Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Vatican Leaders Outraged as Anti-Immigration Politician Commends Italy to Mary

Is there any doubt that Satan is alive and well and working in the Vatican?
From LifeSiteNews

By Lisa Bourne

May 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Italian politician with whom Pope Francis reportedly refuses to meet because of his immigration stance held and kissed a rosary during a political rally over the weekend and invoked the Blessed Mother, drawing criticism from some quarters and support from others.
Deputy premier and interior minister Matteo Salvini also commended his country, its citizens, and himself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, something unheard of from a Catholic political leader.
During a Saturday political rally attended by tens of thousands in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Salvini appealed to the six patron saints of Europe, The Tabletreports, Ss. Benedict of Norcia, Brigid of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Cyril and Methodius, and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).
Salvini then kissed his rosary, looked up to statue of the Blessed Mother atop the 14th-century Milan Cathedral and said, “I entrust Italy, my life, and your lives to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who I’m sure will bring us to victory.”
Salvini, head of Italy’s Lega (League) Party, led the rally with 10 other populist European leaders ahead of this week’s European Parliament elections, in a growing resistance to centralized European Union (EU) control, and in particular, support for tightening immigration laws.
Salvini is a conservative Catholic politician known for prioritizing his country over the European Union, garnering himself the “nationalist” label by the media and the left.
Criticism of Salvini
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and close confidant of Pope Francis, was among the Catholic figures disapproving of Salvini’s use of the rosary at the rally.
Spadaro issued several critical tweets, spreading the criticism on Facebook as well, saying Christians should be outraged.
Last year, Spadaro opposed a proposed Italian law mandating that crucifixes be placed in all public buildings, accusing Salvini’s League party on Twitter of seeking to use the crucifix as an action figure, which is “blasphemous.”
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin issued an apparent rebuke of Salvini as well on Sunday. 
“I believe partisan politics divides, but God belongs to everyone,” Parolin told reporters at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran. “Invoking God for oneself is always very dangerous.” 
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the European Bishops’ Conference, also denounced Salvini to Italian newspaper La Stampa, according to The Tablet, saying particular groups cannot appropriate Christian values and that “acceptance and integration are essential values of the Gospel” and have “no color.”  
Bishop Domenico Mogavero, of Mazara del Vallo, a port in western Sicily, head of the judicial affairs panel of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), said Salvini can no longer call himself a Christian, according to ANSA new service.
“We can no longer stay silent over the bragging of an ever more arrogant minister,” Mogavero said.
“We can no longer allow (people) to appropriate the sacred signs of our faith to peddle their inhuman, anti-historic views, diametrically opposed to the Gospel message,” he said. “Those who are with him cannot call themselves Christian because they have reneged on the commandment of love.”
Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana termed Salvini’s kissing of the rosary and response to the pope an instance of “fetishist sovereignty.”
Enzo Bianchi, lay founder of the ecumenical Monastic Bose Community and an influential figure in the Italian Church, said he was “profoundly disturbed” by Salvini’s actions. 
“How is it possible that a politician today, at an electoral rally, can kiss the rosary, invoke the patron saints of Europe and entrust Italy to the immaculate heart of Mary for the victory of his party?” Bianchi tweeted. “Catholics, if you love Christianity, do not be silent. Protest!”
Cogent response
At the same time, Catholic Herald columnist and associate professor of theology for the Catholic University of America C.C. Pecknold offered reasoned analysis, pointing out among other things that Salvini echoes what Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah has said on immigration.
Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has affirmed a nation’s right to differentiate between refugees and economic migrants and acknowledged a globalist effort to de-Christianize the West via mass migration. He has also criticized the idea that social justice issues such as immigration displace or are on the par with the Church’s primary purpose to save souls.
