The Kingship of
THE PRINCIPLES OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
REV. DENIS FAHEY, C.S.SP., B.A., D.Pa., D.D.
Professor of Philosophy and Church History, Senior Scholasticate, Blackrock College,
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest
THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
WE frequently see it stated that modern Constitutions are the embodiment of the spirit of the present age of progress, as the principles of State-organization of the thirteenth century expressed the ideas of that obscurantist epoch. Behind this attitude there is, of course, the horrible error with which Pantheism and Materialism have so impregnated modern minds, namely, that there is not one definite order laid down by the True God for man's return to Him through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the present disorder, instead of being taken for the disease, which it really is, is looked upon as a sign of health; it is only when minds have been poisoned that such a mistake is made. "For many nowadays seek to learn truth by the aid of reason alone, putting Divine faith entirely aside and through the exclusion of this strength and of this light, they fall into many errors and fail to discover the truth. They teach, for instance, that matter alone exists in the world; that men and beasts have the same origin and a like nature; and some even there are who go so far as to doubt the existence of God, the Ruler and Maker of the world, or to err most grievously, like unto the heathen, as to His Divine nature. Hence the very essence and form of virtue, of justice and of duty, are of necessity distorted. Thus it is that, while they hold up to admiration the high authority of reason, and unduly extol the subtlety of the human intellect, they fall into the just punishment of pride through ignorance of what is of the greatest importance. When the mind has thus been poisoned, the moral character becomes at the same time deeply and substantially corrupt; and so diseased a state can be cured only with the utmost difficulty in this class of men, because on the one side their opinions vitiate the judgment of what is right, and on the other they have not the light of Christian faith, which is the principle and foundation of all righteousness" (Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII "Exeunte iam anno," On the Right Ordering ot Catholic Life, 25th December, 1888). But, as the order of the world has been already sufficiently insisted upon, it will be well now to say something of the forces that have contributed to the naturalistic spirit of this age, that is, to man's exaltation of his own powers above God and his social indifference to God's plan for order in the world.
The prevalence of Kantian philosophy -----metaphysical expression of much of Rousseauist disordered sentimentality-----or rather, of the spirit and attitude of mind which is the legacy of Kantism to generations ignorant of what Kant taught, is one of the influences making for the deification of human reason. For Kant, our ideas have the properties of God's creative Knowledge, for they are, like the Divine ideas, the measure of things. We thus mould the order of the world and have not to try to grasp an order that imposes itself on us and measures our ideas. Pope Leo XIII points out in the Encyclical, On Human Liberty, that modern so-called statesmen are simply introducing into the domain of morality and politics what the Naturalists or Rationalists lay down in philosophy. "The fundamental doctrine of Rationalism (or Naturalism) is the supremacy of, 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."
Another influence, tending in the same direction, has been and is the success of human reason in the practical conquest of matter, that is, in the utilization of the forces of nature for man's purposes. Thus the world is being made subservient to man. "From the fact that it has been vouchsafed to human reason to snatch from nature, through the investigations of science, many of her treasured secrets, and to apply them befittingly to the divers requirements of life, men have become possessed with so arrogant a sense of their own powers, as already to consider themselves able to banish from social life the authority and empire of God. Led away by this delusion, they make over to human nature the dominion of which they think God has been despoiled; from nature, they, maintain, we must seek the principle and rule of all truth; from nature alone, they aver, spring, and to it should be referred, all the duties that religious feeling prompts. Hence they deny all revelation from on high, and all fealty due to the Catholic teaching of morals as well as all obedience to the Church" (Encyclical Letter "Immortale Dei"), These currents have contributed considerably to what, following Pope Leo XIII, we may call Naturalism, or the Naturalistic spirit of this age. This spirit is characterized, as has been said, by the denial of the Divine Supernatural Life coming to us from Our Lord Jesus Christ Crucified, and by the social refusal to take into account that supernatural life and the order of its flow into our souls, accompanied, of course, by the claim to be able to make good men and good citizens by purely natural efforts. But one fact stands out clear for all thinking men to see in the history of the world for the last century and a half. The propagation of Naturalism prior to and since the French Revolution is characterized by organization. The spirit of this age is neither the inevitable result of the necessary progress of the human race nor the product of individual efforts, with a more or less haphazard co-ordination. "Impiety has never been absent from the world and impiety was always a crime; but it has not always had the same character, the same intensity, especially the same organization ... in the eighteenth