Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Feast of Christ the King

Today Catholics celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, which makes it an appropriate time to remind ourselves of what the Church teaches the faithful about their duty to bring their religion to bear on political matters.  “But wait,” you might ask, “hasn’t the Church since Vatican II adopted the American attitude of keeping religion out of politics, and making of it a purely private affair?”  Absolutely not.  Even Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II’s famous declaration on religious freedom, insists that it “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ” (emphasis added). 

What does that entail?  Here are some relevant passages from the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II (emphasis added):

The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially.  This is “the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.”  By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them “to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.”  The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good.  It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.  Christians are called to be the light of the world.  Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies. (2105)

And against the idea that it is best for the state instead to be neutral about the Catholic Faith – not hostile to it, but not being influenced by it either – the Catechism says:

Every institution is inspired, at least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its hierarchy of values, its line of conduct.  Most societies have formed their institutions in the recognition of a certain preeminence of man over things.  Only the divinely revealed religion has clearly recognized man's origin and destiny in God, the Creator and Redeemer.  The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man:

Societies not recognizing this vision or rejecting it in the name of their independence from God are brought to seek their criteria and goal in themselves or to borrow them from some ideology.  Since they do not admit that one can defend an objective criterion of good and evil, they arrogate to themselves an explicit or implicit totalitarian power over man and his destiny, as history shows. (2244)

It is a part of the Church's mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it.” (2246)

Every society's judgments and conduct reflect a vision of man and his destiny.  Without the light the Gospel sheds on God and man, societies easily become totalitarian. (2257)

There is also the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI.  In response to the question “How should authority be exercised in the various spheres of civil society?” the Compendium answers:

All those who exercise authority should seek the interests of the community before their own interest and allow their decisions to be inspired by the truth about God, about man and about the world. (463)

Then there is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which teaches that “religious freedom is not a moral licence to adhere to error, nor as an implicit right to error” (421); that “because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State” (423); that “the mutual autonomy of the Church and the political community does not entail a separation that excludes cooperation” (425); and that “the Church has the right to the legal recognition of her proper identity” (426).

Of course, all of these documents also teach that non-Catholics no less than Catholics have a right to religious freedom, and none of them calls for what I have elsewhere called “hard integralism.”  But they show that the Church clearly teaches that Catholic voters and politicians can and should be guided by “the true religion,” and not merely by some thin common ground between religions, much less by the even thinner common ground between religious believers and secularists.

These are all post-Vatican II sources.  But it’s also a good day to re-read Pope Pius XI’s Quas Primas.  Viva Cristo Rey!

Further reading:

A clarification on integralism

What was the Holy Roman Empire?

The politics of chastity

Continetti on post-liberal conservatism

105 comments:

  1. That quote from the Compendium got me curious:

    “because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State”

    Could a false religion be the state religion if it has the place tradition on its side and catholicism is not very popular on the country?

    I suppose that it would be intended as a temporary thing.

    And, of course, Viva Cristo Rei!

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  2. Of course our "Catholic" politicians should be the first to do this instead of upholding abortion, but why should they when our "Catholic" clergy are agents of communism and antichrist?

    Continued plague(real or imagined), war and chastisement are certain. Consecrate yourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and you might survive.

    If you don't survive, at least you won't go where our "leaders" are going.

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  3. Why did Pope Paul VI tell Catholic countries not to mention Catholicism in their constitutions when Pope Leo XII wrote this in Libertas Praestantissumum?

    Pope Leo XIII writes: 20. But, assuredly, of all the duties which man has to fulfill, that, without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest which commands him to worship God with devotion and piety. This follows of necessity from the truth that we are ever in the power of God, are ever guided by His will and providence, and, having come forth from Him, must return to Him. Add to which, no true virtue can exist without religion, for moral virtue is concerned with those things which lead to God as man's supreme and ultimate good; and therefore religion, which (as St. Thomas says) "performs those actions which are directly and immediately ordained for the divine honor",(7) rules and tempers all virtues. And if it be asked which of the many conflicting religions it is necessary to adopt, reason and the natural law unhesitatingly tell us to practice that one which God enjoins, and which men can easily recognize by certain exterior notes, whereby Divine Providence has willed that it should be distinguished, because, in a matter of such moment, the most terrible loss would be the consequence of error. Wherefore, when a liberty such as We have described is offered to man, the power is given him to pervert or abandon with impunity the most sacred of duties, and to exchange the unchangeable good for evil; which, as We have said, is no liberty, but its degradation, and the abject submission of the soul to sin.

    21. This kind of liberty, if considered in relation to the State, clearly implies that there is no reason why the State should offer any homage to God, or should desire any public recognition of Him; that no one form of worship is to be preferred to another, but that all stand on an equal footing, no account being taken of the religion of the people, even if they profess the Catholic faith. But, to justify this, it must needs be taken as true that the State has no duties toward God, or that such duties, if they exist, can be abandoned with impunity, both of which assertions are manifestly false. For it cannot be doubted but that, by the will of God, men are united in civil society; whether its component parts be considered; or its form, which implies authority; or the object of its existence; or the abundance of the vast services which it renders to man. God it is who has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness-namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic States, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engravers upon it. This religion, therefore, the rulers of the State must preserve and protect, if they would provide - as they should do - with prudence and usefulness for the good of the community. For public authority exists for the welfare of those whom it governs; and, although its proximate end is to lead men to the prosperity found in this life, yet, in so doing, it ought not to diminish, but rather to increase, man's capability of attaining to the supreme good in which his everlasting happiness consists: which never can be attained if religion be disregarded."

    https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas.html

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    1. I don't know, but I do know you certainly won't find a rational answer from anyone who refers to JPII as a "saint".

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    2. Where did Pope Paul VI say that Catholic countries shouldn't talk about the Faith in their constitutions?

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    3. Depends on what you mean by "rational answer". The reasons are, in order of my guess as to importance:

      (1) The Vatican Secretariat of State, like all foreign offices in the Western world, have been in the complete control of hard-line liberals since before VII. In most countries, it was since the 1930s.

      2. Paul VI's own state people, conniving with the state departments in foreign countries, probably pretended that it was really THE COUNTRIES THEMSELVES that wanted to re-vamp their constitutions and agreements with the Vatican to eliminate the "special relationship" with Catholicism.

      (2) Paul VI, while probably not a theological liberal, was certainly a "process" liberal and probably a touch more than half a modernist in everything not explicitly defined in dogma. He believed wholeheartedly in the liberal agenda of democratic forms, "consent of the people", committees, and "consensual" political forms, etc. Thus he was willing to believe his secretariat that eliminating Catholicism from constitutions was "the will of the people".

      4. While the Council Fathers themselves clearly did not think that Catholic countries should re-define themselves as "neutral", certainly the "spirit of VII" that was pervasive at the time made no bones about the thesis that what the avant-guarde (the revolutionaries) wanted was a new face on everything, including no more confessional states of any sort. They PRESENTED this (with many other theses) as the "will" and "intention" of the Council even though it contradicts what the Council fathers actually said, and few were around to stand in front of Paul VI and declare otherwise.

      So, it was a bumbling broth of false claims, revolutionary agenda, pious hopes, a defectionary bureaucracy, and a naive and ill-educated pope.

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  4. Laudator Temporis ActiNovember 22, 2021 at 1:58 AM

    “But wait,” you might ask, “hasn’t the Church since Vatican II adopted the American attitude of keeping religion out of politics, and making of it a purely private affair?”

    That would be ridiculous anyway. How can politics be a purely private matter when it always bears on salvation for good or ill? And particularly now, when politics has been anti-Catholic and anti-Christian for decades. Indeed, we have an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian Pope.

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    1. Haha, it's like a soap opera. The Catholic Church ....human, all too human.

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    2. @Anonymous:

      Yes, it is like a soap opera; or to speak more precisely, like a dysfunctional family. Which is exactly what it is.

      The Catholic Church is indeed "all too human." As many Catholics have noted, "What a wonderful thing the Church would be, if only it didn't have PEOPLE in it."

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  5. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars,to God what is his." This statement has differentiated Christianity from many religious creeds, incluing Islam, that developed a quite different view of state and religion. And the statement allowed the development of a tolerant, peaceful social cooperation. May it always be thus. (The left is the movement today that with its aberrant religion seeks to have a pre-eminent position.)

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  6. "religious freedom is not a moral licence to adhere to error" plus "Of course, all of these documents also teach that non-Catholics no less than Catholics have a right to religious freedom". Welcome to post Vatican II confusion, on display in all its glory in this post too unfortunately.

    The right to profess falsehood, the right to do anything else that isn't right; no such right exists. The Church will add the necessary footnoting to Vatican II and wherever needed once it gets its act together.

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    1. on display in all its glory in this post too unfortunately.

      How? All I do is quote things.

      You miss the point of the post and, as is your wont, read it uncharitably. The point isn't to expound on religious liberty, explain what Vatican II meant to teach on the subject or how it squares with the teaching of the pre-Vatican II popes, etc. The point was simply to show, even just when confining ourselves to post-Vatican II texts, how far the Church is from teaching the view that one's Catholic faith ought to be kept out of politics.

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    2. Miguel,

      If you think that Vatican II taught error, then show us the text.

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    3. @ Miguel Cervantes,

      "The right to profess falsehood, the right to do anything else that isn't right; no such right exists."

      The Kingdom is supposed to be founded on Love, not tyranny. God does not force us. He even permitted us to kill Jesus, the greatest possible sin. So neither should men force us.

      Then what is all this talk about "right" not existing where yet God permits?

      This does not mean that we should do or say or legislate what we know is wrong.

      Tom Cohoe

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    4. "Of course, all of these documents also teach that non-Catholics no less than Catholics have a right to religious freedom". Welcome to post Vatican II confusion, on display in all its glory in this post too unfortunately.


      The expression "religious freedom", as defined in the Syllabus of Errors, had specific reference to a thesis and "doctrine" that admitted NO LIMITS to a person's rights regarding religious freedom, including the right to embrace Satanism or Moloch-worship, for example. In that exaggerated sense, it was roundly condemned both by Pius IX and Leo XIII. When VII addressed the topic, it constrained the expression to a more limited idea, and thus found a sense of liberty that applies to all men, without contradicting Pius and Leo.

      In states in which over 95% of the people are Catholic, and in which Catholicism is not only believed by long tradition but embraced with clear sight of its proper just claims to being revealed by God, that state not only may but should invest Catholicism with special rights that do not accrue to all other religions. In non-Catholic states, the affect of ignorance and disorder upon the mind may well make the people's ability to see the proper and just claims of Catholicism to being the true religion badly diminished, such conditions may well imply Catholicism should not at that time be the religion of the state, though all states should recognize God's claims to the extent such claims are manifest to them and we can believe non-Catholic states should continue to be searching for the greater truth. Leo alludes to such a possibility in the quote given above, #21, when he emphasizes the higher duty in this regard, "especially Catholic States", implying there are DIFFERENT DEGREES in the duty of states depending on the state of their capacity to see truth.

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    5. "You miss the point of the post and, as is your wont, read it uncharitably". Edward Feser, you made more than one point in the post. It's not a hanging offense or a lack of charity to bring up one of your secondary points, which I cited, which you have just cited again. As with other points on which we seem to disagree, I get the routine "uncharitable" thing plus space devoted to why I don't need a response to the point raised. That is your right. All the same, I didn't cite the documents you cited. I cited you: "Of course, all of these documents also teach that non-Catholics no less than Catholics have a right to religious freedom". There is a contradiction between this (and the understandings that have spread in the Church since Vatican II), and universal Church teaching on this matter. Raising this obvious contradiction is obvious and to your point. If you raised the arguments in this post in a lecture and got the same response from one of your students, it would be hard to understand how you could rule him out of order.

      Tony, the sense in which Pope Leo speaks is clear. Liberty refers to liberty for the true religion and none other. Let me repeat myself from the discussion on that other posted linked here (A clarification on Integralism):

      "Many people also seem to think that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty abandoned the idea that religion should have any influence on politics. But all of that is incorrect... No one can justify a complete separation of religion and politics on the basis of Vatican II. The most one could argue for (whether correctly or incorrectly) is that Vatican II abandoned the ideal of a specifically Catholic state..."

      It would be very problematic if Vat II had abandoned the notion of the state confessing the Catholic Faith, because this is indistinguishable from the confession of religion. From our point of view, there is only one religion to be considered, and it can't be marketed in subsections. A state that likes natural law but not the Religion established by God, is not a religious state (unless we are in some agnostic comparative religion study).

      Popes like Pius XI, when speaking on the Reign of Christ the King, did not have in mind merely the recognition of natural law in society, but that of Christ and His Church. A society which only recognised the first, while deliberately refusing the second, emphatically is not a religious society from a Catholic point of view. Religion is one. Picking out a "bit" of the Faith and using that, is not a case of Religion influencing society.

