Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Roots of the Declaration of Independence

Thursday, July 2, AD 2015

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

My bride and I each year travel to Indianapolis for the Gen Con gaming convention which this year will be held on the last week in July.  Indianapolis is a lovely city and we have enjoyed our visits there.  Back in 1926 an Indianapolis parish priest, John C. Rager, demonstrated that the core of the Declaration of Independence has its roots in Catholic thought.

It will suffice for our purpose to consult, in detail, but two Catholic churchmen who stand out as leading lights for all time. The one is representative of medieval learning and thought, the other stood on the threshold of the medieval and modern world. They are St. Thomas Aquinas of the thirteenth century and the Blessed Cardinal Robert Bellarmine of the sixteenth century (1542-1621). The following comparisons, clause for clause, of the American Declaration of Independence and of excerpts from the political principles of these noted ecclesiastics, evidence striking similarity and identity of political principle.


Equality of man

Declaration of Independence: All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Bellarmine: All men are equal, not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind (De Laicis, c.7) There is no reason why among equals one should rule rather than another (ibid.). Let rulers remember that they preside over men who are of the same nature as they themselves. (De Officus Princ. c. 22). Political right is immediately from God and necessarily inherent in the nature of man (De Laicis, c. 6, note 1).

St. Thomas: Nature made all men equal in liberty, though not in their natural perfections (II Sent., d. xliv, q. 1, a. 3. ad 1).


The function of government

Declaration of Independence: To secure these rights governments are instituted among men.

Bellarmine: It is impossible for men to live together without someone to care for the common good. Men must be governed by someone lest they be willing to perish (De Laicis, c. 6).

St. Thomas: To ordain anything for the common good belongs either to the whole people, or to someone who is the viceregent of the whole people (Summa, la llae, q. 90, a. 3).


The source of power

Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Bellarmine: It depends upon the consent of the multitude to constitute over itself a king, consul, or other magistrate. This power is, indeed, from God, but vested in a particular ruler by the counsel and election of men (De Laicis, c. 6, notes 4 and 5). The people themselves immediately and directly hold the political power (De Clericis, c. 7).

St. Thomas: Therefore the making of a law belongs either to the whole people or to a public personage who has care of the whole people (Summa, la llae, q. 90, a. 3). The ruler has power and eminence from the subjects, and, in the event of his despising them, he sometimes loses both his power and position (De Erudit. Princ. Bk. I, c. 6).


The right to change the government

Declaration of Independence: Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons.

Bellarmine: For legitimate reasons the people can change the government to an aristocracy or a democracy or vice versa (De Laicis, c. 6). The people never transfers its powers to a king so completely but that it reserves to itself the right of receiving back this power (Recognitio de Laicis, c. 6).

St Thomas: If any society of people have a right of choosing a king, then the king so established can be deposed by them without injustice, or his power can be curbed, when by tyranny he abuses his regal power (De Rege et Regno, Bk. I, c. 6).

Go here to read the article.  Is there any evidence that Jefferson was familiar with this Catholic thought?  There is.  In his library at Monticello there is a volume entitled Patriarcha written by the court theologian of James I, Robert Filmer.  In this book Filmer defended the divine right of kings and attacked Bellarmine.  Karl Maurer gives us the details:

 

The most interesting aspect of Patriarcha from a Catholic perspective is that the first pages discredit and attack the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine, who was one of the most eloquent and prolific defenders of freedom the Catholic Church has ever produced. It was customary that writers dealing with political and religious controversies begin their books by presenting their nemesis as an anti-thesis, which in Filmer’s case was Bellarmine’s position that political authority is vested in the people and that kings do not rule by divine right, but through the consent of the governed. This was a radical idea in the early 1600’s, though it is widely accepted today.

