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Revised and Re-posted on December 3, 2004

At Odds With The Church's Authentic Patrimony on the State

by Thomas A. Droleskey

[I am re-posting and re-titling "No, That's Not Fair At All" in light of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's exaltation of the American model of "laicism," which His Eminence says is nothing more than another way of referring to "religious liberty." As Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks echo those made by the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, in the October 22, 2004, issue of The New York Times, I have decided to highlight this article anew, borrowing a few elements from "Catholicism and the State," which was posted on this site on July 4, 2004. The remarks of Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Chaput must be examined and weighed against the binding teaching of the Church on the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. The errors made by these prelates are at the heart of the conciliarist ethos of accepting the false premises of the modern State.]

People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

“That’s fair. That’s their right.” Those two sentences, found in Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s op-ed article, “Faith and Patriotism,” in the October 22 issue of The New York Times are a startlingly revealing insight into the way in which the Americanist heresy continues to undermine the thinking of even those Catholic bishops in the United States of America who take public stands in defense of the inviolability of all innocent human life from the first moment of fertilization to the time of natural death. “That’s fair. That’s their right.” These two sentence are premised upon the acceptance of one of the principle errors of Modernity, namely, that those who propagate error have the right to do so in a “free” society. Catholics in such a circumstance, you see, should use the “free” society in which they live to use the “public square” or the “market place of ideas” to oppose those who propagate error.

Archbishop Chaput is simply wrong. The Catholic Church taught consistently prior to the novelties of the conciliar and post-conciliar eras that no one has the right to propagate error by invoking a false spirit of either religious or civil liberty. Contrast Archbishop Chaput’s defense of the right of pro-aborts to militate for their demonic positions with the words of Pope Leo XIII, found in Immortale Dei, which was issued in 1885.

So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option. These remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than Nature herself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fulness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth, may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and the protection of the law. A well-spent life is the only passport to heaven, whither all are bound, and on this account the State is acting against the laws and dictates of nature whenever it permits the license of opinion and action to lead minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue. (Emphases added)

Pro-aborts do not have any right to promote abortion in society. The fact that we do not live in a Catholic nation that subordinates itself in all things to the Social Reign of Christ the King as it should be exercised by Holy Mother Church does not mean that we recognize as legitimate and “fair” that which is unjust and evil of its nature. The promotion of evil is no one’s right. As I have written on many other occasions, including “The Logic of Overthrowing Christ’s Reign” on this site, the gradual descent of the world into one abject evil after another under the cover of law is the direct result of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King made possible by the Protestant Revolt, the ideas of the so-called “Enlightenment,” the rise of contemporary Freemasonry and the mutation of each of these forces over time into the modern secular, religiously indifferent state.

Archbishop Chaput further errs by accepting as a virtue the non-confessional nature of the Constitution of the United States of America:

The founders sought to prevent the establishment of an official state church. Given America's history of anti-Catholic nativism, Catholics strongly support the Constitution's approach to religious freedom. But the Constitution does not, nor was it ever intended to, prohibit people or communities of faith from playing an active role in public life. Exiling religion from civic debate separates government from morality and citizens from their consciences. That road leads to politics without character, now a national epidemic.

These arguments are quite familiar to me. I used to make them myself in my days as an apologist for the American founding as compatible with–or at least not hostile to–the ability of Catholics to promote the truths of the Faith in a free and open debate with others. Once one familiarizes himself with the patrimony of the unchanging and unchangeable social teaching of the Church on the nature of the State, however, explicated so well by Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI, one comes to understand that all modern states, including the United States of America, are founded on an indifference, at best, and an open hostility, at worst, to the Incarnation of the Word as Man in Our Lady’s virginal and immaculate womb at the Annunciation. The modern state is also indifferent and/or hostile to the Deposit of Faith the God-Man entrusted to His true Church and the sacraments He instituted to make it possible for us to pursue holiness here on earth so that we can happy for all eternity as citizens of Heaven.

The fact that the founding of this nation took place in the framework of an historical and cultural milieu shaped by the events of the preceding 250 years does not in any way justify our acceptance of its fundamental error in rejecting that which was the foundation of order during Christendom: the Social Reign of Christ the King. False ideas lead to bad consequences no matter how sincerely those who adhere to false ideas believe in them and trust in their ability to produce good fruits. Pope Leo XIII noted in Immortale Dei the inexorable logic of religious indifferentism:

To hold therefore that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may different from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points, cannot all be equally probable, equally good, equally acceptable to God.

The slaughter of the innocent preborn by both chemical and surgical means under cover of law is a direct consequence of a governmental system that rejects the right of the true Church to interpose herself when those in civil offices propose to do things or have in fact done things contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law and/or place into jeopardy the rights of the Church and the sanctification and salvation of human souls. Pope Leo XIII noted in Immortale Dei that the Church has no specific models of governance by which men are to govern themselves in their civil communities. She does insist, however, that the true religion be favored by the State and that her right to defend the common good be recognized by the civic officials when grave necessity demands her to intervene in this regard.

