Those Intolerable Catholics – In Locke’s Time and Ours

Often touted as a landmark text in the history of religious freedom, John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) is remarkable in wisely limiting the power of “the magistrate … to do or meddle with nothing but barely in order to securing the civil peace and properties of his subjects,” and thus of granting “an absolute and universal right to toleration” concerning matters of “speculative opinions and divine worship.” In other words, the state has no power to compel belief or unbelief in any particular doctrine.

Still, the text is more complicated and limited in its vision of tolerance than the received tradition may suggest. For instance, with respect to “practical principles” of social action, there is also a claim to toleration “but yet only so far as they do not tend to the disturbance of the state”; that is, so long as these religious claims do not disturb or curtail the public interest. Fair enough, for certainly we do not suppose that religious freedom extends to harming others or interfering with the just exercise of law.

But when it comes to Catholics, Locke’s generosity shrivels, convinced as he is that Catholics refuse to be “subjects of any prince but the pope,” thus blurring the lines between speculation, worship, and “doctrines absolutely destructive to the society wherein they live.”

Locke considers his hostility warranted by two claims. First, because “where [papists] have power they think themselves bound to deny it to others”— since Catholic do not, he thinks, grant religious freedom to others, they do not deserve it themselves. Second, and what is more interesting at our cultural moment, Locke believes that Catholics do not, and cannot, be trusted to give genuine allegiance to the law since “they owe a blind obedience to an infallible pope, who has the keys of their consciences tied to his girdle, and can upon occasion dispense with all their oaths, promises and the obligations they have to their prince.” Governed ultimately by the pope, their allegiance is to a foreign prince, an authority other than the nation’s laws, and they are not quite faithful citizens.

Setting aside whether Locke understood Catholic thought, it’s notable that the limits of tolerance are defined by the state, and granted only insofar as the subjects do not claim, ultimately, a source of conscience independent of the state. After all, would not any dissenter from the civil religion who placed their conscience in some source other than the state by in the very same position, whether or not they were Roman Catholic? Might not, for instance, a Presbyterian or an evangelical who dissented from the Church of England—to take Locke’s context—because of their allegiance to Scripture view the authority of the law as relative, as not ultimate?

Flash forward to our own time and consider the oddity of how the HHS contraception mandate is playing itself out. On the one hand, we are told that religious freedom absolutely protects our freedom of worship and belief so long as the practical principles of social action flowing from belief into hospitals, schools, and charities are kept distinct and unblurred from religion. In the words of the Bishops, this “reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship.”

And not just for Catholics. The odd case in New York City of Orthodox Jews being charged with violations of human rights since their insistence of a modest dress code within their stores was motivated by religious impulse. Similar dress codes could be found at all number of eateries and public establishments around the city, but because this code, according to the human rights commission, was religious in motivation it went from the tolerated world of worship and doctrine to the not-to-be-tolerated world of sociality. The same is working itself out in the various court cases about bed and breakfasts, bakers, and photographers with respect to gay marriage. Religious belief is tolerated if it is only thought and sung, but not if followed in public ways.

Now the obvious reason for this is that everyone has religious freedom, including, and most fundamentally, freedom from coercion. Basic to free exercise, it is thought, is immunity from anyone else moving into the sphere of sovereignty proper to each individual or association. True enough, but this seems inadequate to explain the fury of those who cannot believe or tolerate this “retrograde” Catholic refusal to formally cooperate with the provision of contraception and abortifacients.

Contraception, to limit our example, is easily available, inexpensive (often free), and legal, and the Church in the United States has launched no movement to overturn Griswold or make condoms illegal. And yet the rhetoric of suspicion about Catholics makes it seem as though a religious order’s refusal to pay for contraception is tantamount to a gross violation of a person’s right to be free from religious encroachment, even though the order has not suggested that those employed by their school or institution cannot buy or use contraception. As Judge Rovner put it in her dissent from the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Korte and Grote, Catholic business owners refusing to cover contraception use their religious freedom “offensively rather than defensively.” But how is it a violation of someone’s liberty to not pay for their use of the Pill?

The answer seems endemic to a tension within the liberal order itself, as evidenced by Locke. Religion can be tolerated so long, but only so long, as it does not interfere with the public order or call the legitimacy of the state to define the public order for itself into question. That is, tame religions are tolerable, those which do not propose truths for the conscience of all.

When the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council were debating the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis humanae, European bishops, particularly those from behind the Iron Curtain, were insistent in their interventions that the “public order” warrant for limiting and curtailing religion needed differentiation, in part because of their justified concern that the Soviets would use “public order” as a weapon against the Church. Consequently, the Declaration insists that any impeding of religion must be done for the sake of “just public order.” Again and again, the Declaration outlines that public order is not a blank check for the state, for the limitation must be just.

To put it another way, since religious liberty is a demand of the natural law, the limiting principle on religious freedom must also belong to the natural law. It must be a reasonable and naturally lawful ground to limit another’s religious exercise, and such a test is rather more robust than the vagaries of Locke’s claims about consciences tied to the Pope’s girdle.