In Patriarcha, Filmer quotes Bellarmine directly as follows: “Secular or Civil authority (saith he) ‘is instituted by men; it is in the people unless they bestow it on a Prince. This Power is immediately in the Multitude, as in the subject of it; for this Power is in the Divine Law, but the Divine Law hath given this power to no particular man. If the Positive Law be taken away, there is left no Reason amongst the Multitude (who are Equal) one rather than another should bear the Rule over the Rest. Power is given to the multitude to one man, or to more, by the same Law of Nature; for the Commonwealth cannot exercise this Power, therefore it is bound to bestow it upon some One man or some Few. It depends upon the Consent of the multitude to ordain over themselves a King or other Magistrates, and if there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the Kingdom into an Aristocracy or Democracy’ (St. Robert Bellarmine, Book 3 De Laicis, Chapter 4). Thus far Bellarmine; in which passages are comprised the strength of all that I have read or heard produced for the Natural Liberty of the Subject.” (Patriarcha, page 5.)

Imagine what Jefferson must have been thinking as he read the opening paragraphs of Patriarcha, a direct assault on the Roman Catholic scholarship of Bellarmine:

“Since the time that school divinity (i.e. Catholic Universities) began to flourish, there hath been a common opinion maintained as well by the divines as by the divers of learned men which affirms: ‘Mankind is naturally endowed and born with freedom from all subjection, and at liberty to choose what form of government it please, and that the power which any one man hath over others was at the first by human right bestowed according to the discretion of the multitude.’ This tenet was first hatched in the (Medieval Roman Catholic Universities), and hath been fostered by all succeeding papists for good divinity. The divines also of the reformed churches have entertained it, and the common people everywhere tenderly embrace it as being most plausible to flesh and blood, for that it prodigally distributes a portion of liberty to the meanest of the multitude, who magnify liberty as if the height of human felicity were only to be found in it — never remembering that the desire of liberty was the cause of the fall of Adam.”

There is no doubt that Jefferson, after reading Filmer, must have been struck by Bellarmine’s definition of individual freedom and popular sovereignty. It may come as a surprise to some, but a closer analysis of Bellarmine’s writing and Catholic Church history demonstrates that since 1200 AD, Catholic Church has defended individual rights and freedoms, which eventually led to the abolition of slavery, serfdom, and the rise of popular sovereignty at the expense of absolutist monarchs and tyrannical nobles.

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32 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Roots of the Declaration of Independence

  • The people never transfers its powers to a king so completely but that it reserves to itself the right of receiving back this power …”

    This marvelous concept sets aside the phenomenon of today’s people–among which many are labelled Catholic–who choose to abrogate these God-given rights in the name of worldly pride and pleasure.

    Let the rulers rule us all to Hell, as long as it feels good.

    Let’s not blame God, as did Adam (It was that woman YOU made for me) when it all finishes falling apart.

  • Over the last 100 years, progressives have devolved the US into a high-tech feudalism similar to that which Norman William the Conqueror imposed on Anglo-Saxon England beginning in 1066. Now, the state owns everything and we the people have what we hold at the regime’s discretion.

    God gave us memory so that we could have liberty in 2015.

  • God gave us hope so that we could have liberty in 2016.

  • Donald McClarey,
    thanks for a really salient article. This is all new to me. I’ve said it before, I think you must be at least three persons!

  • It appears that some people prefer their kings to the responsibility of governing themselves – and their appetites, whatever they may be.

    Just as ancient Israel begged God for a king and got them, are we that much different? FDR, the continuing cult of JFK, the Clintons and Obumbler? Look at the reelection rates of most members of the Congress.

    Whenever I come across a radtrad who claims the USA is an illegitimate country for its rebellion against King George – ostensibly a king who ruled by divine right – and claims the only legitimate government is a monarchy with a Catholic monarch – I giggle to myself. There are much bigger problems than this.

