Obergefell v. Hodges: triumph of the faciendum

To be sure, I intended the above photo to be a bit provocative, and it has already provoked reactions, some of which I didn’t expect. When I first posted the picture as a preview for this post, the early feedback expressed concern that I might simply regurgitate some tropes and simplistic memes about “Cultural Marxism”.

To be honest, I was completely unfamiliar with what this meant, and I’ve only recently discovered certain websites calling on people to “destroy” or “smash” Cultural Marxism. What I found in these sites was a repugnant, terribly unsophisticated, thin pseudo-intellectual mask for a racist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, homophobic, and white supremacist view of society which labels as Marxist anything and everything that might oppose the creation of an Aryan society in America. Nothing could be further from my own thoughts; I have no desire to engage in such uncharitable, vitriolic polemics.

What I intend to convey in this long (and hopefully coherent) post is, through a (very brief) survey of Marxist-inspired philosophies, that the social and legal recognition of same-sex marriage is built on critical assumptions about the human person and society born of thinkers who have proudly carried on Marx’s heredity. This post builds on my previous thoughts on Laudato Si‘ in which I identified a “Marxist ethos” among some Catholics who, for various reasons, oppose an encyclical which (as I have argued) stands on firm theological ground; the same ethos, I hope to demonstrate, has left its indelible mark in the quest to redefine marriage.

This is not to say that, as the anti-Cultural Marxists would hold, that legalization of same-sex marriage is part of a larger Communist attempt to destabilize America or to “annihilate Western Civilization” (as one website unironically put it); I have little patience for such conspiracy theories. Rather, I believe it more plausible to simply say that same-sex activists have successfully appropriated Marxist themes and language, and that this appropriation has been instrumental in their now-successful political campaign. The US Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell v. Hodges constitutes the culmination of that campaign.

Preliminary considerations: Ratzinger on Vico and Marx

In the previous post on the Ratzingerian resonances of Laudato Si’, we embarked on a brief detour, with Ratzinger as our guide, into the history of philosophy, tracing modernity’s rejection of the ancient theorem verum est ens (being is true) beginning with Giambattista Vico’s verum quia factum (the actual phrasing from Vico’s De antiquissima Italorum sapientia is verum et factum reciprocantur, seu… convertuntur). In other words, for Vico,

the criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. Accordingly, our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. (Vico, De antiquissima, Book I)

Put differently, man knows what is true if he has made or created it; this is at variance with Cartesianism, in which truth is affirmed through observation. Karl Marx, passing from Vico through Hegel and Feuerbach, arrived at his own theory of historical materialism which holds that economic matters (production and labor) lie at the foundation of all other institutions and concerns. Human action, in other words, gives man his utmost meaning, and history is the process of man creating and recreating himself. In Kapital, Marx nods to the Italian’s influence, reminding the reader that, “as Vico says, human history differs from natural history in this: that we have made the former, not the latter.” In an even more sweeping statement, Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach simply reads, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” In Introduction to Christianity (chapter 1), Ratzinger, playing on Vico’s axiom, coined (as far as I can tell) the epithet verum quia faciendum to describe this new ethos, this truth centered on the future and on action, epitomized by Marx.

Verum quia faciendum— this means that the dominance of the fact since the middle of the nineteenth century is being succeeded to an increasing degree by the dominance of the faciendum, of what can and must be done, and that consequently the dominance of history is being supplanted by that of ‘techne’. For the farther man advances along the new way of concentrating on the fact and seeking certainty in it, the more he also has to recognize that even the fact, his own work, largely eludes him… The structure of the general intellectual situation has been fundamentally altered ‘Techne’ has become the real potential and obligation of man.

This dramatic reversal of the traditional paradigm, typified by the Cartesian cogito, is seen in Marx’s famous quote, “It is not men’s consciousness that determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness.” Logos, meaning, consciousness no longer precede existence. As Ratzinger writes in Europe Today and Tomorrow,

The scientific appearance of this [Marxist] theory conceals an intolerant dogmatism: spirit is the product of matter; morals are the product of circumstances and must be defined and practiced according to the goals of society… Here the values that had built Europe are completely overturned… there are no longer any values apart from the goals of progress; at a given moment everything can be permitted and even necessary, can be “moral” in a new sense of the word. Even man can become an instrument; the individual does not matter. The future alone becomes the terrible deity that rules over everyone and everything.

