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Vatican II Fiasco

There are several blogs I consult each day.  One of those is that of my co-blogger The Cranky Conservative.  I am pleased to announce that he has resumed blogging:

Vatican II Failed

I don’t go in for exaggerated Buzzfeed type headlines meant to grab people’s attention, so the title of my post is a meant to convey a simple, straightforward message: it is time to judge the efficacy of Vatican 2, and an honest appraisal can only reach one conclusion: whatever was meant to be accomplished by it has not come to be.

There was more to Vatican 2 than just engagement with the modern world, but that was certainly a core – if not the core – theme of the council. It should be stressed if everything was hunky dory in the Catholic world, then the council would not have been called. In suggesting that the council failed I am not suggesting it was wrong to even call the council.

Nor am I suggesting that all the problems of modern Catholicism are because of Vatican 2. And I certainly do not mean to imply that many of the documents produced at Vatican 2 were not beautiful affirmations of the central tenets of the faith. And I definitely do not think the council or the documents produced therein were heretical, and that everything post Vatican 2 is essentially a false Church.

But if the aim of the council was to reignite the faith, and to engage the wider world to foster communication and understanding, in what way has there been any measurable success? In light of 68 percent of “Catholic” Ireland voting to legalize abortion (or, more accurately, to repeal the constitutional prohibition), maybe now is the time for an honest reassessment.

As I said, the problems didn’t start with Vatican 2. There were problems in the Church, and the itch to modernize was already evident. All one has to do is read the transcript of JFK’s famous Houston speech to understand that things were beginning to change. Reading that now I can’t help but imagine Barack Obama giving a speech in 2008 basically saying it was okay to vote for him because he wasn’t that black, because that was the message JFK conveyed, intentionally or no.

But what has happened since Vatican 2? Is the modern world more “accepting” of Catholicism. Sure, as long as it’s the watered down vision offered by Kennedy and a succession of prelates. Every non-Catholic’s favorite pope is the our current pontiff, and why? Because he says a lot of things that sound vaguely non-Catholic. This isn’t so much an engagement with the world as a surrender.

Is the Church thriving? In certain parts of the world, sure. Even in the United States there are certain dioceses that continue to flourish, and which produce many healthy vocations. Yet there is also a decided decline in Catholic identity, and I’m not just talking about the empty pews in all too many parishes. Even among committed Catholics the sense of uniqueness has dwindled. Some would say this is a good thing: Catholics are finally fitting in!

But if Catholics are going to draw people to the faith by showing it through their lives, is this really happening? “Jim’s a nice guy – he really has a nice family.” That’s all well and good. Wouldn’t it be better to hear, “Jim’s a Catholic, and he exudes faith in Christ. I’d be interesting in hearing more about Catholicism.”

I know I’m oversimplifying and presenting an idealized version of what Catholicism could be. But maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing when Catholics stood out.

 

Go here to read the rest.  There are aspects of Vatican II I like.  For example, the embrace, not complete, of religious liberty.   However, as a Church Council it was a disaster.  It produced a new form of the Mass that is often banal and ugly in its implementation.  It replaced a universal language for our Masses with a babel of tongues.  It began the process of the Church aping the world with often dire consequences.  It launched a “let’s pretend” ecumenicalism which has been death for the essential Catholic teaching that this is The True Faith.  The implementation has stunk on ice with the actual documents being ignored and every boneheaded idea imaginable being implemented under the banner of Vatican II.  The Church, always speaking only of the human part, was not perfect prior to Vatican II, but it seems like perfection compared to what has come after Vatican II.  It is often said that Vatican II cannot be blamed solely for all the problems that the Church has gone through since, and that is a fair enough observation.  However, the radical secularization embraced by the West since the 60s, due to Vatican II, was confronted by a weakened Church, a Church that was seen not so much as having thrown open her windows to the world, but rather capitulated to it.  Perhaps the most dreadful legacy of Vatican II is the failure of so many Catholics to any longer believe that membership in the Church is essential to their salvation.  That sad fact goes a long way to explaining many things:  the plummeting of religious vocations, the abandonment of Church pews on Sunday and atrocities like the Irish referendum on abortion on May 25.  I accept Vatican II as a valid Church Council as I am by the Faith obliged to do.  However, I agree with Paul VI who led the Church in the aftermath that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.  If Satan had been devising a Church Council to devastate the Faith for generations, could he have done better, from his perspective, than what has been brought about in the wake of Vatican II?