  • “Bellarmine: All men are equal, not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind.”
    .
    “St. Thomas: Nature made all men equal in liberty, though not in their natural perfections.”
    .
    In other words, all human beings are created equal in dignity but unequal in function. These are the fundamental points which liberal progressive Democrats miss: First, all human beings are created, which in turn implies and necessitates a Creator to whom such human beings are accountable. Second, equality in dignity is NOT equality in function; thus, of necessity man and woman will be unequal in function. One is not superior or inferior to the other because each is equal to the other in dignity; rather, each is different from the other and that very diversity is what gives rise to human expansion – a diversity that one would think should be embraced and lauded by the liberal progressive Democrat crowd crying, “Diversity, diversity!”
    .
    The illogic and irrationality of the liberal left is astounding. They cannot see what is obvious and logical right in front of their eyes.. As God said to Jonah concerning the ancient Ninevites, “Nesciunt quid sit inter dexteram et sinistram suam.” (They do not know their right hand from their left.)

  • How similar to Lincoln:

    “I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal,—equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.”

  • “Divine right” has been used in three different, but related, senses.
    1) Christians are bound in conscience to obey the civil magistrate in all things, but sin. This is the common teaching of the Fathers, basing themselves on our Lord’s injunction to “Render to Caesar and his words before Pilate, as well as the injunctions of both St Peter (“Be in subjection [therefore] to every human institution for the Lord’s sake; whether to [the] king as supreme…” – 1 Pet 2:13) and St Pau (“Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God” – Rom 13:1) The common opinion of theologians applies this to mere de facto rulers, as avoiding civil conflict and so conducive to the common good.
    2) From the great 11th century conflict between Empire and Papacy onwards, “Divine Right” came to mean the autonomy of the civil power within its own sphere, free from clerical control, against what some saw as the extravagant claims of Popes like Gregory VII and Boniface VIII, especially in their assertion of the deposing power. The key text of the Imperial party was “Here are two swords… (Lk 22:38)
    3) In the 17th century, Divine Right was used by the defenders of Legitimism to mean the indefeasible authority of a particular royal line, particularly by the Jacobites In France it had long been a national superstition. In Scotland, many Catholics refused to qualify themselves for the relief granted by the Acts of 1778 and 1791 by acknowledging the Elector of Brunswick-Lüneberg as king, until the death of the Cardinal Duke of York (King Henry I & IX) on 13 July 1807. In the autumn of that year, many Catholics finally took the oath, as the Sheriff Court books attest.

  • “God gave us hope so that we could have liberty in 2016.”
    .

    Amen.
    .
    I exercise my liberty in violations of scores of statist laws and regulations. They can’t lock up 50,000,000 of us.
    .
    Every one needs to contemplate this question, “What are you prepared to do?”
    .
    Hate speech warning [klaxons!]: God created all men and woman. Sam Colt made them equals.

  • “They can’t lock up 50,000,000 of us.”
    .
    But diidn’t Mao Tse Tung murder that many in the Great Leap Forward?
    .
    And wasn’t Stalin a close second in the Great Holodomor in Ukraine?

  • This homily is a source of hope and the story before the resolution, a kind of analogy (to my too often distracted mind) of the current situation.
    .
    I think it will not be available very long as it changes sometimes daily. On 7/1, the daily Mass was read by Fr. Mitch Pacwa whose informative homily can be accessed by this link, I hope still. Think of the strength it details in the occurrence, but also think of the reaction of the people for a reality check.
    http://www.ewtn.com/daily-readings/

  • I think Gaillard Hunt (cited by Fr. Rager) makes an excellent case for Bellarmine’s influence on the Virginia Declaration of Rights via Filmer. Hunt presents the evidence and draws reasonable inferences therefrom, without overstating either the evidence or the conclusions.

    You can get a reprint version of it from the Library of Congress.

    https://www.librarything.com/work/13397250/book/93082146

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  • It would be nice to have links provided to any speeches/writings of our founding fathers personally crediting Catholics with the intellectual antecedents of the Constitution as much of what Pope Leo XII wrote about America is inconsistent with the seeming subtext of these claims.

    O, and Quas Primas and Quanta Cura most also be considered.

    See Denzinger 1690 where liberty of conscience and worship is labeled insanity but that is the entire subtext of the Constitution framed as it was by Judaised Protestants who desired not one blessed thing to do with Jesus, His Universal Kingship, or His Universal Church.