An important distinction must be made at this juncture. Archbishop Chaput stated at the outset of his article that Catholics do not want a theocracy. Indeed, we do not. A theocracy is a form of government wherein civil power is held by clerics. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocracy. However, the traditional insistence by the Church on her proper relation to the civil state is not theocratic. The Church recognizes that civic officials have their own sphere of activity and competency and that they enjoy a wide latitude of action in matters that pertain to that competency. She even recognizes that there are circumstances in which Catholics of good will may disagree about the application of the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law in certain circumstances. Granted. Holy Mother Church has taught, though, from time immemorial that it is her absolute right to impose penalties upon civil officials whose actions help to foster conditions that are deleterious to the sanctification and salvation of human souls. Although her principal way of propagating her Social Teaching is by means of her preaching, she does possess the right in very grave circumstances to pronounce as null and void legislative enactments, judicial pronouncements and executive actions which are contrary to God’s law and thus to the salvation of souls and the right ordering of men in their civil relations.

Religious indifferentism, which is the "fruit" of religious liberty, was one of the chief consequences of the Protestant Revolt. If no one is the Pope, then everyone is the Pope. It is a short step from there to assert that religion itself is but a mere matter of opinion, and that it is actually best for a State to be neutral with respect to all matters pertaining to private belief. This is cited even by Catholic apologists for the Constitution of the United States as one of this country's principal strengths. After all, these apologists contend, it is impossible to roll back the clock to the Middle Ages. This country was founded in the framework of religious and cultural pluralism. The Constitution provides an opportunity for all ideas to flourish in the marketplace of ideas, giving flesh to James Madison's expectations in The Federalist (Numbers Ten and Fifty-one) that there would be no one “opinion” to unite men of disparate backgrounds. Thus, the Constitution is exalted for its ability to force competing opinions to debate with one another in the policy making process, providing the possibility, although not a guarantee, of preventing the tyranny of the majority. As the late Dr. Martin Diamond and Dr. Daniel Elazar noted in their careers, the complexity of the Constitution is designed to permit all “opinions” a chance to be heard in the policy-making process. No one is guaranteed to have their way in that process; he is only guaranteed a say in it.

However well-intentioned such an effort might be, it is premised upon the belief the Incarnation and the Redemptive Act of the God-Man on the wood of the Holy Cross can be ignored in the context of the foundation and operation of the State. Again, the Church has no models of governance to offer man. She has adapted herself to many different systems, although a democratic republic that is founded in the acceptance and promotion of religious indifferentism and cultural pluralism has proven itself to be deleterious to even the private beliefs of Catholics concerning the infallible nature of Revealed Truth. After all, if everything is negotiable in the public realm, then why can't matters of “Church teaching” be open to discussion and debate. Dr. Joseph Varacalli, a professor of sociology at Nassau Community College and the co-founder of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, has discussed this in his book Bright Promise. It is possible for the Church to adapt herself to the exigencies of a democratic republic, but only if there is a frank recognition in a nation's organic documents that the Church herself has the right to nullify laws that are contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law and thus harmful in se to the salvation of souls.

Once again, the fact that we do not live in a Catholic world today does not absolve us of our responsibility to work, as Pope Leo XIII enjoined in Immortale Dei and Pope Pius XI exhorted in Quas Primas in 1925, for the planting of seeds for the Catholicization of our society, beginning with the proper explication by popes and bishops of the actual teaching of the Catholic Church on the nature of the civil State and of the necessity of the true Church enjoying the favor and the protection of the law.

Consider, for example, Pope Leo XIII’s simple declarative sentence in Immortale Dei on this precise matter:

To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from the business of life, from the power of making laws, from the training of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error.

Is this statement true or false? If it is true, then Archbishop Chaput’s acceptance of the American Constitution’s embrace of religious liberty is wrong. An exclusion of the true Church from the business of guiding the civil state in matters of fundamental justice is a grave and fatal error. It is the error of the modern state. And it is the error of Modernists, condemned quite specifically as such in the context of the civil state by Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis, issued on September 8, 1907. The fact that this Modernist heresy has worked its way into the official documents of the Church in the conciliar and post-conciliar eras does not make it any the less heretical. The late Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton resigned from his teaching position at The Catholic University of America in the 1960s rather than teach the heresy of religious liberty, understood in the sense that the Catholic Faith must be content with being tolerated by the civil state rather than favored by it, which was condemned by numberless popes prior to 1958.

