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Christ to Catholicism
PART TWO: DOGMATIC ECCLESIOLOGY
XII. Principles of Church and State in Historical Perspective
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The question of Church and State and the problems to which their relation has given rise, are as old as Christianity. In a true sense there was no problem of Church and State before the advent of Christ when, for all practical purposes, the public authority was regarded equally competent in the field of religion as in the secular domain. With the coming of the Catholic Church, however, an essential change was introduced by her Founder, who transferred to her the sphere of religion and the whole moral direction of mankind independent of the power of the State.
Our immediate purpose is to see the development of this mutual relation between two disparate societies, one derived from nature and created by the social instincts of the human race, the other based on the supernatural order and founded by the Incarnate Son of God. As we go through the history of their relationship, the issues of Church and State will be seen to fall into two categories, those which are immutable because flowing from the natural law or determined by divine revelation, and others that are adaptable to different times and ages and even in the same period may vary according to different circumstances. There is more than academic value in not divorcing these issues from the historical context in which they occurred. Otherwise the real development in Church and State policy can scarcely be appreciated and, more seriously, the distinction between eternal principles and adaptable norms would be hard to recognize.
Duties of Citizenship in the New Testament
Significantly, the classic statement of Christ on the relation of His kingdom to the civil power was provoked by religionists who had no sympathy with the secular authority to which they were subject. The Pharisees sought to trap Jesus by asking Him if it was lawful to render tribute to Caesar, where the word tribute embraced all kinds of taxes payable to state officials. Pharisees and Herodians had long since adjusted their conscience to the payment. But they hoped to force Christ to compromise Himself no matter how He answered. If He advised non-payment, as they expected, He becomes indictable to Rome. The pseudo Messias, Judas the Galilean, had perished for this very cause some twenty years before. Should He advise payment, He would lose His Messianic hold on the people for whom Messianism meant complete independence of foreign domination.
Instead of falling into the trap set for Him, Jesus forced His enemies to convict themselves by asking for a coin with Caesars image on it, and then declaring that, since the coin had come from Caesar, justice requires that it be returned to him. Render to Caesar, He said, the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods.  Civil transactions like the payment of taxes are on one plane, the rights of God on another. There is no inevitable clash provided, as happened in the relationship of Rome to the Jewish people, that the civil demands did not hinder the exercise of mans duties to God.
One aspect of Christs reply to the Pharisees that may be overlooked, accentuates His recognition of the rights of civil authority, as distinct from those of the Church. The emperor to whom Christ declared tribute could be lawfully paid was officially a god. From the first beginnings of the Empire, the deification of Roman rulers became an established practice of the nation. Julius Caesar was proclaimed to be a god. Divus was the term used---the title given him by senatorial decree, and his worship was put on a full ceremonial basis, with temple, priests, and ritual. The same thing was done for Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus. As time went on, this phase of Roman religion grew spontaneously and accounted in great measure for the hostility of Rome to Christianity. The last of the Divi, deified in 307 A.D., was Romulus, the son of Maxentius, whom Constantine defeated at the Milvian bridge. When Christ, therefore, granted the right of rulers to demand obedience in temporal and secular affairs, He made the most drastic distinction possible between legitimate civil authority and its illegitimate pretensions. Insofar as the Emperor commanded what was due to him as a ruler of state, all the citizens, including Christians, were bound to obey---notwithstanding his abuse of power and even the blasphemous claim to divinity.
In the apostolic Church, Peter implemented the teaching of his Master by urging the Christians to accept the established form of government and submit to those in authority for the Lords sake, that is, Christ, in order not to bring discredit on His followers. Be subject to every human creature with valid authority, whether to the king, as supreme, or to governors as sent through him For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. And he concluded, fear God, honor the king. 
As in the case of Christ, so here the injunction to be subject to the king, really emperor in the Greek that Peter wrote, takes on added significance when the king is identified as Nero, and the motive indicated is the will of God.
However, the most elaborate exponent of Church and State relations in early Christianity was St. Paul. His exhortation to the Romans remains to this day an epitome of the obedience that a Christian owes to the civil rulers. Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities, he enjoins, for there exists no authority except from God, and those who exist have been appointed by God. Therefore, he who resists the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they that resist bring condemnation on themselves. For rulers are a terror not to the good work but to the evil. Yet the ultimate reason for submission is not the physical punishment that follows on disobedience. Rather, You must needs be subject, not only because of the wrath, but also (and primarily) for conscience sake. Even in matter of taxes, this is why you pay tribute, because state officials are the ministers of God. 
All subsequent theology on the duties of Christian citizens has appealed to this dictum of St. Paul, that there exists no authority, including the civil, except from God, and those who possess it have been appointed by God. One conclusion that later generations have drawn from the principle is the licity of honestly regarding as divinely appointed every de facto government, even when tyrannical or anti-religious, as happened during the Roman persecutions, and more recently in Elizabethan England or modern Mexico.
Loyalty Under Duress
In the first three centuries of the Christian era, the relation of Church and State was one of incessant conflict, in which the Roman Empire reacted against the Church as its mortal enemy, conscious on the one hand of the latters inherent power over the hearts and minds of men, but blind to the fact that Christianity was not a political rival and still less a threat to civil authority.
Plinys letter to Trajan (112 A.D.) describing how he dealt with the Christians in Bithynia gives us an insight into motives behind the pagan persecution. I ask them if they are Christian, wrote Pliny. If they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist, I sentence them to death. For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished. The crime for which the Christians were punished was nothing more or less than obstinacy in professing their religious belief against the mandates of civil power. All who denied that they were or had been Christians, Pliny explained, I considered should be discharged, because they called upon the gods at my dictation, and especially because they cursed Christ, a thing which, it is said, genuine Christians cannot be induced to do. 
