A lecture given by Fr. Benedict de Jorna, Superior of the French district of the SSPX:
From the outset of the election of Pius X, public opinion had it that this new Pope was a religious Pope, in contrast to his immediate predecessor, Leo XIII:
Leo XIII has given back to the Church her rightful place in the world which she had lost under Pope Pius IX’s pontificate. It would be logical that, by a contrary movement, there should follow after a statesman [Pope Leo XIII] whose interests had been turned toward the nations, an apostle whose solicitude or primary concern would be for the faithful,….(Dansette, Histoire religieuse de la France contemporaine, Ed. Flammarion, p.317.)
Pius X brought to the See of Peter a spirit quite different from that of his predecessor. For all that the latter delighted in those subtle political and diplomatic maneuvers, Pius X had no taste at all for them, since he would in no way bow to the compromises necessarily implicated in such dealings; he had taken the firm decision of concentrating himself on the problems concerning the apostolate and Christian life (R. Aubert, Nouvelle histoire de l?Eglise, T.V. Ed. Seuil, p.25).
There was this common opinion prevailing at the time of Card. Sarto’s election.
In his first encyclical, E Supremi Apostolatus, St. Pius X declares:
We take courage in Him Who strengthens Us; and setting Ourselves to work, relying on the power of God, We proclaim that we have no other program in the Supreme Pontificate but that of “restoring all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10), so that “Christ may be all and in all” (Col. 3:2)….The desire for peace is harbored in every breast, and there is no one who does not ardently invoke it. But to want peace without God is an absurdity, seeing that where God is absent thence too justice flies, and when justice is taken away, it is vain to cherish the hope of peace. “Peace is the work of justice” (Is. 22:17). There are many, We are well aware, who, in their yearning for peace, that is, for the tranquility of order, band themselves into societies and parties, which they style parties of order. Hope and labor lost. For there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God. It is this party, therefore, that We must advance,….(Documents Pontificaux de Sa Sainteté St. Pie X; Ed. Courrier de Rome, 1993).
Another one of St. Pius X’s encyclicals, Jucunda Sane (Mar. 12, 1904), is just as expressive of his concern to restore the spiritual life amongst the faithful. It was published on the occasion of the celebration of the 13th centenary solemnity of Pope St. Gregory the Great. Here, he adopts the same solution in the face of a similar dramatic situation: the spiritual solution.
Truly wonderful is the work he [i.e., Pope St. Gregory] was able to effect during his reign.
But it is, nevertheless, true that he never put himself forward as one invested with the might and power of the great ones of the earth, for instead of using the exalted prestige of the Pontifical dignity, he preferred to call himself the Servant of the Servants of God; a title which he was the first to adopt. It was not merely by profane science or the “persuasive words of human wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:4) that he traced out his career, or by the devices of civil politics, or by systems of social renovation, skillfully studied, prepared and put in execution; nor yet, and this is very striking, by setting before himself a vast program of apostolic action to be gradually realized;….he yet possessed an incredible energy of soul which was for ever receiving fresh vigor from his lively faith in the infallible words of Christ, and in His Divine promises. Then again, he counted with unlimited confidence on the supernatural force given by God to the Church for the successful accomplishment of her divine mission in the world. The constant aim of his life, as shown in all his words and works, was, therefore, this: to preserve in himself, and to stimulate in others this same lively faith and confidence, doing all the good possible at the moment in expectation of the Divine judgment (op. cit.)….It is still more necessary to inculcate properly in the minds of all the moral maxims taught by Jesus Christ, so that everybody may learn to conquer himself, to curb the passions of the mind, to stifle pride, to live in obedience to authority, to love justice, to show charity towards all, to temper with Christian love the bitterness of social inequalities, to detach the heart from the goods of the world, to live contented with the state in which Providence has placed us, while striving to better it by the fulfillment of our duties, to thirst after the future life in the hope of eternal reward. But, above all, is it necessary that these principles be instilled and made to penetrate into the heart, so that true and solid piety may strike root there, and all, but as men and as Christians, may recognize by their acts, as well as by their words, the duties of their state and have recourse with filial confidence to the Church and her ministers to obtain from them pardon for their sins, to receive the strengthening grace of the sacraments, and to regulate their lives according to the laws of Christianity (op. cit.).
