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Austin Cline

Thomas Drolesky: Oppressive Theocracy, Catholic Style

By December 20, 2008

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When you encounter theocrats in America, they are most likely to be Protestant Christians. This strain of theocracy can be traced one way or another back to the writings and work of John Calvin and other early, like-minded Protestants who believed it necessary to establish a "Christian" republic governed as self-appointed Christian leaders thought it should. Not all theocrats are Protestant, though. There are some Catholic theocrats, which shouldn't be a surprise because through the history of Christianity the union of church and state has occurred far more with Catholic than with Protestant churches.

Although both are Christian, there are significant differences between the arguments of Catholic and Protestant theocrats. Catholics have a long history of church-controlled governments to rely upon as well as a ready-made leader for a theocratic government: the pope (though not necessarily the current pope). Both naturally oppose allowing people to "abuse" personal liberty by saying or doing things contrary to Christian beliefs, but Catholic theocrats have much larger body of authoritative religious documents to use for their arguments than just the Bible.

Thomas Drolesky is a good example of a Catholic theocrat because he uses, in one form or another, all the sorts of arguments you are ever likely to see a Catholic theocrat bring up:

Many of these "libertarians" believe that the "individual" has an absolute unfettered "right" to "free speech," including blasphemy, and "freedom of the press," including the dissemination of books and articles that place into question and/or deny the truths that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has entrusted exclusively to the Catholic Church for their safekeeping and infallible explication and including the dissemination of rank pornography. There are almost no external constraints that can be placed upon the "individual," who did not create himself, it should be noted, and whose body is destined one day for the corruption of the grave until the General Resurrection of the Dead at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead on the Last Day at the Second Coming of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This perverse concept of "liberty," which ignores the Divinely-instituted right of the Catholic Church to govern men concerning the right use of their human free will and to interpose herself as a last resort upon the civil authorities when they propose to do things (or have in fact done things) contrary to the good of souls, has made it possible for large numbers and of men and women around the world to fall into the abyss prophesied by Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, August 15, 1832...

Source: Christ or Chaos (via Ed Brayton)

I wonder if there is anything that Thomas Drolesky personally disagrees with that he thinks would be permissible to say or publish under the sort of state he'd like to see? In my experience, it's rare for theocrats to distinguish between "stuff I disagree with and which should be prohibited" and "stuff I disagree with but should be permitted." Somehow, the latter category just never materializes — at least when the it comes to a religious context.

No Catholic theocrat can advocate theocracy over democracy without quoting a pope or two and Drolesky of course is no exception:

This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. "But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error," as Augustine was wont to say.[21] When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly "the bottomless pit" is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws -- in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. ...Thus it is evident that this Holy See has always striven, throughout the ages, to condemn and to remove suspect and harmful books. The teaching of those who reject the censure of books as too heavy and onerous a burden causes immense harm to the Catholic people and to this See. They are even so depraved as to affirm that it is contrary to the principles of law, and they deny the Church the right to decree and to maintain it.

Not everything written by every pope is still considered authoritative — it's one of the advantages that Catholicism has over Protestantism that progress can be easier to institutionalize — but at the same time much of what was written in the past has not been officially renounced, denounced, or otherwise done away with. Because of this, Thomas Drolesky is making arguments here that are quite consistent with traditional Catholic theology. There are many points where he is well outside even the far-right's "mainstream" — for example, his denial that Pope Benedict XVI is a legitimate pope — but the basic argument in favor of theocracy over democracy is not outside or incompatible with traditional, orthodox Catholic teaching.

Of course, no defense of theocracy would be completely without a direct attack on the principle of church/state separation:

Far from being a "protection" to religious minorities, such as Catholics, in a pluralistic society, the "religious freedom" "guaranteed" by the Constitution of the United States of America in Article VI (no religious test for the holding of public office, which guarantees "access" for believers--or nonbelievers--of all sort) and the First Amendment, in a religiously indifferentist civil state is one of an absolute, imminent and mortal peril to the common temporal good and the eternal good of the souls of its citizens.

Such a state must degenerate over the course of time to such an extent that atheism is considered to be an acceptable "lowest" common denominator," and it is has been, of course, a goal of Judeo-Masonry and of multinational corporations to wipe out all references to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in civil discourse, especially those that revolve around the commemoration of His Nativity on December 25 each year. All manner of Talmudic and atheistic organizations have attacked the display of Nativity scenes in public parks and the singing of Christmas carols in public venues, including in the concentration camps known as public "schools."

It is impossible for anyone to put forth any rational argument to oppose the promotion of atheism in a civil state that denies the necessity of belief in the true religion founded by the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity made Man in His Blessed Mother's Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, as the one and only foundation of personal and social order.