    Sede blogs, rightly, have noted that in the 1965 and newer versions of Denzinger (following the besets council ever) #s 1688-1690 have been excised.

    And one final note, America was settled by men who claimed the authority to decide for themselves what Holy Writ means but we are supposed to be beholden to their Constitution which supplants the will of God with the will of men.

    P.S. When America seceded from the English Crown that was a luminous virtue but when the CSA seceded that was considered a grave evil which is just an excellent example of the specific application of the general rule when living under the rule of Yankees; everything is always decided in the favor of Yankees.

  • It appears that some of our founding fathers were not too keen on Jesus christ or His One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church

    http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/10/27/88-founding-father-quotes-that-will-enrage-the-religious-right/

    Now, IANS will bow out

  • In reference to IANS’s link: I once watched Dinsh D’Souza speak at my old college. During the q&A session this gentleman rose and spent three minutes just ranting about who knows what. He was hectoring Dinesh about “what goes on in your mind,” or some silly nonsense like that, and how he was clearly a self-hating minority. After the man finished his “question,” Dinesh’s response was golden: “Well that was underwhelming.”

    After reading through that link for some reason that response came to mind.

  • “as much of what Pope Leo XII wrote about America is inconsistent with the seeming subtext of these claims.”

    Pope Leo took a more nuanced approach:

    “But, moreover (a fact which it gives pleasure to acknowledge), thanks are due to the equity of the laws which obtain in America and to the customs of the well-ordered Republic. For the Church amongst you, unopposed by the Constitution and government of your nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance. Yet, though all this is true, it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition, nay, is even enjoying a prosperous growth, is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed His Church, in virtue of which unless men or circumstances interfere, she spontaneously expands and propagates herself; but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/02/22/pope-leo-xiii-on-america-and-george-washington/

    Pope Leo was not hostile to the American style of government but he didn’t want it regarded as superior to states where Catholicism was a state religion. Such states are of course today one with Nineveh and Tyre.

    “framed as it was by Judaised Protestants who desired not one blessed thing to do with Jesus, His Universal Kingship, or His Universal Church.”

    Charles Carroll of Carollton would beg to disagree. The simple truth is that Catholicism enjoyed explosive growth in the United States after Independence, even while the Church was under assault in states where Catholicism was the state religion. The American Revolution was a blessing for American Catholics, as almost all of them recognized at the time,

    “And one final note, America was settled by men who claimed the authority to decide for themselves what Holy Writ means but we are supposed to be beholden to their Constitution which supplants the will of God with the will of men.”

    I doubt very seriously if God intended that George III be allowed to do what he liked with the liberties of the American people.

    “When America seceded from the English Crown that was a luminous virtue but when the CSA seceded that was considered a grave evil”

    Apples and rock salt. Great Britain and the US were not the same countries as was the case with the United States. The British government continually infringed upon American liberties, while I defy anyone to point to any infringement upon American liberties in the South, not counting slavery of course, up to secession in 1860.

  • There has yet to appear one link substantiating the claim that our forefathers relied upon Catholics that references the statements of those founders. Look, anybody can make a claim…

    The point about secession stands – it was/is a natural right for tho several states that approved the constitution and secession was supported by Dishonest Abe when he was in Congress and the texts used at West Point similarly taught secession was a right. The point this write-backer made about it was intended to unmask the calumny against the south.

    Poe Pius IX delineated the very poison embedded in our concept of government which is working its evil amongst us today….

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura, December 8, 1864.

