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Do Muslims worship God? This question has long troubled me and I can never settle it in my head. I am not talking about supernatural and acceptable worship. Clearly, they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity so are unable to offer acceptable worship to God. Nor am I talking about the natural virtue of religion. Strictly speaking there are no true moral virtues apart from Charity. I am talking about material acts of religion that would be formal acts of the acquired virtue of religion in a state of pure nature. Do Muslims perform such acts. Do they worship God?

I have come across three basic views on this:

  1. No. Islam is Deist, a form of monotheistic paganism. Unlike the Jews their worship is not even naturally directed at the same entity as the true God adored by the Catholic faithful. They are idolaters.
  2. Yes. Muslims know God through natural reason (see: Romans 1 & Vatican I) they direct their material acts of religion to Him. They ascribe to God incorrect attributes (e.g. having revealed himself to Mohammed) but they know Him as creator and worship Him as such.
  3. Yes and no. The being who revealed himself to Mohammed is not God and acts of worship specified in this way are idolatrous. In the other hand Muslims are men like everyone else able to know the Creator by the light of human reason and when they worship the creator as such their incidental errors about His interventions in history do not transform their acts of worship into acts of idolatry.

There are good argument for all three. In regard to 1. this seems to be the testimony of a good many Muslim converts. They do not believe they worshiped God before they converted to Christianity. The Council of Florence seems to assume Muslims are to be placed in the ‘pagan’ column. Leo XIII and Pius XI in their formulae of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart seem to make the same assumption. In defence of 2. this seems to be the doctrine of Lumen Gentium 16 (although what theological note that has is obscure) and the opinion of at least some popes (including even St Gregory VII). Of course 3. seems easiest to defend and in some sense is probably the position of most adherents of 1. and 2. Unfortunately, in a way, it only bumps the problem down the road. For what would be the key factor determining whether one is worshiping the being who revealed himself to Mohammed or the Creator of the universe? This is the central enigma and the answer to it would seem to resolve the entire question. I find it hard to believe that Muslims if they discovered that the two were not one and the same would chose the former. If it were a marriage that would be enough to make the consent valid. I’m pretty sure the Mormons and the Gnostics don’t worship God. I’m not at all sure William Lane Craig does. The Muslims it seems to me ought to get the benefit of the doubt… but I ‘m not sure.

“The saint we are to honour today is one of the sublimest and most lucid interpreters of Divine truth. He rose up in the Church many centuries after the apostolic age, nay, long after the four great Latin doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory. The Church, the ever young and joyful mother, is justly proud of her Thomas, and has honoured him with the splendid title of the angelical doctor, on account of the extraordinary gift of understanding wherewith God had blessed him; just as his contemporary and friend, St. Bonaventure, has been called the seraphic doctor, on account of the wonderful unction which abounds in the writings of this worthy disciple of St. Francis. Thomas of Aquin is an honour to mankind, for perhaps there never existed a man whose intellect surpassed his. He is one of the brightest ornaments of the Church, for not one of her doctors has equalled him in the clearness and precision wherewith he has explained her doctrines. He received the thanks of Christ Himself, for having well written of Him and His mysteries. How welcome ought this feast of such a saint to be to us during this season of the year,  when our main study is our return and conversion to God! What greater blessing could we have than to come to the knowledge of God? Has not our ignorance of God, of His claims, and of His perfections, been the greatest misery of our past lives? Here we have a saint whose prayers are most efficacious in procuring for us that knowledge, which is unspotted, and converteth souls, and giveth wisdom to little ones, and gladdeneth the heart, and enlighteneth the eyes. Happy we if this spiritual wisdom be granted us! We shall then see the vanity of everything that is not eternal, the righteousness of the Divine commandments, the malice of sin, and the infinite goodness wherewith God treats us when we repent.” ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

It is repeated ad nauseam by Modernists and their useful idiots that the existence of Limbo is ‘only a theological opinion’. In a sense this is true. The Council of Florence defines (Laetentur Caeli) that those who die in original sin only go immediately to Hell though their punishment differs from those who die in actual mortal sin. The Council of Florence also defines (Cantate Domino) that parents must not delay baptism for their children because infants have ‘no other remedy’ for original sin than the sacrament of baptism. Now these two definitions may still allow for Cajetan’s view that parents who do not delay the baptism of their children but whose child dies before he or she can be baptized, either because the death is in the womb or quite unforeseen and immediately after birth, may obtain the grace of justification for their child through their explicit desire for the baptism of their child in a vicarious baptism of desire. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly teaches that:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,”64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

