October 9, 2018, Tuesday
“Only holiness is subversive with respect to this infernal order in which we are immersed.” —Italian Catholic scholar and writer Alessandro Gnocchi, in an interview with Italian Catholic author Aldo Maria Valli published today on Valli’s blog in Italy. Valli was one of the journalists, along with Marco Tosatti, with whom Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano met in the days prior to publishing his Testimony on the evening of August 25. Today is the 46th day since that publication.
The following interview appeared today in Italian on the blog of Aldo Maria Valli. This is my own translation into English.—RM
To cleanse the Church, we need, not a time machine, but holiness
by Aldo Maria Valli
Moral corruption in the Church was certainly not born just in our time, but comes from afar, and has its roots in the lack of sanctity.
Alessandro Gnocchi, who in the pages of the magazine Riscossa Cristiana follows and comments on the events of the Church with passion and intellectual honesty, is one of the few voices able to judge the current crisis in an historical perspective. In doing so, he explains that what Monsignor Viganò has revealed to the world about the current situation has a precedent: the denunciation of Emanuele Brunatto [1892-1965], the first spiritual son of Padre Pio [1887-1968].
To return to those facts means to immerse oneself in a reality that many Catholic faithful would prefer not to see and not to know. Yet it is necessary. At the time of Benedict XV [1914-1922] and Pius XI [1922-1939] moral corruption within the Church was not only widespread, says Alessandro Gnocchi, but greater than today. This is why the argument that the ruin began with the Second Vatican Council [1962-1965] does not persuade. In reality, the ruin (of the Church) is born each time holiness is not put in the first place. And this applies to all times. Nor can it be maintained that it is sufficient to safeguard the right doctrine in order to have a good Church.
In the interview that we propose here, Alessandro Gnocchi elaborates on the basic themes contained in his essay Padre Pio, crucified by the Church of the Antichrists (An Infernal Novel), a text that can leave one dismayed, yet a text that must be read.
As Alessandro explains, the stigmata of Padre Pio were taken seriously not only by hosts of devoted believers, but also, and perhaps above all, by the servants of the Enemy, who understood very well their significance. Hence the persecution that struck the friar from within the Church. A lesson more than ever current.
Aldo Maria Valli: From the White Paper of Emanuele Brunatto, and above all from the Letter to the Church and The Antichrists in the Church of Christ, a very grim picture emerges. It turns out that at the summit of the Church, in that period between the 1920s and 1930s of the last century, moral corruption was profound, rampant, obstinate. Hence the real reason for the persecution of the stigmatized friar [Padre Pio], Alter Christus in a Church of Antichrists. Is this summary correct?
[Note: The first spiritual son of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Emanuele Brunatto lived at the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo alongside the future saint from 1920 to 1925, defending Padre Pio in writing. A native of Turin, he held multiple jobs and lived a dissolute life until 1920 when, after reading an article, he decided to visit San Giovanni Rotondo to see the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. This meeting led to a memorable confession, an immediate conversion and a lifelong bond with Padre Pio.]
Alessandro Gnocchi: This is precisely what happened in those years summed up in the fewest possible words. I thought it over for a couple of weeks before deciding to tell what I discovered by reading the documents and the reconstructions put aside by Brunatto, who, it must be remembered, was the first spiritual son of Padre Pio.
At first I thought of leaving everything in silence, also because Padre Pio told Brunatto not to publish that material, not even for the purpose of obtaining his freedom. Then I realized that the letter in which the Father asked for silence was not freely written and I began to change my mind. But what definitely convinced me is the observation that what you have revealed to the world thanks to Monsignor Viganò’s memorial was already in the archive of Emanuele Brunatto.
So, I said to myself, why Bergoglio [Pope Francis] and not Benedict XV and Pius XI? The news was the same and my job description told me what I had to do [that is, tell the story].
Besides, I must confess that I can no longer stand all those “traditionalists” who hold that the world was perfect until midnight on October 10, 1962 [the day before the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962] and then Vatican II came to destroy everything. Just as it does not seem honest to me to argue that, perhaps, evil-doers and supporters of evil-doers were active even before Vatican II, but only outside the Leonine walls [the walls that surround the Vatican].