Yet all the while they were being persecuted, the Christians protested their loyalty to the government and only pleaded for justice, not to be punished for crimes they did not commit or, as Christ had demanded, to be shown wherein they had done wrong. If it is certain, Tertullian asked, that we are the most guilty of men, why do you trust us differently from our fellows, that is, from other criminals Christians alone are not allowed to say anything to clear themselves, to defend truth, to save a judge from injustice. That alone is looked for, which the public hate requiresthe confession of the name, not the investigation of the charge. In spite of the manifest injustice, however, We call upon God for the welfare of the Emperor, upon God the eternal whose favor, beyond all others, the Emperor desires. If this seems incredible to the pagan mind, let them examine Gods words, our scriptures [and] learn from them that a superfluity of benevolence is enjoined upon us, even so far a to pray for our enemies and to entreat blessings for our persecutors. 
Evidently the early Christians distinguished between the spiritual allegiance they owed the Church and the civic loyalty that was due to the State. Where the latter encroached on the former, it could not be obeyed; but within the limits of due authority the State had a right to perfect obedience and a title to Christian prayer, that the Lord might direct the rulers in their government and assist their temporal reign.
Edict of Milan
When after three centuries of opposition, the State finally gave freedom to the Christian religion, its motive for doing so was self-advantage. It recognized what the Church had always been teaching, that Christianity is not an enemy of the State but its most powerful ally. When we, the edict of liberation read, Constantine and Licinius, Emperors, met at Milan in conference concerning the welfare and security of the realm, we decided that of the things that are of profit to all mankind, the worship of God ought rightly to be our first and chiefest care We therefore announce that, notwithstanding any provisions concerning the Christians in our former instructions, all who choose that religion should be allowed to continue therein, without any let or hindrance, and are not to be in any way troubled or molested. 
Equally significant and touching on the very heart of Church State relations, is the legal status given to other bodies than Christianity in this pioneer document of religious freedom. At the same time that Christianity was being legalized, all others are to be allowed the free and unrestricted practice of their religions; for it accords with the good order of the realm and the peacefulness of our times that each should have freedom to worship God after his own choice.  The fact that the Edict of Milan was a political compromise between Licinius, an avowed pagan, and Constantine, who was already a Christian at heart, although he did not immediately profess the faith, prescinding from its motive, the decree was a practical necessity, a modus vivendi for two strong opposing forces. Soon after the edict, Licinius started a pagan reaction, which Constantine repulsed by defeating his rival in 324. Better advantaged as a result, Constantine was still obliged to make concessions to the pagan nobility. Later proclamations were even more favorable to the Christians, like the prohibition of soothsaying and fortunetelling, the grant of regular subsidy to the Catholic clergy, their exemption from military and other civil duties, and the state recognition of Sunday as a festal day on which to fulfill petitions of special urgency. However, paganism was not suppressed.
Catholicism Established as the State Religion
Within less than a century of the Edict of Milan, Catholicism had become so widely recognized that the civil authorities found in religious unity their strongest support for political solidarity. With the decadence of paganism, Catholic Christianity might have become the religion of the Empire without State intervention, except for the Arian crisis of the fourth century. After condemnation at the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople, Arianism was finally crushed by a composite decree of Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius, who made acknowledgment of the Trinity a condition of civil liberty. We desire all people, they proclaimed, whom the benign influence of our clemency rules, to turn to the religion which tradition from Peter to the present day declares to have been delivered to the Romans by blessed Peter the Apostle .This faith is that we should believe that there is one Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in an equal Majesty and a holy Trinity. We order those who follow this doctrine to receive the title of Catholic Christians, but others we judge to be mad and raving and worthy of incurring the disgrace of heretical teaching, nor are their assemblies to receive the name of churches. They are to be punished not only by divine retribution but also by our own measures, which we have decided in accordance with divine inspiration. 
The imperial edict did more than introduce Catholic orthodoxy as the established religion of the Roman world. It is the first recorded instance when the civil power contemplated the use of physical force in the service of Christianity with consequences that critics of the Church have exploited beyond the objective facts. There is no evidence that the threat of punishment radically converted the heretics against whom the decree was aimed; whereas there is ample evidence that even without civil intervention orthodox Christianity would have continued (as it had begun) its conquest of the Mediterranean world by preaching the word of God.
More significant from the viewpoint of Church-State relations was another imperial manifesto in the following century (445 A.D.) when Valentine III and Theodosius II recognized the Pope as Head of the Catholic Church. Aside from its value as an early witness of the primacy, the document shows how carefully even the rulers of the Roman Empire distinguished between the spiritual autonomy of the papacy and their own function as aids to the pope in those material forces which he did not enjoy. It is clear, the emperors stated, that for us and our Empire the only support is in the favor of the Supreme Godhead; to merit this we must assist in the first place the Christian faith and venerable religion. Since therefore the merit of St. Peter the dignity of the City of Rome and the authority of a holy synod have established the primacy of the Apostolic See, let not presumption attempt to carry out anything contrary to the authority of that See. But let whatever the Apostolic See decrees or shall decree, be accepted as law by all.  What apparently complicated the issue is the fact that the emperors intervened to protect papal authority against an episcopal rebel, the Bishop of Arles, who challenged the right of Pope Leo I to decide against him. Actually, this is a classic instance where the secular arm provided temporal sanctions to preserve public order, the while clearly admitting its subaltern position in regard to the Church.
