Randy Engel
Book review: Crossing the Threshold of Confusion
By Randy Engel
April 14, 2011

This review appeared in Catholic Family News in April 2011

Crossing the Threshold of Confusion

By Andrew J. McCauley

Reviewed by Randy Engel

    To proceed in an orderly manner in this recondite subject, it must first of all be noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and the consequences of their doctrines. [1]


Although I don't recall Andrew McCauley, the author of Crossing the Threshold of Confusion, identifying Pope John Paul II as an outright Modernist, his book, published posthumously in late 2010, certainly puts forth convincing arguments in support of the charge, and in opposition to the pope's beatification now set for May 1, 2011.

In keeping with the tenor of Pascendi, which dissects the mind of the Modernist with such delicious surgical precision, McCauley views the extraordinarily long and controversial pontificate of John Paul II (16 October 1978–2 April 2005) through various lenses each focusing upon a different aspect of this complex man playing out his various roles as philosopher, believer, theologian, historian, critic, apologist, and reformer.

In my March 27, 2011 Renew America book review of Paul VI Beatified? by Father Luigi Villa Th. D., I noted that as a young priest, Giovanni Battista Montini, had taken the Oath Against Modernism and then violated that oath repeatedly throughout his clerical career and his papacy. As pope, he abolished the oath in July 1967.

Karol Józef Wojty³a, the future John Paul II, also took the Oath Against Modernism and likewise violated it. The primary difference being that, whereas, Montini came to Modernism by a liberal political route, having little in the way of a vocation to the priesthood, Wojtyla took a more tortuous route by way of his rejection of Scholasticism and his inordinate penchant for philosophical and theological novelties especially Phenomenology and Existentialism.

Trained as a lawyer, McCauley is adept at the role of Advocatus Diaboli, or "Devil's Advocate," the popular title given to the Promoter of the Faith, an office of the Sacred Congregation of Rites established by Sixtus V in 1587 for the purpose of preparing in a juridical manner, arguments, no matter how slight, against raising an individual to the honours of the altar. [2] It is not without a sense of irony that John Paul II abolished the office of Devil's Advocate in 1983, an action that effectively removed the Church's primary means of insuring a valid system of checks and balances in its beatification and canonization process.

The following are a sampling of the many legitimate arguments made by McCauley against the beatification of John Paul II. None of them are "slight."

John Paul II as Philosopher

In reading McCauley's critical evaluation of the many modern philosophies that John Paul II embraced, especially his chapters on "Teilhard de Chardin — Apostle of Death," and "Tracking the Mind of the Pope," one is reminded of the warning of Blessed Pope Pius IX as quoted in Pascendi:

    In matters of religion it is the duty of philosophy not to command but to serve, but not to prescribe what is to be believed but to embrace what is to be believed with reasonable obedience, not to scrutinise the depths of the mysteries of God but to venerate them devoutly and humbly. [3]

To which I might add the rather indelicate but insightful remarks of Pope Gregory IX regarding the 13th century Modernists of his day:

    Some among you, inflated like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the sense of the heavenly pages . . .to the philosophical teaching of the rationals, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science . . . these, seduced by strange and eccentric doctrines, make the head of the tail and force the queen to serve the servant. [4]

McCauley's take on John Paul II's affinity for the cosmic language and vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is especially interesting. As the author notes, although the French Jesuit pantheist with his famous theme song "meet me in the noosphere" was dead by the time of the Second Vatican Council, many of his loyal friends, leaders of the New Theology, were there, including Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., Fr. Yves Congar, O.P. and Fr. Henri DeLubac, S.J., Modernists all. [5] Cardinal Wojtyla thought they were the cat's meow.

On February 2, 1983, John Paul II elevated DeLubac to the Cardinate, and in 1994 he awarded Congar the red hat also. On March 4-5, 2004, Vatican dignitaries celebrated the Centenary of Rahner at the Lateran University. The task of fully rehabilitating Rahner fell to Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B., today, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who announced, "Notwithstanding some ambiguous formulae, Rahner was an orthodox Catholic theologian." [6] Audacity, the hallmark of the Modernist, you just can't escape it.

