I respond point by point
On October 14, 1911, St. Pius X wrote a Response Letter (beginning with the words “I respond point by point”) to the Bishop of Cremona, Msgr. Geremia Bonomelli,1 who on his 80th birthday had sent (with an accompanying letter) as a gift to St. Pius X a booklet he had recently written on three Italian Senators: Thaon di Revel, Tancredi Canonico, and Antonio Fogazzaro, the last one having been condemned of modernism by the very St. Pius X.
In his Response Letter Pope Sarto expresses astonishment and dismay that the Bishop of Cremona presents the life and works of three characters exuding modernism, one of whom having been formally condemned, without giving any judgment on their doctrinal orthodoxy. St. Pius X goes on renewing his condemnation of modernism with very strong words and responds to Bonomelli’s accusation of being too severe toward modernism and modernists. Finally he deals with the problem of the “Roman question” raised by Bonomelli in his letter. Let us look at the text of the letter of St. Pius X.
First of all, the Pope regrets that in Bonomelli’s writing on the three Senators, known to public opinion and history for their liberal, pro-Risorgimento, and modernist views, “there was no attempt at an evaluation of their writings and works.” The Pope justly observes: “It seems to me that especially a Bishop should say something more.” That is to say, it is a bishop’s duty to make a clear statement on the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of those that he presents to the public, otherwise he leads the faithful into believing that there is nothing wrong in their writings and their works, while the Holy See has already made a pronouncement on them (especially Fogazzaro) condemning them for a strong veneer of modernism.
Then St. Pius X responds to Bonomelli, who had the nerve to recommend him “moderation in his decrees against modernism.” The Pontiff distinguishes between “modern as the source of serious studies, and modernism,” that is the cesspool of all heresies (Pascendi, September 8, 1907). Pope Sarto continues, saying: “I am shocked that you find excessive the measures taken by the Holy See to hold back the deluge that threatens to spread while the modernist error that people want to disseminate in our days is much more deadly than that of the time of Luther, because it aims directly at the destruction not only of the Church (as in the case of Luther), but of Christianity.”
It is worthwhile noting the verb “hold back” used by St. Pius X: it is the same used by St. Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians (II Thess. 2:3-4) to indicate the obstacle, the one who restrains, the katechon, the force that opposes the final Antichrist from reigning over the whole world: “Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God.”
St. Augustine says that the apostasy is the separation from Rome of the people that were at first all subject to her, and St. Thomas Aquinas (Commentary on the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, 2:3-4, Chapter 2, lesson 1, numbers 34-35) clarifies that, as Pope Leo says in his sermon “De Apostolis,” “the Roman Empire has not disappeared but has transformed from temporal to spiritual. Thus, the apostasy from the Roman Empire must be understood not only from the temporal one but also from the spiritual one, which is the Catholic faith of the Roman Church.” St. Thomas Aquinas (Booklet 68, De Antichristo, printed in Parma, 1864) again confirms that “the obstacle” to the manifestation of the Antichrist is submission to the Roman Church and that “the one who holds him back” is the Papacy.
Furthermore, St. Pius X focuses well on the gravity of the modernist apostasy, which
1. Destroys subjectively the very nature of the Christian religion;
2. Makes Christ into a myth of the early Christians;
3. Considers Christianity an ideology invented by Paul of Tarsus and by the first communities founded by him; and
4. Sees God as a logical entity, that is to say an idea resulting from the need of religious sentiment of man, whereas He is the most perfect Being really and objectively existing outside the human mind.
“Faced with so grave an evil,” continues St. Pius X, “there will never be sufficient precautions that, supplying prevention, put someone on guard without hurting anyone and apply with leniency and compassion the proper penalties.”
In summary, the Holy See advises the faithful not to support certain theories, warns them, puts them on guard, so that in the end only the one who despises the admonitions of the Church is finally condemned: the decrees against modernism per se “do not hurt anyone”; only the baptized who join modernism are condemned by their own fault and not for excessive severity of the Church.