Pecknold also noted that Salvini quoted Sarah in his speech, along with G.K. Chesterton, Pope Saint John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.
“We need whole nations consecrated to Our Lady”
Conceding that Spadaro’s politics are different from Salvini’s, Pecknold said he was nonetheless baffled by Spadaro’s comment that rosaries in politics should anger Christians.
“The Church does not have political models to commend, or defend,” Pecknold wrote. “The Church teaches precepts which are elevating standards for any order. Salvini appears to be cognizant of these principles, and that should be praised by the Church, regardless of policy disagreements.”
“There is nothing wrong with rosaries in politics,” he said. “We need whole nations consecrated to Our Lady.”
While Salvini was one among 11 European leaders to appear at the rally Saturday, the Associated Press reports that most of the tens of thousands of supporters who filled the square outside Milan’s Duomo cathedral were there for the Italian interior minister, with League flags filling the square among a “smattering” of national flags from other countries.
Pecknold had also written that at the end of the campaign rally, when Salvini commended himself and his country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “[t]he Milan crowd cheered with Beatle-mania-like vigor.”
Salvini mentioned Pope Francis during the Milan rally Saturday, answering Francis’s comments to a group of journalists that same day at the Vatican not to forget that the Mediterranean had been turned into a cemetery due to migrant drownings. 
“To His Holiness, Pope Francis,” Salvini said, “I say that the policy of this government is eliminating the dead in the Mediterranean with pride and Christian charity.”
The crowd promptly booed at the rally when they heard the pope’s name, The Tablet report said.
Several Italian publications reported in recent months based on information from anonymous sources that Pope Francis refuses to meet with Salvini because of Salvini’s strong stance against illegal immigration — this while Francis has met on repeated occasions with supporters of abortion and other issues in conflict with Church teaching.
More recently, papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, a close aide to Francis, said as well that the Vatican would deny Salvini a papal blessing for the same reason, comparing Salvini to an abortion-provider and Venezuelan dictators in making the point.
Immigration policy is a prudential issue over which Catholics can disagree regarding specifics of its handling. Abortion, however, is a mortal sin and non-negotiable according to Church teaching.
Francis: Migrants’ rights should override national security concerns
Francis continually signals support for open immigration, condemning attempts to stem the tide of Muslim immigration into Europe, even at the cost of national security.
Since 2015, Europe has faced large-scale to crisis-level immigration, mostly from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Many migrants risk and lose their lives while trying to move, and there is rampant disagreement over refugee status, national sovereignty and security concerns, and terrorism and crime, as well as the burden of funding social support for migrants and refugees.
complicit media establishment has continually downplayed any downside to open borders in most arenas throughout the crisis.
The pope has condemned walls related to national borders on more than one occasion — a veiled reference to U.S. president Donald Trump for Trump’s national security policies deferential to the U.S. Along this same ostensible vein, Francis even said in 2016 that “building walls” instead of “building bridges” “is not Christian.” Then he said again last month, “He who builds a wall ends up a prisoner of the wall he built.” 
‘duty within the limits of the possible’
Salvini said on Monday that he would like to meet the pope, and he cited the Catechism to say the possible limits of welcoming immigrants had been exceeded.
“I would like to be received by the pope, but I have never asked for it,” Salvini said. “He is one of the most stimulating and fascinating people — I could only learn from him.”
“If the occasion will arise, I will be more than willing to meet him,” Salvini added, according to ANSA. Salvini said welcoming migrants “is a ‘duty within the limits of the possible,’ according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church(, and) the possible has been surpassed.”
On Monday before an ANSA forum, Salvini questioned the idea that invoking the Blessed Mother is offensive.
“I hear I’m being called inhuman because I go around with a crucifix in my pocket,” he said. “May I ask for Mary’s help, or will someone be offended?”
Salvini admitted to being a sinner and said it does not stop him from keeping a rosary with him, Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s Qantara.de reports.
“I am the last among good Christians,” said Salvini, “but I am proud to always have a rosary in my pocket.”

