Saturday, January 31, 2015

Heinrich Fries on the Pneumatological Church

When, after having returned to her senses, the Catholic Church begins the work of digesting and cataloging the events of what will be known as the Modernist Crisis so as to immunize herself against future outbreaks of this most pernicious of diseases, it will do well to remember the important role played by one particular actor: Heinrich Fries. 


Cardinal Kasper and Heinrich Fries

Heinrich Fries (1911-1998) was professor of Fundamental and Ecumenical Theology at the University of Munich, collaborated with both Karl Rahner and the young Joseph Ratzinger, and served as something of a mentor to his one-time student, Walter Kasper. An evaluation of the work of Heinrich Fries allows us to understand the Modernist's plans for Catholic ecclesiology - not to mention anything and everything Pope Francis says on the subject. Observe:
To believe in and understand the Church as work of the Spirit means to be mindful of its life and vitality, to protect it from narrowness and inflexibility, and from fear and faintheartedness as well as from dissolution and lack of orientation. It means, in addition, that its own renewal in the Church's constant task, a task that is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit as the soul of the community of believers. To believe in and understand the Church as work of the Spirit means to make a place in it for the new, the unexpected, the future, according to the injunction, "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thess. 5:19); it means, further, to acknowledge that the Spirit of God blows when and where and how it wills, that it cannot be preordained, or chained, or manipulated and regimented. Among the signs of the activity of the Spirit of the Church are the prophets in the Church, the charismatics, often too the uncomfortable critics who understand criticism as faithful engagement, the ones who push towards new turning points and leave their mark on history. (Heinrich Fries, Fundamental Theology, p. 502)
One could be forgiven for assuming that the above is a quote from Pope Francis. Indeed, the harmony between the thoughts of Pope Francis and the words of Heinrich Fries is so great that, under a different set of circumstances, the former could be accused of having plagiarized the latter. As it stands, we have to wonder whether Fries' Fundamental Theology has a place of honor in Pope Francis' personal library.


  1. Reading the Fries quote, one has to wonder how the Church managed to survive the 2000 years.

    And it took the Modernists only 40 years to figure out what exactly was the problem. And they fixed it. And they have been fixing it ever since.

    As for the work of the Holy Spirit, we had a discussion a few weeks back on my blog about discernment of what actually can constitute the work of the Holy Spirit. One commentor, Deacon Augustine gave me an idea, which led me to adapted the Rational Expectations Hypothesis (Economics) to ecclesiology and came up with the Rational God Hypothesis. I think it works very well with the discernment issue and simultaneously debunks the entire Modernist nonsense about the "god of surprises" in one fell swoop.

    Here's the link. Tell me what you think. I'd be interested in hearing what you think.


  2. I read through the article when you first published it, and thought it should make perfect sense to anyone with even a smidgen of scholastic training. But, as you know, these luminaries have long since "moved beyond" things like logic and the principle of non-contradiction.

    As the above article indicates, I've been reading up on Cardinal Kasper, Heinrich Fries and Karl Rahner lately - particularly in regards to their notion of ecclesiology - mainly because this is where the heavy lifting of their particular brand of heresy is being done. The choice of title - Heinrich Fries on the Pneumatological Church - was by no means a random one: what these men are driving towards is precisely a Pneumatological Church, i.e. a Church of the Holy Spirit, where Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, is to be eclipsed by the Holy Spirit in importance. I quote again from Fries' "Fundamental Theology" (pg. 497):

    "According to the witness of the New Testament, the Spirit of God as power and life of God was active in Jesus in a special way: beginning with the Incarnation, manifest with the baptism of Jesus. Jesus' words and deeds are manifestations of the Spirit of God; by this Spirit He banishes the power of the evil one. In doing so, Jesus is not seized as by an outside principle; He is Himself the bearer of the Spirit of God. That is why He can also mediate and share the Spirit."

