Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Defending the Church in Delaware: an explanation

Last Friday I wondered if the proposed law in Delaware was something we should fight. I am enormously grateful for the comments received, in trying to help me understand this issue. Thanks!

Yesterday I received what I believe is an answer that deserves its own post. Responding to my confusion, Luiz Solimeo wrote the following. I received the permission of this man — who is my friend, as well as a stalwart worker for the Church — to post his exposition.

Dear Kelly,

I am not sure I understood your difficulty. But I have seen people present doubts like this:

1) God permits persecutions to the Church and to the faithful;
2) If He permits it, is it not our obligation to suffer them without reaction?
3) Was not that the attitude of the martyrs of the beginnings of the Church? For instance, the Theban Legion which accepted to be decimated and did not react against the oppressors?
4) Therefore, if God wants to preserve the Church it is up to Him to defend her, to impede the wicked to do harm to her. For our part we have to be totally passive.

Of course, I simplified somewhat the argumentation in a didactic manner. I will try to answer the difficulty.

1) Perhaps the confusion came from the notion of God’s permission. One thing is a positive permission, like a father who gives authorization to his son to go to a bad place; another thing is a pure negative permission, which is not properly a permission but only a lack of physical opposition, In the example of the father, if his son is an adult son, although he does not want that he goes to the bad place, because he is already responsible for his acts, he does not use a physical restraint to impede him to go to a bad place.

2) According to St. Thomas, God cannot desire evil nor be the cause of it, even indirectly. Thus, he explains, He only permits the evil in a negative sense, respecting the freedom of men, even if he is to commit a bad action.

3) From the fact that God takes good from the evil, e.g. manifesting the virtue of fortitude of the martyrs or confessors under the persecution of the wicked, this does not mean that He desires or commands that evildoers torture the good.

4) Therefore, when we react against the evildoers and impede them to persecute, physically or morally, the Church, the faithful, we are not going against the will of God, but, if we act in a prudent manner, being His instrument.

5) Because, as the same St. Thomas teaches, Divine Providence directs the world using the using the secondary causes; the participation of the Angels and the men, as well the laws He puts in the universe.

6) Therefore, if He permits that wicked men persecute the Church and oppressed the faithful, combat the Faith, He also gives graces for the faithful to oppose to those actions.

7) It is the same Holy Ghost that, with His gifts, strengthens the fortitude of the Martyrs and of the warriors, the true Crusaders.

8) As far as we can understand how God directs History — with the help of the Philosophy and the Theology of History — we perceive that it was according to God’s wisdom that during the three first Centuries the Church had been “The Church of the Apostles and Martyrs,” as a historian entitled a book of his collection of History of the Church.

9) Because it became clear for all times that the Church didn’t impose herself by the power of the sword (like Islam) or by a civil authority (like the Anglicanism in England). She imposed herself by force of the truth, her moral, the virtue and the detachment of the martyrs.

10) As this truth was being established in a way that no serious historian can deny it (the poor novelist Dan Brown tried to affirm the opposite in his Gnostic novel), the path was free for what the same historian entitled “The Church of the Crusades and Cathedrals.”

11)And the Holy Ghost inspired the Saints that convoked, preached or fought in the Crusades (not only the medieval, but also of the modern times) as Blessed Pope Urban II (First Crusade), Saint Bernard (Second Crusade) Saint Louis of France (Seventh and Eighth Crusades), Saint Pope Pius V (Crusade of Lepanto), Blessed Pope Innocence XI (Crusade to liberate Vienna) etc.

12) To fight against the persecutors of the Church is also an act of charity in relation to the weak, the insecure, the children, etc.

13) God helps man, but He doesn’t substitute him; He made us intelligent and free and wants our free participation in our salvation and in the life of the Church. This is an obligation we contract in our baptism and confirmation: to be Milites Christi, Soldiers of Christ.


I had to read this a couple of times to get it, but I finally do.

Thank you, Luiz.