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February 13, 2005

Forgotten Popes, Redefined Doctrines

by Thomas A. Droleskey

"France, elder daughter of the Church, why have you strayed?" Thus asked Pope John Paul II when he arrived for his first pastoral visit as pope in 1980. Those of us who did not understand how far the Church in her human elements had strayed from her authentic patrimony thought that order was being restored to the Church. Pope John Paul II was unafraid, so we thought, to call Catholic countries back to Catholicism. The long nightmare of  Pope John XXIIII's and Pope Paul VI's accommodation with the modern world was over.

Well, of course, the nightmare was not over. Pope John Paul II used novel language from the very beginning of his pontificate that I did not recognize as such, wanting to believe that he wanted to restore Christendom. I even ignored his admonition against "avoiding all semblance of Triumphalism" when he spoke to Catholic university and college educators at the Catholic University of America's field house on the morning of October 7, 1979, an address for which I was present and during which I applauded furiously (being shown, I was told later, on the NBC-TV telecast as a sort of papal cheerleader when the Pope told theologians that they had to respect the magisterium). The reference to "Triumphalism" was dismissed by me as unimportant. "Oh, well," I said to myself at the time, "he has a plan." In other words, I was doing what so many earnest pro-life Catholic Americans do with George W. Bush: I was projecting into the mind of the Holy Father my fondest hopes and desires. I was, shall we say, delusional and caught up with the cult of the personality of the pope. I mean, I sang "Stolat, Stolat, may you live a hundred years" outside of of what was then called the Apostolic Delegation (now the Papal Nunciature) on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., on the evening of October 6, 1979.

There was much I had to learn (like just about everything) about the state of the Church and of the inherent harm of the Novus Ordo Missae, which enshrines the spirit of both Modernity and Modernism. I had yet to be exposed to the prophetic wisdom of Popes Leo XIII and Saint Pius X and Pius XI. While I knew that the Second Vatican Council was problematic, I thought that Pope John Paul II could "fix" the problems with Vatican II and that Dominicae Cenae and Inaestimabile Donum would, if enforced, bring to an end the liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo Missae that I came later to understand had their origin in the Novus Ordo Missae itself. I was wrong, and I am grateful to the many good people who attempted to remonstrate with me about my errors, recognizing that many of them were probably quite frustrated at my continued defense of the indefensible at the time.

Once the scales came off my eyes, though, it became very clear to me that there was no reconciling the state of Modernity with Christendom. The two are irreconcilable. There is no reconciling the spirit of novelty of the past forty years within the Church with the specific condemnation of most of these novelties by the popes of the past, including the relatively recent past.

Well, such is the case with a new document that has been issued in the name of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. Less than forty-eight hours after returning to his apartment in the Vatican following his release from Gemelli Hospital in Rome, the following report, dated February 12, 2005, appeared on Reuters:

Pope John Paul acknowledged the potentially positive role of secularism in France as a way to balance power, on the 100th anniversary of the separation of church and state in the once largely Roman Catholic country.

"The principle of secularism, to which your country is very attached, if it is correctly understood, also belongs to the church's social doctrine," the ailing pope wrote in a lengthy letter to France's Catholic bishops dated on Friday. "It is a reminder of the necessity of a just separation of powers."

France has strictly separated the church from the state for the last 100 years to prevent discrimination and the bloody religious wars of prior centuries. The government has vigilantly kept religious symbols out of public institutions such as state schools.

But the frail 84-year-old Pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis and just spent 10 days in hospital after a breathing crisis, also stressed Europe's Christian roots and said such values must be strengthened.

"Christianity in large part shaped the face of Europe, and today's men must build European society on the values that presided over its birth and that are part of its richness," the Pope wrote.

The Pope said the 1905 French law separating church and state was a "sad and traumatic" event for the French Church. Still, the French government by 1920 had begun to recognize the role of religion in the country, he wrote.

The current peace between the church and state, obtained gradually over the years, was now a reality to which the French were profoundly attached, the Pope wrote.

"She permits the Church in France to fulfil its own mission with confidence and serenity, and to take an ever more active role in the life of society, respecting the competencies of each," the Pope wrote.

The Pope also wrote of the crisis of values and lack of hope seen in France and other Western countries.

