When we speak of Catholic heads of state in our days, it is a shame to think of all the fake Catholics such as Justin Trudeau in Canada, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom and especially the disgraceful Joseph Biden in the United States. Even the remaining Catholic monarchs in Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain leave much to be desired, to put it charitably.
But in the weekend that closed the month of March and opened the month of April, a unique gathering of Catholic nobility took place on the Portuguese island of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco.
Members of the Imperial family of the Habsburg from Austria, Germany and the United States gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven of Bl. Karl von Habsburg, the last emperor of Austria and king of Hungary.
Blessed Karl was the epitome of a Catholic monarch. He inherited the throne and crown of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire at a time when the Masonic lodges of Europe had decided to launch a concerted effort to destroy the last remnants of Christian civilization in Europe; the murder of the heir to the Empire in Sarajevo was intended to lead to World War I and to bring to an end an empire united with the Catholic Church.
The Masonic lodges could not suffer that an empire continued to exist that was united with the Church and had a virtuous emperor reigning over a diverse cohort of nations.
To think of a head of state as a saint is practically unthinkable in our days. But it wasn't always that way.
We marvel at the saints of royal birth, such as St. Louis IX in France, St. Ferdinand III of Castille in Spain, St. Elizabeth in Portugal, St. Edward in England, St. Olaf in Norway, St. Bridget in Sweden, St. Henry II in modern-day Germany and St. Stephen in Hungary.
But they lived in the Middle Ages, a time the Marquis de Montalembert called "the sweet springtime of our Faith." The gospel underpinned practically every facet of society — universities, hospitals, commerce and scientific research, to name a few.
Of course, there were still abuses in medieval times, as happens in every human undertaking. Mankind, born with original sin, tends to disobey God's law. Yet even with that fallen human nature, it was nonetheless a Christian civilization — i.e., temporal society organized according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pope Leo XIII wrote in his 1885 encyclical letter Immortale Dei:
There was once a time when States were governed by the philosophy of the gospel. Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, flourished everywhere, by the favor of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates; and Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices. The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation, whose remembrance is still, and always will be, in renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can never be blotted out or ever obscured by any craft of any enemies.
This union between Church and State is today repudiated by officials of both.
Blessed Karl von Habsburg was the last example of a holy Catholic monarch. His life and death were a model of love of God and family.
His wife, the Servant of God empress Zita, was an exemplary model of womanhood and fidelity to her role as wife, mother and empress. There is a process of beatification being run for her, and many people today, belonging to the Gebetsliga, the League of Prayer, pray for its good outcome.
His Excellency Teodoro de Faria, the bishop emeritus of Madeira, was the one who strongly promoted the cause of beatification for the saintly monarch. He visited the United States some years ago and celebrated a pontifical Mass in the Traditional rite at the Church of Mary Mother of God in Washington, D.C., where Masses are celebrated honoring Bl. Karl every year on Oct. 21, the day of his wedding.
A few years ago, Bp. de Faria presented talks about the life of the emperor, which gave great insights into the role of a head of state who is truly Catholic. I had the privilege of being the interpreter of His Excellence, who is Portuguese-speaking, in the various talks he gave in this country.
There was a time when heads of state had a great — and benevolent — influence in the Catholic Church. But today, the spirit of the age is dominating and having a deleterious effect on the Faith.
Today, the dictators of communist China, bitter enemies of Catholicism, are the ones who influence the election of the Chinese bishops in mainland China, allowed by the Vatican itself. But the communists reportedly pay the Vatican $2 billion a year to ensure that the Holy See remains guiltily silent about the persecution of Catholics in the land, as well as the choice of bishops. It is a complete sell-out of the Church to communism, as His Eminence Joseph Cdl. Zen declared in an interview with Church Militant a few years ago.
May Bl. Karl von Habsburg in Heaven, pray for all heads of state who claim to be Catholic so they may understand their role in history and fulfill their mission for the good of the peoples under their care. Unless they seek and accept the grace to lead in righteousness, they may be severely punished by the King of Kings, like the scribes and pharisees of old, who sat on the chair of Moses (Matthew 23).