In our own age, which is largely hostile to the natural law—even fearful of it—we should not be surprised to find our polity largely confused about what counts as religious freedom, what counts as a fair limit on another’s freedom, and what counts as the incursion of one’s religious exercise against another. In the great moral debates of our own time—abortion, embryo-destructive research, marriage, and others—we see this internal confusion of the Lockean tradition working itself out, namely, that religion is free so long as it’s about pious thoughts and incense, but once it appears in the streets, or laboratories, or chambers of law religion must serve the interests of the state, as defined by the state, and without reference to natural law.

Given this trajectory, there should be no surprise when members and institutions of traditional religions, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jew, are presented with an understanding of religious freedom which tells them they must not think themselves entitled to speak or act in public, and certainly must not challenge the authority of the state.

And this, this is intolerable.

Editor’s note: The image of John Locke above was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1697.

R. J. Snell

By

R. J. Snell directs the Center on the University and Intellectual Life at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a senior fellow at the Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good. He is the author (with Steve Cone) of Authentic Cosmopolitanism: Love, Sin, and Grace in the Christian University. His latest books are Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire and The Perspective of Love.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    “Where [papists] have power they think themselves bound to deny it to others”

    Locke views may have been coloured by King Louis XIV’s recent Edict of Fontainebleau of 22 October 1685, revoking the Edict of Nantes that had granted toleration to Protestants. Following the Edict, many Huguenots took refuge in England.

    “We forbid our subjects of the R.P.R [« Religion prétendue réformée » = “the so-called reformed religion”] to meet any more for the exercise of the said religion in any place or private house, under any pretext whatever…” (Art 2)

    “We enjoin all ministers of the said R.P.R, who do not choose to become converts and to embrace the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion, to leave our kingdom and the territories subject to us within a fortnight of the publication of our present edict…” (Art 4)

    “We forbid private schools for the instruction of children of the said R.P.R…” (Art 7)

    “As for children who may be born of persons of the said R.P.R, we desire that from henceforth they be baptized by the parish priests…” (Art 8)

    To his credit, the Roi très-chrétien also ordered that “As for the rest, liberty is granted to the said persons of the R.P.R, pending the time when it shall please God to enlighten them as well as others, to remain in the cities and places of our kingdom, lands, and territories subject to us, and there to continue their commerce, and to enjoy their possessions, without being subjected to molestation or hindrance on account of the said R.P.R, on condition of not engaging in the exercise of the said religion, or of meeting under pretext of prayers or religious services, of whatever nature these may be…” (Art XII)

    • cestusdei

      And many Catholics took refuge in France because of the lack of toleration in Protestant lands.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        As witness the MacMahon family. John MacMahon of Limerick was created Marquis d’Eguilly and his son, the 2nd Marquis served in the American War of Independence. A grandson of the first Marquis, Patrice de MacMahon was the victor of Magenta and was created a Maréchal de France and Duke of Magenta. He became President of the Republic in 1873. Both the d’Eguilly and Magenta branches of the family are still extant.

        • Slainte

          Witness also Patrick Sarsfield of Kilaloe, County Clare, Eire who signed the 1691 Treaty of Limerick and left Ireland for France along with many others in the flight of the Wild Geese. He could have reneged on the treaty and continued to fight Cromwell when reinforcement troops timely arrived from France, but chose instead to honor his word and the treaty.

          Cromwell, however, reneged on the Treaty and then imposed the penal laws on Ireland which was nothing short of an effort to annihilate an entire nation of people because they freely chose to be Catholic.

          • publiusnj

            Sarsfield wasn’t fighting Cromwell, who thankfully was long dead and disturbed in his grave through the grace of King Charles II. In 1690-91, Sarsfield was fighting the Princess Mary, the faithless daughter of King James II (and VII), and her husband. Sarsfield died on the field of battle a couple of years later during the Nine Years War that William of Orange waged against Louis XIV and James II.

            • slainte

              Thank you Publiusnj for your correction. My father’s family is from Killaloe and my cousins are direct descendants of the Galloping O’Hogan which makes my error that much more awful. : ) http://www.doonbleisce.com/Sarsfield's%20Ride.htm.
              .
              The Dutch King William III of Orange (King Billy) and his English Queen Mary collectively deposed her father King James II to advance their own personal ambitions. The definitive battle of this revolution was the Battle of the Boyne (Ireland) which caused much Irish blood to be spilled in defense of James, a Catholic monarch. The noxious stink of that odious battle continues to manifest today in the “Troubles” which plague the six separated counties in the north of Ireland.
              .
              The English Parliament’s affirmation of this betrayal…this unjust de-throning of a ruling monarch….and its subsequent crowning of a Dutch interloper and his feckless queen did nothing to advance the legitimacy of protestanism. Curiously the union of King Billy and Queen Mary was fruitless….no children; all of their subversive acts were for naught.
              .
              A glorious revolution it was not.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                By one of those ironies of history, both Pope Innocent XI and Alexander VIII supported William of Orange, the former even assisting him financially.

