Friday 20 April 2012

Could the SSPX be right on Religious Liberty?

Fr. John Lamont's "Theological Questions" does raise an excellent point: the SSPX and others do argue their position on - for example - the relationship between Church and State/religious liberty - references to previous papal teaching. To this effect, I am posting some key passages from Pius XI's Quas Primas. Interestingly, this encyclical was not referenced by Vatican II, but is footnoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (this raises the question whether the framers of the Catechism began to take into account years of criticism of Dignitatis Humanae? and therefore began to nuance the Conciliar declaration to try to show a continuity with previous teaching (e.g. Quanta Cura, Pius IX, Immortale Dei, Libertas, Longinqua, Leo XIII etc.) Archbishop Lefebvre himself argued that the declaration contradicted itself by maintaining the traditional doctrine, yet in its practical advice leading to a de facto religious indifferentism (c.f. They Have Uncrowned Him). 

Pius XI, Quas Primas (1925): 

It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power...

 If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."[ Ubi Arcano, Pius XI]

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.

...We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences.


Freyr said...

Haven't you guys had your noses rubbed in it enough? First you tell the state that it has the authority to make laws regarding marriage and you get them to pass a law favoring traditional marriage. Then the winds change and now the law favors same sex marriage. Now you complain? Would it not have been better if the state had stayed out of it altogether?

By all means if you believe that the task of evangelism is too daunting for you, the grace of God is insufficient to the task and the Holy Spirit is off sleeping somewhere, then it makes perfect sense to use the coercive power of the state.

You are falling into the classic trap of defining tolerance as agreement or approval and in this you are no different from gay activists who insist that anything short of approval constitutes a hate crime. This is a lie. Tolerance simply means I am not going to use force, in any of its many forms, against you.

Barona said...

This exactly what I'm hoping for: a debate on religious liberty. I personally lean - carefully - towards Dignitatis Humanae - because I believe its intention was: 1) That Catholic Church has religious liberty by Divine Right; 2) other religious bodies have liberty because the human person was created free. This position does have historical precedence - I believe one of the Popes in Italy permitted Jews (if my memory serves me correctly, it was also a city-state issue) to maintain religious liberty. His argument was that since Catholics felt the wrath of the Roman Emperors, they should be sensitive to denying these liberties denied them.

Freyr said...

Here's a little tidbit...

the religious freedom condemned in the Syllabus of Errors refers to religious freedom looked at from the point of view of the action of the intellect, or freedom respecting the truth; whereas the freedom of religion guaranteed and encouraged by Dignitatis Humanae refers to religious freedom looked at from the point of view of the action of the will in morals. In other words, those who see in these different expressions a change in teaching are committing the fallacy of univocity of terms in logic. The terms "freedom" refer to two very different acts of the soul.

Brian Mullady, O.P.

Barona said...

It is undeniable that numerous facts of Vatican II and of the period that followed it, related to the human dimension of this event, have represented true calamities and have caused intense pain to many great Churchmen. But God does not allow His Holy Church to reach self-destruction.

Msgr. Nicola Bux, Consultor to the CDF