Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Freedom and Law: Pope Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum, Part 4

A LIBERAL WILL SUFFER HEARTBURN at the next paragraphs in Leo XIII's encyclical Libertas praestantissimum. Indeed, the disquiet one may feel as one reads these parts of the encyclical dealing with liberalism may be a good indicator as to how much we have absorbed, and internalized, the liberal conventions of the day without even knowing it. (Another document that serves this salutory purpose may be the Syllabus of Errors issued during the pontificate of Pius IX.) These conventions have drawn us, as it were, away from the natural law main stream into a liberal distributary. Modern Westerners--Americans in particular--have a sort of liberalism as part of their civil religion, since there is more than a seed of liberalism, at least in its Lockean form, in the foundational documents and theories of the American revolution which began the American experiment. We have come to view liberalism as normal.

There is a certain freshness, boldness in Leo XIII's language, a "calling a spade a spade" type of style, a style more akin to the Jewish prophet than a Greek philosopher, or an unctuous diplomat, a style which is less circumspect, less reserved, and more biting than the more judicious language we have come to expect from papal encyclicals modernly. And yet, when it comes down to it, is it any less true?
But many there are who follow in the footsteps of Lucifer, and adopt as their own his rebellious cry, "I will not serve"; and consequently substitute for true liberty what is sheer and most foolish license. Such, for instance, are the men belonging to that widely spread and powerful organization, who, usurping the name of liberty, style themselves liberals.

Sed iam permulti Luciferum imitati, cuius est illa nefaria vox non serviam, libertatis nomine absurdam quamdam consectantur et meracam licentiam. Cuiusmodi sunt ex illa tam late fusa tamque pollenti disciplina homines, qui se, ducto a libertate nomine, Liberales appellari volunt.
LP, 14.

For Leo XIII, liberalism is rationalist or naturalist philosophy brought into the moral and political domain. "The fundamental doctrine of rationalism is the supremacy of the human reason, which, refusing due submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence, and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth." LP, 15. With a similar shrug and dismissal of the divine and eternal law, the liberals apply the same principle to the practical realm. Liberals ultimately "proclaim that every man is the law to himself," sibi quemque esse legem, thereby advance an ethical system that is essentially autonomous, "and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless license." LP, 15. If this principle is applied to the political realm, we have entered into what Pope Benedict XVI would later call the tyranny of relativism, where the will of the majority determines right and wrong:
For, when once man is firmly persuaded that he is subject to no one, it follows that the efficient cause of the unity of civil society is not to be sought in any principle external to man, or superior to him, but simply in the free will of individuals; that the authority in the State comes from the people only; and that, just as every man's individual reason is his only rule of life, so the collective reason of the community should be the supreme guide in the management of all public affairs. Hence the doctrine of the supremacy of the greater number, and that all right and all duty reside in the majority.

Hoc enim fixo et persuaso, homini antistare neminem, consequitur caussam efficientem conciliationis civilis et societatis non in principio aliquo extra aut supra hominem posito, sed in libera voluntate singulorum esse quaerendam: potestatem publicam a multitudine velut a primo fonte repetendam, praetereaque, sicut ratio singulorum sola dux et norma agendi privatim est singulis, ita universorum esse oportere universis in rerum genere publicarum. Hinc plurimum posse plurimos: partemque populi maiorem universi iuris esse officiique effectricem.
LP, 15.

It is clear that the will of the majority does not define right. In a democratic form of government the majority, no less than one individual, is bound by the natural and eternal law, which alone determines right. A liberal democracy founded on relativism is a recipe for disaster for the very simple reason that it is repugnant to reason:
To refuse any bond of union between man and civil society, on the one hand, and God the Creator and consequently the supreme Law-giver, on the other, is plainly repugnant to the nature, not only of man, but of all created things; for, of necessity, all effects must in some proper way be connected with their cause; and it belongs to the perfection of every nature to contain itself within that sphere and grade which the order of nature has assigned to it, namely, that the lower should be subject and obedient to the higher.

Nullum siquidem velle homini aut societati civili cum Deo creatore ac proinde supremo omnium legislatore intercedere vinclum, omnino naturae repugnat, nec naturae hominis tantum, sed rerum omnium procreatarum: quia res omnes effectas cum caussa, a qua effectae sunt, aliquo esse aptas nexu necesse est: omnibusque naturis hoc convenit, hoc ad perfectionem singularum pertinet, eo se continere loco et gradu, quem naturalis ordo postulat, scilicet ut ei quod superius est, id quod est inferius subiiciatur et pareat.
LP, 15. It matters not what form of government a society finds itself under--democratic, aristocratic, regal--civil law, however engendered, remains subordinate to and must remain informed by, the natural law, that is to say, the eternal law.

The Upshot of Leo XIII's
Libertas praestantissimum

Rejection of any principle of law outside man himself is a recipe for the corruption of both individual and society and it leads to eventual tyranny, for if man is the measure of all things, then man is the measure of what is right and wrong, and there is no appeal to reality itself: to nature, that is creation, and to God. Law has nothing to do with essence or form, but law becomes existential and formless. Law thing springs forth from the subjective, arbitrary will of man himself, to be formed as he sees fit. Usually, the form comes from an overruling and disordered passion: greed, lust, pride, power. Not ratio but libido is the principle of such law. Ultimately, the will that carries the most power determines what is most right. And this is no longer law.

Listen to the warnings which Leo XIII proclaimed in 1888 where the rejection of natural law would lead individuals vis-à-vis individual morality.
For, once ascribe to human reason the only authority to decide what is true and what is good, and the real distinction between good and evil is destroyed; honor and dishonor differ not in their nature, but in the opinion and judgment of each one; pleasure is the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption.

Sane reiecto ad humanam rationem et solam et unam veri bonique arbitrio, proprium tollitur boni et mali discrimen; turpia ab honestis non re, sed opinione iudicioque singulorum differunt: quod libeat, idem licebit ; constitutaque morum disciplina, cuius ad coercendos sedandosque motus animi turbidos nulla fere vis est, sponte fiet ad omnem vitae corruptelam aditus.
LP, 16.

The effect of such doctrines would have equally deleterious effect on public mores:
With reference also to public affairs: authority is severed from the true and natural principle whence it derives all its efficacy for the common good; and the law determining what it is right to do and avoid doing is at the mercy of a majority. Now, this is simply a road leading straight to tyranny.

In rebus autem publicis, potestas imperandi separatur a vero naturalique principio, unde omnem haurit virtutem efficientem boni communis: lex, de iis quae facienda fugiendave sunt statuens, maioris multitudinis permittitur arbitrio, quod quidem est iter ad tyrannicam dominationem proclive.
LP, 16.

It follows as the night the day, that once natural law is rejected, so will the public role of religion, which will be the last bastion against the tyrants. Neither natural law nor religion forming the characters of the citizens will require something other than conscience to hold them in check: "there will be nothing to hold them back but force, which of itself alone is powerless to keep their covetousness in check." LP, 16.

This may, perhaps, be the view of the more extreme liberals, and there are liberals who are more conservative or moderate in their views, and attempt to temper them, as it were, with some tie to natural and eternal law. Pope Leo XIII acknowledges that there are liberals that would seem more moderate or circumspect in their opinions, and it is to these theories that Leo XIII next turns in his encyclical Libertas praestantissimum.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Freedom and Law: Pope Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum, Part 3

NATURAL LAW IS NOT ONLY THE FOUNDATION of the moral life of individual man, but also of his social combinations, his societies, in particular, the state. "What has been said of the liberty of individuals is no less applicable when considered as bound together in civil society." LP, 9. So Leo XIII turns from the true notion of individual, moral freedom--doing what one ought--to civil law and notions of civil liberties.

The law of the State, in fact, is nothing but the natural law writ in human law, at least for those kinds of cases where the positive law of the State concern "what is good or bad by its very nature," quod est bonum malumve natura, the so-called malum in se and the bonus in se.
For, what reason and the natural law do for individuals, that human law, promulgated for their good, does for the citizens of States. Of the laws enacted by men, some are concerned with what is good or bad by its very nature; and they command men to follow after what is right and to shun what is wrong, adding at the same time a suitable sanction. But such laws by no means derive their origin from civil society, because, just as civil society did not create human nature, so neither can it be said to be the author of the good which befits human nature, or of the evil which is contrary to it. Laws come before men live together in society, and have their origin in the natural, and consequently in the eternal, law. The precepts, therefore, of the natural law, contained bodily in the laws of men, have not merely the force of human law, but they possess that higher and more august sanction which belongs to the law of nature and the eternal law.

Quae vero de libertate singulorum dicta sunt, ea ad homines civili inter se societate coniunctos facile transferuntur. Nam quod ratio lexque naturalis in hominibus singulis, idem efficit in consociatis lex humana ad bonum commune civium promulgata. --Ex hominum legibus aliae in eo versantur quod est bonum malumve natura, atque alterum sequi praecipiunt, alterum fugere, adiuncta sanctione debita. Sed istiusmodi decreta nequaquam ducunt ab hominum societate principium, quia societas sicut humanam naturam non ipsa genuit, ita pariter nec bonum procreat naturae conveniens, nec malum naturae dissentaneum: sed potius ipsi hominum societati antecedunt, omninoque sunt a lege naturali ac propterea a lege aeterna repetenda. Iuris igitur naturalis praecepta, hominum comprehensa legibus, non vim solum habent legis humanae, sed praecipue illud multo altius multoque augustius complectuntur imperium, quod ab ipsa lege naturae et a lege aeterna proficiscitur.
LP, 9.

Bust of Leo XIII

With respect to these matters that are evil by nature or good by nature--those matters that relate to the laws that exist before men ever gather together as societies, those that have their origin in the natural and consequently the eternal law, e.g., the law against the intentional killing of an innocent life--the civil legislator has a duty before both God and men. The duty of the civil legislator, the charge, the burden, the "munus" on him, is to "keep the community in obedience by the adoption of a common discipline," obedientes facere cives, communi disciplina adhibita. It also has the complementary duty of "putting restraint upon refractory and viciously inclined men, so that, deterred from evil, they may turn to what is good, or at any rate may avoid causing trouble and disturbance to the State."* LP, 9.