This is worse than farcical theatre. The French government "permits the Church in France to fulfil its own mission with confidence and serenity, and to take an every more active role in the life of society, respecting the competencies of each"? Huh? Why did thousands upon thousands of French Catholics have to take to the streets during the regime of the late President Francois Mitterand to protest plans to end state subsidies of Catholic schools? It was not because of the "respect" for the Church that motivated Mitterand and his Socialist/Masonic minions to threaten to impose policies that were inimical to French Catholics. A recently passed law in France, aimed principally at "protecting" Mohammedan women from having to be forced by Mohammedan men to wear head coverings, banned the wearing of religious symbols and apparel in public places, including large Crucifixes. Indeed, the spirit of the French Revolution, which has been embraced by the likes of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in a book written in the early 1980s, has decimated the life of the Church in France. Only five to ten percent of French Catholics actually assist at Holy Mass on Sundays. About 50,000 of these, I have been informed by a Canadian reader who assists at a Society of Saint Pius X chapel,  go to Mass at chapels administered by the Society of Saint Pius X, seeking refuge from the very errors and profanations that attacked the Church head on with violent fury in 1789 and thereafter.

The French government has pursued policies, both domestically and internationally, that violate the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. After all, RU-486 is referred to as the "French abortion pill," a pesticide that was actually endorsed by a French bishop in 1994 and who was not removed from his episcopal see until there was a virtual revolution on the part of the laity against him, which forced the Holy See's hand to demand his resignation in early 1995. Reality must be stood on its head to make the separation of Church and State in France appear to be something that is in accord with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. Then again, this is a relatively easy thing to do if one can claim with a straight face that we are living in "the springtime of the Church" and that we are undergoing a "qualitative renewal" and that the new Mass has borne positive results beyond all expectations.

Consider the following passage from Pope John Paul II's February 12, 2005, letter to Archbishop Jean-Pierre Richard of Bordeaux, France, the President of the Conference of the Bishops of France (as taken from a report issued by the Vatican Information Service, VIS):

The Pope closes by expressing his "confidence in the future for a good understanding between all components of French society. ... May no one be afraid of the religious path of people and special groups! If it is lived in respect for a healthy secularity, it can only be the source of dynamism and the promotion of man."

"It is is lived in respect for a healthy secularity, it can only be the source of dynamism and the promotion of man"? The Popes of Tradition never called secularity healthy. They were concerned about the right ordering of man's existence in this world in light of his eternal destiny. Pope John Paul II has collided with one of his canonized predecessors, Pope Saint Pius X, and few seem to care about the contradiction.

Indeed, the very separation of Church and State in France that is praised by Pope John Paul II was met with great alarm ninety-eight years ago by Pope Saint Pius X. Here is the complete text of Une Fois Encore, the sainted pope's encyclical letter on the tragedy of what had happened in France two years before, in 1905, when laicism became entrenched once and for all in France:

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops of France and to the French Clergy and People.

Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

Once again the serious events which have been precipitated in your noble country compel Us to write to the Church of France to sustain her in her trials, and to comfort her in her sorrow. When the children are suffering the heart of the Father ought more than ever to go out to them. And so, now that We see you suffer, from the depths of our fatherly heart floods of tenderness break forth more copiously than ever, and flow to you with the greater comfort and sweetness.

2. These sufferings, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, now find a sorrowful echo throughout the whole Catholic Church; but We feel them more deeply still and We sympathize with a pity which grows with your trials and seems to increase day by day.

3. But with these cruel sorrows the Master has, it is true, mingled a consolation than which none can be dearer to our heart. It springs from your unshakable attachment to the Church, from your unfailing fidelity to this Apostolic See, and from the firm and deeply founded unity that reigns amongst you. On this fidelity and union We confidently reckoned from the first, for we were too well aware of the nobleness and generosity of the French heart to have any fear that on the field of battle disunion would find its way into your ranks. Equally great is the joy that We feel at the magnificent spectacle you are now giving to the world; and with our high praise of you before the whole Church, We give thanks from the depths of Our heart to the Father of mercies, the Author of all good.

4. Recourse to God, so infinitely good, is all the more necessary because, far from abating, the struggle grows fiercer and expands unceasingly. It is no longer only the Christian faith that they would uproot at all costs from the hearts of the people; it is any belief which lifting man above the horizon of this world would supernaturally bring back his wearied eyes to heaven. Illusion on the subject is no longer possible. War has been declared against everything supernatural, because behind the supernatural stands God, and because it is God that they want to tear out of the mind and heart of man.

5. The war will be bitter and without respite on the part of those who wage it. That as it goes on harder trials than those which you have hitherto known await you is possible and even probable. Common prudence calls on each of you to prepare for them. And this you will do simply, valiantly, and full of confidence, sure that however fiercely the fight may rage, victory will in the end remain in your hands.