Gelasian Formula of Two Powers in the World
Before the end of the fifth century, we have a statement of the Holy See on its concept of the relative status of ecclesiastical and civil power which to this day is the most succinct expression of the Churchs mind on the subject. It was occasioned by the attitude of the Eastern Emperor, Anastasius I, who presumed to favor the schismatic patriarchs of Constantinople, particularly with regard to the Monophysite heresy condemned by Rome. Pope Gelasius I (492-496), wrote to the Emperor, to point out to him the illegality of his interference in Church affairs. His letter included an exposition of the Gelasian thesis that the spiritual and secular authorities are each independent in their own sphere, with which the other must not interfere:
There are two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled: the sacred authority of the Popes and the royal power. Of these, the priestly power is much more important, because it has to render account for the kinds of men themselves at the divine tribunal. For you know that although you have the highest place in dignity over the human race, yet you must submit yourself faithfully to those who have charge of divine things, and look to them for the means of your salvation .For if in matters pertaining to the administration of public discipline, the bishops of the Church, knowing that the Empire has been conferred on you by divine instrumentality, are themselves obedient to your laws, lest in purely material affairs contrary opinions may seem to be voiced, with what willingness, I ask you, should you obey those to whom is assigned the administration of divine mysteries? 
Gelasius adds that if the hearts of the faithful should be submissive to all who have ecclesiastical authority, how much more to him who presides over that See which God Himself had placed over the whole Catholic priesthood.
Here we see for the first time in a papal document of universal application the Churchs new status in reference to the political power. Until the Edict of Milan, the problem was almost unilateral, how the Churchs rights could be protected in the atmosphere of a totalitarian State. For a century or more after Constantine, followed a period of flux, with the pagan civil authority becoming gradually Christianized and, while emancipating the Church, also taking on itself (often unbidden) the responsibility of assisting the Church with the might of its secular arm. Depending on their ambition, the emperors sometimes went beyond their legitimate function of auxiliaries to interfere in the internal affairs of ecclesiastical policy, with consequent harm to the Churchs spiritual welfare. Gelasius reprimand of Anastasius was chronologically the beginning of a long line of similar papal reactions to caesaro-papalism, that is still the Churchs worst grievance against the State. Basically the attitude is not different from Peters during the Neroian persecution, except that now the Church is in a position to protest against political intrusion, instead of merely exhorting the Christians to bear the injustice with patience. However, as in Peter, so in Gelasius, the sovereign rights of the State are forcefully recognized, even to the point of obedience among ecclesiastics when purely secular interests are involved.
With the disintegration of Charlemagnes empire in the tenth century and the inroads of Northmen, Magyars and Saracens, political and moral values fell into decay and the Church herself was deeply affected by the return to semi-barbarism. When feudalism emerged as a reaction to the crisis, ecclesiastical authority came under the sway of feudal lords and princes.
A reforming tendency inside the Church had started as a monastic movement in France (Cluny) and in Germany (Lorraine). After the deposition in 1046 of the anti-pope, Sylvester III (created by a Roman Political party), a series of high-minded pontiffs ascended the papal throne, culminating in the pontificate of Gregory VII (1073-1085), who had served as secretary and adviser to his five predecessors.
The two principal objects of Gregorys reform were clerical celibacy and lay investiture, with the prior importance attached to the second as a contributing cause of the first. By controlling the elections of bishops, lay princes had been able to name their own creatures or relatives and even to sell bishoprics to the highest bidder. And after a bishops consecration, they further assumed the power of vesting the prelate ostensibly with temporal assets like property and buildings but actually (as symbolized in the ring and pastoral staff used for investiture) by claiming also to give him ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the diocese. As a result, bishops considered themselves quite independent of the pope. Simony, incontinence and clerical abuses remained unchecked and were fostered by the political overlords.
A year after his election, Gregory held a synod in Rome, which renewed old legislation against Simony and violations of celibacy. This was followed by another synod against the custom of lay investiture, with the result that at Worms in 1076 the Emperor Henry IV forced the bishops to repudiate the authority of the pope. Gregory thereupon excommunicated two German archbishops and the emperor, and then absolved Henrys subjects from their allegiancethe first recorded papal deposition of a civil monarch. Addressing himself to St. Peter, Gregory declares that since as your deputy, God has given me the power of binding and loosing in heaven and earth, therefore, by your power and authority I withdraw from Henry the King, son of Henry the Emperor, who has arisen against the Church with unheard-of insolence, the rule over the whole kingdom of the Germans and over Italy. And I absolve all Christians from the bonds of the oath which they have taken to him or which they shall in the future take; and I forbid anyone to serve him as king And since he has scorned to obey as a Christian, and has not come back to God whom he has deserted, I bind him, in your stead, with the chains of the anathema. 
Henry made his submission and was absolved at Canossa in 1077; but as soon as he had regained power, he renewed the opposition and was again deposed and excommunicated. But this time, the pope went beyond the first sentence. Not only was Henry dethroned but the royal power was granted by the pope to the Duke Rudolf of Suabia. In concluding the sentence, Gregory prayed that Henry be confounded until he makes penance in order that his soul be safe at the day of the Lord. 
This time the king retaliated by marching into Italy with an army, seizing Rome and setting up an antipope, Clement III. Gregory received protection from the Normans but had to retire to Salerno, where he passed away in 1085 as the greatest reformer in the history of the papacy. His last words were I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile. Victor III, who succeeded him, excommunicated Clement III and continued the policy of Gregory, which even non-Catholic writers admit was the salvation of the Roman primacy.
Boniface VIII and Papal Absolutism
The most controversial figure in the history of Church and State relations is Pope Boniface VIII, and his Bull Unam Sanctam, issued in 1302, is the high point of the controversy. Certainly no statement of the Holy See on this subject has been more roundly criticized by those outside the Church or regarded by them as more embarrassing to Catholics, especially in democratic America. The views of Boniface, says one writer, in spite of their authoritative origin, would probably not be accepted by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, without significant reservations or interpretations Undoubtedly this difficulty (of having Church-State principles elaborated in Europe) would be largely overcome in the future, but it would have to be by disregarding, or virtually explaining away, some of the early teachings of the Church on its ultimate authority in matters political as not applicable to existing conditions in the United States. 
