JUST like the deluding mantra of Church-state separation that politicians and media men like to use when they don’t want to listen to the voice of the Church, another myth that needs to be exposed, exploded and explained is that of “Vox populi, vox Dei.”
That’s “the voice of the people is the voice of God’ in English. But it need not automatically be so. In fact, it could actually mean, “the voice of the people is the voice of the devil.” “Vox populi, vox diaboli.”
This has happened many times before, foremost of which was when the people shouted “Crucify him, crucify him,” during Christ’s trial before Pilate. And they managed to nail Jesus on the cross.
And every time a rash judgment gathers a critical mass among the people through rumors and gossips, now facilitated and amplified in the media and through our modern technologies, then the “vox populi” easily becomes “vox diaboli,” not “vox Dei.” We don’t have to look far to see abundant evidence of this sad phenomenon.
The origin of the expression actually gives it a negative connotation. According to Wikipedia, the expression has its earliest recorded origin in the 8th century when a certain Alcuin wrote a letter to Charlemagne, saying—
“Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.” In English: “Those people who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God should not be listened to, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”
It’s intriguing that while the mantra of Church-state separation pushes for the state’s (meaning politicians and others) separation from Church and from God, the myth of the “vox populi, vox Dei” bats for people’s own deification, such that what they say is what God says also.
I think the common thread that ties these extremes together is our desire to be our own ultimate judge. It’s not God, much less, the Church anymore. If God and Church are not convenient to us in a given issue, we invoke Church-state separation. When God becomes convenient in a debate, then we invoke “vox populi, vox Dei.”
This is the same human trick, a manifestation of our weakness and our tendency to self-justify ourselves, that has been bogging us through the centuries. Don’t you think it’s about time we liberate ourselves from this bondage? The tragedy of our times is that we are now openly declaring ourselves independent of God.
In this current issue of the RH, for example, many politicians and media men are invoking Church-state separation to allow them to have what they want, irrespective of whether these things are against God’s laws as declared by the Church authorities or not.
They prefer their own ideas, their ideologies, their personal and social experiences to guide them, instead of following the law of God as authoritatively taught by the Church.
Then, since they can not altogether do away with the Church, they make surveys, obviously favoring their cause, to say later on that since the majority of the people are for RH, then it must somehow be God’s voice, because it is the voice of the people. “Vox populi, vox Dei.”
We are now seeing an outright revolt of man against God and the main instrumentality used and erected by him, the Church. There are now many people, even some theologians, who believe and declare that the ultimate judge on the morality of things is our conscience. Not anymore God.
Obviously, conscience is an indispensable element in knowing the morality of a certain human act. But conscience cannot live in a vacuum, totally and absolutely independent on its own, without a law that comes from God and entrusted to the Church to guide and teach it.
Our conscience is not the maker of what is right and wrong in our human acts. That’s God’s work, his responsibility, so to speak, and he embeds this in the law of our life and gives authority to the Church to keep and teach this law.
Our conscience can only reflect and interpret this God-given law with the assistance of the Church, and ultimately of God. Everyone has the duty to form his conscience well, again submitting himself to the proper authorities. Our conscience just cannot form itself by itself. It needs an objective law and a teacher with the proper authority.
Imagine what would happen if we apply individual consciences to guide us in our temporal affairs, doing away with government. Anarchy is what I see!