There is here a frank confession of ignorance as to whether there is another way by which such infants might be saved: “can only entrust them to the mercy of God”, “allow us to hope that there is a way” and “the Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude”. Yet the supreme authority of an Ecumenical Council defines that parents must not delay baptism because there is no other remedy. If we seek to conform the doctrine of the Catechism to the higher authority of Florence it would seem we reach the conclusion that Cajetan’s opinion, but nothing more than that opinion, is possible and whether it is actual or not cannot be known by the Church because revelation does not tell us. This alone would make sense of the words “all the more urgent” at the end of CCC1261. How could the call to baptize infants be more urgent on account of the ‘hope’ of another way unless that hope is dependent upon the parents not delaying the baptism of their child?

Yet this still means that the majority of the human race die in original sin only because most men are not Christians, and therefore do not desire baptism for their children, and most men die before the age of reason (in the womb or in infancy). The word ‘Limbo’ means border or edge. That is, it refers to the border of Hell. It refers to the least state of punishment that one can endure after death. Famously, there is a difference of opinion between St Augustine and St Thomas on this point. St Augustine holds that infants who die before baptism suffer punishment but the “mildest of all” while St Thomas hold that their is no interior pain experienced by the infants in Limbo who suffer only the punishment of loss. St Gregory the Great goes so far as to attribute torments (‘tormenta’) to deceased unbaptised infants but this statement should be read in the light of his comment in the Dialogues that this world itself is “the upper Hell”. Consequently, a state far more felicitous than this life, which an ordinary person would consider an earthly paradise, would still contain torment insofar as it fell short of Eden.

The upshot of which is that to describe Limbo as a theological opinion because there is some wiggle room between two theological positions (Augustinian and Thomist) which nonetheless approach each other asymptotically is about as accurate as describing the Assumption as a theological opinion because the words of Pius XII’s definition do not decide between dormitionists and immortalists. That is, it is not accurate at all.  Hell is a dogma of the Catholic Church. Some people imagine that one might hold that Hell exists but is empty. They delude themselves. Nevertheless, the point of that distinction – ‘exists but is empty’ – is to assert that denying that anyone ends up dying in actual mortal sin does not mean one denies that if they did they would go to Hell and therefore does not involve a denial that Hell exists. It is not within the boundaries of Catholic orthodoxy to assert that no one dies in original sin only (because this would be to deny that baptism is the only remedy for it) but even if it were it would not entail the denial that if someone died with original sin only they would “go immediately to Hell though with diverse punishments” from those who die in actual mortal sin. Therefore it is not to deny the existence of Limbo.

If therefore one says that Limbo means a state/place in which there is no pain of sense but only pain of loss endured without torment then Limbo is theological opinion (albeit the only orthodox alternative is the more severe Augustinian position). If however, (more accurately) one defines Limbo as the state/place of least possible suffering for the damned endured by those who die in original sin only (remaining agnostic between Thomas and Augustine) then Limbo is a dogma of the Catholic Church.

The feast day of Blessed Paul VI has been set on 26th September (his birthday). I was quite shocked when I heard this as I have always taken it to be a very important point that only the nativities of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and St John the Baptist are celebrated liturgically, because only these three were born without Original Sin. As Newman points out,

St. John was in the beginning of his existence a partaker of Adam’s curse; he lay under God’s wrath, deprived of that grace which Adam had received, and which is the life and strength of human nature. Yet, as soon as Christ, his Lord and Saviour, came to him, and Mary saluted his own mother, Elizabeth, forthwith the grace of God was given to him, and the original guilt was wiped away from his soul. And therefore it is that we celebrate the nativity of St. John; nothing unholy does the Church celebrate; not St. Peter’s birth, nor St. Paul’s, nor St. Augustine’s, nor St Gregory’s, nor St. Bernard’s, nor St Aloysius’s, nor the nativity of any other Saint, however glorious, because they were all born in sin. She celebrates their conversions, their prerogatives, their martyrdoms, their deaths, their translations, but not their birth, because in no case was it holy. Three nativities alone does she commemorate, our Lord’s, His Mother’s, and lastly, St. John’s. What a special gift was this, my brethren, separating the Baptist off, and distinguishing him from all prophets and preachers, who ever lived, however holy, except perhaps the prophet Jeremias!