In order to appreciate the full import of Pope Bonifaces legislation, we should recall the circumstances under which it was enacted. Political rivalry among the Hapsburgs prevented the coronation of a Western Emperor for half a century in the late 1200s, with the result that during this time the Roman Pontiffs became the acknowledged visible heads of Catholic Christianity to a degree unparalleled in papal history. When Boniface VIII, a professional jurist ascended the throne of Peter, he decided to embody in a general enactment the legal position of the Roman See, as it had crystallized during the thirteenth century. His instrument was the Bull Unam Sanctam which subsequently became part of the Churchs Canon Law.
The immediate occasion of the Bull was a long and heated conflict between the pope and the king of France, Philip IV, called The Fair. Philip insisted on deriving his authority in the tradition of Charlemagne and was reluctant to admit any principle of subordination to the papacy in secular matters. When the king imposed a heavy taxation on the French clergy without previous agreement with Rome, Boniface took this as an infringement of ecclesiastical rights and after protracted study of the principles involved, published the document that was to sum up the plenitude of papal power over all the Christian community, including France and her king. Some have wrongly considered the Unam Sanctam an angry rejoinder of the pope, composed in a fit of anger. Actually it was the deliberate pronouncement of a synod, headed by the pope, in which there were (besides others) thirty-nine French archbishops and bishops. Nor is it a document which the Holy See has ever retracted. In fact it was solemnly confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council in 1513; and the very point in its teaching to which exception has been taken is reaffirmed in the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX.
After declaring there is only one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, over which Christ placed only one head, not two heads as if it were a monster, Boniface explains the relation of the secular power to the spiritual:
We are taught by the words of the Gospel that in this Church and in its power there are two swords, namely, a spiritual and a temporal Both are in the power of the Church; the one, indeed, to be wielded for the Church, and the other by the Church. The former by the priest, the latter by the hands of kings and knights, but by the bidding and consent of the priesthood. It is necessary that one sword should be under the other, and that temporal authority be subjected to the spiritual For, the truth bearing witness, the spiritual power should instruct the temporal power and judge it, if it be not good .Hence we declare, affirm, and define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary for the salvation of every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. 
At the outset we must distinguish between defined doctrine and ordinary papal teaching. Only the final sentence, as italicized, was solemnly defined and clearly represents traditional Catholic dogma on the Churchs necessity for salvation.
But how are we to understand the preceding statements on the subordination of State to Church, that the temporal sword is wielded by the bidding and consent of the priesthood? Those who interpret Boniface to mean that the whole sphere of temporal jurisdiction is directly subject to the Church do the pope an injustice against which he protested shortly after the Bull was published. Followers of Philip the Fair inserted into the document the spurious phrase, We wish you (the king) to know that you hold your kingdom from Us, adding that anyone who denied the proposition was a heretic. In a solemn consistory, Boniface denounced the forgery. For forty years We have studied law, and We know that there are two powers appointed by God. Who should, then, or can, believe that We entertain, or have entertained, such stupid absurdity? We declare that in no way do We wish to usurp the jurisdiction of the king .And yet, neither the king nor any one else of the faithful can deny that he is subject to Us where a question of sin is involved (ratione peccati). 
The popes phrase ratione peccati, has since become the standard theological norm to judge when and to what extent the Church may use her spiritual power to intervene in the secular affairs of State. She may do so when, in her judgment, an otherwise temporal affair (like civil legislation) affects the religious interests of the faithful by placing unwarranted burden on their conscience, exposing them to sin or otherwise conflicting with that spiritual welfare over which the Church alone has ultimate jurisdiction by the mandate of her Founder.
Protestant Equality of the Temporal and Spiritual Power
Among the changes in religious thought introduced by the Protestant Reformation few have been more radical or consequential than the concept of a universal priesthood of the laity and the corresponding denial of a real distinction between the secular and ecclesiastical state. Luthers theories have been rightly considered the watershed which divides Church and State relations into two antithetical principles, the Catholic and the Protestant; so that much, if not most, of the modern problems arising in this sphere can be traced to his innovation.
Luther first proposed his thesis in the appeal he made to the Emperor Charles V and the German nobility in 1520, just three years after his breach with Rome. It has since become the stock-in-trade of non-Catholic political philosophy. Directing his attack against the Church whom he charged with responsibility for the social distress in Germany, he pleaded for the tearing down of three walls which the Romanists have drawn around themselves, so that no one could reform them, whereby all Christendom has suffered terribly. The second and third of these walls, namely, the claim that no one but the pope can summon a general council, do not concern us here, and, in fact, they were quite incidental to Luthers main argument. His principal accusation was that, if pressed by the temporal power, the Romanists have affirmed and maintained that the temporal power has no jurisdiction over them, but on the contrary, that the spiritual is above the temporal.
What is to be made of this claim? The very idea of two distinct classes is a fable. It is a faction by which the pope, bishops, priests, and monks are called the spiritual estate, while princes, lords, artisans and peasants are the temporal estate. This is an artful lie and hypocritical invention, but let no one be made afraid of it, because all Christians are truly of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them, save of office For we are all consecrated priests by baptism .Consequently, since we are all priests alike, no man may put himself forward, or take upon himself without our consent and election, to do that which we have all alike power to do .Therefore a priest should be nothing in Christendom but a functionary; as long as he holds his office, he has precedence; if he is deprived of it, he is a peasant or a citizen like the rest. But now they have invented indelible characters and even imagine that a priest can never become a layman; which is all nothing but mere talk and a figment of human invention.
As a logical consequence to equating the secular and priestly state, the Church cannot be superior to the State.
What kind of Christian doctrine is this, that the temporal power is not above the spiritual, and therefore cannot punish it. And if the temporal is superior, it has been ordained by God for the punishment of the bad and the protection of the good. So that we must let it do its duty throughout the whole Christian body, without respect of persons, whether it strikes popes, bishops, priests, monks, nuns, or whoever it may be. And whatever the ecclesiastical law has said in opposition to this is merely the invention of Romanist arrogance. 
