Friday, February 17, 2023

The Sad Apostasy of Alessandro Gnocchi

Catholic journalist and author Alessandro Gnocchi apostatized to the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow in October 2019.  Gnocchi, who studied history and philosophy, published several books and commentaries with the philosopher Mario Palmaro until his early death in 2014, with which they were among the first and harshest critics of Pope Francis' pontificate, including the unforgettable article: "We Don’t Like This Pope".  For this, the two authors were fired from Radio Maria Italy, where they were responsible for their own series.  After Palmaro's death, things quieted down around Gnocchi until he was converted to the Moscow Patriarchate.  This is the terminus of disappointment about the development of the Church in recent years and the aversion to the pontificate of Pope Francis.  In January, Gnocchi published his latest book, in which he tries to justify his apostasy from the Catholic Church and declares it irrevocable.  On the other hand, the historian Prof. Roberto de Mattei, a forerunner of Catholic tradition, raises his voice vigorously and warns against such a temptation, which exists in some Catholic circles, to go so far, even into apostasy, out of opposition to the current successor of Peter  to fall.

The sad apostasy of Alessandro Gnocchi

 By Roberto de Mattei*

 The loss of a soul is always painful, but it is even more painful when it becomes a nuisance to other souls.  Such is the case with Alessandro Gnocchi's Apostasy, described in a book “Return to the Sources.  My pilgrimage to the East into the heart of Orthodoxy” (“Ritorno alle concernti. Il mio pellegrinaggio a Oriente nel cuore dell'Ortodossia”, Monasterium publishers, 2023, 170 pages) announces that he has turned his back on the Catholic Church in order to  to join the “Moscow Patriarchate, Orthodox Ecumenism” (p. 14).

He is now "Aleksandr" and his soul no longer belongs to the Church but to his "Starze": "One who absorbs the soul and will of another into his soul and into his will" (F. Dostoyevsky: The Brothers Karamazov).  Under the leadership of the starets, he believes he has embarked on the "path of holiness" (p. 30).  His heart is "on Mount Athos, Hagion Oros, the Holy Mountain, in the worship of the true saints" (ibid.).  Everything "in my book," he says, "is the conclusion of a job I did with my starets" (p. 103).

Gnocchi's Book of Apostasy Justificatio

have known and respected Alessandro Gnocchi since 2009. On several occasions he presented my history of the Second Vatican Council, which was published by Verlag Lindau in 2010 [German edition 2011], and I reviewed his work and that of Mario Palmaro in the daily newspaper Il Foglio (  1968-2014) the beautiful book "Sleeping Beauty.  Why the Church has been in crisis since the Second Vatican Council and why she will wake up again” (“La Bella addormentata”, Verona 2012).  According to Gnocchi and Palmaro, the “sleeping beauty” is the bride of Christ, who in her divine aspect preserves her beauty unchanged but seems to have sunk into a deep lethargy.  "Beauty, because in spite of our sins, our weaknesses, our treacheries and our errors, the Catholic Church still is and will be the Immaculate Bride of Christ" (p. 5).

Today, however, Gnocchi rejects this "Immaculate Bride of Christ" and replaces the voice of her Popes, her Doctors and her Saints with that of the Russian celebrity dependent on the Moscow Patriarchate.  His apostasy is also portrayed in some traditionalist publications and blogs as a serious and painful spiritual decision.  This confirms the situation of deep confusion in which this world has been for several years.

Basically, Gnocchi despises his shallow apologists because, unlike them, he is not a syncretist.  The rejection of ecumenism is the only point on which he agrees with his past.  For him, the theological reconciliation between Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church is “technically” impossible: “The unity of the Churches appears more and more as a chimera designed in reality to betray good feelings that are based on nothing…” (p  .113).  His rejection of the Roman Church is complete and non-negotiable.  The Catholic religion is called the "Roman hemisphere," "blind and fruitless" (p. 62).  Peter had no successors (p. 105): "The Pope of Rome is therefore only a bishop, nothing more" (p. 106) and the "papal ideology" (107) finally distanced itself from Christ.  For him it was an instant "conversion" in the opposite direction: 

"When I first entered an Orthodox parish while the Divine Liturgy was being celebrated, I knew immediately that I, who had entered with the idea that I was a Roman Catholic would become Russian Orthodox  when I come out.  And so it was” (p. 80).  "It was also clear to me," he continues, "that from the earliest centuries the Roman Church had succumbed to the demonic temptations which Jesus rejected in the desert" (p. 97).

