Church and State: Some Impromptu Reflections

May 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

In an article on the ecclesiology of the Ravenna Document, Ansgar Santogrossi, O.S.B., mentions four ways in which the Church (or some sort of religion) and the state (or some form of the body politic) have been related. Fr. Santogrossi presents this material in the course of explaining the philosophical assumptions under-girding the “ecclesiology of communion” model which largely informs this agreed statement of Catholic and Orthodox theologians. [1] My purpose here is not to interact with the main thrust of Fr. Santogrossi’s article, which is a critical appraisal of the Ravenna Document. Rather, I want to focus on the bit concerning the relation of the Church and worldly political bodies, the primary example of the latter in modern times being the state. For the sake of convenience, I have provided a descriptive label for each period or category described by Fr. Santogrossi:

1. Corporate Union of Church and State

The ancient city subsumed economy, culture, and religion under an authority seen as divinely established–in modern terms, there was no distinction between Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft. [2]

2. Cultural Integration of Church and State

Christendom introduced the supernatural power of the Church over man in his transcendent dimension, thus allowing the political power to be seen as distinct and ordered to earthly peace as its proximate end. Nevertheless Christendom everywhere saw the political power as God-given and meant consciously to serve man’s eternal salvation in indirect ways as its remote end, insofar as historical circumstances and the capacities of the majority allowed. This was publicaly manifested and accepted by all, in the liturgical coronation of rulers and in myriad other ways.

3. Separation of Church and State

The liberal revolutions ruptured the ordering of earthly justice and prosperity to man’s eternal end, effectively privatizing religion and setting up the modern state, founded on the consensus of individuals seeking mutually to secure their lives, property, and freedom.

4. The Church-Haunted State

Idealist and Romantic thought in turn accepted modern political society as a given, eventually calling it Gesellschaft, but wanted to cultivate Gemeinschaft, that is, human beings somehow one in spiritual communion and not reducible to a sum of individuals contracting to found a coercive power for the sake of self-defense and property. Law and power came to be associated exclusively with Gesellschaft, while spiritual communion was the realm of natural and organic unity in freedom. Thus, instead of retrieving and enriching the classical Christian philosophy of society which saw human beings integrated through relations of subordination and authority in view of the true human and common good, relations which had constituted societies from a multitude of families and institutions, Romantic philosophies tended to posit a false opposition between the juridical and the spiritual-personal, a dichotomy conceived in reaction to liberalism and alien to both premodern life and the history of the Church. They concluded to a quasi-collective spirit that would somehow constitute the essence of a given organic society. And instead of deepening their understanding of hierarchical relations (the juridical element) and integrating them with the mission of the Holy Spirit and supernatural grace (the spiritual and personal element) as Pius XII and Charles Journet would do in their teaching on the Mystical Body, theologians influenced by Romanticism tended to imagine the Church as an “organic” entity, collective life or spirit, to which hierarchical relations would accrue more or less as excrescences.

The corporate union view has the obvious attraction of simplicity. For those who believe in the existence of both, the bifurcation of this world and the world to come is bound to create intellectual dissonance. The union of Church and state in one governing body overcomes this problem. Some Christians find support for this view in the precedence of Israelite theocracy. Some argue that the Byzantine Church, the Western Church at some times and places in feudal Europe, and the Protestant Church of England are Christian examples of this ancient tendency to conflate religion and politics.

The cultural integration view, as articulated by Santogrossi and exemplified to one degree or another at various times and places in the Western Church during the Middle Ages (particularly after the reforms of Pope Gregory VII), features some of the same attractions as the corporate union view (e.g., it is holistic), but maintains that the Church and the state are two distinct bodies whose “integration” is not not corporate, but cultural. This view sometimes emphasizes the spiritual and moral subordination of the state to the Church. [3] However, even in this ideal relation, the political body remains essentially distinct from the Church, each having its own proper end or purpose. The purpose of the body politic is to promote the temporal well-being of its citizens, whereas that of the Church is to lead all men to eternal salvation. On the cultural integration view, the Church, in relation to the political body, can “know how to be brought low, and how to abound,” as an authentic expression of her essential being and mission. Both suffering and glory, humiliation and exaltation, belong to the mystical Body of Christ. There is no divine mandate for Christians to create a theocracy or Christian state, but neither is there any Iron Curtain between this world and the next. The ends of Church and state, though not identical, are compatible, such that the influence of these communities upon one other can be of mutual benefit. [4]

According to the third view, the liberal conception of society, all public transactions and relations have purely secular ends. This conception of political life strikes some people as hopelessly banal, while others regard liberalism as the only means of preserving peace among people with competing conceptions of what is ultimately true, good, and beautiful. The classical liberal view recognizes that purely political plans and mechanistic means cannot bring about the right ordering of a community. Thus, the error of modern, materialistic socialism is rejected. The liberal state, however, is similar to the socialist state in that all public policies are based upon entirely mundane principles. For the religious believer who subscribes to this view, the result is a sort of double-mindedness, since his ultimate aspirations and commitments bear little or no relation to the cultural expressions and political ordering of human society (and vice versa).