    And on pg. 501:

    "As can be seen, it is theologically well grounded that the connection between Church and Holy Spirit is clearly expressed in the Apostles' Creed: I believe in the Church as work of the Holy Spirit in whom I believe."

    Not only is Our Lord here being essentially reduced to an instrument of the Holy Spirit, but the Church He founded, of which He is the Head, the Conservator and the Redeemer, is being placed directly under the governance of the Holy Spirit. Or rather, the Holy Spirit as interpreted by those who possess the charism of prophecy, i.e. the progressives. I am reminded of the pagan priests of Apollo in the temple at Delphi who used to "interpret" the drug-induced gibberish of the Pythia so as to direct public affairs to their monetary benefit. But I digress.

    The roles of Second and Third Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity in regards to the internal constitution of the Church are being inverted for the purpose of bringing about a state of permanent revolution according to the Protestant doctrine Ecclesia semper reformanda est - "The Church is always to be reformed."

    This notion of a Pneumatological Church is the hammer the Modernists have been quietly forging since the time of Pope St. Pius X. Pope Francis is merely the first to wield it openly and with great enthusiasm.

  3. Are these teachings a denial of the dogma of the Church; that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son?
    I had always thought the reason for the split with the Orthodox Church arcane until I read the War against Being by James Larson.
    I don't agree with everything Larson writes, for example I am very suspicious about private revelation. I prefer to follow the advice of St. Johnof the Cross, which is to reject all private revelation because it is not necessary for salvation and God is actually pleased when we reject private revelation because it shows that we walk by faith and not by sight.
    However, his explanation of the importance of the filioque dispute made sense to me.
    I am not a phliosopher however, and I find it dificult to evaluate philosophical arguments. I'm always scared that I will be drawn into heresy unawares.

  4. Dear hunt,

    I haven't read enough of Heinrich Fries' work to make an informed judgment regarding his view of the filioque clause. But I know that Cardinal Kasper sees no problem in saying "from the Father through the Son" - again, reducing Our Lord to an instrument of the Spirit, though he personally argues (in The God of Jesus Christ, what a title, huh?) that we should just ignore the differences between East and West regarding the filioque clause - very much in line with the stance publicly taken by Pope Francis, i.e. to ignore our doctrinal differences and focus on what unites us, or, to put it another way, to forget revealed religion and stick with natural religion, i.e. those religious truths which can be found by man through the application of his reason to his experience of the world.

  5. It must be a very important distinction as the Latin Church always argued that it was part of revealed truth and that filioque was inserted to clarify a truth that had previously not been subject to doubt. It's importance is also revealed by the fact that the Latin Church preferred that the Church split rather than compromise.
    The care and devotion that the Church used to have for the dogmas of the faith, making sure that God's Truth remained incorrupted, inspires so much respect and humility.
    Nowadays most Catholics have never heard of the dogmas of the faith which were so faithlessly 'evolved' , in other words abandoned in the 1949 letter and at Vatican II.
    So many times I have had to argue with 'traditional' Catholics that salvation through desire, bood or ignorance are not dogmas of the Church , to no avail. That there is such a thing as Divinely revealed Truth, that is eternal and objective seems to be incomprehensible in this world dominated by relativism.

  6. " Not only is Our Lord being reduced to essentially an instrument of the Holy Spirit"
    Isn't that an effective denial of the filioque dogma, even though it is not stated explicitly?
    Forgive me, but for some time I have been trying to understand the reason for the schism and the only article that I have found on the internet which explains it's significance and importance is this:-
    As a philosopher, what do you think? It made sense to me, but I'm just a layperson.

