Autumn Book Reviews

Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015), xi + 279 pp. Reviewed by Dr. Joshua M. Evans.

Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other? (Ignatius Press, 2017) By Peter Kreeft. 208 pages; $16.95. Reviewed by Marcus B. Peter.

Sons of St. Patrick. A History of the Archbishops of New York from Dagger John to Timmytown. George J. Marlin & Brad Miner. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-62164-113-1 (Cloth) 506 pp. $34.95. Reviewed by Clara Sarrocco.

Heralds of a Catholic Russia: Twelve Spiritual Pilgrims from Byzantium to Rome. By James Likoudis ($19.95) can be obtained by ordering directly from the author: James Likoudis, P.O. Box 852, Montour Falls, NY 14865. Reviewed by Michael Morow.

Let’s Not Forget God: Freedom of Faith, Culture, and Politics. By Cardinal Angelo Scola, trans. by Matthew Sherry (New York: Image, 2014). Reviewed by Dr. Matthew K. Minerd, PhD

Pastoral Liturgy. By Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J. ( Indiana: Christian Classics, 2014) pp. 448: $25.00. Reviewed by Patricia Elliott Dillard.

The Second Vatican Council: Prehistory-Event-Result-Post-History. By Otto Hermann Pesch, (Series: Marquette Studies in Theology, Marquette University Press, 2015) Paperback: 424 pages; $35.00. Reviewed by James Likoudis. 


Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015), xi + 279 pp. Reviewed by Dr. Joshua M. Evans.

The book, Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, is a theologically rich, and densely researched account, of what might be called “Evangelical Catholic” manliness. That is, the book articulates a masculine spirituality that fits perfectly in the ecclesial ecosystem that includes EWTN, FOCUS, Catholic Answers, and Ignatius Press. The book delves deeper into the same issues discussed in Bishop Thomas Olmstead’s contemporaneous pastoral letter, Into the Breach (both were published in late 2015). The issues include: the disappearance of masculine virtues; the plague of moral relativism; the biblical foundations and vision for true masculinity; and, the need for manly men in the Church and in society. Yet, unlike other offerings in the literature on true manliness, this book avoids the tropes of the genre’s too common appeal to knights, warriors, soldiers, and “wild hearts.”

Burke-Sivers writes with a combination of grave seriousness, and unending enthusiasm, about the problems and prospects of Catholic manliness today. The fundamental problems are all too familiar, and are neatly summarized under the heading of “immorality and mediocrity” (1). Today, the average man’s highest aspiration is fornication with life-like robots: easy pleasure and no accountability. In this man-free society, fathers run away, boys lag behind in school, and too many men choose watching football over listening to forgettable Sunday homilies (1-8). The best kind of man this society can produce is the virtuous pagan, and even he tacitly pays homage to the false gods that are rightly bewailed throughout the book: contraception, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and so on.

The prospects for Catholic manliness are to be found in the wisdom of the Church, and the lives of virtuous Catholic men. Specifically, Burke-Sivers uses Scripture as his central touchpoint, moving from the story of Adam and Eve, through David, on up to the Gospels and St. Paul’s letters. Throughout, Burke-Sivers offers his often rich theological reflections. The major theologians who have written on the human person receive little explicit mention in the book (John Paul II is an exception), but their ideas are given voice through the book’s voluminous (almost overwhelming) references to Magisterial documents from the last two centuries. The key to the manly spirituality in the book is “sacrifice and service”; that is, a humble imitation of the Jesus who carries his cross. The book offers a straightforward, classic Catholic spirituality that is noteworthy primarily because it is so countercultural even within some parts of the Church today.

Although the book’s emphasis on Tradition, Magisterium, and the fruitfulness of longstanding spiritual practices, place it squarely within a well-defined and familiar ecclesial home. Nonetheless, it is difficult to determine the intended audience of the book. The style of the writing is uneven, sometimes being quite accessible, even for the neophyte (esp. chapter 1), while at other points being obscure to any but the learned (for example, see pages 159-60, which reference “circumincession” and “perichoresis” without explanation of those highly technical terms). A reader without a firm foundation in theology might often be left confused. In addition, the author’s passion for classic Catholicism is rarely combined with a rhetoric that seeks to persuade the unconvinced. It is difficult to imagine hosting a study of this book with a group of men who are not already sympathetic to Evangelical Catholicism.

The book is organized into eight chapters: 1) Biblical Manhood, 2) Covenant Relationship, 3) Sin and Forgiveness, 4) Truth and Freedom, 5) Theology of the Body, 6) Fatherhood, 7) Work, and 8) The Armor of God (a reflection on Ephesians 6). The first two chapters are a very accessible distillation of the Biblical theology brought to the masses by people like Scott Hahn and Tim Gray. The third and fourth chapters reveal a fundamental shortcoming of a book that focuses so heavily on morality: there is nothing like an extended account of the teleological structure of the natural law, and its perfection in the New Law (see p. 222-28). Expanding on the role of divinization in Christian morality would strengthen the author’s account of morality, for it is the perfection of our nature through the infusion of God’s own life that is the end worth hoping and striving for. The chapter on work draws on the theology of John Paul II, though the author might say more about the late Pope’s consistent emphasis that work is not only toilsome, but is also a participation in God’s own creative activity. The final chapter includes rich moments of Biblically informed pastoral theology.

The book, like its Evangelical Catholic ecosystem more generally, has little to say about the theology of social life. From an author who was once in formation with the Benedictines, we would expect to hear much more about the centrality of community in an authentically manly Catholic life. There is also very little in the book about the importance of care for the materially poor. One need turn only to the second chapter of the Book of Acts to see how authentic Catholic faith in the Resurrected Lord fosters not only respect for the teaching of the Apostles, but also a communal life of solidarity.

The thorough bibliography, and dense footnotes, demonstrate Burke-Sivers gift for comprehensive research, and his impressive education (Notre Dame and University of Dallas). The index is also excellent. The book is an indispensable resource for continued research about Catholic manliness.

Dr. Joshua Evans Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Health Care Ethics at Regis University, Colorado’s Jesuit, Catholic University.


Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other? (Ignatius Press, 2017) By Peter Kreeft. 208 pages; $16.95. Reviewed by Marcus B. Peter.

Dr. Peter Kreeft has long been held amongst Catholic academic spheres as an author known both for his acumen and jocosity in his written works. His tomes carry with them a certain sense of ardor and flair that render them appealing to academic and everyday readers. In this book, “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?” he doesn’t fail to deliver. As a convert to the Catholic faith, Dr. Kreeft’s fervor in presenting the fullness of revealed truth in a practical, logical and even combative, albeit non-offensive, manner is ever prevalent, and this book is no exception. He describes universal Christianity as the mainspring for the book’s theme. Amongst the many issues tackled within the book, Dr. Kreeft outlines the fundamental issue that the book addresses, i.e., that the reunion of the separated churches into the One Church is far from optional or a distant alternative, but, rather, a key part of the gospel message, or, at the very least, a corollary of that message. In his own words, he states, “if a Christian is a little Christ (an extremely little Christ), he or she must feel agony over the fact that the world, looking at Christians, no longer says ‘Look how they love one another!’ but ‘Look how they contradict each other’ and even ‘Look how they hate each other.’”

