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Error Has No Rights: Time to Ditch Liberalism for Theocracy

“One thing, however, remains always true – that the liberty which is claimed for all to do all things is not, as We have often said, of itself desirable, inasmuch as it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights. And as to tolerance, it is surprising how far removed from the equity and prudence of the Church are those who profess what is called liberalism. For, in allowing that boundless license of which We have spoken, they exceed all limits, and end at last by making no apparent distinction between truth and error, honesty and dishonesty” (Pope Leo XIII, Libertas, 34-35).

Once, many years ago, a pious Catholic could justify his commitment to American liberal democracy. Having grown from hardy Christian roots, the great experiment embraced moral rigor tempered by gospel charity. It managed to achieve a laudable combination of public virtue and personal freedom. Most importantly, it reverenced the Lord, honoring His name around the farmhouse hearth and in the halls of Congress, for “He is the Governor among nations” (Psalm 22:28).

Alas, this delicate balance was fumbled. Gradually, then suddenly, America ceased to draw inspiration from the Christian commonwealth of old. Instead, the political and cultural elite drank from the poison well of radical humanism. Their sympathies eventually filtered down to the entrepreneurial, managerial, and laboring classes, until the whole nation was drunk on toxic swill, madly trading liberty for license.

Today, American liberalism is everywhere at odds with Christianity. Despite the words of the pledge of allegiance, despite the phrase on our tender, despite the common rhetoric, it is clear that our nation is no longer “under God.”

Gone is the era when man’s law deferred to God’s law; when we sought His favor, relied on His protection, appealed to His justice, begged His forbearance, savored His kindness, and hailed His providence. Our country toils no more for the glory of the Almighty, who “increases the nations, and destroys them . . . enlarges the nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23). Instead, we adore the creature while spurning the Creator, becoming like the pagans of old. American liberalism cannot coexist with American Christianity. One or the other must perish.

Here we must note that “liberalism” refers to the atheistic, relativistic, humanistic pseudo-philosophy that today dominates our cultural discourse. It is evil and corrosive, libertine and debauched; individualistic and materialistic; convinced that man is rational and autonomous; obsessed with the mindless pursuit of happiness; saturated with the venom of the Antichrist; dumbly propagated by mainstream pundits and politicos on both sides of the aisle.

This tragic nationwide apostasy stems from our rejection of the reality of sin. Sin means objectivity, absolute truth, indisputable right and wrong. “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek you Me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isaiah 45:19). Such moral surety is alien to the tyrannical relativism and ethical ambiguity upon which American liberalism feeds like fungus.

We have lost the confidence to make value-judgments. We accept moral chaos in the guise of tolerance; celebrate perversity masquerading as diversity. “Do what thou wilt.” This old pagan saying is America’s new motto. Do what thou wilt. . . . Unless thou wilt oppose the orgy of wickedness or, better yet, challenge the system that lends it legitimacy. Truly, the only vice recognized by liberalism is the very notion of vice! The concept of a society built upon “neutral ground” is a Trojan Horse utilized by sly liberals, who use the cover of pluralism to implement their wild schemes. When people separate sacred order from social order, they tend to make gods of themselves. This leads immediately to gross hedonism, where the “right” of the individual to pursue pleasure is prized above all else.

Since liberalism has shown its true colors, let us abandon it for the certain comforts of Christian commonwealth. There is no reason to be embarrassed of theocracy. (The writer uses the term “theocracy” loosely, not to describe clerical or ecclesial rule, but rather the acknowledgement of and commitment to the Creator by society and state, and a healthy and harmonious symbiosis between church and government.) It was, to greater or lesser degrees, the norm up until the eighteenth century. And what have the last three hundred years given us but a few hundred million deaths thanks to the godless spawn of Enlightenment infidels?

We need not conceive of theocracy in terms of the Muslim model. Christian theocracy is built upon Jesus Christ, who is love incarnate. It is therefore inherently charitable, oriented toward freedom tempered by truth. Quite an improvement on the present heathen consumerism! Only the presence of God in our social life ensures that the human being is respected in every dimension of his existence. Only when we recognize His sovereignty do we enable the “responsible use of freedom, in accordance with the dictates of the moral law” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 48).  

Liberalism has betrayed us. To arms! It threatens to devour our children. Even now, under the banner of false and satanic freedom, it dismantles the church of Christ privilege by privilege, parish by parish. Whether or not America was founded as a “Christian nation” is a complicated and irrelevant issue. What matters is not the past but the future. Which is our fate: descent into cultural Gehenna or the renaissance of Christendom? To arms, you of faith!

“Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace,
and be not still, O God.
For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult!”


Philip Primeau is an associate editor at Catholic Lane. He also blogs at a-heart-of-flesh.blogspot.com. He may be contacted by email at philipryan.primeau@gmail.com.

Comments (80)

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  1. Here, here! However, Philip, my understanding of theocracy in America is rule by a particular denomination, like the Anglican Church in Virginia during colonial times, or the established Congregational Churches in New England well into the 19th century. The term “theocracy” might lead to confusion insofar as a return to “one nation under God” would bear little resemblance to the established churches of American history.

    As the father of three kids, I especially appreciated your reference to the plight our children face growing up in a society like ours. It’s a lot like the French Revolutionary era, I think, which they used to say was like Saturn who devourers his own children. The postmodern pagans have no qualms about corrupting the country’s youth in the name of freedom.

  2. Philip Primeau says:

    Well, in a perfect world, we would thrive under a benevolent Catholic monarch who works in harmony with the See of Rome. This is obviously unlikely in America (although, given immigration…). I would settle for a sort of non-denominational theocracy established upon moral and cultural truths which are traditional and explicitly Scriptural, and thus common to all the Nicene orthodox.

    I think one reason pious folks resist theocracy is because they assume it requires violent, even lethal, measures. This isn’t necessarily so. For instance: In a Christian republic, Muslims would be free to worship as they pleased, but they would have no special prerogatives (i.e. halal food in public schools). They might additionally be subject to additional taxation, though nothing too burdensome. They would not be able to build mosques, although those existing would be allowed to remain. They would not be able to evangelize in public. And so on.