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

30 Comments

  1. It’s the rejection of Humanae Vitae that’s the real problem. As HV happened just after V2, it’s easy for the two to be conflated. The rejection of HV in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has caused a malaise of ignoring not just realities of HV and many other realities in and of the Church. There’s an ignoring of things, declining membership being one. There’s also a loss of faith with the rejection of HV, after all who still believes that the Church is actually without error in faith and morals. No one follows a weak trumpet. In my own diocese the focus is “the schools… the schools… “ now private institutions of the catholic light” (nothing to offend the sensibilities of non-Catholics in attendance). Proper institutions for the upper middle class on the pill with one or maybe two children. $12K to $20K per year tuition. Complete with virtue signaling, a poor child given a free ride here and there. This we are told is the future of the church. How a declining population well below the replacement birthrate of mediocre Catholics who think themselves to be the elite is the future of the church is beyond understanding. It’s Not sustainable I say, to which I’m told “oh no, we’ll get the money”. Money? What happened to Faith?

  2. Actually the “problems” in the Church go back much further than Vatican II. In the modern age, we see Popes like Leo XIII writing against Americanism (separation versus hierarchy-much like Germany today?) and then there’s that famous Syllabus of Errors by Pius IX etc. the “no more” by JPII in Medellin to the Jesuits and their Marxist Liberation Theology. Much of the progressive modernist tendency has merely slipped back in the closet when the heat of traditionalist popes slapped them down. Vat II was in part merely their cracking open the door to test the atmosphere and they saw opportunity, changed the Mass etc. and brought their confusion and agenda’s out into the open. Francis has added ambiguity to the mess and seemingly helped Vat II’s altering of the main mission of the Church from salvation of souls to secular issues and the open ended “social justice” meme.
    Why would many come give their lives to a church whose mission is replicated in a gazillion government agencies?

  3. “Americanism” was a phantom heresy due to conditions of the Church in France and had almost nothing to do with the Church in the US. The Syllabus of Errors lived up to its title and was the failed attempt by Pio Nono to freeze the Church at a point in time. Vatican II was a wholesale attempt to remake the Church convened by Pope John XXIII who was in failing health by the time the first session opened, loved secular adoration in the secular press, and, not to put too fine a point on it, did not possess the finest mind to ever occupy the papal throne. An orthodox Catholic his entire life, he quickly fell under the influence of bright, younger Churchmen who ran intellectual rings around him and set the tone of Vatican II. We lack a good scholarly biography of Pope John, and much of the behind the scenes machinations surrounding the beginning of Vatican II remain obscure.

  4. “There are aspects of Vatican II I like. For example, the embrace, not complete, of religious liberty.”
    But wasn’t this an essential piece of the “let’s pretend” ecumenism you rightly call out as leading to disaster? I’m not sure how to separate the two ideas.

  5. Not at all. Tolerance for other religions has a very long history in the Church, de facto if not de jure. A prime example of this is the Jews. The problem throughout most of the history of the Church is that heretical sects usually sought to extirpate Catholicism in regions they controlled. When that was no longer the case, Popes usually quietly counseled tolerance in most cases. The opposition of Pope Innocent XI in 1685 to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was typical. When Pio Nono met with the Anglican Bishop of the Mediterranean, the Pope joked that he understood that he, the Pope, was now residing within the diocese of the Bishop! The religious liberty portion of Vatican II fit in with much of the de facto attitude of the Church.

  6. Vatican II is seen as a paradigm shift. There can never be a paradigm shift in Catholic teaching. Continuity, si. Revolution, no.

    If V II were seen as a modern contribution to the Deposit of Faith, aligned with, and interpreted through all other equally valid contributions to the Deposit, then it would be useful and good.

