Thursday, March 2, 2017

Philosophies at War, XIII: Vatican Letters, Part Two


Since today’s blog posting is simply a continuation from yesterday, we’ll just launch right into it:

Dear Just Third Way Blog:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Now that you mention it, I remember reading a small book about Saint-Simonism written by a German theologian just before the Second World War.  Unfortunately I can’t recall his name. I tried to Google it quickly, but didn’t find anything. (I am going to look for it later.) He was a Lutheran, whose views on the political situation in Germany were similar to those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
If I remember correctly, the man was murdered in the Dachau or Gross-Rosen concentration camp.  His fellow ministers denounced him to the Nazis because of his criticism of socialism.  They decided that being against socialism was not only a crime against the State, but also a heresy against the [Lutheran] Church.  To curry favor with the authorities and secure their own positions and safety in the Third Reich, the easiest solution for them was to denounce him to the Nazis.
I had not heard about such cases before I attended a conference on “The Martyrs in the Christian Church in the Nazi Era” at the Evangelische Akademie Tutzing (“Protestant Academy of Tutzing”) on Lake Stamberg in Bavaria in the early 1990s.  The event had been organized by an influential group of German intellectuals of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  As what was going on in the Nazi period so closely resembles what so often happens to those who oppose socialism in our own day and age, at least in spirit, this story needs to be told, possibly in an article or a book.
Cardinal Pio Laghi
Nor has socialism only infiltrated the Protestant Churches.  While at the Vatican I have seen the degree to which socialist ideology controls popular understanding of Catholic social teaching.
A while back, for instance, Cardinal Pio Laghi told me personally that Pope St. John Paul II would immediately correct anyone who in any way suggested that Pope Leo XIII had tried to “baptize socialism.”  A personal friend told me that part of the private talk between John Paul II and U.S. President Ronald Reagan was devoted to the problem of socialist re-interpretations of Catholic social teaching.
President Reagan later corresponded with John Paul II on this issue through the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.  This was at His Holiness’s instigation, as he wanted to give President Reagan his own, direct summary of something to which both men assigned a great deal of importance.  I know that John Paul II wrote the summary himself because, as a result of his own experiences in Poland, he was very conscious of the Soviet effort to re-interpret Catholic social teaching so as to be able to integrate it into its own religious ideology of Liberation Theology.
Social Justice Warrior
One time I got into an argument at a conference with a highly placed “conservative” American Catholic Academic on the subject of social justice.  I told him that I had the distinct impression that Western European and U.S. Catholics infused Lenin’s thesis into Catholic theology because the concept of social justice as explained by them reminded me of a definition of social justice I had seen in a Polish primary school textbook used before the fall of the Soviet Union on “Conscientious Citizenship in the Socialist State.”
As I recall, the highly placed Catholic Academic was quite offended at my statement.  It probably didn’t help that there were two other American Catholic Academics present who were also giving talks at the conference.
I admit I was rather put off and almost held my tongue when I saw that one of the other Catholic Academics was carrying around a copy of The Nation magazine along with The Catechism of Catholic Church.  Still, I decided not to allow them to censor me, and gave them my opinion.  Herbert Romerstein had once warned me that the Catholic Church in the United States has been always “red,” but I wanted to see it with my own eyes.
In attesa di una Sua pronta risposta,
La saluto cordialmente,
Carlo

To this we responded,

Dear Carlo:
What you say agrees completely with the analysis of Dr. Franz Mueller, a student of Fr. Heinrich Pesch, S.J., who was a member of the Königswinterkreis discussion group co-organized by Dr. Heinrich Rommen, another student of Fr. Pesch.  Pope Pius XI called two members of the Königswinterkreis, Fr. Gustav Gundlach, S.J., and Fr. Oswald von Nell-Breuning, S.J., to Rome to consult on the drafting of Quadragesimo Anno in 1931.
Fr. Oswald von Nell-Breuning, S.J.
According to Dr. Mueller, thanks to the Nazis destroying the Catholic social movement in Europe, the United States, not the Vatican, became the intellectual center of Catholic social teaching . . . and that meant Monsignor John A. Ryan of the Catholic University of America, who had established and maintained his preeminence by the simple expedient of destroying the career of anyone who opposed him.  For example, what Msgr. Ryan (who was also known as “Monsignor New Deal” and “The Right Reverend New Dealer”) did to the academic career of Fulton Sheen was vicious and ugly.  He then got his students to attack Sheen, calling Sheen “a traitor to Christ” and an enemy of the worker.  Sheen later referred to this period in his life as tantamount to a crucifixion.
Not surprisingly, Msgr. Ryan was a follower of the agrarian socialist Henry George.  Interestingly, George was involved in the Occult for a while in San Francisco in the 1870s; San Francisco was a hotbed of socialism and the Occult in the latter nineteenth century, as science fiction historian Sam Moscowitz discovered.  Msgr. Ryan made an idol out of a politician named Ignatius Loyola Donnelly.
"America's Prince of Cranks."
Donnelly, a former Catholic, became a “spiritualist” and was a primary source on Atlantis for Madame Blavatsky’s book, The Secret Doctrine.  Donnelly was a fanatic follower of Henry George and was also deeply involved in the Occult; he even published a book on how there was a secret code, “the cypher,” to find spiritualist messages in the plays of Shakespeare left there by “their real author,” Francis Bacon.  In his autobiography, Msgr. Ryan said that Donnelly was the greatest influence on him.  Some authorities believe that Donnelly was insane, and only credulous fools would believe anything he said.  Donnelly was called “America’s Prince of Cranks.”
And Msgr. Ryan is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on Catholic social teaching.  The “John A. Ryan Institute for the Study of Catholic Social Thought” is named for him.
Nor is that all.  The Fabian socialists — whose emblem is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — expanded Henry George’s socialism.  R.H. Tawney’s book, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926), has been and remains very influential among people involved in Catholic social teaching; one very influential Catholic commentator claims he converted to Catholicism after reading Tawney’s socialist history — yet Tawney was an Anglican involved in “esoteric philosophy” (i.e., the Occult), and was on the Executive of the Fabian Society from 1920 to 1933; they considered him their finest socialist writer.
Schumacher: Socialism is Beautiful
E.F. Schumacher, whose book on “Buddhist Economics” that was marketed as “the New Age Guide to Economics,” Small Is Beautiful (1973), is cited in the U.S. bishops’ 1986 pastoral on the economy, Economic Justice for All, was a socialist and a member of the Fabian Society.  One eminent Catholic intellectual promotes Schumacher’s book, A Guide for the Perplexed (1977) as a “wonderful little book.”  It is a theosophical tract, claiming that truth is not always true.
Yours in justice,
Just Third Way Blog

We did not have to wait long for a response:

Dear Just Third Way Blog:
Thank you very much for your analysis.
I found an article on Gustav Gundlach in German, and looked for more information about the Königswinterkreis discussion group.  I found some articles published in 1952 and 1961 in Die Zeit and Merkur, and may locate some more.  I asked a collegue here to scan them for me.
I read Tawney’s book in college.  An American Monsignor at the Vatican gave me a copy.  After I finished it I thought it might have been just a mistake that he wanted me to read it.
Laghi: Some U.S. Bishops want the Star of Bethlehem painted red.
When I mentioned this, however, Cardinal Laghi complained privately to me that he sometimes thought some of the U.S. bishops would be happy to paint the Bethlehem star in red in the Christmas Manger.  He was himself often in conflict with some of them right up to the time of his death.  I spoke to him two weeks before he died and he told me that he had to use “very strong words” to keep the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from releasing a document that criticized President’s Reagan national security policy, especially his Missile Defense Initiative. 
Still, one would have thought that a few decades after the end of the Cold War the U.S. Lay Catholic leaders might have changed their thinking.
Thank you for all of the information you sent me.  It opened my eyes even more and now I am not entirely surprised at the unusual reactions I have sometimes gotten from my other U.S. correspondents when I mention the Just Third Way or CESJ. 
In attesa di una Sua pronta risposta,
La saluto cordialmente,
Carlo

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