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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Freedom and Law: Pope Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum, Part 8

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE is a precious freedom, one jealously guarded by the Church, but it also--alas--tends to be used as a last refuge of scoundrels, an excuse to sanctify nothing but sheer subjectivism. To some extent, freedom of conscience overlaps with the freedom of religion or worship which Pope Leo XIII addressed in an earlier part of his encyclical Libertas praestantissimum. But Leo XIII discusses the liberty of conscience more broadly, particularly with regard to its relationship to the State. For Leo XIII, liberty of conscience is a sacrosanct liberty, one enshrined by both natural and divine law, if that liberty is defined as the right of "every man in the State may follow the will of God and, from a consciousness of duty and free from every obstacle, obey His commands."
This, indeed, is true liberty, a liberty worthy of the sons of God, which nobly maintains the dignity of man and is stronger than all violence or wrong - a liberty which the Church has always desired and held most dear. This is the kind of liberty the Apostles claimed for themselves with intrepid constancy, which the apologists of Christianity confirmed by their writings, and which the martyrs in vast numbers consecrated by their blood. And deservedly so; for this Christian liberty bears witness to the absolute and most just dominion of God over man, and to the chief and supreme duty of man toward God.

Haec quidem vera, haec digna filiis Dei libertas, quae humanae dignitatem personae honestissime tuetur, est omni vi iniuriaque maior: eademque Ecclesiae semper optata ac praecipue cara. Huius generis libertatem sibi constanter vindicavere Apostoli, sanxere scriptis Apologetae, Martyres ingenti numero sanguine suo consecravere. Et merito quidem: propterea quod maximam iustissimamque Dei in homines potestatem, vicissimque hominum adversus Deum princeps maximumque officium, libertas haec Christiana testatur.
LP, 30.

This freedom of conscience is authentic, and it is world's apart from the freedom of conscience invoked by a "seditious and rebellious mind." Authentic freedom of conscience insists on obedience to human authority, but insists equivalently on the limits of that human authority, and the absolute preeminence of the law of God and divine authority, whose law and authority take precedence over any mere human authority, and in whose law is perfect freedom.

Pope Leo XIII also issues a warning against those liberals who would exclude God from reasons of State, and, in effect, make the State the Leviathan, the Mortal God of Hobbes, from whose absolute power there is no appeal:
By the patrons of liberalism, however, who make the State absolute and omnipotent, and proclaim that man should live altogether independently of God, the liberty of which We speak, which goes hand in hand with virtue and religion, is not admitted; and whatever is done for its preservation is accounted an injury and an offense against the State. Indeed, if what they say were really true, there would be no tyranny, no matter how monstrous, which we should not be bound to endure and submit to.

Contra Liberalismi fautores, qui herilem atque infinite potentem faciunt principatum, vitamque nullo ad Deum respectu degendam praedicant, hanc de qua loquimur coniunctam cum honestate religioneque libertatern minime agnoscunt: cuius
conservandae caussa si quid fiat, iniuria et contra rempublicam factum criminantur. Quod si vere dicerent, nullus esset tam immanis dominatus, cui subesse et quem ferre non oporteret
LP, 31.

The proper understanding of these liberties--of religion, of speech, of conscience--and the rejection of the false liberal interpretations of them is essential for the "cankered and bitter" fruit that liberalism's political acculturation has brought forth to become once again "sweet and wholesome." We suffer sociological plagues caused, in large part, by liberalism's errors: destroyed marriages and ruined families, collapse of any social mores, disregard for human life, the plague of abortion, the clamor for homosexual marriage, fraud in our basic financial and economic institutions, an inability to engage in any meaningful political discourse, increasing vulgarity, loss of reverence . . . . The de-Christianized West is not a model of virtue: it is a landscape of utter moral vapidness. "If, then, a remedy is desired," the Pope said, "let it be sought for in a restoration of sound doctrine, from which alone the preservation of order and, as a consequence, the defense of true liberty can be confidently expected." LP, 32.


No comments:

Post a Comment