Reform in Our Time

The idea that Germany has been wearily but nobly ‘bailing out’ the feckless Greeks stubbornly refuses to go away. The Greeks, one must admit, have been feckless, but their real problem is not sloth but pride. They want to stay in the Euro from some misconceived notion of national prestige. They can’t pay their debts and the Euro is poisonous to them. They need to accept this and move on. Anyone urging them to do anything else has some other agenda and most certainly does not have Greek interests at heart. A currency is worth the value of the goods and services available within the jurisdiction issuing that currency divided by the number of units in circulation. If Germany had its own currency it would be worth vastly more than the Euro, if Greece had its own currency it would be worth vastly less. The consequence of their union is that, for anyone outside the Eurozone, Greek products are vastly more expensive than they should be and German products vastly cheaper. Greek misery weakens the Euro and stimulates German exports. This in turn stops the Euro falling too far and increases Greek misery, keeping the Euro down and helping the Germans further. No wonder the German government is keen to avoid Grexit. The weary but noble thrifty Germans pose is an act (although ordinary Germans doubles believe it). The Greeks needed to get out years and years ago. They obviously should never have gone in. Schadenfreude is nasty and pointless, this is very bad for Britain as well. Our main (albeit declining) export market (the Eurozone) is depressed and our competitor Germany is artificially stimulated at our expense. People forget we are still one of the world’s largest manufacturers. After the crash everyone was wisely taking about strengthening British manufacturing exports and rebalancing the economy. One of the key reasons why this has not happened is the dreadful situation in the Eurozone, a situation we subsidise. The one advantage for Britain of this nightmare for Greece is that it might cause Germany to decide it needs a new EU treaty which could give us the opportunity to obtain the kind of semi-detached status in the EU we need. On the other hand, it is not at all clear that Cameron is the man to win this. So he he might obtain far less than he could and than Britain needs from a new treaty and then use the botched deal to lend plausibility to his ‘Yes’ campaign in 2016/17. In that scenario, from a selfish perspective, the more chaos the better. That way it will be harder for the FCO, the BBC and CBI to con the British people into voting to stay in.

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In his 1888 Encyclical Libertas Leo XIII proposes the Italian civic republics of the Middle Ages as models of the Church’s zeal for civil liberty.

Neither does the Church condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power. Nor does she blame those who wish to assign to the State the power of self-government, and to its citizens the greatest possible measure of prosperity. The Church has always most faithfully fostered civil liberty, and this was seen especially in Italy, in the municipal prosperity, and wealth, and glory which were obtained at a time when the salutary power of the Church has spread, without opposition, to all parts of the State.

Not only did these glorious republics arise in the benign conditions fostered by the Church, they were also the direct product of the Church’s own divinely established character. Even so hostile a witness as Edward Gibbon was forced to concede that when the Roman Republic’s ideals and legal infrastructure lay in ruins they lived on in the Church their youth renewed like the eagle’s.

The freedom of elections subsisted long after the legal establishment of Christianity, and the subjects of Rome enjoyed in the church the privilege which they had lost in the republic, of choosing the magistrates whom they were bound to obey. As soon as a bishop had closed his eyes, the metropolitan issued a commission to one of his suffragans to administer the vacant see, and prepare, within a limited time, the future election. The right of voting was vested in the inferior clergy, who were best qualified to judge of the merit of the candidates; in the senators or nobles of the city, all those who were distinguished by their rank or property; and finally in the whole body of the people, who on the appointed day flocked in multitudes from the most remote parts of the diocese … it was everywhere admitted, as a fundamental maxim of religious policy, that no bishop could be imposed on an orthodox church without the consent of its members. The emperors, as the guardians of the public peace, and as the first citizens of Rome and Constantinople, might effectually declare their wishes in the choice of a primate; but those absolute monarchs respected the freedom of ecclesiastical elections, and, while they distributed and resumed the honours of the state and army, they allowed eighteen hundred perpetual magistrates to receive their important offices from the free suffrages of the people.

The Fathers did not accept that a bishop could be legitimately imposed upon a diocese without the consent of the faithful. “He who rules over all must be chosen by all” as St Leo the Great declared. Lactantius, the tutor of Constantine, protested at the end of his Divine Institutes that he who cooperated in the assumption of royal airs by the Emperors was a traitor to Christ. “For whosoever shall cast away the conduct becoming a man, and, following present things, shall prostrate himself upon the ground, will be punished as a deserter from his Lord, his commander, and his Father”. St Gregory the Great (vainly) reminded a later Emperor in Byzantium that “the kings of the nations are the masters of slaves but the Emperor of the Republic is the lord of free men”. In De Libero Arbitrio St Augustine confirmed that a virtuous people should elect their own rulers from among their own number.

