The dogma of the modern world in light of Catholic teaching.
Liberty is a dogma of the modern world. Liberty is enthroned as one of the great goods to be cherished in life, something worth dying for. The American War of Independence was fought for liberty’s sake. World War II was fought for liberty, and was financed in part by “Liberty Bonds.” For a long time our money had an image of a woman who personified liberty, and even wore a crown with the word liberty inscribed on it. This “Miss Liberty” as well wore a “Liberty Bonnet,” which can also be found on the insignia of many states, including those of New York and New Jersey. In New York’s harbor stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, holding a torch. The original name of this statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” The red and white stripes of the American flag are derived from the flag of the “Sons of Liberty.” Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Thomas Jefferson enthroned liberty in the Declaration of Independence by numbering it among the inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights touts freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press as great goods to be guaranteed. Norman Rockwell, after the suggestion of Franklin D. Roosevelt, portrayed in art the four great freedoms: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of speech. The Declaration of Independence was heralded by the ringing of the “Liberty Bell,” now a national relic and shrine.
The cherishing of freedom is very much a part of, if not the essence of, American culture. Nor is it confined to America. French money always has the word liberté engraved upon it, together with égalité (equality) and fraternité (fraternity). Nearly every European democracy enthrones the concept of liberty in one form or other.
Since all culture must come under the scrutiny of the Catholic Faith, it is necessary to take a look at this cult of liberty which is so much a part of the American culture, and of all Western culture since the eighteenth century.
What is a little odd at first view in the cult of liberty is that it was non-existent before the eighteenth century. Nowhere in the great Catholic culture of medieval Europe do we find a cult of liberty. Why, all of a sudden in eighteenth-century Europe, do we find a cult of liberty to the point of “deifying” the concept by means of an image of a glorified woman?
A red flag should go up to any Catholic well-versed in history. The eighteenth century is the century of revolution, of freemasonry, of naturalism and rationalism. It is the century of the guillotine. It is the century of Jansenism, which besides being a form of Protestantism in the religious sphere, was a powerful political influence on the side of liberalism. In short, the eighteenth century is the century of intellectual ferment against the legitimate authority of the Church and of civil government.
The new-fangled cult of liberty implied that the Catholic Church or Catholic culture up to the eighteenth century had somehow missed the boat on liberty. It is as if something was missing from life, as if there were constraints in the Catholic culture which needed to be done away with. In other words, what did the liberty-cultists in the eighteenth century seek to be free from?
The Catholic Church, however, missed nothing about liberty. Always a defender of free will, particularly against Protestants, the Catholic Church in no way failed to address the liberty of the human will in the writings of her great minds. It has always taught that man is endowed with free will, and is thereby accountable for his actions. Because of his free will, he is capable of merit, and therefore capable, with the help of divine grace, of achieving eternal salvation. He is therefore also capable of demerit, and of causing himself to be damned for all eternity.
Catholic philosophy teaches that the human will is a blind faculty which must be informed by the intellect as to what is good and what is bad. The intellect is that faculty of the soul by which it takes in reality. The intellect informs and commands the will with regard to the objects it should pursue.
Catholic philosophy further teaches that the foundation of the freedom of the will is the indifference of the object. This simply means that created goods, unlike God, do not have a necessary attractive power on the soul, like a magnet does to iron, but merely a limited attractive power, one that can be refused by the intellect, and therefore by the will.
Let an example illustrate. When you set down food in front of a hungry cat, the cat moves necessarily toward the food, without any freedom or deliberation, since it perceives only the sensual good of the food. The cat goes to the food like iron would go to a magnet. It is not a free act for the cat. On the other hand, if you set down a plate of food in front of a hungry man, although he would be strongly attracted toward it by his sensual nature, he would still be able to perceive with his intellect the fact that the food is merely a limited good. He could perceive something good about the food, and something bad about it. For example, while he might perceive that it is nourishing, he also might perceive that it tastes bad. He must then make a deliberate decision, a free decision, either to bear the evil of the bad taste and eat the food for its nourishment, or to reject the good of nourishment for the fact that the evil of the bad taste outweighs it. Thus, even though he be very hungry, he could freely refuse to eat.
The reason why man is free in front of limited created goods is that his intellect is made to know universal being, and his will is made to love universal good. When something fails to be universal good, but only a limited good, the will remains free, that is, unconstrained, in front of such an object. The will may freely draw back from a good that is attractive to it in a limited manner. Martyrs, for example, have even freely drawn back from the good of preserving their natural lives in order to possess a greater good, namely God. No animal could do such a thing, for no animal could perceive the great good of possessing God. In fact, only the vision of God, who is Subsistent Being and Subsistent Good, is able to necessarily attract the attention of the human intellect and the adherence of the human will.