As such, he balances the book upon the high priestly prayer of Christ for his Church in John 17:21, “that they may be one.” In that vein, Dr. Kreeft characterizes his work as written in the styles of philosophers such as Nietzche and Pascal, the biblical figure Solomon and, ultimately, Christ himself; utilizing succinct, unitary arguments to address key issues, as opposed to lengthy debates and multi-faceted discussions, as is the typical approach of most philosophical discussions. What is both intriguing and exceptional about his approach is that, instead of employing confrontative, combative apologetics to the deconstruction of false doctrine, Dr. Kreeft orders his writing towards the appeal to both faith and reason in all man, addressing his arguments to the intellect and the will of the reader as a universal Christian, rather than the member of any one given denomination.

Dr. Kreeft does, however, deal with the behemoth elephant in the room that is the bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants to this very day. Labelling the issue “Goliath,” Dr. Kreeft blatantly asseverates, “Who is this Goliath? Ask any Evangelical what justified Luther’s divorce with Rome, and he will say: the Gospel, the Good News that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by works of the law,” going on to drive the point home that “what justified Luther’s break, like the Galatians, had turned to ‘another gospel.’” (P.18). The critical reader will, therefore, find it assuaging that Dr. Kreeft, far from appealing to the sentiments of the separated churches by watering down magisterial theology, tackles the issue in Chapter 2: Why the Reformation is Over head on with sound ratiocination whilst not driving away the discerning non-Catholic reader. No small feat of a balancing act, if one might be so bold as to say so.

For Dr. Kreeft, therefore, the real unification of Christianity will come from the one drive that “Catholics discover the fire and Protestants discover the fireplace.”(P. 29) Ecumenism, to Dr. Kreeft, is far more than just the act of gathering for a meeting where parties love and listen to each other, pray for and with each other and then go back with the false notion that all are equal. Instead, the true fruit of ecumenism is when “Catholics discover the essence of Evangelical Protestantism; a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior [while] Protestants discover the essence of Catholicism; Christ’s own visible, tangible Body,” (P. 29) both in the form of the magisterial institution and the real, personal and literal presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Dr. Kreeft’s astute work serves to help both Catholics and Protestants in their mutual resistance, to recall what it truly means to be one as Christ desired. Drawing a parallel with Judaism, he writes, “Christians become more Christian by becoming more Jewish… and Jews discover the fullness of their own Judaism in the Messiah” (P.30). Likewise, Catholics will come to discover in Evangelical Protestantism the very heart of Catholicism and Evangelicals will come to discover, in Catholicism, the fullest possible relationship to Christ, “[fulfilling] each other like man and woman” (P. 31).

Marcus Peter hails from Malaysia, and has had over 9 years’ experience in faith formation, missionary work and evangelization, having ministered in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, India and the United States. He is currently pursuing his MA in Theology in Ave Maria University, Florida.


Sons of St. Patrick (A History of the Archbishops of New York from Dagger John to Timmytown). George J. Marlin & Brad Miner. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-62164-113-1 (Cloth) 506 pp. $34.95. Reviewed by Clara Sarrocco.

In their book, Sons of St. Patrick, George Marlin and Brad Miner chose a title with a double meaning. The men they write about all presided over St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City’s primary cathedral, and all were tied to Ireland either by birth or by culture. They are indeed “sons of St. Patrick” in both senses.

“Before the Beginning,” Part I of the story, commences the narrative at the very early times in the seventeenth century when Christianity was brought to the New York area by St. Isaac Jogues and companions. The first bishop appointed to the New York area in 1808, R. Luke Concanen, O.P., never actually arrived at his new assignment. He died in Italy before he was able to sail for the new world. He was followed by Bishop John Connolly, O.P, one of whose accomplishments was to induce Mother Elizabeth Bayley Seton to establish a chapter of the Sisters of Charity in New York. His successor was Bishop John Dubois, S.S., the only bishop of non-Irish descent to occupy the chair of New York’s cathedral. He was born in France and was a prep school classmate of the infamous Robespierre who assisted Father Dubois to escape the persecutions of the French Revolution and to come to the United States. He was consecrated a bishop in 1826 in New York City.

Part II – “The Rise to Power” – describes the contributions of the next five bishops assigned to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. John Joseph Hughes, was known as the “Gardener” because of his humble work as a gardener/farmer both in Ireland and in the American seminary. He became the first archbishop of New York, and his diocese grew from a minority Christian denomination to being America’s largest. He fought the Nativists or Know Nothings, he was able to quell the Draft Riots of 1863 and began the construction of the present day St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Upon the death of Bishop Hughes in 1864, John Joseph McCloskey was named archbishop. His style was very different from his predecessor’s, and he has the sobriquet of “The First” because he was “. . .the first native New Yorker to be ordained a priest, the first native American to become archbishop of New York, the first American archbishop to be elevated to the cardinalate and therefore the first American eligible to participate in the election of a new pope.” He also presided over the opening of the new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The quiet, shy Cardinal McCloskey died in 1885 and was followed by Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan as the third archbishop of New York.
Archbishop Corrigan attended the North American College in Rome which explains his love of Rome and his affection for Pope Leo XIII. Marlin and Miner gave him the sub-title of “The Roman.” One of his important contribution to Catholic education and the future of the American Catholic church was the establishment of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, a few miles north of the Bronx. He also began the construction of the famous Our Lady’s Chapel in St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was completed 1902, the year before Archbishop Corrigan died at the age of sixty-three.

Archbishop Corrigan was followed to the cathedral of St. Patrick’s Cathedral by “The Builder,” John Murphy Farley. He was born in Ireland and became the last foreign born archbishop of New York. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Catholic University of America and believed that Catholic education was the most powerful tool for evangelizing. With this in mind he devoted much time to raising funds needed to renovate and expand the Catholic educational system. Archbishop Farley presided over the Hundredth Anniversary of the Archdiocese in 1908 and in 1911 he was given the honor by Pope Pius X of cardinal-priest. Cardinal Farley died in 1918 in the sixteenth year of his administration.
“The Bureaucrat,” Patrick Joseph Hayes, became the fifth archbishop of New York in 1919. He used his administrative skills to coordinate the Church’s charitable institutions under Catholic Charities. He also denounced the aims of Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League. Cardinal Hayes was a staunch anti-Communist and had fought against recognizing the Soviet Union. The last of the old order, Cardinal Hayes died on September 3, 1938 after forty-six years as a priest, twenty-four as bishop and fourteen as a cardinal.

