11 October 2008

Coronations in Catholic Theology

By Charles Coulombe
The character of Kings is sacred; their persons are inviolable; they are the anointed of the Lord, if not with sacred oil, at least by virtue of their office. Their power is broad--based upon the Will of God, and not on the shifting sands of the people's will... It becomes a sacrilege to violate their persons, and every indignity offered to them in word or act, becomes an indignity offered to God Himself. It is this view of Kingly rule that alone can keep alive in a scoffing and licentious age the spirit of ancient loyalty that spirit begotten of faith, combining in itself obedience, reverence, and love for the majesty of kings which was at once a bond of social union, an incentive to noble daring, and a salt to purify the heart from its grosser tendencies, preserving it from all that is mean, selfish and contemptible.
--John Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, Ireland
...Before Vatican II, in every monarchy in the world (including Great Britain) after High Mass on Sundays, some variation of the following prayer was said:
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, that thy handmaid Elizabeth our Queen, who has been called by thy kindness to rule over this kingdom, may also receive from Thee an increase of all virtues. Fittingly adorned with these, may she be able to shun all evil doing, (to conquer her enemies), and, finally, being well pleasing before Thee, may attain with the Prince Consort, and their royal offspring to Thee, Who art the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
This was, then, the official desire of the Church--the well being of the lawful monarch of the land. Even during the "troubles" in Ireland, when disloyalty among Catholics was rife (not, the honest will admit, without some provocation on the part of the Protestant Ascendancy there), such stalwarts as the Archbishop of Tuam were vocal in their support--not of the Ascendancy, of course, but of the Crown, anointed of God.
In response to..the murder of Louis XVI, Gregory's Predecessor, Pius VI said in his allocution of July 17, 1793, Pourquoi Notre Voix:
The most Christian King, Louis XVI, was condemned to death by an impious conspiracy and this judgement was carried out. We shall recall to you in a few words the ordering and motives of this sentence. The National Convention had no right or authority to pronounce it. In fact, after having abolished the monarchy, the best of all governments, it had transferred all the public power to the people -- the people which, guided neither by reason nor by counsels, forms just ideas on no point whatsoever; assesses few things in accord ance with the truth and evaluates a great many according to mere opinion, which is ever fickle, and ever easy to deceive and to lead into every excess, ungrateful, arrogant, and cruel.
Obviously, this monarchy, the "best of all governments" which Pius was defending was not the limited sort of monarchies with which we are familiar in the Common wealth, Benelux, Scandinavia, and Spain today, but the mediaeval Catholic concept of the institution. In addition to its more this-worldly functions, this sort of monarchy had a demi-priestly character. The Kings themselves, hereditary for the most part, were not merely the equivalents of our heads of state. For just as Papal and Imperial authority were considered to be divine in origin, so too was Royal.


The rest is here.

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