YET MORE ON MONIKA THE MODERNIST
by James Likoudis
It was Pope St. Pius X who observed of the modernists: "They seize upon
chairs in the seminaries and universities and gradually make of them
chairs of pestilence. From these sacred chairs they scatter, though not
always openly, the seeds of their doctrines; they proclaim their teachings
without disguise in congresses; they introduce them and make them the
vogue in social institutions" ( no. 43).
Anyone observing the current Catholic university and college scene, the
"systematic theology" taught in seminaries, and the activities of the
religious education establishment the last three decades, cannot help but
comment on the obvious erosion of Catholic identity and solidarity that
has taken place in North America. This phenomenon has adversely affected
the faith of millions.
Leading the neo-modernist attacks on Catholic faith and morals has been a
"para- magisterium" of theologians, academics, journalists, and religious
educators thoroughly dissatisfied with the "Church of the encyclicals" and
seeking to accommodate traditional Catholicism to the "modem mind."
Boasting of their scholarly "expertise" and with their own "modern minds"
betraying both philosophical confusion before a world of bewildering
cultural change as well as a loss of faith in irreformable Catholic
doctrine, this "New Class" of theological innovators has sought to grasp
the reins of Vatican II renewal from the Magisterium itself.
The supreme authority of the Pope has been regarded as the main obstacle
to their doctrinal revisionism and "new morality." Thus the contempt they
have heaped upon
the 1989 Oath of Fidelity,
and most recently,
For many years, Monika Hellwig has distinguished herself as one of the
leading spokesmen for the "para-magisterium" in the Church, lecturing
especially to religious educators, priests, and many adult groups. On the
occasions when lay people dared to protest the forums given her suspect
teachings, it was they who were discredited by diocesan authorities, and
not Georgetown's award-winning professor with her peculiar reluctance to
speak plainly of Christ as God. In
she again is found questioning our Lord's true divinity. For example, she
declares that Jesus admitted "there were things he did not know, gradually
becoming more fully aware of his own mission and destiny. The whole New
Testament shows Jesus gradually becoming more fully aware of all human
existence, within a good creation.... Jesus struggled to express [his
mission] in Aramaic words" (pp. 36-37).
In this and her other books there is a serious question as to whether Dr.
Hellwig believes in the pre-existence of Christ as the Eternal Son of God.
In this latest work she even voices her satisfaction that a few new books
in Christology now are able to avoid the question whether Jesus is
properly named the only savior" (p. 146). After attending Hellwig's
lecture in Auckland, reporter Carolyn Moynihan observed that "Dr.
Hellwig's 'Jesus' is at best of only doubtful divinity.... She belongs to
the school of theologians who give a radically new meaning to traditional
Catholic concepts" ( August 12th, 1992).
The Georgetown professor's disdain for the Church's dogmatic definitions
is reflected in such statements as: "What is central and enduring is not a
collection of ready- formulated eternal and unchanging truths" (p. 42).
For her the Vatican appears continually engaged in "blocking the action of
the Holy Spirit," especially when "frequently punitive actions" are taken
against dissenter theologians. Her "anti-Roman complex" leads her to
applaud those dissidents by making "pastoral decisions on the basis of
local experience and local discernment" (see pp. 63-64). Her distorted
notion of "collegiality" makes her hostile to the proper exercise of papal
authority in safeguarding Catholic faith and morals. Vatican I's and
Vatican II's teaching on papal authority and infallibility offends her
democratist understanding of the nature of the Church. It is obvious that
she regards as "oppressive" efforts of the hierarchical Church to suppress
dogmatic pluralism and doctrinal dissent. Dissenters who cause "anxiety in
Rome" are heralded as among those "Catholic believers" who "take more
responsibility for their own decisions and their own lives" (p. 133).
Many of her assertions are couched in a studied ambiguity, but even under
the guise of continued questioning and speculation, her views cannot fail
to disturb Catholics. On page 132, she states baldly, "What Jesus taught
was in no way a new code of behavior." On page 131 she writes, "The New
Testament does not give us a code of behavior." She scorns the idea that
the Popes can give "definitive interpretations of the natural law" (p.
130). Giving vent to the more radical forms of liberation theology, she
expresses far more concern for "the transubstantiation of the world about
us" than for the Church's effort to maintain orthodox belief in the
Eucharist via the doctrine of transubstantiation (see p. 73).
What we have in is Monika Hellwig's
testimony of personal indebtedness to and fervent eulogy of the major
dissenter theologians wreaking havoc in the Church: Hans Kung, Charles
Curran, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Luis Bermejo, Piet
Schoonenberg, Mary Collins, Gerard Sloyan, Leonardo Boff, Juan Luis
Segundo, Gustavo Gutierrez, Ernesto Cardenal, Jon Sobrino, and their
myriad followers and imitators.
Her book breathes a poisoned atmosphere. It serves, however, as a handy
checklist of the most significant writers spreading serious errors in the
Church and contesting the Magisterium. In this sense, Monika the
Modernist's book is an invaluable resource for identifying today's "chairs
This article was taken from the June 23, 1994 issue of "The Wanderer," 201
Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107.