Bonomelli had written to Pope Sarto: “With your decrees so severe, you will either make apostates or hypocrites.” St. Pius X replies: “Unfortunately we have some apostates [the modernists, voluntary and, thus, guilty—comment of SiSiNoNo] but not made so by the laws against modernism, and we feel sorry for them; we shall have some hypocrites, and too bad for them; but at least we shall not have in the clergy teachers and preachers of the modernist error, who would in a short time take the whole world into apostasy.”
What makes the apostate and the hypocrite, then, is not St. Pius X, but the bad will of the baptized who openly embraces modernism and leaves the ranks or of the one who is interiorly a modernist but does not reveal it publicly in order to remain within the Church and re-make her into a modernist entity from within. St. Pius X is only concerned with not allowing the clergy to teach the modernist apostasy and, thus, lead astray all the faithful.
Finally the Pope responds to a sibylline question of Bonomelli that saddens St. Pius X. The Bishop of Cremona has asked him to “put an end to the struggle in Italy, to the conflict between State and Church” [after September 20, 1870—Comment of SiSiNoNo], adding that “it would take but one word from the Pope to save so many souls.” St. Pius X challenges Msgr. Bonomelli and forces him out into the open, writing: “What is this prodigious word you expect of me?...Let’s be clear: [do you expect] the renunciation of the temporal power of the Church?”
Here he recalls the doctrine of the Church on temporal power, constantly re-affirmed by Pius IX and Leo XIII in numerous encyclicals. The temporal power is a means that Providence wanted to grant the Church in order to keep its spiritual, doctrinal, and moral independence vis-à-vis the human powers that have followed each other in the course of centuries. Just as man needs a home of his own so as not to depend on others, so the Church needs a State of her own to be mistress “in her own house.” Thus, Pius X, like Pius IX, “cannot, must not, and wills not” to renounce what God has given “for so many centuries as a bulwark to the liberty of the Church....Because it is not with the temporal power that one wages war but with the spiritual one.” This has constantly been taught by the Pontifical Magisterium to which also Msgr. Bonomelli must consent.
To Bonomelli’s suggestion that he trust the guarantees the Italian Government has promised to the Church, Pius X responds that one cannot trust guarantees “assured by a government slave to the sect [Freemasonry—comment of SiSiNoNo] and that changes every month.”
Then the Pope asks Bonomelli an explicit question: “Now I ask you if in the present circumstances, after forty years of evidence, in which all the Italian Governments that followed each other have treated the Holy See and the Pope much worse than its fiercest enemy, it is possible to pronounce the word you recommend.”
In conclusion, St. Pius X reminds Bonomelli that “no-one more than the Pope really loves Italy, but an Italy that is not slave to the sects, an Italy that responds to the mission assigned to her by Providence to be the first Nation in the world, because she knows how to appreciate properly the privilege of having the Papacy in her bosom.”
The question for St. Pius X is not Italy but the Government of the House of Savoy, which is enslaved to the Masonic sect and pursues the destruction not only of the Papal State but, if it were possible, of the very Church of Christ.
At the end of this reading anyone will be able to verify how correct St. Pius X was when, before dying, he lamented the fact of not having been helped by the Bishops in his fight against modernism. In fact, the Bishops were either modernist or philo-modernist, or some, as Benedict XV confessed about himself, did not realize the gravity of the danger (see Disquisitio of the Franciscan Ferdinando Antonello charged by Pius XII with shedding light on the “repressive” activities of which St. Pius X was accused even during his process of beatification and canonization). It is this body of Bishops, modernist or rebellious and reckless, that prepared the triumph of Vatican II.
1 Born in 1831, died in 1914, Bishop of Cremona. In 1904 he sent to St. Pius X a memorial in which he proposed the rapprochement between science and faith, between the Italian Government and the Church. In 1889 he had written an article titled “Rome and Italy” for the Rassegna Nazionale in which he favored the reconciliation of Church and State, with the Church renouncing its claim to all temporal powers. On April 13, 1889, his article was put on the Index of forbidden writings, and Msgr. Bonomelli made an act of submission (but only exteriorly as demonstrated by the letters subsequently sent to St. Pius X).