The fourth view has more obvious ecclesiological implications, and really does not allow for a universal Church that can be definitely related to any worldly political body (or anything else, for that matter). Minus a hierarchical structure of its own, the universal Church would be reducible to a mere aggregate of local churches, a quasi-entity that sort of manifests itself here and there in various (often mutually incompatible) beliefs, organizations, communal actions, and religious enthusiasms. This is much like the Protestant conception of an invisible “catholic” Church, and may be subject to the same criticisms that apply to that notion. [5]

Catholicism is not compatible with the corporate union view of Church and state, because the Catholic Church is organizationally distinct from every state, even when she is visibly present in all. This is what is meant by the claim that the Church is a “perfect society”–she is complete in herself. The Catholic Church is a communion of local churches, but she is more than this by virtue of her visible unity in faith, sacraments, and government at the universal level. Without being a political empire, she brings the citizens of the nations together in a sublime yet tangible unity. The powers of this present world have never been very comfortable with this spiritual kingdom visible on earth; hence, the tension persisting between the Catholic Church and the kingdoms of this world, even during the best of times.

On the cultural integration model, the relation between Church and state is hierarchical without reducing one to the other, and so the relation between Church and state is intelligible apart from recourse to the ideologies of either separation or consolidation. Granted what has been divinely revealed concerning the Church, and marking the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms over the past two thousand years, it seems safe to say that the Church is stronger than the state, even when she is weaker. This strength is neither absorbing nor repelling. It is sanctifying.

_____________

[1] Ansgar Santogrossi, O.S.B., “The Ecclesiology of the Ravenna Agreed Statement: Analysis and Correction,” The Thomist 73 (2009): 437-54.

[2] “Geselleschaft” denotes self-interest pursued in a rationally ordered society. “Gemeinschaft” denotes communal life maintained by the organic, traditional bonds of family, kinship and religion. See this article for further elaboration of these sociological categories.

[3] Cf. Unam Sanctum, the bull promulgated by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302.

[4] Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 40-44.

[5] See the articles, “Christ Founded a Visible Church” and “Why Protestantism has no ‘visible catholic Church’.”

Tags: ,

12 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. Andrew,

    Wonderful article! This reminds me once again how crucial our Catholic self-understanding is. It seems to me that union with mankind (and through mankind the entire created order) as individual persons WITHIN a communion (family); constitutes the very intentions in the mind of God with respect to the act of creation. The fulfillment of these divine intentions result in our final beatitude (and through us the fulfillment of the created order): again as individuals within a communion (family) in the eschaton. It should be no surprise then, that between the act of creation and the consummation of all things, this “I/we” relationship to God and one another should be the fundamental framework for God’s activity within history. Thus, the “chosen People” of the old covenant as God’s first-born among the nations (serving as an elder brother and exemplar to “the nations” – those also potentially His children); followed by the expansion and fulfillment of the old covenant promises in the new covenant via the Church – the trans-national, trans-historical (even transcendent) covenant family of God. I am becoming more and more convinced that this vision of the human person within the divine covenant family represents an interpretive key to history and the cosmos (a narrative understanding of the meaning of life) which can serve both as a powerful challenge to the nihilistic human narrative espoused by modernity AND as a gravitational core towards which the fractured pieces of Christendom can be drawn – the true paradigm for ecumenism. The template is so powerful; it can do “double lifting” in the interests of both separated Christians as well as divided humanity generally. Enough rambling . . . I am simply amazed by the gift that the Church is.

    Pax et Bonum,

    -Ray

  2. Ray,

    Thanks for pointing out the “double-lifting” effect of the life of the Church. That is the sort of thing I was driving at in my thinking on the “hierarchical integration” model. I agree that the family is central to the biblical narrative of redemption–“kinship by covenant” and all. My hunch is that this integrated relation between Church (divine society) and State (human society) is somehow related, in theory, to the truth of the Incarnation, as revealed in Sacred Scripture and specified in the ecumenical councils, and is not merely an accidental by-product of the Middle Ages. Our Medieval Fathers, and the society they helped to build, were, in this sense, much more “Christian” than we have become–and rightly so.