Pope Leo XIII makes it clear in 1895 Longique Oceani, which some apologists of the American regime cite as proof of Pope Leo’s admiration of our system of government, that our specific situation was not favorable to the Catholics in this country and should not serve as a model for Catholics elsewhere in the world. After noting some of the points mentioned by Archbishop Chaput about the fact that Catholics are able to practice their Faith openly and without opposition from the Constitution, he wrote:

Yet, though all this is true, it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition, nay is even enjoying a prosperous growth, is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed His Church, in virtue of which unless men or circumstances interfere, she spontaneously expands and propagates herself; but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.

This is in clear contradiction to the tenor of Archbishop Chaput’s article and Cardinal Ratzinger's recent remarks, to say nothing of  the whole thrust of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate. A “legitimate development of doctrine” must not contradict that which has gone before it. We are faced today with wholesale rejections of the teaching of the Church on the State to such an extent that the average Catholic knows nothing whatsoever of the volume and consistency of this teaching.

Pope Leo XIII was concerned that Catholics in the United States, living in a cultural circumstance that must by definition marginalize the practice of the Faith solely to the realm of personal or parish observances, eschewing its articulation as the basis of all personal and social order, would be so coopted by the errors of modernity that they would come to view the Church through the eyes of the world rather than view the world through the eyes of the true Faith. He noted this quite tellingly in Testem Benevolentiae, an Apostolical Letter he wrote to James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore on January 22, 1899:

But in the matter of which we are now speaking, Beloved Son, the project involves a greater danger and is more hostile to Catholic doctrine and discipline, inasmuch as the followers of these novelties judge that a certain liberty ought to be introduced into the Church, so that, limiting the exercise and vigilance of its powers, each one of the faithful may act more freely in pursuance of their own natural bent and capacity. They affirm, namely, that this is called for in order to imitate that liberty which, though quite recently introduced, is now the law and the foundation of almost every civil community. On that point We have spoken very much at length in the Letter written to all the bishops about the constitution of States; where We have also shown the difference between the Church, which is of divine right, and all other associations which subsist by the free will of men.

That is, Pope Leo XIII knew that the very ethos of Americanism would undermine the ability of the Catholics to confessionally propagate the truths of the Faith and, in turn, would lead to calls to “democratize” the Church. Writing near the end of Testem Benevolentiae, Pope Leo warned Cardinal Gibbons:

For it [the promotion of Americanism] raises the suspicion that there are some among you who conceive of and desire a church in America different from that which is in the rest of the world.

There is a point at which the influence of the heresies of the modern state on the attitudes of Catholics and on the very ecclesiology of bishops and priests intersects. Catholics in this country have been so influenced by the ethos of the world that those among them who support abortion refer to popular secular slogans, denounced quite rightly by Archbishop Chaput in his article, to defend their positions while those who oppose abortion advert not to the binding authority of the Church but to the authority of a Constitution founded in a specific rejection of the Incarnation and the Social Reign of Christ the King.

This is not what Our Lady of Guadalupe desired when she appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. It is not what the North American Martyrs shed their blood to realize. Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego to Catholicize the Americas. The North American Martyrs shed their blood in what is now upstate New York and Canada to Catholicize that region of North America. We are called by virtue of our baptism and confirmation to Catholicize the United States of America, a task that is no less possible now than was the Catholicization of peoples in the known world following the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and our dear Blessed Mother on Pentecost Sunday in the same Upper Room in Jerusalem where the Divine Redeemer had instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist.

Pope Leo XIII put it this way in Sapientiae Christianae in 1890:

The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent.

We must profess the Catholic faith openly and unflinchingly. Period. The Church herself must recover the voice of Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro and proclaim “Viva Cristo Rey!” in the face of the assaults being waged by secularists. It is not possible to oppose secularism and all of its multifaceted errors with secularism. We can only oppose secularism with Catholicism. We are not here to do the bidding of conservativsm. We are here to do the bidding of Catholicism.

Pope Pius XI noted this quite explicitly in 1925 in Quas Primas:

We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.

Moreover, the annual and universal celebration of the feast of the Kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which anticlericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ, and will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights. . . .

Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.

No, it is not fair and no one has the right to promote abortion or any other evil. Our voice as Catholics is not supposed to just among many. We are to proclaim Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen no matter what kind of mockery and ridicule will we suffer as a result. We are to invite all people into the true Church, thus making it possible to occur what occurred over the course of the first millennium in Europe as barbaric peoples were brought into the one Sheepfold of Christ that is the Catholic Church.

While it is true that our problems will not be truly ameliorated until some pope actually does consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart in total fidelity to her Fatima requests, we must nevertheless continue the work of apostles of Christ the King, recognizing that the problems of our era are the symptoms of the world’s war against the Social Reign of Christ the King and the Church’s own neglect of the patrimony that emboldened the hands of Popes from Gregory XVI through Pius XI.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of the unborn, pray for us.

Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, pray for us.

The North American Martyrs, pray for us.






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