      It's just not an option to try to split religion up into a natural one for political purposes, and another one reflecting "theology", for private purposes. What next? Worship at the temple to the Great Architect compulsory for all politicians?"
      I had a discussion with Dr. Storck, but he didn't follow it to a proper conclusion

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    6. Mister Geocon, the contradictions I refer to are based on common understandings of the texts, which can be seen in this post. I don't think there is much dispute about which texts we're talking about, just whether there's a contradiction with teaching before Vatican II. That's the point I made.

      Tony. I thought in reference to your point about only societies which are 95% Catholic being the only ones that should recognise the Church that it would be useful to be aware that practically no society has ever achieved those kinds of statistics before such recognition. The Roman Empire, for example. Catholics were still not the majority at the time of Theodosius the Great. I don't support Ahmari's idea of "cultural Catholicism" etc. Despite appearances, this isn't based on traditional Catholic teaching. It's just the conservative idea already held by Machiavelli) that agnostics and non-believers should still establish the Church, because it's "good for" social stability.Unfortunately, this doesn't work, AND HAS NEVER HAPPENED.Those great leader who brought their peoples into the Church and recognised it were not agnostics, and worked in close co-operation with saintly believers. Obviously, the practicalities of whether a society can recognise the Church belong to the realm of the possible. But the abandonment of this aspiration is condemned by history and the teaching of the Church.

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    7. My figure of 95% was intended to be an example, and in particular one that made the concept clear and manifest, rather than leaving matters disputable. Of course a lower percentage might also work.

      And it is, really, not sheer numbers alone that forms the criterion. When (as happened more than once), the existing religion is centered on the person of the king, and Christian missionaries - through their holiness and through miracles - proved sufficiently to the king that Christianity had a better claim to be the revealed religion than his own religion or any other he knew about, his own conversion to Christianity had a magnifying effect with respect to the rest of the people. So, I instead lean heavily on your own statement: "the practicalities of whether a society can recognise the Church belong to the realm of the possible." There is no hard and fast GENERAL rule that clearly sets out when a society as a whole should become one that politically embraces Catholicism as the religion of the state, except the utterly plain vanilla one "when it is prudent to do so". But that principle implies that there will be times and cases when it is imprudent to do so, and so while in the ideal all societies should be confessionally Catholic societies, in practice we should strive for it to happen at the right times and in the right ways.

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    8. Miguel,

      When you say

      the contradictions I refer to are based on common understandings of the texts, which can be seen in this post. I don't think there is much dispute about which texts we're talking about, just whether there's a contradiction with teaching before Vatican II. That's the point I made.

      I say that the actual texts written do not support such "common understandings."

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  7. "The moral duties of men and societies to the one true religion and one true church."

    Well, in this country, that would run violate the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion."

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    1. The Constitution of the United States isn't infallible. The Church's Magisterium is. Therefore, if one conflicts with the other, guess which one has to give?

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    2. Mr G
      Here in this country, the church cannot enforce its moral theology. The church teaches same sex marriage and abortion are wrong, but it cannot change the law or enforce its teachings. So regardless of the church's infallibility, it has to "give." We as Catholics have a moral duty to "give," but not a legal duty.

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    3. To be fair, it would not be the first time were someone read on this constitution something that its writers would find insane.

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    4. "Here in this country, the church cannot enforce its moral theology."

      But pervs and heretics can enforce their morals, just as long as it is not cloaked as "religion".

      "So regardless of the church's infallibility, it has to "give." We as Catholics have a moral duty to "give," but not a legal duty."

      Rubbish. There is no constitutional provision for same-sex marriage or abortion; and even if there was, it would only mean that Catholics would have to fight to amend it.

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    5. Grodrigued

      In what way can 'pervs and heretics' - by which I presume you largly mean those in a gay relationship or who disagree with you theologically - enforce their morals? What exactly are you compelled to do Grodrigues by 'pervs and hetetics' that you find objectionable?

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    6. @Free Thinker:

      "What exactly are you compelled to do Grodrigues by 'pervs and hetetics' that you find objectionable? "

      This question presumes that to enforce a moral point of view on the political arrangements -- which happens of necessity -- is tantamount to compelling people to do something, which is patently absurd. Even taking the two cases mentioned, if tomorrow the American constitution itself was amended to outlaw same-sex "marriage" and abortion, it would not compel me or anyone else to do anything whatsoever.

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    7. FreeThinker,

      What do those pervs and heretics do? Well, a major one is the whole "bake the cake, bigot" nonsense. There's all the legislation outlawing "misgendering" people. There's the LGBT ideology being taught in primary education. There's the fact that liberal academics are looking to remove the stigma and discrimination against "minor-attracted persons."

      Need we say more?

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    8. Anonymous,

      We obey the state laws as they are insofar as they are just, but we can always work to amend them to the correct views, even if through prayer.

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    9. And of course, as soon as you provided actual examples of the oppression being foisted on Christians, "Free Thinker" vanishes into the ether.

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  8. When I quoted from this document, the server complained that the quotation was too long.

    https://sspx.org/en/religious-liberty-contradicts-tradition

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    1. They certainly read a lot into that one paragraph.

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    2. @Mr Geocon

      I think the understanding of the SSPX appears much more plausible against the general background of the post-conciliar era, in light of diplomatic developments mentioned by Tony above, events like Assisi (e.g. the possibility of a Buddhist liturgy in a Catholic basilica seems to presuppose a remarkable degree of religious freedom), as well as certain doctrinal elaborations (chiefly by JP2: see, e.g., Redemptor hominis, where the freedom in question is discussed as something discoverable by natural reason (as opposed to it being a mere consequence of exclusiveness of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, something clearly revealed, as on Dr. Pink's interpretation, the one endorsed by Dr. Feser, if I recall correctly). Moreover, archbishop Lefebvre had formally submitted his dubia, the response to which did not feature a clear exposition of correct doctrine (something like Dr. Pink's thesis), but was "rather dodgy", to quote the same English scholar. If this is a misunderstanding on the part of the SSPX, it is yet to be officially corrected, as are the dissenters, who do espouse pernicious liberal interpretation.

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    3. Mancz,

      I don't think it's plausible at all if you aren't looking for reasons to doubt the veracity of Catholicism.

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    4. @Mr Geocon

      Given that DH can, for all we know, contain error, at least in theory, not being an exercise of the extraordinary Magisterium, I fail to see how it can supply matter for this doubt on such a supposition. Needless to say, such doubts are not at all entertained by the SSPX.

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    5. While I personally don't care about Catholic teaching, the SSPX argument is incredibly faulty. The Church's defense of religious liberty specifies it as a negative right, which is fully compatible with holding that no one has a positive right to err, or anything like that.

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    6. @ Unknown

      As per the link above, the right that the SSPX takes issue with is understood to be a negative one, so it appears you have misunderstood that particular argument.

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  9. VIVA CRISTO REI!

    And may I say a pray on this special occasion from my city Patron, Sancto Antonio to bless us all:

    ECCE CRUCEM DOMINI!
    FUGITE PARTES ADVERSAE!
    VICIT LEO DE TRIBU IUDA,
    RADIX DAVI, ALLELUIA ALLELLUIA!
    AMEM!

    May God bless us all and deliver us from all evil!

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  10. I don't put much stock in DH's claim to leave untouched traditional Catholic teaching. The CDF's letter accompanying Francis' change to the Catechism on the death penalty likewise says:

    "All of this shows that the new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium"

    Does it follow then that because the Church claims continuity there is continuity?

    I do agree that the post-VII Church has given at least some support to the traditional teaching on the duties of societies toward the true religion, it's just that the post-VII Church also tends to give support to ideas that contradict its traditional teachings.

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    1. @ Albinus

      Are you perchance familiar with Dr. Pink's interpretation? I mention it because Dr. Feser endorses it.

      On it, the freedom in question is that of a right to not be coerced by an inappropriate agent, that is, the state, acting as such (and as the secular arm of the Church). No (merely) human power can be a coercive authority in matters of religion, where a divine one, the Church, is exclusively competent, to which the state should submit in such matters. This is plausibly quite traditional; the Church never taught the state to have its own, native authority to coerce in religious matters.

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    2. The Church works in this way:
      - the theologians deliberate
      - the bishops pontificate
      - the laity… obeys (if you can find a synonym that rhymes please let me know)

      Even St. Thomas allowed revelation through Scripture and Tradition correct his philosophical ideas if needed. Should we not allow the authoritative teaching correct our understanding and interpretation of Scripture and Traditional writings too (eg of past councils)? If you are seeking to understand this from an investigative academic perspective then I encourage you. However, if curiosity is allowing doubt to seep in as to the legitimacy of current Catholic teachings, then I discourage you from pursuing this line of thought. God bless.

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    3. In contrast to Journey 516 above I encourage you to persue your investigations in whatever direction they lead, and if that generates doubt about sacred cows good on you for looking reality in the face and not mindlessly acquiescing to church "authority".

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    4. Journey, I think we need a couple of additions:

      (1) Apostles predicate (to be pronounced: "pray - dicate", i.e. how they pray
      (2) Patriarchs elucidate
      (3) Heresiarchs abbreviate (i.e. oversimplify - since most heresies involve stressing one truth to the detraction of another truth)
      (4) Theologians deliberate
      (4) Bishops dictate (speak with authority)
      (5) Popes pontificate
      (6) The laity capitulate
      and we can add
      (7) Pundits bloviate. :-)

      However, if curiosity is allowing doubt to seep in as to the legitimacy of current Catholic teachings, then I discourage you from pursuing this line of thought.

      As St. John Newman showed us, the process of development can be distinguished from that of running toward heresy, by certain indicative signs, even if the effort is difficult. The historical arrival of certain widespread heresies - after a period WITHOUT those heresies, shows clearly that the Church can go from a period in which a truth is generally accepted but perhaps implicitly, to a later period where that truth is disputed and even denied outright by LARGE SWATHES of the Church. See Arianism. The possibility that large swathes of the Church are now wading in the known heresy of modernism cannot be dis-proven by the mere fact that widespread (but not universal) current "teachings" difficult to square with past doctrine come AFTER the older teachings. One clear reason to say this - borrowing from St. John Newman - is that the modernists in the Church quite strongly advocate for the hermeneutic of rupture, but true development necessarily follows a hermeneutic of continuity.

      The attitude of those who advocate the position that VII reversed Church teaching on religious liberty (and applaud that reversal) are clearly dealing in a hermeneutic of rupture, and by definition such a view must be viewed with (at a minimum) grave suspicion within a Church whose every fiber relies on roots in Tradition. (The fact that many of the same people advocate changing the Church fundamentally - i.e. who brazenly reject the Church that Christ founded and insist on having a different Church - merely makes public the undeclared rebellion of advocating reversing Church doctrine on religious liberty.)

      Thus there is no particular reason to suppose that allowing Scripture and Tradition (i.e. teachings rooted in (past) Apostolic authority) to correct one's philosophical ideas, implies we should also allow CURRENT teachings by bishops, not rooted in Tradition and contrary to earlier Traditional teachings, to overturn philosophical ideas that ARE rooted in the Traditional teachings. Adherence to authority cannot require rejecting PRIOR authority. Which is to say: any attempts to teach authoritatively today MUST be read coherently with past authoritative teaching, which implies putting such a reading on today's teachings that allows one to conform to that teaching AND to prior teaching. E.G. to read those ambiguous parts of DH so as to be consistent with Libertas Praestantissumum.

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    5. Tony, I agreed with your earlier reply to my comment. It is a matter of what is possible and prudent. The sticking point, however, is the assertion that it is never possible to entertain government recognition of the true religion, and that the right to profess false religion is a right based on human nature. This position is untenable for any Catholic. The article quoted above is correct in its identification of the problematic text in Vatican II, and the correct Catholic interpretation:

      https://sspx.org/en/religious-liberty-contradicts-tradition

      There have been efforts to reconcile these texts with universal Catholic teaching (in English - Storck and Pink, for example). However they avoid the point. Pink's position does some acrobatics but fools nobody; this is not about who has the power to suppress the profession of false religion, but whether there is a "nature" based right to profess such falsehood. There is no such right in human nature anymore than there is a right to commit any other wrongful action.

      The circumstantial question of when such profession is to be suppressed, by which mechanism and jurisdiction etc., is not the main issue, and to put up such an argument is to play word games and create some smoke. Pope Pius X would never have been fooled.

      The Church will correct this confusion. The fact that sincere Catholics here cannot agree on what Vatican II means and whether it is in contradiction with universal teaching is proof enough of the urgency of the matter.

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    6. Albinus raises a very good point:

      I don't put much stock in DH's claim to leave untouched traditional Catholic teaching. The CDF's letter accompanying Francis' change to the Catechism on the death penalty likewise says:

      "All of this shows that the new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium"

      Does it follow then that because the Church claims continuity there is continuity?


      I have a theory. I would answer your final question with a distinction: there is the material component, and the de-jure component of the teaching said to be "in continuity" with the prior. It may well be the case that the actual, material content of the new teaching is in no significant way in continuity with the past teaching. If it is on a subject on which the Church has already spoken with authority, then the new teaching must be said to conflict with the old, materially speaking.