    In Christ, God enters fully into the human family, thereby implicating all humanity in redemption, such that, though many have turned away from God, preferring idols, all human beings, in their legitimate communal structures, have been brought into a new relation to divinity (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). The sanctification of the State falls within the purview of the Church, which, although a visible society among other societies, is not simply another among them, nor conflated with any one of them, or all collectively (the “essential union” error). Rather, she is constituted and called to serve all, because she is greater than all (Matthew 23:11). The proper response of the State is, in turn, to serve the Church, recognizing that their respective ends, though not identical, are harmonious, and closely related, insofar as both are the servants of humanity, and human nature is one, and that nature has been assumed by a divine person.

  3. Good Article.
    From this article it is hard for me to understand how you are defining “state”. It’s my opinion that the state is essentially a unit of force, compelling, directly or indirectly, individuals to certain actions. At least I believe it is their function. The issue I always had with the church/state “dilemma” is at what point do you allow individuals to act free from state force even when their actions are selfish or immoral? I am no anarchist, I believe there are certain actions that we have no right to do that the state, however large or small, formal or informal, has a proper moral imperative to bring about just punishments (i.e.: in obvious cases like murder/theft).
    But I also do not believe that all moral actions should be legislated by state officials precisely because for me to act moral, I have to act freely. So my main questions is:
    Do you think the state should force individuals to act in a Christian manner? If so, in what areas of life?

  4. Andy,

    In the article, I use “State” in a sort of abstract, or collective, sense, to denote the set of all (relatively) autonomous, political bodies having power to make and enforce laws within a definite geographical territory. Each member of this set is a (concrete) State.

    Acting freely is perfectly consistent with obeying the law, and vice versa. Of course, since the State has a certain power to enforce its laws, there is a point at which the State could use that power to force, or all but force, someone into compliance with the law, e.g., emperor worship or paying income tax or not working on the Sabbath.

    I am not sure what you mean by “act in a Christian manner,” so I cannot answer the question of whether the State should “force people” to act this way. I do believe, in the words of Fr. Santogrossi (cited above) that the State, as an instrument of God, is “meant consciously to serve man’s eternal salvation in indirect ways as its remote end, insofar as historical circumstances and the capacities of the majority allowed.”

    Now, that is pretty dense, and nuanced, statement, and deserves some unpacking. But not by me, not this morning.

  5. Andrew,
    Thanks for the response.
    What I mean by “acting in a Christian manner” is simply acting as a Christian should by obligation act in every area of his life. I should not steal, murder, commit adultery, etc. I should give to the poor, take care of the sick, etc. The whole dilemma I brought up is where do state governments have a right to legislate punishments for certain moral offenses and where do they allow men to freely break the moral law, God’s law.

    I agree that acting freely and obeying the law are compatible. But if a state passes a law demanding that people not work on the sabbath, if I obey this law because I do not want the punishments the state threatens to levy against me. Then my obedience is not a free obedience but obedience by compulsion. My not working on Sunday also lacks the merit of being a good act because its not that I desire to obey God’s law, it is that I desire not to be punished by state force. In this example nothing good occurred because of state intervention.

    I do believe, because of original sin, a state government’s policing powers are necessary. I also agree that the state governments should be an instrument to serve man’s eternal salvation as its final cause. As it should be the purpose of any institution, community, or individual action. What I am concerned about in these issues is where does the government’s policing powers have a legitimate function that best serves this goal. I am especially interested in the Catholic view point.

  6. Andy,

    It looks like your concept of acting in a Christian manner is basically equivalent to following the moral law, which is (in my view) known by reason/conscience, and by faith in divine revelation, together with the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. To this (i.e., following the moral law), I would add such specifically Christian behavior as participation in the liturgical life of the Church.