The Council of Trent reacted against this devastating doctrine which literally undermined the whole structure of Christianity. Its condemnations laid the groundwork for all subsequent dealings of the Church with civil authority. Thus if anyone says that holy ordination is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ our Lord, or that it is a kind of human invention; or if anyone says that no character is imprinted by ordination, or that he who was once a priest can become a layman again; if anyone says that the orders conferred by the bishops are void without the consent of the people or of secular power, let him be anathema. 
Behind Luthers denial of a real distinction between the temporal and ecclesiastical domain lay the disclaim that Christ established a visible Church, vested with His authority and delegated by Him as a perfect society with divine rights to prosecute its spiritual aims. His motives, we know, were dictated by the pressing need for protection from the secular rulers of Germany. The price he paid was to deny any superiority of Church over State. In return, he received the political assistance required to propagate the new evangel by the simple expedient of catering to the instincts of envy and lust for power. It is no accident of history that the formula proved successful, or that its impact was so far reaching.
The full implications of Lutheran iconoclasm touches every aspect of Church and State relationship. Only civil laws have binding power on the citizens, since the State has a right to pass judgment on ecclesiastical legislation, but not vice versa. Civil officials may determine if the churchmen are serving the common interest, and punish or depose as they please; but the Church has no rights except those conceded by the State. Indeed, civil coercion can deprive any ecclesiastic, even the pope, not only of the exercise of his ministry but the very title to his sacred office, which he pretends to have received from God.
It is impossible to over-estimate the influence of this teaching on subsequent generations including our own. John Dewey found there the origins of the modern secularist concept of Church and State .The lesson of the two and a half centuries lying between the Protestant revolt and the formation of the [American] nation was well learned as respected the necessity of maintaining the integrity of the State against all divisive ecclesiastical divisions. Oblivious of the spirit that was moving them, many of our ancestors would have been somewhat shocked to realize the full logic of their own attitude with respect to the subordinating of churches to the State---falsely termed the separation of Church and State.  Fortunately for the Church and the good of society not every political philosopher, though non-Catholic, either accepted Luthers principles or followed them as rigidly to their logical conclusion as did Dewey.
Cooperation of Church and State Against Slavery
A bright interlude in the frequent conflict of ecclesiastical and civil authority was the cooperative effort of pope and king in the sixteenth century in favor of the native tribes found in the New World. With the discovery of America rose the problem of the pagan races now subject to European Christians rule. Many of the colonists contended that the Indians were little better than animals, as they did not observe the precepts of the natural law. One evidence cited was the practice of human sacrifice among the Aztecs of Mexico. So there was no injustice in treating them as slaves, for which they were naturally fitted. Against this view the missionaries preached and protested that the Indians were rational beings capable of conversion to the true faith. They appealed to the Bull of Alexander VI, issued six months after the discovery of America (May 4, 1493) and commanding the colonists, with Gods grace to bring the natives to the Catholic faith. When this proved ineffective, the pope, Paul III, was asked to intervene, which he did, in a celebrated Brief, Pastorale Officium, dated May 29, 1537, forbidding the enslavement of the Indians and threatening the severest penalties against those who disobeyed.
Directing his letter to the Archbishop of Toledo, to whose jurisdiction the Indians belonged, the pope acknowledged that by a general law Charles V had forbidden slavery among West or East Indians. He had therefore taken their freedom and property under his protection; but apparently without success. Hence the need for papal intervention. These Indians, said the pontiff, although they live outside the bosom of the Church, nevertheless have not been, nor are they to be deprived of their freedom or of ownership of their possessions, since they are human beings, capable of faith and salvation. They are not to be destroyed by slavery, but invited to life by preaching and example. Furthermore, desiring to repress the shameful deeds of such wicked men to ensure that the Indians are not alienated by injury and injustice, so that they find it more difficult to embrace the faith of Christ We enjoin that you very strictly forbid all and sundry of whatever dignity, position, condition, rank or excellence, to bring the aforementioned Indians into slavery in any way or dare to deprive them of their possessions in any manner under pain, if they do so, of thereby incurring automatic lactae sententiae excommunication, from which they can be absolved only by Ourselves or the Roman Pontiff reigning at that time, except if they are at the point of death and have previously made amends. 
A week later (June 2), the pope followed the previous declaration with a solemn Bull, addressed to Christendom at large, forbidding absolutely the slavery of all Indians, even in regions not yet discovered. Hence the pope laid the axe to the root of the tree by condemning the asserted incapacity of the Indian to receive Christianity, which served as a pretext for his subjection. From the words of Christ to teach all nations, he deduced the right and duty of making the Gospel accessible to the natives as well as others. Let them be free even if unconverted and let no one bring them into slavery.
The Spanish kings gave full support to the papal injunctions, notably with the New Laws of 1542 which forbade slavery and added civil penalties to the ecclesiastical sanctions against the offenders. A corollary sidelight of this collaboration between Spain and the Holy See to protect the natives in the contrary policy pursued in North America, except in Mexico and Spanish (or Portuguese) territories, where English colonizers lacked the restraining hands of the Churchs legislation.
Syllabus of Errors
On December 8, 1864, two important documents touching on Church and State relations were issued at Rome: one, an Encyclical of Pius IX on naturalism and communism, and the other a Syllabus containing the chief errors of our times which are censured in the consistorial allocutions, encyclicals and other apostolic letters of His Holiness, Pius IX. The Syllabus is therefore a digest of errors condemned on various occasions by the pope, and circulated by his orders. It contains 80 propositions arranged under ten headings. After each proposition there is a reference to the allocution or letter in which the false doctrine is condemned. Thus proposition fourteen, Philosophy Should be Treated Without Regard for Supernatural Revelation, is followed by a reference to the letter addressed to the Archbishops of Munich. As a rule, the original document enunciates a particular affirmative position, while the Syllabus condemns the contradictory, viz. the universal negative. These considerations are essential for a proper understanding of the Syllabus which from the time of its publication has been denounced as obscurantist and reactionary by critics of the Church.
Almost half of the errors condemned by the Syllabus, thirty-two by actual count, deal at least with (at least implicitly) the subject of Church and State. For our purpose it will be enough to see the general tenor nineteenth century mentality against which the Holy See reacted and, in the process, elucidate the Catholic principles that have special relevance to our times.
Errors Regarding the Church and Her Rights. These are the radical principles of liberalism, ultimately derived from Reformation sources:
The Church is not a true and perfect society, enjoying full liberty, nor does she possess any permanent rights conferred exclusively upon her by her divine Founder. Rather, the civil power is to determine what are the Churchs rights and the limitation within which these rights may be exercised. 
The Church has no inherent and legitimate right to possess property. 
The Church has no right to use coercive measures and no power in the temporal order whether direct or indirect. 
Errors Regarding Education. Consistent with the denial of the Churchs nature as a perfect society, modern liberals also deny her rights to the use of the means she needs to fulfill the purpose of her existence, which is the sanctification of souls. Among these, the most imperative is Christian education under the Churchs auspices:
The civil authority can intervene in matters which pertain to religion, morals and spiritual discipline. Hence it can decide concerning the instructions which the clergy of the Church issue, as part of their duty, for the regulations of consciences. 
The best interest of civil society requires that the popular schools, which are open to all children from any class of the people .should be withdrawn from any control, directive power or supervision of the Church. Being at the complete discretion of the civil and political authority, they may be subjected to the will of the rulers according to the common opinions of the age. 
Errors Regarding Christian Marriage. In line with the Protestant laicization of matrimony, naturalism spells out the consequences of this theory by divorcing the marital contract and its responsibilities from ecclesiastical jurisdiction:
The bond of matrimony is not indissoluble by the natural law, and in various cases the civil authority may grant divorces properly so-called. 
The Church has no power to impose diriment impediments to marriage. This right belongs to the civil authority, which should also abrogate the existing impediments. 
In order to appreciate the realism of the papal Syllabus, it will help us to see what happened in one country, France, when the principles of laicism had taken root. In 1880 compulsory Sunday rest was abolished. Even the money was secularized, with the motto, Dieu protégé la France, removed from 5-franc pieces. A series of enactments named after their principal author, the Lois Ferry, laicized primary education during 1880-1886. By a law of March 20, 1880, the Jesuits were ordered to quit their residences within three and their schools within five months. A second law required all religious congregations to apply for State authorization under pain of expulsion. In 1884 divorce was re-introduced. All branches of public life were affected. Prayers were discontinued at the opening of parliamentary sessions. The hospitals of Paris were laicized in 1885. In 1889 exemption of seminariests from military service was withdrawn. After a brief lull in the religious struggle, a new law of the Congregations was passed in 1901, which forced practically all religious orders and congregations of both sexes to leave France.
It was this concept of separation of Church and State which Pius IX reprobated in the now famous 55th error of the Syllabus, that The Church should be separated from the State and the State from the Church.  The original document from which this error was culled is the papal allocution Acerbissimum, dated September 27, 1852. Among other aberrations that were condemned was the claim that marriage between Christians is a purely civil contract, subject to the laws of the State and independent of the Churchs jurisdiction. Thus the whole context indicates in what sense the term separation should be understood in the Syllabus of Errors, namely, as conceived by the laic governments of Europe and Latin America for whom it meant emancipation of the civil government from religious principles and, if necessary, even from the natural law. As later Pontiffs were to explain, there is a type of separation which the Church does not deprecate absolutely, and is willing to accept with reservation, provided the basic rights of Catholic citizens are respected and the practice of their religion is not restrained.
Leo XIII on Separation of Church and State
Although the writings of Leo XIII are the most extensive papal documentation we have on the relation of Church and State, they simply corroborate the traditional teaching of the Church as seen in the foregoing survey --- with one exception. By the end of the nineteenth century, non-Catholic governments became the rule in many countries of Europe and the two Americas, and created the logical need for some principles of action to guide Catholic citizens in their attitude towards the civil authorities. Circumstances differed widely, as between countries like France where the State was openly anti-Catholic and the United States where religious freedom was granted to all the people, with no preferential treatment to any group. Yet the basic issue was the same and substantially revolved around the Catholic attitude towards separation of Church and State.
Separation as Anti-Christianity. The most radical concept of Church and State separation which Leo XIII had to combat was the French anti-Clericalism previously denounced by Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Speaking of the vast conspiracy that certain men have formed for the annihilation of Christianity in France, the pope denounced their vaunted separation of Church and State as equivalent to the separation of human laws from Christian and divine legislation. [For] as soon as the State refuses to give to God what belongs to God, by a necessary consequent it refuses to give to citizens what they as men have a right to receive; since, whether agreeable or not, it cannot be denied that mans rights spring from his duty towards God .Therefore Catholics cannot be too careful in defending themselves against such a separation.  This is more correctly a separation of the State from the Church, rather than vice versa, and implies an impossible dichotomy between secular and religious authority, as though it were possible to operate civil society with full justice to its citizens without a foundation in the moral law. Any separation built on this premise is a practical denial of the Churchs right to existence and reduces her function to something less than useless. It is only another name for political atheism.
Catholicism without Preferential Status. A more delicate situation arises where the Catholic Church is indeed allowed free exercise of education and worship but at the same time is not given the priority she objectively deserves as the only true religion. Three major Leonine documents deal with this problem and substantially lay the principles that have guided the Churchs policy ever since. To be noted is the pioneering service that Leo XIII rendered the Catholic world when he clarified the issue not only on a theoretical basis but in the very practical circumstances of modern life.
The first document dealing with the question is also the most elaborate exposition of Church and State relationship published by Leo XIII. His Encyclical, Immortale Dei, issued in 1885, was at once a defense of traditional teaching and a guide-manual for handling current problems. He set forth the ideal situation, where States are governed by the principles of the Gospels. As an ideal, it represents the immutable law of religious history, that when civil power and the priesthood are in agreement, the world is well governed and the Church flourishes and develops. But when they disagree, not only smaller interests suffer but even things of greatest moment fall into miserable decay.  In spite of cupidity and human ambition, for centuries civil governments were built on a Christian foundation with consequent benefits to themselves and posterity that only a prejudiced mind will deny. Then came the lamentable rage for innovation that reached a climax in the sixteenth century, and is the acknowledged source of modern apostasy from God or at least of indifference towards the true religion.
Facing the issue realistically, the pope confessed that in many countries the government is not openly hostile to the Catholic Church but equates it with every religious denomination, with no preferential status before the law. As a matter of principles, says the pope, the Church regards it unlawful to place various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion. Nevertheless, she does not, on that account, condemn those rulers who for the sake of securing some greater good, or of hindering some great evil, allow in practice that these various forms of religion have a place in the State. And in fact, the Church is more careful not to have any one forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, Man cannot believe except of his own free will. 
More than once in the next two decades, the pope returned to the same theme: on the one hand describing the ideal and on the other recognizing the status quo. Addressing the hierarchy of France, he admitted that in certain countries the Church is reduced to the liberty of living according to the law common to all citizens, whether Catholic or not. While this condition has numerous and serious disadvantages, it offers some benefits too, above all, when, by a fortunate inconsistency, the legislator is inspired by Christian principles. And although the advantage cannot justify the false principle of separation nor authorize its defense, they permit a situation to be tolerated which, practically, might be worse. However, this kind of let live policy should not obtain in France which is Catholic in her traditions and the majority of her citizens. Here the Church should not be placed in the precarious position to which she must submit to other peoples. 
Equally clear and even more liberal was the popes evaluation of the American scene. In 1902, he wrote to congratulate the bishops of the United States on the steady growth of the Church in this country. He assigned three causes: the providence of God, the energy of the American people and the religious liberty which the country enjoys. In contrast with the sad changes and tendencies in nearly all nations that were Catholic for centuries, the state of your churches, in their flourishing vigor, gives Us great pleasure and joy to behold. True, you are shown no special favor by the civil government, but on the other hand your lawgivers are certainly entitled to praise because they do not restrain you in your just liberty.  Otherwise than with France, the pontiff did not even suggest that American Catholics should promote a change, but rather urged them to capitalize on the freedom they possess by advancing the light of truth to meet the fatuous errors of the rising sectarian denominations.
Constitution of Eire and Leonine Principles. Better than any speculative commentary on the Church and State principles of Leo XIII is their actual embodiment in the Constitution of a modern State. When the Constitution of the Irish Free State was being framed, Pope Leos norms (sometimes verbatim) were incorporated into the document that is unimpeachable from the viewpoint of Catholic theology and yet sufficiently concessive to allow for freedom of worship and belief of other religious bodies.
The preamble of the Constitution is an unqualified profession of the Christian faith: In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and State must be referred, We, the people of Eire, humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation do hereby adopt, and give ourselves this Constitution. 
Also on the source of its authority, the Constitution declares that all powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State. 
And more specifically, the Christian concept of the family is fully recognized as the necessary basis of social order and is indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State. Accordingly, the State recognizes that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.  Then a provision that is uncompromisingly Catholic, decreeing that no law shall be enacted for the grant of a dissolution of marriage, (and) no person whose marriage has been dissolved under the civil law of any other State but is a subsisting valid marriage shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage so dissolved. 
But the most significant portion of the Constitution deals with the status of the Catholic Church, along with other religious bodies within the juridical limits of the Irish Free State. First, in general terms, the State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion. Then the crucial distinction. On the one hand, the State recognizes the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens. However, the State also recognizes the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, and Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution. 
It should be noted that the term special position for the Catholic Church was derived from the Concordat between the Holy See and the French government under Napoleon, in 1801, when the papal representative accepted this status for the Church, in preference to dominant religion, as a token gesture for certain concessions granted by the civil authorities.
Consistent with these norms, Freedom of conscience, and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen. Nevertheless, the State guarantees not to endow any religion. Nor shall the State impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status. 
In order to implement the abstract theory of religious freedom, the law provides that every religious denomination shall have the right to manage its own affairs, own, acquire, and administer property, movable and immovable, and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes. Moreover, legislation providing State aid for schools shall not discriminate between schools under the management of religious denominations, nor be such as to affect prejudicially the rights of any child to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at that school. 
A small minority in Eire has campaigned for some years to revise the Constitution on the ground that its religion clauses are a liberal compromise. But Catholic jurists generally accept the document as a fair interpretation of the Churchs principles which may be adapted without concession, to the needs created by religious pluralism in the modern State.
Two Basic Issues
While the general pattern of Church and State relations has not substantially changed, certain aspects of the problem have become more urgent in recent years, and received corresponding attention in ecclesiastical circles. The first is a reemphasis of the divine limitation of State authority, in protest against the most tyrannical usurpation in human history; the second is a clarification of the Churchs attitude towards non-Catholics in a region where Catholics have a dominant voice in the civil government. Both have figured prominently in the writings and allocutions of Pope Pius XII, to a point unheard of in any previous pontificate.
Divine Limitation of Civil Authority. Although the Church has been plagued with three major tyrannies since the end of World War I: Fascism, Nazism and Communism, only the latter has survived and spread to a degree that pales the ancient Medes and Persians to a shadow. A conservative estimate places the number of people under Communist domination at 800 million, almost half of whom are Christians and perhaps 100 million in communion with Rome.