                The Holy See was part of the Grand Alliance against Louis XIV. These popes knew that Louis was determined to control the Church in his dominions, under the guise of defending the “liberties and immunities of the Gallican Church.” They also rated James II’s chances of re-establishing Catholicism in England pretty low.

                William of Orange was simply a better bet than an unpopular, half-French king, however ultramontane in sentiment

  • Don

    I would also suggest that the intolerance of religion today is, in part, the product of so many people who no longer belong to any religious organization. Many, particularly on the left, view those who belong to an orthodox church as beyond their own experience . . . truly foreign. That total lack of familiarity makes it easy to take the freedom of religion lightly. Couple that slight regard with an almost fascist dedication to hedonistic political policies and you can see that natural law will not be tolerated.

    If you are a fan of Star Trek, you’ll understand why I sometimes feel that the message is “resistance if futile . . . you must be assimilated into the Borg.”

    • tom

      Locke opposed atheism, but could never have imagined communism controlling so many people and causing 100 million deaths in the 20th century, alone. Of course, that’s why he opposed it saying atheists saw no need to tell the truth. they even call themselves “Leftists” or “socialists”…they’re godless communists, Maoists and Bolsheviks.

  • stpetric

    >>Locke believes that Catholics “owe a blind obedience to an infallible pope, who…can upon occasion dispense with all their oaths, promises and the obligations they have to their prince.” Governed ultimately by the pope, their allegiance is to a foreign prince, an authority other than the nation’s laws, and they are not quite faithful citizens. Setting aside whether Locke understood Catholic thought…<<

    It's worth noting that a century earlier, Pope Pius V in his 1570 bull "Regnans in Excelsis" did precisely that. He declared Elizabeth I an illegitimate successor to the English throne, and therefore absolved English Catholics of obedience to her. Wikipedia, describes it as "a bull declaring 'Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime' to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her, even when they had 'sworn oaths to her', and excommunicating any that obeyed her orders."

    Locke might be forgiven if he "misunderstood" Catholic thought!

    • Guest

      She was persecuting the church.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        And? The oath under the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, exempting them from civil disabilities contains this clause, “I do further declare, That it is not an Article of my Faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure the Opinion, that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any other Authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their Subjects, or by any Person whatsoever: And I do declare, That I do not believe that the Pope of Rome, or any other Foreign Prince, Prelate, Person, State, or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Temporal or Civil Jurisdiction, Power, Superiority, or Pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within this Realm.”

        Those who took the oath, by implication, rejected the bull of 1570

        • ColdStanding

          It can be read the other way, too.

          In essence: Look, yes, we stole all these things, acted illegally, broke our solemn vows before God, ignored His vicar on Earth, violently deprived those that dared to oppose us of life, liberty and property, but… if you sign here and agree to renounce any claim or promise not to seek redress for any grievance you may have suffered as a a result of our or our ancestors or what we call the “state’s” actions, we will agree to stop persecuting you to the degree we see fit.

          • DD

            Well done.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            That does not change the fact that to take the oath was to deny the deposing power of the Pope

            • ColdStanding

              What? Have you no concept of invalidity of an oath taken under duress?

        • Steven Piper

          And by rejecting the bull of 1570 , they ceased to be Catholics in any meaningful sense of the word; a bit like those so-called “National Catholics” in China today doncha’ think?

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            The oath was approved by the Apostolic Visitors and by the Propaganda and it was take by all the Catholic peers who resumed their seats in the House of Lords, as well as by all Catholics elected as MPs

            In other words, Rome accepted that the deposing power was not an article of faith, in which Catholics are required to believe.

    • ColdStanding

      What is worth noting is that Locke was running intellectual cover for a class of robber barons, thieves, and usurpers. The misunderstanding on his part was supporting those clearly in the wrong.

    • Charles Ryder

      Pius V released Catholics from obedience to Elizabeth only after it was plain for all to see that she had violated her coronation oath and that her government would not permit the celebration of the Mass anywhere in Britain.

    • slainte

      “…It’s worth noting that a century earlier, Pope Pius V in his 1570 bull “Regnans in Excelsis” did precisely that. He declared Elizabeth I an illegitimate successor to the English throne, and therefore absolved English Catholics of obedience to her….”
      .
      Pope Pius V merely stated the truth; Elizabeth was illegitimate and had no valid claim to the throne.
      .
      Mary Queen of Scotland, of royal blood, Catholic, and born legitimately, had the best claim to England’s throne; and for those reasons, Elizabeth caused Mary to be executed.
      .
      Good Queen Bess was not so good after all. Pope Pius V made the right call.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        No one ever suggested Elizabeth I had an hereditary title to the Crown (Nor did Mary). English law excludes the half-blood from succession, so Edward VI’s heir at law fell to be traced through his aunts, Margaret and Mary Tudor. This was the basis of Lady Jane Grey’s claim.