      Now, de jure: since the Church's foundational authority is unitary, and it is impossible for the self-same single authority to be in opposition to itself, it is manifestly the case that the Church can not WITH AUTHORITY first say "X is true" and then later say WITH AUTHORITY that "X is false". So if the Church had with authority already said "X is true", then the later saying that "X is not true" must be not authoritative. Hence, if the content of the later teaching is materially in conflict with the earlier teaching, then the bishop declaring also that the later saying is "in continuity" has the effect of saying "this teaching is to be accepted to the extent that it can be harmonized with prior authoritative teaching, and to be rejected to the extent it cannot be harmonized with such prior teaching. That is, de jure, the later teaching is being made subordinate to the earlier and thus made to be of no effect where it cannot be harmonized with the earlier. Thus where the "in continuity" assertion has no actual content backing it up, the assertion merely undermines any authoritativeness of the later teaching.

      I put no stock (in the material sense) in Cardinal Ladaria claiming that the new 2267 in the Catechism is in continuity with the prior teaching: by this point in Francis's tenure, his hirelings are well known for asserting his teachings are consistent with Tradition when there is no indication Francis intended that. It is, at best, a pious wish, but more often mere bloviating.

      I put more stock in the part of DH that asserts this, in that it is an Ecumenical Council. If there is a way of reading the text as consistent with Pius IX and Leo, then we have to give it that reading. And I have made an argument that there is (and others have too, of course.)

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    7. Are you perchance familiar with Dr. Pink's interpretation? I mention it because Dr. Feser endorses it.

      I have read it. I think it is ingenious, but ultimately erroneous. It is not easily compatible, for example, with Leo XIII saying that the political and the ecclesiastical authorities are each, in their own proper spheres, supreme:

      "The Almighty, therefore, has given the charge of the human race to two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, and the other over human, things. Each in its kind is supreme, each has fixed limits within which it is contained, limits which are defined by the nature and special object of the province of each,"

      This is not to say that the divine power is not over both, but God has authority over each that neither has even in their own spheres. For example, God could have established in the Church 8 sacraments, or 6; of its own capacity, the Church has no authority to make up new sacraments. But Leo is saying that the Church power is not the ruler or arbiter of the civil power in its civil sphere.

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    8. @ Tony

      My remark has been originally addressed to Albinus; I do of course recall that you're familiar with Dr. Pink's thesis, Tony; in fact, the two of us have discussed it on more than one occasion over the years (I mostly post on this issue exclusively, nowadays, if ever)! In this connexion, you may be interested in a recent article by Dr. Pink in defence of his interpretation over at the Josias:
      https://thejosias.com/2021/10/28/on-dignitatis-humanae-a-reply-to-thomas-storck/

      What is the -error- in Dr. Pink's thesis, in your estimation, precisely? If the exercise of acts pertaining to the virtue of religion is something in the jurisdiction of the Church, not of the state, how is it that the supremacy of the state in its own sphere comes into doubt on Dr. Pink's account, in your view?

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    9. The sticking point, however, is the assertion that it is never possible to entertain government recognition of the true religion, and that the right to profess false religion is a right based on human nature. This position is untenable for any Catholic.

      Miguel, I agree with you. However, I believe DH can be read not to say this. Rather, that every person has a right to affirm such religious TRUTH as he has so far reached, and a right not to be disturbed by the civil power with regard to any admixture of religious untruth he holds except to the extent it disturbs public order. The issue then comes to: what sort of public order. Rupture-ists would read it in a very narrow sense - as long as they don't cause riots. I would read it in a very expansive sense: for example, in a Catholic state, public order includes the proper contribution of the civil government to due (Catholic) worship of God, and attempts to "neutralize" that government so that it no longer confesses and encourages Catholicism publicly is against public order. Due PUBLIC worship is part of public order.

      Either way, though, the positive RIGHT of the individual is to hold truth, not error, and the negative right not to be disturbed is just a particular emanation of the principle of subsidiarity, and does not accrue to the error qua error but to the person qua non-disturbance to others. (Just as the civil order cannot GENERALLY prohibit ALL sins including those that don't disturb the civil order: some matters are - and must be - left to private determination.)

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    10. Tony,

      But doesn't it seem far more plausible to conclude that if the Church attempts to present both "X is true" and "X is not true" as authoritative that the Church has undermined its own authority and that thus neither "X is true" nor "X is not true" can be rationally accepted by appeal to the (pretended) authority?

      Doesn't your position undermine the purpose of authority by subjecting the Church's teaching to a private interpretation which can reject continuity even when the Church Herself claims continuity besides also making the indefectibility of the Church vacuous (I.e., "the Church can't teach error." But look, here the Church contradicted itself! "Well, no actually a contradiction can't be authoritative")?

      I'm reminded here of what Leo XIII says in his Literae Tuae of 1885 (https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/la/letters/documents/hf_l-xiii_let_18850617_la-vostra-lettera.html):

      "Ii qui inter diversa statuta, praesenti posthabito, praeteritum tenent, Eius auctoritati qui ipsos dirigendi ius et officium habet, obedientiae specimen neutiquam praebent: hi nimirum illis quodammodo assimilantur, qui damnati, futurum Concilium, aut Pontificem rem melius edoctum, appellare contendunt."

      (my translation):
      "Those who in the case of conflicting decrees choose the past one over the present are in no way giving proof of obedience to the authority of Him who has the right and office of directing them. Without doubt they in a certain way resemble those who, having been condemned, try to appeal to a future Council or to a Pontiff better informed on the matter"

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    11. @ Albinus

      Important correction: " that is, the state, acting as such (and NOT as the secular arm of the Church)."

      On this interpretation, DH is entirely compatible with the suppresion of deviant religious activity by both baptised and non-baptised individuals as historically practiced in Christendom as well as previous condemnations: as DH admits explicitly, it leaves untouched the doctrine of duties towards the Church on the part of individuals and societies.

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    12. Mancz Pompon,

      Yes, I am familiar with Thomas Pink on this matter. His is one of the best attempts I've seen at reconciliation. But I still think it falls far short, and misses the forest for the trees (though it has been some time since I've read him...I'm sure he has refined his position. I plan on revisiting his thought soon.)

      To put it simply. I cannot imagine Pius IX, say, or Gregory XVI agreeing to the contents of Dignitatis Humanae. In fact, I'm sure that they would view it with horror as they would the post-VII Church as a whole and would condemn DH as especially pernicious for daring to claim continuity with the Tradition. In my view, the theology and worldview (both implicit and explicit) expressed through a reading of the Syllabus of Errors (etc), and DH and the post-VII Church on the other are simply incompatible on a natural normal reading. To give just one example, I find it inconceivable that Pope Francis, or John Paul II, or really any of the new popes would teach with Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos:

      "This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. 'But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,' as Augustine was wont to say. When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly 'the bottomless pit' is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty" (https://www.papalencyclicals.net/greg16/g16mirar.htm).

      I do admit that it is possible to reconcile DH with the Tradition. In fact, I'd be very surprised if you couldn't. As Feser has pointed out here before, even "God does not exist" can be given an orthodox interpretation.

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    13. Albinus, those are good questions. First, as regards the quote from Literae Tuae: It regards decrees, i.e. juridic acts rather than teachings. In juridic acts, if a previous legislature said "do Y", and the new legislature says "don't do Y", then of course the later legislative decree trumps the former. And obedience requires following the latter. Commands can well contradict each other, and the authority to command is current.

      In teachings (if the earlier is presented as infallible), it is the reverse, because TRUTH cannot contradict truth. To make this clear, let me first clarify that prelates in the Church can teach "with authority" but still not teach "infallibly". The teaching "with authority" means the bishop or pope is not only asserting "X is true", but asserting it in a manner that requires us to conform our minds to it at least with religious assent (a lesser sort of compliance and submission of mind to the teaching authority), though potentially with stronger assent than that. Whereas, a teaching (from a pope or from an ecumenical council) that is presented in an infallible manner present X as being something to which we must conform our minds either with "divine and Catholic faith" or "firmly accepted and held" i.e. without reservations. The former, "religious assent", allows and provides room for reservations, that's its nature.

      If the Church teaches in an infallible way that "X is true", and later on some bishop or pope teaches in a manner that carries with it lesser authority (i.e. in a way that WOULD NOT be an infallible way of presenting it, even if about some other matter, i.e. so as to call for religious assent) that "X is not true", then the former teaching is controlling and the later teaching fails even to carry such authoritative stance it would have carried by its form, had it not contradicted earlier infallible teaching. The very nature of the earlier being "infallible" and "irreformable" requires just this result: a later teaching contradicting an earlier but more authoritative one is not authoritative even in the lesser way of requiring religious assent.

      The only real difficulty is if both the earlier teaching and the later teaching are presented as "authoritative" not in the infallible sense but in the sense that (ordinarily) would require religious assent. In that case, two points settle it: First, religious assent (and the obligation to give it) comes in degrees, stronger and weaker, depending on circumstances like (a) the strength with which the pope or bishop declares it, and (more importantly) how widely it is taught (locally or universally), over time (for centuries or a few years), and whether explicitly connected to the deposit of faith or not. Secondly: whether the later teaching makes any attempt to address the discrepancy, clarify the problem, distinguish cases and resolve, or (at least) explain why the former teaching cannot hold.

      You may object that the latter points STILL require the faithful to make judgments between teachings, but this is already implicit in the very fact that religious assent comes in degrees. In matters of degree, judgment calls are in the nature of the business. And in that judgment call, connectedness to the apostolic teaching carries a great deal of weight, so that - all other things being equal - if two teachings are presented as calling for religious assent, the one that has a longer history and greater connection to the apostolic teaching trumps a newer one.

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    14. @ Albinus

      Where do you think it fails, precisely?
      If all DH teaches is, essentially, that the state is not the requisite authority in matters of religion and has no business interfering in the exclusive province of the Church, what principled objection would any of these Pontiffs have? Why wouldn't they agree?

      Now, I propose that the contents of the declaration should be distingished from the declaration as an event: I myself find it very difficult to imagine these Pontiffs seeking to appease the modern world through - quite possibly intentionally - easily misinterpretable (chiefly on account of important omissions) formulations. However, that has no bearing on the meaning of the text as it stands, the only thing that properly belongs to the Magisterium. This declaration may very well be a reprehensible act, an act of mental reservation directed at the non-Catholic world, yet remain doctrinally sound.

      The same goes for the post-conciliar Popes and respective documents. The opinions/attitudes of the persons, as well as the uses to which their power is put are one thing; the documents themselves are quite another. Catholics have to heed the latter, not necessarily the former.

      P.S.

      I also think it may be worthwhile to review the exegetical portion of Dr. Pink's thesis. His argument is largely based on the documents in the immediate context of DH, in particular the conciliar relationes, and thus arguably not at all forced

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    15. Tony,

      I admit that the quote from Literae Tuae could be interpreted as only applying to juridic acts but I submit that such would be contrary to the spirit of what Leo is expressing (both in the quote itself and the surrounding context) as well as what other Popes and theologians have expressed when distinguishing sharply between the respective roles of the ecclesia docens and the ecclesia discens but I'm not sure I want to put forth the effort to prove this. :-)

      On assent. Granted there are degrees, but the assent that is due teaching X is determined not by private judgment of how X fits or doesn't fit in the Tradition but solely by the manifested mind of the Magisterium from which teaching X proceeds. Here is Lumen Gentium #25:

      "This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

      Note how assent here has nothing to do with how one judges the Pontiff's judgment to fit in with Tradition.

      Also see Donum Veritatis (nn. 28-31) which doesn't leave room for dissent but only allows the theologian to ask the Magisterium for further clarification.

      Besides if what you're saying is true, it would entail that it's impossible to know from a particular papal teaching how to assent to that teaching without knowing the entirety of the Church's tradition. It would destroy the unity of the Church since it would be up to each Catholic to determine for himself whether and how to assent to teaching X based on his own understanding of the Tradition.

      But you say that it's literally impossible to assent to X when one knows that not-X is infallibly true. Indeed, I admit that. So here are the remaining options:
      (1) Hold on to not-X while rejecting X. This seems to be your position but I believe it is contrary to the mind of the Church. (I mean, it's clearly contrary to the manifest mind and will of the current Pontiff if we're talking about the death penalty).
      (2) Hold on to X while rejecting not-X. This would be contrary to the mind of the Church just as much as #1 is.
      (3) Be open to the possibility that the new and old teachings are truly reconcilable and that you just haven't seen how yet (i.e., that you are mistaken in thinking they are contradictory). Ask the Magisterium to clarify. I submit that this is the only fully Catholic option that respects the laws of logic.
      (4) Recognize that the authority is unreliable (perhaps for reasons that transcend the current difficulty) and therefore withhold religious assent from both X and not-X (of course, one could still believe X or not-X on grounds that are other than religious assent to this authority). Just to clarify, this is where I am. With respect to the death penalty, I think it is justifiable based on natural law arguments.