century" impiety became really formidable ... the pretext for the introduction of the new social order was Liberty; the Code, the social contract; the means, Demagogy; the final end, the setting up of a colossal Atheistic State, supreme arbiter of all rights and omnipotent dictator of what is tolerated or condemned, of what is forbidden or allowed, under whose sway the infamous naem and worship of God would be abolished for ever. It is on this that all else converges, to this that everything else serves as a means. For this is the family undermined, guilds wiped out, for this municipal and provincial liberties are destroyed, that the power of the Atheistic State alone should remain, without whose permission nobody should move hand or foot in the world. This is the end aimed at, not civil liberty. [Emphasis added by the Web master.] Liberty is the pretext; liberty is the idol destined to seduce peoples, an idol which hands and yet will not feel, which has feet and will not walk, a lifeless deity, under whose aegis Satan is preparing to reduce nations to a state of slavery far worse than that in which he held the ancient world under the material idol of paganism. But religion is the matter at stake. We want, they proclaim, to organize a humanity which can get on without God" (Billot, S.J., De Ecclesia, Vol. II. pp. 38-42). The last phrase, be it remarked in passing, is a quotation from Jules Ferry, and brings forcibly to mind the Marxian formula: "Religion is the opium of the people," as well as Lenin's opinion, given at the Congress of the Communist Internationale in 1922: "It is of paramount importance that a magazine devoting itself to problems of militant materialism should, at the same time be conducting an untiring campaign of propaganda for atheism." But what then is this organization aiming at the promotion of Naturalism and Atheism? Out of the long list of Pontiffs who have condemned Masonry since I738, let us consult in turn the Popes from whom we have already quoted-----Pius VII in the opening quarter and Leo XIII in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. One short quotation from Pius VII will suffice. In his Encyclical Letter "Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo," of the 13th September, 1821, the Pope applied to the Italian secret society of the Carbonari the condemnation of Clement XII and of Benedict XIV against the Freemasons, saying that along with these latter they propagate "indifference in religion, the most dangerous of all systems." Masonry, then is the organized promoter of the natural man's contempt for God's plan of restoration of the supernatural life of the world, with, of course, inevitably, the persecution of the Church by the State. Pope Leo XIII treats of the whole question at full length in his Encyclical Letter "Humanum genus," On Freemasonry, 20th April, 1884, and in his Apostolical Letter of 19th March, I902. In the Letter "Humanum genus," the Pope, after having quoted the celebrated words of St. Augustine, "Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching to contempt of self, a heavenly one," continues: "At every period of time, each (of these cities) has been in conflict; with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons, and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault. At this period, however, the partisans of evil seem to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. ... Now, the Masonic sect produces fruits that are pernicious and of the bitterest savour. For, from what we have above most clearly shown, that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view, namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which Catholic teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things, in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere 'Naturalism.'
... Now, the fundamental doctrine of the Naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous opinions. ... In those matters which regard religion, let it be seen how the sect of the Freemasons acts, especially where it is more free to act without restraint, and then let anyone judge whether in fact it does not wish to carry out the policy of the Naturalists. By a long and persevering labour, they endeavour to bring about this result, namely, that the office and authority of the Church may become of no account in the civil State; and for this same reason they declare to the people and contend that Church and State ought to be altogether separated. By this means they reject from the laws and from the commonwealth the wholesome influence of the Catholic religion; and they consequently, imagine that States ought to be constituted without any regard for the laws and precepts of the Church. . . . If those who are admitted as members are not commanded to abjure by any form of words the Catholic doctrines, this omission, so far from being adverse to the designs of the Freemasons, is more useful for their purpose. First, in this way they easily deceive the simple-minded and heedless, and can induce a far greater number to become members. Again, as all who offer themselves are received, whatever may be their form of religion, they thereby teach the great error of this age -----that a regard for religion should be held as an indifferent matter, and that all religions are alike. This manner of reasoning is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which, as it is the only one that is true, cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions. . . . It is held also that the State should be without God; that in the various forms of religion there is no reason why one should have precedence of another; and that they are ill to occupy the same place. That these doctrines are equally acceptable to the Freemasons, and that they would wish to constitute States according to this example and model, is too well known to require proof."