If we now pass to liberty in the social and political sphere, it is obvious that human beings should be free in those areas which are truly indifferent, but constrained with regard to those things which are necessary. Thus the observance of the law of God and of the natural law pertain necessarily to the common good, and consequently civil governments are duty bound to outlaw the transgressions of these laws. Men should not be “free” to disobey the law of God and the natural law. Hence murder, which is against both laws, is outlawed by the civil law. On the other hand, civil governments would exceed their authority, were they to attempt to dictate to citizens practices which are not necessarily linked to the common good, e.g., whether people should drink alcoholic beverages or not, or whether they should wear seat belts or not.
Is this the liberty that the cult of liberty strives for? Is the cult of liberty the desire to free man from the excesses of government in regulating the lives of the citizens?
No, because the facts of history tell us otherwise. The world has never known more oppressive governments or bigger governments than those which profess the cult of liberty. No governments have meddled more in the lives of their citizens. Since the abolition of the monarchies and the rise of democracies, the common man, the family and business have been subject to tyrannical oppression, emaciating taxation, as well as economic and social “engineering” which affects every aspect of life. The democracies of the past two hundred years make the most dictatorial monarchical regimes look like liberty fests. With democracy have come both liberalism and socialism, two sources of oppression for hundreds of millions of people, if not billions, over the past two hundred years.
This fact tells us that the liberty which the cult of liberty seeks is not the freedom of the common man from big, oppressive, and tyrannical governments. It is a freedom from something else which the cult of liberty seeks.
The cult of liberty in the eighteenth century is intimately associated with Freemasonry. The political and social goal of Freemasonry was and still is to “free” man from the “tyranny” of the Catholic Church and from any civil authority which does not claim to be democratic. By definition, a Church or a regime is tyrannical for the Freemason if it seeks to make dogmas or to rule without the consent of the governed. For this reason Freemasons have always detested the Roman Catholic Church, since she claims power from heaven to teach supernatural doctrines and make binding laws, all of which must be adhered to by the whole of humanity. Freemasons have similarly opposed any monarchy which did not divest itself of power (like the present British monarchy, absurd in its powerlessness). Therefore any monarch who would not cave in to their demands for socialistic democracies, where power was considered to come from the people and not from God, met with the solemn disapproval of Freemasonry. Starting with the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, they have not ceased to labor against the monarchies of Europe and elsewhere which did not conform themselves to their principles. One by one did these monarchies come down during the nineteenth century, until finally, by the end of World War I, the Austrian Emperor, the Russian Czar, and the German Kaiser collapsed as heads of state, yielding to, as always, liberal, socialistic democracies, with a curious preponderance of Jews in the government.
The motive for fighting World War I, at least according to the Allied propaganda of the time, was to “free” the world from “Czardom” and “Kaiserdom.” Wilson said that the reason why we had to enter the war against Germany was in order to “make the world safe for democracy.”
One should not infer, however, from these comments that the regimes of the monarchies of nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe were by any means perfect. The Austrian Emperor, the Czar, and the Kaiser had all given the Church considerable difficulty, but certainly no more difficulty than the liberal, socialistic democracies of France and England. Italy too had persecuted the Church, and although then a monarchy like England, was nevertheless virtually democratic, its monarch very much in the hands of the Freemasons and other similar anti-catholic secret societies. It is merely to point out that Freemasonry has a hatred for any power, ecclesiastical or civil, which claims its authority from God, and which is not somehow dependent upon the people for its power, if any. Freemasonry seeks to “free” people politically and socially from such “bonds,” so that they might enjoy the “liberty” of a democratic regime.
This hatred of Freemasonry for the papacy and for monarchy can be seen in the initiation rites of the Knight Kadosh (30°), in which the Knight is called upon to run the sword through two skulls, one bearing the papal tiara and the other the crown. The symbolism of such an act needs no comment whatsoever.
The cult of liberty has always been a favorite theme of the Freemasons. The liberty they seek is not the legitimate and due liberty from the burdensome constraints of socialistic governments, which a citizen may rightfully desire, but rather freedom from the authority of God, the “freedom” of the devil, the liberty of perdition, as Saint Augustine called it. They desire not the liberty of the sons of God, but the “liberty” which makes us slaves to sin.
The Statue of Liberty: Masonic Goddess from Top to Bottom
The maker of the statue was Freemason Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. He had already made a statue of the Freemason Marquis de Lafayette for the city of New York, for the occasion of the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Bartholdi sailed to America, at the suggestion of other Freemasons and kindred spirits in France, for the purpose of proposing the project. Although he had no drawings as he set sail, his masonic biographer says that, as he entered New York harbor, “he caught a vision of a magnificent goddess holding aloft a torch in one hand and welcoming all visitors to the land of freedom and opportunity.”
Returning to France, he managed to raise, through the help of a great deal of masonic propaganda, the sum of 3,500,000 French francs, a very large sum for the period of the 1870’s. For the face of his “Goddess of Liberty” he chose his own mother. The structural framework was provided by Freemason Gustave Eiffel, later to be famous for the 984-foot Eiffel Tower.
Although financial support for the statue was forthcoming in France, America was not willing to put up the money for the pedestal. It was Joseph Pulitzer, the owner and editor of the New York World, who managed to raise over $100,000 for the project.