There are other areas where the civil authority may pass laws that do not have the direct relationship with the natural or eternal law, but have only a more or less remote relationship to the law of nature, where the law of nature treats the subject matter only in a general and indefinite way. At the extreme, these laws may even involve matters that are morally indifferent. These matters are typically referred to as the area of the mala prohibita where something that is morally indifferent (e.g., driving on the left side of the road in most Western countries) is made wrong by law for purposes of the common good (preventing accidents by maintaining orderly use of the highways). It would also include areas where matters that are not, in themselves wrong in nature, are proscribed for reasons of the common good, the boni prohibita (e.g., laws against gambling, or laws prohibiting hunting during certain seasons). Even these may still be be generally referred to the natural law obligation of each person to contribute to public peace and prosperity and to life in common:
For instance, though nature commands all to contribute to the public peace and prosperity, whatever belongs to the manner, and circumstances, and conditions under which such service is to be rendered must be determined by the wisdom of men and not by nature herself. It is in the constitution of these particular rules of life, suggested by reason and prudence, and put forth by competent authority, that human law, properly so called, consists, binding all citizens to work together for the attainment of the common end proposed to the community, and forbidding them to depart from this end, and, in so far as human law is in conformity with the dictates of nature, leading to what is good, and deterring from evil.
LP, 9. In most cases, even these human laws bind in conscience because of their relationship to the natural, and therefore eternal, law.**

The natural and eternal law, however, places immediate constraints upon personal and communal behavior. It places restraint on the power of the legislator. There are certain matters that are outside the ability of the individual or the State to change. Neither the individual nor the State are autonomous from the natural law or eternal law. They act under, and not outside, the auspices of the natural and eternal law. LP, 10. In support of this notion, Leo XIII invokes the words of St. Augustine:
I think that you can see, at the same time, that there is nothing just and lawful in that temporal law, unless what men have gathered from this eternal law.

Simul etiam te videre arbitror in illa temporali [lege] nihil esse iustum atque legitimum, quod non ex hac aeterna [lege] sibi homines derivaverint.***
LP, 10.

The intrinsic limit on civil authorities (which is nothing other than the awareness that the State is not divine, but under God) translates to the principle that laws that contradict the natural law or eternal law have no force and effect. They are nullities:
If, then, by anyone in authority, something be sanctioned out of conformity with the principles of right reason, and consequently hurtful to the commonwealth, such an enactment can have no binding force of law, as being no rule of justice, but certain to lead men away from that good which is the very end of civil society.

Si quid igitur ab aliqua potestate sanciatur, quod a principiis rectae rationis dissideat, sitque reipublicae perniciosum, vim legis nullam haberet, quia nec regula iustitiae esset, et homines a bono cui nata societas est, abduceret.
LP, 10.

Later in his encyclical, Leo XIII reiterates the principle, with greater clarity and fervor:
But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God. Thus, an effectual barrier being opposed to tyranny, the authority in the State will not have all its own way, but the interests and rights of all will be safeguarded - the rights of individuals, of domestic society, and of all the members of the commonwealth; all being free to live according to law and right reason; and this, as we have shown, true liberty consists.

Verum ubi imperandi ius abest, vel si quidquam praecipiatur rationi, legi aeternae, imperio Dei contrarium, rectum est non parere, scilicet hominibus, ut Deo pareatur. Sic praecluso ad tyrannidem aditu, non omnia pertrahet ad se principatus: sua sunt salva iura singulis civibus, sua societati domesticae, cunctisque reipublicae membris, data omnibus verae copia libertatis, quae in eo est, quemadmodum demonstravimus, ut quisque possit secundum leges rectamque rationem vivere.
LP, 13.

Pope Leo XIII concludes this portion of his encyclical thus:
Therefore, the nature of human liberty, however it be considered, whether in individuals or in society, whether in those who command or in those who obey, supposes the necessity of obedience to some supreme and eternal law, which is no other than the authority of God, commanding good and forbidding evil. And, so far from this most just authority of God over men diminishing, or even destroying their liberty, it protects and perfects it, for the real perfection of all creatures is found in the prosecution and attainment of their respective ends; but the supreme end to which human liberty must aspire is God.

Natura igitur libertatis humanae, quocumque in genere consideretur, tam in personis singulis quam in consociatis, nec minus in iis qui imperant quam in iis qui parent, necessitatem complectitur obtemperandi summae cuidam aeternaeque rationi, quae nihil est aliud nisi auctoritas iubentis, vetantis Dei. Atque hoc iustissimum in homines imperium Dei tantum abest ut libertatem tollat aut ullo modo diminuat, ut potius tueatur ac perflciat. Suum quippe finem consectari et assequi, omnium naturarum est vera perfectio: supremus autem finis, quo libertas aspirare debet humana, Deus est.
LP, 11.

There were those in Leo XIII's day (and there are those in our day) that resist this sort of notion: that liberty, both individual and communal, is circumscribed by, indeed, defined with reference to the natural law or eternal law. They err both by excess and defect. One group errs by excess in individual liberty, subscribing a false notion of individual liberty wherein the individual is by nature free to do what he pleases, instead of doing what he ought. These err by defect in arguing that the state, therefore, has no business "legislating morality." These are the liberals. Another group errs by ascribing to the State powers it does not have (for example, powers to take private property), thereby adopting a defective notion of the natural law as it relates to the individual. Therein we may place communists or socialists. It is to the first group--the liberals--and specifically their erroneous theories of law and society, that Pope Leo XIII next turns. And in doing so tramples on the conventional shibboleths of modern society often supported, not by reason, but by propaganda, and often held, not for reasons of conscience, but as rationalizations, as cover, for inordinate desires.

*It is apparent that with respect to certain acts against the natural law, such as abortion, homosexuality, and laws pertaining to marriage, the modern State has wholly lapsed in its duty. The abandonment of its fundamental duties raises the question of whether the modern State, as a result of such abandonment, is legitimate, and, if legitimate, brutally oblivious to injustice and in serious state of disrepair. If a legislator has a duty to pass laws that uphold fundamental moral norms derived from the natural and eternal law, and the executive the duty to enforce them, it follows that we have a right, by natural justice, to insist that they comply with those duties.
**To go further into this are of whether human civil laws bind in conscience, one gets into the area of gradations or distinctions in civil laws, and into the controversial areas of, for example, whether a human law, though unjust ought to be obeyed for purposes of the common good, whether a human law may be disobeyed or not enforced for prudential reasons, whether a law is being enforced or has fallen into desuetude and so we are not under an obligation to follow it, whether we are dealing with purely penal laws (leges pure poenales) in which case they do not obligate in conscience with respect to the act prohibited or proscribed, but obligated in conscience in the matter of the payment of penalty, and so forth. Pope Leo XIII is therefore speaking generally.
***The quote is from St. Augustine's dialogue De libero arbitrio (On Free Will), I.6.15.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Freedom and Law: Pope Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum, Part 2

CONTINUING WITH OUR REVIEW OF LEO XIII'S encyclical Libertas praestantissimum, we recall briefly our last post which ended with the thought that our natural human liberty has a defect because our reason may adjudge as good and the will may seek as good things that are not good, but are merely evils masquerading as good, seeming goods. Our natural liberty must be therefore be enlightened and strengthened by law so as to provide guidance to our reason about what is a real good. "[T]here must be law, that is, a fixed rule of teaching what is to be done and what is to be left undone." LP, 7. Since, as we have seen, judgment precedes choice, and reason is what guides judgment, "reason prescribes to the will what it should seek after or shun, in order to the eventual attainment of man's last end, for the sake of which his actions ought to be performed." LP, 7. "This ordination of reason is called law." Iamvero haec ordinatio rationis lex nominatur. Law is, then, this ordinatio rationis, the ordinance of reason, which guides reasoned judgment and determines the good which is to be sought. It follows that law is essential for the right ordering of reason, the right formulation of judgment, and hence for the right direction of the will.
Nothing more foolish can be uttered or conceived than the notion that, because man is free by nature, he is therefore exempt from law. Were this the case, it would follow that to become free we must be deprived of reason; whereas the truth is that we are bound to submit to law precisely because we are free by our very nature. For, law is the guide of man's actions; it turns him toward good by its rewards, and deters him from evil by its punishments.

Nihilque tam perversum praeposterumque dici cogitarive posset quam illud, hominem, quia natura liber est, idcirco esse oportere legis expertem: quod si ita esset, hoc profecto consequeretur, necesse ad liber tatem esse non cohaerere cum ratione: cum contra longe verissimum sit, idcirco legi oportere subesse, quia est natura liber. Isto modo dux homini in agendo lex est, eumdemque praemiis poenisque propositis ad recte faciendum allicit, a peccando deterret.
LP, 7.

For man, the supreme law is the natural law:
Foremost in this office comes the natural law, which is written and engraved in the mind of every man; and this is nothing but our reason, commanding us to do right and forbidding sin.

Talis est princeps omnium lex naturalis, quae scripta est et insculpta in hominum animis singulorum, quia ipsa est humana ratio recte facere iubens et peccare vetans.
LP, 8. Law, however, implies authority, as "authority is the one and only foundation of all law," tota [lex] in auctoritate nititur: all law rests upon authority. Law must be promulgated. Law requires sanction for its breach. Law therefore requires a "voice," a vox, an authoritative voice, a vox auctoritatis. LP, 8. Where is the vox auctoritatis legis naturalis to be found?

