Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Papal/SSPX Conversations and Patrick Kennedy

Weigel really gets this right.

The issues to be engaged in these conversations do not involve liturgy; the pope has addressed the legitimate pastoral needs of SSPX clergy and SSPX-affiliated laity by his decree allowing the unrestricted use of the 1962 Roman Missal. The real questions have to do with other matters. Does the SSPX accept the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious freedom as a fundamental human right that can be known by both reason and revelation? Does the SSPX accept that the age of altar-and-throne alliances, confessional states, and legally established Catholicism is over, and that the Catholic Church rejects the use of coercive state power on behalf of its truth claims? Does the SSPX accept the Council’s teaching on Jews and Judaism as laid down in Vatican II’s “Declaration on Non-Christian Religions” (“Nostra Aetate”), and does the SSPX repudiate all anti-Semitism? [That might be a bit more provocative than necessary.] Does the SSPX accept the Council’s teaching on the imperative of pursuing Christian unity in truth and the Council’s teaching that elements of truth and sanctity exist in other Christian communities, and indeed in other religious communities?

The red-highlighted series of questions is of particular interest. First off, the SSPX is hardly the only group which looks back fondly at "altar-and-throne" confessional States. Others can be found (easily) and while they are less vocal about it--and draw much less attention--they are out there.

More of interest, however, is Weigel's summary that 'the Church rejects the use of coercive state power on behalf of its truth-claims.'

Why?

Because of Patrick Kennedy.

The Know-Nothings/Rabid Abortionists Alliance would have you believe that the Church is "imposing its will" on US healthcare policy by insisting, loudly, that abortion is NOT healthcare--and that requiring taxpayer funding of abortion is an affront to religious liberty.

But in fact, the Bishops are expressing an admiration for religious liberty which the Rabid Abortionists will never express. To them, you see, Abortion is THE sacrament of their religion. And they will impose that religion and its sacrament on you, whether you agree or not.

Rome is the real 'civil liberties' defender here, folks.

21 comments:

Matt Korger said...

Good post. I think Weigel can be a bit shallow when it comes to understanding of issue with traditionalists(he has not been friendly to them for sure). V2 may bless proper use of a republic, but it did not baptize the bizarre Manifest Destiny beliefs it appears he espouses to.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV7xBh5Q8Lc&feature=player_embedded

Exactly why there is a separation of church and state. God gave us free will to decide. He will then judge us to what extent have we lived a moral life.


A politician who belongs to a church has a moral obligation to honor its laws or face sanction (no communion) and a civil obligation to honor the will of his/her constituents or face sanction (voted out of office). It appears the dilemma is:

to abide by the Ten Commandments or the Twenty-Seven Amendments;

to decide what is more important--pragmatism in politics or Catholic morals.


Besides, why doesn't the Catholic Church simply
excommunicate any member who supports abortion? Those individuals are NOT going to change their mind. Just get it done and move on.

Dad29 said...

Actually, excommunication is self-imposed--that is, one 'ex-communicates' by one's own volition.

The paperwork, if any, is just a followup.

More important, the paperwork/followup is a warning to the member that their actions/words have serious consequences. It's 'medicinal,' rather than final.

Dave said...

Anonymous:

Let's go back about fifty years. Was the Archbishop of New Orleans right to excommunicate Catholic politicians who supported segregation? By your reasoning, the Church should have stayed out of that as well...

Anonymous said...

Weigel fails to appreciate that even if the age of confessional states has sadly waned at this point in history, this state of affairs is NOT to be upheld as the healthy norm. Man has a duty both in his private AND public life to recognize the Catholic Faith as the True Religion and give it preference. DH #1 of Vatican II upholds this moral duty of individuals and SOCIETIES towards the True Religion.

The duty of civic recognition of the True Faith, whether this recognition be in a written constitution or not, is a teaching that cannot change because it is based on these four immutable principles:
1. The First Commandment
2. The rationally demonstrable truth of Catholicism
3. Man's social nature
4. Christ's Universal Reign over both private and public life.

Also, it makes no difference whether or not a state is constituted as a democratic republic, an oligarchy, or a monarchy. All citizens and their governments, the United States included, have a duty to recognize the True Faith because of the immutable principles listed above.

