One of the greatest parts of the Summa, or at least my favorite, is when St. Thomas considers the best argument against the existence of God:
Objection 1. It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word “God” means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.
Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): “Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.” This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.
This pithy statement contains much wisdom. It doesn’t get rid of all the horror and overwhelming terror of evil – that alone cannot be answered by philosophy, only the cross – but it shows the incredible depth of the mystery of God in His allowance for evil, due to his creation of human freedom, and His Providential will which brings good even out of evil.
We may be overwhelmed with the evil of the Third Pornocracy, and it may seem overwhelming. And so, having unveiled the horrors of the three pornocracies of the papacy, let’s have the rest of the story and see how God brought good out of the evil of the first two. After that, we will speculate as to what might be coming next. Much of what follows is contained in my book, City of God vs. City of Man, in which I try to show how God has always gotten the victory out of these dark times.
The First Pornocracy
After the evil Pope John XII was deposed, eventually, Pope Leo VIII was established as bishop of Rome. To his credit, Pope John XII had, “despite himself,” confirmed the charter of the Cluny monastery. When the emperor broke the first Pornocracy, God gave the papacy over to the Cluniac monks and the angels streamed in against the foe.
The mustard seed of Benedictine monasticism, planted centuries prior, now flowered into a new spiritual crusade against the western kings’ domination of the cultus and priesthood. Our fathers initiated the “revolutionary change” of restoring the order of the Two Swords among Christian peoples. This was known as the Investiture Controversy (1000-1300) that fought for the “freedom of the Church” from control by temporal authority. It was a new form of the struggle between the Petrine primacy and the pontifex maximus transferred to the west. This struggle produced, at best, a mutual help between the Two Swords which allowed a greater baptism of souls and societies.
Out of this internal crusade grew the perfection of the Christian masculine ideal: the Christian knight. Many barbarian warlords were no better than street gangs, but the chivalrous ideal turned them literally into knights in shining armor. This was one of the greatest social miracles of divine grace in the history of the Church.
The distinction was not between “Church and state” but between “clergy and laity.” Thus the Two Swords doctrine was “represented by the canon law as a whole.” Canonist Stephen of Tournai (1128-1203) summarizes this:
In the same city, and under the same King, there are two people and two authorities. The city is the Church, the King is Christ, the two peoples are the clergy and the laity… and the two authorities are the priesthood and the monarchy.
Vincent of Beauvais writes that “the whole Church is made up of two orders, clergy and laity, as if two sides of one body.” And then the flowering of scholasticism between St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure. This philosophical foundation was “the foundation of European science” that found its nascent form in St. Albert the Great (1200-1280), the tutor of St. Thomas.
All of this came after the First Pornocracy showed the world the greatest darkness in the city of Rome and the Papacy. These are the so-called “High Middle Ages,” and it all followed upon the worst pope hitherto, John XII, approving the Cluniac monks and their movement!
The Second Pornocracy
As we discussed, while worst pope of the First Pornocracy was John XII, the worst pope of the Second was Alexander VI. But after this pope, things just got worse. So bad in fact, that God punished western Christendom by the means of the Protestant revolt, and more Muhammadan threats. Things were going from bad to worse to apocalyptic.
Now at first, the Second Pornocracy was still fast asleep, drunk with the old wine of pagan Rome from the Renaissance. In 1527, news spread that Hungary had fallen to the Muhammadans as they advanced deeper into Catholic Europe. Rome was sacked that year and its churches looted by iconoclastic Protestants. With the “mother of all the churches” now in danger, the nobles of Christendom were finally set aflame with the zeal to take up the Cross once more. It is “the fierce anger of Heaven,” wrote Bishop Sadoleto, “let us seek in God the true glory of sacerdotal dignity.”
But the King of France was plotting with the Muhammadans even while they were besieging Vienna, the last outpost of Christendom on the frontier, while Germany was in flames. Evil seemed to permeate the very air in every land and every man of good will felt helpless. Who shall rise up for me against the evildoers? or who shall stand with me against the workers of iniquity? (Ps. xciii. 16).
Thousands of miles across the ocean, the Indians of Mexico were still in despair over disease and displacement. A Chichimeca peasant named St. Juan Diego embodied all the fear and despair in that hour on Tepeyac Hill. Our Lady responded to him in his native tongue of Nahuatl: “Am I not here? I who am your Mother?”