When all the institutions of the Roman state had fallen into ruin and the rule of law scarcely existed in the West, the Bishop alone remained of the ancient offices of a free people. The markets which preserved the existence of the Italian towns were also the piazze where the people gathered to elect their shepherd. There the citizens of the Italian towns would gather to make other determinations concerning their common life and defence, until eventually they created permanent institutions: a council and consuls and other officers of the republic. In the clarity afforded by the Gregorian reform movement the frontiers of temporal and spiritual jurisdiction were slowly delineated by the bishop and his people. The republics fought to forge a new dominion over the territory of their diocese. Eventually, piece by piece, this development of public law was confirmed by the western emperors seeking safe passage to Rome for their coronation by the Pope or the Imperial rights were bartered away in vain attempt to set one commune against another and reassert imperial authority over Italy. The baptistry established in a place of honour in the centre of the piazza, symbol of the equality of the faithful in Christ, became the shrine of the republic and its banners were lodged within.

Pope Benedict taught that every Catholic insofar as he is a Catholic is a Roman citizen. Not just the spiritual power but the temporal also is within the the Church and within her power. Surely the Roman people have the right to be ruled according to their own laws and liberties. The name of king is hateful to the Roman people. As the admiring ambassadors of Judas Maccabaeus reported, “none of all these wore a crown, or was clothed in purple, to be magnified thereby … they made themselves a senate house, and consulted daily three hundred and twenty men, that sat in council always for the people, that they might do the things that were right.” In the beginning it was for natural reasons that they put not their trust in princes in mortal men in whom there is no hope. When the people of Israel sought from their judge Samuel a king like the other nations, God told Samuel,

Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to thee. For they have not rejected thee, but me, that I should not reign over them. According to all their works, they have done from the day that I brought them out of Egypt until this day: as they have forsaken me, and served strange gods, so do they also unto thee.

Now we have a perfect King, the Son of God and son of David, Who reigns over us from heaven. As of old, so also today, there is a certain idolatry in seeking an earthly king. As St Thomas teaches,

Since society must have the same end as the individual man, it is not the ultimate end of an assembled multitude to live virtuously, but through virtuous living to attain to the possession of God. If this end could be attained by the power of human nature, then the duty of a king would have to include the direction of men to it. We are supposing, of course, that he is called king to whom the supreme power of governing in human affairs is entrusted. Now the higher the end to which a government is ordained, the loftier that government is. Indeed, we always find that the one to whom it pertains to achieve the final end commands those who execute the things that are ordained to that end. For example, the captain, whose business it is to regulate navigation, tells the shipbuilder what kind of ship he must construct to be suitable for navigation; and the ruler of a city, who makes use of arms, tells the blacksmith what kind of arms to make. But because a man does not attain his end, which is the possession of God, by human power but by divine according to the words of the Apostle (Rom 6:23): “By the grace of God life everlasting”—therefore the task of leading him to that last end does not pertain to human but to divine government. Consequently, government of this kind pertains to that king who is not only a man, but also God, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who by making men sons of God brought them to the glory of Heaven.

As, after Christ, it is the monk and the presbyter (rather than the abbot or the bishop) who are most naturally called prophet and priest, so it is the pater familias not the temporal ruler who after Christ is most properly called king. “On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them.” As it was the religious orders (Cluny, Cîteaux and the Order of Preachers) who devised the mechanisms by which the freedoms of the ancient world might be transposed onto vaster geographical expanses bearing fruit at last in the Engish Parliament, it is fitting that every day at Lauds the monk should sing:

The high praise of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:
To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people:
To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron.
To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all his saints. Alleluia.

  

The time has come to forget about equivocation and reticence. The time has come to profess the truth of the Catholic Faith without fear or compromise just as our enemies profess their errors without fear or compromise. “You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.” The Crusades were right and good. The Inquisition was right and good. ISIS and SCOTUS are the direct consequence of denying these truths. We must tell the truth. Islam is the irreconcilable enemy of our civilisation. Sodomy should be a criminal offence. 