Church Militant Headlines—May 21, 2019

Church in Pennsylvania vandalised by pro-aborts. #KEEPtheBANS

Dem Who Filmed Himself Harassing Pro-Lifers Apologizes…for Disrespecting Planned Parenthood Policies

What a piece of stinking slime!
From LifeSiteNews

By Calvin Freiburger

May 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – After a period of social media silence, the Pennsylvania Democrat who filmed himself berating peaceful pro-life protesters has issued a new apology – not to the peaceful minors he attempted to intimidate, but to Planned Parenthood and fellow pro-abortion activists negatively impacted by the coverage of his actions.
Earlier this month, State Rep. Brian Sims drew national attention by posting a videoin which he followed a woman who was quietly walking and praying a rosary outside of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. He attempted to shove his phone in her face and repeatedly called her “shameful,” “disgusting,” “racist,” and an “old white lady.”
Another video showed him approaching three girls, who he calls “pseudo-Christian protesters,” and offering “$100 to anybody who will identify these three.” Afterward, he approached a male protester and asked, “What makes you think it’s your job to tell women what to do with their bodies?” But before the man could answer, Sims declared, “The truth is, I’m not really asking, because I don’t care. Shame on you,” and walked away.
The videos sparked widespread outrage among pro-lifers, who in a matter of days organized a pro-life rally outside that Planned Parenthood location on May 10 that drew hundreds of attendees and several prominent pro-lifers, as well as Ashley Garecht, the mother of two of the girls seen in the video. Sims eventually went silenton his social media accounts and barred the public from so much as entering his office building.
Over the weekend, journalist Salena Zito published a fundraising email Sims has sent out claiming to regret his actions (without acknowledging any specifics) for their negative impact on Planned Parenthood and fellow pro-abortion activists, not for having mistreated pro-lifers in any way:
“I recognize that my behavior was aggressive and that I acted in an inappropriate way,” Sims wrote. “For that, I am truly sorry. My emotions took over because I was, and am, angry.”
He then went on to justify his anger over a litany of alleged pro-life and conservative misdeeds, such as “pro-life protestors [sic] us[ing] white privilege and racism to attack people of color” in unspecified ways; pro-life laws “causing panic, anger, confusion, and rage for so many women”; gun violence, drug deaths, education spending, and more.
“All of this makes me angry, but in that moment, in that video, I should not have let my emotions get the best of me,” Sims said. “I should not have disrespected Planned Parenthood’s policies of not engaging with protestors. For that, I’m absolutely sorry [...] To the staff, volunteers, and patients of Planned Parenthood, I’m sorry to have created this distraction.” He ended the email with a link to donate money to Planned Parenthood.
The email echoes Sims’ previous “apology” video in which he admitted only to being overly “aggressive,” while maintaining that he has spent years witnessing pro-life harassment of girls seeking “routine health care,” which his videos “should have shown” but simply left out.
Pennsylvania’s Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai responded to the email and those calling for Sims to be formally censured by linking the House GOP’s May 15 statement declaring they were “extremely disappointed that Rep. Sims’ actions have caused harm to his victims and to our chamber” and “expect him to accept full responsibility for his egregious and unacceptable behavior and to pledge that he will meet the high standards that the people of Pennsylvania have for their elected officials.”
Joe Garecht, the father of two of the girls Sims threatened to dox, expressed disappointment that 'words' appear to be the entirety of House Republicans’ response.
“I remain disappointed that the legislature has not taken action against Mr Sims,” Garecht wrote. “His fundraising email shows he has absolutely no remorse.” He also warned Turzai and his colleagues to “remember that the eyes of the prolife world are on Pennsylvania right now.”
State GOP chairman Val DiGiorgio, GOP state Rep. Martina White, and GOP state Rep. Stan Saylor have also called on authorities such as U.S. attorney William McSwain, Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, and Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner to investigate Sims’ actions, but no investigations have yet come of their calls.

Marian Shrines of the World # 5: Our Lady of Ta' Pinu

Fr. Andre takes us to the island of Gozo in Malta and explains the history of the Basilica of Our Lady of Ta' Pinu.

The Vortex — Resist and Restore

Michael Voris discusses the depth of the crisis and what we can and should be doing.

Word of the Day: Theological Virtue

THEOLOGICAL VIRTUE. A good habit of the mind or will, supernaturally infused into the soul, whose immediate object is God. The theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity.

In Defence of Catholic Integralism

A vigorous defence of the Catholic confessional state against liberalism, both left and 'right', by philosopher Thomas Pink.
From Public Discourse

By Thomas Pink

States that do not recognize both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching.

