Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XV

Archbishop Lefebvre Concerning Religious Liberty


26 February 1978


Letter of Mgr. Lefebvre to Cardinal Seper


Your Eminence,

In reply to your letter on 28 January, please find enclosed the documents which I hope will supply the proof that it is out of attachment to the infallible doctrine of the Church and to the successors of Peter that we are compelled to express reserves in our words and our acts in face of the new and singular direction taken by the Holy See on the occasion of the Second Vatican Council and after the Council.

I remain at your disposal for any additional information in words or writing, and I beg you, Eminence, to accept the expression of my respect and my devotedness in Jesus and Mary.

+Marcel Lefebvre



Reply to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Concerning the First Question: Religious Liberty


A) Prologue

Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the document are in contradiction with paragraph 3, and that is something which happens quite frequently in the conciliar documents, explicitly in the DH document, implicitly in others, and which causes confusion.

Indeed, if it is true that the Catholic Church is the unique true religion, all persons and all societies, especially the family and civil society, should recognize the Catholic Church as the unique true religion.

When the authorities constituted by God and by Our Lord Jesus Christ are Catholic, they have the duty of exercising their authority in the office they hold in favor of the unique true religion. To that end they are bound to pass laws, regulations and ordinances favoring the knowledge and the practice of the true religion, and defending it against what is opposed to it. Every Catholic authority has the duty of acting thus within its sphere, cooperating in the application of the eternal law of God of which the natural law is but the reflection.

That application has to be made with prudence and the gift of counsel, and so, in different cases, has to act with more or less of toleration, but also with a certain strictness and with the necessary application of the sanctions which go with every just law. There is no law without sanctions for those who break it. God gives us the example of that. If Our Lord spoke of the patience and mercy of His Father, He spoke also of His justice and His punishments.


B) Analysis of Article I

First reason:

Monseigneur Lefebvre reads DH with an unfavorable prejudice: but a reading of some key passages is sufficient to show that the “context” of the declaration does not allow a critical interpretation.

Thus in Lumen gentium

"This is the unique Church of Christ which in the Creed we avow as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. After His Resurrection our Savior handed her over to Peter to be shepherded (Jn. 21:17), commissioning him and the other apostles to propagate and govern her (cf. Mt. 28:18 ff). Her he erected for all ages as the 'pillar and mainstay of the truth' (I. Tim. 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter, and by the bishops in union with that successor, although many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside of her visible structure. These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess an inner dynamism toward Catholic unity." (No.8)

Similarly in DH:

“This one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church…"(No.1)



1. The text quoted from LG rightly has its place there, for it was necessary to teach that the Church, instituted, as it said, by Christ, is none other than the Catholic Church which can be easily recognized by "numerous and striking proofs” (Leo XIII, lmmortale Dei, "Pa ix lntérieure des Nations” - Documents Pontificaux, Desclée - n. 132) and by its four "marks" which in themselves are a great and perpetual “motive of credibility" (Vatican I, Dei Filius, Dz 1793-1794). Similarly, in DH it was above all necessary to teach that God does not wish to be honored except in the one true religion which He founded Himself, and which is the religion of the Catholic Church (cf. Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Multiplices inter of 10 June 1851, and Syllabus, prop. 21, Dl 1721). Pius IX can be quoted in this sense above all from his allocution to the Consistory on 18 March 1861:

"There is in fact only one true and holy religion, founded and instituted by Christ, mother and nurse of the virtues, destroyer of vice, guide to true happiness, which is called catholic, apostolic and Roman" (L 'Eglise, same collection, n. 230).

2.The opportuneness of those two texts from Vatican II is undeniable, but the same cannot be said of their clarity:

"This (sole) Church (of Christ) subsists in the Catholic Church" (LG, 8).

"This one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church" (OH, 1).

These are new ways of talking! Why not simply say, with tradition, that this sole Church of Christ is identical with the Catholic Church? Further on it is said that elements of sanctification are found outside the visible confines of the Church, elements which belong of right to "the Church of Christ"; why not say "to the Catholic Church"? Finally, it is said that those elements "possess an inner dynamism toward Catholic unity"; why not say, much more clearly, that of themselves, for those who use them, they are an appeal to return to Catholic unity?

So, from the start, the "context" of Vatican II on the question of religious liberty is not as "clear" as it is made out to be!


C) Analysis of Article II

Second reason:

Vatican II by no means teaches the religious indifferentism condemned by the popes. On the contrary, it teaches:

-All men have the moral obligation of seeking the truth, of adhering to it (when they know it} and of ordering their life according to its requirements.

-The missionary apostolate is the duty of the faithful.

-The duty of the faithful to form their conscience by the "sacred and certain" doctrine of the Catholic Church, "by the will of Christ the teacher of truth." (DH, 2 & 14)



It is a blessing that Vatican II does not teach the individual indifferentism of the human person towards the true religion, that is, the moral freedom, or each one's right, "to embrace the religion he prefers, or to follow no religion if none pleases him” (Immortale Dei, PIN, 143)!

But what Vatican II does teach is the indifferentism of the State1 towards the true religion; and that will lead sooner or later to individual indifferentism in religious matters. (That we know from our experience of modern laicized states and societies.)

We present:

1. what Vatican II teaches (OH, 13)
2.which is contrary to the "public law" of the Church.

1. What Vatican II teaches expressly about the public law of the Church, that is, her relationship with the State and civil society.

-- "The freedom of the Church is the fundamental principle governing relations between the Church and public authorities and the whole civil order." (A)

-- "As the spiritual authority appointed by Christ the Lord with the duty, imposed by divine command, of going into the whole world and preaching the Gospel to every creature, the Church claims freedom for herself in and before every public authority."(B)

-- "The Church also claims freedom for herself as a society of men with the right to live in civil society in accordance with the demands of the Christian faith." (C)

-- "When the principle of religious freedom...is implemented sincerely in practice, only then does the Church enjoy in law and in fact those stable conditions which give her the independence necessary for fulfilling her divine mission." (D)

-- "At the same time the Christian faithful, in common with the rest of men, have the civil right of freedom from interference in leading their lives according to their conscience. A harmony exists therefore between the freedom of the Church and that religious freedom which much be recognized as the right of all men and all communities and must be sanctioned by constitutional law." (E)

2. Those propositions are contrary to the traditional teaching of the Church on the Church's public law.

1) "The freedom of the Church is the fundamental principle." (A)

NO! Freedom is not the fundamental principle, nor a fundamental principle in the matter. The public law of the Church is founded on the State's duty to recognize the social royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ!2 The fundamental principle which governs the relations between Church and State is the "He must reign" of St. Paul (1 Cor. 15:25) - the reign that applies not only to the Church but must be the foundation of the temporal City. That is what the Church 'teaches, and it is what she claims as her first and chief right in the City:

The City will not be built otherwise than as God has built it; society will not be erected if the Church does not lay the foundations and direct its work; civilization will not be planned, nor will the new City be built, in the clouds. It has been, and it still is - it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It needs only to be established and ceaselessly re-established on its natural and divine foundations against the ever-renewed attacks of unhealthy utopianism, of revolt and impiety; OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO (St. Pius X, Letter on the Sillon, 29 August 1910, n.11).

Leo XIII was teaching that doctrine before St. Pius X:

Heads of State must hold the name of God holy, and amongst their chief duties must count that of favoring religion, protecting it with their goodwill, shielding it with the effective authority of law, and decreeing or deciding nothing against its integrity (Immortale Dei, PIN, 131; cf. also Libertas, PIN, 203).

And that religion is, of course, the only true one:

As, therefore, the profession of only one religion ("unius religionis”) is necessary in the City, that one must be professed which alone is true and which is recognized without difficulty (Libertas, loc. cit.).