      That's all I have time for at present so I'll stop here.


      Mancz Pompon,

      I will come back to this after I get the chance to look into Pink more. Thanks.

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    16. Albinus, your 4 options are fairly well laid out, so far as they go, but they still lack some depth necessary. For example, (A) it is admitted on all sides that the pope can err, (and past popes have erred), AND ALSO that others have the right and duty to bring this to his attention as an error, not merely "raising a question". This is what happened in the case of John XXII. Now, maybe only bishops and cardinals had that right, but the point is that apparently THEY WEREN'T bound to receive John's teaching in spite of past teaching being contrary.

      (B) The popes (and bishops, who ALSO speak with authority) speak often in guarded terms, seemingly intending NOT to require assent at all costs. Let's take as example what you mentioned: Francis changing the Catechism regarding the death penalty. Here, it may seem that he is being authoritative, but IN FACT (a) specific points in the Catechism hold only the authority they bear from the original sources that those points were taken from. And in changing 2267, Francis relied on: his own statements in a speech: "Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization - i.e. NOT a source that holds high authority. As you point out from Lumen Gentium, the pope's intent to bind can be known, in part, from the kinds of documents he uses to issue the teaching. JPII, in Evangelium Vitae, quite deliberately chose tentative language about the new ideas he was proposing about the death penalty, thus indicating that he did not intend to bind all to these new ideas. If a pope wants to be clear that he is intending to require people to reject a former teaching that was issued under N authoritative format, he has some obligation to at least match N if not supercede it.

      (C) While it is greatly important, as you suggest in (4), to keep open the possibility that one teaching that seems in conflict with another teaching can actually be reconciled, timing matters. It is one thing for two such truths, both received directly from Jesus and handed on through the Apostles: That Jesus is God, and that Jesus is man. It is another thing entirely when one teaching is explicit in the Church for 1500 years - through several changes in political and cultural milieu - and the other teaching is new. To some extent, the bishop or pope issuing the new teaching has some obligation toward manifesting the compatibility or continuity with the prior teaching, and the very attempt to issue a new teaching (apparently in conflict) WITHOUT any attempt at manifesting compatibility can be taken as instead manifesting no intent to bind the faithful to reject the former teaching in order to receive the new. And that this necessarily leaves the faithful free to "receive" the new teaching with the explicit reservation of "to the extent compatible with the old". And as long as no attempt is made to show that compatibility, their practical result will be to rely on the old until such time as the new can be manifested to have compatibility.

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    17. Tony, Dignitatis Humanae was clear: "Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation... in his [man's] very nature [this freedom is to apply to false as well as true religion]". The document further clarifies that this nature-based freedom applies to individuals accruing false as well as true religious principles (not exactly the main problem) and false religions in general. I can only repeat what I said before, that true religion cannot be broken up in segments, revealed or naturally known or whatever. Religion is one. Man has no nature-based right to choose what is wrong or false.

      Universal Church teaching is incompatible with a "right to toleration" or "right not to be disturbed" based on human nature. Toleration is based on prudence and implies that what is allowed has no real right.

      This doesn't mean that the secular pandemic of ignorance doesn't justify tolerance in most cases; of course it does. The profession of religious falsehood, however, is not just a private matter.

      What disturbs public order? Governments don't accept the personal use of certain drugs. While it might seems cruel to compare inoffensive-looking religions to this, it's worthwhile remembering that most religions, particularly those that have attacked the true religion, have as commitment to proselytism that ought not be tolerated by a government that honours the true religion. Why should the Philippines allow its 7% minority of Protestants to grow at the expense of the vulnerable? This is a matter for any government that wishes to acknowledge Christ.

      A country's civil society, like that of a family, can and should, where possible, acknowledge God and his Church and discourage all that works against it.

      This is not to confuse civil with religious authority, as Pink beguilingly claims. The family is not the Church. Does this mean children will be able to howl down their parents when called to attend evening rosary because their parents don't exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction?

      The fact that Catholics can entertain these debates tells us as lot about the confusion that has reigned since Vatican II. DH, as it stands, is textually responsible for this. The confusion won't be cleared up till the Church clarifies the document's meaning. The text favours, and in no uncertain terms, those who want rupture with what has been universally taught. Those who try to explain it all away by creating false interpretations of what the Church has always taught are not clever. There is no other way. The Church won't say "the universal Church was thought to have taught this but actually meant that"; it will say "what Vatican II has been held to have taught [freedom for false religion based on the dignity of human nature] actually meant what the Church has always taught - there is no right to toleration.

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    18. Tony,

      John XXII claimed that theologians were free to take sides on the matter. One of his famous sermons:

      "Dico cum Augustino, quod si decipior, hic qui melius sapit corrigat me. Michi aliud non videtur nisi ostenderetur determinatio ecclesie contraria vel auctoritates sacre scripture que hoc clarius dicerent quam dicant supradicta" (As quoted by Denifle (et al.) in Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis, n.970).

      My rough translation:
      "I say with Augustine that if I am deceived may he who knows better correct me. It doesn't seem otherwise to me, but let there be shown a contrary determination of the Church or authorities of sacred scripture which more clearly treat the matter than what I have said above"

      This is apples and oranges compared to Francis on capital punishment. Francis has not presented this as something up for discussion.

      Further, when the masters of theology at Paris wrote to John XXII they did not accuse him of error, but rather begged him in self-abasing language to use his Apostolic Authority to confirm the orthodox view on the beatific vision.

      It seems they had Donum Veritatis in mind. Heheh.

      I also disagree that an official address of the Pope is not a source of high authority. Anything from the Pope speaking qua Pope is a source of high authority. In any case, Francis also categorically rejects the death penalty in several other letters/addresses as well as his Encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

      By the way, note that in the John XXII case no one dismissed his teaching based on a papal sermon being of low magisterial authority. Also, nothing prevents the Pope from using a per se low level of authority document to teach with high authority. For example, John XXII could have attempted to bind the Church through a sermon. Hence my Lumen Gentium quote above: character of documents *OR* frequent repetition *OR* manner of speaking. Francis has made his mind and will manifest on the matter through his frequent repetition and manner of speaking.

      I agree that if a pope wants us to reject teaching X he must use an authority at least equal to that with which X was promulgated. But on Francis' account, he isn't asking you to reject the past teaching. He's asking you to accept the new teaching as an authentic development. Of course you say that the *effect* of this is to reject the past teaching. But that's only if you are unwilling to accept that there could be continuity, which of course is precisely what the Pope is asking you to do.

      Finally, in reference to (C), Francis *has* made an attempt at showing compatibility. His address referenced in the Catechism:

      "Here we are not in any way contradicting past teaching, for the defence of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death has been taught by the Church consistently and authoritatively. Yet the harmonious development of doctrine demands that we cease to defend arguments that now appear clearly contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth."

      You may say this is textbook Modernism. I wouldn't disagree. But it's what Rome is currently serving Catholics.

      While we're on the subject of higher authority trumping lower and the requirement that the Church explain itself before we can accept a new teaching, consider geocentrism. It probably has at least as much support in the Tradition as the legitimacy of capital punishment. For starters, heliocentrism was declared as "formally heretical" by the Holy Office. And yet, except for an appeal to astronomical observations, the Church offered no explanation in 1820 when it allowed Catholics to believe heliocentrism. So should we say that the higher trumps the lower and that since no suitable explanation was offered that Catholics are obliged to be geocentrists?

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    19. Pompon,

      So I read some more of Pink (2017 debate with Steven Wedgeworth as well as his 2021 reply to Thomas Stork).

      Ultimately I'm still not convinced of continuity.

      I don't think it's plausible to read DH as compatible with the idea that the Church can give the state coercive authority in religious matters. I see how Pink uses the relationes to come up with this, and I see how one might go about attempting to read DH through this lens, and I see that it is *possible* to do so, but I do not find it plausible at all.

      For example, DH n.12:
      "Thus the leaven of the Gospel has long been about its quiet work in the minds of men, and to it is due in great measure the fact that in the course of time men have come more widely to recognize their dignity as persons, and the conviction has grown stronger that the person in society is to be kept free from all manner of coercion in matters religious."

      Clearly, DH here views favorably the idea that coercion in religious matters is bad. It seems nonsensical to suggest that this is plausibly compatible with *Church sanctioned* religious coercion, even if the stated purpose of DH is to address a purely *civil* right and even if the background relationes say that the Council has no wish to address the Church's rights.

      Similarly for n.6:

      "If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice...It follows that a wrong is done when government imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious community."

      I think what we have with DH is a very conflicted document: (1) It explicitly claims to be compatible with previous Church teaching and the background relationes say it must be interpreted this way but (2)it actually is not plausibly compatible with previous Church teaching under a natural reading and (3) the Church when referencing DH over the past 50 years has pretty much acted and taught as if the old teaching on the evil of liberty of conscience and freedom of religion doesn't exist anymore.

      For me, being able to find an orthodox way to interpret DH is insufficient. It has to be plausible that the post-VII Popes and Church still believe and teach the doctrines believed by the old Popes in issuing the Syllabus of Errors, etc. And that's just not plausible, even if orthodoxy demands it.

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    20. I can only repeat what I said before, that true religion cannot be broken up in segments, revealed or naturally known or whatever. Religion is one. Man has no nature-based right to choose what is wrong or false.

      Miguel, I am not advocating anything like "breaking up" a religion into parts. Nevertheless, TRUTH can be broken up into distinct true propositions. And some true propositions about God and about religion can be known by the natural light of reason, without faith. And given that, governments can make rules against certain false religions that can be known to be false by the natural light of reason even without those governments having the benefit of the revelation given to the Jews and Christians, to the extent those false religions harm public order. It doesn't even take the government having the one true religion to do this.

      Universal Church teaching is incompatible with a "right to toleration" or "right not to be disturbed" based on human nature.

      I agree with you regarding there being no "right" to toleration, even the notion is oxymoronic. But please cite something that says so, regarding the latter. We hold civil governments have the obligation to keep its nose out of all sorts of matters that belong to individual judgment. While no person has a RIGHT to sin, no government has a RIGHT TO FORBID all sin. How do you characterize the latter state of affairs? I would not cast this in terms of a "right not to be disturbed" without adding in the qualifier "negative" to the term "right", for that's a different kind of right than a positive right to do an act.

      The principle of subsidiarity means that we leave some judgments, choices, and decisions in the hands of lower-level decision-makers (instead of at the level of the state), and it being a principle means we are obliged to so leave such choices in other hands than those of the state, it is not a mere policy or preference. If the state is obliged to NOT rule on X choice and thus let others do the choosing, then those others have some kind of ... what would you prefer to call it: "space", "allowance", "non-interference",...what term best expresses that fact that the state is not allowed to take over and make the choice FOR the others?

      This fact that the STATE is required to not make the choice at issue does not imply that OTHER entities cannot have a role, including a prohibiting role. A business manager can be free from government interference in a certain matter X, but still be obliged to follow prescriptions of "company policy" or the board of directors or the CEO. A parish may make demands on a parishioner that the state cannot impose. This condition, then, of situation X where it is specifically the state that has no role in deciding for an individual, but which does not impede other entities from having a role from constraining the individual, may then reasonably be referred to as a CIVIL "right" (that qualified, negative space, permission, allowance...) even if the person has no right to DO X from other causes than a state prohibition. This "civil right" or "civil space to choose" or "civil non-interference" is to be understood as saying there are no other causes of constraint forbidding act X - it may be forbidden by Dad, or by the natural moral law, or by the Rotary Club rules (if you are a member), or by the Church.

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    21. Typo. S.B.
      "civil non-interference" is NOT to be understood as saying...

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    22. @Albinus

      "I don't think it's plausible to read DH as compatible with the idea that the Church can give the state coercive authority in religious matters."

      I hope you will concede, at the very least, that the proviso in the beginning assures us that the document does not mean to deny the Church that right, which makes readings to the contrary at least presumptively unnatural.

      "Clearly, DH here views favorably the idea that coercion in religious matters is bad."

      I'd like o note that the first passage you quoted contains a lot of temporal indicators such as "has long been about", "in the course of time men have come", "has grown stronger" etc. These are clearly contingent matters. I suggest that this reveals the complex nature of the document: it is, first, doctrinal, in its teaching regarding the lack of any native power of the state to coerce in matters of religion, but it is also a policy decision, namely, setting the overall parameters of acceptable state action that were to take effect, including that of Catholic states. Given the peculiar theme of the Council, I think this is plausible reading: "the modern world of 'dem 60s being so, we decide etc."; the lack of explicit distinctions is also, I think, characteristic of the whole affair. Now, what the secular arm of the Church is empowered/comissioned to do is, of course, entirely up to the Church, per the traditional and "Leonine" division of powers. Thus, I submit, any apparent conflict is resolved without any ad hoc suppositions.