    But it is not that. It is seen as the dawning of a new age (Aquarius? http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/17331/) that unshackles us from the past; the go-to-mechanism to validate every heretical innovation that replaces the content of the old Deposit Of Faith with a new updated version. No Catholic can do that and remain a Catholic.

    I place V II in historical context. Its content, a positive but minor contribution. Its application, a major historical mistake.

  7. Thanks for your reply, Donald. I appreciate the historical perspective. As Aqua remarked, there is today a failure or refusal to see the Second Vatican Council as a part of the long history of which you speak. One clue is the number of times we see and hear commentators referring to “the Council” as if it were in fact the only one of its kind. Many behave as if it were. In this sense, the historical meaning of religious liberty as you explained it above does seem to be lost in the forest of “let’s pretend all religions are equal.”

  8. “The Church, always speaking only of the human part, was not perfect prior to Vatican II, but it seems like perfection compared to what has come after Vatican II.”

    I find myself recalling the following two quotations

    “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms”

    And

    “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth”

    They were written by Maurice Blondel in 1907

    It was Blondel, too, who described the Church desired by too many Catholics of that time: “A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

  9. Mr. MCCleary,
    Objectively speaking, information you post here is wrong and could be argued heretical. I offer some corrections for you and your readers out of charity.

    First, you embrace Religious Liberty as if you, as a Catholic, are free to do so. That is false. Religious Liberty has been condemned by Holy Mother Church. Specifically by Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari vos and Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura. Quanta Cura is traditionally held out as a prime example of a Pope invoking his Extraordinary Magisterium.

    The Vatican II document on the topic of Religious Liberty is almost a word for word rejection of Quanta Cura and is one of the clearest examples demonstrating that Vatican II could not possibly be a council of the Infallible and Indefectible (unchanging) Catholic Church.

    Accepting Vatican II as a true council would force a Catholic to embrace what the Church has previously condemned.

    You posit that Religious Liberty deals with tolerance. That is off the mark. Religious Liberty goes far beyond that. In practical terms it means you are free to chose your own religion. Thus you are free to reject the Church established by Our Lord Jesus Christ for another. The idea is blasphemous.

    Furthermore, Religious Liberty is a direct denial of the Church’s dogma “Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation”. And as such is quite uncharitable to spread.

    Finally, I can not ignore your comment where you called Roncalli (aka John XXIII) “An orthodox Catholic his entire life”. I can only assume you are unaware of the entire books written which document his Modernism and other errors. For just one example may I suggest “John XXIII ‘Beatified’ Too?” by Father Villa. As you likely know Fr. Villa was personally chosen by Padre Pio to look into Freemasonry inside the Church.

    God Bless You.

  10. While Vatican II was not responsible for the crisis in the Church, the Modernists, who kept their heads low after St Pope Innocent X culled them, came out of the closet and took advantage of the confusion in the aftermath of the Council, especially after the publication of Humanae Vitae. They decided to reconfigure the Church by thrashing the liturgy and by watering down teachings and practices. The result has been the fall in church attendance and a collapse of vocations.

  11. Thanks for the link, Don. And I couldn’t have said it better: “Perhaps the most dreadful legacy of Vatican II is the failure of so many Catholics to any longer believe that membership in the Church is essential to their salvation.”

  12. Councils fail. Catholics forget that. In fact, most of the councils of the second millennium can be termed failures.

    But unfortunately, Vatican Too has taken on the air of a Clerical Woodstock that lives brightly in nostalgic illusion and nowhere else. The reality is a wholesale disintegration of Catholicism in countless former strongholds. Could the pre-Vat2 Church have used reform? Sure. There were a lot of problems under the surface and you can see them in the literature of the time. But the cure appears to have been the spiritual equivalent of leeches meant to bleed the Counter-Reformation Church of her “Counter-” and leave it a bland, oversized mainline Protestant denomination. And it has followed the same trajectory of those real estate holding corporations.

    But with the current management in charge all we can expect are newer and more voracious leeches. They will ride this bomb right into the ground and nothing will convince them otherwise–especially not the ruins staring them in the face.

