30 June 2023

An Important Document of Anti-Modernism: The Program of the Sodalitium Pianum

We might have been spared a lot if they had been more effective. They investigated Angelo Roncalli, later John XXIII, for his modernism.

From Rorate Cæli

In his prophetic 1907 encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope St. Pius X warned against the grave danger to the Church represented by the modernist heresy. This “synthesis of all heresies,” which by attacking the objectivity of dogmatic truth effectively denies all doctrine (while claiming to uphold it) was promoted by many persons in the “very bosom and heart” of the Church. St. Pius knew that there were many modernists even in the Court of the Roman Pontiff, and that many high-ranking ecclesiastics, who were not themselves modernists, did not understand the gravity of the modernist problem. In fact, after Pascendi was published, many otherwise loyal bishops and curial officials thought that the Pope was exaggerating the problem. One of the few curial officials who truly understood the problem and fully agreed with the Pope on it was Msgr. Umberto Benigni, a minor official in the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. Benigni started various initiatives to combat modernism, including the news agency La Corrispondenza di Roma, which gathered information on the modernists, and above all the Sodalitum Pianum, the Pian Sodality. This was a semi-secret organization (secret that is to the outside world, but fully transparent to the Pope and the Secretary of State), which was devoted to foiling the modernist plot. In France it came to be known as the La Sapinière. It was much reviled and calumniated by modernists and semi-modernists, and its memory still suffers from those calumnies. But it was supported by St. Pius X himself (who financed it), as well as by the Cardinals Merry del Val and De Lai. After the death of Pope St. Pius X, Pope Benedict XV, who thought that his predecessor had exaggerated the modernist threat, suppressed the Sodalitium.

We offer below a translation (by an anonymous writer) of Msgr. Benigni’s Program for the Sodalitium Pianum. Certain expressions have an unfortunate ring to them today, but on the whole it is admirable in its devotion to the integral truth of the Catholic Faith, its loyalty to the Pope and the bishops in union with him, and its clear-sighted opposition to all forms of modernism.
Program of the Sodalitium Pianum

1. We are integral Roman Catholics. As these words indicate, the integral Roman Catholic accepts, integrally, the doctrine, the discipline, and the direction of the Holy See, and all their legitimate consequences for the individual and for society. This is "papist", "clerical", antimodernist, antiliberal, antisectarian. It is thus integrally counter-revolutionary, because it is adversarial not only towards the Jacobin Revolution and sectarian Radicalism, but equally so towards religious and social liberalism. It must thus be absolutely understood that, by our saying "integral Roman Catholic", this should not be understood as modifying, in any way, the authentic and glorious title of Roman Catholic. The word "integral" solely means "integrally Roman Catholic", namely, fully and simply Roman Catholic without any corresponding additions or restrictions (even beyond the intention of the one using it), such as the expressions "liberal Catholic", "social Catholic", and whatever other sort, insofar as these tend in theory or in practice to restrict the application of the law of the Church and the duties of the Catholic in religious or social life.

2. We fight for the principle and for the reality of the Authority, the Tradition, and the religious and social Order in the Catholic meaning of the word and in its logical implications.

3. We consider the spirit and the reality of liberalism and so-called Catholic democratism to be a plague within the human body of the Church, as coming from intellectual and practical Modernism, radical or moderate, with the consequences thereof.

4. Concerning the practical matter of Catholic discipline, we revere and follow the Bishops, appointed by the Holy Spirit to rule the Church of God, under the direction and control of the Vicar of Christ, with whom we will ourselves to remain always, through and in the face of everything.

5. The nature of the Catholic Church teaches us, and her history confirms, that the Holy See is the vital center of Catholicism; for this reason itself, from a certain point of view and particularly in certain circumstances, the temporary attitude of the Holy See is likewise the effect of the religious and social situation. Thus, we fully understand how Rome can at times remain silent and wait, in view of the current situation, for the moment to present itself. In such cases we guard ourselves well against assuming the pretext to remain inactive faced with the damages and dangers of the situation. Having taken into account and safely examined, in each case, the current reality, we act in the best way possible against those damages and dangers, always and everywhere according to the will and desire of the Pope.

6. In our observations and action we put forward, above all, the "Catholic" point of view, namely, the universal, both in terms of time - according to different historical moments - and of space, in every country. We know that in momentary and local contingencies, there is always, at least at the foundation, the secular and cosmopolitan war between the two great organic forces: on one side, the sole Church of God, Roman Catholic, and on the other, her enemies within and without. The enemies without (the Judeo-Masonic sects and those directly allied with them) are in the hands of the central Power of the Sect; those within (modernists, demo-liberals, etc.) serve as conscious or unconscious instruments for the infiltration and divisive decomposition of the Catholic faithful.

