April 20, 2016
The name Voltaire loomed large over the gathering darkness of the middle to late 18th century. His importance has largely been forgotten in our own day, an era that is as amnesiac as it is short sighted, and if he is remembered at all it is largely as some whig wearing ‘free thinker’ of an earlier time who wrote plays and preached ‘tolerance,’ but he was much more than that.
François-Marie Arouet was born into the lowest rung of the French nobility and baptized into the Catholic Church on November 22, 1694. He was educated, ironically enough, by Jesuits but his early life was characterized by disobedience to his father, a series of scandalous romantic liaisons, and a growing impatience with the demands made on one by the practice of religion. He was imprisoned in the Bastille for eleven months in 1717 because in a line of satirical verse he accused the French Regent Phillip II of an incestuous affair. This experience chastened the young François-Marie Arouet and he made a determined effort the rest of his life to avoid going back to prison, even accepting exile on multiple occasions.
After leaving the Bastille the young man adopted the pen name Voltaire. During a later exile in England during the 1720s we are told that he was impressed by English commercial freedoms, ‘tolerance,’ and ‘freedom of religion.’ I place the terms ‘tolerance’ and ‘freedom of religion’ in scare quotes because in 1720s England it was still very much illegal to be a Roman Catholic. If I had to make a guess I would argue that it was this latter fact that impressed him.
Claims of ‘tolerance’ and ‘freedom’ would often be used in later times, even to our own day, by the conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ in order to deceptively implement tyrannies of despotism and anarchy as part of their attempt both inside and outside the Church to erase the Gospel from the memory of the human race.
Fearful of more exile, imprisonment, and suffering Voltaire after he returned to France made his attacks on the Church and on authority in general more subtle and more clever. The man was gifted with an astute cleverness and a talent for satire. This combined with his incredible personal charm gained him admittance into and prestige in certain aristocratic circles and in centers of power throughout Europe as the century wore on. He began to gather to himself like minded intellects by the 1750s who determined themselves to upset the order of the world. They referred to themselves as les Philosophes, “The Philosophers.”
It was not an apt title. Philosophy implies a love of wisdom, whereas these ones seemed only to love indulgence and craved desperately to unleash disorder, anarchy, and misery on the world. And they did so. Voltaire described the tactics of his ‘philosophers’ in a letter written at the end of 1768 to the Marquis de Villevielle (translation mine):
Our philosophers, today, are more skillful; they do not have the silly and dangerous vanity to put their names on their works; these are the invisible hands who pierce the fanaticism (i.e. the Catholic Church-mine) from one end of Europe to the other, with the arrows of the truth (i.e the arrows of lies-mine). Damilaville just died; he was the author of Christianity Unveiled and of many other writings. No one ever knew; his friends kept the secret as long as he lived with a fidelity worthy of philosophy. No one yet knows who is the author of the book given under the name Fréret. Someone has printed in Holland, for two years, more than sixty volumes against superstition (i.e. the Catholic Church-mine). Their authors are absolutely unknown, although they try daringly to expose them…
A thousand pens write, and a hundred thousand voices are raised against abuse (i.e against the moral and religious practices that sustained Europe for a millennium after the catastrophic collapse of the Roman Empire-mine) and in favor of tolerance (i.e. the murderous despotism and atheistic tyranny that has reigned in large parts of the Catholic world since 1789-mine). Be very sure that the revolution that has been made, in around twelve years (1754-1768), in the spirits of the people, has in no small way served to chase the Jesuits from so many states and has encouraged the princes to strike the idol of Rome which made them tremble in other times.
It is claimed by some today that the Baron d’Holboch was the author of Christianity Unveiled, but, since he and Damilaville were collaborators in Voltaire’s network of philosophes, this is not relevant. Of equally little concern is that Voltaire would publicly attack Christianity Unveiled for its overt atheism since the man was a self admitted liar, and it served his purposes equally well to attack the work in public while he was secretly backing its publication.
