Rorate Caeli

The Unbelievable Post-Conciliar World
Bishops against constitutional declaration of their nation as "Christian"

Before Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae:

Rather do We pledge to you anew the renewed efforts of all Our Catholic children in the building up of the Christian Nation of Zambia, by their ever more generous contributions towards the religious, social and cultural progress of its citizens.
Paul VI
November 7, 1964 

After Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae:

[Aug. 20, 2012] Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops of Zambia hope that the current process of constitutional revision is successful after the previous three unsuccessful attempts to write a new Constitution.

In a document sent to the technical committee in charge of writing the new Constitution (which was sent to Fides Agency), the Bishops present some contributions which in their view should become part of the new Charter. First, it rejects the introduction of rules that provide for death penalty and abortion.

"In the preamble, the declaration that Zambia is a Christian nation should be omitted" the document states. "That is because - explain the Bishops - a Country cannot practice the values and precepts of Christianity, by a mere declaration. The principle of separation between State and Religion must not be lost. If Zambia is a multi-religious Country, a fact that was recognized in the preamble of the first draft of the Technical Committee, to say that Zambia is a Christian nation would be in contradiction with this fact."

A Constitution does not have to be merely descriptive of a unanimous sentiment - it can be aspirational. There is nothing wrong with describing in law a Christian-majority nation, marked by Christian values, as a "Christian nation", and the legal position of non-Christian minorities need not be affected by it. Was it not merely a few years ago that the Holy See did all it could to include a mere mention of the "Christian roots" of Europe in the draft of a Constitution for the European Union?  (A failed attempt, certainly, but then the text went down in flames in the French and Dutch referendums before being reworked as the Treaty of Lisbon, still with no "Christian roots"...)

If some political forces wish to lead the charge against this (which is not the case), that would be quite fine, but it should not be the bishops. The crisis of the Church truly is a crisis of bishops...


  1. Godefridus10:31 AM

    I'm sure that these bishops -- unlike those of the SSPX -- are perfectly orthodox and in perfect communion with Rome.

  2. Hammer11:25 AM

    With all due respect, RC, let's not let Pope Paul VI off the hook too easily and leave the wrong impression as though he was the mightiest of warriors for the Social Reign and Kingship of Christ.

    He, of course, was the pope who promulgated both DH and GS. And let's not forget an excerpt from his parting, final words at the Glorious Council:

    "In your earthly and temporal city, God constructs mysteriously His spiritual and eternal city, His Church. And what does this Church ask of you after close to 2,000 years of experiences of all kinds in her relations with you, the powers of the earth? What does the Church ask of you today? She tells you in one of the major documents of this council. She asks of you only liberty, the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love her God and serve Him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life. "

  3. Disgusted with them all.11:50 AM

    Well...they have a Pope. Let him speak!

  4. CredoUtIntelligam12:46 PM

    I also note the categorical rejection of the death penalty. While the "hermeneutics of continuity" tells us Evangelium Vitae "developed" traditional teaching by supporting a ban in certain circumstances, the clear message on the death penalty is that the Church is now in favor of a categorical ban. This is the view advocated in nearly every issue of my diocesan newspaper. Capital punishment and abortion are considered equally wrong--note how both are rejected together in the article above.

  5. NIANTIC12:50 PM

    Thank you, dear bishops of Zambia, for standing up firmly to eliminate any reference to Christ and/or Christianity. Eventhough He may be the Son of God and the Creator of all, He definately should not be referred to in any way in your new Constitution. After all, the other religions also contain truth and God loves everybody. So why hurt the feelings of all the other good and sincere people in your country. Bravo, bishops, you are finally standing up proudly against something. Actually, why don't you just crucify Christ and be done with the whole thing?

  6. It seems pretty like the Irish when they rewrote their constitution almost twenty years ago including their preamble. All the beautifully worded assertions of their Catholic identity as a nation was completely deleted and rewritten as some common secular government document.

    Is it difficult to phathom when people remove identity with God, remove acknowledgement of Him, God withdraws various graces from that person or entity? These things have consequential reactions, especially when bishops have a hand in it. Woe to those bishops.

  7. Godefridus said "I'm sure that these bishops--unlike those of the SSPX--are perfectly orthodox and in perfect communion with Rome."

    Yes, no need to sign any preamble asserting their such adherence. Their behavior says it so well.

  8. OutsideObserver1:07 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. OutsideObserver1:08 PM

    One of the most persistent illusions in much of neo-con Catholicism is that the rot is isolated in Western Europe and North America, while the Church in Asia and Africa is healthy and 'uncontaminated' and proves that Vatican II is "successful"!

    This should wake neo-con Catholics from their delusions.

  10. Hammer1:24 PM


    Wake neo-con Catholics up from their delusions? Surely, you know better than that!