In his first two encyclicals, E Supremi Apostolatus and Jucunda Sane, and again in his later encyclical, Communium Rerum, St. Pius X demonstrated his essentially religious concerns. Moreover, in these three documents, he paints the same dramatic tableau of the prevailing situation: nothing less than a universal apostasy, and the cures he proposes are again the same (from Communium Rerum):
How they have realized this danger is easily to be seen in the anxieties, trepidations, and tears of most holy men who have had borne in upon them the terrible responsibility of the government of souls and the greatness of the danger to which they are exposed, but it is to be seen most strikingly in the life of Anselm. When he was torn from the solitude of the studious life of the cloister, to be raised to a lofty dignity in most difficult times, he found himself a prey to the most tormenting solicitude and anxiety, and chief of all the fear that he might not do enough for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his people, for the honor of God and of His Church….[h]is one great comfort was his trust in God and in the Apostolic See (Epistol. lib. iii. ep. 37).
St. Pius X was a true pastor of souls, a pope who concerned himself first and foremost with the care of souls, a spiritual rather than a politically-wise pope. It would, however, be false to pretend that St. Pius X’s pontificate was of an exclusively religious character, where politics had no part to play whatsoever. Aventino (op. cit.) states positively:
Pius X’s eminently religious pontificate cannot be seen as completely detached from all political activity whatsoever. Anxious as he was in pursuing an essentially religious goal, Pius X’s actions would never be of an exclusively political nor diplomatic character; it could never be but politico-religious; and under no circumstances whatsoever would moral or religious questions be subordinate to any worldly conditions; this he proved when he fearlessly raised the cross against the politics of religious interference in France and in Spain, as well as against the Russian government’s arbitrary pretensions or claims. Far from dealing a death-blow to his courage, drawn from the everflowing supernatural sources of the Faith, the most dreadful obstacles simply served to redouble his energy and to give him the strength to rekindle everyone else’s courage.
These words, addressed to Card. Fisher in 1911, repeat exactly what Pius X had penned in Jucunda Sane (1904).
Each and every time Catholic interests will be threatened, the Pope will be immediately ready to defend them against the Republique du Bloc or against the Czar’s autocracy; against the Catholic monarchy and parliament of Spain or against the all-powerful German Protestant Empire, against the usurping monarchy of Savoy or against the very Catholic House of Hapsburg. The on-going religious struggle in France, the defense of Catholicism in Russia, the padlock law in Spain, the affair concerning the archbishopric of Posen in Germany, those incidents related to Nathan and Granito all reveal the unity of method as well as the unity of thought of the Sovereign Pontiff in all circumstances (op. cit., pp.143,144).
St. Pius X’s pontificate was a politico-religious one; and, in this regard, four of his official documents are quite characteristic indeed. The first of them is his famous consistorial speech, Primum Vos (Nov. 9, 1903):
Our task, therefore, consists in defending both Christian Truth as well as the Law of Christ. Consequently, Ours will be the task of defining and explaining the notions of the most important truths….as well as that of leading back to the rule and straight path of honesty both in public and in private life, in the social and political spheres, all men and, indeed, each and every one of them, those who must obey as well as those whose duty is to command, for they are all sons of the same Father Who is in Heaven. We are also quite conscious of the fact that some will be shocked in hearing Us mention that We will, through necessity, concern Ourselves with politics. But anyone seeking to judge fairly will be quick to understand that the Sovereign Pontiff, who has been invested with the Supreme Magisterium, has no right whatsoever of divorcing questions relating to politics from the field of Faith and Morals. Moreover, in his capacity as chief and sovereign guide of that perfect society which is the Catholic Church, a society made up of men and also set up amongst men, he can only wish to foster and entertain close relationships with [all] heads of countries and members of governments if he wishes to see all the countries of the world protect their Catholic citizens’ liberty and security.