  3. fishman says:

    The proper order would be thus:
    ‘We the people’ should value the opinions of the bishop so highly that any candidate who is not supported by the local bishops should have no chance of being elected in a given area. ( and be unable to garner enough support to even get on the ballot).
    The people should listen to the bishop and elect officials who listen to the people.

    It is much better for the health of the church and the bishops that they not be directly in power over political areas. ( we have seen this in Europe , because when political power is at steak human nature makes manipulation of the bishop far too easy).

    What we need ( as a good start) is a nation wide catholic political party. Any takers? Do you think it would have enough support to be meaningful.

  4. fishman says:

    May i suggest a better definition of liberalism for you.

    “The belief that a ‘freedom’ is the ability to decide for ones self what is right and wrong and do whatever you decide is ‘right'”– it is a condemned heresy and has both strong and weak forms.

  5. Philip Primeau says:

    I can more easily envision a center-right Christian party (think European-style Christian Democrats, but more overtly religious).

    A conservative Catholic PAC — that would be feasible. Probably one already exists. Surely, the liberal Catholics have a few.

    The main problem is that most American Catholics, contrary to the old Protestant propaganda, are not ready to take marching orders from Rome.

  6. scotus12 says:

    Interesting post. I like where you’re headed, but I think a couple of clarifications are in order. Firstly, we have not been betrayed by liberalism. Liberalism was never our ally, even if some were seduced by the notion.

    Secondly, there never was a Golden Age in the USA, not for Catholics anyway. Catholics endured relentless and violent discrimination all throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Things have only improved, so to speak, as the Church shed her Catholic identity, and so the Catholic is no longer looked upon with as much suspicion as in former days.

    Thirdly, although it would indeed be nice to have the sort of government you propose, I’m afraid that’s not happening anytime soon. In fact, I’m afraid we’re heading toward an era of sustained repression of Christians in general and Catholics in particular. It’s started with healthcare–Obamacare and the unwillingness of states to allow for conscience opt-outs for pharmacists, for example. That’s how it’s starting, using employment to whip Christians into line. And that will work for a bit, but not for everyone, and then we’ll see more and more repressive measures. Sadly, I believe we’re heading down the same road that Spain took in the 1930s, which ended in a nasty civil war. And the Leftist republic’s 1931 constitution promised to respect religion. They always do.

  7. What a fascinating discussion, from an academic point of view. In the real social-cultural milieu wherein we find ourselves situated, however, we Roman Catholics constitute about 24% of the population, with half our number being nominally Catholic only. It is ethereal speculation indeed to discuss how the 12% are going to achieve hegemony.

    More to the point of the USA in the 21st century: we need a revolution against the postmodern “dictatorship of relativism” which Pope Benedict has decried. It would include reopening the public square, esp. education, to religion — and certainly not Catholicism exclusively. It would include a political fire-line against diabolical forces conflagrating the culture, such as pornography, abortion, sodomy, and euthanasia.

  8. If liberalism is simply identified with “the atheistic, relativistic, humanistic pseudo-philosophy that today dominates our cultural discourse”, then of course we can and must oppose it.

    But rather than simply deploring that corruption of something good and true, you want to abolish the American experiment?

    And what would become of Jews and Muslims and non-believers in this new world you are conjuring?

    • fishman says:

      liberalism is the belief that ‘freedom’ is defined as the ability to decide for yourself what is right and wrong and then do what you choose.

      This is not freedom, it is sin and confusion.

      If we did have an american theocracy of some kind i would expect that Jews and Muslims would be respected as people who disagreed and descanted from the public norm.

      I would hope they were shown a great deal more love and respect then Christians are shown in Muslim theocracies.

      However, that does not mean they would need to be allowed to run for public office or promote ideas that are wrong to other people.

      The tricky bit with any ‘theocracy’ is how you determine an idea is ‘wrong’ or ‘dangerous’, without giving any one person or group too much power ( because people are sinners). That’s why i like the idea of a democratic theocracy of some kind better.

      I’d say we are already starting to approach an atheistic theocracy in this country not unlike the one that exists in china.
      Where all religion in the public square is banned. Any idea that says something is ‘immoral’ is quickly labeled ‘judgmental’
      and screamed out of the public square. Many would like to make such ideas illegal as ‘hate speech’ laws, like those in Canada.

      If it comes down to a choice between and atheist theocracy or a christian / catholic one,which appears to be the case, I’ll choose the catholic one.

      I’m not sure ‘freedom of religion’ in the american sense is a sustainable proposition with a diverse population. Thomas Jefferson did not think it was either, which is why he favored laws to keep the population white, and protestant.

  9. Philip Primeau says:

    “And what would become of Jews and Muslims and non-believers in this new world you are conjuring?”

    Prohibit the construction of new mosques or synagogues. Forbid evangelism or propaganda of any sort. Teach Christianity in the schools but ignore Judaism and Islam except in so much as they address the Faith. Bar Jews and Muslims from running for office (though allow them to be appointed by Christian politicians).

    • You realize that your view is not the view of the Church, right?
      Error has no rights, but conscience does, and therefore truth cannot be coerced. It must be, according to Catholic understanding, “proposed”, not imposed.

      • fishman says:

        Well except the part about not allow the construction of new temples and etc. There is nothing in teaching that would forbid the rest.

        The document from Vatican II on religious freedom repeats over and over again the phrase ‘assuming it is within the good public order’.

        Is it ever within the good public order to allow people to be mislead and caused to sin be poor/ or wrong information?

  10. Philip Primeau says:

    “You realize that your view is not the view of the Church, right?”

    Modernists have twisted the word ‘conscience’ beyond recognition. It’s not even worth using it in a debate anymore.

    I realize that my view is not popular among many in the Church. At this moment. It was, however, the prevailing view (or very similar there to) for a dozen centuries, if not more.

    Anyway, there is no coercion in my scenario. Jews can be Jews, Muslims can be Muslims, and so on. They simply cannot teach or propagate their nonsense in public.

    Take a good long look at the Syllabus of Errors, one of which is: “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true” (15).

  11. 1. I do not refer to the modernist view of conscience, but to the Catholic view of conscience.

