Positive news about the talks between the SSPX and Holy See

The always interesting Rorate as well as the experts of liturgical eye-candy NLM, not to mention the Italian site messainlatino.it all get my biretta tip for this.        I share it here to make it known to a wider group of readers.

My emphases and comments:

Some News about the SSPX Discussions

Via the website Panorama Católico Internacional (found via messainlatino.it) come news about the doctrinal discussions between the Holy See and the SSPX.

The follwing is a synthesis of remarks made by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta, head of the SSPX delegation for the discussions, on the occasion of recent ordinations of the SSPX at its Argentinian seminary of La Reja.  [de Galarreta has in the past been one of the hard liners.]

1) The outcome of the first meeting has been good.

2) Primarily the agenda and the method of discussion were established.

3) The issues to be discussed are of a doctrinal nature to the express exclusion of any canonical question regarding the situation of the SSPX. [So, they are not discussing whether the 1988 excommunications were legitimate, they aren’t dealing with the fact that SSPX clerics are suspended or whether they validly absolve sins (under normal circumstances), etc.]

4) The common doctrinal reference point will be the Magisterium prior to the Council. [Before the Council the Church said X.  Now the Church seems to be saying Y.  Can these two positions be harmonized or not?  Actually, that’s a very good project.]

5) The talks follow a rigorous method: an issue is raised, and the party raising it sends a paper substantiating its doubts. The Holy See responds in writing, after prior email exchanges among the technical advisers. At the meeting, the issue is discussed.  [Good methodology.]

6) All meetings are taped by both parties and filmed.

7) The conclusions of each topic will be submitted to the Holy Father and the Superior General of the SSPX.  [Not that there is any equivalence between them, of course.]

8) The timing of these meetings depends on whether the topic is new or is already being discussed. In the first case, it will be approximately every three months. In the second, every two. The next meeting is planned for mid January[This is going to take a while… depending on the number of questions.  I suspect they will limit themselves to key issues, such as the claim by the SSPX of an anthropocentric starting point in the Council’s documents, rather than a christocentric.  They will surely discuss religious liberty and ecumenism, which are probably two sides of the same coin.]

10) The theological representatives of the Holy See "are people you can talk with", they speak "the same (theological) language as we". (meaning presumably they are Thomists). [Very good.]

11) Some of the topics mentioned by the bishop in his homily, not exhaustively, are:

a) The Magisterium of the Council and after the Council.

b) The conciliar liturgical reform.  [I suspect that will be more easily dealt with.]

c) Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.

e) Papal authority and collegiality.  [Right.]

f) Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, secularism and the social reign of Jesus Christ.

g) Human rights and human dignity according to the Council’s teaching.

The Bishop repeated that the results of the first session are good, compared to the previous situation. The parties talked entirely freely and only about doctrinal issues in a Thomist theological framework.

No one can foresee what will happen in the future. One will move forward day by day, as prudence and evangelical spirit direct.

How many times did I write about the need for men of good will to sit down and start talking?

One of the real benefits of these meetings and discussions for the whole Church will be greater clarity about the continuity between the pre-Conciliar teaching and Conciliar together with post-Conciiar teachings on a range of important issues.  I suspect that in some points the talks may reveal that there seems to be a discontinuity which requires greater explication.  Certainly some ecclesiological questions need to be worked through.   It is the constant claim by (usually) liberals that the Council changed the Church’s ecclesiology (theology of the nature of the Church).  This new ecclesiology undergirds the post-Conciliar liturgical reform and the revision of Canon Law, as well as what is taught in seminaries, etc. 

In other words: Cult, Code and Creed.

No one should fear these talks or their results.  Everyone benefits from an honest and intelligent search for answers to the burning questions of our time.

Also, I urged you on many occasions for pray for the parties involved.  Please keep them on your list.

Finally, I am pleasantly surprised by the positive tone of the remarks by SSPX Bishop de Galarreta.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tom Ryan says:

    Pray for all involved and for those who experience anguish at the thought of the parties even talking:

  2. Marius2k4 says:

    I’m not surprised at H.E. de Galarreta’s tone; Bishop Williamson is the one most likely to open His Excellency’s mouth and insert His Excellency’s foot. One must understand that most in the FSSPX genuinely feel as victims to the horrible things that have happened worldwide since the 1960s, and that even Holy Church, the refuge from the flitty whims of wordly fashion, seems to have somehow been corrupted in that awful decade. It is not a stretch to see how it all seems to crash down, and to understand their Athanasian stance, at least as they see it. They are not bad Catholics, nor people of ill will; Neither are their Bishops.