In Part III, “The City and the World,” Marlin and Miner bring their narrative to the modern era. The last three archbishop/cardinals of St. Patrick’s who served in the twentieth century were Francis Cardinal Spellman, “The Power Broker,” Terrence Cardinal Cooke, “The Equalizer” and John Cardinal O’Connor, for obvious reasons, “The Admiral.” Francis Joseph Spellman became the Archbishop of New York in 1939 and was given the Red Hat as cardinal in 1946. He is probably best known by Americans for being the Military Vicar during World War II and afterwards. He made many trips visiting chaplains and soldiers especially in field hospitals helping them write letters and even writing some of them himself. He enjoyed a special relationship with President Roosevelt and was called upon by the President many times for advice. He also took a special interest in St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, and had a new gymnasium and infirmary built as well as other updating construction. He never hesitated in using his connections to “people in high places,” for the benefit of the Church.

Following the cardinal/power broker was Terrence Cardinal Cooke., who could not have been more opposite in temperament. He shunned controversy and confrontation, and was more likely to prefer “persuasion to command.” He had to face the decreasing funds available to support churches and Catholic schools, abortion entering the public square and the homosexual rights movement gaining momentum. His tenure as Cardinal was during a turbulent era – the period between 1969 and 1983. He lived through the attempted assassinations of both President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Cooke visited the convalescing President Reagan and the President reciprocated by visiting the Cardinal just shortly before he died of leukemia at the age of 62 in 1983.

The eighth archbishop of New York, John Joseph O’Connor, achieved the rank of Rear Admiral and Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. In 1984 upon the death of Cardinal Cooke, Bishop O’Connor was appointed as Archbishop of the New York Archdiocese, and administrator of the Military Vicariate of the United States. He was elevated to cardinal in 1985, and worked tirelessly for pro-life causes. In this capacity he was instrumental in the founding of the Sisters of Life, a religious community of Sisters specifically dedicated to working for pro-life causes. In 1999 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died on May 3, 2000.

The new millennium ushered in the last two Cardinal/Archbishops of New York that are the scope of Marlin and Miner’s history. Part IV, “The Church in Crisis,” is about Edward Cardinal Egan, “The Realist” and the present Timothy Cardinal Dolan, “The Evangelist.” Edward Michael Egan was appointed archbishop in 2000 and named a Cardinal in 2001. He had spent intermittently about seventeen years in Rome serving in various capacities as a professor and in Vatican positions. Cardinal Egan was an accomplished pianist and great lover of music. His charism was his concern for the priests in his diocese and in trying to increase vocations to the priesthood. He faced many difficulties such as the need to close and merge parishes, the priest-predator crisis and improving the infrastructure of the archdiocese. Cardinal Egan worked tirelessly to increase the revenues for the many Archdiocesan charitable works. He was the first cardinal of the archdiocese to retire when he reached the mandatory age of 75.

Upon the retirement of Cardinal Egan, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Timothy Michael Dolan to the position of the tenth archbishop of St. Patrick’s He is known as “The Evangelist” due to his down-to-earth connection with the people of New York City. In 2009 the Vatican announced his appointment and he immediately held a press conference which showed the public his jolly, outgoing personality. On February 18, 2012 Pope Benedict elevated him to the cardinalate. One of the major accomplishment of Cardinal Dolan was the thorough renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He has served as the chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services, and is one of the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Since Cardinal Dolan is the present presiding Cardinal of St. Patrick’s, he is well-known to New Yorkers and to the world at large. He has a formidable task and faces many challenges such as the priest crisis, the changing demographics of the archdiocese and the various religious and financial needs of his parishes.

Sons of St .Patrick is a detailed account of the history of the New York archdiocese and the Archbishops that have served the faithful in this city. It is their story, not the story of saints or sinners but the story of the men who gave their lives for the benefit of the Catholic faithful in the most well-known archdiocese in the world, second only to St. Peter’s in Vatican City. George Marlin and Brad Miner are to be commended for writing a well-researched and interesting book filled with many anecdotes. It is best to ignore the very few correctible errors because it is still a fascinating and informative read.

Clara Sarrocco has been a longtime member and secretary of the New York C. S. Lewis Society. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Lewis, and has taught courses on his writings. She is also the executive director of both the Council on National Literatures, and Griffon House Publications.

Heralds of a Catholic Russia: Twelve Spiritual Pilgrims from Byzantium to Rome By James Likoudis ($19.95) can be obtained by ordering directly from the author: James Likoudis, P.O. Box 852, Montour Falls, NY 14865. Reviewed by Michael Morow.

The title of James Likoudis’ most recent book, Heralds of a Catholic Russia, might seem a commonplace way of characterizing the remarkable men and women he sets out to present: Madame Sophie Swetchine; Count Gregory Schuvalov, the Barnabite priest; Prince Ivan Gararine, S.J.; Vladimir Soloviev, Russia’s major philosopher; Princess Elizabeth Volkonsky; Blessed Vladimir Ghika, Romanian Prince and priest,; Blessed Leonid Feodorov, the Russian martyr; Helle Elpinki Georgiadis, the Greek teacher of physics in England; Dr. Irene Posnoff; Helene Iswolsky; and Count Gregory Bennigsen. The author, a Greek-American raised a Greek Orthodox in Western New York, adds a powerful twelfth testimony to the Papacy as essential to the earthly visible-hierarchical Church Christ established.

All the above became Catholics after periods of intensive reading and meditation. Most were raised in the Slavic East, particularly in Czarist Russia, or suffered in the Soviet Union. The book is organized around biographical summaries of each figure, in chronological order of their lives from 1782 to the present. However, these densely studious, and sometimes dramatic, spiritual journeys are not presented only for their human interest, nor even as evidence of a serious ongoing spiritual crisis occurring in the Russia of Czars and Commissars. The heart of the book is rather a startling prophetic assertion made by the Mother of God in 1917 in Portugal, far from the worldly concerns and suffering of the peoples of Russia. Announcing herself as “I am the Lady of the Rosary,” she had earlier declared her concern about Russia spreading its errors throughout the world. However, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph; the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”

“Herald” of course means a messenger, someone proclaiming an event to come. “’Catholic Russia” in the title thus refers not to a community of isolated Catholics in diaspora in Russia, somewhat like the way American Catholics are considered, i.e., a denomination content to exist amidst religious diversity. The title rather describes, indeed predicts, a Catholic, not an Orthodox Russia, or one fixed in religious indifferentism. The expectation of a “Catholic Russia,” labored and prayed for by the main figures in this volume, is beyond merely bold. It is against the face of all known history, certainly something clearly outside the realm of accountability and possibility on a human scale. But “nothing is impossible with God” and the intercession of the Mother of God, so beloved among both Catholics and Orthodox, is supernaturally powerful. Mr. Likoudis’ book is built upon a bedrock conviction of Our Lady’s divine intervention into our human history—an intervention which has not ended with the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the astonishing dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Known best for a trilogy of works on Eastern Orthodoxy’ s ecclesiology, the author completes his labors with this new book, which provides a focus on the context of individual lives. Each life-story is well worth telling, and will appeal to those readers who are less comfortable with straight doctrinal presentations. Some of the lives are only known in non-English sources, so the author performs a refreshing and welcome service. The reader comes away wanting to know more of each of these pilgrims in search of truth.

