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A Short Catechism of the "New Theology"  
 by John Vennari  (August 1998 issue)


What is the New Theology?
 The New Theology is a false "religious" system that became popular
among Catholics in Europe from the 1920's onward. Because it was rec-
ognized as resurgent modernism, it was kept under a lid by the Vati-
can and was condemned by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis. Its primary
founders were Maurice Blondel, Father Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von
Balthasar. It enjoys an undeserved popularity today.

What is the main contention of the partisans of the New Theology?
 In 1950, THE THOMIST published an article by Father David Greenstock
that warned against the New Theology. He explained that "The main con-
tention of the partisans of this new movement is that theology, to re-
main alive, must move with the times" and that "traditional theology 
is out of touch with reality." Their hallmark has always been scorn
for the Magisterium. 

How do they scorn the Magisterium?
 The Popes have consistently taught that the philosophy and theology
of St. Thomas Aquinas (Scholasticism) is the irreplaceable basis for
Catholic teaching. In his Encyclical PASCENDI, Pope St. Pius X said
that Scholasticism was THE REMEDY for modernism. He further warned,
"We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set 
aside St. Thomas ESPECIALLY IN METAPHYSICAL QUESTIONS without grave
disadvantage." Yet the founders of the New Theology were unanimously
resolved that the Aristotelian on which Thomism is based must be aban-
doned in favor of new philosophical systems.

Why is this fatally flawed?
 Father Greenstock shows that modern philosophies cannot be "synthes-
ized" 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."

Where is the difficulty?
 Father Greenstock explained, "we are asked to substitute for the 
clear metaphysical notions of Aquinas thefluid concepts of modern
philosophies, and it is indeed very difficult for us to see how that 
can be done without harm to the unchangeable doctrines of the Faith."

Can any examples be given of how the rejection of Thomist philosophy
threatens Catholic theology?
 One example among many is that it can destroy the Catholic teaching
on the Real Presence in the Eucharist as defined by the Council of
Trent.

How? 
 Our definition of transubstantiation reads that the ACCIDENTS of the
consecrated bread stay the same - it still looks, smells, feels and
tastes like bread. But the SUBSTANCE is no longer bread, but the Body,
Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. SUBSTANCE and ACCIDENTS are
foundational terms of Thomistic/Aristotelian metaphysics. Our dogmatic
definition of the Eucharist is based on these terms. If these meta-
physical terms are not considered stable, and are now subject to new
definitions and new meanings, then the very foundation of our doctrine
on the Eucharist is shaken, and the definition of the Eucharist will
change. Garrigou-Lagrange pointed out that the rejection of Thomistic
philosophy places many doctrines in jeopardy such as original sin,
sanctifying grace, the finality of the particular judgment and even
truth itself.

Has this rejection of the Council of Trent's teaching of the Eucharist
actually happened?
 In 1946, Father Garrigou-Lagrange quoted one advocate of the New The-
ology who said that transubstantiation was conceived of and defined by
the scholastics (Thomists) and that "their doctrine is inadmissable."

Who was Maurice Blondel?
 Maurice Blondel [1861-1949], a layman, ultimately formulated the phi-
losophy on which the New Theology is based. In order to "win over mod-
ern men" who reject objectivism (the submission of the mind to object-
ive reality) Blondel formulated a "subjectivist" philosophy, more in
line with other modern philosophies.

How did he do this?
 By stating that religion is not something that goes from the head to
the heart (objective reality), but from heart to head (subjective).
He said, "nothing can enter man which does not come from out of him
and correspondence in some way to a need he has of expansion." Hence
anything supernatural (sanctifying grace) that is in man ultimately
comes from the nature of man himself.

What's wrong with that?
 St. Paul says "Faith comes by hearing" - that is, it comes from God
presenting reality to man and then man accepting it. Also sanctifying
grace(our created participation in the Divine Life of God)is not NAT-
URAL to us. It is a free gift that is above our nature (more on this
later). Neither Faith, nor the supernatural life of grace is "inside"
man" already. Yet Blondel said "NOTHING can enter man which does not
come from out of him." Blondel's teaching, in fact, is an extension of
the Modernist notion of "Divine Immanence" condemned by Pope St. Pius
X. That's why many refer to Blondel as a "neo-modernist".

Was Blondel in good faith?
 The great Dominican, Father Garrigou-Lagrange believed that Blondel
was not in good faith. Blondel manifested the trademarks of a modern-
ist: 1)Blondel quoted texts of St. Thomas to make them mean the oppo-
site of what they say; 2) he repeatedly met well-argued criticism from
his adversaries with a mere categorical denial; 3)he continually clai-
med to be misunderstood; 4)he was always "explaining" how his thinking
is really orthodox, so that to this day it is disputed what he is act-
ually saying; 5) years later, he admitted to Fr. Henri de Lubac that 
he purposely diguised his true ideas in order to escape certain cen-
sure from Church authorities.