McCauley also tracks the influence of Immanuel Kant, Max Scheler, and Dietrich von Hildebrand on the John Paul II's writings, including one of the pope's most popular works, Theology of the Body, which papal biographer George Weigel calls a "time bomb" designed to reconfigure Catholic morality in the third millennium of the Church. [7]

John Paul II as Theologian

The Modernist is a Man of Contradiction. He is also a Man of War in a continuous battle waged against his ever present enemies — Scholasticism, Tradition, and Dogma and Doctrine. Mccauley asserts that, theologically speaking, as the young Cardinal Wojtyla and later, as the more mature John Paul II, he merited both these designations much to the detriment of the Faith and the faithful. He concedes that the pope was a "man of faith." Unfortunately, it was not the Catholic faith.

The author's critique on the pope's novel theological concepts of "universal salvation," "expansion of consciousness," and "the Church of the Living God" are based on the four-volume work, Pope John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi, by Father Johannes Dormann. [8] The late German theologian's masterful dissertation demonstrates how John Paul II, using the old shell con, sliced and diced, mixed and matched traditional theology with his own novel theology to produce his Trinitarian Trilogy — Redemptor Hominis(1979), Dives in Misericordia (1980) and Dominum et Vivifecantem (May 1986), laid the groundwork for the open Apostasy at Assisi in October 1986. Dormann documents, and McCauley confirms with additional information and insights, that the pontificate of the architect of the so-called "Civilization of Love" was a first class disaster for the Church. For readers who have yet to tackle Dormann's monumental work, McCauley's Chapter XXIV "The New Church," will serve as a good introduction.

John Paul II as Reformer

While it is true that John Paul II did not create the on-going homosexual and pederast world-wide scandal in the Church, his gross malfeasance and dereliction of duty on these matters once he became pope was certainly a contributing factor to the crisis. Not only did he appoint numerous homosexual and pro-homosexual bishops and cardinals, but he also failed to act as the good shepherd for his flock when faced with thousands of cases of clerical sexual abuse of children and youth, and vulnerable adults including the mentally and physically handicapped, seminarians and female religious novices and nuns.

As McCauley says: when a Catholic seminary is forced by the local Board of Health to expel a whole class of seminarians because inspectors have traced a mini-epidemic of syphilis to the lavender palace and are threatening to close down the entire seminary as a health hazard, the pope had to know he had a problem on his hands that required immediate attention and action. [9]

When, under John Paul II's watch, a Superior General of an African diocesan congregation complained to the local archbishop that 29 sisters of the order had become pregnant by priests in the diocese, she and her councilors were dismissed and replaced by new leadership. The pope took no action against the archbishop or the criminal priests. [10]

In 1983, the pope appointed Robert H. Brom, Bishop of Duluth, Minnesota. Brom was part of the Bernardin/Roach "gay" clique at Immaculate Heart Seminary in Winona, where select seminarians routinely handed out sexual favors to the prelates knocking on their door. Hush money was paid out to avoid "scandal" which included Brom's catamite relationship with young seminarians. At least two outside bishops were involved in brokering the various settlements and the Apostolic Nuncio in D.C. kept the pope and other Vatican offices informed of the progress of the negotiations. Instead of stripping Brom of his titles and sending him to a desert monastery for a life of reparation and penance, on July 10, 1990, John Paul II rewarded Brom with the Diocese of San Diego. [11]

Are these the actions of a "saint?"

Defenders of the John Paul II claim that he did not know what was going on, But any schoolboy with a basic 101 knowledge of Vatican politics and intelligence, knows this is simply not true. Few world leaders are better informed on matters pertaining to their office than the Pope.

McCauley refers to John Paul II as a pope in denial, and this criticism was true of almost every area of his life especially those which called for immediate and decisive decision-making such as disciplining clerical criminals and perverts, including those with miters.


Crossing the Threshold of Confusion has its drawbacks. For example, McCauley draws very heavily on the work of papal biographer, George Weigel, a bit too heavily in my opinion.

Also, McCauley's perspective on the Second Vatican Council needs to be critically weighed by the reader. For example, the author is adamant in his belief that there was a "great but hidden good" in the Second Vatican Council on the grounds that 1) it was "pastoral" and not "doctrinal" in nature and 2) because by John XXIII calling the Council when he did, the Church avoided a greater disaster from a better organized Modernist onslaught in the future. I strongly disagree with this argument as well as many other statements on the Council, but then disagreements were part of the friendship I shared with Andrew, who could take criticism as well as dish it out.

