Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facts and figures: on Muslims in Australia

Ms Maralyn Parker, the Sydney Daily Telegraph’s education writer, provided in her column today some interesting data on Muslims living in Australia, including data on educational attainment, unemployment and living standards:

Professor [Riaz] Hassan raised his concerns yesterday when I interviewed him about a paper he presented at last year’s National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies Australia conference on the 2006 census data. When he crunched the numbers from the census he came up with some unexpected figures.

Muslim Australians are more likely to be university educated than non-Muslim Australians. Twenty one per cent of Muslim Australians have degrees compared to 15 per cent of non-Muslim Australians _ a statistic which challenges the stereotypical view of Muslim Australians.

But the bad news is that higher achievement in education does not translate into jobs.

In the 19 to 24-year-old bracket the unemployment rate of Muslim Australians is 18 per cent, compared to 9 per cent of non-Muslims.

And it just gets worse from there. The older Muslim Australians become the more likely they are to be unemployed than non-Muslims. By age 65 it is four times more likely.

In all other socio-economic comparisons, Muslim Australians fare badly. They are less likely to own their own home and more likely to live in rented premises.

The most shocking statistic is 40 per cent of Muslim Australian children live in poverty _ about twice the rate for non-Muslim Australian children.

[…] In the 2006 census there were 340,391 Muslims in Australia and the vast majority, about 38 per cent, were born in Australia, followed by Lebanon (9 per cent), Turkey (7 per cent) and Afghanistan (5 per cent). Only 1.7 per cent of the overall Australian population are Muslim, but a staggering 40 per cent of Muslim Australians are under the age of 20, compared to about 27 per cent of the non-Muslim population.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Simeon, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

Facts and figures: on the Sodomites’ Parade

I’m going to start posting at this blog some interesting facts and figures that I see in the media, not necessarily with any additional comment from me (though you, my readers, are always welcome to comment), so don’t be surprised if you see me posting quotations, links or whatever without further explanation. Today I read the following letter to The Sydney Morning Herald:

Mardi Gras money

Brad Ruting (Letters, February 13) says this is the first year any government has provided funding to the Mardi Gras. The City of Sydney has been a financial supporter of Mardi Gras for 10 years. Our current sponsorship is worth $120,000 in cash and $120,000 in kind a year.

Clover Moore, MP Lord Mayor, City of Sydney
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Simeon, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mr. Muehlenberg on same-sex parenting

Mr. Bill Muehlenberg has published at his blog a good post against same-sex adoption. (Remember that today is the last day for written submissions to the New South Wales Legislative Council inquiry into adoption by same-sex couples—see here.) Mr. Muehlenberg asks

How will a man raised by two men know how to relate to a woman? Or how will a man raised by two women know how to relate to men? Thus the Beatles were wrong: love is not all you need, at least when it comes to parenting. As two family experts point out: “The two most loving mothers in the world can’t be a father to a little boy. Love can’t equip mothers to teach a little boy how to be a man. Likewise, the two most loving men can’t be a mother to a child.”

They continue, “Love does little to help a man teach a little girl how to be a woman. Can you imagine two men guiding a young girl through her first menstrual cycle or helping her through the awkwardness of picking out her first bra? Such a situation might make for a funny television sitcom but not a very good real-life situation for a young girl.”
Mr. Muehlenberg also refers to empirical research into the effects of same-sex parenting on children although, frustratingly, he does not provide citations.

And if anyone’s wondering just how many children are already being raised by same-sex parents in Australia, I noticed the following interesting things in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ recently released A Picture of the Nation: the Statistician's Report on the 2006 Census:

Children living with same-sex couples

In 2006, approximately 3,200 children were living with same-sex couples. Most of thesechildren were living with same-sex female couples (89%).

Over half the children living with same-sex couples were reported to be step children (57%), while 38% were reported to be the natural or adopted children of both parents.

