Forerunners of the French Revolution. Part 1

To understand the forces which attacked (and by who) the Monarchy in France we must return to history before the revolution.

The so-called Reformers attacked the Church in her dogma and discipline and despoiled her, as far as lay in their power, of her earthly goods. Their attack was met by the great Catholic revival known as the Counter-Reformation. But the revolt had come to stay. It had challenged the supremacy of the Church in the religious world: its next task was to attempt to overthrow the social order, the manner of living of men, which was the fruit of the Churchs patient action on society for seventeen hundred years and which still had its roots firmly fixed in the great Catholic past. This attempt was begun in the French Revolution, the great upheaval which was simply the working out, in political and social life, of the false idea of individual liberty behind the Renaissance and the Lutheran revolt.

The French Revolution did not happen suddenly, no more than did the Protestant Revolt. The way was prepared for it by three hostile movements which absorbed the energies of the Church and left her ill-prepared to face the storm. The first was the Regalist movement. This, as its name shows, was just one more attempt on the part of the kings and princes of Europe to secure control of the Church- to tie the Kingdom of God down to earth and make it work for earthly and national interests instead of the eternal welfare of souls. This was a peril from without. Within the bosom of the Church another terrible menace arose- the Jansenist heresy- and joined forces with the Regalists attacking form outside. From both evils, the Church, by the Divine power that is given to her at such times, wrenched herself free. But the faith of Europe had been weakened. The enemies of the name of Christ, grown in number and in strength, were scoffing at the very idea of revelation and asserting that the human reason was supreme: whence the third movement, known as Rationalism, which, working through Freemasonry, inspired the French Revolution.

An Outline History of the Catholic Church by Rev. Reginald F. Walker CSSP

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