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Leo XIII’s Old World Order – “the best and strongest support of morality is religion”

One of the last voices crying in the wilderness.

I’ve just been having a very interesting read of an encyclical of Leo XIII that even most traditionalists have never heard of. “Longinqua Oceani” was addressed to the American Catholic Church in 1895. It proposed something that to  modern ears would sound outrageous… even traditionalist ears: that separation of Church and state is a Bad Thing.

While most Catholics – particularly American Catholics – would vehemently oppose such a wild and dangerous idea, most Traditionalist Catholics would have at least heard of it as something popes used to say, even if they dismiss it as a possibly imprudent “prudential judgment,” something best hushed up for the sake of our non-believing brethren.

But of course it’s funny you should mention this urge to shut up on these topics that seem weird and outlandish, even to modern novusordoist Catholics. Because that self-silencing was exactly what Pope Leo was writing against, both in Longinqua and later in the more famous Testem Benevolentiae.  (It is also very positive about the state and general run of things in the Church in America, dispelling the mythology that Leo just didn’t really approve of y’all or had some Europhile prejudice.)

To wit:

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed.

I’m going to be writing about this today – my next bit for the Remnant – and will let y’all know when it’s available in full. But I think it’s worth a read all by itself – think of it as a homework assignment –  if for nothing else just to see what popes sounded like before the Church lost her way. Here is a pope not afraid or ashamed of the Faith and the Church established by Christ to promulgate and preach it to all the nations.

Leo is one of my favourite encyclicalists, even more than Pius X, and as a peek into Catholic history he is recent enough to be a good history teacher. We can see, reading him, much more clearly what happened to our civilization … what, exactly, happened.

Here is a pope speaking from the heart of a Church that has not lost its compass by the wayside, full of authority and joyful surety.

the best and strongest support of morality is religion. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress. Now what is the Church other than a legitimate society, founded by the will and ordinance of Jesus Christ for the preservation of morality and the defence of religion? For this reason have We repeatedly endeavored, from the summit of the pontifical dignity, to inculcate that the Church, whilst directly and immediately aiming at the salvation of souls and the beatitude which is to be attained in heaven, is yet, even in the order of temporal things, the fountain of blessings so numerous and great that they could not have been greater or more numerous had the original purpose of her institution been the pursuit of happiness during the life which is spent on earth.

Now read this, and think about what happened next. Think about how, just under 20 years later, the vile, anti-human, anti-rational secularist, freemasonic powers that grew like a poisonous carbuncle out of the Protestant Revolt, would set fire to the whole world.

This is a hundred years. Almost a hundred years ago, the Bolshevik Revolution convulsed Russia and turned her into a monster that is still eating the world. Almost a hundred years ago, Our Lady came to visit and warned us what was coming. And it came. It has never stopped coming since then.

I think this is going to be a most interesting year.