Is Modernism Contagious?
Can we become a modernist by associating with and/or befriending modernists? Is it safe to befriend modernists? Can we be nice to them without becoming one of them? If not, they are an occasion of sin to avoid.
But we can relate some experiences which demonstrate that if the modernist is a person with some spiritual authority, a cardinal, bishop, or priest, and probably also a nun, then we can say that associations with them are dangerous.
What happens when we associate with a modernist, for example, a priest? The first thing that we learn is that they are very nice. Quite charming really. They befriend us and then we do not want to point out their errors. Because they are so nice and kind we presume that they must also be good, and on the natural level they are good. They also believe the entire Catholic Faith and are happy or at least willing to recite the Creed and the Rosary with us.
The trouble is that they also believe other things contrary to the Catholic Faith, such as the New Mass is not so bad, non-Catholics are also pleasing to God, divorced / remarried people are not so bad, queers are also acceptable, the commandments are in fact all kind of relative and it is difficult in practise to commit a sin. Anyway, most sins are small sins. They might believe that “outside the Church there is no salvation” but if they do they will also believe that no one or practically no one is outside the Church. It is almost impossible to commit a mortal sin, unless of course you are a smoker or someone who actually believes in absolute truth and thinks that blasphemy, unbelief, profaning the Sunday, abortion, sodomy, adultery and etc., are grievous crimes.
If the modernist is a person of authority experience shows that many people who were solid Catholics have become modernists through associating with modernists. The traditional religious orders who put themselves under the Romans began by not condemning the modernist errors. Now many of them participate at least sometimes in the New Mass, use the new catechism, accept the new marriage annulments and generally have eased into modernism and are now modernists. We have the example of Michael Davies one of the greatest of the traditional Catholics who became president of Una Voce and started hobnobbing with Cardinals and softened his views on many points of doctrine. Before his untimely death he was re-writing his books to bring them into line with the new thinking. Another example, the superiors of some traditional nuns met the modernist bishop of Chicago. What did they say? “He is so nice.”
Truth becomes less important to those associating with modernists. It is very hard to condemn those who have befriended us.
Bishop Fulton Sheen was active through the turbulent 1960s when revolution was everywhere and many were losing the Faith. He said, “When you lose your faith it is not like when you lose your wallet. When you lose your wallet you know that you have lost it and search for it. When you lose your Faith you do not know that you have lost it and do not go looking for it.”
I think that it is the same when one becomes a modernist. He does not realise that he has fallen into heresy and continues to believe that he is a Catholic, thus he does not try to regain his faith.
Modernism is different from other heresies in that it is not a denial of this or that truth of the Faith. Rather it is a denial that there is truth at all, or at least that truth and error are contradictory. It is a mental problem where with regard to abstract truths one denies that error and truth are contradictory. It is also a denial that truth is absolute. Thus for a modernist truth may be one thing for Tom, another for Dick and a third option for Harry. Like the gender boxes on some forms where one can check “male”, or “female”, or “other”. Tom but be happily married and for him marriage is with one wife for life. But, his friend, Dick, might have had a miserable marriage, is separated and has now met a wonderful woman. Being infected with modernism Tom thinks that this is great for his friend Dick. He invites Dick and the women over for dinner. Now, however there is a real crisis, the woman is a Buddhist and Dick is becoming a Buddhist. Tom doesn’t have a problem with that of course, the problem is that Buddhists are vegetarians and Tom is a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore. There is nothing abstract about steak, thus this is where Tom draws the line with his friend Dick. Dick is still a fine friend as an adulterer and an apostate, but not as a vegetarian. For Tom it is correct that God is the Holy Trinity, and he must stay with his wife, but he allows alternate truths for others. Tom is a modernist.
St. John admonishes us (2 John v10-11): “If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, Hail. For he that saith unto him, Hail, communicateth with his wicked works.” Bishop Challoner adds a footnote: “Nor say to him, Hail; or peace be to you, God speed you, all hail; or use any form of saluting him as you would a friend, much less receive or entertain him in your house: This admonition is in general, to forewarn the faithful of dangers which may arise from a familiarity with heretics and such as teach evil doctrine. But this is not forbidding a charity for all men, by which we ought to wish and pray for the eternal salvation of everyone, even of our enemies.”
Therefore, I think that it is bad advice to tell others to be nice to modernist priests, bishops and cardinals. It is far safer to not have any personal relationship with them. If we have no option but to receive the sacraments from them, they we go to confession, go to Mass, make our thanksgiving and leave. We do not have a cup of tea with them, or a friendly chat. We obey the command of St. John and follow the advice of Bishop Challoner.