State supremacy over and indifference to all religions is then the steady aim of Freemasonry, according to Pope Leo XIII. But there has been a difference in the mode of procedure of Masonry in Protestant and Catholic countries, and it is well at this point to say a few words about this. Protestants find little difficulty in accepting that religion be a purely private matter, since, logically for them, all visible Churches are purely human organizations. As Catholics, on the contrary, believe in the existence of one True Church, through which alone one becomes member of the Mystical Body of Christ, which they know to be supra-national, and to which they claim that all States should be indirectly subordinate, in view of man's real end, union with God in Supernatural Life, they are bound to oppose this sectioning of public and private life. The movement known as the Protestant Reformation was an appeal to Evangelical liberty, conceived as an attachment to Christ, but in flagrant conflict with the order established by Christ for His communication of Himself to man. It was thus a revolutionary movement aimed at the destruction of the order established by Our Lord for the return of man to God. It failed signally in the countries of Latin civilization and in Ireland, where there was a better grasp of order and of the supremacy of spiritual values than in Germany or England. Ireland's traditional social institutions moulded by Catholicism were, it is true, broken up, but the Irish people still retained their hold on God's plan for order in the world, in spite of the efforts of the disordered minds in power. In the Latin countries, in spite of much decay, down to the French Revolution, the social institutions retained the impress of the Kingship of Christ. Revolution then has always been aimed at by Masonry in these countries in order to get rid of the existing social structure in which the Kingship of Christ is respected, and to install Naturalism. In Protestant countries, on account of the public rejection of God's order, the gradual ousting of what is retained of Our Lord's doctrine from the constitution and public life of the country goes on inevitably. The advent of Naturalism in Protestant countries being only a question of time, there is in general no need for Masonry to take forcible steps for the uprooting of the past. Satan can there afford to bide his time in his struggle against Christ the King.
It is to the mode of procedure of Masonry in Catholic countries, that is, to these revolutionary attacks on order in the countries of Latin civilization, that Leo XIII is principally but not exclusively alluding in the Letter of March 19th, 1902. The Pope says that when history is read with an unbiased mind, one sees that the Church has not oppressed the State. "It is therefore," he continues, "with malignant purpose that they level against the Church accusations like these. It is a pernicious and disloyal work, in the pursuit of which, above all others, a certain sect of darkness is engaged, a sect which human society these many years carries within itself and which, like a deadly poison, destroys its happiness, its fecundity and its life. Abiding personification of the revolution, it constitutes a sort of retrogressive society, whose object is to exercise an occult suzerainty over the established order and whose whole purpose is to make war against God and against the Church. There is no need of naming it, for all will recognize in these traits the society of Freemasons, of which we have already spoken expressly in Our Encyclical Humanum genus, of 20th April, 1884. While denouncing its destructive tendency, its erroneous teachings, and its wicked purpose of embracing in its far-reaching grasp almost all nations, and uniting itself to other sects which its secret influence puts in motion, first attracting and afterwards retaining its members by the advantages which it procures for them, bending governments to its will, sometimes by promises and sometimes by threats, it has succeeded in entering all classes of society, and forms an invisible and irresponsible State existing within the legitimate State. Full of the spirit of Satan who, according to the words of the Apostle, knows how to transform himself at need into an Angel of light, it gives prominence to its humanitarian object, but it sacrifices everything to its sectarian purpose and protests that it has no political aim, while in reality it exercises the most profound action on the legislative and administrative life of the nations. . . . It becomes more evident day by day that it is to the inspiration and assistance of this sect that we must attribute in great measure the continual trouble with which the Church is harassed, as well as the recrudescence of the attacks to which it has recently been subjected. For the simultaneousness of the assaults in the persecutions which have so suddenly burst upon us in these later times, like a storm from a clear sky, that is to say, without any cause proportionate to the effect; the uniformity of means employed to inaugurate this persecution, namely, the press, public assemblies, theatrical productions; the employment in every country of the same arms, to wit, calumny and public uprisings, all this betrays clearly the identity of purpose and a programme drawn up by one and the same central direction. All this is only a simple episode of a prearranged plan, carried out on a constantly widening field, to multiply the ruins of which We speak."