Because of their human dignity, non-Catholics should ordinarily be free to worship without any coercion, but that does not change the fact that the state and its citizens have an unchanging moral duty to recognize the True Faith and prefer it.

Dad29, do you agree?

Dad29 said...

No.

It is preposterous on its face to say that 'States have a duty...' insofar as States are not moral actors. Only PEOPLE are moral actors.

Therefore, I cannot agree with that part of your statement, because I cannot be so illogical.

As to the 'duty' to recognize the Faith as true for INDIVIDUALS, we can agree.

As you note, coercion in that regard is impossible, and I would add it is imprudent in the extreme.

Anonymous said...

States were created by people living in a specified boundary. The people give their consent to the States to be governed through their own free will. The State embodies the morality of the majority of the people because they grant authority to the State. States are moral actors because they reflect the values of its citizens. Legislation reflects the values of the citizens, which enables the State to be a moral actor by providing consequences to those who violate established norms.

Anonymous said...

"Let's go back about fifty years. Was the Archbishop of New Orleans right to excommunicate Catholic politicians who supported segregation? By your reasoning, the Church should have stayed out of that as well..."


Where was the Catholic Church before that time? What was its role prior to the civil rights movement? What motivated the Catholic Church to take such drastic action? It is FACT that discrimination and segregation were the norm in church life well into the 1900's in both the North and South, regardless of demonination.


Caveat--People are a product of their times, so one must be careful to "blame" Christians from the past for their thoughts and actions regarding racial relations in the South. But it does NOT exonerate them, either.


For example, the Southern Presbyterians in 1874 established separatism as its policy, and almost all Episcopalian churches in the South were segregated.

The racial practices of the Catholic Church in the South were also similar in nature. It was not until the Brown case and the Little Rock Central crisis in the 1950's before the Catholic Church, most notably southern churches, re-examined its "silent acceptance" of segregation. But what facilitated this "change of heart"?

"In the Diocese of Little Rock, Bishop Albert Fletcher saw the landmark decision as an opportunity for change. In an Aug. 3, 1954, letter to all the state’s Catholics, he wrote that even though Catholic schools are private, it is “a mistaken idea” to think that they would stay segregated.

He explained that the diocese had operated separate churches and schools BECAUSE OF THE STATE'S LAWS. The court’s decision “CLEARS THE WAY LEGALLY for the Church to act more freely in giving to all races the same benefits.” [THAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTION, DAVE]

So, most southern churches basically honored Jim Crow laws and failed to/chose not to invoke civil disobedience to racial injustice for decades...until in essence compelled by a Supreme Court decision to take decisive action against segregation.

http://www.catholic.org/diocese/diocese_story.php?id=25433

Dad29 said...

States are moral actors because they reflect the values of its citizens.

You seem to have a problem understanding the term "actor."

Thomas:

The rational creature governs itself by its intellect and will, both of which require to be governed and perfected by the Divine intellect and will. Therefore above the government whereby the rational creature governs itself as master of its own act, it requires to be governed by God.

(Q103,Art3, Reply3)

"...the rational creature governs itself as master of its own act."

You impute "rationality" to Government. TA disagrees--

It is true that the well-ordered State's laws reflect the moral views of its citizens. However, enactment and administration of those laws is solely through rational beings--actors.

Thus the State, qua State, has no "duty." Only its rational-being agents have "duties."

Tom Banks said...

Hi.

When I say that the "state" has a duty to recognize the True Religion, I am referring to the usage of the word "state" that means the "civitas" or national community. Because man lives not only as an individual but together in a community, communities (as groups of individuals) have a duty to recognize the True Religion by acts of public power.

Even though a civic community is not a literal person who can possess the theological virtue of Faith, the civic community is a "moral person" made up of individuals with intellect and will who make communal decisions that are either just or unjust. When human beings act communally, they must act in accord with the truth just as human beings must act in accord with the truth in their personal lives.

The work of the national community's governing authority and its agencies carried out by individuals has the task of bringing about the common good for the larger national community. As I see it, and some others see it, an important part of facilitating the common good in a national community is for the individual leaders of that nation to at least recognize and show some preference for the True Faith in the name of the national community. In a democratic republic, this recognition would be made by the leaders carrying out public acts on behalf of the individuals in the national community who elected these leaders to represent them and their beliefs. This recognition of the True Religion does not mean, however, the leaders or members of the national community have any right to coerce anyone, Catholic or non-Catholic, in the practice of their religion. As with so many things in life, there is a balancing act that must take place between two truths---here the national community's moral duty to recognize the True Religion AND man's right to be free from coercion in religious matters.

