The Unforeseen Consequence of Apostolicæ curæ?

Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, in his “Retrospect” writes of the 1930 Lambeth Conference: “The truth is that, under the description of the “Anglican Communion” there are gathered two mutually contradictory conceptions of Christianity. How long the divergence of first principles can be concealed remains to be seen.”

Sadly, it must be admitted that the same has for some time been true of the Roman Communion. In fact within her, the overwhelmingly dominant conception, triumphally instituted and blithely overseen by the post-Conciliar pontiffs (saints to a man, but for Benedict XVI, we are told!), represents a virtually absolute rupture with the Catholic past. Its doctrine and praxis is profoundly un-Catholic (not merely indifferent towards the True Faith, but often overtly hostile) and, in many ways, hardly recognisable as Christian at all.

The New Order is nothing less than a new religion.

This novel Man-centred cult represents, by orders of magnitude, a more profound theological and ecclesiological break with Catholic continuity than the comparatively mild disruption of the English Reformation. For the Conciliar Church, there is no honest, no tenable hermeneutic of continuity possible. All efforts to devise one have been in vain. There is only rupture, and only now are men of goodwill beginning to recognise the disaster.

The worst excesses of the English deviation were attenuated in time, and while Catholic truth was certainly long obscured, it was never totally extinguished. Moreover, the perversions were imposed from without, by the ungodly intrusion of an avaricious and overreaching State, in a time of profound political transformation and turmoil. In stark contrast, the suicide of the Catholic Church has arisen from within, from the obstinate “Non serviam” of the Bishops of Rome themselves, in a time of unprecedented peace and security, at the onset of what ought to have been a new golden age.

Roman controversialists have told us for centuries, culminating in a.D. 1896, that the English church was irretrievably damaged by the events of the Reformation, their highly-technical arguments being wholly dismissive of the (admittedly impaired) Catholic reality of the Church of England. “Anglican orders” were declared to be utterly null and void, the sacramental life of the church determined essentially dead. To Rome alone could we turn for that Life which had long since become extinct.

What is good for the goose, must now certainly be so for the gander, if intellectual honesty is to be maintained.

Either the churlish arguments of Apostolicæ curæ (which in view of the present crisis now seem as precious hair-splitting) should be re-evaluated and repudiated, or they and their consequences should be brought to bear — in all of their certainty and violence — against this New Church, gravely and thoroughly defective in both form and intent.

Either way, the realities of the disaster which has befallen the Holy Roman Church, Mother and Mistress, require us to find new paradigms and methodologies to understand the the nature of Christ’s Church Militant here in earth.

Scarecrow of the Nations

Thus will be consummated that destiny to which so many gloomy prognostics point as the allotment of the North American continent: to be the accursed field for the final illustration of the harvest of perdition, grown from the seeding of the dragon’s teeth of infidel Radicalism. God gave the people of this land great and magnificent blessings, and opportunities and responsibilities. They might and should have made it the glory of all lands. But they have betrayed their trust: they have abused every gift: above all have they insulted him by flaunting in his face an impudent, atheistic, God-defying theory of pretended human rights and human perfectibility which attempts to deny man’s subordination, his dependence, his fall and native depravity, his need of divine grace. It invites mankind to adopt material civilization and sensual advantage as their divinity. It assumes to be able to perfect man’s condition by its political, literary, and mechanical skill, despising that Gospel of Christ which is man’s only adequate remedy. It crowns its impiety by laying its defiling hands upon the very forms of that Christianity, while with the mock affection of a Judas it attempts to make it a captive to the sordid ends of Mammon and sense. Must not God be avenged on such a nation as this? His vengeance will be to give them the fruit of their own hands, and let them be filled with their own devices. He will set apart this fair land by a sort of dread consecration to the purpose of giving a lesson concerning this godless philosophy, so impressive as to instruct and warn all future generations. As the dull and pestilential waves of the Dead Sea have been to every subsequent age the memento of the sin of Sodom, so the dreary tides of anarchy and barbarism which will overwhelm the boastful devices of infidel democracy will be the caution of all future legislators. And thus “women’s rights” will assist America “to fulfil her great mission,” that of being the “scarecrow” of the nations.

Robert Lewis Dabney, The Southern Magazine, 1871.

Closer to Home

In your country, Venerable Brethren, voices are swelling into a chorus urging people to leave the Church, and among the leaders there is more than one whose official position is intended to create the impression that this infidelity to Christ the King constitutes a signal and meritorious act of loyalty to the modern State. Secret and open measures of intimidation, the threat of economic and civic disabilities, bear on the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic functionaries, a pressure which violates every human right and dignity. Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism. If the oppressor offers one the Judas bargain of apostasy he can only, at the cost of every worldly sacrifice, answer with Our Lord: “Begone, Satan! For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. iv. 10). And turning to the Church, he shall say: “Thou, my mother since my infancy, the solace of my life and advocate at my death, may my tongue cleave to my palate if, yielding to worldly promises or threats, I betray the vows of my baptism.” As to those who imagine that they can reconcile exterior infidelity to one and the same Church, let them hear Our Lord’s warning: — “He that shall deny me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke xii. 9).

Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge, 21.

The Sustenance of Life and the Example

Ancient Seal of City of Glasgow, Depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.
Ancient seal of City of Glasgow, depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.

He established the seat of his cathedral in the town called Glesgu, which is translated “Beloved Family,” and is now called Glasgow. And there he gathered together many servants of God, a family beloved and well known to God, who lived in abstinence following the pattern of the primitive church under the Apostles, without possessions and in holy discipline and divine service.

And the diocese of that episcopate extended to the borders of the Cambrian kingdom, and that kingdom stretched continuously from sea to sea, just like the earthen wall built by the Emperor Severus. After the advice and counsel of the Roman legions, in order to prevent the Picts from rushing into the country, a wall was constructed in this same place that was eight feet wide and twelve feet tall, and it reached up to the river Forth, and divides Scotland from England as a boundary line. And this Cambrian region over which Kentigern now was placed with episcopal honor, had received the Christian faith (as had the whole of Britain) during the time of Pope Eleutherius, when King Lucius ruled. But when the pagans had attacked the island during various times, and having dominion over it, the islanders had thrown away the faith they had received by falling into apostasy. Many also were not yet washed in the health-giving water of baptism, and many were stained by the contagion of manifold heresies. Many, only Christian in name, were wrapped up in the hog pool of multiple vices. Very many had been taught by ministers inexperiened in and ignorant of the law of God. And for these reasons, all the inhabitants of the province had a need for the counsel of a good shepherd, and the cure of a good ruler. Therefore God, the Disposer and Dispenser of all good things, provided, preferred, and proposed Saint Kentigern as a healing remedy, as the sustenance of life and the example, for all the diseases of all the people.

— Jocelin of Furness, Life of St. Kentigern, Chapter XI.