      This policy decision presupposes a very rosy picture of developments contemporaneous with the document (partly expressed in it), the degree to which they favoured the Faith, and what reaction they called for, that I agree it would be difficult to imagine previous Pontiffs to entertain. I personally find it rather baffling and profoundly depressing. However, again, this has no bearing on the orthodoxy of the document: it may be wrong in its assessment and yet remain orthodox.

      "It has to be plausible that the post-VII Popes and Church still believe and teach the doctrines believed by the old Popes in issuing the Syllabus of Errors, etc."

      Surely what the Church teaches is to be found in magisterial documents, not read off the way Popes and bishops act.

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    23. Surely what the Church teaches is to be found in magisterial documents, not read off the way Popes and bishops act.

      Mancz, I don't think that quite works. There is no definitive dividing line between "magisterial" and "non-magisterial" pronouncements, that works to always distinguish. Sometimes popes and bishops DO issue things that they don't want to be taken as "magisterial" because they are "proposing" or "considering" or "reflecting on" or "raising points for thought" or otherwise just plain exploring without teaching. But in some (not perfectly measurable) sense, every time a bishop thinks he is teaching, he is exercising the magisterial office, whether it is one-on-one with a member of his flock in his office, or in a sermon on Sunday, or a letter to the school principles in his diocese. Same with the pope: every time he is trying to teach, clarify, or urge a point of view because he is trying to assert "what the Church teaches" or "what the Gospel implies", he is acting magisterially - i.e. exercising the magisterial office. It doesn't have to be a document - as the example above of John XXII's sermons indicates.

      Now, if he is ill-educated and decides to spout off on a topic that he is actually ignorant of Church teaching, and says (in a teaching mode) something contrary to Church infallible teaching, then his attempt isn't magisterial because his magisterial authority is really the CHURCH's magisterial authority, in which he has a participatory capacity, and the Church's magisterial authority cannot contradict its own self.

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    24. But on Francis' account, he isn't asking you to reject the past teaching. He's asking you to accept the new teaching as an authentic development. Of course you say that the *effect* of this is to reject the past teaching. But that's only if you are unwilling to accept that there could be continuity, which of course is precisely what the Pope is asking you to do.

      @Albinus:

      I suggest that - as suggested earlier - when a pope (or bishop) says something that APPEARS contradictory to prior teaching, and claims that it is in continuity, that he bears the burden of either explaining the continuity OR of allowing that he is not imposing the duty to reject the former teaching in the sense formerly taught, and is merely PROPOSING a new idea which, when the continuity can be made manifested, may be imposed as binding teaching. It isn't adequate to merely wave hands and say "something mumble hocus-pocus mumble continuity mumble PRESTO: Coherence!" It becomes all the more necessary to explain, when the former teaching is folded into numerous other teachings that, all together, form a coherent systematic collected body of teaching that constitutes (figuratively) a ligament in the Church's fulsome theological explanation of herself (as does the body of teaching on punishment, which folds into the dogma of atonement and Christ's salvific sacrifice).

      Perhaps not in the least bit tangential or coincidentally, when the Relator for the schema for DH was asked to explain how the document was compatible with prior teaching, his reply was (more or less) that this was something that would have to be worked out in the future. One can hardly view such a thesis as a satisfactory way of developing doctrine. It represents either a wholly irresponsible way of handling the Church's teaching office and protection of its Tradition, or it represents a way of proposing new ideas for consideration and not for demanding conformity PRECISELY because it is unclear how the new ideas fit with Tradition. You can't simply assert that a new idea is compatible with Tradition and know you have it right, if you can't point to HOW it is so. Or at least indicate and suggest a possible way.

      "Here we are not in any way contradicting past teaching, for the defence of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death has been taught by the Church consistently and authoritatively. Yet the harmonious development of doctrine demands that we cease to defend arguments that now appear clearly contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth."

      And yet this claim IS directly contrary to the traditional teaching on the DP, that traditional teaching says that DP itself protects and upholds the dignity of human life, and that this is EXACTLY what Genesis 9:6 is telling us. You can't simply declare that Genesis 9:6 isn't telling us something about human dignity after a millennium of magisterial teaching says it is.

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    25. Tony, your example of governments making policy regarding religion on the basis of what is naturally known, without revelation, is really a hypothesis. It has never happened. Why bring it up? When Leo XIII speaks of the duties of government towards Christ and the Church, it’s obvious that he is not talking about a fictitious world of “natural religion”. Let’s leave such things for budding Isaac Asimovs. Of course religion has many components, just as the Creed does, but it’s one thing. The human body has recognisable parts, but when it’s dissected, or separated from the soul, death results. The same goes for the one religion God has revealed. It can’t be broken up and there is no other.

      Thomas Pink talks, for example, a lot about Leo XIII, Suarez and Bellarmine but professes an idea of religion that they (and Archbishop Lefebvre) would have consigned to the bonfire. For Pink, “religion” falling within the competence of the Church is “Not only Catholicism, not only revealed Christianity generally [heresies]… the worship owed to God just as naturally known creator…”. This last simply has not existed as a historical phenomenon (does he mean the Masons and their Great Architect?). Furthermore, he says “worship, even when practised in defective form, such as in polytheistic idolatry, ‘of its own nature’ belongs ‘to the worship of God’” and is within the competence of the Church. Perhaps witches’ sabbaths are not too defective to be placed within the Church’s “competence’ as well, in this view. The line cannot be drawn anywhere once one abandons the true religion as one and indivisible. Not surprisingly, Pink’s take on religious Dignitatis Humanae also goes down with the ship.

      Certainly Leo XIII had subsidiarity in mind when he asked that all levels of society acknowledge Christ, but its articulation requires that society’s head, its government, do likewise and in first place. To encourage the good and discourage the wrong is not about “forbidding all sin” of course. But the public profession of religious error and its propagation have an immediate social bearing. As you agree, government can act on this in the right circumstances. No Catholic should say it never can.

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    26. Pompon,

      I assume by the proviso you mean this of course:

      "Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ."

      Actually, no, re-reading and thinking over this, I don't think DH means to leave open the possibility of the Church using the Sate to repress false religions. Rather, I think DH is contrasting a positive moral duty toward Catholicism with freedom from religious coercion and is saying that the traditional moral duty remains but that this duty should not be seen as entailing religious coercion. I.e., people should still recognize Catholicism as true--indeed, they have a moral duty to do so--but in doing so no force should be used to put down false sects. People should be left to follow their own conscience in the matter, even if they are in error, provided they aren't gravely harming society. Why? Because they have a right based on human dignity to do so. I think that's the gist of DH.

      "Surely what the Church teaches is to be found in magisterial documents, not read off the way Popes and bishops act."

      To an extent, yes, but I don't think we can completely separate act from teaching (though teaching certainly takes precedence over act in theological significance). For example, say the Pope has an ambiguous teaching on fornication. Say further that he presents himself regularly with his mistress, fathers children with her and acts publicly as Pope as if all is well on this front. I'd say his acts are not irrelevant to his magisterial teaching but give a clue as to how it should be interpreted, i.e., that he meant to teach that fornication is not necessarily bad (or perhaps the Pope is simply a hypocrite).

      Similarly, a lack of action / teaching can also give insight into the nature of the teaching. For example, if the Popes over a period of 50 years were to insist ad nauseam about the right to religious freedom without also drawing attention to the fact that false religions should ideally by suppressed by the State acting as an agent of the Church.

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    27. Tony,

      I agree that, as a matter of natural reason, we need to demand coherence and I see the rationale for your position (i.e., only accept the new to the extent that private judgment can see it as compatible with the old), it's just that I don't think this approach is something that the Church Herself approves of. It seems to me, rather, that the Church demands assent regardless of ones ability to understand how teaching X squares with teaching Y and regardless of whether the Church offers a compelling reason for the compatibility of teaching X with teaching Y.

      On the DP specifically, I think what Francis is saying is that continuity should be sought at the level of fundamental Church teaching on the dignity of human life rather than on the obviously mutually exclusive practical applications of that teaching that we observe when comparing Francis' approach to the traditional one. For Francis, the Church's acts have always proceeded from consideration of human dignity, it's just that now we have a greater understanding of this dignity, which leads us to take a superior approach. I personally think this is a shocking endorsement by the Pope of Modernism and thus calls into serious question the credibility of the Church, but I also think that if one is committed to Catholic principles there isn't much that can be done beyond asking the Pope for greater clarification on how to understand the new teaching. For example: "Dear Pope, how are we to understand your teaching without (1) embracing Modernism or (2) accusing the Church of promoting grave error for centuries or (3) accusing you of having stained the See of Peter with abominable error without hardly a peep from the Successors of the Apostles? Thanks."

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    28. Tony, your example of governments making policy regarding religion on the basis of what is naturally known, without revelation, is really a hypothesis. It has never happened. Why bring it up? When Leo XIII speaks of the duties of government towards Christ and the Church, it’s obvious that he is not talking about a fictitious world of “natural religion”.

      Miguel, it is unnecessary to arrive at the the Catholic Church as a a specific juridic entity in order to have true religion. Some old-school theologians have interpreted the Fathers to understand that there had been an unbroken line of true teaching about God, running from Adam, through Enoch to Noah and thence to Abraham, such that each of these patriarchs worshiped the one true God in truth, even though God had not yet founded a covenantal society (such as the Church) or a revealed "religion" as a concerted body of doctrine. But He did do this with Moses. So, the Jews after Moses worshiped the one true God under the ceremonies handed to Moses and Aaron - while OTHERS (outside the Hebrews) who also received sufficient truth from the same patriarchal sources could also worship God truly (if not perfectly). The devout Jews of the post-Babylon dispersion (i.e. the Jews in Persia, Ethiopia, Rome, and Spain) who worshiped God, in the period between the first Pentecost and when missionary Christians reached them (sometimes centuries later) worshiped God in truth, even though they did not visibly belong to the Christian Church.

      But further: St. Thomas points out generically (i.e. true at all times and places) that when a youth (outside of the reach of preaching by Christians) reaches the age of reason, and first reasons to his final end, if he adheres to the "due end" (i.e. God), he receives sanctifying grace, and is thus a member of the Church (invisibly) even without clear and explicit understanding of the one true God in all of the details He is known by (neither the full range of truth known by revelation nor the limited range of truth known to natural theology); and consequently if the youth then wholly submits himself to this proper due end to the extent known he is practicing true religion to that extent. He may have admixture of error - he may not understand explicitly that God is triune, or that God is unchanging - but such error does not make his submission to God as known false and evil religion. (Indeed, few Catholic youths of age 7 understand that God is unchanging, while worshiping the one true God rightly.) St. Thomas argues that such a youth WILL also receive from God a gift of truth (after all, with sanctifying grace he has the theological virtue of faith), but (like with Christian youths visibly members of the Church) he may not hold certain specific true religious propositions - he may be a material heretic while being in a state of grace. Aquinas refrains from stating a minimum set of true propositions that he MUST hold explicitly to be in such a state, and I doubt that any magisterial teaching has settled such a point. I presume (and I think this is what the Church said about the matter before VII, also) that while God will allow such a youth to be a material heretic in some elements of the truth (as He permits for Catholic youths also), He will guide and protect him from certain extremes of error by either internal light or by external sources like teachers.

      So, because such a youth has sanctifying grace he IS a member of the Church, his worship in accord with the truth that he holds IS PARTICIPATING in the true religion. His lack of knowledge of Christ's salvific sacrifice may make his worship incomplete, but not utterly false (which was also true of devout Jews before Christ, and the patriarchs before Abraham and Moses).

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    29. Tony, I was surprised at some of your assertions here. Men are certainly required now to embrace the Church to have the (with or without the article, there is no difference) true religion. In the distant past, Adam, Enoch and Noah did not form a Church of course, but were they certainly a continuity of revealed religion. We know God spoke to them. But we have absolutely no information to suggestion they were philosophers. Indeed, while certain classical philosophers were able to arrive at some truths about God, they seem to have been allergic to worshipping him, practicing religion. To imagine that God allowed the world nothing better than the endless speculations (and mistakes) of such men for eons, instead of what we know through the OT, is truly alien. Something out of an Asimov novel.

      The patriarchs constitute what we know of the continuity of revelation from the first man onward. There may have been others of course. This primitive revelation is still present in false religions mixed with many errors. These religions are not what was taught and practiced by the Patriarchs of course. I’m not sure if you are comparing them to these things. The religion of those Hebrews who were waiting for Christ in lands which Christian missionaries took time to reach were not in the same situation as members of false religions that had incorporated elements of truth from half-forgotten primitive revelation.

      Your comparison of the ignorant Catholic and the good-willed person outside the Church isn’t valid. The baptism of desire certainly exists but such people do not belong to the body of the Church; they are invisible members. Whatever religion they practice is not the true religion because this religion is indivisible. We have no idea of the number of invisible members. We simply cannot judge this. We don’t know. What we know for sure is that their belonging to the Church is not predicated on the non-Catholic religions they happen to be in but on their good will. Catholics, even bad Catholics or Catholics who believe falsehoods, are part of the body of the Church, and it takes very determined effort to get out of in in fact, whether that seems fair or not. The Vatican statisticians give us the count every year.