    2. Since the promulgation of the “The Syllabus of Errors” there has been, among many other great and binding documents, Vatican II, which have dramatically qualified it, especially on the point you here quote.

    3. I claim that the view you express in this article is not just unpopular among many in the Church, but inconsistent with the teaching of the Church.

  12. Philip Primeau says:

    If my suggestions are radically inconsistent with Catholic teaching, than the very actions of the Church were at odds with her own teachings for the vast majority of her history! No, this cannot be.

    I’ll side with Saint Chrysostom: “He [the Lord] does not therefore forbid our checking heretics, and stopping their mouths, and taking away their freedom of speech, and breaking up their assemblies and confederacies” (Homily 46 on Matthew).

    And with Saint Thomas Aquinas: “With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death” (Summa Theologica, II-II, 11, 3).

    Of course, given the last century of Catholic thought, I agree that the Church has decided it is now preferable to err on the side of leniency.

    Taking this into consideration, I conclude that my suggestions strike a fine balance between the dogma of olden times and the recalibrated dogma of recent years.

  13. Philip Primeau says:

    And, before you say so, I realize that Muslims and Jews are not heretics. Nonetheless, if heretics are judged worthy of such stiff sentences, surely Jews and Muslims can not be allowed free range. Certainly, I do not advocate destroying their mosques and synagogues (never mind burning them), simply confining their practices to the private sphere. This follows the example of the first Christian emperors, whose closings of the pagan academies and temples were strongly applauded by the Church universal.

  14. “If my suggestions are radically inconsistent with Catholic teaching, than the very actions of the Church were at odds with her own teachings for the vast majority of her history! No, this cannot be.”

    So much to say in reply. I will limit myself to a few points.

    1) The Church has always distinguished between Church and state.

    2) You are proposing that we “ditch liberalism”, in other words, abolish the American experiment. No where does the Church call for such a thing. On the contrary.

    3) Your piece shows no concern for the things about which (respecting human government) the Church herself is most concerned, such as freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

    4) You show no appreciation of the vital principle of development of doctrine, which is particularly necessary for a right understanding of issues concerning our relation to secular government and to people of other faiths.

    “Of course, given the last century of Catholic thought, I agree that the Church has decided it is now preferable to err on the side of leniency.”

    This is–pardon my bluntness–a shockingly impertinent thing to say. The Church has to decided to err? Rather she is committed to expressing the whole truth, in right balance.

  15. Philip Primeau says:

    “1) The Church has always distinguished between Church and state.”

    True, but she distinguished between the two in a manner radically different from American liberalism. For eighteen hundred years, the Church was more than happy to concern herself with matters civic and temporal. I do not believe the Church was in error for so long. Her withdrawal from secular activity was due to (a) the infiltration of modernists in the highest ranks of the clergy and (b) the force of necessity.

    Anyway, I don’t propose a sectarian state. Rather, I propose a Christian polity and public square. Two very different ideas.

    “You are proposing that we “ditch liberalism”, in other words, abolish the American experiment. No where does the Church call for such a thing. On the contrary.”

    Actually, the American experiment began with rigid Christian theocracy. So, really, I think I’m a radical calling for a return to our roots.

    “3) Your piece shows no concern for the things about which (respecting human government) the Church herself is most concerned, such as freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”

    I strongly favor freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. (Unlike many of the greatest saints and fathers the Church has ever known — explain that, O lover of the ‘Spirit of Vatican II.’) But those are both private matters. The Church also clearly recognizes the need to balance individual liberty with the commonweal. And the commonweal demands Christianity not simply in, but in control of, the public square.

    “You show no appreciation of the vital principle of development of doctrine, which is particularly necessary for a right understanding of issues concerning our relation to secular government and to people of other faiths.”

    I do not think you have dealt seriously with the radical departure from traditional doctrine that occurred at Vatican II. By the lights of Vatican II (or at least the imagined “spirit” thereof), Thomas Aquinas and John Chrysostom are loathsome troglodytic fascists. Why? Because they dare question the Jacobin madness of liberte, egalite, fraternite; dare oppose the ruthless secularization of Enlightened humanism, which wants nothing more than state-mandated atheism, the utter abolition of God from the polis. And it will likely succeed unless Christians — and especially Catholics — smarten up.

    I carry no brief for the ideology of modernity. Liberalism is an obvious philosophical failure. It has become a monstrosity, an Antichrist of the first order. Only by the grace of God do we avoid succumbing to its heathen venom.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      Philip, Political Catholicism is another Antichrist because it substitutes its own prerogatives and agendas for those of Jesus Himself while claiming to speak for Jesus Himself! The centuries of moral and institutional corruption in both the hierarchy as a whole and the Vatican in particular demonstrate categorically that Catholicism long ago sacrificed its spiritual patrimony on the altar of power, wealth, political influence, secular prestige, monarchist trappings and institutional arrogance. Whether the hierarchs are liberal or conservative makes no difference. I give the following recent examples:

      1. The failure or refusal of Pope Benedict to discipline Cdl. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. for refusing to implement Canon 915 in his archdiocese.

      2. The failure or refusal of Pope Benedict to discipline the president of the German bishops’ conference, who said on German television that Christ died on the cross “in solidarity with mankind” and *not* as the ultimate atoning sacrifice to redeem humanity.

      3. Cdl. Dolan’s infernal, asinine patronizing of people like Vice President Biden and Pres. Obama, who have little concern for basic decency, let alone Christian values.

      4. Pope John Paul II’s arbitrary, revisionist, abolitionist position on capital punishment which contradicts centuries of teaching from Scripture and Tradition (see earlier post).

      The authors of the epistles prophesied that mass apostasy would take place in the “last days.” Do you seriously believe that the Catholic leadership is exempt?

      Read Ezekiel 34. Read 1 Samuel 2:12-36. Obviously, they don’t refer to Catholicism, but human nature hasn’t changed all that much over the centuries….

  16. “Her withdrawal from secular activity was due to (a) the infiltration of modernists in the highest ranks of the clergy and (b) the force of necessity.”

