Tuesday 26 May 2020

The Two Swords

See Integralism Update below.

Good morning from our wee bit hill and glen house and garden. Today is a day of note for this morning I will plant the second courgette in the herb barrel, endangering the good of the thyme for the flourishing of the fiori di zucca. Yesterday was also a day of note, for I ate the first radish. It was very small but also very tasty.

Both days I made coffee and read Chapter 11 of Integralism, "The Two Swords." This is probably the most controversial chapter, for it argues that the Church has temporal as well as spiritual authority--although it observes that this temporal is most effective within Christendom.

There are a lot of distinctions in this chapter, and given the resistance of even some Catholic authors to claims of the Church's temporal authority, I was edified to see that "Objections from Non-Catholics" (which means Hobbes, Locke, Benito Mussolini and, er, Henri de Lubac [?]) were followed by "Objections from Catholics."

Fr. Crean and Dr. Fimister believe that Catholics object to the doctrine of "the power of the pope over temporal things" because either they fail "to realise that by the nature of things it exists only within Christendom" or they fail "to grasp the nature of Christendom, which is not simply a collection of states, each of which acknowledges the true faith, but a single commonwealth." Each Catholic ruler is "obliged to prefer the good of the Church to that of their own province" because "the part must prefer the good of the whole to its own good."

They did not address, however, the criticism of Catholics who say that Christendom effectively died in the slaughter of the First World War, that it would be impossible to reestablish without extraordinary and almost unprecedented divine aid, and thus Integralism is a fantasy of barking mad traditionalists who shout "Don John of Austria is going to the war" out their windows when drunk.

Crean and Fimister also did not address in this chapter the intolerable corruption of certain Catholic bishops and the acute sufferings of Catholics distraught and humiliated by their abuse of the spiritual power they already have. Given the abuse of good priests by bad bishops, we can certainly imagine a bad pope removing a good Catholic emperor on some pretext so as to enthrone some appalling flatterer who will keep him in ermine, or larks' tongues, or dancing boys.

While I'm on the subject, certain bishops have been incredibly remiss in using even their spiritual power over Catholic leaders post-Christendom.

"A bishop, for example, should remind a baptised legislator of his duty not to vote in favour of a right to kill unborn children, and to punish a judge or a legislator with a proportionate punishment, such as excommunication, if he disobeys the commandments of God which the Church declares," write Crean and Fimister.

In Canada, this almost never happens--at least not publicly. If Catholic politicians are warned privately, it doesn't do much good. In fact, speaking as a Canadian Catholic, I am strongly tempted ever to vote again for a Canadian Catholic as successful Canadian Catholic politicians, no matter how promising, eventually bring scandal. There are innumerable depressing examples, but the most obvious is the late Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau, who decriminalised two crimes that lead instantly to the death of the soul, and yet had a massive state funeral in Notre-Dame Basilica.

I am willing to bet next week's meat budget that the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster hasn't even as much as alluded to the fact that another Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was baptised in the Catholic Church to that Prime Minister, let alone called him back from his current state of schism.

The authors of Integralism could justly point out that none of this is their fault and that it in no way nullifies their arguments. I would agree but then ask why we should study Integralism at all. Is this merely an intellectual exercise or thought experiment? Is it a way to better understand history, or is this something we should be working towards?

Again, the idea of bad bishops having temporal power over Catholics sends shivers down my Catholic spine. "Coercion of the baptised" (pages 232-235) sounds very solemn and defensible when linked to the Council of Trent, but not so much when linked to Uncle Ted McCarrick.

The entertainments of the chapter include a reference to Elizabeth I of England as "Elizabeth Boleyn" (page 239) and her excommunication and deposition (i.e. removal of the right to rule) by Pius V. But this is also, I think, an example of why (even within Christendom) the temporal authority of the pope over rulers should be used but rarely. Instead of Elizabeth Boleyn being removed as monarch, dozens of Catholics died horrible deaths. Yes, we honour the English Martyrs, but let's not pretend that it was not objectively horrible for a pregnant mother of four to be crushed under a door covered in stones.