Examination of same-sex data from the census may have some limitations. These include the reluctance of some people to report being in a same-sex de facto partnership and the lack of knowledge that same-sex relationships would be counted as such in the census.
(from the article Living arrangements: Children’s living arrangements, p. 77,$File/20700_Children.pdf)
(As for the number of so-called same-sex de facto couples:

Number of same-sex de facto couples in Australia: about 27,000; as a proportion of all de facto couples: about 3.4 per cent
For my own arguments against this insanity see here.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
13.II.2009 A.D.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More evidence that too many people simply do not understand the pro-life cause

Remember when the journalist Ms Helen Pitt made the following bizarre comparison in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine?:

[Mrs. Sarah Palin's town is] a place where guns and God are treated with equal reverence; where "right to life" applies to a foetus but not to a fawn.
(my emphasis,

And remember when the Canadian blogger MgS made the following ludicrous non sequitur?:

Speaking of those rights [of unborn children], what do you do when the mother dies in childbirth? Charge the infant with homicide? That's the logical extrapolation of your model of fetal rights
(my emphasis,

Now we have another piece of absurdity from abortion advocates, this time the tireless Mr. Lewis Winders at The Australian’s letters blog last Friday:

The ludicrous logical extension of your argument is that all of the trillions of children who could have been conceived throughout history should have been conceived, because they have a “right to life”.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Scholastica, Virgin, A.D. 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Notice: Democratic Labor Party membership

If you're interested in joining the Democratic Labor Party, whether as a financial or non-financial member, and you live in New South Wales then you can contact Mr. Michael Webb, State President of the N.S.W. Branch, at or visit the N.S.W. Branch homepage:

Residents of other Australian States or Territories may visit the National homepage for more information:

Though I am not a member myself, I support, have voted for, and will continue to vote for the D.L.P. because it is a party that, in its constitution, policies and membership, stands for the principles of human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good that are the pillars of Catholic social doctrine. I commend it to you.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

On the N.S.W. Parliamentary Inquiry into extending same-sex adoption ‘rights’

A certain blasphemously-named website (to which I will not link), and other news outlets, have reminded us of a proposal that I seemed to have missed; I speak of the proposal, referred to a New South Wales Parliamentary Inquiry by The Hon. Linda Burney M.P. last December, to extend adoption ‘rights’ to same-sex couples that formed after the child’s birth. (Recently N.S.W. permitted lesbian pairings to identify themselves as ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ on birth certificates if they had been together since before the birth; see here for more on this).

Mr. Fred Nile M.L.C. (Upper House Christian Democrats leaders) has registered his opposition to the proposal on the basis that a child has a right to a mother and a father. A mere twenty or so years ago this basis would have been unassailable, but now we have to spell it out for the Sodomites’ League. The odd thing is that members of same-sex couples themselves are always quick to defend their acquisition of children by saying that they will endeavour to give their respective children exposure to opposite-sex role models; this is, for instance, evident in a baby-buying sodomite saying to the Herald last week that he and his, er, gentleman friend had

thought long and hard about this and have put everything in place to make sure we can give these children everything they need - including plenty of girlfriends who are cat-fighting over who will be godmother
I also seem to recall a lesbian Politics lecturer in my first year at uni saying that she would make sure to have male role models around for her child. So given that everyone, including the same-sex couples themselves, agree that a child needs balanced first-hand exposure to role models of both sexes, one has to ask oneself: which is the best way to do this—by the stable presence of a mother and a father, or by thrusting one’s children into artificial and transient relationships with a string of ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’? Surely the answer is obvious?

This alone should suffice to quash the demands of the Sodomites’ League for the same adoption rights as proper opposite-sex couples. But let’s have a look at a few of their other arguments. One is that very few children will be affected anyway. And indeed, given that there are only something like 27000 de facto same-sex ‘married’ couples in Australia (source), there couldn’t be more than a few thousand children affected (and probably more like a few hundred I suspect). But a single child immersed in such a spiritually toxic environment is one child too many.