Who was Father Henri de Lubac?
 Father de Lubac [1896-1991] was a Jesuit who saw in Blondel's teach-
ing the basis of a New Theology. Blondel has rejected Thomistic phil-
osophy, and de Lubac would incorporate this into a new system that
would reject Thomistic theology.

Did the New Theology have any sympathizers in high places?
 Even though Pope Pius XII had warned against these new teachings, the
Vatica Secretary of State, Msgr. Montini, gave encouragement to the
New Theology. At the same time, Montini was also conducting back-door
dealings with the Stalinists, again, contrary to the will of Pius XII.

What is the heart of de Lubac's New Theology?
 Building on Blondel's philosophy, de Lubac taught that the supernat-
ural is a necessary perfection of nature, without which nature is
frustrated in its essential aspirations. This means that the super-
natural is NEEDED to complete nature which remains incomplete without
it. Hence, the supernatural is not a gratuitous gift but a part of 
nature owed to nature; in other words, the supernatural is not super-
natural but natural, and lies within the bounds of nature.

Why is this wrong?
 The catholic Church teaches that the whole supernatural order of 
grace is exactly that: gratuitous-a sheer gift of God. Nature may be 
capable or well-suited to supernature, but it in no way strictly re-
quires grace which is of a different order, infinitely superior, and
given by God, as God wills, in a manner essentially independent of the
received nature. This New Theology leads to pantheism. In 1981, in his
book Gehtsemane, the lone voice of CARDINAL SIRI got right to the 
heart of de Lubac's confusion. He warned that if de Lubac's theology 
is taken to its logical conclusion, "it would mean either that Jesus
Christ is not God, or that man is Divine - again, modernism!

Was de Lubac in good faith?
 Father Garrigou-Lagrange exposed de Lubac's errors in his 1946 arti-
cle "Where is the New Theology Leading Us?," pointing out that this
new theology is just a re-hash of modernism. De Lubac simply responded
with insults and mockery, accusing Garrigou-Lagrange of having "simpl-
istic views on the absoluteness of truth." When Pope Pius XII condemn-
ed de Lubac's theology in Humani Generis, (#'s 29,30,32,34), de Lubac
simply stated that this was "highly one-sided...it doesn't concern 
me."

But wasn't de Lubac a great expert on the Fathers of the Church?
 Writing in THE THOMIST (1950) Father David Greenstock warned that the
only reason that the leaders of the New Theology overwhelm the reader
with the Greek Fathers is in order to GET AROUND St. Thomas Aquinas,
whom they actually disdain, no matter how much they pledge their de-
votion to him.

Anything else about de Lubac?
 Henri de Lubac was an avid defender of the evolutionist/pantheist
Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard also propogated great confusion regard-
ing the natural and supernatural orders, claiming that nature EVOLVES
into supernature - again, modernism!

Can Teilhard be defended as orthodox?
 Not at all. How is it possible to defend a man who makes pantheistic
statements such as, "Catholicism deceived me with its narrow definit-
ions of the World...THE WORLD around me BECOMES DIVINE..."

Did de Lubac have any regrets?
 At the end of his life, he started to wonder if perhaps he hadn't 
allowed himself to stray into forbidden doctrine. He wrote, "This per-
iodis as full of error as any...maybe I should have concentrated more
on essentials...for the last seven or eight years I have been para-
lyzed by the fear of confronting head on, in concrete fashion, the
essential problems in their scolding reality. Out of wisdom or weak-
ness? Was I right or wrong? By then however, he had already done his 
damage. Today, his cult lives on.

Who was Hans Urs von Balthasar?
 Father von Balthasar was a disciple of the New Theology whose books
are EXTREMELY popular within "conservative" circles. In the 1930's, he
developed a powerful aversion to the scholastic theology of St. Tho-
mas. He then became greatly influenced by Karl Barth, the famous Prot-
estant thinker. Von Balthasar made Christ, rather than the Catholic
Church, the center of Christian unity-as if Christ could somehow be
divorced from His one true Church-hence, paving the way for "Catholic"
ecumenism. He favored and incorporated the philosophy of Hegel, which
is the philosophy of "becoming" (never ending movement), as opposed to
the sound Thomistic philosophy of "being". never-ending movement, con-
stant flux - again, modernism.

What effects did this have?
 Many. One of the most serious is that it established a new principle
of "Living Tradition" which holds that Tradition, and therefore doct-
rine, can change. Father Boulliard, a disciple of the New Theology
said, "A theology which is not current[does not keep changing]will be
a false theology."