Modernism is of course an extreme form of Pelagianism, and when I heard of this new feast of the Nativity of Paul VI I could not help remembering my shock when I read section 15 of Bl. Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio.

Endowed with intellect and free will, each man is responsible for his self-fulfillment even as he is for his salvation. He is helped, and sometimes hindered, by his teachers and those around him; yet whatever be the outside influences exerted on him, he is the chief architect of his own success or failure. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.

I assume His Holiness did not intend to teach Pelagianism by these words but (rather as with the opening words of Gaudium et Spes) one has to have wandered a very long way from St Augustine in one’s instincts to allow such sentiments to fall from one’s lips or flow from one’s pen. In his audience of 26th November 1969 commenting on the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae Pope Paul said of the introduction into the liturgy of the vernacular “We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance.” It seems it is not only in respect of the liturgy that Pope Paul and his spiritual progeny have found themselves alienated and ill at ease amidst the traditions of Latin Christendom.

It is ironic that Pope Francis so often accuses others of Pelagianism. His own struggles with this heresy are epitomized by the institution of the feast of the Nativity of Paul VI. For a long time, seduced as we have been by ultramontanism as a substitute for orthodoxy, we have yearned for a heroic Pope who would put all things right “that the spirit of St. Pius X might once again fill the hierarchy, that the great words anathema sit might once again ring out against all heretics, and especially against all the members of the ‘fifth column’ within the Church.” Of course we do need such a Pontiff and nothing will be resolved without him. But things have reached such a pass now with the unorthodoxies coming forth from beyond the Tiber, eclipsing entirely the failings of Liberius, Honorius and John XXII, that only an Ecumenical Council can now restore order to the Church and at last bestow upon Honorius a companion in his hitherto unique position among the bishops of Rome.

One of the strangest stories in the whole bible comes in 3 Kings 13. An unnamed man of God comes by divine commission from the southern kingdom into the new, schismatic, northern kingdom that Jeroboam has just set up. He comes to the sanctuary at Bethel while the king is burning incense there and prophesies that a son of David will defile the altar. In proof of this, the altar cracks; and when Jeroboam stretches out his hand to motion to his guard to seize the prophet, the king’s hand withers, only to be restored to vigour at the prophet’s prayer.

Having caused this sensation, the prophet then starts on the return journey. God has told him not to eat or drink anything while he is in the schismatic kingdom, and to go home by a different route from that by which he came. Presumably this is so that he will not by fraternizing with the northerners lessen their sense of their perilous state. However while he is resting beneath a tree, a prophet whose home is in the northern kingdom finds him, and invites him to his house for a bite to eat. The holy man of Judah explains that God has forbidden this, whereupon his northern brother explains that he too is a prophet, and says that an angel has spoken to him telling him to invite the brave Judaean back for some refreshment. But this is a fib.

The man of God decides to accept the offer, and goes with the other. However, while they are at table, the northerner receives a true revelation, and says to his guest: “Because thou hast not been obedient to the Lord and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, and hast returned and eaten bread, and drunk water in the place wherein he commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat bread, nor drink water, thy dead body shall not be brought into the sepulchre of thy fathers.” The holy man then gets back on to his donkey and departs. I imagine that the leave-taking must have been somewhat awkward, on both sides.

Almost immediately, a lion meets the man of God as he goes back toward Judaea, and kills him. But the lion does no harm to his dead body, or to the donkey on which he had travelled. The northern prophet hears of what has happened, and going to the place, finds the body lying by the way, untouched, with the lion and the donkey standing next to it. He takes the dead body onto his own donkey and buries it in the tomb he had prepared for himself, lamenting over him. And he charges his sons to bury him in the same tomb, when his time comes.

Not without mystery, as the Fathers would say, are so many details recorded. It is a type of what happens when one carries out some great work of preaching and yet also compromises on the rights of God. The holy man did not rebel against his commission: as Challoner notes, we may hope that he committed only a venial sin in allowing himself to believe, hungry, thirsty, and tired as he surely was, that the other’s message was true. Moreover, he had done bravely in going into the shrine and telling the king to his face that God was angry with him and would bring his designs to naught. Yet he obscured the truth of his message by that brief repast among the schismatics. And so he received the penalty proper to such a sin: not death, though he did die, but rather burial in a foreign tomb.

Am I wrong to be put in mind of Pope John Paul II? He too was a man of God who was not afraid to rebuke the powerful ones of this world, to tell them, for example, that abortion is a crime against God and man. He proclaimed Jesus Christ as the one Redeemer of mankind, without whom man’s plans and dreams will finally all fail. He was attacked, but could not be silenced. Yet did he not weaken his message by certain actions, fraternizing beyond the demands of charity with those who contradicted it?

