Matt C. Abbott
Martini and modernism
By Matt C. Abbott
September 4, 2012

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., the retired archbishop of Milan known for his liberal views on matters Catholic, died Aug. 31 from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 85.

From Reuters via The New York Times:
    'Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,' Cardinal Martini said in [an] interview published in Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.

    'The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops,' he said in the interview. 'The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation'.....

    Cardinal Martini, famous for comments that the use of condoms could be acceptable in some cases, told interviewers the church should open up to new kinds of families or risk losing its flock....
I asked Catholic attorney, scholar, author and family man Peter B. Kelly, a friend of the late Fathers Charles Fiore and Alfred Kunz (whose 1998 murder remains unsolved; click here to read about it) to comment on the aforementioned story.

Mr. Kelly's comments are as follows (edited with his permission).

    The only canonized pope of the 20th century, Pope Saint Pius X, warned us about Modernist-progressive prelates like the late Cardinal Martini. Men like Cardinal Martini would unreasonably insist that the Church move with the times and update its spiritual product as if the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was selling manual typewriters rather than the eternal truth revealed by Almighty God Himself. But that always was Cardinal Martini's problem in essence: As a Modernist, he simply did not believe that these teachings he wanted the Church to 'update' actually originated from a timeless God.

    Rather, he would maintain (incorrectly) that faith in doctrine is derived from a certain interior sense all humans have that originated a need of the divine and manifested in a religious sentiment. That is why Modernists also incorrectly believe that one religion is just as good as another — and that none are any more sacred than the other. Consequently, for the Modernist, all religions derived from man can be manipulated by man to fit his situations. Playing with Church teachings for the Modernist-progressive is somewhat like adjusting your garden club's bylaws or the platform of a political convention. God and eternity and truth have absolutely nothing to do with it.

    The reader does not need to have memorized the 1907 encyclical letter of Pope Saint Pius X Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrines of the Modernists) to smell something fishy in Cardinal Martini's failure to value the timelessness of Catholic truth and recognize the harm that would be done to future generations of Catholics if faithless, restless Modernist prelates could whimsically experiment with Church teachings like they were hem lines or lapel widths. People lose interest in temporary fashions, temporary theologies, and certainly in temporary 'truths,' which always seem to dissolve into lies before the end of the generation in which they were invented, only to be replaced by the next generation's new temporary 'truths.'

    Modernists are wrong to think that eternal Catholic truth can change at all, much less morph into catch phrases just to make the Church appear hip and popular enough to gather in or retain more members like it was some new stylish dance club. Cardinal Martini worried about the Church losing future generations of members by it not sacrificing its principles enough to gain sacred shoppers like a corrupt politician buys votes with unethical constituent favors. In fact, upon hearing from Cardinal Martini that important Church teachings can evolve over time, the bored targeted youth would not be impressed anyway. Nor would they be likely to waste their time returning to the ecclesiastical scene of the sellout unless something comes along more lasting than their evolving iPod playlists.

    These observations about the suicide of pursuing lowest common denominator ecumenism and progressive pied piper evangelism are basic and should be easily understood. However, Cardinal Martini was apparently not one to recognize the obvious flaws in his own modernist thinking. Just a little research by him into the John Jay Study conducted in the U.S. would have readily informed him that these sex abuse scandals were largely about homosexual clergy victimizing post-pubescent males rather than generic pedophiles molesting gender-unspecified little children.

    The intentional politically-correct misrepresentation of the nature of the victims in these scandals always served as a cloak to conceal the real nature of the gay victimizer. Cardinal Martini was correct to suggest that 'the Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops.' Yet I doubt he would, as a Modernist, see that the required solution-focused radical change would entail the removal of the same homosexuals that the modernists campaigned to welcome into the clergy worldwide in the first place.

    If Cardinal Martini had been elected pope, he likely would have encouraged that 200-year update of the old-time judgmental religion he spoke of and would have tossed such 'passé' ideas as chastity and mortal sin derived from non-marital sexual activity. Fortunately, even among fellow Modernists, he was not papabile. Thank the Holy Ghost for that big favor!

    The much more significant story to be told here is not that an aging modernist prelate died in frustration as the Church of the ages he supposedly served for a lifetime somehow managed not to sell its soul to gain a friendly treatment among the liberals on The View, the failing New York Times, and Oprah's network. Rather, the real story is how did such a misguided man get that appointment to such a high place in the Catholic Church in the first place?

    Pope Saint Pius X thought the Modernist phenomenon raised such an urgent problem back in 1907 that he wrote it must be addressed 'without delay ... especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom.' (Pascendi, par. 2)

    Cardinal Martini was not even born yet when those words were written (in 1907), but that magnificent, saintly pope was still prophesying about him and his like. It would appear that much more damage to the Church has been done by the Modernists in the subsequent 105 years of corruption time since Pascendi. Rather than update this Bark of Peter by 200 years as Cardinal Martini suggested, I recommend that we reverse its course by about 105 years — back to 1907 — and adopt that saintly pope's wisdom to set a course for salvation.
(Click here to purchase Peter Kelly's "factional" novel Cleansing Fire. Excerpts from his book can be read here, here and here.)

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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