Another argument is that the State should really only concern itself with keeping the public peace anyway; it shouldn’t intervene in private family matters. This is, of course, the cornerstone of liberalism, and is to be rejected accordingly as false and absurd. And it raises the question, which I have been asking for some time now, of where do these same-sex adoption rights advocates draw the line, and why? By their own lights, limiting the number of parents to two is every bit as arbitrary as limiting parenthood to motherhood and fatherhood. So if we’re going to be ‘arbitrary’ one way or another, why not pick the model of parenting, however ‘arbitrary’ and ‘heteronormative’ it might be, that aims for a stable, enduring presence of role models from both sexes?
It should also be noted that same-sex and opposite-sex couples are by no means equal in all other respects anyway. Remember that same-sex couples are going to be more likely to suffer sexually-transmissible infections, more likely to involve domestic violence, more likely to involve mental problems, more likely to involve drug abuse, the relationships tend to have shorter durations …

Yet another argument in favour of such law reform is that it would only be recognising the way things already are. But are these people really so naïve as to think that, by eliminating present barriers, it will not encourage more same-sex couples to acquire children?

But perhaps the more significant long-term consequence of the success of such a proposal is one that has me marveling at the cunning of the strategists in the Sodomites’ League, a cunning apparently heightened, not diminished, by their immersion in their cesspool of corruption. The consequence I’m thinking of is this: once the Government has legislated to give same-sex couples the same adoption rights as opposite-sex couples, how can it possibly continue to justify its refusal to permit so called gay marriage? For the Sodomites’ League will be able to turn the tables on pro-family forces and demand to know how can they deny ‘marriage’ to same-sex couples when, as the pro-family movement argues (rightly, of course), it is the family based on marriage that produces the best outcomes for children. Mark my words: if this proposal is successful, it will be a strategic masterstroke by which the Sodomites’ League will ultimately achieve ‘gay marriage’ by the back door. So it would not surprise me at all if the children are nothing more than pawns in this game of strategy in which the Sodomites’ League vies for the mainstream acceptance—nay more, the mainstream celebration—that it so craves (a craving which, I can only infer, arises from their all-consuming narcissism). And if you doubt the Sodmites’ League’s capacity to sacrifice the well-being of others in pursuit of its quest to be liked, recall the disastrous effects of the Red Cross caving in, before the truth about A.I.D.S. was apparent, to the demands of militant gays for practising homosexuals to be allowed to give blood, documented by Mr. Piers Akerman in his column in the Sydney Daily Telegraph a few years ago (unfortunately not available on-line).

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

Sydney Morning Herald or Sydney Star Observer? These days it’s hard to tell

(Note: The Sydney Star Observer is the journal of the Sodomites’ League in Sydney)

The weekend Sydney Morning Herod continues to do its bit to keep the so-called gay culture in the mainstream; after last week’s centre-front-page article and accompanying picture on a pair of sodomites shopping for baby paraphernalia (and babies), this week’s edition had another article and large picture on the front cover, right-of-centre, concerning the activities of the Sodomites’ League. The topic this week was the annual (and now publicly-funded) Sodomites’ Parade, that festival of all that is tacky, trashy, crass, garish, ignoble and debauched (and that list of adjectives is not necessarily exhaustive; feel free to add your own in the combox). It seems that there has been a suggestion to move the event from its ‘spiritual home’ in Oxford Street to the old Olympic precinct at Homebush, a suggestion that has generated some controversy.