After the holy man died, a miracle was seen. The lion that had killed him did not touch his body, but stood by it, as it were guarding it, nor did it touch the donkey on which he had ridden. God vindicated in this way the courage and holiness of His prophet, and the truth of his message. Even so, we are told, miracles have been worked after prayers to the late pontiff, and the Church of Rome has defined that he is in heaven. Christ, the Lion of Judah, honours His prophet and the faith that supported him on his long and painful journeys. Yet he was buried not in his proper tomb, but in another man’s. For we do not, I think, enshrine him in our memories in the way that might seem to befit his greatness, as we enshrine St Leo I, St Gregory I, St Gregory VII, St Pius V, St Pius X. Even as we admire, we hesitate and are puzzled. We do not recall him as we should wish to recall a holy, Catholic pontiff; we give him as it were a strange tomb within our minds. Maybe all this is just an illusion caused by our proximity in time; yet I think it is something else. But however that may be, there let him lie in peace, till all tombs are opened, and dead men live once more.

In his delightful book Enthusiasm, Ronald Knox remarks on the Jansenist belief that the Church is destined to decline continuously from her pristine excellence until the end of the world. He says that this opinion would be as hard to justify from history as it is from theology. Newman in Loss and Gain puts the same Jansenist view in the mouth (if I remember correctly) of Campbell, the Scotch Protestant, but without giving any indication of whether he himself endorses or opposes it.

Chesterton, I think in his book on Chaucer, recounts how he was once asked by a very intelligent agnostic whether he thought that the human race improved as time went on, or degenerated, or stayed about the same, and that the questioner seemed to think that he had covered all the possibilities. In reply he asked the other chap whether he thought that Ebeneezer Brown of 22, The Beeches, Tooting Bec, improved, degenerated or stayed about the same between the ages of 30 and 40 (I quote from memory, and invent the names.) Chesterton says that it then seemed to dawn on his interlocutor that the answer rather depended on Mr Brown and how he chose to behave. In other words, for Chesterton, because man has free will there is no necessity for the human race to go in any direction in particular. This is certainly an invigorating way to answer our question, but I’m not sure the conclusion follows. There is such a thing as having moral certainty about future events that will depend on free will; St Thomas says somewhere that in a town full of irascible people, you can be sure an argument will break out at some point, even though you can’t tell in advance when or between whom. In the same way, one could hold that the human race will go in a certain direction even though each man is free to go where he wants.

Maritain throughout his writing has a theory that both good and evil increase in the human race as time goes by, like the wheat and the cockle growing side-by-side. I suppose this means that the just will on average be more just, and the unjust on average more unjust from one century to the next. I don’t think he really tries to prove this, though he does make the point that if persecutions intensify, those who resist them will need to have a correspondingly greater holiness. On the other hand, even if his theory were true, it could still be the case that an increasingly large number of people became unjust in every age. Also, since the cockle on his account can be within the Church as well as outside, it wouldn’t help to answer the question about how the Church on earth was destined to fare.

Tolkien, in a private letter from 1956, wrote: “I am a Christian and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a long defeat.” I like those quotation marks around ‘history’. Presumably they signify that the subject as usually studied is defective, as abstracting from the supernatural truths that alone allow us to understand it. But why ‘a long defeat’ rather than a series of victories and defeats? Presumably he was thinking of history as tending toward the reign of the antichrist, which he must have considered as the final period of history, ended only by the eucatastrophe of the second coming.

St Thomas, speaking about how the articles of faith have grown over the years from Abraham onwards, says this:

The final consummation of grace came about through Christ, and so His time is called ‘the fullness of time’. Consequently, those who were closer to Christ, whether before, like John the Baptist, or after, like the apostles, knew the mysteries of faith more fully. We see the same thing in regard to the condition of a man, who has {bodily} perfection in youth, and a man is the more perfect in proportion as he is close to youth, whether before or after (2a 2ae 1, 7 ad 4).