How could this work out in practice? For example, if the United States ever had a Catholic majority, the individual Catholic citizens who elect representative governmental leaders could insist that those leaders pass legislation on their behalf that would recognize the True Faith and give preference to it. More specifically, the Church could be invited into public schools to teach the Catholic Faith for one hour a day to those interested in learning more about it. Catholic bishops could be invited to state dinners at the White House to promote the visibility of the Catholic Church. Legislators could ask Catholic bishops if the legislation they are about to pass is in accord with the natural moral law.

In the end, there can be some variance as to how exactly a civic community recognizes the True Religion and shows some preference for it through its public and communal acts. It seems a nation could even fulfill its duty towards the True Religion through public and civic acts even if the written constitution of the state had no specific words calling the Catholic Faith the "state religion." It is also a matter of prudence for the Church to decide how strictly She wants this doctrine carried out or if it is even possible to carry it out, although the duty remains.

In any event, Happy Thanksgiving. That's all I got on this.

Dad29 said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

In the end, your analysis has a lot of "if" hedges. While we agree on this:

The work of the national community's governing authority and its agencies carried out by individuals has the task of bringing about the common good for the larger national community.

And while we both agree that eternal salvation IS 'the common good,' some (perhaps not you) propose that 'recognition of the True Religion' by the State is a necessity--in fact, a "duty".

Then you have a lot of 'prudence' stuff.

In a democratic republic, this recognition would be made by the leaders carrying out public acts on behalf of the individuals in the national community who elected these leaders to represent them and their beliefs

In most democratic republics, the electors are not majority-RC. And even in the case where the electors ARE majority-RC, so what? That doesn't add up to a nod, much less obeisance, to the Faith.

By the way, precisely where do you find this to be 'doctinal'?

Anonymous said...

Tom--Please refer to the "How could this...For example, if the United States ever had a Catholic majority..." paragraph.

So Jews, Muslims, and gentiles would ACCEPT this
type of government, where ONE religion is given "preference"? Where one faith "imposes" its specific value system upon others? Our Constitution specifically calls for a separation of church and state. No theocracy!

Assume if the United States ever had a Jewish or Muslim majority. Would you as a Catholic (I assume you are) support the argument you exposed if these religious groups in power "paseds legislation on their behalf that would give preference to their 'True Religion' or if Jewish/Muslim legislators asked Jewish rabbis or Muslim clerics if the "legislation they are about to pass is in accord with the natural moral law", perhaps even bypassing the will of their constituents?

If you object, then "Houston, we have a problem" regarding the consistency in your argument. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
If your logic applies to Catholic majorities, then it must apply to Jewish or Muslim majorities.

I think I also learned in civics class that there is something in our Constitution called "separation of church and state". Non-Catholics would certainly oppose any Catholic, Jewish, or Islamic based law.

Dad29--"Moral actor" is insignificant to "non-believers". That is, those citizens who do not belong to a specific Church or do not strictly follow its core principles believe that the state provides order through its institutions and a specific code of what is "right" and "wrong" through their (the citizens) participation in the political process, with those institutions and codes not necessarily being based on a "particular higher moral authority" or a 'True Religion'. Call those people lost souls if you want. I am against any and all theocracy.

Dad29 said...

"Moral actor" is insignificant to "non-believers". That is, those citizens who do not belong to a specific Church or do not strictly follow its core principles believe that the state provides order through its institutions and a specific code of what is "right" and "wrong" through their (the citizens) participation in the political process...

I disagree, partly.

All human beings have an innate sense of right and wrong from birth, and that sense is common across all religious beliefs. It's also present in non-believers (and we'll assume 'men of goodwill' are the subjects rather than blackguards.)

The moral authority of which you speak derives its authority from that common, innate sense--or it would not be "authority."

And we are not really discussing 'theocracy,' although the differences are subtle. Recognition of a "true religion" does not necessarily entail rule by clerics, or by theological statute--although "altar-and-throne" folks would install an Enlightened Ruler if they had their way.

