we seek to share it.
 I am very concerned that there are "fanatical" Catholics who use the
Faith and the truth it proclaims as an intellectual toy. An authentic
appropriation of the truth always leads to a striving for holiness. 
The Faith, in this present crisis, is not an intellectual chess game.
For anyone not striving for holiness, that's all it will ever be.
Such people do more harm to the Faith, particularly if they are pro-
ponents of the traditional Mass.

TLM: So you see the only scenario for a solution to the present crisis
as the renewal of a striving for sanctity?

AVH: We cannot forget that we are fighting not only against flesh and
blood, but againt "powers and principalities." This should elicit suf-
ficient dread in us to make us strive more than ever for holiness,
and to pray fervently that the Holy Bride of Christ, who is right now
at Calvary, comes out of this fearful crisis more radiant that ever.
 The Catholic answer is always the same: absolute fidelity to the holy
teaching of the Church, faithfulness to the Holy See, frequent recept-
ion of the sacraments, the Rosary, daily spiritual reading, and grat-
itude that we have been given the fulness of God's revelation: "Gaud-
ete, iterum dico vobis, Gaudete."

TLM: I cannot end the interview without asking your reaction to a 
well-worn canard. There are those critics of the ancient Latin Mass
who point out that the crisis in the Church developed at a time when
the Mass was offered throughout the world. Why should we thaen think
its revival is intrinsic to the solution?

AVH: The devil hates the ancient Mass. He hates it because it is the 
most perfect reformulation of all the teachings of the Church. It was
my husband who gave me this insight about the Mass. The problem that
ushered in the present crisis was not the Traditional Mass. The prob-
lem was that priests who offered it had already lost the sense of the
supernatural and the transcendent. They rushed through the prayers,
they mumbled and didn't enunciate them. That is a sign that they had
brought to the Mass their growing secularism. The ancient Mass does
not abide irreverence, and that was why so many priests were just as
happy to see it go.

TLM: Thank you, Dr. Hildebrand, for this time and the opportunity to
speak with you. +

This article was taken from The Latin Mass magazine, Summer 2001 issue
and appeared on pages 7-11.

 ERRORS  by Jonathan Tuttle

 As has been stated previously in this series (the present article is
the third in my Remnant series on Papal infallibility), many conserv-
atives have the alarming tendency to extend papal infallibility to 
every utterance of Pope John Paul II, but when it comes to former 
popes, in many cases they are willing to discard entire bodies of 
papal teaching. This is the definition of magisterial positivism. 
Never has this principle been more colorfully illustrated than in the
case of the Syllabus of Errors. It is not hyperbolic to claim that 
many conservative Catholics who consider themselves well-read intell-
ectuals apply a greater level of infallibility to Pope John Paul's
The Jeweler's Shop than to the Syllabus. However, though the laity has
adopted this position, the level of culpability has certainly been 
affected, because as we shall see, the same position has been unoffi-
cially been adopted by the church hierarchy. The following is an ana-
lysis of the infallible nature of the Syllabus of Errors and its sub-
sequent rejection.


 In order to combat the onslaught of modernism, Pope Pius IX establi-
shed a comminssion in 1852 to identify the chief theological errors
of the day in order, that they might be presented as such and summar-
ily condemned. Though it was not released until ten years to the day
after the issuance of Ineffabilis Deus, the promulgation of the Syll-
abus of Errors was originally intended to be released simultaneously
with the proclamation of the dogma of the Immacualte Conception. A
decade after the commission was formed, Pope Pius IX invited three 
hundred bishops who had assembled in Rome to study and comment on the
list of theses, and they approved their essential contents. 
 Two years later, in 1864, Pope Pius IX issued the encyclical QUANTA
CURA, which served as a preface for the attached condemned list of
eighty propositions, entitled, "A Sylabus Containing the Most Import-
ant Errors of out Time, Which Have Been Condemned by our Holy Father
Pius IX in Allocutions, at Consistories, in Encyclicals, and other 
Apostolic Letters." The Syllabus was divided into ten categories and
covered the following areas: pantheism, naturalism, rationalism, ind-
ifferentism, socialism, communism, secret societies, Bible societies,
liberal clerical associations, errors regarding the Church and its
rights, errors on the State on its relation to the Church, errors on 
natural and Christian ethics, errors on Christian marriage, errors on
the temporal power of the Pope, and errors in connection with modern
 Though faithful Catholics accepted the document as a dogmatic issu-
ance, the publication of the Syllabus caused a violent outcry among
anti-Catholics, who regarded its issuance as a rejection of the sup-
posed "rights" of the state. The hostility would not be short-lived.

The Theological Acceptance
 For the first one hundred years following its issuance, historical
research shows that most theologians accepted the Syllabus as infall-
ible teaching. Franzelin makes such a claim of infallibility for the
Syllabus, as do Herve's scholarly Manual of Dogmatic Theology and 
Denzinger's classic Enchiridion Symbolorum, definitionum et declarati-
onum de rebus fidei et morum, a handbook of articles of faith and
morals. Bernard Otten writes in his 1925 Manual of the History of 
Dogmas that "its binding force was universally and gladly admitted,"
and that "many theologians contend that the Syllabus in an ex cathedra
pronouncement, and therefore final and irreformable..." The Catholic
Encyclopedia of 1912 explains: "Many theologians are of the opinion 
that to the Syllabus as such an infallible teaching authority is to be
ascribed, whether due to an ex cathedra decision by the pope or to
the subsequent acceptance by the Church." There is little wonder that
most theologians accepted it as infallible. Upon a careful analysis of
the elements of infallibility, it is difficult to find one that is 
lacking in the Syllabus. To determine the infallible nature of the 
Syllabus, we must employ the formula of requisites given to us by the
First Vatican Council.
 First, was the Syllabus written by the "pastor and doctor of all 
Christians"? To answer this, it is important to remember that all en-
cyclicals, by their very nature was written by the "pastor and doctor 
of all Christians." Most encyclicals never rise to the level of infal-
libility, but not because of the lack of this first element of infall-
ibility. The word encyclical comes from the Greek word enkyklike,
which means a circular letter. It literally means a letter that is 
meant to be circulated.; it is addressed to all the faithful. A papal
encyclical is a letter not simply written by a man as a man, but by 
the pope as the pastor of all Christians. That is true whether it be
Providentissimus Deus or Evangelium Vitae. The contents of encyclicals
have various levels of theological weightyness behind them, but they
are all said to be authored by the pastor of all Christians in his
official capacity. As for all encyclicals, Quanta Cura and the accomp-
anying Syllabus meet this first criterion for infallibility.
 Second, was Pius defining a doctrine concerning faith or morals?