The Prisoners of the Written Word
Thomas A. Droleskey
One of the enduring evils of the Protestant Revolt is the rejection of Sacred Tradition as one of the two sources of Divine Revelation. Coupled with a rejection of the visible, hierarchical Church instituted by Our Lord Himself to be the mater and magister of all men until the end of time, the rejection of Sacred Tradition leads “believers” into an abyss of reaching mutually contradictory interpretations of what is contained in the written Word of God, Sacred Scripture. The rejection of the Catholic Church as the sole repository and infallible explicator of the entirety of the Deposit of Faith has created a world wherein life is reduced to the re-interpretation and, ultimately, deconstruction of all written words to suit the exigencies of any given moment in time.
Each succeeding generation of Protestants must, lacking any received Tradition, constantly discover the “meaning” of Holy Writ on their own. Although some Protestants accept the concept of the Natural Law (those laws that exist in the nature of things, knowable by reason, that govern human moral behavior at all times and in all circumstances), many Protestants reject the Natural Law entirely as being inconsistent with the primacy of the “Word.” Even those Protestants who accept the Natural Law, however, lack any authority above themselves to explicate its precepts and to apply them in the concrete circumstances of daily life. Once again, therefore, that which is “unwritten” must be considered as an unreliable witness to the truth or rendered as the prisoner of the subjective considerations of the individual interpreter.
The Constitution of the United States of America was written by men whose world views were shaped by the Protestant Revolt and/or the so-called “Enlightenment.” The framers of the Constitution believed that it would be possible for men of divergent religious beliefs and philosophies to pursue the common good in light of some generally agreed upon principles about the protection of “civil liberty” and “property” by a “limited” government created to provide for the common defense and to promote the general welfare. The purposes of the Constitution are spelled out pretty specifically in its Preamble:
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, secure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."”
These are not ignoble ends, as far as they go. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to realize those ends absent a confessional recognition of the true Church as the sole repository of the Deposit of Faith and thus that she alone has the right to explicate the binding precepts of the Divine positive law an the natural law. Moreover, every government on the face of this earth is supposed to advance the cause of man’s Last End by fostering the conditions which are conducive to the salvation of his immortal soul. The Constitution of the United States of America, therefore, contains within itself the seeds of its deconstruction by refusing to admit that there is an authority higher than itself to which all men and nations must subject themselves at all times without any exception whatsoever.
Pope Leo XIII stated very bluntly what happens when the governments of men do not recognize the true Church. Writing in Immortale Dei in 1885, Pope Leo stated:
“To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and, by setting forth most urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they be not carried out in action.”
The principle of non-contradiction teaches us that either the framers of the Constitution were correct or that Pope Leo XIII was correct. It cannot be both. As Pope Leo was explicating the received teaching of Our Lord, from which no Catholic may legitimately dissent, it is plain to see that the framers of the Constitution, shaped by the ethos of Protestantism and the rise of Judeo-Masonry, were incorrect, no matter the subjective considerations that motivated them into thinking that they could pursue the common good without referencing Our Lord and His Holy Church.
Thus, the Constitution was bound to become the prisoner of its own words, subjected to differing interpretations at different times by a veritable rogues gallery of judges over the course of time, most of whom have been legal positivists, that is, men who believed that the written words of the Constitution (and their interpretations of those words) are the only source of jurisprudence and public policy. Sure, there have been exceptions to this generalization, judges who have been cognizant of some attenuated sense of the Natural Law. The exceptions, however, prove the fact that most of the men who have served on the Supreme Court of the United States have had to grope in the darkness of the written words of the Constitution just as Protestants have to grope in their own darkness to “discover the meaning” of the Bible.
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, for example, has quite publicly stated (in Rome in 1996 and at Thomas Aquinas College the same year, at a Communion Breakfast in New York City in 1997) that the natural law is inapplicable to the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America. Quite specifically, Justice Scalia has said that he can only use the written words of the Constitution itself and that he is barred from using anything extraneous, such as his Faith or the natural law. Scalia said that he would be duty bound to uphold a bill passed by a state legislature that permitted abortion, for example, because the word “abortion” is not found in Constitution of the United States and thus state governments are free to either “permit” or to prohibit baby-killing under cover of law. “You write it and if it’s not opposed to the words of the Constitution, I’ll enforce it,” Scalia said in 1997.
Antonin Scalia’s positivism is the antithesis of Catholic jurisprudence. An entire chapter of my Christ in the Voting Booth, is devoted to rebutting Scalia’s notion of the inapplicability of the natural law to Constitutional interpretation. There are indeed limits that exist in the Divine positive law and the natural law that bind all human beings in all circumstances at all times, whether they are acting in their own individual lives or collectively in the institutions of civil governance. No one is morally free to transgress those limits, which is why the Church has been given the ultimate authority by her Divine Bridegroom to remonstrate with civil leaders about actions that are opposed to God’s law and why she reserves the authority, used as a last resort, to impose some measure of disciplinary action upon those leaders if they do in fact violate God’s law grievously and thus put into jeopardy the salvation of human souls.
