The Sin Proper of Liberalism
From a lecture delivered by Dr. Julián Gil de Sagredo,doctor
in philosophy and law, in Madrid on April 14, 1962.
Taken from: www.statveritas.com.ar
Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Hope
This sin, by being of the intellect is essentially luciferian, and this is why liberalism is the masterwork of Satan, both in its intrinsic malice and in the far reaching strategy it uses to attain its objectives. It is a clever system of propaganda which astutely manipulates semantics backwards. The manoeuvre of emptying words of their proper sense and filling them with their contrary sense producing unexpected results.
For instance, the term Christianity is ridden of supernatural faith, and filled in turn with free examination, then it turns out that the Christians are the protestants, and to distinguish ourselves from them we have to use the term Catholic. From the term ecumenism its meaning of universal projection of the Faith in Christ is subtracted and the theory of equality of religions is injected, by which means an ecumenical church is invented, made up of all kinds of creeds. What once was a distinctive sign of the Catholic Church, now distinguishes and characterizes the General Council of Churches with its seat in Geneve. Additionally, a mortal blow is stricken against the divisions, which have no reason of being if all religions are equal.
From liberty's autonomy, by virtue of free examination derive all other autonomies: the philosophical, the juridical, the political, the social and the economical autonomies. From the moment in which liberty, by virtue of free examination, is wanting of law, also the person, society and the State are wanting of law. And then liberty attains ideological hegemony as an absolute value, as a supreme category which renders tribute to no other, and thus we arrive at the final outcome.
Such so subtle technique is the means by which the meaning of words is transplanted also to the political and social fields. Socialism, for example, from its etymological meaning could denote a conception derived from natural law which presents society as an organic body and autonomous in a certain sense. Well, social sovereignty is supplanted by a political one and turns to mean the absorption of social activities, i.e. statism and totalitarianism. Exactly the opposite of what is denoted by its etymological meaning.
The term liberalism itself has its origin in the land of nobility which is Spain and this is why liberal was he who in his social relations was characterized by his generosity, by his comprehension, by his magnanimity. Who could have imagined two centuries ago that such generous and noble term would have crossed the borders of all countries as the hooking pennant of what today is called the liberal doctrine?
The stealthy pillaging of words continues today and is now trying to assault the term Catholicism. First, the Catholic adjective is used astutely combined with a noun of a contrary doctrinal sense. That is how the term Catholic liberalism appears. Then they use the Catholicism noun adding to it an adjective which changes its concept. That is how the term liberal Catholicism arises. And lastly, when the religious atmosphere is saturated with Catholic liberalism and liberal Catholicism; that is, when general confusion prevails, they leave the term Catholicism impregnated with liberal errors. If we get a bit careless, Catholicism will end up meaning something confusing, hybrid, haphazard, insufficient to characterize the authentic Church of Christ. And let us not wonder why its audacity has reached the very name of Christ, which in liberation theology is presented as an activist, leader of the marxist revolution, redemptor of the proletariat.
Such manipulation of terms and concepts reach their culminating point in the confusion of ideas that the term liberalism generates. As this concept starts off from the notion of liberty and the notion of liberty is multiple, variegated, diffuse; so diffuse that each has his own concept of liberty, the term liberalism is consequently likewise multiple, variegated, confusing, multiform. For some, it means democracy, for others political party or universal suffrage, for others free or market economy, for others tolerance, for others equality, and for the majority something vague, uncertain, fluid and vaporous, which can please the taste of all palates.
In such turbulent current of so confuse ideologies, the need to determine with clarity and precision the substratum underlying the liberal doctrine is required, and to achieve it, we can approach liberalism from three angles, the political, the philosophical and the theological viewpoints. These three approaches are linked with one another as are effects with respect to their causes.
Politics, in its double aspect, social and economic, depends on the conception we have of person, society and State in their ontological foundations, which is a matter of philosophy. And philosophy, in turn, depends on theology as the ultimate foundation which links man with God and is the determining cause of the political and philosophical order. Since what we now pretend to do is develop the topic of liberalism as a defiance or rebellion of reason against God, an essentially theological topic, we are giving priority to such perspective in this dissertation, from which, on the other hand, we can project with certainty our view on the polítical and philosophical field.