6. The pledge of this victory is your union first of all amongst yourselves, and secondly with this Apostolic See. This twofold union will make you invincible, and against it all efforts will break.

7. Our enemies have on this been under no misapprehensions. From the outset, and with the greatest clearness of vision, they determined on their objective; first to separate you from Us and the Chair of Peter, and then to sow disorder among you. From then till now they have made no change in their tactics; they have pursued their end without rest and by every means; some with comprehensive and catching formulas; others with the most brutal cynicism. Specious promises, dishonorable bribes offered to schism, threats and violence, all these have been brought into play and employed. But your clear-sighted fidelity has wrecked all these attempts. There- upon, thinking that the best way to separate you from Us was to shatter your confidence in the Apostolic See, they have not hesitated, from the tribune and in the press, to throw discredit upon Our acts by misrepresenting and sometimes even by calumniating Our intentions.

8. The Church, they said, is seeking to arouse religious war in France, and is summoning to her aid the violent persecution which has been the object of her prayers. What a strange accusation! Founded by Him who came to bring peace to the world and to reconcile man with God, a Messenger of peace upon earth, the Church could only seek religious war by repudiating her high mission and belying it before the eyes of all. To this mission of patient sweetness and love she rests and will remain always faithful. Besides, the whole world now knows that if peace of conscience is broken in France, that is not the work of the Church but of her enemies. Fair-minded men, even though not of our faith, recognize that if there is a struggle on the question of religion in your beloved country, it is not because the Church was the first to unfurl the flag, but because war was declared against her. During the last twenty-five years she has had to undergo this warfare. That is the truth and the proof of it is
seen in the declarations made and repeated over and over again in the Press, at meetings, at Masonic congresses, and even in Parliament, as well as in the attacks which have been progressively and systematically directed against her. These facts are undeniable, and no argument can ever make away with them. The Church then does not wish for war, and religious war least of all. To affirm the contrary is an outrageous calumny.

9. Nor has she any desire for violent persecution. She knows what persecution is, for she has suffered it in all times and in all places. Centuries passed in bloodshed give her the right to say with a holy boldness that she does not fear it, and that as often as may be necessary she will be able to meet it. But persecution is in itself an evil, for it is injustice and prevents man from worshipping God in freedom. The Church then cannot desire it, even with a view to the good which Providence in its infinite wisdom ever draws out of it. Besides, persecution is not only evil, it is also suffering, and there we have a fresh reason why the Church, who is the best of mothers, will never seek it.

10. This persecution which she is reproached as having provoked, and which they declare they have refused, is now being actually inflicted upon her. Have they not within these last days evicted from their houses even the Bishops who are most venerable by their age and virtues, driven the seminarists from the grands and petits seminaries, and entered upon the expulsion of the cures from their presbyteries? The whole Catholic world has watched this spectacle with sadness, and has not hesitated to give the name which they deserved to such acts of violence.

11. As for the ecclesiastical property which we are accused of having abandoned, it is important to remark that this property was partly the patrimony of the poor and the patrimony, more sacred still, of the dead. It was not permissible to the Church to abandon or surrender it; she could only let it be taken from her by violence. Nobody will believe that she has deliberately abandoned, except under the pressure of the most overwhelming motives, what was confided to her keeping, and what was so necessary for the exercise of worship, for the maintenance of sacred edifices, for the instruction of her clergy, and for the support of her ministers. It was only when perfidiously placed in the position of having to choose between material ruin and consent to the violation of her constitution, which is of divine origin, that the Church refused, at the cost of poverty, to allow the work of God to be touched by her. Her property, then, has been wrested from her; it was not she that abandoned it. Consequently, to declare ecclesiastical property unclaimed on a given date unless the Church had by then created within herself a new organism; to subject this creation to conditions in rank opposition to the divine constitution of the Church, which was thus compelled to reject them; to transfer this property to third parties as if it had become "sans maitre," and finally to assert that in thus acting there was no spoliation of the Church but only a disposal of the property abandoned by her -- this is not merely argument of transparent sophistry but adding insult to the most cruel spoliation. This spoliation is undeniable in spite of vain attempts at palliating it by declaring that no moral person existed to whom the property might be handed over; for the state has power to confer civil personality on whomsoever the public good demands that it should be granted to, establishments that are Catholic as well as others. In any case it would have been easy for the state not to have subjected the formation of "associations cultuelles" to conditions in direct opposition to the divine constitution of the Church which they were supposed to serve.

