So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Pink was on top form at Notre Dame and it is delightful to see him admit the wisdom of Aegedius Romanus with his closing remarks. Given that Pink holds it to be part of the state’s essential duties to recognise the true religion and then (due to the nature of Divine Law) enter into soul-body union with the Church, it seems to me he has answered the central criticisms of John Lamont. The assumption of various patristic writers that it is part of the essential duties of the state to repress religious error stem from the more fundamental assumption that it is part of the state’s essential duties to recognise the true religion. Insofar as the state only truly realises its own definition when it adopts the true religion the state only truly is the state when it functions as the instrument of the Church in these matters. This is the pure doctrine of St Augustine (enthusiasitically endorsed by Leo XIII in Humanum Genus and Immortale Dei). It is because of the revealed Divine Law by which the state’s acts must be informed that it can only repress religious error as the Church’s instrument. In a state of pure nature the state would supress religious error in its own right, but in this order of providence the state was made to be the instrument of the Church.

The most remarkable factor in this debate is how uninterested Rhonheimer is in the truth of the matter or the intentions of the Council Fathers. What he wants is the repudiation of the prior teaching of the Church. He promotes a tendentious understanding of St Gelasius and then quotes the ‘erring’ views of St Gregory the Great and St Isidore of Seville (both Doctors of the Church). He never mentions Quanta Cura whose doctrine he passionately rejects but in which as Bl. John Henry Newman observes the “infallible teaching voice” is distinctly heard. The only way he has of avoiding this problem is to say that the Popes can err concerning what is or is not a matter of faith and morals. Thus Rhonheimer renders empty the entire concept of ecclesiastical infallibility. As Rhonheimer says, in his view, “the Vatican Council exactly teaches as a right what the Pontiffs of the nineteenth century have condemned, there is a real contradiction.” But this is not a problem for Rhonheimer, because this is what he most earnestly desires for its own sake, quite independently of the whole question of religious liberty. Dignitatis Humanae (and contraception in his other writings) are merely test cases by which he pursues his real goal of overthrowing the irreformability of the magisterium. This is why Rhonheimer wastes so much time of the interpretation of a curial address of Benedict XVI and spends so little time on Dignitatis Humanae itself. As a conservative Modernist Rhonheimer treats not the solemn definitions of Popes and Councils but rather the most recent statements of the ecclesiastical establishment (regardless of their magisterial weight) as the theological norm that outranks all others. We must recall the Anti-Modernist Oath which declares “I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense“. It is this ‘far worse’ error that Rhonheimer really cares about and seeks to insinuate by his mutationist reading of Dignitatis Humanae.


This Sunday, in the old rite, part of our Lord’s discourse about the end times will be read or chanted. The first three gospels each tell us that after He had prophesied the destruction of the temple, His disciples came to Him to ask when all would be fulfilled. St Matthew and St Luke simply tell us that “the disciples” asked the questions; St Mark specifies that four disciples asked, namely Peter, James, John – and Andrew. This evangelist was recording the preaching of Peter in Rome, and doubtless St Peter had mentioned the names, so as not to lose the opportunity to honour his own brother, who had first brought him to Christ.

We are familiar with the idea that the first three of these disciples formed an inner ring within the twelve. They were chosen to be there when Jairus’s daughter was raised from the dead, at the Transfiguration and at the Agony. But this is the only occasion when St Andrew is joined to their company: to hear first of the fall of the temple, of the end of the rites of the Old Covenant and of the slaughter of the ancient people of God; and then of that which these things foreshadowed, the great persecution of the Church, the coming of the lawless one, the consummation of all things and the return of Christ in glory. Why was the apostle Andrew chosen to hear these things directly from the mouth of Christ?

Perhaps in part because he is the “first-called”, Πρωτόκλητος, and so had been following the Lord longer than anyone (along with the disciple who was with him when he was called); it was fitting therefore that he should hear of the rewards for those who persevere to the end. Perhaps also because he would become the patron saint of that nation which, more than any other, seems bound up with the Church’s fortunes as she makes her way toward those last days: Russia.

It is now almost a hundred years since Lenin entered holy Russia in his sealed train and since the Queen of Heaven told the three children that that nation would first spread its errors throughout the world and then be made the chosen instrument for their correction. And they have been spread, perhaps beyond the hopes of hell itself. But just as Christ’s words do not pass away, so nor do hers, through whom the Word was made flesh. St Andrew’s nation will be consecrated to her and become a fountain of grace for the last days, perhaps for resistance in that final persecution, or perhaps only when antichrist shall have been overthrown, and the Church enjoys, if this be the plan of heaven, a time of flourishing before the second coming, foreshadowed by the forty days her Spouse once spent on earth between Resurrection and Ascension.

It is not without reason that his feast everywhere is celebrated on the cusp of Advent, on the vigil of December’s kalends. As St John the Baptist from his place on earth prepared all men for the first coming of the Lord, so St Andrew from his place in heaven prepares all men for the second. Nor is his name devoid of mystery, for it means manliness, or courage. When those days come, upon whomsoever they may come, such as have not been known since the foundation of the world, we shall have need of Andrew then.

