Monday, June 29, 2009

Church and State

It has all happened before.

This excerpt is from Cathedral and Crusade, Vol. I, by Henri Daniel-Rops; subtitled Studies of the Medieval Church, 1050-1350 translated by John Warrington from the original L'Eglise de la Cathédrale et de la Croisade (Librairie Athème Fayard,) published by Doubleday Image Books in 1963 by arrangement with E. P. Dutton (1957). From p. 212:

In the World but not of the World

"The spiritual and moral problem which the Church endeavoured so courageously to solve was not the only one with which she was confronted; for in order to accomplish her supernatural mission, it was necessary that she should clarify her relations with the civil power. The two realms of authority appear at first sight to be unconnected; actually they are inseparable. Christ Himself emphasized that the Church is 'not of this world'; her essential purity tends to raise her above the things of earth. Nevertheless, her work lies in this world, among men, within the framework of their interests and institutions. She can be no more indifferent to the laws upon which her freedom depends than to those material resources which enable her ministers to carry out their supernatural function. She is a spiritual society, foreshadowing the City of God; but she is obliged to maintain close contact with the City of the World, and that is no easy task.

"The problem is everlasting. It is the most difficult of all those which Christendom has been called upon to solve; and if no satisfactory solution has yet been found, it is surely because none exists, because it is in the nature of things that there should be continual tension between the spiritual and the temporal order. Three situations are possible. The secular power may be opposed to the Church upon ideological or political ground, which means persecution; or the State my ignore religious activity and treat the spiritual society as nonexistent, which means neutrality. But persecution had ended in the fourth century, and neutrality was quite unthinkable in the Middle Ages; so there remained a third possibility, collaboration."

My own thoughts are only a few.

The First Amendment to the Constitution seems to me to assert the neutrality of the State with regard to religion: there shall be no established Church, but there shall be free exercise of religion. However, at least one of our Founding Fathers said (I'm paraphrasing) that our Constitution is suitable only for the governance of a moral people and unsuited for the governance of any other. Which I think we are becoming -- in fact, I think we're slipping back into barbarism.

I think that the Powers That Be in the United States at this moment are not only indifferent to religion, especially Christianity and most especially Catholicism, but are actively hostile; that we believers are in fact being persecuted, and it's going to get worse. The evidence is all around us, we only have to read the paper, watch TV, or surf the Net to see that.

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