Renowned thinker Dietrich von Hildebrand’s post-Vatican II speeches at the Roman Forum in New York, most of which later became concise essays, diagnosed the multiple concerns afflicting the Mystical Body—and prescribed the cure.
“Von Hildebrand is the 20th century doctor of the Church.” So proclaimed his beloved friend, Pope Pius XII. Even Pope Paul VI—with whom von Hildebrand expressed fraternal disagreement on matters like changing the Mass— found him formidable and honored him with an award for a remarkable career of Catholic writing.
In fact, Paul VI’s homage makes these 20 essays all the more fascinating: von Hildebrand spent most of the last years of his life—Paul VI’s pontificate— sounding the alarm and suggesting ways to reverse the decline in Catholic belief and practice. He brings Scripture, tradition and the writings of great saints to bear on our present turmoil. Seven chapters set the tone:
- The Charitable Anathema. Why excommunication of heretics is an act of love, and ensures true unity among believers. The beneficial effects it would have on weak Catholics or those who have left the fold
- The Case for the Latin Mass (later made, in private audience, to John Paul II by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand)
- Positive and Negative Thinking. Von Hildebrand explains when the latter is totally appropriate
- Corruption of Souls by the New Catechisms. No middle ground
- The Marks of a True Christian Education. Practical ways to determine the good and bad teacher, classroom or text
- The Illusion of Progress. Why change isn’t always for the better
- Confidence in the Holy Spirit. Ways to draw closer to God while carrying on the struggle for the Faith
“Every problem he discusses in this easy-to-read book is still with us… What is truly amazing is how relevant it is to the Church now in the 1990s… Von Hildebrand remains relevant, just as St. Augustine and St. Thomas remain relevant, because like them he has his finger on what is real.”—Fr. Kenneth Baker SJ, Editor Emeritus, Homiletic and Pastoral Review
From his Foreword to this new edition, Cardinal Burke adds:
“In the years immediately following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, between 1966 and 1976, Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand prepared numerous articles in which he examined, from a philosophical perspective, a variety of topics related to our knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith, especially with regard to catechesis, doctrine,
Sacred Liturgy and Catholic education. These essays were collected under the title The Charitable Anathema. Although the articles treat the particular situation in which the Church found herself in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council, the texts still retain their timeliness, not only because we experience similar challenges in our day, but also because the definitions and clarifications which Dr. von Hildebrand provides have perennial relevance…”