On Washington’s Birthday in 1877, Congress accepted the statue as a gift from the French people. Bedloe’s Island, now Liberty Island, was chosen by General Sherman, the well-known Atlanta-burner. Meanwhile in Paris the work gradually progressed. Levi P. Morton, the then Ambassador to France, drove the first rivet. The statue was finished on May 21, 1884, and presented to Ambassador Levi Morton on July 4th of the same year by Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez canal.
On the American side, the chairman of the American committee to receive the statue contacted the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. It had been a tradition in America to have the cornerstone of major public and private buildings and monuments “consecrated” with full Masonic rites, ever since Freemason George Washington, in 1793, had personally laid the cornerstone of the Capitol, with the assistance of the Grand Lodge of Maryland. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was also laid in a Masonic ceremony.
The ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone was set for August 5, 1884. It poured rain. The decorated vessel Bay Ridge carried about a hundred Freemasons, along with some civil officials to Bedloe’s Island. Freemason Richard M. Hunt, the principal architect of the pedestal, handed the working tools to the Masonic officers.
Then Freemason Edward M. L.. Ehlers, Grand Secretary and a member of the Continental Lodge 287, read the list of items to be included in the copper box within the cornerstone: A copy of the United States Constitution; George Washington’s Farewell Address; twenty bronze medals of Presidents up through Chester A. Arthur (including Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson and Garfield, who were all Freemasons); copies of New York City newspapers; a portrait of Bartholdi; a copy of Poem on Liberty by E. R. Johnes; and a list on parchment of the Grand Lodge officers.
The traditional Masonic ceremony was observed. The cornerstone being found square, level and plumb, the Grand Master applied the mortar and had the stone lowered into place. He then struck the stone three times, and declared it duly laid. Then the elements of “consecration” were presented, corn, wine, and oil.
The “Most Worshipful” Grand Master then spoke a few words. He posed the question: “Why call upon the Masonic Fraternity to lay the cornerstone of such a structure as is here to be erected?” His answer was: “No institution has done more to promote liberty and to free men from the trammels and chains of ignorance and tyranny than has Freemasonry.”
The principal address was given by the Deputy Grand Master: “Massive as this statue is, its physical proportions sink into comparative obscurity when contrasted with the nobility of its concept. Liberty Enlightening the World! How lofty the thought! To be free, is the first, the noblest aspiration of the human breast. And it is now a universally admitted truth that only in proportion as men become possessed of liberty, do they become civilized, enlightened and useful.”
The statue arrived in dismantled pieces in June of 1885. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland (Freemason) presided over the ceremony and Freemason Henry Potter, Episcopal Bishop of New York gave the invocation. Freemason Bartholdi pulled the tricolor French flag off the statue’s face. The main address was given by Freemason Chauncey M. Depew, a United States Senator.
There is another indication that the masonic notion of liberty — freedom from the laws of God, the Church, and of legitimate civil government — has deeply influenced our culture. It is the appearance of the “Liberty Cap” on many official seals in America, as well as in the engravings of scenes of the American Revolution, dating from the eighteenth century.
The Liberty Cap is a shallow, limp cap, somewhat resembling a woolen ski cap. Its origin is in ancient times, when freed slaves would be given this sort of cap to wear as a sign of their freedom. Hence the symbolism is that the wearer is freed from some sort of slavery. Slavery to what?
In the eighteenth century, the cap was worn by radicals who were bent upon the destruction of the monarchies in favor of republican or democratic regimes, in accordance with the dictates of free-thinking and atheistic “philosophers” of the same century. It was a symbol of revolt against the existing order, and a call for a new, radical order in which power was perceived to come from the people, and not from God. A modern equivalent would be the hammer and sickle or the peace symbol of the 1960’s.
It is seen either worn on the head, usually by the Liberty Goddess (although absent from the head of the one standing in New York), or more often, it is seen sitting on the top of a pole. In its second appearance, this symbol of eighteenth century radicalism forms part of a number of seals of the United States: the seal of the States of New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, as well as that of the United States Army. It is also found on the Liberty Goddess on the Morgan Dollar (the silver dollar in circulation in the latter part of the nineteenth century) as well as on the “walking” Liberty Goddess of the mid-twentieth century half-dollar, and on the Mercury dime of the same period. (Mercury, by the way, is a favorite god in the masonic menagery of deities).
The Liberty Cap was confirmed as the symbol of radicalism in the French Revolution, when it became the fashionable attire of anyone who was in favor of the Revolution, and finally of the bloodthirsty and cruel Jacobins, the leaders of the Reign of Terror.
Needless to say, the Liberty Cap figures in a great deal of masonic symbolism. The famous “Marianne,” female symbol of the revolutionary French Republic, is of course wearing the cap. In 1884, the government in France, loaded with Freemasons, had busts made of the devilish female unabashedly wearing a masonic sash over her shoulders, bearing the three dates of glory for the wicked brotherhood: 1789, being the date of the French Revolution, 1848, and 1870, being dates of subsequent revolutions in which Freemasons and their luciferian principles came to power in what was once Catholic France. As always, Marianne had her head covered.
The Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is dripping with masonic symbolism. It can be seen on the reverse side of the dollar bill. The men who were commissioned by the Continental Congress to come up with the seal of the United States were all Freemasons: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin (who had the further distinction of being shamelessly debauched and boorishly crude). Benjamin Franklin was the chairman. After a number of models, the seal which we have today was adopted in 1782. It was Jefferson himself who placed the triangle around the all-seeing eye, added the year 1776, and E Pluribus Unum.
To accurately describe all of the masonic and occult symbolism contained in the Great Seal would require a separate article. My point here in citing the fact that there are masonic symbols on the Great Seal, is that these are a further indication of the deep influence which Masonry has had on the American culture.
Should anyone doubt that these are masonic symbols, suffice it to quote the April 1960 issue of the official masonic magazine, curiously entitled New Age:
13 leaves in the olive branches
13 bars and stripes in the shield
13 feathers in the tail
13 letters in the “E Pluribus Unum” on the ribbon
13 stars in the green crest above
32 long feathers representing 32° in Masonry
13 granite stones in the Pyramid with the Masonic “All-seeing Eye” completing it.
13 letters in Annuit Cœptis, “God has prospered.”
On the front of the dollar bill is the seal of the United States made up of a key, square, and the Scales of Justice, as well as a compass which, of course, is an important symbol of Masonry.
— James B. Walker 32°
I am afraid that not even Old Glory managed to escape the influence of the freedom-from-God principles of Freemasonry. Although the origins of the Stars and Stripes are obscure, we do know that the original use of horizontal red and white stripes was by the Protestant Dutch in their rebellion against Catholic Spain. It surfaces again on British ships, seen flying it as they were helping the French Huguenots (Protestants) against their fellow Catholic countrymen. It next surfaced as the flag of the Sons of Liberty, a radical, masonic group which put on the Boston Tea Party.
So even the flag participates historically in this culture of freeing oneself from the “slavery” of Roman Catholicism, and ultimately from any civil government which is not democratic, that is, which is not merely a functionary of the people’s will.
The American Catholic’s Problem: Cherishing Condemned Ideals
I cite these examples of the influx of masonry into our institutions to point out to the American Catholic that principles which are alien to the Catholic Faith have deeply influenced the culture in which we live. The Catholic Church in the United States had difficulty in grappling with this problem. In the nineteenth century there were two camps of clergy, the liberals and the anti-liberals, for lack of a better term. The liberals saw no problem in incorporating into Catholicism the principles of the American cult of liberty; the anti-liberals recognized the problem, and denounced them for watering down the Catholic Faith. In the end the liberals won out, particularly with the emergence of a personality like Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore. Cardinal Farley of New York and Archbishop Ireland of Saint Paul also figure prominently in the liberal camp.
By “liberal” is not meant here same thing that it means today. It meant at the turn of the century, when these men lived, a belief that the principles that animated American politics and the American mentality in general, were compatible with Catholicism. These liberals actually held up the American system of the government’s indifference to all religion as an ideal for all nations to follow. In such a system, they argued, the Church can and does flourish, for it meets with no resistance from a hostile civil government. This sounded good to many ears on this side of the Atlantic. For a century they had been hearing the horror stories from Europe of civil governments persecuting the Catholic Church. The American system of “hands off religion” just seemed better.
While it is true that the Catholic Church did flourish in this country whose government was professedly indifferent to religion, it must be said that the Church received this “freedom to flourish” at a high price. That price was the nearly complete negligence of the Church’s doctrine of union of Church and State, of the duty of governments to profess the one true faith, and to repress non-catholic religions. Catholics were told that the American system of freedom of all religions was the ideal system, and Catholics had deeply fixed in their heads the notion that you have a civil right to be a Protestant, a Jew, a Moslem or even a Satanist, since religion should have nothing to do with the state, and the state nothing to do with religion.
But this idea was condemned by Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Pius IX:
And so from this rotten source of indifferentism flows that absurd an erroneous opinion, or rather insanity, that liberty of conscience must be claimed and defended for anyone. — Pope Gregory XVI
For surely you know, Venerable Brothers, not a few are found who, applying the impious and absurd principles of naturalism, as they call it, to civil society, dare to teach that 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.” — Pope Pius IX
And also, contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture, of the Church, and of the most holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that 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.”— Pope Pius IX
And, from this wholly false idea of social organization they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and to the salvation of souls, called by Our predecessor of recent memory, Gregory XVI, insanity; namely that “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 of all manner of liberty rests in the citizens, not to be restrained either by ecclesiastical or civil authority; and that by this right they can manifest openly and publicly and declare their own concepts, whatever they may be, by voice, by print, or in any other way.”— Pope Pius IX
From these texts it is clear that the Catholic Church condemns freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Yet these “freedoms” are held as sacrosanct in the American culture. In an effort not to appear un-american, the Catholic clergy in the United States for the most part neglected these condemnations, as well as the teaching of Sacred Scripture, of the Church, and of the holy Fathers which supports them.