12. And yet that is precisely what was done in the matter of the "associations cultuelles." They were organized under the law in such a way that its dispositions on this subject ran directly counter to those rights which, derived from her constitution, are essential to the Church, notably as affecting the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the inviolable base given to His work by the Divine Master himself. Moreover, the law conferred on these associations powers which are the exclusive prerogative of ecclesiastical authority both in the matter of the exercise of worship and of the proprietorship and administration of property. And lastly, not only are these associations withdrawn from ecclesiastical jurisdiction but they are made judicially answerable to the civil authority. These are the reasons which have driven Us in Our previous Encyclicals to condemn these "associations cultuelles" in spite of the heavy sacrifices which such condemnation involved.

13. We have also been accused of prejudice and inconsistency. It has been said that We had refused to approve in France what We had approved in Germany. But this charge is equally lacking in foundation and justice. For although the German law was blameable on many points, and has been merely tolerated in order to avoid greater evils, the cases were quite different, for that law contained an express recognition of the Catholic hierarchy, which the French law does not do.

14. As regards the annual declaration demanded for the exercise of worship, it did not offer the full legal security which one had a right to desire. Nevertheless -- though in principle gatherings of the faithful in church have none of the constituent elements proper to public meetings, and it would, in fact, be odious to attempt to assimilate them -- the Church could, in order to avoid greater evils, have brought herself to tolerate this declaration. But by providing that the "cure or officiating priest would no longer," in his church, "be anything more than an occupier without any judicial title or power to perform any acts of administration," there has been imposed on ministers of religion in the very exercise of their ministry a situation so humiliating and vague that, under such conditions, it was impossible to accept the declaration. There remains for consideration the law recently voted by the two Chambers.

15. From the point of view of ecclesiastical property, this law is a law of spoliation and confiscation, and it has completed the stripping of the Church. Although her Divine Founder was born poor in a manger, and died poor on the Cross, although she herself has known poverty from her cradle, the property that came to her was nonetheless hers, and no one had the right to deprive her of it. Her ownership, indisputable from every point of view, had been, moreover, officially sanctioned by the state, which could not consequently violate it. From the point of view of the exercise of worship, this law has organized anarchy; it is the consecration of uncertainty and caprice. Uncertainty whether places of worship, always liable to be diverted from their purpose, are meanwhile to be placed, or not placed, at the disposition of the clergy and faithful; uncertainty whether they shall be reserved from them or not, and for how long; whilst an arbitrary administrative regulates the conditions of their use, which is rendered eminently precarious. Public worship will be in as many diverse situations as the other. On the other hand, there is an obligation to meet all sorts of heavy charges, whilst at the same time there are draconian restrictions upon the resources by which they are to be met. Thus, though but of yesterday, this law has already evoked manifold and severe criticisms from men belonging indiscriminately to all political parties and all shades of religious belief. These criticisms alone are sufficient judgment of the law.

16. It is easy to see, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, from what We have just recalled to you, that this law is an aggravation of the Law of Separation, and we can not therefore do otherwise than condemn it.

17. The vague and ambiguous-wording of some of its articles places the end pursued by our enemies in a new light. Their object is, as we have already pointed out, the destruction of the Church and the dechristianization of France, but without people's attending to it or even noticing it. If their enterprise had been really popular, as they pretend it to be, they would not have hesitated to pursue it with visor raised and to take the whole responsibility. But instead of assuming that responsibility, they try to clear themselves of it and deny it, and in order to succeed the better, fling it upon the Church their victim. This is the most striking of all the proofs that their evil work does not respond to the wishes of the country.

18. It is in vain that after driving Us to the cruel necessity of rejecting the laws that have been made -- seeing the evils they have drawn down upon the country, and feeling the universal reprobation which, like a slow tide, is rising round them -- they seek to lead public opinion astray and to make the responsibility for these evils fall upon Us. Their attempt will not succeed.

19. As for Ourselves, We have accomplished Our duty, as every other Roman Pontiff would have done. The high charge with which it has pleased Heaven to invest Us, in spite of Our unworthiness, as also the Christian faith itself, which you profess with Us, dictated to Us Our conduct. We could not have acted otherwise without trampling under foot Our conscience, without being false to the oath which We took on mounting the chair of Peter, and without violating the Catholic hierarchy, the foundation given to the Church by our Savior Jesus Christ.

