Monday, May 26, 2008

Early Condemnation of Religious Liberty


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Brief of Pope Pius VII to Mgr. De Boulogne Bishop Of Troyes
(29 April 1814)

"For how can We tolerate with equanimity that the Catholic religion ... this most holy religion, We say, should not only not be declared to be the only one in the whole of France supported by the bulwark of the laws and by the authority of the Government, but should even, in the very restoration of the monarchy, be entirely passed over? But a much more grave, and indeed very bitter, sorrow increased in Our heart - a sorrow by which We confess that We were crushed, overwhelmed and torn in two - from the twenty-second article of the constitution in which We saw, not only that "liberty of religion and of conscience" (to use the same words found in the article) were permitted by the force of the constitution, but also that assistance and patronage were promised both to this liberty and also to the ministers of these different forms of "religion". There is certainly no need of many words, in addressing you, to make you fully recognize by how lethal a wound the Catholic religion in France is struck by this article. For when the liberty of all "religions" is indiscriminately asserted, by this very fact truth is confounded with error and the holy and immaculate Spouse of Christ, the Church, outside of which there can be no salvation, is set on a par with the sects of heretics and with Judaic perfidy itself. For when favour and patronage is promised even to the sects of heretics and their ministers, not only their persons, but also their very errors, are tolerated and fostered: a system of errors in which is contained that fatal and never sufficiently to be deplored HERESY which, as St. Augustine says (de Haeresibus, no.72), "asserts that all heretics proceed correctly and tell the truth: which is so absurd that it seems incredible to me."
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