by Sandro Magister
ROMA - The photo above depicts a famous gesture from the pontificate of John Paul II: his making himself "a Jew for the Jews," in Jerusalem, inserting a slip of paper with a prayer written on it into the wall of the Temple.
Most people, from all over the world, praised this ecumenical gesture. But there are also those who, though being faithful Catholics, contest it at its roots. Enrico Maria Radaelli of Milan has recently published an important book. It is important because it enriches the body of theological criticism of modern Catholicism written by intellectually sound "traditionalist" authors. The author most representative of this tendency has been Romano Amerio, a philosopher and philologist from Lugano in Switzerland, whose books "Iota unum" ("One Letter") and "Stat Veritas" ("Where the Truth is Found"), both edited by Riccardo Ricciardi, are two milestones for the criticism of the second Vatican Council and of the postconciliar Church in the name of the Great Tradition. But we shouldn´t forget Giuseppe Cardinal Siri and his book entitled "Gethsemani," and more recently, the Roman theologian Brunero Gherardini and "Una sola fede, una sola Chiesa" ("Only One Faith, Only One Church").
Radaelli has entitled his book "Il mistero della Sinagoga bendata" ("The Mystery of the Blindfolded Synagogue"): the mystery, that is, of those who do not see Jesus as the Son of God. The prototype for this blindness was provided by the unbelieving Jews beneath the cross. But now it is especially within the Church, even at its highest levels of leadership, that he sees a general watering down of the faith taking place.
Theologians, monks, and cardinals fall beneath Radaelli´s severe and highly reasoned criticisms. The cardinals still living who are most targeted are Roger Etchegaray, Edward Cassidy, Carlo Maria Martini, and Joseph Ratzinger. The only one spared is Camillo Ruini, who is given honorable mention for having recalled that the Holy Trinity is the heart of the Christian faith.
This is, in fact, the central thesis of the book. Radaelli contrasts "the article of faith that asserts that in heaven there reigns only the Holy Trinity" (the one true God) with the three "false" monotheistic creeds, which according to ecumenist fashions would group together Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
John Paul II is also subjected to criticism. One could have anticipated the indictments against his interreligious meetings in Assisi. Less foreseeable, but even more harsh, is the criticism Radaelli makes of the Pope´s "going Jewish" in Jerusalem, with the gesture he made at the Temple wall; after all, "how can we upbraid the Jews for not believing in the New Temple of Christ, if we ourselves run to pray at their dead, empty, and by now merely idolatrous temple?"
Just as Manicheanism and Pelagianism threatened the Church during its first centuries, so does Radaelli see the great new heresy of ecumenism threatening the Church today.
And Antonio Livi agrees with him in his introduction to the book. He asserts the author´s absolute right to dissent from the Church´s modern teachings on ecumenism. This is because these teachings, he says, are by their own admission "pastoral, not dogmatic," and therefore subject to dispute, while infallible dogma is to be found in the Great Tradition - that of the apostles and of the fathers of the Church - which Radaelli invokes on every page of his book.
And Livi is no small figure. He is a priest of Opus Dei and a regular professor and dean of the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University, whose chancellor is Camillo Cardinal Ruini.
Enrico Maria Radaelli, "Il mistero della Sinagoga bendata", introduzione di Antonio Livi, Effedieffe, Milano, 2003, pagine 416, euro 30,00.