While Communist strategy against the Church has varied with local conditions, the general sequence is practically uniform: a violent hostility to the Holy See, with the Vatican invariably represented as an alien power whose influence is inconsistent with the totalitarian concept of State sovereignty; then a tendency to discord local hierarchy by accusing it of various political crimes of subservience to the Vatican hence the processes against Mindszenty in Hungary, Stepinac in Yugoslavia and the confinement of all Czechoslovak and some Polish bishops; and finally, an effort to create pro-Communist currents among the clergy and the faithful, willing to cooperate with the regime, as in the creation of a sympathetic hierarchy in Red China (1958).
A typical instance is Czechoslovakia, where the Communists seized power by a coup detat in February, 1948, and became at a stroke absolute masters of a nation that was seventy per cent Catholic. By October, 1949, the Reds were sufficiently entrenched to stabilize their oppression of the Church in a fixed law, to dominate every phase of Catholic life with a refinement of cruelty.
Sample provisions are that:
From the beginning of his pontificate and all through his reign, Pius XII solemnly protested against this inversion of the divine law. It is nothing short of blasphemy to divorce civil authority from every kind of dependence upon the Supreme Being, First Cause and Absolute Master of man and of society and from every restraint of a Higher Law derived from God as its primary Source.  After the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty, the pope insisted on the Churchs knowledge of her function. She does not meddle in problems purely political and economic, nor does she pass judgment on the usefulness or harm of one form of government or another. But a totalitarian and anti-religious state would be like a church silent when it should speak, a church that would weaken the law of God, adapting it to the desire of human wills a church that does not resist oppression of the conscience and does not watch over the legitimate rights and the just liberty of the people. Can the pope be silent, when the rights of educating children is taken from the parents, when the State arrogates to itself the power of suppressing dioceses, of deposing bishops, when a priest is punished with imprisonment for not violating the seal of confession? Is all this, perhaps, an illegitimate interference with the political powers of the State?  It becomes interference only on the arrogant assumption that the State is bound by no law, human or divine, except its own arbitrary will; and when faced with a Church that demands respect for the rights of conscience, not to say its revealed commission from God, she becomes an enemy of society either to be forced into submission or crushed for insubordination.
Principles of Religious Tolerance. At the opposite extreme to Communist tyranny is the more complicated if less tragic problem of the Churchs attitude towards non-Catholic citizens in a State. Does the Church believe in freedom only in her own favor or also in favor of those who do not share her religious convictions? Much of the current Protestant agitation in America against the growth of Catholic Power stems from a fear that the Catholic Church is tolerant towards other religious bodies only as a national expediency, and this situation will continue until and unless the United States becomes a Catholic country, that is, one in which Catholics form the vast majority of the citizens or at least are in a position to dominate national policy.  But given the power to change the status quo, Catholics will, in principle, suppress freedom of worship and religious profession for all but their own communicants.
Pope Pius XII dealt with this specific issue in two memorable discourses, one of which, an address in 1953 to a convention of Catholic jurists, will go down in papal documentation as a classic exposition of the Churchs mind on religious toleration.
The immediate subject of the discourse to the jurists was Religion in the Community of Nations, and its principal aspect was the status of non-Catholics in a single country or in a community of nations. On the one hand, said the pope, no human authority, no state, no community of nations can give a positive command to teach or do what is contrary to religious truth or moral good.  On the other hand, the question arises whether moral and religious error may be tolerated or is positive repression always a sacred duty.
Answering in favor of toleration, the pontiff appeals to Gods dealings with sinful and erroneous humanity. In view of its importance, the passage should be quoted in full:
Could God, although it would be possible and easy for Him to repress error and moral deviation, in some cases choose not to intervene without contradicting His infinite perfection? Would He in certain circumstances not even communicate the right to impede or repress what is erroneous and false? A look at things as they are gives an affirmative answer. Reality shows that error and sin are in the world in great measure. God reprobates them, but He permits them to exist.
Hence the affirmation: religious and moral error must always be impeded, when it is possible, because toleration of them itself is immoral, is not valid absolutely and unconditionally. Moreover, God has not even given to human authority such an absolute and universal command in matters of faith and morality. Such a command is unknown to the common convictions of mankind, to Christian conscience, to the sources of revelation and to the practice of the Church .Consequently, the duty of repressing moral and religious error cannot be an ultimate norm of action. It must be subordinate to higher and more general norms, which in some cases permit and even perhaps indicate as the better policy, toleration of error in order to promote the greater good. 
The second discourse on the same theme was given two years later at the International Congress of Historical Studies. But this time the pope took the broader issue of religious liberty, declaring that, over the centuries, the Churchs efforts to remain free of the civil power were always directed to safeguarding the freedom of religious convictions.
The stock objection is that the Church is interested in freedom of religion, but only for herself. This, protested the pope, is not true. Let no one object that the Church scorns the personal convictions of those who do not think as she does .On the contrary, she believes that their convictions constitute a reason, though not always the principle one, for tolerance. She would be unfaithful to the mandate of her Founder to hide the fact that on principle she considers collaboration [of Church and State] normal and regards unity of the people in the true religion and unanimity of action between herself and the State as an ideal. This being granted, she also knows that for some time events have been developing in a different direction, namely, toward the multiplicity of beliefs and conceptions of life in the same national community. 
Summarily, therefore tolerance of non-Catholic errors in a State has nothing to do with mere numbers; as though freedom of religion for those outside the Church were only verbal, until Catholics come into civil power. A positive and universal principle is at stake: that temporal rulers no less than churchmen respect the inviolability of the human conscience. Add to this the divine model of permitting error in order to insure a greater good, and Catholic theology has a valuable formula for solving the most delicate problem in modern, and certainly American, Church and State relationship.
Chapter XII - References
Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
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