He is not speaking here about an increase in the articulation of the mysteries of faith, I think, since then it would not be true that knowledge declines after the apostles. After all, we have their writings, and we have the commentaries on them made by the Fathers and doctors which make explicit many things contained only implicitly in Scripture. He must therefore be speaking of the depth of understanding, or intensity of faith. But this comes about, as he explains elsewhere (2a 2ae 6, 1) through the grace given to intellect and will; by charity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But this apparently implies that sanctifying grace is poured out more abundantly insofar as people are closer in time to the Incarnation and Pentecost. If the mysteries of faith are more keenly understood the closer people are to the time of Christ, this must be because charity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit – which are proportioned to one’s degree of sanctifying grace – are given more abundantly, the closer one is to that time. This would be fitting, as emphasising the central place of the Incarnation within history. It would also fit in with some remarks of St Gregory the Great which I have quoted elsewhere in these chronicles:

By the awful course of the secret dispensation, before this Leviathan appears in that accursed man {antichrist} whom he assumes, signs of power are withdrawn from holy Church. For prophecy is hidden, the grace of healings is taken away, the power of longer abstinence is weakened, the words of doctrine are silent, the prodigies of miracles are removed

St Bede, like St Jerome, thought that the overthrow of antichrist would come before the end of the world. But he still thinks that there will be very little true faith left at the end of the world. Commenting on Luke 18:8 (“When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”), Bede writes:

When the almighty Creator shall appear in the form of the Son of man, so scarce will the elect be that not so much the cries of the faithful as the torpor of the others will hasten the world’s fall.

Were the Janensists, then, correct? Is the Church a kingdom gradually sliding into decay, which will be saved from extinction only by the coming of the Lord? Things are more complicated. For one thing, not only has the Church on earth expanded in numbers from about 120 on Pentecost Sunday to its present membership, but also there have been periods since Pentecost when the proportion of people on earth in a state of grace was surely increasing; for example, from AD 33 to AD 133. This is certainly a victory for the city of God over the city of man. The Church has also progressed in the ever more perfect elaboration of sacred doctrine and the possession of more splendid liturgical rites (whether these are used is another question). Also she has progressed in having an ever greater treasury of merit and satisfaction on which to draw, and more examples of holiness, through the lives of the saints who have passed to their reward. Moreover, as Vatican I taught, her continued existence is in itself a sign of her divine mission, and this sign in the nature of things becomes more striking with the passage of time. All these things are triumphs over the kingdom of darkness.

Nevertheless, it could still be true, as seems to be implied by the words of St Thomas, that the average level of grace of those in the Church is lower in every generation; it could also be true that the percentage of those in the Church living fervent lives is in continual decline. Yet even this could be a tendency rather than an iron law. St Thomas uses the analogy of the human body, which is more perfect the closer it is to youth. Yet while this is true others things being equal, it may be that a particular man exercises more or has a better diet, and so is stronger or has more stamina, at some time earlier or later than at his natural peak of health. So it could be that the exercise demanded by the stress of particular events, for example, universal persecution, will temporarily raise the average level of holiness in the mystical body; or it could be that the intake of many new members to whom God wishes to attach a special blessing (for example the Jews, for the sake of their fathers) will have the same effect. But all the same the underlying trend would be downwards. Yet any given Christian may still achieve heroic sanctity, if he wants. And the proportion of people on earth in a state of grace can increase even if the average level of their sanctity decreases; though other things being equal, for example if there are no new pagan lands to evangelise, this seems less likely than likely.

A happy and fervent new year to all the saints at Laodicea.

There is a petition over at the Remnant asking Pope Francis to change course, or if he will not, to abdicate. I was a bit shocked by the idea when I first saw it, but it is written with due respect and in a spirit of faith, and with full documentation. The authors quote St Catherine of Siena, who wrote to Gregory XI:

Since He has given you authority and you have assumed it, you should use your virtue and power: and if you are not willing to use it, it would be better for you to resign what you have assumed…

I know two priests who have signed it, both doctors of theology.

Westminster

 

Now the wretch [Tyndale] raileth by name upon that holy doctor Saint Thomas, a man of that learning that the great excellent wits and the most cunning men that the Church of Christ hath had since his days, hath esteemed and called him the very flower of theology, and a man of that true perfect faith and Christian living thereto, that God hath himself testified his holiness by many a great miracle, and made him honoured here in his Church in earth as he hath exalted him to great glory in heaven.

– St Thomas More

The English Speaking World is different. It is superior to the rest of the world. The English Speaking world has liberty under the rule of law. It has what was called in ancient times Isonomia: equality under the law, equality in making the law. It perfected isonomia, it saved it and preserved it. Taxation is lower, the state is limited, the law is obeyed. It is prosperous, it is independent, it is composed of victorious and free peoples.  Why is this?

