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  • Hugh Owen | Kolbe Center

If Modernism is the Disease, what is the Cure?

Hugh Owen | Kolbe Center

Pope St. Pius X

More than a hundred years ago, in 1907, the prophetic Pope St. Pius X wrote his most important encyclical Pascendi in which he warned that the worst heresy in the history of the Church had arrived on the scene: “modernism,” which Pope St. Pius X dubbed “the synthesis of all heresies.” That information is fairly familiar to traditional Catholics who are serious about their Faith, but the two most fundamental questions that Pascendi raised in relation to “modernism” are rarely discussed, even in traditional Catholic circles. They are: “Why is modernism the synthesis of all heresies?” and “What is the principal doctrine—the fundamental doctrine—of the modernists?” In this brief essay, we will answer these questions and explain how they show us the way out of the current crisis of faith and morals into the bright light of the “restoration of all things in Christ.”

To understand why St. Pius X called “modernism” the “synthesis of all heresies,” we need to recall that the word “heresy” derives from the Greek word “to choose.” Indeed, the authors of all previous heresies chose to add, subtract, or distort something from the Deposit of Faith, but left the rest of the Faith intact. St. Pius X realized that “modernism” was different because it is based on the premise that everything in the world is in a state of a continuous evolution. Hence, there are no stable natures, no absolute unchangeable truths. This realization inspired St. Pius X to write in Pascendi that “evolution” was “the principal doctrine of the modernists.”

St. Pius X realized that if “evolution” is the principal doctrine of the modernists, their accession to positions of power and influence within the Church would spell devastation for every aspect of Catholic culture and society. This is because, as the saintly pontiff saw only too well, the modernist looks at the sacred liturgy and concludes that while it was well-suited to the Church in her earlier history, it is no longer suitable to her current stage of evolution. Similarly, the modernist concludes that the marriage law of the Church, her teaching on capital punishment, and many of her other teachings on faith and morals need to be “updated” to adapt to the new stage of evolution at which we have arrived. In this way, St. Pius X realized, the modernists had achieved a “synthesis of all heresies” that would visit destruction upon every area of the Church’s life wherever they gained power and influence.

How prophetic was Pope St. Pius X!

We need only look around us to see the effects of modernism on the sacred liturgy, on marriage law, on catechesis, and on the formation of Catholics. In Catholic schools and universities all over the world, Catholic young people are told that “science” has given us a new and better understanding of our faith and of man’s evolution, so that the traditional teachings of the Church on contraception, capital punishment, divorce, fornication, homosexuality, and a host of other topics must be “updated” to “adapt” to the new stage of evolution at which we have arrived. Cardinal Baldisseri served as moderator of the recent synod on marriage and the family. When asked why the synod fathers had spent so much time trying to find ways to give Holy Communion to active homosexuals and to couples who had divorced their Catholic spouses and remarried outside of the Church, he responded: “There is no need to be scandalized if a Cardinal or Bishop proposes something against the so-called ‘common doctrine,’ because dogma has its own evolution. That is a development, not a change.”

No wonder we see a mass exodus of Catholic young people out of the Catholic Church!

FOCUS ministry research now shows that only 15 per cent of Catholic young people continue to minimally practice the Faith when they leave home. For 50 or 60 years, students in Catholic schools and universities have been taught that God allowed His Church to teach a false account of the origins of man and the universe—as well as many erroneous doctrines of faith and morals that flowed from that account, like her traditional teachings on marriage and sexual morality. To make matters worse, students are then told that God finally “enlightened” His Church leaders—not by raising up Catholic saints and scholars from within the Church—but by raising up godless scientists, like Charles Darwin, T.H. Huxley, and Ernst Haeckel, to enlighten Her, men who hated the Church and wanted to destroy Her.

Catholic young people are not fools. After receiving this kind of instruction in Catholic institutions from kindergarten through university, most of them conclude that the godless evolution-believing scientists are the ones who know what they are talking about. And when those Catholic young people leave home, most of them follow the evolution-believing scientists right out of the Catholic Church!

So, if modernism is the disease that is destroying the faith of our young people, what is the cure?

The answer is simple.

Since, as St. Pius X warned in Pascendi, “Evolution is the principal doctrine of the modernists,” all that Catholics need to do to destroy modernism is, in the first place, to expose the fatal flaws in the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis; and, secondly, to show that sound theology, sound philosophy and sound natural science confirm the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation as set forth in the sacred history of Genesis. Moreover, the really good news is that this work has already been done by a team of Catholic theologians, philosophers, and natural scientists who have just created a seventeen-part DVD series entitled “Foundations Restored,” which provides the most comprehensive defense of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and the most complete refutation of the evolutionary hypothesis ever produced in the video medium.

If you want to do one decisive thing to protect and strengthen the faith of the young people in your circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, go to the website ; watch the first two episodes gratis; and, if you are satisfied—as I am confident that you will be—that it will strengthen the foundations of the faith of anyone who watches it, please obtain the entire DVD series and share it with everyone in your sphere of influence. In the words of Catholic author and attorney Christopher Ferrara, “’Foundations Restored’ uses the data of science to refute pseudo-science in order to restore to their proper place what Pope Saint Pius X called ‘facts which touch the foundation of the Christian religion.’ The mighty work of exposing the Neo-Darwinian Trojan horse in the Church has begun. It has begun with ‘Foundations Restored,’ which belongs in every Catholic seminary and school."

Hugh Owen, Director, Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation


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