  3. irishgirl says:

    I keep praying that the talks will go well, and that true reconciliation takes place.

  4. Bryan says:

    I suspect the only ones fearing the outcome and the progress and good faith efforts are those who have an investment in the maintenance (if not the progression) of the status quo post consilium and the theology of novelty (ie the Bitter Pill and National Catholic Distorter.)

  5. Agnes says:

    I am so encouraged to hear it is going well. Continued prayers.

  6. The Egyptian says:

    When will their discussions cover Liturgical dancers and altar girls? I can hardly wait ;>)

  7. kgurries says:

    5) The talks follow a rigorous method: an issue is raised, and the party raising it sends a paper substantiating its doubts. The Holy See responds in writing, after prior email exchanges among the technical advisers. At the meeting, the issue is discussed.

    It seems as though the team of experts provided by Ecclesia Dei are really working in the capacity of “technical advisers” that help in vetting the arguments (via discussions, email, etc.) prior to submission of the dubia on a given topic. The response by the “Holy See” presumably refers to officials at the CDF (as distinct from the Ecclesia Dei’s team of “technical advisers”). At the conclusion they discuss in person the official response (judgment) of the Holy See (with documents sent to Bishop Fellay and the Holy Father).

    If I understand it correctly, the Ecclesia Dei’s “technical experts” seem to be helping the SSPX to craft and fine tune the arguments/questions to be submitted to the CDF officials for response/judgment. It’s seems a very interesting and promising way towards solution.

  8. Maltese says:

    Since Vatican II proclaimed no new dogma (though did reaffirm previous dogma), what is novel at VII, with respect to these talks, that SSPX must adhere to? If, for instance, the Orthodox expressed a desire for rapprochement with Rome, would Rome force them to show fealty to the Council of Basil? Of course not! So, why not just let SSPX exist within the Church while allowing them to reject the notion of, for instance, religious liberty? Is religious liberty a dogma that they must subscribe to to be considered Catholic? No! Rome allowed Fr. Feeney back into the Church even though he rejected the much more solid Catholic notion of baptism by desire; so why not allow a million Catholic priests and faithful back into regularity even though they reject the novelistic notion of religious liberty? Would forcing them to subscribe to all of the novelties of Vatican II make them better Catholics?

    Here is what I posted over at Rorate on the same topic:

    “So, you might ask your author whether or no Vatican II was really an Ecumenical Council. Well, all the Catholic bishops were gathered to solemnly deliberate; the fact that it was all for naught in terms of dogma is beside the point. Those who demand that the Holy See one day openly disavow it ignore history. What is more likely to happen is that, after the present crisis is surmounted, it will be flushed down the memory hole with Constantinope II, Constance, and Basel. Present on the lists forever as: “21st Ecumenical Council: Vatican II, 1962-65, Dealt with pastoral problems.” There safely filed, scholars in 2567 will breeze over it to look at more impressive and important Councils, just as we breeze by Lateran V to look at Trent.

    Paul VI was not unaware that things were out of control at the Council. He took decisive action there: he wept.” [Puritan’s Empire, 513-514.]

    Since the Council demanded retention of Latin (“The use of the Latin language…is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” Sacrosanctum concilium 36) and yet this demand is completely ignored (though is the one thing which should have been followed), I would argue that nothing novel is binding in Vatican II, just as the novel demand that Jews must wear distinctive dress at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) was soon ignored, and is therefore not binding.

    “What is more important is to make clear the kind of assent demanded of the faithful…What this means, as Pope John Paul II never tires of emphasizing when referring to Vatican II, is that it is to be interpreted in light of Tradition, of other Councils, and Papal Encyclicals, and, where found to be in conflict with these, disregarded.” Richard O’Connor, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July 1981, pp. 5-6.

  9. Huxtaby says:

    Father, maybe the Vatican’s panel of experts could be increased by one? The comments made by a UK priest signatory from the what if we just said wait petition talking about the same thing are a very helpful insight into what some priests actaully do think and of course then ‘pedal’ to the gullible faithful. Two completely different worlds! Heaven help us all.

    What a joy to read Fr Ryan’s article and to hear that there are still some people left who, though born into the pre Conciliar Church, embraced the vision and spirit of the Council with joy and great hope. Those of us who are priests now face retirement with a sense of betrayal and disappointment. These translations undo much of the slow patient work that parish priests have invested in parish liturgy over a lifetime, not just through the words they use, but through the changed ecclesiology which they reveal.
    Michael Griffin | Priest | East Anglia | England

  10. Mike says:

    This is good news indeed. I am also hoping that SSPX stop seeing Opus Dei as some modernist boogeyman in disguise. The Work is, in my experience, utterly faithful to Tradition and the legitimate indications given in the documents of V2 as interpreted by subsequent Popes.

  11. JMody says:

    When one considers the four men illicitly ordained by Abp Lefebvre, Messrs Fellay and de Tisserais seem to be very recalcitrant but very reasoned, intellectually consistent men. It is good to see that Msgr de Galarreta seems to be of this mold as well. Msgr Williamson is left as truly outstanding, even from this small group.

    I pray that the men they have selected and the men representing the Vatican are all imbued with patience, with clarity of expression and understanding, and that they all act in faithful service to the whole Catholic Church*.

    It will be interesting to see how the ecumenism/religious liberty issues are addressed. These are ones that many people never give a second thought to, and yet they are consistently highlighted by SSPX as the areas of grave, grave concern to them.

    And I for one hope that one other thing will come of this: ECONOMY OF LANGUAGE! Absolutely everything from Rome ever since 1962, council docs especially but by no means alone, seems so verbose as to be impenetrable. A cynic will say that this is what liberalizing revolutionaries always do to create more loopholes, ipso facto, V2 is a liberal, revolutionary council. If clear and concise language returns, this will in itself represent a huge improvement.

    * To paraphrase Chesterton, not just those who happen to be living!

  12. Jason Keener says:

    I would like to see the Holy See explain what its exact view is regarding the public governmental authority’s ability to discover the True Religion and then favor the True Religion through public communal acts.

    According to Popes Leo XIII (“Immortale Dei”) and Pius XI (“Quas Primas”), et. al., the civil authority has the ability to recognize the True Religion and the duty to favor the True Religion through public acts. Bishop de Smedt officially explained at the Second Vatican Council that Dignitatis Humane #1 upheld this duty of the public authority towards the True Religion.

    Why do we no longer hear anything from the Catholic hierarchy about the duty of the public authority towards the True Religion? Why is there no mention of the public authority’s ability to recognize the True Religion in the “New Catechism of the Catholic Church?” Why do we hear nothing about the Social Kingship of Christ over both individuals AND SOCIETIES? Why did Bugnini and company change the focus of the Feast of Christ the King to Christ’s rule in Heaven at the end of time instead of Christ ruling over societies right now? Why do some theologians like George Weigel now say that the public authority has no competence to recognize and favor the True Religion or acknowledge the Social Kingship of Christ when earlier Popes taught clearly that the public authority could discover and favor the True Religion? Pope Leo XIII stated in Immortale Dei #7 that anyone can easily discover the Catholic Faith is the True Religion because of the miracles and prophecies associated with Christ and the Catholic Church. These miracles and prophecies are sometimes called the Motives of Credibilty for the Catholic Faith or the External Proofs of the Catholic Faith.

    I hope these questions will be resolved soon.

  13. Mike says:

    While I agree with some of this post, Jason, there is a proper realm of secularity recognized by Our Lord (“Give to Caesar what belogns to Caesar…”), realizing that ALL belongs to God, and yes, also realizing that Faith can not be imposed, but must be freely assented to, and therefore a state may remain neutral to any one Faith, while also defending and making laws according to the natural law, and by that, recognize God as the basis of its own authority.

    Wordy, I know.

  14. Mitchell NY says:

    Anyone have any guess whether the dubias will be released little by little or if it will all be done at the end? I pray that Our Holy Father can bring this whole debacle to an end. Prayers for all involved, and a little humility on both sides will be needed. Pray for this Pontificate.

  15. kgurries says:

    Jason, I think you will find that DH and the Catechism (CCC #2105) both affirm the traditional teaching regarding the individual and social duties toward the true religion and the true Church. At the same time, however, this individual and social duty can only be fulfilled in freedom (i.e., by way of a free act of supernatural faith) — and never artificially or mechanically imposed upon individuals or societies. Yes, a Catholic leader must never be indifferent (i.e., he must show favor) to the Catholic faith and the Church in the public square. Yet he does not have the legitimate authority or jurisdiction to impose the supernatural truths of revelation or dogmas of faith upon the body politic. Neither does the Church have such a power.

  16. Maltese says:

    I forgot to cite the author of the quote, supra: the esteemed Charles Coulombe

  17. muckemdanno says:


    The state has the obligation to act in the best interest of the people. And the best interest of the people consists of worshiping the true God and practicing the true religion.

    So the state has the right, or even the duty, to help the people to do so, and to discourage the people from worshiping false gods and practicing false religions…constrained by prudence, of course.

    The idea that “man” has a natural, God-given right to practice a false religion, (as taught by/since Vatican 2) is contrary to what the Church taught before, and is directly contrary to the 1st Commandment of God.

    If there is a law against it, then it is not a right.

  18. Mike says:


    Man does, however, has the obligation to form his conscience according to the truth, and follow that conscience. Some people–erroneously, follow false faiths. The state, in a predominantly Catholic country, could formally recognize Christ, but also allow minority faiths freedom of worship.

    I think it’s different to say we allow differences in faiths in a state, as opposed to we have a right to a false faith. That’s “rights talk”, and not always enlightening.

  19. DelRayVA says:

    This is a perfectly reasonable process, if one accepts the premise that one’s adherence to Peter should be dependent upon whether one agrees with him. That premise, of course, is utter hogwash.

    Let me tell you a story: Although raised Catholic, I spent a great deal of time among Protestants, listening to their preachers, and reading their books. Deceived by their errors, I believed that the “Hail Holy Queen” prayer was blasphemous, in that it called the Blessed Virgin “our life, our sweetness, and our hope,” titles better reserved for Our Lord. I gave up none of my intellectual concerns about this prayer when I purposed not to doubt the promises of Our Lord that The Holy Spirit would guide His church. I therefore made an effort to pray this prayer daily out of submission and humility, although my reason and pride objected. I might have said that my conscience objected, but in truth my conscience called me to submit to the Apostles. Wouldn’t you know that submitting to the Church as an act of will led to the renewal of my mind, and I saw the orthodoxy of the prayer, and learned more about Our Lady.

    I say to the SSPX: First, submit to Peter as the constant teaching of the church from all time requires you to do. Submit as any well-formed conscience would require you to do. Then humbly ask the church to explain herself more clearly, because you are confused. Any other path just feeds your pride. You will not want to be clinging to your pride on the day of wrath, but to the Rock of Peter. Stop thinking like a Protestant, and start acting like a Catholic.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    This is really good.

    This part is interesting:
    ” The common doctrinal reference point will be the Magisterium prior to the Council. [Before the Council the Church said X. Now the Church seems to be saying Y. Can these two positions be harmonized or not?”]

    This IS actually about whether there was a hermeneutic of rupture at Vatican II. There was not in truth, but Catholics the world over have had it shoved at them day and night that there was, and this has come from very high places. Denying that would be fundamentally untruthful. I believe that this is the basic problem that the SSPX has had all these years with the council. (After all this time, there may well be other derivative problems, but this was the first.)

    I hope they get this ironed out, and I have great hopes it will start with this point. Getting this explicitly and precisely worded in truth, whether exact agreement is reached soon or not, could do nothing but good for both sides of this dispute.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    I have an opposite story, DelRayVA. I used to be an atheist and before that a protestant minister’s granddaughter. I did not make myself abandon natural law and reason to receive faith. That would have been a contradiction. Reason and faith are complimentary, not opposed. I allowed myself to ask the questions and open my mind to the possible answers without prejudice, after a long struggle. God helped me to “discover” Him, and He probably thought it was pretty funny. I was kinda slow. ;)

    THe Catholic church is the only one of which you can ask any question. You might not get the answer right away, it’s true, but you will never see a contradiction if you understand what you’re asking and are open to the answer.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    you said:
    “If there is a law against it, then it is not a right.”

    So tell me: In a city where there’s an ordinance against praying outside an abortion clinic, does that mean you should never do it?

    What’s legal and what’s moral are often very different things.

  23. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, Mike.

    I agree that the government, whose primary task is to care for the temporal order, should not become too heavy-handed or overly-involved in the spiritual sphere because the Church cares primarily for the spiritual sphere; however, to say that the government must or should remain absolutely neutral with regards to religion is a very new idea that is at total odds with what the earlier Popes such as Leo XIII and Pius XI taught. The idea of complete government neutrality towards religion is an idea that is even at odds with Vatican II. As I mentioned earlier, Bishop de Smedt explained in his official explanation of Dignitatis Humane #1 that the public authority has a duty to recognize the True Religion.