A second document, just as characteristic, is the address delivered on the occasion of the beatification ceremonies of St. Joan of Arc (Apr. 19, 1909):
Having everything in common with Him, enriched by Him and possessor as well as guardian of Truth, the Catholic Church alone may claim the love and veneration of all peoples.
Thus it is that anyone rising up against the Church’s authority under the unjust excuse that it is invading the State’s domain is, in fact, limiting and shackling the Truth; he who declares the Church to be a stranger in his nation is also, in fact, declaring that Truth is indeed a stranger in his country; he who fears that the Church will weaken the liberty as well as the greatness of his country must also admit that a people can be great and free without Truth. No, such a State or government, by whatever name it is known, while waging war against Truth and gravely offending that which is most sacred in men, cannot possibly lay claim to their love….Only that country united in a chaste alliance with the Church can inspire its citizens with those sentiments of veneration and love and bring about the true well-being of humanity.
The third document is found in the famous condemnation of the Sillon (Aug. 25, 1910):
It is in the democratic customs as well as in theories of the ideal city which inspires them, that you will perceive, Venerable Brethren, those underlying causes of those disciplinary lapses for which you have so often reproached the Sillon.
Thus did the Pope roundly condemn a political party, that Christian Democracy established by Marc Sangnier (1873-1950).
The fourth document, Il Fermo Proposito (June 11, 1905), manifests the Pope’s worries which are seen to be not exclusively religious, but rather of a politico-religious nature.
In this encyclical on Catholic Action in Italy, St. Pius X declares:
Behold, Venerable Brethren, the precious support brought to the Church by those chosen companies of Catholics who propose, as a matter of fact, to combine all their living strength with the firm intention of doing battle by just and legal means against the growing anti-Christian forces in modern society, as well as to repair by all possible means, all of those extremely grave disorders brought about in our midst by those same forces of darkness. These same associations intend bringing back Jesus Christ into families, schools and society itself as well as re-establishing the principle of human authority as representing that [authority] of God. Those militant Catholics are therefore devoting themselves to bringing public laws in conformity with justice, to correcting or suppressing those which are lacking in that virtue as well as defending and supporting with a genuinely Catholic spirit the rights of God in all things, together with the no less sacred rights of His Church.
This last quotation shows how Pope St. Pius X envisaged “Restoring all things in Christ.” This is evidently a question of a religious policy whose politics will be subject to the unchanging and saving doctrines of the Church.
However, since St. Pius X was Pope and head of the universal Church, it was necessary that he consider religion itself first and foremost since this is the summit of all human life. This subordination impregnates all of that Pope’s writings, including Pascendi. St. Pius X revealed the gravity of the error of modernism both on the natural and supernatural orders. Pascendi begins with an analysis of the modernist system of philosophy which is agnosticism [i.e., the philosophy of the agnostics, that is, of those teaching that the essences of things and in particular the first cause and final ends, are absolutely unknowable]. Modernism has proven itself to be the ruin of all of human life, and therefore also the ruin of that necessary subordination of politics to religion, of the State to the Catholic Church.
In order to illustrate this affirmation, let us examine Pascendi point by point:
Pope St. Pius X roundly condemns the seven heads of modernism and then offers us their seven remedies. He begins by condemning philosophers who challenge all rational proof of the existence of God as the First Cause of everything in existence, both material and spiritual. Such philosophers fall victims to a so-called scientific atheism. For these, God is something emanating from man’s subconscious. This false “faith” of theirs, based as it is on mere sentiment or feelings, is expressed in ever-changing formulae, since these have no other objective than that of maintaining or of warming up over and over again a sentimental life, a life of the heart which is, by definition, irrational. For these people, religion is a form of life and, as such, cannot constitute an adherence to an exterior object. Their “faith” proceeds from man; known as religious immanence, vital immanence. Such a system of “belief” cannot possibly be viewed as an unmistakably clear knowledge above all scientific knowledge; on the contrary, science, which modernists have reduced to the level of measurable things, is done to impose its control on all human judgment.