With reference to Laudato Si’ 108, I echoed this sentiment while outlining the affinities between the thought of Francis and of Benedict XVI.

…with Vico’s ‘verum quia factum’, nature is robbed of its intrinsic goodness; through Marx, the ‘techne’, the ‘faciendum’, becomes the ultimate measure of the good; as a result, all things— even human nature— are “absorbed into its ironclad logic”, lose all intrinsic value, and are opened to all sorts of technological manipulation.

My proposition in the article on Laudato Si‘, other than showing the close bond between Ratzinger and Bergoglio on ecological matters, is summarized in my statement that “if an over-reliance on the comforts or profits provided by technology lies at the foundation of one’s opposition to addressing real ecological concerns, then such opposition is in fact a concession to a Marxist, not Christian, ethos.” This ethos is a spirit that refuses to see any givenness in being, that echoes Hume’s is-ought distinction, and that therefore considers nature as open to the manipulative power of human endeavor. In the realm of ecology, this is seen in the fact that preserving natural resources often takes a backseat to profit-driven concerns, while overconfidence in technology’s blessings continues to dominate the contemporary mindset. Ernst Bloch, one of Marx’s eminent heirs, exemplifies the extreme end of this tendency, which is marked by a grossly (almost blindly) positive appraisal of man’s technical prowess. In our own time, the apotheosis of the hard sciences and the concurrent decline of metaphysics are symptoms of this positivist, materialist malaise. All these bear the imprint of Marx’s rejection of Hegel’s idea that an Absolute Spirit undergirds the progress of history; rather, Man himself is the creator of history, and thus, of himself. In Marx’s own words,

the whole of what is called world history is nothing but the creation of man by human labor, and the emergence of nature for man; he therefore has the evident and irrefutable proof of his self-creation, of his own origins.

While my thoughts on Laudato Si‘ and its warning against the “technocratic paradigm” (paragraphs 104-108) were limited to the idea of techne as faciendum, the faciendum is not exhausted by the techne. The so-called “Frankfurt School”, the neo-Marxist movement associated with the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, recognized this. Marx’s ideas, although decidedly materialist and positivist, was later developed by the “Frankfurters” into a paradigm that transferred focus away from economic/class-redistribution issues (which Marx considered the foundation/substructure of all else) and toward what Marx termed the “superstructure”— issues concerning the socio-political-cultural realm. Rather than targeting capitalism as did classical Marxism, the Frankfurt School set its crosshairs upon other traditional institutions and their moral foundations. The weapon of choice here is not technology, but socio-political revolt against the status quo.

Beginning in the 1960’s, the New Left continued this trend, transposing Marxist ideas of class struggle into racial and sexual controversies in the United States. In a prominent example, the Women’s Liberation movement adopted the Marxist ideas of alienation, emancipation, and liberation to frame their fight against traditional sexual mores. The works of Evelyn Reed (Dialectic of Sex) and Kate Millett (Sexual Politics) boast of an obvious Marxist inspiration, with clear roots in Engel’s “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State“. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF), a radical homosexual group formed in the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots, did likewise; its Manifesto, other than taking a title obviously inspired by Marx, is rife with language inspired by him. From the Frankfurt-New Left, Herbert Marcuse stands as the Marxist-Freudian philosopher par excellence of sexual matters, whose works (especially Eros and Civilization) heavily influenced feminist/queer theory and politics, especially the aforementioned Reed and Millett.

