Separation between Church and State:
The Separation of Church and State: its ideology and its consequences:
What ideology inspires those who work for the separation of Church and State? "There are (...) who affirm that the morality of individuals is to be guided by the divine law, but not the morality of the State, for that in public affairs the commands of God may be passed over, and may be entirely disregarded in the framing of laws. Hence follows the fatal theory of the need of separation between Church and State." [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Libertas, June 20, 1888 (PE 103; 18)] What principles push them towards a total and radical separation of Church and State? "Many wish the State to be separated from the Church wholly and entirely, so that with regard to every right of human society, in institutions, customs and laws, the offices of State, and the education of youth, they would pay no more regard to the Church than if she did not exist; and, at most, would allow the citizens individually to attend to their religion in private if so minded." [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Libertas, June 20, 1888 (PE 103; 39)] What are the political results of the separation of Church and State, in those countries where such is practised?
"If in any State the Church retains her own agreement publicly entered into by the two powers, men forthwith begin to cry out that matters affecting the Church must be separated from those of the State. Their object in uttering this cry is to be able to violate unpunished their plighted faith, and in all things to have unchecked control. And as the Church, unable to abandon her chief and most sacred duties, cannot patiently put up with this, and asks that the pledge given to her be fully and scrupulously acted up to, contentions frequently arise between the ecclesiastical and the civil power, of which the issue commonly is that the weaker power yields to the one which is stronger in human resources. Accordingly, it has become the practice and determination under this condition of public policy (now so much admired by many) either to forbid the action of the Church altogether, or to keep her in check and bondage to the State. Public enactments are in great measure framed with this design. The drawing up of laws, the administration of State affairs, the godless education of youth, the spoliation and suppression of religious orders, the overthrow of the temporal power of the Roman Pontiff, all alike aim to this one end - to paralyse the action of Christian institutions, to cramp to the utmost the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to curtail her every single prerogative." [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885 (PE 93; 27-29)] B. The Separation of Church and State: the Catholic position:
Has the need to separate Church and State been admitted by the Popes? No, it has been rejected by numerous Sovereign Pontiffs, notably such as: Gregory XVI: Encyclical: Mirari vos, Aug. 15, 1832. (PE 33; 20)
Pius IX: Allocution to the Consistory: Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852. Encyclical: Quanta cura, Dec. 8, 1864. (PE 63) Syllabus, Dec. 8, 1864: prop 55.
Leo XIII: Encyclical: Cum multa, Dec. 8, 1882. (PE 88) Encyclical: Humanum genus, April 20, 1884. (PE 91; 13 ff) Encyclical: Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885. (PE 93; 27 ff) Encyclical: Libertas, June 20, 1888. (PE 103; 18 ff) Encyclical: Au milieu des sollicitudes, Feb. 16, 1892. (PE 119; 28 ff) Letter Longinqua, Jan. 6, 1895. (PE 134; 3 ff)
Saint Pius X: Allocution to the Secret Consistory, Amplissimum coetum, March 27, 1905. Encyclical: Vehementer Nos, Feb. 11, 1906. (PE 169; 1 ff) Allocution to the Consistory: Gravissimum apostolici, Feb. 21, 1906. Encyclical: Gravissimo officii, Aug. 10, 1906. (PE 172; 1 ff) Letter: Le moment, May 17, 1908. Encyclical: Jamdudum, May 24, 1911. (PE 177; 2 ff)
Pius XI: Encyclical Maximam Gravissimamque, Jan. 18, 1924. (PE 196; 2 ff) Allocution: Jam annus, to the Secret Consistory, Dec. 14, 1925. Encyclical: Iniquis afflictisque, Nov. 18, 1926. (PE 200; 8 ff) Encyclical: Dilectissima Nobis, June 3, 1933. (PE 215; 6 ff)
Pius XII: Allocution to some Italian Catholic Jurists, Dec. 6, 1953. Why is the saying that the State and the Church must necessarily be separated a false and dangerous theory? There is a pernicious error in saying Church and State necessarily must function separately:
First reason: "Based, as it is, on the principle that the State must not recognise 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 honour Him."
Second reason: "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 achievement of man's supreme and absolute welfare, it follows that the civil power must not only place no obstacle in the way of this achievement, but must aid us in effecting it."
Third reason: "The same thesis (...) 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, have in fact the same subjects, 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 converging interests will spring the seeds of disputes which will become very conflicting on both sides; it will become more difficult to see where the truth lies, and great confusion is certain to arise."