Just as Europe was erupting in religious warfare, Our Lady All Pure and Immaculate united all the many tribes and petty empires of the Americas (and parts of Asia) into Christian culture for Christ the King. She is called the Destroyer of All Heresies and she came just at the right moment.
For at the same moment as Our Lady appeared to bring the Americas to the King, the Spaniard St. Ignatius of Loyola was completing his studies to become a priest. In 1534, three years after Guadalupe, the Jesuits were founded, and they were approved in 1540. The challenge was to redirect the third Great Greco-Roman renewal from the heresies to the faith. To do that, God worked yet another miracle.
It was not an easy task to unite the chaos of that day into an Ecumenical Council. The fundamental cultural conflict of nations in revolt had to be subordinated to the eldership of Christian culture in the see of St. Peter, which had been challenged for centuries since before Ockham.
God overcame all obstacles and more to produce the miracle that was the Council of Trent. It was dominated by Spanish, German and Italian bishops, with one French bishop, Charles de Lorraine. God raised up our holy fathers to help with true reform before and after Trent: St. Cajetan, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Philip Neri, St. Peter Canisius, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales.
Fundamentally, the fathers of this great council did not merely repeat St. Thomas, they imitated St. Thomas, thus continuing his great synthesis. The council bound together the strict Scholastic party with the moderate Renaissance humanist party into a concise synthesis addressing every major heresy of the day. They employed “pastoral language” with Scripture in order to speak to their contemporary world. This was the new language of Trent. Most importantly, it bound the whole Church with the charitable anathema and led to the Roman Catechism, the sword of the spirit upon which the Church’s armies would burst forth to liberate those in darkness from the principalities and powers.
By uniting the moderate and strict parties, God’s grace created through Trent the beauty of Baroque civilisation, the soul of “second Christendom.” Baroque civilisation was the Christianized Renaissance of our fathers. Thus even in Europe, Trent was followed by a renewal of what was “ever ancient, ever new.”
Then arose the second Angelic Doctor, St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621). In his vast corpus of writings, he expertly refuted the errors of every heresy and achieved the heights of sanctity for the heavenly city. Of the tens of thousands of Protestant sects, none of them could constitute a council to dogmatize unity, but they could all agree in their rejection of Rome and the Mother of God. Thus their method was voluntarism under the principle of negation—anything but Rome. And thus they were no match for the army of Jesus (the Jesuits) and other such new and old orders, and innumerable Protestants were converted. By the early 1600s the Protestant advance had been isolated to Holland and Sweden alone, and by 1630 the “Catholic culture was unmistakably in the ascendant.” Meanwhile, the Society of Jesus, Franciscans and other orders were helping to take the Gospel to the world.
Yet at the moment that Rome was sacked in 1527, any contemporary could have thought at that moment that all was lost, that the Catholic Church was finished. But that dark day was the beginning of true revival.
In both of the first two pornocracies, a period of intense and hitherto unprecedented papal corruption preceded a yet more glorious and unprecedented triumph and renewal. The Third Pornocracy in which we are living is part of a much larger and more complicated “Fourth Greco-Roman Renewal” which has included its own ups and downs since the American and French Liberal revolutions. The first period of darkness was during those Liberal revolutions, which was followed by the French Catholic revival and later the post-Vatican I revival. But during and after these revivals developed the Third Pornocracy, which seems to have climaxed in the pontificate of Pope Francis.
 Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, 132.
 Dawson, The Formation of Christendom, 215-219.
 As I discuss in the book, the first millennium east-west tension can be summarised by a tension between the priesthood of the Papacy and the priesthood of the Roman emperor, who claimed the title pontifex maximus, inherited from Roman paganism.
 R. W. Carlyle, A History of Mediaeval Political Theory (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1915), vol. II, 198.
 Carlyle, loc. cit. in Dawson, The Formation of Christendom, 216.
 Vincent of Beauvais, The Moral Instruction of a Prince, 3 cited by Andrew Willard Jones, Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX (Emmaus Academic: 2017), 247.
 Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes, 28-30; Jones, Logos Rising, 333-366; Dawson, Progress and Religion, 136.
 Quoted in Batiffol, History of the Roman Breviary, 181.
 In the book I term the “Middle Ages” as “First Christendom.”
 This was Second Scholasticism. Read his works in English translation by R. Grant at Mediatrix Press.
 Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes, 70, 76.