      There is a very unfortunate confusion which John Paul II contributed to. He espoused a notion of the Church which, while not being merely equal to other religions, was “the Royal Road” compared to other religions which he said God could use as “a means of salvation” – a terrible expression, because we know that people are saved in, and not by other religions. There is only one religion. It can’t be dissected without killing it. No “bits” of it live anywhere except as part of its body. Truths can be present anywhere in different degrees, but the adage bonum ex integra causa etc. applies here as nowhere else. Otherwise those poor deluded well-meaning old ladies at Sabbaths would be entitled to a right based on human nature to follow their conscience. If that’s true, then they can also fly on brooms, next to the pigs.

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    30. Otherwise those poor deluded well-meaning old ladies at Sabbaths would be entitled to a right based on human nature to follow their conscience.

      So, you're saying that when devout, holy Jews in Alexandria, in the year 35 AD, before Christians reached Alexandria, continued to worship God the same way as Mary and Joseph had worshiped God in the year 10 BC, that was false religion because it was not worship in the Christian religion?

      Their consciences were rightly formed and invested in the single TRUE religion to the extent then available to them. They were merely lacking recent updates, that the hoped-for Messiah had indeed come, and saved. It is impossible that their acts of worship became evil by lacking such information. What was holy and pleasing to God before Christ died did not become unholy the next day. (The sacrifices of the Jews had ALWAYS been pleasing to God only by and as referred to (and types of) the coming sacrifice of the Son, and these acts remained so to these holy Jews.)

      What we know for sure is that their belonging to the Church is not predicated on the non-Catholic religions they happen to be in but on their good will.

      What we know is that everyone who has sanctifying grace has it because of the merits of Christ crucified, are adopted sons of God, and therefore are members of His Body, and therefore are members of the one true Church. So also was Abraham and Noah and even Melchisedek, though they did not have the many specifics of religion prescribed to Moses. The latter is described as a priest of the Most High God, and is recognized as such by Abraham, (Abram at the time), and yet he was a priest-king of Canaanites. If he worshiped in a way pleasing to God, it was because of personal revelation, because there was as yet no formal (public) revelation which specified such forms. As, indeed, is suggested by the sacrifices by Abram also.

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    31. I think what Francis is saying is that continuity should be sought at the level of fundamental Church teaching on the dignity of human life rather than on the obviously mutually exclusive practical applications of that teaching that we observe when comparing Francis' approach to the traditional one.

      When the traditional view is that human dignity is being UPHELD by DP, it is inadequate for a pope to base his new teaching (with a contradictory practical outcome) on a "consistent view of fundamental human dignity" and provide no specification (at all) of HOW that "fundamental human dignity" implies the new, contradictory outcome, and to deliver this new teaching in a format far less authoritative than the prior teachings in favor of DP, and yet intend to bind consciences to conform to the new idea by that format along with rejecting the former conclusion. Its contradiction in outcome, ALONG WITH no attempt whatsoever to disturb the actual content of the former understanding of human dignity, leave the less-authoritative approach empty of any effective force. It is roughly like saying this:

      "we used to teach that A implies B, and B implies C, and therefore A implies C. But now we know that D implies 'some idea' we know not what. We have a feeling that the 'unknown idea' implies not-C but we know not why. Therefore D implies not-C - if we are right about the nature of 'some unknown idea'. And this 'some unknown idea' is well-conformed to our prior understanding of A, B, and C."

      It's not just that we have good reason to withhold assent to the second "syllogism" (if one could call it that), it is that the latter doesn't even have enough CONTENT to be assented to.

      On a personal note, I did actually send a letter to my bishop, effectively asking "how are we to understand this" about the DP and a papal attempt to "teach" on it. His response (through his staff theologian) was effectively that the pope's teaching was a judgment of the prudential order (i.e. about which religious assent is not called for), though he prettily disguised the comments so that it wasn't obvious that's what he was saying. Now, I am not positive that Francis thought that's what he was doing, but it IS one way out of the thicket. And even if the bishop is wrong, if the pope cannot be clear enough that the bishops and theologians understand what he is doing, then (arguably) he isn't being clear enough to evoke the obligation of religious assent anyway. (And the bishops ALSO teach authoritatively, not just the pope.)

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    32. Tony,

      Agreed that it is woefully inadequate. Well said. Anyone aware of the Church's traditional position on the DP should, at the very least, be highly disturbed by Francis' new teaching. As Cardinal Avery Dulles once said (as quoted in Owens (et al.), Religion and the Death Penalty):

      "The reversal of a doctrine as well established as the legitimacy of capital punishment would raise serious problems regarding the credibility of the magisterium"

      I would dispute your statement that Francis' teaching is "far less authoritative than the prior teachings". I count at least A DOZEN official acts of Pope Francis that directly address the DP, including several interventions *specifically on the subject* (rather than just passing references). Moreover and most importantly, Francis does *not* treat the subject as something up for discussion but rather as definitive and necessary Church teaching that all are obliged to assent to. I challenge you to find similar treatment in the papal magisterium that supports the traditional doctrine.

      Granted, I concede that there is more than enough in the traditional papal magisterium and the Tradition as a whole to conclude that the legitimacy of capital punishment is irreversible, it's just that we're still left with the very authoritative statements of Francis that contradict this, such as:

      "The revision of the text of the Catechism in the article dedicated to the death penalty does not imply any contradiction with past teaching, because the Church has always defended the dignity of human life. However, the harmonious development of doctrine necessarily requires that the Catechism reflect the fact that, despite the gravity of the crime committed, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is always inadmissible because it offends the inviolability and dignity of the person.
      [...]
      I assure you that I will continue to work together with you for the abolition of the death penalty. The Church is committed to this [...].

      It is a cause to which all men and women of good will are called, and a duty for we who share the Christian vocation of Baptism.
      (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. 17 Dec 2018).

      Sounds to me like a definitive statement by the Pope on Church teaching, seen by the Pope as creating an obligation on all the faithful.

      Just imagine if instead of condemning the DP, Francis had used such strong language in *support* of the DP. Instead of minimizing or denying the Pope's authority here, Catholics would instead be praising Francis for the most definitive papal statement in history on the DP and as proof of God's guidance of the Church!

      P.s. Good for you on writing your bishop. I don't think it's plausible at all to read Francis' teaching as merely of the prudential order, but I understand why Catholics would feel forced to that conclusion. I think he's being very clear in demanding religious assent, it's just that to a faithful Catholic it seems impossible without denying some essential aspect of Catholicism. So I totally get it and sympathize, but I think there is a far more plausible (though also more painful) solution.

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    33. Tony, I confess that you continue to surprise me. I would have thought it was obvious that all those who worshipped in the one true religion of the OT worshipped in our religion. Plainly this doesn’t apply to the ladies at Sabbaths, or even the Salvation Army. In the Old Testament men worshipped as they were instructed by God. There was no question of degrees of belonging to the true religion in the OT, a record of God speaking. The Hebrews who waited for the Christian missionaries did not hold a collection of mostly or completely true propositions – they were His people, as Christians are now. They were a visible body, holding the true faith revealed to them. In the NT, this characteristic was lost if and when they refused the Gospel as it was presented to them. Their worship is subject to those appointed by their Messiah to lead them in the Church just as it is for us – the liturgy can be changed, in a reasonable manner.

      The same applies to us now, as Pius XII says in Mystici Corporis: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptised and profess the true faith”; “… they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible… by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are untied by an invisible bond”; “We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical”. Of course this does not negate the kind of belonging of those who have baptism of desire, a belonging that has to do with the “soul” of the Church. Non-Catholic religious religious communities don’t fall into this category; it is an individual question of which we are absolutely ignorant. Just as the God we worship is personal, his Church is not an abstraction or a collection of propositions, but a visible body on earth.
      Noah, Abraham (and Adam) couldn’t have had many of the specifics of the religion of Moses because they lived at different times. But they are the true religion and form part of public revelation because the Church recognises them as such. The identity of Melchisedek is mysterious, but the fact that the true religion recognises him would remove from him the condition of someone who has private revelations. The OT doesn’t tell us everything; what it does tell us concerning the true religion is clear. After Christ, there are no more prophets, no possible “revelation” outside what the Church proclaims. The situation is different. We won’t find any Melchisedeks in Tibet or the Amazon. The bits of truth that exist in everything from the Salvation Army to the cacklers at Sabbaths do not justify toleration based on the natural right to profess the true religion, because that religion is one and indivisible.

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    34. @Albinus

      “Actually, no, re-reading and thinking over this, I don't think DH means to leave open the possibility of the Church using the Sate to repress false religions.”


      I struggle to see how it can fail to do so, given that the traditional doctrine certainly involves the duty of men to, say, accept rightfully enacted sentences by ecclesiastical tribunals, that of civil society to render itself available to the Church as her secular arm etc. etc. It is taught infallibly by, e.g., Leo X in Exsurge Domine that the execution of heretics is per se legitimate, i.e. something the Church has a right to do, with corresponding duties on the part of the state and the criminal. For other representative loci, please see:

      https://thejosias.com/2015/01/01/vatican-ii-and-religious-liberty-ii/

      The “moralis officium” isn’t specified to be mere acceptance of Catholicism as true; in fact, the document even distinguished between the true religion and the Church as the two subjects of respective rights. The document assures us that the traditional Catholic doctrine is left untouched. I suggest we trust the ipsissima verba here, rather than what appears to be subjectively plausible in light of external (not to mention subsequent) factors. The “contrasting” reading that you propose renders the statement as such false, which makes your reading forced and unnatural.

      “To an extent, yes, but I don't think we can completely separate act from teaching (though teaching certainly takes precedence over act in theological significance). For example, say the Pope has an ambiguous teaching on fornication. Say further that he presents himself regularly with his mistress, fathers children with her and acts publicly as Pope as if all is well on this front. I'd say his acts are not irrelevant to his magisterial teaching but give a clue as to how it should be interpreted, i.e., that he meant to teach that fornication is not necessarily bad (or perhaps the Pope is simply a hypocrite).”

      I don’t see precisely how this is relevant, apart from considerations of fittingness: the behaviour is enough to constitute grave scandal (so yes, manifest hypocrisy is present, certainly), but is clearly not an act of teaching, as it does not involve the assertive faculty at all. The basis for our concern for what pastors teach is after all “Qui vos audit, me audit”, not “Qui vos observat, me observat” :)


      “Similarly, a lack of action / teaching can also give insight into the nature of the teaching. For example, if the Popes over a period of 50 years were to insist ad nauseam about the right to religious freedom without also drawing attention to the fact that false religions should ideally by suppressed by the State acting as an agent of the Church.”

      I happen to share your impression that post-conciliar Popes may not be altogether enthusiastic “hard integralists”, to say the least. However, apart from noting that nothing pertinent seems to follow from this – again, we’re bound to be follow by papal teaching, not papal convictions and affections – I think that this is in fact a “weak” argument from silence, given today’s politics. After all, unlike the second half of the 19th century, we hardly have any Catholic states left (apart from Costa Rica what we have left are a couple of European microstates) and even fewer candidates for conversion (that is, none), whereas the preferred policy towards other religions is that of ecumenism, not repression.

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    35. “Similarly, a lack of action / teaching can also give insight into the nature of the teaching. For example, if the Popes over a period of 50 years were to insist ad nauseam about the right to religious freedom without also drawing attention to the fact that false religions should ideally by suppressed by the State acting as an agent of the Church.”

      I happen to share your impression that post-conciliar Popes may not be altogether enthusiastic “hard integralists”, to say the least. However, apart from noting that nothing pertinent seems to follow from this – again, we’re bound to be follow by papal teaching, not papal convictions and affections – I think that this is in fact a “weak” argument from silence, given today’s politics. After all, unlike the second half of the 19th century, we hardly have any Catholic states left (apart from Costa Rica what we have left are a couple of European microstates) and even fewer candidates for conversion (that is, none), whereas the preferred policy towards other religions is that of ecumenism, not repression.

      What would occasion a positive reiteration of an ideal so far removed from being humanly realisable? Ceteris paribus, DZ-Sch. is replete with teachings no longer reiterated on a regular basis/at all recently. I’m not at all troubled by the lack of any recent condemnations of, say, Jansenism or the absence of specifically anti-Jansenist teachings, and I fully expect you to concur, even though the theology of grace, the matter generically at issue in the controversy, is something that does receive treatment in modern papal teaching. It’s just not altogether relevant, and the same arguably goes for the possible repression of false religions by non-existent Catholic states at the discretion of the Church should she wish to so instruct them.

      Don’t mistake me, I am personally quite given to nostalgic reminiscing and doctrinaire fantasising about the res publica Christiana, the Holy Roman Empire and the good old days/our glorious reactionary future. I’d be quite amazed if a Pope reigning under present conditions bothered to even mentally advert to any of this, however, for entirely plausible reasons. Strictly speaking, the issue of what to do about other religions is eminently practical: in an ideal world, they wouldn’t even exist, nor are they a negative reality integral to the divine economy (as opposed to sin as such, say), so the issue is not even of prime speculative interest.