The nineteenth-century popes taught that, where possible, Catholicism should be confessed not only by private individuals but by the state, which should legally privilege and protect it as the true religion. Joseph Trabbic has recently argued here at Public Discourse that this teaching is still the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
He has been opposed, also in Public Discourse, by Robert Miller and Christopher Tollefsen. Robert Miller claims that this teaching was no more than undefined doctrina catholica of Leo XIII and other nineteenth-century popes, and was taught neither as revelation nor as natural law. In any case, the teaching has now been abrogated by Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II. Thus, he argues, current Catholic doctrine is precisely the opposite: the state must not privilege Catholicism legally in any way but respect a general right to religious liberty.
Christopher Tollefsen denies the very legitimacy of a confessional Catholic state, but on more general philosophical and theological grounds. States, he maintains, are simply not in the business of confessing any religion. States are not capable of the act of faith that saves, and a state’s attempt to represent that Catholicism is true would either be oppressive and unwarrantedly coercive, or else simply pointless. In either case, the attempt to proclaim Catholicism’s truth would be outside the state’s legitimate authority. The function of state authority is to defend against external attack, to enable successful cooperation by facilitating coordination, and to help meet material need. None of this involves proclaiming the truth of a religion.
In my view, neither Miller nor Tollefsen’s case is compelling. Miller ignores the very important fact that well before the nineteenth century, popes and general councils had long and repeatedly been instructing Catholic states to support the Church and the faith, and to restrict heresy and false religions. The legitimacy of this was ordinary teaching. Besides, for example, Pope Leo the Great (letter 156, to the Emperor Leo), Lateran IV (Constitution 3, De haereticis, making a willingness of Catholic rulers to remove heresy from their states a condition of communion) and Trent (Session 25, chapter 3), there is the witness from the canonical tradition—consider canon 2198 of the 1917 Code, calling on the state to act as the Church’s secular arm in enforcing Church law, citing Trent and other general councils and the former corpus of canon law as authorities for this duty of the state.
There is, however, a certain truth in the secularity of the state. Pope Leo XIII taught in Immortale Dei that with the coming of Christ, religion—the giving of worship due to God—is removed from the natural law-based authority of the state. Its regulation and protection have been put under a new and sovereign legal authority, the Church, based not on natural law but on the revealed law of the New Covenant. This was because religion no longer exists as it once did, as merely rational religion, the worship required by natural law of a God naturally known from created things, but now involves baptism and other sacraments to take us to a supernatural end, transcending nature and our created human capacity, the beatific vision in heaven. So there are now two distinct legal orders—a natural-law based civil order governed by the authority of the state, and a new order of religion governed by the Church and based on a divine positive law revealed by Christ. While the state remains the sovereign potestas over civil questions, the Church is now the sole potestas over religion, with a sovereign jurisdiction based on baptism to legislate for religion and to enforce that law through punishments.
The state should publicly recognise the truth of the Catholic religion. But since religion is now a supernatural good, it entirely transcends the authority of the state, as natural goods such as transport and education do not. So when the state legislates and punishes for purely religious ends, such as to privilege a religion just on grounds of its truth or to further people’s salvation, it can only properly do so as agent for the authority of the Church—as the Church’s secular arm. And that the state, when publicly Christian and so directed by the Church, is bound to do—as canon 2198 of the 1917 Code reflects. Since the supernatural good of religion is higher than any natural good, the state should submit its authority to that of the Church in matters specific to religion, as (Leo XIII’s parallel) the body submits in intellectual matters to the soul.
This Leonine teaching has an obvious consequence, though not one much emphasized before Vatican II, when the Church’s primary concern had still been to address the state as potential religious agent. If the state is not willing or able publicly to adhere to the Church’s mission, and act as her agent in matters of religion, then—detached from the sole religious potestas—the state can only act under its own native and purely civil authority, and lacks all authority to regulate religion, even a borrowed one. In matters specific to religion itself, we will then have a complete right to liberty from state coercion—precisely because religion entirely transcends state authority, just as Dignitatis Humanae goes on to teach. Legislation and punishment for specifically religious ends has no place in the civil order, and so is beyond the authority of the state when acting solely within that order. No wonder that at Vatican II, an official relatio of September 1965 stated that the declaration on religious liberty depended on Leo XIII’s doctrine of the two distinct legal orders, religious and civil.
I do not have space to deal at length with Miller’s historical claims about Church doctrine, but I address the very similar arguments of Martin Rhonheimer in an essay available here. Suffice it to say that, if Miller were right, the Church must have taught error about religious liberty—either before the nineteen-sixties, or else since then. For the Church to contradict her own past magisterial teaching, and to do so invoking the very same authority that once grounded that teaching, would seriously undermine the authority so exercised.
But why is it Catholic teaching that the state should be Catholic, and confess the true religion? To that I now turn.
Catholic Integralism and the State as Confessor of Public Reason