    Pope Leo XIII–Immortale Dei #6: “As a consequence, the State, constituted as it is, is clearly bound to act up to the manifold and weighty duties linking it to God, by the public profession of religion.”

    Pope Leo XIII—Longinqua: “…it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition … is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed His Church … but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”

    Pope Pius XI—Quas Primas: “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 honour and obedience to Christ.”

    Bishop de Smedt—Official Explanation of Dignitatis Humane #1: “As regards the substance of the problem, the point should be made that, while the papal documents up to Leo XIII insisted more on the moral duty of public authorities toward the true religion, the recent Supreme Pontiffs, WHILE RETAINING THIS DOCTRINE, complement it by highlighting another duty of the same authorities, namely, that of observing the exigencies of the dignity of the human person in religious matters, as a necessary element of the common good. The text presented to you today recalls more clearly (see nos. 1 and 3) the duties of the PUBLIC AUTHORITY towards the true religion (officia potestatis publicae erga veram religionem); from which it is manifest that THIS PART OF THE DOCTRINE HAS NOT BEEN OVERLOOKED (ex quo patet hanc doctrinae partem non praetermitti).”

    Pax Christi.

  24. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, kgurries.

    I agree that DH #1 clearly upholds the moral duty of societies towards the True Religion. Bishop de Smedt’s explanation of DH #1 also makes it clear that the public authority itself has a moral duty towards the True Religion.

    I also agree that paragraph 2105 of the New Catechism of the Catholic Church does a pretty good job of describing the duties of individuals and societies towards the True Religion; however, I would still like the New Catechism to say something EXPLICITLY about the duty of the public governmental authority itself towards the True Religion.

    Also, I am not arguing that Catholic leaders should impose Catholic doctrines or dogmas on the members of society. Matters of supernatural faith can never become matters of coercion. Rather, I am saying that governmental leaders could show some favor to the Catholic Church by making public holidays that coincide with Catholic holy days, by inviting Catholic leaders to lead a prayer at the opening of state events, etc.

    You also might be implying that knowledge of which religion is the True Religion is a matter of supernatural faith. I do not believe that it is. Reason alone can discover which religion is the True Religion through the External Proofs of the Catholic Faith. These proofs are the miracles and prophecies associated with the life of Christ and the Catholic Church that are available to any person who studies the history of the Church, the history of the Gospels, etc. Knowing which is the True Religion and showing that religion some favor does not take an act of supernatural faith as does believing in Mary’s Assumption or Papal Infallibility.

    George Weigel also believes the government has no competence to make a judgement about which religion is the True Religion; however, in the past, Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI actually encouraged temporal leaders to recognize and favor the True Religion and the Social Kingship of Christ as a duty owed to God. It cannot all of a sudden be deemed that the temporal authority has absolutely no competence to show some favor to the True Religion without any explanation from the Holy See how this new idea is not in contradiction to what Leo XIII and Pius XI taught.

    I could also understand it if the Church would now say that She has retained the traditional teaching of the public authority towards the True Religion, but the Church is not insisting the doctrine be strictly carried out as a matter of prudential judgement at this point in history, which is a position that has some good points; however, whatever the situation is, it has to be clarified by Rome because too many people today believe the Church no longer teaches that the public authority has any competence to recognize or favor the True Religion, even in theory.

    Pax Christi.

  25. MrsHall says:

    My family became Catholic because of the faithful witness to the Faith by a family that attends an SSPX chapel, has an SSPX priest in the family, and so on. We attend a diocesan parish (pretty orthodox and conservative) but we will always love the preservation of Tradition that we saw in the SSPX when we were searching for the Church. Most of my relatives are OF Catholic and I never saw anything that made me think there might be a little truth to the idea that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus started. It was in Tradition that I found Christ’s Body. Before my conversion, before Pope Benedict’s election, I was already praying for these talks. I saw the pain this separation caused in my friend’s life and knew it was not God’s will for faithful Catholics to have their faithfulness under suspicion. I saw that family just the other day and again was filled with joy at what authentic Catholic Tradition is producing in their home and family. I will continue to pray until there is a true resolution, peace in the Catholic Family, and we are all “under the same roof” again. If Nancy Pelosi considers herself a Catholic… but I digress.

