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
SOME EXTRACTS FROM PAPAL DOCUMENTS
ON THE DUTIES OF CATHOLICS
THE necessity of the two virtues of courage and prudence is insisted upon by Pope Leo XIII: "This is not now the time and place to inquire whether and how far the inertness and internal dissensions of Catholics have contributed to the present condition of things; but it is certain at least that the perverse-minded would exhibit less boldness, and would not have brought about such an accumulation of ills, if the faith, which worketh by charity (Gal. v. 6) had been generally more energetic and lively in the souls of men, and had there not been so universal a drifting away from the Divinely established rule of morality throughout Christianity. ... As to those who mean to take part in public affairs they should avoid with the very utmost care two criminal excesses: so-called prudence and false courage. Some there are, indeed, who maintain that it is not opportune boldly to attack evil-doing in its might and when in the ascendant, lest, as they say, opposition should exasperate minds already hostile. These make it a matter of guess-work as to whether they are for the Church or against her; since, on the one hand, they give themselves out as professing the Catholic Faith, and yet wish that the Church should allow certain opinions, at variance with her teaching, to be spread abroad with impunity. They moan over the loss of faith and the perversion of morals, yet do not trouble themselves to bring any remedy; nay, not seldom, even add to the intensity of the mischief through too much forbearance or harmful dissembling. ... The prudence of men of this cast is of that kind which is termed by the Apostle Paul wisdom of the flesh and death of the soul, because it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be (Rom. viii. 6, 7). Nothing is less calculated to amend such ills than prudence of this kind. . . . On the other hand, not a few, impelled by a false zeal, or -----what is more blameworthy still-----affecting sentiments which their conduct belies, take upon themselves to act a part which does not belong to them. [Bold emphasis, that of the Web Master.] They would fain see the Church's mode of action influenced by their ideas and their judgment to such an extent that everything done otherwise they take ill or accept with repugnance. . . .
"Honour then to those who do not shrink from entering the arena as often as need calls. ... But men of this high character maintain without wavering the love of obedience, nor are they wont to undertake anything upon their own authority. Now, since a like resolve to obey, combined with constancy and sturdy courage, is needful, so that whatever trials the pressure of events may bring about, they may be deficient in nothing (James i. 4), We greatly desire to fix deep in the mind of each one that which St. Paul calls the wisdom of the spirit (Rom. viii. 6), for in controlling human actions this wisdom follows the excellent rule of moderation, with the happy result that no one either timidly despairs through lack of courage or presumes overmuch from want of prudence" (Encyclical Letter "Sapientiae Christianae").
Pope Pius X insisted in most appealing fashion upon the courage necessary for Catholic Action in the discourse he pronounced on the 13th December, 1908, at the Beatification of Joan of Arc. To St. Joan's mind the coronation and anointing of the King of France were ever present, because that anointing did homage to the universal Kingship of Christ and linked up political power with the government of Jesus. She was the Saint sent to remind the world of the Supernatural Political Guidance of God and of that Catholic organization of Europe which was the glory of the Middle Ages. The saintly Pope spoke of the heroism of St. Joan and contrasted it with the timidity of so many Catholics in our day: "In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. ... All the strength of Satan's reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! if I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are these wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And to this reproach, which can be levelled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries, a great number of French Catholics lay themselves open."
In the Encyclical Letter "Quas Primas," Pope Pius XI deplores the revolt of society from Our Lord which has as result that " the religion of Christ was put on a footing with false religions, and placed ignominiously in the same category with them." He then adds: "We earnestly hope that the Feast of the Kingship of Christ, which, in future, will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to Our Loving Saviour. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result.
. . . While nations insult the sweet Name of Our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we ought all the more loudly to proclaim it, and all the more universally affirm the privileges of His royal dignity and power. . . . The very celebration of the Feast, too, by its annual recurrence, will serve to remind nations that not only private individuals but State officials and rulers are bound by the obligation of worshipping Christ publicly and rendering Him obedience. They will thus be led to reflect on the Last Judgment, in which Christ, Who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will severely avenge such insults; for His kingly dignity demands that the Constitution of the whole State should conform to the Divine Commandments and Christian principles." [Bold emphasis, that of the Web Master.]