Accompanying the article was a charming photograph of a grinning, shirtless, nipple-pierced homosexual gentleman. Not so long ago the only place where one would been confronted with the sight of half-naked sodomites on a Saturday morning would have been somewhere like King’s Cross; nowadays one can’t even stroll past one’s local suburban newsagent without being confronted with such indecency. How did it all go so wrong so quickly?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

Some points of Traditional socio-political doctrine

1 On the relationship between Christ the King and the State
1.1 ERROR: "the best plan for public society, and civil progress absolutely requires that human society be established and governed with no regard to religion, as if it did not exist, or at least, without making distinction between the true and the false religions." Quanta Cura, Dz. 1689
1.2 ERROR: “The laws of morals by no means need divine sanction, and there is not the least need that human laws conform to the natural law, or receive the power of binding from God.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 56
1.3 The State can recognise that God exists, that Christ is God and that the Catholic Church is His Church (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21)
1.4 Recognising that the State derives its blessings, its authority and its very existence from Christ, the State must, in justice, do Him homage (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21)

2 On the relationship between Christ’s Church and the State
2.1 ERROR: "the best plan for public society, and civil progress absolutely requires that human society be established and governed with no regard to religion, as if it did not exist, or at least, without making distinction between the true and the false religions." Quanta Cura, Dz. 1689
2.2 ERROR: “The Church is to be separated from the state, and the state from the Church.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 55
2.3 The State must not only not hinder the Church in her mission, but also positively assist her (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21)
2.4 This is because the highest good of the State’s subjects is their salvation (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21) and also because of the temporal blessings that follow from promoting the Church’s mission (Immortale Dei §1, 19)
2.5 There is a differentiation of the powers of the Church and of the State (Immortale Dei §10, 13, 14) (though the State’s purpose, the common good, is indirectly subordinate to the Church’s purpose, the salvation of souls—Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21) and the Church has exclusive competence in sacred matters (Immortale Dei §11).
2.6 But ideally there should not be a separation of powers (Immortale Dei §14, 21, 22, Libertas §18, 38, Longinqua Oceani §6).
2.7 The union of Church and State is like the union between body and soul (Immortale Dei §14, Libertas §18, 38)
2.8 The union of Church and State is ideally one in which there is “between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man (Immortale Dei §14)”, that Church and State should be “happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices (Immortale Dei §21)”, that between the two there should be “complete harmony” (Immortale Dei §35).
2.9 Successful Church-State relations during the Middle Ages exemplify this ideal (Immortale Dei §21, 22)
2.10 Union of Church and State is desirable for the individual good of the State’s subjects (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21), for the common good (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21, though with limitations to be described in §4.3 of this post), and because of the frequent overlap between civil and sacred matters (Immortale Dei §14, §35, Libertas §18)

3 Condemnation of modern errors
3.1 ERROR: "liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed and asserted by law in every correctly established society; that the right to all manner of liberty rests in the citizens, not to be restrained by either ecclesiastical or civil authority; and that by this right they can manifest openly and publicly and declare their own concepts, whatever they be, by voice, by print, or in any other way." Described as “insanity”, Quanta Cura, Dz. 1690
3.2 ERROR: “The will of the people, manifested as they say by public opinion, or in some other way, constitutes the supreme law, freed from all divine and human right; and, that deeds consummated in the political order, by the very fact that they have been consummated, have the force of right.” Quanta Cura, Dz. 1691
3.2 ERROR: “The laws of morals by no means need divine sanction, and there is not the least need that human laws conform to the natural law, or receive the power of binding from God.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 56
3.3 ERROR: “. Other powers should not be recognized except those which have their basis in the material (physical side of man), and all moral discipline and honesty should be employed to accumulate and increase wealth in any way whatsoever, and to satisfy man's pleasures.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 58
3.4 ERROR: “Right consists in a physical fact; all the duties of men are an empty name, and all human deeds have the force of right.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 59
3.5 ERROR: “Authority is nothing more than numbers and the sum of material strengths.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 60.
3.6 Leo XIII reiterated the teaching of Bl. Pius IX in condemning the principles of democracy and liberalism (Immortale Dei §24, 25, 26 and 32), particularly the false liberties of worship (Libertas §20, 21), speech (Libertas §23) and conscience (Libertas §30).