Can we confirm these solemn words of the Vicars of Christ by statements of Freemasons themselves? In this there is no difficulty. The 16th July, 1889, there was held at Paris a universal Masonic Congress destined to commemorate and celebrate the principles of 1789, in other words, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Revolution. It was there clearly established that the Declaration of the Rights of Man proceeds from Freemasonry and that the doctrines of the Declaration constitute purely and simply the quintessence of Masonic teaching. We quote the following extracts from the speech of Brother Colfavru, who spoke in the name of the French Grand Orient: "The Revolution, by embodying in a new social and political organization the broad and liberal doctrines of Freemasonry, by giving to a regenerated world the immortal Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the citizens, and to France the loyally democratic Constitution of 1791, replaced by its more energetic, more militant and more practical action the speculative propaganda which had marked the action of Freemasonry down to 1789. From the programmes and the desires expressed in the Cahiers, after having been prepared in the Lodges, the National Assembly passed to practical realizations. In reality each Mason was preparing to take his place in the drama, as yet mysterious, but which it was felt would be formidable, drama which was to mark the dolorous birth of the new society, based on the indefectible principle of the Sovereignty of the People and the necessary supremacy of reason and science over the theocratic and military tradition of the past." Freemasons avow that they have realized a part of their programme. The "objects which the men of 1789 as well as those of 1848 . . . and of 1869 had set before themselves have been attained or very nearly: Sovereignty of the People, Universal Suffrage, Secular Education obligatory for all, Separation of Church and State, Tax on Revenue, etc. Practically everything is there. It remains for us only to perfect the general organization. Our struggles are not yet completely over. There will be attempts at reaction.
... But we may proclaim with truth, that our predecessors have left us a noble inheritance" (Report of the Assembly of the French Grand Orient, 1923).
Again, the supremacy of the State over all religions, with the inevitable consequence spoken of above, the persecution of the Catholic Church, is plainly indicated. "Let us not forget that we are the Counter-Church. Let us strive in our Lodges to ruin the influence of religion in every form " (Masonic Congress of the East of France, Belfort, 1911). "Religion is the womb which begets Clericalism and Clericalism has only one aim -----to make use of religion to dominate the world. Let us uphold energetically liberty of conscience for everyone, but let us not hesitate to make war on all religions, for they are the real enemies of humanity. All down the ages they have only contributed to engender dissensions between individuals, peoples and nations" (Bulletin of the Grande Loge de France, October, 1922). " If there is an act of which Masonry can claim all the responsibility, it is certainly the separation of the Churches and of the State. For the last half-century a day has not passed that Masonry has not demanded to be liberated from that awful burden. If we examine the Lodge-programmes we shall see that there is not one which has not marked down for discussion the separation of Church and State" (Report of the French Grand Orient, 1907). "Our task must be to bring to completion the law concerning the separation of Church and State and to push it forward to its final consequences" (Masonic Congress of Eastern France, Belfort, 1911).
Vistas, too, are opened up of a further revolution which is to lay the foundations of the federation of the world: "Permit me to give expression to my hope that Freemasonry, which has done so much for the emancipation of mankind, and to which history is indebted for National Revolutions, will succeed in bringing about that still greater Revolution -----the International Revolution" (Official Bulletin of Grande Loge de France, October, 1922). "This International Revolution is Freemasonry's work for tomorrow" (Assembly of Grande Loge de France, 1922). "The principal tasks of the society of nations are the organization of peace, ... the creation of international notes, . . . the extension of pacifist education, relying notably on the spread of an international language, . . . the creation of a European spirit, of a patriotism of the League of Nations; in a word, the formation of the United States of Europe, or rather of the Federation of the World" (Assembly of the Grand Loge de France, 1922). "The Anti-Religious Defence Congress, relying on the League of Nations to secure peace amongst peoples, denounces the intrigues of the Catholic Church, directed towards undermining that noble Institution of International Concord which it fears as a rival of its programme of restoration of all things in Christ'" (Lay-Defence Week or Anti-Religious Defence Congress, December, 1923).
In order to confirm the teaching of the Sovereign Pontiffs, and show clearly the influence of Freemasonry on the spirit of the age, we have only to examine in Anderson's Constitutions of the Freemasons, the first of the charges or obligations of a Freemason, namely, that concerning God and Religion. This Article runs as follow's: "A Mason is obliged by his tenure, to obey, the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient times Masons were charg'd in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, or men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of union, and the means of conciliating true Friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance." It is unnecessary now to dwell on the fact that this article does not exclude Atheists. "Atheism is not condemned, but just sufficiently disavowed to meet the exigencies of the time, when an open admission of it would have been fatal to Masonry. It is not said that Atheists cannot be admitted or that no Mason can be an Atheist, but merely that if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, that is to say, he will not hold or profess Atheism in a stupid way, for instance, by statements that shock religious feeling and bring Masonry into bad repute. And even such a stupid Atheist incurs no stronger censure than the simple ascertaining of the fact that he does not rightly understand the Art, a merely theoretical judgment without any practical sanction. Such a disavowal tends rather to encourage modern positivist Atheism" (Article on "Masonry" in The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Father H. Gruber, S.J.). As readers are doubtless already well acquainted with this ambiguity, we need not dwell further on it. But what do the Constitutions of Anderson suppose Masonry to be? A society which obliges its members to observe the moral law and to be good men and true, but which insists that to be good and moral men, it is a matter of indifference what attitude is adopted towards God's plan for the restoration of our supernatural life through the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity become Man. We lost supernatural life by Original Sin and we need Divine Grace that we may live an ordered life, yet this society proclaims that one can be a good man and true while utterly indifferent to the source of grace, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to His Divinity.