One searches in vain to find in Catholic catechisms before Vatican II, even on the High School level, the Church’s teaching on the duty of states to the Catholic religion. Rather most pre-Vatican II Catholic catechisms and history books are either totally silent on the subject, or actually extol the American system of indifference to all religions, and extol freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
Why was this so? Why were these teachings and condemnations purposely ignored by the Catholic clergy of this country, to the extent that students who came through twelve or sixteen years of Catholic schools knew nothing of them? The answer is that the Catholics of the nineteenth and early twentieth century felt an urgent need to convince the Protestant establishment of this country that Catholics were good Americans, and had no problem in accepting American mentality and culture. Irish, German and Italian immigrants, most of them Catholics, were eager to secure for the Church peace and prosperity in a land peopled by those who, in large degree, had fled Europe in order to get away from Catholic influence. And since the cult of freedom, the cherishing of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of conscience was paramount in the existing protestant-masonic culture of America, Catholics perceived it necessary to somehow marry their Catholicism to the cult of liberty. The result was the neglect, through nearly total silence, of very important moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It furthermore required a whitewashing, a pulling, and a stretching of historical facts and events of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in order to make them appear compatible with Catholic principles.
Archbishop Ireland, prominent at the turn of the century was the embodiment of this whole mentality. He was so imbued with these ideas that he was capable of making these statements in a speech entitled “Catholicism and Americanism,” given in Milwaukee in 1913:
Necessarily religious freedom is the basic life of America, the cement running through all its walls and battlements, the safeguard of its peace and prosperity. Violate religious freedom against Catholics: Our swords are at once unsheathed. Violate it in favor of Catholics, against non-Catholics: No less readily do they leap from the scabbard.
Had I been in his audience, I would have asked, “Your Excellency, when in sixty or seventy years, in the name of religious liberty, the enemies of the Church shall make films portraying Our Lady as a harlot and Our Lord as a fornicator, shall Catholics unsheathe their swords to protect the rights of these blasphemers to make such films?” What would this Archbishop have answered to such a question? One shudders to think. Further on he states:
Personal conscience is the ultimate asylum of the soul, in presence of civil or ecclesiastical authority. Both Americanism and Catholicism bow to the sway of personal conscience.
Bow to the sway of personal conscience? “Your Excellency, when in sixty or seventy years, in the name of freedom of conscience, women shall kill their babies in their wombs, should the civil or ecclesiastical authority bow to the sway of personal conscience?” It is unbelievable that a Catholic bishop, living in 1913, could utter such words. What is the purpose of the authority of the Church, if it must bow to the sway of personal conscience? Such an idea is thoroughly protestant and masonic in origin. It is to this very principle, that the personal conscience is higher than the authority of the Church, that Luther made appeal in his heresy and revolt against the Catholic Church.
In another place the same Archbishop says:
Would we alter, if we could, the Constitution in regard to its treatment of religion, the principles of Americanism in regard to religious freedom? I answer with an emphatic No.
No? “Your Excellency, would we not be obliged, as Catholics, to desire the public and legal recognition of the Roman Catholic Church as the one true Church of Christ?” This question he answers:
Do we, however, demand special privileges not accorded to other citizens of America? No — never — no more than we would allow others special privileges not accorded to ourselves — less even than we would allow such privileges to others. If the members of a Church, or a religious or semi-religious organization of any kind, arises in America calling for special privileges, be the shame of un-Americanism their portion. Such a contention will never be the disgrace of Catholicism.
Disgrace of Catholicism? To ask that Our Lord Jesus Christ the King and His Church be given the public and legal recognition that is due to them is the disgrace of Catholicism? Rather Archbishop Ireland is the disgrace of Catholicism.
It is impossible to reconcile these statements with the condemnations of Pope Pius IX, which I cited above. He condemned, with his apostolic authority, the proposition that 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. Archbishop Ireland would completely agree with this condemned statement.
The awful problem is that Archbishop Ireland was not just a “kook,” but represented a whole system of thought very popular among much of the Catholic clergy in America. This marriage of Catholicism and the cult of liberty would win out, until finally it was sanctioned as “Catholic doctrine” at Vatican II in the document Dignitatis Humanć. It is not surprising that the document was prepared by American priests, and won the support of the American bishops as a whole, Cardinal Spellman in the lead. Archbishop Ireland’s disgraceful compromise of Catholic doctrine had won the day in the Vatican basilica.
It is precisely this doctrine of religious liberty which throws the wrench into Vatican II. To be sure this wicked assembly had produced other heretical doctrines, even more profound and far-reaching than this one. Religious Liberty has the distinction, however, of being specifically condemned by Pope Pius IX. As a result the Catholic conscience is perplexed: do I listen to the apostolic authority of Pope Pius IX, who tells me that religious liberty is an insanity, a monstrous error, an error most fatal to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls? Or do I listen to the “apostolic authority” of Vatican II, which tells me that religious liberty is a right which every human person possesses in virtue of his human dignity, a right “which is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself?” (Dignitatis Humanć, no. 2. It says further on, “This doctrine of freedom is rooted in divine revelation, and for this reason Christians are bound to respect it all the more conscientiously.”) Upon this dilemma, this contradiction, is based the whole problem of Vatican II.