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    36. Pompon,

      Yes, it would be natural to assume that "morale officium" implies also the Church's coercive power except that the rest of DH makes this interpretation implausible. See, again, DH n.6:

      "It follows that a wrong is done when government imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious community."

      You say that what DH really means here is that the state doesn't have from itself the authority to repress religious communities and that this is compatible with the state actually repressing false religions by means of authority from the Church, but the text above, and DH as a whole, is clearly not what a rational honest Teacher would say if he wished to leave open this possibility. You yourself even admitted earlier that perhaps DH is just a big mental reservation, which shows I think that you also recognize this.

      If the texts are just mental reservations, then what other Church documents might do this? The purpose of the Magisterium is to teach clearly, not to give us texts that we have to twist ourselves into pretzels over. A Magisterium that cannot be trusted to speak clearly is hardly more credible than one that contradicts itself.

      This is a similar situation to the death penalty fiasco. In both cases, a seemingly new teaching is offered based on human dignity while simultaneously claiming continuity. If one approaches the changes as a devout Catholic, then *of course* the most plausible reading is that there is continuity. To admit no continuity is to contradict the Magisterium which is not compatible with being a devout Catholic.

      But, if one attempts to look at the situation as an outsider, then it's clear that what is happening is the promulgation of ambiguous (at best) texts that claim continuity but that would never be issued by a divinely guided institution that actually believed the traditional teachings, wanted to preserve coherence in its teachings, and wanted its followers to not be misled.

      >>"I don’t see precisely how this is relevant, apart from considerations of fittingness..."

      But my point was not that the fornicating Pope's acts were formal teaching acts but that his behavior could lessen ambiguity in his formal teaching on the matter. This is just common sense. Perhaps a better example though would be a Pope who gave an ambiguous teaching on the death penalty while simultaneously overseeing executions in the Papal States. His actions help give his teaching a determinate meaning, no?

      >>"I’m not at all troubled by the lack of any recent condemnations of, say, Jansenism..."
      Indeed, that's fine. But what would not be fine would be if the Church were to teach something now that seemed to approve of Jansenism but that which needed to be interpreted as compatible with condemning Jansenism simply because the Church also said that it doesn't mean to overturn its traditional teachings (regardless of whether Jansenism is a current threat). Similarly for religious freedom. It's not that I think the Church needs to constantly today remind us of Her right to use the State to repress false religions, it's that if the Church is going to teach about religious freedom, then under pain of undermining its own credibility, it must do so in a way that makes it clear how this is in continuity with traditional doctrine.

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  11. @ Albinus,

    "[...] the post-VII Church also tends to give support to ideas that contradict its traditional teachings."

    Well if you wave your arms a lot and begin with your own biases and presumptions.

    Otherwise, no.

    Tom Cohoe

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    1. You want a rhyme,Journey?
      "Pray, Pay and Obey." That's what some pre-Vatican II Catholics are called now. But I still miss the Latin Mass, and I miss the astutely learned Domincans and Jesuits who taught me in college.
      The times, the country and the church are different now, but the Word of Endures forever.

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  12. Isn't there an inconsistency in Catholic teaching here though? Catholics are supposed to put religion before politics, however there is supposed to be religious freedom rather than a theocracy so Catholics have the advantage of exercising their religion in a liberal democracy which can really only be run by non-Catholics or Catholics who don't take their religion seriously?

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    1. First, there doesn't seem to be, on its face, a contradiction between having religious freedom and being a "theocracy" (though really, it ought to be called integralism, since we don't advocate for priests to become political rulers). One can have a state that favors the church, enforces legislation based on Christian morality (such as Blue Laws), and still respects the rights of non-Catholic religions within reason.

      Second, according to Vatican II, it's non-Catholic states that ought to respect the kind of religious freedom you're talking about. Catholic states - that is, states that act as an instrument of the Church - have no reason to uphold religious freedom as an absolute ideal. The only reason the non-Catholic state is bound by those rules is because the state as a perfect society only has authority over temporal matters, not spiritual ones.

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    2. A priest governs a theocracy. So although Monaco is a Catholic kingdom with a Catholic sovereign, he's not a theocrat.

      In the 1930s, Antonio Salazar, a devout Catholic, governed Portugal when it was still officially Catholic. At first, he governed as an authoritarian conservative before his country became more democratic. After he outlawed Catholic divorce, the country's Catholic marriage rate skyrocketed to about 92 percent when Catholics knew they weren't even allowed to apply for a divorce. But Salazar still wasn't theocratic.

      The Catholic doctrine about Christ's social reign requires Catholic societies to make Catholicism their official religion. And their laws need to be compatible with what the Bible and the Church teach about faith and morality. Still, the Church lets any Catholic society choose the kind of government that's best for it. No socialism and no communism.

      In a Catholic society, non-Catholics may practice their religions because the Church teaches that it's immoral to force anyone to become Catholic. But the social-reign doctrine says that Catholicism is the only religion anyone has a God-given right to practice. That's why the doctrine distinguishes between religious freedom and religious tolerance. In fact, Vatican II's religious liberty is a novelty partly because Fr. John Courtney Murray patterned it after American religious liberty when he wrote Dignitatis Humanae.

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    3. "In a Catholic society, non-Catholics may practice their religions because the Church teaches that it's immoral to force anyone to become Catholic": No. That's not the reason. The fact that people should not be compelled to profess the Faith does not mean they have a right to profess a false Faith, or can never be prevented from doing so in public. This confusion is repeated ad nauseam by otherwise erudite defenders of new notions of religious liberty who have held sway since The Council.

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    4. In fact, Vatican II's religious liberty is a novelty partly because Fr. John Courtney Murray patterned it after American religious liberty when he wrote Dignitatis Humanae.

      Bill, arguably, although Murray's initial draft was simply patterned after American religious "liberty", and (may have) imbibed a bit of the Americanist heresy, there were important emendations to that draft text that qualified and adjusted the sense of the text to rid it of any unambiguous heresy. Karol Wojtyla was responsible for certain critical changes. The resulting text, while certainly retaining some ambiguities, can be read as in conformity with prior doctrine, by rightly reading an expansive sense of "public order" into its many uses of that phrase to qualify the meaning of the liberty it promotes. Public order, for example, can include public worship by the state and not solely by individuals.

      By attaching the declaration that the document agrees with past teaching, the Council Fathers formally mandated that we READ the text in a way that conforms to prior teaching where possible, and thus forces us to settle ambiguities in a certain direction. The only way one could find that DH holds true "novelty" (in the sense of contradicting prior teaching) would be finding that DH simply cannot be read in a way that is consistent with prior teaching. But by distinguishing between the positive right to hold TRUTH, and the negative right to not be disturbed (where holding non-truth) except when that disturbs public order - as I provided above - it is indeed possible to read DH as compatible with prior teaching.

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  13. Error has no rights but erroneous people do. Vatican II correctly teaches there are moral limits as to how far a confessional state or any state can go to suppress the erroneous religious activities of religions other than the One True Religion.

    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=209

    Sure it is not in anyway intrinsically immoral for a Catholic Confessional State to restrict other religions in their boarders but we can just some restrictions are imprudent perhaps gravely so in a modern pluralist society that is not (yet) majority Catholic.

    There is no dogma that says Dictatorships or Absolute Monarchies are bad governments intrinsically but that doesn't mean having them is a good idea.

    Theoretical Slavery unlike Chattel Slavery is as Pius IX said "not contrary to the natural or moral law" but that doesn't mean it is a good idea to have it.

    Religious liberty vs Religious tolerance? A distinction without a difference. Plus what constitutes a "confessional state" is relative IMHO.

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    1. Son of Ya'Kov, popes confuse me when they say “Error has no rights.” I've read some Catholic articles assuring me that people have rights, though errors don't. That makes sense, I suppose, if only persons can have rights. But I wonder whether “Error has no rights” means that no one has a right to believe or spread falsehoods.

      Is religious liberty religious tolerance? To me, they seem different partly because of what tolerance is in itself.

      I suggest that we tolerate when we allow something we don't like because we want to get a great good or prevent a greater evil. If I play my favorite opera CD at 3/4 volume with my audiophile stereo system, maybe my neighbors won't tell me to turn it down or call the police on me. But they're not going to enjoy a “concert” everyone in my neighborhood can hear. And I'd be rude to disturb the peace. My landlord might even evict me if I disturb it severely enough and often enough.

      But today, American leftists tell me I'm intolerant because I think “gay sex” is always immoral. They seem to believe that to tolerate what someone else does, I need to approve of it or at least not disapprove of it.

      In my opinion, moral liberty is the ability to do what is good, not a legal right to do anything I want to do when it won't harm anyone else. I'm not a libertarian. I'm a counter-revolutionary throne-and-altar conservative. That's partly why I'm against classical liberalism and liberal democracy.

      My politics doesn't affect my religion. My religion determines my politics. To me, the Catholic faith is much more important than my American citizenship could ever be. Someday, the United States will be no more. But the Church Triumphant will last forever. Will I join it? Maybe not. If I die outside the Church, my new environment will make an arc welder's arc seem cold.

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    2. Better late than never.

      Objectively nobody has a right to believe moral or theological error before God but persons have to freely come to the conclusion that they are in error and correct themselves.

      Then there is the matter of a the public good. Two adult men living together as lovers thought morally odious is none of my affair if they are not hurting me. As long as I have the freedom to politely tell them what they are doing is wrong then that is lovely. But to me it is extreme to put them in jail or for the other side to force me to call their relationship a "marriage" or morally legitimate in anyway.

      Unless yer gonna put the King-Over-the-Water on the Throne of Scotland then all other Monarchs and Monarchies can go hang. I have little use for that drosh. But yer entitled too yer political views. I dina care and I dina fash.

      Being Catholic is more important than anything but I see no good in a Catholic State other than it will corrupt the Church and She gets along fine without the government.

      There are moral limits as to how far even a confessional state may go to restrict false religion. But we don't always need one at least not a formal one. I am all for an informal one.

      Republican Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.

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    3. I don't think this has anything to do with controlling others or playing theoretical games that are not essential to the Faith. It really doesn't matter what you or I think. The Church has always taught that all should bend the knee at the name of Christ. Not realistic now? Not realistic in the first century? In the twenty seventh? It's not our problem. This is Christianity, which nobody forces us to. To abandon the insistence on the prerogatives of the Church, and the rights of truth, especially in the face of dominant liberalism, strikes at the core of what it means to be Christian - and this core has never changed. Those for whom Christianity is a hobby they enjoyed but are now a bit bored with had better get used to it. Chesterton put it well in The Everlasting Man:

      "... the early Church... was important while it was still insignificant, and certainly while it was still impotent. It was important solely because it was intolerable; and in that sense it is true to say that it was intolerable because it was intolerant. It was resented, because, in its own still and almost secret way, it had declared war. It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy all that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it. It dared to look right through it as though the gold and marble had been glass. Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were at least far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbours, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild."

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  14. Miguel, I said that in a Catholic society, non-Catholics may practice their religions because the Church teaches that it's immoral to force anyone to become Catholic. But I never even hinted that was the only reason.

    I believe God wants everyone to be Catholic. In fact, it seems to me, non-Catholic religious people belong to sects that can't get them to heaven. If they get there, they'll do that despite their religions, not because of them. That's probably why Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton distinguishes between being a member of the Church, i.e., a Catholic, and being in the Church as a nonmember of it. See his book "The Catholic Church and Salvation," which he wrote during or soon after Vatican II.

    But let me say a little more about why it's wrong to force anyone to be Catholic. It's wrong, partly because people should adopt the Faith freely. If someone, at gunpoint, "Convert, or I'll shoot," he may convert to save his life. But will he convert sincerely? I don't know.
    You know, I'm sure, that in a Catholic society, the government has a right, though not a duty, to suppress non-Catholic worship to protect Catholics from false doctrines. But sometimes the Church needs to tolerate something bad because suppressing it would cause worse trouble.

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    1. That is close to my view with some qualifications but no force should be applied to conversion in any circumstances. BTW in all cases the persons with the gun to his head will not convert sincerely. Either Grace moves him to be Catholic or forget it.

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  15. Tony, maybe you're right in saying that there's a way to remove the ambiguity and show that DH is compatible with what the Church has always taught. Though I'd love to agree with you, I need to explain why I still need convincing.

    First, I wish someone would tell me the difference between public order and the common good to answer Fr. Gaudron's point about Islamic terrorism. Second, how can Vatican II's religious liberty be a natural, God-given right grounded in human dignity if it's objectively sinful to practice a non-Catholic religion? Third, what do some pre-Vatican-II popes mean by the phrase “religious liberty” when they condemn religious liberty? Fourth,II's religious liberty is orthodox, why did Pope John Paul II appeal to the council when he defended the Assisi Meetings? How about the Pachamama event? Did Pope Francis defend it by citing Vatican II?

