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 If Tocqueville were at Vatican II... 
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New post If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
Read:
Chapter 5

Of The Manner In Which Religion In The United States Avails Itself Of Democratic Tendencies

and
Chapter 6

Of The Progress Of Roman Catholicism In The United States

of Tocqueville's Democracy in America. His absolutely genius analysis actually helps me understand Vatican II better.

In the post-Vatican II Church we certainly face what Vatican II peritus Romano Amerio calls "secondary religion," which focuses more on the blessings resulting from worshiping God than worshiping Him first (cf. Matthew 33:37-38, 6:33). Tocqueville identifies why (my emphasis):
Quote:
It seems evident, that the more the barriers are removed which separate nation from nation amongst mankind, and citizen from citizen amongst a people, the stronger is the bent of the human mind, as if by its own impulse, towards the idea of an only and all-powerful Being, dispensing equal laws in the same manner to every man. In democratic ages, then, it is more particularly important not to allow the homage paid to secondary agents to be confounded with the worship due to the Creator alone.
He also says something that appears to reflect with what the fathers of Vatican II were struggling (my emphasis and [comments]):
Quote:
Another truth is no less clear — that religions ought to assume fewer external observances in democratic periods than at any others [Perhaps this explains Sacrosanctum Concilium 34.: "The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation."]. In speaking of philosophical method among the Americans, I have shown that nothing is more repugnant to the human mind in an age of equality than the idea of subjection to forms. Men living at such times are impatient of figures; to their eyes symbols appear to be the puerile artifice which is used to conceal or to set off truths, which should more naturally be bared to the light of open day [Enlightenment mentality that religion is obfuscatory]: they are unmoved by ceremonial observances, and they are predisposed to attach a secondary importance to the details of public worship. Those whose care it is to regulate the external forms of religion in a democratic age should pay a close attention to these natural propensities of the human mind, in order not unnecessarily to run counter to them. I firmly believe in the necessity of forms, which fix the human mind in the contemplation of abstract truths, and stimulate its ardor in the pursuit of them, whilst they invigorate its powers of retaining them steadfastly. Nor do I suppose that it is possible to maintain a religion without external observances [Gnosticism, Freemasonry, and other occult religions certainly give the word "cult" its negative connotation.]; but, on the other hand, I am persuaded that, in the ages upon which we are entering, it would be peculiarly dangerous to multiply them beyond measure [So he would agree that Freemasonry is a threat to democracy.]; and that they ought rather to be limited to as much as is absolutely necessary to perpetuate the doctrine itself, which is the substance of religions [i.e., the Deposit of Faith, dogma, Magisterium] of which the ritual is only the [public] form.* A religion which should become more minute, more peremptory, and more surcharged with small observances at a time in which men are becoming more equal, would soon find itself reduced to a band of fanatical zealots in the midst of an infidel people [Does this describe traditionalist Catholics?].

*In all religions there are some ceremonies which are inherent in the substance of the faith itself [e.g., the Holy Communion, the Real Presence of Christ], and in these nothing should, on any account, be changed. [Therefore, Tocqueville would be opposed to the Vatican II liturgical revolution.] This is especially the case with Roman Catholicism, in which the doctrine and the form are frequently so closely united as to form one point of belief.

I anticipate the objection, that as all religions have general and eternal truths for their object, they cannot thus shape themselves to the shifting spirit of every age without forfeiting their claim to certainty in the eyes of mankind. [Forfeiting the "claim to certainty in the eyes of mankind" is precisely what Vatican II did despite Pope Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X, respectively, condemning these propositions: Catholicism is compatible with modern civilization (Syllabus of Errors, 80.) and Catholicism is incompatible with true science (Lamentabili Sane, 65.).] To this I reply again, that the principal opinions which constitute belief, and which theologians call articles of faith, must be very carefully distinguished from the accessories connected with them. [Only St. Thomas Aquinas's doctrine on the differences and connection between faith and reason can do this (cf. P. Lumbreras, O.P.'s introduction to the 24 Thomistic Theses).] Religions are obliged to hold fast to the former, whatever be the peculiar spirit of the age; but they should take good care not to bind themselves in the same manner to the latter at a time when everything is in transition, and when the mind, accustomed to the moving pageant of human affairs, reluctantly endures the attempt to fix it to any given point. The fixity of external and secondary things can only afford a chance of duration when civil society is itself fixed; under any other circumstances I hold it to be perilous.
Also, I love how he puts these chapters on religion under the heading "Influence of Democracy on the Action of Intellect in The United States."

The thesis of the symbiotic relationship of Religion (i.e., Catholicism) and the democratic State is also covered in Orestes Augustus Brownson's "Catholicity Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty," which Chris Ferrara cited in his recent The Remnant article. Brownson's article delves more into what differentiates Protestantism from Catholicism in the United States.

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:56 pm
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New post Re: If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
Goodness, blast from the past, Alan. It's been fully 25 years since I read Tocqueville. :)

I agree he was a genius. A very penetrating and clear thinker, an impression I had at the time and these passages recall that impression.

However he was a liberal, just a more moderate one. These arguments are exactly of that water also. What struck me here is how perfectly his ideas and approach capture the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger.

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:44 pm
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New post Re: If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
Pax Christi !


Sounds a lot like the angle we were taught in America in order to swallow VII.….. that is that Religious Liberty is the American Bishop’s unique contribution to Vatican II.. blah. blah. blah :)

In Xto,
Vincent
'


Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:03 pm
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New post Re: If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
Yes Vince, I think you are suggesting that Tocqueville was at Vatican II. And I agree!

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Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:01 pm
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New post Re: If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
I found this yesterday, I have not read any of it, but I thought it might be relevant to this topic.

The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton by Ralph Raico

http://mises.org/books/place_of_religion_raico.pdf


Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:30 pm
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New post Re: If Tocqueville were at Vatican II...
Ah, it's not until page 28, of the book I posted that religion is talked about, and even then it's nothing really. With Constant you get a critique of Utilitarianism and Egoism, and a theory of overcoming hedonism and materialism in the state and then his views on religion. If I glean anything I think pertains to the topic, from Tocqueville, I'll post it.


Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:49 am
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