It is here necessary to distinguish between religious liberty and religious toleration. Religious liberty is that doctrine which asserts that each man has the right to profess and practice that religion which to him seems fit, according to the dictates of his conscience. Religious toleration is that doctrine which asserts that a civil society may morally tolerate within its walls, when a sufficient reason warrants it, the evil that some of its citizens profess and practice false (i.e., non-catholic) religions. A sufficient reason for the toleration of so great an evil would be the avoidance of a greater evil, of which an example would be civil war. The very term toleration implies evil, and we are therefore not speaking about a right to profess the false religion, since all right is founded in God. It is inconceivable that God would grant someone the right to be wrong: the right, for example, to say that His Immaculate Mother is a harlot, or that Christ is an adulterer.
The Church has always recognized the prudence of toleration in certain circumstances, and the situation of the United States is certainly one of those circumstances. Pope Leo XIII teaches:
Although the Church pronounces the judgment that different worships cannot stand on the same footing of equality with the true religion, yet she does not therefore condemn those rulers who, inview of procuring a great good or of avoiding evil, tolerate in practce the coexistence of different worships.
Spread out over a vast territory and encompassing myriad religions, the government of the United States may prudently tolerate many religions.
But religious toleration does not dispense a government from the obligation to profess the one true Faith, and to recognize Christ as the one true God and the Roman Catholic Church as His one true Church.
In this lies the key error of the liberty-cultists: they extol not the prudence of religious toleration in order to avoid a civil war, but rather they extol the very indifference of the government to religion altogether, as if this indifference were one of the great virtues of the Constitution. They extol the right of each man to open his mouth and say whatever he pleases, to write (or make a film about) whatever he pleases, to believe and practice whatever religion he pleases. This, according to the liberty-cultist, is the right ordering of society. Under the monarchies, when the Catholic Church was recognized as the one true religion, human beings were “oppressed.”
Liberty as an End in Itself
As I said earlier, the Catholic Church was never a foe of liberty, but to the contrary, was a staunch defender of the doctrine of free will against many nay-sayers. Nor did it ever favor tyrants or oppressive regimes. A pope even admonished St. Louis, King of France, in the height of the “oppressive” Middle Ages, against being too severe in the punishment of blasphemers.
Where the Church and the liberty-cultists disagree is in this: the Church teaches that human liberty is a means to an end, whereas the liberty-cultists see human liberty as an end in itself.
The Church teaches that liberty or human free will is a faculty of which the purpose is to choose the good means to a pre-determined end. The end is already set for us: the universal good, which is none other than God. The means to that end is the observance of the law of God: the eternal law, the natural law, the Ten Commandments, the laws of Christ, the moral law, the laws of the Church. It is the function of our free wills, as intended by God, to freely elect to obey these laws so that we attain the end that is set for us. When I say “freely elect,” I do not mean that it is optional for us to choose to obey them or not. I mean that we are meant to follow them by free election of them, and not by mere mechanics or instinct, as other creatures follow the laws set down by God. God has so ordained it, since He is more glorified by a creature’s love of Him rather than by a mere mechanical or instinctive obedience to his law, as in the case of rocks and animals.
It is therefore a defect of liberty that we are capable of failing to choose the correct means to our end. Liberty cannot be defined, then, as the ability to choose between good and evil, for if that were its definition, we would have to say that God is not free, since He cannot choose evil.
The liberty-cultists have an altogether different view of liberty. They have substituted human liberty for God. The end of man, for them, is to be free. It does not matter what he is doing, as long as he is doing it freely, and without constraint. “Freedom of choice” is the greatest quality of human beings, springing from his very dignity as a human person, and must be safeguarded at all costs. Freedom therefore becomes no longer a faculty of choosing a means to an end, but becomes the end itself.
If we substitute the word “eating” for “freedom,” we will see how absurd this notion is. The ability to eat and digest is a faculty of nourishment for human beings. Our eating is morally good if it is ordered to a good end; morally bad if ordered to a bad end. If we eat good food in moderation, then the exercise of our faculty of eating participates in the goodness of the end, which is the health of the body. If, on the other hand, we are eating something bad for us, or something good in excess, then our eating becomes morally evil, since it participates in that evil end. But imagine if someone said, “It doesn’t matter what you’re eating or how much you’re eating, what is good is that you are eating.”
In the absurdity of this example can be seen the absurdity of liberalism: man’s free choice is the highest good; what he chooses to do is secondary. What is paramount is that he is freely choosing to do what he is doing.
The Cult of Liberty: Recipe for Moral Breakdown
The only constraints which liberty-cultists will place upon their freedom-goddess, is that of preventing people from murdering or stealing from other people, at least for now. I say “at least for now,” since we already have legalized murder in the form of abortion.
