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Might Marshall ask Fr. Murr, who knew Pius XII's close adviser German Mother Pascalina, why the German "Modernist" Bea became Pius XII's confessor? Taylor Marshall: "Pope Pius XII had fallen under the influence of..[German] Cardinal Bea, S.J...Bea would reveal himself as a Modernist"


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Surveying Cardinal Augustin Bea’s Path of Destruction: From Pius XII to the Synod and Beyond

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Surveying Cardinal Augustin Bea’s Path of Destruction: From Pius XII to the Synod and Beyond

In his February 25, 2019 address on the fiftieth anniversary of Cardinal Augustin Bea’s death, Francis praised Bea’s ability to foster unity among all people as well as his immense influence at Vatican II: 

“[The Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies], in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Center for the Study of Christianity in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is commemorating Cardinal Augustin Bea by a series of scholarly lectures marking the fiftieth anniversary of his death. You thus have an opportunity to reconsider this outstanding figure and his decisive influence on several important documents of the Second Vatican Council. The issues of the Church’s relationship with Judaism, Christian unity, and freedom of conscience and religion, remain significant and extremely timely.”


Even those familiar with Bea’s role at Vatican II may not appreciate how important he was to almost all components of the current crisis in the Church. As discussed below, his influence began with Pius XII and extends to Francis’s Synod on Synodality. If we want to truly understand how we got to this point, and where Francis and his collaborators want to take us, we must know about Bea’s work.

Even though we rightly give Bugnini the treacherous distinction of causing the most harm to the liturgy, it appears that Bea was an able, and perhaps even essential, accomplice.

Confessor to Pius XII. As Bea’s longtime secretary, Fr. Stjepan Schmidt, related in his Augustin Bea: Cardinal of Unity, Pius XII needed to have a German-speaking confessor: “[S]ince he had three German nuns to keep house for him, he decided to call a German-speaking priest who could act as confessor both for the sisters and himself.” Pius XII’s first two german-speaking confessors died, so Pius XII chose Fr. Bea as his confessor in 1945. From that point, Bea had a meaningful influence on Pius XII:

“[F]rom the time that he chose him as his own confessor, the pope took to asking his advice more and more often. He wanted to be able to discuss with Bea the serious problems that were submitted to him by the Holy Office, and therefore wanted him to be fully involved as consultor [at the Holy Office] so that he would be fully conversant with these matters, both through personal study and through participation in the regular weekly meetings of that department.” (p. 144)

Although we have no definitive confirmation of Fr. Bea’s influence on Pius XII, Fr. Karl Stehlin speculated that Bea might have had some impact on the pope’s positions regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“[Around 1952], Pius XII began to change his position towards Fatima and he practically never spoke of Fatima again. . . . [I]n his encyclical Mystici Corporis in 1943 he presents Our Lady as Co-redemptrix, as the New Eve and Mediatrix of all graces. Since 1950 he avoids these terms and insists more on her power of intercession. Father Bea had already a very ecumenical attitude towards the Protestants, and certainly wanted to please them. Maybe his influence on the Pope could have provoked this change of attitude.” (Fr. Stehlin, The Great Secret of Fatima, Volume III, p. 42)

Of course this does not prove that Bea had an adverse influence on Pius XII’s papacy. However, as we survey Bea’s involvement in so many destructive changes, it seems improbable that Pius XII could have escaped his toxic influence.

Through the initiative of Bea, John XXIII established the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and appointed Bea as its president.

Liturgical Reform. All of us know the disastrous fruits of the liturgical reform that took place after Vatican II, but signifiant changes already occurred during the papacy of Pius XII, including changes to Holy Week. As Fr. Schmidt describes, Bea played an important role in that process:

“Although he was not a ‘professional liturgist,’ he was given the opportunity to give a decisive spur to the beginning of liturgical reform. And this was one of the reasons why Pius XII assigned him to the ‘Commission of Eight’ which was responsible for this reform in the ten years prior to the Council.” (p. 216)

As the infamous (and likely Freemasonic) secretary of the “Commission of Eight,” Annibale Bugnini, described, Bea’s importance to the liturgical reform resulted, at least in part, from his relationship to Pius XII:

“Everybody eventually came to wait for and welcome his contributions, in which he would make observations that were always pertinent, firmly based and very prudent, and suggest orientations in which various people often thought they could recognize or at least glimpse the thought of the Holy Father Pius XII, to whom he was one of the few to have frequent access.” (p. 146)

Fr. Schmidt also provided two quotes from German liturgist J. Wagner, which give us a deeper appreciation for Bea’s work:

“I can certainly suppose that two great services and thus merits [of Father Bea] as concerns liturgical renewal are known to wider circles: his leading position in preparing the new Latin translation of the psalter, which set consideration of the reform of the breviary in motion, and then his work concerning the reform of the Easter vigil, which acted as a signal for the general liturgical reform.” (p. 235)

“It was an unforgettable moment for me when he [Bea], during the discussion of the Ordo Missae and the need for the reform of the Roman canon, stated with total clarity and without beating around the bush that the vernacular was also necessary in the context of the eucharistic prayer — and this was before anything of this kind had ever been imagined.” (p. 544)

Thus, even though we rightly give Bugnini the treacherous distinction of causing the most harm to the liturgy, it appears that Bea was an able, and perhaps even essential, accomplice.

As more and more faithful Catholics have realized, the evils we see now from Francis’s Synod on Synodality have their roots in Vatican II.

Eucharistic Fast. Fr. Schmidt also pointed to Bea’s role in persuading Pius XII to allow evening Mass and shorten the duration of the Eucharistic fast. In connection with the latter change, we can see Bea’s aptitude in overturning ancient tradition:

“[Bea] said that in view of the fact that a radical change in a very ancient tradition was involved, they must move very cautiously and examine practical results before taking further steps. However, he immediately referred to such further steps: ‘The main thing is that the stone has been set rolling; everything else is simply a question of time. We must earnestly pray that the development will not take too long.’” (p. 221)

This skill would later allow Bea to become one of the most important figures at Vatican II and the cause of so much of the crisis we see today. []


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