Church - State Relations
The Waning Authority of the Church
in the Temporal Sphere
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As Catholics we must desire the conversions of all souls to the One True Church. In addition, we should assist in the apostolate necessary to achieve this holiest of goals.|
Throughout the Church’s History, this apostolate has been carried out by the Hierarchy, religious orders and the laity with or without the assistance of nations and their rulers. First, the periods of martyrdom under the Roman Emperors resulted in a tremendous growth of the Church. Then, under the favorable rule of Constantine, and later with Charlemagne, a true Christian society began to emerge.
Charlemagne asking the opinion of churchmen
For a time, in that budding of Christendom, the rulers of the Western Empire did not question the moral authority of the Church. This was particularly the case with Catholic leaders such as St. Louis, St. Ferdinand, St. Stephen and St. Wenceslas. With time, however, monarchs began to demand authority over the Church, and some members of the Hierarchy were seduced by temporal power and wealth. The austerity and sacrifice of an authentic Catholic life was replaced by a relative softness and luxury. These factors contributed to the waning of the Church’s influence in the temporal sphere.
Today, we see a Church with Shepherds who frequently deny their moral authority in the temporal sphere, assigning that role instead to what some refer to as “the New World Order”. Specifically, there is a tendency to defer to a body such as the United Nations what used to be the domain of “the Mystical Body of Christ, the Infallible Mistress of the Truth, the Guardian of Natural Law, and, thus, the ultimate foundation of the temporal order itself.” (1)
Not only have the Church’s good influences been greatly weakened in terms of international affairs, but her influence over those who claim to be her own children is often ineffective, since there are no consequences for obstinate sinful behavior. “Catholic” politicians publicly state that the will of their constituents (their votes) takes precedent over the laws of the Church. This is particularly true in regard to the Church’s opposition to abortion and her definition of marriage. On these issues some nations have gone so far as to contemplate legislation or pass laws making it illegal to publicly acknowledge the Church’s teachings.
It does not help matters when we have an Archbishop of the Church state, supposedly assuming a “conservative” stance, the following conciliatory words:
“Even though a homosexual relationship can be considered to be a special one, in our view, it does not have the same ordered goals as marriage. Other ways of supporting and recognizing stable homosexual or non-sexual unions could be found. Certain European nations have recently enacted legislation on "Civil Unions" or "Cohabitation" but they are not called marriages.” (2)
What is needed to stem the waning influence of the Church today is no different from what was required in times past. We need a Pope and a Hierarchy that is not ashamed to call false religions what they are, heresies what they are, decadent behavior what it is, and to assume their rightful role as the world’s moral authority. We need Shepherds who are not intimidated by the immoral laws of the State. We need reformed and/or new religious orders with a true love of the Cross. We need a holy priesthood to enlighten the faithful about the truths of our Faith.
Finally, we need temporal leaders who support and defend the traditional teachings of One Holy Catholic Church. Let us all make sacrifices and pray for these miracles. This is not the first time in the History of the Church she has been battered hard, and she will once again triumph.
1. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, (Foundation For A Christian Civilization, 1980), p.123.
2. From a letter that His Excellency Marcel Gervais, Archbishop of Ottawa, wrote to Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon regarding the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision on the redefinition of marriage (June 18, 2003).
Posted October 12, 2003
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