Integralism—the need for a confessional Catholic state—is part of Catholic teaching about grace. Grace is required to repair and perfect all of human nature. Human nature involves the political not as a mere expression and instrument of the private, but as a distinctive sphere of existence and understanding in its own right. Unless we commit ourselves to Christ as a political community, a vital part of human reason will remain untransformed by grace. The result will be spiritual conflict and degradation.
To see this, we need to understand what states are and what they do. That brings me to Tollefsen’s essay. Tollefsen puts forward a model of the state as instrument or facilitator for the satisfaction of individuals’ ends, providing much needed protection and coordination. Individuals or small private groups could often arrange that protection and coordination on the small scale for themselves. But when ill will threatens serious force and issues of coordination grow complex and involve multitudes, a powerful monopoly provider is needed: the state.
The Catholic tradition is different. It takes the state, and coercive authority in general, to have a teaching function. One central mode of teaching is through legal coercion. The supposition that it is the proper business of the state to teach, and teach coercively, extends back to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. And if states are in the teaching business, then to give some sort of confessional character to the state is not a category mistake, but report of an inevitable feature. Church and state each have a distinct jurisdiction, governing different goods; but each may teach, and each may use legal coercion in so doing.
This teaching function underpins the traditional Catholic conception of coercive authority over adults as belonging never to individuals directly, but only to a communitas perfecta, a whole community capable of governing itself. The right to punish adults was never viewed as John Locke conceived it—a right originally possessed by private individuals but transferred by them to the state. This authority to punish was exclusively political from the outset.
As individuals, we are naturally capable of a private reason. Consider a value such as property. Individuals are able to think rationally about property at the private level—whether, for example, I should give another person something of mine. In thinking about what and whether to give, I am not thinking about the consequences of what I do for an entire political community but for the particular persons involved. And I am thinking about property in a context where rules governing property already exist. I do not have the competence or authority to devise these rules myself or to abandon them once they have been established.
It is another thing to deliberate about property employing a genuinely public reason. Such a view does not take the rules of property for granted, but properly reasons about what those rules should be. And it considers those rules and property distributions in the light of the interests of a political community as a whole. Such a use of reason requires political institutions. It is through the state and our participation in political life that we come to understand what constitutes the bonum commune—the genuinely common good—and are enabled to pursue that good, as opposed to our own good or the goods of particular friends or neighbours.
That is why in Catholic tradition, as in Aristotle, the state is not just a facilitator of protection and cooperation. The state is also a public teacher. Through its laws, we as private individuals come to understand what the common good involves and how it should be pursued. All states are confessors: confessors of the content of reason as it concerns the bonum commune. A properly functioning state can bear witness to the common good in a way that private individuals cannot.
So states bear witness to the common good. But why should they also bear witness to religious truth?
Why the Christian State? The Fall and the Degradation of Public Reason
The reason is that the state’s grasp of public reason depends on its public commitment to religious truth. This is owing to the Fall, which has not destroyed human reason, but which has still seriously corrupted it. Divine grace, received with faith and through the sacraments, is needed as gratia sanans to restore our damaged rationality. This is true not just in relation to private reason but in relation to public reason too. Baptism obligates Christians, where they can, to commit their political community publicly to Christ. For if a state is not publicly so committed then, the nineteenth-century popes predicted, reason will not be informed and repaired by grace at the public level, and the state will give false witness about the bonum commune and what would further it. As Pius IX warned in Quanta Cura: “where religion has been removed from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine revelation repudiated, the genuine notion itself of justice and human right is darkened and lost . . .”
Leo XIII developed the point in Tametsi futura, emphasizing the need to repair reason in its public as well as its private form, the role of the state as teacher of public reason, and the threat posed by the Fall to the public reason of a non-Christian state:
Therefore the law of Christ ought to prevail in human society and be the guide and teacher of public as well as of private life. Since this is so by divine decree, and no man may with impunity contravene it, it is an evil thing for any state where Christianity does not hold the place that belongs to it. When Jesus Christ is absent, human reason fails, being bereft of its chief protection and light, and the very end is lost sight of, for which, under God’s providence, human society has been built up. This end is the obtaining by the members of society of natural good through the aid of civil unity, though always in harmony with the perfect and eternal good that is above nature. But when men’s minds are clouded, both rulers and ruled go astray, for they have no safe line to follow nor end to aim at.
