BY JULIA MELONI, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019
Jonah began his journey through the city, and when he had gone only a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (Jonah 3:4-6)
A year after his bombshell testimony on the cover-up for Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò remains a prophet in exile, exposing the filth in a Church that needs to be burned clean. As Inside the Vatican’s Robert Moynihan notes, the Italian prelate is an unlikely hero. He’s a “small man with intelligent eyes, exquisite manners, studious, hardworking.” But this 78-year-old with thin-rimmed glasses bears in his bones the burden of prophetic speech. He bears the weight of being (as Moynihan puts it) a kind of modern-day Jonah, called to preach to Nineveh before the potential destruction comes.
These days, Archbishop Viganò is warning of an invidious campaign to infiltrate the Catholic Church. In a bombshell interview with Moynihan published last week, Archbishop Viganò tells of a “project” that “goes back centuries”—“in particular, to the creation in the middle of the 1700s of Freemasonry.” This “very deceptive” plot against the Church included some of her own senior members.
“This is described in the book Infiltration by Dr. Taylor Marshall, so you may find some indication of this process there,” says the Archbishop. He is referring to the bestselling book which argues that, “for over a century, the organizers of Freemasonry, Liberalism, and Modernism infiltrated the Catholic Church in order to change her doctrine, her liturgy, and her mission from something supernatural to something secular.”
Viganò believes that this process of infiltration “became strikingly evident in modern times,” and that we are now witnessing the “triumph of a 60-year-old plan” to revolutionize the Church with “a Jesuit on the See of Peter.” As Viganò recalls, many key Vatican II revolutionaries were Jesuits who maneuvered to replace the council’s prepared schemas with ones they had drawn up. Most prominent among them was Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., frequently touted as the council’s most important ideologue.
“This was the beginning of an opening… in the process of creating a new Church,” says Archbishop Viganò.
He isn’t the only one speaking of a “new,” Jesuit-fashioned Church. In La Nuova Chiesa di Karl Rahner (“The New Church of Karl Rahner”), Stefano Fontana soberingly traces the genealogy of Pope Francis’s “open Church” back to Rahner, the towering radical suspected of heterodoxy under Pope Pius XII. As Fontana shows, Rahner negotiated a “surrender to the world” which is being registered in this pontificate’s signature agendas—from Communion for adulterers and the ordination of married men to the enthronement of “conscience” and the rapid abandonment of evangelization.
Historian Roberto de Mattei likewise calls Rahner the Pope’s “grandfather,” arguing that the two Jesuits are linked through a third—Carlo Cardinal Martini, leader of the St. Gallen mafia and Pope Francis’s “father.” “The agenda of Cardinal Martini, which is the same as Rahner’s, offers us the key to understanding the papacy of Pope Francis,” says de Mattei, pointing to the Cardinal’s fiery last interview calling for the autonomy of conscience and Communion for adulterers.
Today, St. Gallen don Walter Cardinal Kasper and others are euphemizing Pope Francis’s ruptures with the past as a glittery “paradigm shift.” But Archbishop Viganò says the “exotic,” “sophisticated” slogans are just being used “to mislead, to deceive.”
He explains that, in the past, a “huge machine of media propaganda” applied a hermeneutic of rupture to Vatican II. Today, he says, a slick “media machinery, including photos of Pope Francis with Emeritus Pope Benedict, and so forth, has been used to argue that the ‘new paradigm’ of Pope Francis is in continuity with the teaching of his predecessors.”
“But it is not so,” he warns. “It is a ‘new church’.”
Benedict XVI “said this would be a catastrophe,” says Archbishop Viganò of the project to make a new Church. He’s referring to the Pope Emeritus’s letter this year on the sexual abuse crisis. To borrow Michael Brendan Dougherty’s summary of the “explosive, acid” text:
Benedict charges that a revolutionary spirit from the world entered the Church in the 1960s. Possessed by that spirit, arrogant theologians determined on creating “another Church” destroyed the traditional moral theology of the Faith, leading to a complete breakdown of moral discipline in the clergy and even a generalized spirit of blasphemy, which Benedict intimately and unforgettably connects with the phenomenon of child abuse.
Today, as the Amazon synod looms near, that malefic spirit seems to have brought with it seven others. Everywhere we hear klaxon calls warning of heresy, apostasy, and schism. Two powerful traditionalist prelates, Raymond Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, have called for 40 days of prayer and fasting to drive those spirits out.
Publicly, Pope Francis is playing it cool, saying he’s just a copycat of Pope John Paul II and a faithful implementer of Vatican II. It’s the prophets who are lighting angry blazes. Ask the Holy Father and he’ll say it’s an “honor” that they’re “attacking” him. He almost dares them to keep raising their voices and playing with fire. “I pray that schisms do not happen, but I am not afraid of them,” he defiantly declares, warning the “schools of rigidity” that their “pseudo-schismatic” ways will “end badly.”
“Pope Francis is saying that because he knows the Amazon Synod may provoke a schism,” argues Viganò in another interview with Moynihan last week. “He is ready to say others are making the schism, but (by his actions in continuing to support the Amazon synod) he is provoking it himself. Is this the attitude of a pastor who cares for the faithful? It is his own duty to prevent a schism.”
“But what is your message really: that God is about to chastise the Church, as Nineveh was threatened with destruction, or do you believe there is still a chance to renew the Church, through prayer and a renewal of priestly and lay spirituality?” Moynihan asks Viganò.
Fixing his eyes on the burning, purifying thing that must come, he replies: “The two possibilities you offer are not mutually exclusive. There may be both a chastisement, which will shake and diminish the Church, and also a reform and renewal of the Church, making her more resplendent in holiness. Both are possible.”
Today, here in Nineveh, the prophets are speaking—and time is running out for all of us, great and small, to heed them.
Julia Meloni writes from the Pacific Northwest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale and a master’s degree in English from Harvard.