We know where it is not to be found. It is not to be found in man. When it comes to the natural law, man is not autonomous. Man does not make his own fundamental law. He is not the rule of his own actions. If he were, then he would not be bound by his own law. Selflaw is not law. As the jurist Ulpian noted long ago, a prince is not bound by his laws: princeps legibus solutus est. If man were the source of his own standards, his own prince, then he would be governed by whim: for what pleases the prince has the force of law, quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem. But man is not the prince of the natural law. There must be an authority, a voice outside of man to account for the binding nature of the natural law. If it were not binding, if it were self-prescribed, it would not be law. All, therefore, points to God as the vox auctoritatis the vox legis naturalis. The princeps is not man, but is the summus princeps, the summus rex, the summus Deus, God who is the Eternal Reason and Eternal Law.
It follows, therefore, that the law of nature is the same thing as the eternal law, implanted in rational creatures, and inclining them to their right action and end; and can be nothing else but the eternal reason of God, the Creator and Ruler of all the world.

Ergo consequitur, ut naturae lex sit ipsa lex aeterna, insita in iis qui ratione utuntur, eosque inclinans ad debitum actum et finem, eaque est ipsa aeterna ratio creatoris universumque mundum gubernantis Dei.
LP, 8. The natural law, which is nothing but the eternal law writ in a voice man can understand, is therefore the fundamental rule, the ratio ordinis, which man should follow in forming his reasoned judgments which direct his will to the seeking of good. The natural law, however, is not the only aid given man. "To this rule of action and restraint of evil," agendi regulam peccandique frenos, which the natural law is, "God has vouchsafed to give special and most suitable aids for strengthening and ordering the human will." "The first and most excellent of these is the power of His divine grace whereby the mind can be enlightened and the will wholesomely invigorated and moved to the constant pursuit of the good." LP, 8.

Pope John Paul II in Camden Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Here, the natural law and grace work hand-in-glove, "for grace works inwardly in man and in harmony with his natural inclinations." The author of grace is the author of the natural law. The Redeemer is the Creator. "As the Angelic Doctor [Thomas Aquinas] points out, it is because divine grace comes from the Author of nature that it is so admirably adapted to be the safeguard of all natures, and to maintain the character, efficiency, and operations of each." LP, 8.

What a marvel! That God who makes law is God who gives grace! What human legislator is so solicitous that he both gives the law and the means to fulfill it?

Every single man and woman is therefore bound by the natural law. The natural law is the voice of the eternal law in us, a voice which guides each of our individual actions, a voice which guides our natural or human liberty, which orders it to the good, and which leads us from mere natural or human freedom to moral liberty, which is liberty pure and simple.

We might briefly turn from the Pope to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard's Almanack:
Would you live with ease, do what you ought, and not what you please.*
If "ease" is defined as freedom, then Ol' Ben is on point.

What is true for the individual liberty or freedom is true for a people, true for a civil society. In his Homily at Oriole's Park at the Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland on October 8, 1995, John Paul II had the following to say to America:
Surely it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.**
So it is from the individual to society to which Pope Leo XIII next turns in his encyclical Libertas praestantissimum.

*Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack: Selections from the Apothegms and Proverbs (USC Publishing, 1914), No. 658
**Pope John Paul II, Homily at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday, October 8, 1995, 7. Available at

Friday, January 28, 2011

Freedom and Law: Pope Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum, Part 1

WE HAVE IN EARLIER POSTINGS looked at Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals In plurimis, which addressed the issue of chattel slavery from the perspective of both natural and revealed law, and Diuturnum illud, which dealt with the foundations of civil government. Both of these encyclicals invoke the natural law in a clear, express, and central fashion. In this blog posting we shall review another of these Leonine encyclicals, one which dealt with the issues of liberty and freedom entitled Libertas praestantissimum, frequently translated On Liberty. This encyclical literally drips with the natural law from beginning to end.

Liberty, Pope Leo XIII states, is "the highest of natural endowments," attached to "rational natures," which can be used for both the highest good and the greatest evil. Jesus Christ "restored and exalted the original dignity of nature," brought it gifts of grace and promises of future salvation, and thus "raised it to a nobler state. Human liberty is therefore a matter that belongs to human nature, and as such is governed by the natural moral law. And yet, human liberty has been fundamentally transformed by the advent of the God-Man Jesus:
[T]his great gift of nature has ever been, and always will be, deservingly cherished by the Catholic Church, for to her alone has been committed the charge of handing down to all ages the benefits purchased for us by Jesus Christ.

Hoc tam excellenti naturae bono et merita est et constanter merebitur Ecclesia catholica, propterea quod eius est, parta nobis per lesum Christum beneficia in omnem saeculorum aetatem propagare.
PD, 1.

The liberty with which Pope Leo XIII is concerned about in the encyclical is moral liberty (libertatem moralem) as distinguished from natural liberty (libertatem naturalem). However, natural or human liberty, though distinct and separate from moral liberty, is intrinsically connected to moral liberty. It is the foundational source of moral liberty, and it is ultimately founded upon man's rational nature, which in turn, relies on a spiritual and immortal, and not material and perishable, soul. As Pope Leo XIII puts it:
But, first of all, it will be well to speak briefly of natural liberty; for, though it is distinct and separate from moral liberty, natural freedom is the fountainhead from which liberty of whatsoever kind flows, sua vi suaque sponte. The unanimous consent and judgment of men, which is the trusty voice of nature, recognizes this natural liberty in those only who are endowed with intelligence or reason; and it is by his use of this that man is rightly regarded as responsible for his actions. For, while other animate creatures follow their senses, seeking good and avoiding evil only by instinct, man has reason to guide him in each and every act of his life. Reason sees that whatever things that are held to be good upon earth may exist or may not, and discerning that none of them are of necessity for us, it leaves the will free to choose what it pleases. But man can judge of this contingency, as We say, only because he has a soul that is simple, spiritual, and intellectual - a soul, therefore, which is not produced by matter, and does not depend on matter for its existence; but which is created immediately by God, and, far surpassing the condition of things material, has a life and action of its own so that, knowing the unchangeable and necessary reasons of what is true and good, it sees that no particular kind of good is necessary to us. When, therefore, it is established that man's soul is immortal and endowed with reason and not bound up with things material, the foundation of natural liberty is at once most firmly laid.

Principio tamen iuvat aliquid de libertate naturali breviter dicere, quia quamquam a morali omnino distinguitur, fons tamen atque principium est, unde genus omne libertatis sua vi suaque sponte nascitur. Hanc quidem omnium indicium sensusque communis, quae certissima naturae vox est, in iis solum agnoscit, qui sint intelligence vel rationis compotes, in eaque ipsa caussam inesse apparet, cur auctor eorum, quae ab eo aguntur, verissime habeatur homo. Et recte quidem: nam quando ceteri animantes solis ducuntur sensibus, soloque naturae impulsu anquirunt quae sibi prosint, fugiuntque contraria, homo quidem in singulis vitae factis rationem habet ducem. Ratio autem, quaecumque habentur in terris bona, omnia et singula posse iudicat esse, et aeque posse non esse : et hoc ipso nullum eorum decernens esse necessario sumendum, potestatem optionemque voluntati facit ut eligat, quod lubeat. Sed de contingentia ut appellant, eorum bonorum, quae diximus, ob hanc caussam iudicare homo potest, quod animum habet natura simplicem, spiritualem cogitationisque participem: qui idcirco quod est eiusmodi, non a rebus corporeis ducit originem, neque pendet ex eis in conservatione sui; sed, nulla re intercedente, ingeneratus a Deo, communemque corporum conditionem longo intervallo transgrediens, suum et proprium habet vivendi genus, suum agendi: quo fit ut, immutabilibus ac necessariis veri bonique rationibus iudicio comprehensis, bona ilia singularia nequaquam esse necessaria videat. Itaque cum animos hominum segregatos esse statuitur ab omni concretione mortali eosdemque facultate cogitandi pollere, simul naturalis libertas in fundamento suo firmissime constituitur.
Natural liberty, then, which every man has as a result of his rational and spiritual nature, is the very life and basis of moral liberty. Natural liberty, at least as the Pope understands it, is not founded--cannot be founded--upon a view of man that is materialistic, for it presupposes a spiritual, rational soul. When a materialist, such as a Marxist or a secular humanist, talks about natural liberty, he is talking about something else entirely. It is this rational and spiritual nature that man has which makes man ontologically free, and therefore pulls him out of the determinism or fatalism or which is the concomitant of every materialistic or even extreme dualistic creed. "At no time," Pope Leo XIII declares, "and in no place," has the church "held truce with fatalism," nullo tempore nulloque loco fatalismum passa consistere. LP, 4. Indeed, were the Church even to stand with fatalism, it would be to put man in chains. And the Church, like her Christ, is not on mission to enslave man, but to set him free, authentically free, and not "free" with "freedoms" that are false and are in fact enslaving.

This natural liberty, which all men possess, "is the faculty of choosing means fitted for the end proposed, for he is master of his actions who can choose one thing out of many," facultas eligendi res ad id, quod propositum est, idoneas, quatenus qui facultatem habet unum aliquod eligendi e pluribus, is est factorum suorum dominus. LP, 5. Those things chosen as means toward an end are either good or useful. Though the natural freedom is a "property of the will, or, rather, is identical with the will in so far as it has its action the faculty of choice," it can only be exercised if there be a prior intellectual judgment of the good, since the exercise of the will is "subsequent to a judgment upon the truth of the good presented," and this judgment is "an act of reason, not of the will."
The end, or object, both of the rational will and of its liberty is that good only which is in conformity with reason.

Libertas igitur si in voluntate inest, quae natura sua appetitus est rationi obediens, consequitur ut et ipsa, sicut voluntas, in bono versetur rationi consentaneo.
LP, 5. Reason proposes, and the will disposes.

Yet all is not well in Camelot. In man, both the will and reason are imperfect. Often, the reason proposes something as good that is not in objective reality good: it proposes a seeming good, an evil under the guise of good. The will, which relies on what reason presents to it as good, is also therefore necessarily corrupted by this imperfection in reason. There is therefore a defect, a vitium, in natural human liberty. LP, 6.