Dignitatis Humanae’s strict teaching is the right to religious liberty in the civil order. This is not opposed to past magisterial teaching at all. But there is a related and still currently dominant background theology that is opposed to past magisterial teaching, and that treats Church-state separation not as an evil to be regretted, but a good to be encouraged. This theology supposes that states that cease to be Christian will still reliably adhere to natural law. The nineteenth-century popes taught differently: Human reason requires repair through grace, and, its public operation through the state is no exception to this requirement. Their doctrinal case is strong. And subsequent history tends to support it.
Whatever form political commitment to Christianity has historically taken, western states have generally been departing from public Christianity in any substantial form. And the warnings of Pius IX and Leo XIII do look very prescient. For with that political secularization we find states also departing from natural law on an ever-widening field of issues, including abortion, euthanasia, and marriage. We find the state still confessing, as states must do, but falsely. The secularizing state bears increasingly false witness to the common good. It moves with depressing speed, in many countries, to repress and marginalize opposing Christian witness to the natural law in public life.
Why the Christian State? Christ and the Elevation of Public Reason
There is another reason why the state should be publicly Christian. A state that is not Christian may perhaps give some respect to religious liberty. What a non-Christian state is much less likely to do, however, is recognize the kind of right to religious liberty taught in Dignitatis Humanae.
Dignitatis Humanae teaches that we have a right to religious liberty against the state because religion is a good that transcends the civil order.
Furthermore, those private and public acts of religion by which people relate themselves to God from the sincerity of their hearts, of their nature transcend the earthly and temporal levels of reality. So the state, whose peculiar purpose it is to provide for the temporal common good, should certainly recognize and promote the religious life of its citizens. With equal certainty it exceeds the limits of its authority if it takes upon itself to direct or prevent religious activity.
But this is only true, as the official relatio at Vatican II of September 1965 emphasized, because as Leo XIII had earlier taught, religion is now, “by the positive law of Christ,” removed to a new and specifically religious legal order. The nature and orientation of religion has been transformed by Christ, from the worship of a rationally known creator that serves our earthly happiness to sacramental worship directed at a heavenly end transcending nature.
The claim that the nature of religion altogether transcends the authority of the state is a very radical claim and depends on a Catholic or at least Christian view of religion. It assumes that religion now exists as a supernatural good, and not a merely natural one. The claim that religion transcends state authority is far stronger than the simple claim that, where religion is concerned, we have a genuine right to liberty that the state must respect. After all, human nature gives us rights to many forms of liberty. Take one such fundamental right: the right to liberty of movement. This too is a vital right that the state must respect. But no one would suppose that movement is a good that transcends the authority of the state. The right to liberty of movement does not preclude some legitimate state regulation of movement, through traffic laws and the like. The right can be thus limited for the common good.
Religion as worship of one creator God could have been no more than another natural good, albeit one of surpassing importance at the natural level. Religion so understood would have been an essential component of the natural happiness served by the authority of the state. Then we might still have had some right to liberty in religious matters, but the state could still have regulated religion for religious ends just as it regulates transport.
Whether a state recognizes religion as a good transcending its authority depends on what religion, if any, the state confesses. And unless a state is at least broadly Christian, it is unlikely to recognize religion as a good above its sphere for very long. So, besides general conflict about natural law, we should expect secularizing states eventually to encroach on the very religious liberty that Dignitatis Humanae teaches for the civil order. Of course, as history has developed in our fallen world, a non-Christian state is now unlikely to understand and treat religion as a genuine and distinctive good at all, brashly intruding into religious life in ways that it has no authority to do.
It is part of Catholic revelation, evident from the writings of St Paul, that the authority of the state is divinely established, just as is that of the Church. That is central to Leo XIII’s teaching of the two legal orders, each based on a law of God, be it natural or revealed. It must then be possible, as two divinely instituted authorities, for Church and state to co-exist in harmony; the attainment of that harmony will be an essential mark of their proper functioning and constitution. But now we see that unless a state is to some degree Christian in its confession, it will not recognize religion as a supernatural good with which it should not interfere. And unless the state recognizes that, there can be no harmony between Church and state. This, in shortened form, is a basic argument of Leo XIII in Immortale Dei.
The argument can be run another way. The state should be Catholic, or at least broadly Christian, not because the state is a believer to be saved as an individual is, but because political authority has been divinely established to confess public reason in the service of a genuinely common good. This is only possible if the state recognizes both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good. No genuinely non-Christian state can be relied upon to recognize either of these things. States that do not recognize them will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching. As the rapid movement of many western states from genuine support to increasing enmity toward Christianity illustrates, there is no stable middle way.
Thomas Pink is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College, London. He writes on ethics, metaphysics, political and legal philosophy and on the history of these subjects.