In reality, the USA and the West in general recognizes the Judaeo-Christian tradition, albeit rather sloppily (and in some cases it is blatantly violated.) It is not a perfect system but it is better than almost all the alternatives.

Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

I happen to agree with anony who posted at 6:39pm.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
If your logic applies to Catholic majorities, then it must apply to Jewish or Muslim majorities."

Too true.

Although Dad29 is right that there should be recognition of common sense right and wrong(and fortunately for us there is to an extent), there is no room for any type of religious leader in our government of any religious denomination.

Dad29 said...

there is no room for any type of religious leader in our government of any religious denomination.

Well, no. But there is a difference between the "ideal" Gummint and the one we have.

The ideal Gummint may well be an altar-and-throne setup; but I think the Church recognized that the fallibility of all men makes that arrangement dangerous to the Church.

Better to allow Caesar's things to be Caesar's, while the Church continues to teach.

Tom said...

The basic outline of the doctrine comes from the Catechism #2105:

"2105 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."

2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36

Again, how the national community or civitas "makes known the worship of the one true religion" will vary at different points in time according to what is helpful or even possible. The Catechism in no way rules out explicit civil recognition, as it is mentioned in #2107 as a possibility. Some say the Catechism was not more strong in its support of explicit civil recognition because it would be difficult to obtain such recognition in most countries at this point in history where societies are so pluralistic and secular. In any event, it is possible for a national community to fulfill its communal obligations to God as a society without making an explicit confession of the True Faith in a written form. Written constitutions are a relatively new phenomenon.

Dignitatis Humane #1 of Vatican II also "left untouched the traditional teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the True Religion and the One Church of Christ." The insertion of this into the "Decree on Religious Liberty" was the Council Fathers upholding the earlier traditional teaching of Pope Leo XIII and Pius IX that the civil community has a duty towards the true religion because societies fall under the Reign of Christ the King, as do individuals. The Catechism references both "Immortale Dei" of Leo XIII and Pius IX's "Quas Primas."

It is also quite likely that neither DH nor the Catechism took up this matter in any more detail, as neither were meant to give a full treatise of Church and State relations.

Fr. Brian Harrison, a theologian in good-standing with Rome, has explained this moral duty of societies quite well. Here are three links:

www.rtforum.org/lt/lt33.html

www.rtforum.org/lt/lt34.html

http://www.fidelitybooks.com.au/cgi-bin/mengine.cgi?searchuid=11101&log=topten&ft=publisher&fp=John_XXIII_Co-op

From what I understand, in January of 2007, John Finnis published a paper arguing that the state has not only the right but an obligation for the sake of the public order to name the true religion. I have not read the paper yet, but I am trying to get it as we speak.

Tom said...

Disgruntled Car Salesman,

You are indeed right. If I lived in a country where the Muslim majority wanted to make Islam the official state religion and grant it preferential treatment, I would accept that; HOWEVER, the Muslims would also have to recognize my right to worship freely according to my own Catholic conscience. Just because a Muslim majority recognizes Islam as the "true religion" through government laws and special treatment does not give the Muslims a corresponding right to put down all other religious practice.

Let me also say that even if the Muslims did declare Islam as the religion of the State, etc., that would not make Islam a true religion.

Moreover, one religion receiving special treatment through tax breaks and official recognition, etc., does not mean the religion is forced on anyone. It would be wrong and heavy-handed for a religion to force itself on people because matters of religion must be carried out in an atmosphere of freedom.

The U.S. Constitution does say that there may be no official establishment of religion, but I suppose a Catholic majority at some point could work to change the Constitution if they wanted. That would probably not be strictly necessary though as the moral duty of society could be fulfilled through other ways like passing simple laws giving special tax breaks to the Catholic Church, providing special opportunities for the Church to teach in the public schools, etc.

A national community that recognizes a religion as true through its government does not automatically turn into a theocracy. The civil community, though it recognizes one religion as true, is still not authorized to force Catholicism on other people. No one in the civil community would be forced to believe in Catholic doctrines like Purgatory. No one would be forced to attend Mass. Finally, Catholic bishops and priests would not be governing the country, as that is the work of the temporal rulers.

(Phew...Time for a beer!)

Dad29 said...

