Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quas Primas: Giving It a Go, Pt. III

When we last left this topic, the question was about how Christ’s Kingship and the authority of the civil leader are related. Quite simply, if all power in heaven and earth have been granted to Christ, as He Himself says in Scripture, then any power exercised here by someone else is actually just derivatively wielding Christ’s power. Can they abuse this power? Sure. That doesn’t change the source of that power, though. Would the secularist say that a President legally waging an unjust war somehow lacks the authority to do so? Of course not.

What is lost in all this Church/State discussion is that the Church’s view serves to protect the civil authority from upheaval.

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

In other words, if we view the civil authorities as participating in the power wielded by Christ, we are more apt to regain the respect for that authority that seems to be missing in modern times. If the ruler himself understands the source of his authority in this way, he is less likely to abuse it, knowing that his power is not his own and that .God will judge him more severely for that abuse. Rather than exercising his office for his own selfish ends, the ruler will instead consider the common good (which includes the spiritual good).

The part that really gives the Church/State dissenters the willies is that the above clearly does not allow for religious indifferentism or any other waffling what it comes to what is True and what isn’t. If Christ is King, then His Church clearly cannot be regarded on the same footing as other faiths. Ignoring this fact produces moral decay and confusion:

The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences.

And it's been all downhill since deplorable. Not sure what the word for the here and now would be.

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