The Fatima Center Will Not — Cannot — Be Silent
by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 22, 2018
Day after day, this column, and indeed this apostolate, are engaged in the business of exposing and opposing the errors against the Faith which are proliferating in our time, no doubt as the Third Secret of Fatima predicted they would.
To the charge of “negativity” there is, for a Catholic who cares about the Faith, only one response. It is the same response that Father Gruner always gave to his critics, quoting Pope Saint Felix III: “An error which is not resisted is approved; a truth which is not defended is suppressed.” (Cf. Leo XIII,Inimica Vis, citing Felix III.)
As Professor Roberto de Mattei has so rightly observed in this regard: “The true cause of the current crisis in the Church is not so much in the arrogance of those who have lost the faith, but in the weakness of those who, preserving it, prefer to remain silent rather than defend it publicly. This minimalism constitutes the contemporary spiritual and moral malady.”
Professor De Mattei further observes that there is also the danger of a minimalism that would confine itself to a defense — certainly necessary — of the negative precepts of the divine and natural law, the “Thou Shalt Nots,” which represent the “floor” of Christian duty, while failing to defend the positive moral precepts and the Church’s correlative teaching, which represent the higher good we are obliged to seek out of love for God and His revealed truth.
“The precept of fraternal correction,” he writes, “is among the positive moral precepts.” Citing an example frequently cited by Father Gruner, Professor de Mattei reminds us that “Whoever truly loves God will follow the example of Eusebius, the layman who later became a bishop, who, in 423, publicly stood up to Nestorius, who denied the Divine Maternity.” He summarizes as well the sound advice of an Italian priest, Father Salvatore Priola, to “get up and walk out when we hear things contrary to the faith” so as to “manifest our maximalist love of God and not put the lamp of our faith under a bushel.”
To quote the same priest directly (in words that could have been spoken by Father Gruner):
“When you hear a priest say things that are contrary to the Catholic faith, you should have the courage to stand up and say to the priest, even during Mass: ‘This is not allowed!’… Even if a priest says it, even if a bishop says it, stand up and say to him: ‘Father, Excellency, this is not allowed. Because there is a Gospel. Because we are all under the Gospel, from the Pope on down. We are all under the Gospel.’”
We are all under the Gospel. From the Pope on down. Not even the Pope can preach a Gospel other than that which has been handed down to us from Christ and the Apostles.
Thus, not even a Pope is exempt from fraternal correction by his subjects should it prove necessary. To quote Saint Thomas: “It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith… [i.e., his dissimulating refusal to eat with Gentiles, endangering their faith by putting in question the abrogation of the Old Law by Christ’s establishment of the New].”
If it were otherwise, then our faith would have no immutable, objective content to be defended against error and the Pope would be precisely the caricature that Protestants have depicted: a kind of oracle who could alter the doctrines of the Faith or announce new ones at will. To remain silent in the face of what is happening during this pontificate would be precisely to validate that caricature. This we will not and cannot do.