Rorate Caeli

On the Eve of The Feast of Christ the King, 2021 - Part XVII - The Council and the Eclipse of God – Part 3 of Chapter 4 on Religious Liberty: Christ the King (a)


In this installment, divided into two parts because of its rich and lengthy content,  Don Pietro analyzes the Council’s underhanded suppression of the Kingship of Christ and the Feast of Christ the King, established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and  promulgated in his memorable and most beautiful encyclical Quas Primas.   First, Don Pietro examines the silence of the Council’s documents on this Feast  and second, its obfuscation  through the changes made in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours as regards scripture readings, prayers and hymns and in the process, cancelling the many references to Our Lord’s Kingship. This was all accomplished  through duplicity and dishonesty and has led to the uncrowning of Christ the King and His Social Kingship.  To quote Pope Pius XI  'At the last judgment, Christ will accuse those who have expelled Him from public life and will have the most terrible vengeance from such an outrage.' Part (b) to this installment will be posted tomorrow. F.R.

Christ the King of Sorrows

by William Shakespeare Burton 

(United Kingdom, 1830-1916)  

Bach Chorale from St. John’s Passion
Ah, great king, great in all ages,
How can I make my faithfulness in any way adequate?
No human heart can conceive
what gift is fit to offer you.
My mind cannot imagine
what can be compared to your mercy.
How then can I match your loving deeds
by anything I do ?

 (The Monteverdi Choir, The English Baroque Soloists, Directed by John Eliot Gardiner)

 1.     Christ the King


Exaltabo te, Deus meus rex: et benedicam nomini tuo in saeculum at in saeculum saeculi. Per singulas dies benedicam tibi: et laudabo nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi… [1]


We noted at the beginning of this book that the Council opposes the Faith either verbally or tacitly, that is by passing it over in silence. It opposes the doctrine concerning the Social Reign of Christ in the latter sense. We shall consider this silence first in reference to the document texts, then in the liturgy that these texts were to inspire.


Silence in the texts


The granting of Religious Liberty to all men, and consequently the right to propagate error, both moral and religious, amounts to an offence against God, more precisely against Christ the King. For this reason the heinousness of the doctrine of Religious Liberty and all that flows from it may most clearly be seen in the light of the Kingship of Christ.


Pope Leo XIII writes [2]: ‘… God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world. Everything without exception must be subject to Him, and must serve Him’; he writes further [3]: ‘[Christ’s] empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons… but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.’ Commenting on the latter passage in Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI teaches: ‘Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether individually or collectively, are under the dominion of Christ. In Him is the salvation of the individual, in Him is the salvation of society. ‘Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given to man whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4. 12)’.


The Council peritus Father Francis J. Connell CSSR explains the importance of this doctrine in regard to the scope of Christ’s authority: this scope is wider than that of the Church, Whose authority extends only to Her members, in that it extends to all mankind [4]. This entails that: ‘The real point at issue is not the relation between the State and the Catholic Church, but rather the relation between the State and Christ the King’ [5]. A consequence of this principle is, as the same Father Connell points out, that after the promulgation of the encyclical, civil authorities no longer have the power to enact immoral legislation, such as ‘divorce’ with the right to ‘re-marriage’.


Now, as subjected to Christ the King, the State has not only the negative obligations of opposing Religious Liberty for all and the propagation of error, as we have just seen; but also the positive and specifically supernatural obligation of worshipping the One and Triune God. This obligation on the State is twofold: to worship God itself, and to help its citizens worship Him themselves: it ‘will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ’; and will be intent ‘to favor religion, to protect it, to shield it under credit and sanction of the laws’ [6]. Father Connell gives as an example of the former duty of a State (that is of worshipping God as a State) the opening paragraph of the Constitution of Ireland: ‘In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from whom is all authority and to whom, as our final end, all actions, both of men and states must be referred, we, the people of Eire, humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ…’ (ibid.)


Inasmuch as the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ is the key to understanding the State’s obligations, both negative and positive, towards the Church, it may be considered the determining, or, in Aristotelian-Scholastic terms, the formal, principle of Catholic social teaching, and yet it is mentioned nowhere in the respective Council document. Michael Davies remarks: ‘The studious avoidance of the least reference to the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the most deplorable aspects of Dignitatis Humanae[7]. In fact the term ‘Christ the King’ appears neither there, nor indeed, as we mentioned above, anywhere else at all in the Council documents.


If we were to ask whether the dethronement of Christ the King was only a negative act, or whether it in fact set the stage for the enthronement of another, then we must answer that the latter was the case. For the Council effectively replaces the Social Kingship of Christ, or Christ the King, with man as the determining, or formal, principle of Catholic social teaching with the statement that we have referred to in the last subsection: ‘… humanity… is and it ought to be the beginning, the subject and the object of every social organization’ (GS 25) [8]. This statement in Gaudium et Spes together with its underpinning in the anthropocentrically entitled Dignitatis Humanae  [9], both promulgated on December 7th 1965, forty years, almost to the day, from the encyclical Quas Primas, were indeed to elevate man to God’s throne as King of the World.


We conclude this section with a passage from the commentary of St. Bede on the Apocalypse [10]: ‘And he has as his garment and on his thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’ ‘This is the name which none of the proud knows. It is written on the tables of the Church’s heart; not with ink but with the Spirit of the Risen Lord.’



[1] I shall extol Thee, my God and King, and shall bless Thy Name forever, and forever and ever. Every day I shall bless Thee, and I shall praise Thy Name forever, and forever and ever... Psalm 144. 1-2 

[2] Immortale Dei, 3

[3] Annum sacrum, 3(1899)

[4] MD rl p. 39

[5] MD rl p.182

[6] Quas primas, (1925) cf. Immortale Dei, 6

[7] MD rl p.181

[8] we examine this text in our section on the dignity of man below.

[9] ‘of the Dignity of the Human Person’ cf. MD rl p.245

[10] ch.19. 16