Why Liturgy Really is the Key to Everything

Mr Skojec nails it! Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi, prayer determines belief, which determines how we live.
From One Peter Five

By Steve Skojec

There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.
– Saint Jean-Marie Vianney
The first time I walked through the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I was overcome. This greatest treasure of Christian architecture impressed upon me an incredible and awe-inspiring feeling of smallness. As I passed from the sunny piazza outside into the cavernous interior of this church of churches, I was swallowed up. Here, in this majestic testament in stone and marble, gilt and gold, to the overwhelming glory of God, my insignificance became clear.
No religion in the history of the world has ever inspired such temples; no pagan deity could claim the outpouring of human innovation, craftsmanship, and achievement that has been made manifest in the service of honoring the True God. The quantity and quality of architecture, artistry, music, poetry, and theological exposition that have been brought forth into the world by twenty centuries of Catholicism stagger the mind. There is no greater source of inspiration than He who gives us everything – our lives, our talents, our joys, our eternity. In honoring Him through the finest works of our own capacity for creation, we are merely returning all we are and have to Him from whom it was received. “Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas. 1:17).
It is only fitting, therefore, that God commands us to worship Him. We are created to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world in order that we may be happy with Him forever in Heaven. But do we believe that to fulfill these precepts on our own terms is sufficient? Is God not exacting in what He obliges from us? Is He not a jealous God, in the appropriate sense of the term – expecting that which is His due, which is to say no less than our very best?
It has always been so. Most people know the biblical story of Cain, who murdered his brother Abel, but not many could tell you what drove Cain into a killing rage. It was envy– envy that arose because Abel’s worship was more pleasing to God than Cain’s own.
Abel was a shepherd, and Cain a husbandman. And it came to pass after many days, that Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord. Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.  And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. – Genesis 4:2-8
“Why art thou angry?” asked the Lord. “why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive?” When Abel sacrificed to God, he brought forth his very best. He sacrificed his firstlings, giving to God not just the best of the flock, but their fat, which is to say the most highly prized portion of their substance. He wasn’t holding anything back; he wasn’t keeping the parts he really wanted for himself. It was an outpouring, an emptying of self, his supplication before God pleasing in its totality.
We don’t know what Cain offered – only that he gave of some “fruits of the earth.” We know, too, by God’s words to Cain, that his sacrifice could have been pleasing if he had been generous. It is clear, therefore, that not all sacrifices offered to God are seen by Him as equal. There is a distinction between worship that is pleasing to Him and worship for which “He has no respect.”
It is not selfish of God to demand our best. Not only has He given us every good thing, and not only does He hold us in existence every moment we draw breath, but He “so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn. 3:16). Whereas God sent the angel to stay Abraham’s hand (and spare the life of Isaac), He allowed every cruel torture that was perpetrated against His own divine and perfectly innocent Son until Christ’s ignominious death on the Cross. This chalice of suffering, as Christ Himself put it, was drunk “to the dregs.” There truly is nothing more precious to us than the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ crucified. God loves us so much that He gave us this unspeakably selfless gift to accomplish our redemption. There is nothing more great, for if there were, it too would be ours, such is His love for us.
But do we treat this gift as the greatest gift there is? Do we honor the Eucharist as the most precious thing in the universe? Do we recognize that this gift of God’s Self demands one of our own in return?
Every liturgy places us into this cycle of self-gift anew. God gives us the best He has, and He asks for the best we have in return. But we truly have nothing to give that can compare to what we have been given. So in the absence of a sufficient gift, God gives us Himself to give back to Him. He even takes our place as the offeror – by becoming both priest and victim. Every priest who stands at every altar is subsumed by Christ; it is Christ Who consecrates the Most Holy Sacrament of His own Body and Blood, Christ Who offers and is offered to the Father on behalf of us poor sinners.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a meal. It is a holocaustThe priest does not set the table for a supper. He places the Victim, butchered and bloodied, upon the altar of sacrifice, because by His death He conquered death — the eternal death of sin — and by His rising He restored us to eternal life. The Mass is not, truly understood, celebrated; it is offered to Him whose Divine wrath must be appeased for all of our great and many sins. The Victim is not only perfect, but beloved, and as God looks upon Him, and us who receive Him, He pours out His mercy upon us as Christ poured out His blood.
When we go to Mass, it is the most intimate experience of God we will ever encounter in this life. We come to the altar to participate in a mutual outpouring of self. He gives His all to us, and though this is infinitely more than we can return, we nonetheless give our all to Him. Whereas a husband and wife cling to each other to become one flesh in the imperfect union of the marital embrace, God allows us to consume Him so that He may literally, physically, become one with our bodies and our souls and, in so doing, may consume us. It is a breathtaking experience.
Once we begin to truly understand the nature of the Mass and our purpose there, it becomes possible for us to recognize how important it is that it be conducted in a fitting manner. Though the Mass can be said to have been made for man, it was made so that he might have a fitting means by which to honor Our Lord. The object of our worship is God, not ourselves. This is why any Mass where man becomes the center of attention or the principle focus is a dangerous inversion.
Some argue that the shape of the liturgy does not matter as long as Christ is present. It is true that whenever Christ is made present, the sacrifice being offered is perfect, but that does not mean our worship or understanding of the sacrifice is. Christ’s Eucharistic presence is accomplished through divine action. It is Christ the Priest offering Christ the Victim to the Heavenly Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. What we see taking place upon the altar is a glimpse of the inner life of the Blessed Trinity, the love and interaction between Divine Persons that takes place by no merit of our own. As the priest prays in the Quam Oblationem of the ancient Roman liturgy:
And do Thou, O God, vouchsafe in all respects to bless, consecrate, and approve this our oblation, to perfect it and render it well-pleasing to Thyself, so that it may become for us the body and blood of Thy most beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is God Who makes the oblation pleasing to God, and this is possible because it is God Who is the oblation.
