Volume 1 – 535. Will not the Catholic Church have to part with many of its doctrines in deference to modern thought, if it is to last till the end of time?
No. The Catholic Church is living to-day precisely because she has ever refused to part with her doctrines, which are the doctrines of Christ. The heresies of the centuries parted with doctrines of Christian faith in deference to human opinions, and they died in turn through the ages. Protestantism is dying visibly to-day. Any attempt to adjust Christianity to men’s fallible speculations is suicidal. The Catholic Church adjusts men’s ideas to Christian doctrine, and she stands, and will stand. Catholic doctrines are offensive to modern thought only because modern thought has ceased to be Christian, and the Catholic Church refuses to cease to be Christian. If men insist upon walking along the wrong track, the only way the Catholic Church could keep in their company would be to take the wrong track with them. But she prefers the right track. If modern thought does not harmonize with the Catholic Church, so much the worse for modern thought. However, modern thought, as you call it, is chiefly the result of not thinking. Its authors are only too prone to ignore evidence and take that to be true which they would like to be true.
Then again, according to new orders from the top:
“Vatican II, inspired by John XXIII and Paul VI, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to open up to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that opening up to modern culture would mean religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. Subsequently, however, little was done in that regard. I have the humility and ambition to want to do it. … Proselytism is downright nonsense; it doesn’t make any sense. We need to learn to understand each other, listen to one another, and increase our knowledge about the world around us. It often happens that after one meeting I want to have another one because new ideas emerge and new needs are discovered. This is what is important: to know one another, to listen to one another, broaden the range of thought. … The world is full of streets that converge and diverge; the important thing is that they lead to the Good. [There is not] only one vision of the Good…. Each one of us has his own vision of the Good and also of Evil. We have to urge it [the vision] to move towards what one perceives as the Good. … Everyone has his own idea of Good and Evil and he has to choose to follow the Good and to fight Evil as he understands it. This would be enough to improve the world.” (to Scalfari) … “When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself. … The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.” (to Spadaro)
In search of a sanity-ballast, I am drawn to the following words Pope Pius IX wrote in 1846 to all Catholic clerics in Qui Pluribus:
“You must fight energetically, since you know very well what great wounds the undefiled Spouse of Christ Jesus has suffered, and how vigorous is the destructive attack of Her enemies. You must also care for and defend the Catholic faith with episcopal strength and see that the flock entrusted to you stands to the end firm and unmoved in the faith. For unless one preserves the faith entire and uninjured, he will without doubt perish forever. … So, in accordance with your pastoral care, work assiduously to protect and preserve this faith. Never cease to instruct all men in it, to encourage the wavering, to convince dissenters, to strengthen the weak in faith by never tolerating … anything which could in the slightest degree defile the purity of this faith.”
Make it so!