No. 26

Regnavit a ligno Deus

March 3, 2005

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

The new year has certainly started very well, with the vibrant energy of the Seminarians manifest not just in their sports and gymnastics activities, but especially in their studies. The absence of the Major Seminarians on the 30 day retreat has made possible the completion of the remodeling of the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour upstairs, after a long hiatus. The entire floor was rebuilt, the sanctuary extended, and then a solid wood parquet tile floor installed, sanded and varnished. Cracks and damage to the walls and ceiling were also repaired. This chapel has many uses, including daily Mass, use either by the retreatants or by the community during each retreat, and also the Seminarians for their daily meditations. Likewise was completed this month the mechanical workshop at the back of the St. Joseph House, with its new, fire rated ceiling, entirely new three-phase electrical wiring, and painting. The exterior waterproofing and painting of the St. Joseph House is presently ongoing.

The Rector and 15 Seminarians
in front of the wing of classrooms that they use for their classes.

Hearing of the Pope’s health problems, it is certainly our duty to pray for him. We cannot but agree with the content of his recent Lenten message, reiterating points of natural law concerning care for the elderly, making allusion to the increasing frequency of euthanasia, and how illness and weakness in the elderly do not take away from the fact that it is opposed to the commandment ‘You shall not kill’, condemning the current mentality that considers the elderly “as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness”.


However, at the same time we become aware of a most astonishing document, one typical of a revolutionary pontificate as John Paul II’s has proven to be, a statement positively embracing the principles of the French revolution as they achieve their ultimate culmination in the separation of Church and State. It was the Pope’s letter to the French bishops on laicisation of the State, made public this past February 12 and written for the centennial celebration (if you please) of the 1905 law of separation of Church and State. We have become so used to the separation of religion and public life in our modern societies that we can easily overlook the perversity of such a law, and lose the supernatural horror that we ought to have for such a celebration, nothing less than a celebration of the victory of the freemasons and enemies of the Church, such as Emile Combe, the French President who prepared this separation in 1903.

Consequently, it is of no little interest for us to read the reaction to this same law of the saint who was Pope a century ago, and whose duty of Faith it was to react in the name of the Church, and to compare that assessment with the “celebration” of a Pope won over to the principles of the revolution. In fact, in February 1906 St. Pius X wrote a doctrinal encyclical, Vehementer nos, to the bishops, clergy and French people on the separation of Church and State. He complains first of the injustice of this unilateral decision of the French State, and how much the Church had to suffer from the different measures with which this separation had been prepared:

“You have seen the sanctity and inviolability of Christian marriage violated by legislative measures in formal contradiction with them. You have witnessed the secularization of schools and hospitals. You have seen clerics stolen away from their studies and from ecclesiastical discipline to oblige them to military service. You have seen religious Congregations dispersed and stripped of all they possess, most of the time reducing their members to the most complete impoverishment. Other legal measures followed that you all know well: the law requiring public prayers at the beginning of each parliamentary session and at the reopening of court has been abolished. The traditional signs of mourning on board ships on Good Friday have been suppressed. The religious character has been removed from oaths sworn in court. Every act or emblem that could in any way at all remind one of religion has been banished from courts, schools, the army, the navy, and from all public establishments. These measures and still others yet which, little by little, separate in reality the Church from the State, were nothing other than markers carefully placed for the purpose of coming to a complete and official separation”

Mr. Madson putting the finishing touches
on the new floor in the chapel of Our Lady upstairs in the main building.


Having drawn up this incomplete list of the horrifying insults to Our Divine Lord, to his ministers, St. Pius X states very clearly and unambiguously the Catholic principle that we must adhere to:

“The idea that the State should be separated from the Church is an absolutely false thesis and a very pernicious error”

The Pope immediately proceeds to explain, giving four profound reasons why the separation of Church and State is false and extremely dangerous: because if offends Almighty God, because it is a denial of the supernatural order of grace and divine revelation, because it creates disharmony, unending conflict, destruction of the very notion of Truth, and finally because of the damage it does to civil society itself.