I hope Fr. Crean and Dr. Fimister are not wounded by these thoughts. Considered apart from the times in which we live, their arguments for the temporal authority of the pope over the rulers of Christendom and of bishops over the subjects of Christendom (and even of temporal punishments for Catholics in general) sound very convincing.  However, they are difficult to read given the abuse and neglect that can be laid at the door of many bishops of recent memory.

And now to plant my courgette.

Integralism Update: Oh, the excitement. Dr. Fimister has responded. He makes two points about the above.

1. "You miss the point on Chapter 11. It is because Catholics have despaired of Christendom that they think the clergy are the Church. The clergy are not less powerful in the Church since the fall of Christendom, they are unimaginably more powerful because they are no long scared of the laity. In the twentieth century the laity were afraid to expose the crimes of the clergy for fear of ruining the reputation of 'the Church'.  Under Christendom ... bishops were elected by the people. Morally corrupt popes were forced to abdicate by the Emperor."

2. "We lost England not because Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I but because his predecessors didn't (for worldly reasons) and the English Catholics didn't know what to do and compromised their faith. Eleven years of hesitation and the English speaking world was lost."

Gardening Update: The newly planted courgette is looking cheerful in contrast to its older brother, who seems unhappy in his pot. After 7 PM I built a wigwam and planted four Scarlet Emperor runner beans right in the Veg Trug. I live in hope.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dorothy,

    A breath of fresh air!

    I do so agree with your comments and have had that, and similar debates. with Alan and Fr Tom, many times but they are not budging.

    In fact, the Pope has no "temporal" power over laymen and lay rulers (except within the Vatican City State or, in times, past, the Papal States) since he is the chief spiritual, not temporal, power. True, his spiritual power can, and often does, have temporal effects, and so is called by theologians an "indirect temporal power" but such power is still, in truth, spiritual.

    This was, in fact, made the rule as long ago as the 5th century by Pope St Gelasius I, in his letter to the Emperor Anastasius I, Famuli Vestrae Pietatis ("the Servants of your Imperial Highness") when he lays out the blueprint for Christendom.

    Alan and Fr Tom do not accept this. They think the Pope is the "King of the Catholic world", rather than the spiritual leader of the Catholic world, rex mundi rather than rector mundi.

    As you so rightly say, God help us, if it were otherwise, given the current state of the Church's hierarchy!

    And we are not a theocracy but a balance (what Pope St Gelasius called a "dyarchy").

    Such crypto-theocratic views would also tend to lend credence to those people in America who have been trying to sue Pope Benedict XVI in the US courts for "permitting" priests to abuse. Well, if he were truly King of the Catholic world then they might have a point. But he isn't. He is only temporal king of the Vatican City State.

    I see another strange "thesis" in Chapter 11, thesis XX, page 25 which reads:

    "Within Christendom, the body that moves to free itself extra-judicially from a tyrant must seek the confirmation of its action, after the fact if necessary, from the sovereign pontiff."

    It is clear from the text that they do not mean "tyrant" in the Greek sense of that word (i.e. an usurper) but tyrant in the sense of a "bad ruler".

    This thesis allows a "body" (what body?) to "free itself extra-judicially" (which clearly means extra-constitutionally) on its own authority, so much so that it need only seek papal approbation of its revolutionary actions AFTER the event.

    But on what authority?

    Apparently, just on the authority of a group of men who think the ruler bad and want to overthrow him and who only need seek papal approval AFTER the revolution!

    Even the 1688 English Evolution that threw out our last Catholic king, and in 1714, put in fat German George I, was - eventually and in the time of King George III - approved by the Pope.

    This thesis seems to endorse the seditious and treacherous claims of any and every revolutionary since ever revolutionary that ever was claims that the ruler is bad and should be overthrown and, once firmly in the seat of power, will cosy up to any old pope, if it gives them the whiff of legitimacy. Look at Castro!

    Even the title is off-putting - "Integralism". It sounds like "Integrism" which was a species of Brazilian Fascism.

    What we want is Christendom which is not just a collection of scholastic syllogisms and papal definitions (important though they are) but the full panoply of colour, art, music, poetry, kings and princesses, bishops and abbesses, and saints and sinners.

    So - I agree! Well said, Dorothy!

    Much love to you both,