By Professor Timothy J.A. O’Donnell
Written on the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Liturgical Calendar 1962)
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man -Ps 46:1
In this brief post, I aim to visit the Reign of the Christ the King with you as a corrective to the modernist (and false) understanding of Religious Freedom, which prevails in many circles of influence from within the Holy Mother Church and the political sphere. To accomplish this task, which will in no way exhaust the topic, I will draw from the teaching of the Magisterium setting it in contrast to the more recent historical developments of what prominent Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor rightly describes as our Secular Age.
II. Cuius Regio Eius Religio
“The prince’s religion is the religion of the state and must be the religion of the people” is the formulation found in the Treaties of Westphalia ending the 30 Years War of religion in Europe (1618-1648 AD). The war was bloody having unleashed violence flowing from the spread of the Protestant Revolt. Fought largely within the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire estimates range between 4-8 million killed.
Under these terms, a person is born into the religion of the State of their birth. Therefore, the State or ruling government vis-à-vis the ruler determined the religion of its people. Born under a Lutheran Prince? You’re a Lutheran. Born in a Catholic region or principality, you’re a Catholic. The principle of peace animating Westphalia’s compromise haunts us once again. It haunts us because a new Elite Ruling Class is emerging. One that future generations will be born into. This totalitarian regime uses coercion to force obedience, violate conscience rights, and extinguish the light of Holy Faith. This new world offers the glamour of the unholy, filth, vice, and certitude of godless damnation: in a word Hell.
III. Evil Days
Darkness. We live with its clammy chill all around us. Calamities fill the headlines. It will not surprise readers that the spirit of Vatican II is the decisive point of rupture leading us into this time of depravity, loss, and confusion. Before Vatican II, the teachings of the Holy Mother Church clearly warned against the dethronement of Christ Our Lord from the spiritual and temporal realms. Our Holy Father of blessed memory Pius XI wrote nearly a century ago in the encyclical Quas Primas:
[And] We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. – 1.
“These words of the Holy Bible have been fulfilled and are now at this very moment being fulfilled before our very eyes. Because men have forsaken God and Jesus Christ, they have sunk to the depths of evil. They waste their energies and consume their time and efforts in vain sterile attempts to find a remedy for these ills, but without even being successful in saving what little remains from the existing ruin. It was a quite general desire that both our laws and our governments should exist without recognizing God or Jesus Christ, on the theory that all authority comes from men, not from God. Because of such an assumption, these theorists fell very short of being able to bestow upon law not only those sanctions which it must possess but also that secure basis for the supreme criterion of justice which even a pagan philosopher like Cicero saw clearly could not be derived except from the divine law. Authority itself lost its hold upon mankind, for it had lost that sound and unquestionable justification for its right to command on the one hand and to be obeyed on the other. Society, quite logically and inevitably, was shaken to its very depths and even threatened with destruction, since there was left to it no longer a stable foundation, everything having been reduced to a series of conflicts, to the domination of the majority, or to the supremacy of special interests.”
Pius XI, Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, 28
Who can argue that the Catholic Faith across the America and Europe is in a devastating decline? The happy-clappy optimism and errors of Vatican II have been ruinous.
IV. Separation of Church and State
As Americans, we have been taught to believe firmly in the separation of Church and State. But this wasn’t always so for Roman Catholics:
“That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error. Based, as it is, on the principle that the State must not recognize any religious cult, it is in the first place guilty of a great injustice to God; for the Creator of man is also the Founder of human societies and preserves their existence as He preserves our own. We owe Him, therefore, not only a private cult, but a public and social worship to honor Him. Besides, this thesis is an obvious negation of the supernatural order. It limits the action of the State to the pursuit of public prosperity during this life only, which is but the proximate object of political societies; and it occupies itself in no fashion (on the plea that this is foreign to it) with their ultimate object which is man’s eternal happiness after this short life shall have run its course. But as the present order of things is temporary and subordinated to the conquest of man’s supreme and absolute welfare, it follows that the civil power must not only place no obstacle in the way of this conquest but must aid us in effecting it. The same thesis also upsets the order providentially established by God in the world, which demands a harmonious agreement between the two societies. Both of them, the civil and the religious society, although each exercise in its own sphere its authority over them. It follows necessarily that there are many things belonging to them in common in which both societies must have relations with one another. Remove the agreement between Church and State, and the result will be that from these common matters will spring the seeds of disputes which will become acute on both sides; it will become more difficult to see where the truth lies, and great confusion is certain to arise. Finally, this thesis inflicts great injury on society itself, for it cannot either prosper or last long when due place is not left for religion, which is the supreme rule and the sovereign mistress in all questions touching the rights and the duties of men. Hence the Roman Pontiffs have never ceased, as circumstances required, to refute and condemn the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. Our illustrious predecessor, Leo XIII, especially, has frequently and magnificently expounded Catholic teaching on the relations which should subsist between the two societies. “Between them,” he says, “there must necessarily be a suitable union, which may not improperly be compared with that existing between body and soul- Quaedam intercedat necesse est ordinata colligatio (inter illas) quae quidem conjunctioni non immerito comparatur, per quam anima et corpus in homine copulantur.”