Leo XIII, like his successors, and like St. Thomas Aquinas, sees a double ground for the State's duty to religion:

1) the divine origin of civil society (Immortale Dei, PIN 130); and 2) the State's special purpose, the temporal common good, which should be a positive help to the citizens in their approach to Heaven!

Civil society...ought, while encouraging public prosperity, to look to the good of the citizens not only by putting no obstacle in the way but also by providing every possible facility for the pursuit and the acquisition of that supreme unchangeable good to which the governors themselves aspire. The first provision is that of respect for the holy and inviolable practice of religion, whose observances unite man to God (Immortale Dei, PIN, 131).

That is found also in St. Thomas:

So, because the goal of that life which deserves here below to be called the good life is heavenly beatitude, it belongs on that score to the function of royalty (we say "of the State") to provide the good life for the many in terms of what will obtain for them the beatitude of heaven; that is to say, it should prescribe (in its order, which is the temporal) what leads to beatitude, and, as far as possible, proscribe what is opposed to it (De Regimine Principum, B 1, ch XV).

Finally, from Pius XII:

That common good, that is to say, the establishment of normal and stable conditions of public life, such that both individuals and families can live their life worthily, with regularity and happiness, according to the law of God, that common good is the end and the rule of the State and its offices (Allocution to the Roman aristocracy, 8 January 1947, PIN, 981).

And what is the law of God but the law of His Church? A letter from the Secretariat of State to the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, 14 April 1955, gives a good summary of that doctrine:

It is not only individuals who have the duty of paying to God the tribute of their homage and gratitude for benefits received, but also families, nations, and the State as such. The Church in her wisdom and maternal solicitude has always inculcated that duty .The Ember Days, amongst other things, demonstrate that in their liturgical language. But now that understanding of the Church has been dimmed or almost lost in modern society, and given the consequences of religious agnosticism in states, it is necessary to start again and bring all nations, united in brotherhood at the foot of the altar, to reaffirm in public their belief in God and to utter that praise which is due to the supreme Sovereign of the nations.

And who is "the supreme Sovereign of the nations" but Our Lord Jesus Christ? And what is praise at the altar but the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the greatest religious act of the Catholic Church?

That, as can be seen, is a long way from just the "freedom of the Church" which is all that is demanded by Vatican II which takes a part of the doctrine and abandons the rest in a scandalous silence. The Church of Vatican II certainly affirmed its wish not to ask for more than "freedom" and to forget the public law of the Church and the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in its closing message "to rulers" (8 Dec. 1965):

In your earthly and temporal city, God constructs mysteriously His spiritual and eternal City, His Church. And what does this Church ask of you after close to two thousand years of experiences of all kinds in her relations with you, the powers of the earth? What does the Church ask of you today? She tells you in one of the major documents of this Council. She asks of you only liberty, the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love her God and serve Him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life.3


2) Continuation of the same subject in passage from DH quoted in (B)

The passage from DH quoted above in (B) is substantiallythe same as a fine passage from Quas Primas of Pius XI which we owe it to ourselves to cite:

...The Church, constituted by Christ as a perfect society, demands, in virtue of a natural right which she cannot renounce, full freedom and immunity in face of the civil power, in the exercise of the commission given to her of teaching, directing and leading to eternal beatitude all those who belong to the kingdom of Christ… (Quos Primas, at the end).     

But Pius XI is careful not to say that the Church demands nothing more than that! It is undeniable that the freedom of the Church in relation with the civil power is one of her rights, but it is not the only one-far from it! "Freedom of the Church" can indeed be demanded from totalitarian civil powers, regalist formerly and now anti-Christian, which attack that freedom, but it cannot be presented, without a serious amputation of doctrine, as "the fundamental principle" of the Church's public law. Pius XI himself saw that an assertion of the Church's "right to liberty" required to be completed with a demand for what can be called the "primacy" of the Church, which is a consequence of that of her Head, Our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt. 28: 18):

The annual celebration of this feast (of Christ the King) will remind States that magistrates and rulers are bound, just like citizens, to offer public worship to Christ and to obey Him...For His royalty requires that the whole State be governed by the commandments of God and by Christian principles in its legislation, in the way it does justice, and also in training youth with sound doctrine and good moral discipline (ibid. loc. cit.).

That could not be stronger or more explicit!

An objection:

Yes, some will say, Pope Pius XI is most explicit, but he would not write that encyclical today. Times have changed, and we are pluralistic!


In our days, there is no point in the Catholic religion being considered the unique State religion, to the exclusion of all other religions (Proposition 771 condemned in the Syllabus, Dz 1777).

Praise is due to certain nominally Catholic countries. where the la w has provided that strangers coming to live there shall enjoy the public exercise of their particular religions (ibid. Proposition 78, condemned).


By the Declaration on Religious Liberty, by the Pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes, On the Church in the Modern World, - a significant title, this! - the Church of Vatican II has openly placed herself in the pluralist world of today ; and, without disowning anything great that there may have been, has cut the ropes which were mooring her to the banks of the Middle Ages. You cannot stay stuck at a particular moment in history (Fr. Yves Congar, Challenge to the Church, p. 46).

We answer:

That is to try and bend the public law of the Church to suit the actual situation. It is even worse than that: it is to make the apostasy of the nations an inevitable necessity of History. But the Church has been teaching for nineteen centuries that her public law is as unchangeable as her faith, because it is founded on it, and that the only inevitable necessity in the history of mankind is that Jesus Christ must reign.

In consequence, the Church (of Vatican II as of Vatican I and of Nicaea – or else "the Church of Vatican II" is not the Church of Vatican I and Nicaea) has the duty of proclaiming her law in all its fulness and all its force in face of the world even when it is laicized, materialist, Liberal, indifferent, agnostic or atheist; and all the more forcefully because it is more laicized, materialist, Liberal, indifferent, agnostic or atheist! It is a question of FAITH! Can the Church cease or hesitate to proclaim her faith in the social kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ? It is a truth of the Catholic Faith! Nor should she hesitate to proclaim her public law, that is to say, her primacy, her  sovereignty  in the human city! So far are we from echoing that apostate sentence: "the Pope would not write that encyclical today," that we are convinced that today more than ever the world needs that encyclical, that men are thirsting for the basic truth that "He must reign-oportet illum regnare"! That is why we affirm that the mouth of priest or bishop should today have no greater truth of faith to proclaim than "oportet illum regnare"! We are sure of that and we have the support of these words of Dom Guéranger:

There is a grace attached to the full and entire confession of the Faith. That confession, the Apostle tells us, is the salvation of those who make it, and experience teaches that it is also the salvation of those who hear it (Dom Guéranger, Le sens chrétien de I'Histoire).


3)        Vatican II claims "the liberty of the Church as an association of men in civil society" (C)5

Here, according to Vatican II, is a second reason for claiming the liberty of the Church: she, like every association of men in the State, has that right; by the same title as the other associations of civil society she has "the right to live" (according to her principles, which in this case are the precepts of the Christian law).

That is to give a completely false idea of the Church - to consider her only as a legitimate association among others in the bosom of civil society. The doctrine of the Church is different: the Church is not just a legitimate society, she is a perfect and supreme society which cannot be likened without blasphemy and grave injustice to "other associations in civil society."

If, in laicized or atheistic regimes, the Church is in fact reduced to the rank of one association among others in society, she cannot at once expect or claim more than equality in "common law" with other associations in the city;6 but that precarious solution due to a very special situation (even if it is widespread) can in no way be considered as the general and integral doctrine, which is quite different. Here it is:

The Church, which is a perfect society by the same title as the State, has of herself all the means for a stable existence and for the independent attainment of her end (cf. lmmortale Dei, PIN, 134).