7. We fight against the Sect within and without, always and everywhere, in all its forms and with all honest and opportune means. In the sectarian members within and without and their accomplices, we fight only the concrete implementation of the Sect, of its life, actions and plans. This we understand ourselves to do without rancor towards our straying brothers, as also without any weakness and without any equivocation, as a good soldier carries out his work in the field of battle as they war against the enemy standard, their support and their accomplices.

8. We are fully opposed to any attempt to diminish, to render secondary, or to dissimulate systematically against, the Papal claims via the Roman Question, to obstruct the social influence of the Papacy, to bring about domination by laicism; we are in favor of the indefatigable vindication of the Roman Question according to the rights and the directions of the Holy See, and for a similar continuous effort to redirect, to the greatest degree possible, social life under the legitimate and beneficial influence of the Papacy and, in general, the Catholic Church.

9. We are fully opposed to interconfessionalism, neutralism, and religious minimalism in social organization and action, in teaching, and similarly in every individual and collective activity, the which all depend on the moral truth, and thus religious truth, and thus the truth had from the Church; we are in favor of confessionality in all the cases mentioned in the preceding paragraph; and if, in exceptional and transitory cases, the Holy See tolerates some interconfessional unions, we are in favor of conscientious, fastidiously controlled, exceptional tolerance, and in favor of its duration and extension to be as restricted as possible, according to the intentions of the Holy See.

10. We are against openly or implicitly "areligious" syncretism, neutral, amoral, which conduces fatally to the anti-Christian conflict of classes according to the brutal law of the stronger over the weaker; we are against democratism, even when it is described as social-economic, which gives rise with its individualism to social disintegration; we are in favor of Christian harmony among classes, as between individuals, class, and society as a whole; we are for the corporate organization of Christian society according to the principles and traditions of justice and social charity, which are taught and lived out by the Church and by the Catholic world for many centuries, and which, therefore, are perfectly adaptable to every age and truly civil society.

11. We are against pagan nationalism, which arises in response to areligious syncretism (that which by considering nations, as that regarding classes, as collectivities, wherein each one can and should amorally pursue their own interests as outside and against those of others, according to the brutal law of which we have spoken above); and, at the same time, against anti-militarism and utopian pacifism, produced by the Sect with the intended scope of weakening society and lulling it to sleep under the Judeo-Masonic nightmare; we are in favor of sane and moral patriotism, Christian patriotism, of which the history of the Catholic Church has always given splendid examples.

12. We are against feminism, which exaggerates and contorts the rights and duties of women, putting them outside the Christian law; we are against the co-education of the sexes; we are against the sexual initiation of children; we are in favor of the betterment of the material and moral conditions of women, of the youth, of the family according to the Catholic doctrine and tradition.

13. We are against the profoundly anti-Christian doctrine and fact of the Separation of Church and State, as well as that of religion and civic life, science, literature, art; we are in favor of the loyal and cordial union between civic life, science, literature, and art as much with the State as with religion, and thus with the Church.

14. We are against "modernized" philosophical, dogmatic and biblical teaching, which, even when it is not purely modernist, at least renders this teaching equal to a merely archaeological or anatomical teaching, as if it was not concerned with an immortal and life-giving doctrine which all the clergy, without exception, must learn above all for their priestly ministry; we are in favor of ecclesiastical teaching inspired and guided by the glorious tradition of the Scholastics and the Holy Doctors of the Church and the best theologians of the time of the Counter-Reformation, with all the serious assistance provided by the scientific method and documentation.

15. We are against the false mysticism toward individualistic and Enlightenment-esque tendencies; we are in favor of the intense and profound spiritual life, according to the doctrinal and practical teaching of the Saints and of the mystical authors praised by the Church.

16. In general, we are against the exploitation of the clergy and Catholic action on the part of whatever political or social party, and, in particular, against the “social” exaggeration which wishes to inoculate the clergy and Catholic action under the pretext of “exiting the sacristy” in favor of not returning there except rarely, or in secret, or at least with a spirit absorbed by other things; we are in favor of the maintenance of ecclesiastical action and, respectively, of Catholic action, altogether, in an openly religious terrain, above all things, and without “social” exaggerations or the like for what remains.

17. We are against the madness or weakness of so many Catholics, of wanting to appear “conscious and evolved, truly of their time”, and virtuous in the view of the brutal enemy or sanctimonious, but always implacable, ever ready to show off their tolerance, and to blush at, if not to speak badly against, acts of just rigor carried out by the Church or for her, quick to a systematic optimism towards the damages of the adversaries, and reserving their diffidence and hardness for integral Roman Catholics; we are for a just and fitting comportment, but always one which is frank, energetic and tireless in facing the enemy, his violence and his wiles.

18. We are against everything opposed to the doctrine, to the tradition, to the discipline, to the sentiment of integrally Roman Catholicism; we are in favor of whatever conforms with it.

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