    Regarding your second paragraph, I think that it is possible to have more than a single motive for performing a single action. Thus, I pay my income taxes both in order to avoid punishment by the State and in order to please God by obeying his laws (e.g., concerning honesty, paying taxes to whom they are due, etc.). It is true that an action proceeding entirely from the motivation of servile fear is not a meritorious action. However, most people, myself included, actually need the extra motivation, by which I mean to say: most people, myself included, are not saints (in the fully realized sense of sainthood). If State intervention becomes, for me, the sole motivation for performing an (objectively) righteous act, the problem lies partly (I would say mostly) in me. The most direct solution to this problem is not to abrogate laws, but to purify motives. The same thing goes for divine law. For example: We are commanded to be believe and be baptized. He who does not believe will be condemned. Thus, it is possible that some will believe and be baptized solely on the motivation of a servile fear of Hell. But this does not mean that God should make these things optional. Same goes for canon law.

    I am not arguing that everything a Christian man is required to do should be required by State law. Thus, I share your concern about discerning “where does the government’s policing powers have a legitimate function that best serves this goal.” However, I think that this discernment should be guided by principles in addition to the consideration of the pervasive effects of original sin. Those additional principles must be worked out by theological reflection upon divine revelation as experienced in the life of the Church on earth, together with prudential assessment of the exigencies of the day.

    A few particular considerations: (1) The Catholic Church prohibits forced reception of the sacraments, since this would mitigate against the inner harmonies of the sacramental system, e.g., the demand that the one receiving the sacraments be properly disposed to do so, and, I suspect, because of concerns about sacrilege. (2) The Catholic Church is not sabbatarian. I just used that as an example of what some folks believe to be obligatory for Christians. (3) As a prudential matter, there may be times and places when State should refrain from legislation and/or enforcement of some aspect of the moral law. (4) Widespread, ingrained schism/heresy could create such circumstances in which in would be imprudent for the State to punish schismatics/heretics, although I do not believe that such punishment is always, everywhere, wrong or even imprudent.

    Of course, the schismtics/heretics all claim that their punishments are unjust persecutions. And in the event that the State does punish members of the (true) Church, precisely for upholding the Church’s Faith (which comes from Christ, by the Holy Spirit), then these are wrongful persecutions, though they redound to the glory of God, particularly when culminating in martyrdom. God has guaranteed to preserve the Church in the unity of truth, but he has made no such guarantee to the State, which is why we must always be prepared to suffer persecutions, as Christians have done throughout history.

    My opinion is that the State should serve the Church, by promoting and participating in her life, making for a society in which all human goods are integrally and harmoniously related. By this, I do not mean that the Church should be integrated into the State, nor the State into the Church. The integration–a better word might be interpenetration–that I have in mind occurs in human culture and society. The reason for insisting upon a *hierarchical* interpenetration is that the Church militant is the visible embodiment, one might say the “sacrament,” of the eschatological Kingdom of God, while the kingdoms of this world are passing away. The Church is the locus and bearer, for those in this present world, of the permanent things, even though she too is in transit. But her destination is the heavenly Kingdom, in its plenitude, and she is now collecting and taking up, carrying forward, all that can be taken up. I believe that this includes, in some way, the more noble aspects of earthly life.

    To return to the matter of schism and Church–State relations: We live in a post-Protestant Reformation society, which involves not only the separation of Protestants from the Catholic Church, but the proliferation of Protestant ecclesial communities. This makes it much more difficult for the State to serve the Church, since there is no longer a single claimant, generally recognized by citizens of the State, to be the Church. Nevertheless, State reformation/revolution along secular lines is not necessarily the best response to widespread schism and heresy. Religious toleration can coexist with establishment of religion. Even those Christians whose particular ecclesial community/form of religion does not enjoy the direct benefits of establishment, could conclude, as a prudential matter relative to circumstances, so long as they are at least tolerated by State, that the greater good of society and the (true) Church requires that some form of Christian religion/ecclesial community be established. In the mid-19th century, J. H. Newman argued along such lines, against some of his fellow Catholics who supported the movement for the disestablishment of the Church of England. He did not, of course, believe that the C of E was a genuine Church, but he did believe that its establishment, at that time (though not originally), augured better things for society as a whole, including Catholics, than would disestablishment.

  7. I was looking for the appropriate place to post this homily by Bishop Jenky of Peoria, Illinois:

    This was the homily he gave that caused all the commotion in the media over the HHS mandate. Unfortunately it’s not the complete homily, but I couldn’t find the complete version. I think it’s very relevant to a discussion of Church – State relations in America today. I hope other agree.

  8. Craig,

    Thanks for the comment. I took the liberty of turning the link into an embedded video. The points made in the homily tie in nicely with the point in the post about the Church at times abounding and at other times suffering in relation to the State.