And as the end to which the Church is tending is by far the noblest of all, so her power surpasses all others and can in no way be inferior or subject to the civil power (ibid.).

Thus, to present the Church as an "association of men… in the bosom of civil society" is to rank her with imperfect societies which, each in its secondary and subordinate place, cooperate in producing in the City the temporal common good. It is, consequently, to rob her of her status of perfect society, and of supreme society in virtue of the superiority of her end (eternal beatitude) over that of the State (the temporal common good). In that connection, here is a fine passage from Jacques Maritain (before his "conversion" to Liberalism):

We must affirm as a truth above all the vicissitudes of time the supremacy of the Church over the world and over all terrestrial powers. On pain of radical disorder she must guide the peoples towards the last end of human life, which is also that of States, and, to do that, she must direct, in terms of the spiritual riches entrusted to her, both rulers and nations (Primauté du spirituel, Plon, 1927, n. 23).

Instead of reducing the Church, under "common law," to the status of an the associations in the city, Catholic doctrine proclaims her "primacy," that is to say, in precise classical terms, the "indirect power" of the Church over the State because of the indirect subordination of the ends of the two societies. That has been shown, after St. Thomas (already quoted), by Jacques Maritain (Primauté du spirituel), and Journet (La juridiction de l'Eglise sue la cité), and before them by the great Roman teachers of recent times, before Vatican II.

So Cardinal Billot, S. J., De Ecclesia Christi, Vol. II: "On the relationship of the Church with civil society," q. XVIII, para. 5:

The Church received from Christ full authority over the baptized to lead them to their end, which is eternal salvation, and therefore in societies of Christians the secular power by divine law is indirectly subject to the Church's jurisdiction.

The author refers to Suarez, Defensio Fidei, Bk 3, ch. 22, and to the condemnation of Gallican ideas by Innocent XI, Alexander VIII and finally Pius VI in his Bull Auctorem fidei against the Synod of Pistoia. In the Bull the following opinion is condemned:

In temporal matters kings...and princes are by God's decree subject to no ecclesiastical power...directly or indirectly...and that opinion is necessary for public tranquillity and is as beneficial to the Church as to the State. It must be retained, for it agrees with the word of God, the tradition of the Fathers, and the example of the saints.

Similarly, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, 0. P., De revelatione, Bk II, ch. 15, a. 4:

Of the duty, for civil authority and society, of accepting divine revelation when it is adequately proposed.

The author refers to St. Thomas and to Leo XIII {already quoted), and in answer to an objection to the indirect power in question he writes:

Temporal good is not a means fitted to the attainment of a supernatural good, but is subordinate to it, for "we are helped by the temporal to move towards beatitude, in that by it the life of the body is maintained and it is an instrumental aid to acts of virtue" (1111 q83a6). Indeed, if that subordination were removed, temporal goods would be the first object of desire and we should make them our end, as happens in an irreligious or atheistic society.

And in answer to another objection which said that the liberty of the true religion was sufficiently protected in the liberty of religions (which is what Vatican II says: see the passage "D") Fr. Garrigou sets out the Catholic doctrine:

Liberty of religions allows us to frame an argument ad hominem, against those, that is to say, who profess liberty of religions yet harass the true Church (secular and tending to socialism) and directly or indirectly forbid its worship (communist societies). That argument ad hominem is correct, and the Catholic Church does not disdain it but rather urges it in defence of her rightful liberty. But from that it does not follow that liberty of religions, considered in itself, can be defended unconditionally by Catholics, for in itself it is absurd and wicked: truth and error cannot have the same rights.

Finally, the classical textbooks of theology teach the indirect power of the Church over the State: Zubizarreta, Bk I, n. 568; Hervé, Bk I, n. 537:

The State should be subordinate to the Church, negatively and positively, but indirectly : Catholic Doctrine.

Also, the Syllabus condemns this proposition (n. 24):

The Church has no power to impose her authority, and she has no temporal authority either direct or indirect.

To conclude: The "liberty of the Church as an association of men within civil society" is an argument ad hominem directed at powers which attack her public law on that point, so that she is reduced to expect from them in the present nothing but the common law right to existence of all legitimate associations, those, that is to say, that are in conformity with the natural law.7 But it is blasphemy and apostasy to turn that argument into an absolute and fundamental principle of the public law of the Church. The popes themselves have formally condemned the attitude of states even nominally Catholic which reduce the Church to the common law status:

In short they treat the Church as though she had neither the character nor the rights of a perfect society, and were merely an association like the others existing in the State (Immortale Dei, PIN, 144).

Before Leo XIII, Pius VII had written to the Bishop of Boulogne in France about the Charter of 1814:

There is no need to write at length, when addressing a bishop like yourself, to point out to you that a mortal wound has been inflicted on the Catholic religion in France by that article (Article 22); the very fact of establishing liberty of all religions without distinction is to confuse truth with error, and to put on the level of heretical sects and even of Jewish perfidy the holy and immaculate Spouse of Christ, the Church outside of which there cannot be salvation (Letter Post tam diutumitas, 29 April 1814, PIN, 19).

What would these popes say if they saw that Vatican II attributes such ideas to the Church itself and even puts them under her patronage?8


4) "When the principle of religious freedom...is implemented sincerely in practice...only then does the Church enjoy in law and in fact those stable conditions which give her the independence necessary for fulfilling her divine mission." (D)

According therefore to DH, if the Church has that liberty common to the other religions in the State she has the necessary independence. That proposition continues to show the same "partiality" in doctrine, and in addition an unrealistic view of the effectiveness of "mere liberty" for the Church's accomplishment of her mission.

a)  The partiality of the doctrine of DH is clear from the fact that this document wants no more for the Church than independence vis-à-vis the State. But Catholic doctrine does not stop there: it maintains that the Church has a right to the help of the State in every way in which the State, in its sphere, can give positive aid to the Church's mission. The State owes that aid to the Church because it is indirectly subordinate to her by reason of the Church's end (Cf. above, “C”). That aid is not just negative ("not to prevent") but above all positive ("to favor in every way"), as Leo XIII (Immortale Dei, PIN, 131) and the theologian Hervé, (above).

DH has a wholly partial and unjust idea of the State: it sees in the State nothing but an antagonist, in face of which the Church should not and cannot ask for more than independence. It does not even imagine that there could be a system of union and concord in which these two societies established by God could give one another intimate mutual aid, each in its domain: the Church fostering respect in the citizens for authority "which comes from God," the State helping and protecting the Church with public institutions founded on Catholic principles such as until recently (before they were abrogated in an application of Vatican II) were enjoyed in totally Catholic countries such as Colombia, Spain, and the Swiss cantons Fribourg, Tessin, and Valais.

That condition of "union between Church and State" is indeed the one which the Church has always considered the most apt for the realization of the social kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the best disposed to the growth of both societies, the temporal and the spiritual. That is the teaching of the popes and theologians already quoted: it is Catholic doctrine that the best system is the union of the two societies. Leo XIII puts it this way:

Between the two powers there must be a system of well ordered relations, analogous to the system in man which constitutes the union of body and soul. (Immortale Dei, PIN, 137); cf. Libertas, PIN, 200: ...and that for the greater advantage of the two partners, for separation is particularly disastrous for the body, for it deprives it of life.

b) It is grossly unrealistic to think that Catholic truth, in law and in fact, would make better progress relying on its intrinsic efficacy and its "liberty" than with the help of a State that respects Christ.

