News Item: : Fix-Its Not Fixists, Fisi'!
(Category: Torch of The Faith News)
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Thursday 09 August 2018 - 13:28:58


Archbishop Rino Fisichella's Interview

Diane Montagna has provided a helpful translation, complete with a succinct critique by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, of an interview, originally given in Italian, by Archbishop Rino Fisichella to Vatican News.

The occasion of the archbishop's interview was to mark the 25th-anniversary of the promulgation of the excellent papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

What makes Fisichella's interview so singular is the fact that his confused words stand in such muddied contrast to the crystalline teachings found in the splendid encyclical itself. Indeed, his commentary can be said to actually go against the teachings expressed in Veritatis Splendor. That's quite a result in an interview purporting to celebrate the revered encyclical!

At the same time, Fisichella used the opportunity to even go so far as to disparage those Catholics - i.e. the faithful ones - who find themselves having to stand up as critics of Francis' teachings in these difficult times.

Indeed, in the words of the translation at LifeSiteNews, Archbishop Fisichella accused us all of somehow being ''not faithful to the Tradition of the Catholic Church.''

True and False Development of Doctrine

When Vatican News asked Fisichella about those ''sectors'' in the Church who criticise Francis for departing from Catholic doctrine, and who often point to Veritatis Splendor as the basis for their criticism, the archbishop suggested that, ''one should never use the Magisterium as an instrument to dispute the development of doctrine.''

Now, at this point, all Catholics need to be clear on the fact that an authentic understanding of the concept of ''development of doctrine'' is one which allows for deepening of understandings, and perhaps even of expressions, of already revealed doctrines and dogmas. This is because, reason, of course aided by grace, can enter ever more deeply into the rich depths of God's saving revelation. 

We must also be very clear that this understanding of development is absolutely distinct, and in clear oppositon to, the false and heretical notion that doctrines can ever evolve, or even change, with the times.

Some of the roots of that faulty and heretical understanding are found in the Modernistic currents of immanentism and historicism.

These latter were amply and Magisterially refuted and condemned by, among others, Pope St. Pius X, in his classical 1907 encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis.

The following meme provides a handy summary of the point which I am here making.        
In contrast to these truths, and those contained in Veritatis Splendor, Archbishop Fisichella suggests, ''When it (the Magisterium) is used as an instrument, then I fear there is no desire to discover the truth and also no fidelity to the tradition of the Church... instead we must reiterate how much continuity there is in the development.''

This represents an attempt to falsely accuse those who are defending the traditional teachings of the Church, as though they were the ones doing the attacking.

The give-away, however, is in that line, ''we must reiterate the continuity in the development.''

If such continuity were clear, then we would not even be having this conversation.

Of course, this all calls to mind Cardinal Kevin Farrell's disingenuous claim in the leftist paper, The Tablet, that Amoris Laetitia was, ''faithful to the doctrine and to the teaching of the Church. It is carrying on the doctrine of Familiaris Consortio of John Paul II.''

If a development in a doctrine were clear then it would be absolutely transparent that the same teaching were being given, only with more depth and, perhaps, application.

We could think of, say, the precise Credo formulated at Nicaea in 325 AD, and the more fully developed Chalcedonian Definition promulgated in continuity in 451 AD.

Closer to our own time, we can see that it is absolutely NOT in the way of a developed continuity to say that, throughout Church history, adulterers were not able to present themselves for Holy Communion, without amendment of life and confession; and then to suddenly say, voila!, now they can!

Or to say from the Council of Trent onwards that Protestants may not receive Holy Communion; and then to claim that, thanks to pastoral reasons, they suddenly can.

Or that the there is any continuity, or even any natural logic, in saying for centuries that the death penalty was always permissable in some circumstances; but now is going to be always inadmissable.

According to natural logic, a thing is what it is; and it can only develop along the lines of its true nature. Just to cite an obvious example, by way of a final illustration: a puppy grows into a fully grown dog; and whilst there can be varieties of dog within the genus ''dog'', a dog can never grow into something else, like a cat.

If there was really a continuity in Francis' problematic developments, as Archbishop Fisichella so vehemently wants us to accept, then it would already be so clear as to require no, or at the very least little, ''reiteration''.