  26. Jason Keener says:


    I just wanted to add something that I forgot to mention in my last post. You are right to say that the public authority in a democratic republic does not have the juridical competence to show favor to the True Religion without the consent of the citizens; therefore, the citizens in a democratic republic should give their public authority a mandate to favor the True Religion.

    On the other hand, in a true monarchy, the sovereign has juridical authority and can act for the citizens without their consent.

    Whether or not the public authority is acting on behalf of the citizens as in a democratic republic or deciding for the citizens as in a monarchy, the public authority has a moral duty towards the True Religion and the One Church of Christ.

  27. kgurries says:

    Jason, I your last post does not present my statement accurately. This is what I said:

    “Yes, a Catholic leader must never be indifferent (i.e., he must show favor) to the Catholic faith and the Church in the public square. Yet he does not have the legitimate authority or jurisdiction to impose the supernatural truths of revelation or dogmas of faith upon the body politic.”

    In other words we are talking about a both/and situation. The Catholic leader must show favor and not be indifferent AND he must do so in a manner that does not involve compulsion in the Faith. In this sense, it makes no difference whether we are talking about a President or a Monarch. Neither of these has the right to “absolutism” or the jurisdiction to use compulsion in the Faith.

  28. kgurries says:

    “Whether or not the public authority is acting on behalf of the citizens as in a democratic republic or deciding for the citizens as in a monarchy…”

    Jason, contrary to popular belief, monarchs do not have the power or legitimate authority to “decide” the religion of their subjects. This is the error of absolutism manifested by protestantism as the so-called “divine right of kings” and the false principle of “cuis regio, eius religio”.

  29. kgurries says:

    “George Weigel also believes the government has no competence to make a judgement about which religion is the True Religion…”

    If he thinks that then he is simply wrong. All people (civil leaders included) have the ability to recognize truth and show it favor (this is the essence of the traditional doctrine). On the other hand, he [Weigel] may simply intend to say that the temporal power, as such, has no competence or special jurisdiction over the Faith. In other words, civil rulers do not legitimately exercise coercive power in the sphere that rightly belongs to the spiritual power (this distinction of powers is also part of the traditional doctrine of the Church).

  30. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, kgurries.

    My main point in the last posts was that irrespective if a state is constituted as a democratic republic, monarchy, or oligarchy, the public authority has a moral duty to favor the True Religion.

    I also agree that monarchs cannot legitimately decide which religion their subjects will practice. That practice was absurd and wrong because matters of personal religious faith must be undertaken in an atmosphere of freedom between the individual and God. I do believe, however, that a monarch could carry out certain public acts on his or her own initiative (rightly or wrongly) that favor the True Religion by giving tax breaks to the Church, declaring Christ’s Kingship, consecrating the nation to the Sacred Heart, etc. These public acts of the monarch could not be used to compel his or her subjects to practice the True Religion. Likewise, a President in a democratic republic might show some favor to the True Religion, but these public acts of the President could in no way be seen as a coercion to religious minorities and their own practices.

    It almost seems to me that George Weigel thinks the public authority has no competence to do anything that favors the True Religion. I agree that the public authority should not favor the True Religion without the consent and mandate of the citizens, but once that mandate has been given, the public authority has the green light to favor the True Religion.

    Here is an interesting YouTube video with Weigel talking about the Social Kingship of Christ:

    Take care!

  31. Mike says:


    Good points…I don’t think the State should be completely neutral. And enacting laws that respect the natural law is actually really, really good. I’m just thinking of where our jurisprudence is now, and what is humanly possible.

    Of course, God is known to be a game-changer.

  32. kgurries says:

    Jason, I think that we agree more that we disagree on this point. It really is not clear what Weigel means. Does he only intend to deny that the civil power has the competence to compel its subjects in religion? Or does he actuall deny their capacity to show favor (however prudential) to moral and religious truth. Obviously, these are very different notions.

    In the American context, I think it’s interesting to look at the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. For example, the formal institution of the national Thanksgiving holiday was intended as a means for America to fulfill the “duty of all nations” towards the “Lord and Ruler of Nations” in a public manner that promotes the “knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue”. The first Thanksgiving Proclamation was given by Washington “in the year of our Lord”, 1789…

    I posted recently on this topic (see link below) and would be interested in any feedback or comments.


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