  13. “First, you embrace Religious Liberty as if you, as a Catholic, are free to do so. That is false. ”

    Actually the Church now endorses religious liberty.

    “The Vatican II document on the topic of Religious Liberty is almost a word for word rejection of Quanta Cura and is one of the clearest examples demonstrating that Vatican II could not possibly be a council of the Infallible and Indefectible (unchanging) Catholic Church.”

    That is the no true Scotsman fallacy. Of course Vatican II was a council of the Church, to argue otherwise is simply absurd.

    “Accepting Vatican II as a true council would force a Catholic to embrace what the Church has previously condemned.”

    Nothing new in the history of the Church. Popes have contradicted each other throughout the history of the Church, as have Church Councils.

    “it means you are free to chose your own religion. Thus you are free to reject the Church established by Our Lord Jesus Christ for another. The idea is blasphemous.”

    The statement that people are free to choose their religion is merely a statement of fact, since people obviously do choose their religion. Recognizing this in no way implies that it is a good thing that people might choose not to be Catholic. You seem to wish to have the Church proclaim that people should be coerced to be Catholic, and I have no doubt that coerced religion is worthless in the eyes of God.

    “Furthermore, Religious Liberty is a direct denial of the Church’s dogma “Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation”. And as such is quite uncharitable to spread.”

    No it is not, no more than the statement that people are free to choose their form of government implies that people are free from the consequences of making a poor choice.

    “I can only assume you are unaware of the entire books written which document his Modernism and other errors.”

    No I am quite aware of the hysterical rubbish written by rad trads about John XXIII and other Catholic figures since Vatican II. Such tripe does a disservice to the cause of Catholic orthodoxy.

  14. The discussions contra ‘religious liberty’ remind me of Thos. Droleskey chuffering about the ‘Social Reign of Christ the King’. There quite intent to advise people on how to navigate political life in environments which do not obtain anywhere and which aren’t likely to obtain centuries hence.

  15. Albion wrote, “the Modernists, who kept their heads low after St Pope Innocent X culled them”

    Pope Innocent X (who has not been canonised) condemned, not modernism but the Five Propositions of Jansenism in his bull Cum Occasione of 13 May 1653.

  16. What strikes me after perusing all the comments here, is the high level of commentary and enlightening and respectful jousting. Great post Don.

  17. I still have a lot of learning to do – I think I am more conservative than I had previously realized. Christ the King! and after watching “Greater Glory” ! Viva Christo Rey! I see that the secular and communist enemies of His Reign have no compunction about their belligerence – or their goals- while we almost want to be coy about our Great Commission
    I have a sense of doubt associated with John Courtney Murray
    Here is website that collects some essays on the topic. http://thechurchandtheliberaltradition.blogspot.com

  18. Of course it’s true that the Church has often recognised that trying to enforce good behaviour would be counterproductive, and has therefore tolerated people committing wrong actions. The difference with V2 on religious liberty is that it proclaimed (or was widely interpreted as proclaiming) that people have a right to do wrong (in this case, by following false religions), an idea which, as far as I’m aware, has no precedent in Catholic teaching, and indeed was explicitly condemned by several previous Popes.

    @ Michael Patterson-Seymour:

    Pope Innocent X (who has not been canonised) condemned, not modernism but the Five Propositions of Jansenism in his bull Cum Occasione of 13 May 1653.

    I think he meant Pope St. Pius X.

  19. “The difference with V2 on religious liberty is that it proclaimed (or was widely interpreted as proclaiming) that people have a right to do wrong (in this case, by following false religions), an idea which, as far as I’m aware, has no precedent in Catholic teaching, and indeed was explicitly condemned by several previous Popes.”

    One problem is the term “rights” which in English has the unfortunate linkage with right and wrong, which is not really what we are talking about. The Church has always taught that Man has free will and that he may use it for good or ill. The Church historically has called upon the State rarely to circumscribe the choices that can be made, viewing most sins as outside of the purview of the State to punish. In the religious sphere, the Church called upon the State usually as a defensive action against forces seeking to extirpate the Church. This was complicated by the fact that the Church was often at odds with the State on a myriad of issues. Once the Church saw that it was possible for the Church to thrive in areas where a multiplicity of religions were allowed, de facto toleration slowly shifted to de jure toleration. Religious liberty has an important connection with the ambiguous, and often combative, relationship that the Church has had with Caesar which is too often ignored in these types of discussions. Catholic monarchies often sought to control the Church within their realms to a shocking degree, which caused Pope Gregory XVI, no fan of new-fangled Republics, to observe that no where was he more the Pope, outside of the Papal States, than in the United States.