1)         “First of all, since it is based on the principle that the State should not acknowledge any religious cult, it is gravely offensive to God; for the Creator of man is also the Founder of human societies, and he preserves them in their existence, just as he maintains us. We owe him, therefore, not only private worship, but a public and social worship in order to honor Him.”

2)         “Moreover, this thesis is a very clear denial of the supernatural order. In fact, it limits the State’s action to the pursuing of public prosperity during this earthly life alone, which is only the proximate purpose of political societies, but concerns itself in no way with their final goal, which is the eternal happiness that is proposed to man when this short life will have touched its term, considering that it is something entirely unrelated to it…”

3)         “This thesis, furthermore, overthrows the order most wisely established in the world by God, which calls for a harmony and agreement between the two societies…”

4)         “Finally, this thesis inflicts grave harm on civil society itself, for the latter cannot long prosper or exist once religion is denied its place, for religion is the supreme rule and the sovereign mistress where man’s rights and duties are concerned.”


If I have quoted this passage at length, it is because it expresses authoritatively the Church’s teaching on the question. Saint Pius X does not stop here, but explains himself that this teaching is not his personal teaching, nor a passing thesis, nor a simple adaptation to the times in which he was living – but truly a teaching of the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium, constantly taught by the Popes, and consequently a doctrinal teaching. Answering ahead of time the objections of those who maintain that this teaching on the separation of Church and State no longer applies to our modern secular age, he has this to say:

“Thus the Roman Pontiffs have not ceased, according to circumstances and at different times, to refute and to condemn the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. It was notably Our illustrious predecessor, Leo XIII, who several times and magnificently explained what ought to be, according to Catholic doctrine, the relationship between the two societies. Between the two, he said, ‘there must necessarily be a wise union, union that can be compared not without exactitude to that which exists between the body and the soul of a man…Human societies cannot, without becoming criminal, act as if God did not exist or refuse to take any account of religion’”.


This is the ideal, the condemned and refuted false doctrine, the centennial of which Pope John Paul II has just asked the French to celebrate, in the name of “respect for a healthy laicisation” of society. In an attempt to justify the separation of Church and State, in virtue of the common good considered purely and simply as earthly prosperity and harmony, he attempts to distinguish a so-called healthy laicisation, simply considered as the complete separation of the two powers, from an “ideological laicisation”, in which there is an antagonism or hostile separation.

He fails, however, to see that in our formerly Christian nations, the refusal of submission to God, Christ Our Lord, the Church and Her representatives is necessarily (and not just historically) a hostile antagonism. It is nothing more or less than the refusal of Christ’s divinity and of the Church’s authority received from Him. How could this not be hostile? How can a public rejection of God not be antagonism towards Him? There is only one way: it is if God has no rights, and if society has no duties; it is if individuals are all equal and free to determine their own subjective faith, opinions and convictions. It is within such a revolutionary optic alone that an entirely lay, secular society can be considered as not being anti-Catholic.

Yet this is the perspective adopted by John Paul II: “The non-confessionality of the State (i.e. the fact that it does not adhere to, profess or embrace any religion or its tenets), which is a non-involvement of the civil power in the life of the Church and of the different religions, as in the spiritual domain, enables all the parts of society to work together in the service of all and of the national community” (Cf. DICI, #111). It is as if society were not a creature of the one, true Almighty God, and that neither society nor the individuals that make it up have any objective duty towards Him. It is pure naturalism to speak of the service of all and of the nation without any consideration for God, His revelation, His Law of His Church.

If the Pope does, indeed, explain the duties of Catholics, these duties remain, alas, no different from those of non-Catholics, or non-believers even, namely that of cooperating with the democratic process and expressing their subjective opinions in public debate: “In the name of their faith, Christians, personally or in associations, must be able to speak out publicly to express their opinions and to manifest their convictions, by this very fact bringing their contribution to the democratic debates” (Ib.). To further add to the naturalism of this approval of the laicisation of the State, the Pope makes a list of the matters on which Christians have a right to call the State and their fellow citizens to order: “…the domain of the fundamental rights of the human person and respect for his dignity, of the progress of humanity, which cannot be at any price, of justice and equity, as well as the protection of the planet, all domains that concern the future of man and of humanity, and the responsibility of each generation”. Apparently the post-Vatican II church has nothing supernatural to contribute to society.

