Friday, 30 October 2009

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

On 7th March, 1874, Blessed Pope Pius IX addressed his Encyclical Vix Dum A Nobis to the the Archbishops and Bishops of the Austrian Empire on the subject of the Church in Austria:

"13. Thus, you can clearly see how these laws threaten the flocks entrusted to your care. For the unity and peace of the Church is called into danger, and there is question of depriving it of its liberty, which St. Thomas of Canterbury calls "the soul of the Church without which it has no strength or force and cannot avail against those who seek to possess for their inheritance the sanctuary of God." St. Anselm, the other intrepid defender of this liberty, earlier expressed the same opinion: "God loves nothing in this world more than the liberty of His Church; those who wish not to promote it so much as to dominate it are certainly known to be enemies of God: God wishes His bride to be free, not enslaved." Wherefore We urge you all the more to strive to avert the danger which threatens. Greatly resolve to meet the test in a way worthy of your virtue. For We are certain that your spirit and virtue will be no less than that of those venerable brothers elsewhere who, publicly exposed to insults and violence amidst the most sharp vexations for the liberty of the Church, not only happily accepted being stripped of their belongings, but also underwent suffering in prison."

"14. Moreover all our hope is placed not in our strength but in the power of God; for at stake is the cause of God Who by an unfailing prophecy warned and aroused us thusly: In the world you will have distress, but have confidence, I have conquered the world. And so We have become the leader in this atrocious war against the Church. We promise what the holy martyr of Canterbury once expressed. His words are appropriate to this age and danger: "The cause which the enemies of the Church exercise against us is between them and God, since we seek nothing from them except what God left to his Church in eternal testament. Therefore, join Us in defending the Church with the authority and prudence granted to you. Withstand those men to whom no amount of success suffices if the Church of God enjoys liberty. We are all the more confident in you since the cause is God's. As for us, be assured, that we are more willing to undergo temporal death than to continue enduring the straits of wretched servitude. For the outcome of this controversy will have consequences for future times, that is, whether the Church grieves with perpetual distress or enjoys perpetual liberty."

"15. Meanwhile you must strive to forestall with your authority, prudence, and zeal the dangers which threaten. Consult with each other to determine how to acquire more certainly and efficaciously the proposed goal. As long as the rights of the Church are attacked, you must rise up and place before its adversaries a wall for the house of Israel; your bulwark will be more solid and your defense more valid if your labors are united and your plans are foresighted. Wherefore We urge you to assemble together as soon as possible and with mutual counsel draw up a clear norm by which you may bravely defend the liberty of the Church and unanimously repel, in keeping with the nature of your office, the attacking evils. We must give you this admonition in order not to be deficient to Our office in such a serious matter. But We are persuaded that even without Our exhortation, you would have done this of your own accord. For the rest, We have not lost all hope that God will divert the impending calamities. We are moved to hope for the best by the piety and religious observance of Franz Joseph, Emperor and King. Today We have strenuously implored him in a new letter never to willingly permit the Church in his dominion to be handed over to a dishonorable servitude and never to permit the Catholic citizens of his Empire to be brought to such extreme straits."

"16. Since many strive against the Church and any delay is always a danger, it ill befits you to be negligent and inactive. May God preside over your counsels and aid you with his powerful protection so that you may decide upon and bring about those things which pertain to the glory of His name and the salvation of souls. As a guarantee of this heavenly protection and a testimony of special benevolence, We lovingly impart the Apostolic blessing to each and all of you, beloved sons and venerable brothers, and to the clergy and faithful committed to your vigilance."

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