  20. “Catholic monarchies often sought to control the Church within their realms to a shocking degree, which caused Pope Gregory XVI, no fan of new-fangled Republics, to observe that no where was he more the Pope, outside of the Papal States, than in the United States.”
    In “We, the people”

  21. One problem is the term “rights” which in English has the unfortunate linkage with right and wrong, which is not really what we are talking about.

    I don’t think that’s got anything to do with it. Traditional Church teaching was that nobody had a right to do something sinful, though of course it never said that the state always has to intervene to stamp out sinful behaviour. Thus, for example, Augustine said that the civil government ought to tolerate the existence of prostitution, because trying to eliminate it would only cause bigger problems; he didn’t hold that people have a right to visit prostitutes, or that stopping people from resorting to them would ipso facto be wrong. In the case of religious freedom, advocating for religious freedom on the pragmatic grounds that a government able to ban false religious will also be able to interfere with Church affairs would be akin to Augustine saying that prostitution should be tolerated to avoid worse problems; advocating for it on the grounds that people have a right to follow false religions — which is what V2 was widely interpreted as saying — is more like saying that people have a right to visit prostitutes, and is difficult to reconcile with previous Catholic teaching.

    Though, I also think it’s worth questioning whether Church support for religious freedom actually translates to greater freedom for the Church. How many of the Church’s enemies do you see saying, “Well, the Church isn’t trying to set up a theocracy here, so I guess we should stop with our attempts to compel them to accept our agenda”? Or in how many countries do the Bishops today seem more effective in countering anti-Catholic policies than the predecessors before the 1960s? If anything, documents like Nostra Aetate seem to have hindered the Church’s attempts to engage with the political sphere, by doing away in many Catholics’ minds with the notion that civil laws should reflect Catholic teachings, and that Catholics should cast their votes accordingly.

  22. “I don’t think that’s got anything to do with it.”

    In that case you have no argument then, since the Church merely recognizes that people should not be coerced in their religious choices.

    “Traditional Church teaching was that nobody had a right to do something sinful,”

    Much prior to the Eighteenth Century there was not much talk about rights by anyone, including the Catholic Church. The issue always was all about what sins the State was to attempt to stamp out through the police power.

    “advocating for it on the grounds that people have a right to follow false religions”

    As previously pointed out by me, Augustine did not speak in the language of rights. He was one of the Church Fathers to call for coercion by Caesar against heretics, after long resisting the idea that coercion should be used. It was a baleful innovation.

    “Well, the Church isn’t trying to set up a theocracy here, so I guess we should stop with our attempts to compel them to accept our agenda”?

    Until very, very recently the Church enjoyed great freedom throughout the West wherever Democratic or Republican governments existed. The problem today is not the policy of the Church on freedom of religion, but that many of the Western elites are adherents of some form of Leftism that has morphed into an intolerant competing religion.

  23. In that case you have no argument then, since the Church merely recognizes that people should not be coerced in their religious choices.

    So what about, say, forbidding people from publicly spreading false religion? That was something that a lot of Churchmen supported, and which is difficult to square with modern notions of freedom of religion.

    Much prior to the Eighteenth Century there was not much talk about rights by anyone, including the Catholic Church.

    And when talk of rights did come up, a series of Popes condemned the notion that people have a right to follow false religions.

    As previously pointed out by me, Augustine did not speak in the language of rights. He was one of the Church Fathers to call for coercion by Caesar against heretics, after long resisting the idea that coercion should be used. It was a baleful innovation.

    It was the accepted position of the Church from late antiquity right up until the 1960s. Frankly, if the Church can be so wrong for so long on a matter of such great importance, why should we trust her on anything else?