    This, too, is impertinent. You put your own judgment above the mind of the Church. What she views and proclaims as part of her ever-unfolding understanding of herself, her competence, and her role in the world, you are pleased to chalk up to corrupting influences and compromising accommodationism.

    “I strongly favor freedom of religion and freedom of conscience…But those are both private matters. The Church also clearly recognizes the need to balance individual liberty with the commonweal. And the commonweal demands Christianity not simply in, but in control of, the public square.”

    What you call the “private matters” of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are, according to the Church, absolute goods that have quite serious implications for the public sphere. (See for example the Pope’s recent criticism of the Swiss vote to ban the building of more mosques.)

    I challenge you to cite Church documents that demand that Christianity be in charge of the public square. I say that claim flies in the face of her clear and unambiguous teaching.

    “I do not think you have dealt seriously with the radical departure from traditional doctrine that occurred at Vatican II. By the lights of Vatican II (or at least the imagined “spirit” thereof), Thomas Aquinas and John Chrysostom are loathsome troglodytic fascists. ”

    There’s a nice elision.
    You would agree, I hope (since you write for a site that calls itself Catholic) that Vatican II is authoritative and binding, while the “imagined ‘spirit’ thereof” is nothing of the sort? To suggest that Vatican II regards Thomas Aquinas and John Chrysostom as troglodytic fascists is a grotesque slander.

    Even to say it represents a “radical departure” from traditional doctrine is slanderous, since it insinuates the Council’ invalidity. The principle and continuity and organic development is central to the Church’s teaching authority.

  17. Mary Kochan says:

    Phil and Katie — great conversation. Have you both read the latest comments of the pope regarding America?

    http://catholiclane.com/popes-address-to-us-bishops-during-ad-limina-visit/

    Pertinent to your discussion is this part of his remarks:

    As the Council noted, and I wished to reiterate during my Pastoral Visit, respect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36)…. [W]e can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Phil, please note the very positive reference to Vatican II. Katie, please note that the pope’s assertion of the “need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition” would rather favor Phil’s argument above.

  18. Thanks for the link, Mary. I shall read it in full. Meanwhile, note that passage you quote says nothing against my position, rather it affirms it. The American experiment IS rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as its founding documents make unmistakably clear. I said in an earlier comment that insofar as liberalism tends toward atheism and relativism, it has to be opposed. In other words, I favor America fully recovering what is right and valid in its founding.

    Philip Primeau is, in practical effect, calling for its abolition.

    • Mary Kochan says:

      But that is ok, Katie. It is ok for a Catholic to propose another model of government because while the Church asserts her freedom in every governing situation, she is not committed to the American constitution. If Phil thinks we should change our govenment he is at liberty to say so and does not violate Church teaching anymore than does a Catholic who asserts the superiority of a monarchy:

      http://catholiclane.com/why-i-am-a-monarchist/
      http://catholiclane.com/regalism-versus-real-catholic-monarchy/
      http://catholiclane.com/monarchy-and-the-american-constitution/

      • I don’t agree. There’s nothing wrong with making the case that monarchy is a better form of government than republicanism. That’s not what Phil did.

        Rather he,
        1) Called for the establishment of a theocracy.

        It is that that I claim is essentially incompatible with Catholic teaching.

        2) Called for ditching the American experiment.

        This, while not incompatible with Church teaching on an essential level, is inconsistent with what the Church herself expresses vis a vis America and vis a vis government generally. She does not identify liberalism with all its worst features and aspect and then call for its abolition.
        Communism and naziism are and were essentially irreconcilable with Christianity; American republicanism, while imperfect (like all human government), isn’t.

        • fishman says:

          the idea of freedom of religion as expressed in the American constitution does not seem wholly compatible with catholic theology.

          The proposition was adopted primarily for pragmatic not theological reasons.

          The framers were mostly protestants who are by definition heretics.

          Most of whom engage in the heresy of liberalism. As is testified too in the pamphlet ‘common sense’ by Thomas Pane.

          One of the more influential pieces of literature for the revelation.

          The patriots considered the kings authority to be proved invalid because the king was unjust just as the protestants considered the popes authority to be invalid because the pope was unjust.

          I hope america survive the oncoming atheistic theocracy that is evolving into, but then again death is better then sin, so perhaps my patriotism is misplaced.

  19. Notice that when the Pope laments the increasing anti-Christian forces in American life and culture, he doesn’t call for the establishment of a Christian theocracy (!), rather he appeals to America’s tradition of religious freedom.

  20. And check out this line: “Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

  21. Philip Primeau says:

    “This, too, is impertinent. You put your own judgment above the mind of the Church. What she views and proclaims as part of her ever-unfolding understanding of herself, her competence, and her role in the world, you are pleased to chalk up to corrupting influences and compromising accommodationism.”

    That is the sad reality. The Vatican reluctantly but rightly went to war for its temporal prerogatives. It lost. Had the Italians not betrayed the Church, we would be having a very different conversation right now.

    This “evolution” of dogma you speak of is misleading modernist propaganda, rightly recognized and condemned by Pope Pius X:

    “To finish with this whole question of faith and its shoots, it remains to be seen, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about their development. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject – dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself, and the penalty of disobedience is death. The enunciation of this principle will not astonish anybody who bears in mind what the Modernists have had to say about each of these subjects. Having laid down this law of evolution, the Modernists themselves teach us how it works out. And first with regard to faith. The primitive form of faith, they tell us, was rudimentary and common to all men alike, for it had its origin in human nature and human life. Vital evolution brought with it progress, not by the accretion of new and purely adventitious forms from without, but by an increasing penetration of the religious sentiment in the conscience. This progress was of two kinds: negative, by the elimination of all foreign elements, such, for example, as the sentiment of family or nationality; and positive by the intellectual and moral refining of man, by means of which the idea was enlarged and enlightened while the religious sentiment became more elevated and more intense. For the progress of faith no other causes are to be assigned than those which are adduced to explain its origin. But to them must be added those religious geniuses whom we call prophets, and of whom Christ was the greatest; both because in their lives and their words there was something mysterious which faith attributed to the divinity, and because it fell to their lot to have new and original experiences fully in harmony with the needs of their time. The progress of dogma is due chiefly to the obstacles which faith has to surmount, to the enemies it has to vanquish, to the contradictions it has to repel. Add to this a perpetual striving to penetrate ever more profoundly its own mysteries. Thus, to omit other examples, has it happened in the case of Christ: in Him that divine something which faith admitted in Him expanded in such a way that He was at last held to be God. The chief stimulus of evolution in the domain of worship consists in the need of adapting itself to the uses and customs of peoples, as well as the need of availing itself of the value which certain acts have acquired by long usage. Finally, evolution in the Church itself is fed by the need of accommodating itself to historical conditions and of harmonizing itself with existing forms of society.”

    This is equally absurd: “I challenge you to cite Church documents that demand that Christianity be in charge of the public square. I say that claim flies in the face of her clear and unambiguous teaching.”

    From the time of Constantine onward (if not before), this was the assumption of all Catholic political theory. Only in the last century has there been change, thanks to the modernist coup d’etat.

    As early as the fifth century, Pope Gelasius identified two wellsprings of authority in the world: ecclesial (specifically episcopal) and civil (specifically royal).

    Boniface VII wrote:

    “We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered _for_ the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest” (Unam Sanctum).

    He continued later in the same bull:

    “For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: ‘Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms’ and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15].”

    For many centuries, Catholic theologians and political theorists reiterated this theory: Since the goal of the Church (eternal salvation) is greater than the goal of the state (temporal commonweal), the state is therefore subordinate to the Church.

    Pope Leo XIII explained:

    “For it cannot be doubted but that, by the will of God, men are united in civil society; whether its component parts be considered; or its form, which implies authority; or the object of its existence; or the abundance of the vast services which it renders to man. God it is who has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness-namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic States, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engravers upon it. This religion, therefore, the rulers of the State must preserve and protect, if they would provide – as they should do – with prudence and usefulness for the good of the community. For public authority exists for the welfare of those whom it governs; and, although its proximate end is to lead men to the prosperity found in this life, yet, in so doing, it ought not to diminish, but rather to increase, man’s capability of attaining to the supreme good in which his everlasting happiness consists: which never can be attained if religion be disregarded” (Libertas, 21).

    Pius X concurred:

    “That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error. Based, as it is, on the principle that the State must not recognize any religious cult, it is in the first place guilty of a great injustice to God; for the Creator of man is also the Founder of human societies, and preserves their existence as He preserves our own. We owe Him, therefore, not only a private cult, but a public and social worship to honor Him. Besides, this thesis is an obvious negation of the supernatural order. It limits the action of the State to the pursuit of public prosperity during this life only, which is but the proximate object of political societies; and it occupies itself in no fashion (on the plea that this is foreign to it) with their ultimate object which is man’s eternal happiness after this short life shall have run its course. But as the present order of things is temporary and subordinated to the conquest of man’s supreme and absolute welfare, it follows that the civil power must not only place no obstacle in the way of this conquest, but must aid us in effecting it. The same thesis also upsets the order providentially established by God in the world, which demands a harmonious agreement between the two societies. Both of them, the civil and the religious society, although each exercises in its own sphere its authority over them. It follows necessarily that there are many things belonging to them in common in which both societies must have relations with one another. Remove the agreement between Church and State, and the result will be that from these common matters will spring the seeds of disputes which will become acute on both sides; it will become more difficult to see where the truth lies, and great confusion is certain to arise. Finally, this thesis inflicts great injury on society itself, for it cannot either prosper or last long when due place is not left for religion, which is the supreme rule and the sovereign mistress in all questions touching the rights and the duties of men. Hence the Roman Pontiffs have never ceased, as circumstances required, to refute and condemn the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. Our illustrious predecessor, Leo XIII, especially, has frequently and magnificently expounded Catholic teaching on the relations which should subsist between the two societies. “Between them,” he says, “there must necessarily be a suitable union, which may not improperly be compared with that existing between body and soul” (Vehementer Nos, 3).

    Gregory XVI had long before established the following:

    “These beautiful examples of the unchanging subjection to the princes necessarily proceeded from the most holy precepts of the Christian religion. They condemn the detestable insolence and improbity of those who, consumed with the unbridled lust for freedom, are entirely devoted to impairing and destroying all rights of dominion while bringing servitude to the people under the slogan of liberty …

    Nor can We predict happier times for religion and government from the plans of those who desire vehemently to separate the Church from the state … It is certain that that concord which always was favorable and beneficial for the sacred and the civil order is feared by the shameless lovers of liberty.

    But for the other painful causes We are concerned about, you should recall that certain societies and assemblages seem to draw up a battle line together with the followers of every false religion and cult. They feign piety for religion; but they are driven by a passion for promoting novelties and sedition everywhere. They preach liberty of every sort; they stir up disturbances in sacred and civil affairs, and pluck authority to pieces” (Mirari Vos, 19 – 21).

    I could go on and on. Consider once more the simple words of Pope Pius X: “That the state must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error.” A thesis absolutely false. A most pernicious error. And yet now, some one hundred years later, you stand here accusing me of opposing the mind of the Church. It would be amusing if it were not so sad.

    Wave the flag of Vatican II all you like, Katie. I will keep most every pope, council, and theologian who lived prior to the 20th century.

    Mary, I apologize for being so frank, but we must reclaim our Catholic heritage not merely in terms of the liturgy, but in terms of social and political theory, too. Liberalism was an enemy of the Church from the start. It remains so today.

    • It’s notable that all your sources are pre-Vatican II sources, as if the Church has not spoken at all in the modern world.

      It reminds me of something Cardinal Schoenborn says in his book on iconography. The Tradition we have received is a living Tradition. If we cut off the last century or recent decades in a vain and fruitless attempt at recapturing its previous reality, we de-captitate it.

      • Philip Primeau says:

        An “evolution” in tradition that invalidates everything that preceded it cannot be legitimate. It simply cannot be, or else our ecclesiology must be entirely rethought.

        • When the Church deepens and clarifies her stress on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and draws out their implications for Catholics in the modern world (which includes circumstances and realities that did not obtain earlier in history), she doesn’t thereby “invalidate” her own history. Rather she critiques it in light of the demands of the gospel and developments in human experience.

        • Mary Kochan says:

          Our pope has told us to use the hermenutic of continuity to interpret Vatican II and that is what we shall do around here.

          • Yes. Which of course doesn’t mean that we are free to reject whatever parts of it we think aren’t adequately consistent with what the Church said previously. That would be putting our own mind above the mind of the Church.

          • Philip Primeau says:

            Katie,

            What do you do when one Pope declares something diametrically opposed to what another Pope declares? Or what happens when a council issues pronouncements that are stark reversals of ancient Church principles? The solution, as Mary suggested, is a hermeneutic of continuity. And such a hermeneutic allows an interpretation of Vatican II that, I maintain, lends positive sanction to my thesis.

  22. I am, in fact, an ardent conservative, who is by nature and vocation dedicated to the objectivity of truth and absolute moral norms.

    I also place myself entirely under the teaching authority of the Holy Catholic Church and the Vicar of Christ, now present in the world as he has been since Peter.

  23. Philip Primeau says:

    Yet you decry and deride and reject what she taught for fifteen hundred plus years . . . ? Either the Church was radically wrong for a very long time, or she has merely gotten a bit off-kilter for a handful of decades, mostly due to internal dissent. I certainly prefer the latter explanation. For if it is the former . . . well . . .

    • I have decried nothing the Church teaches and nothing the Church has taught. What I have decried and rejected is your call for abolishing the American experiment and establishing a theocracy, a position that is plainly at odds with Church teaching.

      • Philip Primeau says:

        It is quite literally baffling and confounding to hear you claim that theocracy is contrary to Church teaching when the Church has again and again supported theocracies! Vatican City is a theocracy!

        Any papal, episcopal, or conciliar document you can produce against the supremacy of the Church in public life, I can produce ten in favor of it. Your documents will come from one century; mine will come from a dozen centuries or more.

        The burden of Church history makes clear that the only just and responsible polis is that which clings self-consciously to Christianity, heeding God’s law above man’s law, and deferring to the Church in anything that is not absolutely and explicitly temporal (like the construction of roads). If you feel otherwise, you stand in opposition to the Church as she existed for century upon century.

        I should note that this article was not a scholarly paper. I used and continue to use the word “theocracy” loosely, meaning a polity that is committed to Christian identity to the exclusion of other religions. I would consider Malta a Catholic theocracy: although freedom of religion is protected, and there is even one mosque and one synagogue, the public square is thoroughly Church-oriented. Yes, Malta would be a fine model, although I’d personally favor stricter prohibitions on false cults, as well as a less democratic form of government.

      • Mary Kochan says:

        The Church is not committed to “the American experiment”, Katie. Given how this experiment is going off late, there is nothing anti-Catholic about suggesting it be replaced.

        • I don’t agree. The Church is not committed to “the American experiment,” but she IS committed to the central principles on which it was founded, and she would clearly oppose any attempt to subvert it and replace it with a theocracy.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            That, Katie, is where you are in serious error. As long as it was done non-violently (or the violence was purely in defense) and there were protections for life and conscience in the polity, the church would in no way object to the setting up of a theocracy — here in this ocuntry of any other — whether that is a combination of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox beleivers, or strictly in the hands of Catholics.

          • Philip Primeau says:

            Katie, you should really do some reading about the heresy of “Americanism.”

          • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

            And you, Philip, should do some reading about the papal pornocracy from the eighth to the eleventh centuries.

          • Philip Primeau says:

            The Church is committed to democracy? To individualism? To the pursuit of happiness, however one chooses to define it? To the “freedom of speech” as it exists today, embracing the foulest and vilest works of “art”? Really?!

  24. The principle of the development of doctrine, which was elucidated so compellingly by Blessed John Henry Newman and which the Church has made her own, is radically different from the modernist error rightly condemned by Pius X in the passage you cite above.

    “First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution.”

    The principle of development of doctrine, and its accompanying “hermeneutics of continuity” is in no way tantamount to a claim that there is no such thing as truth in religion. Rather it is a twofold claim:

    1) That the teachings of the Church, given once and for all in the Deposit of Faith, have depths and riches of meaning that unfold and disclose themselves across time and in relation to Christian experience, including the witness of the saints, the vision of the mystics, and the faithful efforts of Catholic theologians and philosophers, including in their ongoing dialog with the schools of the world.
    2) That the legitimacy of proposed developments is to be judged by its continuity with “what the Church has always taught”.
    3) That only the Pope in union with the bishops has the charism and competence to assess that continuity or lack thereof. One way it judges is by recognizing where the faithful eventually come to rest. “Securus judicat orbis terrarum.”

  25. Philip Primeau says:

    Anyway, I’ve said all I have to say. I doubt we’ll reach a resolution on this issue. Thank you for engaging with me. Sorry if I was gruff. Hopefully, I was passionate without being offensive. I apologize if I crossed the line. God bless.

  26. “The Church is committed to democracy? To individualism? To the pursuit of happiness, however one chooses to define it? To the “freedom of speech” as it exists today, embracing the foulest and vilest works of “art”? Really?!”

    The Church is committed to the principle that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.

    She is committed to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

    • fishman says:

      freedom of religion is not as near as I can tell an inalienable right propagated by the church. It is rather freedom from of conscience the church teaches. That does not necessarily translate to freedom of religion at any time that freedom interferes with good public order. ( which is stated something like 4 times in DIGNITATIS HUMANAE.)

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

      but what exactly constitutes the public order is very open to interpretation over the next thousand years.

    • Philip Primeau says:

      “The Church is committed to the principle that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

      That is true, but a secular polity is certainly not a Church-recognized right.

      I have said over and over that my ideal society protects the freedom of false cults, just in a limited fashion.

      Christianity, being the truth, concerns all people. Judaism, Islam, and all other beliefs, being abject error, concern only their practitioners, and are thus solely private matters.

  27. “What do you do when one Pope declares something diametrically opposed to what another Pope declares?”

    There is only one Pope.

    If the Pope (in union with the bishops), teaches on faith and morals in a way that seems to you to contradict what the Church has taught previously, you make an act of faith in the Church. Knowing the limits of your own perspective and understanding, you humble yourself. You tell yourself that since we know her teaching authority is inerrant, the contradiction must surely be only an apparent contradiction and not a real one. And you “sit at her feet” and learn what she says in explanation. And, like Thomas, you pray, “Lord, help my unbelief.”

    Or you form a schism or you apostasize.

    You don’t get to decide which of the Church’s teachings you will accept and which, not based on your own judgment about whether it’s adequately consistent with what’s come before. That judgment is outside your charism and competence.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      Katie, I suggest you do some research on Pope John Paul II’s arbitrary, revisionist stance toward capital punishment, an abolitionist stance that contradicts centuries of teaching from Scripture and Tradition.

      Start with this piece:
      http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1463

      A Magisterium (never mind a Pope) that behaves like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 is not worthy of respect, let alone allegiance.

  28. “That, Katie, is where you are in serious error. As long as it was done non-violently (or the violence was purely in defense) and there were protections for life and conscience in the polity, the church would in no way object to the setting up of a theocracy — here in this ocuntry of any other — whether that is a combination of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox beleivers, or strictly in the hands of Catholics.”

    In my understanding, Mary, a theocracy is essentially opposed to the principle of the separation of Church and state. It is likewise in conflict with the principles of religious liberty and liberty of conscience, which the Church upholds.

    To imagine it could be accomplished in America with violence, abuse, misery and harm of all manners is completely unreal.

    To call for the abolition of a form of government that–for all its real and serious short-comings–has been a source of great good in t he world and in which Catholics have flourished is irresponsible.

    • Mary Kochan says:

      This government is evolving in a direction in which human beings, including Catholics are no longer flourishing. The question is what to do given that reality.

      Now you say that to call for abolition of it is irresponsible. What would be irresponsible would be for us to see the current polity falling apart and not engage in any discussion of what might come next.

      Now Philip has made it clear that his idea is not a formal theocracy, where there is no distinction between Church and state, but an informal one of the kind that can be set up democratically. You said that “[t]o imagine it could be accomplished in America with violence, abuse, misery and harm of all manners is completely unreal” but can you imagine the following:

      1. mass conversion to the Christian or (better yet) Catholic faith of the largest part of the population of a country?

      2. a people forming from out of the failure of the former government a new government?

      The fact is that BOTH of these things have occured within historical memory more than once! So let us not be too small in our imagining.

      • There is a flat contradiction in terms between theocracy and democracy.

        Here’s how my computer defines “theocracy”:
        “a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god.”

        This is the same understanding it has when we speak of contemporary theocracies, like Iran. There is no such thing as an “informal theocracy.”

        If a majority of American were to convert to Catholicism (happy thought!), it would be wrong, both legally and morally, for us to use our majority to abolish the American constitution or overrule its tenets. It would be just cause for war.

        Our system of government is in deep trouble. But its deepest troubles come from its violation of its own founding principles.

        • Philip Primeau says:

          “There is a flat contradiction in terms between theocracy and democracy.”

          That’s just ignorant. The New England colonies were strongly theocratic, yet among the most democratic polities to ever exist. The original democracy, Athens, was also a theocracy. Remember how they killed Socrates for atheism? By today’s standards, the United States for much of its history was a Protestant Christian theocracy, for it made and enforced all sorts of laws regulating morals on the basis of Scripture.

          Your definition of theocracy is narrow and poorly informed by historical realities. Ultimately, yes, a democracy is built around and grounded in the will of the people, while a theocracy is built around and grounded in the will of God, but that does’t mean their various elements are mutually exclusive.

          • No Phil, it’s not ignorant. It’s looking from a different perspective. Mine is philosophical. From that perspective, the Salem witch trials, for example, could be said to be the “natural end” of theocracy. Theocracy gives rise in time, always and everywhere, to violence and injustice against the innocent. Even Catholic quasi-theocracies, as in the cases of the Inquisition and of Franco’s Spain.

            We are not talking about “today’s standards”–there you shift the goal posts–but about theocracy as such.

            I claim that the Church has learned, through a long history (and much reflection on the mysteries of our faith and the nature and dignity of the human person, that there is an ineluctable and ineradicable contradiction between our faith and human instruments of power.

            The kind of “conscience protections” that you and Mary seem to envision for this Catholic theocracy would not, in fact, protect consciences to the extent called for by the Church, which involves much more than letting them practice their religion without molestation.

            The government you envision could not be brought about in American without grave injustice and immorality, including subversion.

            And to anticipate an objection, I grant freely that democracy tends in its essence toward corruption. We are experiencing it today. But, formed rightly, with checks and balances, etc., it is not ESSENTIALLY OPPOSED to the tenets and demands of our faith, as theocracy is.

          • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

            By today’s standards, the United States for much of its history was a Protestant Christian theocracy, for it made and enforced all sorts of laws regulating morals on the basis of Scripture.

            So, are you saying that Catholics do not regard Scripture as a legitimate basis for moral decision-making?

            Other than that begged question, your statement shows you know nothing about American history. You want a Protestant theocracy? Look at Calvin in Geneva or Cromwell in England. Those were theocracies. Not even “by today’s standards” would the United States qualify as a “Protestant Christian theocracy”!

            Besides, where in the history of this country have Protestant clerics ruled exclusively or any Protestant church been established as the official state church of the United States? Any theocracy would demand the establishment of a particular church.

            Moreover, theocracy is no guarantee against corruption or malfeasance. The history of the Vatican should offer enough proof for the ages. The bishops’ response to the clerical sex-abuse crisis shows how used they are to an isolated life of constant deference and institutional arrogance.

            Also, I suggest you do some research on a man named Roger Williams, who founded Providence Plantations (later known as Rhode Island). He had no use for the theocratic Calvinists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Williams is as much a part of the American founding tradition as anybody.

        • Philip Primeau says:

          Though I should qualify that by stating that it was a very, very weak Protestant theocracy.

          That said, one of the founding principles of the United States is the pursuit of happiness, however one defines it. This is sheer madness and (as we have seen) a recipe for moral chaos and cultural fragmentation.

          Another founding principle is total liberty of error, however egregious and spiritually destructive, which the Church has only suddenly begun to look kindly upon during the last fifty years. I have a sneaking suspicion that this laxity will be rectified and clarified eventually.

  29. Mary Kochan says:

    Phil, I think that Jefferson’s conception of happiness was far more classical than you are giving him credit for. In classical thought “happiness” refers to the perfection of a creature. A horse would be happy if it were a prime example of what a horse should be. Same with a man. It is symptom of our degeneration as a people that that phrase has taken on an emotive meaning.

    Katie, I think you have to critique Phil’s ideas according to what they are, not according to your own definition.

    The word theocracy is thrown around popularly now at Christians who simply want traditional morality upheld by the government. Phil is coming back at that and saying, ok, fine, let’s have it! And he is engaging in some effort to think through what it might entail.

    I am a very patriotic American. I love my country and my daughter is a Marine. But I am Catholic first. I know that the Constitution, while it is as fine a construction that the minds of devout men have produced in a thousand years, is NOT SACRED. It bore within it seeds of the destruction of our polity that are now sprouting AND which the very men who wrote it warned about: the ability to vote oneself largess from the public treasury, government falling into the hands of immoral and irreligious people, an overweening judiciary, just to mention several.

    It is not wrong for Catholics to begin to engage in a dialog about how to fix this and many, many people believe that some Constitutional adjustments will be needed and are overdue.

    • To your first point, Mary: words are not infinitely malleable, as I’m sure you and Phil both agree. What today’s liberals will call theocracy is too broad and vague and ignorant and stupid to be useful in the discussion. Further, what Phil has described as his vision for theocracy, is what I have in mind when I say it is in essential conflict with the teachings of the Church.

      I do not hold nor anywhere suggest that the American Constitution is sacred. We are perfectly free to critique it from the point of view of Catholic principles, etc. (I think a very fundamental critique will be necessary as the threat of Islam grows.) I agree with you that our present moral troubles are not unrelated to its inherent weaknesses and limitations.

      Nevertheless, being Americans, we are bound, legally and morally to uphold it and abide by it.

      Phil is not here engaging in a dialog about how to address the challenges our polity is facing. He is calling for replacing our current system with a radically different one.

      I hold, first, that the system he wants to replace it with is in fundamental conflict with the teachings of our faith and the dignity of the human person, and second, that the change could not be brought about without grave injustices and immorality.

      • Mary Kochan says:

        That very point, that what he proposes — regardless of what he calls it — is in fundamental conflict with the teachings of our faith and the dignity of the human person, is what I do not see you providing evidence of.

        Also, why you think the crisis point is still to come and will come from Islam and is not already here — abortion, same-sex “marriage”, attacks on religious conscience, indefinite detentions, etc. — I don’t understand. Although I do recognize that right now those who think we have reached the crisis remain in the minority. I have only concluded so myself within the past couple of years.

        • You are right that I haven’t provided much in the way of evidence. It’s a big issue, hard to show, especially to someone whose basic stance is so radically anti-modern that he is inclined to reject the teaching authority of the Church in the world today if he deems it out of sync with his understanding of what has gone before. So, the concepts that that teaching grows out of, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and development of doctrine, he feels free to sweep aside as so much liberal nonsense.

          So I won’t attempt it here, except by pointing out, again, (I think I did already) that no Church document or leader today can be found making anything like the case he here makes.

          Maybe I’ll compose an article on the subject someday.

          Your second question is a good one. The answer is that evils like abortion, SSM, etc. can all be addressed by appealing to our founding principles. The problem of Islam, on the other hand, can’t be.

          Our system of government more or less assumes and relies on the notion that religion and state are separable. They are in Judaism and Christianity; they aren’t in Islam.

          • The title of my article would be, “Catholics and the authoritarian impulse.”

          • Mary Kochan says:

            Go for it! I’ll publish it.

          • Mary Kochan says:

            The issue here is not “separation”, but establishment. It is possible to have a state with an established religion, where there is still separation between the Church and the state. You have the burden of proof if you are going to try to argue that the Church is anti-establishment or pro-disestablishment. Good luck with that one!

  30. The term “theocracy,” if (perhaps unwisely) we are to use this loaded term at all, should include the preeminence of the laity in the political sphere. The Magisterium may provide moral guidelines, which we should apply in specific cases, i.e. nation by nation.

    In this nation, unfortunately, Christians are in a strategic position frighteningly like Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese after WW II, trying to maintain an orderly retreat in the face of an advancing enemy with growing advantage.

    How to deal with the present emergency situation is a lot more interesting to me, than what to do when and if devout Catholics (maybe our great-great grandchildren?) get the upper hand politically.

  31. “It is possible to have a state with an established religion, where there is still separation between the Church and the state. You have the burden of proof if you are going to try to argue that the Church is anti-establishment or pro-disestablishment.”

    Yes, establishment of religion is perfectly possible and theoretically unproblematic. It is also, conceptually, very different from theocracy. And Phil was right, at least intuitively, when he called what he is calling for theocracy, because what he wants for America could not come about in America without a completely unjust use of force, and a rejection of principles and values that Americans hold in common with Catholics.

    Countries like Victorian England or present day Liechtenstein and Malta have established religions. But their form of government is organically and inseparably linked to their history and composition as a people.

  32. John Médaille says:

    Theocracy has no history in Christianity. It is an alien ideal. Christiandom was a dyarchy, Church AND state. The Church had control of certain things (marriage, welfare, education) and the prince other things.

    • Philip Primeau says:

      John,

      Thank you. Would you recommend any resources in particular that might help me explore this idea? I was using the word “theocracy” rather loosely: the ordering of our society around God rather than man.

  33. John Médaille says:

    The best work on the topic is Bernard de Jouvenel’s “On Power.” IMHO

  34. Philip Primeau says:

    What about the papal states? Might they qualify?

  35. Philip Primeau says:

    I read that piece already, John. I’m a fan of your work.

  36. TheodoreSeeber says:

    When was the time it wasn’t fumbled?

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