Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cardinal Pell and Fr. Flader on the Kingship of Christ

Cardinal Pell:

Fr. Flader:

His Eminence The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney and Rev. Fr. John Flader have each had a piece on the Kingship of Christ published recently, the former in last Sunday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly and the latter in The Record and The Catholic Weekly from just over a week ago, and I’m afraid that I was deeply disappointed with what both of them had to say. Firstly let us examine Fr. Flader’s article. Father started well, noting that

The Pope [Pius XI] commented that just as the feast of Corpus Christi had been instituted at a time when Eucharistic piety had diminished, and the feast of the Sacred Heart when the severity of Jansenism had made hearts grow cold, so now when the reign of Christ was challenged by anti-clericalism, or secularism, it was opportune to institute a feast of the kingship of Christ.
An example of the anti-clericalism at the time was the regime in Mexico, where numerous Catholics went to their deaths for the faith, crying out “Long live Christ the King!” A good number of them have been beatified and canonised, including Blessed Miguel Pro.
though perhaps His late Grace Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre put it better when he wrote that

When he instituted in 1925 the Feast of Christ the King, Pius XI wanted this liturgical solemnity to affirm clearly and precisely the rights of God and Christ in the social and political order.
(Beginning of Appendix 3, Religious Liberty Questioned)
And Fr. Flader goes on to adduce many Scriptural references supporting the Kingship of Christ. But one of the later paragraphs was, it seems to me, quite inadequate:

So it is clear that Christ is indeed king – but not a king in the human, political sense. He has no palace, no material throne, no army. Christ is king in the spiritual sense. His kingdom is “not of this world”. (Jn 18:36) He reigns in the minds, the wills and the hearts of men.
Now it is true enough that Our Lord is not a King in the usual human sense of the word, but as the Roman Catechism says:

Christ not only as God, but also as man and partaker of our nature, we acknowledge to be a King. Of Him the Angel testified: He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.14 This kingdom of Christ is spiritual and eternal, begun on earth but perfected in heaven. He discharges by His admirable Providence the duties of\b King towards His Church, governing and protecting her against the assaults and snares of her enemies, legislating for her and imparting to her not only holiness and righteousness, but also the power and strength to persevere. But although the good and the bad are found within the limits of this kingdom, and thus all men by right belong to it, yet those who in conformity with His commands lead unsullied and innocent lives, experience beyond all others the sovereign goodness and beneficence of our King. Although descended from the most illustrious race of kings, He obtained this kingdom not by hereditary or other human right, but because God bestowed on Him as man all the power, dignity and majesty of which human nature is capable. To Him, therefore, God delivered the government of the whole world, and to this His sovereignty, which has already commenced, all things shall be made fully and entirely subject on the day of judgment.
So Christ is indeed King in at least one human sense, since He is King in His Sacred Humanity (by virtue of the Hypostatic Union, as Pius XI pointed out in Quas Primus). And as for not being King in a political sense, again, He is not King in the usual political sense; as the Roman Catechism points out:

yet our Lord Himself informed Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world,21 that is to say, had not its origin in this world, which was created and is doomed to perish. In this perishable way power is exercised by kings, emperors, commonwealths, rulers, and all whose titles to the government of states and provinces is founded upon the desire or election of men, or who have intruded themselves, by violent and unjust usurpation, into sovereign power.
Furthermore, Our Lord is not King in the usual political sense since He does not reign ‘in person’, as it were, but He does indeed reign through other human persons, since “there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God” (Romans 13: 1). As Pius XI himself says in Quas Primas:

he would err basely, who should deprive Christ, the man, of power over all civil affairs, since He has received the most absolute right over created things from the Father, so that all have been placed under His authority … [T]he kingdom of our Redeemer embraces all men, and in this matter We gladly make the words of Our predecessor of immortal memory Our own: "Clearly His power is not only over Catholic peoples, or over those alone who, cleansed by holy baptism, surely belong to the Church, if right is considered, though error of opinion leads them in devious ways, or dissension separates them from charity, but it embraces even those who are reckoned as destitute of Christian faith, so that in all truth all mankind is under the power of Jesus Christ"
(Dz. 2196, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma22.php)
As for being King in a spiritual sense, clearly this is true as well, but one must bear in mind that Pius XI must not have intended to divorce the spiritual from the temporal, since he defines the common good (the State’s proper end) as follows:

the common good of the temporal order, consists in peace and security, which families and individual citizens enjoy by exercising their rights; and at the same time in the greatest possible abundance of spiritual and temporal things for mortal life, which abundance is to be attained by the effort and consent of all.
(From the encyclical Divini illius magistri,

As for when Fr. Flader says that Christ “reigns in the minds, the wills and the hearts of men”, clearly this is true enough as far as it goes, but we must not neglect to uphold explicitly the Social Kingship of Christ (a dogma of the Faith), which is, at it were, more than the sum of its parts—it is about Christ reigning not just in individual persons but in persons taken collectively/socially/political, i.e., reigning in the State. As Pius XI himself says in Quas Primas:

