Modernism: the great heresy

May 21, 2014
Source: District of the USA

What is the heresy of Modernism and what are its consequences? How can we practice the virtue of hope, believing that the post-conciliar crisis will eventually be abated?

Image above: Religion Overthrowing Heresy and Hatred, Pierre Le Gros the Younger (1695–1699), situated in the Jesuit church of the Gesu in Rome.

Many voices were raised in the past against what St. Pius X referred to as the pernicious errors of Modernism, which have been thoroughly absorbed into our society and even within the Church.

One such voice was of Belgium philosopher, Marcel de Corte (1905-1994), recently cited in the last Italian version of SiSiNoNo. Many of our readers may not be acquainted with his book published in 1965, The Great Heresy, a severe diagnosis of the post-conciliar changes, tracing them back to the modernist heresy, sewer of all heresies:

a spiritual degradation more profound than anything the Church has experienced in history, a cancerous sickness in which the cells multiply fast in order to destroy what is still healthy in the Mystical Body. It is an attempt to transform the Kingdom of God into the Kingdom of Man, to substitute for the Church consecrated to the worship of God a Church dedicated to the cult of Humanity. This is the most dreadful, the most terrible of heresies."[1]

De Corte’s valuable work also gives a pertinent definition of Modernism and of its consequences, all too evident in our contemporaneous Church. Despite predicting the lamentable state that would envelope the Church, he nonetheless ends his analysis with some positive advice for Catholics.

We present here some of his useful definitions as well as his practical points of advice for dealing with the post-conciliar crisis.

What is Modernism?

It is firstly a philosophical error. The evil which afflicts the individual man... is subjectivism. The intellect renounces its power to know things as they are in themselves, independently of the knowing mind. It deprives itself of the trampoline of reality: why be surprised, then, that it owns itself incapable of rising to the Origin of reality? But by exiling itself from reality, the intellect automatically turns inward upon itself.

What are its consequences?


  • Man relates to others and to society (familial, political and religious) through culture and thinking and speaking. If modernism divorces truth from reality, how could there still be a single eternal and necessary truth in the domain of faith and of social life? The negation of reality and truth leads ultimately to man closing up like an oyster, proclaiming himself radically autonomous with: “you shall be like gods”.
  • The worship of “Ego” in all levels, individual, moral and social, leads to the shipwreck of reason and faith.
  • This divorce establishes the bases for the accomplishment of the Satanic project: “eritis sicut Deus—you will be as God”: Coming from subjectivism, the modernist heresy returns to subjectivism, dethroning God and placing man in His place. It substitutes a Church dedicated to the cult of Humanity for the Church consecrated to the worship of God.
  • In theology, to accept the revolution of modern thought means that one cannot understand Catholic doctrine “in the same sense and the same formulae.”
  • As St. Pius X envisaged, dogma is in perpetual evolution; moral life varies according to “situation ethics”; the liturgy, from theocentric to anthropocentric; the government of the Church from Petrine and monarchical to collegial; Church doctrine gives place to practice and pastoral life.

De Corte concludes:

A divine yeast, once corrupted, cannot be but and subversive agent of incalculable power: the corruption of the best is the worst."

Seven pieces of valuable advice for hard times


  1. With the virtue of faith, remain firm in believing the divinity and perennity of the Church.
  2. With the virtue of fortitude, resist anything which raises fear and attack valiantly what would prevent our salvation.
  3. Hope in the almighty power of God promised to us if we do what we can with His grace.
  4. Patience and expectation; support trials and wait with confidence for the divine intervention.
  5. Trust or super-hope that the Church will preserve her Apostolic and Petrine succession when she will seem almost totally extinguished, as Jesus seemed abandoned of His Father on the Cross.
  6. So as to have God in all things with us, we need to have nothing of the world.
  7. Sursum Corda! After the night comes the dawn.

In relation to the topic of Modernism, we recommend these reading selections:


1 Cited from the December 1978 issue of The Angelus in the article “Pioneers in the struggle”.