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November 1998

LIBERTE, LIBERTE

THE EDITOR

"The revolution has provided a perfect example of words
being detached from the principles they represent."
Romano Amerio
 
"A single act of obedience is worth more than the conversion of England."
Antonio Rosmini
 

Should you ever find yourself in Paris on a Saturday with time to spare, head for the Church of St. Joseph des Carmes in Rue Vaugirard, between Rue dí Assas and Rue Cassette, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Though not a tourist haunt, a short tour is often scheduled around mid-afternoon which takes in the crypt, containing not only the tomb of Blessed Frederic Ozanam but also, laid out neatly in glass reliquaries, the skulls of over 100 priests and religious stabbed or beaten to death at this former Carmelite monastery on 2 September 1792 for refusing to renounce the Faith. One can also visit the courtyard garden where the Archbishop of Arles and the Bishop of Beauvais were slaughtered before the carnage began ("I am the man you are looking for," said the Archbishop echoing his Lord at Gethsemane, at which the revolutionaries plunged a pike through his chest).

In all, more than fourteen hundred were murdered during the diabolic orgy of violence that constituted the September massacres. All done, of course, under the flag of "liberty" – a point immortalised in a small attic above the church. On the wall, alongside a faded streak of blood, one reads the desperate cry of an ill-fated prisoner: ĎLiberty, Liberty, what have they done to thee, what horrors are committed in thy name….í

What they had done, in fact, was to detach liberte from its true spiritual meaning and source i.e. Redemption through Christ. It thus became a fetishist monster of the here and now; a grotesque caricature of true freedom by which to justify the Terror.

Today, this same corruption of language holds sway in the modern secular state engendered by the Revolution. Marching under the banner of a perverted "liberty" is still the stock-in-trade of the pseudo-intellectual elite, inventing words and ideas to justify rebellion against the natural law of the divine Legislator still their raison-dí etre. The astonishing difference now, however, is the multitude of Catholic churchmen marching arm in arm with the secular revolutionaries and mouthing the same slogans detached from the principles they originally expressed.

Significantly, it was the release of Humanae Vitae in July 1968 - a reaffirmation of the absolute and immutable natural law, the basis of moral life so despised since the Revolution - that marked this epochal transfer of allegiance from Christ to the world; from sacrifice to self. Ever since, by emptying words of their true [Catholic] meaning and investing them with a naturalistic and humanistic sense, rebellious clerics have set essential and complimentary aspects of life – e.g. love and law, conscience and authority, liberty and obedience - in opposition to each other.

Leading this charge alongside the secular pseudo-elite have been very many among the Lordís chosen elite, the Shepherds of His flock. Rather than stepping forward to confront the revolution and affirm the Faith, like their glorious predecessors at the Carmelite monastery in Paris, post-Humanae Vitae prelates have generally preferred an inglorious capitulation to the zeitgeist: the mood of the moment. In England and Wales, as elsewhere, this has entailed tacit or open rejection of the magisteriumís infallible teaching on contraception, while subverting the Catholic understanding of obedience to justify their unbelief.

These three constitutive elements of episcopal dissidence - pastoral silence, public defiance and semantic subversion - are personified in our via media Primate, whose undermining of the virtue of obedience, as revealed in his ensuing 1980 intervention, is particularly representative. A Benedictine monk knows perfectly well that there is no room for subjectivism in a Catholic understanding of obedience. He knows that the essence of obedience is recognising a law and submitting to it and, therefore, that obedience is not based on married couples being persuaded about the appropriateness of Humanae Vitae but, rather, being persuaded that the Church has a legitimate authority to ask what is asked. "If one makes the reasonableness of the command the ground for obeying," wrote Antonio Rosmini, founder of the Institute of Charity, "obedience is destroyed."

Thus, by effectively promoting the view that what one does in obedience to a command (e.g. Humanae Vitae) is simply what one would freely choose to do anyway without a command, or what one would agree to do only after reaching consensus with the legitimate authority (e.g. the Pope), Cardinal Hume directly opposes Catholic teaching in which obedience involves a sacrifice of oneís own will by conforming it to somebody elseís. By subjectivising obedience in this way he strikes at the foundations of theology and morality… and liberty. "In psycho-social terms," Fr. George Rutler writes, "if we are not obedient we are alienated. The refusal to obey is not liberation. And when alienation becomes permanent, it is, to use the appropriately ghastly word, damnation."

In contriving to make contraceptive disobedience seem like a liberating option for Catholics, one wonders how many British souls have been alienated, even to damnation, by His Eminence and his recalcitrant brothers in the episcopate? And on the material plane, how many have been physically damaged or killed in the process? Future generations may not have relics like the blood and bones of 1792 to verify the diabolic spirit of the Humane Vitae revolt, but they will realise the abortifacient nature of the Pill and grasp the inextricable link between contraception and abortion that our dissolute age conspired to deny at any cost. And having visualised the quiet rivers of innocent blood which flowed beneath the bogus liberte of the sexual revolution, they will consign our supine Shepherds to the annals of infamy - for complicity in the silent holocaust of unborn babes entrusted to their care.

 

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