The Catholic Modernist Movement
Oct 19, 2004
Author: Tracy R. Twyman
In 1833, occult writer Jean Baptiste Pitois went to work as an administrator in France’s ministry of education. The ministry immediately undertook a plan to publish all documents pertaining to French history that had, up until that point, been censored. Two committees were formed for the occasion, upon which sat none other than Victor Hugo, as well as two influential authors, Jules Michelet and Baron Emmanuel Rey. Under the ministry’s auspices Michelet published a compendium of records from the trials of the Knights Templar by the Inquisition, called Procès de Templiers. Also under the ministry of education Baron Emmanuel Rey published books about the Crusades in which he presented, for the first time, the Priory of Sion’s original charters. More charters were printed in the Revue de l’Orient Latin, the official journal of Baron Rey’s archeological foundation, the Société de l’Orient Latin, published from their headquarters in Geneva.
The ministry of education instigated a fresh approach to scholarship that spread throughout Europe, especially Germany - an approach that relied on rigorous analysis and the comparison of multiple source materials to establish clear facts. This approach had led to such philosophies as Darwinism and atheism, which became serious threats to the church. Even more threatening was when such scholarship techniques were turned on the Bible itself, the result of which was a veritable crisis of faith among many of the Church’s former devotees.
To combat this, the Church sponsored the “Catholic Modernist Movement”, an attempt to train a new breed of clerics who could strike down anti-biblical arguments with the same rigid reliance on fact that the arguments themselves purported to be based on. But the results of this attempt actually worked against the Church. When armed with the techniques and background knowledge of 19th-century scholarship, these “Modernist” clerics could see for themselves the flaws in the Church’s traditional interpretation of the scriptures. By the turn of the century, Modernism had itself become the heresy it had been formed to combat. Modernists were placed on the Vatican’s official watch list, and all clerics forbidden to associate with the movement, even forced to take an oath not to embrace any Modernist ideas. The Modernists were even, interestingly enough, accused of being “Freemasons” by the Roman authorities. But Modernism continued to proliferate, spreading throughout Europe and Britain as it grew fashionable with the era’s intelligentsia. And the center for the dissemination of Modernist thought was the Seminary of Saint Sulpice.