Friday, 6 November 2009

The Voice of... Blessed Pius IX (Part XIII)

On 5th February, 1875, Blessed Pope Pius IX issued his Encyclical Quod Nunquam to the Archbishops and Bishops of Prussia (in Germany) concerning the state of the Church in their country:

"1. What We never expected to happen has come about. Thus, We look back on those things which this Apostolic See established for the welfare of Catholics in agreement with the supreme ruler of Prussia in the twentyfirst year of this century and We observe that it has turned out otherwise. A wild and unexpected storm now reigns in your land, where the Church of God once enjoyed peace and tranquillity. Other new laws have been added to those laws against the rights of the Church which were proposed recently and which struck down and removed from their positions many clerics and laymen. These new laws thoroughly overturn the divine establishment of the Church and totally destroy the holy rights of the bishops."

"2. These laws gave power to lay judges to cast bishops and others in charge of caring for souls from their dignity and from the exercise of their duty. They placed many serious impediments before those who were appointed to exercise legitimate jurisdiction in the absence of the pastors. The cathedral chapters were told that they could elect vicars according to the canons when the episcopal see is not yet vacant. Finally, passing over many other things, they entrusted the prefects of the provinces with the power to appoint even non Catholic men who, as substitutes for the bishops, preside over the administration of the temporal goods in the dioceses, even if those temporal goods were intended for holy people or the use of the Church. You know well, venerable brothers, what harm and abuses followed from these laws and from their harsh execution."

"3. We shall pass over these matters in order not to increase our common sadness with recollections of them. However, we cannot keep silent concerning the damage to the dioceses of Gniezno and Poznan, as well as to the diocese of Paderborn. Miescyslaw, Archbishop of Gniezno and Poznan, and Konrad, Bishop of Paderborn, have been imprisoned and unjustly sentenced to be deposed from their episcopal see and divested of their authority. These dioceses are deprived of the assistance of their shepherds and are sorrowfully hurled into a mass of serious difficulties and sorrows."

"4. However, We ought not to weep over Our brothers just mentioned. Rather We should esteem them and follow them with rejoicing. "Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal on account of the Son of Man." Those who remember these divine words are not deterred by the punishment of the laws; instead they keep the laws and the commandments of the Church because of the seriousness of their ministry. These men have drawn honor and glory to themselves, just as other highly esteemed bishops from the same region. They suffer undeserved condemnation and the punishments of criminals for the sake of justice and show great virtue which overflows for the edification of the whole Church. They deserve praise rather than the tears of mourners."

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