Did these thinkers have any influence on Vatica II?
 These thinkers were THE influence on Vatican II. In his book Vatican
II Revisited, Bishop Aloysius Wycislo, a rhapsodic advocate of Vatican
II, writes that "Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis had... a
devastating effect on the work of a number of pre-conciliar theolog-
ians." Wycislo then rejoiced that "theologians and biblical scholars,
who had been 'under a cloud' for years, surfaced as periti(thelogical
experts advising the Bishops)at Vatican II." This despite the Council
rules that no theologian who had ever been under suspicion should be
admitted as a theological expert at the Council. Wycislo mentioned by
name these theologians as Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, John Courtney Mur-
ray, Yves Congar, Edward Schillebeeckx, and HENRI DE LUBAC.

Did their Theology prevail?
 Yes. Father Henrici, S.J., an advocate of the New Theology said that
de Lubac's theology "which insists on the non-opposition between nat-
ure and supernature...BECAME THE OFFICIAL THEOLOGY OF VATICAN II."
Further, Father Henri Boulliard, another disciple of the New Theology,
wrote in triumph that the word "supernatural" does not appear in any
of the major documents of Vatican II.

Who were some other admirers of the New Theology?
 At Vatican II, two prominent admirers were Father Joseph Ratzinger
from Germany and Archbishop Karol Wojtyla from Poland. As these two
men advanced in today's Church, so did the influence and acceptance
of the "New Theology," despite its condemnation by Pius XII. In the
1980s, de Lubac and von Balthasar were both named Cardinals, without
ever having to retract their dangerous doctrines. Disciples of the New
Theology fill many theological chairs at Catholic universities world-
wide.

Doesn't the fact that some of these men were named Cardinals guarantee
their orthodoxy?
 No. Church history is replete with examples of various types of un-
sound men being promoted to high position - Judas being the first.

But why do some of the advocates of the New Theology sometimes sound
somewhat conservative?
 Because they don't always take the principles of their flawed system
to their logical conclusion. The New Theology is subjectivist by nat-
ure. Hence there are "conservatives" and "progressives" within the New
Theology, just as, St. Pius X warned, there are "conservative" and
"progressives" within Modernism. (Pascendi #27). Further, Blondel, 
Teilhard de Chardin and others have admitted that they disguised their
new doctrine under traditional sounding terminology.

Where has the New Theology led us?
 As the clear-sighted Father Garrigou-Lagrange warned in 1946, it has
led straight back to modernism. Further, as Suzanne Rini rightly ob-
serves, the New Theology should not even be called a "theology" since
it is simply resuscitated gnosticism.

What have been the results?
 The Vatican II church of ecumenism and neo-modernism, showcase of the
"New Theology", is in shambles. Boulliard's principle that "a theology
that is not current(always changing)is a false theology" is in full
force with Vatican II's "continuous aggiornamento". Theological con-
fusion now reigns, especially since von Balthasar, de Lubac, et al,
are now considered "conservatives" as opposed to the "extreme liber-
als" like Hans Kung, Charles Curran, and Richard McBrien. Those who
hold the uncompromising Catholic faith of Garrigou-Lagrange, Pope St.
Pius X, Pope Pius XII and their predecessors are sneered at as "extre-
mists-on-the-right" and "integrists."

What do we do?
 Hold fast to the traditional Catholic Faith. Don't bother reading de
Lubac, Von Balthasar, or ANY disciples of the New Theology. IGNATIUS
PRESS is the main publishing house for mainstreaming the leaders of
the New Theology into the English-speaking world. Why waste time read-
ing these suspect men when there are so many thoroughly orthodox 
saints and authors to read?

Is there any hope?
 Scripture teaches "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in 
vain who build it." Since the New Theology is built on lies, sooner 
or later, it will all come crashing down upon itself. In the meantime,
our duty is to pray for those infected with these erroneous ideas,
live the Fatima Message and keep the Catholic Faith, as the Athanas-
ian Creed admonishes, "integral and inviolate".

References:

"Where is the New Theology Leading Us?" - Father Reginald Garrigou-
 Lagrange, O.P., Angelicum, 1946.(English translation, Catholic Family
 News, Aug. 1998).
"They Think They've Won" - si si no no's 10 part series on the New 
Theology. (Originally published in 1993 in Italy, English translation
 by the Angelus Press, 1994).
"Thomism and the New Theology", David Greenstock, T.OP. The Thomist,
 1950.
Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Encyclical against Modernism), Pope St. Pius
 X, 1907.
Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, Aug 12, 1950.
Denzinger - The Sources of Catholic Dogma, Herder, 1955.
Reality, A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, Father Reginald Garrigou-
 Lagrange, O.P. Herder, 1950.
Gethsemane: Reflections on the Contemporary Theological Movement.
 Cardinal Siri, Franciscan Herald Press, 1981.
Vatican II Revisited:Reflections by One Who Was There, Bishop Aloysius
Wycislo, Alba House, 1987.

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