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Summation of Papal opposition to religious liberty in the 19th century November 8, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Papa, reading, sadness, scandals, secularism, Society, Tradition, true leadership.

I’ve been reading some works by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre based on some reader recommendations, and I have found much of value.  In what is probably his most important work, They Have Uncrowned Him, Archbishop Lefebvre very helpfully outlines formal doctrinal statements from various popes ranging from Pius VI to Benedict XV, highlighting the most important formal denunciations of liberalism during a century of vehement papal opposition.  I must say, these papal statements, some of which I had a dim understanding of previously, and some of which were entirely new to me, stand in extremely stark contrast to the post-conciliar _pablo_VIapproach of the Church.  To put it bluntly, it seems extremely difficult to reconcile these formal doctrinal statements from numerous popes between the late 18th to the early 20th century, and portions of Vatican II (and even more, the implementation of those portions of Vatican II).

Next week, God willing, I will provide some of the excerpts themselves from the major doctrinal condemnations of generic liberalism, and the popular concept of religious liberty in particular.  For now, an excerpt from Chapter X pp. 78-79, which gives a summation of the three main underlying reasons for these denunciations via Archbishop Lefebvre:

For the moment, here are the true, immediate, and concrete motives for the condemnation of religious liberty by the Popes of the nineteenth century, motives that are always valid, as we can judge: it is absurd, impious, and leads the peoples to religious indifferentism. I take up again the very words of the popes:

Absurd, religious liberty is this, because it grants the same rights to truth and error, to the true religion and to the heretical sects. Now, as Leo XIII says, “Right is a moral faculty; and, as we have said and as cannot be repeated too often, it would be absurd to believe that it belongs naturally and without distinction or discernment to the truth and to a lie, to good and to evil (Encyclical Libertas).  [The more I read of Pope Leo XIII, the more stunned I am that he has no cause of canonization underway]

Blasphemous, religious liberty is also this, because it “concedes to all religions equality under the law” and “puts the holy and Pope Gregory XVIimmaculate Spouse of Christ on the level of the heretical sects and even of Jewish perfidy,” Furthermore it implies “the religious indifferentism of the State,” which is equivalent to being its “atheism:” that which is the legal impiety of societies, the forced apostasy of the nations, the rejection of the social royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the negation of the public law of the Church, its elimination from society or its subjugation to the State.

Finally, it leads the peoples to religious indifference, as the Syllabus declares in condemning proposition 77. This is evident: if now in these times, the conciliar Church and the majority of Catholics are coming to see the ways of salvation in all religions, it is because this venom of indifferentism has been administered to them, in France and elsewhere, by almost two centuries of this diet of religious liberty.

———-End Quote———-

Before anyone gets too excited, no, my quoting Archbishop Lefebvre does not constitute an endorsement of the Society.  Nor do I condemn them.  I have great sympathy for their position, and I think their existence makes the TLM much more available than would be otherwise. But their situation is irregular, and certain problems remain. Nevertheless, the Society in general and Archbishop Lefebvre in particular present insights into the crisis that are vitally important, and thus worthy of dissemination.

In addition, some may say that pointing out the marked difference between pre- and post-conciliar approaches by popes and others on the issues of liberalism in general and religious liberty in particular may cause scandal in some.  That is certainly not my intent.  I feel itleo_xiii absolutely critical to reveal these differences because these are the very factors that are the direct underlying causes of the current crisis in the Church.  I cannot, in conscience, simply bury my head in the sand, focus on my personal sanctity, and pretend these matters of critical import do not exist.

I cannot do so, because it is the promotion of errors, real and potential, that is currently leading so many souls to perdition.  If this blog can help lead a few people, or even one, out of the acceptance of error and into an embrace of Truth, it will have accomplished its purpose. I have good evidence it has done so, and for more than a few.  Numerous people have approached me over the last several years, seeking to understand why the Church today seems so wounded, why action so rarely lives up to rhetoric, or why the focus of so many priests, prelates, and laity seems so off from what their sensus fidei tells them it should be. These souls, many of which are profoundly troubled by what they perceive, have a right to understand how and why the present crisis has developed, and how it might be resolved.