In Crossing the Threshold of Confusion, Andrew McCauley sounds a warning to the world that John Paul II should not be a candidate for sainthood — a warning that has obviously not been heeded by Benedict XVI who plans to beatify his predecessor next month.

Still all is not lost. In all likelihood, this quickie beatification is going to trigger more determined opposition to John Paul II's canonization than ever.

After all, there many controversial questions and issues which have not even been touched upon much less answered by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concerning the pontificate of John Paul II and the role played by the pontiff in these controversies and scandals.

Questions like — What knowledge did John Paul II have of the massive laundering schemes of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), otherwise known as the Vatican bank, which were carried out under his pontificate? Schemes which involved every unsavory element operating in the Vatican today not excluding Cosa Nostra and Freemasonry, aka Propaganda Due, and high level Christian Democratic politicians like Giulio Andreotti.

Or — Why did John Paul II shield Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, President of the IOR (1971-1989) from extradition, interrogation, prosecution, and possible indictment on massive money laundering schemes and bribes connected to the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and the multiple murders surrounding the fraudulent bankruptcy?

Or — Was the rise of and preferential papal treatment given to numerous rich sects/cults like the Legionaries of Christ or Opus Dei and Focalare at the very same time traditional male and female religious orders like the Dominicans, Salvatorians, School Sisters of Notre Dame were disintegrating into pools of iniquity for lack of oversight and discipline, a tribute to or a condemnation of John Paul II?

No dear reader, the battle is not over until it is over, and this one is just heating up, thanks, in great part, to Andrew McCauley.

I know you will find Crossing the Threshold of Confusion a valuable reference, if for no other reason than Truth is never out of season.


[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Andrew J. McCauley, Crossing the Threshold of Confusion, iUniverse, NY, 2010, pp. 31-32.

[6]  John Vennari, "Karl Rahner's Girlfriend," CFN, May 2004 at http://www.cfnews.org/rahner.htm.

[7]  McCauley, pp. 146-154, 371-375.

[9]  McCauley, p. 269-270.

[10]  Ibid., p. 270.

[11]  Ibid., pp. 265-266. See also Randy Engel, The Rite of Sodomy, NEP, Export, PA., 2006, or www.newengelpublishing.com., pp. 854-861.

Crossing the Threshold of Confusion

Andrew McCauley

Ordering Information:
iUniverse, Inc.
Bloomington, IN


432 pages $27.95

© Randy Engel


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


Receive future articles by Randy Engel: Click here

More by this author

June 18, 2023
The life and times of Archbishop John R. Quinn & friends: A study of the West Coast homosexual network, Part IV

June 12, 2023
The life and times of Archbishop John R. Quinn & friends: A study of the West Coast homosexual network, Part III

June 9, 2023
The life and times of Archbishop John R. Quinn & friends: A study of the West Coast homosexual network, Part II

June 6, 2023
The life and times of Archbishop John R. Quinn & friends: A study of the West Coast homosexual network, Part I

February 13, 2023
A defense of Catholic sexual morality & condemnation of the Synodal Way, Part I

August 26, 2022
Bishop James T. McHugh: The forgotten man in the McCarrick equation (Part 5)

August 23, 2022
Bishop James T. McHugh: The forgotten man in the McCarrick equation (Part 4)

August 14, 2022
Bishop James T. McHugh: The forgotten man in the McCarrick equation (Part 3)

August 7, 2022
Bishop James T. McHugh: The forgotten man in the McCarrick equation (Part 2)

August 1, 2022
Bishop James T. McHugh: The forgotten man in the McCarrick equation

More articles


Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Flashback: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Mark Shepard
Black Men for Trump – Makes a lot of sense

Cliff Kincaid
Will someone investigate the NSA?

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Revelation Chapter 19: Guarding against idolization, John’s angelic encounter

Steve A. Stone
No retreat – No surrender – No quarter

Matt C. Abbott
A pro-life charity watchlist

Jerry Newcombe
Western civilization’s most important and neglected strand

Curtis Dahlgren
God's 'practical joke' on Jew haters

Cherie Zaslawsky
Israel in the crosshairs: Part One

Cliff Kincaid
The next phase of Communist revolution in America

Cliff Kincaid
The Palestinian Removal Act

Victor Sharpe
What occupation?

Tom DeWeese
Setting the agenda for freedom’s comeback
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites