Rorate Caeli

On the Feast of Christ the King - 'The Council and the Eclipse of God' - Part XVIII - by Don Pietro Leone – Part 4 of Chapter 4 on Religious Liberty - Christ the King (b): Silence in the Liturgy


‘Christ my King, to Thee alone do I pledge my love, pure as a lily, and my fidelity unto death’ 

 Silence in the Liturgy


Michael Davies shows how the new, non-Catholic, that is to say false, social teaching introduced by the Council finds its expression in the new, post-Conciliar liturgy. Speaking of the Feast of Christ the King which Pope Pius XI inaugurated with the encyclical Quas Primas, the Supreme Pontiff  had written: ‘Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ.’ It would have been hard indeed for him to imagine that every trace of his instructions to rulers to give due honor to Christ the King were so soon to be expunged from the Feast. We shall present the five cases thereof presented by Michael Davies, together with certain other related changes [1]:


Te Saeculorum Principem



a)    The Hymn Te saeculorum Principem


The following verses have been excised from the hymn of First and Second Vespers [2]: ‘…The wicked mob cries out: ‘We do not wish Christ to rule over us’, while we hail Thee joyfully as supreme King of all… May the rulers of the peoples exalt Thee with public honor, may masters, judges, laws, and arts worship Thee. May the ensigns of kings, subjected and dedicated to Thee, shine forth in splendor; bring under Thy gentle sway the Fatherland and homes of the citizens. Glory be to Thee, Jesus, Who governeth the rulers of the world, with the Father and the loving Spirit for time everlasting. Amen’.



b)    The Collect of the Day


The collect (or prayer) of the Feast-day which appeared in the Mass and in the prayers of the divine office, includes the words: ‘grant that all the families of the peoples… may be subjected to His sweetest rule.’[3] In the new version, by contrast, we find the words: ‘… grant that every creature (tota creatura), liberated from servitude, may serve and together praise Thy Majesty’ [4]. Here the words ‘families of the peoples… subjected to His sweetest rule’ have been excised and replaced by the words ‘every creature’ being ‘liberated’ to ‘serve’ God. This manipulation eliminates both the social and governmental aspects of Christ’s power, so that the new text could simply be understood as the subjection of all creation, animate and inanimate, to God’s eternal law. 



c)     The Hymn Aeterna Imago Altissimi


This hymn (transferred from Matins to Lauds) has undergone the following changes: the second half of the second verse had stated that the Father has entrusted to Christ, as His right, ‘absolute dominion over the peoples’ [5]. This has been replaced with the admonition that we (as individuals) ‘should willingly submit ourselves’ to Christ [6]. Here the social and governmental aspects of Christ’s power have again been eliminated, this time in favor of an individual, personal commitment to Christ.


Furthermore, the six final lines have been excised altogether: ‘… This is the happiness for citizens: to be subject to Thy laws’ together with the doxology, the same that had already been eliminated from First Vespers: ‘Glory be to Thee, Jesus, Who governeth the rulers of the world, with the Father and the loving Spirit for time everlasting. Amen. [7]


 Vexilla Christus


d)    The Hymn Vexilla Christus


With the mutilated hymn of Matins being placed in the office of Lauds, the hymn which was  originally chanted at Lauds is dispensed with. With Michael Davies we quote some of its more remarkable verses: ‘Christ in triumph unfurls his glorious banners everywhere: Peoples, come close and on bended knee acclaim the King of kings… O thrice blessed state which rightly owns Christ as its King, and zealously carries out the commands proclaimed to the world from Heaven!... Fidelity keeps marriage unbroken, youth grows to adulthood with virtue intact, homes where purity dwells flourish with domestic virtues. May that Light, which we desire, o Sweetest King, shine upon us: May the world, subjected to Thee, with peace acquired, adore Thee.’ The hymn concludes with the same doxology that we have twice mentioned above [8]



e)       Readings at Matins


The readings that Pope Pius XI had prescribed for Matins, which clearly set forth Catholic teaching on Church and State were all removed from the new version of the Feast. As Michael Davies remarks, ‘the removal of these readings must certainly be seen as an affront to the memory and the teaching of Pope Pius XI’ [9]. He also remarks how Pope Paul VI directly contravened this teaching by declaring to the ‘rulers of the world that the Church asked no more of them than freedom to pursue its mission.’[10]



f)       Good Friday Collects


In the old liturgy, the first intercession, that for the Church, contained the words: ‘subjecting to it (that is to the Church) principalities and powers’ [11]. Mgr. Bugnini remarks [12]: ‘In the ecumenical climate of Vatican II, some expressions in the Orationes sollemnes had a bad ring to them. There were urgent requests to tone down some of the wording… it was… thought necessary to face up to the task, lest any-one find reason for spiritual discomfort in the prayer of the Church… the phrase…was omitted… it could be misinterpreted as referring to a temporal role which the Church did indeed have in other periods of history but which is anachronistic to-day.’


In the fourth intercession, by contrast, that for the government, the old liturgy contained the prayer for religionis integritas: integrity of religion (in other words, of the Catholic religion). This was substituted in the new liturgy with a prayer for religionis libertas: the liberty of religion (in other words, of any religion).



g)      The Date of the New Feast


The new version of the Feast has been transferred from the end of October to the end of November. Professor Father J.P.M. van der Ploeg OP observes that its celebration at the very end of the liturgical year now lends it an ‘eschatological’ meaning [13]. Indeed it thereby assumes the position hitherto occupied by the Mass, the Gospel of which treats of the Final Judgment. The learned Dominican interprets the change of date as suggesting that: ‘Christ will be King of the World at the end of time’. The transfer of the Feast to the later date then seems to have the goal of reducing Christ’s Kingship, which essentially comprises both the exercise of Legislation and that of Judgment, simply to that of Judgment, thereby dispensing with the Social Reign of Christ.



1.     The Rupture with Tradition Constituted by the Document Dignitatis Humanae


In this concluding section we consider:


a)     The Fact of the Rupture with Tradition;

b)    The Nature of the Rupture;

c)     The Consequence of the Rupture.



a)    The Fact of the Rupture with Tradition


The issue of Religious Liberty involved the most manifest and the most violent conflict between Tradition and Modernism in the Council. There was no doubt in the minds of the principal participants at the Council that the doctrine constituted a rupture with Tradition. Father Murray had stated in his original article on the 'Problem of Religious Freedom': ‘From the foregoing exposition it is clear that the First and Second Views [the traditional teaching as against his own view], in dealing with this question, make affirmations that are either contradictory or contrary.’[14] The National Catholic Reporter states [15] : ‘Lefebvre has every right to question the Council’s declaration on Religious Freedom, Küng says… because Vatican II completely reversed Vatican I’s position without explanation. ‘The Council evaporated the problem, Küng insists, because it called into question the doctrine of infallibility… The Council bishops said, ‘It’s too complicated to explain how you can go from a condemnation of religious liberty to an affirmation of it purely by the notion of progress’.’


Despite the incompatibility of the two positions (which we have been at pains to expound above) we read in the Preface to the Declaration (DH1): ‘… in dealing with the question of liberty the sacred council intends to develop the teaching of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and on the constitutional order of society.’ This text which, as we have explained above, was added towards the end of the Council in order to conciliate traditionalist Fathers, may be criticized on two counts: first for appealing to the heretical doctrine of ‘dogmatic development’ [16]; and second for insinuating that there had been any change at all in the teaching of recent Popes on the matter at issue [17]. We may make our own the observation of Father John C. Ford SJ of the Catholic University of America: ‘I do not consider it theologically legitimate, or even decent and honest, to contradict a doctrine and then disguise the contradiction under the rubric: growth and evolution’[18].



b)    The Nature of the Rupture


We have already examined the essence of the rupture, but we shall now present it schematically, placing the Catholic doctrine in first place, and the conciliar doctrine in second:



i)                   The Subject of the Right to Religious Liberty:


      a) The Church;

      b) All men.


ii)                The Basis of the Right:


a)     Truth;

b)    The Dignity of the Person.


iii)              The Object of the Right:


a)     The Practice of the Catholic Faith;

b)    The Practice of any Religion.


iv)              The End of the Right:


a)     Eternal Happiness;

b)    Earthly Happiness.


v)                The Formal Principle of Society:


a)     Christ the King;

b)    Man.



c)     The Consequence of the Rupture


The declaration of the right of all men to Religious Liberty, as we have seen above, amounts to a declaration of the separation of Church and State. This entails the repudiation, on the part of the Council, of the Church’s bounden duty to promote the salvation of all mankind by means of the State: namely (in a positive sense) by commanding the State to worship God in its own person and to assist its citizens to do likewise, and (in a negative sense) by commanding it to suppress error, both doctrinal and moral.


There follow various examples of the application of the Declaration to once Catholic States: Article 6 of the Spanish Charter of 1967, justifying its repeal of previous civil law by reference to the Declaration, reads: ‘The State guarantees the protection of religious liberty, which shall be guaranteed by an effective juridical provision which will safeguard morals and public order’ [19].


The Concordat with Colombia of 1973 reads: ‘The State guarantees to the Catholic Church and to its members the full enjoyment of their religious rights, without prejudice to the just religious liberty of other confessions and their members, and indeed of every citizen’ [20].


Pope John Paul II, in a visit to Malta in 1989, assured the President that the Church did not seek a privileged status at the expense of the State but that, rather, the Church ‘desires to balance her activity within the areas of competence proper to her with the activities of the State in the realm of its own competence.’ In the decades subsequent to the Council we have seen other Churchmen [21]hastening with euphoric and indecorous precipitation to impose Religious Liberty upon Catholic States.


The results, as we said, have been error, both doctrinal and moral. Michael Davies comments that ‘Malta is now saturated with every variety of sect, and no action is taken by the government to restrict their activities.’[22] He comments further: ‘the legalization of Liberal principles in a Catholic country, initiated by granting non-Catholic sects the right not to be restrained from acting in according with their beliefs in public, initiates a momentum that cannot be controlled.’ Speaking of Spain in particular, he writes: ‘Spain soon conformed to the pattern of a typical European society to-day with legalized pornography, contraception, divorce… sodomy, and abortion…’ [23] As an example of the last crime, this time in Italy, we recall how Pope Paul broke down and wept when he learnt that an abortion clinic had been established in Rome, but, as Michael Davies notes [24], such was the outcome of his repudiation of the Church’s duty to suppress error. After all, if you make man God, then you cannot be surprised if to-morrow you find him massacring his own children.


And indeed the rupture with Tradition, that is to say with the Catholic Faith, which was effected by the Declaration, is nowhere more clearly seen than in its substitution of man for God, or, more precisely, for Christ the King, as the formal principle of human society. In this connection, we note that the 1920’s which saw the promulgation of the Encyclical Quas Primas also witnessed the glorious uprising of the Mexican Cristeros against their Masonic government, and their martyrdom under the banner of Christ the King. Viva Cristo Rey! The cry of triumph is silenced forty years later, as the Church, in whose name they fought and died, embraces the very Masonic principles of their murderers, and effaces the name of Christ the King from Her teachings, Her liturgy, and from the hearts of the faithful.

Christ the King: King of every Nation, King of every family, is effaced from Her social teaching, effaced from Her marital teaching. The same 1920’s that saw the Encyclical and the Mexican uprising saw the composition of the Hymn to Christ the King in Germany, which all through the dark years of Nazi oppression was to represent fidelity to the Catholic Faith and values: not only to political, but also to domestic virtues, particularly that of purity: a virtue which was also to claim  its martyrs [25]. ‘Christ my King, to Thee alone do I pledge my love, pure as a lily, and my fidelity unto death’ [26]: where in the Council and the post-conciliar liturgy, we may ask, do we find virtues promoted such as these? We look for them in vain in the mutilated hymns of the Feast-day and in the Council’s treatment of the family, saturated as it is with eroticism and with the spirit of the World [27].

[1] MD rl pp. 243-51

[2] Scelesta turba clamitat: regnare Christum nolumus: Te nos ovantes omnium Regem supremum dicimus... Te nationum praesides Honore tollant publico, Colant magistri, judices, Leges et artes exprimant. Submissa regum fulgeant Tibi dicata insignia: Mitique sceptre patriam Domosque subde civium. Jesu tibi sit Gloria, Qui sceptra mundi temperas, Cum patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

[3] Concede propitius, ut cunctae familiae gentium... eius suavissimo subdantur imperio...

[4] or, in the ICEL translation of the original Latin: ‘Grant freedom to the whole of creation, and let it praise and serve your majesty for ever.’

[5] Cui iure sceptrum gentium Pater supremum credidit

[6] Tibi volentes subdimur qui iure cunctis imperas. (These lines have in fact been taken from a later part of the hymn).

[7] ... haec civium beatitas Tuis subesse legibus.  Jesu tibi sit Gloria, Qui sceptra mundi temperas, Cum patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

[8] Vexilla Christus inclita Late triumphans explicat: gentes, adeste supplices, Regique regum plaudite... O ter beata civitas, Cui rite Christus imperat, Quae iussa pergit exsequi Edicta mundo caelitus!... Servat fides connubia, Iuventa pubet integra, Pudica florent limina Domesticis virtutibus. Optata nobis splendeat Lux ista, Rex dulcissime: Te pax adepta candida, Adoret orbis subditus. Jesu tibi sit Gloria, Qui sceptra mundi temperas, Cum Patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

[9] MD rl p.248

[10] MD rl p.249, see subsection (b) above

[11] subiciens ei principatus et potestates

[12] The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975, liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1990, p.119

[13] MD rl p.251

[14] MD rl p.202

[15]  21st. October 1977, MD rl, p.203. See chapter 21 of Michael Davies’ book for the commentaries of other Council notables, including the then Fathers Ratzinger and Congar.

[16] as we have shown in section (c) of this chapter on the justification of the right to religious liberty

[17] We have shown above (in section (b) of this chapter on the right to Religious Liberty) that the recent Papal documents cited in support for the modernist doctrine of religious liberty do not in fact support it at all.

[18] MD rl, p. 209

[19] MD rl, Appendix III

[20] ibid.

[21] we here recall St. Joan of Arc’s adage: ‘Churchmen are not the Church’

[22] ibid.

[23] ibid.

[24] MD rl, p.184

[25] so for example Maria Regina Kramer (1928-45)

[26] Christus mein König, Dir allein, schwör’ ich mein’ Liebe lilienrein, bis in den Tod meine Treue

[27] see the section on the sacraments in chapter 7