“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (Jn 8:32) The Church has always believed and counseled that we have a solemn duty to form ourselves in the Faith.  Given that the crisis afflicting the Church is so massive and all-encompassing, it is veritably impossible not to address it in some form or fashion. And I will continue to do so, as I have always believed more knowledge is better than blissful ignorance. I pray some of you find my efforts useful.




1. Lorra - November 8, 2013

Tantum, do you think it will be to the eternal damnation of a soul if one chooses to take refuge in one of their chapels (if there is no other option in their diocese)?

tantamergo - November 8, 2013

I don’t think it’s a mortal sin, but like everything would depend on circumstances and motivation. If you have particular concerns, it would be best to discuss them with a dispassionate but also traditional priest.

If you have a particular need, I can give you Fr. Michael Rodriguez’ contact info and I would imagine he would give you good counsel.

2. Lorra - November 8, 2013

The present crisis isn’t going to be resolved as long as we have popes who think that the fruits of VII have been “enormous.”

I don’t think I will live to see it resolved.

3. Janet - November 8, 2013

Tantumergo, thanks so much for this post, and I will look forward to the rest of them on the topic. I really love this book of the Archbishop’s, because it is so wonderfully clear. I urge all your faithful readers to please pick up a copy. It summarizes the traditional teaching of the Faith on the concept of the state and the kingship of Christ, and then one cannot help but see the deviation that Vatican II made.

@Lorra, it has been my understanding that the Church has never denied that Catholics may attend SSPX chapels to fulfill their Sunday obligation, regardless of any other options in the diocese, with the caveat that one may not donate more than a reasonable fee for the services (e.g. heat, lights, and so forth). There were many posts on this ten years or so ago, and the subject was explored to death. Many posts had a copy of the letter from the Congregation of the Faith to SSPX making that specific statement. If you google around you will surely find it. Nothing has contradicted it–so far. Pope Francis may change that, I pray not.

Lorra - November 8, 2013

Janet, thank you. I will look for that book on Amazon. I hope they have a cheap copy to fit within my already strained budget! 🙂

Lorra - November 8, 2013

The book will have to wait until loftier financial times.

Thank you to Tantum for providing a direct Amazon link!

4. Lilyrose - November 8, 2013

Very useful. Thank you.

5. MMC - November 8, 2013

God bless you for helping us “know our faith” and see through the fog of our times. You have helped many see truth. If people are scandalized by “truth” then it’s their problem…they don’t have real faith to begin with…for true faith doesn’t waver at finding truth, it rejoices in finding the path, even if difficult, that Our Savior has laid before us. God bless you!

6. Hannah - November 9, 2013

As an SSPXer, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Tantum!! I so love your posts. You are indeed doing much good. God bless you.

7. TG - November 11, 2013

Looking forward to more posts on this archbishop. It really bothers me he was excommunicated yet other disobedient liberal bishops were not and still are not.

8. Blessed Pope Pius IX on liberal Catholicism | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - November 11, 2013

[…] I promised last week that I would start posting portions of formal, doctrinal condemnations by Popes from Pius VI to Benedict XV regarding liberalism in general and religious liberty in particular.  Before I get into that – which I may do later today – I wanted to include this denunciation of liberal Catholicism from Blessed Pius IX.  The below are not doctrinal statements in the form of encyclicals, but they certainly correspond with those doctrinal statements Pius IX made. They are from letters or briefs communicated to bishops and/or faithful lay Catholics in Quimper (Brittany, France) and Milan, both from 1873: […]

9. Papal condemnations of liberalism Vol. 1 | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - November 12, 2013

[…] week, I summarized the key elements of papal opposition to liberalism in general, and the concept of “religious liberty” or […]

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