4 On the relationship between offenders of the Catholic religion and the State
4.1 ERROR: "the best condition of society is the one in which there is no acknowledgment by the government of the duty of restraining, by established penalties, offenders of the Catholic religion, except insofar as the public peace demands.” Quanta Cura, Dz. 1689
4.2 ERROR: “For it is false that the civil liberty of every cult, and likewise, the full power granted to all of manifesting openly and publicly any kind of opinions and ideas, more easily leads to the corruption of the morals and minds of the people, and to the spread of the evil of indifferentism.” Syllabus Errorum, no. 79
4.3 Leo XIII teaches that ideally whatever “is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law” (Libertas §32), but that the State’s higher purpose is not repression of error, but the common good, so it may tolerate offences against the Catholic religion if it expects by this tolerance to procure a greater benefit to the common good or avert a greater damage to the common good (Immortale Dei §36, Libertas §33).
4.4 Nonetheless, “to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires.” (Libertas §34, cf. Longinqua Oceani §6)

5 And the summary of the summary: the best conditions for society are when the State honours Christ, unites itself to and co-operates with His Church, and restrains offenders of the Catholic religion. But if, in the prevailing circumstances, there is a departure from one or more of these conditions then departures from the other conditions may be tolerated as well.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

On Traditional socio-political doctrine and Vatican II

In the combox to this post, Mrs. Louise Purcell of has asked me a few questions, which I am happy to try to answer. Firstly I will have a look at the bases—Scriptural and Magisterial—for the Traditional teaching on the Confessional State, Church-State relations and religious tolerance, then at what to say to Catholics who are unfamiliar with these doctrines, and then I will say some things about Vatican II.

1 Traditional socio-political doctrine

1.1 Scriptural basis for doctrine on the relations between Christ the King and the State

The key texts here are, firstly, those famous words of Our Lord in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 22, Verse 21:

… Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.
and secondly, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 13, Verses 1-7:

1 Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God. 2 Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. 3 For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. 5 Wherefore be subject of necessity: not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For therefore also you pay tribute. For they are the ministers of God, serving unto this purpose. 7 Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour.
Now Matthew 22:21 concerns not only the duties of the citizen to the State and to God; it is a principle of justice that also covers the duties of the State itself to God—Caesar himself must render to God what is God’s; in particular, the State must render to Him the homage that is His due for endowing the State with its authority (Romans 13:1) over the populace and for whatever temporal blessings, such as peace and prosperity, God might deign to bestow on the State. Now given that the State is not only a juridical, but also a moral (or rational), person, there is no reason why the State cannot, by the light of natural reason, come to knowledge of the existence of God and deduce that, as a matter of justice, it owes Him homage; furthermore, in societies that have been evangelised, it can acknowledge Christ as its King.

1.2 Scriptural basis for doctrine on the relations between Christ’s Church and the State

The same two Scriptural excerpts are also applicable to healthy Church-State relations. Unfortunately Matthew 22:21 is much misused, sometimes adduced (wrongly) by liberals in support of their precious ‘wall between Church and State’. Bl. Pius IX expands on the meaning of this verse as follows:

Faith (however) teaches and human reason demonstrates that a two- fold order of things exists, and that at the same time two powers are to be distinguished on earth, one naturally which looks out for the tranquillity of human society and secular affairs, but the other, whose origin is above nature, which presides over the city of God, namely, the Church of Christ, divinely established for the peace and the eternal salvation of souls. Moreover, these duties of the twofold power have been very wisely ordained, that "the things that are God's may be rendered to God," and, on account of God, "to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" [ Matt. 22:21], who "is great on this account, because he is less than heaven; for he himself belongs to Him to whom belong heaven and every creature.''* And from him, surely by divine mandate, the Church has never turned aside, which always and everywhere strives to nurture obedience in the souls of her faithful; and they should inviolably keep, (this obedience) to the supreme princes and their laws insofar as they are secular; and, with the Apostle it has taught that princes "are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil," ordering the faithful "to be subject not only for wrath," because the prince "beareth not the sword as an avenger to execute wrath upon him that cloth evil, but also for conscience' sake," because in his office "he is God's minister" [Rom. 13:3 ff.]. Moreover, it itself has restricted this fear of princes to evil works, plainly excluding the same from the observance of the divine law, mindful of that which blessed Peter taught the faithful: "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a railer, or a coveter of other men's things. But if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name" [ 1 Pet.4:15f ]
(my emphasis,
Dz. 1841, Encyclical Etsi Multa, §16,
So we render to God what is God’s, and we render to Caesar what is Caesar’s on account of God; hence the fundamental doctrine of the indirect subordination of the state’s purpose, the civic common good, to the Church’s purpose, the salvation of souls. St. Thomas Aquinas explains this subordination as follows:

… A superior and an inferior power can be related in either of two ways. Either the lower power is totally derived from the higher; in this case the whole force of the lower is founded on the force of the higher; then, absolutely and in everything, the higher power is to be obeyed rather than the lower; … the power of God is related to all created power in this way; in the same way the power of the emperor is related tothe power of the proconsul; in the same way the power of the pope is related to all spiritual power in the church, since the diverse grades and dignities in the church are disposed and ordained by the pope himself, whence his power is a sort of foundation of the church, as appears in Matthew 16:[18]. … Or, on the other hand, the higher power and the lower power can be so related that both derive from one supreme power, which subordinates one to the other as he wishes; in that case one is not superior to the other unless in those things in which the other has been subordinated to him by the supreme power, and the higher is to be obeyed rather than the lower in such things only; the powers of bishops and archbishops, which descend from the power of the pope, are related in this way. …
The spiritual and the secular power are both derived from the divine power; and therefore the secular power is under the spiritual only in so far as it has been subjected to it by God: namely, in those things that pertain to the salvation of the soul; and therefore the spiritual power is, in such matters, to be obeyed rather than the secular. But in those things that pertain to civil good, the secular power is to be obeyed rather than the spiritual, according to the saying in Matthew 22:[21], “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
Unless, perhaps, the secular power is joined to the spiritual, as in the pope, who holds the apex of both authorities, the spiritual and the secular.
(My emphasis,
Commentum in IV Libros Sententiarum, St. Thomas Aquinas, cited in The Crisis of Church & State 1050-1300, Brian Tierney, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1964, p.171)
Given that there are also ‘mixed matters’, such as marriage and education, it is highly desirable that there be union between Church and State when the State’s populace is predominantly Catholic so as to conduce to harmonious resolutions of conflicts in these matters. Secularists, and Catholic crypto-secularists, might argue that such conflicts would not even arise if Church and State are separated, but the union of Church and State is also desirable as a matter of justice—the State can hardly confess Christ as its King (which it must) without acknowledging the Church as its queen, as it were. Furthermore, the indirect subordination of the State’s purpose to the Church’s purpose also implies the ministerial function that the State owes to the Church, a function that entails not only protection but also assistance.

1.3 Scriptural basis for doctrine on liberty

The key text here is the words of Our Lord in St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, Verse 32:

And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free.

The truth shall make you free—the truth shall give you liberty. Of the three kinds of liberty—psychological liberty (free will), liberty of action and moral liberty—the basis for moral liberty (in other words, for natural rights) can only be what is true and good. But it is hardly necessary to appeal to Scripture in order to prove this; the very definition of a right is the liberty justly to claim some entitlement, with ‘justly’ being the key word, and the essence of justice is to get what one is owed. All that sin and error are owed are punishment and repression—one cannot have a right to a wrong! Certainly, when a given wrong is the lesser of two wrongs, one of which has to be permitted, then one can tolerate the lesser wrong, but it still remains a wrong and hence cannot be the object of a proper right; a right is a matter of justice, while a tolerance is a matter of prudence.

1.4 Magisterial basis for these doctrines

The Magisterial basis for the Traditional doctrines on the ideal relations between Christ the King and the State and between Christ’s Church and the State, and on religious tolerance, is (was?) indisputable. Read Gregory XVI’s Mirari Vos, Bl. Pius IX’s Quanta Cura and Syllabus Errorum, Leo XIII’s Immortale Dei, Libertas, Diuturnum, Sapientiæ Christianiæ, St. Pius X’s Vehementer Nos, Pius XI’s Quas Primas and Pius XII’s Allocution Ci Riesce. I have also done a summary of the Traditional doctrine, which I have revised and expanded slightly and re-posted in the next post. There is also the fact that the Church supported, for some fifteen hundred years, severe penalties for those who advocated the principle of separation of Church and State. Compare this to the Traditional doctrine against contraception. When Paul VI decided to uphold the Traditional doctrine in Humanæ Vitæ, he did so on the advice of a minority of his advisory commission; this minority pointed out that for the Church to impose something as binding under pain of grave sin for even a hundred years was a strong indicator of its veracity, so the notion that separation of Church and State can be the ideal is historically implausible.

But given that there is no prospect of the Traditional doctrine being translated into fact anytime soon, one might ask: why even bother upholding it? Well, for one thing, because it’s the truth! And secondly, as Mr. Muehlenberg might say (though obviously he would disagree with a Catholic Confessional State!), ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences; denying the Traditional doctrine can lead all too easily to indifferentism and practical nihilism.

1.5 Defending the Traditional teaching against Catholics who dispute it

Regarding a supposed right to religious liberty, ask them how someone can possibly have a right to a wrong. Regarding the duties of the State to God, ask them how it can be that we must all ‘render unto God what is God’s’, yet the State is somehow exempt from paying tribute to God, to Whom it owes its authority—its very existence. Regarding the duties of the State to the Church, ask them how separation of Church and State can be the ideal when it was the union of the two that was upheld as the ideal for some fifteen hundred years, with severe penalties for dissenters, imposed over scores of generations. And point out that one must be clear about the distinction between justice and prudence: the Traditional doctrine is the ideal, as a matter of justice, but in practice departures from it can be tolerated, as a matter of prudence.

2 My opinions on Vatican II

In nutshell: my opinion is not that the documents of Vatican II contain heresy or error, but that they tend to heresy or error because of their ambiguity, their openness to widely divergent and erroneous interpretations. To take an example that we have discussed before: the words of Gaudium et Spes to the effect that man is the only creature that God has wanted for its own sake. Now even Msgr. Williamson, no apologist for Vatican II, acknowledges that, in itself, this is open to an orthodox interpretation. But which is the interpretation that will appeal more to fallen man—the orthodox one, or the unorthodox one? The unorthodox one, of course, and that is what we have seen, on many points, in the Council’s aftermath. It is not enough for the private individual simply to apply the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’—what is needed is clear direction from the Hierarchy (an example of which I will provide in a moment). I like the recent suggestion of Mr. Gerald Warner in the British Daily Telegraph (though I wouldn’t use the word ‘errors’):

… The only remotely celebratory response to the Council's 50th anniversary would be to appoint a commission of orthodox theologians to scrutinise all of Vatican II's documents and correct their errors. It is time to revisit and reform this council that has brought forth such poisonous fruits.
But it is not only me and members of the S.S.P.X. who acknowledge these ambiguities: Paul VI acknowledged this by directing the Council’s Secretary-General to annex a Preliminary Note of Explanation to the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium in which the potential for an heretical interpretation of ‘hierarchical communion’—this interpretation being the heresy of the ‘double subject’ of Ecclesiastical authority—is averted. It seems to me that many of Vatican II’s documents could have done with one (or several) such explanatory notes.

So we have this ambiguity acknowledged by Traditionalists, by the Council itself, and also by enthusiasts for the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ like Mr. Brian Coyne, a spirit which is, according to him, a spirit of ‘outgrowing’ the need for certitude, and indeed a confected opposition between truth and certitude is one of his pet themes, evident most recently in his latest comment at the Coo-ees blog, where he denounces “these self-deluding games that seek to place a premium on certitude at the expense of truth”. So those of his ilk embrace the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ precisely because of its ambiguities!

But as you know, the Conciliar document that really sticks in my craw is the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanæ. Now we should note firstly that the document is a Declaration, and strictly speaking the declaration, the direct object, is the following lines in section 2:

2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.
The rest of the document is elaboration and explanation. It is interesting, though, that, of the many times that the document speaks of a right to religious liberty, whether of individuals or groups, the object of the right is never specified—it is always at the level of subject (with one exception, but one mentioned in a different context). That is, it always says things like ‘individuals have the right to practice their religion’, never ‘individuals have the right to practice any religion, whether Catholic or non-Catholic’. (Note: things like ‘his/her/their religion’ are subjective, pertaining to the subject of a right, while things like ‘any/every religion/this/that religion’ are objective, pertaining to the object of the right.) So conceivably the document could be reconciled with Tradition as a statement of abstract, subjective principles, in the manner of, say, Pius XII in his Christmas 1942 Radio Address. No doubt crypto-secularists, liberals and neo-conservatives would scoff at this, but it does indeed appear to be supported by the letter of the text.

So that covers what Msgr. Lefebvre regarded as Dignitatis Humanæ’s confusion between subjective and objective rights. He summarised its three other problems as: confusion between ontological dignity and operative dignity (neither can be a basis for a right to spread error); illegitimate break between positive and negative rights (whether framed as a right to disseminate error or a right not to be restrained from disseminating error, the object of the right is still the spreading of error, which can never be the basis for a proper right); and, illegitimate symmetry between being forced to disobey one’s conscience and being restrained from obeying one’s conscience (the former is sinful because it involves the consent of the will to what one discerns to be evil, while the latter does not).

Also important is what Msgr. Lefebvre calls the ‘problem of limitations’. Traditionally, the relevant criterion for the limitation of religious rights was the common good: hence in a Catholic-populated country the State need not refrain from punishing offences against the Catholic religion because such offences would also be offences against the common good. Conversely, in a mixed-religions country the State may tolerate offences against the Catholic religion because to punish them would be too damaging to the common good. But Vatican II took a ‘just public order’ as its criterion, and itself admitted that this criterion is the ‘basic component’ of the common good (“common welfare” in its words), not necessarily the common good itself; its concept of a ‘just public order’ is explained in section 7:

7. The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.
(my emphasis)
But even the term ‘basic component’ is ambiguous: does it mean that this ‘just public order’ is a strict subset of the common good? If so then this can only be a departure from Tradition. If, on the other hand, it means in some sense the foundation of the common good, then this might be reconcilable with Tradition—one could argue for ‘order’ to be taken in the teleological sense, as in ‘ordered towards’, ordered towards some end; the State’s proper end, or purpose, is the common good, so one might take ‘just public order’ in the sense of ‘ordered towards the common good’. Even this sounds a little strained, though, doesn’t it?

But the official response to Msgr. Lefebvre’s Dubia only made matters all the more murky, muddying the waters with talk of a ‘social space of autonomous activity’, which Msgr. Lefebvre recognised as a sophistry, since social activity can never be truly autonomous since it has the potential to edify or scandalise.

So to sum up: I could see how Dignitatis Humanæ might, might, be reconciled with Tradition, and would have no problem whatsoever with taking it as a policy document, but I do not see how its teachings could be regarded as constituting a development of the earlier body of doctrine; at best they would be a statement of some abstract, subjective principles. As for the other documents, if unambiguous clarification from the Magisterium is not forthcoming then I find the solution of Pope St. Gregory the Great in the aftermath of Constantinople II, mentioned recently at Athanasius’ blog, rather appealing: St. Gregory “counselled prelates to ignore the 2nd Council of Constantinople for the sake of peace and unity.”

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009