The Empty Imperial Throne

By Dr Joseph Shaw (LMS Chairman)

Later representation of the Emperor Otto I “the Great”.

Over on Rorate Caeli I’ve posted an article by James Bogle, former FIUV President, LMS Committee member and author of a book on Bl Charles of Austria, on the role formerly played by the Holy Roman Emperors (and indeed by the Christian emperors of Rome) in Church affairs, and the consequences of the disappearance of the Emperor from Europe’s life.

It is easy to point to periods of conflict between Pope and Emperor. Conflict is inevitable over time and itsn’t always unhealthy. What is worse than the conflict between the two pillars of Christian society, the spiritual and the temporal, is the disappearance for practical purposes of one side of the conflict: the disappearance of lay leadership in the Church. This is a point discussed in the FIUV Position Paper on the Extraordinary Form and the Laity.

It is not that the Pope since 1918 has made himself the Emperor; it is that the Catholic Emperor’s power has been taken by people outside the Church.

I was very struck recently reading Valentin Tomberg’s discussion of the symbolic meaning of the figure of the Emperor. He wrote, in part:

Europe is haunted by the shadow of the Emperor. One senses his absence just as vividly as in former times one sensed his presence. Because the emptiness of the wound speaks, that which we miss knows how to make us sense it.

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