    And, since 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, and the place of true justice and legitimate right is supplied by material force, thence it appears why it is that some, utterly neglecting and disregarding the surest principles of sound reason, dare to proclaim that “the people’s will, manifested by what is called public opinion or in some other way, constitutes a supreme law, free from all divine and human control; and that in the political order accomplished facts, from the very circumstance that they are accomplished, have the force of right.” But who, does not see and clearly perceive that human society, when set loose from the bonds of religion and true justice, can have, in truth, no other end than the purpose of obtaining and amassing wealth, and that (society under such circumstances) follows no other law in its actions, except the unchastened desire of ministering to its own pleasure and interests?”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Most well-read Catholics know it is the DUTY of every single govt on Earth to offer public worship to God

  • CONCERNING NEW OPINIONS, VIRTUE, NATURE AND GRACE, WITH REGARD TO AMERICANISM

    Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae

    Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on January 22, 1899.

    To Our Beloved Son, James Cardinal Gibbons, Cardinal Priest of the Title Sancta Maria, Beyond the Tiber, Archbishop of Baltimore:

    LEO XIII, Pope-Beloved Son, Health and Apostolic Blessing: We send to you by this letter a renewed expression of that good will which we have not failed during the course of our pontificate to manifest frequently to you and to your colleagues in the episcopate and to the whole American people, availing ourselves of every opportunity offered us by the progress of your church or whatever you have done for safeguarding and promoting Catholic interests. Moreover, we have often considered and admired the noble gifts of your nation which enable the American people to be alive to every good work which promotes the good of humanity and the splendor of civilization. Although this letter is not intended, as preceding ones, to repeat the words of praise so often spoken, but rather to call attention to some things to be avoided and corrected; still because it is conceived in that same spirit of apostolic charity which has inspired all our letters, we shall expect that you will take it as another proof of our love; the more so because it is intended to suppress certain contentions which have arisen lately among you to the detriment of the peace of many souls.

    It is known to you, beloved son, that the biography of Isaac Thomas Hecker, especially through the action of those who under took to translate or interpret it in a foreign language, has excited not a little controversy, on account of certain opinions brought forward concerning the way of leading Christian life.

    We, therefore, on account of our apostolic office, having to guard the integrity of the faith and the security of the faithful, are desirous of writing to you more at length concerning this whole matter.

    The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council says concerning this point: “For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.” -Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv.

    We cannot consider as altogether blameless the silence which purposely leads to the omission or neglect of some of the principles of Christian doctrine, for all the principles come from the same Author and Master, “the Only Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father.”-John i, I8. They are adapted to all times and all nations, as is clearly seen from the words of our Lord to His apostles: “Going, therefore, teach all nations; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.”-Matt. xxviii, 19. Concerning this point the Vatican Council says: “All those things are to be believed with divine and catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.”-Const. de fide, Chapter iii.

    Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ. There is nothing closer to our heart than to have those who are separated from the fold of Christ return to it, but in no other way than the way pointed out by Christ…

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

  • We Americans pride our own selves on Freedom of speech and religious pluralism (religious Indifferentism) but those are the very things condemned in Papal Encyclicals but, despite these encyclicals, we are to believe American was founded on Catholics Roots?

    Well on could claim that the Judaism protestants once to had Catholic roots but it seems something far different is being claimed here.

    In any event – Mirari vos

    This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say. When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly “the bottomless pit” is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

  • Interesting little film vignette. Pardon me, but only two things held by my suspension-of-disbelief (or caused a distraction):

    1. I cant imagine a Bellarmine without his uniquely pointed beard and mustache. It was ingrained in me at the Jesuit high school I attended from age 14 on, named for the great cardinal, running up and down the stairs, and seeing that grave portrait staring you in the eye—-well, it had “Gravitas,” and all that. A clean-shaven Bellarmine is just…not right.

    2. Bellarmine was known for his extraordinary humility and his almost continual bowing of his head, even hunching, at a slight tilt downwards: an expression of that humility that became an almost behavioral quirk marking him at nearly all times—a unique behavior in the pompously ostentatious cardinalate, then as now. The actor has to get that mannerisms right, a lot as Daniel Day-Lewis caught (in my opinion) the almost eerily likeness of Lincoln in the 2012 Spielberg film.

    Also, pardon me the critic, but the music overlay almost competed with the dialogue.
    But still — I like it.

