Today we jump around a bit due to an interesting post that appeared on the SSPX Canada website recently. The post contains a letter that was written to Friends and Benefactors by Fr. Daniel Couture, District Superior of Canada. The title of Fr. Couture’s post is Post-conciliar Language (see here), which highlights a phenomenon that we can call the corruption of language. A phenomenon that we identify and comment on quite often.
Your humble blogger has noticed that this corruption of language phenomenon “afflicts” Francis quite frequently, but also “afflicts” many of the leading neo-modernist clerics. We highlighted exactly this issue in a series of posts titled Man-Marking Marx (see an example here). In this series, we analyzed one of the main practitioners of this corruption the language methodology and the driving force behind the Stealth Sex Synod™ of 2015, one Cardinal Reinhard “Bling” Marx.
With respect to Fr. Couture’s post, the reason that it caught your humble blogger’s eye is because it serves as a good follow-up to an earlier post titled When Words Have No Meaning (see here). Today’s post will attempt to explain the genesis of this phenomenon of corrupted language and its derivative “meaningless words”. We often observe this phenomenon in documents and texts produced at the Second Vatican Council and in the post-conciliar church, hence the title of this post.
Before we get to Fr. Couture’s post, a few words about the genesis and context this meaningless words phenomenon. As Fr. Couture’s rightly observes, this phenomenon was already present at the time of Pope St. Piux X and mentioned in his Pascendi encyclical in 1907. The phenomenon of meaningless words can be traced to what is known as the Structuralism movement of the early to mid XXth century. Structuralism is defined as “a theory [which claims] that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure” (see here). Of the areas of study that the Structuralism movement infected were linguistics and literary criticism. Structuralism developed as a theoretical framework in linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure in the late 1920s, early 1930 (see here) and was seen as a “reaction to ’modernist’ alienation and despair”(see here). And as we can observe from the Pascendi passage, the Modernists were already alienated and despaired by 1907, which should provide context for what is written below.
So to address the general alienation and despair, Structuralism was conceived. As mentioned earlier, one area in which Structuralism took hold is in the field of linguistics. And as you no doubt by now can figure out dear reader, the reason for this development was due to a small problem that the Modernist’s encountered, i.e. a dictionary. To be more precise, the problem was the FACT that there is an objective meaning of words and their usage. The manner in which Structural linguistics got around the problem of the dictionary i.e. the objective meaning of words and their usage is through the novel theory that words were only symbols (signs) and the meaning was much less important than the underlying “structure” that those words represent. Hence the designation “structuralism”. Here is a good explanation of the above (see here):
Structuralism developed as a theoretical framework in linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure in the late 1920s, early 1930s. De Saussure proposed that languages were constructed of hidden rules that practitioners known but are unable to articulate. In other words, though we may all speak the same language, we are not all able to fully articulate the grammatical rules that govern why we arrange words in the order we do. However, we understand these rules of an implicit (as opposed to explicit) level, and we are aware when we correctly use these rules when we are able to successfully decode what another person is saying to us (Johnson 2007: 91).
From the above, one can appreciate the powerful weapon that Structuralism provided the Modernist in their fight against the dreaded dictionary. Also notice the “space” that “understanding these rules of an implicit (as opposed to explicit) level” can provide for the activities of the “god of surprises”. But I digress…
The bad news however, was that this movement itself soon faded into obscurity due to a small design flaw, i.e. the inherent logical fallacy of contradictory conditions. In other words, Structuralism implicitly breached the rule of non self-contradiction. The specific problem was this: in order to use Structuralism, i.e. a theory that states that words DO NOT have an objective meaning, one needs to use words that DO have a objective meaning. This realization led to the next big linguistic movement, i.e. Deconstructionism, which partially rectified this obvious logical flaw with Structuralism. Deconstructionism in turn states that the meaning of words is ambiguous. But I digress…
Partial communion anyone?
Which brings us to Pascendi and theology. This problem with Structuralism described above, i.e. the fallacy of contradictory conditions was addressed in the area of linguistics, but it is was not addressed in the neo-modernist post-conciliar theology. Whereas the linguists had a problem with the objective meaning of words in general, the neo-modernist “theologians” problem can be reduced to a problem with one word: TRUTH.
On an aside, it is for this reason that we termed this theology as The Neo-modernist “Theology of Death” (see here). It is also dying, but unlike Structuralism, only its ultimate demise is taking much longer.
To get a good understanding of what exactly is the problem with post-conciliar neon-modernist “theology”, we refer back to a staple post of this blog, i.e. the John Lamont essay titled Attacks on Thomism (see here). Here is the relevant passage: (emphasis added)
The neomodernist position, when stated clearly,is not liable to attract many people. Although its conception of truth has been defended by the pragmatist school of philosophy, most lay opinion agrees with the majority of philosophical opinion in rejecting the pragmatist understanding of truth.