I hope the reader will excuse the rapid pace of my poor and inadequate survey through the history of Marxist philosophy. I have sacrificed nuance and accuracy in order to trace general trends in the various forms of Marxist thought. While these different strains and developments have taken their own winding paths toward their respective stated goals, they all manifest a common thread which evinces a singular origin. At their root is a rejection of the verum est ens (an idea still somewhat evident in Hegel), stating instead that the truth is what is makeable— verum quia faciendum. It is worth quoting again that phrase from the Economic and Philosophical Papers which typify the Marxist ethos:

the whole of what is called world history is nothing but the creation of man by human labor, and the emergence of nature for man; he therefore has the evident and irrefutable proof of his self-creation, of his own origins.

Resonances in American thought

To be clear, we cannot and do not hold that the early Marxists created direct precedents for what has been achieved in Obergefell v. Hodges. Marx himself was largely silent on homosexuality, while Engels called it “an abomination” in “Origin of the Family” and privately expressed uncharitable misgivings about it. What interests us more is the Marxist philosophical presuppositions that made the landmark decision possible.

Let us return to Ratzinger’s characterization of Marxist thought and examine its implications: verum quia faciendum. If the true is simply what can be made, then the idea of the true itself is effectively abolished. If a program of human action can create truth, or rather, if man makes his own truth, then (as Ratzinger will famously affirm, decades after writing Introduction to Christianity) man creates “a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” Both man and nature are but pieces of raw data, deprived of any inherent and enduring meaning, open to drastic manipulation at the hands of “progress”.

This Marxist-inspired ethos has spilled over into the postmodern paradigm. The carnage of the Great War produced a reaction of skepticism (and, often, rejection) of the old world order, creating an atmosphere where the theses of Marxism could take root, if not in outward forms, then through subtle changes in culture. The American turn toward hedonism during the Roaring ’20s and the rise of Soviet Russia, while vastly different in their concrete manifestations, nevertheless contain at their core the same repudiation of the traditional world order represented by royalty, aristocracy, and religion.

We have hinted at a subtle but crucial affinity between Marxist-inspired thought and the American strain of classical liberalism (modern libertarianism). The old tropes of the rugged frontier explorer and the self-made man represented those who, through incremental steps of hard work, earned for themselves a better life. Little by little, such people improved their own existence while— very importantly— always remembering whence they came; thus, throughout life’s many changes, a firm identity of self endured. In the postmodernity born of the First World War, however, this American rugged individualism underwent a significant development: not only can man change the circumstances of his life, but he can, through his own actions, change the very nature of himself.  Jay Gatsby, the title character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic, represents this new American attempt to radically redefine or re-create oneself, through a sort of damnatio memoriae of a former life in favor of an idealized future. Of course, the canonical interpretation of The Great Gatsby considers the novel a cautionary tale against the so-called American Dream, and thus one might read Gatsby’s demise as a condemnation of the revolutionary Marxist ethos which had found a critical resonance in American postmodernity.

What this postmodern form of the American Dream proposed for individuals, Marxism proposed for whole societies. A “violent” rejection of the past becomes analogous to proletarian revolutionary action, whose aim is to reorder and restructure society by targeting the superstructural institutions. Marriage, the traditional family, and religion are but a few examples of such historic institutions, and the hermeneutics of class struggle is reappropriated for the purpose of fighting the “alientation” wrought by them. The goal is not merely, to use Marx’s phrase, human emancipation— not necessarily for the working proletariat, but for those social subdivisions of society now numbered among the “oppressed classes”.

Chapter 2 of the Communist Manifesto, with its talk of “abolishing” the family (echoed in the GLF’s own manifesto), finds a radical completion in the works of Marcuse, whose works spoke of natural sexual difference as cumbersome sexual restraints, and therefore of traditional sexual mores as Freudian “repression”. It is difficult to deny the immense debt of queer theory and politics to Marcusian philosophy, which at every step questions the idea of immutable, given norms, especially in matters sexual. The only adequate response to such “repression” and “alientation” is a “liberation” through the abolition of traditional sexual mores. While a simple internet search can reveal an overwhelming bibliography of Marxist-Marcusian inspired works on sexuality, one quote from a recent work (2009) adequately encapsulates the indelible presence of the Marxist ethos in contemporary sexual discourse: “LGBT oppression, like women’s oppression, is tied to the centrality of the nuclear family as one of capitalism’s means to both inculcate gender norms and outsource care for the current and future generations of workers at little cost to the state.” (Sherry Wolfe, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation, pg. 19).

The slogans en vogue oft repeated by today’s supporters of same-sex marriage unwittingly betray the language of the faciendum. The polemical manipulation of the terms “rights,” “love,” and “equality” vis-a-vis marriage in the United States is founded upon the systematic separation of matrimony from procreation, catalyzed by the advent of no-fault divorce, contraception, and legalized abortion. More importantly, such talk has successfully co-opted the inherently rebellious streak in the American spirit, and in a fusion with Marxist-inspired sexual theories, introduced a new moral orthodoxy which interprets the former legal situation as one of inequality (or repression or alienation), and thus, worth overthrowing. In true Marcusian fashion, in the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, a (legal) redefinition has been achieved.

Where does Obergefell v. Hodges fit in all this?

One of the strangest and most concerning aspects of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion is that his argument, in very large measure, relies on established American jurisprudence which has always protected the right to marry. To be sure, these many precedents have always construed marriage as a union of a man and woman only, an institution “fundamental to our very existence and survival” (Loving v. Virginia). Thus, the logically weak (yet effective) attempt by proponents of same-sex unions to depict a moral equivalence between the abolition of anti-miscegnation laws on one hand (again, in Loving v. Virginia), and the recognition of homosexual marriage on the other hand, often overlooks the fact that the legal reasoning behind that landmark civil rights decision is that the State cannot prohibit an opposite-sex couple from procreating and forming a family. That the Court’s majority can take this fact and construe it to mean something else is, to say the least, a grave cause for alarm.

In fact, Justice Kennedy duly notes that all of the relevant preceding cases have taken male-female marriage for granted. Nevertheless, he can say that

The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. (pg. 19)

Troubling is the implication that rights “rise” or can be created through legal positivism; even the suggestion that rights might “come from ancient sources” stands in stark contrast to the language of the Declaration of Independence, which considers man “endowed” with “inalienable rights” from the Creator. Furthermore, as Fr. Z has already noted, Kennedy’s phrase “better informed understanding,” with all its gnostic implications, joins Griswold v. Connecticut‘s “emanations from penumbras” as one of the Supreme Court’s infamously vague constructions unworthy of American law. In any case, Justice Kennedy distills four aspects of marriage that, in his analysis, has always led the Court to protect marriage as a fundamental right, and which now compels the Court to bestow the right to marry on same-sex couples.

[1] A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy… The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation… (pg. 12-13)

[2] A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals… (pg. 13)

[3] A third basis for protecting the right to marry [for homosexuals] is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education… (pg. 14)

[4] Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order… Marriage remains a building block of our national community… (pg. 16)

While I have indeed presented these four quotations from Kennedy’s decision without their immediate surrounding context, one who reads or has read the Court’s docket will easily find that Kennedy’s second, third, and fourth points, along with the cases he cites in support, do not effectively strengthen the argument for same-sex marriage; on the contrary, they (especially #3) take the procreative potential of heterosexual marriage as a fundamental assumption! Kennedy’s first point was effectively dispatched by a snarky Scalia who, true to form, jestingly exposed one of the majority opinion’s many incoherences:

one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that the happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say. (Scalia, pg. 8)

To be sure, the lamentations of the dissenting Justices mostly target the Court’s encroachment on separation of powers and religious liberty. From an American sociopolitical standpoint, this is perhaps the last compelling means to argue against the majority’s decision, since debating the merits or demerits of same-sex marriage in the civic forum is, by now, an endeavor with a foregone conclusion. The fall from “disciplined legal reasoning” (Scalia, footnote 22), shown in the cognitive dissonance adorning Kennedy’s opinion, only mirrors at a higher level what already happens in everyday discourse. With a wave of the Amendment XIV Magic Wand™, the Court has wantonly dismissed the almost unanimous jurisprudential tradition which exalts the uniquely procreative capacity of marriage, even as it approvingly cites those same cases; a bare majority of the bench, decreeing etsi lex non daretur, has thus made of Substantive Due Process a near-invincible weapon of Federal power, brandished by the judiciary in the way Congress wields the Commerce Clause.

