Good summary of the Church’s opposition to secular liberalism, i.e., the Revolution August 10, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, Christendom, episcopate, error, General Catholic, history, Papa, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
From the biography of Gabriel Garcia Moreno, a good and if quite concise summary of the Church’s numerous condemnations of secular liberalism/post-enlightenment political philosophies since the late 1700s. Yes there has been some modification to the plain rejection of virtually all forms of liberal government in the intervening years, but many of these statements constitute part of the ordinary Magisterium and cannot be dismissed out of hand. Fr. Augustine Berthe, CSsR gives a good overview below. One particular area of focus is the false liberal doctrine of “religious liberty,” or official state indifference to religion, which most frequently manifests as state endorsement of atheism. Also note that “Revolution” below is a catch-all term for the “enlightenment”-derived liberalism of the modern Western-inspired democratic state, which elevates ostensible rights of the individual over the rights of God:
……The premiere authority in the world, the Church, has unfailingly exercised all her power to oppose the Revolution’s encroachments. Each successive pontiff has anathematized this great heresy, which is no less antisocial than anti-Christian. Pius VI, in 1791, castigated “the spurious rights of man, the notion of absolute liberty, the right to profess any religious opinion whatsoever, the power to think, write, and even publish as one wishes in religious matters.” Pius VII reproached Napoleon for breaking the union of Church and State by submitting the Church to the slavery of the Organic Articles. In 1814, at the dawn of the Restoration, he expressed his disapproval of a draft constitution which, instead of recognizing the Church’s exclusive rights to the protection of the law, recognized the authority of conscience, promising support and protection for the ministers of the so-called cults, i.e., putting the Immaculate Spouse of Christ on the same level as the heretical sects and the infidel unbelievers. As Leo XII exclaimed: “Princes and powers are established by God to defend the Faith, protect the Church, and assure, by all suitable means, submission to the Apostolic Constitutions.” In a memorable encyclical, Gregory XVI solemnly condemns indifferentism in religious matters and is not afraid to use the term delirium for “this false and pernicious maxim that everyone’s freedom of conscience and absolute freedom of opinion should be permitted and guaranteed” (Mirari Vos, 1832 – an encyclical every Catholic should read and re-read).
Finally, in our own day, Pius IX and Leo XIII pursued the liberal error in its remotest ramifications. The Syllabus blasted this accursed naturalism that claims to govern human society while treating religion as if it no longer existed – or at least making no difference between the true religion and false religions. [Which was actually the fundamental basis of “enlightenment” thought from Locke to Hobbes to Rousseau – in order for society to “advance,” state endorsement of the Church had to be relegated to the ash heap and a new religion of “tolerance” – really indifference – taught in its place. It took centuries – religious observance is a most difficult to eradicate once deeply established, thank God – but what we see in the post-religious, collapsing West is exactly the end result of a militantly agnostic/atheistic form of government. And this form of government has been, historically, inseparable from liberal “democratic,” “will of the people” forms of government. More on that later] “Today, as in centuries past,” we read in this famous document, “it is expedient to declare the Catholic religion to be the religion of the state, to the exclusion of the other cults. Granting civil liberty to all cults and giving each of them the power to exhibit their ideas and opinions in public is something that corrupts morals, perverts the mind and propagates the scourge of indifferentism. Furthermore, the Roman Pontiffs cannot, and should not reconcile himself with or come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization” (final articles of the Syllabus), that is, with the principles of the Revolution. Resuming the decisions of his predecessors (Immortale Dei, 1883)…….Leo XIII exhibits their harmony and causes them to shine forth in his magisterial encyclical On the Christian Constitution of States, where, with one voice, philosophy, canon law, and history preach the necessity – if we are to avert dreadful catastrophes – of re-establishing the union between the priesthood and the empire, a union that created Europe. [Unfortunately, many Catholics, especially then but also now, felt Leo XIII made a fatal mistake in seeking rapprochement with the militantly anti-Church French state, directing those who still fought for monarchy to submit to the liberal state. He did this hoping for some kind of gesture in kind, but this great act of faith was taken as a sign of weakness and only led to further persecution, and the final confiscation of all Church lands, buildings, etc., which continues to this day.]