For we have seen, one by one, the constraints of law that were in place in the United States or in other countries even fifty years ago, be dissolved in the name of liberty of choice. In the 1920’s for example, a druggist could be arrested if he sold birth-control devices or chemicals. Now he might be arrested if he does not, and these wicked instruments of the devil are advertised on television alongside corn flakes and dish detergent, and are found prominently displayed in drugstores right next to the aspirin and shampoo, so that lusty teenagers can come in and grab them up without delay or inhibition.
In the name of liberty, mothers can walk into an abortion clinic more easily than they can go to their hairdressers, and kill their babies. I think that twenty-five million or so is the last count. Again, fifty years ago they would have been arrested and prosecuted, and the abortionists with them.
Even in cases of divorce in this Protestant country, it had to be proven that there was a “sufficient cause.” Divorce, although legal, was considered fifty years ago to be scandalous, even among Protestants. For Catholics it was non-existent. Today there is no-fault.
Fifty years ago, you could be arrested for homosexual behavior or for wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. Just recently San Francisco passed an ordinance forbidding discrimination against transvestites. That means that if the vice-president of your company decides he wants to wear a dress, lipstick, perfume, and high-heels, there is nothing you can do about it. I wonder if Freemason Patrick Henry had that in mind when he said “Give me liberty or give me death!”
The reason why these constraints were in place fifty or so years ago is that the population was naturally conservative, and illogically insisted on these constraints. I say “illogically,” since, once you posit the principles of the cult of liberty, there is nothing to stop the freedom of choice of anything. If one were to cite the natural law against the abortionists, the homosexuals, the divorced, or the birth-control users, they would simply respond, “We don’t believe in the natural law.”
The liberty-cultist can make no answer to this, for, according to the principles of freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, people have a civil right to reject the natural law. They have a civil right to profess atheism, to say that Our Lady was a harlot, and our Lord a fornicator, that children may be killed in their mothers’ wombs, that homosexuality is just as good as heterosexuality, that it does not matter how you dress, whether like a man or like a woman — whatever you feel like putting on that day. What law can the liberty-cultist cite against them, if, for two hundred years the gospel of liberty of conscience, of religion, of speech and of the press has been preached everywhere as the highest and most ennobling qualities of human life?
One could perhaps object here that neither American culture nor the American Constitution intends such an abuse of human liberty, but strives to uphold only those liberties which are true and good. This argument is what the conservative objects to the liberal who throws the cult of liberty into the conservative’s face.
But where is the foundation of such an objection? Where is it stated in the Constitution or in any monumental document of the United States of America that the freedoms guaranteed to its citizens must be limited by the eternal law of God, or the natural law? Where is there a single mention of Our Lord Jesus Christ in any of these documents?
Where does it say in the American Constitution that the natural law exists, and that Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are bound to observe the natural law in their acts of lawmaking, law enforcement, and interpretation of law, respectively? Nowhere. These three entities are three free agents, bound by no law, but are laws unto themselves.
No, the conservative’s attempt to limit the freedom so cherished by American culture is spurious. Freedom of religion means that you have the right to worship whatever god you want, even Satan. Freedom of speech means that you have the right to say whatever you want, even blasphemy. Freedom of the press means that you have the right to print whatever you want, even pornography, blasphemy, and heresy. Neither Congress nor any state legislature can put a clamp on these things logically, since such a restraint would be an arbitrary denial of someone’s right to a freedom.
The effects of this cult of liberty are disastrous. For as long as the American people were naturally conservative, moral, and religious, they agreed enough about moral and religious issues at least to hold back the tide of most serious evils. It is these days, the days before the 1960’s, or even better before Roosevelt, that most American conservatives dream about when they form their political views. But those days are over. We now live in the reign of Satan, in which people have handed themselves over to indescribable debauchery, wanton disregard for the laws of God and even of the natural law, and to a selfishness and cold-heartedness that justifies the killing of unwanted babies. There is no possible way in which this godless population is going to put back in place the restrictions which were in place fifty years ago. The only thing that the conservative can hope for is a moral reawakening of the United States.
What supports this fact is the so-called “conservative” upsurge recently in this country has focused nearly entirely on economic issues. They are going to “dismantle the welfare state.” Bravo, but what about dismantling abortion? Gay rights? Birth control pills and devices? Sex education? Dirty movies and TV? Women’s liberation? Secular humanism in the schools? These are the true plagues of American society, not high taxes or welfare, and these diseases are the effect of the general breakdown of the morals of the people. And the problem is that these infections cannot be eradicated legally and logically except by some principle, a principle which restricts human freedom only to those objects which are good. For as long as the cult of liberty is in place, these and the many other noxious influences in our daily lives must continue under the banner of protecting human liberty.
That principle which is so badly needed is the law of God. But since Congress is obliged never to establish a religion, it cannot even apply the Ten Commandments to our lives, it cannot even mention Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, and least of all the Roman Catholic Church. No, our country is condemned to worshipping the masonic Liberty Goddess, and thereby to fall headlong into moral corruption and finally destruction.