At this juncture in his encyclical, Pope Leo XIII addresses a frequent error in the understanding of natural or human liberty. Liberty is not the freedom to choose evil, even evil under the guise of good. Liberty is the freedom to chose authentic good. Otherwise, God--who is supremely good and whose will chooses only real good--could not be said to be wholly free. Yet we know that God is supremely free, though he necessarily, by his very nature, chooses only good. The fact that God necessarily cannot chose evil does not make him any less than absolute free. It follows, therefore, that the ability to choose evil or an apparent or seeming good over an authentic good is not a characteristic of true liberty. In fact, choosing an apparent good, an evil, is the opposite of liberty; it is an enslavement to sin. This is the upshot of St. Thomas Aquinas's teaching on natural liberty: "The possibility of sinning is not freedom, but slavery." Facultatem peccandi non libertatem esse, sed servitutem. LP, 6. As Pope Leo XIII summarizes St. Augustine's argument against the Pelagians, "if the possibility of deflection from good belonged to the essence or perfection of liberty, then God, Jesus Christ, and the angels and saints, who have not this power, would have no liberty at all, or would have less liberty than man has in his state of pilgrimage and imperfection." LP, 6. The proposition that freedom means the opportunity of doing evil is preposterous. This notion was also grasped by the pagan philosophers, "especially they who held that the wise man alone is free," since they understood by the term "wise man," "the man trained to live in accordance with his nature (secundum naturam), that is, in justice and virtue (honeste et cum virtute)." LP, 6.

The intrinsic debilitated or imperfect condition of human liberty stemming from the imperfection or debility of man's reason and will means that natural human liberty "necessarily stands in need of light and strength to direct its actions to good and to restrain them from evil." LP, 7. What is the first source of "light and strength"? Pope Leo XIII explains:
First of all, there must be law; that is, a fixed rule of teaching what is to be done and what is to be left undone. . . .

Ac primo quidem lex, hoc est agendorum atque omittendorum norma, fuit necessaria . . . .
LP, 7. Law, then, is the first foundation of liberty. Those who would suggest that liberty is the absence of law, or that liberty is release from law, or that liberty only arrives when all law is abrogated are utterly in the dark. They suffer from weakness and debility, their soul shows paleness and sallowness, bearing the decrepitude and loss of sinew and virility of a man who lives in a cave or a well or a prison and has never seen exercise in the light of day, but insistently wallows in his foolish and insipid illusions and dreams, thinking them reality, never daring to escape out into the light of the real. The fool thinks himself free and strong, when he is patently captive and his strength dissipated. There are many sorts of fools. There is the fool who says in his heart there is no God. There is the fool who says in his heart there is no Law.

It is to this Law, this Law which makes us free and repairs the defects in natural human freedom and assures our freedom, the Law which the fool rejects but the wise embrace, to which Pope Leo XIII next turns.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 3

WE CONCLUDE THIS THREE-PART SERIES on Pope Leo XIII's encyclical In plurimis. From a practical standpoint, the Church made some significant effort to provide practical remedies against slavery: she imposed canonical penalties, even excommunication; she allowed slaves sanctuary; those slaves that came into the possession of her bishops and religious, "according to times and places," she required bishops to divest themselves of after the slaves showed themselves capable of self-government; she put pressure on civil authorities to ameliorate, if not banish slavery. Through her efforts, the only institution of any size siding with the slaves, the slavery was "nearly blotted out from among Christian nations."

Unfortunately, the Church was to confront the Old World slavery's atavism in the New World and in the colonization--in America, Africa, and Asia--that followed, and she found herself at the forefront of confronting the effort revive the plague. Rome "took the greatest care that the evil germs of such depravity should nowhere revive." IP, 15. Pius II (r. 1458-64), Leo X (r. 1513-21), Paul III (r. 1534-49), Urban VIII (r. 1623-44), Benedict XIV (r. 1740-58), and Pius VII (r. 1800-23), Gregory XVI (1831-46) all showed themselves in one way or other concerned with slavery and the slave trade, condemning one or both for their part. Unfortunately, the cries and warnings of the Popes went unheeded, and slavery's ugly mien rose again and reigned for centuries. But, eventually, the Church's "long-continued and most just complaints of nature and religion," were to obtain remedy, at least in the Christian countries. IP, 17.

Not so the rest of the world, especially that part of the world governed by Islam, "it having been perversely laid down by the Mohammedans that Ethiopians and men of similar nations are very little superior to brute beasts." The African natives are likewise brutally treated by Muslims and by colonialists.
We open Our arms to them, how ardently We desire to be able to afford them every alleviation and support, with the hope, that, having cast off the slavery of superstition as well as the slavery of man, they may at length serve the one true God under the gentle yoke of Christ, partakers with Us of the divine inheritance. Would that all who hold high positions in authority and power, or who desire the rights of nations and of humanity to be held sacred, or who earnestly devote themselves to the interests of the Catholic religion, would all, everywhere acting on Our exhortations and wishes, strive together to repress, forbid, and put an end to that kind of traffic, than which nothing is more base and wicked.
IP, 19.

Bronze Statue of St. Peter Claver, Cartegena, Colombia

In another encyclical, Libertas praestantissimum, Pope Leo XIII summarized the Church's role in the slavery question thus:
It is sufficient to recall the fact that slavery, that old reproach of the heathen nations, was mainly abolished by the beneficent efforts of the Church. The impartiality of law and the true brotherhood of man were first asserted by Jesus Christ; and His apostles re-echoed His voice when they declared that in future there was to be neither Jew, nor Gentile, nor barbarian, nor Scythian, but all were brothers in Christ. So powerful, so conspicuous, in this respect is the influence of the Church that experience abundantly testifies how savage customs are no longer possible in any land where she has once set her foot; but that gentleness speedily takes the place of cruelty, and the light of truth quickly dispels the darkness of barbarism.
LP, 12.

The model that is required to overcome this evil was the Jesuit St. Peter Claver, patron saint of slaves:
Let them look at him who for fully forty years gave himself up to minister with the greatest constancy in his labors, to a most miserable assembly of Moorish slaves; truly he ought to be called the apostle of those whose constant servant he professed himself and gave himself up to be. If they endeavor to take to themselves and reflect the charity and patience of such a man, they will shine indeed as worthy ministers of salvation, authors of consolation, messengers of peace, who, by God's help, may turn solicitude, desolation, and fierceness into the most joyful fertility of religion and civilization.
IP, 20.

The extirpation of slavery de jure must also be accomplished de facto, but in removing slavery and its badges and remnants "let all be done lawfully, temperately, and in a Christian manner."
It is, however, chiefly to be wished that this may be prosperously accomplished, which all desire, that slavery may be banished and blotted out without any injury to divine or human rights, with no political agitation, and so with the solid benefit of the slaves themselves, for whose sake it is undertaken.
IP, 21.

Finally, Pope Leo XIII turns to the newly-freed slave, and renders this advice, which is the advice that ought to be given and received by any true free man:
Let them, then, endeavor piously and constantly to retain grateful memory and feeling towards those by whose council and exertion they were set at liberty. Let them never show themselves unworthy of so great a gift nor ever confound liberty with licence; but let them use it as becomes well ordered citizens for the industry of an active life, for the benefit and advantage both of their family and of the State. To respect and increase the dignity of their princes, to obey the magistrates, to be obedient to the laws, these and similar duties let them diligently fulfill, under the influence, not so much of fear as of religion; let them also restrain and keep in subjection envy of another's wealth or position, which unfortunately daily distresses so many of those in inferior positions, and present so many incitements of rebellion against security of order and peace. Content with their state and lot, let them think nothing dearer, let them desire nothing more ardently than the good things of the heavenly kingdom by whose grace they have been brought to the light and redeemed by Christ; let them feel piously towards God who is their Lord and Liberator; let them love Him, with all their power; let them keep His commandments with all their might; let them rejoice in being sons of His spouse, the Holy Church; let them labor to be as good as possible, and as much as they can let them carefully return His love.

Ergo illi memoriam et voluntatem gratam pie ad eos servare diligenterque profiteri studeant, quorum consilio quam prasbeant indignos, nec umquam libertatem cum licentia cupidilatum permisceant; ea vero utantur quo modo cives decet bene moratos, ad industriam vitae actuosas, et commoda et ornamenta quum familias tum civitatis. Vereri et colere majestatem principum, parere magistratibus, legibus obtemperare haec officia et similia, non tam metu adducti quam religione assidue exsequantur: etiam cohibeant arceantque alienae copiae et prestantiae invidiam, quae dolendum quam multos ex tenuioribus quotidie torqueat et quam multa ministret nequitiae plena instrumenta adversus ordinum securitatem et pacem. Re sua et statu contenti, nihil carius cogitent, nihil appetant cupidius quam bona regni caelestis, quorum gratia in lucem editi sunt et a Christo redempti: de Deo eodemque Domino ac Liberatore suo cum pietate sentiant, eum totis viribus diligant, ejus mandata omni cura custodiant. Sponsae ejus Ecclesiae sanctae, se filios esse gaudeant, esse optimos laborent, et quam possint amoris vicem sedulo reddant.
IP, 22.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 2

THERE MAY HAVE BEEN NO LEGAL OR SOCIAL INSTITUTION more affected by the Incarnation and Redemptive death of Christ and the proclamation of the Christian Gospel of these two mysteries than slavery, and yet one stubbornly resistant to that proclamation. Slavery is, and remains, a stubborn blot on mankind, and one so prevalent that pagans, including "the Philosopher" Aristotle, confused it as being a natural institution. But its universality has been checked and its prevalence diminished in large part because of the leaven of the Christian Gospel. When the Son of God became man and dwelt among men in Palestine, "[t]he greater part of humanity were toiling in this abyss of misery" which slavery was, a result, we may not doubt of the fact that man was "sunk in the darkness of superstition." IP, 6. The Redemption of Mankind by our divine Redeemer, however, was calculated to lift men out of the "slough and the distress of slavery," illi erecti sunt et caeno et aerumna servitutis, free them of their bondage to sin, and recall them to their high dignity as sons of God. IP, 6. There was something marvelously revolutionary, and yet not revolutionary but restorative, in the notion of St. Paul, which of course was not his but was a central kernel of the Gospel message:
There is neither Jew, nor Greek; there is neither bond, nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you were all one in Christ Jesus.