Mr. Likoudis’ converts are scholars, priests, and remarkable laymen and women. The most familiar to English and American readers is Vladimir Soloviev, 1853-1900, whose best known works are “Russia and the Universal Church” and his later apocalyptic work: The Three Conversations—which included his famous, prophetic fable “The Short History of the Antichrist.” Soloviev’s writings influenced certain of the converts discussed in this volume, and they, in turn, converted some of the others. Markedly apparent here, running like a seam through all the biographies, is this mutual influence exerted in a veritable spiritual underground. As will be evident, the institution of the Papacy proved to be the lightning rod between East and West, the issue all the Byzantine pilgrims had to assiduously work to resolve. Serious efforts at reflective study of the Church’s history are pivotal in each life story. Extensive historical research did much to dissipate misunderstandings of Catholic doctrines and “Papist despotism.” In his personal story, Likoudis also brings a particular talent for his relentless use of logic, based upon the historical record, which includes a thousand years of East-West unity, evidencing clear pronouncements of Papal supremacy.

In a way unintelligible to many Western Christians, who do not wake up in the morning grousing about what happened between Constantinople and Rome in 1054 A.D., or about the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 A.D., religious identity—contra Rome—is often found to be quite integral in Orthodox thinking. The beast of the Great Schism is not solely doctrinal, and has so far proved impervious to efforts of reason and discourse. Opposition to Catholic Unity is rather rooted in culture and nationalism, in a hostile chauvinism, and in a process of anti-Catholic socialization which takes place early. Russian resentment against the Church of Rome ran so deep, Likoudis’ chronicle reveals, that vitriolic bias used against the West was aimed as an accusation, even against reconciled Orthodox priests, who soon found themselves in Soviet gulags—the chief weapon of militant atheism. American Catholics have been less aware of an underlying, and often visceral, Russian hostility to Catholicism. Unlike the typical understanding of American Catholics vis-a-vis “separated brethren,” the East/West divide is not perceived by Orthodox Christians merely as a “choice” wherein we can all live in harmony. Whatever the theological differences between Catholics and Orthodox (real or alleged and which have only increased across the centuries), most Westerners could barely articulate them. Here, the real conflicts are burning issues only for a very few. Moreover, as it becomes apparent from this book, many supposed doctrinal differences are more often a matter of heavy political-cultural identification, which serves as a bonding point among the Orthodox. Nor is such an anti-Roman complex maintained without an occasional high-degree of verbal abuse, and outright bullying, by theologians, and even prelates, towards those desiring the reunion of the Churches. Thus, when Blessed Vladimir Ghika (1873-1954) was arrested, following the Soviet takeover of Romania, the accusation was that he was a Vatican spy. His biographer Madame Danubia succintly states the offense:

Passing over to Catholicism offends the Orthodox’ sense of nationalism. Thus, if you are an Orthodox who becomes a Catholic, you are no longer, say, Russian [or Greek]…You are regarded in some manner as having lost the right to your nationality. You are, in effect, a traitor.

Author James Likoudis highlights the tragically crippled nature of Russian Orthodoxy without the Vicar of Christ, and an infallible Magisterium. He introduces this focus early through the writings of the aristocratic Fr. Gregory Schouvalov (1804-1859), who held that the Catholic Church is the only one which dares to assert its unique visibility, unity, and religious authority against all other bodies, and including firm opposition to the incursions of secular powers. Fr. Schouvalov found the unicity of the Church painfully simple, inherent in the very concept of Truth itself. As to the Russian Church, he wrote:

Where is her [infallible] authority? Separated from unity, she has been necessarily absorbed by the secular power…Let a bishop of the Russian Church fall into any new heresy and carry his diocese along with him, who will reclaim him or condemn him? Who will maintain the unity of dogma?

The absence of final dogmatic authority in Pan-Orthdoxy haunted all of the Byzantine pilgrims in this book.

The book concludes with a postscript: “On Church Unity and the Conversion of Russia Prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima.” It is recalled here the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, confirmed by an awesome “Miracle of the Sun,” and later by Church authorities. It is astounding that in her apparitions, the Theotokos, so venerated in Greece and Russia, would appear to three small Portuguese children to warn the world of the destructive errors being spread by Russia, and which would cause “wars and persecutions of the Church.” Equally extraordinary was the All-Holy Mother of God calling upon the Roman Pontiff (“the falsifier of the dogmas of the Church”- a constant refrain among Russian Orthodox theologians towards the Pope) and his fellow bishops to collegially consecrate the world to her Immaculate Heart. Likoudis rejects the denials that the consecration has yet to be done, and affirms the deed was accomplished by St. John Paul II on March 25, 1984. The reader will find that Heralds of a Catholic Russia presents a convincing and compelling case that the “conversion of Russia,” prophesied by Our Lady at Fatima, involves—in God’s good time—a Russian Orthodoxy in full communion with the See of Peter, a hope to be devoutly prayed for by the Catholic faithful.

Michael Morow is an Indianapolis attorney, literary critic and reviewer. His novel, Casaroja, was recently published. His website :


Let’s Not Forget God: Freedom of Faith, Culture, and Politics, By Cardinal Angelo Scola, trans. by Matthew Sherry (New York: Image, 2014). Reviewed by Dr. Matthew K. Minerd, PhD

Cardinal Scola’s brief, engaging text builds upon a speech given on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the Constantine’s so-called “Edict of Milan.” As the successor to the See of Milan, Scola’s remarks provide a sweeping reflection on the history and meaning of religious freedom. Well documented, the text is obviously an extension of the original speech. Thus, let the reader come to this book in the spirit of reflecting “alongside” someone who has spent much time considering questions pertaining to religious freedom and the civic order. Scola’s remarks are measured, though the reader must be patient as Scola draws out his themes. Issues concerning religious freedom have caused no small vexation in the Catholic Church these past sixty years. Rest assured, Scola handles these matters with balance and care.