The Norm and the Proclamation

In another remarkable section of his interview, Archbishop Fisichella suggests that Francis displays ''a great openness'' in the work of Evangelization, of not ''putting the norm before the proclamation.''

This statement can be questioned in two ways: firstly in that Francis has consistently spoken out against ''proseltytism''. We may ask how that supports an openness in Evangelization?

For the purposes of the overall thrust of this article, and indeed that of Archbishop Fisichella's interview, we must focus instead on a second aspect: in philosophical terms, there can be no proclamation without the prior existence of a norm.

In other words, and in a classically Catholic sense, Being precedes Doing.

There simply has to be a reality, a central truth, and a message to communicate, in other words a norm, before there can be any proclamation of that norm. Otherwise, what is being proclaimed?


Later in his interview, Archbishop Fisichella suggested that, when we speak of truth, we must always keep in mind a ''dynamic'' concept. ''Truth is not a fixist dimension,'' he claimed.

LifeSiteNews have done well to identify that as having some link to biological evolutionary theories; in that Fixism is ''the non-scientific theory that the species alive today are identical to those of the past and that evolution does not happen.''

Here, I would add what I said above that, whilst there may be development within species, such as birds growing tougher beaks when their environments demand it for survival, there is no development across species; such as birds evolving into anything other than a bird.

Furthermore, I cannot help but hear Fisichella say this and not think of the possible influence of the heretical theological-evolutionary ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, which continue to do so much damage in and beyond the Church.

Archbishop Fisichella claims that the entire truth that Jesus wanted to transmit ''is a truth that opens more and more to a discovery of a mystery that has been revealed''. He develops on that theme to suggest that ''the Catholic Church cannot accept an idea of truth which is ''closed in'' on itself.''

He says, ''The truth, by its very nature, refers to fidelity, but also to freedom. The truth shall make you free.''

In response to that, I would suggest that, what faithful Catholics need to do, is to recognise that it is a false first principle to begin with, to claim that truth can, in any way, be a ''closed in'' reality. Truth is always ''open'' and transparent.

Also, this acknowledgement that there is fidelity, but also freedom, must be correctly discerned in that there is actually fidelity and freedom; not fidelity or freedom. Indeed, it is by being ever more faithful to the truth, that we are thus enabled to become ever more free. This is a correctly Catholic understanding of Our Lord's promise that ''the truth shall make you free.''

We are free for the Truth; not ever free from the Truth.

At the core of his interview, Archbishop Fisichella says that it is the ''encounter'' with Jesus Christ that makes us free. It is this reality which he appears, at least from the LifeSiteNews interpretation, to present as an alternative to a supposedly ''fixist'' position vis a vis Truth.

Faithful Catholics must insist that, as indeed is the case, it is their fidelity to the Person and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the reason for their opposition to Francis' novelties in the realm of Church teaching and moral theology in the first place.

We would say that it is because we love Jesus, and souls, that we are having to stand up against Modernistic re-interpretations of the Faith.

In that sense, we are not fixists... but rather people who desire to see the present mess fixed. Hence the title today of Fix-Its, Not Fixists!

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, like Francis and others in his entourage attack both the true teachings of the Church, and those who find themselves having to defend them, as though we were some kinds of narrow minded stick-in-the-muds. However, their position in doing this is not defendable from either Catholic theology or natural philosophy.

As we have shown, the position presented by Archbishop Fisichella is just not tenable.

As such, it harms the faithful and confuses those who are trying to be faithful; including those who may know there is something wrong with what is now being presented to them, but who find themselves perhaps unable to articulate exactly what it is that is wrong.

Such people can often find themselves distressed when men of Fisichella's position seek to blame the defenders of Catholic teaching, as though it were they, and not those subverting the Faith with their sophistry, who were to blame for the obscuration of Christ's revealed Truth. This is even more so when it is Francis doing both the false teaching and the accusing.

As an antidote to these times of confusion and discouragement for so many good people, may we thus invite all readers to prayerfully and carefully take up the study of three key Magisterial teaching documents: Pascendi dominici gregis (1907); Veritatis Splendor (1993); and Fides et Ratio (1998).

We suggest that these will prove to be excellent sources for understanding and surviving all that is happening at present in the Church and society, with one's faith, and indeed with one's reason, still firmly intact.

St. Pope Pius X - Pray for us!

This news item is from Torch of The Faith
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