  11. Cosmos2:01 PM

    I am not sure what is going on here, so this could be off-topic...

    If a country is not Christian, but multi-cultural, and does not even attempt to create a legal regime in line with Christian values, should it still declare itself a Christian nation? I am not sure if that would give Glory to God.


  12. The whole "neo-con" Catholic thing is, frankly, ridiculous.

    1. It uses political labels--often inaccurate and coined by the opposition--to discuss the household of the Faithful, a supernatural reality.

    2. Those in the Church should not label and reject, but in charity correct and encourage, dictated by humilty and truth.

    3. St. Paul can't be happy when Neo-cons dismiss Trads, and Trads dimiss Neo-cons. Vide: 1 Cor 1:13.

    4. I am not, by these points, saying there aren't fellow Catholics who have wrong ideas, about the Mass, Tradition, Vatican II, etc.

    5. Because Bob next door is a heretic, I get to ignore the express intent of the Holy Father?
    Yes, SSPX is Roman Catholic, but the forgoing logic isn't logical!

  13. @ Hammer who stated:
    "With all due respect, RC, let's not let Pope Paul VI off the hook too easily and leave the wrong impression as though he was the mightiest of warriors for the Social Reign and Kingship of Christ.
    He, of course, was the pope who promulgated both DH and GS."

    If I might presume to come to NC's defense, it is precisely because of what you correctly state about Pope Paul VI that quoting him to expose these Zambian bishops is so appropriate.

    If the Pope responsible for such a liberalization and practical water-down of the Social Kingship of Christ called bishops to promote the Christian identity of their nation, what excuse can these bishops have?

  14. Cosmos, brilliant point. Kind of like every tin-horn dictatorship being called "The People's Democratic Republic" of something

  15. J. G. Ratkaj2:36 PM

    The post-conciliar prelature manoeuvres without cease the church to mere insignificance. They made themselves welcome as a meaningless NGO among one of many.

  16. Picard2:50 PM

    Don´t forget:
    It was the VATICAN after the Council (resp. DH) that demanded - as the bishops here in Zambia - that Catholic states or states with real privileges for the Catholic Church, as f.e. Columbia, the Wallis, Spain or Italy, changed their constitutions to become neutral states!!

    So nothing new under the sun..! And so you see the concrete hermeneutics.

  17. The death penalty is not evil. Christ advised that a millstone around the neck and a tossing into the sea would be better than to scandalize "these little ones". God does not advise to sin.

  18. Picard2:59 PM

    ...So the crisis of the bishops is also a crisis of Vat. II and the popes. It´s a crisis of the whole hierarchy since the end-50ies - and yes, therefore mainly of the bishops since then (and also some years before).

  19. That is correct, MKT.


  20. Before some other nonsensical comment speaks about "triumphalism", let us put things in perspective: this is NOT about declaring Catholicism the official religion, about establishing a church, about declaring the Social Kingship of the Lord, or any similar matter - it is a simple, gentle declaration of fact that the nation is a Christian nation, which already exists in the current Constitution (1996). As it happens in any preamble, it is a statement of intention, a declaration of the nation's spirit, but EVEN THAT IS TOO MUCH FOR THESE BISHOPS. It is just astonishing.


  21. Peter4:21 PM

    The crisis in the Church goes back to the early twentieth century, at least.

    Why was Pope St. Pius X so concerned about the danger of Modernism ? Does anyone really believe Liberalism is a recent thing ? And Freemasonry ? And the errors of the French revolution ? Today, these things are alive and well, and doing their work within the Church.

    Oh, to most of us, things seemed normal enough as late as the 1950s, but the Liturgical Movement had been hi-jacked long before that.

    So when Pope John XXIII announced his Council, a project born in optimism and naivety, the heretics were ready.

    The results are all around us now.

  22. ... it is a simple, gentle declaration of fact that the nation is a Christian nation, which already exists in the current Constitution (1996). As it happens in any preamble, it is a statement of intention, a declaration of the nation's spirit ...

    The question is whether that is a true declaration of the nation's spirit today. I confess my ignorance -- are the majority of Zambians Christian?

  23. Yes, most Zambians are baptized, one third Catholic.

  24. Then I agree that the bishops' stance is ludicrous and shameful.

  25. AboveEveryOtherName6:00 PM

    I agree w/the bishops that you cannot say you are "pro-abortion" and Christian at the same time. Unfortunately, the hierarchy appears to disagree w/me: for instance Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy (who had 3 cardinals dancing at his funeral), Ed Kmeic, CRS, Chief Justice Roberts, and now Paul Ryan all call themselves Catholic but support abortion in one way or another (+decriminalization of contraception, divorce, pornography, fornication (living together), homosexuality (gay marriage), obscenity broadcast laws, while criminalizing prayer, teaching creation, death penalty (judgment/hell) and "civil" protest of homosexuality, abortion, etc.). These things are not Christian even though in the West we have become accustomed to thinking that they are. Christianity is NOT a MEANINGLESS declaration of "spirit" or "intent" - although that is what passes for Christianity in the VCII church and what Cardinal Dolan et. al. let pass to the priesthood and communion table. You may disagree w/the reasoning behind the Zambian bishops' declaration (i.e. because all religions are equal); nevertheless Zambia should not use the Lord's name in vain (and neither should others who are "Christians" in name only).

