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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Pio Nono

PIO NONO, AS PIUS IX (1792-1878) is frequently referred even in English, was a remarkable figure who ruled as Pope during a time of social, political, and moral ferment. The successor to Pope Gregory XVI, who died in 1846, Pio Nono's confronted an age of revolution, and when elected to the papacy was considered relatively liberal. However, early during his reign, confronting revolutionary elements in his administration of the Papal States, and suffering the humiliation of being a "prisoner of the Vatican," and opposing himself to the Italian forces of unification and liberalism, he seemed to harden into conservative positions. Next to St. Peter himself, Pius IX enjoyed the longest reign of any Pope (more than 31 years), rivaled only by John Paul II (more than 26 years). A victim of rising Italian nationalism, the Risorgimento and its insistence on the unification of Italy, Pope Pius IX was the last Pope to rule the Papal States which, by 1870 had been wrested from the Holy See.

Pius IX--Pio Nono

But while he saw his temporal power taken from him, his spiritual realm appeared to rise in an inversely proportional manner. He is considered the first modern pope, and under his reign the influence of the papacy grew in terms of influence and centralization. He convened the First Vatican Council which define the dogma of papal infallibility. He defined as dogma the Immaculate Conception of Mary through his constitution Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854. He is perhaps most excoriated by the liberals because of his promulgation of his Syllabus of Errors (Syllabus errorum) in conjunction with his encyclical Quanta cura, a virtual declaration of war against the excesses of liberalism and its errors. He re-established the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England changing its status from a missionary territory. Perhaps his most controversial act, and certainly one that cuts against the grain of modern standards, was the position he took in the case of Edgardo Mortara, a young Jewish boy who was baptized by a Christian servant girl and so who fell under a law that prohibited Christians to be raised by Jews, even if they were his own parents. Mortara was raised in the Papal household and eventually became a priest and Augustinian missionary. Pius IX was beatified by John Paul II on September 3, 2000. Evviva Pio nono!

It was the political fervent in Italy and in greater Europe that forced Pius IX to draw from the natural law foundation of Catholic and human morality which lay, as it were, below the surface to be drawn at need, to provide the authentic Catholic and human response to questions such as contraception, neo-Malthusianism, the foundations of civil law, the indissolubility of marriage, and other political, social, and legal questions. It seems as if everything was up for deconstruction.

For example, the following acts were taken by the the Holy Office on May 21, 1851, and approved by Pope Pius IX, in response to certain questions relating to coitus interruptus (also known as "Onanism") as a form of birth control.* The ruling makes it clear that Onanism is against the natural law. To the questions of whether it was "permissible for spouses to use marriage the way Onan did [eo modo quo usus est Onan], if their motives are worthy [ob rationes honestas]," or if it was probable that "such use of marriage is not forbidden by the natural law [prohibitum iure naturali]," the Holy Office called the first proposition "scandalous, erroneous, and contrary to the natural right of matrimony [iuri naturali matrimonii contraria]," and the second "scandalous, erroneous, and elsewhere implicitly condemned by Innocent XI."**

In the Syllabus of Errors, promulgated under his authority, Pius IX also invoked the natural law on the issue of the relationship between human, positive law and the natural law, and on the issue of marriage as an institution under the auspices of the natural law. The following propositions were condemned by the Syllabus:
The laws of morals by no means need divine sanction, and there is not the least need that human laws conform to the natural law [naturae ius], or receive the power of binding from God

By natural law [iurae naturae] the bond of matrimony is not indissoluble and on various grounds the civil authority may grant divorce.

Morum leges divina haud egent sanctione, minimeque opus est, ut humanae leges ad naturae ius conformentur aut obligandi vim a Deo accipiant.

Iure naturae matrimonii vinculum non est indissolubile, et in variis casibus divortium proprie dictum auctoritate civili sanciri potest
DS 2956; D 1756 (civil law); DS 2967; D 1767 (marriage). What the condemnation means, of course, is that civil laws must conform to the natural law, and that marriage is indissoluble by natural law, and not as a result of any positive law. Laws, therefore, that allow for dissolution of marriage are contrary to the natural law. Essentially, the marriage laws of every single Western country, by allowing for divorce and remarriage, are violative of the natural law in addition to divine law as found in the teachings of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage. Is it any wonder society limps from intractable problems associated with shattered marriages and shattered families?