        Elizabeth’s title was a purely parliamentary one, resting on the Succession to the Crown Act 35 Hen. VIII c.1, which laid down the order of succession, as did the later Act of Settlement 1701 12 & 13 Will III, c 2

        It was (and is) High Treason (6 Ann c 7) to assert in writing that the kings of this realm with the authority of Parliament are not able to make laws to bind the Crown or the descent thereof. As I quite like my head, I shall not elaborate

        • slainte

          Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, appears to have been
          legitimate as Henry’s first wife Queen Catherine of Aragon died in January 1536 (with head intact) prior to Henry’s marriage to Jane Seymour (interesting surname) in May 1536; and Edward was thus born in 1537.
          .
          Wikipedia confirms, “In its 600-year history since William I claimed the English throne, succession has been determined by bequest, battle, primogeniture, and parliament.”
          .
          No Act of Succession of Henry VIII or Parliament precluded Mary (bloody Mary) (daughter of Henry VIII and first wife Catherine of Aragon) from becoming queen after Edward VI’s death. But her effort to restore Catholicism to England was likely the impetus that caused Parliament to take action to ensure that no Catholic should occupy the throne for the foreseeable future..
          .
          So one must then conclude that any act of succession
          promulgated by Edward VI and/or Parliament was designed to keep Catholics off the throne. It’s not surprising that Parliament at that time was composed primarily of Puritans and Anglicans.
          .
          Mary Queen of Scotland, Catholic, and the grand-daughter of Henry VIII’s “oldest sister” Margaret and her husband Scottish King James V was the logical hereditary claimant of the English throne. But her Catholicism disqualified her.
          .
          LadyJane Grey, Protestant, and grand-daughter of Henry VIII’s “youngest sister” Mary…was merely an effort to keep the throne Protestant. To her credit, she resisted becoming queen.

          MPS wrote….”It was (and is) High Treason (6 Ann c 7) to assert in writing that the kings of this realm with the authority of Parliament are not able to make laws to bind the Crown or the descent thereof. As I quite like my head, I shall not elaborate…..”

          Guess what I just asserted in writing. : )

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            The Act of 1544 settled the Crown on Edward and the heirs of his body, whom failing to the heirs of Henry by Catherine Parr (there were none), then Mary, then Elizabeth. But for the Act, Lady Jane would have been his heiress, for the issue of princesses married into foreign houses were excluded at common law.

            Margaret Tudor married King James IV of Scots. Her granddaughter, Mary Queen of Scots was the daughter of James V and Mary of Guise, daughter of Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Guise. One of 11 children, her brothers included the redoubtable Francis, Duke of Guise, her father’s successor and two Cardinals, Charles, known as the Cardinal of Lorraine and Louis, known as the Cardinal of Guise. Francis was the leaders of the Catholic League at the outbreak of the Wars of Religion in France and his assassination led indirectly to the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. As regent, Mary of Guise was a formidable opponent of the Reformers.

            • Slainte

              Thank you for the clarification. I found it interesting that Henry’s oldest sister Margaret had successfully secured at least one divorce (or perhaps annulment) from the pope. That might explain why Henry VIII assumed the pope would also summarily grant him a divorce from Catherine.

              Margaret, however, was not married to Queen Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Los Reyes Catolicos (Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain) and cousin to the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry VIII was wise not to have attempted to sever Catherine’s head from her shoulders. In such an event, the forces of Europe would likely have converged against Henry.

  • hombre111

    Dr. Snell does not explain the background behind Locke’s attitude. A pope had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. This was a medieval tactic used by popes to keep kings in line during a time when the whole world was Catholic. The excommunication freed subjects from their loyalty to their king and urged nobles to rise in revolt, The most famous example was the excommunication of Henry IV of German by Gregory VII.

    Unfortunately, by the time of the Reformation, excommunication of kings had become a blunt instrument because of the rise of nationalism. The pope who excommunicated Elizabeth was hundreds of years behind the time, failing to understand the resentment in England created by papal tax-gatherers, and not realizing that newly emerged nation states would back their king over the pope. Belloc admitted that this was a horrible blunder with sad consequences, but argued that, since the pope was a saint, he must have known what he was doing. But sanctity does not inoculate anyone against stubborn stupidity.

    The excommunication of Elizabeth gave that nasty lady and her successors the perfect excuse to persecute Catholics, a harsh practice that continued into the early 1800’s, and virtually destroyed the Church in England.

    • ColdStanding

      Ah, yes, Pope St. Pius V was not pastoral enough for your de Chardinist mobilistic crypo-evolutionary tastes. Much the worse for you.

      • hombre111

        You don’t get it. Locke’s attitude was the result of an unfortunate history of papal blunders. We have the result of 20/20 hindsight, and so Pius V might be excused from failing to understand the futility and the consequences of his excommunication of an English monarch. A Catholic of that day might try to argue with Locke’s attitude, but he had an easy reply at hand based on recent history: Your pope excommunicated my king and told Catholics they should defy their ruler.
        Switching to today, in the world’s response to Pope Francis, we see what goodness and joyfulness can accomplish, instead of grim denunciation and the call to battle.