Again, this society puts itself above all "forms of religion." Further on in the Constitutions, "Masons are ordered to observe all these charges and also those that shall be communicated to them in another way, cultivating Brotherly Love." The other way is evidently by that secret knowledge which Masonry is to impart and which is celebrated in the Fellow-Crafts' or Companion Masons' song, part of which, according to the Constitutions, runs as follows:
Hail Masonry! thou Craft divine!
Glory of Earth, from Heav'n revealed;
Which dost with jewels precious shine,
From all but Masons' eyes concealed.
As men from Brutes distinguisht are,
A Mason other men excels;
For what's in Knowledge choice and rare
But in his Breast securely dwells.
His silent Breast and faithful Heart
Preserve the Secrets of the Art.
This society, then, which asserts the indifference of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, claims to be able to communicate knowledge, which raises a Mason as far above a man who believes in the Divinity of Our Lord and His teaching as a man is above a brute beast.
Accordingly we find in Masonry the two characteristics which we have seen to be amongst the hallmarks of so-called "progress" in modern States -----social indifference to religion and superiority of the natural organization over the Catholic Church. As this society-----"invincible and irresponsible State existing within the legitimate State," to repeat Pope Leo XIII's phrase-----has gained in power, it has gradually moulded the outer visible State to its own image and likeness. Thus, where the Constitution of a State proclaims that State indifferent to ordered return to God, and guarantees equal favour to what God considers order and to what He terms disorder, a Mason can be quite at home while a Catholic cannot.
We must remember also that the world is not in a static condition, but is continually being moved in the direction of the ideas of those who dominate. An idea is a grasp of the order (or the disorder) that they envisage in their minds. We have seen what has come to be forbidden by the State in present-day France in the name of good order and morality. At the International Congress held in Paris in 1889, to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution, one orator, Brother Louis Amiable, declared that the reorganization of the Grand Orient in 1773 was the distant preparation and forerunner of the great Revolution of 1789. "The regime," said he, "inaugurated by the Grand Orient gave force and vigour to that great truth which was to be formulated sixteen years later by the declaration of the rights of the man and the citizen: 'The law is the expression of the general will.' "
Another orator, Francolin, warned us on the same occasion of the fate that awaited countries that still slept securely. "The day will come when among the peoples who have not had an eighteenth century nor a 1789, monarchies and religions will collapse. That day is not far off and we are awaiting it . . . that day will bring about the Masonic universal fraternity of peoples, the ideal which we have set up for ourselves. It is our business to hasten its coming."
In his Histoire Religieuse de la Revolution française (Vol. I, p. 60), Pierre de la Gorce paints a pathetic picture of a Corpus Christi procession in 1788. It must be termed pathetic, though the beauty described must have been a ravishing spectacle, for it terminates with the words, "No one (of the spectators) doubted or imagined that the radiant solemnity, which they had just witnessed, was the review of what was going to disappear." Palm Sunday was to be followed by Good Friday. And then came the sad spectacle so often renewed in the history of Our Lord's Mystical Body, since the first journey to Calvary, "there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women who bewailed and lamented Him" (Luke xxiii. 27).
There is no need, after what has been written, to dwell upon certain of the influences that were and are working against the Kingship of Christ in Ireland. Freemasonry and that Sub-Masonry, the Orange Society, were, of course, two of them. Before passing on, however, it will be well to draw attention to another influence that was directed against our country's acceptance of the Kingship of Christ. Article 19 of the Constitution of the Irish Republican Brotherhood lays down that "there shall be no State religion in the Irish Republic." This means the impossibility for the Irish State, as a social unit, to acknowledge the order established by God. The Church, in the 77th Proposition of the Syllabus of Pius IX, deals explicitly with this attitude towards God's plan. In that proposition the doctrine is condemned that " in our day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic Religion should be acknowledged as the one State religion, to the exclusion of other forms of worship." Proposition 55 condemns the same doctrine under another aspect.
