Saturday, March 04, 2006

Syllabus of Errors

Ever wonder what the Golden Age of church supremacy was like? Try this papal document from 1864 on for size.

Some statements the encyclical condemned as false include:

"human reason... is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil" (No. 3)

"...hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind." (No. 4)

"in the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship." (No. 77)

"Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church" (No. 18).

"the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church." (No. 55)

"every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true." (No. 15) and that "it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship." (No. 78)

"the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization." (No. 80)

It may seem unfair to bring up material from almost two centuries ago, but keep in mind church apologists are attempting a little "historical revisionism" to rehabilitate the church's image in the West. The church is particularly anguished about the downturn in its hold over Europe, where attendance at, and support for, the Roman Catholic church, and Christianity in general has been in sharp decline for decades. The turning away from the church in states where the church is given official status should be a hint and a half for today's rabid evangelicals, dedicated to eradicating the separation of church and state. Meanwhile, today's conservative church spokesmen tend to attribute the church's decline in the West to a sufficient lack of orthodoxy among its leadership (among conservative Catholics, the modifications in the lurgy resulting from Vatican II are brought in for particular scorn) rather than the church's documented history of hostility to democracy, freedom and human rights.

On a somewhat related not, I've picked up a book about Opus Dei, the strict, secretive Catholic sect portrayed in The Da Vinci Code, but also known for its real life wealth, and the elites that comprise its membership, including Robert Hansen, the FBI agent caught spying for Russia a few years ago, as well as U.S. Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, both of whom have been mentioned as presidential candidates in '08. The case of Sam Brownback is particularly interesting, since he was until recently a devout evangelical, and hails from a part of the U.S. that is likewise strongly protestant.