    I'm sorry, my friend. It seems to me that if Vatican II is fully compatible with what came before it, I suggest Pope Benedict XVI wouldn't have needed to coin the phrase “the hermeneutic of continuity.”

    To make a long reply even longer :), I think if you read the theological note to Lumen Gentium, it'll tell you that Catholics are duty-bound to accept the novelties only if the council says explicitly that we are obligated to do that. But it never does that.

    You can accept a whole thing, even if you don't accept each part one by one. Vatican II is brimming with what the Church taught before it. But I'm resisting the novelties, the things Catholics aren't obligated to accept. Even if VC II is fully compatible with what the Church has always taught, the compatibility question seems academic because Francis does some things that clearly do conflict with Tradition.

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    1. Second, how can Vatican II's religious liberty be a natural, God-given right grounded in human dignity if it's objectively sinful to practice a non-Catholic religion?

      There are many acts that a person may do legally but are immoral to do: he may eat too much, he may sleep in too long and lose his job, he may be intentionally obnoxious to acquaintances. The civil law should NOT make all immoral acts illegal. Hence "free" (in the narrow sense of "not being restrained by the CIVIL law) to do these immoral acts.

      Apart from some immoral behavior about which the law should be silent, there are other matters (not of morality) also about which the law should be silent: the law should not tell you whom to marry, or what color suit to buy, or when to play basketball rather than baseball. That is, there is a range of behavior that properly belongs to the individual sphere of determination, not to the civil government. This falls under the principle of subsidiarity, which tells higher governments to butt out of the business of lower-level governments (and of individuals) when it is not necessary. This principle is grounded in human nature because it belongs to individuals (and lower-level communities) to have their own proper acts of choice.

      It is also part of human nature to seek to know the highest and best things, and in particular the highest and best of causes, i.e. God - and to worship God once known. It is impossible for the civil government to take on this task (wholly), as if men could leave this for the government and not enter into it themselves. Hence it is part of natural law that men be FREE to undertake this task, and civil governments cannot proscribe it. (Yet this does not preclude the civil government suggesting and urging a specific direction for that search.) This is the heart of the religious liberty that VII asserts.

      Pre-VII documents condemn those versions of "religious liberty" that place ANY constraints on a man's search or decision regarding his religion. That version of religious liberty would allow men to arrive at demon-worship if that's where their search takes them, and to practice it "freely". Pius and Leo rejected such claims. My take on it is that because SOME religions can be known, by the natural light of reason alone, to be false religions, the civil government - in putting into practice things known by natural reason (as it does to lock up crazy people who insist they are birds or trees) - is free to proscribe at least some acts of these - when they are contrary to public order. And this means that the liberal theory, demanding NO constraints on the practice of religion, is wrong.

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    2. Hello Tony. I don't think the assertion you responded to here had to do primarily with what might be legally permissible. It was about the objective right to profess false religion. Here, one can only affirm that there is no such right, just as there no natural right to do anything else that is wrong. There is no right based on human nature to do what is contrary to its ends.

      As for governments only being entitled to intervene based on what is knowable by the light of unaided reason - without revelation - the scenario could only be proposed in one of Asimov's fictional worlds, where God has not spoken. In our world, God has spoken to men since they were created. Pope Leo deals only with the real world of revelation in his writings on the reign of Christ the King.

      I think this tendency can lead to some very dangerous outcomes. A notional civil society pretending to govern itself on religious matters by the light of reason, and without a Thomistic notion (ST) of original sin and its consequences for society - instead of what Pope Leo speaks about - is basically a society governed by masonic ideology.

      Theodosius the Great's dict of Thessalonika is incompatible with the notion of government limiting itself to what is naturally knowable. It is a consequence of the submission of civil society to God that Pope Leo called for.

      The search for truth still does not give any nature-based right to profess error.

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    3. I don't think the assertion you responded to here had to do primarily with what might be legally permissible. It was about the objective right to profess false religion.

      I don't think DH is claiming that men have a natural right to profess false religion. It is claiming they have a natural right to profess the religious truth they have arrived at.

      As for governments only being entitled to intervene based on what is knowable by the light of unaided reason - without revelation - the scenario could only be proposed in one of Asimov's fictional worlds, where God has not spoken.

      I have not proposed that civil governments have a right to limit action based on ONLY what is knowable under the natural light of reason. I offered that category of civil law as being not in dispute: if we can ascertain that polytheism is wrong by natural reason, then civil governments can decide that certain polytheistic religions harm the civil order even without attempting to make judgments about revealed truth. Thus those who dispute theists about revelation cannot disagree with those laws on that basis.

      Theodosius the Great's dict of Thessalonika is incompatible with the notion of government limiting itself to what is naturally knowable. It is a consequence of the submission of civil society to God that Pope Leo called for.

      Since I have repeatedly argued in favor of civil states expressly being confessional Catholic states, I obviously have no problem with states acting beyond the limits of natural theology.

      However, because the state itself, as a being, is not the subject of faith, (i.e. is not the subject in which faith inheres), is not the recipient of sanctifying grace, and cannot have the theological virtues, it cannot "profess" Catholicism in the same sense an individual human person can: the state cannot attain heaven, and is not ordered to an eternal destiny with God. This implies some kind of limits on what the state can do in terms of religion. And this is why both Leo and VII said that God erected authority over men in two distinct spheres, one civil and one religious, and while they rule over the same subjects (humans) they rule over distinct matters, (with some overlap).

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    4. Tony, thanks for your comments. Dignitatis Humanae’s assertion that it does not wish to change Church teaching on the matter doesn’t help. It clearly states that this continuity is in relation to government acknowledgement of the truth. The issue of a new, invented right to profess false religion based on human nature is not linked in this way because it is, of course, new and contrived.

      DH states that “the right of man to religious freedom has its foundation in the dignity of the person” and that “the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person”. Section 2 clarifies that non-Catholic religion is also covered by this: “Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth”. So this supposed natural right also covers the profession and promotion of false notions, not just elements of truth among a collection of propositions a person may profess. The document applies these same rights and arguments to false religions as a whole (section 4).

      While much can be argued from reason, the final arbiter of such things is the Church. A notional society where people agree to submit to what is “rational” on such transcendent matters will be as full of violent conflict about what that actually is as any. Natural law illustrates this. It can be known through reason alone, but the Church is needed in order that reason and not “reason” prevail, in the final analysis. This is Christian practice and teaching. It applies a fortiori to the question of religion in society, since religion is one, and cannot be separated from revelation without fatal consequences (I refer to my reply to your other comment above).

      Society is not a person, but its government is conducted by persons who can and should profess the Faith.

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  16. Mister Geocon, your point seems right to me, and I'm sure that here in the USA, a non-Catholic country, it would be at least imprudent for President Biden to tell the American people, “My fellow Americans, since I'm a traditionalist Catholic who believes the doctrine about Christ's social reign, Congress passed a law to Catholicize our country.” That would cause major trouble, especially because most Americans are non-Catholic.

    If I understand the First Amendment, Congress passed it to let any state adopt a state religion if it wanted to do that. But it's hard to see how to see how that's compatible with Pope Leo XIII teaches in Libertas Praestantissimum, i.e., that each society is obligated to adopt Catholicism as its State religion. Then again, if each state becomes Catholic, Congress may revise or repeal the First Amemdment.

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  17. Tony, since I'm only a well-read Catholic layman, please feel free to take my thoughts with a pillar of salt.

    In my view, there's a rupture between Vatican II and what the Church taught before it. I say that partly because Cardinal Kasper wrote, " “The decision of Vatican II to which the Pope [John Paul II] adheres is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.”2"

    https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2007-1225-kasper.htm

    But since Our Lord promised the Church wouldn't defect, I know it won't do that. A hero of mine, Canon Gregory Hesse, convinced me that Vatican II may not even be a council. So I'll summarize his evidence with an argument.

    To be an ecumenical council, a bishops' meeting needs to use extraordinary Magisterium to define dogma, condemn errors, or speak against current errors. Since Vatican II did none of that, it wasn't an ecumenical council. Someone divided the interview into five or six parts. So feel free to watch some if you want to.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hesse+vatican+ii+not+council

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    1. Vatican II is a council. If you believe otherwise you might as well be a Lutheran.

      If yer going to falsely accuse St Theresa of being an "indifferentist" heretic then don't you merit being called a Protestant here by yer own standards?

      Anti-Vatican II'ism is an irrational belief.

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    2. No, I didn't call Mother Theresa even a material heretic, let alone a subjective formal one. I said merely that she sometimes sounded religiously indifferent. I'm not attacking anyone. But here's an article showing that others at least wondered whether she felt at least sympathetic to religious indifferentism.

      https://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/a013htMotherTeresa.htm

      If she was sympathetic to it, that's easy to understand because she took care of many pagans in Asia. In high school, I belonged to two Protestant youth groups, attended evangelical service, and enjoyed Protestant Bible studies. So I thought like a Protestant and talked with other young people who wanted me to be Protestant. I even wanted to be an Episcopalian. I formed some non-Catholic rheological opinions, not knowing they were incompatible with Catholicism.

      Vatican II may be an ecumenical council. But Lumen Gentium's theological note about the council's authority shows that Vatican II didn't obligate Catholics to adopt Vatican II's kind of ecumenism, say.

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    3. Son of Ya’kov, the Council of Constance is a recognised ecumenical council. This didn’t stop it from producing that deeply flawed document encouraging conciliarism. In doing this it followed the French fashion of the time. This caused a generation and more of strife in the Church, which cleared it up with a Papal clarificatory document. Vatican II is also a Catholic council that made a mess, and the Church will clean it up, as always. Does anti-Constancism make sense now? No, of course. That Council is remembered for the good it achieved, which was great. If we were around ten years after it, no doubt we would be suffering the consequences of its obfuscations and tendentiousness and arguing about it.

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  18. Anonymous, for me, it's too hard to call Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II 'Saint.' To qualify for canonization, I've always thought, someone would need a heroic degree of each virtue. So I doubt that any of those men met that requirement. I can't call Mother Theresa one either when she seems to have been a religious indifferentist. I don't know why those popes got canonized when they did. But sometimes I feel a little angry, remembering the Blessed Pope Pius IX is still waiting for sainthood. Each pope I admire died years before my birth.

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    1. Maybe the process of canonisation is just a human process Bill, with no supernatural inflience or input Bill, just like all the other activities of the RCC. To us secularists there is nothing surprising about the shenanigand surrounding canonisation. Human, all too human and only human.

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    2. Human character flaws don't surprise when I know I'm brimming with them. In fact, those flaws and flaws in other people make me question whether Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II qualify for canonized sainthood. God knows I don't qualify for it.

      For me, the question is whether we can correct those flaws or even know they're flaws if causal determinism is true. Let me explain.

      Suppose that causal determinism is true. Suppose, too, that you believe people have free will and that I insist you're mistaken. On our supposition, we can't know who's right, since causally deterministic events force us to disagree. Some deterministic events make you believe we have free will. Other deterministic ones guarantee I'll believe we don't have it.

      "Bill," you may reply, science can settle our disagreement because neuroscientists know how our brains work."

      But if causal determinism is true, causally deterministic events force those scientists to draw the conclusions they draw about causal determinism regardless of whether those conclusions are true.

      So it seems that causal determinism is true, it makes rational thought impossible because deterministic events govern our reasoning whether we think we're confirming or disconfirming a theory.

      We're like the brain in Putnam's thought experiment about the brain in a vat. Maybe I, a brain, believe I'm a complete person sunbathing on the beach and sipping my favorite wine when a mad neuroscientist deludes me, the brain, by stimulating me with his electrode. I'm sure I'm relaxing with my favorite drink when he's controlling everything about my hallucination.

      If causal determinism is true and if rational thought is possible, there's something to counteract or compensate for our deterministic brain events.

      Does this show that God exists? No, but undermines physicalism and maybe even helps us know that we have genuine character defects we can correct instead of seemingly immoral behavior we can't help. Together, physicalism and determinism suggest we can be to blame for anything we do.

      Don't worry about the typos. Though I proofread for a publisher,I excel at making typos.

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    3. "Blessed Pope Pius IX" you mean the one who kidnapped a child (Edgardo Mortara) from a Jewish family, and refused to give them their child back even as they begged for it?

      Get a load of this trad, everyone

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  19. Apologies for all the typos in my previous post, but I unwisely tried to type it out without my glasses on!

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  20. I think we should ban the monker "Unknown" because there is one fellow who is a sincere Catholic who posts under that name and there is a known troll who does it too.

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    1. Doesn't change the fact that "Blessed" Pius IX kidnapped a child from a Jewish family and refused to give them back their child even as they desperately pleaded for it.

      To suggest such an evil man should be canonized is frankly bizarre and disgusting.

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  21. Here's Lumen Gentium's Nota Praevia, i.e., its theological note about Vatican II's authority. The note says that for the council to obligate us to believe something, the council needs to do that explicitly. But it never does it.

    https://www.fisheaters.com/notapraevia.html

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