Liberalism saw the public light in 1789 with the French Revolution. But who engendered it was the religious revolution which shook Christendom two centuries earlier. The root of liberalism is theological; it is found in Luther´s free examination of Scripture. He is the true father of liberalism.
Free examination from its very birth generates two currents of thought that contradict each other. On the one hand, it promotes the exaltation of human liberty and on the other its depression and annihilation. The former through the free interpretation of Sacred Scripture in open challenge against religious authority, which will lead to the free interpretation of legal and social norms in open challenge against political authority, and the latter, i.e. the annihilation of liberty, by eliminating it entirely in the process of justification by grace.
Let us examine both currents in their point of departure which is free examination in its double phase: intellectual which determines negation of faith, and volitive, which determines the sin against faith.
Intellectual phase: Understanding and faith.
Human understanding, as work of God, is necessarily subject to His laws. And the law which God put in man's understanding is the law of truth. Intellect by its own nature tends towards truth, rejects contradiction, it cannot rest on error, to the point that, when it rests on it, it believes to be resting on truth,
There are, however, two kinds of truth, some of a natural order which can be reached by reason alone, and others of a supernatural order which can only be reached by Faith. God proposes the latter to man by means of the Sacred Scripture and Tradition – the two sources of Revelation – and to ensure their true knowledge, He places the infallible Magisterium of His Church as a guide.
Faith then, considered in the subject who believes, is an act of the understanding, which aided by grace gives its assent to revealed Truth, and in rendering such assent there is no risk of error because it is guaranteed by the supernatural authority of the Catholic Church, and it could not be otherwise. Keep in mind that any interpretation demands an adequate knowledge of its object. If the object is natural, the knowledge is obtained and the interpretation carried out by natural means, but if the object is supernatural it will have to be carried out by supernatural means. The supernatural, which is proper of Revelation, entails a supernatural nature in the agent of interpretation. In other words, Revelation implicates itself in the act of supplication – operari sequitur esse – action follows being. The nature of the action corresponds to the nature of the being. Revelation, being supernatural, its action, i.e. its knowledge and interpretation, has to be supernatural too. It becomes therefore necessary, to count with an agent who, in interpreting the supernatural, will act under supernatural influence. An authority is thus necessary, the authority of the Pope, who can pronounce himself in an infallible manner under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and there you have, by the way, an argument for the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.
Human intelligence, consequently, as a purely natural agent, lacks the capacity in itself to know and interpret revealed Truth. If reason, as Luther claims, can, as sole agent, freely interpret revealed Truth, it can, with the same liberty, interpret the doctrine contained in such revealed truth, from which follows that each may freely believe what his own reason rules.
Then faith disappears in its material object, which is revealed Truth. Truth, being the same for everybody, cannot allow discrepancies or divisions with respect to its contents. Faith also disappears in its formal object, which is the authority of God who reveals it, because revealed Truth is no longer admitted by divine authority but by the rule of the subject's own judgment.
As you can see, Luther disengages reason from any superior norm; he makes it free and autonomous and makes it master of itself. Divests Faith of its supernatural character and transforms it into a simple human conviction. Such is liberalism in its theological-dogmatic root: rebellion of human intelligence against the vicarial authority established by God, who interprets His revelation, and in consequence implicitly against the authority of God who reveals. Intellectual rebellion which, upon implying in itself volitive rebellion – rebellion of the will-- it determines the sin against the Faith which we will go on to examine:
Volitive phase: will and Faith.
Faith is operative, and accordingly, descending from the intellect to the will, it brings about virtue. And as its immediate object is God, the virtues it first engenders are those which have God as an immediate object: Charity and Hope.
