aka Catholic blog May 21, 2019
So often we hear it said – even in some “traditional” quarters no less – that Paul VI of most bitter memory eventually came to recognize the crisis brought about by Vatican Council II; so much so that he once famously remarked, “…from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
These oft-quoted words were given by Paul VI in a sermon delivered on 29 June 1972 – the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
The Holy See website has a secondhand account of the sermon in Italian, with no other official translations provided. The text does, however, provide a number of quotes directly attributed to Paul VI; including the well-known “smoke of Satan” comment.
NOTE: In 2006, Fr. Stephanos Pedrano provided an English translation of the text that was initially published on Jimmy Akin’s blog. For this post, we will rely on that translation.
As mentioned in this space a number of times in the past, upon reading the quote in context, one quickly discovers that far from recognizing the Council as problematic (much less diabolical); Paul VI was actually stating the exact opposite.... (Entire article here.)
I would like to say two words about the controversy raised by a Mr Akin’s answer to the letter, mentioned here many times, inviting the Bishops to declare Pope Francis a heretic and depose him, unless he recants from his many heresies.
The point that Mr Akin makes is that Pope Francis cannot really be called heretical, because the tenets of the faith he so manifestly denies are (merely!) infallible doctrines as opposed to dogmatic truths. AKA Catholic does, as always, an excellent and very charitable work of dissection of this point.
My point is, building on his reflection, a different one.
No other generation of Catholics (at least before V II) would have even dreamed of having such discussions when deciding what the appropriate course of action is. Nor would they have cared of what this or that canonical text says. They weren’t blind. Therefore, they could look at reality when reality was staring them in the face.
When Pope Marcellinus sacrificed on the altar of Roman gods, they did not wonder what canon law states should exactly happen in that exact case. They did not quibble about the fact that Marcellinus had not denied any formal dogma, “merely” contravened a commandment. They did not try to walk around, above, below and through reality trying to find a way allowing them not to call reality for what it is.
They had faith. They acted on it.
I have stated many times here, and repeat today, that I do not care a straw for the technical, canonical law definition of what a heresy is, because this is not what my salvation depends upon. Heretic is who heretic does, and in the common parlance and common sense (and in reality, which is so much broader than the quibbles of theologians) Francis is a heretic, because he goes head on against the truths of the Church.
On this, I think we all agree, Mr Akin included. It follows that the letter to the Bishops makes perfect sense, because it is a perfectly realistic reaction to a reality plainly in front of us.
The absurdity of the legalistic denial that Francis a heretic is easily demonstrated. Let us imagine that Francis would promulgate a modification of the canonical rules on heresy, stating that a Pope can only be proclaimed a formal heretic if he solemnly proclaims his heresy dressed in a Muslim garb, on a Friday, from the top of a Minaret, at least 100 feet high. Let us, further, imagine that Francis would proclaim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and he did so solemnly, dressed in a Muslim garb, from a Minaret, 90 feet high. Would then Mr Akin, and all the other FrancisQuibblers, say that Francis is, therefore, not a heretic according to this or any other definition?
Reality comes first. A heretical Pope is staring you in the face, with a middle finger raised against you. If you don’t see this you are part of the problem.
The first duty of the bishops is towards Christ and His Church. Even if the instruments of canon law did not allow (which AKA Catholic shows not to be the case) to act in case of manifest heresy, the obligation to act would exist anyway. The Church has always acted according to the principle that where the legal instruments at the disposal of the clergy are not sufficient to do what is necessary to do for the good of the Church, ecclesia supplet, as we have seen in the case of the SSPX or, more to the point, in the case of Marcellinus.
That such discussions take place in the first place is a grave indication of the degradation of the sensus catholicus all over the West.
We will be remembered as the people who allowed a clearly heretical Pope to be manifestly heretic day in and day out, for years, whilst discussing his intentions, his translators, his moods, the atmospheric conditions inside aeroplanes, the cultural differences with Argentina, his grasp of English, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, and his digestion.
Open your eyes, for heaven’s sake.
A heretical Pope is staring at you, his face full of hate for us and the Church, with his middle finger raised against you.
This is no time for quibbling.
I had always thought that Paul VI's "smoke of satan" quote meant that he had finally gotten at least an inkling that there were problems with Vatican II. To realize that he was vigorously upholding the destructive changes of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo, and demonizing Abp. Lefebvre, makes perfect sense now that I understand the comment in context, and shouldn't be in the least surprising, giving the destruction this man wrought, and yet it came as a great shock to me nonetheless. It left me momentarily stunned to realize what he had actually meant.