Rorate Caeli

Remembering Vehementer Nos: the French Law of Separation and Saint Pius X (2) - On the day of Our Lady of Lourdes, lessons for the present

Part (1) here.

France has lived through three great ages in its relations to the Catholic Church: (1) Official Catholicism (disregarding the upheavals of the 1789-1801 period); (2) the period of the Concordat (1801-1905); and (3) the current period of absolute separation. The first was the long period between the baptism of Clovis and the Revolution. There were, naturally, many sub-periods within this 1200-year-long age, periods of clashes, and difficulties, as well as periods in which the strength of the Burgundian sap of Cluny and Cîteaux fortified the whole Church, and the Gothic of Île-de-France defined Christian beauty throughout the West, and the Latin Quarter was the beacon of good and orthodox Theology, from Scandinavia to Portugal.

The latter part of this period was, of course, marked by the great divisions caused by the Reformation, by the Huguenote revolts, the Edict of Nantes, the Edit of Fontainebleau, and the new laws of religious tolerance given by Louis XVI.

After the Revolution, catastrophic for Catholicism in France (which never fully recovered from the persecutions and expropriations of the ten-year-long suffering), First-Consul Napoleon Bonaparte negotiated with the emissaries of Pope Pius VII the terms of the Concordat of 1801 (whose protection clauses were somewhat extended to Protestants and Jews by the Assembly in parallel laws).

The 19th century was quite glorious for a Catholicism which had been almost killed by the Anti-Catholic Revolution. So many saints, so many names, so many glorious events, the end of Gallicanism and Jansenism. It was, above all, a Marian century for France. Pope Pius XII remembers it:

In many ways the nineteenth century was to become, after the turmoil of the Revolution, a century of Marian favors. To mention but a single instance, everyone is familiar today with the "miraculous medal." This medal, with its image of "Mary conceived without sin," was revealed to a humble daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul whom We had the joy of inscribing in the catalogue of Saints, and it has spread its spiritual and material wonders everywhere.
A few years later, from February 11 to July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary was pleased, as a new favor, to manifest herself in the territory of the Pyrenees to a pious and pure child of a poor, hardworking, Christian family. "She came to Bernadette," We once said. "She made her her confidante, her collaboratrix, the instrument of her maternal tenderness and of the merciful power of her Son, to restore the world in Christ through a new and incomparable outpouring of the Redemption." (Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Le Pèlerinage de Lourdes)

The second Empire of Napoleon III came down in flames in 1870 and the Empire troops did not even try to save the remains of the Papal States, whose protection had been guaranteed by the French Emperor. The Third Republic came to power filled with Anti-Christian elements and soon the Church and its position, legally binding under the Concordat of 1801, would be under attack -- the period of "Republican mercy" may have been caused by the painful upheaval of the Paris Commune, which had left so much Catholic blood in the streets of the French Capital.

Leo XIII tried to appease the anti-Christian elements of the Third Republic, more forcefully in the 1890s, especially by making clear that Catholicism should not be considered inherently monarchist and that Catholics should not simply oppose the new regime: a policy which became known as the Ralliement, embodied in his encyclical "Au Milieu des Sollicitudes".

Pope Leo's intention was noble: he wanted to protect the Church in France and prevent a bloody struggle. But, unfortunately, the anti-Christian forces in France were not willing to reach his extended hand -- and the backlash would have to be faced by his successor, Saint Pius X, whose first step was the mighty Encyclical Vehementer Nos, signed exactly 100 years ago today, on February 11, 1906 (more on the Encyclical itself in the third and last part of the series).


There are many lessons from the Ralliement of Pope Leo XIII for our days.

One hundred years after the government of the French Republic unilaterally and violently broke the commitments of the French State to the Catholic Church by approving the Law of Separation, causing the righteous reaction of that holy pontiff, Saint Pius X, the same Anti-Christian elites want to show once again to the Holy See who rules Europe.

In 2005, the Holy See signed with the Republic of Slovakia a concordat (or, more precisely, an additional treaty on the rights of conscience -- the whole text is available here).

The ratification of this treaty has been blocked by the anti-Christian forces of our age -- represented in Europe by the European Union, whose "experts" on "human rights" ascertained that objection of conscience is unacceptable if it may infringe the "fundamental human right" of abortion. The EU-experts text is available here.

The minority government was under such great pressure that it finally fell under the force of the European abortion lobby. One important fact must be clear: the liberalization of abortion in the country was not the issue -- abortion has been freely available in that nation since Communist rule --, but merely a treaty which tried to protect conscientious objection.

So, what is the Ralliement of our age? For fifty years, especially since the Council, the Church has given its blessing to the United Nations and to the several regional political groups, particularly the European Union. The concept of a free-trade area in Western Europe, especially between France and Germany, as a peace-inducing instrument and as a bulwark against Communism, was good -- but it quickly became more than that. In the past two decades, in particular, the EU has become a mere instrument OF the Anti-Christian forces (read more in the Brussels Journal) -- this while Islam procedes in its almost inexorable demographical conquest of the continent.

The same, naturally, can be said of the United Nations. Its peace-keeping mission is inconsequential-- but it has been achieving great success in promoting abortion and other grave crimes as "human rights" throughout the world. It has become, and unfortunately there really is no better word, an evil organization. And, just as it was unwise to reason with the forces of evil of the Third Republic in France, it is unwise to reason with them today.

1 comment:

Iosephus said...

Very good remarks, New Catholic.