Of those three virtues, Faith, Charity and Hope, Saint Paul says that Charity is the main one and brings attached the second, which is Hope. That is why the sin against Charity – hatred of God – and the sin against Hope – contempt of God – are sins so horrendous that they seem to be proper only of reprobates. But the one as much as the other have as their footing the sin against the Faith.
This sin does not lie in the culpable lack of Faith as fruit of a permanent behavior contrary to it but in the formal negation of the Faith. It is a firm, conscious and permanent attitude by which individual judgment is put ahead of the authority of God who reveals it. That is why Saint Augustine says that all sins are contained in this sin. Even the sins against Charity and against Hope. And that is why Saint Thomas Aquinas adds that the sin against Faith is the greatest known sin because it is the one which most separates man from God by attacking the very knowledge of God and eliminating all possibility of getting close to Him.
That immense malice which makes reason to be God´s judge is purely and simply Luther's free examination, which first begets rebellion of human intelligence against God in the order of the intellect and then rebellion of human volition against God in the order of the will and morals. If reason deviates from the Faith as a norm of doctrine, volition will deviate from morality as a norm of conduct. Thus, in the same way that free examination produces so many sets of beliefs, it also produces as many views as there are minds, quot capita, tot sententiae as our sixteenth century classics used to say. In the same fashion, by the application of free examination to the field of human actions, as many norms of conduct will be produced as there are subjective consciences. In the same way that the intelligence is free to determine, the will is free to act.
The logic now would be for Luther, in applying such absolute autonomy of human intelligence and will to the order of justification, should follow Pelagius' route and claim with him that justification depends exclusively on man's free will. Luther, however, contradicting himself in his own error, denies the will any sort of intervention in the process of justification, the which he attributes exclusively to the operation of grace. Hence, two opposing doctrines, both of which heretical and both engendered from the sin against the Faith. To Pelagius, justification operates only from the will. To Luther, justification operates only from grace, To the Catholic faith, which both of them negate, justification operates from grace as much as from the will. From grace, by preventing; from the will, by cooperating freely with the grace that prevents.
Reproducing a simile to these effects from Donoso Cortés, we could say that, just as the mother who wants to teach her little child to walk extends her hand to him and the child holds onto the hand of his mother and starts walking, in the same way God extends His hand to man, offering him His grace and man holds onto God's hand, cooperates with the grace and begins walking on the way to salvation. But God extending his hand serves for nothing if man does not want to receive it. And for man to raise his hand would be of no use if God were not to extend His. Both grace and will are thus required.
We can affirm as a summary of what has been said, that the sin against the Faith, which in Pelagius denies the grace and in Luther denies the will, determines the very essence of liberalism in its theological-dogmatic root by negating God as the only source of legality. The root of liberalism, I repeat, is theological. In supplanting Faith for reason it attacks dogma. In supplanting law for will it attacks morals. And the determining cause of this double supplantation is free examination, which engenders the two currents of thought of which I spoke earlier.
On the one hand it exalts human liberty to the point of denying God, but on the other it depresses and nullifies human liberty to an extent such that it gets to the point of negating man.
Let's see now the consequences of the theological liberalism that we have just examined. When Faith rules over reason, reason rules over law, law rules over politics and politics rules over the economy. Reason, then, subordinated to Faith does not incur in error. Law subordinated to reason is rational and therefore moral. Politics subordinated to law is legal and, in consequence, just. And economy subordinated to politics is ordered to its own end –the common good– object of politics. From this hierarchy of values required by the natural order derives equilibrium and harmony in society. Well, theological liberalism, in promoting rebellion of reason against the Faith breaks this hierarchy and unleashes the subversion of law agains reason; of politics against law and of the economy against politics.
In fact, the subversion of a theological sign which sets up free examination as the arbiter of revealed Truth determines the subversion of a philosophical sign which sets up the intellect as the arbiter of natural truth and this philosophical subversion determines a third subversion of a politico-social type which sets up reason as the arbiter of the laws that should rule society, even if the laws confront the framework and grid developed spontaneously by social forces.