This would seem to be the central point of Fr H's essay in #33:

...the great papal encyclicals on Church and State insist - contrary to Fr. Murray's thesis - that civic recognition of Catholicism as the true religion is an immutable precept of divine positive law. And God has imposed this obligation not primarily in the interests of the Church herself (her freedom, prosperity, security, or whatever), but because it arises inexorably from the social nature of man, the universal sovereignty of Christ, the rationally demonstrable truth of Catholicism, and above all, the First Commandment.

...It is clear from this and other key affirmations of the Church's magisterium that, according to her doctrine - not just a historically conditioned policy - the civic community's recognition of Catholic truth is primarily a duty which it owes to God


......which makes Anony 11:39's post correct.

Frankly I am still not completely comfortable with the 'state has duty' portion of it, although this formulation:

men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, not less than individuals, owes gratitude to God

...is understandable. Perhaps it is the term 'society' rather than 'state.' 'Society' is a collection of individuals, and the state is not necessarily congruent with society.

Having said that, Harrison also quotes Quas Primas:

[Christ's] kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.

So then we have what seems to be the 'minimum daily requirement' of the acknowledgment called for by Leo XIII (et al).

Given what we know, the US is not too far from that 'minimum,' albeit with some glaring examples of non-conformance.

(There's also a line about 'persuasion' somewhere in the essay which is important, I think.)

SO: Anony 11:39 is correct, I was wrong--but we'll use "society" rather than "state" going forward.

Anonymous said...

Tom:

1. "From what I understand, in January of 2007, John Finnis published a paper arguing that the state has not only the right but an obligation for the sake of the public order to name the true religion."

And if he claimed Islam or Judaism, for argument's sake, what say you?


2. "A national community that recognizes a religion as true through its government does not automatically turn into a theocracy."

No, but the likelihood or probability increases, which would alienate those who are not members of the "controlling" religion or who follow no religion.


3. "The civil community, though it recognizes one religion as true, is still not authorized to force Catholicism on other people."

Tell that to the Puritans!


4. "Finally, Catholic bishops and priests would not be governing the country, as that is the work of the temporal rulers."

And the decisions of the temporal rulers would then be heavily influenced by the "dominating religious majority".


5. "Let me also say that even if the Muslims did declare Islam as the religion of the State, etc., that would not make Islam a true religion."

You contradict yourself. See 1 above. Besides, I believe there is no "true" religion. It is a matter of faith for each person, but I do admit that when a person calls me out and says "you are not a true Christian", then I have a problem with his/her judgement. God will judge me.



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tom said...

Anonymous 10:17,

"If Muslims did declare Islam as the religion of the State, etc., that would not make Islam a true religion." ----What I meant by that is that if I was a Catholic living in such an Islamic state, I would not care too much about what the Muslims declared because it would not mean much to my own Catholic beliefs. Just because the Muslims declared Islam to be the true religion, as is their right, does not necessarily make Islam true in the overall picture of reality. A government can declare that 2+2=5 until it is blue in the face, but that does not make it true. In the same way, a government can declare Islam is true all day, but that does not make it true.

Also, how can you believe that there is no True Religion? Either Jesus Christ came and founded the Catholic Church or He did not. There is either a True Religion founded by God or there is not a True Religion founded by God. You may not see the truth right now, but that does not mean the truth about how things really objectively are doesn't exist.

In any event, you should look into the Catholic Faith. The external proofs for the Catholic Church are quite remarkable. No Church has endured as long as the Catholic Church. Look at all of the miracles of Christ and the Catholic saints. Some of the saints of the Catholic Faith have bodies that have not decayed after death. They are called "incorruptibles." Look at the unity of the Catholic Church under the Pope. What other Church has fulfilled the Gospel mandate to take the Word of God to all four corners of the Earth better than the Catholic Church? Which other religion has done more for humanity than the Catholic Church Who founded so many hospitals, universities, etc.? The evidence for the truth of the Catholic Faith goes on and on...

Please, look into it further. You might want to look here first:
http://www.catholic.com/library/faith_tracts.asp

You're in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

"In any event, you should look into the Catholic Faith."

I am a Methodist who respects ALL religions. It is NOT my place to judge how others worship. You have your beliefs, I have my beliefs. Religion = Faith. It is when people insist in a "true religion" that leads to holy wars and Jihad.

God bless.