It may be true that in a non-Catholic country the common law, or a "mere liberty" situation may provide the Church in fact with the minimum conditions for action, sufficient for her development; but that situation may not be claimed by the Church generally and in any hypothesis; and it is in the short term ineffective and disastrous, as it presupposes that the State is secular and it leads sooner or later to the general secularization of institutions and customs - that is the present experience of all the former Catholic or just "Christian" countries, which are now moving towards advanced secularization and atheism.9

Following Lamennais, Montalembert (in the nineteenth century) and the Jacques Maritain converted to Liberalism, Fr. John Courtney Murray, a peritus at the Council and an expert on the subject, saw the present and future prosperity of the Church in the "liberty alone" situation, and not in the state of union, which he called "medieval Christianity," the state, so he said, which Leo XIII "had not abandoned altogether," but which for him "had never been more than a hypothesis."10 Fr. Yves Congar shares the same views when he writes:

Catholics had understood already in the nineteenth century that the Church would gain more support for its freedom in the affirmed belief of the faithful than in the favor of princes (Challenge to the Church, p. 44).

But those "Catholics" were the Liberal Catholics whose propositions were condemned at the time. And to say that Leo XIII stated his doctrine only as a "hypothesis"11 is not to know how to read the texts.

5) "That religious freedom...must be recognized as the right of all men and all communities and must be sanctioned by constitutional law." (E)

DH says explicitly in this place (as in others) that the State should grant freedom of religions (though it takes care to avoid using that term, which is at least temerarious since its condemnation by Pius IX. But no matter! The reality is the same!) But that alleged right has been condemned by the popes as contrary to the public law of the Church which is "imprescriptible." So the condemnation remains, in spite of the vicissitudes of the times or the "changes in the historico-social context," and whatever may be the new motivations with which an attempt is made to justify it in our day.

There is an immediate objection, presented by different authors and going unchanged from the one to the other - Fr. Congar (op. cit.), Fr. Andre-Vincent (La liberté religieuse: droit fondamental; Téqui, 1976), and, before them, Fr. Jérôme Hammer ("Histoire du texte de la Déclaration" in Vatican II, la liberté religieuse, Cerf. 1967, p. 66).

This is the substance of it:

Liberty of religions was condemned by the popes of the nineteenth century because of its motivation in the history of that time, namely the individualism of the rights of man made into an absolute. The references given are Leo XIII, Immortale Dei (PIN, 143) and Pius IX, Quanta Cura (PIN, 39-40). In the twentieth century, the argument goes on, Vatican II came and was able to proclaim that liberty of religions, baptized "religious liberty," because there had been a change in the "historico-social context," and because there were other reasons which justified it, for example the dignity of the human person which was almost unknown to the nineteenth-century popes!



1. If there are reasons which justify religious liberty today, perhaps tomorrow, when the historico-social context has changed again, those reasons will not apply, and there will be other contrary reasons for condemning religious liberty. So, one of two things: either the doctrine of the Church must be continually changing, to adapt itself, or the doctrine of "the Church of Vatican II" is condemned as being unadapted and already outdated. The first solution is absurd, the second is interesting...

2.To go deeper than the argument ad hominem or the re-ductio ad absurdum, it can be shown that the argument is specious: in fact, liberty of religions was not condemned by the popes of the nineteenth century because of its motive, or because of its premise which is individualism, etc. Rather it is the individualism of the rights of man which is condemned because of its consequences, one of which is liberty of religions. Liberty of religions is condemned on its own account as being

1) contrary to the true dignity of the human person: everybody would be free to cleave to error (Immortale Dei, PIN, 143), and thus to decline from his dignity (ibid., PIN 149);

2) contrary to the public law of the Church, which is unjustly or abusively relegated to the rank of "an association like the others existing in the State" (ibid., PIN, 144 ). See above, our analysis of the texts.

Fr. Jérôme Hamer's arguments, copied by others, can be seen through quite easily, and it is false from top to bottom! But who is going to refer to the texts and read them carefully? But the fact is that Vatican II, in DH, and all the chorus- masters in the business, reject the public law of the Church.

A historian of the Council, Ralph Wiltgen, gives a very good picture of the two opposing positions in the Council, one of which triumphed at the expense of the other, which he calls "more traditional" 12:

The fundamental thesis of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was that State neutrality should be considered as the normal condition, and that there should be cooperation between State and Church only "in particular circumstances."13 This principle the International Group could not in conscience accept. To justify its stand, the Group cited Pope Pius XII's statement that the Church considered the principle of collaboration between Church and State as "normal," and that it considered ''as an ideal the unity of people in the true religion, and unanimity of action" between church and State. 14

It is true that Pius XII went on as follows:

But she (the Church) knows that for some time events have been developing rather in the other direction, that is to say, towards multiplicity of religious confessions and views of life within the same national community, in which Catholics are a more or less strong minority.

History may find it interesting and even surprising to discover in the United States one example among others of the way the Church manages to spread in the most disparate situations.

But that particular case makes no change in what the Church counts as "normal" and "ideal" in comparison with an exception arising from "special circumstances." An actual state of affairs tending more and more to the contrary to what is according to law, nevertheless leaves the law intact. Pius XII is simply remarking on the progressive and general secularization of the nations where Christ formerly reigned by right and in fact, and after that he notes that paradoxically, in certain countries where Christ had never reigned perfectly according to the Catholic "thesis," the Church succeeded in spreading. The relative success of the Church in those countries, which twenty years later seems to us very ephemeral-especially since the Council which was followed by a spectacular halt in conversions to Catholicism-that relative success in no way weakens the Catholic "thesis." Nor is it weakened by the defeat inflicted on religion in the old Catholic countries by the concerted and constant attack of the Counter-Church forces, especially Freemasonry and international Communism. What is surprising in the retreat of the Catholic religion when the Church of Vatican II no longer teaches that Our Lord Jesus Christ should reign? "For truth is dashed to pieces by the sons of men" (Ps. 10:11)!

In Vatican II, then, we see a complete reversal of ideas within Catholic doctrine: the normal law and the normal situation (the State officially Catholic) become "special circumstances," while the exception (pluralism) becomes the law and should be protected in the juridical order of the City.

We add a comment on a text (from DH) which is parallel to our passage "D":

It is a question of "the liberty of religious groups." DH acknowledges that all "religious groups" have a function and two rights:

a) The function of worshipping the supreme divinity, Numen supremum. That has an evil sound-the worship of the Supreme Being! The Church of Vatican II admits that all religions without distinction have the power of honoring God, a power which belongs to the Catholic religion alone. In short the Church of Vatican II confounds Buddha, the God of Mohammad, and Our Lord Jesus Christ in a single "Supreme Deity," or at least it thinks that the State satisfies its religious duty in that indifferentism.

b) The right to the public exercise of their worship.

c) The other rights necessary for their existence and their propagation, such as "the public manifestation of their faith." Vatican II, therefore, proclaims the right to scandal and the right to propagate error.


By way of epilogue:

That in which the Church of Vatican II no longer believes

Scelesta turba clamitat    A  wicked crowd clamors
Regnare Christum nolumus,       It will not have Christ as King,
Te nos ovantes omnium    But with our ovations we proclaim You
Regem supernum dicimus.   The sovereign King of all.
Te nationum praesides   To You the heads of the nations
Honore tollant publico     Should bring public honor;
Colant magistri, judices   Rulers and judges should revere You,
Leges et artes exprimant.    Laws and culture should manifest You.
Submissa regum fulgeant          Royal standards should shine
Tibi dicata insignia, By dedication to You.
Mitique sceptro patriam     Citizens should submit country and home
Domosque subde civium.  To Your gentle sway.


Those stanzas from the First Vespers of the Feast of Christ the King in the Divine Office have been faked or wholly suppressed. "Initiated by a decree of the sacred ecumenical Council Vatican II, promulgated with the authority of Pope Paul VI."


A Careful Reading of the Texts

Leo XIII   
lmmortale Dei
(PIN, 143-144)  


Pius IX
Quanta Cura (PIN, 39-40)

1) Condemnation of individualist, indifferentist,rationalism, and of the indifferentism and monism of the State. 


1)  Denunciation of rationalism and its application to the State

" All men...are...equal among themselves, everyone can manage so well on his own that he is in no way  subject to the authority of others, he is perfectly   free  to think what he likes on  any subject and do  what  he likes...   

"Public authority is nothing but the will of the people  ...hence the people is judged to be the source of all  law...it follows that the State thinks it  has no obligation to God,professes no official religion, is not  bound  to prefer one religion to the others..."


“Today many apply to civil society the impious and absurd principle of naturalism, and dare to teach that for the best form of government and for the progress of civil life it is absolutelynecessary that human society be constituted and governed taking no more account of religion than if it did not exist, or at least making no difference between the true religion and the  false religions." 
2) Consequence: "the right to freedom of religion" .In the State.   2) Consequence: the right to religious liberty in the State.
“...but that it must attribute to all religions equality at  law, provided discipline in public affairs is not damaged. In consequence everyone is free to be his own judge in matters of religion,to embrace the religion he prefers,or to choose none if none pleases him "  

 "And contrary to the doctrine of Holy Scripture, of the Church and of the Holy Fathers, they have no hesitation in affirming that 'the best  condition of society is that in which there is no recognition of a duty of authority to repress with  legal penalties the violators of the Catholic  religion, except insofar as public order requires it...' And: 'Liberty of conscience and of worship  is a  right proper to every man. That right  should be  proclaimed and guaranteed in every well organized society. .’ "     


3) Consequence of this "new right": a blow  to the public law  of the Church.


3 ) Consequence of this "new right";  a blow to the Church
 "Given that the State rests on these principles  which are today in such high repute, it is easy to see to what place the Church has been unjustly relegated. Where  practice accords with such  doctrines, the Catholic  religion in the State is put on terms of equality or even inferiority with societies which are foreign to it. ..In short, they treat the Church as though she had neither the character nor the rights of a perfect society, and as though she were merely an association like the others existing in the State."     Pius IX denounces the latest opinion, quoted here in 2), as: "an erroneous opinion, disastrous in the last degree to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls," He says no more than that, but he adds further on that it amounts to "putting religion outside society."


Conclusion: the "new right," this "right to religious freedom in the State," is condemned by these two Popes essentially because, as a consequence or immediate corollary, it damages the public law of the Church. They are not condemning it because of its historical motivation at that moment, that is, because of individualist rationalism or State monism.


D)Analysis of Article III

Third reason:

The DH document has left out all the distinctions necessary to make it admissible: What is meant by religious liberty when we say that the human person has the right to religious liberty? Just as it stands, that sentence is ambiguous-there can be a moral right only to truth, not to error. If it is a question of a civil right, that can only mean tolerance and not a strict right. That is what Pope Leo XIII says in his Encyclical Libertas.

The reasons given for this right of the human person confuse natural or psychological liberty with moral liberty .The beginning of the Encyclical Libertas is quite clear on this subject. Natural liberty is liberty considered in its essence, with no consideration of the end it should seek. As soon as it begins to operate it performs human acts which come under the law and have a moral aspect which puts liberty under an authority-none other than the authority of God in which all human authorities share, each within its limits.

The exercise of that liberty extends to different acts about which the DH document is silent. Distinctions should be made between internal acts and external acts, private external acts and public external acts.

All those acts come under the authority of God. For Catholics, the Church has power either in the internal forum or the external forum as stated in Canon Law. The family has a right over the external acts, private and public, of its children until they come of age. The State has a duty and a right over public external acts as they affect the common good which necessarily involves a relation with the one true religion.

These duties and rights are stated in many documents of the Holy See, and they are confirmed in the Church 's practice by concordats and by the constant reminder to Heads of State of their duties to the one and only true religion.

Paragraph 3 implies the neutrality of the State if the State has to allow "the profession, even public of a religion." That statement is incredible, for it means the public profession of error. DH is most explicit on the subject. Its paragraph 4 is absolutely scandalous:

In addition, it comes within the meaning of religious freedom that religious bodies should not be prohibited from freely undertaking to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society and the inspiration of the whole of human activity.

No Catholic worthy of the name can subscribe to anything so infamous.

Quotation from Gregory XVI Inter praecipuas-8 May 1844:

From messages and documents received a short time ago we have proof that men from different sects met last year in New York, and on 12 June they formed a new Association called "The Christian Alliance" for the reception of members from all countries and all nations, backed by other Societies founded to assist it, with the common purpose of inoculating the Romans and the other peoples of Italy, in the name of Religious Liberty, with a senseless love of indifference in matters of Religion...They are determined to favor all peoples with freedom of conscience, or, rather, freedom of error... and they think they cannot do that unless they first spread their work among Italian and Roman citizens, whose authority with other peoples and their action upon them would be a powerful support.

What is meant by "coercitio"?

There is physical constraint and moral constraint.

Those constraints are always employed in any society against those who oppose the application of the laws. If the laws are just and in conformity with the natural and positive divine law, it is right for the legislator to secure observance of the law first of all by moral constraint, fear of punishment, and later by physical constraint, as God Himself does.

If Catholic governments perform their duty, as all popes have required them to do, they ought to favor the Catholic religion and therefore to protect it, as far as possible, against the false religions, against immorality and the scandalous ways of those depraved religions, and that not only in the interests of the Catholic religion but also for their own unity and continued existence.

That is what the Church and Catholic rulers have always understood and professed. It would be insulting to the Church, and to the rulers who have put these principles into practice, to make out that they were ignorant of "the transcendence of the person, the innate manner of tending to the truth, and the liberty of the act of faith "-what the DH document calls human dignity.


E) Judgement on this Article III

1- Article III is contrary to the documents of the Church's Magisterium.

These conclusions are the same as those asserted constantly in Pontifical Documents. Some references are given below:

Articles 77 and 78 of the "Syllabus."

77- It is no longer expedient, these days, that the Catholic religion be considered the unique State religion', to the exclusion of all other religions.

78- There is good reason why, in some Catholic countries, the law has provided that strangers who settle there should enjoy the public practice of their particular religion.

Propositions IV and V of the Synod of Pistoia condemned by Pius VI in the Bull Auctorem fidei.

Numerous references to this subject in the Collection of Papal Documents (Solesmes), La Pa ix intérieure des Nations, especially in the logical index, Le Libéralisme Politique and La Cité chrétienne.

2. Article III is contrary to the constant practice of the Church.

On the other hand, if paragraph 3 is true it condemns the Holy Office, Sanctum Officium Inquisitionis, which was established for the defense of the Catholic faith and which has never hesitated to call on the secular arm against notorious and scandalous heretics.

To affirm No.3, which in fact sums up the DH document, is therefore contrary not only to the whole of the time- honored practice of the Holy Office whose Prefect is always the Pope in person, but to all the public law of the Church, in theory and in practice.

Here are references on the subject:

Fontes selecti Historiae juris publici ecclesiastici-Ecclesia et Status, Lo Grasso, Romae, Universitas Gregoriana: No.26, No.52 (St. Augustine on coercion), No.53, No. 54.

Bull Inter Coetera of Alexander VI, No. 559-No. 707, 708.