In other words, TRUTH is an OBJECTIVE REALITY. Aristotle in turn described truth by saying: of what is, that it is. And to continue this thought to its logical conclusion, using mathematical notation: (what is, that it is = TRUTH = GOD).
But it gets better…
In addition, no great philosophical expertise is needed to see that the historical perspectivism of the neomodernists is self-refuting. Historical perspectivism is a universal philosophical claim about the nature of human concepts and human knowledge, a claim that is presented as being true for all people at all times, and as being known to be true by the neomodernists. But such a claim contradicts historical perspectivism itself, which denies the possibility of knowledge of this sort. The success of neomodernism thus seems mystifying, and requires explanation.
So not only do the neo-modernists have a problem with understanding what constitutes TRUTH, they also constructed their “theology” on a logical fallacy.
As to the explanation to the question regarding the “success of neo-modernism”, the most likely explanation is that the neo-modernist post-conciliar church is living off the patrimony that they
captured inherited post Second Vatican Council. A good proof of just this case, can be derived from the observation between the income generated by the Holy See (Modernist Rome) and the Vatican City State (Eternal Rome) that was observed in the post Giving an Accounting to Peter (see here).
Which brings us to the Fr. Couture’s post. By far the most important observation that Fr. Couture makes is the corruption of the word “encyclical”. Fr. Couture correctly observes that: (emphasis added)
There is something wrong with calling Laudato si an encyclical. According to the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia: “In modern times usage has confined the term encyclical almost exclusively to certain papal documents (…) which in their superscription are explicitly addressed to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops of the Universal Church in communion with the Apostolic See.
Whereas, in the Laudato Si, we read the following:
Pope Francis’ new encyclical is not aimed at Patriarchs, Archbishops, etc., but is rather an appeal to “everyone” (nn. 14, 64, 79, etc. – 17 times in the document in English) and “addressed to all people of good will” (n. 62). Moreover it does not intend to teach (the normal act of a teacher, a Magister in Latin, thus of a Magisterium) but to dialogue, to converse, to debate: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (n.14)
So what conclusion does Fr. Couture come to:
Thus the Pope admits that he is not teaching; nevertheless he wants his encyclical to become part of the Church’s teaching: “It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching…” (n.15)
In one word: confusion.
But also a proper key by which to assess just what in fact Laudato si, and by extension the Francis magisterium is.
Which brings to mind another commentary about another papal document provided by Cardinal Raymond Burke. When asked to comment about the Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation, here is what Card. Burke observed: (see here)
“To me, it’s a distinct kind of document, and I haven’t quite figured out in my mind exactly how to describe it. But I would not think that it was intended to be part of papal magisterium. At least that’s my impression of it.”
Concluding, from reading the above, what becomes apparent is that the issues that Fr. Couture has with the “encyclical” Laudato si exists on many different levels.
At its root, the issue with Laudato si is the same problem that is at the root of all of Francis speeches, homilies and daily musing emanating from the Domus Sanctae Marthae, collectively known as Francis’ magisterium. This problem can be reduced to the fact that the words he uses are meaningless. In linguistic circle, Francis would be a genuine Structuralist.
The second problem that Francis’ magisterium has is derived from his “theological Structuralism”, and that is this. To an educated reader, Francis’ is a walking and talking and writing example of the logical fallacy of non self-contradiction. Fr. Couture provides a great example. Francis contradicts himself by calling this document an “encyclical”. One can only explain this problem as one of Structuralist linguistics. Furthermore, the more serious problem is that in the text of the document itself, Francis says that he “admits that he is not teaching; nevertheless he wants his encyclical to become part of the Church’s teaching“. This sentence is nothing short of gobbledygook (written gibberish).
And then there is the example of the oxymoron “living Tradition”, which I will leave for you dear reader to savor.
Which brings me to the final thought: how a Faithful Catholic should interpret the Laudato si and Evangelii Gaudium for that matter. Are they part of Francis’ teaching or are they not part of the Francis’ teaching?
To correctly interprest this above posed question, one needs to turn to Francis himself and guided oneself by his often repeated phases: I am a loyal son of the Catholic Church.
In other words, regardless what Francis says or writes, a Faithful Catholic MUST interpret his speeches, homilies and daily musing emanating from the Domus Sanctae Marthae, collectively known as Francis’ magisterium through the hermeneutic of continuity.
Regardless even of what Francis says.
There is no other way.
And here is a good example of how this can done. (see here)