It makes any thoughtful mind sad to contemplate the state of slavery that is being prepared for future generations in the name of "liberty" and "progress." And yet, even the most cynical avowals on the part of the leaders of modern democracy fail to awaken people to a sense of what is really taking place. "We brought about the French Revolution," sneered Clemenceau, in the Senate, 17th November, 1903, "our ancestors thought it was in order to set them free. No such thing: it was simply a change of masters. . . . Yes, we guillotined the King. Long live the State-King! We dethroned the Pope. Long live the State-Pope! We are driving out God, as the gentlemen of the Right express it. Long live the State-God!" (Quoted in L' Eglise Catholique et le Droit Commun, by l'Abbe A. Roul, p. 48.)
Is the Catholic Church then the enemy of liberty? No better answer can be given to this horrible calumny than the words of Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolical Letter of March 19th, 1902: "The Church the enemy of liberty! Ah, how they travesty the idea of liberty, which has for its object one of the most precious of God's gifts, when they make use of its name to justify its abuse and excess? What do we mean by liberty? Does it mean the exemption from all laws; the deliverance from all restraint, and, as a corollary, the right to take man's caprice as a guide in all our actions? Such liberty the Church certainly reproves, and good and honest men reprove it likewise. But do they mean by liberty the rational faculty to do good, magnanimously, without check or hindrance, and according to the rules which eternal justice has established? That liberty, which is the only liberty worthy of man, the only one useful to society, none favours or encourages or protects more than the Church. By the force of its doctrine and the efficacy of its action the Church has freed humanity from the yoke of slavery in preaching to the world the great law of equality and human fraternity. In every age it has defended the feeble and the oppressed against the arrogant domination of the strong. It has demanded liberty of Christian conscience while pouring out in torrents the blood of its Martyrs; it has restored to the child and to the woman the dignity and the noble prerogatives of their nature, in making them share, by virtue of the same right, that reverence and justice which is their due, and it has largely contributed both to introduce and maintain civil and political liberty in the heart of nations."
But if the Catholic Church is not the enemy of liberty and true progress, why is she the object of such hatred and systematic opposition? Let us again have recourse to the words of Pope Leo XIII in the same Apostolical Letter for an authoritative answer: "During the whole course of her history the Church of Christ has had to combat and suffer for truth and justice. Instituted by the Divine Redeemer Himself to establish throughout the world the Kingdom of God, she must, by the light of the Gospel law, lead fallen humanity to its immortal destinies; that is, to make it enter upon the possession of the blessings without end which God has promised us, and to which our unaided natural power could never rise -----a heavenly mission, in the pursuit of which the Church could not fail to be opposed by the countless passions begotten of man's primal fall and consequent corruption-----pride, cupidity, unbridled desire of material pleasures; against all the vices and disorders springing from those poisonous roots the Church has ever been the most potent means of restraint. Nor should we be astonished at the persecutions which have arisen in consequence, since the Divine Master foretold them, and they must continue as long as this world endures. What are the words He addressed to His disciples when sending them to carry the treasure of His doctrines to all nations? They are familiar to us all: 'You will be persecuted from city to city; you will be hated and despised for my Name's sake; you will be dragged before the tribunals, and condemned to extreme punishment.' And wishing to encourage them for the hour of trial, He proposed Himself as their example: 'If the world hate you, know you that it hath hated Me before you' (John xv. I8).
"Certainly, no one who takes a just and unbiassed view of things can explain the motive of this hatred. What offence was ever committed, what hostility deserved by the Divine Redeemer? Having come down amongst men through an impulse of Divine Charity, He had taught a doctrine that was blameless, consoling, most efficacious to unite mankind in a brotherhood of peace and love; He had coveted neither earthly greatness nor honour; He had usurped no one's right; on the contrary, He was full of pity for the weak, the sick, the poor, sinners, and the oppressed; hence His life was but a passage to distribute with munificent hand His benefits amongst men. We must acknowledge, in consequence, that it was simply by an excess of human malice, so much the more deplorable because unjust, that nevertheless He became, in truth, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sign to be contradicted! What wonder, then, if the Catholic Church, which continues His Divine Mission, and is the incorruptible depository of His truths, has inherited the same lot. The world is always consistent in its way. Near the sons of God are constantly present the satellites of that great adversary of the human race, who, a rebel from the beginning against the Most High, is named in the Gospel the prince of this world. It is on this account that the spirit of the world, in the presence of the law and of him who announces it in the name of God, swells with the measureless pride of an independence that ill-befits it."