St. Pius X then goes on to condemn modernist theologians. Since modernists are not concerned with true knowledge but rather with feelings [sentiments] and immanence – [i.e., the teaching that the foundation of faith must be sought in an internal sense which arises from man’s need of God], and since they no longer have any external object to adhere to, the modern theologians have simply become begetters of symbols, designed to represent the divine emanating from human subconscious. They also consider that the Magisterium’s sole function is that of transmitting or passing on common opinions. Their cult thus ends up being a humanistic expression of religious feelings. The modernist Church, for its part, is now seen as the collective conscience in the same way that popular regimes constitute the public conscience: and only the democratic form is considered suitable to their ends. Thus we end up with the error of separation of the Church and of the State. In fact, since modernists hold Faith to be subject to human knowledge [science] and reason, to the total advantage of [human] reasoning and to the vanishing point of Faith, the Church is seen to be subject to the collective conscience which constitutes what may be essentially called an all-encompassing Christian democracy, that is to say, the State. Understood in this way, authority becomes nothing more than a service whose mission is limited to the taking of the “universal pulse” in order to explain it in a formula comprehensible to everyone.
Pope St. Pius X, showing modernism to be agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionary, concludes:
The domineering overbearance of those who teach the errors, and the thoughtless compliance of the more shallow minds who assent to them, create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere, and carries its infection with it. (Pascendi, 34).
He also went on to reveal their common cause: pride.
Pride! Pride sits in Modernism as in its own house, finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and lurking in its every aspect. (Pascendi, 40).
St. Thomas Aquinas describes the sin of pride in the following terms:
The first sin committed by the devil was that residing in an undue desire to be “like to God,” in that he sought as the ultimate goal of his happiness something to which he could attain by his own natural powers, without having recourse to God, nor wishing to wait, as did the holy angels, for his final perfection through divine grace. This final perfection he sought to reach through the resources of his own nature, not, indeed, independently of God, Who gave to the angelic nature the ability to act, but independently of God Who confers grace (De Malo, 16,3).
For man, as well as for angels, pride consists in refusing the supernatural and the order of divine grace. But for us, the supernatural and grace depend on the mystery of the Incarnation whose motive is to be found in sin. (Summa Theologica, Part III, Question 1, article 3). Finally, it must be said that pride is centered on that refusal of mercy, on that refusal of the world of divine grace, that refusal of the Incarnation, that refusal of Our Redeemer, the Word made Incarnate.
In his motu proprio of June 29, 1914, St. Pius X applied himself to the solid formation of future priests, an essential remedy:
Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. For, far from the clergy be the love of novelty! God hateth the proud and obstinate mind (Pascendi, 49).
Next follows the necessary prohibition of bad books. And the Pope then carefully warns:
Let all this be done in a fitting manner, and in certain cases it will suffice to restrict the prohibition to the clergy (Pascendi, 51).
The fourth measure consists in the control of publications through the obligation of the Nihil obstat and the Imprimatur. Ecclesiastical censors will be appointed for the revision of works intended for publication.
St. Pius X warns against religious congresses. In the future, these will be rarely held, since they have been known to be the means of spreading modernist infection:
Whenever they [the bishops] do permit them, it shall only be on condition that matters appertaining to the Bishops or the Apostolic See be not treated in them, and that no resolutions or petitions be allowed that would imply an usurpation of sacred authority, and that absolutely nothing be said in them which savors of Modernism, presbyterianism, or laicism (Pascendi, 54).
