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Only if he said that secular authorities had some sort of right or justice on their side in unilaterally depriving the Church of privileges or possessions.

It is possible to say that a person was liberated from worry about possessions by being robbed, but the anathema would come in when one said that people with possessions *should* be robbed, so as to liberate them.

Yes, I suppose he could, as they say in the courts, "skate on a technicality." The general drift of this seems opposed to that of, say, the Syllabus of Errors, though.

I see what you both mean. Although, I had thought that the idea that persecution or just general opposition can be salutary for the Church is pretty orthodox.

Will now have to go and actually look up the syllabus of errors.

Although, upon further reflection, I think the "skating on a technicality" is not really that but an important distinction. I mean, it does really make a big difference saying "she ought to have been robbed" rather than just "good things came out of her being robbed."

Having said that, there is definitely a wide-spread view that the Church ought not have any temporal concerns (property etc) or power.

I sometimes wonder whether people ever think things through much. I mean, how are we ever supposed to do the basics of Christian work without property? Whenever a new order starts up they want to be "free" to just go wherever and do whatever and then they discover that in reality, the work they do requires a certain degree of stability and ends up with at least a convent/monastery arrangement. Need priests? Need a seminary...

It's a very informal statement, and doesn't really merit close doctrinal scrutiny. So my remark about the anathema wasn't entirely serious. But I do think there's a pretty big and significant difference in general attitude and approach to the question. #80 in the Syllabus, for instance, reads "The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization."

A society without institutions, everything just spontaneously good and in order, is a dream that will never die. There was a lot of that in the '60s.

You know, Maclin, as I just came back to this post tonight (my time) I thought to myself "Why are you commenting, Louise? You're a housewife!"

I mean, really, I have no idea!

It seems to me that in #80 we are talking about surrendering the truth in order to get along with society, for instance, if the Pope said that artificial birth control or homosexual marriage was all right. What he's talking about in that quote is not making peace with what society is doing, but saying that the Church can profit even from the evil that men do. It's like Joseph and his brothers--men meant it for evil, but God meant if for good, or like the blood of the martyrs being the seed--or like the Crucifixion.


I understand, but the tone and emphasis of this seems to me to go beyond that. It could certainly be called reconciling, if not embracing. He goes on to say "Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world." (I have this in an email--Vatican Information Service daily update--or I would just post a link to the whole thing. I'm sure it's on the web somewhere.)

Actually I would say #80, along with a number of other things in the Syllabus, are rather difficult to reconcile with Vatican II. I can sorta see the Lefebvrists' (sp?) point.

Heck, Louise, I'm just a software guy. I have no credentials to talk about this, either, but that doesn't stop me.

I must be missing something. I don't see it at all.


But I'm willing to see it if somebody will explain. :-)


I don't know what to say--it just strikes me as a very different way of looking at the whole situation of the Church wrt the world. Not that what Benedict says is impossible to reconcile with the letter of the Syllabus, but...well, here is the Syllabus--see particularly 76-80.

I see what you mean. I don't think I'd read that before, or maybe I have about 15 years ago. So, do you think that Popes held to that until the Vatican II or was there some intermediate movement? I suppose we could use help from the resident expert on almost everything.

Anyway, in reading Introduction to Christianity I have begun to wonder how Cardinal Ratzinger got this reputation for being more Catholic than the Pope.



I don't really know (about the intermediate movement). I think probably the 20th c popes were not quite as confident in asserting a worldly role for the Church, but I'm not sure. I think there was definitely...I started to say a break, but that's problematic...a rather abrupt move with VII.

It's a measure of how far out the "mainstream" of theology had gotten that Ratzinger seemed in comparison reactionary. He really never was, as far as I can tell.

Heck, Louise, I'm just a software guy. I have no credentials to talk about this, either, but that doesn't stop me.

Yeah, but right now I'm feeling especially dumb!

Well, thinking about it a bit more, it's not like lots of Catholics are comfy with a Catholic Confessional State, for example, and saying "the social reign of Christ" always feels really daring even amongst orthodox Catholics. So, it seems maybe B16 might be more hesitant on that kind of thing too.

Also, I did read somewhere (therefore it must be true) that Pope Paul VI was completely unprepared, not for opposition to Humanae Vitae, but for the widespread vehemence against it and presumably the various insolence directed against the papacy etc. Some have likened him to a rabbit caught in the headlights, whereas B16 and JP2, were no doubt better prepared for very vocal (and often crass) opposition, at least throughout The West.

