Friday, March 5, 2010

Msgr. Tissier on the theology of H.H. The Pope

The Rt. Rev. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais F.S.S.P.X. has written a treatise, published originally in Le Sel de la terre, no. 69, (Northern) Summer 2009 and now available in English on-line at Mr. Stephen Heiner's True Restoration blog or in a hard copy from True Restoration Press, entitled Faith Imperiled by Reason: Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutics. The following section from Chapter 1 was of particular interest to me and, presumably, will be to readers of this blog, too, and should whet your appetite for what would make fine weekend reading:

When hermeneutics begins to distort history

If only Benedict XVI would allow me to protest this distortion of history! The popes of the 19th century have condemned religious liberty, not only on account of the indifferentism of its promoters, but in itself:

— because it is not a natural right of man: Pius IX said that it is not a ‘proprium cujuscumque hominis jus,’[22] and Leo XIII said that it is not one of the ‘jura quae homini natura dederit.’[23]
— and because it proceeds from ‘an altogether distorted idea of the State,’[24] the idea of a State which would rather not have the duty of protecting the true religion against the expansion of religious error.

These two motives for condemnation are absolutely general; they follow from the truth of Christ and of his Church, from the duty of the State to recognize it, and from its indirect duty to promote the eternal salvation of the citizens, not, indeed, by constraining them to believe in spite of themselves, but by protecting them against the influence of socially professed error, all things taught by Pius IX and Leo XIII.

If today, circumstances having changed, religious plurality demands, in the name of political prudence, civil measures for tolerance even of legal equality between diverse cults, religious liberty as a natural right of the person, in the name of justice, should not be invoked. It remains a condemned error. The doctrine of the faith is immutable, even if its complete application is impeded by the malice of the times. And on the day when circumstances return to normal, to those of Christianity, the same practical application of repression of false cults must be made, as in the time of the Syllabus. Let’s remember that circumstance which change application (consequent circumstances) do not affect the content of doctrine.

We must say the same thing concerning circumstances which prompt the magisterium to intervene (antecedent circumstances). That religious liberty had in 1965 a personalist context, very different from the context of aggressiveness that it had a hundred years earlier in 1864, at the time of the Syllabus, does not change its intrinsic malice. The circumstances of 1864 certainly caused Pius IX to act, but they did not affect the content of the condemnation that he set down for religious liberty. Should a new Luther arise in 2017, even without his attaching as in 1517 his 95 theses to the door of the collegial church of Wittenberg, he would be condemned in the very terms of 500 years before.[25] Let us reject then the equivocation between ‘circumstantial’ decision and prudential, provisional, fallible, reformable, correctible decision in matters of doctrine.

[22] “A right proper to each man’: Pius IX, encyclical Quanta cura, Dz 1690.
[23] ‘Rights which nature has given to man’: Leo XIII, encyclical Libertas, Dz 1932.
[24] Pius IX, encyclical Quanta cura, Dz 1690.
[25] See: Fr. François Knittel, “Benedict XVI: debate concerning Vatican II,’ in Courrier de Rome, Si si no no, # 290, June 2006, p. 6

The sources (in English) for footnotes 22-24 are available here and here. For discussion on Faith Imperiled by Reason, go hither (though of course you're welcome to discuss it here, too).

Reginaldvs Cantvar


Anonymous said...

The document is no longer available at the link you gave. I found it here, however:

Cardinal Pole said...

Thanks for that link, Anonymous. I saw that Mr. Heiner had removed Msgr. Tissier's article, and he has since updated his blog to point out that it was by His Lordship's request (see here).

Mr. Heiner doesn't mention why, though. Was His Lordship displeased with the translation? I can't think of any other reason.