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Pope Leo XIII: “had there not been so universal a drifting away”

5 August 2017

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“This is not now the time and place to inquire whether and how far the inertness and internal dissensions of Catholics have contributed to the present condition of things; but it is certain at least that the perverse-minded would exhibit less boldness, and would not have brought about such an accumulation of ills, if the faith, which worketh by charity (Gal. v. 6) had been generally more energetic and lively in the souls of men, and had there not been so universal a drifting away from the Divinely established rule of morality throughout Christianity.

… As to those who mean to take part in public affairs they should avoid with the very utmost care two criminal excesses: so-called prudence and false courage. Some there are, indeed, who maintain that it is not opportune boldly to attack evil-doing in its might and when in the ascendant, lest, as they say, opposition should exasperate minds already hostile. These make it a matter of guess-work as to whether they are for the Church or against her; since, on the one hand, they give themselves out as professing the Catholic Faith, and yet wish that the Church should allow certain opinions, at variance with her teaching, to be spread abroad with impunity. They moan over the loss of faith and the perversion of morals, yet do not trouble themselves to bring any remedy; nay, not seldom, even add to the intensity of the mischief through too much forbearance or harmful dissembling. 

… The prudence of men of this cast is of that kind which is termed by the Apostle Paul wisdom of the flesh and death of the soul, because it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be (Rom. viii. 6, 7). Nothing is less calculated to amend such ills than prudence of this kind. 

. . . On the other hand, not a few, impelled by a false zeal, or —–what is more blameworthy still—–affecting sentiments which their conduct belies, take upon themselves to act a part which does not belong to them. They would fain see the Church’s mode of action influenced by their ideas and their judgment to such an extent that everything done otherwise they take ill or accept with repugnance.  . . . 

“Honour then to those who do not shrink from entering the arena as often as need calls. 

… But men of this high character maintain without wavering the love of obedience, nor are they wont to undertake anything upon their own authority. Now, since a like resolve to obey, combined with constancy and sturdy courage, is needful, so that whatever trials the pressure of events may bring about, they may be deficient in nothing (James i. 4), We greatly desire to fix deep in the mind of each one that which St. Paul calls the wisdom of the spirit (Rom. viii. 6), for in controlling human actions this wisdom follows the excellent rule of moderation, with the happy result that no one either timidly despairs through lack of courage or presumes overmuch from want of prudence”

Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Letter “Sapientiae Christianae”

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