Friday, March 10, 2017

The empty Imperial throne

Over on Rorate Caeli I've posted an article by James Bogle, former FIUV President, LMS Committee member and author of a book on Bl Charles of Austria, on the role formerly played by the Holy Roman Emperors (and indeed by the Christian emperors of Rome) in Church affairs, and the consequences of the disappearance of the Emperor from Europe's life.

It is easy to point to periods of conflict between Pope and Emperor. Conflict is inevitable over time and itsn't always unhealthy. What is worse than the conflict between the two pillars of Christian society, the spiritual and the temporal, is the disappearance for practical purposes of one side of the conflict: the disappearance of lay leadership in the Church. This is a point discussed in the FIUV Position Paper on the Extraordinary Form and the Laity.

It is not that the Pope since 1918 has made himself the Emperor; it is that the Catholic Emperor's power has been taken by people outside the Church.

I was very struck recently reading Valentin Tomberg's discussion of the symbolic meaning of the figure of the Emperor. He wrote, in part:

Europe is haunted by the shadow of the Emperor. One senses his absence just as vividly as in former times one sensed his presence. Because the emptiness of the wound speaks, that which we miss knows how to make us sense it.

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  1. What about the prophecy of the return towards the end times of a new Catholic Emperor? Will he be a Habsburg, Bourbon or someone totally unknown? Any ideas on this or is it all just fanciful speculation?

  2. Reading some of the encyclicals of previous Popes such as Pope Gregory XVI in "Mirari Vos" one gets the impression that previous Popes did not approve of "democratic" forms of government of limited or universal franchise. It preferred monarchical or rule by a select few of presumably intelligent and wise people. In a monarchy if a country is fortunate to have a good, wise and strong King then all society both the good,bad, not so good and not so bad benefit. However in a modern democracy such as in Britain, U.S.A. Ireland etc. different powerful lobby groups such as big business, pressure groups,sectional interests and the media seem to have an inordinate amount of influence. Is this fair? Do the poor, badly educated and underprivileged gain, I think not. Therefore is not a country ruled by a wise, good King or benign Christian dictator not more fortunate than a country like a so called "democracy" where they are many competing voices shouting to be heard and it tends to be might that triumphs rather than the common good. Comments please.

  3. Has not the modern state led to the proliferation of bureaucracy and the state interfering in areas where it has no business such as health,education,providing social welfare which creates a culture of dependency and poverty of mind body and spirit. People especially children do not flourish as they should. This is against the Catholic and common sense principle of subsidiarity and Caesar is interfering in areas which he has no competence or authority. Such as the ludicrous situations of the modern state telling us what we should eat,and where we can smoke.This is the tyranny of Big Brother aided and abetted by the fourth estate the media and other powerful interests. The state should only be involved in protecting it's citizens or subjects from attack which ironically in the modern state it allows the most vulnerable members of society to be killed in their mothers' wombs and subjects innocent children to the tyranny of state controlled sex education, pornography etc. Surely this is tyranny that only a tyrant of ancient times such as in the Greek City States could only have dreamed of. Should we as Catholics in so called modern western states refuse to pay our taxes? to these tyrants and bullies?

  4. The 'haunting' that Tomberg speaks of has been around a long time. The absent Emperor was keenly felt in Western Europe - spiritually and psychologically - after the fall of Rome, leading eventually to the rise of Charlemagne and birth of the Holy Roman Empire. The archetype holds good in the East as well. Many Russians, of course, view Moscow as the Third Rome, after Imprrial Rome and Byzantium, and Tsar Nicholas II as the last Roman Emperor (so far).

    I think the loss of the Imperial principle in the West has been frankly disastrous. It's deprived lay Catholic men of a genuinely masculine Catholicism and opened the floodgates for the feminisation of the Faith. That said, John, I don't believe a new Catholic Emperor is at all out of the question. His advent could be closer than we think. The Imperial archetype, as Tomberg knew, holds truth, and truth never goes away - it never stops being real, never stops being truth. It would probably take a great crash of some kind - war, economic crisis, etc - to bring about the radical spiritual and political reorientation required, but as I say, I honestly don't think it's all that far fetched.

    It wasn't all that long ago, after all, that the Prayer for the Roman Emperor was removed from the Missal (1955, I think), which, funnily enough, is around the time that JRR Tolkien published 'The Return of the King', which is all about the restoration of sacred monarchy. Fantasy, prophecy or both? We'll see!

  5. Speaking as a lay Catholic man of 51 years. I agree that our Holy faith has been feminised and made to look ridiculous. I believe that one of the major obstacles to evangelisation today especially amongst working class young men is the absence of a strong manful, masculine identity among our Catholic clergy.Many of our priest are elderly and have become spiritually castrated. Men are made to look stupid, inadequate and incompetent in today's feminised culture and I believe that this may be a contributing factor to high suicide rates among young males and also violent attacks and rapes on women. I am not trying to excuse suicide or attacks or rapes on women but trying to understand where all this anger, frustration and violence among men is coming from. I think Satan being the cunning angel he is knows this and is using radical feminism to undermine men and pit the sexes against each other. The lack of genuine male role models both in the Church,politics and society at large is a big problem and a spiritual problem at that. Our bishops,priests,fathers brothers have become emasculated. This I think is one of the major factors why Catholicism has become wimpish, weak and unable to evangelise.

  6. I fail to see how James Bogle can justify a "dual separation of powers was central to the Constitution of Christendom, established by our Lord" with reference to the Scripture passages he cites, Lk 22.38 and 1 Pt 2:13-14,17. Links may be drawn between these passages and secular power, but to assert that secular power was part and parcel of our Lord's establishing the Church, let alone calling it sacred, is far from the truth. "My kingdom is not of this world..."

    1. @br - You're right that secular power doesn't seem to have been part and parcel of Our Lord establishing the Church. There's no doubt to my mind, however, that the figure of the Emperor responds to a deep-seated need in the human soul. That need must have been planted in us by God for a reason. That's how I see it anyway.

      All the best, jf

    2. Yes, it's probably time to move on from the ruinous idea that conflates spiritual and secular power. Fortunately, our faith does not rest on being protected by secular power. It seems that Our Lord made that perfectly clear in his teachings. One could even make a strong case that the downfall of Christianity began with the disastrous acceptance of constantinianism.

    3. In which case it took a very long time indeed...

  7. Bogle seems to imply that Emperor Otto I had the right to remove Pope John XII from power after a "council" had declared him self-deposed. This is clearly false. A pope can automatically lose his office through public schism, heresy or apostasy, but John XII's misconduct seems to have been of a different kind (adultery etc.). It is clear that Leo VIII was initially an antipope; however, he may later have become a true pope if it is true that Pope Benedict V recognized him.

  8. Absent an Emporer, Christ remains The King of Kings:

    Page 117, of the pope's book, On Heaven and Earth, in regards to same-sex unions:
    “If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity." -Jorge Mario Bergoglio

    When one denies that God Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage by denying the Sanctity of the marital act, one denies The Divinity of The Most Holy And Undiivided Blessed Trinity, and thus one denies
    Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace and Mercy.

    6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

    (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
    (ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;

    (iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way;

    (iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain;

    (v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone;

    (vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.

  9. In his classic "Pour qu'Il r├Ęgne" (1949), Jean Ousset discusses this issue in a sub-chapter called "The two powers". By other means, he arrives to the same conclussion.