According to some commentators, even later in the analysis, the disaster stemmed from a renunciation of the exercise of authority. But why? And since when? I believe that, as regards the Catholic Church, the problem is not in the renunciation of the exercise of authority, but in the renunciation of sanctity by authority. That’s why I wanted to tell even just a very small part of what I discovered.
Aldo Valli: What were the distinctive features of the moral degradation reported by Brunatto?
Alessandro Gnocchi: It can be summarized in one concept: corruption. Moral corruption, with the spread of homosexual practice and the domination of the homosexual lobby, reaching even to the papal throne. I can assure you that the pontificate of Benedict XV is simply appalling from this point of view. But under Pius XI the situation did not change.
Evidently the infection came from very far away and, as you could also perceive as you studied the revelations of Viganò, it spread very far. And it will spread very far. It is a matter of the corruption of ecclesial life, with the struggle for offices, careers, favors, compromises and, naturally, money.
In the end we perceive the corruption of the men, who practiced this abomination using the name of Christ as a shield.
Aldo Valli: But, one could point out to you that the preaching of orthodox doctrine never failed in those years …
Alessandro Gnocchi: Formally, one can also try to support this thesis, which in any case is a an historical falsehood.
This, for me, is the most painful point, because I too had fallen into the trap of the equation “good doctrine equals good Church.”
The facts show us that this is not the case.
Among the vices of the Catholic Church is that of formalism linked to an excessively juridical mentality.
The idea that one may simply state the letter (of the law) correctly to save any practice. In this way we have arrived, and not just over one century, to a Church founded on canon law instead of the Gospel.
When we do not have holiness as our first goal, we end up corrupting everything that comes after, and I mean everything.
Good doctrine is proclaimed only as a weapon to wage war on one’s adversaries.
But when the doctrine is used as a weapon, it always ends up being adapted to the war and, therefore, is altered.
We start by considering the doctrine under a new, instrumental aspect, and we end up finding a new doctrine, perhaps more effective, but a new one in our hands.
Not to mention that if you use it to wage war and the war is lost, the doctrine will succumb together with the defeated.
I assure you that this is what has happened in the years we are talking about, involving names that I considered crystalline only because I applied the deceptive equation “good doctrine equals good Church.”
This is how we arrived at the famous midnight of October 10, 1962.
If there is no faith, if there is no holiness, these are the results: good doctrine handled by a corrupt person is worth the same as bad doctrine handled by a person of integrity.
Aldo Valli: Why was Padre Pio, who was basically very peripheral to the Vatican powers, seen as a dangerous enemy and, therefore, to be discredited and overthrown?
Alessandro Gnocchi: There are many reasons and they are on different levels.
Starting from the human factor, I think that corruption naturally hates purity: if it can not be used for its own purposes, it eliminates it.
In the case of Padre Pio this happened.
The local clergy, filthy to the marrow, made recourse to the equally corrupt bishop of Manfredonia, who took refuge in the Roman wolf-den where his protectors were intertwined. That is chain that led to the persecution of Padre Pio.
But there is also a supernatural level, on which level there is often a war that is invisible and almost always indecipherable to our eyes.
The stigmata of Padre Pio was a sign for the good Christians, but also the servants of the Enemy understood the stigmata very well.
Indeed, it was precisely the latter who took them seriously and truly understood their scope.
That is why they tried to discredit the first stigmatized priest in history by claiming he was a hysterical liar, or by supporting the emotional popular devotion that thrived around him.
Finally, I believe that someone from the band of scoundrels who made war on Padre Pio understood, or at least intuited, the true nature of Padre Pio’s mission, which consisted in saving the priesthood of Christ from the corruption of those who were charged with transmitting it and preserving it in its integrity.
Aldo Valli: In Rome, Brunatto also found some support from important Churchmen. What does this mean?
Alessandro Gnocchi: There were three people who always supported Brunatto in the defense of Padre Pio: the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, the secretary of the Holy Office Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val and don Luigi Orione.
It is known for certain that Don Orione was aware of the mission entrusted by Heaven to Padre Pio via a divine revelation received during the celebration of Mass. I do not know how much Gasparri and Merry del Val knew, but they certainly understood that defending the recluse friar in San Giovanni Rotondo also meant fighting Roman corruption.