    Until very, very recently the Church enjoyed great freedom throughout the West wherever Democratic or Republican governments existed.

    Seriously? What about Revolutionary or Third-Republic France, Portugal after the overthrow of the monarchy, the Spanish Second Republic, Mexico in the Cristero War, or the various outbreaks of anti-clericalism in Latin America? In most of the world, republicanism was strongly tied up with anti-clericalism, and the Church tended to suffer in countries where it prevailed.

    The problem today is not the policy of the Church on freedom of religion, but that many of the Western elites are adherents of some form of Leftism that has morphed into an intolerant competing religion.

    My point was that the Church’s post-V2 policy on freedom of religion clearly hasn’t stopped secular attempts to coerce the Church, so the argument that supporting religious freedom will help the Church maintain her independence from the secular state seems falsified by events.

  24. “So what about, say, forbidding people from publicly spreading false religion?”

    Once again that is coercion and the Church relying upon the State, in addition to being truly ineffective as a practical matter.

    And when talk of rights did come up, a series of Popes condemned the notion that people have a right to follow false religions.

    It comes down to what is meant by a right rather than tolerance. These Popes were also paladins of a bygone era that was clearly on its deathbed when these statements were made. The Catholic states sought by those Pope were vanishing into the mists of History.

    It was the accepted position of the Church from late antiquity right up until the 1960s. Frankly, if the Church can be so wrong for so long on a matter of such great importance, why should we trust her on anything else?
    Whenever the Church makes pronouncements that clearly depend upon facts that pertain in the secular world, such as the existence of Catholic states, the pronouncements will change as the facts of the secular world change. For example, papal teachings over the centuries in regard to the Holy Roman Empire became largely irrelevant when the HRE no longer existed. Additionally, the use of coercion in matters of religion was by no means universally accepted and was often hotly contested by various popes, both in practice and in statements. For example, during the Crusades the popes almost universally counseled tolerance of the various Christian sects with adherents who lived in lands occupied by the Crusader States.

    “Seriously?”

    Yes, seriously. The Mexican regime at the time was neither Republican nor Democratic but rather a revolutionary one party State. Much the same could be said about Portugal. In France Church and State got along fairly well after World War I, a process I might note aided by the counsel of various popes. I would have to have you cite specific Latin American regimes to respond as to the fortunes of the Church in each one. Compared to the fortunes of the Church in the last century under Fascist or Communist domination, the Church fared quite well under any government worthy of the terms republican or democratic, and often better than under the Catholic monarchies of old.

    “so the argument that supporting religious freedom will help the Church maintain her independence from the secular state seems falsified by events.”

    In the US it has gained the Church many allies that were enemies in the past, the Evangelicals and the Mormons for example, all useful in the ongoing political struggle against the Left. And let us be candid. Do you actually think that the Church stating that only the Church should exist as a religion and all other religions should be abolished by the State would be a way for the Church to win friends and influence people? Common sense should not be thrown out the window simply because we are discussing Church teaching, something our wiser popes have always understood.

  25. Once again that is coercion and the Church relying upon the State, in addition to being truly ineffective as a practical matter.

    What reason do you have to think that coercion is “truly ineffective as a practical matter”? The Catholic Church in England was reduced to a tiny, powerless, underground organisation as a result of official persecution. In large parts of the Muslim world, Christianity went from the majority religion to a tiny, powerless minority. Seems pretty effective to me.

    Whenever the Church makes pronouncements that clearly depend upon facts that pertain in the secular world, such as the existence of Catholic states, the pronouncements will change as the facts of the secular world change. For example, papal teachings over the centuries in regard to the Holy Roman Empire became largely irrelevant when the HRE no longer existed. Additionally, the use of coercion in matters of religion was by no means universally accepted and was often hotly contested by various popes, both in practice and in statements. For example, during the Crusades the popes almost universally counseled tolerance of the various Christian sects with adherents who lived in lands occupied by the Crusader States.

    So religious toleration is only good for pragmatic reasons? If a Catholic state existed with the ability to meaningfully hinder the propagation of false religions, would it be wrong to do so?