You see, then the rigorous logic which links all of liberalism´s ramifications. In theological liberalism, reason dissociates itself from Faith and creates free examination. In the philosophic liberalism of Descartes and his followers, Kant, Fichte, Shelling and Hegel, reason dissociates itself from reality and makes up idealism. In Hobbes' legal liberalism, reason dissociates itself from natural law and promotes positivism. In Rousseau's sociopolitical liberalism, reason dissociates itself from man's social nature and invents the social contract. And in Stuart Mill's and his disciples' economic liberalism, reason dissociates itself from the logical hierarchy of values and transforms the economy, which is a means, into an end in itself.
As you see, liberalism entails from its very theological birth, a dissolving and dispersing ideology which, through successive generations of thought, has been destroying, one by one, all of the syntheses which Christendom had been building during sixteen centuries. The synthesis between will and grace, which resolves the problem of predestination. The synthesis between intellect and will through idea, which resolves the problem of truth. The synthesis between human law and natural law, which determines the value of positive law, The synthesis between authority and liberty, which determines the existence of the State. And the synthesis between the community and its members, which determines the very being of society.
From liberty´s autonomy through free examination, other autonomies are derived: philosophical, juridical, political, social and economic autonomies. From the moment that liberty, through free examination, is deprived of law, in the same way the person, society and the State are deprived of law. And then liberty reaches ideological hegemony as an absolute value, as a supreme category which pays homage to no other; and thus we reach the final ending. On the one hand, we reach anthropocentrism, which makes man the center and axis of the Universe, god to himself, and on the other hand we reach the contradiction in the doctrinal field, because truth subject to liberty would be as shifting as is liberty and therefore would not be true. And in the moral field, because its actions would simultaneously be good and evil, according to the taste of their respective consumers. You can see, then, how Reason that rebels against God ends up rebelling against Reason itself. And the rebellion of Reason against God and against itself acquires its culminating point in the most subtle of all liberalisms, Catholic liberalism.
Error can never negate truth entirely because verum – what is true – is identified with Being. If error negates all truth it negates all Being and if all Being is negated, error negates itself, it would commit suicide. This is why error cannot exist but except when joined with truth and this is why error sticks to truth as a limpet, and the stronger the adhesion the more difficult it is to discover it.
In the political sphere we can distinguish three classes of liberalisms. One is a liberalism we may call radical, which establishes the dominion of the State over the Church. Another liberalism we may call moderate, which establishes the separation of Church and State, separation which generally ends in dominion of the State over the Church, and Catholic liberalism, which is the most original of the three.
The latter establishes the union of the State and the Church as a doctrine but the separation of State and Church as a praxis. Catholic liberalism claims to reconcile two antagonist thought systems: the liberal system which proclaims the autonomy of individual and social reason and the Catholic system which proclaims the heteronomy and subjection of both reasons to God. And then, to achieve such reconciliation Catholic liberalism generously attributes jurisdiction over the individual's reason to God but jurisdiction over social reason to the State. And the ideological or doctrinal framework it structures to defend this doctrine is based on what they call thesis and hypothesis in which the hypothesis – what is conditional, circumstantial – is transformed as a butterfly. It acquires absolute value and ends up assuming the validity of a thesis.
You can see this in a concrete case: confessionality of the State. Thesis: The State must be confessional. This is a Catholic doctrine which Catholic liberalism accepts as a starting point. Hypothesis: if a State, in a given set of circumstances, cannot be confessional, it is not obligated to be so. This statement can be true or false depending on how it is understood. If it is understood in the sense that material impossibility exempts moral responsibility, it is true. But if it is understood that material impossibility determines the nonexistence of the objective moral obligation, it is false. Then, as I said before, what Catholic liberalism does is transform the hypothesis into thesis; conditional affirmation into absolute affirmation. From a material impossibility and the absence of subjective obligation given such material impossibility, it leaps onto the sphere of principles and defends the nonexistence of the objective moral obligation as a doctrine. Catholic liberalism, which as you see, confuses the material with the formal aspects of the obligation, and the subjective duty with the objective one. This Catholic liberalism constitutes, at the bottom, a sophism in the realm of logic.