This, then, is the state of liberalism reproved by the popes as something that encroaches upon the rights of the Jesus Christ and His Church.
Popes since Leo XIII have argued – and I think it is a reasonable argument – that liberal forms of government are not necessarily, in and of themselves, antithetical to the Faith. The one great countervailing example to the constant hostility shown by liberal states to the Church had been, heretofore, the United States. England, also, in more recent times, but their history of vicious Church persecution made them not the most suitable example. Especially just prior to and during Vatican II, the United States was held up as the example of religious tolerance that did not result in persecution, where the Church could be free, on a more or less even playing field, to conduct her mission and battle against the various and pernicious sects and other religions. Historically, this may have been a fair argument.
Is that still true today? Fewer and fewer of those with eyes to see believe that to be the case. More and more see the US as, inevitably, following the same path towards not just indifference to religion, but outright hostility towards it (especially Christianity, the eternal enemy of the liberals) as the moral and political climate in this country continues to degenerate. It is my personal opinion, backed up by a fair amount of reading, that the ongoing degeneration of the US into an anti-Church state led by an immoral cabal of self-interested “elites” was an inevitable outcome of its enlightenment origins. The “American experiment” was probably the best of the enlightenment projects, it probably afforded the Church the most room for maneuver and the longest period of relative freedom, but, in the end, it seems to be slouching towards the same anti-Catholic hostility that has marked the “liberal” states of almost every other country, especially those of Europe. There are a few other notwithstanding examples, but the general trend is overpowering in its clarity.
The basic factor that must be remembered, as so well pointed out by all the Supreme Pontiffs listed above (and the listing of their denunciations is enormously incomplete), is that, fundamentally, there are irreducible elements of the liberal, endarkenment viewpoint (for it darkened the intellect of man and strove to make dim the Light of Christ) that range from disorder to outright incompatibility with the Catholic Faith. Liberalism can be implemented in many ways, some obviously much better, from the standpoint of faith, than others, but in all its manifestations from relative American conservatism to the most extreme rantings of the communist, it contains elements that are profoundly harmful to the organization of states, the good of the Church, and the salvation of souls. Furthermore, because liberalism has only ever operated for any length of time in any given state according to ideals and laws that result in grave harm to the Faith, it must been seen as uniquely unfit for the good of souls and the organization of states to that end.
Monarchy and other forms of government have their own failings and limitations, and exaltation of the power of the monarchy, a foul product of the Renaissance “rediscovery” of Roman absolutism, was a direct cause of the liberal reaction. But the difference many of these pontiffs saw, was that monarchy had been shown conclusively, through many pious examples, to be capable of operation in complete accord with the best ends of the State, Church, and individual souls in mind. This is an extremely difficult concept for American Catholics to grasp (and I do not expect this one post to convince you, certainly not entirely), because we have all been indoctrinated in the superiority of the American system of liberal government since birth. My suggestion would be to read a great deal – read the encyclicals above, read the Syllabus, read good books on the subject – and most of all, look around at this country, and try to discern whether what we are experiencing in this fall into exaltation of immorality and persecution of the Church, is truly just an accident, or if it is an inevitable product of the errors of the “enlightenment” cooked into, if you will, this nation at its founding.
I do not advocate for a present return to monarchy or any change in form of government for this nation. From a practical standpoint, I have a greater chance of being elected Pope than this nation has of seeing some fundamental shift in its form of government. I simply want to inform souls of the long belief of the Church on this most important subject for the sake of some distant future. We must examine all alternatives, look at every possible source of the ongoing collapse, if we are going to be able to pass onto future generations the tools they need to build a better world, should God permit such.