We await, then, without fear, the verdict of history. History will tell how We, with Our eyes fixed immutably upon the defense of the higher rights of God, have neither wished to humiliate the civil power, nor to combat a form of government, but to safeguard the inviolable work of Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. It will say that We have defended you, Our beloved sons, with all the strength of Our great love; that what We have demanded and now demand for the Church, of which the French Church is the elder daughter and an integral part, is respect for its hierarchy and inviolability of its property and liberty; that if Our demand had been granted religious peace would not have been troubled in France, and that, the day it is listened to that peace so much desired will be restored in the country.

20. And, lastly, history will say, that if, sure beforehand of your magnanimous generosity. We have not hesitated to tell you that the hour for sacrifice had struck, it is to remind the world, in the name of the Master of all things, that men here below should feed their minds upon thoughts of a higher sort than those of the perishable contingencies of life, and that the supreme and intangible joy of the human soul on earth is that of duty supernaturally carried out, cost what it may and so God honored, served and loved, in spite of all.

21. Confident that the Immaculate Virgin, Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Word, and Spouse of the Holy Ghost, will obtain for you from the most holy and adorable Trinity better days, and as a token of the calm which We firmly hope will follow the storm, it is from the depths of Our heart that We impart Our Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, as well as to your clergy and the whole French people.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1907, the fourth year of Our pontificate.

"It is easy to see, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, from what We have just recalled to you, that this law is an aggravation of the Law of Separation, and we can not therefore do otherwise than condemn it."

There you have it. Pope Saint Pius X condemned what Pope John Paul II and his cardinalate minions praise as being compatible with the Church's social doctrine and that they claim has produced such good fruits for the Church in France. The verdict of history, referred to by Pope Saint Pius X in Paragraph 19 above, is clearly on the side of the sainted pontiff, not Pope John Paul II. No wonder that the late Arc bishop Marcel Lefebvre chose Pope Saint Pius X as the patron of his priestly association of common life in 1970. No wonder at all. The contrast between authentic Catholic teaching and the novelties of the last forty-seven years are on display for all who have the grace to see it in Une Fois Encore.

The model for authentic cooperation between Church and State, with each genuinely respecting the legitimate competencies of each, is to be found not in the 1905 law of separation in France. No, the model and inspiration for authentic cooperation between Church and State is to be found in the letter written by Saint Louis IX, King of France, to his son:

My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation. Keep yourself, my son, from everything that you know displeases God, that is to say, from every mortal sin. You should permit yourself to tormented by every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a mortal sin.

If the Lord has permitted you to have some trial, bear it willingly and with gratitude, considering that it has happened for your good and that perhaps you well deserve it. If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank Him humbly and see that you become no worse for it, either through vain pride or anything else, because you ought not to oppose God or offend Him in the matter of His gifts.

Listen to the divine office with pleasure and devotion. As long as you are in church, be careful not to let your eyes wander and not to speak empty words, but pray to the Lord devoutly, either aloud or with the interior prayer of the heart.

Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Be just to your subjects, swaying neither to the right nor left, but holding the line of justice. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth. See that all your subjects live in justice and peace, but especially those who have ecclesiastical rank and those who belong to religious orders.

Be devout and obedient to our mother the Church of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff as your spiritual father. Work to remove all sin from your land, particularly blasphemies and heresies.

France is no longer a monarchy. Granted. Saint Louis IX, though, remains an exemplar of the spirit of Christendom, when "kingdom and priesthood" were mutually united in a "happy cooperation," as Pope Leo XIII quoted Ivo of Chartres in Immortale Dei. The contemporary Church, in her human elements, has abandoned this spirit in favor of a spirit of accommodation with the seemingly irreversible realities of the world. Those seemingly irreversible realities, though, will be wiped away in an instant once some pope actually does consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, thereby bringing about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will be then that the errors of the recent past will be rightly forgotten and the current forgotten popes restored to their rightful place of honor and doctrines that have been defined wrongly will be judged aright in light of the Church's perennial teaching.

As Pope Leo XIII noted in A Review of his Pontificate:

Hence in proportion as society separates itself from the Church, which is an important element of its strength, by so much does it decline, or its woes are multiplied for the reason that they are separated whom God wished to join together.

Until then, as I noted in "The Time is Always Proclaim and to Defend the Social Reign of Christ the King," we must do our part to point out error and to try to plant the seeds that might help more and more people work for a new Christendom. We must work for a day when all men everywhere live in the shadow of the Holy Cross and exclaim "Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!"

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.







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