  26. Adeodatus6:49 PM

    How could anyone, meditating upon the sweetness and goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ, abandon in any way the zeal for His Name?

    It boggles the mind.

  27. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Above, Paul Ryan is a solid pro-lifer. If you are referring to the statement by the Romney campaign that their administration would support abortion in times of rape, he's the running mate, not the top of the ticket. You can't smear him personally with that stance, it's not his to decide.

  28. Credo9:21 PM

    "So when Pope John XXIII announced his Council...the heretics were ready."

    With the permission of Almighty God who justly chastises His Church for rejecting the gracious assistance of His holy Mother.

  29. How could anyone, meditating upon the sweetness and goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ, abandon in any way the zeal for His Name?

    Adeodatus, well said.

    The Zambian bishops, in abandoning the true Christian zeal for the Holy Name of Jesus, take refuge in the truism that "a Country cannot practice the values and precepts of Christianity, by a mere declaration." To which we retort: a bishop who is afraid to declare his zeal for Our Lord Jesus Christ before secular rulers has joined the coward Peter in denying Our Lord outside the praetorium. Let us pray that such bishops learn the faith and courage of the same Peter, who finally gave the witness of his blood for Jesus. "Peter do you love me?" "Lord you know that I love you!" May the Zambian bishops' denial be atoned by a greater act of love.

  30. Logico12:50 AM

    Mike, regarding your words about the use of the terms "neocon" or "neocath," the truth is that the use of these terms is most just. This article makes an excellent case for them:

  31. Gregorian Mass1:35 AM

    It is so plain to see the Church is slowly turning its' back on itself and entire past...I am astonished...It has been foretold and that is what makes it the more unbelievable that so many take part in the process. Bishop against Bishop, Priest against Priest, so many against the Papacy. Enduring is the saddness of most every thought of Pope Paul VI's Pontificate.

  32. David of Glasgow8:33 AM


    It was the VATICAN after the Council (resp. DH) that demanded...

    Do you have evidence that this is the case?

  33. I am sure they will receive the congratulations of the EU.


  34. Logico,

    Thanks. I will read it.

  35. Well certainly things are confused in North Rhodesia. The Chinese are turning it into a colony and despise their African workers...mmm. I wonder if they as Communists have had a hand in this?

  36. Aphrahat1:38 PM

    From Bl. Pope Pius IX's "Syllabus of Errors":

    "[It is an error that] the Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Chutch."

    Perhaps someone should print off a copy of the Syllabus of Errors and post it to these errant bishops. It won't take them more than 10 minutes to read through.

  37. Peter M6:32 PM

    Just some statistics: There are dioceses in Zambia. Two are vacant, four have bishops ordained during the previous pontificate (in 1985, 1987, 1999, 2002)the remaining five have bishops ordained during this pontificate (in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2011).

  38. Picard12:47 PM

    Peter (21 August, 2012 16:21):

    Yes, exactly!

    David of G:

    Yes, I have.

    (I know, this answer is not enough :-) - but sorry, I am too busy to check out all the facts and quotes now - perhaps I´ll find some time the next days)

  39. Alsaticus11:28 PM

    This episcopal statement is indeed ludicrous and scandalous but there is no need to put the blame on Gaudium et spes (which is not dealing with this) and even D.H. which is allowing a Christian state provided the religious freedom is secured (this is the case in Zambia). The statement of the bishops is gravely erroneous including for post-Vatican II Church.

    i agree that the crisis of the Church is primarily a bishop crisis. We have to realize that alas pope Benedict XVI has done little to change this terrible situation. A couple of good new bishops appointed in a few countries but we are far from what is necessary.
    This Zambian case gives another example : a majority of Benedict appointed bishops are signing up this preposterous statement.


  40. You're somewhat mistaken, Alsaticus: GS's mistaken optimism and idealism are related to all such things, even if not dealing specifically with them.

  41. TradDadof412:55 AM

    there is a real issue with the confusion around what a Catholic must believe, or is at liberty to believe, concerning the death penalty.

    a Catholic politician in California is campaigning to end the death penalty by referendum next month. He is claiming an interesting hermeneutic:

    In 1978, the church didn't offer much of a guidance on it. It wasn't until about 1981 when the church actually came out with some true guidance on the death penalty. And over the years they - one of the prayers of the church is to end the death penalty throughout the world."


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