Devoirs des Princes, No. 71Q. Devoirs de l'Etat envers Dieu et envers l'Eglise, 793.4.825.

3. Article III is contrary to the public law of the Church.

Silvio Romani, Elementa juris Ecclesiae publici fundamentalis-De Ecclesia et civitate, p. 252, as well as the whole bibliography at the beginning of the work.

The public law of the Church is based on the most elementary principles of Revelation and theology, and it requires pagan states to admit the mission of the Church and her freedom to teach, and, of Catholic States, that they help the Church in her duty of sanctifying and governing the faithful and protecting their faith against the scandals of heretical and immoral aberrations.

To ask rulers to permit liberty of error, liberty of religions, is to force them into neutrality, secularism and pluralism, and that always turns to the advantage of error. Pontifical Documents are explicit on that subject.

F) Disastrous Consequences of the Abandonment of the Traditional Doctrine of the Church about the Duties of the City to the Church

- Interventions of the Holy See for the liberty of false religions, by the suppression in the Constitutions of Catholic States of the first article stating that the Catholic religion alone is officially recognized as the State religion.

Examples from Colombia, Spain, Italy, and the Swiss can- tons of Valais and Tessin, where the Nunciatures encouraged the suppression of that article in the Constitutions.

- Intervention by the Holy Father himself in his discourse after the Council and on the occasion of the official reception at the Vatican of the King of Spain, basing himself on the document on Religious Liberty:

"What does the Church ask of you today? She tells you in one of the major documents of this Council: she asks of you only liberty."       

One cannot prevent oneself hearing that as an echo of the statements of Lamennais when he was founding his journal, L 'Avenir (Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, Vol. 9, first column, 526-527):

Many Catholics in France love liberty. The Liberals therefore should come to an understanding with them to demand full and absolute liberty of opinion, of doctrine, of conscience, of worship, and of all civil liberties without privilege or restriction. On their side Catholics should understand that Religion needs only one thing -Liberty.

It is enough to read Marcel Prélot's Le Libéralisme cathalique, published in 1969, to see how the Liberals have turned those statements to account.

The condemnation of Lamennais by Pope Gregory XVI in his Encyclical Mirari vas shows the opposition between Paul VI's predecessors and himself.

Those declarations are echoed in the words of Cardinal Colombo of Milan: "The State cannot be other than secular." I have not heard of his being reprehended by the Congregation for the Faith.

The logic of that abandonment leads even Catholic States to adopt laws contrary to the Decalogue, under pressure from false religions, and on the pretext of not disconcerting them in their moral doctrine.



This is a point of major importance. If it were just a question of recording the obligation of religious toleration imposed by the facts, it could be admitted. But to admit that that religious liberty is based on a natural right is absolutely contrary to the necessity of eternal salvation founded on the Catholic faith, on Truth.

To deprive the legislator of the means of applying his law, above all when it is a question of what is most important for the salvation of souls, is to make faith ineffective. To allow that the law of the salvation of souls can be defied with impunity, that it can be put in check, is to destroy it and to rob Catholic governments of power to perform their fundamental task.

"Go to the King (Louis XVIII)," said Pope Pius VII to Mgr. de Boulogne, Bishop of Troyes, in his Apostolic Letter Post tam diuturnitas, "and let him know the profound affliction...with which Our spirit is assaulted and crushed for the reasons We have given. Show him that his consent to the articles of the said Constitution (articles 22 and 23, Freedom of Religion and of the Press) would be a lethal blow to the Catholic religion, a grave danger to souls, and the ruin of the faith...God Himself who possesses all power in all kingdoms and who has just restored him to authority...certainly requires him to use that authority chiefly for the support and splendor of the Church."

That, unhappily, is not the language used by Pope Paul VI to the King of Spain.

In short, it is because we believe in the infallibility of the popes when they proclaim truths many times affirmed by their predecessors that we cannot admit paragraph no.3 of Religious Liberty as it is set out in the Annex .


G)Analysis of Article IV

Fourth reason:

The assertion of this right to religious liberty is in line with earlier pontifical documents (Cf. DH2, note 2) which, in face of statism and totalitarianism have affirmed the right of the human person (or "fundamental rights").



It is enough to go to the texts quoted in the note in question and to the interesting thesis of Fr. Andre-Vincent (op. cit.) which is in substance the "fourth reason" alleged in defence of the orthodoxy of DH. We shall take the texts in their chronological order.

         Leo XIII, Encyclical Libertas, 20 June 1888.

In fact, Leo XIII proclaims certain rights of the human person, though implicitly.

a) A right of the person to demand from the State effective protection against the propagation of error, notably in religious matters.

Leo XIII expounds the Catholic doctrine which, as we shall see, is altogether opposed to the freedom to propagate error proclaimed by Vatican II.15 Here is Fr. Andre-Vingent's exposition of things as he sees them:

It is for the necessary protection of persons that Leo XIII claims the safeguard of the State: on account of human weakness. And when he asserted the duty of the State to repress the excesses of “the new liberties," it was at a time when the mass of the faithful looked like a population of children: human beings have a need of (-why not say "have a right to"!?) protection against error: control of subversive ideas is no less necessary than control of drugs.

The deviations of a dissolute spirit which, for the ignorant multitude, easily become a veritable tyranny are rightly punished by legal authority, as are violent attacks against the weak (Libertas, n. 39, PIN, 207).

The liberty of the strong was the oppression of the weak. Leo XIII was taking up the idea of Lacordaire: "between the strong and the weak, it is liberty which oppresses and law which sets free." The intervention of the State was therefore the necessary protection for persons. Leo XIII does not use the phrase "rights of persons," but if his idea of the common good is pushed a little ( -including the duties of the State towards Religion, and consequently the rights of Religion and the faithful to the help of the State- ) it yields the notion of "rights of persons."

All that is true, but why make it relative by using the historic imperfect? "the mass of the faithful. ..a population of children" is still the great reality: our contemporaries are more than ever abandoned defenceless to the perpetual aggression of the mass media which, with unbelievable effectiveness, propagate that corruption of minds and morals wanted by the Counter-Church.

In Libertas Leo XIII defines a first right of the human person of which these are the elements:

1) It is a natural right, for it is founded (at least implicitly in this place) on human dignity which must avoid being decayed by adhesion to error (cf. lmmortale Dei, PIN, 149).16

2) It is a right not only natural but civil, which should be sanctioned with "the authority of law."

3) An individual right (at least implicitly: it is not, in the immediate context, a right of the society which is the Church but a right of the human person as such).

4) A "positive" right: the right to be protected (which is something positive) against the seduction of error.

b)        The right of the person, in the State, to keep the commandments of God without being prevented by anything from so doing: "...but it (-liberty of conscience and of worship-) can be understood also in this sense that in the State man, conscious of his duty, has the right to follow the will of God, and to keep His commandments without being prevented by anything from so doing" (Libertas, n. 19, PIN, 215).

So there is question here of liberty of conscience and of religion. But its four elements, the first of which is fundamental, must be specified. We are dealing here with:

1) the liberty of THE TRUE RELIGION: for the commandments of God which are mentioned are kept only in the religion which God Himself has founded by becoming man and by inaugurating at the Supper and on the Cross the sacramental Sacrifice of the New and Eternal Covenant.

2) a right which is not only natural (founded on human nature and its operative perfection) but also a right "before the State," i.e., a civil right.

3) an individual right: it is, once more, a right of man or of the human person, and not a right of the religious society which is the Church.

4) this time, a "negative" right. It is a right of "not being prevented" from the exercise of the true religion. That right must be distinguished from another, namely the right not to be forced to practice the true (or any other) religion. That right was not envisaged by Leo XIII for it was not to his purpose. Vatican II talks about it (but without distinguishing it sufficiently from the first or indicating shades of meaning as it should have done-certain social constraints can be allowed, as prompting to embrace the true religion).