 This position, so clearly expressed, is not only schismatic but openly heretical.  After the First Vatican Council defined the primacy of the Roman pontiff as a truth of faith, a schism without heresy is no longer possible.  The consequence of this apostasy is autocephaly.  All feel like little "popes" and become "Protestants".  After all, if not Protestantism, what is the Russian schismatic religion that arose on a whim of Tsar Fyodor (Theodor) I Ivanovich in 1589 when the Moscow Patriarchate was established in the Kremlin?  Since then, of all the Eastern Churches, the "Third Rome" has presented itself as the main rival of the Catholic Church.

Let no one say that the schismatic Eastern Church maintains a spiritual reservation in maintaining the validity of the sacraments.  Indeed, the validity of the sacraments does not mean that the spiritual life is flowing.  The sacraments are instrumental, effective causes which, like any active principle, require the willingness of the recipient to be effective.  There is no holiness outside of the life of grace, but neither is there genuine grace outside of the Catholic Church.  Leaving the Catholic Church to convert to so-called orthodoxy commits a mortal sin of the gravest kind. By grace we receive the divine Person of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity dwells in our souls and she becomes the bride of God;  through grace we are imbued with the theological and moral virtues and receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  But he who is in mortal sin is deprived of the effect of sanctifying grace.

It is quite correct to call orthodoxy a "withered branch" good only for the fire.  The supernatural juice does not flow in the tribe of false religions.  As Joseph de Maistre aptly states: "All these churches, which separated from the Holy See at the beginning of the twelfth century, can be likened to frozen corpses whose forms were preserved by the cold" (Lettre à une dame russe sur la  nature et les effets du schisme, in: Lettres et opuscules inédits, A. Vaton, Paris 1863, vol. II, p. 406).

It is true that even in non-Catholic religions one can save oneself in extraordinary ways, despite their errors, but Alessandro Gnocchi is not a muzhik [a simple peasant in the tsarist empire] who is unaware of the Catholic truth: he is a baptized man, who, after learning and professing the true faith, publicly rejects it, describing his “conscious return to orthodoxy” (p. 39) as an “irrevocable step” (p. 81).

Whoever is in conscious and irrevocable mortal sin withdraws himself finally from the influence of grace.  For this reason the Enciclopedia Cattolica teaches that “the schismatic who is voluntarily outside the Church does not participate in the divine life of the mystical body and is deprived of the means of sanctification” (Vincenzo Carbone: Schisma, vol. XI, column 116).   Grace is a divine gift, infinitely greater than anything created.  And if, as Saint Thomas says, it is greater to bring a sinner back to the state of grace than to create heaven and earth (Summa Theologica, I, 2, q. 113, a. 9), then what is the point of  hold for those who stubbornly reject grace?  An earthquake like the terrible one in Turkey, which destroys a city or a region, shakes us deeply, but the ruin of a soul at the loss of grace should terrify us even more.  We say this with a loud voice.  The musty smell of Moscow religion repels us, the smell of eternal Rome, the Cathedral of Truth and the Mother of Nations, attracts us.  However, we feel great pity for Alessandro Gnocchi and for all those tempted by schism and heresy, also because of the errors and sins of the highest authorities of the Church.  We face a drama that requires reflection and prayer.  No one, beginning with the writer of these lines, can feel safe from such devastating falls.  Perseverance to the end is a grace that we must ask every day with great confidence from the Mother of All Graces who, after promising in 1917 the conversion of schismatic Russia and the whole world, on January 3, 1944, gave the great promise of  Summarized Fatima in these words to Sister Lucy: “In time one faith, one baptism, one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  In eternity in heaven” (Um Caminho sob o olhar de Maria, Edições Carmelo, Coimbra 2012, p. 267).

 *Roberto de Mattei, historian, father of five children, professor of modern history and history of Christianity at the European University of Rome, President of the Lepanto Foundation, author of numerous books, most recently in German translation: Defense of Tradition: The Insurmountable Truth of Christ, with  a foreword by Martin Mosebach, Altötting 2017, and The Second Vatican Council.  A Hitherto Unwritten Story, 2nd ext.  Edition, Bobingen 2011.

 Books by Prof. Roberto de Mattei in English translation and books by Martin Mosebach are available from Amazon.

 Introduction/Translation: Giuseppe Nardi

 Image: Corrispondenza Romana

Trans: Tancred vekron99@hotmail.Com



Anonymous said...

This kind of apostasy has been slowly spreading with other individuals such as the multi-convert Rod Dreher who took the "Benedict Option" to extremes by shifting his religious alliance to Easter Orthodoxy and taking refuge in Hungarian populist politics.

Jeremiah Alphonsus on Youtube said...

He should’ve abandoned Antipope Francis instead of the papacy.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet his next step will be atheism or Islam.