Non est Iudaeus, neque Graecus: non est servus, neque liber: non est masculus, neque femina. Omnes enim vos unum estis in Christo Iesu.
Gal. 3:28 (see also Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. IP, 6). So St. Paul to the Galatians. These, and like words by St. Paul in writings to the Colossians and to the Corinthians, and words announced, we may be sure, from Jesus to apostle, from apostle to disciple, from bishop or priest to layman, from catechist to catechumen, from from Christian slave to Christian master, and Christian master to Christian slave were "golden, honest, most noble" words that were surely intended to dissolve the bonds of slavery that prevented man from being brother to man:
Golden words, indeed, noble and wholesome lessons, whereby its old dignity is given back and with increase to the human race, and men of whatever land or tongue of class are bound together and joined in the strong bonds of brotherly kinship.

Aurea sane, honestissima, saluberrima documenta, quorum efficacitate non modo hominum generi decus redditur suum atque augetur, sed etiam, cujuscumque ipsi sunt loci vel linguae vel gradus, inter se consociantur et vinculis fraternae necessitudinis arctissime conlinentur.
IP, 6.

It is impossible for slavery's darkness to persist in the light of the Gospel: if God, who is absolute master over all men and all things, became man and thus linked himself "to be the brother of us all," and thereby "so ennobled men that they might become participators in the divine nature," how is it that men, who accepted this prodigy of the God who is Love, and the commandment that we ought to love our fellow men as this God loved us, could then be masters over other men? It was but a matter of time for this leaven to do its work on the dough of pagan thought:
Through this Christian charity the various races of men were drawn together under the divine guidance in such a wonderful way that they blossomed into a new state of hope and public happiness; as with the progress of time and events and the constant labor of the Church the various nations were able to gather together, Christian and free, organized anew after the manner of a family.

Ea ipsa non secus fuere ac divinitus insertae propagines, quae mirum in modum provenientes effloruerunt ad spem felicitatemque, publicam; quum, decursu rerum et temporum, perseverante opera Ecclesiae, societas civitatum ad similitudinem familiae renovata coaluerit, Christiana et libera.
IP, 6. The universal and common origin in faith and salvation--Christ--made man see, as if scales fell from his eyes, his common origin in nature. As all men were made, by grace, adopted children of God through Christ, they recognized likewise that they were, by nature, brothers through Adam.
And now through the new Adam, who is Christ, there is established a brotherly union between man and man, and people and people; just as in the order of nature they all have a common origin, so in the order which is above nature they all have one and the same origin in salvation and faith . . . .

Jam nunc per Adamum novum, qui est Christus communionem fraternam et hominis cum homine et gentis cum gente intercedere: ipsis, sicut unam eamdemque, intra naturae fines, originem, sic, supra naturam, originem unam eamdemque esse salutis et fidei . . . .
IP, 7. The incipient, infant Church, however, did not have the power to overturn this institution which plagued, and may always plague, mankind like a cancer. Instead, it sought first to ameliorate it. "[T]the Church, like a tender mother, went on to try to find some alleviation for the sorrows and the disgrace of the life of the slave; with this end in view she clearly defined and strongly enforced the rights and mutual duties of masters and slaves as they are laid down in the letters of the Apostles."* IP,8. Indeed, the seeds of reversal were manifestly present: the evil of the institution was implicitly abrogated, de facto if not de jure:
For he that is called in the Lord, being a bondman, is the freeman of the Lord. Likewise he that is called, being free, is the bondman of Christ.

ὁ γὰρ ἐν κυρίῳ κληθεὶς δοῦλος ἀπελεύθερος κυρίου ἐστίν· ὁμοίως ὁ ἐλεύθερος κληθεὶς δοῦλός ἐστιν Χριστοῦ.

Qui enim in Domino vocatus est servus libertus est Domini similiter qui liber vocatus est servus est Christi.
1 Cor. 7:22. What else does it mean that the slave, the doulos, the servus, is to become free in Christ, and the freeman, the eleutheros, the man in liberty, is to become a slave in Christ? We have here an absolute reversal of values.

There is, therefore, in the scriptural record a clear indication of change in the relationship between slave and master:
Whoever compare the pagan and the Christian attitude toward slavery will easily come to the conclusion that the one was marked by great cruelty and wickedness, and the other by great gentleness and humanity, nor will it be possible to deprive the Church of the credit due to her as the instrument of this happy change.

Utramqueagendi rationem in servos, ethnicam etchristianam, qui conferre velit, facile dabit, fuisse alteram inclementem et flagitiosam, alteram mitissimam plenamque honestatis, neque erit commissurus, ut Ecclesiam, tantae indulgentiae ministram, merita laude fraudare videatur.
PI, 9.

To be sure, the mustard seed was planted, and slavery would--if and when the Gospel took root, and if the cares of the world or the thinness of the soil did not prevent the Gospel's growth--become supplanted. Eventually, the shade of the Gospel was to crowd out and deprive slavery of all its light. Yet the Church recognized that outright preaching that slaves could consider themselves free of their chains, visible or invisible, that tied them to their masters would have "entailed tumults and wrought injury, as well to the slaves themselves as to the commonwealth." IP, 9. She therefore counseled patience and opposed herself to violence and sedition. The slaveowner and the slave, indeed the entirety of civil society, was burdened by this institution, so the slave could not oppose himself to the institution alone, without regard to its link to others. But while she counseled moderation, she also imposed limits. There were prudential reasons to counsel moderation with regard to the institution as a whole, to tolerate it while she worked silently to overcome it without injury to master or to the common good. But there were clear limits to her counsel to the slave to be obedient, and these were already radical. They were as much a challenge to the institution of slavery as they were to the power of the State. There were limits to which a master, like the State, could not go, there was submission that a Christian slave would refuse, like there were commands of the Emperor that would be rejected. So we have examples of slaves who refuse the commands of their masters that would have required the slave to trespass the natural law or the law of God. The pages of the Church historian Eusebius and other hagiographies are seasoned with such instances of which Pope Leo XIII picks one: The beautiful St. Potamiana († ca. 205 A.D.), who preferred being put in a cauldron of pitch than acceding to the lustful demands of her heathen master.**
Many other admirable examples abound of slaves, who, for their souls' sake and to keep their faith with God, have resisted their masters to the death. History has no case to show of Christian slaves for any other cause setting themselves in opposition to their masters of joining in conspiracies against the State.

Similia admirari licet servorum exempla, qui, dominis libertatem sibi animorum, fìdemque Deo obligatam oppugnantibus, firmissime ad necem repugnaverunt: qui vero, christiani servi, aliis de causis restiterint dominis, vel conjurationes turbasve civitatibus exitiosas concitarint, historia prodidit nullos.
IP, 10.

We find similar radical doctrine, yet also similar circumspection and prudence, among the Church Fathers: Saints Chrysostom, Ambrose, Lactantius. It is apparent that the institution of slavery within the embrace of the Church has become insipid, dissolved, almost practically non-existent. Witness Lactantius:
Should any one say: Are there not among you some poor, some rich, some slaves, some who are masters; is there no difference between different persons? I answer: There is none, nor is there any other cause why we call each other by the name of brother than that we consider ourselves to be equals; first, when we measure all human things, not by the body but by the spirit, although their corporal condition may be different from ours, yet in spirit they are not slaves to us, but we esteem and call them brethren, fellow workers in religion.

Nonne sunt apud vos alii pauperes, alii divites, alii servi, alii domini? Nonne aliquid inter singulos interest? Nihil: пес alia causa est cur nobis invicem fratum nomen impertiamur, nisi quia pares esse nos credimus; nam quum omnia humana, non corpore sed spiritu metiamur, tametsi corporum sit diversa conditio, nobis tamen servi non sunt, sed eos et habemus et dicimus spiritu fratres, religione conservos.
Div. Inst. I.V.6; IP, 11.

The leaven of the Gospel ultimately had its effect, and as it took root in pagan society the manumission of slaves becomes frequent and encouraged. Indeed, there were instances where Christians voluntarily became slaves by an exchange of persons so as to liberate some who were in bondage.*** Laws were slowly put in place and enforced that took the bite out of slavery, that eventually made it illegal.

Trinitarians Exchanging Captives

The Popes were no less solicitous in overcoming the plague of slavery and the related plague of captives and in advancing the foundational truth that all men are free by nature, and none are by nature slaves. For example, we have the medieval Pope Alexander III (1100/1105-1181) writing to Lupus, the moorish king of Valencia: "since nature created all free, no one by the condition of nature has become subject to servitude," cum autem omnes liberos natura creasset, nullus conditione naturae fuit subditus servituti.**** The teaching is absolute, and absolutely held. Aristotle's view is decisively rejected as false.

It took centuries to overcome this plague,***** and toward the end of the fifteenth century, the "stain of slavery" was "blotted out from among Christian nations."
Finally, monuments, laws, institutions, through a continuous series of ages, teach and splendidly demonstrate the great love of the Church toward slaves, whose miserable condition she never left destitute of protection, and always to the best of her power alleviated. Therefore, sufficient praise or thanks can never be returned to the Catholic Church, the banisher of slavery and causer of true liberty, fraternity, and equality among men, since she has merited it by the prosperity of nations, through the very great beneficence of Christ our Redeemer.

