Newsletter of the District
from Bishop Richard Williamson
is a can of worms I want to open yet again, because these worms
do untold harm to Catholics’ innards without their even being aware
of it. The can of worms is religious liberty.
reopen the can may be hurtful, but it is made necessary by, for
instance, the recent article of a Catholic writer here in the United
States of America knocking down with one hand what she builds up
with the other, because even while hating Vatican II she believes
in one of its key errors, namely religious liberty. Since this
writer Understands Otherwise Catholic doctrine, let us her U.O.
and press on with the arguments.
self-contradiction appeared earlier this year in an article criticising
Dr. Rao’s lecture on “Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves”, an
overview of which was sent out with this letter last year. You
may remember that Dr. Rao argued that the collapse of the Catholic
Church aver the last half-century was to be blamed on Catholics
having been conquered by pluralism, meaning the wide-spread modern
acceptance of freedom for all different religions to coexist on
peace (religious liberty). For, once a mind holding a single Truth
like Catholicism accepts plural truths, its grip on that single
Truth is bound to be loosened until it can lose the Catholic Faith.
As Dr. Rao said, this disintegration of Truth by pluralism can be
especially seen in the United States of America, where the pluralism
originally imported from Europe so flourished that it was re-exported
to Rome for the Second Vatican Council, to be spread from there
by the Church all over the world.
objection of U.O. to Dr. Rao’s analysis is essentially twofold.
Firstly, in general, U.O. distinguishes pluralism in the Church
or in the supernatural domain from pluralism in the State or in
the natural domain. Now of course, says U.O., to accept a plurality
of truths in the supernatural domain is out of question for Catholics
who know there is only one religious Truth; but to accept a plurality
of faiths or religions in the natural domain of the State is not
only “in religious communities”, but also it is a positively good
thing because, for instance, “a free competition of different Christian
religions... has worked well in asserting the absolute superiority
of the Roman Catholic Church over all other Christian sects.”
secondly, in answer to Dr. Rao’s accusations against pluralism in
the United States of America in particular, U.O. replies that “the
excellent Christian social order of the U.S. Republic brought forth
the most prosperous Christian nation in modern times, simultaneously
giving the impetus to the wonderful growth of the Catholic Church
in this hemisphere.”
these two points, general and particular, U.O.’s thinking is as
common amongst American Catholics as Dr. Rao’s thinking is rare.
Nevertheless, Dr. Rao is right, and U.O. is in self-contradiction,
or Dr. Rao is Catholic and U.O. is Liberal. Since general governs
particular, let us start with her first objection.
answer Dr. Rao’s accusation that pluralism is what paralyses Catholics,
she distinguishes Church pluralism, which she admits would indeed
undo Catholics, from State pluralism, which she says Catholics should
not only accept but also rejoice in. But this distinction rests
upon the separation of Church and State, which is a Liberal principle
constantly condemned by the true Church. Her distinction wants
to place the separation in the mind. Thus in the upper or “supernatural”
part of my mind, she wants plurality of truths to be unacceptable,
whereas in the lower or “natural” part of my mind, she wants plurality
of truths to be acceptable.
as Mother Church knows and teaches, that is not how truth works,
nor how a truthful mind works. That is only how a divided mind
works. Either truth excludes error both in the upper and lower
parts of my mind, or it excludes it in neither, but it cannot exclude
it in one and not in the other, except in a divided mind. But as
the Truth is one, so the mind seeks to be one, so the divided mind
is unstable and will seek stability in unity.
if I refuse Church pluralism but accept State pluralism, one of
two things will happen: either by believing firmly that plurality
of truths is unacceptable in Church I will arrive at the Catholic
position that it is equally unacceptable in the State (although
the State will only coerce error if that is both possible and, for
the salvation of souls, in the circumstances, prudent); or, being
a liberal convinced of the wisdom of pluralism in the State, I will
, like so many U.S. Catholics, in effect pay merely lip service
to the Catholic Church being the one and only true Church. Of such
Catholics (who include too many “Traditionalists”) it can be said
that their real religion is not their Catholicism, but that which
really holds their minds and their lives together, namely their
liberalism or Americanism.
good illustration of a sane man’s natural refusal to split his mind,
and hence of the unnaturalness of Liberalism’s Church-State split,
was to be found in the Angelus article of July 1995, by Edwin Faust.