What we bring to the liturgy, what we offer to God is our honor, reverence, supplication, contrition, adoration, and praise. “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). The priest who consecrates the Eucharist does so not by some power he possesses, but by one that possesses him:participation in the One True Priesthood of Christ.
“When I say the Mass,” a young traditional priest once told me, “I am a slave to the liturgy. The Church tells me where to stand, how to place my hands, when to genuflect, when to kiss the altar…I am gone, and it is Christ who acts through me.” The priest’s offering is one of humility, of reverence, of the emptying out of self. “Judge me, O God,” he implores at the foot of the altar, echoing the words of the Psalmist, “and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man; for thou art my God and my strength…”
We, too, come as humble supplicants, with a receptive and attentive disposition. The liturgy happens independently of us, but it draws us into its mysteries and grants us heavenly gifts, thereby perfecting us and propelling us toward Heaven. We unite our prayer with the priest, who prays on our behalf, who performs, in virtue of his union with Christ, what we cannot.
It is the most important and beautiful thing this side of Heaven.
It is therefore inescapable that a proper understanding of liturgy grounds us in a correct knowledge of our place in the universe. Liturgy that emphasizes Our Lord’s Sacrifice and places us mentally and spiritually before the Cross on Calvary humbles us and makes us receptive to our absolute dependence on God for all good things, especially our salvation. Liturgy where priest and people alike are oriented toward Heaven and where sacred things are veiled and shrouded and reverenced in an appropriate way teaches us who we are — and what duties we have — in relation to Him from Whom all good things come and in Whom we must trust when we have no choice but to walk by faith rather than by sight. Liturgy should make us feel small, like entering the great edifices of Christendom.
The attack on the liturgy that we have witnessed over the past half-century can be understood as nothing less than a diabolical attempt to strike at the heart of our most important and intimate connection with Our Creator — and also to confuse and disorient us through this loss of perspective. We have been given over to idolatry – the idolatry of self, such that we see the world only through the lens of our own desires. Christ’s sacrifice has been replaced with food and fellowship, His altar of oblation turned into a table, His priesthood adulterated by those persons who intrude upon the domain of the priest but do not possess the ability to act in persona Christithe universal orientation of priest and people toward God turned inward so that we are, in essence, all just talking to ourselves, and nearly every act of reverence for the sacred has been stripped away.
Christ remains present in this reinvented, banalized, man-centered liturgy, but He is ignored, forgotten, abused, and upstaged. Like Cain, we no longer offer God our best, but keep it for ourselves. Anyone who attempts to offer God what He deserves, like Abel, is met with envy, contempt, and even violence.
The crisis in the Church is manifestly a crisis of selfishness and anthropocentrism. It is the fruit of this new idolatry. We have come to believe that we know better than God what is best for us. The Second Vatican Council tells us, “[A]ll things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.” We must reject this. All things on Earth should be related to Christ as their center and crown. We are not worshipers of man; we are worshipers of Jesus Christ! Of the Blessed Trinity! But if our liturgies fail to hold God as our object of adoration, is it any wonder that we have become obsessed with ourselves? We talk incessantly about how we “feel” about liturgy and what we “get out of it” and whether it “moves us” – but for Whom are we there?
The architects of the Church’s “new and improved” liturgy knew exactly what they were doing. And they have been successful. They have, with a single stroke, moved the entire liturgical edifice of the Church to a foundation of sand. And now that this edifice is crumbling to the ground, and the faith along with it, they swoop in, telling us that the other truths of our faith are nothing more than “ideals” too hard to live up to, that because things have strayed so far, we must now find ways to accept and work with situations “as they are.” By destroying our understanding of our relationship with God through the central act of prayer of the Church, they have undermined all else besides. Now, after half a century of demolition, they are dismantling what’s left of the faith almost unopposed.
Those who have come to terms with the crisis in the Church will occasionally raise the question, “Why can we see what’s happening when others can’t? Why does God seem to be showing this to only a handful of us?” Could it be that it’s because of what he said to Cain? “If thou do well, shalt thou not receive?
Someone recently wrote to me concerning the level of denial among fellow Catholics about what’s happening in the Church: “It’s only attending the Latin Mass,” she said, “that has allowed the scales to fall off my eyes.”
It is not too late. Do not lose your way, fellow Catholics. Do not be deceived. Good liturgy — and by that I mean holy, reverent, God-fearing liturgy — will change your life, even if you have to make difficult sacrifices to have it. Is there anything more important to you than your salvation, or that of your children? If you don’t have a good Mass to attend, move! If you can’t find a Traditional Latin Mass, turn to the East, which has been largely ignored by the demolitionists!
The saboteurs had one shot, and so they struck the one form of the liturgy that would affect the greatest number of Catholics. They gave it all they had, but as God would have it, it was not a killing blow. God is still truly worshiped. And we are obliged for His sake and for our salvation to join in that true worship. No more excuses.
While it is true that good liturgy alone will never be a panacea, there is nonetheless nothing more powerful you can do for your faith, for your understanding of what is happening in the world, for the good of your soul and those of your loved ones, than to stop, without delay, attending a liturgy that was designed to separate you from the very Sacrifice it is supposed to commemorate. You cannot drink poisoned water without ill effect, no matter how thirsty you are, or how resilient. It does not nourish; it emaciates.
The new paradigm is collapsing on itself even now. It will be abandoned in our lifetimes, a husk of what it once was — or else rendered unrecognizable to anyone with faith as it becomes, like the Arian churches of the 4th century, the exclusive domain of the enemies of Our Lord.
The liturgy is the key to our entire understanding of what we face, of who we are, and of what we must do. There may well be no other way to weather what is coming. More importantly, it is our most essential interaction with God. We have a duty to find a place where the priest and the people worship God in a way that is fitting and pleasing to Him. Once it is found, flee to it. Cling to it. Do not worry about the hardships you must endure to accomplish this, for God knows these things, and He will bless you.
Be reminded of your place in the universe. Be subject to Him Who rules it. Love Him with all your heart, mind, and strength, and adore Him as He deserves. It’s a decision you’ll never regret.

Originally published on June 8, 2016.