But from this little snippet of Voltaire’s thinking and his description of the activities of his ‘philosophers’ we can get an idea of the problems that were besetting the Church during the reigns of both Pope Clement XIII and Clement XIV. This storm of anonymous works emerged from one end of Europe to the other attacking religion and authority while all the time those members of of the Church best equipped to deal with this crisis i.e. the Jesuits were being driven from the most important Catholic kingdoms. Keep also in mind that Voltaire is writing here of princes striking “the idol of Rome” at the end of 1768 at the precise moment when the Catholic kings had all gone to war against the Holy See in the most traitorous act in the history of the Catholic world, and were occupying parts of the Papal States in an attempt to get the Holy Father to bend to their will and suppress the Society of Jesus.
We also have a better idea of what made Clement XIII write this in his encyclical Christianae Reipublicae two years before:
The well being of the Christian community which has been entrusted to Us by the Prince of shepherds and the Guardian of souls requires Us to see to it that the unaccustomed and offensive licentiousness of books which has emerged from hiding to cause ruin and desolation does not become more destructive as it triumphantly spreads abroad. The distortion of this hateful error and the boldness of the enemy has so increased, especially at this time, in sowing weeds among the wheat either in word or in writing that unless We lay scythe to the root and bind up the bad plants in bundles to burn, it will not be long before the growing thorns of evil attempt to choke the seedlings of the Lord Sabaoth. For accursed men who have given themselves over to myths and who do not uphold the stronghold of Sion from all sides vomit the poison of of serpents from their hearts for the ruin of the Christian people by the contagious plague of books which almost overwhelms us.
But the Jesuits, the Holy Father’s best means of laying the scythe to the root of this evil, had been taken away from in coordination with those publishing these books. He was naked and alone in the world with princes and clever men aiming arrows at his heart.
Voltaire, however, was not alone; he had friends who were powerful in the world. Among these was Frederick II of Prussia, afterwards called the ‘great’, who was in a later time to be very much admired by Adolf Hitler. Frederick II was a Protestant by birth but had ambitions to be a philosopher king of mythological fantasy. He despised religion and collaborated with Voltaire in finding the best way to rid the world of its restraints. The Prussian king was also intimately aware of the affairs of the various Catholic monarchs and sought to use this knowledge to destroy religious houses throughout Europe.
His plan was not new. It had been pioneered by his ancestors during the Protestant revolt a quarter of a millennium earlier. In order to increase their wealth many German princes became Protestants for the sole reason that this enabled them to confiscate Church property for themselves. Fredrick II knew how in debt particularly France was by the 1770s and sought to use this to provoke the French monarchy to destroy religious orders in order to confiscate their property. He explains his motivation in some sadly prophetic words in an August 13, 1775 letter to Voltaire (translation mine):
If one wishes to diminish fanaticism, one must absolutely not touch the bishops; but if one succeeds in reducing the monks, above all the mendicant orders, the people will become cold, and less superstitious, it will permit the powers to dispose of the bishops in a way that suits the good of the States. This is the only way to follow. To sap silently and without any noise the edifice of unreason, that is to force it to collapse on its own. The Pope, seeing the situation he is in, is obliged to give briefs and bulls as his dear sons require of him but this power, justified by the great reputation of the Faith is lost to the extent that this diminishes. If he then finds at the head of nations some ministers beyond vulgar prejudices, the Holy Father will go bankrupt. No doubt posterity will rejoice at the advantage of being able to think freely.
Are you rejoicing? Am I? Men marrying men and women marrying women? Hundreds of millions of people murdered over the last century. Tens of millions of broken families and destroyed lives. Fifty-five million abortions in the Untied States alone, and now a major push (that will almost certainly succeed) is on for adult men to be allowed into the same public restrooms as young girls? These are the rewards of so called “free thought.” Or am I just a superstitious fanatic?
In any case I think we have established here some evidence. There was something going on in the 18th century. This was no spontaneous intellectual movement going on here. This was an organized effort that purposefully operated from the shadows, concealing not only their intentions but even their identity. These people were plotting the overthrow of the Christian order, and their only goal was this: to destroy the Gospel and to erase it from the memory of man. But the Truth cannot be destroyed. Next we must begin to examine the revolutionary age itself that resulted from all of these shenanigans.
Please go to Confession and say three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.