By Timothy S. Flanders
The Pian Magisterium refers to the period of the Church’s opposition to Modernism as contained especially in the French and other revolutions from Pius VI’s condemnation of the Synod of Pistoia (1794) to the death of Pius XII (1958). Thus it spans some 164 years. Taking a generation as roughly 25 years, this period encompasses 6.56 generations of the Church. So if you were the youngest generation at the twilight of Pius XII, that means your father knew it, your grandfather knew it, your great-grandfather knew it, and then his father and grandfather knew it as well, all the way to your great-great-great grandfather. For Americans, this goes all the way back to the beginning of the United States (the US Constitution was not in effect until 1789, the year of the French Revolution).
During the Pian Magisterium the Church was faced with global republican revolutions. But these were not simply changes from a Catholic monarchy to a Catholic republic, but these revolutions sought to reshape the very fabric of society. This movement became known as “Liberalism” from its common theme: “Freedom” (Latin libertas). The Pian Magisterium, however, identified all of these freedoms as being contrary to Christian order, since these “freedoms” were founded on a denial of the dogma of Original Sin–that without divine grace, man’s intellect was darkened, his will was weakened, and he was inclined to evil.
Thus, all of the freedoms the revolutions sought were solemnly condemned by the Pian Magisterium as being false freedoms, leading to slavery. Why is this? The concept of freedom as imagined by Liberalism was not the freedom as given by Christ—in other words, true freedom—but a cunning counterfeit masquerading as freedom. As a wise man once said, “The enemy of the good is not the evil, but the almost good.” Only the “almost good” can deceive good men away from the truly good.
As our Lord said, he who commits sin is a slave to sin (Jn. viii. 34) and again If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (Jn. viii. 36). Because of the dogma of Original Sin, the Church understood that freedom from sin was the only true freedom. Thus unless Original Sin was attacked and overcome, every other effort would turn out in vain, and worse, more slavery to sin. This is why in Christendom the momentum of culture flowed against Original Sin from the moment of birth to sorrow of death. And that is why the ideas of Liberalism were condemned—they sought to move the cultural momentum in the opposite direction: reinforcing Original Sin.
Thus came all the solemn condemnations of the Pian Magisterium:
- The State should be free from the Church: false freedom. If the state is not bound to submit to Christ the King and His Vicars in the Church, the state would only become another pagan emperor seeking its own self-aggrandizement. Thus the citizens were just yoked to further slavery. This had already been happening for some 3 centuries since the Protestant revolt in both Catholic and Protestant monarchies.
- Economics should be free from the moral order: false freedom. In every transaction, the stronger is tempted to take advantage of the weaker. Original Sin makes any system of men incline to evil, thus it needs the moral Christian order to check its excess. Otherwise, the excess of the richer classes simply gains more wage and debt slaves—this has only provoked widespread labor violence and the evil of Communism.
- Freedom of religion, freedom of the press: false freedom. The truth is what brings freedom. It is no freedom to have license to spread the slavery of error. By Original Sin, this only leads straight to indifferentism and relativism.
- A woman should be free from the headship of any man: false freedom. God created male-female order in a relationship of submission and headship. This is designed by God so that man could provide and protect women, and that women could become the maternal guardians of society. If women usurp the role of men in society, a new slavery is the only result, which ends up making women slaves to the wicked schemes of evil men.
- Spirituality should be free from suffering, since the purpose of religion is to cause positive emotions: false freedom. Christianity is not mere sentiment, but the carrying of the cross. Moreover, suffering frees us from attachments to creatures, in order that we may make spiritual progress in holiness.
These and other false freedoms were solemnly condemned by the Pian Magisterium. Instead, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed—and confirmed by multiple visions of the Mother of God herself—showing that all men were under Original Sin but our Lady. The rights of Christ the King were defended in society as they had always been proclaimed by the Church especially since the conversion of Armenia in 301.
The difficulty with this period however, was untangling these false freedoms from the true natural freedoms fought for at that time:
- Freedom of the will: man was indeed endowed with a free will. But this had been denied by Protestantism and also by the heretical Jansenists.
- Freedom from economic exploitation: the poor in this age were herded into cities and forced to work as wage slaves in factories with horrible conditions (including children). This was a true injustice against their freedom.
- Freedom from physical slavery: the battle (led by the good Jesuits) against the transatlantic slave trade had been surrendered by the Church when Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1773, abandoning the slaves to the cruel injustice of absolute tyrants. The Church never fully recovered from this moral compromise, and together with the spread of wage slavery, much of the European mainland left the Church by 1900.
Due to these true freedoms the Church failed to adequately defend, the secularization of Europe was consummated in the First World War, during which our Lady of Fatima gave the world an ultimatum: repent or perish (Lk. xiii. 5). The world chose to perish and massacred millions more, eventually creating an entire industry to slaughter millions of innocent children for the sake of fleshly lusts.
Because of the failure of the Pian Magisterium, John XXIII and Paul VI believed that a new policy would work: instead of condemning the false freedoms, try to compromise with them. This was the pastoral Council of Vatican II, which revoked nothing of the Pian solemn condemnations, but instead tried the new policy of the “Medicine of Mercy.” It was believed this would bring about a new springtime of renewal of the faith Thus ended the era of the Pian Magisterium and thus began the era of the Springtime Magisterium.
But whereas the Pian Magisterium lasted nearly 7 generations but failed to keep Europe in the faith, the Springtime Magisterium oversaw an unprecedented collapse of every last vestige of faith in Euro-America. Thus after barely two and a half generations (1958-2020), the Springtime approach has proved a complete failure. Even worse, the enemies of Christ have gained greater power over the Church herself through widespread moral, doctrinal and spiritual corruption. The errors of Russia have now spread and gained dominion over the world.
It must be admitted that the Pian Magisterium failed to prevent secularization, and failed to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart. But it still nevertheless refused to compromise with the errors of Russia, but condemned their false freedoms over and over with solemn authoritative decrees.
Not so with the Springtime Magisterium. The Pian was deeply imbued with the realism of man’s affliction of Original Sin. The Springtime Magisterium, heavily influenced by the heresies of Teilhard de Chardin, acted as if Original Sin could be overcome merely by men “dialoguing.” Thus the Springtime actually made a compromise with what Pius XI called the “satanic scourge” (Divini Redemptoris, 7)—socialism. The Springtime Magisterium, with unpardonable hubris, shook hands with the Devil with the Metz Agreement, and agreed to suppress any condemnation of the Satanic Scourge at Vatican II. Thus while the Pian Magisterium—despite its failures—at least fought directly against the errors of Russia, the Springtime Magisterium opened the door to demons to ravage the vineyard of the Lord to make it what Dietrich von Hildebrand could call even in 1973: “The Devastated Vineyard.”
What is the solution? All who have eyes to see know that the Springtime has failed far more than the failures of the Pian. We must repent and return to Fatima. Make your First Saturdays. Pray the daily Rosary. The Church must have the humility to admit that the Springtime failed. Let bishops confess the Declaration and return to the charity of anathema. Old Testament and Church history shows us a cycle which is summed up by the Prophet:
If my people had heard me: if Israel had walked in my ways: I should soon have humbled their enemies, and laid my hand on them that troubled them (Ps. lxxx. 14).
Every time the Church falls into sin and error, God punishes her by making her enemies rule over her. When she repents and turns again to the Lord, He once again humbles their enemies. Let us be free from slavery to false freedoms. Let us repent and turn to the truth, and the Son will make us free indeed.
Timothy S. Flanders