A Truly Catholic Politic
I do not mean to deter people from actively pursuing the suppression of abortion and the removal of other liberal influences in their lives. Nevertheless, I think that the Catholic should understand the political and moral principles which are at play in the American culture. There is not a permanent peace of law and order to be hoped for, for as long as the cult of liberty dominates the mentality of the American people, or the people of any other nation, for that matter. I do not think that American Catholic conservatives should hold up, as an ideal, the very system of the cult of liberty which gave us this dreadful problem, which gave us abortion, gay rights, sex education, pornography and the rest of it.
The only truly Catholic stance in politics is to desire a Constitution for one’s country which recognizes Our Lord Jesus Christ as King and the Roman Catholic Church as the one, true Church of Christ, and which submits the nation to the laws of Christ as promulgated by His Church. As distant and impossible as this state of affairs may seem, it must nevertheless, by definition, be the Catholic’s ideal — by definition, since a Catholic would not be a Catholic unless he desired such a state of affairs for his country.
Anything less than such a state of affairs is not an ideal, but a mere half a loaf, which, although better than none, still does not measure up. Most of all, Catholic politics should bitterly oppose any system of government which makes a cult of human liberty and places on a pedestal the indifference of the state toward religion. For such a system leads logically to exactly what we have today: moral anarchy. And if you read what communists in the 1920’s and 1930’s intended, it was just that, a system of anarchy, and we are there or almost there.
Far from losing hope and energy, however, Catholics should strive as much as they can to hold the line of moral rectitude in local and national laws. Although logically the cult of liberty leads to moral anarchy, it is nevertheless true that people are not always consistent and logical. Strong pressure from Catholics and from others, who at least believe in the natural law, could effectively bring about significant changes in favor of good. My only concern is that the Catholic mind be not poisoned by protestant and masonic ideals concerning human liberty and the secularistic, non-religious state.
And while we are on the subject, I would like to take the opportunity to say a word of caution about a well-known national “conservative” radio talk-show host. While his comments about liberals are definitely amusing, what bothers me about him is that he has a dirty mind, and jokes about filthy matters in a most disgusting manner. He is divorced twice, and married three times, which is not my idea of a “conservative.” What I also notice is that most of the moral issues for him are on the back burner, while the economic issues are for the really hot topics. He represents, unfortunately, the state of many conservatives: people who are as morally bankrupt as liberals, but who simply want to keep the government out of their pursuit of money and success. He is also alarmingly “one-worldy” on many issues. My fear is that he is going to educate the conservative into being someone like himself: a liberty-cultist to the fingertips, morally trashed, and an egotist trying to keep government out of his way in this pursuit of happiness, consisting of money, prestige, and success.
An Objection: America-Bashing?
I must now deal with the objection that I have been engaging in America-bashing. The very term implies that there is nothing seriously wrong in the American system. It implies that, in itself, America is great and fine, and that its problems stem only from the fact the American people, politicians in particular, have strayed from the original American ideal.
But I do say that there is something seriously flawed in the American system, because it is a country which is professedly religion-less. It prides itself on being religion-less. It prides itself on the fact that its laws are regulated by no superior principle. It prides itself on the fact that it will not recognize Our Lord Jesus Christ as King. This, to me, is an abomination, and is a quality which it shares with the howling mob of faithless Jews in Pilate’s courtyard.
Even pagan and cowardly Pilate had the guts, however, to place the inscription upon the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. And when chief priests objected, claiming that it should say instead, “He said, I am King of the Jews,” obviously to protect the religious liberty of Judaism, Pilate had the guts to say to them, “What I have written, I have written.” It was an eloquent and very Roman way of telling them to shut up.
So also I think that Americans should write the inscription above America, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the United States of America. And when accused of America-bashing (for it is a slap in the face to the Liberty Goddess), I think that they should have the guts to respond, “What we have written, we have written.” For it is in no way contrary to the justice owed to one’s country to point out its faults, particularly those systemic faults which would bring about its destruction. On the other hand, it would be a sin to love, either in an individual or a country, that which is sinful in it, that which is not of God in it. No one will ever convince me that the indifference of American government and American culture to God is something pleasing to Him.
Leo XIII said it:: “A society well regulated without religion is impossible.”
Everyone should be devoted to his homeland as the source of many good things in his life. A country is an extension of one’s family, and should therefore always be treated with respect, love, loyalty, and admiration. But just as it is a duty of charity to point out to members of one’s family their serious faults, so is it a duty of charity to point out the serious faults of one’s country. One such fault of America — and of every other Western nation — is that it glories in its indifference to Christ the King. Catholics cannot relegate this glaring defect to being a mere misdemeanor of politics, but must desire for their countries what their Catholic Faith desires: the repudiation of the masonic cult of liberty, and the public recognition of Christ the King and of His Holy Catholic Church.
(Sacerdotium 14, Spring 1995).