A difficulty arises from the phrase in parenthesis, "conscious of his duty." The way out of the difficulty can be found in the Latin text:

Sed potest etiarn in hac sententia accipi, ut homini EX CONSCIENTIA OFFICII Dei voluntatem sequi et jussa facere nulla re impediente, in civitate liceat.

From that it can be seen that the parenthesis "conscious of his duty" is explanation, not restriction. The restrictive sense would be this: "Man has the right to follow the will of God, in so far as he is conscious of it." In that case, even an erroneous conscience about the nature of the true religion would have that civil right; and that would be to accept that there is a right (natural first, and then civil) to error, which is certainly not the mind of Leo XIII who said earlier in the same Encyclical:

Right is a moral faculty, and, as we have said, and as cannot be too often repeated, it would be absurd to think that it belongs naturally and without distinction to truth and to falsehood, to good and to evil (N. 39, PIN, 207, AAS 20,605).

So it is the explanatory sense which is true: "man, having a consciousness of his duty, has a right to follow the will of God."

That removes the difficulty. Let us see how Leo XIII now relates that liberty of conscience or religious liberty, a natural and civil right, individual, negative, relative, to the only true religion, to the notion of human dignity, which Vatican II did not discover but rather perverted (saying that it belongs equally to those in the truth and those in error). Here are the Pope's words:

That liberty, the true liberty worthy of the children of God, which so gloriously protects THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON, is above all violence and all oppression (N. 49, PIN, 215).

So we have two rights of the human person defined by Leo XIII:

a) the right to demand from the State protection against error (particularly religious error);

b) the right, in the State, of keeping the commandments of God (in particular that of honoring Him with the practice of the true religion), without being in any way prevented.

What does DH say in the parallel passages? It names two rights, but very different from the first:

1) the right, guaranteed by the State, to propagate error: "Religious bodies also have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word" (DM, n. 4.).

2)  the right "not to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly" (DH, n.2.).

(Always "within due limits"-which are nothing of the kind!)

-And that, even when it is a question of a religion other than the true religion!



So far from discovering the "continuity" between Libertas and DH which it was hoped to find, we see instead a plain contradiction.

2.Pius XI, Encyclical Mit brennender Sorge , 14 March 1937:

...Man, as person, possesses rights which he holds from God and which must remain, within the community, free from any attack which would deny, abolish or neglect them (PIN, 677.).

...The believer has an inalienable right to profess his faith and to live it as it requires to be lived. Laws which suppress or make difficult the profession and practice of that faith are in contradiction with natural law ...(DC n. 837-838,10-17.4.1937, col. 915; quoted by Andre-Vincent, op. cit. p. 252).

What believer and what faith are there referred to? The answer is given 1) by the obvious meaning of the words "believer" and "faith" which indicate the Catholic believer and the Catholic faith, 2) by the context: that letter was addressed to the bishops of Germany, and was therefore intended to defend the rights of German Catholics, and, as an encyclical, the rights of all Catholics in a similar situation (under a totalitarian régime opposed to the Catholic religion) finding even their simple "natural" right, as Pius XI says, threatened or flouted.

Vatican II also uses the word "faith" but applies it indifferently to the Catholic faith and to the superstitions of the other religions! (Cf. OH, 4, already quoted.) And DH grants that inalienable right to the "believers" of all religions!

Where is the continuity which is alleged to exist between Pius XI and Vatican II?

2 (2nd). Pius XI again .Encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno29 June 1931.

(The text is not quoted by DH, but it is frequently brought forward in support of the continuity thesis.)

...The sacred and inviolable rights of souls and of the Church. It is a question of the right souls have to attain the highest spiritual good under the Magisterium and the teaching work of the Church, by divine constitution the sole mandatary of that Magisterium and that soul, in the supernatural order founded in the blood of God the Redeemer, necessary and obligatory for all for participation in the Divine Redemption. It is a question of the right of the souls thus formed to communicate the treasures of the Redemption to other souls in collaboration with the actions of the hierarchical apostolate (Pius XI has Catholic Action in mind).

It was in consideration of that double right of souls that we recently said we were happy and proud to fight the good fight for the liberty of consciences, not (as some, perhaps inadvertently, have made us say) for liberty of conscience-that is an equivocal way of talking which is too often used to mean the absolute independence of conscience, something absurd in a soul created and redeemed by God...(DC, n. 574, 18 July 1931, col. 82, quoted by Andre-Vincent, op. cit. p. 251-252).

Pius XI is being very careful: he does not proclaim liberty of conscience, "something absurd," but the liberty of the consciences of Christian souls, that "liberty of the children of God" of which St. Paul speaks, and which Leo XIII defined so well:

Liberty consists in this, that with the help of civil law we may more easily live according to the prescriptions of the eternal law (Libertas, n. 17, PIN, 185).

And he defended that liberty in these terms:

That liberty, the true liberty of the children of God, which so gloriously protects the dignity of the human person, is above all violence and all oppression (ibid., n. 49, PIN, 215).

So Pius XI is proclaiming that liberty of conscience of Christian souls, and not, like Vatican II, "the right not to be restrained from acting...in accordance with his own beliefs" in religious matters, without distinguishing between a true conscience and an erroneous conscience!

Pius XI, besides, defines two rights:

1) The right of souls to attain the highest spiritual good under the Magisterium and the teaching work of the Church.

That is a long way from the "free enquiry" proclaimed by Vatican II and which exists, according to the Council, as well in "teaching and instruction" as in "communication and dialogue" (DH, 3). On the contrary, it is in full continuity with the teaching of Leo XIII on the right of the person to the protection of the State against the diffusion of error.

2) "The right of Catholic souls to communicate the treasures of the Redemption to other souls" under the direction of the hierarchy.

That is a long way from the right granted by Vatican II "to religious groups (-without distinction-) not to be pre- vented from publicly teaching and bearing witness to their beliefs by the spoken or written word." Vatican II jumbles together, as it pleases, the treasure of the Redemption and superstitions foreign to the true faith.

Where is the continuity which is alleged to exist between Pius XI and Vatican II?

3. Pius XII, Christmas Radio Message, 24 December 1942.

The Pontiff, "in the full hell of war, had the courage to lay the foundations of peace...After mentioning the link between the two phenomena of proletarianization and State totalitarianism, Pius XII pointed out the direction to be taken in the effort to reverse the process of dissolution" (Andre-Vincent, op. cit., p. 114-115):

To promote respect for, and the practical exercise of, the fundamental rights of the person, namely: the right to maintain and develop corporal, intellectual and moral life, in particular the right to a religious training and education; the right to worship God in private and in public, with the exercise of religious charity included...

Pius XII is here claiming the "fundamental rights" of the human person, that is to say, the "natural rights" which ought to become civil rights. The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the phrase "the right to worship God in private and in public." Is that the same as asking, with Vatican 11, for the right to "honor the Supreme Being with public worship"? (DH, 4.) The answer must be NO!

In the mouth of Pius XII the phrase "worship of God" is simply an abstract expression for THE TRUE RELIGION, it includes the true religion implicitly, and, still, implicitly and not explicitly, excludes the other religions in so far as they are directly opposed to acts of simple natural religion which underlies all positive religions.17

For, in our view, it is a question of direct defence of the rights of Catholic souls (Cf. Pius XI), and also of the oblique condemnation of the exorbitant demands by totalitarian regimes (the atheists especially) which fall unjustly on Catholics and non-Catholics.18

The text of DH, on the contrary, starts by speaking explicitly of "liberty of religious groups." The phrase "honoring the Supreme Being" must therefore be understood, in that context, as being an abstract expression for ALL RELIGIONS which includes them all implicitly at the same level. Consequently it does not respect the character of the one true religion, the Catholic religion.