The sixth remedy is the setting up of diocesan “Councils of Vigilance” established with rules identical to those of censors whose task it is to examine writings pertaining to religious matters.
Finally, it is ordained that bishops furnish the Holy See with a diligent and sworn report on the things which have been decreed in Pascendi.
Just as pride, as a common cause, masks the various errors making up Modernism, so another common cause is evident in their antidotes – the Pope’s jealous attention and soliicitude for his priests, not only in Pascendi, but in all of his encyclicals.
For example, in his first encyclical, E Supremi Apostolatus, St. Pius X proposes, as a first step in…
…bringing back to loyal obedience to the Church all of those societies bewildered and straying far away from the Wisdom of Christ, to form and mold Christ in those who, through that duty associated with their sublime vocation, are destined to form Him in others. Here, We wish to speak of priests….Thus, Venerable Brethren, how great indeed must be your solicitude in forming the clergy to holiness! No other task is to take precedence over this one….Let your zealous solicitude be lavished on those new priests just leaving their seminaries.
In Jucunda Sane, St. Pius X follows in the steps of St. Gregory:
The very idea of some danger, the very thought that the moral corruption so prevalent and pervading in the Roman world threatened to creep into the morals and customs of the clergy caused him no end of trembling and fear….He could be seen warning, correcting and suspending from their functions those unworthy members of the clergy….Thus do we see, Venerable Brethren, how important it is for a bishop, before laying hands on new candidates for ordination, to apply himself, in God’s presence, to a deep and thorough self-examination.
Finally, a third example found in Communium Rerum, the encyclical from which we have quoted regarding St. Anselm’s 8th centenary:
Why so much insistence in setting up and extolling once again St. Anselm’s merits? The reason, Venerable Brethren, lies in this happy occasion afforded Us to exhort you once again to open up to our young clergy those saving sources of Christian knowledge; let those young clerics come and drink at those beneficial and salutary waters revealed by St. Anselm of Canterbury and so enriched by the Doctor of Aquinas….There are those who have abandoned these studies or else have undertaken them in a slipshod manner, totally lacking in sure and firm methodical order. And with what results? Alas! We see only too well all of the ruins piling up all around us day after day; many are they who, even amongst the clergy, without any aptitude and utterly wanting in proper preparation, have not feared to rashly debate and argue the loftiest Mysteries of the Faith.
In order to point out the jealous care St. Pius X had for the clergy, we quote from Haerent Animo (Aug. 4, 1908):
Through this exhortation, it is not only your interests that We will uphold, but also those common interests of Catholic nations, since they cannot at all be separated the ones from the others.
Would to God that there should now be a greater number of men practicing these virtues as did those saints of times past who proved to be so powerful in words and deeds, for the greater profit not only of Religion, but also for that of civil society…
When, at last, the true spirit of priestly vocations will have renewed and improved at all levels of the clergy, our other projects and efforts of reform, whatever they may be, will also prove to be, with God’s help, much more effective indeed.
Thus are we able to conclude that in the same way that pride is found to be the common cause of the seven heads of modernism and that this pride simply constitutes man’s refusal of Christ as his Redeemer, thus is also to be found a common remedy to this tragedy: priestly virtue. Why? Precisely because the priest participates directly in Christ’s work of salvation, and because he is a man dispensing the sacraments of the Faith. This is where we behold the unrivalled splendor of the Pope’s motto: To restore everything in Christ. In short, this means restoring everything in Christ the Redeemer, and therefore also restoring everything through the holy priesthood. Included in this “everything” is not only the Church, but all of human society as well. This universal restoration will come via Christ the Redeemer, and therefore by our priests. And this term “everything” is not restricted in any way at all. This remedy is not something new. St. Pius X ushered in nothing new; he just took up again a centuries-old idea, making his own the constant care of earlier Popes. He took up once again and continued the work of one former Pope in particular, Gregory VII. Here is what he wrote about St. Anselm.