The two cardinals obtained only marginal results, otherwise we would not have come to the situation we see today. I think this is due to a typically Roman vice, which many exchange for a virtue: a formal respect for the institution.
At first, Gasparri and Merry del Val implored the pontiffs to avoid scandalous appointments of cardinals.
Then, having obtained nothing, they decided to produce incontrovertible proofs regarding the immorality of ecclesiastical dignitaries in the “odor of cardinalate” to be presented to the Popes so that they understood that they could not proceed in their intent.
But, in so doing, they continued to be, however healthy, the gears of a vicious mechanism capable of grinding everything.
In addition to this, with the convenience of those who judge history, I think it was myopic thinking to imagine that the rot in Roman could be made healthy simply by avoiding some appointments or hindering some careers.
My reasoning can also be considered subversive and anti-institutional, but these are the facts.
Not by chance, the only one who obtained the pre-established result was Brunatto, when he proved determined to go all the way with the publication of what he had discovered.
And this happened twice, with the first and second persecution of Padre Pio.
Aldo Valli: We come to our times. What do these old stories teach us about today?
Alessandro Gnocchi: That what shocks us today has very deep roots and to know them it is not enough to stop at the beginning of the 20th century.
It also teaches us that institutional fear is a chain that must be broken.
How many scandalous pontificates will still have to scourge the souls of Christians before someone proudly raises his head?
I thought a lot about Monsignor Viganò’s decision to tell the world about the perverse conduct of Rome, about his motivations, about the time he chose to do it, but here you would have to answer my questions.
What I can say is that Monsignor Viganò has implemented what Emanuele Brunatto only threatened to do.
The jolt was of unimaginable magnitude, and yet I fear the institution will have, once again, the best in this contest over the truth of the facts and on the Truth of the faith.
It is enough for Bergoglio to issue an invitation to pray the Rosary and pray to St. Michael the Archangel and he puts everyone in the bag.
This means that the so-called “People of God” has become a people of sheep like all others, ideal for an iniquitous and self-referential power.
I also think that everything I have recounted should cause to reflect those who are convinced that, to rediscover the purity (of the Church, of the faith), it would be enough just to take a step back in time.
But in doing so, it has been shown that we become content only with a sin that is a little older than the present one, which is always the same: pride, the temptation to be like God.
According to many, Tradition, naturally with the uppercase “T,” is found by going back in a time machine.
I think that, instead, we must go back to the font, the source, and follow it where it always shows itself equal to itself and always life-giving.
Some traditionalists are rightly suspicious when they hear about “returning to the font,” because they think of the revolutionary tactic of always recalls the myth of the origins. But, on closer inspection, the progressives simply took a longer step than these traditionalists.
I repeat: we must find the source, the font, of tradition and follow it to our days: there we will find the source of our holiness.
Aldo Valli: In this regard, you say, rightly, that the only answer to Evil is that of Padre Pio: holiness. In your opinion, how can we harmonize today this search for holiness with the need not to further split a Church that is already very divided?
Alessandro Gnocchi: Look, in this Church, now, there is nothing left to split, there is only to rebuild. We need to build it brick by brick, and the bricks are our individual souls.
If I belong to the Church — and here we should have the courage to ask ourselves where the Church really is — my personal sanctity is the only relief I can bring to His wounded body.
Assuming there ever was such a time, the time is over to seek or create small reserves, even with the good intention of preserving the faith.
These environments always end up being places where the need to “do” prevails, because they must demonstrate to the world their existence: but the world, to grant its consideration, asks that only things that it is able to understand be done.
Moreover, inexorably, these places become small places of a small power that always end up “doing” things that are understandable to the great power in a relationship of limited conflict. You can obtain some success and visibility, but nothing more.
Only holiness is subversive with respect to this infernal order in which we are immersed.
I do not know if I have come to these conclusions because I am sick, or tired, or getting old, and, while I am answering you, I am suffering.
But I assure you that this weakness purifies, allows you to see clearly and makes you very free.
At the end of all, if I have a teaching that I think I can pass on to those I love, starting with my children, this is what I learned from Padre Pio: be good Christians.
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