And then, Maritain, in a last resort attempt to save this Catholic liberalism, which had been condemned by the Church and entirely discredited, manufactures his theory of integral humanism, which at the bottom is another sophism in the realm of metaphysics. It transforms the conceptual distinction between person and individual into a distinction in reality, and by this artifice establishes in man two realities, diverse and independent of each other. The person, who remains subject to God in his internal forum --deep inside in his conscience--, and the individual, which is bound together with society and the State in his external forum. God and the State apportion their respective fields of action amicably. For God, the man-person; for the State, the man-individual. But since man is indivisible, what the person is is the individual, it results that by Catholics in their internal forum a secular, anti-christian society and State is contrived and built. Such is Christian Democracy. Such is the democracy of Catholic liberalism. Such is the democracy of the hypocrites who adore God in the morning and pass legislation against God in the evening. These are the offspring of the scribes an pharisees; hypocrites which God anathemized as whitened sepulchers.
If you wish to learn more about the condemnation of Catholic liberalism you need nothing more but to read Papal encyclicals. Mirare vos of Pope Gregory XVI; Libertas and Immortale Dei of Pope Leo XII; Vehementer nos of Saint Pius X; Quas primas of Pius XI, and of Pius XII throughout his entire pontificate but especially in his allocution of December 6, 1953. But pay special attention, above all, to Pius IX in his encyclical Cuanta Qura and its annex, the Syllabus of Errors, and all of his brief allocutions and conferences in which he unmasked liberal Catholics in all their degrees, phases and shades. Even on one occasion he got to call them 'worse than demons', phrase which traveled all around the world and became scribed on the forehead of those heretics as a stigma of eternal execration. No wonder he was called hammer of Catholic liberalism.
At the beginning of this conference I said that liberalism is an essentially luciferian sin and that because of that it is Satan´s masterwork. You have been able to prove it in its intrinsic malice in supplanting Faith by reason, through free examination, attacking the supernatural character of the Catholic Church at its root. And you have been able to prove it as well in the pillage of words, in the emptying of concepts, in the transplanting of ideological disguises to accommodate the tastes and preferences of the various historical stages. It was first called philosophism, illustration and encyclopedia. Then it was called rationalism. Later, modernism, and now it is called democracy, progressivism, ecumenism, conciliarism.
As democratic, progressivist, and conciliar, Caholic liberalism has scaled the highest summits of the Catholic Church, forming within it another, parallel church of cardinals, bishops, priests and faithful. Such is the masterwork of liberalism –the liberal Catholic Church which, raised to the heights of ecclesial government, intends to steer the authentic destiny of the Catholic Church. And such liberal Catholic Church is the one which we are unfortunately suffering in Spain, the one which complying with the liberal postulates supports the non-confessionality of the State, it distorts the notion of religious liberty and then sponsors it, it favors the implementation of a secular and atheist constitution, recognizes the autonomy of the State to sanction divorce, which is equivalent to recognizing the right of the State to violate the law of God, it does not cry out against abortion or against the screening of a sacrilegious film which very gravely offends the Mother of God,
Such liberal Catholic Church is the one which has impoverished the beliefs of the Catholic people in Spain. The one which has relaxed its mores. The one which has extirpated its Faith. The one which has compromised with the masonic governments. In a word, the one which has disintegrated the Catholic unity of Spain and, along with it, its political unity.
That liberal Catholic Church is the Church of the great sophists. But behind those sophists, as Donoso Cortés says, always come the barbarians sent by God to cut with their sword the thread of the argument behind that sophisticated, liberal, garrulous and, at the bottom, apostate hierarchy. Behind that liberal Catholic Church which they lead, the red hordes of the hammer and sickle sent by God to dispel their vain sophisms at knife point, to bury in fire their treason and perjury, to vindicate the name of Christ and regenerate our nation anew with torrents of blood until the throne of His Glory is erected again on it.