I wonder if Thomas Drolesky realizes that in early America, the separation of church and state did protect Catholics because they were minority that was widely despised, distrusted, and discriminated against. Surely he must, just as he must realize that Catholics don't need the protections of church/state separation as much today because they aren't as small of a minority and because they aren't a widely distrusted as they once were. Today, it's other religious minorities who benefit more directly from church/state separation — which means that Drolesky's argument sounds a lot like "we don't need it anymore and we don't want anyone else to benefit from it now."

One thing that is odd about Thomas Drolesky's argument is his reliance on the Ten Commandments — that tends to be much more of a Protestant "thing" than a Catholic one. Focusing on the Ten Commandments does, however, give Drolesky the opportunity to spit at atheists and make it clear that atheism wouldn't be tolerated under his preferred sort of government:

First, there is no "right" granted by God to promote disbelief in Him. None whatsoever. The First Commandment is pretty clear: I am the LORD thy God: thou shalt not have strange Gods before me.

Second, the promotion of atheism is also forbidden by the Second Commandment, which forbids blasphemy, for to deny the existence of God is to take His Holy Name in vain: Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain.

The promotion of atheism is obscene in the sight of God ...The Catholic Church has taught from time immemorial that the civil state in a confessionally Catholic country, where the Church is unfettered in her exercise of the Social Reign of Christ the King, has a positive obligation to remove that which is obscene in the sight of God...

Since even the simple act of publicly announcing that one is an atheist might be construed as "promoting" atheism (since it necessarily conveys the message that there is nothing particularly wrong with being an atheist), it sounds like Drolesky would have atheists who don't hide themselves would have to be "removed" from the "civil state." What would that mean — imprisonment? Exile? How about concentration camps?

Remember, though, that it's atheists who are intolerant and dogmatic — especially when they suggest that there is anything in "true religion" that would become politically dangerous to others.

Comments
December 20, 2008 at 4:47 pm
(1)   says:

One thing Mr. Cline: Thomas Drolesky is not Catholic, he is sedevacantist.

Please find another example of (as You call them) catholic theocrat.

December 20, 2008 at 5:31 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

Thomas Drolesky is not Catholic, he is sedevacantist.

I know he is a sedevacantist. Sedevacantism is a form of Catholicism.

Unless you can demonstrate that he has actually been excommunicated, he’s Catholic.

December 20, 2008 at 7:47 pm
(3) Indigo says:

What year is this guy writing from, 1875? His prose is turning my screen purple.

December 21, 2008 at 11:29 am
(4)   says:

I know he is a sedevacantist. Sedevacantism is a form of Catholicism.

Unless you can demonstrate that he has actually been excommunicated, he’s Catholic.

So simple Mr. Cline: to be Catholic You need to be in comunnion with The Pope. Sedevacantists are not in communion with The Pope because they unilaterally reject Him, they do not need to be officially been excommunicated.

Is sedevacantism a form of Catholicism, Mr. Cline? Now, You have to demonstrate that! The Catholic church has never recognized sedevacantism as a “form of Catholicism”.

Looks like a duck, but it isn’t!

December 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm
(5) Paul Buchman says:

Drolesky’s rant sounds like satire to me. I know it’s not, but it’s hard for me to believe that anyone really thinks that way.

December 21, 2008 at 12:22 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

So simple Mr. Cline: to be Catholic You need to be in comunnion with The Pope.

That’s a theological argument which privileges the theological perspective of those opposed to sedevacantists and, therefore, amounts to little more than a circular argument. If you want to persuade me to not treat sedevacantists as Catholics, you’ll have to do so on the basis of neutral definitions and arguments rather than question begging.

Is sedevacantism a form of Catholicism, Mr. Cline? Now, You have to demonstrate that!

The definition of sedevacantism is that it’s a position of traditionalist Catholics.

The Catholic church has never recognized sedevacantism as a “form of Catholicism”.

The Catholic church also refuses to acknowledge certain forms of Christianity as genuinely Christian, but the rest of us are not obliged to accept their theological, question-begging definitions.

December 22, 2008 at 11:51 am
(7)   says:

neutral?

Are You using neutral definitions, Mr. Cline?

The definition of sedevacantism is that it’s a position of traditionalist Catholics.

Whose definition is that? not neutral for sure! Ther are lots of real traditionalist Catholics in communnion with the Pope, are they some form of sedevacantists?

You as an atheist refuses to acknowledge that sedevacantism is not a form of Catholicism, but the rest of us are not obliged to accept your personal (neither theological nor neutral) definitions.

By the way, You have failed to mention another example of catholic theocrat.

December 22, 2008 at 12:38 pm
(8) Austin Cline says:

Whose definition is that?

Academic religious references on new/modern religious movements, such as Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America (Eugene V. Gallagher and W. Michael Ashcraft, ed.) and Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements (Peter B. Clarke, ed.). Sedevacantist groups will also be described as “Catholic” in references like Religions Of The World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia Of Beliefs And Practices.