“He proceeds: ‘Human societies cannot, without becoming criminal, act as if God did not exist or refuse to concern themselves with religion, as though it were something foreign to them, or of no purpose to them…. As for the Church, which has God Himself for its author, to exclude her from the active life of the nation, from the laws, the education of the young, the family, is to commit a great and pernicious error. – Civitates non possunt, citra scellus, gerere se tamquam si Deus omnino non esset, aut curam religionis velut alienam nihilque profuturam abjicere…. Ecclesiam vero, quam Deus ipse constituit, ab actione vitae excludere, a legibus, ab institutione adolescentium, a societate domestica, magnus et perniciousus est error.’ (emphasis added)”
Pius X, Vehementer Nos, 3
V. Ex Opere Operato
One wonders little about the ruinous state of affairs in our beloved Holy Roman Catholic Church when her prince prattles about religious liberty (an unstructured term all too frequently equated with or synonymous to toleration). Here’s a recent example: “So I vigorously defend our first and most cherished liberty, not because I’m a believer, but because I’m a citizen. I defend it not to boost the church, but to boost the human rights tradition at the heart of our Republic.” – Cardinal Dolan, Correcting the Narrative, Keynote Given at the University of Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit.
Notice his trifecta of errors. Briefly, the right to life is our first and most cherished liberty. Without life, other rights are meaningless. Second, motives matter. Why would a Cardinal claim his citizenship (a good, indeed) but not his holy Catholic Faith animates his position? Third, Cardinal Dolan elevates the prerogative of the State above Divine Law and the rights of the Church which are sovereign and beyond the grasp of secular ruling governments. All these errors are in just two sentences. And the speech gets worse. It’s all quite odd and doesn’t even sound Catholic at all, hence the problem.
VI. Kingdom of God
The restoration of the Empire of Our Lord is the answer. What, you ask, is the question. How do we find and establish peace and unity?
“For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him. And he is before all, and by Him, all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He may hold the primacy: Because in Him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; And through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.”
Corinthians 1:16-20 (emphasis added)
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. We must embark on the Return of the King in all we say and do. Christ The King is the foundation and Prince of Peace:
“Now, morality, in man, by the mere fact that it should establish harmony among so many dissimilar rights and duties, since it enters as an element into every human act, necessarily supposes God, and with God, religion, that sacred bond whose privilege is to unite, anteriorly to all other bonds, man to God. Indeed, the idea of morality signifies, above all, an order of dependence in regard to truth which is the light of the mind; in regard to good which is the object of the will; and without truth and good there is no morality worthy of the name. And what is the principal and essential truth, that from which all truth is derived? It is God. What, therefore, is the supreme good from which all other good proceeds? God. Finally, who is the creator and guardian of our reason, our will, our whole being, as well as the end of our life? God; always God. Since, therefore, religion is the interior and exterior expression of the dependence which, in justice, we owe to God. there follows a grave obligation. All citizens are bound to unite in maintaining in the nation true religious sentiment, and to defend it in case of need, if ever, despite the protestations of nature and of history, an atheistical school should set about banishing God from society, thereby surely annihilating the moral sense even in the depths of the human conscience. Among men who have not lost all notion of integrity there can exist no difference of opinion on this point.”
Pius XI, Au Milieu Des Sollicitudes, 6
VII. The boy who loved Our Lord unto death
One considers and takes account of the current milieu full of sorrow but not despair. I recommend to you the film For Greater Glory: The True Story of the Cristiada (2012) which accurately depicts the dark forces of socialism reigning a murderous terror on a Catholic people and nation that chose to fight back. Their war cry, their creed, their love was ¡Viva Cristo Rey…Long Live Christ the King!!!
St. Jose Sanchez del Rio
“From the outset, it should be noted that the society established by the Redeemer of the human race resembles its divine Founder who was persecuted, calumniated, and tortured by those very men whom He had undertaken to save. We do not deny, rather from a heart filled with gratitude to God. We admit, that even in our turbulent times there are many who, though outside the fold of Jesus Christ, look to the Church as the only haven of salvation; but We are also aware that the Church of God not only is despised and hated maliciously by those who shut their eyes to the light of Christian wisdom and miserably return to the teachings, customs and practices of ancient paganism, but is ignored, neglected, and even at times looked upon as irksome by many Christians who are allured by specious error or caught in the meshes of the world’s corruption. In obedience, therefore, Venerable Brethren, to the voice of Our conscience and in compliance with the wishes of many, We will set forth before the eyes of all and extol the beauty, the praises, and the glory of Mother Church to whom, after God, we owe everything.”
Pius XII, Mystici Corpus, 3
Ad Jesum per Mariam.