The English Speaking World is different because of one man: St Gregory the Great. St Gregory summoned the English from paganism to the faith of the Church of Rome. Loyalty to Christian Rome created and defined England. By his words ‘non Angli sed Angeli’ St Gregory ensured that the tribes his mission would save would define themselves as one nation and call themselves the English. It was not unknown for an Anglo-Saxon king to end his reign by abdicating and going on pilgrimage to Rome. Alfred the Great the first King of the English would be personally anointed and invested as Consul by the Pope himself. England drank deep of Latin Christian culture and drank it pure and from the source. It took its theory of law from Isidore of Seville untouched by the absolutism of Justinian’s Code. When the rediscovered Law of Justinian flooded the west in the twelfth century, England stood firm beside the laws it had made for itself founded upon the republicanism of the Latin Christian West. Finally, on 20th January 1265, Simon de Montfort, the son of the great commander of the Albigensian Crusade, summoned to Westminster a Parliament of Lords Temporal and Spiritual, of the Commons of Shire and Borough after the model of the Dominican Constitutions. The genius of St Dominic, who resolved the weaknesses of ancient republicanism, was poured into the public law of England.

Two hundred years later when Sir John Fortescue, the Lord Chief Justice, came to defend the Laws of England (which now embodied the traditions of Greece, Rome and Israel) against those of France corrupted by decadent Byzantine law he turned to the greatest doctor of the Dominican Order. It is upon the doctrine of St Thomas that the Dominican constitution of England was defended. The mixed monarchy, trial by Jury, the prohibition of torture, the dependence of the Monarch on Parliament for subsidy and statute, all is here. Rightly did Luther (though he said it with scorn) call the English monarch ‘Rex Thomisticus’. The liberties of the English Speaking Peoples have nothing to do with Protestantism. Non Angli sed Angeli, the English constitution breathes the pure doctrine of the Angelic Doctor.

Protestantism has rather corrupted and unbalanced our constitution concentrating all executive and legislative power in the same part of that constitution. As Charles I said (faithfully reflecting the doctrine of St Thomas),

There being three kindes of Government amongst men, Absolute Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy, and all these having their particular conveniencies and inconveniencies. The experience and wisdom of your Ancestors hath so moulded this out of a mixture of these, as to give to this Kingdom (as far as human prudence can provide) the conveniencies of all three, without the inconveniencies of any one, as long as the Balance hangs even between the three Estates, and they run jointly on in their proper Chanell (begetting Verdure and Fertilitie in the Meadows on both sides) and the overflowing of either on either side raise no deluge or Inundation.The ill of absolute Monarchy is Tyrannie, the ill of Aristocracy is Faction and Division, the ills of Democracy are Tumults, Violence and Licentiousnesse. The good of Monarchy is the uniting a Nation under one Head to resist Invasion from abroad, and Insurrection at home.The good of Aristocracie is the Conjuncion of Counsell in the ablest Persons of a State for the publike benefit.The good of Democracy is Liberty, and the Courage and Industrie which Libertie begets.

The United States of America, which has preserved this balance, has won for itself the global power that fell to Britain in the eighteenth century precisely because the USA’s interpretation of the Dominican model of government has ended up more faithful to the original than that which now prevails in England. This not because the USA is not a monarchy and Britain is, but because the USA is a monarchy and Britain is not. Those who think otherwise are as Belloc pointed out “making the common error of thinking in words instead of ideas” they foolishly “contrast America as a ‘republic’ with England as ‘monarchy,’ whereas, of course, the Government of the United States is essentially monarchic and the Government of England is essentially republican and aristocratic.”

For centuries protestants have perpetrated the fraud of ascribing the English constitutional tradition to their religion when the opposite is the case. The Leviathan of the absolute state is the protestant invention, the Dominium Politicum et Regale of freedom and the rule of law is the supreme achievement of English Catholicism. The proof is there for all to read in the writings of the great fifteenth century English Thomist Sir John Fortescue. There should be no English speaking Catholic who does not possess a copy of this book:

Fortescue

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.

greogory-III

On this rock….?

Panamanian Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán allegedly stating, “Moses gives consent to the people, he yields. Today, the “hardness of heart” is opposed to God’s plans. Might Peter not be as merciful as Moses?” Noting that “Jesus corrects Moses,” Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham reportedly called upon the synod to offer a “spiritual, positive, and immutable” vision of marriage and said that “the instability of marriage is contrary to its nature.”