        • ColdStanding

          This a similar species of response to your misunderstanding of the concept of fatherhood, namely, how we understand fatherhood because God is, not that (as you assert) we understand God by way of analogy in mapping our experience of fatherhood onto God. Even though the order of encounter with fatherhood happens first for the senses being impinged upon by human fathers, the light of reason tells us the existence of God is prior to human fathers, which means a proper understanding of human fatherhood is only possible when based upon a prior orderly understanding of God.

          We meet our father first, infer that there is Our Father, recognize His priority, and reorder our assumptions upon the now differentiated principle and secondary causes.

          Locke’s attitude, as we see it depicted here, is not first based upon a reaction to his encountering the history of Papal pronouncements germane to the legitimacy or lack there of, of the English monarch. No, his reaction is a priori ever and always to undermine Catholic culture. He is running cover. Only willful ignorance can close our eyes to his biography viewed in the context of the wreck of Catholic England.

          Locke is a scavenger. A fabricator of simulacra for the cargo cult he served. He tears down because he can not, nor can the culture he finds himself in, elevate. He is without sanctifying grace.

          • hombre111

            Back to God the Father and analogy, are we? When we call God “Father,” we either mean it in a literal sense, or it is a poetic metaphor that enables us to understand his love. And we do not reason to the existence of God as Father. This was a revelation through Jesus, who taught us to use the word.
            As for Locke? His thinking underlies our constitution. And his attitude reflects the ongoing conflict between the pope and Protestant England, which began with Henry VIII. The pope was never able to accept reality, but always looked forward to the day when England would be Catholic again. Mary couldn’t do it, James couldn’t do it. The Church lost the propaganda war as well as the real war. Catholics need to acknowledge the tortured roots of the thing and give up the argument.

            • ColdStanding

              Ugh! The protestant revolt, as it appeared in England was not a religious conflict. It was a conflict between people (with power) that broke the law that either a) did not like what the law told them or b) would not give back what they stole. Period. Everything else is just window dressing.

              I am well aware of the uses Locke has been put to. None of them are built upon Truth. His is the code of honor among thieves, which, everyone knows, have none.

              America, so much land and resources, even an idiot would have a hard time messing it up. But given enough time…

              The Church can’t loose anything. It is of God, Whom is unchangeable. You can’t take anything away from or add anything to the Church. It is supernatural. It is only the floundering of fallen men that foster the illusion of change. It is the fault of the people that attempt to use the Church to save the world, which is not It’s holy purpose, when their house of cards comes tumbling down.

            • Art Deco

              As for Locke? His thinking underlies our constitution.

              Montesquieu more than Locke.

        • cestusdei

          His attitude was common Protestant bigotry.

        • publiusnj

          The excommunication was not recent, but ancient history by the time of John Locke. And if anyone had been “dissing” English kings lately, it had been the Protestants. The real background is this: Locke’s attitude was due to a cynical conspiracy between the Protestant Dissenters and the Anglican Protestants who saw their monopoly over religion threatened by Catholic King James II’s 1687 and 1688 Declarations of Toleration, which would have allowed Dissenters and Catholics alike the freedom to practice their religions. When the Anglicans recognized that their monopoly was threatened, they went to the Dissenters and got them to agree to James’s overthrow in exchange for a more limited toleration that would apply to Dissenters but not to Catholics. All the Dissenters had to do to get toleration was to join in the denial of toleration to Catholics. the two groups of Protestants combined to support the overthrow of James in favor of his son-in-law and daughter, William and Mary And so 130 more years of anti-Catholic persecution continued in the British Isles.

          • hombre111

            Its like arguing that the Civil War continues to play no role in the South, because it happened a long time ago. It is in the blood of those people, that and their use of slaves, which has created a deadly darkness in their personalities. And so, anti-Catholicism was in the blood of English people, especially the well educated, maybe the way anti-Catholicism is in the blood of a modern American liberal.

            • publiusnj

              Apparently, Hombre is biased against Southerners but the point is an irrelevant one. I made a specific point about Locke’s partisanship. Locke’s protestations of toleration must be viewed in light of the actual politics of England at the time. Locke, a Dissenter, did after all flee England in 1683 in connection with the exposure of the Rye House Plot. That means he was in league with the most rigid Protestant supremacists in England.

              • John200

                The bias certainly shows through. Father hombre thinks southerners have the Civil War in their blood. Then
                we learn that use of slaves by “those people” created a “deadly
                darkness in their personalities.” Evidently, this deadly darkness has lasted 150 years.

                Father, this is ugly. Are you well these days?

            • Adam__Baum

              What ancestral sin darkens your personality?

      • Adam__Baum
    • Adam__Baum

      “stubborn stupidity.”

      Freud would be proud.

      • hombre111

        Look in a mirror.