  • Dear Mr. McClarey.

    The CSA did have its own list of liberties infringed and, don’t forget, secession was at work amongst the Yankees long before the sane South advanced to that legal and moral option.

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html

  • “There has yet to appear one link substantiating the claim that our forefathers relied upon Catholics that references the statements of those founders. Look, anybody can make a claim…”

    You obviously did not read the post.

    “The point about secession stands – it was/is a natural right for tho several states that approved the constitution and secession was supported by Dishonest Abe when he was in Congress and the texts used at West Point similarly taught secession was a right.”

    “Every point you raise is in error, and you did not respond to the differences between the situations in 1775 and 1861 that I raised.”

    “Poe Pius IX delineated the very poison embedded in our concept of government which is working its evil amongst us today….”

    Pio Nono is not the be all and end all of Catholic political thought, which is rather a good thing considering that he was such a disastrous secular ruler that he lost the Papal States.

  • Ah, Americanism, the phantom heresy!

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2013/03/08/cardinal-gibbons-and-the-stormy-conclave-of-1903/

    Gibbons was on good terms with both Pope Leo, who gave him his cardinal’s cap, and Pope Pius of whom he wrote a biography. Americanism was an imaginary heresy, largely the result of Pope Leo XIII being ill-informed about conditions in America and paying too much heed to idiots among American clerics who delighted in attempting to stir up trouble over nothing. Modernism was a real enough heresy, although Pope Pius tended to throw the baby out with the bath water and completely orthodox Catholic scholars suffered along with complete heretics.

    Cardinal Gibbons and the rest of the American heirarchy responded that no one among them taught these propositions that were condemned:

    1.undue insistence on interior initiative in the spiritual life, as leading to disobedience
    2.attacks on religious vows, and disparagement of the value of religious orders in the modern world
    3.minimizing Catholic doctrine
    4.minimizing the importance of spiritual direction

    They were really scratching their heads on this one and had a hard time figuring out why the Pope was concerned with a non-problem in this country.

    This tempest in a papal tea pot had more to do with the French Church. A biography of Father Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists and now a Servant of God, was mistranslated into French and portrayed Father Hecker as some sort of flaming radical which he was not. This book became popular among liberal Catholics in France. As usual the relationship
    between the French Church and the Vatican was turbulent at this time. Pope Leo XIII’s concern about “Americanism” could have better been labeled a concern about “Frenchism”. Purportedly Leo XIII was reluctant to attack the Church in America, which he had often praised, and made his rebuke of “Americanism” as soft as possible.
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

    “We having thought it fitting, beloved son, in view of your high office, that this letter should be addressed specially to you. It will also be our care to see that copies are sent to the bishops of the United States, testifying again that love by which we embrace your whole country, a country which in past times has done so much for the cause of religion, and which will by the Divine assistance continue to do still greater things. To you, and to all the faithful of America, we grant most lovingly, as a pledge of Divine assistance, our apostolic benediction.”

    The statements of loyalty from the American heirarchy were sufficient for the Pope and “Americanism” vanished from history as quickly as it appeared.

  • “We Americans pride our own selves on Freedom of speech and religious pluralism (religious Indifferentism) but those are the very things condemned in Papal Encyclicals”

    “2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”

    DIGNITATIS HUMANAE
    ON THE RIGHT OF THE PERSON AND OF COMMUNITIES
    TO SOCIAL AND CIVIL FREEDOM IN MATTERS RELIGIOUS
    PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS
    POPE PAUL VI
    ON DECEMBER 7, 1965

  • “The CSA did have its own list of liberties infringed and, don’t forget, secession was at work amongst the Yankees long before the sane South advanced to that legal and moral option”

    Once again IANS, what liberties of the South were being infringed upon in 1860 to justify secession which as Robert E. Lee noted at the time was simple Revolution? The Confederate States almost uniformly stated they were seceding out of fear that the Republican party would threaten slavery.

    Prior to the secession that produced the Confederacy, the concept of secession was regarded mostly with disdain north and south. I would refer you to the attitude that two Southern presidents, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor, took to the prospect of secession: that they would use military force to suppress secession and hang every secessionist they could get their hands on.

    When the Confederate States were writing their Constitution the delegation from South Carolina proposed that a right to secede be placed in the Constitution. The proposal was voted down with only the delegates of South Carolina voting in favor of it.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    I’m sure you know that radtrds absolutely HATE the concept of religious freedom. Radtrads insist that only a Catholic confessional state ruled by a Catholic monarch is legitimate. The fact that this ain’t gonna happen does not stop the most virulent from using bandwidth to correct everybody else.

    IANS – we ain’t the enemy, bro. Why don’t you go raise a stink at HuffPo instead of here? Did Fr. Z give you the boot?

  • Donald R. McClarey wrote, “Ah, Americanism, the phantom heresy!”

    Rather like Modernism, which no one ever professed and the only exposition of which is to be found in in the pages of Lamentabili and Pascendi

    Similarly, one may search in vain for the famous Five Propositions of Jansenism in the Augustinus and all those accused of that heresy anathematized them.

    Church history is littered with heresies cut from whole cloth by those who condemned them are not difficult to

  • “Rather like Modernism, which no one ever professed and the only exposition of which is to be found in in the pages of Lamentabili and Pascendi”

    Not at all. Modernism in the Catholic Church is quite similar to the rot that has destroyed mainline Protestantism. Pius X was prescient and prophetic. Loisy in his memoirs wrote a sentence that basically could serve as one of the creedal articles of Modernism:

    “Christ has even less importance in my religion than he does in that of the liberal Protestants: for I attach little importance to the revelation of God the Father for which they honor Jesus. If I am anything in religion, it is more pantheist-positivist-humanitarian than Christian.”

    No, Modernism is a very real heresy and perhaps has been the most successful one since the Reformation.

  • Any man can google – Secession: A Specifically American Principle by Prof Donald W. Livingston –

    and read the facts for his own self.

    IANS will disengage as it is clear his weltanschauung is so different as to unduly cause contention

    It is worth noting that Vatican Two was a pastoral council that did not promulgate any canons or decrees to which Catholic man must plight his spiritual troth or be anathema and the document on Religious Liberty quite clearly is in opposition to all of Catholic Tradition up until the bestest council ever

  • Nearly everything ABS was learnt in school was a myth. It was only be becoming a traditionalist autodidact that his eyes began to be open. The facts are these – the founders of America were seditious traitors who refused the peace settlement proffered by the English Crown but to attain to that sanity, on has to let the Yankee scales fall from his eyes.

    These links are worth reading.

    And, with that, ABS trucks does bow out; he just couldn’t leave before sourcing his claims.

    Pax tecum, Mr.McCLeary

    http://www.scv.org/pdf/Livingston.pdf

    https://mises.org/library/secession-specifically-american-principle

    https://mises.org/library/voluntary-federation

    https://mises.org/library/american-genius-self-government

    https://mises.org/library/peaceful-disunion-europe

    http://mises.org/daily/6374/Lincolns-Inversion-of-the-American-Union

  • “The facts are these – the founders of America were seditious traitors who refused the peace settlement proffered by the English Crown but to attain to that sanity, on has to let the Yankee scales fall from his eyes.”

    Rubbish, the Founding Fathers were patriots, and America was blessed to have such far sighted statesmen. The King rejected the Olive Branch Petition of Congress that sought to bring the War to a negotiated conclusion in 1775. The King’s offer of peace was submission or death.

    As for the links, Livingston is a neo-Confederate who founded the Abbeville Institute, named after John C. Calhoun’s hometown, to give a patina of scholarship to Lost Cause myths. The Von Mises institute is a crank libertarian thinktank. It is named after Ludwig Von Mises who thought that Eisenhower was a bigger threat to world peace than Khrushchev and it carries on his crackpot politics.

Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, July 4, AD 2012

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the final of these blog posts and is written by commenter Greg Mockeridge.