Monumenta denique leges, instituta, continuo aetatum ordine, docent et declarant magnifice summam Ecclesiae caritatem in servos, quorum conditionem afflictam nullo tempore vacuam tutela reliquit, omni semper ope allevavit. Itaque Ecclesiae catholicae, amplissimo Christi Redemptoris beneficio, expultrici servitutis, veraeque inter homines libertatis, fraternitatis, aequalitatis effectrici, satis nunquam, proinde ac de prosperitate gentium merita est, haberi potest vel laudis vel gratiae.
IP, 14.

But the plague was not so easily extirpated. And during the age of discovery, spurned by the greed that is ever prevalent among men, the institution was to arise again and become part and parcel of the New World, and the Popes set themselves against this institution, which though prevalent, is unnatural and against the law of God.

*Pope Leo XIII cites to 1 Pet. 2:18, Eph. 6:5-8, 1 Tim. 6:1-2, and Titus 2:9-10 as scriptural examples advocating slaves or servants to be diligent in serving their masters. For scriptural examples that impose obligations on masters, he cites Eph. 6:9, 1 Cor. 7:22, and Philemon 12, 18.
**Book VI, Ch. 6
***Compare the interesting history of the Trinitarians or members of the Order of the Holy Trinity founded by St. John de Matha, an order dedicated to the ransom of Christian captives during the Crusades. See also the parallel history of the Mercederians.
****Quoted by George Bancroft, History of the United States of America (London: George Routledge, 1854), Vol. I, 124 & 124 n. 1. (citing Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores, (London: 1652), i. 580). He also observes: "But the slave-trade had never relented among the Mahometans."
*****It also took centuries to overcome the pagan plagues of contraception, abortion and infanticide, pederasty and homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and concubinage.

Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 1

LEO XIII ADDRESSED THE ISSUE OF chattel slavery in his encyclical In plurimis dated May 5, 1888. The occasion for the encyclical was the abolition of slavery by Brazil. Brazil was the last nation in the Western World to abolish slavery, an act which was accomplished by the passage of the Lei Áurea (Portuguese for "Golden Law"), adopted on May 13, 1888.* The Lei Áurea is remarkable for its simplicity, as it had only two articles:
Article 1: From this date, slavery is declared abolished in Brazil.
Article 2: All dispositions to the contrary are revoked.
The Lei Áurea was sponsored by the Brazilian Senator Rodrigo A. da Silva. It passed both houses of the National Assembly (Assembléia Geral), and received official sanction by the Princess Imperial of Brazil, Isabel (1846–1921), acting as regent for her father, Emperor Dom Pedro II, who was then in Europe. Ironically, the uproar the law caused among Brazilian slave owners and upper classes to rebel against the monarchy, resulting in a military coup in 1889, the toppling of the monarchy, and the eventual establishing of a republic.

The Lei Áurea

Pope Leo XIII was clearly elated by the Brazilian emancipation of slaves, as he saw the institution of chattel slavery as one that arose as a result of sin, was against the law of God and the natural law, and was against the original intent of God:
In the presence of so much suffering, the condition of slavery, in which a considerable part of the great human family has been sunk in squalor and affliction now for many centuries, is deeply to be deplored; for the system is one which is wholly opposed to that which was originally ordained by God and by nature. The Supreme Author of all things so decreed that man should exercise a sort of royal dominion over beasts and cattle and fish and fowl, but never that men should exercise a like dominion over their fellow men

Jamvero tot inter miserias, graviter deplorandum videtur de servitute, cui pars non exigua humanae familiae abhinc multis saeculis est obnoxia, in squalore jacens est sordibus, idque omnino contra quam a Deo et natura erat primitus institutum. Sic enim ille rerum conditor summus decreverat, ut homo in bestiis et agrestibus et natantibus et volucribus regium quemdam dominatum teneret, non item ut in similes sui homines dominaretur.
IP, 3.

The human inheritance of slavery is the result of sin, a sin that blinded man to the fundamental equality among men, an equality arising from their common nature, their common dignity, and the common image of God in which they share. It is a tendency that is altogether prevalent, but for all that not less to be deplored, where some men believe that other men exist for others.
From the first sin came all evils, and specially this perversity that there were men who, forgetful of the original brotherhood of the race, instead of seeking, as they should naturally have done, to promote mutual kindness and mutual respect, following their evil desires began to think of other men as their inferiors, and to hold them as cattle born for the yoke. In this way, through an absolute forgetfulness of our common nature, and of human dignity, and the likeness of God stamped upon us all, it came to pass that in the contentions and wars which then broke out, those who were the stronger reduced the conquered into slavery; so that mankind, though of the same race, became divided into two sections, the conquered slaves and their victorious masters. The history of the ancient world presents us with this miserable spectacle down to the time of the coming of our Lord, when the calamity of slavery had fallen heavily upon all the peoples, and the number of freemen had become so reduced that the poet was able to put this atrocious phrase into the mouth of Caesar: "The human race exists for the sake of a few."**

Ex primi contagione peccati et cetera mala omnia et ista erupit monstruosa perversitas, ut homines fuerint, qui memoria fraternae ab origine conjunctionis rejecta, non jam duce natura mutuam inter se benevolentiam mutuamque observantiam colerent, sed cupiditatibus obedientes suis, homines alios infra se putare coeperint, et perinde habere ac nata jugo jumenta. Hoc modo, nulla ratione habita neque communis naturae, neque dignitatis humanae, neque divinae expressae similitudinis, consecutum est ut, per certationes et bella quae deinde exarserunt, qui vi existerent superiores, ii victos sibi subjicerent, atque ita multitudo ejusdem generis individua sensim in duasabscesserit partes, sub victoribus dominis vieta mancipia. Cujus rei luctuosum quasi theatrum memoria priscorum temporum explicat, ad tempora usque Domini servatoris, quum calamitas servitutis populos omnes late pervaserat, rariorque erat numerus ingenuorum, ut Caesarem poeta ille atrociter dicentem induxerit: «Humanum paucis vivit genus».
IP, 4.

The institution of slavery persisted not only among the primitive peoples, but it flourished even among the civilized Greeks and Romans, where slaves were regarded "as so many chattels--not as persons, but as things," quam bona, non personae sed res." IP, 5. Carved to be outside the pale of the law by a perverse positive law, blinding philosophers and jurists alike, the abuse that infected slavery went far beyond the evil of the institution itself, which was evil enough. The institution itself engendered moral confusion, moral perturbation, which allowed "men to sell their slaves, to give them in exchange, to dispose of them by will, to beat them, to kill them, to abuse them by forcing them to serve for the gratification of evil passions and cruel superstitions; these things could be done, legally, with impunity, and in the light of heaven." IP, 5. And the justifications raised to justify this moral enormity--that slavery was a natural institution because of its prevalence, that slaves were naturally inferior to their owners, that they were things without reason, etc.--were abhorrent. The institution is dehumanizing to both the slave and the master:
Such inhuman and wicked doctrines are to be specially detested; for, when once they are accepted, there is no form of oppression so wicked but that it will defend itself beneath some color of legality and justice.

Ejusmodi delestanda maxime tum inhumanitas tum iniquitas; qua semel accepta, nulla jam sit oppressio hominum barbara et nefanda, quae non sese in legis quadam jurisve specie impudentissime tueatur.
IP, 5.


*The entire text (in Portuguese) is as follows:
Declara extinta a escravidão no Brasil:
A Princesa Imperial Regente, em nome de Sua Majestade o Imperador, o Senhor D. Pedro II, faz saber a todos os súditos do Império que a Assembleia Geral decretou e ela sancionou a lei seguinte:

Art. 1.º: É declarada extinta desde a data desta lei a escravidão no Brasil.
Art. 2.º: Revogam-se as disposições em contrário.

Manda, portanto, a todas as autoridades, a quem o conhecimento e execução da referida Lei pertencer, que a cumpram, e façam cumprir e guardar tão inteiramente como nela se contém.

O secretário de Estado dos Negócios da Agricultura, Comércio e Obras Públicas e interino dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Bacharel Rodrigo Augusto da Silva, do Conselho de Sua Majestade o Imperador, o faça imprimir, publicar e correr.
Dada no Palácio do Rio de Janeiro, em 13 de maio de 1888, 67.º da Independência e do Império.

Princesa Imperial Regente.
Rodrigo Augusto da Silva

Carta de lei, pela qual Vossa Alteza Imperial manda executar o Decreto da Assembleia Geral, que houve por bem sancionar, declarando extinta a escravidão no Brasil, como nela se declara. Para Vossa Alteza Imperial ver. Chancelaria-mor do Império - Antônio Ferreira Viana.

Transitou em 13 de maio de 1888.- José Júlio de Albuquerque.

**The quotation--humanum paucis vivit genus--is to Lucan's
Pharsalia V.343 (also known as the De bello civili (On the Civil War)). It is a Roman epic poem by the Roman poet Lucan about the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great and the Battle of Pharsalus.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Leo XIII and Diuturnum Illud, Part 3

COMPLETING OUR REVIEW of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Diuturnum illud in this posting, we turn to Leo XIII's solutions. The rise of false theories of the State and revolutionary movements spawned by such false theories provide the State with serious threat, threats it has a certain extent the right to counter. But power alone will not remedy the problem giving rise to or stemming forth from such erroneous theories of the State. "[N]o power of punishment can be so great that it alone can preserve the State." DI, 24. Fear of punishment is simply too weak a reed upon which to build a civil society and upon which to found a governing organ. To base order on fear of punishment, in fact, tends to brew discontent and incite rebellion. "It is therefore necessary," says St. Leo:
to seek a higher and more reliable reason for obedience, and to say explicitly that legal severity cannot be efficacious unless men are led on by duty, and moved by the salutary fear of God.

obediendi altiorem et efficaciorem causam adhibere necesse est, atque omnino statuere, nec legum esse posse fructuosam severitatem, nisi homines impellantur officio, salutarique metu Dei permoveantur.
DI, 24. The desire for obedience must be internalized, and the only way to do this is through an understanding of the religious foundation of the State, as this "enters into the souls and bends the very wills of men causing then not only to render [external] obedience to their rulers, but also show their affection and good will." DI, 24. It would do good, therefore, for the State to "defend religion, and to consult the interest of their Lord to defend religion, and to consult the interest of their States by giving that liberty to the Church which cannot be taken away without injury and ruing to the commonwealth." DI, 25.