        • Adam__Baum

          You’re too funny.

          It must torment you to be utterly dependent on a Church you despise and the toil of parishoners you have nothing but contempt for.

          • ColdStanding

            Just for kicks, you should head over to America magazine and post for awhile. You’d be a hit. There are far richer targets than the good hombre.

            • Adam__Baum

              I might just do that. Somehow I think that might the land that sanity forgot.

              • ColdStanding

                I tried, but couldn’t even get to posting anything. I hope your stomach is stronger than mine.

                • John200

                  Do not let dissenting Catholics, heretics, ex-communicated, et al. get your bowels in an uproar. They think that is an accomplishment. Just think of the kooks and their writings as a comedy festival and have fun with them, … like we do here every now and then with hombre; the Common Core gang; the homo”sex”ual trolls; the aborters; et al.

                  But they love to turn your innards inside out. Don’t let them do it.

      • Patrick Button

        Oh come now, hombre makes a good point about history. We needn’t disagree with him about everything.

        • Adam__Baum

          It would be more balanced if he pointed out that the Kings and Queens of that time were hardly impeccable.

    • cestusdei

      There were good reasons to excommunicate her. You are blaming the victims. They would have found an excuse in any case. They always do.

      • hombre111

        You have to see the role of excommunication in that medieval context. Pope Pius V thought his excommunication would unite the English nobles and the people against her. He did not realize that such tactics stopped working two hundred years before. Thanks to the Avignon Captivity, the Great Schism, and the immorality of the hierarchy at the highest level, the papacy had lost much of its clout and authority. I believe that today, thanks to the sex abuse scandal, the hierarchy has again lost its clout. Maybe that is why we need the gentle approach of Pope Francis.

        • cestusdei

          I am a canonist, so I know all about excommunication. The point remains that the Protestants needed little excuse to persecute Catholics. Now more then ever we should use sanctions against politicians who act contrary to Church teaching. The only reason they like Francis is because they think he is one of them. Remember what happened to Paul VI after Humanae Vitae.

          • DD

            Exactly true.

          • hombre111

            Hail, Iron Fist of God,
            A canonist! Now I know why you chose your name! In that long ago era, the Inquisition needed little excuse to burn somebody at the stake. In fact, I read in one history that a confession before torture was suspect. And you are right, Francis hasn’t crossed the secular enthusiasts, yet. But I hope it isn’t like Humanae Vitae, which was an attempt to reaffirm the authority of the Magisterium on an ambiguous topic. It ended with the authority of the Church questioned as it had never been before.

            • cestusdei

              Actually they needed a lot of excuse. In the entire Spanish inquisition over 3 centuries about 3000 executions occurred. Compare that to the Protestant record or the atheist one and the Spanish win the prize for restraint. The procedures used by the inquisition were more fair then any secular system at the time.

              The authority of the Church is supplanted by dissenters who care little for the truth. They want what they want and don’t care. Flouting divine law does not negate divine law. I remember a story about a great rebel against God long ago, he is convinced that he knows better. Where did that get him?

        • Gilbert Jacobi

          In today’s context, with the Church’s greatly reduced power and influence, excommunication could not be seen by secular authority as the threat it once was. Wouldn’t this argue that the Church now has a freer hand to use xcomm as a teaching tool and propaganda weapon? The instrument need not be so bluntly used, either, as in striking at a nation’s head, which I agree risks arousing nationalist sentiment. If excommunicating Pelosi, Biden, Sebelius, et al, (and some repugnants, just to be non-partisan) raises anger at the Church, would that not be cancelled by a gain in respect, and a huge morale boost for those of us trying to hold back the secular tide and hang on to a bit of holiness in everyday life?

      • Adam__Baum

        And if if the Pope had merely acquiesced to Henry’s reasonable (accktth) desire to subordinate marriage to his libido, under the cover of compelling state interest, all of this would have been counter-factual speculation, until he or another English monarch got his panties in a bunch over some other Papal action or other.

    • publiusnj

      The whole excommunication issue is just so much Whig Revisionism. Long before Elizabeth was excommunicated in 1570, she had imprisoned almost the entire Catholic hierarchy of England and passed a series of laws to end Catholicism in England as the first acts passed in Parliamnent in her new reign. Again, long before her excommunication, Elizabeth had gone on the warpath in support of the Protestant cause against the regnant Catholic monarchs of both Scotland (1559) and France (1562). In addition, she had launched Protestant extremist Francis Drake on a naval war against her former brother-in-law, Phillip II, in 1565. The excommunication was a reaction to her militant Protestantism, not the motive cause of the militancy.

      • hombre111

        You miss the point, as the great historian Belloc did not: Pope Pius V handed Elizabeth a wonderful tool to use against Catholics. Now, thanks to the excommunication which “freed” her subjects from their duty to be loyal citizens, every Catholic was, by definition, a traitor. A huge propaganda mistake, and the law of unintended results.