In his encyclical of August 10, 1863, Quanto conficiamur moerore, addresssing the issue of indifferentism, Pius IX spoke about the natural law and its role in salvation:
There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

Notum Nobis vobisque est, eos, qui invincibili circa sanctissimam nostram religionem ignorantia laborant, quique naturalem legem eiusque praecepta in omnium cordibus a Deo insculpta sedulo servantes ac Deo oboedire parati, honestam rectamque vitam agunt, posse, divinae lucis et gratiae operante virtute, aeternam consequi vitam, cum Deus, qui omnium mentes, animos, cogitationes habitusque plane intuetur, scrutatur et noscit, pro summa sua bonitate et clementia minime patiatur, quempiam aeternis puniri suppliciis, qui voluntariae culpae reatum non habeat.
Pius IX, Quanto conficiamur moerore, No. 5 (DS 2866; D 1677). Here, the natural law inscribed in the heart of all men--clearly a reference to the Pauline teaching contained in the Epistle to the Romans--links the natural moral law universally to all men, and makes it part of our reasonable obligation to submit ourselves to the law of God which is also the law in us. It is the law that is intended to be part of the guide that leads us to eternal salvation. Following the natural law, it would seem, is essential for salvation, a sine qua non not only for the Christian, but for every Jew and every Gentile, that is every man, woman, and child. No one is excused from following the precepts of the natural law.

In addressing these variety of issues, it is clear that Pius IX began drawing from that well of doctrine of the natural law, a well-spring of doctrine and doctrinal principles that had been held, as it were, in reserve to be drawn upon, as the sick drew upon the Pool of Siloam, the more and more society got sicker and sicker, and the further and further it distanced itself from the divine law, the natural law, and the very voice of reason and of conscience. Pius IX's successors, especially Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII were to follow the example of this Blessed Pope.

*Coitus interruptus (from Latin "interrupted coitus") is a method of birth control known as the withdrawal method in which the man withdraws from the woman during ejaculation so as to avoid pregnancy. The system is not particularly effective as a contraceptive method, and, in any event, it is regarded as immoral since it seeks to disengage the unitive from procreative components of the conjugal act. It is also called Onanism. Onan was the second son of Judah, and was the younger brother to Er, Judah's first son. After Er died, he was required to fulfill the Levirate law and engage in intercourse with his Er's widow, Tamar. However, Onan, who was not eager to provide heirs to his brother's line, withdrew from Tamar prior to climax, and, as the biblical text puts it, "spilled his seed on the ground." "And the thing which he did was evil in the sight of the LORD," and he was punished by God by death. (Genesis 38:8-10).
**The Holy Office referenced the teaching of Innocent XI we discussed in a prior posting. See Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Pius II and Innocent XI The source for these is Batzill Hartmann, O.S.B.,
Decisiones S. Sedis de Usu et Abusu Matrimonii (Torino: Marietti, 1944), 19-20 (May 21, 1851). The English translation of the Holy Office's texts may found at The Latin may also be found in DS 2791-93:
2791 Qu.: Qua nota digna sint tres propositiones sequentes: 1. Ob rationes honestas coniugibus uti licet matrimonio eo modo quo usus est Onan (Gn 38, 8ss). Resp.: Ad. 1 Scandalosa, erronea et iuri naturali matrimonii contraria.

2792 2. Probabile est istum matrimonii usum non esse prohibitum iure naturali. Resp.: Ad 2. Scandalosa, et alias implicite condemnata ab Innocentio XI propos. 49 (DS 2149).

2793 3. Nusquam expedit interrogare de hac materia utriusque sexus coniuges, etiamsi prudenter timeatur, ne coniuges, sive uxor sive uterque abutantur matrimonio. Resp.: Ad 3. Propositio ut iacet, est falsa, nimis laxa et in praxi periculosa.

No comments:

Post a Comment