Valentin Tomberg, Charles A Coulombe and Standing Up for Vatican I


With warm gratitude to Bellator Dei for the graphic.

Odd …

This morning by complete accident – it would seem – I stumbled upon a thoroughly mainstream text that is really quite apposite.

Apposite. My computer’s dictionary has for this word

ap·po·site adj

especially well suited to the circumstances

Now the circumstances in this case are the new directions we are pondering for this website, as were recently mentioned here.

For this was found in a very mainstream encyclopedia installed on my computer.

Somehow, something had just “popped up” that lends support to the very non-mainstream directions we contemplate.

The very first thing I laid eyes on was the first independent clause below. This initial clause about nationalism replacing Christianity is in itself very striking:

The rise of nationalism during the 1800’s weakened the influence of Christianity …

There we have it, a succinct, non-emotive rendering from a thoroughly mainstream venue.

No, Valentin Tomberg in his legal theses – and later works as well – has things very much of an emotive and profound nature to say about this tragedy.

Charles A. Coulombe writes in a similar vein. His fine book Puritan’s Empire speaks to the tragic triumph of Americanism over Christianity.

But here in full, is the little text I read this morning. These few succinct matter-of-fact lines conceal an entire universe of meaning, mystery and tragedy – which once animated the souls of Catholics. They hide a universe barely remembered, but the memory of which this site will seek to evoke …

The rise of nationalism during the 1800s weakened the influence of Christianity,especially the Roman Catholic Church.

After the French Revolution began in 1789, the forces of nationalism and democracy swept across Europe. New governments tended to separate the powers of church and state. Nationalist movements questioned the supreme authority of the pope.

In the mid-1800’s, Pope Pius IX took steps to uphold the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The Syllabus of Errors issued by Pius in 1864 condemned republican government, rationalism, and other ideas that threatened the power and authority of the church.

In 1869, Pius assembled Vatican Council I. It produced the most controversial act of his reign – the declaration of papal infallibility. According to this declaration, the pope cannot be in error when he speaks as head of the church on matters of faith or morals.

Yes even a little mainstream encyclopedia installed on my computer testifies as to how we have substituted nationalism and other things for Christianity …

Soon I hope to turn to far more moral and eloquent testimony, which is also rather less mainstream.

I imagine this will be very much to do with Valentin Tomberg and his praise for the “reactionary” figures who tried to stop nationalism and secularism destroying Christianity – praising for example the “reactionary” figure of:

Metternich, who was villified so much [but] who recognised the true scope of the danger [and the] necessity to save European Christianity from the danger of being swept under a wave of irreverence. [Emphasis mine].

Meanwhile, I shall just note that somewhere out there on the web, there is a liberal effort called “Standing up for Vatican II”.

It seems to me that is high time to stand up for Vatican I – which is exactly what Tomberg and Coulombe have in mind.

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