        • publiusnj

          You miss the point: Elizabeth’s persecution of Catholics antedated the Papal Bull. Elizabeth had been handed the only tool she needed to commence the persecution when she gained control of the English Parliament in 1559. She started her war on Catholics then and there. As I have pointed out, she started by imprisoning the Marian bishops and went on from there to wage direct and specifically Protestant wars on Scotland, France, Spain, Ireland and eventually even on Holland. Her Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy were the opening salvo. Because all but one of the bishops–including the Archbishop of York (Canterbury also died on 11/17/1558)–appointed during the reign of Mary I refused to swear the Oaths of Uniformity and Supremacy, they each suffered removal from their see, exile, imprisonment, house arrest, or some other form sort of constraint. The Papal Bull was just a convenient after the fact justification for Elizabeth’s War on Catholicism.

      • Gilbert Jacobi

        If the pope had acted sooner, would this have enabled Catholics to defend themselves better? Did the pope have better options than excommunication?

        • publiusnj

          Not really. Elizabeth’s father was a thug who had put down the original revolt against the effort to smother the Catholic Church in 1537 (the Pilgrimage of Grace). Her half-brother Edward’s regents (Seymour and then Dudley) were both thugs who put down the second revolt against the efforts to destroy the Catholic Church in 1549 (the Prayer Book Rebellion). Although Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary had made such huge strides to bring the Anglican Church back into the Catholic fold that the English Episcopacy remained almost unanimously loyal to Rome after Elizabeth’s accession, Elizabeth’s partisans (who included Elizabeth’s lover who was a son of Regent Dudley) went right after the restored Marian Episcopacy as their first action. Although a third revolt was unsuccessfully mounted against Elizabeth’s anti-Catholic moves in 1569, it too was doomed. The real truth was that England didn’t have a Reformation, it had a mugging or series of muggings of the Church by practitioners of the worst sort of realpolitik.

          • Gilbert Jacobi

            Thank you. I’m afraid I have no follow-on discussion to offer, but I appreciate being alerted to this avenue of enquiry.

  • AcceptingReality

    News flash for Locke: While I am grateful for the doctrine of Papal Infallibility and recognize the Teaching Authority of the Church, and am also endeavoring to maintain complete fidelity to the Magesterium with regards to matters of faith and morals, my blind allegiance is to Jesus Christ, Our Lord, in as much as the Church is the Body of Christ.

    Those of us who are faithful to Church teaching, and are striving with the help of God’s grace to know, live and spread the faith, have to be prepared to suffer either white and/or red martyrdom at the hands of the state and the public. Comes with the territory, praise God!

  • Dick Prudlo

    I have yet to be convinced that the USCCB’s understand “religious liberty” in a Catholic sense. I come to that conclusion due to their litigation on the “mandate.” Do these men realize just how many condoms are dispensed by Catholic Hospitals? If the federal court examines that issue they will be laughed out of the court process. The proper means to a totalitarian law is to simple say, I will not comply. But not these guys.

    • ForChristAlone

      You must realize that the bishops do not run anything at the USCCB. It is run by liberal, Obama-supporting bureaucrats masquerading as Catholics. And some of them don’t even pretend to be Catholic at all.

      • Adam__Baum

        Then if it’s unaccountable to the Bishops, they should disband it and liquidate its assets.

  • tom

    We’ve come a long way….all the wrong way, within a 150 years of Locke’s death in 1704.

    Once, a church, whether Anglican or Catholic, was superior to the state. Locke combined Faith and reason to assess the validity of a religious belief. The “natural law” derived from reason and, to Locke, was foundational to any religious belief. He said more. Any religion that hurt people ( human sacrifice, for example) was unacceptable. So was one that required allegiance to a foreign entity, like Islam or an allegiance to a Pope. He drew the line, in balancing the interests of the state, to when it tried to take custody of people’s souls. That, Locke said, was wrong. Of course, he was right.

    2014 A. D. The U.N. berates the Catholic Faith for not encouraging abortion and birth control in violation of reason and the natural law. Communism restricts religion (at best) to inside a church structure, but never in the public square. Obama, through Finnegan-Sebelius orders Catholics to fund abortions. Pelosi chimes in with the Church’s “conscience thing”. Locke would be outraged at this suffocation of the concept of Faith, by the state. Our Bolsheviks have voided both the Faith and reason Locke celebrated. The beauty of Christ’s teachings have been replaced in the public square with the despair of Marx, wrapped in the mantel of Evil.

    • Adam__Baum

      “Once, a church, whether Anglican or Catholic, was superior to the state.”

      How could that be true. The English crown made itself the head of its Church.

      • Sid

        The Catholic Church enjoys full supremacy over all states, and that includes the United States. She alone is the respository and teacher of God’s immutable revelatory truth, and all people and all human entities, including all government are required to give her full recognition and homage, and to follow her authoritative precepts.

        • Adam__Baum

          That has nothing to do with my point. Please read before responding.

          The Anglicans were founded on the idea that “their” church was headed by the English monarch, hence it was never “superior” to the state, it was fused.