 

 

John Adams foresaw the all pomp with which we celebrate the 4th of July, but the date he gave for that was not the 4th but the 2nd. The reason he gave the 2nd was that independence was voted on and decided by the Continental Congress on the 2nd. What took place on the 4th was that final draft of the Declaration of Independence, after about a hundred revisions to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft, was approved.

 

It is actually more fitting that we celebrate independence on 4th as opposed to the 2nd because it isn’t merely independence we celebrate, but the ideas, principles, and truths this country was founded on. Fidelity to these very ideas really enable Americans to be Patriots as opposed to merely Nationalists. Just as one cannot be a good Catholic without a concerted effort to know and understand what it is he gives his assent of faith to, one cannot be a true American Patriot unless he likewise makes an effort to understand our heritage as Americans. No other U.S. founding document expresses these truths better than the Declaration of Independence. If more Americans became better acquainted with the Declaration, there would not be so much confusion regarding the Constitution.

 

Our Catholic faith not only does not relieve us of this patriotic duty, it actually reinforces it. An 1884 statement of the American bishops said it this way:

 

 

Teach your children to take a special interest in the history of our country. We consider the and laws as a work of special Providence, its framers “building wiser than they knew,” the Almighty’s hand guiding them….As we establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties desire therefore that the history of the United States should be carefully taught in all our Catholic schools, and have directed that it should be specially dwelt upon in the education of the young ecclesiastical students in our preparatory seminaries; so also we desire that it form a favorite part of the home library and home reading.

A document from the Second Vatican Council “Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World” better known by its Latin title Gaudium et Spes says: “Citizens should cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism… “(#75)

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

  • “But they knew, as the testimony of human experience down through the ages gives witness to, that peace cannot be had at the price of acquiescence to tyranny.”

    Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion. The bishops of “old” taught it was a sin against the 5th commandment to deny a person their human rights, and “particularly so in joining an organization that promoted it.” That can be found stated in the 1958 version of Life In Christ – Instructions In The Catholic Faith – 15 years before Roe v Wade.

    The Democrat Party is an “organization” and they have as part of their stated platform, support for and promotion of Row v Wade, which denies a person their “right to life.” The Democrat Party is also the main reason, if not the sole reason, abortion on demand remains the law of the land. In the 1995 updated of Life In Christ, the bishops minced the Church teaching that denying a person their “human rights” is a sin against the 5th commandment by narrowing their focus to strictly “prejudice,” and illustrating that by using examples of only the “Nazi Party and the KKK.” No mention of the Democrat Party and their denial of human rights.

    The Democrat Party of the United States is responsible for the deaths of more innocent human beings than the Nazi Party of Germany, the KKK of the south, and for that matter the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, combined. And the bishops give the Democrat Party a pass about joining such an “organization” being a sin. Why?

  • It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp.

  • “It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp.”

    Actually, I got that part from a speech Rush Limbaugh’s father (Rush H. Limaugh Jr. Rush is actually Rush H. LImbaugh III) used to give in Limbaugh’s hometown Cape, Girardieu. MO. Rush printed the transcript in his letter years ago.

    “Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion.”

    The curve is till a bit too steep for most of our bishops at this point. I would go so far as to say that until they realize and are willing to own up for just what they have done to bring this about, all this “Fortnight for Freedom” business, as needed as it is, will amount to nothing more than a dog and pony show. When it comes to issues outside their competence where Catholic teaching allows a diversity of viewpoints like capital punishment, illegal immigration, they need to start acting like pastors and not like left-wing ideologues. Untill they do, their credibility to defend religious liberty will be zero minus ten.

    However, there is at least some hope. I was watching some of the USCCB General Assembly on EWTN a few weeks ago and after one of Bp Blaire’s presentations Bp Papracki of Springfield, ILL commented that “We [meaning the bishops] do not yet have the humlity to speak on matters outside our competence.” Understatement of the year that was cause for good cheer.

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MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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