Disregarding the fact that one can make a purely Constitutional argument against Scalia’s contention that abortion is neither permitted nor prohibited by the words of the Constitution, the basic fact is this: the legal positivism of Antonin Scalia is just as much the logical result of the Constitution’s rejection of the authority of true Church as Antinomianism was the logical result of Martin Luther’s contention that all men were saved merely by making a “profession of faith” on their lips and in their hearts. The Constitution is as defenseless against deconstructionism by judges as the Bible is as defenseless against deconstructionism by theological relativists and actual agnostics masquerading as “believers.” Constitutional interpretation is a sham because the Constitution itself is a sham, based in the errors of Modernity’s rejection of the necessity of belief in the Incarnation and the Deposit of Faith as essential in the lives of men and their nations.
All of this comes to mind in light of the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States refused to prevent a pregnant woman in a Missouri state prison from having her baby killed with taxpayer dollars. This report from the October 18 edition of The New York Times tells the sad story:
“The full court vacated an order that Justice Clarence Thomas had issued late Friday that had prevented a Missouri prison inmate from obtaining an abortion, to which a federal district judge had found she had a constitutional right.
“The inmate, identified in court papers only as Jane Roe, was pregnant when she was sent to a women's prison in Vandalia, Mo., on a parole violation and had been trying for seven weeks to obtain an abortion. She is now 17 weeks pregnant. She plans to pay for the procedure herself but, as an inmate, needs the prison to arrange transportation to a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, 80 miles away.
“Under a policy it adopted last year, the Missouri Department of Corrections will not transport inmates for abortions that it deems not medically necessary. Last Thursday, after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on the inmate's behalf, Judge H. Dean Whipple of Federal District Court in Kansas City ordered the state to provide access to the abortion. The inmate would otherwise ‘suffer irreparable harm,’ he said.
“The state then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, which refused to grant a stay of Judge Whipple's order. The state next turned to Justice Thomas, who has administrative jurisdiction over the Eighth Circuit.
“In the appeal, Crawford v. Roe, No. 05A333, Attorney General Jay Nixon acknowledged that a state could not impose an ‘undue burden’ on the right to abortion. But in this case, he said, ‘it is not the prison that has imposed the burden, but the prisoner's violation of the law that resulted in her incarceration that has imposed the burden.’ The inmate was jailed for a parole violation.
“Justice Thomas gave no reason for granting the stay on Friday night, and the full court, to which he then referred the case, gave no reason for vacating the stay. Neither he nor any other member of the court indicated a dissent from the order the court issued on Monday.”
“Neither he nor any other member of the court indicated a dissent from the order issued on Monday.” In other words, every single member of the Supreme Court of the United States, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, consented in consigning the preborn child of the Missouri prisoner to death in a baby-killing mill. After all, the “law is the law,” right? No, human law that defies the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law is no law at all. Those who are the prisoners of the written words of a Constitution that does not admit of any higher law are thus rendered unable to even think and to act as Catholics and to act to save a life that is being threatened as a result of a court’s previous unjust decisions.
Writing in Sapientiae Christianae, Pope Leo XIII noted:
“But, if the laws of the State are manifestly at variance with the divine law, containing enactments hurtful to the Church, or conveying injunctions adverse to the duties imposed by religion, or if they violate in the person of the supreme Pontiff the authority of Jesus Christ, then, truly, to resist becomes a positive duty, to obey, a crime; a crime, moreover, combined with misdemeanor against the State itself, inasmuch as every offense leveled against religion is also a sin against the State. Here anew it becomes evident how unjust is the reproach of sedition; for the obedience due to rulers and legislators is not refused, but there is a deviation from their will in those precepts only which they have no power to enjoin. Commands that are issued adversely to the honor due to God, and hence are beyond the scope of justice, must be looked upon as anything rather than laws. You are fully aware, venerable brothers, that this is the very contention of the Apostle St. Paul, who, in writing to Titus, after reminding Christians that they are ‘to be subject to princes and powers, and to obey at a word,’ at once adds: ‘And to be ready to every good work.’ Thereby he openly declares that, if laws of men contain injunctions contrary to the eternal law of God, it is right not to obey them. In like manner, the Prince of the Apostles gave this courageous and sublime answer to those who would have deprived him of the liberty of preaching the Gospel: ‘If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’”
Those of you who put your trust in the Constitution of the United States and in finding judges who will interpret it “properly” are very wrong. The Constitution of the United States has paved the way inexorably for its own death and irrelevancy. It has paved the way for the deaths of over 46 million innocent human beings by surgical abortion alone, no less the millions upon millions more killed as a result of chemical abortifacients. You can have all of the meetings of The Federalist Society and the John Birch Society you want. The only path to social order is through the Catholic
Church as she exercises the Social Reign of Christ the King.
Alas, even the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is enamored of the Modern State, seeing in it the path of “positive” or “healthy” secularity. All the more reason to be on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament and to beseech the Mother of God in her Most Holy Rosary for a return to the immemorial teaching of the Church concerning the State. The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will be the fruit of the proper consecration of Russia that Heart, will produce a new Christendom. It is the new Christendom for which we must work, not a Constitution that considers Christendom to have been an impediment to “liberty” rather than than what it was once and will be again: the champion of authentic liberty from enslavement to sin by virute of Our Lord's Redemptive Act on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Peter Alcantara, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Blessed Pope Pius IX, pray for us.