          • tom

            You’re splitting heirs to the crown. My point was that religion was an important component of the state; now, religious belief is trashed as the state stands triumphant, free from reason or the natural law, too. The atheists Locke banned are triumphant. He never imagined Bolsheviks in control of the former Western Civilization. Yet, they are.

            • Adam__Baum

              Once, a church, whether Anglican or Catholic, was superior to the state.

              The Anglican Church was never superior to the state. The statement is false.

              If Henry didn’t like somebody’s lack of obedience, he had you beheaded. Thomas More and many others found out the King had the last word.

  • entonces_99

    First, because “where [papists] have power they think themselves bound
    to deny it to others”— since Catholic do not, he thinks, grant religious
    freedom to others, they do not deserve it themselves.

    That’s not a fair characterization of Locke’s position. He thought Catholics should not be given religious freedom, not because they didn’t “deserve it,” but because they would (or so Locke thought) use that very freedom as a way to get into power so they could deny it to others. The same argument has been used to justify suppression of the views of Communists and Moslems. I’m not saying that the argument is correct. I’m just saying that it’s different from Professor Snell’s caricature.

    • Gilbert Jacobi

      Whether sprung from the thought of Locke or not, this precisely describes the basis of the mistrust of Catholics and the drive to keep them away from the levers of power that was still a factor in American politics as late as the 1960 election.

      As for the argument being used against communists and Mohammedans: for commies, it was employed too little, too late; for followers of the religion of war, who has the courage to use it? If it had any traction at all, if there were anyone in a position of political influence with the courage to speak out along those lines, the 2008 election would have been the time to step up. I don’t remember hearing a peep from any of the major players.

  • Sid

    Professor Snell doesn’t appear to have the most accurate understanding of divine and natural law in this area.

    Nobody enjoys any natural right or liberty to publicly proclaim their theological doctrinal errors and evils, a position clearly held by Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, the luminaries of classical Catholic thought and our authoritative Church doctrine.

    Government has a key responsibility to assist Holy Church in securing the truth and helping to facilitate the moral and theological development of its people into holiness and sanctity, on a path toward salvation.

    • Adam__Baum

      “Government has a key responsibility to assist Holy Church in securing
      the truth and helping to facilitate the moral and theological
      development of its people into holiness and sanctity, on a path toward
      salvation.”

      And now that governments all over the world are working toward the exact opposite, what do you propose to do about it? Bernardin bought Obama a plane ticket, Dolan offers his services as a cheerleader, but he’s dedicated to the culture of death.

      Government is like fire. A little warms, a little too much consumes everything in its path, and exactly the wrong people (pyromaniacs, and pyrodolaters) are attracted to, and belief in it’s deployment without limit.

      • Ita Scripta Est

        As usual Adam your entire “response” is a red herring.

        • Adam__Baum

          Really? Dispute it with facts, not your fantasies.

          • Ita Scripta Est

            Yeah we all know that you Adam are the hard headed realist amongst us here.

            • Adam__Baum

              Here let me repeat myself:

              “Dispute it with facts…”

              • Ita Scripta Est

                What “facts?” the only “facts” that are in question is that your “response” is no response.

                • Adam__Baum

                  How long have you had this problem?

                  • Ita Scripta Est

                    Adam, you’re an embarrassment to yourself and everyone else who posts here. Please find a new hobby in life.

                    • Augustus

                      It may be true in THEORY that states should assist in the moral and spiritual betterment of their people, but prudence requires us to reconsider what the state is capable of doing or willing to do in our current circumstances. If you can’t respond intelligently to Adam’s reasonable objection, then your best option is to remain silent. Name-calling isn’t an argument. I’d like to see a debate, not a fistfight.

                    • Ita Scripta Est

                      I am all for prudence, I am also for being prudent before accepting the Whiggism that Adam and others of his ilk constantly flog.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Just can’t answer a direct question or wrap you head around the concept of “fact”, huh?

                    • Ita Scripta Est

                      Adam,

                      Yawn more inept blathering coupled with school yard taunts.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Answer the question or be gone.

                    • Ita Scripta Est

                      You’re scum. There’s another answer.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Thanks for providing a clear indication of what you really are.

                    • Crisiseditor

                      Gentlemen,

                      I think it’s time to end this threat and not resume communicating with each other until both parties are prepared to debate and discuss in a civil and calm fashion. It’s getting way too hot over here.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “And now that governments all over the world are working toward the exact opposite, what do you propose to do about it?”

                      This is a simple question which ISE refuses to address.

                    • Ita Scripta Est

                      I think most neo-liberal governments are not fostering the common good. I have said that elsewhere. What is not needed is a “return to the Constitution.” The idiotic Americanism that you support got us into this problem in the first place.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Non-answer.

                    • Ita Scripta Est

                      That’s the truth that you are too stupid to understand.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Smart enough to expose you for what you really are.

  • Ignatius

    The article reveals the general intolerance for those who dont hold govt as the highest authority.

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