​Church and State

 

Once the Pharisees asked Our Lord: “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? Our Lord asked for a coin and then inquired, ‘Whose image and inscription does it bear?'” They answered, “Caesar’s.” And Our Lord said. “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Thus we are taught to give both the State and the Church what is due to each, in accordance with the end that each pursues.

 

    What are the spheres of the Church and of the State? –The spheres of the Church and of the State are defined and dictated by each one’s respective purpose.Both the Church and the State derive their just powers from God. All rights and duties on earth come to us ultimately from God through the Divine Law, either natural or positive. As Leo VIII said, “The Almighty has appointed the charge of the human race between two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, the other over human things.” 

  1. The Church is a complete and perfect spiritual society whose purpose is to sanctify men and lead them to eternal happiness with God in heaven. In spiritual matters, therefore, it has absolute and exclusive powers.The sphere of the Church is the supernatural and eternal; it includes everything relating to spiritual and moral affairs, matters affecting man’s eternal salvation: for example, the worship of God, preaching of the Gospel, decision of what is morally right and morally wrong, government of its members, restriction of such rights as will endanger their eternal welfare, education of the clergy, religious education of its members, etc, 
  2. The State is also a society, but its purpose is limited to the promotion of man’s temporal welfare.  In purely temporal and political matters, the State is supreme. The Church does not prefer one form of civil government to another, provided it does not conflict with Catholic teaching.The sphere of the State includes such purely temporal matters as a choice of a form of government, the development of agriculture, industries and trade, collection of taxes, restriction of certain civil and political rights (such as the right of suffrage, of bearing arms, etc.) , the enforcement of law and order, etc. 
  3. Since both Church and State were established for the good of men, they cannot be totally separated without evil consequences. Even when a complete separation is advisable, it should never mean the antagonism of the State against the Church.Man and the State, even in the realm of politics and temporal matters, are under God’s law, both revealed and natural, the Law that is above all mankind, of whatever race. Man has no right to make his own laws without regard for the law of God. “It is the Church, not the State, that is to be man’s guide to heaven” (Leo XIII). The State is even bound to protect the Church in the exercise of its functions; this is because the State must protect the rights of its citizens, and of these rights the religious ones are of utmost importance. 
  4. Although primarily concerned with spiritual matters, the Church evidently is entitled to certain temporal aids, in order to be able to pursue its mission effectively.It must build churches and seminaries, collect revenue, conduct schools for the proper religious training of its members, etc. 
  5. The State, as representing the collective will of the people, cannot be made god, as is done in communism and fascism.Then man becomes grossly material, bound by rods of his own fashioning, helpless and gone mad, because he cannot conquer the world.
    What is the contribution of the Catholic Church to American democracy? –In general we may say that the fundamentals of American democracy were derived from traditional thought and philosophy; and since these, being of Western Europe, were essentially Catholic, therefore our democracy had its roots in the Catholic Church. 

  1. The philosophical principles of the Declaration of Independence show such a remarkable similarity to traditional Catholic philosophy as to have been derived from it. Most particularly have these principles been inherited from two outstanding Catholic theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621). These principles are inflexible against Communism as well as Plutocracy, State Socialism as well as extreme Individualism.Some principles so derived are: the equality of man in nature and essence, the function of government to care for the common good, the consent of the governed as a requirement for power of rulers, the right of people to change governments, etc. 
  2. Not only did our democracy get rooted in Catholic principles; today Catholic thought continues to nourish that democracy.For this reason the Church insists on the sanctity of marriage, of the family; the Church instructs her children in loyalty to the State. 
  3. In the founding of our Republic, Catholic aid also came into the realm ofdeeds. Many Catholics took part in the war for independence not only by actual fighting, but by contributing money, services, and other resources. And we must not forget that France, a Catholic nation, sent four fleets, besides money and soldiers. Poland and Spain, Catholic countries, also gave aid.Well did our First President say to Catholics: “I presume that your fellow citizens … will not forget the patriotic part you took in the accomplishment of our Revolution and the establishment of our government.”
    What should be the attitude of the Catholic citizen towards the State? –The Catholic citizen is bound in conscience to obey the State, provided faith and morals are not endangered thereby. 

  1. The State is not the master, but the servant, of the citizens. The inherent rights of individuals, and particularly of parents, cannot be usurped by the State.For instance, parents, not the State, have the natural right to educate their children. The State should merely supervise and facilitate education, but should not enact laws contrary to the obligations of parents to give their children a religious education. 
  2. After the Revolution, for a considerable period, Catholic schools together with schools of other denominations received government support. Then gradually, laws were passed forbidding such support.Our schools are benefiting, however, under the National School Lunch Act of 1946; Congress regularly appropriates money to implement this free school lunch program. Our colleges may secure loans at favorable interest rates under legislation adopted by the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Indirectly our colleges benefit from the GI Bill of Rights, since legislation authorizing the extension of educational benefits to veterans does not discriminate with respect to schools; a veteran may select any approved school. In addition to assistance to schools, our hospitals are receiving substantial construction grants under the terms of the Hill-Burton Law. 
  3. In questions of right and wrong, what should rule is not the majority, but the right, even if it is upheld by the smallest of minorities.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

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