The Error of Le Sillon: Only Democracy Will Usher in the Reign of Perfect Justice

August 25, 2011


Saint Pius X says in the apostolic letter Notre charge apostolique (August 25, 1910):

“The Sillon* …therefore, sows amongst your Catholic youth erroneous and fatal notions upon authority, liberty and obedience. The same is to be said with regard to justice and equality. It strives, it says, to attain an era of equality, which, owing to that fact alone, would be an era of greater justice. Thus to it every inequality of condition is an injustice, or at least, a diminution of justice!

Louis XII of France and Charlemagne

A principle supremely contrary to the nature of things, productive of envy and injustice and subversive of all social order. Thus democracy alone will inaugurate the reign of perfect justice! Is it not an insult to the other forms of government, which are thus degraded to the rank of wretched incapables? Moreover, the Sillon goes contrary to this point in the teaching of Leo XIII.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It could have read in the encyclical on political government already quoted that ‘justice safeguards: it is not forbidden to the people to choose for themselves the government which corresponds best with their character or the institutions and customs that they have received from their ancestors,’ and the encyclical alludes to the well-known triple form of government. It supposes, then, that justice is compatible with each one of them. And does not the encyclical on the condition of the workers affirm clearly the possibility of restoring justice in the actual organization of society, inasmuch as it indicates the means of doing so? Without any doubt, Leo XIII meant to speak not of any justice, but of perfect justice.

Therefore, in teaching that justice is compatible with the three forms of government referred to, it taught that in this respect democracy does not enjoy a special privilege. The Sillonists who contend to the contrary either refuse to hear the Church or form to themselves a conception which is not Catholic with regard to justice and equality.”

* Le Sillon claimed Christian inspiration. Founded in 1894 by Marc Sagnier, it disappeared in 1910 after having been condemned by Saint Pius X. Nevertheless, it had already paved the way for the Christian Democratic Parties of Europe (cf. Le Petit Larousse [Paris: Larousse, 1992], s.v. Sillon, p. 1681).

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Appendix IV, p. 394.



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