The first portion of the book presents a brief history of the question of religious freedom in the Catholic world, particularly in the West. The general point de départ is the Edict of Milan. Catholics may normally think of the Edict in terms of freedom of religion for Christianity. However, as Scola masterfully shows, the Edict is really a kind of early declaration on the civic problem of religious freedom and the secularization of the state. Of course, such terms are anachronistic, as Scola readily notes. Still, even within the historical-ideological context of the Roman Empire, the Edict can be interpreted as being a general statement regarding the relation between the civic and religious orders.

At this point, the reader should note two aspects concerning these matters. First, Scola interprets the Edict in terms of the civic order’s interest vis-à-vis the religious order. The Edict acknowledges that the civic order is not wholly disinterested in matters pertaining to the sphere of religion. However, the Edict also affirms that the civic order’s interest is simultaneously self-limiting. In acknowledging its limitations vis-à-vis the religious order, the civic order is simultaneously stripped of any all-embracing pretensions. Thus, the second point: as a result of this self-limitation, a value judgment is rendered regarding the freedom of the religious sphere vis-à-vis the civic order. The horizon of a meaningful human life is affirmed as extending far beyond the boundaries of civic life.

Indeed, in formulating matters in this way, we can see both the continuity and the difference between the Constantian Edict and contemporary formulations of religious freedom. As Scola comes to note in his text, the ancient (and medieval) perspective is that of the freedom of the religious sphere from civic control. However, the perspective shifts under pressures deriving from Renaissance thought, the era of the Reformation, and the development of the modern state. In this modern perspective—the perspective which largely remains our own today—the primary way of posing the problem shifts from that of the religious vs. civic spheres to the individual’s freedom from state coercion in religious matters.

The cardinal briefly recounts aspects of the Church’s articulation of these matters. He clearly interprets Dignitatis humanae, Vatican II’s declaration on religious liberty, as representing a true development of doctrine. His presentation is brief, so one should be very measured in making any strong judgments regarding his views concerning this vexed and complex doctrinal-historical question. Still, he sees the declaration as expressing in a new way the relationship between the Church and the political order. He likewise notes (as do others) a shift toward a concern with the rights of the human person.

As Scola transitions from his historical narrative to providing several interpretive chapters, his initial perspective is that of the negative right pronounced in the Declaration. That is, Scola emphasizes a reading of Dignitatis humanae that interprets religious freedom as regarding the state’s non-coercion in religious matters. However, he balances his presentation regarding the relation of human freedom and the human pursuit of the good. Although he does not articulate this point in detail, Scola clearly holds that an adequate understanding of this freedom “depends upon a personal commitment to the truth” (87). Indeed, he explicitly cites the work of David Schindler to emphasize that the crisis in contemporary culture regarding religious freedom is really a crisis “at root . . . regarding the nature of the human being” (100). I take this citation to indicate an important background source to heed if we are to understand aright Scola’s own thought. Schindler’s own views are adversarial to a purely negative-right approach to the Declaration. Thus, while Scola may emphasize this approach, it does not wholly represent his thoughts on the way one should understand matters pertaining to religious freedom.

As Scola’s text indicates, the crisis of contemporary culture is most heated due to the loss of shared value presuppositions even in the most basic and broad aspects of human existence—think merely of the broad lack of consensus in the West as regards birth, marriage, reproduction, education, and death. Lacking any common rationality regarding these central matters in human life, the problem of moral judgment has become closely linked to the question of religious freedom. Though briefly discussed by Scola (78-9), this point is quite important for understanding what is at stake in our discussions of religious liberty today. Strictly speaking, question of freedom of conscience is not the same issue as that of freedom of religion, though the two are involved in a shared nexus of issues regarding what is and what is not within the jurisdiction of the public sphere.

To this end, a proper understanding of the order of common political rationality lies at the heart of the difficulties involved in these matters. To take an old term—often misused, but still quite useful if rightly understood—a critical issue at play is that of the political common good. Scola rightly remarks that the issue of religious freedom helps to provide the very limits of the sociopolitical dimensions of life—situating the human person within a horizon that cannot be reduced to common political rationality. Likewise, the sphere of political rationality presupposes substantive ethical claims. While the problem of the “ultimate end” of human action may remain a thorny issue in these supposedly post-modern and purportedly post-Aristotelian times, the question of common practical thought is not. This provides an orientation in the midst of disagreement regarding theoretical conceptions of the world and of ultimate human meaning. Deeper issues regarding final ends will necessarily arise. However, the common accomplishment of political life together provides a first framework within which such matters can be adjudicated with the slow and steady guidance of prudential judgment.

Whether or not such common practical thought (oriented around the unique political common good) is possible in a meaningful manner in our current political environment, Christians nevertheless have a unique role in trying to advance these matters. As Scola recognizes in closing his small text, we have no justifications for the problems posed by the questions of religious freedom and difficulties involved in mediating the boundaries between substantive ethical visions and the shared task of pursuing the civic / political common good. We know well that for a Christian to say in any way, “I testify,” is to say, “Μαρτυρέω.” We are called to a courage that is cruciform.

If my remarks have been wide-ranging, this is just a mark of the wide-ranging nature of Scola’s little text. Still, I believe that this review provides a summary of the overall arch of his reflections. It is an eminently accessible (and well documented) book. A short text, it provides an excellent entrance point into these matters—matters of pivotal importance for Catholics (and, indeed, humanity) at this moment in history.

Dr. Matthew K. Minerd, Ph.L., Ph.D. (Catholic University of America) is an Instructor of Philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University and at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Seminary.


Pastoral Liturgy. By Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J. ( Indiana: Christian Classics, 2014) pp. 448: $25.00. Reviewed by Patricia Elliott Dillard.

Jungmann S.J. utilizes Volume I and II of 1926 and 1927 in the four volumes of La spiritalite chretienne by Pierre Pourat as an “… instructive guide through changes in spiritual history which have often produced effects far beyond the sphere of ascetics (p. 1)”. The books do not present the five hundred years after the death of Gregory the Great , a timeframe the author states “…no important compendium of spiritual teaching appears to have been written (1).” Thus, “this book attempts to give some idea of the nature of the problem and of the main lines along which a solution is to be found(1)”.
Part One is entitled “The Over-All Historical Picture,” and contains 11 sections under the title of Jungmann’s essay, “The Defeat of Teutonic Arianism and the Revolution in Religious Culture in the Early Middle Ages(1)”. The 1st, The Contrast Between Early Christian and Early Medieval Religious Culture, “…deliberately excluded… (2)” the Teutonic theory of Abbot Ildefon Herwegen to discuss at the end. The 2nd, Greek Influences and Parallels, is govern by “…the significant development which took place in the East… (10)”. The 3rd, Battle-Grounds and Spheres of Influences in the West, argues the influences must be like the East’s. The 4th, The Defensive Battle against Teutonic Arianism and Its Immediate Reaction, continues to name the peoples in the battles. The 5th, Fides Trinitatis, is “…when faith in the mysterious inter-relation of the divine Persons has become threatened… (33)”. The 6th, ‘Christ Our God’, is “the repercussion of the defensive war upon the conception of the faith…directly…revealed…( 38)”.