Then there is the Encyclopedia of Catholicism by Frank K. Flinn which describes orders of a number of sedevacantist bishop thus: “While illicit, they are considered valid by Catholic authorities…”

I have yet to see any academic reference describe sedevacantists as not being Catholic. Feel free to cite any, if you can find them.

Ther are lots of real traditionalist Catholics in communnion with the Pope, are they some form of sedevacantists?

No. This is like asking that if every German is a human being, then is every human being a German.

You as an atheist refuses to acknowledge that sedevacantism is not a form of Catholicism, but the rest of us are not obliged to accept your personal (neither theological nor neutral) definitions.

Just because you are unfamiliar with how the concept is treated in the academic community doesn’t make this definition my “personal” one.

By the way, You have failed to mention another example of catholic theocrat.

You asked on the premise that Drolesky isn’t Catholic. Since I don’t accept your theological premise, the request simply isn’t relevant.

December 24, 2008 at 3:22 am
(9) John says:

1. Austin is correct. Dr. Thomas Drolesky is a Catholic. He was born and baptized a Catholic. Today he continues to hold and to believe all that the Catholic Church has always held and believed. Drolesky also believes that the current occupant of the Chair of Peter is a heretic, and therefore has relinquished his claim to be pope. It is his right to believe this, and his opinion on a prudential matter — that Ratzinger is a heretic — does not mean that he ceases to be a Catholic.

2. Those commentors who were fulminating about “where does Drolesky get his ‘crackpot ideas’ written in ‘purple prose’” should be aware that in the copying from one source to another to another, some attributions were dropped. Except for a few words, everything quoted above in Austin’s post was not written by Tom Drolesky, but were merely quotations that he took from authoritative encyclicals written by popes of the 19th century. He is merely quoting dogmatic statements of the Catholic Church.

Unlike one’s opinion regarding the heresy of the current occupant of the chair of Peter, rejecting the dogmatic definitions of the Catholic Church, such as the condemnations of Liberalism in all its forms, does place you outside the Catholic Church.

December 31, 2008 at 5:58 am
(10) Beatnik Bob says:

In colonial America, children played a game called “Knock the head off the Pope” (I got this from Gary Wills’ “Under God”). On Guy Fawkes Day, they burned the Pope in effigy. In Revolutionary times, the colonies needed (Catholic) France’s support. Also, Guy Fawkes Day is a pro-British holiday. So Washington and other leaders stopped people from celebrating anti-Catholicism.

Catholic theocrats in America have to be an awfully small minority (not that we shouldn’t keep an eye on them).

December 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm
(11) David D says:

I just read this article, and then read another article on Catholic answers which was written in September 2006. On that article it went into detail about how Thomas Drolesky used to be a mainstream Catholic, writing for one of 4 nationally circulated weekly Catholic newpapers, The Wanderer.

It goes on to say THIS (and I quote): “Droleskey tours the country in his motor home, giving lectures. He was scheduled to speak two Sundays ago at a sedevacantist church in Ohio. Over the next month he is scheduled speak at five other venues of the same stripe. In none of them can he hope to turn up a large crowd. There are not many Traditionalist Catholics in America (they may not constitute even one percent of the Catholic population), and there are far fewer sedevacantists, just a few thousand in all. It is for this latter group that Droleskey now writes and speaks.”

This man shares his beliefs with a few thousand people, when the Catholic Church in America has 28% of 300 million some people.

As an atheist, you can call this man Catholic, FINE. But at least say he’s the fringe of the fringe. Because he is. I actually want to read about Catholic theocrats, but you’ve done a disservice to the discussion by extensively quoting a crazy loon, who no one SHOULD hear about again if it weren’t for people like you.

Thank you for attacking the biggest denomination in America by trying to tie this marginal conspiracy theorist to the Latin Rite of Catholicism (the vast majority of all Catholics). As an atheist, if you want to attack Catholics- fine. But at least have the decency to pick someone from mainstream Catholicism.

December 29, 2009 at 8:32 pm
(12) Austin Cline says:

I actually want to read about Catholic theocrats, but you’ve done a disservice to the discussion by extensively quoting a crazy loon,

You say that as if one could be a theocrat without also being a crazy loon.

who no one SHOULD hear about again if it weren’t for people like you.

Right. It’s only because of atheists like me that he tours America speaking to other Catholics. I’m secretly a PR representative for him.

Thank you for attacking the biggest denomination in America by trying to tie this marginal conspiracy theorist to the Latin Rite of Catholicism

You are aware, I assume, that the current pope is actively trying to bring people like this back into the mainstream. I’m not tying him to the Vatican, they are.

As an atheist, if you want to attack Catholics- fine. But at least have the decency to pick someone from mainstream Catholicism.

I have criticized people all over the spectrum of Catholicism. You write as though it were inappropriate to critique Catholic extremists.

January 17, 2011 at 9:36 am
(13) Sean says:

Jesus Christ No. 1 ! : )

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