If any doubt were to remain as to the revolutionary foundation of this approval of laicisation, it is removed by the Pope’s remark that immediately follows, making direct reference to the three principles of the French revolution: “It is under this condition that laicisation, far from being a confrontation, is truly the space for constructive dialogue, in the spirit of the values of liberty, equality and fraternity, to which the French people is very rightly strongly attached”. (Ib.) 

In Vehementer nos, Saint Pius X responded to the false principle of egalitarianism, which denies the hierarchy and authority of the Church, and hence its place in society: “This Church is essentially an unequal society, that is to say a society made up of two categories of persons, Pastors and flock, those who have a place in the different degrees of the hierarchy, and the multitude of the faithful.” The false freedom of religion and universal brotherhood of mankind are but consequences of the denial of the Church’s supernatural authority structure.

new parquet floor

The new parquet floor in the Lady chapel,
before the altar was reassembled and the pews returned.


However, the contrast between the two Popes is clearest in the authoritative condemnation of the separation of Church and State which is the climax of St. Pius X’s encyclical:

“This is why, mindful of Our apostolic charge and aware of the pressing duty that is incumbent upon Us of defending against all attack and maintaining in their absolute integrity the inviolable and sacred rights of the Church, in virtue of the supreme authority that God has conferred upon Us, We, for the motives exposed above, reprove and condemn the law voted in France on the separation of Church and State as being profoundly injurious to God, Whom it officially denies by establishing as a principle that the Republic does not acknowledge any cult. We reprove and condemn it as violating the natural law, the right of nations and the public fidelity due to treatises; as contrary to the divine constitution of the Church, to its essential rights and to its freedom, as overturning justice, and treading underfoot the Church’s right of ownership…”


Would that John Paul II’s Lenten message had not been limited to observations of a purely natural order. Would that it shared some of the accents of Faith, provoking to generous efforts in the spiritual life, as manifest in the conclusion of Vehementer nos, written just before Lent 1906:

“And now, it is to you that We address Ourselves, Catholics of France…You know the purpose embraced by the impious sects who abase you under their yoke, for they themselves have proclaimed it with cynical audacity: ‘to de-catholise’ France. They long to rip out of your hearts, to its very last root, the Faith that was the glory of your fathers, the Faith that made your country great and prosperous among the nations, the Faith that supports you in times of difficulty, that maintains tranquillity and peace in your homes and that opens to you the path towards eternal happiness. It is with all your heart, you know it well, that you must defend this Faith”.

Dare I conclude by saying that I have no other Lenten message than this one. Lent will only be a time of profound conversion if our Faith is deepened, if the supernatural realities that it present to us penetrate more profoundly into our souls. Let this be the goal of our additional prayers, spiritual reading and meditations. It will only be in proportion to the intensity of our own life of Faith and prayer that we will be able to contribute valiantly and generously to the good of other souls, to the Church, to the defense of Catholic Tradition. Permit me, if I may, to make mine the words of our holy patron saint:

“If you wish within the limit of your forces, as it is your pressing duty, to save the religion of your ancestors from the dangers that threaten…if you desire to undertake this in a manner worthy of it…you must first of all model yourselves so faithfully on the precepts of the Christian law that your acts and your life in its entirety honor the Faith of which you make profession…” (Vehementer nos)

Let us remain united in prayer for this intention, at the foot of the holy Cross, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Father Peter R. Scott

The final electrical installation
in the newly repainted mechanical workshop at the back of the St. Joseph House.


Men’s 5 day:             Monday June 6– Saturday June 11,2005
Women’s 5 day:        Monday September 19- Saturday September 24, 2005


Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia