Weigel’s argument is that Cardinal Ottaviani’s conviction that “error has no right” is now being used against us by rabid secularists, maintaining that Christianity must be silenced because…. error has no rights. This would show that Ottaviani’s conviction was wrong.
Now, apart from the huge problem that the Cardinal’s opinion is what the Church has always believed, the argument just doesn’t work from a logical point of view.
The idea that Error has no rights is not proven wrong because others oppress Christians or the Church using the same argument, for the very reason that… they are wrong. Christians have always been persecuted, and will always be persecuted irrespective of whether they hold to Truth in matters of religious freedom, or cave in to the modern “inclusive” mentality. If anything, the last years have abundantly showed even caving in to “inclusiveness” does not spare from persecution.
The argument, tough, does not work in an even more elementary way. If we say that “it is right to put dangerous criminals in jail” this does not prevent others from unjustly putting us in jail because they deem us dangerous criminals; but this does not negate the validity of the principle in the least!
How, then, do we distinguish those who are right from those who are wrong? Simply by knowing what is right and what is wrong. The Church is right, the Heresies are wrong. Christianity is right, Atheism is wrong. God is right, those who oppose Him are wrong. How do I know that? Because the Church says so. And who is the Church to say so? She is the Bride of Christ.
It’s simple, really. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and what is important is on which side one is. To say Muslims should have the right to build mosques if we want to have the right to build churches neglects the fundamental difference between a church and a mosque, Truth and Error, true God and false god.
We must stop with this inclusive, egalitarian waffle and resolutely take the side of Christ. Be assured caving in to the fashion of the time is not only to betray God, but will not ensure a single additional church being built, as these times of church closures and coming persecution abundantly prove.
A far too long message in my comment box (alas, canned; If I let one pass, where will it end?) made me realise different cultural environments might lead the one or other reader to understand my message in the wrong way.
Let us be clear that I am very much in favour of Catholicism as State Religion; that I consider it very good that priests have a (modest) wage from the taxpayer; and that I consider, in general, a duty of the State to contribute to the material welfare of the Church as the Church works toward the spiritual welfare of the citizen.
The ideal model is in my eyes the one the Duce and Cardinal Gasparri (the then Secretary of State) put together with the Patti Lateranensi, the Concordato of 1929.
With the Concordato, the Church became State Religion, and the State took among its duties the one of caring for both the clergy and the infrastructure for a rapidly growing population. Priests had a salary which, if modest, was universally considered fitting to the position of a priest, who should be a witness of simple living even if he did not take a vow of poverty. There was no problem anymore of maintenance of churches, or of monasteries etc; the money problems which had afflicted the Church in Italy for decades were suddenly out of the door, but without generalised corruption and decadent lifestyle getting in from the window.
Of course, both sides tried to profit from the new situation: Mussolini “inaugurated” the agreement with a massive crackdown on the Azione Cattolica, a thorn in his side which he felt he could comfortably put in a dark corner due to the huge popularity – and the acquired reputation of, so to speak, “defender of the faith” – the agreement had given him; and in turn, observant Catholics began to be admitted within the ranks of the Partito Fascista and rapidly infiltrated it, to the point that already at the beginning of the Thirties the vecchia guardia, mostly recruited among angry anticlericals, did not understand the world anymore (immortal pages on this in that wonderful novel, Il giardino dei Finzi Contini). It worked the other way too, though, and it can be safely said in the Thirties the clergy was on average pretty much as Fascist as the rest of the country. All this to say that whilst there will always be influences (and a complete separation between Church and State is probably a dream and a legend), all in all things worked.
You have, though, heard me expressing myself in a very critical way concerning the Kirchensteuer. The reasons are as follows:
1) The Kirchensteuer is Protestant in structure and thinking. It is the idea that the churches finance themselves, and the State merely assists them in the administrative matters. This is un-Catholic. In Catholicism State and Church are separated as to their sphere of competence, but are supposed to work together nevertheless. In proper Catholicism, a State “neutral” towards the Church is so inconceivable as a State neutral toward Truth.
2) The Kirchensteuer is also Protestant because, at least in most people’s thinking, it links its payment with the membership to a religious community (as it is natural for… Protestants). Therefore, he who does not want to pay the “tax” is, automatically, considered not a member of the community, even if he is a Catholic simply and fully by virtue of his baptism and orthodox thinking. The idea that one would, in a way, un-baptise himself because he does not want to give money to a bunch of cowardly atheists is astonishing, but it is a concept many in, say, Germany would share.
3) The Kirchensteuer has given the Church an astonishing amount of money, which has not failed to corrupt her entirely: the growth of the wealth in Germany, Austria and Switzerland made of these countries great contributors to the Vatican coffers (last time I looked, Germany was the greatest worldwide), whilst Catholic priests (single, of course, most of them) have a standard of living which certainly puts in the shadow the one of their colleagues in every other country, UK obviously included (I know it; I live there).
4) The results of this are under everyone’s eyes: the priests, bishops and cardinals of the region (Austria, Switzerland, Germany) can be openly heretic and challenge Catholic teaching without any fear of retribution (see point 5 below); this they do in turn because they are godless cowards afraid of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Remember, this is not Fascist Italy and the Kirchensteuer is still a voluntary payment! The procedure to get out is red-taped but still doable; and even if the Germans call it Kirchenaustritt, “exit from the church” (again, a Protestant concept), which clearly poses a hurdle, this is nothing that couldn’t be done.
5) The corruption arrives clearly up to the Vatican: the Germans & Co. as big spenders can do what they please saying to Rome “if we lose our paying customers and go down in flames you lose your biggest contributors, too”; therefore, the Vatican does not attack the heresy and does not tackle the unpopular issues in Germany & Co. because they, too, are afraid of mass exodus and relevant loss of dough. Just look at the Pope addressing the Germans who divorce and remarry not as unrepentant fornicators living in sin and even having the effrontery of thinking they are in the right, but as good Christians pandered to in their “suffering”. Those of you able to read German sites know that the wannabe pious doublespeak is uninterrupted, and simply unbearable.
6) Another result of the Kirchensteuer is the complete assimilation of the priests to the general population. In Italy when I grew up you could at least know that your priests were poor, and an example of some social prestige coupled with decorous, but still clearly perceivable poverty (the Duce knew how to do things properly; he allowed the taxpayer to provide for the expenses without anyone feeling exploited by the excessive welfare of the clergy); but in Germany a Catholic priest is so comfortably middle-class it is not an utter surprise he wants – particularly if he has lost his faith – to stay there.
At the same time, the means not only to think of sin but of putting the thought in practice (a more or less unofficial mistress, say, and one or two well-raised children on the side) are certainly available. Can we be surprised that so many priests in the area are in favour of “married” priests? Where do you think their new theological convictions come from?
Fortunately for Catholicism, what our heroes are doing is … killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. The desire of assimilation (and mistresses, and children, or simply “integration” and “approval”) created a first generation of terribly ignorant faithful, who would still pay the Kirchensteuer without really understanding why, or not to anger their parents; but the following generation started to fornicate, divorce, remarry like there’s no tomorrow, and cannot even understand (as in: they do not really know, because they aren’t really told) why they should not be right and the Church wrong. It is, therefore, absolutely fitting that they now want to get out of a church which never instructed them and still tells them that she would really, really like to please them, but it is just so, so difficult with all those rules and stuff… (don’t joke: this is the climate).
The German church has planted wickedness and has reaped evil. Good riddance to the Kirchensteuer, a system which will most certainly not survive this generation in this form, and let us hope that a new generation may have a poorer, but better instructed and more faithful clergy desirous to save souls rather than their income, or popularity, or mistresses.
Among the slogans of “politically correct” language there is the term “religious liberty”, which is used incorrectly at times by Catholics as a synonym for freedom for the Church or freedom for Christians. In reality the terms and concepts are different and it is necessary to clarify them. The ambiguity present in the Conciliar declaration Dignitatis humanae (1965) arose from the lack of distinction between the internal forum, which is in the sphere of personal conscience, and the public space, which is in the sphere of the community, or rather the profession and propagation of one’s personal religious convictions.The Church, with Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos (1836), with Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus and in Quanta Cura (1864), but also with Pope Leo XIII inImmortale Dei (1885) and in Libertas (1888) teaches that:
- 1. No one can be constricted to believe in the private forum, because faith is a personal choice formed in the conscience of man.
- 2. Man has no right to religious freedom in the public space, or rather freedom to profess whatever religion, because only the true and the good have rights and not what is error and is evil.
- 3. Public worship of false religions may be, in cases, tolerated by the civil authorities, with the view of obtaining a greater good or avoiding a greater evil, but, in essence, it may be repressed even by force if necessary. But the right to tolerance is a contradiction, because, as is evident even from the term, whatever is tolerated is never a good thing, rather, it is always a purely bad thing. In the social life of nations, error may be tolerated as a reality, but never allowed as a right. Error “has no right to exist objectively nor to propaganda, nor action” (Pius XII Speech Ci Riesce 1953)Further, the right of being immune to coercion, or rather the fact that the Church does not impose the Catholic Faith on anyone, but requires the freedom of the act of faith, does not arise from a presumed natural right to religious freedom or a presumed natural right to believe in any religion whatever, but it is founded on the fact that the Catholic Religion, the only true one, must be embraced in complete freedom without any constraints. The liberty of the believer is based on the truth believed and not on the self-determination of the individual. The Catholic and only the Catholic has the natural right to profess and practice his religion and he has it because his religion is the true one. Which means that no other believer apart from the Catholic has the natural right to profess his religion. The verification of this is in the fact that rights do not exist without responsibilities and duties and vice versa. The natural law, summed up in the ten commandments, is expressed in a prescriptive manner, that is, it imposes duties and responsibilities from which rights arise. For example, in the Commandment “Do not kill the innocent” the right of the innocent to life arises. The rejection of abortion is a prescription of natural rights which is separated from religion and whoever conforms to it. And this is the same for the seven Commandments of the Second Table. Comparing the right to religious liberty to the right to life, considering them both as natural rights, is however, nonsense.The first three commandments of the Decalogue in fact do not refer to all and sundry divinities, but only to the God of the Old and the New Testaments. From the First Commandment, which imposes adoration of the Only True God, arises the right and the duty to profess not any religion but the only true one. This counts for both the individual and the State. The State, like each individual, has the duty to profess the true religion, also because the aims of the State are no different from those of the individual.The reason the State cannot constrain anyone to believe does not arise from the religious neutrality of the State, but from the fact that adhering to the truth must be completely free. If the individual had the right to preach and profess publicly any religion whatever, the State would have the obligation of religious neutrality. This has been repeatedly condemned by the Church.For this reason we say that man has the right to profess, not any religion, but to profess the only true one. Only if religious liberty is intended as Christian liberty, will it be possible to speak of the right to it.There are those who sustain that we live actually in a pluralistic and secularized society, that the Catholic States have disappeared and that Europe is a continent that has turned its back on Christianity. Therefore, the real problem is that of Christians persecuted in the world, and not that of a Catholic State. Nobody denies this, but the verification of a reality is not equivalent to the affirmation of a principle. The Catholic must desire a Catholic society and State with all his heart, where Christ reigns, as Pope Pius XI in the encyclical Quas Primas (1925) explains.The distinction between the “thesis” (the principle) and the “hypothesis”(the concrete situation) is noted. The more that we are obliged to suffer under the hypothesis, the more we have to try to make the thesis known. Hence, we do not renounce the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ: let us speak of the rights of Jesus Christ to reign over entire societies as the only solution to modern evils. So, instead of fighting for religious liberty, which is the equalizing of the true religion with the false ones, let us fight in defense of liberty for Christians, today persecuted by Islam in the East and by the dictatorship of relativism in the West.Roberto de Mattei