Portrait of Leo XIII

The State ought not see the Church as a competitor for civil power, for the "things that are of a civil nature," are "under the power and authority of the the ruler," and those areas which belong "both to the sacred and to the civil power," such as marriage and its civil emoluments, should be exercised in harmonious manner. "Never opposed to honest liberty, the Church has always detested a tyrant's rule," atque honestae libertati nuspiam inimica tyrannicum dominatum semper detestari consuevit. DI, 26.

Leo XIII then ends his encyclical Diuturnum illus with a short litany of duties that a properly-ordered State would have:
  1. Strive with all possible care to make men understand and show forth in their lives what the Catholic Church teaches on government and the duty of obedience;
  2. Let the people be frequently urged by the State's authority and teaching to fly from the forbidden sects, abhor all conspiracy, have nothing to do with sedition, and understand that they who for God's sake obey their rulers render a reasonable service and a generous obedience.
God is the source of authority and power, and supplies both the reasons for and limits on the exercise of its power by the State, and the reasons for and limits to obedience by the people. This belief thus ennobles, without divinizing, the authority of the State, and gives reason other than fear of punishment for obeying the State.
And as it is God "who gives safety to kings," [Ps. 152:11] and grants to the people "to rest in the beauty of peace and in the tabernacles of confidence and in wealthy repose," [Isa. 37:18] it is to Him that we must pray, beseeching Him to incline all minds to uprightness and truth, to calm angry passions, to restore the long-wished-for tranquility to the world.

Quoniam vero Deus est, qui dat salutem regibus, et concedit populis conquiescere in pulchritudine pacis et in tabernaculis fiduciae et in requie opulenta. Ipsum necesse est orare atque obsecrare, ut omnium mentes ad honestatem veritatemque flectat, iras compescat, optatam diu pacem tranquillitatemque orbi terrarum restituat.
DI, 27.

Our states have gone a different way than what Leo XIII prayed for, have turned him a deaf ear, and the secular rulers and secular state have turned less and less to religion and more and more to process and to the thin veneer of "human rights," which, without God, also have little foundation. In the West, the theory of the modern State is built on sand, on the sands of social contractism, on the sands of moral relativism, on the sands of the will of man as if the will of the majority, which is so easily manipulated, is the cure for all ills. It is a recipe for either revolution or tyranny, not for peace or tranquillitas ordinis.

Our prayer may now be:
Usquequo Deus inproperabit inimicus inritat adversarius nomen tuum in finem?

How long, O God, shall the enemy reproach: is the adversary to provoke thy name for ever?
(Ps. 73:10)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Leo XIII and Diuturnum Illud, Part 2

CONTINUING ON OUR REVIEW of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Diuturnum illud which addresses the origin of government, and rejects social contractism, we ended our last blog posting with the notion that civil power is given to the ruler by God for the public good and for the purpose of promoting the common good of those assigned to his care. The ruler has not right to use the power he has been given by God for private gain. Government is thus a res publica, a public thing. In fact, its abuse by the ruler will expose him, as it does all men, to the judgment of God: "they are warned in the oracles of the sacred Scriptures, that they will have themselves some day to render an account to the King of kings and Lord of lords; if they shall fail in their duty, that it will not be possible for them in any way to escape the severity of God." DI, 16.

Portrait of Leo XIII

The other side of the coin of the concept that power and authority come from God is that the people have a duty to obedience to the State. The citizen is not to be seen as some sort of pawn or slave of the state, but one who submits himself to the divine will, thus fully retaining his dignity "even in obedience" and submission to their rulers because the rulers in a certain way "bring before them the image of God, "who to serve is to reign," cui servire regnare est.

This principle remains true even if "the Christian form of civil government may not dwell in the minds of men." DI, 18. Historically, the Church taught the faithful that they were obliged to give due obedience even to the Pagan emperors, as St. Paul states it "to be subject to princes and to powers, to obey at a word." DI, 18 (quoting Titus 3:1). Indeed, more than obedience was the practice, as Christians were enjoined to pray for "kings and all that are in a high station." DI, 18 (quoting 1 Tim. 2:1-3). And the early Christian obedience to the Roman authority was exemplary, and it provided a singular argument that laws against them were unjust. Thus the Christian lawyer Tertullian could argue:
The Christian is the enemy of no one, much less of the emperor, whom he knows to be appointed by God, and whom he must, therefore, of necessity love, reverence and honor, and wish to be preserved together with the whole Roman Empire.

Christianus nullius est hostis, nedum imperatoris, quem sciens a Deo suo constitui, necesse est ut et ipsum diligat et reuereatur et honoret et saluum uelit, cum toto Romano imperio, quousque saeculum stabit: tamdiu enim stabit.*
Yet though history shows that the obedience and docility of the Christians was exemplary, to the point that they could be a foundation for a plea for toleration, it is equally true that the obedience only went so far. The duty to obey properly constituted authority, even if secular or pagan, only goes as far as that authority--which comes from God--is used in accordance with the law of God. That is to say, no State has the authority to order any man to do something that contradicts the natural moral law or that contradicts divine positive law. DI, 20.

When Christians became head of States, there was cooperation between the Church and State, and the ends of both overlapped, both recognizing the Divine source of any power and authority, and hence the limits to it. "And, indeed, tranquility and a sufficient prosperity lasted so long as there was friendly agreement between these two powers." DI, 22. But the writings of recent political philosophers have injected into the mix a poison. That poison arises from "an unwillingness to attribute the right of ruling to God, as its Author," ius imperandi nolle ad Deum referre auctorem. Instead of finding the source of authority and power from God, they place it at the feet of the people, a doctrine which assures abuse and rebellions and dissatisfaction:
And they who say that this power depends on the will of the people err in opinion first of all; then they place authority on too weak and unstable a foundation. For the popular passions, incited and goaded on by these opinions, will break out more insolently; and, with great harm to the common weal, descend headlong by an easy and smooth road to revolts and to open sedition.

Quod autem inquiunt ex arbitrio illam pendere multitudinis, primum opinione falluntur; deinde nimium levi ac flexibili fundamento statuunt principatum. His enim opinionibus quasi stimulis incitatae populares cupiditates sese efferent insolentius, magnaque cum pernicie reipublicae ad caecos motus, ad apertas seditiones proclivi cursu et facile delabentur.
DI, 23.

Leo XIII places the fount and origin of these erroneous notions of authority at the feet of the "so-called Reformation." The attack by the Protestant Reformers on the foundations of religious and civil authority, particularly Luther, invited the Peasant Rebellion which required repression by the German princes. So also did it invite "an outburst of civil war and with such slaughter that there was scarcely any place free from tumult and bloodshed," DI, 23, which appears to be a reference to the Wars of Religion. It was from the Protestant heresy that there arose a philosophy that sought to justify civil authority, and which postulated its origin in the people, taking it away from God:
From this [Protestant] heresy there arose in the last century a false philosophy--a new right as it is called, and a popular authority, together with an unbridled license which many regard as the only true liberty.

Ex illa haeresi ortum duxit sœculo superiore falsi nominis philosophia, et jus quod appellant novam, et imperium populare, et modum nesciens licentia, quam plurimi solam libertatem putant.
DI, 23.

Placing authority at the feet of the people is not only wrong, but it leads to social and political horrors. And like a bad apple or an insidious lentivirus, this philosophy has led to a virtual wax house of political philosophies, where all philosophies are false, made of wax by human hands, and not are real, based upon nature and nature's God:
Hence we have reached the limit of horrors, to wit, communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin. And yet too many attempt to enlarge the scope of these evils, and under the pretext of helping the multitude, already have fanned no small flames of misery.

Ex his ad finitimas pestes ventum est, scilicet ad communismum, ad socialismum, ad nihilismum, civilis hominum societatis teterrima portenta ac pene funera. Atqui tamen tantorum malorum vim nimis multi dilatare conantur, ac per speciem iuvandae multitudinis non exigua jam miseriarum incendia excitaverunt.
DI, 23.

*In the Encyclical, the cite is to Tertullian's Apologeticus, 35 (PL 1, 451), but I could not find this quotation in Tertullian's Apologeticus under this reference. Indeed, it is an apparent error, as the cite is to Tertullian's Ad Scapula, II.6.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Leo XIII and Diuturnum Illud, Part 1

THE RICHNESS OF THE NATURAL LAW shown forth in the thought of Pope Leo XIII, who "even more than Pius IX, based his teaching on the laws given by nature, meaning the Creator of nature." Fuchs, 5. Leo XIII's pontificate was a rich one indeed, and many things could be said of it. But with reference to the natural law, one has to focus on Leo XIII's contribution to Catholic social thought, in particular his groundbreaking encyclical on social questions, Rerum novarum, which fittingly means "On New Things." The world that Leo XIII confronted was saying new things, preaching new doctrines and new gods, based upon principles that were new, not perhaps in the sense that they were never known, for there is nothing new under the sun, and much of what was going under new thought was but paganism with a new sheen, but new in the sense that answers were being sought for new social and moral problems without reference to God or to the natural law. The number of Leonine encyclicals that address the applicability of the natural law and its principles to questions of government, slavery (In plurimis [On the Abolition of Slavery]) liberty and freedom (Libertas praestantissimum donum [On Liberty]), Christian democracy (Graves de Communi Re [On Christian Democracy], socialism (Quod Apostolici Muneris [On Socialism]), the relationship of Christianity to the State (Immortale Dei [On the Christian Constitution of the State], Sapientiae Christianae [On Christians as Citizens]), social justice [Rerum Novarum [On Capital and Labor]), marriage (Arcanum divinae sapientia [On Christian Marriage]), and so forth is remarkable.