Fourth reason: "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 duties of men." [Pius X: Encyclical: Vehementer nos, Feb. 11, 1906. (PE 169; 3)] How can it be claimed that the separation of Church and State is absurd? "As soon as the State refuses to give to God what belongs to God, by a necessary consequence it refuses to give to citizens that to which, as men, they have a right; as, whether agreeable or not to accept, it cannot be denied that man's rights spring from his duty toward God. Whence it follows that the State, by missing in this connection the principal object of its institution, finally becomes false to itself by denying that which is the reason of its own existence. These superior truths are so clearly proclaimed by the voice of even natural reason, that they force themselves upon all who are not blinded by the violence of passion." [Leo XIII, Encyclical: Au milieu des sollicitudes, Feb. 16, 1892. (PE 119; 28)] C. Consequences resulting from the Catholic position concerning the separation of Church and State:
Following on the decisions of the Popes in this matter, what are the truths which every Catholic must hold on this question?
"From these pronouncements of the Popes it is evident that the origin of public power is to be sought for in God Himself, and not in the multitude, and it is repugnant to reason to allow free scope for sedition. Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favour and support. In like manner it is to be understood that the Church no less than the State itself is a society perfect in its own nature and its own right, and that those who exercise sovereignty ought not so to act as to compel the Church to become subservient or subject to them, or to hamper her liberty in the management of her own affairs, or to despoil her in any way of the other privileges conferred upon her by Jesus Christ. In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them." [Leo XIII, Encyclical: Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885. (PE 93 35)] How then is one to think of the reasoning of them that want to have Church and State separated?
"To have in public matters no care for religion, and in the arrangement and administration of civil affairs to have no more regard for God than if He did not exist, is a rashness unknown to the very pagans; for in their heart and soul the notion of a divinity and the need of public religion were so firmly fixed that they would have thought it easier to have a city without foundation than a city without God. Human society, indeed for which by nature we are formed, has been constituted by God the Author of nature; and from Him, as from their principle and source, flow in all their strength and permanence the countless benefits with which society abounds. As we are each of us admonished by the very voice of nature to worship God in piety and holiness, as the Giver unto us of life and of all that is good therein, so also and for the same reason, nations and States are bound to worship Him; and therefore it is clear that those who would absolve society from all religious duty act not only unjustly but also with ignorance and folly. "As men are by the will of God born for civil union and society, and as the power to rule is so necessary a bond of society that, if it be taken away, society must at once be broken up, it follows that from Him who is the Author of society has come also the authority to rule; so that whosoever rules, he is the minister of God. Wherefore, as the end and nature of human society so requires, it is right to obey the just commands of lawful authority, as it is right to obey God who ruleth all things; and it is most untrue that the people have it in their power to cast aside their obedience whensoever they please." [Leo XIII, Encyclical: Humanum genus, April 20, 1884. (PE 91; 24-25)] D. What conclusions can we draw from this Catholic Teaching?
"The spiritual and temporal orders being, therefore, distinct in their origin and in their nature, should be conceived and judged of as such. For matters of the temporary order - however lawful, however important they be - do not extend, when considered in themselves, beyond the limits of that life which we live on this our earth. But religion, born of God, and referring all things to God, takes a higher flight and touches heaven. For its will, its wish, is to penetrate the soul, man's best part, with the knowledge and the love of God and to lead in safety the whole human race to that City of the Future for which we seek..
"It is then right to look on religion, and whatever is connected by any particular bond with it, as belonging to a higher order. Hence, in the vicissitudes of human affairs, and even in the very revolutions in States, religion, which is the supreme good, should remain intact; for it embraces all times and all places. Men of opposite parties, though differing in all else, should be agreed unanimously in this: that in the State the Catholic religion should be preserved in all its integrity. To this noble and indispensable aim, all who love the Catholic religion ought, as if bound by a compact, to direct all their efforts; they should be somewhat silent about their various political opinions, which they are, however, at perfect liberty to ventilate in their proper place: for the Church is far from condemning such matters, when they are not opposed to religion or justice; apart and removed from all the turmoil of strife, she carries on her work of fostering the common weal, and of cherishing all men with the love of a mother, those particularly whose faith and piety are greatest." [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Cum multa, Dec. 8, 1882 (PE 88; 8-9)]
Note: All the above texts cited have been drawn from the following book: The Papal Encyclicals, by Claudia Carlen IHM, The Pierian Press, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, 1990. For easy reference, it has been abbreviated: PE, followed by the encyclical's number and occasionally also the paragraph's number.