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Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Unperceived Ideol. Transship. and Dial.

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A. A Point of Impressionability


To begin with, this method presupposes that those to whom it will be applied have a special sensitivity to a certain subject.


* As far as social problems are concerned, this sensitivity could react to, for instance:

‑ a notorious injustice, such as can happen with certain privileges associated with class;

‑ a particularly dreadful risk, like that of a social revolution;

- a disaster like famine or disease.


* Regarding ideological problemsphilosophy, religion, etc. ‑ the sensitive point could be:

‑ the misfortune of those who are in error such as heretics, Jews, pagans, and other separated brethren,10 and the urgent need to enlighten and teach them;

‑ the possibility of an imminent victory, on a local or global scale, of an erroneous ideology such as Marxism, with the whole sequence of religious, cultural and moral consequences that it entails;

‑ the risk that the growing clash of opposed ideologies and regimes may aggravate the dangerous tensions tormenting the contemporary world to the point of causing a thermonuclear war.


10 We use the expression "separated brethren," now so much in vogue, throughout this study. We occasionally alternate it with "heretic" and "schismatic," which are becoming less used in certain circles. We do this intentionally, since "separated brethren" is an expression also undergoing talismanic use.

All men, created by the same God and descending from the same first parents, are brothers. Those who believe in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Redeemer of the human race, and who were baptized in His name, are brothers in an even nobler sense. No matter how deep and strong differences among men may be, these marks of fraternity remain. Therefore, nothing is more legitimate than the term "separated brethren".

To say "legitimate" is to say but little.


"Separated brethren," with evident stress on "brethren," has the merit of giving those who use it a more vivid and up‑to‑date awareness of these fraternal bonds' precedence over divisions, and thus it is a useful factor in precious apostolic overtures.

Still, if it is necessary at times to emphasize that so many men who are separated from us are our brothers, it is no less necessary to emphasize at other times that they are not just any brothers but, on the contrary, are ones profoundly separated from us. The whole truth of the situation of nonCatholics relative to Catholics lies in the due and full appraisal of both elementsfraternity and separation.


Now, the nature of this separation is expressed with admirable moral and canonical precision by the words "heresy" and "schism." These words call to mind the juridical and magisterial authority of the Church, the enormous gravity of error or revolt against the Church, the severity of ecclesiastical sanctions and the necessity of the faithful remaining on guard against contagion from the unfaithful.

Thus, to limit, or even suppress, the use of the words "heretic" and "schismatic" to speak only of "separated brethren," amounts to a true talismanic mutilation of the real extent of this separation. This mutilation is particularly harmful in a climate as infested with irenicism and religious relativism as ours.

This could go so far that a Catholic magazine in Holland aptly wondered when we would begin to ban the word "devil" and use only "separated angel".

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