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Tuesday, February 24, 2009



What Benedict XVI can see is what most secular oriented Americans cannot see, of most political stripes, and what Lefebvre could not see either for other reasons, is the conditions for human freedom and how that freedom is lost.
The American founders knew that the dualism of which Ratzinger writes was essential, because they stated plainly that human rights and freedoms do not come from the state but from outside of mankind altogether, from God. And Ratzinger has always maintained that right reason leads us to the same conclusion, or at least that the Natural Law precedes any state.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the rise of state intrusion, of creeping tyranny coincides with loss of faith and moral decay. Without addressing that moral underpinning of freedom, the idea that the great American experiment with freedom can be restored from its inexorable decline simply by the right political ideology is just rearranging deck chairs.

"Practically speaking, only in those places where the duality of state and church, of sacral and political authority, is maintained in some form or another do we find the prerequisite for freedom. Where the church itself becomes state, freedom is gone. But freedom is lacking also in places where the church is abolished as a public and publicly relevant authority, because there again the state claims to be the sole basis for morality. In the secular, post-Christian world, it does so, not by assuming the form of a sacral authority, but rather as an ideological authority. ... The ideological state is totalitarian: it necessarily becomes ideological when there is no free but publicly recognized authority of conscience in opposition to it. Where such duality is lacking, totality, that is, the totalitarian system is inevitable." -Ratzinger

Another way to say it is that no political system, structure or ideology will ever withstand tyranny in and of itself. Most systems don't even claim to promote freedom.
It is ironic that as this argument over human freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) with the SSPX is playing out, America, the epitome of the enlightenment, the standard of freedom in the world, has long past its zenith and is trading away its birthright like Esau, and the beacon of freedom is sputtering in the wind of socialist and globalist ideologies.

So the Lefebvrists really do have a very practical point. Even though a human being cannot be coerced into faith, whatever external acquiescence can be extracted by force in a harsh regime of Christians, Muslims or even atheists; and even though in every regime that espouses a particular religion or non-religion there are those who quietly disbelieve; if a people are inevitably to be ruled by some kind of authoritarian government then it must be Catholic because that is the only guarantee that we could have for the free exercise of the Catholic faith. Perhaps that is not how they arrive at their conclusions, but the practical result is the same.

However, I think that what they, the Levebrists, are forgetting is that in the beginning Christians were not the majority, nor were they politically or socially free to practice their faith, and in many places and times since then Catholics have had the same experience of persecution. It was not intrinsic to their faith that the State and the Church be of the same mind, and in fact, often their faith was stronger for the severe trial. In fact, the document Dignitatis Humanae would be well understood and believed by such Catholics because they were living and dying proof of its teaching. It would be a statement of fact for them that they were free to choose their own faith, regardless of consequences, and the admonition to the state against the coercion they experienced would be seen only as temporal justice.

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