He was still but a curate when he received from the great and courageous Roman Pontiff, Gregory VII, letters full of esteem and affection wherein the Pope recommended himself as well as the Catholic Church to the saint’s [i.e., Anselm’s] good prayers.
“We will cite but one name,” says St. Pius X. “That person of indomitable courage, indefatigable defender of the rights and freedom of the Church, that watchful guardian and preserver of Church discipline, Pope Gregory VII.”
Now, precisely in this encyclical where St. Pius X quotes Gregory VII, he very frequently returns to Pascendi, specifying:
What We wish to simply draw to your attention today is the fact that, if the dangers of which We speak are graver and more menacing nowadays, they are not, for all that, very different from those which threatened the Church and its doctrines in St. Anselm’s days.
The conclusion of all this is easily drawn: if the ills plaguing the Church in Anselm’s time (1033-1109) were the same as those of today, even though they are not of the same extent nor violence, the remedy is yet the same. It is the one proposed by the Pope of the dawn of the 11th century, that is to say, of St. Gregory VII.
Thus do we have St. Pius X following in the footsteps of Pope St. Gregory VII. To the same ills and dangers, the same remedies. St. Pius X is to the 20th century what St. Gregory VII was to the 11th century.
The measures taken by St. Pius X, although of the same order, were taken in different circumstances. Whereas at the time of Pope Gregory VII all of those States were Christian, and therefore by definition subject to Church authority, in this 20th century, no State admits of such dependency of politics on the Church. St. Pius X’s action was therefore much more limited, and yet the principles involved were essentially the same. Only the actual carrying out of this Pontiff’s orders was much more resisted. Unlike Gregory VII, who was able to excommunicate Henry IV and relieve that emperor’s subjects from their oaths to him, St. Pius X had no other means at his disposal, whenever a government refused to be “subordinated” to the Church, refused its authority or even rebelled against it, than to declare that the citizens were no longer obliged to sentiments of veneration and affection, which they should have under normal circumstances. These are the words of the Pope in his address at the beatification of St. Joan of Arc (Apr. 9, 1909):
Thus is it to be seen that anyone revolting against the Church’s authority under the unjust pretext that it is encroaching on the State’s domain, is indeed thereby imposing limits to the Truth. He who holds it [i.e., the Church’s authority] to be a stranger in a nation is also declaring that Truth must also be held to be something foreign in that nation. Those who fear that it will weaken the freedom and greatness of a people, are also obliged to admit that a people can be great and free without Truth. No, such a State, such a government or whatever other name may be given to it, cannot lay claim to its citizens’ affection, because in waging war against Truth, it gravely strikes at that which is found to be most sacred in man. Such a government will be able to sustain itself through material and brute force; it will make itself feared through the sword; people will, through hypocrisy, self-interest or sheer slavishness: the people will obey because religion preaches and ennobles submission to the human powers that be, as long as they do not require that which is contrary to the holy laws of God. But if the fulfillment of these duties towards human authorities, in that which is compatible with the people’s duty to God, renders their obedience more meritorious, it will not, for all that, become more tender, nor more joyful nor more spontaneous: never will it even deserve to be considered as venerable nor affectionate.
St. Pius X assures us that these sentiments of veneration and affection can only be inspired by that country which, united in a chaste alliance with the Catholic Church, brings about the genuine good of humanity.
Those terrible evils shaking the Church at the onset of the 20th century resemble those which Gregory VII found himself obliged to correct. They can all be summed up in one word: laicization.
However, the partisans of destruction are not only to be found outside the Church; they are unfortunately to be seen at their work of demolition in the very bosom of the Catholic Church.
It is interesting to note that the stress laid in Gregory VII’s first letters is quite similar to that found in those of St. Pius X. Writing to Lanfranc of Canterbury, Gregory VII informs him:
As for the Bishops, whose sacred duty it is to guide and watch over those souls confided to them, they only seek, with insatiable desire, worldly glory and pleasures of the flesh. Not only do they destroy the last traces of holiness and all religious life in themselves, but through their bad example, they lead their flocks to all manner of evils. You are well aware how perilous it would be for Our soul not to combat them; but you also know how difficult it is to resist them and to restrain their malice.
Somewhat later, writing to Sicard the patriarch of Aquileia:
Your sound reasoning cannot ignore how mountainous waves of fury are relentlessly battering the Bark of the Church: to the point where she appears to be swamped and wrecked. The great and powerful, together with the princes of this world, selfishly seeking their own interests at the expense of those of Jesus Christ, have cast off all respect and are now oppressing the Church like an abject slave: they have no shame in covering her in confusion as long as they are able thereby to satisfy their monstrous greed. Priests, as well as those charged with governing the Church, are seen to have almost utterly abandoned divine law, as they steal away from their sacred duties towards God and their flocks. Their ecclesiastical dignities only serve to cover them in worldly glory as they grievously squander away in vain pomps of pride and uncalled-for expenses, those funds which normally should be directed to the salvation and welfare of the majority.
Caught up in such chaos, the people, without their prelates’ leadership, deprived of those good counsels which could guide it in the ways of justice, is now, on the contrary, thanks to the bad example of its leaders, pushed on toward every mischief and everything contrary to the Christian religion, and is seen rushing headlong into all sorts of iniquity.
We can then only quote Communium Rerum once again to witness that the policies pursued by St. Pius X were similar to those of St. Gregory VII:
Let us go back (in mind) to the times of Anselm, so fraught with misfortunes and difficulties according to historical accounts. People then were indeed obliged to give battle for the altar and the fatherland, that is to say, in favor of the inviolability of public rights and laws, for liberty, civilization and doctrine: all things over which the Church alone stood guard. It was necessary to repress the tyranny of those princes accustomed as they are in disregarding the people’s most sacred rights: Vices had to be eradicated, intellects cultivated and barbarians civilized. Much work had to be done in reforming part of the clergy, guilty of cowardice or misconduct: numerous were they in its ranks who, owing their appointment to the base intrigues and whims of those princes, have shown themselves to be their time-serving subordinates.
Such was the situation, particularly in those regions which especially and more immediately benefited from Anselm’s solicitude, works, doctrinal teachings, as well as his sterling example of monastic life. The souls entrusted to his care greatly benefited by his heedful vigilance as well as the industrious zeal he showed in faithfully fulfilling his functions of archbishop and primate.
On all sides, interior revolutions together with foreign wars were inevitably followed by a loosening of discipline: princes and subjects, clergy and laity; all were affected, none escaping.
The greatest minds of that century never ceased deploring such abuses and, most noteworthy amongst them was Anselm’s former teacher and predecessor on the See of Canterbury, Lanfranc. But, above and beyond all others, the Roman Pontiffs raised their voices. We will recall but one name: he who bore it was a man of indomitable courage, the indefatigable champion of the Church’s rights and liberty, the vigilant guardian and savior of ecclesiastical discipline, Pope Gregory VII.
The restoration is identical for both Popes: it consists in a genuine reform of the Catholic priesthood. It has become necessary to renew priestly powers, in order to triumph over all things; therefore over all of human societies subject to Christ the Redeemer. Omnia instaurare in Christo, and thereby affirm the Roman Church’s indispensable supremacy, for there is no true civilization but Christianity resting upon the Catholic priesthood.
If those evils plaguing this 20th century are of the same order as those familiar to St. Anselm under the pontificate of Pope St. Gregory VII, the remedies must also once again be the same. Now, the greatest evil of our times is that of laicization or secularism. The remedies will therefore also necessarily be the same, those proposed by Pope Gregory VII: restoration of the powers of the Catholic priesthood for the restoration of Christ’s kingdom on earth.