And then, no-one wears the Triple Tiara any more. :(

Good grief! If I were Pope (yes, I know it's impossible... okay, so if I were a man and the Pope) I'd wear the Triple Tiara 24/7. I mean really, what's the point of being Pope if you can't go round glammed up all the time?

I do like B16's red shoes though. :)

Thankyou Maclin for that link too. I've bookmarked the syllabus.

I remember once my (fairly liberal) PP saying that he had been required to take the Oath against Modernism 3 times in his life.

I inwardly wished someone would require me to take that oath!

I'm often fascinated by my different outlook on life compared to my nearest and dearest. Mum and I were watching Kenneth Brannagh's marvellous "Henry V" recently. After all the battle, Mum says, "Oh it's awful! People who claim God is on their side, fighting against each other!" (She says this every time she watches battles over religion or between religious peoples). And I was thinking "Wow! What an amazing, miraculous victory! I wonder why the LORD gave Henry V the victory?" and sat there with goosebumps.

I can sorta see the Lefebvrists' (sp?) point.

I'm often fairly sympathetic towards the traddies.

#79 Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism.

Hmmm. Yeah, not false, I'd say... going by the news headlines and everyday conversations.

The big change after VII--well, one of the big changes--was the opposition to the papacy and in general to the authority of the Church within the Church. There was huge opposition from outside before that. That's part of what Pius IX was reacting to.

I don't have time to comment much right now, but it seems to me that in the past the Church has often claimed immutability for teachings which have changed and are changing, especially in the more practical arena--social and political teachings. You *really* have to stretch to say that VII's view of religious liberty is not a pretty big departure from the past. Better just to admit that ideas of how to run the world are not dogma and the Church's view is always subject to change in response to developments in the world.

It would have got a rebuke out of Gregory XVI. The best piece on the development of doctrine within Dignitatis Humanae is one by Russell Hittinger. He argues that 1) establishment is not precisely 'given up' in DH, because the doc says things like 'where there is an established church there should be freedom of religion'. That assumes an establishment! 2) But establishment is downplayed and rightly, because in the 150 years since Mirari Vos or the Syllabus, it became too clear that governments were determined to give the church the sticky end of the stick. It became a bad bargain.

But that's not what I intended to write about. I decided to add something to the conversation after listening to this morning's mass reading (from Luke - Sunday). It made me consider that, given the way in which Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant, we do not have the right to assume that doctrine will always develop in the way we expect.

I've often had a similar thought.

Of course I had to go read the Wikipedia article on Gregory XVI to learn a bit about his views. Very interesting to see that he opposed gas lighting and railways, assuming the article is accurate. There's an anti-modernist for you.

It seems to me that there is no single for-all-time answer to the question of the temporal position of the Church, its relation to the state, etc. Any given answer is always going to have problematic side effects, which at times will grow severe enough to warrant trying something else. Not to mention that something else is likely to be forced upon the Church from time to time anyway.

Many years ago I read something by Maritain in which he said something to the effect that the medieval model was one way of approaching the question, and it had its good and bad points, but that so much has changed now that it's a mistake to dream of re-establishing it, and we must find other approaches.

I'm glad you chimed in--I had wondered what you thought about this.

Yes, I am glad, too.


You might mean Maritain's Integral Humanism. I love that book. Folks in the Curia tried to get it put on the Index for thirty years, until VII. I have had young ideological students who thought it should be on the Index still. It takes all kinds to make the Church!

Perhaps such students might enjoy The Peasant of the Garonne, Res Ex?

Maybe. I don't know, Paul. Like most students, they were not that interested in what happened way back in the sixties and seventies.

On another note, I asked my students this week when was Vatican II, and they took a guess, sometime in the 1970s?

Good grief. As with so many things of this sort, I'm surprised but not very. Actually I guess simply knowing that Vatican II happened in the not-too-distant past puts them ahead of a lot of young people.

It may very well have been Integral Humanism, which I think I read some 30 years ago. Or it could have been Man and the State, which I read even longer ago. And I've read Peasant of the Garonne but remember almost nothing about it. I'd like to re-read all of them.

It takes all kinds to make the Church!

Reminds me of Mark Shea's saying: "The good news about the Church is that it's like a big family. The bad news about the Church is that it's like a big family!"

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