Leo XIII, who was deeply influenced by the doctrines of St. Thomas Aquinas, and in fact promoted their importance in the life of the Church through his encyclical on St. Thomas Aeterni Patris,* applied these traditional Thomistic methods, including those relating to the natural law doctrine, to these new questions and arrived at remarkable refreshing answers to the social questions of the day. Alas, freemasons, socialists, communists, liberals, secularists, even "Americanists,"** all turned a deaf ear, and the world, or at least the West, continued to unravel.

Portrait of Pope Leo XIII

Confronting the extreme positions of political nihilists and anarchists, which were ultimately founded upon the false philosophical and political principles of Protestantism, the "so-called Reformation," and the Enlightenment, and spurred by the murder of the Russian emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) by the political group called Narodnaya Volya (Народная воля, the "People's Will"), a political terrorist organization, Leo XIII addressed the issue of civil power, its source, and the role of the civil power relative to the people and the common good in an encyclical entitled Diuturnum illud (On the Origin of Civil Power). The encyclical Diuturnum illud combines both the insights of Christian revelation as well as principles of natural law philosophy to arrive at the ultimate notion that all power comes from God. It rejects the notion that power is derived from the people and assigned, through some sort of social contract, to the ruler. In rejecting the political philosophy based upon social contract notions, it, however, does not reject the democratic process and the people's role in choosing a ruler if it accords with the customs, social, and political institutions of a people. Regardless of the procedural vehicles that relate to the selection of one's leader or leaders, however, the fundamental teaching of the natural law (as well as Revelation) is that all power--this includes priestly power, paternal power, and civil power--comes from God and is given to men for the purpose, not of private gain, but of promoting the public good. There is no power in the individual that he can convey to the ruler, for no man has the authority over any other man by virtue of their fundamental equality in nature.

The heart of the Encyclical would seem to be the principle, attested to both by Scripture and the natural law, that civil authority, though required as a result of man's natural disposition to live in common and so to that degree is natural, does not arise out from the people to be conveyed to the ruler. Rather, the only explanation for political power and the possible source of it is that it comes from God. If this principle is not fastly held, then there is no limit to what the civil authority can do in the name of the people, and there is, ultimately, no basis for power except raw power.
11. And, indeed, nature, or rather God who is the Author of nature, wills that man should live in a civil society; and this is clearly shown both by the faculty of language, the greatest medium of intercourse, and by numerous innate desires of the mind, and the many necessary things, and things of great importance, which men isolated cannot procure, but which they can procure when joined and associated with others. But now, a society can neither exist nor be conceived in which there is no one to govern the wills of individuals, in such a way as to make, as it were, one will out of many, and to impel them rightly and orderly to the common good; therefore, God has willed that in a civil society there should be some to rule the multitude. And this also is a powerful argument, that those by whose authority the State is administered must be able so to compel the citizens to obedience that it is clearly a sin in the latter not to obey. But no man has in himself or of himself the power of constraining the free will of others by fetters of authority of this kind. This power resides solely in God, the Creator and Legislator of all things; and it is necessary that those who exercise it should do it as having received it from God. "There is one lawgiver and judge, who is able to destroy and deliver." [James 4:12] And this is clearly seen in every kind of power. That that which resides in priests comes from God is so acknowledged that among all nations they are recognized as, and called, the ministers of God. In like manner, the authority of fathers of families preserves a certain impressed image and form of the authority which is in God, "of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named." [Eph. 3:15] But in this way different kinds of authority have between them wonderful resemblances, since, whatever there is of government and authority, its origin is derived from one and the same Creator and Lord of the world, who is God.

Et sane homines in civili societate vivere natura jubet, seu verius auctor naturae Deus: quod perspicue demonstrant et maxima societatis conciliatrix loquendi facultas et innatae appetitiones animi perplures, et res nëcessariae multae ac magni momenti, quas solitarii assequi homines non possunt, juncti et consociati cum alteris assequuntur. Nunc vero, neque existere neque intelligi societas potest, in qua non aliquis temperet singulorum voluntates ut velut unum fiat ex pluribus, easque ad commune bonum recte atque ordine impellat: voluit igitur Deus ut in civili societate essent qui multitudini imperarent. — Atque illud etiam magnopere valet, quod ii, quorum auctoritate respublica administratur, debent cives ita posse cogere ad parendum, ut his plane peccatum sit non parere. Nemo autem hominum habet in se aul ex se, unde possit huiusmodi imperii vinculis liberam ceterorum voluntatem constringere. Unice rerum omnium procreatori et legislatori Deo ea potestas est: quam qui exercent, tanquam a Deo secum communicatam exerceant necesse est. Unus est legislator et judex, qui potest perdere et liberare. Quod perspicitur idem in omni genere potestatis. Eam, quae in sacerdotibus est proficisci a Deo tam est cognitum ut ii apud omnes populos ministri et habeantur et appellentur Dei. Similiter potestas patrumfamilias expressam retinet quamdam effigiem ac formam auctoritatis, quae est in Deo, ex quo omnis paternitas in cœlis et in terra nominatur. Isto autem modo diversa genera potestatis miras inter se habent similitudines, cum quidquid uspiam est imperii et auctoritatis, eius ab uno eodemque mundi opifice et domino, qui Deus est, origo ducatur.
The encyclical finds the first seeds of false doctrine in the ideas of the Protestant reformers which were amplified and carried through by the philosophes of the Enlightenment. It was from first the rift and misunderstanding of civil power and the power of the sword, and then the full rejection of the notion that civil power comes from God, that required some alternative theory of justification. Most common was the notion of social contractism, the Hobbesian/Rousseauian notion that power is conveyed to the ruler by the people, and finds its fount and origin, and therefore its limits, if any there be, in the people. God is thus removed from question of power, all power is secular, material, and ultimately without any limiting principle, and certainly no spiritual limiting principle.
12. Those who believe civil society to have risen from the free consent of men, looking for the origin of its authority from the same source, say that each individual has given up something of his right [an allusion to, among others Rousseau], and that voluntarily every person has put himself into the power of the one man in whose person the whole of those rights has been centered. But it is a great error not to see, what is manifest, that men, as they are not a nomad race, have been created, without their own free will, for a natural community of life. It is plain, moreover, that the pact which they allege is openly a falsehood and a fiction, and that it has no authority to confer on political power such great force, dignity, and firmness as the safety of the State and the common good of the citizens require. Then only will the government have all those ornaments and guarantees, when it is understood to emanate from God as its august and most sacred source.

Qui civilem societatem a libero hominum consensu natam volunt, ipsius imperii ortum ex eodem fonte petentes, de jure suo inquiunt aliquid unumquemque cessisse, et voluntate singulos in ejus se contulisse potestatem, ad quem summa illorum iurium pervenisset. Sed magnus est error non videre, id quod manifestum est, homines, cum non sint solivagum genus, citra liberam ipsorum voluntatem ad naturalem communitatem esse natos: ac praeterea pactum, quod praedicant, est aperte commentitium et fictum, neque ad impertiendum valet politicae potestati tantum virium, dignitatis, firmitudinis, quantum tutela reipublicae et communes civium utilitates requirunt. Ea autem decora et praesidia universa tunc solum est habiturus principatus, si a Deo augusto sanctissimoque fonte manare intelligatur.
The notion that rulers derive their power from God means that citizens have a duty to respect it and obey it. But with that dignity comes limitation. Since the power of the ruler comes from God, and his not his own, it comes with limits which may not be exceeded.
15. The one only reason which men have for not obeying is when anything is demanded of them which is openly repugnant to the natural or the divine law, for it is equally unlawful to command to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, therefore, it should happen to any one to be compelled to prefer one or the other, viz., to disregard either the commands of God or those of rulers, he must obey Jesus Christ, who commands us to "give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," [Matt. 22:21] and must reply courageously after the example of the Apostles: "We ought to obey God rather than men." [Acts 5:29] And yet there is no reason why those who so behave themselves should be accused of refusing obedience; for, if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null.

Una illa hominibus causa est non parendi, si quid ab iis postuletur quod cum naturali aut divino jure aperte repugnet: omnia enim, in quibus naturae lex vel Dei voluntas violatur, aeque nefas est imperare et facere. Si cui igitur usu veniat, ut alterutrum malle cogatur, scilicet aut Dei aut principum iussa negligere, Iesu Christo parendum est reddere jubenti quae sunt Caesaris Caesari, quae sunt Dei Deo, atque ad exemplum Apostolorum animose respondendum: Obedire oportet Deo magis quam hominibus . Neque tamen est, cur abiecisse obedientiam, qui ita se gerant, arguantur; etenim si principum voluntas cum Dei pugnat voluntate et legibus, ipsi potestatis suœ modum excdunt iustitiamque pervertunt: neque eorum tune valere potest auctoritas, quae, ubi iustitia non est, nulla est.
The power of the ruler is not only limited by the natural law, it is also limited by the fact that it is ordered to the common good, and, by its nature, it is not ordered to any private good. It is a res publica, a public thing, and not a res privata, a private thing. Accordingly, any capture of that power by private interests is by definition an abuse of that power:
16. But in order that justice may be retained in government it is of the highest importance that those who rule States should understand that political power was not created for the advantage of any private individual; and that the administration of the State must be carried on to the profit of those who have been committed to their care, not to the profit of those to whom it has been committed.

Ut autem justitia retineatur in imperio, illud magnopere interest, eos qui civitates administrant intelligere, non privati cujusquam commodo politicam potestatem esse natam: procurationemque reipublicae ad utilitatem eorum qui commissi sunt non ad eorum commissa est, geri oportere.

*Leo XIII and his Aeterni Patris has been the subject of a prior post in Lex Christianorum. See The Disfigured Face: Pope Leo XIII to the Rescue.
**Americanism is a heresy that advocates, among other things, an extreme separation of Church and State, excessive notions of liberty and individualism, and particularism for the Church in America. Leo XIII addressed these issues in a letter in 1899 entitled Testem Benevolentiae.