During his Pennsylvania boyhood in the 1950’s, he wrote, “few then
considered that God and country might be at enmity”, especially
as they were both enemies of Communism. “Bred of an ignorance of
history and abetted by Americanist sentiment, that habit of the
Catholic mind that blinds itself to conflicts between the Faith
and the Republic was taking shape in me. Later, when these conflicts
became apparent, they gave rise to cynicism. My mind seemed
a collection of beliefs like so many pieces of a puzzle that failed
to fit together. As is the case with many young people new to the
habit of self-reflection, the weight of contradictions bore down
on me and I wanted to rid myself of all I had been taught to
that point and begin again” (my underlinings).
the same lines, to exclude error from the Church but not from the
State, as U.O. proposes, is a contradiction that will usually be
resolved, given original sin, in favour of error being admissible
in both. In vain U.O. hates Vatican II, when the split she proposes
between Church and State pluralism contains all Vatican II in a
also, as Dr. Rao claimed, turns men’s minds to mush. Here is how.
To be different at all, different religions must contradict one
another on some point of doctrine (notably the divinity of Our Lord
Jesus Christ, or the divine institution of His one Catholic Church).
If then the State is to treat all religions alike, the State will
encourage in its citizens’ minds contradiction, at least in questions
of religion. But if contradiction in religion does not matter,
then truth in religion does not matter. But if truth in religion
does not matter, how can religion matter? (And if truth in religion
does not matter, what truth matters? The mind is mush, sentiment
United States’ founding President, George Washington, wanted religion,
any religion, to back the nation’s morals. But how can a religion
of doubtful truth back anything? Men’s minds do not work that way.
To give backing, religion must have truth. But the State which
is pluralist in religion undermines the truth of all religion.
God’s having over the last 40 years been driven out of the U.S.A.
public schools is not, as the decent patriots following George Washington
claim, despite the First Amendment, but it is, as the indecent but
logical liberals claim, because of the First Amendment. Decency
is in the long run no match for logic. Principles matter. So if
the Founding Fathers bequeathed to the Republic that they founded
decent instincts but liberal principles, the contradiction might
last for a while, but sure enough, principles in minds eventually
prevailed and the Republic is inexorably disintegrating. If Americans
now wish to save anything of all that was truly decent in their
Republic, they must re-found it on integrally Catholic principles.
is why, to come to U.O.’s second objection, she is only superficially
right when she claims that “the excellent Christian social order
of the U.S. Republic” gave “the impetus to the wonderful growth
of the Catholic Church in the hemisphere”. That “wonderful growth”
had a mighty collapse in the 1960’s, because Catholic bricks were
held together not with Catholic mortar but, as Edwin Faust suggests,
with Liberal sand. Then was that “wonderful growth” so wonderful?
Or, is Bing Crosby “Sound of music” Catholicism Catholic?
the 1960’s Church collapsed world-wide, not just in the U.S.A.
Reply: true, all nations were rotten with their own rot, but firstly,
it is surely more profitable on this side of the Atlantic to tell
of the form the rot took on this side of the Atlantic, and secondly,
as Dr. Rao (a New Yorker) truly says, the virus of pluralism originally
imported from Europe (England) to the Americas was re-exported from
the United States to Vatican II. The essential problem is doctrinal,
not national, but because the United States happened to be founded
on religious liberty, the problem in the USA is accessorily national
as well as doctrinal. Hence a local name for the virus is “Americanism.”
U.O. is superficially right in saying that the U.S. social order
promoted Church growth, but Dr. Rao is profoundly right when he
says that the pluralism underpinning that social order undermined
the Catholic Church. U.O. will surely object that Leo XIII in “Longinqua
Oceani” praised the U.S. social order, but that paragraph of Leo
XIII must be read in context, and taken together with everything
else Leo XIII wrote on these questions, notably in his great Encyclical
on “Liberty”, roundly condemning religious liberty, separation of
Church and State, freedom of the press, etc., etc... (The Encyclical
is available for a few dollars from Angelus Press, 2918 Tracy Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64109, USA, and a volume of Leo’s Encyclicals can
be had from TAN Books, Rockford, Illinois 61105, USA for US $ 25
yours in Christ,