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Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the XXth Century by Romano Amerio

27 Apr 2017
Daniel Beck

I have a liking for books that set forth subject-matter in a broad view, eschewing the specialism that has progressively become the norm since the end of the Middle Ages. I know of several good Catholic books that address in this manner the radical changes in society and the Church, but perhaps none is so impressive as Romano Amerio's Iota Unum

A teacher of philosophy, Greek and Latin from 1928 to 1970 at the academy of Lugano, Italy, Amerio was peritus (thological expert) assisting Bishop Jelmini at the Second Vatican Council. After outlining previous crises in the Church, Amerio provides in his work an enlightening critique of Vatican II, which, Amerio, as a traditionalist, finds much to criticize, particularly how it was interpreted. He asserts the orthodox Catholic truth that all genuine reforms within the Church are based on old foundations and that it is heresy to depart from this. 

True doctrinal growth is, as  Newman affirmed, an organic unfolding of what is contained in Scripture and Tradition. Amerio describes the rejections of council preparations and the breaking of council rules and the appeal to the Spirit of the Council which resulted in radical change not supported by Pope John XXIII, who opened the Council, such as the abandonment of Latin in the liturgy, teaching and administration. Even Pope Paul VI was dismayed in part at what happened, in 1972 lamenting that “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God”. 

After his examination of Vatican II, Amerio proceeds to examine modernity as a whole. Topics discussed include pyrrhonism (the departure of reason), mobilism (changability, the primacy of becoming, not being), the rejection of Natural Law, abortion, divorce, education, catechetics, ecumenism, democracy, technology, secondary Christianity which denies supernatural and transcendent aspects, liturgical reform, theodicy and eschatology. Even discussed is somatolatry, the elevation of sport to a semi-religion. Amerio's book refreshingly tackles the liberalism and modernism which reign unchallenged by most commentators. Whether or not we are in the end-times, the hour is late for our civilization. From page and screen, vulgarity and heresy issue forth – alas from authorities who should  instead be guiding us. Iota Unum reveals the degeneration, but understanding must be acted upon for civilization to be saved.