In the Encyclical Letter "Longinque Oceani" of 6th January, 1895, on Catholicity in the United States, Pope Leo XIII dwells upon the charitable attitude towards non-Catholics which is becoming in Catholics: "Our thoughts now turn to those who dissent from us in matters of Christian faith; and who shall deny that, with not a few of them, dissent is a matter rather of inheritance that of will? How solicitous we are for their salvation, with what ardour of soul we wish that they should be at length restored to the embrace of the Church, the common mother of all, our Apostolic Epistle Praeclara has in very recent times declared. Nor are we destitute of all hope, for He is present and hath a care Whom all things obey and Who laid down His life that He might 'gather together in one the children of God who were dispersed' (John xi. 52). Surely we ought not to desert them nor leave them to their fancies; but with mildness and charity draw them to us, using every means of persuasion to induce them to examine closely every part of the Catholic doctrine, and to free themselves from preconceived notions. In this matter, if the first place belongs to the Bishops and the clergy, the second belongs to the laity; who have it in their power to aid the apostolic efforts of the clergy by the probity of their morals and the integrity of their lives. Great is the force of example, particularly with those who are earnestly seeking the truth, and who, from a certain inborn virtuous disposition, are striving to live an honourable and upright life." On the other hand, he insists in his Letter to the Italian people, 8th December, 1892, that efforts to overthrow the supernatural and propagate Naturalism must be strenuously combated: "Societies not subject to the influence of religion and, as such, easily exposed to be more or less directed and dominated by Masons, must, in general, be looked on with suspicion and avoided. Those also must be avoided which not only lend their aid to Masonry but constitute a nursery therefore and a factory for the training of apprentices. All should avoid any liaison, any familiarity with persons suspected of being Freemasons or of belonging to affiliated societies. ... Familiar intercourse should be cut off, not only with the openly wicked, but with those who hide their real character under the mask of universal toleration, of respect for all religions, of the mania of reconciling the maxims of the Gospel with those of the Revolution, Christ with Belial, the Church of God with the State without God. . . . Besides, as we have to deal with a sect like Freemasonry, which has penetrated everywhere, it is not enough to remain on the defensive, we must enter the arena and fight face to face. This you shall do, dear sons, by opposing publications to publications, schools to schools, associations to associations, congresses to congresses, action to action. ... Freemasonry multiplies its lodges. Do you also multiply Catholic circles and parochial committees." Those who think that Catholics can do good by assisting at Rotary Club dinners, etc., would do well to meditate upon those instructions of Pope Leo XIII. [Bold emphasis, that of the Web Master.]
With regard to the method or line of conduct to be followed by all Catholics in their efforts for the return to right order the guiding principle was laid down by Pope Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter "Immortale Dei": "It is the duty of all Catholics worthy, of the name ... to endeavour to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described. It is not an easy matter to lay down any fixed method by which such purposes are to be attained, because the means adopted must suit places and times widely differing from one another. Nevertheless, above all things, unity of aim must be preserved, and similarity in all plans of action must be sought. Both these objects will be carried into effect without fail, if all will follow the guidance of the Apostolic See as their rule of life and obey the Bishops whom the Holy Ghost has placed to rule the Church of God" (Acts xx. 28). Pope Pius XI again and again returns to the necessity of Catholics being banded together for Catholic Action under the direction of the Hierarchy. "This Catholic Action does not belong to the temporal order but to the spiritual; it is not terrestrial but Divine, not political but religious," we read in the Letter of Pope Pius XI to Cardinal Bertram, 13th November, 1928.
Catholics, therefore, must be united whenever the interests of the Church are at stake, even though they may differ on matters of secondary importance. "But in matters merely political, as, for instance, the best form of government, and this or that system of administration, a difference of opinion is lawful" (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei," On the Christian Constitution of States November 1st, 1885).
Again, Pope Leo XIII points out that "the Church does not condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power" (Encyclical Letter, On Human Liberty). Yet, too great stress cannot be laid on the words of Pope Benedict XV concerning the present-day movement for a World-Republic. Unwary Catholics may be made the instruments of schemes of which they have no suspicion, and the success of which they would view with horror when too late. In his Motu Proprio "Bonum Sane, " July 25th, 1920, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration, by Pius IX, of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Benedict XV, after having spoken of "Naturalism, that awful pest of our epoch," went on to say: "The advent of a Universal Republic, which is longed for by all the worst elements of disorder, and confidently expected by them, is an idea which is now ripe for execution. From this republic, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and community of possessions, would be banished all national distinctions, nor in it would the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society, be any longer acknowledged. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror. [Bold emphasis, that of the Web Master.] Already, even now, a large portion of Europe is going through that doleful experience and We see that it is sought to extend that awful state of affairs to other regions." Lenin wrote in No. 40 of the Russian organ, the Social Democrat, in 1915: "The United States of the World (and not only of Europe), that is the State formula of the union ... until the day when the complete victory of Communism will bring about the definite disappearance of every State, even purely democratic." To proclaim that to follow Lenin's principles is to work for the independence of Ireland is in reality a flagrant attempt to deceive innocent people. Lenin was consciously working, not for the independence of Ireland, but for the disappearance of Ireland as an independent State.