While the 7th, Christus Secundum Carnem, argues “Christian piety of whatever age must centre round the Person of Christ(48)”. In the 8th, Christ, the Church and the Sacraments, spheres of faith, is when “a… change in the structure of basic Christian thoughts… make itself…(58)” in their conception. The 9th, The State of Liturgical Life on the Eve of the Reformation, is “…judging from the general state of the Church at that time(64)”. The 10th, Liturgical Life in the Baroque Period, is the “…forces which led to the rise of Baroque culture (80)”. The 11th is the “Conservation and Change in the Liturgy…of the Enlightenment… (89)”.

Part Two, “Separate Historical Problems” has 13 sections. The 1st, The Origin of Matins, is “…directed by historical analyses of the Breviary… to the early Christian Vigil (105)”. The 2nd, The Pre-Monastic Morning Hour in the Gallo-Spanish Region in the 6th Century, “…determine more precisely the outline of the pre-monastic morning hour in this region(124)” in the following arguments: I. Exhortatio Matutina, II. Evidence from Extra-Liturgical Sources Concerning the Morning Hour in South Gaul and Spain, III. Matins in the Mozarabic Liturgy, and IV. The Morning Hour in the Roman Liturgy. The 3rd, Essays in the Structure of the Canonical Hours, begins with (1) Psalmody as the Introduction to the Hours, which is indications “… the psalmodic section[was]…seen…as the preamble… (159)”. While the development of (2) The Scope of the Lessons in the Office and of (3) Genuflection between Psalm and Oration, is considered along with clarification of “… a few points of detail concerning the beginning of the preces (181)” in (4) The Kyrie Eleison of the Preces and the deduction of the “…weight (191)…” of (5) The Lord’s Prayer in the Roman Breviary, in the final essay. The 4th is “Why was Cardinal Quinonez’ Reformed Breviary a Failure? (200)” which was “…undertaken at the behest of Pope Clement VIII(200)”. The 5th, The Extended Celebration of Epiphany in the Roman Missal, is seen from “…the notes on the masses for the Sundays after Epiphany in contemporary standard commentaries on the Mass or in English editions of the Missal… (214)”. The 6th, The Forty Hours Devotion and the Holy Sepulcher, supports the assertion of H. Thurston the devotion was “…a special name for the pious vigil before the Easter grave (224)6.”

While the 7th, The Octave of Pentecost and Public Penance in the Roman Liturgy, is the “…search for the original structure of Pentecost week (241)”. The 8th, The Weekly Cycle in the Liturgy, is on “…giving up the idea of working through the whole psalter every week(252)” in (1) Easter Week in Early Times, (2) Alcuin’s Week-Day Masses, (3) The Trinitarian Scheme and Veneration of Saints, (4) Late Attempts at a Solution and (5) Conclusions and Prospects. The 9th, Accepit Panem, is on “…our Lord’s action in taking the bread in His hands…(277)”. The 10th, The Basic Shape of the Mass, is on “ we are to describe the formal nature of the actual liturgy(282)”. The 11th, Fermentum: A Symbol of Church Unity and Its Observance in the Middle Ages, is on “the original meaning of the word communio…(287)”. The 12th, From Patrocinium to the Act of Consecration, “…examine the lines of development…(296)”. While the 13th is “The Fundamental Idea of Sacred Heart Devotion in the Context of the Church’s Prayer(314)”.

“The Fundamentals of Liturgy and Kerygma” is the third part, and presents 8 varied sections. The first is Christianity-Conscious or Unconscious? and treats the “…state of Christian awareness… (327)”. The 2nd, The Liturgy, A School of Faith, is “… a few lines of thought which could form a guide… (334)’. The 3rd, Liturgy and Congregational Singing, is “…compar[ing]… the magnificent achievements of ancient and modern Church music with popular Church music… (345)”. The 4th, Liturgy and Church Art, is when the history of art “…inquires…into the intellectual forces behind the appearances… (357)”. The 5th, Pastoral Care-Key to the History of the Liturgy, is “…the care of the hierarchy for the Church… (369)”. While the 6th, Pastoral Care and Parish Worship, answer the question, “…what more precisely the place of the liturgy is in parochial life… 381)”? The 7th, A ‘Feast of the Church’, “…is the right notion of what [it] is and that it should be realized with travesty (387)”. The 8th is “Easter Christianity (407)” that is “… in ..the realm of Church art [and] … also in that of the Church calendar(408)”. To conclude, Fr. Jungmann S.J. states, “The present outline is designed to encourage younger men to undertake more detailed work…(2). Thus, to facilitate this the first thing at hand should be a good language translator to understand the Latin, Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc.

Patricia Elliott Dillard is a freelance Catholic author from Alabama.


The Second Vatican Council: Prehistory-Event-Result-Post-History By Otto Hermann Pesch, (Series: Marquette Studies in Theology, Marquette University Press, 2015) Paperback: 424 pages; $35.00. Reviewed by James Likoudis. 

Otto Hermann Pesch (1931-2014), died shortly after his 83rd birthday regarded as a “giant in Catholic theology” and a leading specialist on St. Thomas Aquinas’ and Luther’s doctrine of justification. From the mid -1970’s he taught systematic theology until the late 1990’s as the only Catholic on the Protestant Theological Faculty at the University of Hamburg in Germany. As one of the most esteemed ecumenists in the Catholic world, he wrote a veritable ‘summa theologica” on Ecumenism (a two volume “Katholische Dogmatik aus okumenischer Erfahrung” based on his ecumenical experiences over 44 years of Catholic-Protestant Dialogue). His “The Second Vatican Council: prehistory-Event-Result-Posthistory” (Marquette University Press, 2014) was edited by one of his academic disciples Dr. Marcus Wriedt, professor of Historical Theology at Marquette University who notes that the English publication was supported both financially and spiritually by the liberal Karl Cardinal Lehmann who himself played an important role at the II Vatican Council (1962-1965). As Dr. Wriedt writes, the book “certainly informs about the history of the Second Vatican Council. It gives insights in the discussion whose results have been promoted as constitution and doctrinal advice to the Catholic world of the mid-20th century. With this, it tries to evoke understanding of the inner-Catholic debate to non-Catholics or even hostile Protestants who have no clue about the world ‘intra muros’ of the Council. In addition, it is an emphatic cry for a greater ecumenical engagement.”

How accurate and objective were Pesch’s “revolutionary insights” and “ecumenical perspective” to promote a greater understanding of Vatican II for readers warrants examination. Like other priestly contemporaries during a troubled post-Conciliar period, Otto Hermann Pesch would leave the Dominican Order, was laicized, and married. In the Preface of his book, Pesch writes that “This book intends to explain the history of the Second Vatican Council, the controversies with regard to the elaboration of the texts, and the results along with the story of their reception in the Roman Catholic Church.”

The author is successful in treating and summarizing the content of the Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees emanating from the Council, and tracing the different drafts and editions of the documents that gave rise to heated discussions and stormy debates among the 2540 voting-members of the Council dealing with the liturgy, liberation theology, ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality, marriage and sexuality and the relation of the Church to Jews and non-Christians. He provides some interesting tidbits in his historical survey: Pope John XXIII spoke Latin poorly; the Council’s “Message to the World” (October 20, 1962) was written by two Dominican ‘periti’ Marie Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar. The reader benefits from the author’s identifying the leading figures involved in the drafting and writing of Conciliar documents. Pesch does not acknowledge, however, that the left-wing and more radical element among the “progressive” Cardinals and bishops shamefully and scandalously advocated heterodox positions during the Council’s proceedings. There is no acknowledgement that their errors threatened the dogmatic unity of the Catholic faith.

It is curious that an esteemed ecumenical theologian writing on Vatican II invariably refers to the “Roman Catholic Church” (a term actually of Protestant origin, and admittedly used by many Catholic writers). However, nowhere in its 16 documents do the Fathers of Vatican II officially refer to the “Roman Catholic Church”. They always speak of “the Catholic Church”, period. The 16 documents of Vatican II do not teach that there exists an “ecumenical Church” or Mystical Body of all Christian communities that is wider and broader than the Church visibly united to the See of Rome. This has been the notion cherished by some Protestants and liberal Catholics seeking to ground such an erroneous ecclesiology in the texts of Vatican II. It is also one unfortunately shared by Pesch. This destructive error has certainly won its way into American catechetical materials. For example, a 2008 book on The Apostles Creed issued by the National Catholic Educational Association baldly states: “When the Apostles’ Creed mentions the catholic Church, it means not so much the Roman Catholic Church but the universal Church.” Similarly, surprising are Pesch’s repeated references to the “uniate” Eastern Churches though the terms “uniate” and “uniatism” are regarded now by Eastern Catholics themselves as a pejorative term of contempt, like the epithet “papist” for “Catholic”. More astonishing is the question Pesch as a theologian posed to himself towards the beginning of his book regarding the authority of an Ecumenical Council such as Vatican II : Where does the Council get its authority from? The question is not yet answered.” This strange comment flied in the face of Vatican II’s teaching (contained in its central document, Lumen Gentium, #25) setting forth traditional belief that bishops are “authentic teachers endowed with the authority of Christ” who “when assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith.”

Pesch leaves no doubt he believed that Vatican II did far more than transform the Catholic Church into a “world-wide Church” engaged in a desirable dialogue with all and sundry. It was truly “revolutionary” not only in bringing about changes in attitudes and policies regarding relations with non-Catholics but had a direct impact in modifying traditional Catholic doctrine and morals. Pesch was among those liberal and radical “progressives” who sought in the name of ecumenism, “diversity and pluralism” to include dissenting Catholics and non-Catholic Christians as members of the one Church. While he claimed in a number of places in his book that Vatican II made “no radical change in doctrine” (only a “changed perspective”), heterodox positions result from his eisegesis of Conciliar texts believed to contain a “contradictory pluralism”. Such “contradictory pluralism” in Conciliar texts was caused by the necessity of making doctrinal compromises with conservative opponents resisting theological progress. It is a sophisticated casuistry and hermeneutic that Pesch applied to the understanding of key texts of the Council (such as the meaning of “subsistit” with regard to ecclesiology and in a sense favorable to some Lutherans’ idea of Church unity). He envisioned the emergence of a “New Church with a new unity” that would include the Anglican and other “Churches” of the Reformation. A major thesis of Pesch’s book is that the texts of Vatican II cannot be read in the literal manner dear to “fundamentalists”, conservatives, and ultra-conservatives. They rather reveal a “revelatory openness” to doctrinal change which embodies the real “Spirit of Vatican II”. On page 153 he wrote: “It is out of the question to urge that these [actual ] texts, the result of ‘watering down’ efforts [by the conservative minority] are the real statements of the Council.” Thus, doctrinal change as allowing “Open Eucharistic Communion” with Lutherans is justified for the sake of more effective “pastoral” and ecumenical considerations. Like many other authors dealing with Vatican II texts, Pesch held there were ambiguities in the formulation of the Council’s texts, but he does more than that. He believed the Council’s texts contained doctrinal contradictions! How an Ecumenical Council gifted with infallibility in the teaching of doctrine can commit or propose errors in doctrine, he does not explain. A puzzled reader of Pesch’s History cannot fail to ask: Are Catholics really to think that the Fathers of an Ecumenical Council confirmed by the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, gave us doctrinal texts with inbuilt ambiguities resulting in a “contradictory pluralism” like the notorious Anglican Thirty-Nine articles ?

There are a host of questionable (and heterodox) positions defended by our ecumenical theologian: As previously observed, Pesch advocated “Open Communion” with his Lutheran friends. He registered dissatisfaction with Rome’s blocking “any form of Eucharistic Communion with the Churches of the Reformation.” The communities issued from the Protestant Reformation and lacking the Apostolic Succession (that doctrine, too, had to be re-interpreted) he regarded as entitled to be termed “Churches”, and not merely “ecclesial communities”. A “return ecumenism” sanctioned in Papal documents dealing with the return to Catholic Unity of the separated Eastern Churches, he declared “abandoned” by Vatican II. He registered support for the ordination of women, approved of the widespread abuse of “general absolution”, favored the elimination of the Latin rite’s obligatory celibacy discipline, and expressed his personal satisfaction that “the old opinion that the Church has to exert herself to make everyone a Church member is not taken up” by Vatican II. So much for the Church’s mission by Christ to “teach all nations”(Matt. 28: 19) and call to all separated Christians to be gathered “into the unity of the one and only Church which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning…a unity which she can never lose.” (Decree on Ecumenism, #4). There is little concern expressed by Pesch for the salvation of souls despite Lumen Gentium’s emphasis on the “necessity of the Church for salvation…Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it, or to remain in it”-#14). He declared his unhappiness with Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae’s condemnation of the intrinsic evil of contraception, thereby placing the Church in opposition to “the scientifically grounded conviction and the practice of great portions of the Catholic world.” A seriously flawed concept of the primacy of conscience over the Magisterium leads Pesch to admire the “lived experience” of dissenters who follow their conscience to dissent from Catholic teachings since the Magisterium would not reflect the view of all the faithful. “The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, he found “contains badly concealed breaks in logic, even contradictions and is a model for the compromise of contradictory pluralism”. As for the Church’s sacraments, he claimed that “The historical foundation of all seven sacraments through the historical Jesus is questionable”. Pesch further alleged that Vatican II’s doctrine on inerrancy admitted of historical and scientific errors, and that the Council’s texts on marriage and sexuality provided a cautious opening for the admittance of the divorced-and-remarried to receive Holy Communion.