Other than the definition of marriage, also at stake is the definition of liberty. Liberty, the dissenters remind us, is “freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits” (Thomas, pg. 1). Obergefell reverses this traditional order, and by doing so “inverts the relationship between the individual and the state in our Republic” (Thomas, pg. 2). The State becomes the granter and guarantor of rights, and effectively makes man wholly dependent upon the State for his freedom. Thus, the pure invention of a right, as has happened in Obergefell, cannot but undermine confidence in both the judiciary and law, both of which seem less and less seem restrained by enduring constitutional principles, falling instead at the mercy of the personal opinions of particular judges. This method of convoluted reasoning is appearing across government, made evident by the fact that that the sitting President of the United States, his heir-apparent for his party’s presidential nomination, and one of his appointments to the Supreme Court (and part of Obergefell‘s majority) have all, in the not too distant past, agreed that the Constitution contains no right to same-sex marriage.

If the Supreme Court has decreed etsi lex non daretur, favorably citing past decisions while overthrowing them in the same action, this is only a reflection of what has happened in a civil society where public discourse takes place etsi Deus non daretur. Both law and society have effectively degraded any respect for enduring, immutable standards, and thus have implicitly repudiated the idea of Truth. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” John Adams famously wrote. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The diminishment of American religiosity has therefore exposed the growing inadequacy of government to withstand challenges to its own philosophical and, yes, religious presuppositions; in that vacuum, without those solid religious and moral foundations to undergird the law,

there are no longer any values apart from the goals of progress; at a given moment everything can be permitted and even necessary, can be “moral” in a new sense of the word. Even man can become an instrument; the individual does not matter. The future alone becomes the terrible deity that rules over everyone and everything. (Ratzinger, Europe Today and Tomorrow [already cited above])

The success of the gay marriage movement is in some sense the product of an alliance between two forms of thought which, at first glance, might seem opposed to each other. One one hand, there is the tradition rooted in classical liberalism which emphasizes personal freedom, somewhat separated from the idea of concurrent responsibility, as a supreme value. In practical terms, this social laissez faire tends to reduce marriage completely to the private sphere. Easy divorce, easy contraception, and easy abortion are the unfortunate milestones on this trajectory. Consequently, marriage is no longer a public institution ordered toward the common good (through the propagation of future generations), but a private compact of intimacy between consenting persons who, despite the resulting loss of a compelling State interest in recognizing the union, still seek the State’s blessing and benefits.

On the other hand, the means by which a radical redefinition of marriage has been achieved boasts of a decidedly Marxist tone. David Horowitz, once a rising star of the New Left and former editor of the radical newspaper Ramparts, explains that the ideological dismantling of the traditional family “came when the Marxist working class model failed and the New Left started applying Marxist categories to gender,” and later, to race and sexual orientation. As a result, the new proletarians are defined no longer by economics but by identity politics. The strong Marcusian influence in contemporary feminist/queer theory and politics is but one confirmation of Horowitz’s observation, while the repudiation (and in some cases, vilification) of religious objectors to same-sex marriage can be seen a fulfillment of Marx’s anti-religious desires.

The end result of all this is that even proponents of classical liberalism, while denouncing the overreach of the Supremes, must nonetheless yield to Obergefell as a win for personal liberty— and while doing so, they must also genuflect to the Marxist intellectual principles which helped seal the victory.

When treating of an issue like marriage, of such fundamental importance to the human person and to civil society, we cannot blindly accept the New Left thesis that history flows unstoppably leftward. The dramatic change wrought by Obergefell is not, to borrow from theological language, “organic development”; rather, it is the legal enshrinement of the Man who makes and remakes himself through revolutionary action. The ruling carries within itself some fundamental assumptions— novel assumptions— about the nature of the human person and society, expressing what a dissenting justice aptly termed “the new orthodoxy” (Alito, pg. 6). Putting aside questions of Federalism and separation of powers, the present matter is of even more foundational importance than government. It concerns whether or not human nature contains in itself an order, a ratio, an enduring Logos which defines what it means to be human. Is our given, natural being marked by truth, or is the truth of the human person a malleable construct and something we can make for ourselves?

The United States Supreme Court has ruled on that question: Obergefell v. Hodges signifies, in American jurisprudence, the triumph of the faciendum.



Postscript

Quare fremuerunt gentes,
et populi meditati sunt inania?
Adstiterunt reges terrae,
et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum,
et adversus Christum eum.

It seems that, in the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, many faithful Christians in America are echoing these words of the second Psalm. A bare majority of justices has acted ut reges terrae et principes, standing adversus Dominum, while contemporary culture relishes in its own inania. Legitimate worries concerning not only religious freedom in the United States, but the good of society as a whole continue to rise, and talk of a “coming persecution” has steadily increased in the last few weeks. While I doubt that we in America will ever suffer under a regime of true, outright persecution as have so many Christian martyrs (quod Deus advertet!), it is nevertheless clear that living one’s faith publicly will become an endeavor marked by profound challenges.

The psalmist’s lament, in the Vulgate’s magnificent Latin, has for centuries adorned the Roman liturgy’s celebration of Christmas. In the dark of night, in churches lit only by the weak but persistent power of candlelight, the introit of the Missa in nocte cuts through the shadows and issues a powerful, if unbelievable, summons to hope. While it recalls Israel’s chronic victimization at the hands of “the earth’s kings and princes”, the psalmist daringly derides the haughty bluster of worldly powers by announcing the Lord’s message to His humble servant: ego hodie genui te.

What the Lord says to his Anointed also applies to us, for we too have become sons and daughters of the Most High; therefore, we must become like children (Matt 19:14 et al.) even as God became a child. For in his childhood, Christ was exposed to the rigors of infancy, as when the crib gave the first splinters of the Passion. In his maturity, he fled not from affliction, becoming instead “a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity” (Isaiah 53:3), a prophet without honor in his home (Mark 6:4 et al.), condemned to die the death of a criminal. Yet through all his torments, he remained the faithful, humble Son (cf. Hebrews 5).

Today, it seems as if the ghost of Pilate haunts with renewed vigor, whispering in our ears his ancient query quid est veritas, tempting us to deny that truth exists, that our being is endowed with the mark of the Creator, that man is called to an eternal dignity surpassing all worldly glory. Despite the increasing hostility we face, we cannot retreat into a self-referential “Benedict option“. Such a fuga mundi would be tantamount to the gran rifiuto decried by Dante (cf. Inferno III.60) and a gross betrayal of our illustrious patrimony. Rather, we must face unabashedly the trials before us, for in doing so, we resolutely imitate the Son. He has shown us what it means to be a son or daughter of God, especially when practicing our faith risks becoming a Passion. Even if the black-robed reges et principes— the Caesars of our age— should indeed persecute us and even put us to death, Christ has already taught us what to say; we are charged to recall the words he achingly told the Father as bloody tears stained the stones of Gethsemane: non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat.

The gloom of persecution advances, and the dark of night may well lead to the dark of the tomb, but a spark of hope always remains, shining defiantly as a foretaste of victory’s bright promise. The Lord tells each of us once more: ego hodie genui te, for we have been bound by baptism to his eternal Son who is the Light of the World, the Light which shines in the darkness and whom the darkness shall never overcome (cf. John 1:4-5).

Let us conclude by returning to Psalm 2. Those who judge this world and have power to interpret the supreme law of the land should be mindful that, one day, they too shall stand before a more eminent tribunal and will be judged by a higher law. If salus animarum lex suprema est, then surely the witness of the saints already testifies against them; the holy ones shall echo the psalmist’s final admonition until that day when the Supreme Judge of the World passes his immutable sentence on those who dared subvert the inscrutable wisdom of his design.

Et nunc, reges, intelligite:
erudimini, qui iudicatis terram.
Servite Domino in timore:
et exultate ei cum tremore.
Apprehendite disciplinam nequando irascatur Dominus,
et pereatis de via iusta.

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