    The Mexican regime at the time was neither Republican nor Democratic but rather a revolutionary one party State. Much the same could be said about Portugal.

    Portugal had multiple parties and elections. Granted the government was generally quite chaotic, but if you discount it for that reason you’re getting close to No True Scotsman territory.

    In France Church and State got along fairly well after World War I,

    But not during the undoubtedly republican Revolutionary period, nor during the undoubtedly both republican and democratic Third Republic, which were the periods I cited.

    Compared to the fortunes of the Church in the last century under Fascist or Communist domination, the Church fared quite well under any government worthy of the terms republican or democratic, and often better than under the Catholic monarchies of old.

    You’re shifting the goalposts here, from “enjoyed great freedom” to “fared quite well compared to the situation under communism or fascism”.

    And let us be candid. Do you actually think that the Church stating that only the Church should exist as a religion and all other religions should be abolished by the State would be a way for the Church to win friends and influence people?

    No, but then I’m not arguing about policy, but about doctrine. Something can be true doctrine even if talking about it makes the Church unpopular. Heck, just look at the Gospel account about “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” Many of Jesus’ followers abandoned him after that. From a perspective of “winning friends and influencing people”, stating the necessity of eating Jesus’ body was a bad idea. That doesn’t mean that the doctrine was false.

    But taking a wider view, I’m not sure that common sense is really so equivocally in favour of your position. After all, the idea that the state should promote Catholicism is just a corollary of the idea that Catholic doctrine is true and good and that human laws should reflect truth and goodness as well. If those ideas were commonly and vigorously asserted by Church leaders, would we have seen an ostensibly strongly-Catholic country like Ireland vote overwhelmingly for abortion? Would we see such a long parade of politicians talking about how they’re “personally opposed to abortion, but…”? Looked at as a whole, the programme of seeking common ground with the modern world has been a dismal failure: it hasn’t won the support, or even the respect, of the secular world, and within the Church itself heresy, heterodoxy and heteropraxy have all been running rampant. Maybe more vigorous Church teaching on the Social Kingship of Christ wouldn’t have helped after all, but it’s difficult to see how things could be much worse.

  26. “What reason do you have to think that coercion is “truly ineffective as a practical matter”?”

    The survival of the Catholic Church in Ireland under English rule, the growth of Christianity under Communist rule, the survival of the Catholic Church in Eastern Bloc states, and I could cite many, many other examples.

    “So religious toleration is only good for pragmatic reasons?”

    Oh it is good for pragmatic reasons certainly, but it also should be adhered to as Christ never called upon His followers to use compulsion.

    “Portugal had multiple parties and elections.”

    And incredible violence and corruption. The Portuguese Republican Party managed to hold on to power throughout the period. Historian Fernando Rosas has called this period under the PRP a democratic dictatorship.

    “But not during the undoubtedly republican Revolutionary period, nor during the undoubtedly both republican and democratic Third Republic, which were the periods I cited.”

    The First Republic I would not call Democratic. Under the Third Republic ultimately the democratic process, and the Union Sacree of World War I, ultimately caused a great improvement in Church-State relations. I do not argue that democratic governments are perfect in their relationships with the Church. I merely hold that they are preferable to other types of government in the modern world when it comes to the Church.

    After all, the idea that the state should promote Catholicism

    Is a mistake. That is the job of the Church. We should always demand that the State not hinder the Church in its great Commission, but whenever the Church asks for favors of Caesar there is always a price tag. A prime example is the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, followed by endless strife between the Emperors and the Popes.

  27. Apparently, after a quick read, I agree with Mr. McClarey’s position about the Vatican II Council. That is rather rare! 🙂
    I usually find myself defending Vatican II against “rad trads”, or defending all the previous councils (and the actual written official documents of Vatican II) against crypto-Protestants (more commonly known as our “catholic” bishops).

  28. Come on Stefan, you can’t agree with me. This is the internet! We are supposed to engage in an increasingly fruitless and acrimonious debate for at least 150 comments! (sarc off)
    🙂

    I hope we see more comments from you. Rational give and take in the comboxes is one of the goals of this blog.

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