have long wanted to whack the charge of "totalitarianism" through this
column, that is hurled at the Catholic Church, by the Oxnamites in
particular, who assume that she is the enemy of human liberty, when she
progenitor and defender. The time seemed propitious for dealing with
the subject upon reading the recent defense of "liberty and human
dignity" by our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, in an address to the auto
workers of Turin and Rome. The Associated Press report of it was
headlined POPE ASSAILS DICTATOR RULE AGAIN. REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO
State totalitarianism is an autocratic, despotic, tyrannous,
dictatorial assumption of power, such as was exercised by the Pharaohs
of Egypt in pre-Christian times; and is exercised today by Stalin and
his Politburo in the Soviet Union. Such state absolutism is
objectionable to liberty-loving people, as it is an invasion of
domestic, economic, political, religious and educational rights. In a
word, it is an infringement on the "liberty and human dignity"
proclaimed by our Holy Father.
There is an exercise of total power to which no reasonable objection
can be raised, as it furthers "liberty and human dignity." It is the
totalitarianism of the one and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and
Lord of Lords (1 Tim. 6-16), as the Lord God is omnipotent (Apoc. 19
:6). This totalitarian principle, that abides in its fulLness in God,
may be, and has been, delegated by God to certain personages,
particularly His priests. The Mosaic Law, for instance, which is
God-proclaimed Law, was in the keeping of the priestly sons of Levi
(Deut. 31.9), and the judges, who exercised the authority to "show thee
the truth of the judgment," that the Jews were compelled to obey or die
(Deut. 17:8-12). The exercise of this delegated power ceased with the
institution of a more perfect priesthood that displaced the Levitical
priesthood, and finally caused Simichah, the solemn act of ordination,
to cease being administered in Jewry.
To delegate total power to oneself, to declare "I am the State," as
Louis XIV is assumed to have done, may rightly be resented, as it would
be a usurpation of power. But who, save ignorant, anti-Christians or
blasphemous persons would question the right of Christ to say, as He
did, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life"? Who can reasonably
question the right of Christ to set aside and to enlarge upon the
pronouncements of Moses, the Lawgiver? to declare, as He did in the
Sermon on the Mount: "You have heard it said of old. ... But I say"?
Dr. Trude Rosmarin, editor of The
asked in her Rejection of Jesus: "Who is this 'I' ?". She correctly
said that "none of the prophets of Israel ever employed the pronoun of
the first person to express his views and teachings. The 'I' of the
prophets is God." The answer is that if Christ were mere man; if Christ
is not true God as well as true man, then did He deserve the
condemnation He suffered for assuming to be the "I," according to the
We long ago concluded, while studying things Catholic, that if God, the
Father, could delegate His authority to the Levitical priesthood, then
Christ; Who is one with the Father, could delegate His authority to
teach, judge, and govern in matters of faith and morals, and to command
us to "hear the Church," or to suffer condemnation for not so doing.
This Christ did, as Holy Writ assures us, when He established His
Church, that was made up in the beginning of an Apostolic Band, in
which Peter, Christ's Vicar, was the supreme earthly authority. To
designate the exercise of such Christ-delegated power by the bishops of
the Catholic Church, who are the successors of the Apostles, and the
priests, as "totalitarianism" in the derogatory sense of the term, is
to offend the Giver of that power, Jesus Christ Our Lord. This is an
offense that only invincible ignorance can excuse.
Protestant self-evaluation: There are ministers who yearn for
a little "ecclesiastical totalitarianism" in Protestantism that they
envisage in the Catholic Church, in order that their dissident churches
may no longer be guilty of the "sin of disunity." They do not realize;
in fact the ministers we have talked with strenuously reject the claim
that Catholic Church unity is due mainly to the Holy Ghost indwelling,
Who safeguards her from error in matters of faith and morals. One such
minister, Rev. Nicholas M. Feringo, said in The Living Church,
under the caption: TOTALITARIANISM, ROME, CANTERBURY. ..." I wonder if
what I Mr. Morehouse (the Editor of this P. E. Church publication)
calls the totalitarianism of the Roman Church is not rather a good
thing. When I hear of the bickerings of vestries, the opinions of
lay-popes, the wranglings of diocesan conventions, even some of the
pussy-footing pronouncements of Lambert, our election of bishops when
we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and everyone is putting
forth his candidate before the 'amen' is said, I feel that a little of
this so-called totalitarianism would be a blessing. I am afraid that
the King of Heaven will be found to be decidedly totalitarian" (Oct.
The unity of the Catholic Church, dubbed "totalitarianism" in the
Stalinistic sense of the term, has aroused fear in the hearts of some
ministers who know not that she stands for "liberty and human dignity."
They want a "strong Protestant Church," something that is so far from
being a reality that the delegates in the recent Amsterdam Council of
Churches Convention refrained from discussing an adjustment of their
doctrinal differences, in order to remain federated. One of these
ministers, Rev. John R. Weinback, called for "An Awakened
Protestantism," through Zion's Herald,
saying: "A strong Protestant Church is one chief bulwark against two
kinds of totalitarianism, that of the state and the Roman Catholic
Church. Both of these are tremendous potential threats to freedom of
worship in America."
Ministers who conjure up the ghost of "Roman Catholic totalitarianism"
should get back into the world of reality, by studying the following
"Thoughtful Verse" that came to our desk:
The Lord gave us two ends to use;
One to think with, one to sit with.
The war depends on which we choose;
Heads we win, tails we lose!