Sometimes I will romanticize the notion of a time in my mind when most of Europe was Catholic, minus of course the pagans to the north, Orthodox to the East and Saracens to the South. But even with that there was a long lasting period of time when Europe was Catholic in name and Catholic in practice. This is the time when we were given the legends of King Arthur and Merry Ol’ England, Magna Carta, Richard the Lion Heart, chivalry, Knights, Crusaders and beautiful Cathedrals were built, when the notion of fighting for the faith was Christian, when men were men and the ladies were just that …. ladies, damsels, maidens …. When words like virtue, chastity and honor actually meant something. Yes, can you imagine living in an era when everyone you knew was Catholic, not only that but practicing Catholics … literally everyone you had dealings with was Catholic, now of course that’s not to say that somehow there were no bad people but rather despite your disagreement with someone, you both shared the same faith, authority and moral belief (whether you lived it or not). In our “modern” world today I think that this seems all so alien to us, as when I was growing up, I lived in a country that was rooted in Protestantism, influenced by liberalism and living in relativism, with 25% acknowledged as atheists. With an uncountable variety of beliefs and notions in this group and all of them were held to be sacrosanct even if they contradicted each other. Because in my land of birth there was no State Religion, rather a witches brew of everything under the sun was acceptable unless of course this challenged the State in any way, much like the pagan Roman Empire.
This in contrary was the opposite in the Catholic Europe of yesteryear when Kings and Emperors were anointed by the Pope and his Bishops, even when Kings and Emperors attempted to have authority over the Church, they were frequently trumped by the Saints of their days like Thomas Beckett and Pope Gregory VII. Yes of course there were the problems of their days such as there are in every age but because the Church was centered in society and Christ was King of all realms, their was no such confusion of gender identity, rights of the unborn child, marriage and family. Architecture and art thrived in this era to reflect the beauty of God and as did music.
So what happened??? Well with 2017 around the corner and the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation looming and with the possibility of Pope Francis attending the Wittenberg festivals, sometime between – Spring: May 29- June 4; Summer: June 19- 25 and Fall: October 2- 8, where Martin Luther nailed his nailed his theses to the door of the Castle Church. Obviously the answer to that question is both varied, lengthy and far too long for the purpose of this article, however, I can give the abbreviated answer and that is quite simply …. Protestantism.
The Reformation of the 16th Century divided Europe in a way that has had a lasting impact to the unity of the Church for almost 500 years. Not only is it responsible for many of her members denying the Sacraments and Christ’s appointed vicar on earth, the Pope, but also in consequence is responsible for an uncountable vast number of souls being lost in the eternal flames of Hell. The Protestant “Reformation” or to put it more accurately the “Deformation” or “Revolution”, was just that a deforming of the oneness of Christ into a multi headed tower of Babel Hydra like Greek monster.
Starting with 1 “reformer”, Martin Luther, between 1520 and 1530, there was a lot of common ground between the Protestants and the Catholics. But the emphasis was put on the differences not the similarities. By 1550, the gap was unbridgeable and as it widened it also multiplied
Luther · Melanchthon · Müntzer · Zwingli ·Simons · Bucer · Olaus / Laurentius Petri ·Calvin · Karlstadt · Knox · Trubar, etc.
to now what it is today a few thousand different protestant denominations all over the world. All of them different in their teachings and interpretations of the Word of God but all united in one fact and that is that they refuse the authority of the Pope and the Church. That isn’t including the vast number of “independant” & “marginal” “christian” “churches” that have spread across the land since the reformation eg.
Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, Unitarians, Christian Science, Theosophists, Prosperity Gospel groups, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.
Organizations that aren’t considered Christian from a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant theological position, yet, nonetheless they continue to thrive uninterrupted in today’s cultural relativism, whereas such groups would never have been allowed to spread when Europe was united under the Pope.
The Catholic Church responded with the Council of Trent (1545 and 1563) where it clearly defined all of the Church’s teachings and Dogmas and declared Anathema to Catholics who rejected these teachings : For an exhaustive list Click Here.
Anathema is a formal excommunication from the Church; for more Click Here.
The tragedy of the “Reformation” is that it wasn’t a reformation at all but rather a revolution because it was in fact just that, reform happens from within and indeed in the Church was at that time as in previous and post times needed of reform. However, what separates the “reformers” from those who came before and after is that they in affect denied the faith to start a new, crowning themselves as Pope and in consequence giving everyone the “authority” to be their own Pope. I think it to be quite clear that this line of thinking cannot work for obvious reasons, for example
if we remove the word Pope and replace it with boss, president, father, mother, husband, wife, son and daughter
then it becomes clear that not everyone can be the (above mentioned). Tragically, those last six examples are today in fact being attacked and this leads to my next point “relativism”.
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but rather only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration
A very slippery slope indeed Protestantism has in fact lead many towards, by opening the flood gates of interpretation and the questioning of authority it has ipso facto declared the emperor has no clothes and consequently for many souls in affect thrown the baby out with the bath water.
What today we call relativism, secularism, socialism and liberalism is rooted in the French Revolution of the 18th Century ,and has continued to the present day, condemned by Pope Pius VI, Pope Gregory XVI, Blessed Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Saint Pope Pius X and Pope Pius XI :
Pope Pius VI : April, 1791
Pope Gregory XVI : August, 1832
Blessed Pope Pius IX : December, 1849
Blessed Pope Pius IX : December, 1864.
Blessed Pope Pius IX : December, 1864
Pope Leo XIII : December, 1878
Pope Leo XIII : January, 1899
Saint Pope Pius X : July, 1907
Saint Pope Pius X : September, 1907
Saint Pope Pius X : 1910
Pope Pius XI : June, 1931
Pope Pius XI : March, 1937
Today we live in a landscape of Catholic indifferentism, legalized contraception, genocide of infants (abortion), mass divorce, cohabitation, fornication, adultery, homosexual unions, gender confusion, etc. etc. and that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, there has never been a perfect age of the Church, for by it’s very nature it is the Church Militant and is intended to be in continued conflict with the god of this world, satan.
 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them – Second Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Corinthians 4:4
But we have certainly have our work cut out for us, time for men to be men and ladies to be ladies, the time is now to start living our faith, daily and to carry or cross. In Part 2 I will reflect on the earliest recorded conflict with God’s appointed and priesthood in the Old Testament and what it means to us today.
I leave you with some of Pope Pius IX quotes on Liberal Catholicism :
On the 18th of June, 1871, responding to a deputation of French Catholics Pius IX spoke thus:
“Atheism in legislation, indifference in matters of religion and the pernicious maxims which go under the name of Liberal Catholicism are the true causes of the destruction of the States; they have been the ruin of France. Believe me, the evil I denounce is more terrible than the Revolution, more terrible even than The Commune. I have always condemned Liberal Catholicism and I will condemn it again forty times over if it be necessary.”
In a Brief, 6th of March, 1873, addressed to the Circle of St. Ambrose of Milan, the Sovereign Pontiff thus expresses himself:
“People are not wanting who pretend to form an alliance between light and darkness, and to associate justice with iniquity in favor of those doctrines called Liberal Catholicism, which based on the most pernicious principles, show themselves favorable to the intrusion of secular power upon the domain of spirituals; they lead their partisans to esteem, or, at least, to tolerate iniquitous laws, as if it were not written that no one can serve two masters. Those who thus conduct themselves, are more dangerous and more baneful than declared enemies, not only because, without being warned of it, perhaps even without being conscious of it, they second the projects of wicked men, but also because, keeping within certain limits, they show themselves with some appearance of probity and sound doctrine. They thus deceive the indiscreet friends of conciliation and seduce honest people, who would otherwise have strenuously combated a declared error.”
In the Brief of the 8th of May of the same year speaking to the Confederation of the Catholic Circle of Belgium, the same Holy Father said:
“What we praise above all in your religious enterprise is the absolute aversion which, as we are informed, you show towards the principles of Liberal Catholicism and your intrepid determination to root them out as soon as possible. In truth you will extirpate the fatal root of discord and you will efficaciously contribute to unite and strengthen the minds of all in so combating this insidious error, much more dangerous than an open enemy because it hides itself under the specious veil of zeal and of charity, and in so endeavoring to protect the people in general from its contaminating influence. Surely you, who adhere with such complete submission to all decisions of this Apostolic Seat and who know its frequent reprobations of Liberal principles, have no need of these warnings.”
In the Brief to the La Croix, a Belgium journal, on the 24th of May, 1874, the Pope thus expresses himself thus:
“We cannot do less than to praise the design expressed in this letter, which we know your journal will satisfactorily fulfill, the design to publish, to spread, to comment on and inculcate in all minds all that the Holy See teaches against the perverse or at least false doctrines professed in so many quarters, and particularly against Liberal Catholicism, bitterly striving to conciliate light with darkness and truth with error.”
On the 9th of June, 1873, Pius IX wrote to the president of the Council of the Catholic Association of Orleans, and without mentioning its name, depicts pietistic and moderated Liberalism in the following terms:
“Although you have not, strictly speaking, to combat impiety, are you not perhaps menaced on this side by as great dangers as those of the group of friends deceived by that ambiguous doctrine, which, while rejecting the last consequence of error, obstinately retains the germs, and which, not willing to embrace the truth in its fullness, and not daring to abandon it entirely, exhausts itself in interpreting the traditions and teachings of the Church by running them through the mold of its own private opinions.”
In an address to the Bishop of Quimper, and speaking in reference to the general assembly of the Catholic Association of that diocese, the Pope said:
“Assuredly these associations are not wanting in the obedience due to the Church, neither on account of the writings nor the actions of those who pursue them with invectives and abuse; but they might be pushed into the slippery path of error by the force of those opinions called Liberal; opinions accepted by many Catholics who are otherwise honest and pious, and who, even by the very influence which gives them their piety, are easily captivated and induced to profess the most pernicious maxims. Inculcate, therefore, Venerable Brother, in the minds of this Catholic assembly that, when we have so often rebuked the sectaries of these Liberal opinions, we have not had in view the declared enemies of the Church, whom it would have been idle to denounce, but rather that those, of whom we are speaking, are such as secretly guard the virus of Liberal Principles which they have imbibed with their mother’s milk. They boldly inoculate this virus into the people’s minds, as if it were not impregnated with a manifest malice, and as if it were as harmless to religion as they think. They thus propagate the seed of those troubles which have held the world in revolution so long. Let them avoid these ambuscades. Let them endeavor to direct their blows against this perfidious enemy, and certainly they will merit much from their religion and their country.”
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