Nor is there in this matter any difference among individuals and domestic and civic groups, because men united in society are no less under the power of Christ. Surely the same (Christ) is the source of individual and common salvation: "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved" [ Acts 4:12 ]; the same Person is the author of prosperity and true happiness for individual citizens and for the state: "For the city is not made happy from one source, and man from another, since the state is nothing else than a harmonious multitude of men."* Therefore, let the rulers of nations not refuse to offer the public service of reverence and obedience to the power of Christ through themselves and through the people, if they truly wish, while preserving their authority to advance and increase the fortunes of their country.
(Dz. 2196, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma22.php)
And Fr. Flader concludes by quoting from the (presumably Novus Ordo) Preface of Christ the King; but how sad it was that the Feast of Christ the King was, in the New Mass, transferred to the end of the liturgical year in order to downplay the social dimension of Christ’s Reign by emphasising the eschatological dimension, and this social dimension was virtually expunged from the hymn of Vespers in which the social dimension had been affirmed most explicitly (see again Msgr. Lefebvre’s Religious Liberty Questioned, Appendix 3; Mr. Michael Davies deals with the liturgical changes in The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty as well).

Now to Cardinal Pell's article. Now the Catechism of the Council of Trent expounds on three significations of the term ‘Kingdom of God’, namely the Kingdom of Nature, the Kingdom of Grace (the Church) and the Kingdom of Glory (Heaven), and His Eminence does indeed deal with each of these significations, though not in that order. He deals with the Kingdom of Grace when he writes that

We find a beautiful passage from the Apocalypse (or Book of Revelations) on Christ the King who is described as “the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the Kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings.” (Rev.9:4-6) Christ is King because He can and does forgive our sins provided we repent.
But of course Christ is the King not only of those regenerated in Baptism, but also of all human persons, whether individually or collectively, whether regenerate or unregenerate. Indeed, even if The Son of God had never deigned to assume human flesh and accomplish our redemption, or even if we had been created never to enjoy eternal beatitude (cf. condemned errors in Dz. 1026, 1079, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma11.php) we would still owe The Son of God the tribute due to Him as King.

Next Cardinal Pell deals with the Kingdom of Nature:

Christians believe the one true God is Trinitarian, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Son Jesus designed the cosmos and also placed the natural law into the heart of creation, so that human dignity is respected and moral truths are recognised.
Now this is true enough, of course, but there is no mention that it is Christ from Whom all earthly authority comes, that it is Christ Who is the King of all natural institutions, such as the family, society and the State.

Finally His Eminence alludes to the Kingdom of Glory:

And Christ is King because he is to be everyone’s judge on the Last Day, a loving, merciful and just judge, but a judge nonetheless, the Good Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats.
That is probably one of the better parts, since Christ’s Kingship implies His legislative, executive and, indeed, judicial powers. The problem is, though, that together with the following earlier allusion to the Kingdom of Glory:

St. Paul writing to the Corinthians does speak of Christ handing over his Kingdom to God the Father at the end of time. Then there will be no more human sovereignties, authorities or powers. All the evil enemies of the Kingdom of God will be under his feet and even death will be no more.
His Eminence ignores the fact that Christ is King right now and deserves to be recognised as such.

Cardinal Pell’s final sentence is also quite inadequate:

Christ is our brother, servant, redeemer; but also our King.

Also our King? Surely He was our King even before he was our brother (by virtue of the Incarnation, which implies that we are, with Him, descendents of a common ancestor according to the flesh) and Redeemer (by virtue of His Passion).

So what we have here are two influential Churchmen acting in their capacities as teachers of the Faithful who have failed to affirm the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ. This failure is nothing short of disgraceful.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr, 2008 A.D.


Louise said...

Catholics of our time have a real problem with speaking of teh Social Reign of Christ, partly because we have swallowed so much secularist guff about freedom yada yada. This includes myself until more recent years.

What may help is the extreme to which the Secularists are now going with their own Inquisitions etc.

In other words, since it is now pretty obvious that (in spite of the Preamble to the Constitution) Australia is an Atheistic Confessional State, Catholics ought to realise that if the State must be confessional (and it obviously must be) then a Catholic Confessional State must be preferable.

This would be the way, I think, to help today's Catholics get over their squeamishness about such things.

Cardinal Pole said...

"... Catholics ought to realise that if the State must be confessional (and it obviously must be) then a Catholic Confessional State must be preferable."

Exactly. There is not, never has been and never will be a truly neutral State.

Crane said...

I am pleased to have discovered this website, with its sound teaching on Church and State, among other things. Would probably never have learnt of the site's existence but for Louise's link.

What David Schütz and suchlike career ecumenists fail to recognise is that we have tried - and how! - all the nicely-nicely democratic individual-rights stuff that they advocate, and where has it got us? A genocidal 100,000 abortions a year, is where.

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louise said...

all the nicely-nicely democratic individual-rights stuff that they advocate, and where has it got us? A genocidal 100,000 abortions a year, is where.

I agree, this is a problem inherent with a secularised outlook.

Crane said...

Thanks Louise. Surely elevating the rights of "democracy" (whatever that means) above the rights of God is, quite apart from its other problems, a clear violation of the First Commandment. Why can ecumenist Catholics not see this?

Cardinal Pole said...

"I am pleased to have discovered this website, with its sound teaching on Church and State, among other things."

Thank you, Crane, and welcome to this blog.