There is, then, an abyss between the Christmas 1942 Radio Message and DH: the language makes us suspect its presence, the context of each document brings it into the open.

4. John XXIII, Encyclical Pacem in ferris, II April 1963.

Here is a text in its current translation:

Everyone has the right to honor God according to the just rule of conscience and to profess his religion in private and public life.

There follows a quotation from Lactantius and one from Leo XIII: Libertas, (n. 39, PIN, 21 S), a text we quoted above apropos of Non abbiamo bisogno.

In the French version John XXIII seems to be claiming for the human person the right to profess his religion whatever it may be (so, State indifferentism!). But that is not so-the translation is defective, as can be seen from the Latin:

In hominis juribus hoc quoque numerandum est, ut et deum, ad rectam suae conscientiae normam, venerari potest, et religion em privatim publice profiteri...

Among the rights of man must be numbered that of being able to honor God according to the just rule of his conscience and to profess religion in private and public life...(AAS.259, 55, 1963.)

That text, therefore, can be taken as an abstract expression for "the true religion," and can be interpreted in the sense of Pius XII's "fundamental rights." The parenthesis, "according to the just rule of his' conscience" can also be interpreted in a traditional sense: "according to each one's conscience, corrected by the virtue of prudence and adhering to the true." (The same expression in Gaudium et Spes, n. 16, can also be interpreted in that sense.)

In that hypothesis, Pacem in ferris shows the same break with Vatican II as do the texts examined above.

But an official author, who took part in the writing of the Encyclical,19 Mgr. Pietro Pavan,20 makes a revealing confession of which we are informed by Rene Laurentin, writing about DH:

We did not acquire this "right of the person" from the Council. The decree DH took it from Pacem in terris and its formulas. That encyclical had at first been accepted just as it was, but its continued acceptance depended on its being watered down. However, the declaration (DH) taken as a whole is not a withdrawal and indeed it gets rid of certain ambiguities which had been deliberately kept in Pacem in terris. (Bilan du Concile, Paris, Seuil, 1966, pp. 329-330.)

In what did that deliberate ambiguity consist? It must be that the editors decided to preserve the possibility of a traditional interpretation with "watered down" expressions ("profess religion," "according to the just rule of his conscience") which nevertheless left the way open, by not excluding it, for the new conception in DH.

In any case, on the hypothesis of that calculated ambiguity, Pacem in terris is not entitled, at least in this matter, to the assent due to the documents of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, and to quote it in support of DH is valueless and without force.

We think we have said enough here to show that DH cannot take its place, as is claimed, in the line of earlier pontifical documents that can be adduced in the matter.


1. P. Pavan, Libertd religiosa e publici poteri, Milano, 1965, p. 357.

2. State indifferentism, at least towards this or that religion which it should in justice recognize as the only true one, or which it should favor by legislation. DH does indeed recognize (1)  the State has duties in matters of religion "to enable the citizens to perform their religious duty more easily,” which is Catholic doctrine: (2) the true religion "subsists in the Catholic Church," which is the beginning of a climb-down; but it takes care not to draw the conclusion by the popes: “the State should recognize and protect the Catholic religion as the only true one, etc.”

3. Of Course, even this extreme formulation of Vatican II Liberalism does not eliminate from the texts the doctrine of the State’s duties to religion: “The civil power must certainly recognize and foster the religious life of the citizens…” (DH, 3). But the council leaves it to be understood that the States does its duty to religion when it guarantees to various religious communities the exercise of their many religions! Where then are the rights of the one true religion? Is the State going to honor God and be pleasing to Him by means of several different religions?

5.The Following passage, (D), explains the tenor of (C).

6. . Cf. Theological Commission (Card. Ottaviani). preparatory schema for V. II. Part II. ch. IX: "In cities (states) where a large part of the citizens do not profess the Catholic faith...the non-Catholic civil power ought, in matters of religion , to conform itself at least to the precepts of the natural law. In those conditions. it should grant civil liberty to all cults which are not opposed to natural religion.”

7. An example of the use of the argument ad hominem is given by Pius XI writing to the ordinaries of China on 15 June 1926: "Everybody knows, and it is confirmed by the whole of history, that the Church accommodates herself to the constitutions and laws proper to each nation...and demands nothing more for the preachers of the Gospel and the faithful than the common law, security and liberty." It should be noted that Pius XI is not demanding the common law for the Church as such and in general, but for the missionaries and the Christians in a particular country with as yet no knowledge of Christ.

8. See the answer to the 4th "remark" of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

9. Cf. A. Roul, L ‘Eglise catholique et le droit commun, Casterman, 1931, p. 496.

10. Cf. J. Courtney Murray, “Le développement de la doctrine de l’ Eglise” in “Vatican II, la liberté religieuse,” Unam sanctum n. 60, Cerf. 1967, p. 134).

11. Hypothesis : behavior depending entirely on historical circumstances, and therefore not immutable.

12. The Rhine Flows into the Tiber (in U.S.A., Hawthorn Books, 1967, p. 251; in Great Britain, Augustine Publishing Co., 1978, p. 251).

13. MGR. LEFEBVRE'S FOOTNOTE, not Father Wiltgen's: DH says: “If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of the State..." (DH, 6)

14. MGR. LEFEBVRE'S FOOTNOTE, not Father Wiltgen's: Cf. Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Congress of Historic Sciences, 7 September 1955.

15. "Within the limits of a just public order"-which limits nothing! For, according to DH: I) public order is not concerned with the State's duties toward truth, especially religious truth, 2) the State will decide arbitrarily what it will or will not tolerate-it is not for the Church to decide, though the right to that decision belongs to her.

16. "Liberty, that element of human perfection, must be applied to what is true and what is good...If the intelligence sticks to false ideas, if the will chooses evil and attaches itself to it, neither of them reaches its perfection, both fall away from their natural dignity and are corrupted- sed exciderunt dignitate natllrali et in corruptelam ambae dilabunnlr."

17. Cf. Lercher, lnstitutiones theologicae dogmaticae, Vol. I, n. 22.

18. At the level of the simple natural right. Thus, because it is natural rights, especially any that are religious, which totalitarian countries under communist domination are massacring so terribly, Pius XII was perfectly justified in demanding respect for them. {Cf. the allocution by Cardinal Ottaviani to the Pontifical Atheneum of the Lateran, 3.3.1953, on "The duties of the Catholic State towards Religion" lmp. Polyglotte Vaticane, 1963, p. 285.)

19. The opposition we make between "liberty " and "the social royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ" is not an opposition of contradiction but an opposition of "the whole and the part," in this sense that the social royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ does include the freedom of the Church in relation to the temporal power, but that liberty alone is not the whole of the doctrine of the social reign of Christ!

20. Fr. Rouquette writes: "I think I have it on good authority that the project (of the Encyclical) was drawn up by Mgr. Pavan... it was elaborated with great secrecy; the text was not submitted to the Holy Office...so as to avoid the publication of the Encyclical being delayed indefinitely by the Holy Office as had happened with Mater et Magistra. But the producers of the Encyclical took their dogmatic precautions and had their text revised by the Pope's official theologian, a consultor at the Holy Office, who bears the archaic name, 'Master of the Sacred Palace.' The text was submitted to some other experts" (Etudes, June 1963, p. 405). If that is true, what confidence can we have in the Encyclical on the point under consideration?


Chapter 14

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