  7. Dear hunt,

    Yes, it is an effective denial of the Filioque clause, and Kasper's discussion of "from the Father through the Son" is precisely with a view towards placating the Eastern schismatics. James Larson hits the nail on the head where he writes that the denial of the Filioque "enables the Holy Spirit to be 'liberated' from this connection to the Sacred Humanity of Christ in order that He might become what some Orthodox writers have been so bold as to call the 'Soul of the World'." This is exactly what Fries and Kasper - and all the "reformers" with a theological bent - are driving at. He is also entirely correct where he writes that, when the Holy Spirit is "liberated from the necessity of working through the Humanity of Christ, [He] thus becomes the source of those Divine Energies which are in creation from the beginning, and are the object and source of our Divine communication, sanctification, and deification." This is precisely Fries' idea of the Pneumatological Church - viewing the Church as the work of the Holy Spirit, leaving Our Lord to be reduced to the position of prime exemplar of a "channel" of the grace of the Holy Spirit. It's heresy of the worst sort.

  8. I haven't had time to read all of Larson's essays but the one on gnosticism is also good and I finally understood the danger of this heresy which is fundamentally a denial of the dogma that the world created by God is good and that in no way suffer any decay away from God. That evil is present through the free wills of men abusing those gifts which God created for our benefit.
    My dispute with the so- called traditionalists is that, not only do they deny the dogmas of the Church about baptism , faith and salvation, but that their puritan behaviour is also heretical.
    And from what I can understand, the sedevacantistas, who do uphold the teachings about salvation, seem to have resurrected the Jansenist heresy , the Benedict centre explicitly so.
    St. Vincent of Lerins, in his wonderful essay, Commonitorium , wrote that if the Church is once more dominated by heresy, as it was with the Arian heresy, the only recourse for Catholics is to cling to the dogmas of the faith. But the dogmas of the faith seem to have erased from Catholic history. As a result of my dispute with Lefebvrists about baptism of desire, I have come to love, revere and treasure the dogmas of the Catholic faith and I perceive howceach single dogma is essential and are interelated. You cannot deny one dogma without compromising the others.
    I have debated with traditional Catholics , who
    also call themselves Thomists, that not only
    does salvation by baptism of desire or
    invincible ignorance deny the dogmas of the faith about salvation, but if people can be saved in a state of original sin without the sacrament of baptism than the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christion was unnecessary and that the unique distinction of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception is demeaned and diminished. But to no avail, they insist in repeating phrases of St. Thomas taken out of context as the ultimate arbiter of Catholic doctrine.

  9. Dear hunt,

    I've read several of the essays published over at War Against Being, and find them to be very well conceived and presented. As for the matter of "Baptism of Desire," I think that, in its original formulation, i.e. in regards to the fate of catechumens, it is an interesting bit of theological speculation, but one which was essentially unnecessary and ultimately even dangerous, as it seems only to have given an air of orthodoxy to the modern heresy of universal salvation - which, of course, is worthy of condemnation.

  10. Charles Coulombe in his book 'Desire and Deception' has an interesting discussion of the problem which arose, in his view, because of the adoption of Aristotlean philosophy by the Church through St Thomas and the abandonment of philosophy based on Plato's ideas. That with Plato the will became before intellect whereas in St. Thomas' philosophy the intellect precedes the will. According to Coulombe, the whole concept of original sin and it's transmission is virtually impossible to explain using Aristotlean concepts.
    I hope that my summary of Coulombe's arguments are fair , because I have no trraining in philosophy.
    However, St. John Chrysostom in his homilies on the Acts of the Apostles basically dismissed all philosophy as the 'deleriums of the Greeks' and that the doctrines of the Church preached by Peter superseded them. He was especially sarcastic about Plato. In another one of his homilies he said that all unbaptised catechumens are condemned. Pope Innocent III forbade the burying of the unbaptised, catecuhumens and babies in consecrated ground.
    The philosophical speculations over catecuhumens should never have happened because the dogma (the Divine Truth) of the Church is that water baptism is essential for salvation and that ought to have been the end of it. The, to my mind , pointless speculations of St. Thomas about baptism of desire and invincible ignorance provided, however innocently, one of the pricipal means by which the enemies of the Curch have destroyed the Church and the faith.


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