Former top SNP advisor Alex Bell has exposed the complete incoherence of the  SNP plan (lower taxes + higher public spending + free money) for Scottish Independence. Plunging oil prices are putting the delusions of the National Socialist Scottish Workers Party into sharper and sharper relief.

The Church, spotless spouse of Christ, generates, nurtures and educates souls in the divine life of grace, with her Sacraments and her doctrine. With good reason then does St. Augustine maintain: “He has not God for father who refuses to have the Church as mother.”  [St Augustine] Hence it is that in this proper object of her mission, that is, “in faith and morals, God Himself has made the Church sharer in the divine magisterium and, by a special privilege, granted her immunity from error; hence she is the mistress of men, supreme and absolutely sure, and she has inherent in herself an inviolable right to freedom in teaching.”[Leo XIII] By necessary consequence the Church is independent of any sort of earthly power as well in the origin as in the exercise of her mission as educator, not merely in regard to her proper end and object, but also in regard to the means necessary and suitable to attain that end. Hence with regard to every other kind of human learning and instruction, which is the common patrimony of individuals and society, the Church has an independent right to make use of it, and above all to decide what may help or harm Christian education. And this must be so, because the Church as a perfect society has an independent right to the means conducive to its end, and because every form of instruction, no less than every human action, has a necessary connection with man’s last end, and therefore cannot be withdrawn from the dictates of the divine law, of which the Church is guardian, interpreter and infallible mistress.

– Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri (1929)

In a recent comment St John Smythe linked to this article from the Washington Post by the Croatian Protestant theologian Miroslav Volf. Volf purports to explain the conditions under which ‘religion’ can become violent and when it remains peaceful. The position is an apologia for Protestantism and yet the ‘reformation’ he espouses surrendered religion into the hands of the state and absolved the state of any obligation to the moral law. ‘Reformation’ precisely transforms religion into an instrument of misdirected temporal ends (soon the to be discarded once it has been used).

His account of the dynamic between religion and politics is absurd when applied to Islam (the article is written ‘in the light of the Paris attacks’).

As history teaches, aspired dominance ends in a religion’s subservience; more often than not, religions become tools in the hands of the powers that be. And when they express the moral unity of a nation and political order with a sacred aura, world religions distort themselves and betray one of their signature features: the alignment of individuals, universal values and religion.

There is no distinction between Church and state in Islam. This distinction is built upon Christian revelation not upon reason. Islam is supposed to express the moral unity of a nation (the Ummah) and political order and it exists to achieve everyone else’s subservience to that order. Volf on the other hand is indeed using Christianity as a tool to justify a liberal political order contrary to the nature of Christian revelation.

His account of the position of the early Christians is false. They did not seek religious freedom but the adoption of the one true religion by the state and the eradication of idolatry. The distinction of church and state is a consequence of the Fall not of the transcendence of God or of man’s end. The transcendence of God and of man’s end is what requires the subjection of the state to the one true religion. Volf’s very use of the category of ‘religion’ is misleading. There is no such thing as ‘religion’ in the sense he uses it. Religion is simply an act by which we render God that which is His due. No culture can establish its norms on the basis of reason alone because the existence of God can be known by reason alone and therefore it can be certainly known by reason alone that man’s end (from which all cultural norms are derived) cannot be ascertained by reason alone but must be discovered through revelation.

False religion (the worship of God contrary to the manner He has appointed) breeds totalitarianism because the adherents do not have the supernatural certainty that ought to accompany God’s authentic revelation. Consequently, they would either have to admit their religion is false or pretend they have that certainty. Because they do not possess the light of faith and their certainty is simulated they cannot, as a Catholic can, distinguish between the absolute demands of God and contingent arrangements of man. The principle in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas cannot be applied by the practitioners of false relgion because there is no objective principle by which the necessary and the doubtful may be distinguished and there is no charity (which does not exist apart from the true faith). As indefinite liberty would dissolve the social order all must become necessity, the polity animated by this false religion becomes totalitarian.

On the other hand, those who reject the necessity of public revelation are compelled to reject Theism which requires it. As Deism is indefensible they are quickly reduced to agnosticism or atheism. As they need a final end by which to order society and they have pushed themselves into nominalism (which both fosters and results from atheism) and have no extrinsic common good they make the contractualist state their end leading to an even worse totalitarianism than does false religion.

This is the clear teaching of St John Paul II:

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 pre-eminence 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.

– Catechism of the Catholic Church 2244

I cannot conceal my disappointment that in the [EU] Charter’s text there is not a single reference to God. Yet in God lies the supreme source of the human person’s dignity and his fundamental rights. It cannot be forgotten that it was the denial of God and his commandments which led in the last century to the tyranny of idols. A race, a class, the state, the nation and the party were glorified instead of the true and living God. In the light of the misfortunes that overtook the 20th century we can understand: the rights of God and man stand or fall together.

– Message on the 1,200th Anniversary of the Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne


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