When Pope John XXIII convoked the Council, Pesch observed that few Catholics expected the revolutionary changes that would occur:

The greatest challenge that the Council posed for a widespread Catholic mentality of that time [may be summed up] in the punchline ‘They can decide what they want to in Rome, I’m staying Catholic’. After 50 years, it still poses for many Catholics: that something might, can, and indeed should change, in all areas from liturgy to canon law to theology and the interpretation of binding church doctrine…This attitude of resistance would lead to the schismatic position of Archbishop Lefebrve: “From Rome, nothing can be changed. One must if necessary remain ‘Catholic’ without Rome and against .”

It is clear that Pesch’s book presents and defends the views of those he regarded as ‘progressives’ at the Council. His sympathies were always with the arguments of the progressives. To identify, however, as progressives the overwhelming number of Bishops at the Council who voted for the final texts of its 16 documents is simplistic. For it was they who rejected what Pesch and others desired: a radical re-interpretation of the Church and loosening ‘binding church doctrine’.
There is no doubt that many self-termed progressives felt that “The Church had become a foreign body in a changed world: respected, but misunderstood and unloved.” They therefore sought “after two decades of futile defense, Catholics to be allowed to be modern in thought and feeling…and [no longer to be subject to] a church pressure that hitherto had dominated the entire life of Catholics.” The more radical progressives may indeed have sought to make the Church loved by the world but they also appeared to have largely ignored what Christ also spoke of: namely, that aspect of the world “for which He would not pray (Jn. 17: 9, 14-18). In agreement with the agenda of the “progressive party” of Conciliar prelates, theologians, and ‘periti’, Pesch proved himself an adherent of the Bologna scholar Giuseppe Alberigo ‘s school of Vatican II interpretation which treated the Council as an unprecedented, revolutionary, and unique “Event” that changed the Church forever. It was a school that would enshrine in the mind of liberal and radical Catholics worldwide that pernicious “hermeneutic of doctrinal discontinuity and rupture” which Pope Benedict XVI blamed for a fundamental misunderstanding of the Council and for distorting the meaning of its actual texts to the detriment of the Church’s authentic Catholic Tradition. Pesch registered basic agreement with the views of such dissenters from Magisterial teaching as Karl Rahner, (his mentor and who is frequently quoted), Hans Kung, Walter Kasper, Heinrich Fries, and the “progressive” Rhine contingent of German French, and Dutch Cardinals (Frings, Suenens, Alfrink, etc., and allied Bishops active in the Conciliar debates and discussions. Aided by cheer-leading journalists who constituted that “Council of the Media” (Pope Benedict XVI’s term), progressives as a bloc proved successful in capturing all the microphones of the Media to entrench the bogus “spirit of Vatican II” on millions of the faithful, including many Bishops. Liberal Bishops would implement a false ecumenism by failing to enforce Catholic doctrine and discipline in the post-Conciliar period against neo-modernist interpretations. Ironically, the same Pesch who held that the final texts of the Council represented “the responsibly formed convictions of the majority of the Council” repeatedly admitted to personal disappointment and distress with those same texts. For, the overwhelming majority at the Council heeded the resistance of the “conservative groups” to clearly reject the radical proposals of innovators who attempted to change the traditional doctrines of the Church and nullify, in effect, the pronouncements and decisions of the Papal magisterium. Pesch confessed to be particularly troubled by theologians having to abide by the “demand for internal and external obedience even with regard to the non-defined statements of the Magisterium.” (cf. Lumen Gentium, #25, and CDF’s “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, #23”). The Instruction he criticized as “effectively end[ing] any hope for license for free speech in the Church”. His anti-Papal animus (coupled with the progressives’ efforts to grant local churches more autonomy and to give increased authority to National Conferences of Bishops) is more starkly revealed in his article “Papacy as an Obstacle to the Ecumenical Dialogue?” published in Stimmen der Zeit, 10/2011, p.661-667). There he brazenly wrote : “Throughout the first millennium a primacy of the Bishop of Rome…is out of the question, and ‘a fortiori’ a universal primacy of jurisdiction with an infallible magisterium.” He favored the anti-Roman party which sought to limit the authority and influence of the Papacy. Papal supremacy and infallibility he believed to be rather the result of history and not of the historical Christ.

Pesch’s biases and prejudices are evident throughout his book. He had only disdain and contempt for officials of the Roman Curia, for “Integralists” and “Ultramontanists”, and those conservative Fathers who adamantly opposed with their interventions the false and misleading interpretations of Catholic doctrine proposed by the more radical progressives. There is no recognition that they saved the texts of an Ecumenical Council from incorporating modernist errors long condemned in the magisterial documents of Blessed Pius IX, St. Pius X, and Pius XII. It is the worst form of obscurantism for a theologian to deny that the errors of a neo-modernism had emerged in the theological ferment of post-World War II’s “la nouvelle theologie” and that these errors were openly and scandalously proposed and defended in the debates of Vatican II. Pesch blamed the conservatives -and not without flashes of bitterness- for the doctrinal “compromises” leading to the “contradictory pluralism” and lack of clarity he judged were reflected in the formulation of the final texts of the Council. On the other hand, he praised the progressives’ attempts to dismantle the Church’s bureaucracy and highly centralized authority. For him this would be the manifestation of the “Spirit of Vatican II” breathing the fresh air of freedom from the Vatican’s “intellectual and moral oppression of academic theologians”.

Much more could be said concerning Pesch’s partisan view of the Second Vatican Council promoting an “hermeneutic of discontinuity”. Important correctives to his fatally flawed perspective can be found in Roberto de Mattei’s “The Second Vatican Council : An Unwritten Story” (Loretto Publications 2012) which gives many of the important speeches of the much-maligned conservative Fathers at the Council, and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto’s “The Second Ecumenical Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council” (University of Scranton Press, 2012) which carefully examines critical issues and the controversies which took place during the Council and which would become points of confusion and misinformation. Theologians would do well to study in depth all the alleged “ambiguities” in Conciliar texts which provided the rationale for what this writer believes to be a profound misunderstanding of Vatican II as a Council of Revolution and Rupture.

James Likoudis is President Emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), and the author of many important books and essays.

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