    Andrew

  9. 4) Widespread, ingrained schism/heresy could create such circumstances in which in would be imprudent for the State to punish schismatics/heretics, although I do not believe that such punishment is always, everywhere, wrong or even imprudent.

    Setting aside the claims of legitimacy, this quote seems to justify tyrannical Islamic states. One thing I’m looking for in this thread is examples of how the church should interact with the state – should the church be supportive of anti-pornography laws (lock up 90% of all men), or anti-pot laws (lock up a sizable chunk of the black community), or even a discussion over weather or not income taxes are ‘just’. What I don’t see is any definition on what the ‘common good’ is… just an assertion that the state is supposed to work towards that end.

    I think Andy was trying to bring up some of these specifics. Much of what the governments of the world busy themselves with seem to be ‘moral’ issues instead of issues of crime. Higher taxes on cigarettes, and alcohol – taxes and subsidies that favor one enterprise at the expense of another, welfare (both corporate and individual). It seems that the Catholic church does not take a principled stance on these issues. It is quite happy to buddy-up to the state when it suits them (see your quote on punishing heretics), but will stand idly by when a combination of bad welfare law and anti-drug law decimate urban communities.

    Obama crossed a line with his health-care mandates… but the foundation of this was laid in the 1960’s. Catholic social teaching makes awful state law.

  10. Bob,

    You wrote:

    What I don’t see is any definition on what the ‘common good’ is… just an assertion that the state is supposed to work towards that end.

    According to Jacques Maritain (from The Person and the Common Good, p. 52-53):

    Thus, that which constitutes the common good of political society is not only: the collection of public commodities and services–the roads, ports, schools, etc., which the organization of common life presupposes; a sound fiscal condition of the state and its military power; the body of just laws, good customs and wise institutions, which provide the nation with its structure; the heritage of its great historical remembrances, its symbols and its glories, its living traditions and cultural treasures. The common good includes all these and something much more besides — something more profound, more concrete and more human. For it includes also, and above all, the whole sum itself of these; a sum which is quite different from a simple collection of juxtaposed units. (Even in the mathematical order, as Aristotle points out, 6 is not the same as 3+3.) It includes the sum or sociological integration of all the civic conscience, political virtues, and sense of right and liberty, of all the activity, material prosperity and spiritual riches, of unconsciously operative hereditary wisdom, of moral rectitude, justice, friendship, happiness, virtue and heroism in the individual lives of its members. For these things all are, in a certain measure, communicable and so revert to each member, helping him to perfect his life of liberty and person. They all constitute the good human life of the multitude.

    You wrote:

    Catholic social teaching makes awful state law.

    Catholic social teaching is not intended to be state law, so I will assume that you mean that at least some of the principles found in the Church’s social teaching are unsound, and should therefore not be included among those principles that inform State legislation. You specifically mention the legality of pornography and “pot” (with special reference to males and African-Americans, respectively), income tax, other taxes (and subsidies), and welfare (corporate and individual). That is quite a list of items, but it is unclear how Catholic social teaching is supposed to relate to each one, and how, in turn, governments that are informed by Catholic social teaching should respond (or not) to each issue.

    Catholic Social teaching is a large subject. One place to begin to explore the subject is The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Other places include the papal encyclicals in which that teaching is set forth, beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. A list of such encyclicals (with links to the documents) is available here.

    Andrew

  11. Catholic social teaching is not intended to be state law, so I will assume that you mean that at least some of the principles found in the Church’s social teaching are unsound, and should therefore not be included among those principles that inform State legislation.

    I’m not sure if it is just the teachings that are unsound, or the implementation that fails. For example, Roman Catholic teaching on just wages gave support to the unions – which have helped destroy our industries. Roman Catholic teaching on alms and giving has lead to the welfare state. Teaching about pot (and other drugs) has led to 1. America having the highest incarceration rates of any first world country and 2. Collusion between big-pharma and government in health care.

    It is one thing to teach about what is best for a Godly life, and a very different thing to create law from these moral teachings. When you create law, you create criminals – and criminals must be dealt with. Instead of viewing vices as a disease that needs a physician, they become crimes that need a judge.

    Religious toleration can coexist with establishment of religion. Even those Christians whose particular ecclesial community/form of religion does not enjoy the direct benefits of establishment, could conclude, as a prudential matter relative to circumstances, so long as they are at least tolerated by State, that the greater good of society and the (true) Church requires that some form of Christian religion/ecclesial community be established.

    This sounds like the Roman Catholics on this site want to establish Catholicism as the ‘official’ state religion. I would hope that we would be on the same page in our view of Islamic states being a bad thing for the greater good of society – why should I trust the Roman Catholic view as being any better? I do not conclude that the greater good of society is put forward by any ecclesial community being the state darling. Look at the trouble the Orthodox have in Russia when their church colludes with communism.

    Where does Unam Sanctum come into play in this discussion? If you have all worldly temporal authority, shouldn’t there be some unified understanding on how Roman Catholics interact with their state’s to create a better ‘common good’? To what extent are Roman Catholics responsible when the common good is not achieved through collusion with the state?

  12. Bob,

    You wrote:

    I’m not sure if it is just the teachings that are unsound, or the implementation that fails.

    But that is a critical distinction, relative to my post, which suggests that Catholic principles can and should have a formative influence on the state. It is possible for sound principles to be improperly implemented, but if principles are sound, they should be upheld.

    You wrote:

    For example, Roman Catholic teaching on just wages gave support to the unions – which have helped destroy our industries. Roman Catholic teaching on alms and giving has lead to the welfare state. Teaching about pot (and other drugs) has led to 1. America having the highest incarceration rates of any first world country and 2. Collusion between big-pharma and government in health care.

    These are merely assertions, and in any case, as you just pointed out, there is a difference between principle (living wage, almsgiving, mental health) and implementation. It would be wrong to jettison one’s principles simply because the implementation proved to be difficult.

    You wrote:

    This sounds like the Roman Catholics on this site want to establish Catholicism as the ‘official’ state religion. I would hope that we would be on the same page in our view of Islamic states being a bad thing for the greater good of society – why should I trust the Roman Catholic view as being any better? I do not conclude that the greater good of society is put forward by any ecclesial community being the state darling. Look at the trouble the Orthodox have in Russia when their church colludes with communism.

    First of all, the section you quoted was something that I wrote, to the effect that establishment of religion is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t speak for all the contributors on this site. Secondly, what I wrote does not entail that Catholicism should be the official state religion in the USA. I do believe that Catholicism is the true religion, and that her dogmatic teaching on faith and morals is infallible, and that her social doctrine, while not infallible in areas that go beyond faith and morals, represents authoritative statements on moral principles as pertaining to their prudential application in the realm of temporal society.

    I do conclude, for reasons given in the post and at the end of comment #6, that the greater good of society can sometimes be served by an official state religion. As Fr. Santograssi notes, in connection with the “cultural integration” model:

    Nevertheless Christendom everywhere saw the political power as God-given and meant consciously to serve man’s eternal salvation in indirect ways as its remote end, insofar as historical circumstances and the capacities of the majority allowed.

    Those circumstances and capacities vary greatly, and it is a matter of prudence to know how the State can best serve the Church (whether by establishment or not) in various circumstances. But it is a matter of principle to maintain, as I do, that the State is “meant consciously to serve man’s eternal salvation in indirect ways as its remote end….” As regards the Orthodox Church in post-revolution Russia: Of course there will be trouble when a Church colludes with an evil government! There will be trouble when an individual Christian colludes with his devious neighbor to place squared, two-foot high speed bumps across the neighborhood streets. But the latter scenario does not imply that Christians ought not cooperate with their neighbors for the good of the neighborhood. The same goes for Church and State.

    You concluded by asking three questions:

    Where does Unam Sanctum come into play in this discussion? If you have all worldly temporal authority, shouldn’t there be some unified understanding on how Roman Catholics interact with their state’s to create a better ‘common good’? To what extent are Roman Catholics responsible when the common good is not achieved through collusion with the state?

    1. In the bull Unam Sanctum, Pope Boniface VIII teaches that the temporal sword (i.e., political authority) is wielded by kings and soldiers under the spiritual and moral authority of the Church, for the good of the Church, which is another way of saying that the State is “meant consciously to serve man’s eternal salvation in indirect ways as its remote end….” This doctrine brings the two kingdoms together in a cultural but not a corporate unity. The Church does not have all worldly temporal authority, but she has in a sense been set over all worldly powers and authorities, because of her unique relation to Christ; i.e., being the mystical body of the King of kings and having, from him, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

    2. There is a unified understanding of how Catholics are in general to interact with the State for the common good. That unified understanding is presented in the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

    3. When the common good is not being served by the State, Catholics are responsible for this to the extent that Catholics can and do serve in government and influence policy, and to the extent that the State recognizes and is guided by the authority of the Church.

    Andrew

Leave Comment

Subscribe without commenting