Man knows by reason alone that God could create him for an end surpassing that merely proportionate to his nature and so cannot rest in the end proportionate to his nature unless God reveals to him either that this is indeed his end or that a higher has been vouchsafed to him. This need stems from human nature itself and so we know that all other things being equal God in His justice would not withhold this knowledge from any particular man. This revelation must be mediate or immediate. We know it is not immediate. Any mediator would have to be infallible. God is the author of nature and grace. He does not suppress nature in the gift of grace. The natural end is subsumed within the supernatural end but not destroyed. Because we have rejected grace there exists a tension between the two which precludes the identity of the social authority which mediates revelation and the means of grace with that which facilitates the attainment of the supernatural end. Yet the supernatural end is our true end simply speaking not the natural. Thus, judicial supremacy is a need of human nature but it presupposes universality and a supernatural origin. Human nature needs the Papacy not SCOTUS (or the International Criminal Court or the ECHR). The establishment of temporal naturalistic judicial supremacy implies the elision of grace and nature and so a claim to divine honours by the state. It also destroys the purpose of the judicial/legislative distinction.

Islam claims that the end God has appointed is purely natural. Thus it holds that all are born Muslims, demands the use of coercive proselytisation and rejects the distinction between Church and state. This is all internally consistent but it is wholly incompatible with the ideals of Western Civilisation which are born of the revelation of man’s supernatural end. It is also fatally undermined by the fact that man’s unquenchable thirst is for a supernatural end. Separated from the means of grace man’s thirst for an infinite good drives him insane. He is destroyed by the despairing rage that comes from seeking to extract infinite satisfaction from finite objects.

The ‘Enlightenment’ preserves the institutions born of revelation and grace but seeks to secularise them. This is impossible without attributing divinity to the state. The gratuity of of man’s supernatural end is embodied in the sacrament of marriage. The idolatrous liberal state must pervert and destroy this institution if it is to maintain its claims. Resistance to this attack on marriage arouses the same despairing rage in the subjects of the ‘Enlightenment’ as spurs forth the armies of Islam to the external destruction of the West.

Some triviality to distract from the dire times:

If you have put your beer into the freezer to chill it and stupidly left it for too long, what do you do? You will normally get quite an impressive frozen beer volcano, but this worked for me (yes, yes, it is alcohol-free beer, but stilll…)

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Actually, it is not that cheerful after all, is it?

P.S.: Gah! WordPress is sporting a rainbow banner today! Can’t remove it while typing this. Will probably need some eye-bleach, Or was there some whiskey left somewhere?

The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. . . . Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. . . . We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. . . . We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed (Chesterton in 1905).

Today is perhaps the worst day for Christian civilisation since the fall of France to the freemasons in the 18th century. If I were an American citizen I should certainly be hoping for a secession of the healthier states from the tyranny now being exercised from Washington D.C. Let the whole land-mass be shared between two entities, a real State and the pseudo-state. One cannot live with such people. They are brain-washed. They are more like zombies than human beings. This is not like the co-existence of Catholics and pagans in the Roman empire. The pagans did not by their laws abolish marriage and the family, or even dream of such a thing.

One can pray for these people and do penance for them; one cannot live with them in society.

Charles_ClarkeThe former Labour Education Secretary Charles Clarke has called on the government to legislate to have the state determine the religious content of all teaching in all schools in Britain whether private or state, denominational or not. I heard him propose this on the Today Programme a few days ago. He sounded oh so reasonable and the sweeping and draconian nature of his proposals was glossed over by both ‘statesman’ and interviewer. It is not surprising that Mr Clarke should seek to wipe out Christian education as he has already advocated the airbrushing of Christendom from the minds of the nation’s students. This is the man who said the concept of education for its own sake is “a bit dodgy” and that Mediaeval history should not be funded in universities. The university exists, his then official spokesman explained, “to enable the British economy and society to deal with the challenges posed by the increasingly rapid process of global change.” It is interesting that it was Mediaeval history that particularly revolted Mr Clarke. In this week when we are supposed to be remembering the liberties established by our mediaeval Catholic forebears it is fitting that this particularly banal representative of modernity should manifest the contempt in which freedom is ultimately held by him and his kind. The thirteenth century, the apogee of Christendom is the century that gave us universal isonomia – liberty under the rule of law. It is particularly interesting that the parliamentary system of government, which inherited the liberties of Runnymede is a transposition of the Constitutions of the Order of Preachers. It is often forgotten that the First English Parliament of 1258 wasmagnacarta summoned by Simon de Montfort who knew St Dominic personally and met in Blackfriars Oxford. The author of parliamentary democracy is thus also the apostle of the Rosary and the founder of the Holy Inquisition. Stephen Cardinal Langton Archbishop of Canterbury and probably the author of the Magna Carta (who imposed obedience to the Charter upon all Englishmen under pain of excommunication in 1225) is also responsible for the chapter divisions in the Bible, the elevation of the Host and Chalice at Mass and the Golden Sequence. No wonder an atheist like Clarke doesn’t want us studying Mediaeval history. Were we not ignorant of our history we might chose to repeat it.

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