Some antinomies for Dignitatis humanae

Hermeneutic of Continuity
“[This council] searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church-the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old […] it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”
Hermeneutic of Rupture
The church has fundamentally changed; what is now held contradicts what was before, and whereas current teaching is correct, previous teaching would (if maintained now) be in error. The curtain has fallen, the old teachings have been stripped from the mantle and rent asunder, and new teachings have been installed.
Coercing Faith
“[T]he human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
Forbidding Unbelief
“[Unbelievers] should be compelled by the faithful, if it be possible to do so, so that they do not hinder the faith, by their blasphemies, or by their evil persuasions, or even by their open persecutions. It is for this reason that Christ’s faithful often wage war with unbelievers, not indeed for the purpose of forcing them to believe, because even if they were to conquer them, and take them prisoners, they should still leave them free to believe, if they will, but in order to prevent them from hindering the faith of Christ.”
Religious Freedom
“[T]he right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.”
Religious Toleration
“Those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred. […] [T]he rites of other unbelievers, which are neither truthful nor profitable are by no means to be tolerated, except perchance in order to avoid an evil, e.g. the scandal or disturbance that might ensue, or some hindrance to the salvation of those who if they were unmolested might gradually be converted to the faith.”

Interviews with Historians

Below I reproduce interviews conducted in the early 1990s with four major Anglophone historians: Hugh Trevor-Roper, Steven Runciman, Moses I. Finley, and Lawrence Stone. This sort of thing is delightful to me, so I’ve taken the time to convert them and upload them on the chance that someone else might delight in them, too.

Liberalism’s intractability problem

Liberalism (or modernity, or secularism, or whatever you want to blame) has lots of problems, most of which I don’t intend to rehearse here. What I do want to probe for a moment is its inability to solve any of them. Imagine item X. X has one or two intended effects which are quite potent. Some people need X to procure these effects; many many others want X, for better or worse reasons, to use it and abuse it as they see fit, and to weather both its intended and unintended effects. Those people who need X really do need it; those who want it, generally don’t.

How’s this apportioning to occur? Who makes sure those that need receive, and those that don’t, don’t? The market? Obviously not. The coincidence of one’s needs and one’s pockets can only be accidental, and more while you could restrict access to X to the very rich, and you’d be keeping it from widespread abuse, you’d also be keeping it from widespread use by those who need it, and might as well ban the thing outright if that’s the only effect you’re seeking.

Naturally, the needy from the greedy can be difficult to tell apart. The effects of the abusers of X are so destructive, though, that to let them slip through would be heinous; and yet the efforts required to sort them out can be so arduous that by the end of the process, though you may have strained out all the eels, the good fish remaining have been so molested and tormented that they wonder if it was worth the process. By adopting a posture of suspicion at the start in order to sniff out the bad, the good get filleted as they go along.

X can be any number of things: medical cannabis, Ritalin,  Adderall, legal separation from one’s spouse, medical intervention during pregnancy, you name it.

So the duty falls to the police. We can’t sort right from wrong and we can’t tell good from bad, but we can legislate legal from illegal. Valid licenses and prescriptions (attempt to) make sure that X falls into the hands only of those whose need for it is genuine, and the lack thereof sends its abusers to prison. On this view, naturally, all laws, all proscriptions, are evaluated on whether we want policemen kicking in grandma’s door to enforce them.

“Very well,” the line goes, “things cannot be un-invented, and once our technology is here it’s here; if we want it to go away, we’ve got to violence it out of our lives.” But violence is a term with an immense amount of unexamined baggage, and inevitably it comes again to mean policemen kicking in grandma’s door, shooting her dog, tasing her son, and sending everyone on the premises to jail for several years. We are unable to imagine that enforcement could occur in any other way, and if all our problems are permanent problems only to be house-raided and arrested out of our lives, it’s no wonder we don’t rush around trying to solve them.

The Name-Worshipers and the Name-Fighters

My friend Fr. Koczera has drawn my attention to the imiaslavie controversy at the beginning of the last century, which Tom Dysktra describes here:

On July 3, 1913 some four hundred monks of the Athonite monastery of St. Panteleimon fled to one of their dormitory buildings and set to work barricading the entrances with bed boards. Bayoneted rifles in hand, sailors of the Russian Imperial Navy surrounded the building while their officers exhorted the unarmed monks to give up peacefully. To no avail. Prepared for martyrdom but hoping in God’s help, the monks sang, prayed, did prostrations, and took up icons and crosses to defend themselves. Finally the trumpet rang out with the command to “shoot,” and the calm of the Holy Mountain was rent by the roar … not of firearms, but of fire hoses. After an hour-long “cold shower” dampened the monks’ spirits, the sailors rushed the building and began to drag recalcitrant devotees of the contemplative life out of the corridors.
These events took place on a narrow peninsula in northern Greece some forty miles long by five miles wide, named “Mt. Athos” after the 6,000 foot mountain towering over the end of it. Since the tenth century this stretch of land has been set aside for the exclusive use of Eastern Orthodox monks, a status instituted by the Byzantine Empire and maintained by the Turks after they conquered it in 1453. Though located in Greece it eventually became an international center for Orthodox monasti­cism, and the nineteenth century saw such a mass immigration of Russians that by the beginning of the twentieth the mountain was really more Russian than Greek. That situation was not to last long, and the events narrated above marked the beginning of the end. In 1913 the Russian government forcibly expelled more than eight hundred of its own citizens from Mt. Athos, and these were followed in succeeding months by as many as one thousand more who would have been expelled had they not left voluntarily.